Friday, December 30, 2011

Free Play, Accidents, and... the Fridge?

NOTE: I wrote this article back in February 2011 to submit to another site. I never did finish it... until I was preparing for my babymoon!

My daughter certainly isn't short on toys. She even has enough that I rotate them out for her. However, I am all about free play with things that aren't considered toys. You know, real life stuff. There are some dangers there, though. For instance, what kinds of plastics do they use to make an oil funnel?

When we picked one up while shopping, Sasha loved playing with it in the basket. Once we got it home, it just made sense to let her have it for a couple days before using it (especially considering how lazy we are about the truck). Then she was walking with it and tripped. The small end of the funnel hit right in the center of her forehead. Ouch! Poor dear had a small circle on her forehead for a couple of days.

We haven't had any hospital visits from dangerous toys, but then we try to use common sense and we watch her more closely if it is something that isn't already "baby friendly."

One of Sasha's favorite places to play lately? The refrigerator! So what do you do if your kid wants to play with your groceries? Well, I've let her. It started with moving things to different shelves. Then she started just pulling stuff out and putting it on the floor. Still, I let her play in the fridge for a few minutes at a time. She enjoyed it and no harm done. Until I found a package of Laughing Cow Cheese and a container of cucumber sticks in a cabinet. Ew! So we still let her play in the fridge, but we have to keep a closer eye on her.

Sasha in FridgeSasha (1½yo) in the Fridge
February 2011

She seems more familiar with the fridge contents now, including what she can generally have. So now she asks us to open the door and gets out my Garlic & Herb cheese. She closes the door, then hands it to me. I get her a bite of cheese, hand it to her, seal the bag, hand it back, and open the fridge again. She puts the cheese back where she got it and closes the door again. It makes for a fun little game and encourages me to have more snacks readily available for her. (Have suggestions for me?)

This game has also now carried over a bit elsewhere. We kept our kitchen garbage can on top of a step stool... until she got tall enough to put toys into it anyway. Now the trash can is in the pantry. I can give her any garbage and ask her to throw it away. Once I open the Pantry door, she will throw it away and close the door.

I am not real sure what, exactly, she is learning through her free play choices, but I try to remember that most anything she does is teaching her something.

What strange things have become toys in your household?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Out with the Old

dress burningBurning my wedding dress...
worn twice - both marriages ended.
(different brides)

Click over to Natural Parents Network: Wordless Wednesday: Out with the Old for more photos on the topic and link up your own Wordless Wednesday post!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (36-37, so far)

36th week

I hate nursing. Really. Every time I nurse, I just keep thinking how much I want to tell someone how much I hate it. It isn't terribly uncomfortable. It isn't even that painful, most of the time (though sometimes it hurts enough to make me gasp). However, now that I know Spencer could arrive at any time... I find myself desperate for his arrival, when I'm nursing. I've pinned such high hopes on how his birth will change my nursing relationship(s). I truly hope my expectations aren't too high and leave me falling very far down.

Also, I now have random times (though generally I'm a bit cool, I think) when my nipples get really hard. It feels a tiny bit like let down... only not. Its painful. And weird.

37th week

I still hate nursing. Sasha has been slightly under the weather, so she has been nursing more. It seems like she wants to nurse at least once between waking and nap time every day. She has also gone back to biting down in her sleep, especially if I don't remove her during that perfect window of opportunity.

My belly has gotten so large that, if just supported by pillows, Sasha's chin rubs against my belly. Yet another annoying sensation. I just find nursing so very annoying in every way lately. That said, I did imagine nursing her while in labor. How insane would that be?!

To be continued...

Find the other posts in this series:
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (39th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (38th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (36-37, so far)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 35 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 29/30 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 25 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 20 weeks
  • Extended Breastfeeding, So Far! (posted pretty much the weekend I got pregnant!)
  • Monday, December 26, 2011

    Monday Minimalist: Baby Registries - Nursery

    Lots of babies are conceived in the Winter. About half of my babies were. Anyway, on that note (and because as I write this I'm expecting Spencer any time), this Monday Minimalist post series is about registering for your Baby Shower gifts.

    You can register at just about any and every store using their website these days. It isn't quite as much fun as going shopping with a friend or family member, but it is certainly less exhausting!

    During this pregnancy I registered at Walmart, Target, Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, plus one or two other stores. Some of those were by request (okay, at least one was).

    Whether you register in person or choose to use the internet, every store offers you a list of things for which they think you should register. They wouldn't want you to be without, after all! In today's post, we're going to cover all of the "must haves" for the Nursery.


