Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween freedom of choice

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Zoie from TouchstoneZ. Zoie tells about parents who made the choice to work through a challenging dilemma consensually as a family.

Guest post by Zoie from TouchstoneZ

Last year the son of friends of mine asked if they would help him create his Halloween costume. Intrigued by the idea that their son wanted to make, instead of buy, a costume, they readily agreed. But, what he wanted to be gave them pause.

He wanted to dress up as a Nazi.

This family normally practices consensual living and allows all members of their family to make their own decisions. This decision was a tough one for them.

So the parents discussed it together first. They decided that they were uncomfortable with their son1 dressing in a Nazi costume because of the potential hatred that would be directed at him, because of the hurt it might cause those affected by the Holocaust, and because of how their family would be viewed.

They thought about the visceral hate directed at Prince Harry of England when a photo was released of him dressed as a Nazi as he attended a private party specifically designed to be inappropriate and tasteless. They wanted to protect their son from threats or harm that wearing the costume might bring.

They thought it would be disrespectful to the memory of the Holocaust victims. This was a line that should not be crossed. There simply was not an appropriate answer for this issue.

They knew their son would be interacting with strangers and neighbors while trick-or-treating as well as with family and friends at a Halloween party. They worried there could be lingering doubts about their son’s character and about their radical parenting style that could outlast Halloween night.

Their next step was to find a way to address all of these concerns and come up with some solutions they could work on together with their son.

I admire these parents because they gave a lot of thought to understanding their own feelings on the decision. They were willing to put aside their strong emotional reactions in order to work through the issues rationally. They rarely deny requests from their children, as they firmly believe that everyone’s needs in the family are important. The parents do not simply hand down decisions. They mediate and compromise to find a result that best meets everyone’s needs.

They sat down with their son and shared their serious concerns. They had also worked out some ideas for compromises about when and where to wear the costume that would meet their needs to protect and support him. They were resigned to supporting whatever decision he made and would work with him, even though it was hard for them. Most of all, they wanted to hear him out.

My kneejerk reaction to this was the same as the parents’, except I would need to do some serious soul searching to let go enough and trust in my son. That is, until I heard the reason their son wanted to dress in a Nazi costume.

He said that he wanted to be the scariest thing he could think of. If people saw him, they would have to confront their own fear and hate. They would not forget.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Surf: Favorite season (for now)

I was driving down the street under a canopy of colorful trees, and golden leaves were dancing and spinning down all around me, and it just made me want to squeal, "I love fall!"

And then I was out in that delicious should-I-wear-a-jacket-or-shouldn't-I weather, and we went to Halloween festivities as a family and out to celebrate Sam's birthday.

And it gave me an excuse to dress Alrik in this:

baby Halloween onesie alrik a5mo smiling 2011
It reads "I love my mummy" and was a gift my niece bought Mikko
when he was born and she was 5 years old.

Here's Mikko in the same outfit, at a much younger age since he wouldn't have fit in it still for his first Halloween!

baby Halloween onesie mikko m4mo with stuffed lamb 2007

I tucked the garden in for the winter:

row covers in Fall garden — October 2011

And I got to eat a lactivist (aka mummy) cupcake:

lactivist cupcake at Cupcake Royale (mummy for Halloween 2011) -- breastfeeding & babywearing

It's all so happy-making.

What's your favorite season?


Love this gratitude challenge! List 100 things by (U.S.) Thanksgiving Day!

via on 10/30/11
Updated & concise list of Nestle candies to boycott!

via on 10/29/11
Easy way to decorate pumpkins without carving! You can still use the pumpkins after Halloween.

via on 10/20/11
I really like the suggestion in the comments to teach gun safety rather than get caught up in trying to ban gun play altogether. I feel I could have benefited from something more along those lines myself.

Easy-to-follow tips on using Montessori methods in the infant & toddler years. I've been interested in Montessori for awhile but have trouble grasping how to put it into practice. I appreciate clear suggestions like these & see how I've already been doing them or could be doing them with things I have around the home.

