Friday, September 26, 2014

You are Your Child's Advocate

This post was originally published as a guest post on Hybrid Rasta Mama in February 2014.



You know your child better than anyone else. Don't let anyone ever convince you otherwise, including doctors!

The first time a doctor told me I needed to night-wean my child (Sasha, then 2½ years old), I held off a bit and talked to several natural parenting friends that I trust. Night weaning turned out to be exactly what we needed to do for her.

The second time our Pediatrician (same doctor) told me I needed to night-wean my child (Spencer, then 1½ years old), I just knew better. Spencer wasn't ready. He's still not ready. I know its not the solution to Spencer's sleep troubles. We're going on 6 months trying to find the right solution for Spencer and have seen several different specialists along the way. I've had to stick to my guns on this. No one else will choose when we wean (from any part of our nursing schedule).

Sasha and Pediatrician
We still like our Pediatrician.

I have talked to so many moms that have had to stick to their guns, stand up for their children (or didn't and regretted it). You are your child's advocate!

  • My teenage daughter has pretty strong Dental Anxiety. While in the chair (with me holding her hand the entire time - I will not leave her side), she told the Dental Assistant that something hurt. The DA argued that it didn't "hurt," it just felt unfamiliar and strange. We switched dentists. It is hard to find a dentist that listens to the patient, no matter their age. If a child says it hurts, then that is their reality; it hurts! Dismissing their feelings helps nothing.
  • Erica's daughter, Bella, had a rare disease. I don't think anyone researches with as much passion as a parent. She was definitely the expert. Erica chose not to give her daughter an enteral formula but to make a blenderized diet for her tube feedings. The medical personnel did not agree with her decision, but it was definitely the best thing for Bella.
  • At 3-4 months old, Kymberlee's son, Andrew, was nursing a lot, but was not gaining weight. He was barely within the normal range on the growth charts. The Pediatrician told her to quit nursing him and put him on formula. Somehow, her Momma Instinct told her that wasn't necessary. She knew breastmilk was the best thing for her son. She did buy formula to have "just in case." She could look at her son and see he had perfect color in his skin, his eyes were bright and he was happy. He was having plenty of wet and dirty diapers. There was nothing to cause any doubts about his health, other than the growth chart.

    Kymberlee began Baby Lead Weaning Andrew at 6 months, as planned. He still didn't gain weight well, but she could still see that he was happy and healthy. Long story short, she continued to nurse her son until he was 31 months old. He is at the top of the growth charts now and has always been healthy. Kymberlee is glad she trusted her instincts and kept nursing.
  • Kelly (of Becoming Crunchy) was advised that her child likely had autism and that she should spend $1,000 on screening, as if this expense was no big deal. Kellie really didn't feel that her daughter's issue was autism. Despite her husband's support of the screening, Kelly took her daughter for a second opinion. The second Pediatrician not only agreed with Kelly (that the problem was not likely autism), but also gave her a referral to a Developmental Pediatrician (which would not cost them $1,000)!

A medical degree does not make a person a god. Just because a person has a degree, doesn't mean that they should be trusted outright. Trust your gut, trust what you know of your child. No one knows your children as well as you know your children. Your children do not mean as much to anyone else as they do to you. It can be hard to stand up to someone, especially someone with more education than you. But you are your child's advocate!

When have you had to stand up to medical personnel?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mamatography 2014 - Week 38

Day 257 - Sunday - September 14



While out geocaching, the girls also pretended they were riding horses.

Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Tire Sandbox - for Free



Tires are great for upcycling! I've gathered some for a couple of projects and was ready to re-repurpose one just in time for Sasha's birthday party. I got this particular idea from Suzy Homeschooler.



In case you didn't notice or see it in the photo, there is cardboard under the tire. (This idea comes from my garden.) The corners stick out a little bit. The cardboard helps keep the grass out (for a while, at least) and still drains water out of the dirt. I added some dough shaping toys and a sand shovel (which I knew couldn't handle the dirt I used - it broke).



Spencer was the first to play in the "sandbox." I actually used my garden dirt mix, which includes some top soil and hummus, too. I mix it myself and it was what I had on-hand. I used the very last of it, but I've had it for over a year! I'd think you could literally dig up some dirt from your yard, if you have an area with extra. You could, of course, use sandbox sand.


One of the dads at Sasha's party even spent quite a bit of time rolling this perfect dirt ball. Or three. Don't be afraid to get dirty!



This is what the dirt box looked like the next day. There were plenty of people playing with it. I had to dig our some extra kitchen spoons for digging. Toys became buried treasure... more seats were gathered. I love milk crates!

