Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy 1st "Birth"day everyone


Wow,words can not describe the feeling of being a mother. To be pregnant, to feel life inside you,to give birth but most of all the wondrous feelings of watching your little one grow.

As we come to the first year mark we mothers remember. We personally celebrate in the joy of bringing our child into this world and becoming that child's mother. We have embarked on a wonderful journey that no other person will endure. There will be many challenges that we will each face from time to time but in the end we are grateful for every minute of it.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

To all my mama's Happy "Birth"day to us all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My happy cloth diapered dog

When we got our sweet little puppy six years ago, I was a little overwhelmed with the idea of potty training a dog. The more I got to this particular dog, the more I become overwhelmed. From day one he would pee right next to puppy pads, but never on them. He would go outside and use the bathroom. Then come right back in and pee on the bathroom rug. Over the years we have grown used to his messes, but lately I have grown very tired of cleaning up pee stains all over my carpets. The solution to my problem? Cloth diapers for my dog. Our happy little chihuahua is now sporting our nine month old's diaper doublers inside a stylish wrap. A little more laundry, but lots let scrubbing the carpet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


To many, parenting or life choices like co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, natural birth, a diet free of what many call staples, a simplistic approach to holidays and birthdays, a school-free child, a child vaccinated less then usually recommended- the list is endless- is just crazy. To some it's harmful, to some simply a little off or misguided.

I've learned (eventually) to choose battles when questioned. Whipping out facts has a place, for sure. Sometimes. A wise mother suggested to me once, "It's what we feel is best for our family" as a peaceful, simple response to "...but WHY?!". i've used it many times- often through gritted teeth.

Something in us longs to please, to feel accepted. After making a big, very un-mainstream decision recently , my husband and I sat staring at our pros/cons list. The one con was pissing off family. This mattered so much I pitted it against the whole list of pros. How ridiculous when what is best in our opinion should always have the most weight, and it did, but my reluctance surprised me. To be laughed at, to have eyes rolled, to feel DIFFERENT. This bothers me more than I care to admit. Being in the minority on the vaccine debate among friends, informing people I don't eat meat bothers me more than I care to admit.

How proud we should feel for keeping our choices OURS. How high we should feel knowing we're an important drop in the bucket of change. These feelings conflict with desire for acceptance and understanding and bubble inside, along with a loathingly admitted tendency to judge people *I* think have made silly or stupid choices.

How toxic this is for our children!

May they, and may we, grow to treat all others- regardless of views, beliefs or preferences-with consideration and above all, with respect.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's that time of year again....

...and I don't mean Christmas. Every year, when we get to mid-August, I get a little giddy, thinking of all the canning I'm going to do, all the lovely jars lined up in my shelf, waiting for a visit sometime in the deepest part of winter. Why do my husband and I do it? (for he's just as much of a harvest addict as I am) Part of it is practical: it's cheaper to can produce that has been given to us (or picked by us - gotta love Freecycle for that!) or even bought, rather than buy the finished product. But part is sentimental: I love to think of the many generations of women who came before me, doing (almost) exactly the same thing. For them, it was a matter of survival, whereas we have the luxury of canning by choice. But in this day and age, where talk of "food security" and "victory gardens" is cropping up everywhere, I'm glad I have my many glass jars, each to be filled with something exciting. There's the applesauce made from my parents' Yellow Transparent apples, the dilly beans and pickled beets fresh out of the garden, the 80 lbs of peaches (and the several pounds that ended up in our stomachs!), and the pears yet to come.
This year, I tried something new: pressure canning.
OK, that didn't sound risky enough. How about this? I tried pressure canning with my in-laws' pressure canner from the 70's that hasn't been used in 10 years. I flirted with death and dismemberment, certain that the hissing pot could explode any moment.
But it didn't. And I have the delicious tomatoes to prove it.

Friday, August 29, 2008


We're all about improvement here at AL. Which is why I'm totally watching To-Fu's 'poo-less experience with great interest. To be free of shampoo's bonds!!

On my own improvement front, here at Casa Beany we've broken up with the television. We're on break at least.

It started Wednesday morning when I opted for a no TV morning after some sibling squabbling. They whined a while and then things got amazing. Seriously. They played with each other better, played outside more, were calmer and had better attitudes. This is after skipping just their regular morning hour of PBS. I decide I hate children's programing at this point and we skip their afternoon hour also in favor of playing samurai. I can't express enough how just skipping these two hours made them CALMER. And this is Curious George we're talking about. I can't imagine if they regularly viewed super hyper shows.

We've gone three full television-free days now. I am thrilled that I stumbled on this challenge. I really thought of the TV as a sanity saver and considered their 2 hours quite moderate. As I step back and look, it caused more harm than good in our house. We've collectively decided to keep er off weekdays and enjoy favorite cartoons and movies on weekends only.

I want to state that I do not think TV is evil and it does have great value. I think it's a tool and easily gets used as a necessity. There have been countless articles and reports on the damage to children by the telly. Most of which, to be honest, I ignored. We don't have the TV on all day long, we don't put on weird shows for our babies, we don't watch during meals, we monitor closely the content of their programs, they spend only a couple hours in front of it, we spend time reading and playing together has well, I have three kids at home! I don't have time to read these reports that aren't for me. They were. Are. The proof has been in the pudding, as it usually is.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The No-Poo Hair Solution

Hey, y'all, I'm de-pooing! My hair, that is. I've stopped using shampoo and conditioner, but never fear: I still wash my hair. I just use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead.

