Saturday, June 28, 2008

The best peaches are ripe and bursting, with juice that runs all over the place. Messy sweetness. I live in the Pacific Northwest where it's been cold and rainy until last week, so the peaches I procured were tender to the touch, but turned out the be firm, even a little crunchy. Despite that disappointment, for my first green smoothie of the challenge I used three medium- to large-sized organic peaches, peeled and chunked into the blender, a generous dollop of local honey, two handfuls of small-sized fresh spinach leaves (organic, local, and fresh from the farmer's market), and a handful of ice cubes. The result was a bright green slushy that tasted sweeter and more delicious than a slurpee from 7-11. I made it in the evening, and when I took it into the dusk-filled living room to drink, my daughter and my mate both wanted sips. Their sips were long and frequent, becasue they couldn't see it was green. It was a family hit. (I liked it in light and dark rooms.)

The smoothie pictured above has a banana in it, maybe some apple too. I'm using the smoothie challenge to finish off remains of forgotten fruit my daughter leaves throughout the day. Our compost bucket is lighter, but it's a better habit I'm sure. Over the past week I've slurped rainbow chard, spinach and kale in various proportions with strawberries, peaches, bananas, apples, honey, ice cubes, cranberry juice and chocolate hemp milk. I don't think I've had the same smoothie twice, unless I'm drinking leftovers. The best smoothie was the purest, the one described above. Of those I tried, the easiest green to drink, if you're afraid of drinking your greens, is spinach. It tastes light and sweet when blended with fruit.

In the original green smoothie challenge a health improvement was promised. This past week has not seen a change in my health. I'm still combating some annoying airborne allergies, my back is still tight from all this baby carrying, and I've developed some mouth sores (too many strawberries? chocoloate sensitivity? something else?) Mentally, I am proud of the fact that I'm definitely consuming more raw, leafy greens. Otherwise, no health changes yet. It should be noted that being the mother of a teething infant is more physically challenging than some other lifestyles, so it might take more than a green smoothie to get me feeling top notch. One day I will sign up for the "Sleep 8 Hours in a Row Challenge", but for now I'm growing a baby and sleep will come later. I'm still open to the idea that drinking my greens will improve my health, but so far no changes.


Friday, June 27, 2008

My Home Education

My 5 years as a parent has taught me more, I'm convinced, than could ever be taught in a course. Like the Hungarian gypies who teach their children music by simply handing them a violin and admitting them into the band, we're tossed into Motherhood and nothing teaches us the notes like simply doing it.

My children have taught me far more than tangible gifts like washing my hair while holding a baby, or keeping my bag stocked to Mary Poppins proportions. They've showed me slow down, and to speed up. They are total zen masters- soaking, clearing, being.

They've taught me that I have far less patience than I thought, and that patience is a muscle; built by being worked. They are beautifully complex, irresistibly gentle, wildly manic, intensely intelligent and wrap it all effortlessly in saintly humility.

Children remind me my most productive days are the days I laugh the most, not how much I get done. They show me my every action, word, breath is a stitch in the quilt of their childhood. They keep me in the wonder of nature, of learning, of newness, of simplicity. They are ridged teachers but quick to forgive and never hold a grudge.

I've learned to do all with gusto, remain in the moment, use every sense, and remember it. Like Hungarian gypsies are known for being amazing violinists, children are known for creating great mothers. Here's to striving toward those ranks, and to finding what else there is to learn!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our First Challenge - 30 Days of Green Smoothie

It's not a slumber party without snacks, and when everyone at the slumber party is lactating the snacks need to be thirst-quenching, nourishing, healthy and easy. It doesn't get easier than throwing some ingredients into a blender and hitting a button, something I can do with a baby in my arms. To-Fu started talking about smoothies and several of us leapt on board, gulping back piles of pureed fruit, exchanging ideas and recipes, and pulling our families into our jones.

Then BeanyMama pointed us towards this green smoothie challenge. It's a challenge to drink a green smoothie daily for 30 days, preferably for breakfast, and see what difference it makes to our health. The site contains some recipes to get started with.

