Tag Archives: natural parenting


14 Dec

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk Traditions

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


A certain newborn may be faulted for our procurement of a 2009 holiday tree at what some might call the last possible second — Christmas Eve — but in actuality I think we could’ve managed a trip to the tree lot if there’d been some kind of pre-set plan. A presumed time with corresponding stop at cute cafe and a swing by the most festive neighborhood lights display before heading home to drink cocoa in our matching Hanna Andersson jammies. Also, you know, two-thirds of us are Jewish, so this may not have been a realistic scenario. But you get the idea.

Since George has been alive, I’ve put my holiday planning into overdrive which, to me, is really intense but, to you, might look significantly…um, less so. Not impressed by that L’Shana Tovah banner I hung in the front window for Rosh Hashanah, eh? Well, I tried.

This year, we’ve persevered despite having a two week-old sapping our energy as one of our thirtieth birthdays passed by and realizing the night before Thanksgiving that we may not have money to buy the makings for the standard Macy’s Parade-watching quiche (we scraped it together). But, do I want George to be a part of a make-it-work-with-a-little-felt-and-a-WIC-check kind of family? Little by little, we’re getting it in gear and I’m pleased to report that Hanukkah has been our best showing yet. Homemade food, homemade gifts, thoughtfulness in the place/face of blatant consumerism and as much family time as we could muster with a papa who works two jobs. That said, our biggest, most tradition-y effort still lies ahead.

I’ve talked a little bit about George’s naming ceremony, or brit shalom, in the past, but it, like his first birthday, always seemed a loooooong ways off. We chose a name to honor a very special lady, picked a date for the party and made the invitations, and even THEN its imminence didn’t sink in. We’re now at T minus about two weeks, and I am staring down the barrel of the first culturally significant milestone of my baby’s life. An event steeped in tradition. And meaning. And I’m a floppy felt banner in the window sort of mom.

This was all giving me a serious case of the worries until one of our dear friends said something that I know resonated with, well… everyone in the room at the time, because it applied to all of us in different ways. Your children won’t remember that you’re poor; they’ll remember that you loved them. Will George look back on photos of his naming ceremony and birthday party and think, “Wow! What a tiny, crappy house! And you couldn’t spring for a real mohel?”? Or will he see all the friends and family? Will he see the homemade food and decorations for the loving contributions they were? I needed to check myself and stop reading so many design blogs.

The facts are these: We aren’t wealthy. We aren’t organized. We aren’t a traditional family. But we’re creative, and as I assembled and addressed the invitations to George’s naming ceremony and birthday party this evening, I took heart in that. Because some years, we might not get a tree until Christmas Eve. We might have fettuccine alfredo for Thanksgiving dinner and make Purim costumes out of the Goodwill bag. But I’d bet money that in the pictures, we’ll be smiling. And that’s a tradition I can get behind.


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



12 Oct

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I turned twenty nine, I was six months pregnant. Huge. I had just been through a heat wave that, while made better by the gift of an air conditioner, left me feeling fat and perpetually damp with bangs that corroborated that feeling. People at work had started asking if I was expecting twins and then, as if someone had dared them to prove they were in fact entirely socially inept, INSISTED I must be. For my birthday that year — last year, if you’re not keeping track — my mom gave me a real whiz-bang of a present. A gift certificate to a spa. Enough money that would allow me to choose a few ridiculously luxurious services. A FEW, you guys. I could hang out in the sauna, wear a fluffy robe and soak up the comments about my glow from people who are paid to dole out compliments. You might assume that I ran, envelope in hand, from my birthday dinner and sat outside the spa until they opened the next morning at which time I luxuriated like only a really giant, sore, exhausted pregnant lady could. Right? Are you nodding, like this is a foregone conclusion so please get on with the story?

Dear reader, I did not do those things. The running. The luxuriating. That gift certificate is sitting on my nightstand, mocking me.