Guest posts

I was honored to share about my miscarriage on Julia's blog, A Little Bit of All of It:

Lauren’s Story – On Choosing a Natural Miscarriage

Miscarriage Poetry


I Love Me! Carnival at Anktangle

This carnival was such a pleasure to read. As Amy says,

"This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you."

I experimented with a new poetic style and was so happy with what came out: I love you for your mind.

The updated link list is at the bottom of our posts so you can check out all the inspiring contributions!

Carnival of Natural Parenting

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Don't forget to submit your posts on Kids in the Kitchen by this Tuesday, November 1!

When you have a super chubby baby, it's best to dress him in muscle shirts to draw attention to it. Just a little fashion tip for you.

Find more carnivals at my carnival linky! Add any you find, too. I could use the help!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I love you for your mind

Welcome to the I Love Me! Carnival!

This post was written for inclusion in the I Love Me! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle. This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from the other carnival participants.

I love you for your mind.

An insult from another,
compliment from a lover,
as I am, dove,
love and beloved,
your mind into body like the right size glove,

sitting above
the curve of shoulder
down to your chest,
the swell of breast,
making you think of milk
and skin like silk,
baby and lover blessed.

The belly of birth,
the legs to earth,
rooted to ground,
growing down,
cycling to your head,
the blood that sped,
till it reached the crown.

The crown, the glory,
the climax of the story.

Precision like a steel trap,
a treasure map,
the engine in a thinking cap,
just the gift to unwrap.

I love your mind,
redesigned and unconfined,
twirling, whirling,
with thoughts unfurling,
confident now to decline
the party line,
to leave behind
what doesn't fit,
what leaves you flat,
but always gnawing at
the part you bit.

Your gray matter
elastic, plastic,
loose and flowing,
not content with knowing
but with searching, seeking,
always teaching,
not just others in your chatter
but yourself.

I love your mind,
wild and undefined,
not a closed book on the shelf
but a down and dirty,
nitty gritty,
computing, thinking, weighing, hoping,
remembering, musing, swaying, dreaming,
fun and witty,
coy and flirty,
scheming machine.

I love your mind,
amped up like caffeine,
pliable like a trampoline.
I love you for your mind,
my love, myself.

This poem is all new, but if you'd like to read more of my parenting poetry, I have a whole book of it. Poetry of a Hobo Mama is available on Amazon (in various countries and for Kindle, which means you can download it to your computer or smartphone, too), or you can save 20% off the cover price at CreateSpace with coupon code SAP84AYJ — great idea for a holiday present for a new mama. (Just saying.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween gingerbread house

I know you didn't get enough Halloween pictures yesterday. (Ahem.)

In August, Mikko and I were at JoAnn's when he spotted this Halloween gingerbread house kit. Now, I didn't know such a thing existed, and we didn't need one in August, but don't try telling Mikko that.

(Our camera had broken and was sent off for repairs, so these are from our cell phone.)

Mikko m4yo decorates spooky gingerbread house for Halloween 2011 holidays
Sam helped Mikko put the base together. This was the trickiest part because the icing was a really slippery consistency. That did not deter Mikko from slurping it off the knife.

Mikko m4yo decorates spooky gingerbread house for Halloween 2011 holidays
At this point Sam gave up on trying to get the darn thing to look like the box and Mikko took over stacking the leftover pieces as he saw fit. (The can is to hold up the structure as it dries.)

Mikko m4yo decorates spooky gingerbread house for Halloween 2011 holidays
Mikko decorated with the candy and icing in a 1:1 ratio: one for the house, one for him. Until he realized the candies mostly tasted terrible.

