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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NNM NEWS: 1st Sunday Surf Feature!

A big SHOUT OUT to Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered for featuring NurturingtheNaturalMama in her most recent Sunday Surf :)

Take some time to enjoy her blog, and find her on Facebook   :)

Finally, the continuation of our Attached at the Heart Series :)

Principle 3: Responding with Sensitivity, Learning the Language of Love

The ability to respond to one's child is the foundation for all other principles of the attachment parenting model.  Based on this theory, one would need to be able to respond/communicate/understand one's child in order to create a secure attachment. 

"Sensitive responsiveness implies the ability to set aside one's own needs for the needs of the baby; it presupposes a change in consciousness of the parents and the capacity to feel empathy- to see the world through the eyes of their child. Babies communicate their needs in many ways, including body movements, facial expressions, and crying. They often try to tell us that they needs our attention long before they being to cry, if we only understand their attempts. As you learn to understand and respond to your infant's cues through consistency, you will build a strong foundation of trust and empathy" (p94). 

Empathy is the capacity for, and ability to treat someone else's feelings as their own. When we have empathy for our children, it means understanding and responding to how they feel/act in consistent ways. 

By reacting consistently to their physical needs, as well as emotionally interacting, playing, talking, etc- we form connection(s) with our child(ren). Many times, we get so caught up in advice, theories, and the confusion or fog of sleep deprivation that we forget to just BE with our baby. 

photo by Cathy Jourdan art prints

Personally, I missed out on a lot of this my first time around. Granted, I was also unknowingly in the throws of postpartum depression among other things, but nonetheless I was so busy worrying what I was doing "right" and what I was doing "wrong", and listening to everyone and their advice on what I "should" be doing; that I really didn't spend enough time just staring at my baby and waiting for him to tell me what he needed. 

Don't get me wrong- I think I did a swell job in the end :) , and I guess we all learn the things we 'won't' do the 'next' time when we have our first, but I definitely could have spent more time wearing him and watching him and less time worrying about if I was going to do the "wrong" thing. 

Knowing the stages of physical and emotional development from birth- 12 months can be an important step in appropriately responding to, hence bonding with, your new baby. For example, knowing when particular behaviors are 'stages' versus problems can build confidence in a new mom happy to follow her child cues versus let them 'soothe themself' (which babies actually aren't neurologically or physiologically able to do anyways), or forcing them too early to overcome separation anxiety, etc. 

And this all includes OVERNIGHT, people! WHO ever decided that babies were supposed to sleep through the night??! If your baby is crying, for God sake, WHY would you let them sit alone, in the dark, and CRY?! I know I've reference this article several times now, but if you haven't already, check out Letter from a Sleep Training Baby if you think I'm wrong.

Fussy Baby? 

Follow these simple steps by Harvey Karp in Happiest Baby on the Block

2. Side  (side/stomach positioning when held in parent's arms)
3. Shushing (mimics loud noise in the womb)
4. Swinging (same motion can be obtained by babywearing versus a mechanical swing)
5. Sucking (this includes nursing/nursing on demand/ bottle nursing/ pacifiers)

Toddlers & Beyond

Your babies, regardless of their age, will always need your responsiveness to their needs, both physically and emotionally. Remaining empathetic and compassionate will help you maintain that strong attachment you have worked toward. 

Showing interest in your toddler's activities, participating in child-centered play, reading, and singing are just some of the ways you can connect with and nurture your toddler. And let's be honest, your toddler (if s/he is anything like mine) is a walking billboard at this point for Independence! So feel free to follow their lead, they like that better anyway :) 

But what about the dreaded Temper Tantrum??

-Remain calm. 
-Time things right (make sure they get their consistent schedule whenever possible. For example, you're not trying to browse the mall during their naptime, etc.)
-reiterate to them their need (empathy. Let's say they are crying over a toy they want in the store... you would say "<toddlers name> really wants that toy, and s/he is very angry. I understand that your angry" and move on)
* there will obviously be variations of this based on the age of the toddler, but for more info, check out Harvey Karp's other book, Happiest Toddler on the Block .  PS. NO LIE, the feeling validation and moving on thing really does work! :) 

Last thing is this, children learn from us. The old adage of BE what you want your children to be. They learn empathy and compassion, and emotional expression from US, so always use positive parenting, and nonviolent communication. And this applies to everyone in the home, not just mom (or whomever is the primary caregiver)- keep dad (or spouse/partner) and siblings involved too. Keeping the family unit connected and emotionally attached is EXTREMELY important, especially during those trying times of baby's first year! 

