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inspiration

Crafting My Life, With Thanks to Amber Strocel

I can’t tell you how delighted I am to share this book with you! When Amber of Strocel.com put out an invitation for readers to review her Crafting My Life Playbook, exchange guest posts, or otherwise join with her on the journey she has begun, I knew I wanted to participate. Amber’s work has been such an inspiration to me as I have settled into the role of mother and begun the task of figuring out where the intersection between my personal goals and my life as a mother lies. I knew I would enjoy reading her Crafting My Life Playbook, but what I didn’t know was how timely it would be for me. Continue reading

Sunday Surf: Nonviolent Communication

Image from Puddle Dancer Press

It has been awhile since I wrote a Sunday Surf, and I didn’t intend to drop them completely. I won’t return to writing one each Sunday, simply because I’m trying to focus more of my energy on being with my family during the weekends, but if I am so inspired, I will share things here and there.

I’ve been doing a lot of speed reading in my google reader this week, and failing to mark favorite posts because much of my regular blogging time has been taken up with a book discussion. I have been reading through Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marhsall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. with some of my fellow Natural Parents Network volunteers, and I cannot say enough positive things about this book. It is quite possibly the most valuable thing I have ever read.

I could write on and on about the things I have learned from this book so far, but you’ll really want to read it for yourself anyway, so I may as well leave it at that. I will be writing a thorough review following our discussion, which will probably be guest posted over at One Rich Mother anyway. For now, I wanted to share with you that in case you haven’t heard: Dionna of Code Name: Mama and Amy of Peace 4 Parents will be leading a discussion on the book beginning August 1st. These are both women I regard very highly, and I’ve no doubt that any discussion led by them would be a productive one, so I thought I’d write a Sunday Surf just to tell you about it!

I’ll leave you with a quote from the book:

“All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.”
Marshall B. Rosenberg in Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

On another note, I about fell out of my chair when I saw that the lovely Cathy of A Montessori Home listed this humble blog as one of her favorites in a lovely interview over at How We Montessori. Cathy is an inspiring Montessori and mother with so much to offer – I definitely recommend visiting her!

Another source of inspiration this week was the July Carnival of Natural Parenting. Unfortunately, I was busy with the Freedom of Cloth carnival and missed the deadline, but I’m still trying to read through some of the gems, like Rachael of The Variegated Life‘s “Not Just Getting Through.”

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If you haven’t yet, remember to check out my Freedom of Cloth Giveaways: a OS Pocket Diaper from Linah Sora, EcaPants cloth training pants from EcaWare Baby, and a Wool Prefold Belt from EC Wear.

Journey to a Disposable Free Household

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.

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Photo Credit: Ray King
Used by Creative Commons License

I have been on a journey to be kinder and gentler to the environment since long before my daughter was born, but her birth and the decision to cloth diaper definitely gave me the extra push I needed to take that journey more seriously. I knew from the start that I would use cloth in combination with elimination communication, but as I researched my options and learned how easy it was to use cloth, I took things a bit further.

Using cloth caused me to think more about other single-use items in our home and I have slowly been replacing these with options we can use again and again. The most obvious switch was from disposable to cloth napkins, but later we moved away from our use of paper towels for cleaning. I was surprised to see how easy it was to use cotton cloths in their stead, even for things like mirrors and windows. Making one small change at a time has made the switch to cloth for all of our household needs an easy one. My most recent change has been away from disposable feminine products and it was quite easy thanks to my “Keeper Cup.”
As I gave more thought to the products I was using to wash our diapers, I also began to examine all of our household cleaning products and that has been instrumental in my switch to a chemical-free household. Not only is this safer for my family, but it has me buying fewer products in disposable containers. We do use a large amount of vinegar that comes in plastic gallon jugs, so my current eco conundrum is how to reduce those. The change in our choice of cleaning products in turn made me look at the products I use for my own self care: shampoos, soaps, and other cosmetics. I have slowly made changes in this area as well, switching to products that don’t contain harsh chemicals and that use less packaging and disposable containers.
By no means am I perfect, and I’m sure that my family is not making all of the “right” choices, but the point is – we’re thinking about it, and we’re making changes one at a time as we see a need. Cloth diapering has been a giant stepping stone in our journey toward awareness and conscious, mindful living in our environment. 

