Back to Blogging: Centering Myself

UntitledLast Spring, after finding a groove in my blogging, or should I say my self-expression through blogging, I found myself circling, uncertain of which direction I was headed after a comment from a friend. I lost sight of my target. I wasn’t uncertain of my beliefs, although I constantly challenge my own beliefs to make certain I have good reasons for believing what it is I do. Growth requires change and change generally occurs through some type of catalyst. I never want to reach a point where I blindly accept something as truth without examining and reasoning and making up my own mind about something.

What I had lost sight of was how I wanted to express that through my writing here. So, I took some time off, only blogging here and there, and thought about what my purpose was. I’m back to self-expression, which is why I originally began writing Living Peacefully with Children. It’s a way for me to let out my thoughts and feelings of consensual living in a world that is decidedly non-consensual.

So, be prepared. I’m back….back to writing about consensual living, attachment parenting, homeschooling and unschooling, crafty stuff and simple living stuff, and anything else that pops into my mind. Here is to centering myself and expressing those thoughts which challenge me to ever changing growth. Enjoy the journey and join me if you care to. May you find peace in whatever your outlet for self-expression is!

Public Assistance through Public Schools

checkIt’s “back to school” time, and many families are purchasing school supplies. Even homeschoolers and unschoolers, such as ourselves, are hitting up deals and stocking up on things their children may need in the upcoming year. It was around this time last year, that I read a post written by a well-known blogger concerning this topic. She, too, was stocking up on school supplies in preparation of sending her child off to school. However, rather than viewing these sales as a way to more affordably stock up on supplies, her post took a different tone. She was incensed that she should have to purchase any supplies for her child. A public education, in her mind, should be a completely free education. She believed that the government should pay for everything her child may need at school.

To say I was bothered by this post would be an understatement, but I didn’t at first realize what it was exactly that bothered me so much. I found myself examining my beliefs and digging deep. Did I think she should have to pay for school supplies, just as I was for my children? Did I harbor her ill-will for her educational choices? I had a list and each time I examined what I believed, I found that that wasn’t what was bothering me.

Finally I realized that it was attitude that bothered me so much. As parents, we are responsible for our children and for providing for them – whether that is food, clothing, housing, or education. As much as our country is dependent on the public schools, it isn’t our government’s responsibility to provide education for each and every individual. It is our right to an education, not our right to have an education provided for us, that prompted early public education. Public education in the US was born as a way to help those who may not have other resources and to provide an opportunity so that everyone could pursue learning. Public school weer never meant to be a litmus against which all other forms of learning should be compared. Public schooling was, and still is, essentially a public assistance program with an age requirement rather than an economic one.

Now, before someone accuses me of not wanting to fund public education. Stop right there. I am not in favor of educational vouchers, either for families who choose private schooling or who choose homeschooling. Taking money away from the public school system doesn’t do anyone any good. I wouldn’t advocate defunding public education anymore than I would advocate defunding public assistance for housing, food, welfare, or healthcare. Although, I am a proponent of reform for all of these areas so that we are more efficient in our help. As a society, we look out for those who need help. Public assistance, in any form, is just that – help. Helping others in our society does not mean that we become solely responsible for them. That responsibility, or lack there of, was what bothered me so much about the person’s post.

As parents, we are responsible for facilitating our children’s education, regardless of what choices we make. If someone needs help to do that, that’s what public assistance is for. The responsibility for our children’s education remains with us, though. Outsourcing that with private or public schools doesn’t mean that some mental checkbox next to education receives a check with no further thought to the matter. It’s a slippery slope. If you expect someone else to step in and be fully responsible, then you also hand over your rights. Parents, regardless of educational choices, need to continue being the individuals responsible for facilitating our children’s learning. That isn’t to say I believe we are responsible for our children’s learning. Learning is an individual journey best left to the person doing the learning. It’s our job as parents, however, to be responsible for facilitating, i.e. providing the resources and access to those resources, which result in learning and a continued love for the search for knowledge that our children are born with.

My Romantic Husband

My husband is a romantic at heart. It’s the little gestures he does that really show it. This is a card he gave me recently (courtesy Hallmark):

 

Once there was this guy.

A nice guy, really.

And he met this girl.

An incredible girl – truly amazing.

