Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Surf: The importance of breastfeeding

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

Happy Easter photo collage from JC Penney Portraits
Hope you're having a very happy Easter! Per Mikko's request, we're having an Easter piñata (well, of course), as well as heading over to his aunt's for dinner and egg dyeing. What fun are you having?

This week's Sunday Surf is dedicated to a specific topic: the recent Healthy Life Summit and a controversial presentation by Sarah Pope (The Healthy Home Economist) on nutrition as it relates to breastfeeding, as well as the position the Village Green Network (sponsors of the Healthy Life Summit) and the Weston A. Price Foundation (a related organization) take on the topic.

nummies from MamaOver the last few days there have been a lot of heated debates, controversial posts, and social media outcry because of the strident messages being put forth. While VGN and WAPF do present sound information on the ideal diet for breastfeeding mothers, they do so in a manner that brings about guilt, fear, and confusion.

On Thursday, bloggers from around the world came together in a show of support for breastfeeding mothers. New mothers have enough challenges without having to feel guilty for how they feed their baby, especially when they are choosing the most natural of means — breastfeeding.

The bloggers who participated in the Breastfeeding Support Blog Party are not trying to create a divide between mothers. They simply want to offer support, in the form of blog posts, as to why breastfeeding should always be the first choice both for baby and mama.

We hope you take some time to read the posts that were written as part of the Blog Party, which I've pasted below. There are also over 140 posts linked up as part of this. Take some time to check them out here or link up your own breastfeeding support post!

Since I didn't post on Thursday, here are my thoughts on the subject:

The WAPF position is a suggestion that women without an ideal Weston Price-approved diet have breastmilk no better nutritionally than commercial formula. For those not familiar with Weston Price, he was a forward-thinking dentist who in the 1930s traveled extensively and noted that people eating the traditional foods of their culture as opposed to the typical Western diet had stronger teeth and better overall health. He wrote the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration as a result. The WAPF have codified his observations into very strict rules of traditional foods eating (ignoring, in my opinion, Price's own rules of eating your own culture's foods, though I find that very challenging in any case as an American mutt!).

The WAPF and Village Green Network have been encouraging the use of their homemade formula recipe, and one of their sponsors sells a kit and the hard-to-find ingredients. This is not only a clear violation of the WHO Code, but it is also dangerous: There are no peer-reviewed studies showing their formula is safe or beneficial for infants and children long term — whereas there are tons showing breastfeeding is not only safe (regardless of the mother's nutritional status) but also highly beneficial beyond the use of commercial formula. My statement here is not meant to stir up "Mommy Wars" of breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding; I'm only pointing out that breastfeeding has an established safety and value record (of millennia!), and commercial formula as well has many checks and balances in place in terms of safety and research. This homemade version does not have those advantages, and I think it's foolhardy for an organization to promote it so cavalierly.

My other problem with denigrating American women's breastmilk composition is that it misses the point that breastfeeding is about more than breastmilk. There has been much speculation that increases in IQ among breastfed babies, for example, has less to do with breastmilk nutrition and more to do with the face-to-face bonding time that breastfeeding ensures. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding, for both the baby and the mama, that have nothing to do with what precisely the baby is drinking. (Speaking of which, there are ways to bottle feed in a breastfeeding manner.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Join me for the Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop in April!

Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop footprints on beach photo poetry-beach_zps6992dd51.jpg

Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop

April is National Poetry Month (for the purposes of this challenge, let's just call it "Global Poetry Month," ok?), and I want to celebrate poems and parenting in one beautiful span of five poetry-drenched weeks.

Come along with me on this challenge with one simple mission in mind:
Write some parenting poetry.

That's it. It doesn't have to be amazing (though you'll find that a lot of it is!). You just have to write, and then share — inspire, and be inspired.

The minimal goal is to write at least one poem a week on the overarching theme for that week, which I'll post on Mondays.

You can use the optional daily prompts to inspire more specific poems or to write more frequently in case you're in the mood.

On Fridays, I'll host a linky for participants to share their poem(s) of the week. (Each linky will stay open for the entire challenge, so you can add to it later if you haven't posted your poems by then.) If you don't have your own blog, you can post your poem directly into the comments.

We'll comment on each other's poems throughout the challenge and embrace the creativity of the group.

At the end of the challenge, there will be some prizes and sweet celebration — as well as the knowledge that you have at least five more parenting poems in your portfolio!

FAQ & rules, rules, rules

Do I have to be a parent to participate? Do all my poems have to be parenting-centric?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Art class

toddler painting with watercolors at table - crafts art
Recent educational budget cuts haven't yet affected our homeschool's art possibilities…

boy painting with dot paint sticks at table - crafts art
Good thing, since the boys love their art projects.

toddler painting with dot paint sticks at table - crafts art
Alrik's favorite are these new dot paint sticks.

boy painting with dot paint sticks at table - crafts art
Mikko's a fan, too.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A trick to unlatch a sleeping nursling

Today's post is in the realm of passing on mama tips among the tribe. I'm sure other people have discovered this trick, but I've found it very handy and want to make sure it's out there where people can use it.