Mikko m4yo with black lips from frosting for spooky gingerbread house for Halloween 2011 holidays
That black and gray frosting, though, was surprisingly delicious. (Warning: Your poop will come out intriguing colors, though. Just saying.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin patch

We wanted to get pumpkin picking somewhere this year, and I heard from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy (yea for NPN friends!) that her family was going to a super-cool place. So … we went along! Check out all the fun (sooo much more than just pumpkin picking, though we did that, too).

Corn crib! Sensory play that's slightly less disturbing to me than sand. Mikko's shoes and jacket immediately came off so he could dive in.

Jennifer's adorable L1 & L2.

Duck races! This was Mikko's favorite activity. No, seriously, it was. As Sam said, Mikko should tell his face he's having fun. L1 & L2 have got it going on.

We're winning! (Note: Mikko never actually won. This did not dampen his enthusiasm one whit.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Calling for submissions for the November Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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 November! (Check out January, February, March, April, May, July, August, September, October, and the full list of 2010 posts if you missed them.)

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

Here are the submission details for November 2011:

baby stirring flour and water in a wok — toddler cooking in the kitchen

Theme: Kids in the Kitchen: How do you encourage your children to take responsibility for their own eating — whether it's baby-led solids for the little ones, or helping in meal preparation for the older kids? Give us a blog post, a kid-friendly recipe, a series of messy photos, or whatever food-related submission comes to mind.

Deadline: Tuesday, November 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: CarNatPar {at}

Monday, October 24, 2011

Miscarriage Poetry at A Little Bit of All of It

hardy mum miscarriageI'm honored to have the second part of my guest posting on pregnancy loss over at A Little Bit of All of It, a selection of my miscarriage poetry.

Julia is hosting a series of guest posts — some named and some anonymous — in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I really appreciate this series, because one thing that meant the most to me during the miscarriage of my first pregnancy was hearing the stories of others who understood my loss.

Writing about the experience and the emotions I went through was another important tool for helping me heal, and Julia has allowed me to share some of that work with you. If you'd like to read more of my parenting poetry, I have a whole book of it. Poetry of a Hobo Mama is available on Amazon (in various countries and for Kindle, which means you can download it to your computer or smartphone, too), or you can save 20% off the cover price at CreateSpace with coupon code SAP84AYJ — great idea for a holiday present for a new mama. (Just saying.)


Robin like the hope of spring
Robin like the blue of an egg, the peace of that blue filtering through me and healing

We buried you, Robin,
or maybe it was umbilical cord or placenta or blood (but let’s believe),
in the hardy mum that weathered
summer and winter, drought and flood,
one journey from East Coast to Midwest in the oppressive droopiness of summer,
and one from Midwest to West Coast in the blasting chills of winter,
and even my unmotherly indifference.
Will I one day be a Hardy Mum, Robin?
I feel more like a Bleeding Girl.

Read more »

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On Choosing a Natural Miscarriage at A Little Bit of All of It

I'm honored to have a guest post over at A Little Bit of All of It about choosing a natural miscarriage.

Julia is hosting a series of guest posts — some named and some anonymous — in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It's such an important and meaningful thing to share these stories with each other, for corporate healing and the hope of reaching others who need to know we understand their grief and longing.

lone origami baby shoe

My first pregnancy ended in a loss at 10 weeks gestation. I chose to miscarry naturally, a process that took five long months and a great leap in trusting my body. I felt the pain, bleeding, and labor at home was a fitting end to my small baby's life. This is my story.

At ten weeks, my husband, Sam, and I went on a short, last-time-before-babies trip to London. On the plane ride back, the spotting started up again, this time with cramps.

We had a cat-sitting business, so we had to jump right back into work when we returned, visiting people’s houses to care for their pets. I kept sitting down while Sam performed the tasks. I felt awful, like a terrible period was coming, and the anxiety was even worse.

Just before we left our last house for the day, I went to the bathroom, and there it was: bright red blood, copious amounts. I began weeping in the car. I knew what this meant.

Read more »

Friday, October 21, 2011

We said goodbye to preschool

This post has been somewhat overdue as I've processed our decision last month to pull Mikko from his preschool.