How did you and/or your family hold it together during baby's first year? What do you like/dislike so far about the Attachment Parenting model?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In-Between Parenting: How do YOU handle shared custody?

How do you make the best of the time you have? 

Anyone could ask themselves this question, but it is especially poignant if you have shared custody, like me. I have always been a working mom. In fact, when my son was born, due to financial constraints and an unpaid maternity leave, I was forced to go back to work when he was a mere 4 weeks old. My full time schedule at that time only entailed 4 days a week, so I had one day home with him and otherwise was transporting him back and forth between family from that time.

His father and I split (I'll spare you the details) just after his first birthday. Long story made very, very short: I suddenly only had my baby boy for half the week.

How do you, as a mother, handle that? (and sorry, really I'm sure it's the same on both sides- mom and dad- but I'm just speaking from my point of view here)

How do you go from nursing and rocking and nightly story reading, to having nights all alone in a new apartment? And how is your baby? Sure, his dad loves him and he loves his dad- but he's only 1!! He needs his mommy! Is he crying? Is he scared? Did his dad remember to rub his back the way he likes? Did he remember his special blanky?

... you get the point....

my baby boy at about 8 weeks old
Anyways, it has been almost 3 years now, and my son has turned out just fine :) He enjoys spending time at mommy's house AND daddy's house. Despite the fact that his dad and I do NOT have a good coparenting relationship- somehow my toddler has become a well adjusted, polite, and mindful little person!

So what's the problem?

my now toddler, just before his 1st birthday

These first few years of any child's life are crucial. And as with any child, but especially your first, you have the perpetual fear of somehow permanently damaging their psyche and/or spirit. So how do you make sure you parent at your BEST, even with such LIMITED time?

Can you be an attached parent, even with a shared schedule? Or as a working parent? And what about if the two homes have NO consistency? What if neither your co parent OR your current spouse are attached parents? Will your child still turn out ok??

If I had all the answers, I wouldn't be writing this article :) What I do know, is that there is hope. 

There is hope because my son is happy.
There is hope because my son is so full of love.
There is hope because he is surrounded by so many people who love him in return. 
There is hope because he is social and polite.
There is hope because his well adjusted, adaptable, and yet still emotional personality tells me I'm doing something right!

Is it perfect? Probably not. 
Am I perfect? Absolutely not. 
But is he a happy kid? Yes. 
Is that all that really matters? At this point, yes :) 


Forgive me while I step up on my soapbox for a minute folks, but I need to take a minute to tell you how important coparenting IS if you are in a shared custody situation. 

Now I might not have the best coparenting relationship with my coparent, but we have always made a point to put our son FIRST. Here are some advice/links that could be helpful if you too, are in a high-conflict shared custody situation like mine:

- get a mediator. I don't know where my situation would be today without one. 
- consult an attorney. Granted, it is WAYYYY cheaper (believe me) to go the mediation route, but in high conflict situations it is best to at least know the laws in your state and how they apply to you. Most initial consults are free of charge anyways. 
- Shared Parenting: How to Make it Work
- Check to see if you have courses, like those offered at Kids First, in your area.
- Attachment Parenting International has some great links for divorced and blended families
- make the BEST of your time with you child(ren) each day you have them. You're not going to be perfect, but you're EXACTLY what they need.

I also put some book selections up at the NurtureMe Store, including two of my faves;
Joint Custody with a Jerk
Custody Chaos, Personal Peace

How do you handle parenting with your shared custody and/or full time working schedule?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Putting the SKOY cloth to the test!

Natural Family Supplies is an amazing website with 'green' gear for the whole family! Initially I had checked it out for it's cloth diaper selection, but pleasantly found many green home products I had been looking for! 

