Monthly Archives: April 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Earth Baby

In honor of Earth Day, here are some fun images from our students and our family images from last summer…cloth diapers, hiking, extended breastfeeding past the first birthday…see how we interpret the phrase “Earth Baby”

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Tuesday Tips: Earth Day 2014

We are short on time today as we have been enjoying some outside time…I will leave you with a couple of links…

One is to the blog post from Nature Kids Institute where they fill in the details on their Nature Connection Pyramid.  Ever since I saw this, we are striving to spend more time outdoors.  I really am looking forward to being up in the Rim Country again this summer so that we can take advantage of the National Park Service areas and do some hiking.

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Read more about it here: http://bit.ly/1f2sWSF

The second is to a blog post over on Sweet Pea Births where we share ideas to reuse and repurpose a left over disposable wipes container:

Earth Day All Year Around http://bit.ly/1jGlN7S

Wishing you and your Sweet Peas a great time celebrating Earth Day!

Some Earth Day celebrations happening around Phoenix:

Earth Day Celebration
Free admission and great for all ages.  Fun & educational activities – discover nature, science and the great outdoors!  Experience hands-on activities, live animal presentations, and discover ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle from on-site vendors and exhibitors.
Veterans Oasis Park Friday @  4:00 – 7:00 pm
4050 E Chandler Heights Rd
(NEC of Chandler Heights and Lindsay Roads)
Chandler, AZ

Great Cloth Diaper Change
Saturday, April 26 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm
6111 S. All America Way Ramada #5 Tempe, Arizona 85283
The Great Cloth Diaper Change was originated as a way to raise awareness about the waste generated by disposable diapers on Earth Day.  It has grown into an annual Guinness World-Record setting event.  This year it will take place on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. local time. Everyone will change diapers at the same LOCAL time, allowing the change to roll around the globe with the clock. Join your local event and help set a new world record in 2014!  Click HERE  to find your nearest event.
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Monday Musings: Deposits and Imprints

The more I learn about parenting, the more I realize that to be the kind of parent I want to be, it has to be a conscientious effort to be my best.  It is easier to react instead of remembering breathe first.  It is easier to yell instead of remembering to breathe first.  It is definitely easier to be Crazy Mama than it is to be Peaceful Mama.

However, Crazy Mama is definitely not the legacy I want to leave to our children.  When they look back on their childhood, I want them to remember laughter, joy, and peacefulness.  I want them to remember playing outside, fun field trips, blowing bubbles.

Most of all, I want them to remember being respected.  It is my dream that this generation that is being raised by more parents who are committed to making a conscientious effort to be peaceful, gentle, and intentional about their parenting will be good stewards and more peaceful as a whole.

Therein lies my perpetual vicious circle.  Be present. Plan ahead. The future “eye on the prize”. Be present.

I think that we will take some time to do some dream boards this week.  I wonder what images our children would pick if I asked them to cut out pictures of things they would want to do if they could have a perfect day – week – year (depending on their ability to understand time).  Once I know what their visions and ideas are, we can get started on making those things happen. Whether in actuality or pretend play, these are the memories that I want to make with them.  The ones that they want to remember.

Be present.  Leave positive imprints. With that, I am off to make memories.

What is a phrase or saying that centers your intention as a parent?

Gluten-Free Easter

We have children with food allergies…biggest one being gluten.  We also stay away from soy and artificial food coloring.  So we are doing lots of toys and limited candy.

Here is what I have lined up for their Easter baskets so all the kiddos have the same loot and I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination or curiosity:

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I literally cannot bring myself to buy any other chocolate out there – this is literally the best and they are starting to make more child-friendly flavors. They weren’t too crazy about the chili or the orange infused pieces…peppermint was a big hit, and I am guessing that the pink salt is going to disappear :)

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Gummy fruit

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Lollipops

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Dr. McStuffins is a little juvenile for Puma, got them because she wants to be a vet when she grows up; Otter will love the little food and water to feed her babies.

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Pinball games for the boys

We also have a VERY SPECIAL DELIVERY coming from Georgetown Cupcake – can’t wait to see their faces when we get to Easter Brunch at my aunt’s house on Sunday and they have their GF Easter treats from their favorite cupcake shoppe :)

I waived the sugar restriction because I am willing to put up with a couple of days of crazy (it literally makes Night Owl into a filter-less maniac) so that we can treat them to some candy.  I am fingers-crossed that we all survive.  Monday will probably be a reading day for Night Owl – I don’t know if he will be able to be still…

For those of you that celebrate, have a blessed Easter.  I know that the season has nothing to do with eggs and bunnies, really.  We are so thankful for God’s mercy and the sacrifice of His beloved Son for our redemption and salvation.  As I embrace and treasure our children, I cannot even imagine the love that God and Jesus have for us – it is beyond my human understanding.

