Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

So our #wordlesswednesday is a day behind…just in time to wish you Happy Halloween!  We are on a little stay-cation this week, sans nanny…so we are a little behind on all things internet as we enjoy our children.

ImagePicture from our trip to Bass Pro Shop – Otter didn’t know what to make of the big cut-outs!!

 Scenes from our little stay-cation:

  • Kiddos checking out the antique buggy decked out for fall
  • Changer indulged Puma in some face painting – we can’t decide if he is The Hulk, A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or Franken-face

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 Our family project – Halloween treats for family, friends and students
For full instructions, visit ModernMom.com at http://bit.ly/17zLe81
We simplified the instructions – no inking for us!!Image Image

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Monday Musings: Back to the Breath

Oh, my volume was higher over the last couple of days again…got a confirmation last night that I need to keep doing my deep breathing and using humor when it’s my moon time!!

So here is my affirmation for today, perfectly timed for this week.  I am so glad to report that the affirmations thus far have really helped me be a more peaceful mama.

I have remembered more often to breathe before speaking.  Puma wanted her hair curled for a party last night.  We got through her hair styling without major drama (she has one teeny spot she can’t reach with her brush, and she doesn’t want help, and there is always a dreadlock there!)  It turned out so well – she looked every bit the fairy and won a prize for her costume!

Charger and I have been negotiating the weaning process.  He is a little lost right now – and he has been acting out.  Most times, I have remembered to use humor – he really has a great laugh!  I also tried to be empathetic and show him love when he was not acting very lovable.

Night Owl and I are working on breathing together.  He is the most impulsive of our children for now, and so when I see him escalating, I ask him to take a deep breath with me.  It was so amazing to see him take a couple of deep breaths without prompting last week.  In addition, there have been a couple of times that he may have retaliated had he not been acting intentionally; I have seen him remain calm and make kinder choices.  What proud mama moments those are!  I praised him and thanked him for his kind choices; it was so neat to feel him glow with pride.

I would love to hear if any of these affirmations have helped you, or if you have read some affirmations from other sources that have helped you.  If you have a minute, please leave us a comment and share your thoughts – thank you!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Birth Vocabulary

So there were two articles back to back in my news feed this morning….

First this one:

Gold Coast Hospital reduces caesarean rate by helping expectant mums overcome their fears of natural birth

But after being given time to talk through her fears with obstetrician Anne Sneddon and then with midwife Jenny Fenwick, Ms Watts says her “faith has been restored” in natural deliveries with the birth of her second son, Gyan, a month ago.

“They talked about how to labour, what would be the best position, what I could do that would reduce pain relief,” she said. “I didn’t even ask for gas, whereas I was asking for gas in my first birth and I was asking for an epidural.”

Dr Sneddon credited drops in caesarean rates to a range of changes, including the identification of anxiety in some women and linking them with the one obstetrician and midwife in a “continuity of care model” to work through their fears.

Read the article here: http://bit.ly/1alpzRy

And then this one:

Do I Need a Yurt to Have a Natural Birth?

Giving birth is scary — especially if you have never done it before. I remember looking down at my giant, pregnant belly, and thinking the laws of physics were a lie. I knew the baby would come out, but the suggested hole did not make any sense. Giving birth to a human seemed about as likely as regurgitating an entire watermelon. In fact, I was so nervous I’m sure I would have preferred if the baby came out my mouth.

Read the whole article here: http://huff.to/1alrm9k

While the author,  Toni Nagy, goes on to explain that she did have a natural birth in a hospital, and offers for decent tips on how to achieve that; if I was a mama freaked out about natural birth, that first paragraph alone would not encourage me to read down to the bottom of the article to read her natural birth tips.  I would probably read that first paragraph and say to myself, “Thank goodness for epidurals!!”

There are care providers and birth spaces that support a mother’s birth choices – it is our role as consumers to find them.  When we do, and have transformative birth experiences, I really invite those of us who have had empowered births to start talking about them with empowering words.  If we had a natural birth, an appropriate use of an epidural, a cesarean by choice, basically, choices that we feel good about, start telling people about that birth experience.  Use other words that are encouraging, even if “fear” and “scary” were part of your story, make sure you share that you transcended and came out on the other side with a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

I define an Empowered Birth as:

A mother working together with her support team and a care team that are invested in a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  As much as possible, they honor her birth wishes, help her make informed consent decisions regarding her care if/when there are decision points, and there are no regrets about the path of labor or the outcome.

In our own experience, Empowered Birth can be:

      • Transformative
      • Empowering
      • A Rite of Passage
      • A Learning Experience
      • An Amazing Experience

After reading those articles this morning, I will definitely make more of an effort to use those words when we go to birth events, meetings, or in general conversation when it comes up.