If your nursling has fallen asleep on the nipple and is comfort sucking, and you want to unlatch for whatever reason, what do you do?

Before I tell you what I do, let me just say something about comfort or non-nutritive nursing: It's totally beneficial so shouldn't be knocked. Particularly in early breastfeeding days, all that comfort sucking can help regulate and increase milk supply, so encourage it however you can manage if you have low supply issues.

Plus, there's no reason to feel like you "shouldn't" allow comfort nursing — don't feel guilt or pressure from silly people taunting you with "Your baby's using you as a pacifier!" No, no, no: Pacifiers are an artificial representation of comfort sucking on mama's nipple, not the other way around!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Surf: Spring sweater & daffodils, rape culture & quinoa

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

toddler racing down the sidewalk
Heading out for fun with Alrik

toddler on slide at playground


  • Daffodils & Diesels 

    Pragmatic and poetic fable demonstrating the value of learning vs. education.
    I’m not very good in geography, either. They call it economic geography this year. We’ve been studying the imports and exports of Turkey all week, but I couldn’t tell you what they are. Maybe the reason is that I missed school for a couple of days when my uncle took me downstate to pick up some livestock. He told me where we were headed and I had to figure out the best way to get there and back. He just drove and turned where I told him. It was over 500 miles round trip and I’m figuring now what his oil cost and the wear and tear on the truck—he calls it depreciation—so we’ll know how much we made. When we got back I wrote up all the bills and sent letters to the farmers about what their pigs and cattle brought at the stockyard. My aunt said I only made 3 mistakes in 17 letters, all commas. I wish I could write school themes that way. The last one I had to write was on “What a daffodil thinks of Spring,” and I just couldn’t get going.
  • Want some cute pictures of woven wraps? Of course, you do!
(via Wonderful Woven Wraps)
    Want some cute pictures of woven wraps? Of course, you do!
  • On Preventing My Son From Becoming A Rapist | ourfeministplayschool 

    It is inside this context that my son is learning to negotiate his own gender and sexuality. And it is my job, as his parent, to instill within him the consciousness that ensures he would never consider non-consensual behaviour as an option. It is my job as his mother to teach him that no real masculinity includes space for rape culture behaviours.
  • Paleo Diet: Healthy Or A Hoax? 

    I’m sharing this article not because I agree with it — I in fact think it’s a load of tripe — but just to share this gem of a quote that had me double up, guffawing:
    There’s another, wholly unrelated problem: pleasure. “It eliminates quinoa, ice cream, pasta — these things we love to eat, that make us social creatures,” says Sassoon. “And that means we’re less likely to stick with it, more likely to binge.”
    Quinoa? Really? That’s in the same compulsive category as pasta and ice cream? Who binges on quinoa?!
    Fun fact: Whenever we tell people we’re giving up grains, their favorite response is “Even quinoa?” Did I miss some quinoa-is-the-bestest-grain-ever-smoochies-smoochies memo here?
    Quinoa is what makes us PEOPLE!1!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Calling for submissions for the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes!

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 2013! (Check out March, January, 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.

April Carnival of Natural Parenting Call for Submissions: Family RecipesHere are the submission details for April 2013:

Theme: Family Recipes: Let go of the family secrets – share them with us! What is your favorite recipe, and where did it come from? Share your recipes, your stories, your pictures, and your memories.

Deadline: Tuesday, April 2. 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 9. 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 9 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on April 9 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 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting participant form

Friday, March 22, 2013

One-question poll: What do you want to see on Hobo Mama?

Hobo Mama gif banner 2013
My updated banner!

I'm doing a super-quick poll (one question!) of my readers — regular or new — to find out what content you'd like to see on Hobo Mama. What keeps you coming back, or what would interest you in the future?

Choose what content sounds MOST compelling to you. You can choose multiple items. Pick only the categories you think you'd want to read often. Some categories might overlap, and you can add in anything you think was left out that you'd appreciate.

If you want to leave comments on the poll itself, take it at this link. Otherwise, you can leave comments on the post if you have anything to say about the selections you chose!

Thank you for taking the survey! I appreciate your feedback. If you want to add anything, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#6IngredientChallenge: Final thoughts and reflections

This has been the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We've been on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we've been blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: What are your final thoughts and reflections as we wrap up this challenge? Do you have any new-found wisdom to share?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Thank you for following along for the Six Ingredient Challenge! This is our final post, and we've had such an enjoyable time journeying with you all along the way.