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freedom of cloth carnivalVisit
Natural Parents Network
for the most up-to-date news on the Freedom of Cloth Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

The Best of the Best, From Some of the Best of the Best

As you may or may not know, I’m a contributing writer for a wonderful, growing community called The Natural Parents Network. If I’m to be honest, however, I gain a whole heck of a lot more than I contribute from there. NPN is a vibrant community with fresh content on a variety of topics pertinent to natural parenting, recipesgiveaways, and a great forum where parents can seek advice, encouragement, and support from one another. All of this is made possible by a group of amazing volunteers – to include the site’s founders: Dionna of Code Name: Mama and Lauren of Hobo Mama.

Recently, those of us who have our own blogs chose one piece from our archives that is either especially representative of who we are or why we blog, or perhaps one that has sparked a great deal of interest in our readers. We compiled a list to share with one another, and today many of us have chosen to share it with our readers, to showcase the beautiful work of some of the mothers who inspire us. I could not resist sharing this list here. I would be honored to be a part of anything with this amazing group of parents, but I’m especially honored to be a part of the Natural Parents Network.

  • Joella at Fine and Fair has An Unusual Gripe with Bebe Gloton.
  • Amy at Innate Wholeness offers simple tips to be present with family whether you’re having fun or would rather run and hide in a cave.
  • Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares sound bites from her miscarriage journey of forgiveness and gratitude.
  • Shannon H of Pineapples and Artichokes writes about how she is trying to raise her daughter to be accepting of everyone.
  • Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the overuse of the word “no” and offers some aid in finding creative ways to avoid it.
  • Melissa at The New Mommy Files: Memories, Milestones and Missteps makes her Case for Instinctual Mothering.
  • Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a comprehensive list of all the food she keeps on hand.
  • Suchada at Mama Eve discusses Sleep, Crying, and Balancing Closeness with Boundaries.
  • Shannon R at The ArtsyMama shares “Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before Little Man.”
  • Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings gives her tips and tricks for babywearing twins .
  • Julia at A Little Bit of All of It tells the story of how motherhood came to her and how a miscarriage shaped her feelings and perceptions surrounding the birth of her first daughter.
  • Emily at Embrita Blogging shares “10 Things That Make Me Happy.”
  • Lauren at Hobo Mama explores a too often ignored topic: Postpartum sex vs. sex before kids.
  • As part of an ongoing series about balance, Amy at Anktangle writes about a daily ritual she has adopted to help her maintain balance in her life.
  • Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife is reminded that while the days may sometimes be long, the years are short, and after a rough day the best thing to do is give thanks for the best parts and try again tomorrow.
  • Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers 7 Alternatives to Good Job: “Good job’ing” kids can be a mindless habit to fall into. Instead of using a generic “good job,” try one of these ideas to really connect with and nurture your child.
  • Darcel at The Mahogany Way has the ultimate boredom busting activity for children of all ages.
  • Alicia at Lactation Narration discusses the long journey of child-led weaning, during which she thought several times that her child was weaned before she really was.
  • Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children describes how letting go of the illusion of control opens up an entirely new world.
  • Luschka at Diary of a First Child talks about the battle between breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers and the industry that stokes the flames of a war on mothers.
  • Mary Michael at The Accidental Natural Mama recounts her journey from “Mother” to “Mama.”
  • Sheryl at Little Snowflakes talks about the benefits of nursing a child to sleep.
  • Rachael at The Variegated Life meditates on the moment when she first saw herself fully embodying her life as a mother.
  • Is there a piece in your archives that you’re particularly proud of, or that you feel represents you particularly well? I’d love to read it. Please feel free to share your link in the comments.

    Sunday Quote: My Daily Inspiration

    A love of reading: it runs in the family
    I have gone back and forth on the idea of adding a blogroll to my site, but I’ve been so overwhelmed with inspiration by some of the incredible mamas of the blogosphere recently that I just had to go ahead and do it. I have so, so many favorite blogs and could write a very long list, but I’m starting with those I check just about every day. I’m sure I’ll be adding here and there. This list, without all the commentary, will have a permanent home on the right hand side of my blog. Consider it your new bookmarks bar!

