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Carnival of Natural Parenting

A Family Apart

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

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 relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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The last time all of us were together. (Image credit: Walt Palmer Photography)

The husband and I married and conceived shortly after moving a good seven thousand miles away from both of our extended families. This has been in a challenge, but in some ways also a blessing. We both have families we love and are loved by, and we miss them dearly. We keep up through phone calls, emails, and despite the challenging (sixteen hour!) time difference, try to make video chats via Skype happen at least every few weeks. Of course a big part of my goal with blogging, especially my What’s New posts each Wednesday, is to keep everyone in the loop as much as they would like to be. Our families are important to us, and we’re grateful for them, but the reality of our lives means that we simply can’t be involved with one another’s day to day in the way that we may if we were close by. Continue reading

Personal Care in a Montessori Home

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

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 stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices. Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

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 kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I get silly excited when I find large and small versions of the same thing.


Of course no specialized gear is required for the family looking to include their kids in the kitchen. Everyday items do the job just fine, but finding tools that are scaled to the child’s size can make things a bit easier, and help to empower children who might otherwise struggle with items that are made for adults to handle. Long before my daughter was born, I developed a keen eye for child-sized gadgets and cooking utensils. I often joke that the reason I worked a second job while teaching was to pay for all of the things I would buy for my classroom. Of course the school would always provide me with the funds for things I truly needed (and then some), but when you happen upon a miniature cheese grater while out grocery shopping, you don’t wait for the school to approve your purchase. You just buy it.

I was always surprised by how difficult it could be to find items designed with children in mind, so I was constantly on the lookout for things to add to my ever expanding collection. When my daughter became interested in working with me in the kitchen, I already had plenty of tools on hand, but I have made new discoveries along the way and continue to compulsively grow my collection, so I thought I would share some tricks of the trade for those who are still preparing a space for their own kids in the kitchen. Continue reading

A Respectful Approach to Discipline

This post was written for inclusion in the 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted at Parenting Gently. All week, June 27 – July 1, we will be featuring articles and posts about alternatives to punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.
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The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines discipline in several different ways, but the one I find most important as a parent is, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”
When I look at my life, I have to admit that there are areas in which I am disciplined and others where there is work to be done. Interestingly, the things I am most disciplined about appear to have absolutely nothing to do with any type of punishment I received as a child.
One of my strengths is that I happen to be an extremely hard worker. I have held down as many as four jobs at once and managed to excel at each one. I was never punished for not being a hard worker, and I never received lectures on the importance of this quality. I was, however, raised by a father who ran his own business and often worked long hours to get things done. When I joined the work force as a teen, I quickly learned that the best way not only to hold down a job, but to do it with ease, was to work hard. This proved to be the key to receiving raises, advancements, and good references for future jobs as well. 
My discipline in this area, then, seems to be a direct result of both modeling and “training.” That training, however, came not from my parents, but from life experience. It was not forced on me, but simply came about as a natural extension of living. The vast majority of what I have learned thus far has come to me in a similar way.
My own experiences with growing into a somewhat disciplined adult have served to validate my personal views on discipline in parenting. It is my belief that the most important quality of any person who wishes to care for children is an attitude of respect, and I try to cultivate this attitude in myself and apply it in my role as a parent at all times. Because I respect my daughter and trust in her ability to learn from her own experiences, I don’t feel that punishment is necessary. Ditto moralizing, lecturing, and strict rule-setting.
As an adult, I still do things that are inappropriate at times, and I still lack discipline in areas, despite having been given healthy doses of punishment as a child. When I do something inappropriate, however, life gives me feedback in some form or another. When I stay up too late, I find myself dragging the next day. When I eat something that isn’t good for me, I don’t feel well later on. When I am rude or unkind to another person, I may get similar treatment back, but either way I’ll feel badly for my behavior.
I fully expect my daughter to make mistakes, but I fully trust her to become a disciplined person by learning from them. My goal is to respect her need to mess up and give her the space to do so. My job is to trust her to take valuable lessons away from her experiences, without needing to hear me say, “I told you so.” I will provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, and even give advice if I’m asked to. I will do my best to model a reflective attitude and a willingness to learn from my own mistakes while acting as a support when needed. I am the product of my experiences, and I look forward to living respectfully with my daughter as she is molded and disciplined by her own.
Photo Credit: L J 
Used with Creative Commons License

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline!

Please join us all week, June 27-July 1, 2011, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. We have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following theme days:

Garden Day

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
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 encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Annabelle and me relaxing at Garden Day
Gardening is one of several things that I place in a category labeled: not my strong suit. Several weeks after my daughter was born, when the gardenias I had planted in pots outside our front door finally withered away to the point of no return, I joked that I could only nurture one life at a time. It is important to me that my daughter have an understanding of where her food comes from, so I do intend to hone my gardening skills. Because I knew we would only live on this island for two years, and because we wanted the flexibility to travel without having to worry about caring for plants, I chose not to start here. In hindsight I wish I had, but that is something we’ll jump into just as soon as we get settled in our next home.
One of the things I love about having a circle of support comprised of many mothers with a variety of strengths is that I can generally count on my community to enrich our lives in ways I myself could not, or simply don’t have time to. (Hopefully I’m able to enrich the lives of others in my own special way, too!) During our short stint as islanders, my daughter has developed a connection to the land and a connection to her food thanks to the hard work of some amazing women. When my daughter was six months old, I was introduced to a group of families who have tremendously affected my life and to whom I will always be grateful. These families started something called Garden Day and it quickly became the top priority on my rather short list of events to attend.
Garden Day could be called a play group or a moms’ group, but it is so much more than that. It is a community of families who get together each Tuesday as well as for various special occasions and spend time outdoors, in the garden. There are a few different families who host garden day, including one that has turned the once unkempt and overgrown grounds of an apartment complex into an inviting space where families now gather and a magical garden grows in the unlikeliest of places. Each space is as unique as the family that cares for it.
On Garden Day, families get together and catch up with one another while the children play. There is much running about and chatting and enjoyment of the fresh air. After awhile, the children are gathered on a blanket either for a Waldorf-style story time or occasionally even for some yoga, interwoven with a story. All are led by one of the beautiful, talented mothers of Garden Day. Oftentimes the story is centered around what will take place in the garden and afterward, if there is work to be done, everyone is invited to help. If there is something to harvest, some will likely be enjoyed on the spot. Occasionally there is an abundance of a particular crop and the family who is sharing their garden invites everyone to take some home. Worms are found, wheelbarrows are pushed, weeds are pulled, and fingernails are dirtied. Being the youngest, Annabelle is generally just a spectator and I’m busy keeping an eye on her, but we’re honored to be a part of the goings on anyway. After the work is finished, everyone washes their hands and gathers to sing the blessing:

Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear earth, dear sun, by you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give.”

Annabelle at the Garden Day May Day
festival.
Each family brings a vegetarian dish to share and all enjoy dinner together. Whoever has a free hand helps to clean up, and the children are taken home to their beds, having built on their connection not only to the earth and the food it provides, but also to a caring community. It’s a thing of beauty.
I have so enjoyed Garden Day and can hardly imagine Annabelle’s childhood without it. I know we will leave before long, and will have to say goodbye to these dear friends, but I am determined to continue to foster in my child a love, respect, and understanding with regard to the earth and the way it sustains us. If I can’t find one, I may just have to start my own “Garden Day” in our next city.

My heart is full of gratitude for the inspiring community we’ve found here and all that it has taught us.

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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:
  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

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