Friday, December 28, 2012

Making rules hilarious

young boy sitting on airplane
Remember: Sit in your seat
until the captain yells
olly olly oxen free.

We're kind of a free-range family, but there are times when I need to lay down some rules for my kids. This usually happens in situations where we'll be rubbing up against other people who have high expectations: on an airplane, in a restaurant, at the theater. We read books about the situation beforehand and talk over what to expect, but as the day nears, I need to reinforce the basic guidelines.

When I just rehearse the rules with Mikko ad nauseam, he tends to get testy and wants to tune me out. But as a young kid, he does in fact have a limited attention span and shorter memory, so I have to do something to remind him and make sure the rules stick.

Because I'm a goof bucket, here's what I discovered works well for getting across the point while still retaining a light-heartedness that doesn't irritate my kiddo. Feel free to borrow my comedy stylings for your preschooler and see how it goes.

{Alrik at 18 months is too young to think I'm verbally funny. He prefers physical gags. I think this technique started working with Mikko around 3 or 4, and he's 5 now and it's still a hit.}

First, adopt a very serious voice. (It helps if you don't often do so, making it an attention grabber.) "Mikko, we need to go over the rules for how to behave on the airplane."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas!

Since I'll be taking off from blogging to enjoy Christmas, I'm scheduling this in advance from more of our holiday-anticipation photos! Hope you've all been having a merry celebration with friends and family and are enjoying Boxing Day.

boy working with markers on ornament — holidays Christmas12
One of our activity-a-day Advent happenings was decorating these ornaments.
Mikko got into it.

baby decorating cardboard with markers — holidays Christmas12
So of course Alrik had to join in!
I gave him some cardboard from the recycling to decorate, and he was none the wiser.

baby happy with markers — holidays Christmas12
He was thrilled!

reindeer babylegs — holidays Christmas12
He was also suitably impressed with the googly-eyed reindeer
baby leg warmers I made him
{this is my easy tutorial if you want to whip some up
for your young'uns or other little legs!}.

constructing gingerbread house — holidays Christmas12
Another day's activity was to put together this gingerbread house kit. It was meant to be a village of four little houses, but Mikko had grander plans, so we followed his lead.

boy constructing gingerbread house — holidays Christmas12
He decided at least a double-decker was in order. He wanted a skyscraper, but Sam had to talk him down to something structurally possible with a few cookies and some frosting.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Twelve Days of Natural Parenting

affiliate links in post

Merry Christmas Eve!

Tomorrow marks the start of the twelve days of Christmas (yes, historically, celebrating Christmas started on December 25 and lasted even longer than Hanukkah! It would be a great way to avoid that post-holiday letdown, right?), so I bring you:

The Twelve Days of Natural Parenting

I wrote a new song based on what our babies want for Christmas: nummies, snuggles, laughing together, going outdoors, and being close to us.

Because what would you do with ten lords a'leaping, anyway?

I recorded the song in a video (below) so you can hear the musical version, or here's a graphic, too, for your viewing pleasure:

The Twelve Days of Natural Parenting for attachment parents — Christmas song

Disclaimers below the video if you're into that sort of thing. If not, merry Christmas, and enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Calling for submissions for the January 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 January 2013! (Check out December, November, October, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January, and a summary of all our 2011 posts if you missed any.)

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

relaxing on hammockHere are the submission details for January 2013:

Theme: Recovering From the Holidays: Whatever holidays you celebrate in the fall and winter, they can take their toll on our mental health, house upkeep, and budget with travel, gift-making/buying/giving, and related stress. What stories or tips can you share about recovering from the holidays?

Deadline: Tuesday, January 8. 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}
Note: In an effort to recover from the holidays in our own homes, we've pushed back the normal Carnival deadline one week. We are also going to take February off. The Carnival will resume in March on our normal schedule (posts due first Tuesday and publish second Tuesday).

Carnival date: Tuesday, January 15. 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 January 15 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on January 15 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: January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting participant form

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to make wool dryer balls

How to make wool dryer balls = Hobo Mama

Wool dryer balls are some amazing balls of wool. For your dryer. Hence the name.

They take the place of dryer sheets or fabric softeners, and they do a really good job softening up clothes and cloth diapers safely and gently. If you play your cards right (i.e., scent your dryer balls with essential oils), they can even make your laundry smell pretty — and not chemical-y.

I've heard tell they can also cut drying time and reduce static. I haven't officially tested the drying time deal, and synthetics or overdried clothes will still spark a bit — but any static dissipates quickly, which is good enough for me. Some people complain that having balls romp around in your dryer is rather loud, but I seriously never notice any extra ruckus. Plus, these balls can be reused indefinitely, making them a green and frugal choice for any laundry-doer.

The great news? You can make wool dryer balls, tout de suite. And you can make them look and smell lovely, which means they make an awesome, easy, super-fast holiday gift for most any grown-up on your list.

I read a selection of tutorials before making my dryer balls, and my go-to tute is Anktangle's, but then I honed my craft and put my own little decorative spin on the idea, so I'll present my how-to here as well.