I made a pact with myself to use it before my thirtieth birthday, which was a month ago. Clearly, that did not happen. What is the matter with you? You might be asking me. I ask me that all the time. Part of the problem is scheduling. Nathan has two jobs and appointments not made far in advance are difficult for us to work out. Part of the problem has been George’s needs and accommodating them. But part of the problem is me. The same guilt that makes me apologetically announce that I’m going to take a real quick shower, or pick up the Philip Roth book I’ve yet to crack only to put it down in favor of Baby Days has kept me from enjoying a trip to the spa. Because I might have to tip someone with my own money. And my baby might get hungry. Or miss me. And I should be dusting.

Since George’s birth, the time I’ve taken for myself has been limited to the occasional bath, nap or solo trip to the store. Getting past the notion that I don’t “work” so I have no need for a break is hard. You tell someone walking in from back-to-back shifts totaling 15 hours that he’s gonna have to hold the baby so you can recline in the tub because teething is a real bitch. The funny thing is: I would never begrudge another mother a spa day. Or a leisurely shower. Or some time with a misogynistic white guy. So why the self-loathing? It’s so cliché.

As George gets older, the tunnel vision that got me through these first months is easing up. In my periphery, I can see past the next feeding, the next sleep cycle, the next diaper change and song. The possibility of alone play is turning into a reality, slowly, surely, not daily — not yet — but frequent enough. My self care routine is less a routine than stolen minutes and sometimes seconds to have a bowl of oatmeal. Do my hair. Take a breath. Go for a walk and see the sights, allowing George to do the same without mama’s running commentary. And while my newest Paris Review wasn’t inhaled the day it arrived in my mailbox as it may have been in a perfect world, Frederick Seidel’s “Store Windows” was our pre-nap reading this afternoon. I finished and paused to digest it, not to re-read it with exaggerated expressions or ask what George thought. After what must’ve been a solid minute, I snapped out of the poem-trance and got on with business. Grateful for the break, however short. Added to my to do list: MAKE SPAPPOINTMENT.


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

  • Balance — Sheila at A Gift Universe has put her baby first — and has no regrets. (@agiftuniverse)
  • A Moment for Mama — Starr at Earth Mama has learned how to recharge on the run, so she doesn’t miss a moment with her children.
  • Take a 30-Minute or 5-Minute Me-Break — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses the merits of taking small daily breaks to maintain balance. (@DebChitwood)
  • Achieving Balance — In a guest post at the new Natural Parents Network, Heather explains how yoga has helped her find balance in her personal and family life. (@NatParNet)
  • A Stitch in (Quiet) Time Saves Momma’s Mind — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma didn’t realize she needed “me” time — until she got it and had no idea what to do with herself. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Attachment Parenting and Balance — Michelle at The Parent Vortex believes that the last item on the “attachment parenting” list is both the most important and the most overlooked. (@TheParentVortex)
  • Little Breaks Bring a Little Balance — Jen at Grow with Graces finds balance – some days! (@growwithgraces)
  • Finding Balance — Are you a Type A mama? Dionna at Code Name: Mama is, and she needs your help to find balance. (@CodeNameMama)
  • (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself.
  • Taking Time for Me — Marita at Stuff With Thing takes refuge in the world of books, with her daughters immersed in reading beside her. (@leechbabe)
  • Writing as a parent: October Carnival of Natural Parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama didn’t let parenting put her passions on hold. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • The Dance of Balance — Balance isn’t static. It is dynamic, it is a dance, it is about keeping in touch with you. Read this wonderful bit of wisdom from Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante. (@seonaid_lee)
  • Rest Hour – a Primer — Do you get 15 minutes to yourself each day? How about an hour?! Mrs. H. at Fleeting Moments shares her tips on how to incorporate a “rest hour” for adults and kids.
  • Separation Is Critical — Only through enforced separation with the end of her marriage did Jessica at This is Worthwhile realize she should have taken time apart all along. (@tisworthwhile)
  • Bread, Roses, and a Side of Guilt. — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy isn’t ashamed to admit that she enjoys a pint once in awhile, or that her daughter recreates it during pretend play.
  • The World from Within My Arms — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds balance despite her work and her husband’s commitment to art through attachment parenting. (@RachaelNevins)
  • Balancing the Teeter-Totter — Rebecca is rediscovering balance by exploring her interests and passions in several different categories. She shares in this guest post at The Connected Mom. (@theconnectedmom)
  • Balancing this Life — Danielle at born.in.japan is slowly learning the little tricks that make her family life more balanced. (@borninjp)
  • Uninterrupted Parenting — Amy at Innate Wholeness has learned that she does not need to interrupt parenting in order to find balance.
  • Knitting for My Family — Knitting is more than just a hobby for Kellie at Our Mindful Life, it is her creative and mental outlet, it has blessed her with friendships she might not otherwise have had, and it provides her with much-needed balance.
  • Taking the Time — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker has all the time she needs, now her girls are just a bit older.
  • Please, Teach Me How — Amy at Anktangle needs your help: please share how you find time for yourself, because she is struggling. (@anktangle)
  • A Pendulum Swings Both Ways — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment found herself snapping with too little time for herself, and then veered toward too much.
  • Finding Balance Amidst Change — It took a season of big changes and added responsibility, but Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! now feels more balanced and organized as a mama than ever before. (@bfmom)
  • At Home with Three Young Children: The Search for Balance, Staying Sane — With three young kids, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings knows parents sometimes have to adjust their expectations of how much downtime they can reasonably have. (@sunfrog)
  • Attachment Parenting? And finding some “Me Time” — As a mother who works full time, Momma Jorje wants “me” time that includes her daughter.
  • A Balancing Act — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes has concrete ways to help keep centered with a little one and a new baby on the way, from exercise to early bedtimes to asking for help. (@sheryljesin)
  • Aspiring Towards Libra — Are your soul-filling activities the first to be pushed aside when life gets hectic? Kelly of KellyNaturally.com aspires to make time for those “non-necessities” this year. (@kellynaturally)
  • SARKisms for Sanity — Erica at ChildOrganics has found renewed inspiration to take baths and laugh often from a book she had on the shelf. (@childorganics)
  • those who can’t teach

