Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Tea party

We had a little Northwestern get-together with some of our friends from Natural Parents Network. It's always high time for tea.

Jennifer and me

Melissa and Amarys. Please enjoy Melissa's amazing guest post on her C-section journey from yesterday. Amarys is VBAC #2.

I love how Alrik looks like an evil genius here. That fork kept him happily occupied for a long time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Learning to celebrate a cesarean birth

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, Melissa from White Noise and Mothers of Change. Melissa shares how she navigated through sadness at her cesarean through to healing and birth advocacy.

Guest post by Melissa from White Noise

I had my first baby when I was 24. It took me awhile to get used to being unexpectedly pregnant, and many of the pregnancy milestones or discomforts felt like unasked for, alien body invasions. By my third trimester I finally felt emotionally settled in to the fact that I was going to have a baby, and was mentally preparing for a natural birth. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, I felt my fairly active baby make one herculean, earthquake-like somersault and wedge himself into my uterus head up, bottom down: breech. My doctor referred me to an obstetrician, who tried to turn him with an external cephalic version two weeks later. My baby was bigger than average, and I am small and compact, so turning him was unsuccessful. A week later I checked into the hospital for a scheduled cesarean, because that is what the recommendation was for breech babies at that time. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has since reversed that recommendation based on more extensive and up-to-date research, but we did what we thought was best at the time.

Now, I've always been a believer that nature is pretty smart. Handcrafted, homemade, baked, sewn or knit with love is pretty cool. My parents were hippies and my mom works in obstetrics and had her babies in the heat of the natural birth movement of the late seventies, so I always figured I would have natural births. I just didn't factor in the possibility of a cesarean. Surgical birth was something that happened to other women, ones with dangerous health situations or enormous babies~surely I wouldn't have a birth like that? I was planning on a drug-free natural birth with my husband there to help me out and lots of self-gratification for being strong and weathering pain like a champion.

Instead, I lay on a narrow operating table numb and cold, got my guts hauled out and my baby handed to me in a sort of awkward moment in which I felt no emotion whatsoever. I didn't feel bad, I just didn't feel anything at all until I had been in the recovery room for about half an hour. Like when you get a cut and don't really realize it until you look down and there's blood on your leg, and then it starts hurting a few minutes after your realize it really should.

My doctors were nice, the operating room nurse was very kind, the pediatrician was fine; nobody was mean to me or bullied me into a cesarean or anything: in fact, my obstetrician told me there was absolutely no reason I couldn't have a vaginal birth next time around. In my head I thought, damn straight. But I appreciate that she didn't try to instil fear in me, or question my body's ability to give birth naturally in the future. However, this birth was nowhere near what I had anticipated, hoped, or dreamed about for as long as I can remember, and it took some time to process that fact.

Cesarean birth happened to me. It was like this train that scooped me up at a railway crossing and just took me along for the ride. There are many ways to give birth vaginally; in hospital, at home, in a birthing center, unassiseted, husband-coached, epidural for pain relief or exhaustion, augmented, induced, by candlelight, in water, or with the help of acupuncture. There is pretty much only one way to have a cesarean, and as the birthing woman in the room I knew the least about the necessary process and had the least say in how things went down. There are ways to be empowered and make choices regarding cesarean delivery, but I didn't know about any of them and as such was swept away by the medical way of doing things and left feeling kind of like this:

From Woman to Woman and the Unnecessarean

Monday, February 27, 2012

Calling for submissions for the March 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 March 2012! (Check out February, January, and a summary of all our 2011 posts if you missed any.)

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

Here are the submission details for March 2012:

Theme: Parenting With Special Needs: Many of us are touched by caring for a child who stretches our parenting skills. Others of us have experience being a parent with special needs, or having parents of our own or a partner with special needs. Share your story or some specific elements or tips on raising children despite the challenges. We'd love to hear from those who have family members diagnosed with a physical, mental, or emotional illness, but it could also be a less formal condition: Maybe your baby started off in the NICU, your child has unexplained developmental delays, or your toddler is very high needs. Maybe you, your partner, or your family of origin has had particular challenges. If you don't have personal experience, consider writing from a supporter's perspective or finding a guest blogger to share!