Mikko, now 4, had been attending a language-immersion preschool twice a week for a half-day each for the past two and a half years. He started just before he turned 2, and I was ambivalent even then. We sent him for a few reasons: multilingual exposure (German and Spanish) to complement what he's receiving in his bilingual upbringing at home (German and English), activities that we didn't have to plan (crafts, games, songs), social opportunities with other kids (since we didn't have many friends who were parents at the time), exercise and playtime indoors and out, and time for Sam and me to work and have a little break from being on call.

These were all valid reasons, and I really wish it had worked out.

Mikko at almost 3 years old, clutching the babydoll who was like his security blanket there, and ignoring what everyone else is doing as per usual. (I've blurred anyone else's face that's showing.)

Mikko has always been high-needs. As an infant, he had to be carried and bounced (standing up!) constantly. As a baby, he would scream at any disregulation in his comfort: peeing, pooping, being cold, being hungry — not insistently let us know but scream. As a toddler, it was always challenging to wind him down for sleep, and the rare occasions of leaving him with sitters were cause for tears on all sides.

Now, as a verbal and entirely charming preschooler, I love him to pieces but I still see how different he sometimes is from average kids (whoever they are). He won't go into the nursery at church without falling apart. He still sleeps snuggled against us at night, and if we try to put him down elsewhere (which we can do now), he'll wake up in the middle of the night and scoot his way back in between Sam and me. He abhors conflict, making it impossible to take him to children's movies that feature villains (which is — all of them). When we went to see The Wiggles in concert, he sat backwards in his seat, refused to look at the stage, and complained in my ear the whole time that it was too dark and too loud. He'll go days without pooping, and when he does it's a big dramatic production with weeping and running from the toilet. He's resistant to getting dirty or wet, even in the name of fun, and he'll only wear "comfy pants." He went through a long phase of wearing a fedora everywhere and pulling it down over his face when he felt threatened, such as at social gatherings.

In short, the kid is intense. He feels things deeply and is highly sensitive.

Which always meant preschool was a dicey proposition.

I don't think there's anything wrong with Mikko. I know I was sensitive as a child, too, and I turned out all right. Sam was, too. We still are. We all have to learn how to handle our reactions and emotions, and some of us take longer than others. Some of us need more support than others as well. I'm really not in a hurry to rush him through the process.

Apparently preschool was too much too soon for this particular child.

I was always envious of the other parents dropping off their kids with a quick kiss goodbye, the child sending a cheery wave over a shoulder. How come I was the only one with a kid who cried at every drop-off, for two years straight?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Speak regular": Where we're at with German

He'll still eat German food.

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

Ok, so this is one of those confessional posts. I wanted to give an update to our bilingual childrearing (German and English), but it's not a happy update.

For various reasons, we recently pulled Mikko, now 4 years old, out of his twice-a-week language immersion preschool (German and Spanish). In the few short weeks since, he seems to have forgotten all German. I'm sure this can't be true, but he's giving a good imitation of it.

Most distressingly for me, he gets frustrated and annoyed if I speak to him in German. So I get to hear things like this:

"I don't know that in Spanish, Mama." (He gets the names of languages mixed up.)

"Speak regular, Mama." (Oh, this kills me.)

"Don't speak English, Mama." (Did I mention he gets the names of languages mixed up?)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Cosleeping with my boys

Yes, Mikko was sleeping sitting up.
that comfortable.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Surf: Autumnal family time

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

baby in sweater hoodieBoy howdy, it's turned fall here in Seattle.

I've dusted off our sweaters (yes, I keep them on an open shelf, and last year I was pregnant, so "dusted off" is horrifyingly apt), brought out the socks (Mikko persists in sockless Crocs-dom), switched over from sandals, and discovered my coat crumpled in the trunk where last I left it (with the gloves still intact in the pockets — huzzah).