    • Crib (+ mattress) - do you plan to cosleep? You totally don't need a crib! You can get a toddler side rail instead.
    • Cradle / Bassinet / Portable Crib - when we weren't in the bedroom, we literally put Sasha down on the floor on a blanket for naps. We did, however, also use a playpen on occasion. It has a bassinet insert as well as a changing "table" insert. Evaluate your home and your needs to decide if you really need these items.
    • Dresser / Chest / Armoire - How many baby clothes do you have? I used a simple, cheap, 3-drawer plastic thingamabob. It costs $20. I'm still using it for Sasha's things and we even got one for Spencer's things recently. If you'd like a nice dresser, register for it. But if you don't get it - consider your options. Or could you make room in your own dresser for baby's things?
    • Changing Table - Really? It seems silly to me now. I wanted one so bad when I had Sasha. My mother helped me find a good deal on Craigslist and even bought it for me! When it was upstairs, I hardly used it. I eventually figured out what a waste of money and space these things are. Most people I know wind up changing diapers sitting on the couch or using an ottoman or end of the bed. Many even use the floor. This is definitely a luxury (unnecessary) item.
    • Glider / Rocker (+ Ottoman) - This is another item upon which I truly had my heart set. Again, my mother helped me find a good deal on Craigslist and helped me get it. I enjoyed it, but didn't use it a lot. Think about your space and how you plan to tend to your little one. This certainly need not be considered a necessity item.


    • Crib bedding set - This would be nice if you've gone all out with a themed nursery. I didn't even have a need for an extra room to be a nursery. (We hardly used the room at all!) Also, at least one state has outlawed crib bumpers! Also, if you are skipping the crib, this is more stuff you can skip as well.
    • Waterproof mattress pads - no mattress, no need for mattress pads
    • Waterproof lap pads - depending on your plans, these are so wonderful to have! If you're planning to use Elimination Communication, these are nearly a necessity.
    • Receiving Blankets - alright, these are one of those things that can get a lot of use. They're even fairly versatile. We've used them to swaddle (I don't recommend swaddling, actually). We've used them to shade the carseat from the sun. Sasha has napped on them. I used them to fool Tyler into thinking I was still next to her when she would nurse down for a nap. They usually come in inexpensive sets and I'm sure one or two people will choose this gift if you include it.
    • Heavier blankets - we wound up with 3 and we used all of them. We would have been fine with 2, but I do think they're nearly a necessity, depending on what time of year your little one is due to arrive. We still use the heavier blankets on Sasha's bed and for keeping her warm in the truck.

    Room Decor

    • Mobile - totally necessary, especially if you have nothing to which to attach it! However, if it is a tradition for you or something that you feel you would use or enjoy having, by all means include it on your registry.
    • Changing Table pad (+ covers) - no need for this if you don't have a changing table, right? Those waterproof lap pads I mentioned before work great and can be left our OR packed into your diaper bag!
    • Wall hangings / borders / decor / light switch plates - If you're renting your home, this may be a non-issue anyway. Since I realized we didn't need a separate nursery anyway, these sort of items would not have served me well. It just depends on how you're arranging your baby space in your home.
    • Lamp / Rug / Hamper - Again, these depend on your individual needs. If you do have a separate room for the nursery, does it have a light fixture of its own? Many apartments in our area don't. Rugs seem like luxury items to me, though I love the play rugs with maps and things for later play. As for a hamper, we just shared our own.
    • Closet Organizer - this would totally depend on your space. If you're dealing with a small amount of space, this could be a real necessity for you. We didn't / don't need one. Our plastic dressers are currently stacked in our closet.
    • Trash can - do you really need a separate trash can for this room?

    I hope you find this series useful when deciding what you need or want for your expanding family. I'm providing my own opinions on the items listed, but these are just what worked for me. I also hope you'll come back for more categories in the series.

    The next category on the list is Diapers and Formula. That's right, formula is on the must haves list for some of these places! I do find it slightly amusing, maybe, that nursing / feeding falls under a completely different category: Infant Care. Isn't it ALL infant care of one sort or another?

    Do you have an item in your nursery without which your life would truly be more difficult? What is your nursery must have?

    Momma Jorje: Monday Minimalist

    Let me know if you have a Monday Minimalist post and I'll share it on my blog.

    Click the icon to grab the button for your MM posts or for details on how to join the movement.

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Sunday Surf: Happy Giftmas!

    I considered skipping this week's Sunday Surf altogether, thinking no one will be online. But I'll be online, I'm sure! And I'm sure not everyone checks this out on Sunday anyway. Perhaps you're clicking around to unwind. And so...

    Obstetric Lie #94: We Care About Your Birth Plan

    I have been saving this one for months! I meant to include it with my own Birth Plan post, but forgot. I have been terribly unfocused lately. Anyway, there is some good information in here as far as what to expect from your birth plan.

    Man Builds Fairy Tale Home for His Family – For Only £3,000

    This one made me think of Monday Minimalist, but I don't think it is quite precisely minimalism. Still, this home is very cool and gorgeous! This guy is not an architect, either. He just figured out what he wanted and made it happen!

    Mamatography 2012 – Are You Interested?

    This looks like a fun challenge. Especially with a new baby in the house, I think it will be a perfect focus for my Wordless Wednesday posts in 2012. I will continue to participate in the Natural Parents Network WW as well, but will no longer match their themes once we get a week into the new year. (Much like the Mamatography founder, I'll take the extra days to get my photos together and posted.) Check out the challenge and see if you think it might be right up your alley as well!

