Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Surf: Lots of breastfeeding & some crafts

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

I am once more in the throes of my state business excise taxes, which are just as horrific as they sound and which are due tomorrow. I will try to quickly compile the links I've got!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Big-sibling books to prepare for a new baby

I've wanted to tell you about some of the resources we've been using to prepare three-year-old Mikko for his new sibling, and I've decided to do this in stages. Here are some the books we have out from the library right now on the subject of new siblings and pregnancy and my mini-reviews of each.

I've included special emphasis on how attachment-focused the books are. This is not meant to be a nitpicky criticism of the books in question, but to help you find the books that are most relevant to your family, particularly since it's hard to find pictures and language in most kids' books that reflect an attachment lifestyle. Now, when I'm reading a book out loud that has a different term for a function or item than one we use, I simply change the language as I need to for my son to identify more closely with the story. In that way, you could change some language like, "Babies drink milk" to be "Babies drink nummies" (or your special word for nursing). That said, the accompanying illustration might be of bottle feeding only, so sometimes it's easiest to pick books that are already closest to your family's practices!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Breastfeeding mural

I spotted this Japanese mural in McCaw Hall in Seattle
and couldn't resist sharing the corner!
Don't you love the twiddling detail?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Calling for submissions for the February Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We continue to be delighted with the advice and stories our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in February! (Check out January 2011 and the full list of 2010 posts if you missed them.) Your co-hosts are Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Lauren at Hobo Mama.

Life PreserverHere are the submission details for February 2011:

Theme: Parenting Essentials: I cannot imagine parenting without __________. This one is wide open: Do you have a natural parenting product that you can’t live without? Is there a book, family secret, or song that has been crucial to your transition into the role of parent? Is it a friend who makes all the difference for you?

Deadline: Tuesday, February 1. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CodeNameMama {at} and mail {at}

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Surf: Beneath the booth & blog hopping

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

For those interested in the other end of my Wordless Wednesday picture from this past week:

Upside down boy under restaurant booth

Cheers to joyful dining with kids!1

Friday, January 21, 2011

Writers & volunteers wanted for Natural Parents Network!

Are you a writer who's interested in natural parenting topics? Are you a dear soul who wants to volunteer to help a thriving community of like-minded parents?
Natural Parents Network tree logo
We need more fresh new content and volunteers for Natural Parents Network, a site that connects like-minded natural parents and parents-to-be.

Dionna from Code Name: Mama1 and I cofounded NPN last fall, and it has blossomed since — thanks to your involvement! (Read more about NPN's origins and intentions here.)

But we could always use more of your contributions. After all, it's not the Natural Parents Network without you!


If you like to write about natural parenting, please hook us up with some original posts to feature on Natural Parents Network.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling fat during pregnancy

I've been surprised how much gaining weight (and girth) during pregnancy has bothered me, considering:

  • I was fat and mostly complacent about it before pregnancy.
  • 39 weeks pregnant with Mikko, and may I say, Bwahahahahaha!
  • I really do like looking pregnant.
  • I know all about the health benefits of gaining weight during pregnancy, even for those of us who were overweight to begin with.
  • I gained 33 pounds last time I was pregnant and lost it all within 2 weeks of the birth — even though it was over the so-called recommended amount for fat women to gain.
  • I think it's ludicrous that weight gain recommendations don't take relative height and size into consideration — or, you know, current research. I think they're ludicrous just at face value as well.
  • My midwife doesn't care how much I weigh.
  • I know it's not getting fat; it's being pregnant. There's a baby in there who needs this weight to grow.1 (And, to go along with my first point, so what if I am getting fatter?)

So why does it bug me so much to step on the scale and see that I am now so much heavier than my husband? Why do I gaze at my naked pregnant body and see the lumps and rolls instead of the swell my baby makes?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Restaurant etiquette

Upside-down legs in a Steak 'n Shake booth

And this is why we don't eat out at nice places.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Going car-less with kids

This is another in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Rachel Jonat from The Minimalist Mom. Rachel shares her real-life experiences of family life without the family car.

Guest post by Rachel Jonat

When I announced I was pregnant with my first child one of the many follow-up questions I received was, will you be getting a new car?

