## 11.30.2010

### Will It Sink or Float?

I am now featuring a regular posting on Tuesdays called Playtime Tuesdays where I share one of the activities, art projects, science experiments, etc. that we have engaged in through out the previous week. My hope is to inspire other activities, connections or simple moments of play for others.

Bath turned into a fun experiment last night. We created a simple experiment called, Will It Sink or Float? The object of the experiment is to hypothesize (yes, three year olds can hypothesize!) which random objects we bring to the tub will sink and which ones will float. You don't have to do it in the bathtub, of course. It could easily be replicated at the kitchen sink, even be an activity you engage in together while doing the dishes!

We used objects like a plastic food container, a spoon, some bathroom items like a loofah and a foot scrub, some foam letters, a ball, and pistachio shells that Everett had in his pocket. We took one at a time, he guessed what it would do and we dropped it in the tub for the results.

I would also ask him why he thought it sank or floated. It was interesting to hear his relatively accurate logic. For example, he said the food container would float because it's plastic and the spoon sank because it's metal and heavy.  The best result was that he began to take off with the experiment in a new direction, all on his own.

After establishing that the food container floated and the pistachio shells sank, he wanted to find out what would happen if we put the shells into the container.  Then, what would happen if we put other objects in the container. As it began to tip and sink, we worked together to reason that the container filled with water would sink. So, he decided to see how much water it took to sink the container. I was surprised that we filled it close to three quarters full before it began tipping enough to fill with water and sink.

I imagine we'll repeat this little experiment over again several times. It will be neat to see how we can continue to expand on it and begin learning a little about the properties of water and the objects we pick.

## 11.25.2010

### Finding Peace Through Gratitude

Significant changes and challenges this year have left me both feeling like I'm floundering and stuck. I've struggled to find rhythm in our new home and gain back a sense of inner peace. Six weeks ago, the disconnect between Everett, my 3 1/2 year old son, and me brought heart wrenching pain some days.  In response, I filled our weeks with the social interaction that he seems to demand nowadays. He spends less time fighting with me and more time being able to explore his relationships with others. This has been very good for our connection. It has grown stronger again.

However, it's also created an imbalance in me because we don't have enough time at home to create that quiet rhythm that brings me peace, including the time I have to be alone doing yoga or running in order to release and rejuvenate physically, and time to reflect introspectively. I wouldn't go back; the unrest is much better than the pain of disconnect. Yet, I have been scattered and unsure of how to gain back my ground.

Sometime at the beginning of this month, I decided to start talking about gratitude with Everett in preparation for Thanksgiving. Gratitude was a virtue instilled in me at a very early age by parents who worked very hard to create their better life and a beautiful, loving family. From as far back as I remember, my parents (and extended families) have greatly emphasized how blessed we were and how grateful they felt for our lives.

So, I've been reflecting on gratitude a lot this month. I've felt it swelling within me. I've felt it anchoring me, if not for just a moment, in a way that I have yearned to be anchored for months now. Having such deep roots with this virtue, it's no wonder it can bring me such peace now.

Gratitude is a beautiful thing. It can teach us humility and generosity. I can help us become conscious of our choices, become conscious of other people and the world. Gratitude can remind us of the past- where we have come from and where we can go in the light of people who have tread before us. Gratitude can center us, or calm our storms. It can simplify our thinking and our life. And, best of all, gratitude can be a path to love and peace.

So,this Thanksgiving, for myself and my family, for the abundance in my life, the love that I find evidence of every day, and the peace that resides there even when I can't see it- I give the greatest of thanks.

## 11.23.2010

### Playtime Tuesdays: Storytelling

The imagination of the 3 year old is amazing. It seemed like clockwork that Everett's fantasy world exploded when he turned three last March.  Suddenly, all the games we had been playing, pretending to hop like frogs or talk through his toys were suddenly being led by him and demanded for all the time. In the past eight months he's come to try on multiple roles, including Spiderman and a pirate as favorites, throughout a single day.