    Fuji FinePix Z20fd

    The Care and Feeding of the Natural Male Penis

    I love the amusing title of this article! It takes a very simple approach to the care of your son's intact penis, but offers some important warnings as well.

    Why having fewer toys may bring more happiness to the family

    This post could definitely fit for my Monday Minimalist series. However, it is SO perfect for the holiday, I wanted to share it right away! (And my Monday Minimalist post for tomorrow is already scheduled.)

    I hope you had / are having a great holiday, whichever Winter holidays you chose to celebrate!

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Birth Plan

    Bradley Method process does recommend a Birth Plan. Have you used one? How was it received? Our doctor even recommended one when we were pregnant with Sasha. (He is our doctor again with Spencer.)

    I've been quite offended by the attitude I've received from some nurses about Birth Plans.I have even heard nurses refer to Birth Plans as "Failure Plans." I think I know why, though. If you use wording that suggests you will not waver in your preferences, they find it harder to take you seriously. It is good to have your perfect birth in mind, but you need to be flexible. Remember that the real desire is healthy baby and mother. The experience, while very important, is not the MOST important.

    Some other key points to keep in mind: Keep your birth plan down to one page (even if it is front and back). If your plan is too long, no one will read it. Even our doctor told us that we should be able to summarize our plan. We can and did last time, "We want minimal intervention." Also, I used a check-box birth plan creator, then just tweaked it to suit my needs. The site is credited below as well as on my actual printed birth plan.

    Once you have "finalized" your birth plan, have another mother (with similar philosophies to your own) review it for you. They may think of something else or improved wording. Then you should take your new "finalized" version to your doctor. This should be done in the weeks preceding your birth! You may find you have more adjustments to make once you've done this step. Once you have a final, final, final version of your birth plan, make several copies (front and back if it is two pages). Pack them into your hospital bag. Hand them to every single staff person with whom you deal at the hospital.

    Here is our birth plan, as an example. Please feel free to use as much of it as you like, but be sure to make it your own with any of your preferences. We are planning a hospital birth, so this version applies specifically to a hospital birth. Also, this particular birth plan takes Spencer's Down Syndrome into consideration. I definitely suggest planning for the unexpected (like emergency Cesarean Section).

    Axline Family Birth Plan

    Mother-to-be: Jorje Father-to-be: Elmo
    Practitioner: Dr. Ross Place of Birth: (hospital name)
    Doula: Jenni Newborn's Name: (if known)

    This birth plan is intended to express the preference and desires we have for the birth of our baby, Spencer. It is not intended to be a script. We fully realize that situations may arise such that our plan cannot and should not be followed. However, we hope that barring any extenuating circumstances, you will be able to keep us informed and aware of our options. Thank you.

    First Stage (Labor):
    • Dim Lights.
    • Would prefer my own clothes or nude to gown.
    • Would prefer to keep vaginal exams to a minimum.
    • Maintain mobility (Walking, rocking, up to bathroom, etc.)
    • Clear fluids. Food, as desired, to keep blood sugar level.
    • Heparin lock.
    • Please do not offer me pain medications.
    • Relaxation techniques (breathing, focusing, etc.).
    • Positioning as desired.
    • Water (Shower or Tub).
    • Heat or Cold packs.
    • Massage (back, foot, counter pressure, etc.).
    • Acupressure
    • I would prefer to use natural methods to start labor.
    • If induction becomes necessary, please discuss our options with us.
    • I would prefer to try nipple stimulation or breaking of waters.
    Second Stage (Birth):
    • Choice of position
    • Prolonged length, if progress is being made
    • Spontaneous Bearing Down
    • I would prefer no episiotomy. Please use compresses, massage and positioning
    • Local Anesthesia (for repair) if necessary
    • Leave vernix intact. Do not rub baby down.
    • Skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible
    • Placenta to be delivered without tugging and given to doula immediately.
    Baby Care:Pediatrician: Dr. Ross
    • Leave penis intact. Do not circumcise nor retract penis.
    • Delay cord cutting, cut cord after placenta is delivered & pulsing stops
    • No eye medication
    • No Vitamin K injection
    • No vaccinations
    • Breast feeding only - would like to see the Lactation Consultant
    • No artificial nipples without consent
    • No formula
    • No separation of Baby from Mother, unless requested by parents
    • If separation is necessary, no separation of Baby from Father
    • Delay bath. Prefer a parent bathe the baby at our convenience.
    Cesarean Birth:
    • Spinal/epidural anesthesia
    • Coach (husband) and doula present
    • Lower shield and do slow birth to mimic vaginal delivery
    • Explain the surgery as its happening
    • Free (at least) one hand to touch the baby
    • Skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible
    • Breast feeding in recovery room, with Lactation Consultant assistance
    Sick baby:Pediatrician: Dr. Ross
    • Breast feeding as soon as possible
    • Unlimited visitation for parents
    • Handling the baby (Kangaroo care, holding, care of, etc.)
    • If the baby is transported to another facility, move us as soon as possible
    • Echocardiogram
    • Hearing
    • Leukemia / Transient Leukemia?
    • Platelet Count?
    • Cataracts
    Compliments of

    Again, what has been your experience with birth plans?
    If you received a negative reaction, how did you handle it?