So naturally the guy falls

head over heels in love with her,

and pretty soon they’re picking out

china patterns and rings

and there’s a wedding

and the starry-eyed couple

rides off into what will surely

be a rosy future.

okay, so now some time has passed

and the guy is living in that future.

he;s still married to this girl,

but now their life includes lots of stuff-

appliances and bills and loads of laundry

and home repair projects.

But between all the to-dos and have-tos

there are those moments

when the guy stops for a minute

and looks around him.

He looks at his wife,

who is still truly amazing,

he looks at their life together,

all the ways and different

directions it’s grown,

he looks at all

the responsibilities he’s got,

and he thinks to himself,

so, this is my life.

And then he thinks,

I am one helluva lucky guy.

Giveaway: Love Munchkin Belly Oil and Sensitive Skin Oil $26.50 ARV {US/Canada; 8.18}

This is a joint giveaway with Living Peacefully with Children and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at Natural Parents Network only. Please find the section marked “Win it!” for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

 

LOVE MUNCHKIN is offering our readers a giveaway of Belly Oil, a hydrating, moisturizing aroma therapeutic belly oil rub for pregnant and post-natal mothers, and a bottle of Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oil. One lucky winner will receive both products, which are made with all natural ingredients, and have a total value of $26.50. As my five year old says, “This stuff smells awesome!”

From our reviewer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children:

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical about these oils when I first received them, despite the fact that I routinely use essential oils in our family’s health care. I’m a firm believer in using natural products for our health.

There are so many products on the market which claim to eliminate and/or reduce stretch marks that the idea of one actually working seemed slim. I even bought a product after the birth of my first child and found that I had no desire to use it. I couldn’t tell any difference and didn’t continue with it. I had a tiny newborn who was taking most of my attention, and taking time to apply a product several times a day that didn’t appear to be working wasn’t something I wanted. As for the eczema oil, I decided to wait and see what happened.

I decided to go into this as a two week experiment. We would try the products for two weeks and assess any changes. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Belly Oil

The first oil I tried was the Belly Oil. After having four children, it’s safe to say that I have some stretch marks. Since that short attempt with stretch mark cream after the birth of my oldest child, I have done absolutely nothing concerning these tiger stripes, accepting them as part of motherhood.

The first time I used the belly oil, I was immediately impressed with the scent. This did not smell like the commercial product I had tried so many years ago. Hazelnut, sesame, jojoba, evening primrose,and rose hip seed oils are combined with rosewood, mandarin green, palmarosa, helichrysum, and neroli essential oils to make a lovely scent. As per recommendations, I applied the oil after my shower. The feel of the oil along with the aroma made me think of spa treatments. After a couple of days, I was looking forward to applying the oil and felt like I was pampering myself, something that many of us don’t do enough. That fact alone had me continuing to use the product. After several days, I noticed that my stretch marks were changing. While the color difference was still there, they seemed to be smoothing out, making them less apparent. After two weeks, I felt that my stretch marks were noticeably improved. Whether it was the special combination of oils or merely the moisturizing properties of the oil, I definitely felt pampered and wish that I had had this during my pregnancies.

Newborn & Sensitive Skin Oil PLUS Eczema Essentials Addition

The second oil we used was the Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oil with Eczema Essential Oils Addition. While I didn’t have a newborn to try it on, my 9 year old had some eczema on his face. It was a small patch that never really seemed to bother him, so the idea of using a steroid cream didn’t seem worth the risk. I was curious how the oil would work. A natural treatment, along with continuing to cut out bothersome foods, seemed a safe and prudent way to deal with it. After only a few days of using the oil (and generally only once a day), we noticed that his eczema looked as if it was “drying up.” My other children wanted to see what it felt like, so I dabbed some on them. My 5 year old exclaimed, “This stuff smells awesome!” Sweet Almond, Olive, and Jojoba oils combined with Dill, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, and Mandarin Green Essential Oils not only smell awesome together, they are something I can feel comfortable putting on my children. Continued application seemed to be necessary, as the eczema seemed to come back a bit on days we forgot, which would be consistent with the fact that the oil is treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

Overall, I would say I was definitely pleased with the products from Love Munchkin, a company born from a mother’s desire to avoid products with toxic chemicals for her. The owner, Linda, has studied nutrition and is a mother of two children. Her research into “the effects of artificial foods, preservatives, pesticides, GMO’s and all other things unnatural” led her to look further into the consequences of what we put into and on our bodies. Her desire to use simple, clean, and natural items for her family resulted in the products at Love Munchkin. Selling “skin nourishing oils made from the highest quality natural plant based ingredients,” the company’s products are chemical and preservative free, vegan, and contained in BPA-free containers. Love Munchkin is a member of the Safe Cosmetics business network.