What kind of words do you use to describe your birth experience??

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Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin Time!

Such a great season to be outdoors!  Now that our pumpkins are cleaned out, time to toast some seeds!!

Pictures this week are from our outing to Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert, AZ.  Of course, we happened to be there on the weekend when the REPTILES were out en force with the Phoenix Herpetological Society…

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To be clear, this was the sign by the farm animals, not the reptiles – LOL.

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Decorating the pumpkins included in the $10.00 admission – each kiddo gets pumpkin, a bag of stickers, and access to all the attractions. You only pay for food at this pumpkin patch, and any of the bigger pumpkins you want to take home.

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The Alligator – I had a mild heart attack when I realized this thing was alive and wandering around children.

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Southeast Asian monitor lizard

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Tuesday Tips: Positive Discipline

Just in time for Tuesday Tips are my notes from last week’s Attachment Parenting playgroup.  We talked about the idea of “Positive Discipline”.  There was a mom at the meeting who has started a couple of AP groups here in Phoenix – once I can get the links to the internet groups she started, I will post them.

So what is “Positive Discipline”?  I think that some folks think that Attachment Parents are “absent parents” in this area since we make a conscious choice not to use physical discipline with our children.  Why are we opposed to spanking and hitting?  The core belief is that we respect our children as whole, complete individuals.  It is a criminal offense to hit another adult, and we take the view that even more so a defenseless child.  The goal is to raise self-directed individuals who make healthy choices because they want to and they know how to, not because they are afraid of us or the consequences that we mete out.

What does the research say?  As with many things, you can find studies that support your view.  One of our students who is a researcher at ASU shared some studies with me that support spanking, and other research that supports not spanking.  She shared these sage words: there are bad parents that don’t spank, and there are good parents that do spank.  So does spanking make a difference?

When I asked a friend of mine why she didn’t spank, her answer changed my view on the meaning of discipline forever: A big person spanking or hitting a small person is never acceptable – it is always violence and an abuse of power.

There are a couple of things positive discipline is not:

  • It is not manipulation or bribing.  Manipulating statements tend to sound like this, “If you____, then I _____.”  Having preconditions on behavior sets up a precedence for incentive based behavior.  These kinds of interactions are missing trust.  The other thing you don’t want to instill is fear: what happens if I don’t take the bait?
  • It is not ignoring the behavior and never addressing the child’s actions.  While it is sometimes prudent to ignore a naughty word choice just in case your child is doing it for attention or the thrill factor, ignoring behaviors that hurt or injure others is not being AP.  It would be neglectful and disrespectful of the other people being hurt by your child’s choices.

The three main components of AP discipline are Prevention, Distraction and Substitution:

  • Letting your child explore safely letting them explore, be close, do their own thing
  • Use time in vs. time out
  • Empower and respect
  • Understand the unmet need
  • Work out a solution together – be proactive
  • Have a “yes” environment
  • Discipline through play – act out the better choices with dolls or puppets
  • Change things up – “Change your state” by changing your environment
  • State facts rather than making demands
  • Avoid labeling
  • Make requests in the affirmative
  • Allow natural consequences that are age appropriate
  • Use care when offering praise
  • Offer your child choices
  • Be sensitive to strong emotions – what else is going on?
  • Consider carefully before imposing will
  • Use logical consequences sparingly and with compassion
  • Understand the difference between acting out and developmentally appropriate behaviors
  • Give loving guidance to needs and the temperament of each child

What are your child’s developmental milestones?  Here are a couple of sites that I use:

  • Find good info at Zero to Three (Their sleep info isn’t what we follow, however, developmental info is pretty good.)
  • Another great resource that is generally spot-on with our parenting choices is Aha! Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham.  Her website has developmental milestones and resources for parents from birth through the teen years.  I have a feeling I am going to be wearing a “virtual” beaten path to her site as our family grows :)

What does AP discipline look like in action?  AP parents want to connect with their children, so we use words to direct behavior.  The example was a child who is learning to use scissors and wants to cut everything besides paper.

  1. Tell your reason:  “I can’t let you cut the carpet because…”
  2. Ask them to tell you why they shouldn’t be doing something, or tell them why if they are too young to use words.
  3. Ask them to tell you what is an appropriate choice, or offer one if they are too young to act out or verbalize an appropriate choice: ” If you do not want to cut paper right now, I can let you cut the grass – should we go try using scissors outside?”

The “biggie” in any family or playgroup is hitting.  How does an AP parent want to handle that?