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Best of 2011 from NPN Volunteers

    I am proud and honored to be volunteer with the Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you can go to be informed, empowered, and inspired. When you visit the NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more!

    The volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to make NPN the outstanding resource it is also spend countless hours informing and inspiring others on their personal blogs. To close out 2011, the NPN volunteers have come together to provide you with some valuable reading material. Each volunteer has selected either their most viewed or favorite post of 2011 and shared the link here. Please take a few moments to visit them. Our intention is to expand our reach as bloggers, informed parents and parents-to-be who are still growing and learning along our own journeys. Each volunteer has provided links to other social media sites where you can follow them as well.
    Visit Natural Parents Network
    We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for more volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mommas (and daddies) in a huge way!

    Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares her Christmas Cookie Swap Blog Hop, which is her fourth annual virtual cookie swap and most popular post of the year. Please stop by and link up your favorite holiday recipe until Dec. 31. You can find Farmer's Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.

    Adrienne from Mommying My Way shares Fear vs. Faith, one of her favorite posts about how often living a life of faith can look like a life of fear, but the two are really quite different. You can also find Mommying My Way on Facebook.

    Alicia of Lactation Narration retells the story of her oldest daughter's 5 years of nursing and weaning in her favorite post of 2011, The Weaning Party. You can find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.

    Amy of Toddler In Tow shares Finding My Mommy-Zen, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, she shares her desire to balance her own self-esteem by choice in order to parent with peace and compassion. You can also find Toddler In Tow on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and follow Amyables (Amy W.) on Google + and Ravelry.

    Arpita of Up, Down, and Natural shares one of her most popular posts titled Reflections. This is a beautiful look at the type of mother she wants to be. You can find Up, Down, and Natural on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingCharise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares Why Do Children Have More Food Allergies Than Ever Before?, her most viewed post of 2011. This post explains the shocking info that one unsuspecting mother discovered when she started researching why her daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs. This is a must read post for ensuring the health of your family. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Stumbleupon.

    Christine of African Babies Don’t Cry shares The Best First Food for Babies, one of her favourite posts of 2011. This well-researched post delves into the healthiest and most nutritious food to feed your baby. You can also find African Babies Don’t Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.

    Cynthia of The Hippie Housewife shares Gentle Discipline for Toddlers, her most viewed post of 2011. This post describes five gentle discipline tools for parenting toddlers. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest.

    Darcel of The Mahogany Way shares how Babywearing As a Way of Life one of her favorite post of 2011. This post showcases some beautiful woven wraps that she has purchased, traded, borrowed, and sold over the years. Darcel also talks about the benefits of babywearing from the newborn through toddler stage. You can also find Darcel{ The Mahogany Way} on Facebook, Twitter, Her Community for Mothers of Color, and Pinterest.

    Midwestern Volunteer Gathering
    NPN Volunteer Gathering 2011
    Most of our Midwest group.

    Visit Code Name: MamaDionna of Code Name Mama shares 50 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids Plus Fun Serving Suggestions, her most viewed post of 2011. Most of these snacks are quick to fix and portable, so you can pack them to send with your child on play dates, at preschool, or to just have handy in the refrigerator for when your child wants to grab a bite to eat “all by himself.” You can find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

    Erica at ChildOrganics shares a post that is not only close to her heart, but also her most viewed post for 2011 titled Attachment Parenting in the NICU. This post shares her top 10 tips for parenting should you find yourself with a baby in the NICU. You can also find Erica on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her personal experience of returning to work, expressing milk, and the ups and downs in between in her 2011 most viewed post, Mama's Milk. You can also find Gretchen on GFC, Blog Lovin', Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Isil of Smiling like Sunshine shares how to make an autumn tree using pumpkin seeds, her most popular post in 2011. This post features a lovely craft activity that you can do with your kids! You can also find Isil on Facebook and Twitter.

    Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama shares 80 Uses For Coconut Oil, her most viewed post of 2011. This comprehensive post provides background information on the benefits of coconut oil as well as outlines 80 uses for it. You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.

    Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares her most popular post of 2011, Weekly House Blessing (Otherwise Known as Cleaning Once a Week). This post outlines a once per week cleaning routine for busy moms. You can also find Jennifer on Twitter.

    Joella, the mama behind Fine and Fair, shares An Unusual Gripe with Bebe Gluton, one of her most popular posts of 2011. In it, she discusses the controversy surrounding a "breastfeeding doll" and offers her take on the gender role implications of dolls in general. Fine and Fair can also be found on twitter and facebook.