  • Wool yarn (100% wool; see caption below) — I recommend a cheaper plain yarn for the cores, and then decorative colors and textures for the outside
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Socks
  • Washer & dryer (you can felt in a sink, but I don't recommend it)
How to make wool dryer balls = Hobo Mama
Look for wool that says 100% wool and tells you to hand wash.
If the label says it's a special wool blend ("wool-ease") that can be machine washed,
your balls won't felt together. Sounds convenient for other projects, but not dryer balls.
Forget that noise.

How to make wool dryer balls = Hobo Mama
You can also use wool roving or felting wool.
It comes either in clumps or as a yarn; I used the yarn kind.
Roving gives a softer look to the finished dryer balls
and can be a nice choice for combining colors
or mixing roving with regular yarn for textural interest.

Step by step

How to make wool dryer balls = Hobo Mama
  • Wind a small core, about half the size of your finished balls (which will be approximately tennis-ball sized).

    As I mentioned above, I recommend choosing a cheaper wool yarn for the cores. It doesn't matter what color it is, since the second half will cover it completely. I bought a jumbo skein of plain gray Fishermen's Wool and used it for all my cores.
How to make wool dryer balls = Hobo Mama
When you get the core ball to the size you want,
wrap over the yarn end several times to secure.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winners of the Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift Guide — and coupons for your natural, small-business shopping!

Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift Guide

Congratulations to all of the Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift Guide Winners!

From Destany Fenton Fine Art via Code Name: MamaMandy won an original 12x16 portrait (ARV $220)

For a unique heirloom gift that you will treasure for a lifetime, have Destany Fenton paint a portrait of your child or family.

Be sure to like Destany Fenton Fine Art on Facebook!



From Glass Dharma via Living Peacefully with ChildrenJorje won a $25 Gift Certificate

Help protect the environment with these beautifully functional glass straws.

Be sure to like Glass Dharma on Facebook!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Horses, bears, and gingerbread

boy on carousel — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays
We went downtown with some friends to ride the holiday carousel
and partake in ogling festoonery.

family on carousel — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays
One set of said friends!
{Many of these pictures are Shannon's, by the by.
I'll credit them by linking them to her site.}

family — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays

balloon man making animals — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays

balloon sword — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays
Nothing says the holidays are here like a balloon sword.

huge menorah — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays
Happy Hanukkah!

blue painted Hanukkah trees — Christmas downtown Seattle meetup holidays

Monday, December 17, 2012

Top posts of 2012 from natural parenting writers

I am proud and honored to be a co-founder of Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you will be informed, empowered, and inspired — and to work with the many fabulous volunteers who keep NPN running.

When you visit NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more!

Today I would like to share some bookmark-worthy posts that highlight several wonderful posts from 20 volunteers with the Natural Parents Network. These posts were featured on the personal blogs of the Natural Parents Network volunteers and are some of the best of 2012.

We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for new volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way!

Jenn from Monkey Butt Junction

Most Viewed Post: Why I want to Homeschool / Why I Don't Want to Homeschool
Personal Favorite Post: Hello Mornings
Post I Wish More People Saw: Eating Healthy on the Road

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Surf: Bring on the joy

Welcome to the Sunday Surf, a tour of the best blogposts I've read throughout the week.

brothers playing arcade game
This (terribly lit) picture makes me laugh for a couple reasons. It shows how independent and determined our little 18-month-old Alrik has become if you know what to look for. First, the obvious: He's hogging the steering wheel of this arcade game (no money required for the under-2 set!) and quite volubly protested any of his older brother's attempts to take over the driving.

Secondly, he's wearing Mikko's Spider-Man pajamas. Inside-out. And backwards. He brought them to me and insisted I help him put them on like so.

Speaking of two years old, I bet that age is going to be a treat with this one!

Since I skipped last week, I've got so many links!

Support your favorite bloggers:

Hobo Mama: Support bloggers by shopping through affiliate links

If you're shopping online this holiday season, particularly at Amazon, please consider clicking through an affiliate link first — no cost to you, and a nice token of gratitude for your beloved blogs! If you have Amazon Associates or other affiliate links, add them to the linky Teresa at Mom Grooves and I set up:

Be sure to bookmark the page so you can continue shopping through people's affiliate links all year round!

Carnival news:

Our December Carnival of Natural Parenting on Childhood Memories was so inspiring! Read the links as you make memories this season. Here's my take, and the links to the other posts are at the end:

Stuff does not equal memories

The Body: AMAZING Carnival hosted by True Confessions of a Real Mommy and Anktangle was also … well … amazing! Here's my post, with links to the other uplifting posts at the end:

On running my first 5K race

And, make sure you sign up for the Parenting Blog Carnival Calendar:

The parenting blog carnival calendar: Keep track of upcoming writing opportunities!
As a writer, you no longer have to memorize due dates for the blogging carnivals you love. Notifications will come right to your Google Calendar and inbox!

As a carnival host, you can snag more participants and keep them apprised of due dates and themes!

Check out upcoming carnivals in the calendar below, and click the "plus" button at the bottom to add it to your Google account.

To add carnivals to the calendar, see the static page with an email form that takes you step by step through submitting your carnival information. Any carnivals on topics of interest to natural parenting bloggers are welcome.