  1. Talk to your child before intervening: “I can see that you are getting frustrated.  Can you think of some words to use with your sibling/friend?  Or maybe you want to try playing something else (or: by yourself, come sit with me for a minute)?”  Hopefully that is enough to get them to make a different choice and avoid a physical expression.  If it isn’t…
  2. Comfort hurt child first: “I am so sorry (s)he hit you – (s)he didn’t use their words – are you okay?”
  3. Don’t force an apology: “When you are ready, I would like you to say you are sorry for hurting them.”  Having it be their choice usually gives yields an immediate, or at least timely, apology.  You want it to be their choice, instead of adding to their frustration by having another interaction in which they feel a loss of control. 

What if you mess up?  Apologize – Reconnect – Rebond
You can read about one of my very worst days this summer HERE. Although it was painful as it happened, and very embarrassing to write about, I shared it in the hopes that it will give you courage to forgive yourself if it happens to you.

I will close with an on-line resource that I also like to read over to remind myself of the positive discipline “tools” in my “toolbox”.  Head on over to Positive Parenting Connection and see what you think.

What are your go-to positive discipline tools?

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Monday Musings: Breathe First

The picture in the top image is of our boys’ room.  Do you want to take a guess what it’s covered in?

Charger came into our bedroom right before it was time for them to go to dance class.  His clothes, which were a bright royal blue when he got dressed in the morning, were now a dusky gray.  My first reaction was panic – the first thing that ran through my mind was that they had knocked down a structural wall and were covered in insulation…and then I panicked about Night Owl’s asthma…the mind of a mother!

I took a deep breath and asked him what happened.  He replies, “I got dirty!” as he is laughing hysterically.  I asked him with what, and then I smelled him…I had an inkling that our walls were still standing.

We had just gotten back from our summer home in the mountains where it is a good 20-30 degrees cooler than where we live during the school year.  They were hot, and they decided that the best way to cool off was to have a snowstorm.  In their room. With baby powder.

So they had a snowstorm, made an ice skating rink, did some ice skating, and had an awesome time being rascals together.  Epic.

While it was really hard not to react to the mess, the fine particles in the air (I have never used baby powder on them – it was a gift when Puma was a baby wight years ago and I have such a hard time throwing things out “just in case”), we just got them in the car and told them to help us clean up when they got home.

After some thinking, we decided to talk to them about different scenarios.  When would it be okay to make a snowstorm with baby powder?  We decided that the next time they wanted to do this, we would do it outside.

We also asked Night Owl, who so far is the instigator of these crazy ideas (we have SO many stories…I may tell you about the “ice ship” if we ever get around to telling more stories), to please talk to us first, so that we can help him execute his ideas as safely as possible, and with minimal indoor clean-up required!

In case you like these affirmations and would like a pretty, peaceful picture, here is another version that you can download:

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Wishing you a great week!

How do you handle it when your kiddos get “creative”?

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Thoughtful Thursday: Being Mama

Cassandra and I have been invited to an awesome event in November.  It’s making us a little crazy that we can’t go.  We are Attachment Parents.  We are bloggers who don’t have advertisers or sponsors.  We Cannot Go.

This is what I wrote to her last night, “At the end of the day, our kiddos aren’t going to care if we become VIP bloggers – they will remember the time we spent with them.”

Speaking for myself, my soul is fed by providing a place of safety and presence for our children.  This is not true for everyone, and this morning, an article about finding what works for you as a mother showed up in my inbox:

“Working or staying at home, make the most of your home life. Don’t resent your family and don’t miss out on their lives. Prioritize so that you won’t look back on these years and see that you did it all wrong. You’ll never regret spending quality time with the ones you love, but you do still have to stay true to the responsibilities taken in all areas of your life.”

The author has lots of other gems to share – you can read the whole article here: http://bit.ly/16i8Aew

Such a great confirmation that each mama needs to do what is right for them.  If it doesn’t work financially, and/or it doesn’t sit well with your soul…skip it!  Keep on keeping on, knowing that you are making the right choice for you.  No one else has to walk in your shoes – you do.  No one else has to fall asleep with your conscience…you do.  Parent them, love them, be with them in the way that works for you so that it works for them.

What do you think?  How did you navigate the choice between staying home and going back to work?  How do you balance “me time” with “family time”?

Wordless Wednesday: Daddy and Me – Babywearing Edition

One of the fringe benefits of The Bradley Method® is that most partners continue to be involved in caring for their children as they grow.  These partners continue to be committed to loving and nurturing their kiddos long after their original birth-day.

Here are some fan shares of babywearing daddies, plus a shot of Coach Bruss teaching our kiddos some Argentine tango basics.