    Julia of A Little Bit of All of It shares the story of how her co-sleeping relationship ended with her daughter, her most viewed post of 2011. This post shows how her daughter transitioned to her own bed on her 2nd birthday and the emotions involved for her mom. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.

    Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares True Blessings: White Noise and Grandparents, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, Kat talks about how she maximizes getting sleep and how grateful and blessed she is to have her parents be so involved in helping and spending time with her kiddos.

    BecomingCrunchyKelly of Becoming Crunchy shares That Cup Does What?, her most viewed post of 2011. This post is one of a series of reviews and information on switching to all natural menstrual products - having heard so many different options and recommendations, Kelly decided to give a whole bunch of them a try and pull all the reviews together in one week for anyone interested in making the switch. This post in particular covers the ins and outs of the Diva Cup. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.

    Kristin of Intrepid Murmurings shares a popular post from 2011, something she and her husband made for their girls for Christmas, great for open-ended play and construction: Handmade Tree Blocks. You can also find Kristin on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

    Lani of Boobie Time shares Helping a Fellow Breastfeeding Mom, her inspiration for starting to blog. This post discusses the importance of fellow moms supporting each other and some tips on having a successful breastfeeding relationship. Lani can also be found on Facebook.

    Laura at WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door writes about finally entering "spring" when her child with special needs begins preschool. After battling post-partum mental illness (post tramatic stress disorder) after the preterm birth of her third child, she finally begins to feel healthy and whole again in "It's Fall, Ya'll-Again."

    Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren of Hobo Mama shares On not having an AP poster child, her (OK, second) most viewed post of 2011. Lauren's first child shook her certainty that attachment parenting meant babies never cried and toddlers grew independent — and that's all right, too. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

    Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares Lactivism, Breastfeeding, Bottlefeeding and Mothers at War, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This post discusses how the breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate causes a division between mothers, leading to the alienation of women and babies, while divisive companies prosper. You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.

    Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares how With Privilege Comes Responsibility, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This compelling post explains her strong felt desire to stand up for those less privileged. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

    Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings shares a Montessori-Inspired Checklist for Choosing Toys, her most popular post of 2011. The article outlines some important Montessori principles and how they relate to children's toys, translating that into some simple guiding principles. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

    Melissa of White Noise shares Modern Day Wet Nurse, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, Melissa shares the benefits of human breast milk and human milk sharing. You can also find Melissa at Mothers of Change.

    Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaMomma Jorje shares Amniocentesis - What is it *really* like?, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This open and honest series offers not only the technical process of amniocentesis, but also the emotions involved in awaiting (and receiving) the procedure and a diagnosis. Momma Jorje can also be found on Facebook.

    Moorea of MamaLady: Adventures in Queer Parenting shares Fluoride: Another Reason Breast Is Best, her favorite post of 2011. This post provides research on the harmful effects of fluoride in drinking water for babies and toddlers and ways to limit fluoride consumption in your home. You can also find MamaLady on Facebook and Twitter and her Parent Coaching Site.

    Pacific Northwest NPN Volunteer GatheringNPN Volunteer Gathering 2011
    The Northwest Bunch

    Rachael at The Variegated Life is Calling the Muse in her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, she describes how she uses ritual to help her tap into her creative spirit. You can also find Rachael on Twitter and The Variegated Life on Facebook.

    Liberated FamilyRebekah and Chris from Liberated Family shares Using Cloth In a Disposable Society, their favorite post of 2011. This extensive post provides a lot of information regarding the varied uses of cloth as well as the many benefits. You can also find Liberated Family on Twitter.

    Parenting God‘s ChildrenSarah at Parenting God's Children shares her most viewed post: Confessions of a Breastfeeding Advocate: I Couldn't. She confesses her struggles with breastfeeding her daughters, but shares why she'll continue the good fight. You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Seonaid of The Practical Dilettante offers a science- and reverence-based meditation on The Living Earth, her most viewed post of 2011. This meditation was originally written for Earth Day, but it provides a way to reconnect with your place in the living breathing planet at any time of year. You can also find Seonaid on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

    Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares I Recommend (But Moira Likes This Book Too), her most viewed post of 2011. This post is a review of a wonderful book that talks about all the different ways that families can be made up, along with some of why this topic is so important to her family.

    Sheryl at Little Snowflakes shares her experiences with tandem nursing in Tandem Nursing – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, her most viewed post of 2011. You can also find Sheryl on Twitter.

    Stay tuned for some amazing posts from all of these tremendous bloggers in 2012!

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Monday Minimalist: Boxing Day

    Are you familiar with Boxing Day? In much of the world, Boxing Day has become just another post-holiday shopping day. In fact, many countries officially move the day to the 27th of December if the 26th falls on a Sunday! There is even a Cyber Boxing Day now. Just what we need, right? Another day of boosted consumerism. Consume, consume, consume! Ugh.

    Boxing Day Montreal 2010 ~ by davidcwong888Boxing Day Montreal 2010
    Click for Photo Credit

    As I understand it, the original idea behind Boxing Day was to go through your belongings and weed out items that you no longer needed, items that were replaced with gifts you received for Giftmas (Christmas). As a minimalist, I think this sounds like a perfect holiday!