To read all the posts and recipes in the Six Ingredient Challenge, visit the main page or see below for a list of reading resources!

My answer:

I'm really glad we hosted the Six Ingredient Challenge and brought it out to a wider world than just the confines of my kitchen. It's been so interesting to hear about your own struggles and triumphs as you craft your own journey toward eating more whole foods.

Here are a couple final thoughts Sam and I had this week as we contemplated the challenge:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Portland

waving from the cottage shed - portland trip travel
Last month Shannon and I drove to Portland with our kiddos. It felt quite adventurous to settle into our rental house without our partners to help! Good thing we had each other …

two kids on couch looking at screens - portland trip travel
… and screens and snacks. Ah, just like home!

toddler boy in viking shirt on dot placemats - portland trip travel
The kids loved playing together and sharing toys upon toys.

boy in viking shirt sticking his tongue out - portland trip travel
So sweet!

boy asleep in bed - portland trip travel
Solo parenting was not as hard as I'd feared, since we had other people around.

three kids on a bus stop bench - portland trip travel
Of course, we went on plenty of excursions into the city and met with friends — none of whom I have asked permission from to display their photos, so I'm not — but, trust me, we met with a lot of lovely people and their sweet kidlets! It was a kidstravaganza. We even got a moms' night out through the help of a partner and two nannies.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Facing the emotional roadblocks of clearing clutter

boxes for organizing

Welcome to the March edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Clearing the Clutter cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month our participants wrote about de-cluttering and cleaning up. Please check out the links to their thoughts at the end of this post.

I am a confirmed and reforming clutterbug. I was a packrat as a kid, and I still have problems letting go.

But: I live in a small space that demands a certain level of minimalism. Plus, I'm raising kids so need to set a good example. We have honest-to-goodness hoarders in our family, and I want to avoid that fate for our set.

The first step to successful downsizing is working through the emotional roadblocks we hang onto along with our stuff. Here are the ways I got through the psychological aspects of decluttering and am now able to face parting with most of the things I need to:

  • Stuff does not equal memories.

    You can keep the important memories in your head and through the best photos and a very few mementos. You don't need to remember everything, like what movie you saw that one Wednesday seven years ago, so throw away the ticket stubs for that one. Your best memory-keepers are the people around you, so tell stories, take photos, write down priceless moments, and let the memorabilia go.

  • You are not emotionally responsible for what people give you.

    If someone gives you a gift, it's now yours, and you get to choose what happens with it. Often relatives will give me things they don't know what to do with. I've realized my role is to be the gracious accepter, who mediates the path of this object from them to me to the thrift store, since a direct route to the thrift store was impossible for the other person. They obviously have some guilt about giving up the item; I do not have to assume that guilt for myself. Obviously, special cases would be heirlooms or loan items — in that case, I state clearly that I don't have room for or interest in certain items, and I offer to return them to the giver, with appropriate thanks for the offer or loan. We've occasionally had to be quite firm and open about what the choices are for the giver: Either take it back, or we will give it away.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why small changes in eating are worth celebrating

I wanted to share the Six Ingredient Challenge for a reason — and it wasn't to impress anyone. Choosing to buy foods with six or fewer ingredients is not that difficult a challenge; it's sort of a baby step toward eating more mindfully and healthfully.

And I firmly believe that baby steps are what set us on the most important journeys.

I get so frustrated by the oligarchs of the nutrition world who sit on a throne of superiority and lord it over anyone who hasn't come to their conclusions about what is right to eat and what is so dreadfully wrong. Naturally, they conveniently ignore that pretty much every other diet "expert" disagrees with them; all their voices clash and contradict, so clearly they can't all be right! You'd never know it to listen to their shrill pronouncements, though, would you?

I've had more than a few discouragements over the course of my own journey (as you might be able to tell from the harsh tone of the preceding paragraph!). In my quest to choose more healthful foods, I've had people come to my blog space and tell me what a disappointment I am, how someone who espouses a natural lifestyle should eat so much better (presumably by that, they mean the way they eat), that I am clearly someone who is not interested in health or wellness, again because I'm not following their rules for what is "correct" nutrition. It's the type of attitude Michael Pollan talked about when he discussed orthorexia, this overconcern with what they themselves and what others eat, and a certainty that they're allowed to judge from the outside how poorly other people are doing at nourishing their own bodies.

I hate hate hate that what Americans or Westerners eat has been given the wink-wink nickname of SAD for "standard American diet." What smugness!

It bugs me. And it burns me up inside to think that these same people are spreading their pronouncements far and wide and hitting the ears and hearts of people who are more vulnerable and less far along on their journey.