About the store and blog:

As you'll see from their About Us page, Natural Family Supplies started off as many mommy-businesses do. Nicole & Jeremiah discovered they were pregnant, and wanted the natural products that fit their family but with the same convenient accessibility as disposable options. 

After much research and experimentation, they found their favorites, and decided to share them with their community, then to all of US by offering online ordering!  (YAY!) :) 

Their blog follows their business, and their natural life in the mountains! Homeschooling, concerts, products, parenting, and everything in between!!

The SKOY Cloth: 

So, if you're anything like me, you do your best to be 'green' but certainly still have some work to do. I use plastic trash bags, and paper napkins, and yes, sometimes even paper plates (gasp!). But one item that always bothers me in my kitchen, not only because of the PRICE (ugh!), but because we seem to go through so MUCH of them- is paper towels. 

I am sick of paper towel rolls in my kitchen. 

I am sick of the cardboard insert being used as a weapon by my 3 yr old. 

I am sick of the dish towel that I leave on the stove (and now the one I leave on the sink, since no one was using the one on the stove) remaining clean and untouched for weeks, while I continue to purchase rolls of this paper that fills my garbage can (granted, lined with a plastic trash bag- but that's not the point!)

Ladies and gentlemen, enter.... The SKOY Cloth. 100% biodegradable, absorbent, re usable cloth that can be used in your kitchen, bathroom, ANYWHERE in your home! 

"The SKOY cloth is a durable product due to the reusability factor and can last months.  Using a SKOY cloth is equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average home.  With the high cost of paper towels, as much as $2 per roll, SKOY cloth is the obvious choice for your wallet and the environment."
- direct from SKOY cloth website

So how did the SKOY cloth stand up in my house of 5? No lie, incredible. 

- SUPER absorbent
- Cleans baby mess, food, barf, etc :) 
- I had the 'luxury' of getting to try it on dog vomit in the carpet.... greeeeat.... but it worked FABULOUS! A little Nature's Miracle and we were good to go! And no little paper towel pieces grinded into the carpet!
- Mess around the sink after doing dishes? Done.
- Food stuck to the stove after making dinner? Done. (although it did take a little added elbow grease from my new greener-clean sponge :) )
- toddler finger painting in the kitchen, and all over the floor? Done. 
- teen spill soda? Done. 
- hubby spill beer? Done. 

And after a few days? Just stuck it in the microwave to sterilize. It's now been a few weeks, and I have several of them in my dishwasher washing up for their next several months of use!

Best part??
2 packs seem to be the going amount for a family of my size, and each pack is only $ 6. 99 for 4 cloths! Savings from buying paper towels?? Well, in my house, we were (sadly) going through at least 2 rolls per week. Over a month? That's over $12! In one month! 

The cost savings, and environmental savings (plus, I'm saving on trash bags since I'm not filling them up with paper towels :)) = HUGE SCORE for this family! 

What is your favorite product from Natural Family Supplies ?

 * Don't forget to check out their GEAR TO GO GREEN Sweepstakes in honor of Earth Day (which is April 22nd, 2011)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am a good mom, and other reasons labels don't work.....

I am a good mom. 

I love my kids, and they love me. 
They look to me for guidance, respect, affection, and compassion. 
I hope they always feel they get that. 

I baby wear, 
I breastfeed, 
I buy mostly organic, 
I do my best to find alternatives to most disposable items, 
I cloth diaper, 
My family eats a majority of whole foods, 
We barter,
We recycle, 
We compost,
We LOVE hand me downs and other thrifty finds, 
We are avid craigslist-ers, 
We heat our home with biofuel
We keep our heat down, 
We run our washer on cold, 
and we air dry when possible (we do live in Maine, mind you)...

...That being said, 
I have also bottle fed and formula fed both my babies in addition to nursing, 
my kids also occasionally eat McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts, 
we eat meat, 
my kids only co-slept until they were both about 4 months old, 
my son IS circumcised, 
we do not wear organic clothing, 
I buy sheets and other necessecities at stores by supporting stores like WalMart and Target, 
my kids watch TV,
my husband drinks water out of disposable water bottles (even though it makes me shudder), 
we run the dishwasher,
we take hot showers, 
we probably let the water run to long,
I use disposable pads and tampons, 
and regular baby wipes....