I was so excited to have completed this backyard play feature in time for the party. And for free! Do you have a favorite backyard upcycle idea?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mamatography 2014 - Week 37

Day 250 - Sunday - September 7



My friendly neighbor is a contractor. He came over to "help" me build a chicken coop from pallets. (Don't worry, there will be posts dedicated to this project!) He was showing Sasha pictures of his granddaughter.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Don't Panic, Just Know

I took this photo on April 21st, 2011. Its just a shot to show all the magnets and craziness on the front of my mom's fridge. My sister and I made all those Scrabble tile magnets ourselves!


On April 30th, 2011, my mother suffered a stroke. My sister called me, concerned. I suspected a stroke and went over. Look a little closer:


I suspected a stroke... because I had seen this magnet so many times. I literally grabbed the magnet and went down the list.

  • Sudden weakness/numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

My mother thought she was fine, perhaps suffering a dip in her blood sugar. She was eating peanut butter, but she hadn't swallowed it. She was slurring her speech. She already had trouble moving her arms and couldn't move her legs, due to polio complications, so I couldn't even go by those. Though she still insisted she was fine, I discussed her symptoms with her and told her I was concerned she had suffered a stroke. During my literal interrogation of her, I paused... and considered her perspective. Her three adult children refusing to let her have her tea and asking her tons of questions. I hugged her. I asked if she had any reason I should not call 9-1-1. She did not. I called.

That was a very rough season. She had her stroke on Saturday, after I had gone home from work as her Personal Service Assistant. The following Tuesday, we finally got our positive pregnancy test (with Spencer). The following Sunday was Mother's Day, the one on which my ex-husband passed away. Two months after her stroke, my mother passed away. Days later, I was told there was something genetically wrong with my son - right before I went to identify her body for cremation. All I wanted to do was call my mom! None of this paragraph is the point of this post, though.

You can't go through life afraid to live or worrying every second. But you and your family can be prepared and educated. Know the signs of a stroke. Get your own free stroke warning signs magnet. Its kind of scary to me because both of my parents have had strokes, so I have a genetic predisposition for them. I'm thinking I really need to make sure my family needs to know the signs and my wishes for treatment now. If caught quickly, strokes can be treated. Educate yourself and your family.

I've ordered our free stroke warning signs magnet. You should, too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mamatography 2014 - Week 36

Day 243 - Sunday - August 31



We found one of the coolest geocaches during our Sunday visitation!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

To Minimalist and Back Again

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

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 opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.




I wrote in October 2011 (for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, actually!) about how we minimized from a spacious 3 bedroom condo down to a 2 bedroom apartment and, soon after, into a 1 bedroom apartment. At that time, we were planning our next move, which was into a 10 x 10 bedroom and an attic room for the teen. That was our entire living space, which we rented from friends. A couple of months after Spencer was born, we took the next plunge: We bought and moved our family of five into a 200 square foot travel trailer. Wow. For real.


In hindsight, yes, I think I may have taken things a little too far. We did feel the need to make that next move and it was what worked for us at the time, but spending Summer in a tin can in a slot with no shade... it was harsh. Otherwise, we rather liked our RV park. We used our shower as a space to stack drawers for Tyler and just used the shower facilities on site. The coolest thing about that was using the handicap accessible shower to have my husband's help bathing the littles. I loved our "Family Showers."


Our next move was into a government subsidized neighborhood... it was a very cute home. It was 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2½ baths. Holy cow! We didn't even have this much space in the condo! We loved our space, though I had trouble with the stairs. This was also when Spencer's sleep issues surfaced, so he and I started sleeping downstairs. We also started over with basically zero furniture. All we had was mattresses and a desk plus kitchen stuff. The place looked very minimalist at first! But with lots of space... its like the stuff just follows.


Now we've moved into a modest house (I love not sharing walls with neighbors!) with 2 bedrooms. This is more our size, though we're still a little cramped. Sasha and Tyler (about to turn 5 and 16 years old) share a bedroom, which holds a bunk bed and a full size bed. We share our bedroom with Spencer, using queen and twin beds. Somehow... we've amassed so much stuff! Again! I wouldn't say it compares with living in one place for years, but considering I have been a self-proclaimed minimalist, its a lot of stuff.

And I guess that is the moral of my story. Its difficult to up-size your space without upping the amount of stuff you have. It has been amazing to have our own fenced in yard, though! I would say that is probably the biggest plus of our current home. I've been able to garden and Sasha has gotten SO much more time playing outside, which is something I very much wanted for her. We still dream of hitting the road, I think I just jumped the gun a bit.

I'm not sure I can still call myself a minimalist.

Have you made drastic changes to the size of your homes?
How has that changed the amount of stuff you had?




Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family's home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama's most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I'm Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn't have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia's nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry's recent "home tour," That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she's thankful for around her home. Don't plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada's Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family's newly renovated home and how it's set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen's life is now host to her family's homeschool adventures and a room they couldn't imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she's created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.
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