Because you know what happens when someone presents their diet as The Best One Ever and You're Stupid Not to Have Figured This Out By Now? Does it make you want to adopt that way of eating? Does it encourage you to take one more step forward?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Surf: Babysitting

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

boy racing in ride-on car roller coaster
Babysitting for friends gives my kids access to all sorts of cool toys!

pretend doll and stuffed animal hospital with toddler nurse - davis babysitting
Plus, since Mikko never wants to play pretend with me, I get the fun of trying out new games, like Moira's doll and stuffed animal hospital. Yes, there was an epidemic. Good thing we had Davis the nurse to help.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day. Mikko wants to celebrate by getting a piñata. Of course.

I still haven't figured out how I'm going to keep up my blog reading once Google Reader is kaput. But, for now, I still have links! Enjoy while you can.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Six tips for a successful road trip with little kids

toddler boy sitting on grass
Enjoy those rest stops!

Last year our family of four drove from Washington State to California, and this summer we're considering road tripping all the way to Chicago. If you're brave foolhardy like us, here are some ideas to make road trips a low-key and enjoyable experience:

1. Pack heavy.

toddler boy sitting in suitcase unpacking
Don't worry — you'll get help unpacking.
Oh, I know. That's the opposite of how it usually goes, right? And you want to keep this one in moderation. But traveling by car vs. flying opens up more possibilities to carry along a few of the comforts of home: familiar snacks, a variety of toys to liven up hotel rooms, extra pillows to make economy lodging comfortable, special dolls or stuffed animals, and any bulky baby gear you can't live without: For Mikko, it was a bouncy seat that he would (thank heaven) nap in. Pack everything in multiple suitcases according to what you'll need at each place. For instance, need fancy clothes for a wedding? Pack those in a separate small case that you don't need to haul along with your casual clothes into every hotel along the way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What I've been learning through the #6IngredientChallenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonWe're nearing the end of the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We've been on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: What are you learning about your body through this challenge? Your family's rhythms and routines? Your feelings about food?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's FINAL writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions. There will be one more regular post about the Six Ingredient Challenge, and then next week's wrap-up will allow our participants to express any further thoughts they have on the struggles and joys of switching to more whole foods.

To read all the posts and recipes in the Six Ingredient Challenge, visit the main page for a list of reading resources!

My answer:

Here are some things I haven't learned, just to be contrariwise:
  • I have not had any health transformation.
    To be fair, I wasn't having health problems before starting the challenge. I have no known allergies or food sensitivities. I was regular. I get enough sleep. I haven't magically gotten increased energy or fabulous poops or super strength or whatever it is some people get by cutting out processed foods. In fact, I've had weird bowel issues and increased acne these past several months, despite also cutting grains and sugar — so that's that. I think I'm one of those people who does just fine on the Standard American Diet, and based on the absence of heart disease and diabetes in my family, it might just be a genetic trait. However, we do have an incidence of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer's, so I believe making healthful changes now is more than prudent. So even though I believe I'm making myself healthier over the long run, I just want to tell my truth about diet changes not being an instant health boost.

Freestyle paleo chocolate chip cookie dough dip

paleo chocolate chip cookie dough dip - recipes cooking photo paleo-cookie-dough-text_zps98ee178c.jpg

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of the tradition of Easter chocolates, we're sharing recipe ideas for healthier alternatives - sweets and treats featuring real cocoa. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

You want to feel like a real cooking whiz? It's time to freestyle a recipe, and I'll show you just how with a simple and decadent dessert … that just happens to be relatively healthful as well!

For a naughty but non-guilty treat, I've been seesawing back and forth between two recipes: "Paleo Cookie Dough Bars" from Making the World Cuter and "Paleo-ized Monster Cookie Dough Dip" from Paleo Parents. I liked the ingredients and texture of the bars but the ease of eating it straight out of a bowl (what?). I began experimenting with different ingredients, additions, and subtractions, in a quest to find The One chocolate chip cookie dough recipe that could safely and deliciously be eaten raw. I also needed it to stay (as those recipes are) grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. (Well, at one point I did experiment with butter, but it didn't make as much of an impact as I thought it might.)

Here's the thing: I've found my sweet spot. And I wanted to share it with you. Only …

I have no idea what any of the amounts are. I only know how I put it together to make it awesome-yumtastic. And — get ready for this — I dirty only one regular bowl and one regular soup spoon. Which I call a dishwashing win!

I decided that teaching you the free-flying way I assemble this dip is just as good — no, better! it's better! — than just a recipe. With measurements. And preciseness. Forget that! This is so much more: It's easy. And fast. And perfect for lazy people very special people with much more important things to do than something measly like reading the lines on a measuring cup. Pfft. (Those important things may or may not include shoveling cookie dough into their pieholes. And when I say "may not," I mean "definitely does.")

Let's get cooking, you rebels! Who's with me?