We had a 12-year-old vehicle at the time that, while not exciting or new, ran just fine. Our emphatic answer was no. At that point I knew very little about the demands of a newborn, but I did know that our son would not care what car we were driving.

Fast forward a year and a few months and we decided to get rid of our car altogether. This news was met with congratulations from some and shock from others: How can you have a child and no car?

It’s pretty easy. I’ll tell you how.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Surf: On hot tubs, over-blogging, and much, much more

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

I just spent some hours trying to reconstruct the links I was going to share with you, because once again my browser has crashed repeatedly and taken my saved links with it. I really should become more conscientious about sharing them in my public reader feed before that happens, huh?1 The good news is, I got to read some more as I was poking around in my history and Google Reader.

mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks
Eventually, he'll actually be feeling something under there.
The other good news is, Sam has now felt the baby move! That gives me such a kick (so to speak). Now I just have to wait till it's consistent and strong enough to bring Mikko into the experience. There's no way he'd keep his hand on my belly for five minutes the way Sam was persuaded to!

For months after Mikko was born, I'd feel funny twinges in my belly — from muscle spasms or gas or food digesting or whatever it was – and I'd think, "Oh, it's the baby!" And then I'd remind myself, "No, stupid, the baby's on your lap. That's a fart." And I swear, I now have to keep reminding myself, "No, it is a baby now."2 How surreal to have an entire person inside me, frog-kicking away.

  • "The Power of 10" from Code Name: Mama: An insightful viewpoint on discipline — putting into perspective how fleeting your child's behavior is, and how lasting your responses can be.
    "For anyone still on the fence about giving yourself a chance to calm down before you come back to your child (after your child has done something you believe is inappropriate, etc.), consider this:

    Will your child’s behavior matter in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 hours? Will it matter in 10 days, weeks, months, or years?

    How about your response – how will the punishment you choose affect your child in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 hours? How will the way you choose to punish your child matter in 10 days, weeks, months, or years?"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Big fat hobo mama house (and I quote)

I should totally go live here. Only $350 a month!

(Click images to view them larger.
You might have to click again in the new window to zoom.)

room in a big fat hobo mama house text

Favorite lines:
We dont use heat besides the fire place and individual electrical heaters every now and then when it's getting too cold to move a finger. We're not vegan and we smoke but we recycle as much as we can, cook a lot, brew our own booze, avoid using plastic bags, trashy/pre-made food and chemical detergents, soaps, cosmetics... and well we dont wash all that often in the first place ha.

room in a big fat hobo mama house pictures

This is a current listing, brought to my attention through my Google Alerts search for "hobo mama," so jump on it if you're interested. The room's available first of the month! I'll see you there.

P.S. I'm not making fun of these people; I just think it's the height of awesome that they called it a big fat hobo mama house and couldn't resist posting. Cheers to nonconformist, community-oriented, not-at-all liberal frat houses and hippie dens!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unschooling is How Adults Naturally Learn at The Mahogany Way

Pottery Class

I have a guest post today over at The Mahogany Way on "Unschooling is how adults naturally learn."

It was a concept that occurred to me when I first started hearing about unschooling. See, I'd originally moved to Seattle with a stated intention of attending a graduate school/seminary program out here — and the more I didn't go back to school, the less I wanted to. I was having too much fun learning to be educated!

Sam went off to try West African drumming and draw cartoons. I took a hatmaking course where I blocked four hats in the traditional style and spent way too much on watercolor supplies for my painting class. Every quarter, a new catalog [of adult-education classes] would come, and we would dog-ear the pages, marking up what looked interesting and trying to prioritize based on the time and money we had available.

I had been considering continuing on to grad school, but it was almost as if these new classes helped convince me not to go. I had been a very good student throughout my traditional-schooling years — teacher's pet, straight As, the whole deal — and what I loved about my adult education classes was that all the rules had changed. In fact, there was no game at all anymore, no rules to keep or break. It was just learning, for its own sake. I was not going to become a hatmaker, a painter, a ballerina, or an actress. But I could go to the classes and learn and absorb, research more on my own, and enter into that new world for as long as I wished.

I hope it's reassuring for you if unschooling seems tempting yet mysterious to realize that you already do unschooling every day in your adult life, so it's more just a matter of applying that philosophy to your time with children. I hope you'll click over and join me in the comments over there.