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Thoughtful Thursday: DO use your BRAIN

As a mom, a childbirth educator, a consumer of health care and a doula, I am sad for THIS mom and her doula.  It reads like a story of a naive mom and an over-reaching doula; a hospital staff that missed warning signs in labor.  Thank God and the care providers who were on top of their game, the baby sounds like she is thriving today despite her rocky start.

How terrible to learn the hard way that a doula is NOT a medical professional. I am sad that her doula did more than facilitate her decisions by asking open-ended questions.  The doula influenced and made medical decisions.

There are many GOOD and GREAT doulas out there who understand their role as a support person ONLY.  Besides labor support, doulas are knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth based on their education, continued reading, and client experiences.

A good doula will share information (i.e., articles or good studies to read for both the pro and con of every option/consideration/intervention) and she will ask questions.  A good doula may share past experiences from previous clients, and she will NEVER decide for her client.

It is up to the client to use their BRAIN.  In short, what are the Benefits-Risks-Alternatives? What does my Intuition say? What will happen Next if I say yes, or what happens if I do Nothing?

It is up to each family to question more and trust less.  True informed consent means reading, educating, and asking questions, not just blindly following advice – be it medical or otherwise.  Even medical professionals can give you bad advice, and not because they are evil. They may be slow to catch up on evidence-based care while doing CYA to keep their insurance companies happy. Doctors have their biases, too, usually based on previous outcomes.  Their reasons are worth listening to – they are after all, professionals with years of education and experience.

What if their practices and/or malpractice insurance carriers are not caught up to evidence-based care as per American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG)?  I encourage all pregnant mothers to read up on ACOG guidelines* so that you know what the current practice standards are.  If your care provider is not following the guidelines as set forth by their professional organization, ask them why.  And LISTEN to the answers so you can weigh the information against what your intuition and research is telling you.

It is the responsibility of every parent to weigh the benefits, risks, and alternatives to all the information they are receiving BEFORE they make a decision, whether it’s for their care or their children.

I will offer these words of caution: if someone on your care team is setting up an “us vs. them” mentality, it is a red flag to RUN the other way get more information. Pregnancy care is definitely a team effort. If someone says otherwise, whether it’s the doctor, midwife and/or the support team – some part of the story is is missing. Find out what their history is if you can, decide if it’s something you can work around, and if not, build a new team.

My little equation:
Childbirth Education + Supportive Care Providers + True Informed Consent = Empowered Birth

Making true informed consent decisions are part of the equation in empowered birth.  In addition, choose your care providers wisely – both the medical and support team should be willing to work with you for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  Another part is to set yourself up for success: eat well, exercise, meditate (relaxation practice), avoid harmful substances, educate yourself on the process (Bradley Method® classes cover all these topics). Having a good foundation for what is normal, the variations, and true complications of pregnancy and childbirth will help inform you as you make decisions about your care.

Will every birth play out just as you imagined?  NO WAY.  However, by following the above equation, I believe that every family CAN have a birth experience that they are proud of: they know that they did all they could to have the birth they planned for, they recognized the forks in the road, they made carefully considered decisions as a team, and proceeded with the informed choices that yield a Healthy Mom AND Healthy Baby.

What are your thoughts on doulas, doctors and informed consent?

Want more info in evidence-based care? Read my feature article in the ICAN Clarion, a quarterly newsletter HERE,  Usually only available on a subscription basis, this issue was made public in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month.

*ACOG publications – three to start with
Term is redefined as 37-42 weeks
Reducing the primary cesarean rate
VBAC guidelines

 

WW: Babywearing

It’s been a pretty Peas-Y Spring for us!!  We are busy bees – taking advantage of the weather in AZ before it hits sweltering…I included images of our faves since my model is snoozing right now.  When she wakes, we will get her into the carriers and do pics :)  I will leave the instructional videos up for the woven wrap and the rebozo.

Two Favorites:

Ring Sling – easiest to grab and go and put baby in a hip carry for in-and-out errands

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Beco Butterfly – love it for two free hands at the zoo or Farmer’s Market – use it for both front and back carrries

This is how you get three kiddos (in five different costumes) dressed for a Christmas show when Coach is in the audience.  Thank you #beco #butterfly for being a mama-sanity saver once again!