BUY IT!

You can purchase your own Belly Oil or Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oil Plus Eczema Additions at Love Munchkin. The Belly Oil is $14.50 and various Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oils run from $12-$16. Right now, Love Munchkin is offering free shipping on all US orders!

WIN IT!

For your own chance to win a set of Belly Oil and Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oil from Love Munchkin, enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below.

The winner will receive one bottle of Belly Oil and one bottle of Newborn and Sensitive Skin Oil. Contest is open to the US and CANADA ONLY.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Love Munchkinand tell us one thing you have learned about the company! You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on this blog post.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.

This is a joint giveaway with Living Peacefully with Children and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at Natural Parents Network only, and we’ll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do visit and enjoy both sites!

BONUS ENTRIES:

See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest closes 18 August 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes.
Amazon links are affiliate links.
We try to seek out only products we think you would find
relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent.
If we don’t like a product, we won’t be recommending it to you.
See our full disclosure policy here.

 

Establishing Boundaries with a Babymoon

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this summer is BOUNDARIES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on boundaries in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Cradled

Photo by The Wooden Shoes (Flickr)

Whether due to our scientific backgrounds, a tendency to planning, or a combination of multiple factors, my husband and I are researchers. Given a decision to make, we research. By that, I mean to say that we enjoy weeding through scientifc journals, digging into statistics, and ripping apart any studies to get to the factual information which we then use to make decisions. It’s part of who we are. So, when it came to the topic of having children, it only made sense that our fanatical researching would play a major role in our decisions.

When we finally decided it was time to begin our family, we were ready. We had researched. We were knowledgable. We were were ecstatic. My husband made that call. You know the one – the call to his parents to let them know that they were going to be grandparents.  My husband’s excitement about becoming a father was contagious as he shared our fantastic news with his parents. While it had only been a few days since we found out, he mentioned he couldn’t wait for our home birth.

Then the telephone calls began. Calls from relatives we knew. Calls from relatives my husband had never even met. These weren’t congratulatory calls. These were calls to tell us we were endangering our child, that we were endangering my life, that we knew nothing and were ignorant. While the black sheep of his family (would I be considered the psychedelic rainbow striped in-law?), the idea that we would go into any decision without first researching it, especially a decision of this magnitude, was ridiculous. Everything we do is for a reason.

Since we had only told his parents about the pregnancy at this point, it was clear where everyone was getting their information. We felt the situation warranted a call direct to the source. Obviously his parents had concerns, and we wanted to assure them we were prepared. We tried to share facts with them. They refused to listen. We offered to send them research. They made accusations. There was yelling and then screaming. Names were called. The dead baby card was pulled. We appealed to them just to listen. At some point, I just had to walk away from the phone. Eventually, my husband gave up, telling them they didn’t have to agree with us, but that they had to respect that the decisions regarding our family were ours to make. I’m not certain who hung up – my husband who was tired of being screamed at and belittled or my mother-in-law who realized her baby boy wasn’t going to back down.

There were still phone calls from people. There were some letters. Relations with my husband’s family were strained, but we thought things were beginning to even out. My husband went on a business trip near his aunt and uncle’s house and agreed to see them, not realizing they had any knowledge of our birth plans (naive on our part, at best). The visit seemed to be going fine until they were out on the boat with no way for him to escape. The attack began.

After that point, we really had no desire to have a relationship with his family, if you could even call what we had with them before a relationship. It definitely wasn’t healthy, whatever it was. We tried to keep our distance while maintaining enough of a relationship that our children could make their own decision some day.

As we neared the birth, my in-laws began to push for a date, unhappy with the birth month we had given. Then they began to push for a date for them to come out, knowing that we of course would want them there for the birth. We didn’t. In fact, it was at that time that my husband informed them that we would be having a babymoon. We wouldn’t be having vistors for a month, in order to give our new little family a chance to get to know each other and fall into a groove.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, we welcomed our first child, a son – the first grandchild and great-granchild on my husband’s side of the family. My husband called to let everyone know and reiterated that we were enjoying our babymoon, getting to know this new little person. A week later, when my father-in-law called, he made the mistake of letting it slip that there were plans in the works for a hoard of relatives to descend on our town for Thanksgiving. After all, there was no way we could say no to letting them see our new baby if they showed up on our door, or so they thought.