While you're at The Mahogany Way, take a look at the joyful unschooling Darcel does with her three children, like a recent child-led time at the bookstore and an acknowledgement that playing is necessary. I always enjoy seeing how she documents unschooling in action in a real-life family, and I appreciate her wisdom and experiences with attachment parenting as she writes about breastfeeding, babywearing, and her most recent homebirth.

If you're interested in guest posting for me or having me guest post for you, let me know.

Catch you at The Mahogany Way!

Photo courtesy simplifies on flickr (cc)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Siblings

mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks

mama and son touching pregnant belly bump 18 weeks

18 weeks on the inside and 3.5 years on the outside

In honor of Wordless Wednesday, I've put up a wee tutorial over at on "Setting up thumbnail linkies & choosing the right dimensions" for those of you who already do or who wish to host thumbnail linkies, like mine below, from, whether for Wordless Wednesday, a giveaway link-up, or other blog hop fun. I've noticed some issues with title character length as I've used thumbnail linkies elsewhere, so I thought I'd just point out how Linky Tools guides users through choosing the appropriate combination of image size and character length for the title. If you already know this, carry on!

Find sites to link up your Wordless Wednesday post
at my super-cool collection of Wordless Wednesday linkies,
and let me know if you have one to add.
You can also link up a thumbnail from your post below!

This linky list is now closed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning from children: Beyond the questions lies the answer

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

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 shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

My first bewildered look

Before we had children, Sam and I considered it all very logically and asked a lot of meta questions.

What if we had a child just like one of our siblings? for instance. Would we be content with that? What if we had a wild child, when we're laid-back? What if we had a party-loving butterfly, considering we're socially awkward homebodies? What if we had an athlete, when we're uncoordinated and sedentary? What if our child loved camping when we both dropped out of Scouts?

But, more, what if we just didn't like our kid? What if our child, especially as he or she grew, embodied values we found distressing or unapproachable in adults — like lack of a sense of humor, or extreme clinginess, or failure of introspection, or intolerance of differences? What if our child, as an adult, repudiated all the choices we had made, prioritizing earning money over being with family, joining the opposite political party, and embracing all the belief systems we had rejected?

When Mikko came out, all 11 pounds and 13 ounces of him, I looked down at his squishy Neanderthal face and had a moment of disconnect: So this is what you look like, huh? This is what has been beating inside me for nine months? Who are you?

Part of it was the swelling and molding of vaginal childbirth, but part was that the most salient features, full lips and wide nose, were all from Sam's side of the family in those early weeks. I couldn't see a trace of me there.

And then those early months were so hard, so hard. The crying and bouncing and waiting for a sign that he understood who we were, that he cared at all, that he could communicate back some of the love we had been lavishing on him. Sam and I often wondered what we had given up to become parents — our carefree and us-centered lives, now focused on one small person.

So here we are, three and a half years later, and Mikko has grown into chubby cheeks I remember from my childhood (and in to my twenties…don't mock) and his eyes, so slitted and slate at birth, have morphed and settled into my dark green. But, you know, that's not the point. The point is what I've realized — this child never was me. He never existed to fulfill my ideals for what his character or future should embody. He is himself.

But, even more importantly? I've learned that I like him. That I cannot help liking him.

No matter who he is, no matter who he becomes, he's my child. My love for him is overwhelming and instinctual and not something I had to reach for. It just came upon me, inevitable.

I am pregnant now with our second child, and every once in awhile, I have a gasp of fear. What were we thinking? What if this is the child we cannot like? How will the two of them together get along? What new things will we be giving up to have two children rather than just one?

But, mostly, I am calm. Because I know now — it's surreal at first to meet your child, and it's hard those first months (year…), but — it gets better. You familiarize yourself with this little one, and your heart opens and swallows up every little detail down to the ringlets over the ears and the dimples dotting each knuckle. You get to know this person as he or she grows, and it's just right. This one belongs with you, and there is no doubt anymore.

That is what my child has taught me, and what my unborn child is already teaching me. That our hearts are bigger than our minds, that we were designed to love our children just because, that all our rationalizations disappear under the onslaught of cute and chubby and drool and toothless-to-toothy smiles. That, no matter what and no matter how old we both get or how much they change, we will always smile when we see our child's sweet face come into view.

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 live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)