Thursday, November 25, 2010

Snovember 2010

On Monday of this past week it began snowing in Seattle. Snowing. Like, real snowing. It messed up the city and screwed up many, many people's lives. But thankfully, not ours. We all hunkered down at home and enjoyed the unplanned time together. The girls stayed home from school, Matt stayed home from what would have been his last few days at his current job, and me? Well, I just enjoyed the company! The snow is still holding on a few days later, though it's mostly melted and gone. I'm sad to see it go and looking forward to it coming back again!


Eloise hanging up snowflakes on our front window.

Iris hanging up snowflakes on our front window.
Eloise heading down the sledding hill. By Tuesday it had become much more slick and still wasn't fast enough for her!
Iris and Matt preparing for a run down the hill.

Iris heading down the hill.

Our dog, Heidi, enjoying the snow!

Iris and our neighbor at the end of a run down the sledding hill.

I love snow. Did I mention that? LOVE it. Growing up in Wisconsin-- a great deal of that time on the shore of Lake Michigan (which means A LOT of snow!)-- you might think I'm sick of it by now. Oh, no. I'm more ravenous, if anything. Since we get so little in Seattle I relish every bit of it.

I got my white Thanksgiving, now I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!

Thanksgiving 2010

I wish I had some pictures to share with you of our day. Some pictures of us lounging around all morning. Some pictures of the heaps of amazing food we consumed. Of the smiling faces of our friends who are basically our family. Of the four of us-- Iris, Eloise, Matt and I-- all rocking out on Beatles Rock Band. So much fun. It was a glorious day.

When I look back on this past year, there are gobs and gobs of things to be thankful for. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and call it as the best year our family has had. We're ending the year on an especially high note-- Matt is starting a new job in December. A job he is excited about. A job which will help him be home more with his family. It's looking to be really lovely. Our girls are both doing great. They both love school. They are full of health and energy and creativity and love and sass. I've enjoyed becoming a novelist, getting a handle on some health things, reading so much more and making our house a real, live home.

As we look ahead, there is nothing but excitement and positivity on the horizon for us. For that, I am truly thankful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting the hang of it

In the not-too-distant past I was absolutely cursing my gluten-free sentence. I hated everything I bought that was made to be gluten-free and furthermore, I hated everything I baked, it turned out horribly. Adding insult to injury, baking gluten-free (and buying gluten-free) is crazy expensive. I was in a serious funk.

But then last summer I took on the challenge of creating delicious GF muffins for the girls' school. I worked hard at it, and eventually came up with something edible. It didn't work out that I ended up baking for the school, but I was grateful for the nudge towards GF baking goodness.

In the past few weeks I have found some amazing ready-to-eat foods in stores and restaurants (um, if you have a Garlic Jim's pizza near you, run--don't walk-- to your phone and order a GF pizza). Udi's has some delicious frozen pizza crusts, too.

I've also gotten more adventurous in my baking. My favorites so far have been recipes from the Gluten-Free Goddess site. I have made:

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Nutmeg Frosting three times in the last week. I finally perfected them (the right ratios of things-- my batter was coming out way too thin so I tweaked it a bit). Eloise LOVES these. I love them, too, but my booty doesn't need them.

Cornbread though I don't have a skillet and don't add the chiles. Eloise also loves this recipe. I am so-so about it, but you know what, I think I am so-so about cornbread in general. I am making it so that I can put it in to this stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. It will be the ONLY stuffing at a meal full of gluten-eaters. EEP! I am still waffling on making a regular gluten stuffing just in case.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Icing I have made this as big cupcakes, mini cupcakes and today as a cake. It was amazing all three times. I once served these at a potluck and was give the feedback that people were nervous to try them but pleasantly surprised by how good they were.

Today I took a chance and showed up at a stranger's house for a gluten-free baking party of sorts. I made the pumpkin cake for everyone and learned how to make GF brioche. The brioche was INSANE good. Insane. I am glad I got to watch someone make it, the steps were really foreign to me, and am excited to try it myself.

I just want to keep baking. Every recipe under the sun. But I need to find a way to dispense of my goodies after I bake them because keeping them around the house with my complete lack of willpower is no good. Any takers out there????

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is pretty cool.

A while ago I randomly sent in some info to participate in a homebirthing project that I heard about through another blogger/facebook friend, Amy Gates. I forgot all about it and was delighted tonight to find that the project had come to fruition.

It's called Homebirth Unveiled and Helene Rose, who put together this blog project, says that "My intention with this blog is to create awareness and understanding around homebirth."

I like it.

Every single one of the photos and quotes are incredible. If you want to see mine, go down about 2/3 of the way. It was so sweet to see my photo right next to Amy's!

Go check it out, and be inspired!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Lists

We are starting to make our Christmas wish lists in this house. It's pretty fun, after trying to do some pretty slim holidays for the past few years, we are trying to think of things that are a little more frivolous to put on the lists. I mean, last year I got my husband a pack of Dryel for Christmas. Surely it's his year for something fun, no?

Iris wrote her list last night and helped me brainstorm and write mine.



Iris's says: Santa for Christmas I want a pillow pet that is a panda and a big pillow pet too. And also a new bead kit and string with lockets and pretty beads. Love Iris.

This is the back of the letter:

Here is the letter to Santa she wrote for me:
It says: Dear Santa my mom wants a new winter coat and a heated mattress pad and a new nice necklace to wear every day and a new Twilight DVD.

Now I just need to to figure out how to send these to Santa. I suppose I should google that. Or does anyone know how to mail a letter to Santa?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What natural parenting looks like in our family



Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?



This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!


Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


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When our girls were babies attachment parenting not only came naturally to us, but it also came with a handy set of guidelines: breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, etc etc. Then the girls potty trained. And got too big to be worn in a sling. And weaned-- and, well, you get the idea. Suddenly none of the attachment parenting ideals applied to us.

So that left me thinking, what now?

As far as I could tell, there wasn't a clear set of "rules" any more. Not that we needed it-- we never needed it, but it made it somewhat easier to reasonably define what direction our parenting was heading.

Our girls are four and six now. Eloise is a preschooler and Iris is a first grader.

Here is a glimpse in to what attached, natural parenting looks like for our family:

Positive Discipline/Gentle Parenting: while I am still nowhere near where I want to be with this, it's the ideal I aspire to. I took a positive discipline class several months ago that had some really important and eye-opening ideas for me to apply to our family. I swear, most days the only thing I remember is not to totally freak out when I'm stressed over my girls' behavior, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, right?

Flexible Sleeping Arrangements: my children are always welcome in to my bed, for any reason. They have had their own beds, in their own rooms, and about 99% of the time, they start out their nights there. Also, about 99% of the time, one or both children are no longer in their beds by morning. I like not having kids in my bed all of the time anymore, but I also like their visits and snuggle time.

Parenting to Sleep: It's sort of the more grown version of nursing or rocking to sleep. We always lay with the girls until they are settled in or sleeping for the night. I used to hate this routine, and begged for ideas on how to change it-- until I was told this: when parenting to sleep, the last thing your children have at the end of the day, as they drift off to sleep, is loving contact with YOU. What a better way to say goodnight?

Choosing the Right Schooling: From the time our girls first entered school, Iris was one year old and we did a two hour a week (I think two hours) preschool co-op. The next year we did a two days per week co-op, one I worked at, one I didn't. The following year Iris was in a tiny, loving, amazing, wonderful (I could go on and on, I'm still sad that we are no longer there!) playschool two days per week, four hours per day with other fully attached parents, teacher and director. It wasn't a full-on co-op, but we did work in the classroom once or so a month and have monthly parenting meetings. Iris was there for two blissful years, her last day was the day she turned five. Eloise, at two years old, went to that same school one day per week for three hours.

We were tortured over what to do for Iris's kindergarten. Long story short, we ended up moving clear across town. That sent all of our plans right out the window, and we then decided to send both of our children to a small, private school in our new neighborhood. This is their second year there. Though we would love to keep them there, we simply can't afford it for one more year, so next year we plan on homeschooling. I am extremely excited about homeschooling and having the girls home more often.

The school choices we've made haven't been easy for us, not by a long shot. They have required tremendous time and/or financial investment, but they were absolutely the best choices for our children.

Being a Stay-at-home Mom: In all honesty, this is the biggest one for us. The greatest conscious choice we have made is to have me stay at home full-time with the girls. Besides the time they are in school, the girls are rarely out of our care. I bring them to school every day, pick them up every day and am home with them, sick or well, every single day.

Having one stay-at-home parent isn't without it's challenges. We could certainly use the extra income, I won't lie. I could make a laundry list of what we've gone without in order to afford to have me stay at home, but I don't need to get in to that here. But every single sacrifice we've made is the absolute right decision for us. Being home with the girls is more important than having a nicer car (or a second car!) a nicer (or even finished) house, nicer clothes, fancier food (or going out to eat), vacations, no debt . . . . oh wait, I wasn't going to get in to it. While we stress over what we lack, all it takes is one second of looking at what we would give up in order to bring in more income. Not worth it.

I'm interested in seeing how our family evolves as the girls get older and more independent.



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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!



Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!



This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"



Attachment/Responsive Parenting


Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:


  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:


  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:

    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)

    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.

    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.



  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:


  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:

    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)



  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:


  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:

    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)



  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:




Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature




Holistic Health Practices



  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.



Natural Learning



  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)

  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.

  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)

  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)

  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)



Healthy Living




Parenting Philosophies




Political and Social Activism



Sunday, November 07, 2010

Will this day end already?

I usually am a fan of getting an extra hour in a day, but not today. Today began at 6:00 am with a puking little girl. It wasn't even that, particularly, that told me she was really sick. It was her falling asleep on the couch at around 9:00 am that really sealed the deal. Between the puking and the napping she was doing some handstands on the couch, and has been fine since the nap, because Eloise only has two modes: ON and OFF.

Eloise threw the biggest hysterical sob-fest I have seen in a very long time when her dad and sister left to go visit friends without her. It was really sad. We thought maybe those guys should stay home, but I was staying, and we don't all need to be hermits because one kid is sick.

But now I'm tired. And my head hurts. And I have a laundry list of other physical complaints.

It's been a rough week, too, I won't lie. I hate complaining about this stuff in a public forum, but I've been trying out some new meds to help with some issues that are making me feel sick and tired all of the time. Of course, I feel more sick and tired taking the meds than I felt without them. I told my husband the other day that how I feel right now is like I'm in the first trimester of pregnancy (and NO I am definitely not pregnant!). So that kind of sucks. Back to the doctor with me. I can't eat. Can't sleep. Can't exercise. Can't write. I've been reading and sitting and whining a lot.

I thought I would raise all of our spirits a little bit today by bringing Iris to the store to pick out some things for the girls' Zhu Zhu Pets. Did you know there is a whole slew of parts you can buy to make them a little habitat. Pretty fun stuff.

I wrote a little while back that we were waiting on some really exciting news-- well, that news came and was exactly what we were hoping and praying for. I will write a bit more about it as soon as the pieces are more locked in to place, but for now, even amidst all of the feeling like crap that's going on around here, we're doing a big ol' happy dance. Life is still good. Even when it sucks, it's still really good.