The maples on our drive look like they're on fire. Our tomatoes have finally joined them in also turning red.

After a pleasant service and chatting with acquaintances at the new church we're trying out, we joined Jennifer and her family on their annual excursion to a pumpkin farm. We had gone to a pathetic one last year, and this one rocked — see, it helps to get to know your online friends. We chose pumpkins (four of them, for four of us — aw!), went on a hay ride and tractor train (three times! my bones!), played in a corn crib, fished for trout (which we oh-so-thankfully did not catch; I think I would have freaked out), watched a pumpkin cannon, raced rubber duckies, got mildly lost (but not really) in a corn maze, and ate piping hot corn on the cob.

I'd post a couple pictures of our time there, but our camera's downstairs and I'm snugly scrunched between two sleeping boys while my tootsies continue to warm up. Autumn can be deceptively chilly. And being outdoors has made all of us deliciously sleepy.

After the farm, we ate at our favorite Mexican place from when we'd first moved to Seattle a decade ago. Yummers.

It was a very good day. I love family days like this, just as I love the fall. Bring it on, October.

Link linky links:

via on 10/15/11
Sam chose dreadlocks for a few years for this same purpose: To get people to talk to HIM, to second guess their assumptions that he would agree with whatever they said, to realize that he had, in some ways, signed out of "the Game." I often wish I could find an outside look that more accurately reflects my inner quarrel with societal standards and unquestioned authority. And then, somedays, I'm thankful I can retreat into looking nice and unthreatening. What would it be like to tattoo your face with your commitment to being different?
I am having a recurrent thought: “Just tattoo your face and get it over with.”

via on 10/14/11
For World Mental Health Day. We need to talk about mental illness, and take away the stigma. I really dig this post for doing both. (via White Noise:
I'm about as safe and normal as it comes. It's just that my shitty 2% might look a lot worse than yours. Perhaps your 2% probably looks like a box of kleenex or a tub of ice cream. Mine just happens to look like a combination of Lady Gaga, Heroin, and an Atom Bomb. (** no I have not ever done heroin). And because of this fact I have spent WAY TOO EFFING LONG thinking I am disqualified for all awesome things in life. But lo and behold, I do get to be a Mom, a Wife, and all sorts of other wonderful things, and I get to have a great time doing it. I am not disqualified just because my 2% isn't as socially appropriate as the next person's.

via on 10/13/11
Per our last Carnival of Natural Parenting on Money Matters. I know not every budget & working schedule can fit in cloth diapering, but I thought these tips for super, super, super cheap cloth diapers were awesome for families who want to but are struggling to afford it. (via

via on 10/13/11
A call to mothers especially to let loose and dive into the deep end. How often do you play unabashedly?
Sometimes I see the fathers playing, diving, jumping about in the deep end, but the mothers that I see (when they do swim) are swimming lengths with me during the lane swims. Back and forth, back and forth… checking our lap times, trying to maintain our rhythm… all very earnest.

Let's talk #FOOD for Blog Action Day #BAD11

patio tomato harvested

Hunger has been a topic near to my heart for decades. Maybe it's because I love food so much. Maybe it's just because food is so basic that I can't imagine anyone being deprived of it. Maybe it's because it's disproportionately children who suffer the consequences of food shortages and malnutrition. The statistics horrify me as I imagine my own children enduring such a fate (and the world's children are my children).

As I have the privilege of worrying that my preschooler might be too picky an eater, or that I might have eaten one too many cookies last night, other families (such as those in East Africa) are facing famine and food shortages and spending all their energy on trying desperately to feed themselves and their vulnerable little ones — absolutely anything. In countries like mine where the situation is rarely quite so dire, an unacceptable 14.6% of U.S. households have fallen into the category of "food insecure" and spend days of each month hungry and potentially whole lifetimes undernourished.

There's no need for anyone to go hungry, and we can do something about it.

Take this short and eye-opening quiz for starters: