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Attachment Parenting

Providing Consistent and Loving Care

Those of you who have been around here awhile might remember that about a year ago, I started a series on Attachment Parenting, in which I examined each principle individually and considered how it plays out in our home. I also asked all of you to share with me how each principle fit (or didn’t fit) into your family’s life. I tend to have a short attention span for series and I ended up going over the first five principles and dropping the ball entirely. Recently, this has been on my mind again, and I thought it would be really interesting, at least for me, if I could finish these up before we add to our family. A year or more from now, when we’re settled into life with two children, I’d love to look at how things have, or haven’t changed. So today I’m picking up where I left off and taking a look at the sixth principle of attachment parenting, and how it plays out in our house. I’d love to hear what providing consistent and loving care looks like for you, too, so please feel free to link me to any posts you have written, or just share away in the comments. Continue reading

Sleep and Us: A Long Road

Annabelle has always disliked going to sleep, and she comes by this honestly. Staying up late was one of my favorite things to do as a child and, as much as I love feeling rested, I still have a hard time shutting down virtually every single night. There’s always so much I want to do! Parenthood has changed this slightly, making me value sleep much more and work a bit harder to get it. Still, I stay up longer than I probably should on a regular basis.

As a newborn, Annabelle almost always nursed to sleep. When she was a few months old, she started nursing almost to sleep, and then unlatching and letting out a wail before settling right in to sleep in my arms. It was almost as though she was saying, “I’m going to go to sleep now, but I’m not happy about it!” She always went to sleep somewhat late at night and slept in each morning, which was perfectly fine for me. Left to our own devices, the husband and I are both  natural night owls, and it seemed that she would be, too.  Continue reading

Mammals and Their Mammary Glands, a Post About Breastfeeding

I have no recent nursing photos of my own, so I borrowed this one from Hobo Mama, via Flickr.

I have written before about the fact that in all my days of nursing anytime and anywhere, I have never once received a rude comment. For the most part, I have seen nothing but support for breastfeeding. Unfortunately, last week I received a reminder of the fact that some people are still hung up, confused, or ill informed when it comes to breastfeeding. I was on the phone with a nurse who called me for a telephone consult. I prefaced my question with a bit of background information on Annabelle, which included the fact that much of her nutrition comes from breastmilk. This nurse stopped me mid-sentence and asked, incredulously, “She’s still nursing? At 19 months!?” Of course this could be interpreted as positive or negative, but her tone said it all. She was far from supportive, and it really upset me. This slightly (okay, very) snarky post has been bouncing around in my head ever since.  Continue reading

Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters

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 finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Snacking on a homemade graham
cracker. Cheaper than store bought,
and shaped like a cat to boot!

Long before becoming a parent, I made the switch to a vegan diet and got used to comments like, “Shopping for vegan food is so expensive!” Back then it really wasn’t, and I managed to eat fairly well on the cheap, but now that I have a family and healthy food is a much higher priority – it is expensive. Of course now we make all sorts of seemingly wacky lifestyle decisions, so veganism seems like nothing in comparison and many seem to think that our entire lifestyle is expensive. The thing is, many of the choices we make actually save us money, and in the long run, our choice to prioritize wholesome food is just one part of what I feel is a pretty well-balanced financial puzzle.

Choice Number One: Staying Home
I have been staying home since our daughter was born, rather than working and bringing in an income. This is not an inexpensive choice, but it has a great many benefits, some of which actually do save us money. The obvious area we’re saving in is child care: I don’t have to pay someone else to care for our daughter. Of course we also save on the cost of gas to and from work, and until just last month were managing fairly well with a single vehicle, another choice that we simply would not have been able to make if I had a job to show up for.

On top of that, I have the luxury of time, which allows me to prepare a lot of our food from scratch. Cooking my own beans from dried and baking my own crackers, muffins, and other snacks is much cheaper than buying these things prepared. If we don’t want to, there is really never a reason to buy prepared food or go to out to eat.

Staying home also allowed me to breastfeed our daughter exclusively, without the use of bottles. Because her food came straight from the source, we didn’t have to spend money on bottles, nipples, sanitizers, warmers, storage bags, breast pumps, or anything of the like. She ate completely free1 for seven months.

We’re also hoping that my choice to stay home during this season will pay off in the long run by giving me the chance to work on things that will increase my earning potential for the future. Not working gives me time to take a few classes, and to do resume building volunteer work. Staying home may not be the best thing for our finances right now, but it is not without its benefits, and is certainly worth it to us. I’m thankful that I have this option.

 Choice Number Two: Eating Well

This is, for us, one of the most expensive lifestyle choices, but when it comes to our overall health, we think it’s worth it and the hope is that we’ll save a lot of money in the long run by being exceptionally healthy. When it comes to food, we do buy ten dollar bottles of organic extra virgin olive and coconut oil every few weeks, rather than the three dollar jug of “vegetable oil” that would probably last us a month. We buy the seven dollar bag of organic whole wheat flour instead of the three dollar bag of white flour2. These things add up, and our food bill is higher than your average family’s, but we save a few dollars on food here and there as well. We buy as many fresh fruits and vegetables as we desire, and skip on a lot of convenience foods, for example. We also buy a single bag of dried beans instead of four jars of the already cooked kind, saving money and missing out on additives and BPA at the same time. An onion, some herbs, and a pound of fresh, local tomatoes gives us two jars of sauce way tastier, and way cheaper than the stuff on the shelf.

Those with green thumbs can save much more on food, and I’m slowly but surely working toward joining their ranks so that we can save on our grocery bill even more – and eat fresher while we’re at it. Of course Annabelle’s food has been super cheap, since nursing was free and we didn’t buy baby food or any extra gear for making our own. Thanks to Baby Led Weaning, her introduction to food cost us no more than a few spoonfuls off our own plates at each meal, and she has been thriving. She eats larger quantities now, but we don’t have to buy anything for her that we weren’t already purchasing for ourselves. That helps tip the scales back in the money-saving direction!

Truthfully, too, we could eat in nearly the same way for much less money, and we would probably (ahem, definitely) be healthier in the long run. A good bit of the money we spend at the grocery store is on little treats like dark chocolate and organic teas, coffees, beers, and wines. We definitely don’t need these things, but because we’re careful in other areas – both with our health and our money – we allow ourselves to indulge here and there. A small amount of these things can be good for you!

Choice Number Three: Avoiding Toxins in the Home
Fortunately, we balance out our budget by saving a whole lot of money on personal care and household products. We do not buy: baby shampoo, grown-up shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, facial moisturizer, hair detangler, toothpaste, mouthwash, tooth whiteners, or lotion. We also don’t buy any household cleaners, with the exception of dish soap, toilet bowl cleaner, and laundry detergent – all things I expect I’ll start making myself eventually. Not only does the cost of these items add up, but many contain chemicals that we just don’t feel comfortable having in our home or on our bodies. While safe options do exist, they’re often far more expensive than the popular brands they replace.

For substitutes or homemade alternatives, I use varied combinations of liquid castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil, essential oils, and the occasional bit of hydrogen peroxide. Some of these items are on the pricey side, too, but they last a surprisingly long time. I’ve been using the same bottle of lavender essential oil for roughly four years now, and the jar of coconut oil in my medicine cabinet has been there for at least two or three months, despite being used daily for a number of purposes. Not only do these products save us money, but they give me peace of mind. I know that there’s almost nothing in my medicine or kitchen cabinets that’s not safe to eat.

It may sound like I’m a dirty hippie, but truly I have never felt fresher!

Choice Number Four: Elimination Communication
While we did not go completely diaper free with elimination communication until very recently, we have still saved a fair amount of money by avoiding the use of disposable diapers and wipes. We managed with a dozen prefold diapers and three white covers for a few months, and then I’ll admit to spending a bit more than I needed to on cute backup options. Still, this was much cheaper than buying ‘sposies all the time would have been, and we’re now totally diaper free well before the national average. We’re also set for our next child, even if elimination communication doesn’t work quite as well for him or her as it did for Annabelle, so the money saving benefits will really start to add up in the future.

Choice Number Five: Montessori-Style Attachment Parenting
Our parenting style definitely falls in line with Attachment Parenting on most things, and my previous life as a Montessori teacher has factored in quite a bit as well. Our family’s way of implementing these two philosophies has eliminated the need for common baby gear like cribs, bassinets, or play yards. The same goes for baby gates, a stroller, an exersaucer, a walker, and a swing. All of this has saved us quite a bit of money – much more than the cost of a good sling!

Balance
In the end, it all comes down to what we value as a family. Some things cost a bit less, and others cost a bit more, but we find creative solutions to make it work. At this point in our lives, we spend a lot of time together doing things that are cheap or free, so we don’t spend much money on entertainment. We prefer to keep the tv out of our living space, so we don’t pay for cable. We also share one cell phone, which I bought back in 2007 or thereabouts, and it doesn’t even have a text message plan3. We have two cars now, but the newest of them is a 2002. Most of Annabelle’s and my clothes are secondhand, and I DIY some of her toys. We splurge on a few things, but save on a lot of others. When I look at the bigger picture, I’m sure that the choices we’re making are the right ones for us (most of the time), and if they’re any more expensive than the alternatives, it’s worth it to me. I have a vibrant, healthy family and we get to spend a whole lot of time together – and that’s what matters to me!


1 Save for the cost of some extra calories for me, of course!

2 We live on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, so food prices are exceptionally high, and I’m estimating anyway since I don’t commit these things to memory. You get the picture, though, yeah? 
3 Apparently chocolate is more important to me than frequent texting. Hadn’t thought about that!


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama
Visit 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:
  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

The Reflection Post: What’s New, What’s Broken, and What’s to Love

The power went out around here at exactly five minutes past blog o’clock yesterday, so I missed you all, but hey – I’m here now! For this edition of what’s new Wednesday Thursday, I thought I’d take a look at some of the broader goings-on around here. We’re swiftly approaching miss Annabelle’s (one and a) half birthday, so I have been spending a lot of time looking at what works, what doesn’t, and what I’ve learned that I need to remember for next time. Perhaps my successes and missteps could be helpful to you, too?

I sort of went over breastfeeding last week, so feel free to refer to that post if you’re curious and missed it. If you want the Reader’s Digest version, it’s going well, but I’m sort of done with nursing to sleep. If there’s one breastfeeding related thing I’ll do differently next time, it’s finding loving ways to soothe my baby to sleep that don’t involve nursing.

Speaking of sleep…
Oh, goodness. Every time I think I have the beast that is infant/toddler sleep conquered, I am proven wrong. Very, very wrong. It’s hard. I have absolutely no idea how to do it “right.” Some advice leads me to believe that I should be putting Annabelle to bed at 6pm on the dot every evening, and other advice encourages me to wait for her cues and just go with it. No matter which option I choose, we have a frustrating (for me) dance of nursing, peeing, squirming, naming body parts, switching sides, and peeing again that lasts an absolute minimum of 40 minutes, but has gone on for as long as four (yes, 4) hours. Side note: It felt like a very cruel joke when I emerged from the four hour dance and could not for the life of me get my bottle of wine open.

I will say this: cosleeping works for us. When I go to sleep with Annabelle, it’s a breeze and we both awake rested. The trouble is, I need less sleep than she does, and there’s a good, long list of things I can only really accomplish when she’s sleeping. So, it only makes sense that I should help her get settled in for her first stretch of sleep and get me some mama time before she wakes to nurse and I take her into my bed for the night.

I have been trying different things and finally broke down and purchased some sleep books. The No Cry Sleep Solution has been mentioned to me many times, but Anna mentioned it at just the right time, and the toddler and preschooler version is now on its way to me, or more likely in my box. I also purchased a more mainstream book, which I may read a few more pages of before I toss it in the garbage. I think that may be a big enough topic for a post of its own, but feel free to add your sleep advice if you have it! We already have a consistent evening routine and fairly consistent waking and napping times, a bath at night, time outside each day, and all of that.

One thing that is going quite well is EC, or Elimination Communication. We are very rarely using diapers or waterproof trainers now, but opting for training underwear or bloomers instead, even for outings. I have tried to stick with a diaper at night, just to save the mattress in case there should be a miss, but Annabelle protests most of the time. She has been showing for preference for sleep au naturale, which is fine with me. She now lets me know that she needs to go by excitedly saying, “poot!” I think that came from poop, but you never do know. She names everything these days. (Other new words include beer and bra. I’m sure everyone who overhears our chats in public thinks I’m a fantastic mother).

I used to leave a little potty nearby at all times, so that Annabelle could go to it on her own when needed. She never did take advantage, however, so I stopped the practice. Today, there was one sitting out in the living room and while I was making coffee, Annabelle walked over to it and sat down. She sits on them frequently, but never uses them for their intended purpose without taking me with her, so I didn’t think anything of it and continued what I was doing. She then picked the potty up and brought it into the kitchen. This is another thing she does regularly, so again I thought nothing of it. Then I heard a splash. She had gone pee on her own – for the first time – but she had also poured it all over herself and the floor. Poor kid! I suppose I’ll be leaving a potty out all the time now, and watching a bit more closely when Annabelle sits on it.

I am definitely continually pleased with our decision to practice EC, and plan to do the same again if we add to our family. Of course our next will be a completely different child, so we may find that we do things in a slightly different way, but I can’t see myself going back to diapering!

I don’t have any recent babywearing photos, but here’s
Annabelle with the babywearing goddess’ cat :)

Babywearing, I should tell you, has changed. I’m surprised, and even a bit sad, to report that I have fallen out of love with my Beco. It just plain stopped fitting comfortably, no matter how I adjusted it. I asked a babywearing goddess friend of mine for help, as I was sure I just needed to adjust something differently – my favorite carrier ever couldn’t possibly fail me! Sadly, she confirmed what I feared – it just doesn’t work with my frame. She was kind of enough to let me borrow one of her Mei Tai carriers and I love it, so I have arranged to purchase a BabyHawk this weekend and I’m pretty excited about it. That will be my go-to for longer outings and hikes during which Annabelle may have long periods of wanting to snuggle up instead of walk. For short outings, I keep a pouch sling on hand so I can help her get comfortable quickly and easily while I do things like check out at the store, but for the most part, she prefers to be free and unfettered, so I’m not using any sort of carrier all that much these days.

If we have another baby, I think I will invest in a nice wrap for the early days. I was so intimidated by wrapping and tying before Annabelle was born, so I stuck with things that had more structure. I wish I had taken the plunge, however. My babywearing goddess friend has shown me a few different ways of tying wraps and they just seem like the most wonderful way of securely cuddling up to a wee one while keeping your hands free.

Overall, life with Annabelle is pretty fantastic. Yes, I’m exhausted some days and frustrated others, but this kid brings so much joy to my life that those feelings never stick around for long. When we go out, she chirps a friendly hello at every single person who walks past, and when she sees a dear friend she flails her arms and literally shakes with giggly excitement. Her curiosity forces me to notice things I never would if she weren’t around, and I’m regularly blown away and honored when I can learn new things about her. As her mother, it’s my duty to think she’s the bees knees, but seriously guys: she’s the bees knees.

What would you do differently with future children if given the chance? What are the best parenting choices you’ve made? What awesome things are your children doing?

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If you haven’t already, pop over to my facebook page and say hello. I’m giving away some tasty Guam-my treats to celebrate my first 100 blogger followers and 300 facebook “likers.” 

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