    Rachel at 6512 and Growing, is growing a family on a gorgeous homestead at 6,512 feet. It sounds a bit funny to refer to someone who writes a blog rather than books as one of my favorite authors, but Rachel has definitely earned that title. Her writing is deeply engaging and makes me feel, for a few short minutes each day, like I’m back in my beloved Colorado – even if it is with people (her family) who I have only read about. My favorite quote from her this week is taken as she leaves Berkeley, California where she’s been visiting to head back home to small town Colorado. She reflects on the differences between raising children in the city vs. the country. They’ll miss rubbing elbows with humanity in all its forms, which seems the most direct way to build tolerance and comfort with diversity. Perhaps also, they’ll miss that buzzing groundswell of creativity that spreads quickly, like fire or a contagion, ricocheting off inspired minds.
    Like many things, there’s a trade off – street smarts traded for coyote howls, access to top-shelf artistry in concerts, museums, theatre and food traded for the opportunity to walk through the woods not seeing another soul.”
    Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares practical posts with insightful ideas on parenting gently. My favorite quote from her this week comes from a post about keeping your patience as a parent. One of her suggestions is to adjust your expectations. She writes: Are you holding on to expectations that are no longer realistic? Our children are always growing and changing – they will drop naps, they will develop their own preferences, they will constantly challenge us. Make sure that you are not expecting too much (or too little!) of your child. And remember that parenting does not equal control. If you are always trying to control your child, you will only be disappointed and frustrated, and your relationship with your child will suffer.”

    Miri at My Child’s Diary is Montessori mom to two. Her insight and care in preparing an environment that fosters her children’s learning and development both amazes and inspires me. She writes in Hebrew, so a bit of extra effort is needed to reconstruct the meaning from the crude goggle translator generated English version, but I always find that it’s worth my time and patience to do so. Still, the photos alone make Miri’s blog worth the visit, as they are inspiring in themselves. Earlier this week, in reflecting on her son’s work with the Montessori color tablets, she discussed how important it is to,allow the child to learn something without our constant tendency to teach him ourselves”
    A very recent addition to my favorites is a blog called Wander, Wonder, Discover, written by an unschooling mama who goes by MJ in this space. While she relatively recently found the path of gentle parenting, her wisdom and perspective would make you think she had been walking it all along. Of her daughter, she writes,She has reminded me that children are not for molding, but by honoring the light in them, we honor the light in ourselves.
    Only in the past few months have I discovered Gardenmama‘s beautiful blog, but I always feel warmth and inspiration when I stop in for a visit. My favorite post of hers from this week is not exactly quotable, but it’s certainly very helpful. Check out her recent Giftmaking tutorial for a unique idea that even those, like me, who don’t consider ourselves gifted in the crafting department, could use. 
    While it may be in a class all its own on this list, one of my favorite people, a friend from Colorado named Willow, recently started blogging at The Sassy Soy Free Vegetarian. Being vegan, and trying to keep my soy intake on the low side, I have really been enjoying the tips she shares. If nothing else, her wit and the clever post titles make it worth the visit.
    A few other blogs and bloggers who have been creeping up my list lately include Mama Mulder at Our Life with the Littles, KD at Life – Inspired by the Wee Man, Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip, and Lauren, aka Hobo Mama. Another old favorite, and the blog that had the greatest influence on my personal preparation for parenting, is Meg’s Sew Liberated.
    Many of the above bloggers, and several I have not mentioned here contribute to the wonderful growing community over at the Natural Parents Network as well. There is a great deal of beauty and inspiration to be found there.


    And an edit … several hours after posting this, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a former favorite blog, which I previously checked daily is back in action! I’m so glad to see that Anna is blogging again at Parallel Lives. She is a Montessori teacher and a mom (or shall I say mum?) who blogs about life and family and is also kind enough to share some of her experience as a seasoned mom mum with me from time to time. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Anna!
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