    Have a Bonny BOXING DAY ~ by RedJinnWere you able to thin down your kids' toy boxes before the holiday? If not, I'm sure you've become keenly aware of how much space all those new toys take! If you couldn't motivate your kids pre-giftmas, perhaps Boxing Day can help motivate them post-giftmas. Some people even have a 1 item in, 1 item out sort of rule. We're not so strict... at least not at this point. Its tempting at times, especially when someone randomly gives our daughter a large toy!

    There are plenty of sites out there all about Boxing Day. Check them out, share them with your kids, and then help them choose items they no longer need based on all their new stuff. This can apply to clothes and other items, too. It also applies to everyone in the household, not just the kids. It can be a great way to spend the day on a joint effort to find items that are ready for new homes. Those items can go to help others in need. Perhaps your kids can even help choose how / where to donate / distribute their stuff!

    Boxing Day is actually next Monday, but I wanted to mention it in advance so you can plan for it. Have you ever practiced / celebrated Boxing Day? Do you think you will this year? Perhaps you can use your Boxing Day for a Monday Minimalist post of your own!

    Momma Jorje: Monday Minimalist
    Let me know if you have a Monday Minimalist post and I'll share it on my blog.

    Click the icon to grab the button for your MM posts or for details on how to join the movement.

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Sunday Surf: Vax & Gender & Boobies, Oh my!

    My week has been filled with continuous early labor signs and stress leading up to my husband's vasectomy. He survived the procedure and we're working through recuperation now. I have a post about vasectomy (complete with several links) coming next month and intend to write some posts about other methods of birth control I've tried.

    In the meantime, here are my links for the week:

    ALL the Vaccines Are Contaminated - Every Last One of Them

    From, a lengthy article about some of the nasty stuff in vaccines. The article even mentions that Hepatitis B vaccines, contaminated with a virus, caused the AIDS epidemic in the US. Some very serious stuff here!

    Led by the child who simply knew

    From The Boston Globe, the tale of a pair identical twin boys, one of which was a girl to the core. The story of this amazing family, their braveness and support is simply awe inspiring!

    Target Nurse-In

    Target employees recently harassed and humiliated a breastfeeding mom in their store. She was given no support when she called their corporate offices, even though their supposed policy supports breastfeeding on site. Click my Target Nurse-In header for the Facebook page of the nurse-in event coming on December 28th.

    Great stuff this week, other than the awfulness that happened at Target. Still, you can help in a great way! Tune in next week... unless I'm tied up with a new baby!

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Nursing in Public

    When I have a newborn, I think I tend to feel a little... unsteady or unsure of myself when it comes to nursing in public. Its like it is new all over again. (Though I do wonder if it will be different with Spencer since it won't be completely new.)

    I think maybe I try harder to be discreet with a little baby than I do with a toddler. I don't nurse in public often with a toddler, but then again toddlers just don't nurse as often as babies.

    The question that came to mind for me recently was, "who's comfort is our concern?" I know some women are uncomfortable nursing in public. Still, is the discomfort their own modesty? Is it a fear of drawing attention? Perhaps mothers don't want to make others uncomfortable. Or, is it our spouses?

    Breastfeeding on a park benchBreastfeeding on a Park Bench
    Click image for Photo Credit.

    I'm not modest when it comes to my body. I lost that modesty ages ago. And I tend to not notice the discomfort of strangers. I don't even mind any extra attention (at all).

    I recently nursed my 2 year old daughter in the waiting room of a pediatric clinic. My husband was not entirely comfortable with the scene. It isn't actually the nursing that bothers him, it is the moment when our daughter suddenly unlatches and sits up. Sometimes I just can't cover up fast enough because there is rarely any warning and she is completely mobile on her own (unlike an infant).

    Do you nurse in public? Are you any more reserved depending on who is around or who is with you? Do you put the feelings of others ahead of your own? How do you balance all of this with your own comfort level and needs of your child?

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Cosleeping ~ Is it for you?

    Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

    This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival


    Cosleeping is right up my alley! Anyone that knows my hippie ways could probably guess that I cosleep, if only because it isn't the norm. The idea didn't come to me on my own, though. Thirteen plus years ago, when I was expecting Tyler, my then-husband came home from work one day to tell me about a story he'd heard on NPR. The people on the show were talking about how cosleeping reduces the risk of SIDS. The idea is that if a baby does stop breathing, having the mother close by (breathing) kind of kick starts them back into their own breathing rhythm.

    That is pretty far from the scare tactic stories you're hearing these days. It saddens me to see the real statistics and how they're skewed. It seems that any unexplained infant death is put under the SIDS category. Not only that, but parents that bring their babies to bed when they (the parent) are inebriated or over tired or are not accustomed to cosleeping who then roll over their baby and cause a death are lumped in with all cosleeping practices. Not fair.