My husband was livid. I think I may have been numb. My husband, pretending he had no knowledge of the plans, sent out a wonderful e-mail to those involved letting them know how we were getting along with our new addition, thanking them for their understanding and respect for our babymoon as we got to know our new son, as he gained immunity in his first month, as we established breastfeeding, and as we were taking on our new roles as parents. Then he casually spelled out in no uncertain terms that no one would be getting past him in that first month. The trip never happened, although we heard grumbles. There were also complaints that other people saw our baby before them, when we went out shopping or run errands.

There are many reasons why I love my husband. The fact that he stepped up to his husbandly and fatherly roles is just one of them. Many people have supportive  family – people who would come in, help out with household tasks, hold a baby in order for the mom to grab a shower or to eat with two hands. That was not a possibility with my in-laws. Establishing boundaries at the beginning was an important part of our lives as parents and continues to be an important aspect in the protection of our family.

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Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. It will be updated by 3:00pm PST on Monday, July 30th:

Connecting with Our Food

I have written before of our family’s need to take responsibility for our food and about my need to get back to my roots with our search for a homestead. My husband, a born and bred suburbanite, was once opposed to living on a farm. It seemed like too much work (it is a lot of work), it seemed foreign to him (it’s a good day to learn something new), and he didn’t really understand my growing need. That was then. Now he goes with us to farmer’s markets when he is home from work. He understands that you can’t reuse canning lids for canning. He calmly discusses our plans to raise chickens and a large garden, with a possibility of other animals if we end up with enough land.

Our country, as a whole, has become disconnected with the food we eat. Certainly we eat it. We went from being the tallest country back in the mid-1800s to being the heaviest country today. There is food everywhere we go – fast food restaurants, vending machines, and convenience foods abound, all so that you can eat without thinking about it.

If we truly want to live our lives mindfully though, we have to think about it. We have to think about where our food comes from and what implications our eating it has – environmentally, economically, morally, and in respect to our health. Many of us will make different choices depending on our circumstances and life experiences, but we know that people can make a difference when they think about their food.

During World War II, a government emphasis on Victory Gardens inspired many citizens to plant their own vegetable gardens. During that time, 1/3 of all vegetables eaten in the US were from home gardens. Fresh, frugal, and as local as you can get, home grown goods are a new (old) wave of the green movement. Perhaps you can’t raise your own chickens or cows, but even the smallest apartment has room for a potted plant. We can all visit with local farmers at farmer’s markets and get to know the people growing our food. We can buy food from sources that don’t go against our beliefs. We can all become reconnected with what we put in our bodies every day.


Meet Baby Sean from Hybrid Rasta Mama

I would like to share with you a post written by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama. If any of you would like to participate in the fundraiser she is hosting, please keep reading.
~ Mandy
Meet Baby Sean…

In May of this year, Caroline, a mother of three began experiencing some very intense headaches. She wrote them off until one day her headache was simply too much to bare. Knowing something wasn’t right, Caroline walked into the ER. Several tests later and she found out that she was 26 weeks pregnant and was in a crisis situation due to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Caroline was admitted to the hospital where doctors and nurses worked around the clock to keep Caroline and her baby healthy. The goal was to get the baby as close to 36 weeks gestation as possible. However, Caroline’s placenta was so thick that her baby was not developing properly and his life was in jeopardy. 

On June 10th 2012, Baby Sean was born. He was a mere 1 pound 10 ounces and 27.5 weeks gestation. Although he was amazingly spirited, the doctors simply didn’t know what his prognosis would be.

One month later, Baby Sean is close to 3 pounds, is being tube fed mostly breastmilk, is feisty as all get-out and is fighting all of his health battles with an intensity that rivals anyone’s will to live. This tiny micro-preemie wants to go out and do big things in this world. But he still has a long road, a road with unknown health obstacles.

To learn more about Caroline and Baby Sean, please visit the original Baby Sean post.

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A fellow blogger and mother to a preemie is generously spearheading a fundraising party to help Baby Sean and his family through her business, Thirty – One Gifts. Laura from Walden Mommy has been so generous with her time and energy getting all of the details ironed out. Please read on to learn WHY Laura jumped in to help and how your purchase at Thirty One Gifts can help raise funds!