Deadline: Tuesday, March 6. 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, March 13. 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 March 13 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on March 13 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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'm a natural parent, but you'd be surprised

Welcome to the "I'm a Natural Parent — BUT..." Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

Mikko's first visit to fast food. This was before I started blogging,
but even then taking this picture made us feel both sheepish and defiant.

There's no one definition for what makes a natural parent, which can leave most of us feeling like everyone's probably more natural than we are. Well, I'm here to relieve your minds that while it might be true for me, the reverse is likely not true for you. Read on for Hobo Mama's shocking (!), shameful (!!) confessions…

Probably the biggest area where I differ with a lot of my crunchy friends is in the subject of food. People devote so much energy to what they can and can't eat, and what their kids are allowed. I admire this energy. I don't have it, though. We eat a pretty normal diet. (Purists would call it a SAD diet.) After listening to umpteen friends share recommendations about the best gluten-free bakeries and which stores sell items that are dairy- and soy-free, I'm avoiding any form of food intolerance testing, because I don't want to know. I'm currently looking forward to Sam bringing me home from the office some Junior Mints that he squirreled away for me at Christmas, and I will promptly eat the whole boxful. Sugar haters, look away!

Then there are the areas where I'm just so. much. lazier with my second child. I prefer to think of it as "relaxed," though. Elimination communication? Eh, when I think of it. Mikko was so particular about his elimination that he kind of demanded it, but Alrik's so easygoing it's simpler just to change the diaper when he's wet and be done with it. I still love EC as a practice and a philosophy, and I'm trying to incorporate it into our routines more, but I'm not beating myself up about days when I've missed every single pee for the salient fact that I never brought out the potty.

Sunday Surf: Communication edition

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaWelcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

I had a mini-Natural Parents Network Team get-together yesterday, like this one only more casual and with freer talking, since we've gotten past the ice-breaking phase. My mother-in-law is also visiting this week, so it's social city with less time for sitting in front of the screen. I'm glad, though, because it means I get to bring you some great guest posts soon — stay tuned!

For now, a little reading!


I forgot to post these at first last week, so I'm reposting them today. I'm like that (on both counts).

How to tag Facebook pages from your fan page

If Facebook is acting up for you, here are 2 easy steps to follow!

Drop-down for switch accounts through multiple-sign in for Google and Gmail screenshot

Simplify your Google & Gmail accounts:

How to log into multiple Google accounts
How to forward email to another Gmail account
How to send from multiple email addresses in one Gmail account

And the first in a continuing series on confusing word pairs, from this former copy editor who just can't help herself:

Hone in vs. home in

Carnival news:

How to keep in touch with distant grandparents
This is my entry into the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. Read the links at the end to hear other thoughts about Connection.

I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalStay tuned for today's playful and cathartic blog carnival: "I'm a Natural Parent — But…," hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network.

Find other carnivals at my Natural Parenting Carnival Linky. And please, please, please help me keep it updated by adding in carnivals OR memes (recipe linkups and the like) that you're hosting or entering! It would be soooo helpful. Don't be worried that yours is too small — I want to promote everybody's special blog parties! Even if the carnival or meme is already represented but you want to update the information, enter it again and I'll go in and delete the old info. Thank you! I'd love to make it a helpful resource for all of us.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to keep in touch with distant grandparents

Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama.

This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!

How to keep in touch with distant grandparents == Hobo Mama

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

Our kids' grandparents live across the country from us, and traveling to see each other is feasible only once or twice a year. To maintain the connection the rest of the time with them and other distant relatives and friends, we rely on the following very modern techniques:

Video chats

All you and your relatives both need is a working webcam, computer (or video-chat-compatible smartphone), and speedy internet connection. (What you likely need in addition is unlimited patience in helping your parents set up their webcam and connection, long distance, but that's a tutorial for another day.)

We've used a mix of Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Video Chat and Hangout. If you and your parents are in the U.S., all these options are free over an internet connection. I'm not sure what international options are best, but I know that even if you have to pay for a VOIP international call, it's usually much cheaper than standard telephone options.