    I have had my children room-in with me after their births. I have had them in my bed and it is by far the easiest, most convenient way to handle night care, at least for my family. Once I brought my babies home, cosleeping has just felt like the right thing to do. It is natural.

    There's that word. When I think of Natural Parenting, I think back to tribes or even to cavemen! How do you think cavemen (and women) took care of their babies? I'd bet money they didn't designate a space away from their parents! They did not put their babies in cages to sleep! So surely sleeping close together (even if not in the same actual bed) must be the natural way.

    Yes, cosleeping can be dangerous. Aside from the dangers I listed above, there are dangerous furniture arrangements. Pushing your bed against the wall and placing baby there is not considered a safe sleeping space. Sleeping on a very soft mattress or on soft comforters is a suffocation hazard. If your spouse is a heavy sleeper, placing your baby between you is not a safe option.

    cosleeping on the couchThis is not an example of safe cosleeping! First of all, the cushions of the couch were soft enough to suffocate my 2mo daughter. However, my husband was watching over us while we napped.

    You have to find what (safely) works for you and your family. For me (and mine), the first solution was a toddler bed rail. I swear by these things! When I've felt the need for more space in my bed, I've gotten a toddler bed. With one daughter it was an actual bed, which turned out to be the perfect matching height for our mattress and box springs on the floor! This time around, we've used a toddler mattress on the floor next to our bed (also on the floor). We'll be reinstalling the toddler rail soon for our newborn (due in a few weeks).

    Newborn Sasha sleeping in the floorWhen we weren't in bed, we still kept Sasha nearby, even if that meant napping on a blanket in the floor. Yes, there are warnings against letting your child sleep on their belly. Our doctor respected our choice here, especially knowing that we were nearby. Sasha has always loved sleeping on her belly.

    If your sleeping arrangements aren't working for you or your child, ask other parents what they do. You might find some new ideas! Ask on parenting forums online, too. Ultimately you have to do what (safely) works for you, though. You don't have to cosleep to be a "Natural Parent" or an "Attachment Parent." In fact, you don't even have to have your baby IN your bed to be considered "cosleeping."

    You can try a side-car bed. You can even use a crib and just keep it close to where you sleep. This way, you'll still get the benefit of hearing each other breathing, with none of the roll-over or fall risks. For nursing at night, though, I gotta say that nothing beats the convenience of sleeping in the same bed!

    Does cosleeping work for you? Why or why not?

    Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

    Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

    • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign - Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
    • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family - Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
    • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. - See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families' needs.
    • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars - Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
    • Reflections on Cosleeping - Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
    • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed - Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
    • What Works for One Family - Momma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
    • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
    • Crying in Our Family Bed - With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
    • Dear Mama: - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
    • Cuddle up, Buttercup! - Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase "Cuddle up, Buttercup!" has such special significance to her.
    • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
    • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
    • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture - Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
    • Our Cosleeping Story - Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
    • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
    • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
    • The Truth About Bedsharing - Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk - and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
    • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool - Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
    • Dear Delilah - Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
    • CoSleeping ROCKS! - Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
    • Safe Sleep is a Choice - Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
    • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed - Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
    • Tender Moments - The Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
    • Cosleeping Experiences - Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
    • The early days of bedsharing - Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
    • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures - Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
    • Symbiotic Sleep - Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
    • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
    • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper - Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
    • Why We Cosleep - That Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
    • Adding to the Family Bed - Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.

    A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Traditions

    Giftmas 2009Giftmas 2009
    The holiday is the one day a year we can count on Elmo's girls getting to see each other.

    Giftmas 2010Giftmas 2010
    I'm hoping this holiday tradition will change in 2012 with better visitation.

    Click on over to Natural Parents Network for more Holiday Tradition photos and to link up your own Wordless Wednesday post!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Monday Minimalist: Packing for the Hospital

    I don't recall packing a hospital bag at all for birthing my first born (2 decades ago). I did, however, pack a bag with my next 2 kids. I studied Bradley Method® for each of them and am refreshing through my workbook for this last one. I mention this because the class workbook actually offers a packing list of "typical items."

    The more time I have between packing time and leave time (for anything), the more stuff I think of that I simply must include! Yes, I'm a minimalist, but when it comes to travel I think of tons of stuff that will / would be handy to have or we might need in a pinch.

    I've been slowly working on packing my hospital bag. I was down to owning about 3 pairs of socks, so I had to wait to get more. That said, there are a lot of things on the list that I just don't think I need to pack.

    In the Car

    Puddle Pads
    Pillows (with plastic bag under pillow case)
    Small basin
    2 old towels (large & clean)
    Blanket (clean)
    Student Workbook
    Full gas tank (keep car above ½ tank last 2 months)
    Car seat (infant/convertible)

    Notes: With my firstborn, my water broke before I went to the hospital. The last two have had to be broken by medical staff. I've put a single beach towel into the truck to sit on when we drive to the hospital. Also, did they really need to specify clean on this stuff? I think some of it was just in case we have to deliver on the side of the road! We keep a warm baby blanket and a receiving blanket in the truck anyway, for Sasha. The workbook will likely be a last minute add to the bag, unless we get finished reviewing it sooner.