THERE. So if all this means I'm not a 'natural parent', or an 'attached parent', then I am ok with that. 
Call me a-follow my childs lead-semi-organic-semi-natural-loving mommy.

Or you can just call me mommy, that's the best label I've ever had anyways :) 

Friday, March 11, 2011

NNM NEWS: Update

Thanks for following NurturingtheNaturalMama

* I'm working on setting up a cloth diaper swap and Cloth Diaper 101 here in South Berwick, Maine. At this point, we're shooting for a date in May 2011.

* I share many links, posts, coupons, deals, etc. on our Facebook page, so make sure to 'Like' us on FB.

* Follow me on Twitter

* Like things you see on the blog? Check out my NurtureMe Store, stocked with items featured in the blog!

* Product Reviews coming SOON on the following products; SKOY cloths, gDiapers, Seventh Generation NEW disposable training pants. Feel free to contact me if you have a product you'd like me to review. 

* Comments/suggestions? Leave them here on the blog, or feel free to email me at

The Big Boy Debate: Circumcision

As of late I have seen article after article and Facebook status after Facebook status addressing the issue of circumcision.

My fellow natural-mommy-bloggers all seem avidly against the act of circumcision. You can read the recent post from Peaceful Parenting and one by Living Peacefully with Children entitled Top 10 Reasons to Leave your Son Intact.

The veterinary technician in me gets the argument, just as I feel docked ears and cropped tails are an unnecessary cosmetic surgery... I can see where that label would fall unto our infant sons.

And for me it has been several years; I have read articles, reviewed information, talked with other parents, with my children's Doctor, and I don't know..... after all that,  I still feel like I would make the same decision if I had another son- I would have him circumcised.

Regardless of that, here is why I think this issue has me all fired up! SO MUCH JUDGEMENT! Really, you want to be all "natural" that's great- but share your info and reasons without the preaching.

Just like drop side cribs kill your kids, and every year they change if infants need to sleep on their backs or stomachs, and the divided camps of co sleeping suffocates children etc..... science will support both sides of circumcision. So all in all, it's a personal choice. And yes, we as parents HAVE to make personal choices for our kids. It's going to be a lot less painful now than if they're 14+, and a heck of a lot quicker recovery!

So let's just let bygones be bygones... because frankly, I'd like to see how many of these moms coming out of the woodwork against circumcision don't have their daughter's ears pierced, or their dogs ears cropped or tails docked, have had their pet neutered... you get where I'm going with this...

Myself, I think it's just one more issue to start a coup over... there are a lot bigger issues today to deal with my friends. Let's start with world peace and saving the planet, and let's leave individual parenting decisions up to the individual parents.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recipe that should have been good.....

So I'm about to share a recipe that SHOULD be delicious! It sounds fabulous.... I just must not have made it right, because it didn't come out this good for me. But, since in theory it should be good, I'm going to share anyways in hopes that someone who cooks better than I, can make it taste as good as it sounds. :)

Perhaps those over at the Economical Eater will have better luck!

A New Twist on an Old Stand By- Stir Fry 

2 plantains
2 oranges
plain or pine nut couscous
1 sweet potato

saute plantains in oil (you can use olive oil or safflower oil), salt, pepper, and dark brown sugar
take 1/2 orange and squeeze juice over top
add ginger if desired
once caramelized, take out of pan and cover.

add a little more oil to the pan and saute cubed Tempeh
once browned, add cubed sweet potato
cook until semi soft (small cubes will be about 7-10 minutes)

add remaining 1 and 1/2 oranges (sliced)
saute for about 2 minutes
then add plantains and cooked couscous to the pan

serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with a pinch of brown sugar

Sounds fabulous, right? Mine came out a bit too dry and not as caramelized as I would have liked. Once you try it, send me a pic and a comment so I can check out how to improve mine next time! Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

My eco-change of the week!!

After reading a great blog on  Change 3 Things: The Ultimate Cloth Diaper Advocacy Project, I decided I had to help spread the word.

Cotton Babies describes their new mission like this;

Change 3 Things is an awareness campaign designed to promote the environmental and economical impacts of cloth diapering. Changing three cloth diapers a day is a small change for one family that equals big impact for our planet.