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Remembrance Day

It seems trite to name today a “tip” day, although I have included links for more information at the end of today’s post.

October 15th is recognized as the day when those of us who have lost children in pregnancy and infancy honor their memory.  It is a day to acknowledge their presence in our lives.  Even if we never got to hold them, their passage through our lives leaves us changed forever.

We hardly ever talk about it – especially as Bradley teachers, the last thing want to do is freak our students out with stories of miscarriage.  Since it is part of our family story, I record it here for our children to read when they are ready.

I bought hardly anything with our first pregnancy because I bled the whole time.  I dreaded our baby showers.  I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When we did have a healthy baby at the end of months of “pelvic rest” and bed rest, and I resolved to enjoy my next pregnancy.

We found out we were pregnant a few days before we left on a vacation.  I had originally noticed that Puma (then 18 months) wasn’t very interested in nursing – she said my milk tasted salty.  Then I took a pregnancy test – positive!  We were so excited, we called my mom and my sister right away.  We called the doctor to find out if it was safe to travel – they gave us the all clear, and we set a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment upon our return from vacation.

So off we went on our plane trip.  About three days in, I started bleeding.  Not just brown discharge – red bleeding with cramping.  We called our doctor again – they said there was nothing to do.  If it was heavy, they suggested we go to an E/R to make sure we didn’t need a D&C.  It wasn’t too much more than a menses, and it stopped over the next couple of days…it was clear what had happened.  The confirmation came when Puma resumed breastfeeding on her normal schedule because my milk tasted good to her again.

My heart broke!  I had taken a risk and bought a little outfit for the baby at our destination (which is still set aside; I never had the heart to put it on our other children).  I had signed and mailed a postcard with the name “Baby Bowman”.  I had loved this baby already and had let myself get excited.  There are no words that can capture the emotions I felt over the next few weeks.

The passage of time has helped.  I still wonder what that baby would have been like if it had been healthy and made it to term.  It would have been a Spring baby – the one season we are missing in our family birthday calendar.

Seven years later, I can say I have gratitude for the experience.  I am so grateful it was a first trimester loss.  Since then, we have had friends experience loss after they were showing their pregnancy; after they had felt their baby’s movements.  As a birth-worker, there are friends of mine have held sacred spaces with families who lost babies during childbirth.  Given the grief I felt when our early-term pregnancy ended, that kind of loss is unimaginable to me. When I was pregnant with Otter, I heard three birth stories that ended with loss…our experience leaves me grateful that we were spared the pain these families felt, and may still feel very keenly.

The hardest thing for me, with any loss, is that life goes on.  Inside, I feel torn up – I want to scream with the grief, and about injustice that has been done.  Yet the world does not know that there is a hole in my heart, a void in the pit of my body, an emptiness that is so overwhelming that all I want to do is roll up in a ball and just be away, curled up in the dark.  It expects me to be sane, normal, kind and reasonable.  My children expect to see their mommy just as she has always been.

If nothing else, our experiences with loss, miscarriage and otherwise, have vividly illustrated the platitude that says we should be kind to one another since we cannot know what kind of baggage other people are carrying.  They are not just pretty words anymore.  That person who doesn’t return your smile – who doesn’t coo at your sweet baby – who can’t be bothered to hold the door – who doesn’t realize they just cut you off.  Give them space, whether you think they deserve it or not.  If they are being jerks, that is their Karma.  If they are truly in pain over a loss they have experienced, your kindness is a ripple of love that may reach them subconsciously – just a little more love to fill their “love tank” in a world where they feel a huge void of love.

I wish all of you that have experienced miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infant loss much peace today.  I pray that your spirit will be filled with a “peace that surpasses all understanding”. (Phil 4:7)

While I believe that we are on this Earth to make a difference, and I want to live every day to the fullest, I am not going to lie.  I am also biding my time and waiting for the day when I get to meet all these beautiful heavenly children that we never got to meet here on earth.

While there is no day to remember all those children lost to abortion, I love this image and wanted to share it today, too.  Click on picture for link to the story about the artist and her vision.

While I do not know of a day to remember all those children lost to abortion, I love this image and wanted to share it today, too. Click on picture for link to the story about the artist and her vision. *This is not a political statement* Simply a recognition that some of those mothers feel loss, too.

Do you want to support someone who has experienced a loss?  Here are some places to start reading about grief support?

Bereavement and Support Website for Care Providers and Families
http://www.babylosscomfort.com/
“Women who have suffered the loss of a baby are postpartum mothers too. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death leave women requiring not just emotional but also physical support.”  This site offers words to share and comfort, healing gifts, and links to more resources.