    For Mother

    Lightweight bathrobe
    Old slippers
    Nursing bra(s)
    Honey and spoon or honey straws (absorbed quickly into blood stream, fast than sugar)
    Warm socks
    Plastic trash bag
    Your own pillow with plastic bags under colored pillow cases to help identify your pillows.
    Hair ribbon
    Chapstick/lip balm
    Personal toiletries
    Nourishing clear liquids, 1-2 qts.
    Puddle pads
    Clothes to wear after the birth
    Fresh squeezed orange juice (for after the birth)

    Notes: I'm pretty sure I won't forget Elmo! I don't own a nightgown anymore and did fine in a hospital gown last time around. My bathrobe is heavy and takes up a lot of space. I have no problem dealing with just the hospital gowns. Besides, this way I don't have to worry about getting blood on anything of my own. I have one, single pair of slippers. I plan to wear them TO the hospital. They are my main shoe lately anyway. I've packed a single sports bra. That is what I've used since Sasha and I don't expect to have a lot of milk before I get home anyway. I threw in some nursing pads, too.

    If I'm permitted to eat or drink anything, I'm sure the hospital will have something available. So I don't sweat the food or drink ones. I've got some brand new socks, so they're nice and thick. I've packed two pair (in case one gets messy). I keep plastic trash bags in my duffle at all times for any trip. They're perfect for packing dirty clothes back into your bag. Hair ties and lip stuff are a part of my toiletries pack that I leave packed at all times as well. It is all set with deodorant and other necessities.

    I've totally skipped clothes to wear home for a couple of reasons. I'm quite likely to strip naked once I settle into a L&D room. So my clothes may be fine for wearing home. Otherwise, Elmo will bring me clean jammies to wear home. They are all I have left to wear right now so I need them for NOW. Oh and puddle pads? Why would I take my own to the hospital??

    For Coach

    Quick Reference Guide
    Bradley® Coach Card
    Insurance Information for the Mom
    Copies of the Birth Plan
    Lotion for back rubs
    Tennis balls for back rubs
    Music & portable player w/fresh batteries, a/c cord
    Washcloths - at least 2
    Ice chest
    Flex straws
    Thermos of cold orange juice-at least two quarts
    Watch for timing contractions
    Personal toiletries
    Swim trunks
    Change of clothes
    Mobile phone/Phone card & Roll of coins (for calls)
    List of phone numbers
    Deck of cards or other games
    Food - snacks
    Party cups, plates, knife and napkins
    Camera, fresh film or memory and batteries
    Video and/or audio recorder
    Laptop computer for e-mail/pictures

    Notes: Yeah, as he is even less likely to forget me as vice versa! My insurance card stays in my purse, which will go with us. I need to preregister with the hospital anyway, so they probably won't even need it. I didn't want or need any back rubs with any props with any other labor. They have a port for an MP3 player in the room. We might also pack DVDs. We both take our mobile phones with us everywhere we go. Our phones double as a watch and also keep our phone numbers in them. Oh, and we share one toiletries bag. The hospital has snack machines and a cafe. I could not imagine taking everything on this list! I don't have a laptop, the camera will be in my purse, and I'm not throwing a friggin' party!

    For Baby

    NOTEL All clothes should be washed before use.
    Clothes to wear home.
    Gown - undershirts
    Several receiving blankets
    1 outer blanket
    Diapers (for newborn & babies 9+ lbs.)
    Pins (if cloth diapers)
    Baby book for footprints, etc.
    Birth-Day cake
    Puddle pad
    Infant car seat

    Notes: Baby clothes are my packing weakness here. I packed two outfits... but then you never know if you'll wind up with a blow out before you get out the door. Better to be prepared, right? The hospital will let us their receiving blankets while we're there. How many flippin' blankets do we need?! I've packed a single receiving blanket and a single heavy blanket since we are having a Winter baby. The hospital will even supply disposable diapers while we're there. They'll likely put Spencer's footprints on the back of a cutesy birth certificate and last time I got them to give me an extra footprint kit, too. I didn't actually use baby books.

    My duffel bag feels kind of... spacious. There is still room in there... perhaps for bringing a hospital receiving blanket home. I've also got my breast pump set aside, per the Lactation Consultant's suggestion. I've put a Moby Wrap in with it as it may come in handy for nursing as well.

    I've also begun to pack a backpack with distractions for Sasha. I've included her Leap Pad with a couple of books she hasn't seen yet. There are a few toys in the bag she hasn't seen since she stopped wearing diapers (it is my diaper bag). I've also ordered a travel Magna Doodle because she loves those things! She is getting a large one for Giftmas, too.

    What do you think is a "must have" for a hospital bag?
    What is the most ridiculous thing you've heard you should pack for the hospital?

    Momma Jorje: Monday Minimalist
    Let me know if you have a Monday Minimalist post and I'll share it on my blog.

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