Our goals:

- 100,000 parents committed to change 3 cloth diapers per day.
- 30-50 million pounds of prevented landfill waste
- 100 million disposable diapers not purchased.
- $24 million of combined savings for participating families
(*numbers are estimates)

Why just THREE diapers?
We are busy parents too and really appreciate achievable, manageable goals. Changing three cloth diapers a day is something that almost any parent can do (stay at home or working).

So are you ready to change 3 cloth diapers?! 'Like' their page on Facebook (link provided below) and let me know you've joined the cause!

'Like' Change 3 Things on Facebook

Sunday Surf- sort of :)

Ok, so I have a jumble of things to share today :)

First, a recipe. 
Every year, my cousins and I offer to cook my grandparents dinner as their Christmas gift (believe it or not, they love hanging out with us!) This year, it was my turn to provide the salad. As I typically do these days, I just Googled the ingredients I had in the house, and came up with the following;

Beet Salad

baby spinach (I used Organic Spring Mix)
beets (I used canned)
slivered almonds
balsamic vinaigrette dressing or raspberry vinaigrette

ummmm, delicious! and so easy (clearly) ! Best thing? You can substitute for whatever you might have in your pantry. For example, I made some at home the following evening, but was out of apples, so made the same salad, but skipped the almonds and substituted peaches for apples. Still delicious!

Next, HILARIOUS website find!

courtesy of

If you haven't already, check out OMG Hilarious! My husband and I can't stop reading and laughing :)

Now, for some real Sunday Surf.

A recent post from Mama Eve discussed our birth expectations. I loved this one because it resonated with me after the two totally opposite births of my now toddler and baby A. Both were scheduled C sections, so with my first, I kind of disregarded the whole 'birth plan' idea. But after him coming a day early, and more things (errors between doctors offices, hospitals, nurses, etc) that went terribly terribly wrong... I realized (much later, with retrospect) I needed a birth plan.

my son the day he was born, finally being transported to the NICU several hours from me :( 

My son was born with spontaneous bilateral pneumothorax, more commonly described as- 2 collapsed lungs. I could go on for days describing the plethora of things that went awry the day of my son's birth- but I'll spare you all the ridiculous details and will just say that as I sat there, a new mom without my baby- and then many months later when the hormones and chaos settled; that if I EVER did this thing called childbirth again- I was going to be more prepared.
* I feel I need to enter a disclaimer here- I was without my baby for almost a full 48 hours, followed by spending about 6 days (so 8 days total for my 'Babushka') in the NICU. While this was all awful at the time, I feel fortunate that since my son was sent home, he has been a happy and healthy boy. I am forever thankful every moment I have him in my arms, as I know (firsthand having spent those days in the NICU) that many parents, are not so lucky.

So regardless of if I felt it would go exactly as I planned, I wanted to feel more in control next time. So in my opinion, it is so worth having some kind of explanation and expectation of how you would like your baby's birth to go. Do I think those with the lists of specifics that are 5 pages long are ridiculous? Yes :)

But I was glad, 7 months ago, that I had made some type of birth plan with my doctor (a new doctor, by the way). We had discussed what we would do if 'a' happened, or what if 'b' happened, etc. And it made the whole childbirth process, scheduled C section and all, a much more pleasant (as pleasant as major abdominal surgery can be) experience.

Granted, I think there is a certain degree of confidence and preparedness with your second child versus your first. And I also think I had learned plenty of things I knew I did NOT want after having such a horrendous first birth experience. So using that information, and discussing various scenarios in detail with my (new) doctor, my husband and I investigated and found a hospital that fit our needs (with a NICU on site- just in case) and decided on a tentative birth plan together.

This time, it certainly worked to our advantage. Everything went 'as planned' :) And we went home with a happy, healthy baby. 

So did you have expectations for your child(s) birth? And how did your actual experience compare to your expectations? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simplifying Holidays

Avoid the basket of crap.

Yes, crap. Crap plastic, crap stuffed animals which will collect dust and never be looked at again, crap candy, and commercialized cards and other trinkets. This will save you money, piece of mind, and probably a few pounds on the scale :)

As I read the Eco-Easter basket ideas available through Celebrate Green today, it got me thinking about all of this..... well, crap. 