This is how you get three kiddos (in five different costumes) dressed for a Christmas show when Coach is in the audience. Thank you #beco #butterfly for being a mama-sanity saver once again!

Find yours here: http://www.becobabycarrier.com/

On Reserve:

Woven Wrap – still getting the hang of this – favorite for a secure back carry now that baby has a taller seat in the soft-structured carrier

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Tutorials here: www.wrapyourbaby.com

Retired and still loved:

Rebozo – this only had limited time since our babies were born big and they outgrew the length of my rebozo by about 6-9 months.

Tutorial Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T53O6uU2xRE

Monday Musing: Within These Walls

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Image credit https://www.facebook.com/childrensmovementFL

We have been under a lot of pressure at The Bowman House lately…the same things that probably add stress in your life…lots to do and not enough time, planning our budget, growing pains, work commitments…both Bruss and I noticed that the volume has been going up again.  We both value a gentle, peaceful house, and we have been making a pointed effort to be gentle parents despite the pressures we feel.

We had a presentation on babywearing for our Peas & Pods group last Friday.  One of the benefits of babywearing is that you learn to read your Sweet Pea – you learn their cues, their body language, their facial expressions.  Conversely, your Sweet Pea learns to read you.

As I have been close to losing my cool lately, Otter (our 2yo) has been the first to say, “Mommy, take a deep breath.”  The first time she said it, it actually took my breath away and I asked Daddy Bruss if he had heard the same thing I had heard.  She had seen my face and could tell I was stressed.

The other thing that she does is help me to make a joke.  Before I lost my cool, one of my tricks is to ask the kiddos, “You don’t want to see my angry face, right?” To which they answer, “Yes we do, Mommy!”  Then, I proceed to make an angry, growly face with some sound effects and it diffuses the tension as we all burst into peals of laughter as everyone else starts making angry faces and growling.  Once we are in a good space, we can talk about what was happening and solve problems with Peaceful Mama.

Again, over the weekend, Otter was pre-empting me…she’d ask me, “Mommy, are you angry?”, or she would ask me to make my angry face, just as she could see that I was hitting a breaking point.

I think one of of my favorite things about attachment parenting is the give and take as your children come into their own.  As much as I love to teach and nurture our children, it is so amazing to learn from and be nurtured by them.

We can directly influence the tone within the walls of our home.  We can choose do the mental and emotional work it takes to be in a good space so that we can be gentle in spite of the pressures.  So while attachment parenting certainly takes more time than the cause-and-effect approach, it is proving to be SO SO worth it.

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Family Fun: Destination Unknown

We used to do these fun getaways with our students when I worked in the dance business, and I thought that this would be a fun idea to modify and share with you as a family event.

The whole idea behind this was the fun and adventure and the thrill of signing up for a trip where the destination was a surprise.  We promised that it would be 5-star service, sight-seeing and lots of dancing!  Our students enjoyed doing these – nobody wanted to miss out and be the ones who stayed home when everyone else went galavanting off for a good time!

It occurred to me that this idea is perfectly suited for a family!  You could plan it within your budget: you could do anything from a staycation in your city, to a road trip, to a trip across the country or overseas to a resort.

Here are the keys:

  • If traveling by air, plan in advance – THIS article suggests purchasing 60-days out for the best prices on airfare.  (check it out for other money-saving tips, too)
  • If you are going the resort route, plan to visit a resort in the off-season.  They usually run specials to lure visitors during their slow time.  It’s an added bonus for us living in Phoenix – the 5-star resorts run great deals over the hot summer months – many are doable with a modest budget if you are willing to visit in July or August.
  • If traveling by car or train, plan around your Sweet Peas sleep schedules.  If they can sleep through drive/ride time, it makes for a quieter road trip with less stops, and it keeps the destination a surprise a little bit longer.  Added bonus: quiet talk time for you and your partner!
  • Another tip shared in the article was to arrive in the evening – this is especially beneficial if you are traveling with Sweet Peas.  Giving them a full night’s sleep before taking off for sight seeing makes for better travel anytime!

Once you plan your trip, it’s time to build the suspense!  About a week to two weeks before the event (you know your Sweet Peas breaking point on suspense!), start dropping hints about the Destination Unknown.  You can make a collage, make a playlist, show them the bags you are packing (if they are readers, you can write them a packing list!), read stories about activities you will be doing at your destination, if you know someone who has been there before, you can borrow souvenirs to share at mealtime…the possibilities for creative clues are endless.