Along with that, his storytelling has become so much fun and, often, hilarious. He loves to tell stories just as much as he loves to hear them. His stories have evolved from when he was two and obviously piecing together parts of stories just told to him, to much more original stories with a bit more complexity to the plots.

Here's an example of one of Everett's first stories written down from January 2010:

Once upon a time there was a great big bear trumping down the trail. And there was a man looking for a big bear. Then there was a sudden gust of wind that swept the bear off the trail.  That's the end of the story.
Yesterday Everett and I sat down to do some story telling. We took turns telling stories and writing them down for each other. Here's his story from yesterday:

A long, long time ago a T-Rex was playing chase with the other baby T-Rexes.  He was being shy with his friends. After he played with his friends he did some homework and went to football practice. After that he did soccer practice and more homework. And after that he did golf practice and homework again.
Then he was at a patch of clover and stepped in some sinking sand. Then he was sucked into the depths.  Then he got away into another patch of clover. He sinked into the sand there and he was stuck there forever. That's the end.

Storytelling is an, easy and fun way to play and connect with your child. It challenges his development, and stimulates both his and your imaginations. Recorded stories (through writing, voice or video) are great evidence of your child's development and personality, too. Everett and I will take the time this next week to either illustrate our stories or act them out, possibly both. Then I'll archive share and archive them to read again as he grows.

## 11.22.2010

### Toss Your Baby Cereal Out of the Grocery Cart!

 Get this out of your grocery cart!!
There are a wide variety of theories on what foods are best to introduce baby to solids. Without even thinking about it, most moms go to baby cereal. Why not? If you took a look at the shelves of the grocery store, you can see that it's been the go-to food for years now.  It's bland and it fills baby up. It's convenient, and because it's gluten free, it avoids most allergies, right?

Sarah, at the Healthy Home Economist, writes a very different view on baby rice cereal as a first food. Sarah is a Nutrition Educator and Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. I recently found her article on baby cereal and appropriate first solid foods based on the research and teachings of the Foundation. The pictures she paints of baby cereal is pretty ugly and definitely puts into question who the experts have been all these years- or doctors or the baby food companies?

There are several problems that exist with rice cereal, that ironically enough, was originally chosen because it is gluten free and thought to be a simple food that avoids allergy problems in the young digestive tract. First of all, rice has a very high glycemic index, which means it spikes baby's blood sugar. It's difficult or nearly impossible, for a baby to digest because his digestive system produces mostly lactase, the enzyme used to break down lactose in milk, and does not produce amylase, the enzyme used to break down grains, until much later.

What happens, Sarah writes, when the food isn't digested properly is that it rots. Yes, that's right. She states, "It rots in the gut feeding all manner of pathogenic bacteria and fungi ushering the child quickly down the path to allergies, asthma, eczema, and other autoimmune disorders." There's the ironic part for you. She continues to explain what occurs more scientifically, but the point is that the same food we have been spooning into our babies' tummies for years now could be the culprit of many, many digestive and allergic problems!

 Can you tell which is the deliciously nutritious pastured egg?
Sarah and the Weston A. Price Foundation suggest egg yolk from a pastured hen as a baby's first food. Pastured hens, meaning hens that are able to roam free eating bugs and such in a pasture, not a soy-based vegetarian diet you see most organic egg distributors boasting about.  This is because all of those delicious bugs and worms load up the hen's eggs with loads of nutrition, like omega-3 fatty acids and natural cholesterols that are necessary for baby's mental development.

Next, she suggests adding raw beef or bison liver to a bit of egg yolk. Liver, because it contains a smorgasbord of vitamins and minerals, is considered a superfood world wide. It's particularly important because of Vitamins A and D and iron.  She explains how to safely feed the raw liver, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that step yet. I think I'll stick with incorporating cooked liver when I begin feeding Kellan other meats. Bananas are also suggested because they digest easily due to their large amounts of amylase.

She continues on to recommend adding pureed meats, fruits and veggies once baby turns 10 months. It's important to introduce one food at a time to watch for reactions, and to avoid the more high starch vegetables, like sweet potato and potato, until later. Make baby's food at home and mix it well with deep yellow butter from grass-fed cows so that all the food's fat-soluble nutrients are absorbed and natural cholesterol can contribute to brain development.