I described in Crafty Mama, how I simplified the Christmas holiday for my family this year. We, as a family, do not typically celebrate what I have branded as Hallmark holidays like Valentine's Day. However, this year my toddler did make adorable all-natural versions of the Rice Krispie treat at school, which were adorable and delicious (although I only got a bite, since he ate the rest lol)

So for Easter, what do you do? Do your kids really need a bucket full of chocolate and some marshmallow type substance pressed into the shapes of bunnies and chicks? Probably not (just a guess) :)

And no, they also do NOT need a real bunny for Easter! Bunnies and Easter DON'T MIX

Are there alternatives?

 YES! 1, which I did last year- No gifts. Have them paint some eggs with food coloring you already have in your house, then hide them, and my toddler had a blast finding all his eggs! That was enough for him, and my wallet.

My friend Christine, who wrote an article for REThinking Everything Magazine, came up with the following natural option for her toddler;

Other ideas include one natural toy, filling a small basket with some exotic fruits and a small handful of all natural candy or other treats they don't normally get. Grab a coloring book or some recycled paper and a pack of new crayons or markers (there are also natural options, like the ones available at Hip Mountain Mama) and create some Easter-theme crafts together.

You can find a lot to do/make/enjoy this Easter holiday that does not involve synthetic plastics, large stuffed animals, mass produced cards which waste paper, and the previously ever-popular basket full of candy!

Disclaimer: This short blog is focusing solely on the commercialization and artificiality of many holidays, I am well aware that there are religious implications which I am (purposely) completely ignoring.

Lastly, you WILL see me at some point before the end of April, enjoy my one decadent (albeit artificial and probably utterly disgusting if I ever took the time to read the label) Cadbury Cream Egg :) Spring just wouldn't be the same without it.

How do you simplify your holiday(s)? And what's your guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's my 'other' kids birthday!

Inspired by Parenting Through the Loss of a Pet, Wordless Wednesday: Kids & Pets (which featured my toddler and my dog lol), and Confessions of a Young Earthy Mom: Meet the Rest of Our Family- I decided to introduce you all to a pivotal member of my family: Mackey.

Mackey is turning 6 in March. I've had her since she was 12 weeks old, and at about 4 months, we were told she wouldn't live past 3.

She is turning 6!

Life with Mackey, named after Vic Mackey from The Shield, has been an adventure to say the least. She has been with me through 2 trying relationships, 2 children, countless moves, 3 jobs, and hours upon hours of her life spent traveling in the car with me :)

Mackey, a chinook mix, was adopted from a private shelter in 2005. I was SO excited to bring home my new puppy! As pathetically sappy as it sounds, she was literally perfect right from the start! (Although don't tell her it was her brother I actually spotted on Petfinder and applied to adopt!) She was quick to crate train and leash walk , and has never exhibited destructive or aggressive behaviors. She has, of course, unraveled the toilet paper, eaten food off unattended plates, begged at the table, and her ever-popular.. run away as fast as you can :)

Mackey- 1st day home, 12w old

Mackey after her spay at 4m old

Mackey, in December, enjoying Baby A's plaything :) 

Mackey, at about 4 months old, was diagnosed with renal dysplasia. In lam ens terms, this means instead of her kidneys looking like plump lima beans, they look more like shriveled raisins. This makes it so they don't function optimally and make her worse case scenario be that she could go into kidney failure at any given moment.

Having been working in veterinary medicine for over 10 years, I took this news with professional gusto, and began the various treatments prescribed to me by Mackey's veterinary team. And yes, she truly did (and still does) have a team.

It has, obviously, worked to my benefit to work in the field for her entire life; as the constant medications, ultrasounds, blood work, and lab tests are easily accessible (and admittedly cheaper) for me than most.

Despite her ailments, her constant urinary tract infections, and all too infrequent walks now on account of the children :) , Mackey has remained my constant companion, floor cleaner-upper, and dish pre rinser :)

She is not snuggly, nor does she listen, or walk by your side unless tethered with a leash :) , but she will nonetheless forever be my first baby :)