Owl Love You Forever
http://owlloveyouforever.com/
Our hope is to create a memorable and positive hospital experience for families that lose their baby before, during, or shortly after giving birth.  We provide boxes with meaningful items for the families, including specially designed blanket sets and a soft stuffed owl.  Help us fill these grieving mom’s arms by donating online today.

Have you experienced pregnancy loss?  Here are some resources that our students have found helpful:

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep 
http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/ 
They offer the free gift of professional portraiture and remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby.  “The NILMDTS Foundation is there for parents and families to help aid them in their Healing, bring Hope to their future, and Honor their child.  It is through Remembrance that a family can truly begin to heal.”  They feel that these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.

Arizona Perinatal Loss Bereavement Resource, Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road, Mesa, 85202
480-512-3595
Provides a network of support for those experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss. This resource gives parents a statewide network of support, current bereavement literature on a variety of topics, educational opportunities and resources in the community, state and national level.

The Compassionate Friends
http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx
The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child at any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.   They offer a safe place for bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings to meet and talk freely about your child and your grief issues.

M.I.S.S. Foundation
www.missfoundation.org
The M.I.S.S. Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support to grieving families through community volunteerism opportunities, public polic y and legislative education and programs to reduce infant and toddler death through research and education.

M.E.N.D. Mother’s Enduring Neonatal Death
http://www.mend.org/ 
M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian, non-profit organization that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.

HAND Helping After Neonatal Death
http://www.handonline.org/ 
HAND is a resource network of parents, professionals, and supportive volunteers that offers a variety of services throughout Northern California and the Central Valley.

SHARE Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc
http://www.nationalshare.org/ 
The mission of Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. is to serve those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life.

A christian site for baby loss:
http://www.sarahs-laughter.com/

Glow In The Woods
http://www.glowinthewoods.com/ 
This website deals with all kinds of baby loss.  There is also lots of helpful advice for things you may have to deal with depending on the stage of loss like stopping lactation, planing a funeral, and how to help others going through a loss.

BOOKS
Picture Book:
“We Were Gonna Have A Baby, But We Have An Angel Instead”
http://www.amazon.com/Were-Gonna-Have-Angel-Instead/dp/0972424113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315324134&sr=8-1

Book: Empty Cradle, Broken Heart
http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Cradle-Broken-Revised-Edition/dp/1555913024 
The heartache of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death affects thousands of U.S. families every year. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart offers reassurance to parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair after such tragedy. Deborah Davis encourages grieving and makes suggestions for coping. This book strives to cover many different kinds of loss, including information on issues such as the death of one or more babies from a multiple birth, pregnancy interruption, and the questioning of aggressive medical intervention. There is also a special chapter for fathers as well as a chapter on “protective parenting” to help anxious parents enjoy their precious living children. Doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, and other support persons can gain special insight. Most importantly, parents facing the death of a baby will find necessary support in this gentle guide. If reading this book moves you to cry, try to accept this reaction. Your tears merge with those of other grieving parents.

A purpose of this book is to let bereaved parents know that they are not alone in their grief. With factual information and the words and insights of other bereaved parents, you can establish realistic expectations for your grief. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart is meant to help you through these difficult experiences by giving you things to think about, providing suggestions for coping and encouraging you to do what you need to survive your baby’s death. Whether your baby dies recently or long ago, this information can be useful to you.

Book:An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
http://www.amazon.com/Exact-Replica-Figment-My-Imagination/dp/B004WB19VC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315324059&sr=8-1

Placenta Encapsulation – Wendy Diaz, PBi™ PES
naturallybirthing@cox.net
Her encapsulation services are free for bereaving mothers.  Wendy will also add herbs to the capsules that help dry up the milk supply.

Book: About What Was Lost: 20 Writers About Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/427371.About_What_Was_Lost

ONLINE GROUPS
Faces of Loss Faces of Hope
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faces-Of-Loss-Faces-Of-Hope/128929057151139

Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss
https://www.facebook.com/miscarriage

Angel Baby – Miscarriage and loss
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angel-Baby-Miscarriage-and-loss/120451244647218

Monday Musings: Being Gentle

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We are working on being “gentle” – all of us.  With me, I am mindful to be gentle with my words.  I know that my words are not just words.  The tone, the meaning – they are all conveyed and sometimes the message gets lost.

With our children, we are really trying to drive home the idea of “gentle words” and “gentle hands”.  They get frustrated so easily, and the easiest way for them to express that is to lash out by yelling or to using their hands.

Do you have any books that you read to your kiddos, or websites that have helpful tips to teach children about being gentle?  We like aha! parenting, as well as Love & Logic…time to go back and review some articles!  Please leave your suggestions in the comments – thank you!!