From Laura:If you’ve been reading Walden Mommy for awhile, you know that premature babies are near and dear to my heart. In 2008, my third child, George, was born at 35 weeks gestation due to PPROM (pre-term premature rupture of the membranes). Georgie was six pounds, eight ounces, a fantastic weight for his gestational age but his lungs were underdeveloped. He spent several days on a ventilator, then on oxygen through a nasal cannula.

Breathing wasn’t his only issue, though. He needed to learn how to suck, swallow and breathe, hold his own temperature, gain weight and get rid of that pesky jaundice. Thankfully, he managed to do most of this during nine days… a short time in the NICU for a premature infant but long enough to make us very aware of the trails that many parents and children go through. My husband and myself have committed to helping parents of NICU babies and NICU graduates. We bring meals to the NICU, walk in the March for Babies and provide emotional support when it is needed.

Of course, Sean’s story touched my heart and I wanted to do something to help. A fundraiser was already in play from a fellow blogger, Hybrid Rasta Mama. (Caroline is a member of her extended family). Currently, $1,300 has been raised to help his family. However, more is needed. Sean is only one month old and is looking at a couple more months in the NICU. When he comes home, he will need frequent follow ups from doctors and therapists. Many preemies also need special fortifiers and foods to help them grow. Sean also has two big brothers and a sister and their material and emotional needs will still need to be met. All of this adds up!

In light of this, I have offered to do a special Thirty- One Gifts catalog party/fundraiser for the family! To raise money for Sean’s needs, we are asking that you pay full price for the July Special. The difference between the sale price ($5) and the full price ($12-24) will go to Sean! I will also be giving a portion of my commission to his family.

How it works:

  1. Go to http://www.mythirtyone.com/lauracolon. Click on “View Our Catalog” and take a look around. Please note that the first half of the catalog shows how the items can be used and how the different fonts and colors look on the bags. The last half shows the different items and all the prints they come in. Please note that not every item is available in every print.
  2. Decide what you want, paying attention to the July Specials on my home page. (For every $31 you spend, you can purchase a Littles Carry All Caddy, Mini Zipper Pouch, Zipper Pouch, Cinch It Up Thermal or Thermal Tote for $5!)
  3. Go to “My Events” and click on “Fundraiser for Baby Sean.” Follow the instructions and pay the amount indicated by Thirty-One.
  4. Within 24 hours, you will receive an e-mail from me indicating the difference you can donate to Sean. (Full Price – Sale Price = Amount to Sean) You will need to Pay Pal the amount to the address by the end of the party (July 25, 2012).

But you don’t want to pay the difference? That’s fine, a portion of my pay will still go to Sean! However, you won’t be entered to win the prizes!

Yes, I said prizes! Thirty-One loves to reward their hostesses. For each party, the hostess earns Hostess Credit (ie, free money to use on Thirty-One Products), the chance to purchase Hostess Exclusive Items and items of her choosing at half-price. How much? Well, the bigger the party, the more credit she earns and the more Hostess Exclusive and Half Price Items she can purchase!

For this fundraiser, Sean’s family will receive the Hostess Credit to purchase items they may need for their family- lunch bags, backpacks, purses, a diaper bag and so on. As a thank you to everyone who donates the difference to Sean, you will be entered to win a chance to purchase a Hostess Exclusive Item or purchase an item of your choosing at Half Price.

How many winners will there be? Well, like I said, the bigger the party, the more items the hostess gets… and, in this case, the more winners! Our goal is for a 1,200 dollar party. That means that there will be THREE winners for the Hostess Exclusive Items and those items will be FREE! We would also have THREE winners who could purchase an item at Half-Price. We would have a total of SIX winners! (Please note that for parties under 1,200 dollars, the Hostess Exclusive Items must be purchased for the amount indicated in the catalog.)

Are you ready to SHOP? Head over to my Thirty-One page and get shopping… and help a great family support their new, tiny addition!

Details:
The party will run from July 15, 2012 through July 25, 2012. The party will close the evening of July 25. Winners will be drawn via random.org and notified by e-mail. You have 24 hours to respond with the item of your choosing (including print and personalization, if desired) payment or another winner will be chosen. Winners are responsible for payment and taxes on their items.

All items purchased through this fundraiser will be shipped directly to your house. The customer is responsible for all taxes and shipping charges. Questions? Please e-mail me at waldenmommy AT gmail DOT com and put “Baby Sean Fundraiser” as the subject.