The joy of video chatting for little kids and grandparents is that both sides get to see each other. Kids who would otherwise lose interest in an audio call can be kept captivated for longer by a moving image. My in-laws love to up the amusement factor by displaying their Snoopy animatronics and other bell-and-whistle gewgaws. Kids will also learn what their relatives look and sound like, which is a handy thing when they don't meet them very often. The benefits for the grandparents is getting to talk with and see their grandkids growing in ways still pictures can't convey.


Along the same lines, sending videos back and forth can reinforce those visual ties. We have a small camcorder (a Flip), and our phone has one as well. We used to try to get clever and cutesy with the editing, until we realized it was holding us back from posting things already. Now we just take a little, cohesive clip of something adorable (Alrik crawling for the first time, Mikko doing a magic trick), throw a title card on it, and post it to YouTube.

JibJab e-card video still with baby break dancing

My parents get into the spirit by making JibJab videos, which crack Mikko up. You upload still photos of you and your relatives or friends looking face-on and then use JibJab's editing software to extract the heads. JibJab sticks them onto dancers' bodies in various music videos. Mikko still doesn't get that they aren't really us dancing. He makes comments like, "I don't remember when we were at that party," and "You're a really good dancer, Mama!"


I imagine Facebook's easier than Twitter to get most grandparents to buy into, so that's what I use with my mom. I don't know that my dad's ever been on Facebook, and Sam's parents are definitely not, but Twitter is right out for them.

You can post photos, status updates, and videos, and you can tag your parents or post on their wall to get their attention. Plus, it gives them the opportunity to comment on all the cute stuff you're uploading to show off what proud grandparents they are.


If you have a digital camera or camera phone, it's easy to dump all your week's cute pictures up on a photo site like Flickr or Photobucket to share with your parents. If your parents are old-school and want prints but you're too lazy or cheap to mail them yourself (wait, is that just me?), you can upload them to a place like Snapfish or Shutterfly so your parents can order prints directly from the site.

Every once in awhile, I do print out some photos and actually mail them. That's always well appreciated! Lately, though, I bought a membership at Tiny Prints so that I'll remember to send photo cards at least six times a year. (That's an affiliate link, but that's totally true that I paid for a membership — I need the motivation! Plus, they add the stamps for me and drive the envelopes to the post office.) If that's outside your budget, a sweet photo-collage e-card (I like Smilebox by Hallmark) can be just as appreciated.

We also love to make a hardcover photo book every other year for each child and give them as Christmas gifts to our parents (saving one for us, too, obviously!).

Photo albums

Speaking of photo books, we made a simple little album for Mikko as a baby featuring all his relatives. At first we had a soft squishy one made for the purpose of baby using it as a chew toy, but later I realized any "brag book"-size photo album that could hold 4x6" pictures would do. Sometimes I professionally printed photos to stick in, and sometimes I just ran them off on our color printer; quality doesn't matter to a little tyke so much as boosting the familiarity of these dear faces.


It's free and easy to start your own blog, and for your family's sake, it doesn't need to be anything fancier than a repository of photos, your baby's growth stats, and hilarious things your kids have said. Older kids can run their own to record their thoughts and exercise their writing skills. Enable email subscriptions so each new post goes straight to the grandparents' inbox; that will make sure they see each post when it's hot off the presses!

Mass emails

I have a group contact list for all the email addresses of our parents and siblings. Whenever I want to alert the group to new photos, share news, or pass along a funny story, I just type in the group name and email everyone at once. I have yet to have a family member unsubscribe.


Mikko's favorite thing to do is make "decorations," and he recently fell in love with ceramics, which means we have frequent opportunities to send enchanting crafts to people who will highly appreciate them. Usually the only challenging aspect is figuring out how to finagle them for mailing!

Letters and packages

Particularly as your kids get older, you can encourage them to carry on a correspondence with their grandparents. Get some appealing stationery and make the experience fun by encouraging your children to write about anything interesting to them. Children too young to write can draw a picture that you caption for them, or dictate a story. Remind your parents to write back and suggest perhaps including small gifts like a sheet of stickers or a bookmark. As a fancier gift suggestion, my son loves High Five, Puzzle Buzz, and National Geographic Little Kids magazine subscriptions (I swear that last one isn't even an affiliate link; it's just bizarre), all from Grandma, which I remind him whenever they arrive at our home. You could even go more three-dimensional with a care package — maybe your little ones would like to help you bake Grandpa his favorite cookies or finger knit Nana a scarf. Everyone loves getting (good) mail.