    14 Sep

    Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: We’re all home schoolers

    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 how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


    If we lived in another part of the country, one of my friends recently pointed out, we’d be vying for a spot in a choice preschool right now. In fact, for certain preschools, we’d have already been accepted or denied based on an assessment of our at-home routines, plans for the future both near and distant and “philosophies.” The thought of putting on my best button-up blouse and smug half smile to sit opposite some douche in an Aeron chair and justify my parenting style in order to be granted the opportunity to write a check for thousands of dollars — ugh. It makes me shudder so hard you might mistake my disgust for a sort of rhythmless shimmy.

    Luckily, we don’t live in New York or LA or any other place so cutthroat as to pit infants against each other. There’s an abundance of small preschools, co-op schools, Montessori and Waldorf schools and preschools of the arts in Bellingham, and many of them are steps from our front door. On our walks, George and I like to stop at the schools’ fences to watch kids play for a few moments before we move on to chase a neighborhood cat or admire someone’s garden. It’s undeniable that George likes people, likes to engage socially a lot more than I do and I can’t see this changing before it’s time to start thinking about school. And yet.

    My main criticism of homeschooling involves humility. It takes someone with a high opinion of her (or him)self to homeschool. You have to be so confident in your ability to provide all the knowledge your child needs that you forsake other in-person input. Of course, there’s reference. There’s the library and the internet and “field trips.” But you, as a parent, are the keystone…and all the other stones, and like 3/5 of the gargoyles on top of the building. Your bias becomes theirs, for better or worse, by design or otherwise. And knowing all this, feeling the way I do… I would still consider homeschooling George for the first couple of years at least.