A few of us have started to dabble in green smoothies, but starting Tuesday we're going whole leaf and taking on the challenge en masse (sans one). Over the next 30 days we'll be checking in from time to time to share our smoothie experiences as we go green from the inside out. Our access to food varies, based upon climate, schedules, and funds, so we'll all have a different take on this challenge. Each week we'll have a Smoothie of the Week, with suggested ingredients for us to play with and report back on. This week our smoothie will be based loosely on the Peach and Spinach recipe from the linked site.

Any and all readers are welcome to join us. We would love to hear about your experiences as well. Let's drink our veggies together!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mothers of Intuition

Attachment parenting is really just permission to parent intuitively.

It's about closing your eyes and sitting in a dark room and letting all those books stuffed with parenting/baby-training advice go up in flames. Because, really, what would you do without all the (culture-specific, mind you) expectations and pressure? You would feed your baby when he's hungry. You would pick him up when he cries. You would be in tune with his needs and wants because that's what feels right. Only it seems that our intuition is crushed in the deafening stampede of (often well-meaning) advice from friends, relatives, and the (not-always-so-well-meaning) baby trainers.

There's no list of items you must check off to ensure you're practicing attachment parenting (although there are touchstones); you simply follow your baby's lead. It's beautifully simple, although that doesn't make it easy.

To be fair, it is easier on some levels: being so in tune with your child allows you to know him better than anyone else, allows your intuition to kick into high gear so that you know when things are wrong or right in his world. But always being in high gear, always switched on--even in the dead of night when your body is "sleeping"--can be exhausting. It also means your orbit shifts, probably irreversibly: you learn to fit with your baby; he is not an inconvenience to be inserted into your old pre-parent life.

Attachment parenting, for us, is part of a larger way of existing. It follows that attachment living means being connected not just with your child, but with everyone and everything around you. It means listening a little harder, tuning in to new frequencies and lower rumbles.

Attachment living is living gently, compassionately, consciously, with purpose. Harmonizing. Being thoughtful. It is not, as another AL mama so incisively observed, a disposable lifestyle.

In case you're wondering, the AL blogging mamas met on a crunchy forum back in April 2007. We were all flying the attachment parenting banner, pregnant as heck, and due to have our babies at the same time (January 2008, if anyone's taking notes). When our babes were Earth-side, we all felt the pang of separation and decided to continue our community even after our old forum was archived and started collecting dust. I felt like a newborn myself, flung ungracefully into the brave new world of motherhood. I longed to connect with my old e-friends--some of whom were having their second, third, or fourth babes.

For many of us, our small group is the only place we have to go to connect with other mamas and get support around attachment living/parenting issues. I know that for me, it is a lifeline. Motherhood can be an isolating experience, even more so when you're radically (in the case of some of us) AP/AL.

We share recipes and links to BPA-free teethers. We seek each other out at two in the morning when we can't go back to sleep after a long nursing session or a teething explosion. We talk each other through tough parenting moments, through mastitis and cantankerous in-laws. We start posts about birthday parties that evolve naturally into conversations about consumerism. We talk about healing our bodies and hearts after the transformative experience of giving birth. We share our joys and trials with each other. It's a never-ending virtual slumber party!

During the course of our time together, we've had some thoughts, ideas, and challenges (most notably, the green smoothie challenge--more on that very soon) that we wanted to share beyond the intimate e-walls of our forum. And that's why this blog is here.

Whether AP is old hat or a novel curiosity for you, we hope you'll pull up a chair, enjoy a green smoothie with us, and join in on the conversation. Welcome to AL!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Why attachment living?