While Sarah and the Foundation's view may seem extreme, the La Leche League recognizes the lack of nutrition in baby cereals, too.  They, too, say babies require a lot of protein. Furthermore, if breastfed, they do not require much carbohydrates because breastmilk is full of carbohydrates.

They advocate for baby's first foods to include bananas, avocados, yams or sweet potatoes.  All are rich in nutrients and sweet. They suggest that sweet foods are a good start for breastfed babies because their familiarity may contribute to baby's excitement for the new experience of solid foods.

The progression of foods they suggest continues on to include
 Mmmh! Tasty!

• Meats
• Whole grain breads and cereals- Not baby cereals but whole grain ones like oatmeal, and no wheat or corn until 9-12 months
• Fresh fruits- Citrus after 9-12 months
• Vegetables
• Dairy products- After 9 months and cow's milk after 12 months
They also suggest introducing a single food at a time and spacing each food about a week apart to determine allergies or intolerances. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says that the six foods that count for 90% of allergies are cow's milk (though I imagine this would be different if raw milk was a norm), eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, and tree nuts. They suggest that all of these be introduced from baby's first birthday to 3 years old. You can see a progressive chart of introduction at kellymom.com's article on first foods.

## 11.19.2010

### Tis the Season

... of colds and flus! And I've been run down this week with my first of the season, which has kept me off of the computer for most of the week. In light of my sickness, though, instead of kid's in the kitchen, I thought I'd share a recipe for a tea I drink when I'm sick with a cold, congested sinuses or any upper respiratory illness.

Simmer a couple teaspoons of grated ginger in about 8-10 oz of water.
Add lemon juice (for immunity-boosting vitamin C)
a pinch of cayenne (for congestion)
a mashed clove of garlic (for it's antimicrobial properties)
and honey to taste.

Sip while hot and relax!

I drink a few cups of this a day when I'm really congested and it works great, especially coupled with other natural remedies.

## 11.17.2010

### Wordless Wednesday: Creating Thanksgiving Turkeys

The idea for these turkey day decorations came from a friend's Halloween decorations. She had an oh-so-cute owl and pumpkin made with the accordion paper circle hanging up for a lil Halloween party. I recreated the idea for Thanksgiving and invited a friend over to play!

 Ta-Da!!

## 11.12.2010

### Library Love- October/November

Take Me Out To The Ballgame
by Maryann Kovalski

The traditional song illustrated with a story of a grandma taking her grandkids to a baseball game. Everett loved it because he looooves baseball and his grandma. We also sing this song frequently while brushing his teeth at night!

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Elise Broach

Very clever little story about a boy going on errands with his mom, expecting a boring day but finding out that dinosaurs come as a prize with everything that day.
Everett loves this book, of course, because he loves the dinosaurs.  We have spun many stories out of this book and fantasized about taking our dinosaurs with us on our own errands.

Night Sounds, Morning Colors
By Rosemary Wells

Easily a classic. This sweet book of poems quietly describes a day in the life of a little boy. Beautiful illustrations.
Everett likes this book because of the things the little boy does during his day.

Once There Was A House, A House That Was A Home
by Alex T. Smith

Cute little book about how a home is more than four walls, windows and doors, its about friends (or family) and love. Fun, collaged illustrations. Everett loves this book, we've read it over and over, because he thinks its funny. Not sure why....

How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight?
by Varsha Bajaj

A great book for connecting with your child and snuggling. Full of mommy and daddy animals asking their little one how many kisses he wants. Everett loves this book because of the animals (and spider) and especially because he loves the snuggles and kisses that come with it!

## 11.11.2010

### Is My Baby Read For Solid Foods?

 Not quite ready to eat the butternut squash, he loves to play with it!
Now that Kellan is six months old we have been watching with anticipation for when he is ready to start eating solid foods. I think it's important for a baby's health that mom watches for when he is ready for solids, not when she is ready for him to start. It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement (especially with a first child) but it is important that a baby exhibits readiness in many ways, not just one.