Why ditch the 'poo? The two biggies:

1--To avoid harmful/toxic ingredients in many shampoos and conditioners

2----To achieve a natural oil balance (your scalp--like your boobs if you're breastfeeding--works on demand, meaning that it makes as much oil as is required. Shampoos strip your hair of oil, so if you wash frequently your scalp is constantly trying to make up for what's stripped by cranking up the oil production... which causes you to have to shampoo more often. See where I'm headed here? No-pooing gently corrects the problem over time and returns your scalp to a natural oil-producing cycle.)

And I bet I save a ton of money, too, considering I was buying a chemical-laden and high-end vegan brand of shampoo/conditioner (Pureology). $50 for a pair of bottles! Ow, my wallet.

This is just Day One for me, but my hair smells and feels great! (Don't worry, the ACV rinses right out and there is no lingering smell.) It's shiny, full, and not oily in the least. But don't freak out if you have a detox period during which your mane is less than marvelous--it's totally normal and not permanent.

HOW TO DO NO 'POO: I simply made a paste from baking soda and water in a refillable plastic bottle, and in another plastic spray bottle I used a 1:4 ratio of ACV to water. A good scrub/massage with hot water and the baking soda paste helps dislodge any gunk. Then I liberally sprayed my hair with ACV, let it sit for a few minutes while I went about my other shower business, and rinsed my hair with cold water to help keep things shiny and healthy. I'll probably do the ACV 2-3 times a week and the baking soda paste slightly less often (I've heard it can be a bit drying). If you want a nice smell, consider adding small amounts of essential oil to the mix.

For photos of other no-pooers, click here. To see one woman's no-poo photo progression, click here. By the by, the No 'Poo Community on LJ is a great source of information and support if you're thinking about taking the plunge or are just curious.

I'll be back with an update in a while. In the meantime, let us know if you're taking the no-poo challenge!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Third Way

I’m taking a couple of minutes to share a few short reflections on some parenting I observed last night that has really left an impression on me.

My husband and I were making dinner (he more than I, admittedly), and as had happened for most of the day, my two older boys started fighting over a particular train, again. It was Henry. He had been missing around the house for a few weeks, but showed up in a basket of animals the other afternoon, and since then, he's been in high demand. On that old chestnut of “Sharing,” we're still trying to work through things.

So the screaming started. And the screaming has been pretty frequent lately, and it's an annoying kind of angry elementary school girl scream that kind of curls your toes and leaves an after-ring in your ears. Not cool.

My husband ran into the living room. I kept working in the kitchen, and listened to what was transpiring in the next room.

My secondborn was distraught that his older brother had the train. #2 was angry and wanted everyone in this part of the state to hear about it. My eldest was not interested in giving up the train; after all, his brother had managed to scream his way into playing with it for most of the last 48 hours. Why shouldn't he have a turn? Now seemed as good a time as any. Yes, he certainly wanted a turn with Henry, and wasn't about to let his little brother get his way by screaming, again. I could feel the tension building all the way around the corner, and I wondered what would happen when their father stepped in.

What are the options here, really? Let it work itself out? Surely, all children have to learn how to manage their differences at one time or another, right? Except that we don't want them hurting one another, and we want to help them recognize the needs and feelings of one another in the process, and young children, full of love as they are, are also developing a keen sense of self, and sometimes that overshadows their empathy. It's an ego they can't help, really, and respectful, nurturing intervention helps them see the position of their friend/brother/competitor-for-toys. The passive let-it-work-itself-out tactic didn't seem called for in this situation.

So should my husband do the swooping-in-parenting move? Take the train away from my firstborn and give it to his younger brother? Well, we don't really know how it all started, since we were in the kitchen to begin with. Maybe #2 had the train and #1 swiped it. Or maybe #1 was playing with it and #2 remembered that he's kind of had a thing for the train lately, and thought this was a good time to rekindle that most intimate relationship of a train and its lover. Or should we just take the train away from both of them, cause we're the parents, and we're entitled to do whatever we want to do? (Though admittedly, if we really just wanted the crying to stop, this was only going to product the opposite result: two screaming kids.) Would Daddy just walk in and do something authoritative to solve the problem?

But my husband did something totally different than either of these two options. He walked into the living room, saw the situation, and with a sense of (almost) excitement in his voice, asked, "Hey, why don't you let Daddy play with Henry? Can I play with you guys?" The boys couldn't have been more thrilled with that arrangement, and gladly surrendered their train to Daddy, who showed real enthusiasm in playing together with them around the train table for a few minutes, while their feelings of competition quelled and they remembered how much fun it was just to play together.

This decision reminded me of what writer and theologian Walter Wink calls “The Third Way,” as a means of breaking cycles of violence without resorting to passive resignation— finding a way to turn the conflict on its head with creative love.

I think that what my husband did was brilliant. It didn't make a decision about the conflict, choosing one child over the other, or sweeping authoritarianism in place of throw-up-your-hands passivity. Instead, it found a playful response that reminded the boys of the point of their trains- to enjoy them together. It creatively infused my husband’s love and his participation into the situation, and his engagement with them was the answer to the whole problem. Rather than be “right” or get to play with the trains themselves, my boys were happiest with getting to have their daddy involved in what they were doing.

So much of child-led living revolves around this idea- not of being passive as parents, just permissively letting our kids walk all over us. And not parenting with the "Because I say so" or "Because I'm the Parent" argument. Child-led living is treating our kids and each other as autonomous people, worthy of respect and open-minded compassion. Of being engaged, interested, and involved in what they are doing and thinking, rather than just observing and judging or controlling it from the sidelines. Yes, it involves a lot more time than other conventional forms of parenting, what sometimes feels like infinite amounts of energy, patience, and creativity, but it's the kind of love that I believe we are called to demonstrate to the world, starting with our own children. It's treating one another as human beings and working as peacemakers in our own homes.

Thanks to my husband, for reminding me of how creative love is really the best answer.