Attachment parenting, as aptly put by my fellow Mama bloggers below, can be seen as "being present, mindful and connected" in our dealings with our children. Following that thought, attachment living, in the way I see it, is feeling connected not only to our families, but to our larger communities and communities around the world. This touches every aspect of our lives, from protecting our children from the mind-sucking allure of TV advertising, to choosing organic produce because of the benefits to the earth (not to mention the workers whose living depends on it). Every day is full of decisions, and your choices say a lot about you and your priorities. Apathy seems to reign supreme with members of my generation (and I'm not that old - only 32!)...people really feel disconnected with the world, like their voices can't possibly change their reality. Online communities like this one (thanks, ladies!) help to combat the helplessness - you can only feel "attached" if you feel supported. It's nice to know there are others out there that feel the same.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why everyone thinks I'm crazy...

Attachment living, and specifically attachment parenting, is as Rachel said sometimes easy and sometimes more difficult. I think that what it brings to your life is more valuable than I know how to express. It has brought me closer to my husband, and family, and the world (past, present, and future) than I ever could have imagined, but at the same time following the principals of attachment living makes me feel very disconnected from many of the people around me.

I sat alone (this doesn’t often happen) in the chiropractor’s office several days ago with nothing to do, so I picked up a copying of Parenting Magazine that was sitting on the table. I haven’t looked at a Parenting Magazine in years. As I flipped through it I was pretty disgusted by most of everything I saw. It was shocking. I often realize that my parenting and living philosophies are different from those around me but I guess I had forgotten how completely different they actually were. The magazine was full of encouragement for parents to not respond to their children’s needs for this and that reason and assured the parents that in the end this was really the best thing for the child. How sad. To me it seems like a lot of nonsense that will make life a little easier for the time being. I forgot that the life that the dominant culture is living is so different than mine. I knew there were differences between my friends’ and my own choices in things like diapering, co-sleeping, feeding, shopping, etc. but I it really hit me hard to realize how fundamentally different I was from many of my closest friends and family members and all the other people reading writing and reading Parenting Magazine.

It really saddens me to think about the closeness, understanding, love, affection, security, trust, friendship, oneness, etc. that people are missing out on with their children and families. It also saddens me to think that our culture is encouraging us not to be attached. I don’t suggest that you are either part of attachment living or you are something else that is evil. My own journey to attachment living has been gradual and often a slow work in progress. It is something that seems very natural, and like what my family most needs, but it has not always been the easiest choice to make. I continue to make choices that are in opposition to what I see attachment living to be, but I try to go on and make better choices next time. I think that my greatest challenge right now is that I often feel like my family is the only family on this path. That everyone around me is criticizing our choices, and that opposition surrounds us.

That is why I find this online community so valuable to my sanity! These women are a great resource for ideas as well as encouragement. Thanks guys! I think the reason that attachment living is so easy is because everyone in the world has something within them that resonates with these values. It can be so difficult because we are constantly surrounded by images, attitudes, and suggestions that tell us otherwise. I want to welcome everyone to our new blog, and I hope that the entries here can help all of us sort out our feelings and continue to grow “attached” to each other and the world we are living in.


Well, Hello There

Can I start? I can't bear the thought of a blog just sitting there, unposted, unread. There is a whole group of Baby Ladies with wonderful things to say about everything, and here we have a great place to share our ideas with others.

Last night, in between nursing my teething five-month-old, comforting my stuffed up four-year-old and pumping some milk for my final days of working before summer vacation, my head was buzzing with all sorts of ideas about attachment parenting and attachment living. In a recent conversation, one of the Baby Ladies put it best when she described her feelings about crying it out: "I see it as disconnected with your life, with your child. Not being present, not caring, not even caring to know what you are missing. Not thinking, not thinking for yourself, not listening to your heart." Crying it out or CIO is athe practice of letting a baby cry, uncomforted, in the name of training them to comfort themselves to sleep.

Attachment parenting and attachment living is the opposite of that. It is being connected with life, your child, where you live, where your fellow human beings live, and where your decendents will live. It is following your heart and your intuition to create and maintain those connections for more than fleeting moments. It is not a disposable lifestyle.

For some, disposable equates with enjoyable and easy. Truthfully, with some practice, attachment living is more enjoyable. Sometimes it's easier, sometimes not, but always worth it.