When it’s go time, blindfold your Sweet Peas as you get into the car.  They probably won’t keep them on until you get to your destination – the suspense is fun while it lasts, though!  And then take lots of pictures, and incorporate them into a memory box with all the clues you dropped before the trip.

The Destination Unknowns we did with our students were definitely among the most memorable. I can imagine it would be even more fun with the people that you can share the memories with for years to come.

Where would you take your family on a surprise trip?

Thoughtful Thursday: Unmet Needs

This lesson keeps coming up…I guess I am still not learning it!!

Anger is an unmet expectation

Puma woke up first yesterday and went to hang out on the couch.  When Otter woke up, we went to the couch to hang out with Puma while I nursed her.  A ten-minute meltdown ensued as Puma tried to kick us off the couch.  Hitting me, yelling, moving the couch – it was not pretty, nor is that typical Puma behavior.  She is usually gentle, loving and eager to hang out with me, with or without Otter in tow.

I repeatedly asked her to stop hurting me, and if she wasn’t ready to stop hurting me, to take herself to her room until she was in a place where she could stop hitting.  I asked her if she could tell me what was wrong, or when that didn’t work, if she could tell me what she wanted aside from having us move.

“I can hear you want us to move – what is it you need?”

I didn’t move because I am stubborn, I guess, and Otter wasn’t in any harm from the physical blows.  She kept right on nursing until she was done, and then we moved.

Can you tell me why you were upset – was there something you needed this morning?

I broached the subject again in the late morning, at lunchtime, and finally when we were alone in the schoolroom, she told me, “I just wanted your attention without Otter.”

I am not sure how to get to that unmet need sooner than I did because she didn’t want to talk about it, even when I used the key word, “need”.  It may just be her, because it is her M.O. to process things internally before she is ready to talk about them.

I guess in recognition of that, I could have said something like, “I am moving because I cannot let you hurt me, and you aren’t moving to your room.   I am sorry you cannot use your words right now…I love you and I can wait until we can talk about what happened.”

Are there supposed to be consequences? I guess I have to dig a little deeper to find the answers to that…which is why I love that there are so many gentle parenting resources now….HERE is a perspective on tantrums from L.R. Knost.

I will close with this image from L.R. Knost – Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources…because maybe it’s supposed to be okay to let them lose control so that they can learn how to regain control of their emotions in the long run.  It’s just a matter of re-programming my “tape” and learning along with our children.

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What would you have done? How do you get to the bottom of the unmet need sooner than later?

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Thoughtful Thursday: Mothering Through Growing Pains

Our Sweet Peas are definitely going through growing pains right now.  I know I am running short since I am dealing with my own emotional growth, and I am not doing all the things that keep me in Peaceful Mama mode.

I ran across the above picture today as I was looking for a #tbt to post on our Instagram account.  My goal for the rest of the week and into the next few weeks as I adjust to my new normal is to cherish our Sweet Peas and speak gently to them as I did in their newborn phase.

It is so easy to be kind, loving and peaceful with a newborn.  We marvel at their sweetness, their littleness, their divine squishiness.  That heavenly brand-new baby scent is unforgettable.  Those moments when we stay awake watching them sleep and breathe when we should be catching up on our sleep.  There is definitely a magic about newborns.

Our infants grow…and start talking…still cute!  Then, the challenging starts.  Looking for the boundaries.  Testing the waters.  The defiance.  The stubbornness.   The outbursts and the accompanying reactions that make us want to swallow our words and wish there was  “re-do” button in life.

RIght now we have Puma (9) entering her “tween” years…she wants to be an independent big girl, and yet she still wants to be snuggled and coddled on occasion.  Night Owl (6) is pushing to find boundaries again.  Charger (4) is struggling with the concept of being a big boy and still wanting to nurse.  We have set his next birthday as an end time and I think it is freaking him out.  Otter (2)…she just wants to do EVERYTHING that everyone else is doing – sometimes trying to compete with three siblings at the same time and she is exhausted as much as she is triumphant that she can do so many new things.

Chaos Central!!  Or it could be worse if I wasn’t willing to stop and reflect.  Just writing that last paragraph clarified that today, more than any day, I really need to stop, breathe, pray, and turn inward so that I can be all that I need to be.  I want to be able to meet my children where they are, with the same joy and excitement that I had when they were infants.  To be able to offer love this way – isn’t that worth breathing and praying for instead of checking off my to-do list?

So while we are all in state of flux, I think a great intention for the day is to smile before I speak, breathe before I answer, and remember their littleness in the face of their bigness.

Peace out, mamas – wishing you all a joyful day.