Story readings

This goes back to my much younger days, but I remember when my long-distance friends and I would record audio tapes for each other to send through the mail. You can carry on this esteemed tradition by suggesting your parents record themselves reading a storybook you have at home and send you the audio or video file. If they want to shell out some dough, Hallmark has recordable storybooks to buy.

Mix tapes

You want to suggest mix tapes aren't "very modern" technology? Well, the Bront√ęs sure didn't have them. I remember my grandmother making a mix tape for my brother and me when we were little of their favorite folksy songs. For years, I assumed it was my grandmother and grandfather singing on the tape, a fact that greatly amused my mother when she found out. You and your loved ones could offer up an exchange of favorite music, so that thoughts of your relative go through your mind as you enjoy each other's tunes, although I'll allow it could be of the CD or mp3 variety.

There are a lot of enjoyable and simple ways to stay in touch even if you don't live near your loved ones. And these tips can work for grandparents and grandchildren or any other relation: favorite cousins (Mikko's the cutest stalker my niece has ever had the pleasure to know), parents who are service people deployed by the military, divorced parents who live distantly, godparents or other mentors, and anyone else with a kinship you wish to foster.

Be creative, follow your kids' interests, and make family connections fun!

How do you help your children keep in touch with distant loved ones?

Visit Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 24 with all the carnival links.)

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links,
because I looked up all the companies
to see if they had programs.
I'm like that.
See my full disclosure policy here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Grin and a half

two brothers smiling

two boys smiling

Msybe someday my four-year-old will learn to smile, too.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Surf: Love all around

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaWelcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

We think Alrik might have signed his first sign last night: FAN. I'm so looking forward to communicating more with him. It's like having your dog suddenly start talking to you, only not as worthy of a sitcom.

When I was trying to put the boys to sleep, Mikko kept trying to help me bounce Alrik and rub his back, and this cracked Alrik up no end. This made it ineffective as a relaxation technique but adorable as sibling bonding.

Mikko hugged me and said out loud every variation of our love for each other: "You really love me, Mama." Yes. We covered that I really love Alrik and Sam, and that each of them loves me back. It was the perfect affirmation to end the night on.

Here's some reading!

  • Momma Jorje: Composting: a Beginner's Guide 

    Guest post from Chris & Rebekah of Liberated Family that is totally inspiring me. I’ve been wanting to compost for our garden (located at a friend’s house) but the only outdoor space I can call my own is a teensy balcony. Ready for this suggestion?
    But what if you don’t have room for even one pile? Put a plastic container on the deck or backyard, buy a commercial compost spinner, or just get a large plastic trash can with a tight-fitting lid. If you use any type of airtight container, drill or poke some holes in it so it can breathe. And if you’ve used a trash can, turning the compost is so simple - just lay it on its side and roll it.
  • A Letter to the Father of Hannah Who Posted “To My Parents” on Facebook | BlogHer 

    I liked this response to the father who posted the video of himself shooting his daughter’s laptop. It doesn’t shame the father or blame the daughter but suggests there’s a better way to deal with family problems and that there’s already a good place to start:
    So, I just wanted to suggest that when all the hubbub DOES die down (and I’m praying this happens fairly quickly, before more dangerous and intense “one-uppance” behaviors continue) that you start where you almost finished…start with those words: “Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father, and I don’t know how to correct the situation.”
  • The Perfect Placenta - Job Description: Mommy 

    I love the placenta! And it’s so odd that anyone on Facebook would think to complain about placenta pictures, and that Facebook’s response would be to ban the posters. Ah, well, I appreciate this informative rebuttal — with pictures, of course! Learn a little more about this fascinating organ.

Guest post:

The loud silence of disbelief

at Catapult Magazine


How to tag Facebook pages from your fan page

If Facebook is acting up for you, here are 2 easy steps to follow!

Drop-down for switch accounts through multiple-sign in for Google and Gmail screenshot

Simplify your Google & Gmail accounts:

How to log into multiple Google accounts
How to forward email to another Gmail account
How to send from multiple email addresses in one Gmail account