    See, Bellingham is a liberal town for sure. Everyone recycles. Everyone rides their bike and shops at the co-op and wants or has chickens and loves composting with a passion they used to reserve for Death Cab circa ’06 or Obama, for those two months in 2008 when they cared about politics. But! These are tricksy hippies who fool you with their homebrew and yearly contribution to Planned Parenthood; they are just yuppies in disguise. Yuppies who don’t love Emma Goldman. Who don’t daydream about Summerhill. Who don’t appear on the no-fly list for their involvement with the ALF (um… I mean… not that I know anyone who fits that description).
    There’s an odd sort of dichotomy at play with these folks and their kids. They advocate for educational freedom, as long as that freedom includes really extensive knowledge of OPEC. They support the arts, but “the arts” are kind of bad acrylic paintings they purchased to justify the “buy art not cocaine” sticker on their Subaru. They call their Subaru a suby. CUTE! There’s no place that I’ve heard of or seen, yet, in town, that offers real democratic schooling or even some version of AS Neill’s model but is also academically rigorous. Why does educational freedom have to equal linen pants and lessons in blackberry picking, you guys?!

    This, for me, is the crux of the issue. I want my son to enjoy learning, but I want him to learn valuable lessons. I want his inherent curiosity to remain intact but I don’t believe his every fascination should be thoroughly indulged at the expense of other knowledge. I want him to be happy, confident and well-adjusted but I also want him to be smart, with marketable skills that will enable him to earn a living. Am I thinking too far ahead? Maybe, but I’m operating under the assumption that good habits start early. This is why we haven’t signed up for infant classes at the community college (yet — report from friend pending), why we may not be sending our child to school. Why I’d rather we listen to dynamic and honest music than kidsbop, watch documentaries and Stan Brakhage films than wow wow wubbzy. Why I don’t speak to my son like he’s a half-deaf dog. Because, despite (and because of) my acknowledgement that homeschooling is equatable with a superiority complex, I think I am pretty damned well equipped to teach my son to learn on his own. If that just makes me a different kind of douche, well, you heard it here first.


    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 updated September 14 with all the carnival links.)

    try, try again

    13 Jul

    Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

    I am the first to admit that I’m a lackluster housefrau — cleaning takes a backseat to going for walks; cooking is mainly left to my (much better chef of a) partner; laundry gets done… well, when it gets done. I have books on these topics and I’ve read them all. Devoured them! A good cookbook, beautifully photographed and wittily composed is one of my most treasured bookstore finds. I dog ear the recipes that sound most delicious and vow to work my way through those before tackling the ones with main ingredients I find less than tempting. (Beets? Err…we’ll wait ’til Fall.) If I make three dishes from one book, however, it’s a feat to be commended because I enjoy the hunt a lot more than the preparation.
    But now — now, we’re on a budget. Because guess what, you guys: teachers don’t make a lot of money! And stay at home moms, if you can believe it, get paid exactly NOTHING. I mean…those cherished moments with my son don’t exactly keep us in spelt pasta and agave nectar for my tea, if you know what I mean. So, we are at an impasse with our family diet. I flatly refuse to feed George anything that isn’t certified organic though we are living barely above the poverty line; there are just too many scary things in non-organic foods. I want his little body learning to navigate our living room without stepping on cats, not sagging under the weight of neurotoxins and carcinogens and dyes that make him hyperactive.
    Well, it turns out that vegetables — ones you grow in your own backyard — are practically free if you start them from seeds. Vegetables you don’t grow yourself are still cheaper than a three-times-a-week burrito habit, and can be bought from — get this! — the people who grow them! If I had a mind to, which I often do, I could mosey on down to the farmer’s market on Saturday and, for ten to fifteen dollars, purchase an astounding haul of colorful gorgeousness from my neighbors. And the next week, I can come back and say hey, neighbor, thanks for that beautiful chard/those crazy fiddlehead ferns/the garlic-looking thing I’ve forgotten the name of!
    The availability of wholesome food isn’t going to make me a better cook any more than my collection of unused cookbooks. But one thing it does: makes me a more enthusiastic consumer. Friendly farmers and dairy owners soften the blow of not being able to eat out when I want. The bummer of poverty is often feeling deprived. If I can support my community, feed my family with a clear conscience and spend my days feeling energetic and healthy, I can’t imagine feeling like I wont for anything at the dinner table.


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)