After reading articles from Dr. Sear's, Kellymom.com and the American Association of Pediatrics, I've come up with a fairly comprehensive list of signs that baby is ready for solid foods.  Your baby may:

• Start "begging" by reaching for food on your plate, grabbing your spoon, looking hungrily at your food, or opening his mouth wide when you open your mouth to eat.
• Sit up well and without support.
• Be developing his pincer grasp (with thumb and forefinger) which is a step beyond the palmar grasp (grabbing with whole hands, raking towards self).
• Have lost his tongue-thrust reflex and is able to swallow food.  In the first few feedings, baby will be learning how to sweep food to the back of his mouth to swallow so spitting some of the food out is normal.
It is also noted on Kellymom that, while it can be difficult to determine, another sign of readiness may be a long-term increased in baby's demand to nurse that is unrelated to illness, teething pain, change in routine or a growth spurt.

There are several signs that baby is not ready as well.  If he is not quite ready, even if he is six months, he may:

• Spit out food with a disapproving grimace
• Sit confused with mouth open and food sitting on his tongue, a possible sign that his tongue-thrust reflex is not gone yet.
• Cough or choke on food, another sign of a still present tongue-thrust reflex.
• Plays with food or spoon without trying to eat it much.
• Turn head away when you try to feed him.
Contrary to some beliefs, there is no particular size (small or large) or weight that indicates your baby is ready for solid foods. Eating solid foods does not help baby sleep longer at night and delaying solid foods beyond the 6-10 month range does not cause problems for baby's eating habits later.

Lastly, there are some things you can do to involve your baby in meal times, which I find helps to know when baby is ready for solid foods. You could let baby:

• Sit at the table during meal times, either on a lap or in a high chair.
• Have a cup of water or breast milk, or even try to take sips of your water through a straw.
• Play with a glob of pureed food.
• Play with safe utensils.
• Play with ice chips or frozen slushy breast milk.
Remember that while your baby's digestive tract is almost fully developed and ready for food by about six months, your baby may not be. Every baby is different and it will only be beneficial to his health and his relationship with food if you listen and watch for all the right signs before introducing solid foods. I know and trust that Kellan will be able to communicate with me when his body is ready for the next step. Until then, I am more than happy to fill his belly with the naturally perfect food for him- breast milk!

## 11.09.2010

### Parenting in the Present

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!
***

I have to be honest- I'm not a big reader of parenting books. I do find value in expert advice and I love learning about child development or becoming inspired by different methods of parenting. I also find a lot of value in trusting myself as a parent. When it comes to the act of parenting, trusting myself and being fully present can count for a lot more than reading about how to do it.

Before Everett was born, I didn't know what attachment or natural parenting was. I didn't even know there was this kind of parent or that kind of parent. After entering the parenting world and learning about all the books, experts, styles and methods, it seems like someone could earn their bachelors and masters degrees, then go on to specialize in any particular school of thought for a doctorate in parenting and still not learn it all.

***

Stop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit 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. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

### Attachment/Responsive Parenting

1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
• "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
• "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
• "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
• "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
• "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

### Holistic Health Practices

• "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

### Natural Learning

• "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)
• "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
• "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
• "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
• "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

## 11.08.2010

### De-escalating an Angry Situation

I've mentioned recently before that my three and half year old has challenged my patience more than any person at any time in my life. On more than one occasion I have found myself near melt down and ready to scream at him. I've yelled, lost my temper, and been more emotional than I should have been.

Its important, then, that I have developed some habits that help to de-escalate our angry situations.  Already knowing what to do in these times and having put it to practice before getting to this particularly difficult phase has really paid off. I may have done all the above, but I haven't gone so far to have a melt down that I completely regretted later.

First and foremost, I think it helps to know what our triggers are- both of ours. Have we had enough sleep? When did we eat last? Moms are often thinking about their child's snacks and meals, but especially on those more difficult days its easy to go hours without something our bellies.  It is just as easy for me to be cranky when my blood sugar drops from lack of foods.

Beyond basic triggers like food, sleep, recent changes or illness, know what really sets you off.  I know that I tend to get angry more easily when I haven't had time to be by myself to exercise. I need that time to physically check in with my body.  Knowing my triggers helps me to be a little more objective in rhe middle of a heated situation.

Knowing both of our triggers helps me to prevent some outbursts by trying to avoid them, too. For example, another one of my triggers is a messy house. Knowing that I can't avoid them all together, I try to avoid having messes in certain areas of the house and leaving one day of the weekend to make sure the house is cleaned up for the start of the week.

Next, I always keep in mind that it is futile to try to discipline Everett when either one of us is really angry or emotional.  If I'm not thinking rationally when I'm angry, why would my three year old that is not even capable of determining right and wrong yet anyway?  When we're mid-fight, he's yelling or I'm blowing off steam, a little red flag pops up in my head and I immediately put a pause to things.

I might call out, "Okay! Stop! Wait. We're getting too upset here. We need to breathe or take a break and calm down."  I'll feel out what he needs for space and give it to him, knowing that if I need a minute I am more likely to get it after he gets what he needs. Often that's some direct attention like holding and breathing together.

Something else I might do is break up the tension with a laugh. I crack a joke, give a couple ticklish pokes or make a goof of myself.  Often the giggles are all we need.  Other times, laughing may not come so easily but it gets the shouting to stop and those are often the times that he wants cuddles and love.

To help myself calm down, I keep perspective on the situation. I ask myself questions like, "What am I really mad about? Who am I mad at?"  I try to give myself a break, too, knowing that everyone gets mad and everyone shouts. I applaud myself for stopping it when I did and acknowledging where I am at.

Using these techniques almost always help to avoid further outbursts and anger.  After we are both given some space and time to calm down, I am able to address our previous issues and reconnect through conversation and lots of play.

## 11.05.2010

### Delaying Solid Foods

Check out my guest post on The Natural Parenting Network about why we choose to delay solid foods beyond the common age of 4-6 months.

## 11.03.2010

### Wordless Wednesday: Wedding Photo Booth Fun!

**Where were these fun photo booths when I got married?

## 11.02.2010

### A Little Pirate Talk Goes a Long Way

I've been writing a bit about talking so I'm gonna go with the flow and keep on topic. I'm making effort to make last week's parenting challenge an integrated part of my parenting now. On my first post when I introduced the challenge that I had read about at The Parenting Passageway, I mentioned that Carrie suggests singing or humming or just changing your voice to be silly or more fun as you make requests of your child.
Her example was pretending to be a mama bird calling baby bird to the nest to eat instead of trying to herd your kiddo to the table as usual.
I see her point perfectly. The usual sort of prompting and pleading my son to the table to eat or to the bathroom to brush his teeth eventually sounds like the adult voices of Charlie Brown cartoons- wah wah wah wah wah. Pretending to be something else, like the mama bird or a pirate, and anything becomes play. It feeds the the imagination and creates peaceful rhythms instead of expectation and, possibly struggle.

This isn't a new concept to us. Since Everett was about two years old we have been stalking to the car like lions on the prowl or playing super hero clean up in the bedroom.  However, its a great reminder of its appropriateness for this age and encourages me to keep going with it.

Everett has really been into pirates in last nine months so we do a lot of pretending with pirates. Since July we have known that we would be pirates for Halloween and as we drew closer to the holiday and prepared his costume I got lots of practice using my pirate voice. At least once a day for the last couple weeks I became Captain Hook Mommy.

Need to clean up his bedroom? "Aaarrgh, I'm lookin for a pirate that would be good at swabbin the decks. Who can prove himself good at cleanin and help me with this mess?"

Time to brush teeth? "Yer teeth are as green as the seas! I don't need any pirates callin on sea monsters with their matching green teeth, let's do somethin about that."

Time to get to bed? "Aargh, it's gettin late and my eyes are gettin heavy. Pirates gotta get ta bed so they can be up early enough ta steal treasure before th' others rise!"

Talk like a pirate and the task is done. We love pirate games!