Saturday, 30 July 2011

Guest Post: 7 Things That Helped Me Survive Pregnancy. By Mampoekie

Laura Schuerwegen a.k.a. Mamapoekie is a Belgian expat mother and wife, currently living at the banks of the Kasai river in DR Congo. She has an unschooled three year old and a little one due December. She writes about Life, the Universe and Everything at Authentic Parenting.
A while back I read an article on Babble entitled just this. I was appalled to find that more than half of her pregnancy savers were either junk food or medication, both are things which your baby doesn’t need during gestation. Even though I'm not very fond of the title, since it makes pregnancy sound like the plague, I decided to write my own.

I must admit I do take the occasional antacid, as I have had serious reflux with my first pregnancy, and this time around had it from the moment of conception. I am still looking for natural alternatives (if you have any, please add them in the comments below), but so far no luck.

1. Pillows
On this point, I agree with the Babble author: pillows are a great way to create a comfortable sleeping and even sitting arrangement. I have one under the head of my mattress (against the reflux), and use a nursing pillow between my legs. Towards the end of my previous pregnancy, I had another one behind my back, and one under the back of the mattress, to battle heavy legs and fluid retention.

2. My Special Morning Sickness Brew
The first few months of this pregnancy I was attached to the hip to my teapot and special brew. First thing in the morning, my husband would concoct a ginger and lemongrass infusion, fresh from the garden. I would then drink the first two cups warm and the rest of it cold. This is the recipe:
- an inch of ginger, cut in pieces - for the morning sickness
- one stem of lemongrass, rolled up - this calms the nervous system, and at that time I was dealing with a lot of anger and frustration, plus it is super yummy.
Just pour boiling water over the lot and drink hot or cold. You can add some honey for taste. Some days I added the juice of one lime, for the vitamins.
3. Prunes
Dried prunes or prune juice help really well when you are constipated, which is a common symptom of the hormones and later the pressure of your bowel. Always keep some handy. They make a delicious snack. You could also make compote from dried prunes, by stewing a cup of prunes and a cup of water, mix or mash, as desired.

4. Water
Water is really the source of life, especially when you’re pregnant. Drinking a lot of water replenishes the amniotic fluid, wards of fluid retention, helps against constipation and lots more. I always have a bottle and glass next to me, specifically when I am writing.

5. Rest
I try to listen to my body and rest as much as possible. This is not always easy with a three year old around the house, but I arrange it so I either nap with her, or someone is around to take care of her during a nap. If I am really low energy, I will take a quick cat nap while she’s watching a movie.

6. Yoga
Right now I am doing Shiva Rea’s Pregnancy Yoga, and so far it has really helped me control my back issues. I feel replenished and relaxed after a session and my daughter loves to join. I don’t do it as much as I like, but end up doing the whole session at least twice a week.

7. Positive Thinking
Probably the most important thing in pregnancy is your thoughts. It is in your power to control them, and turn around negative thought. Pregnancy should be a time of contemplation, where you benefit from dealing with and healing your grievances, in order to be radiant and ready when that little bubble arrives.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Guest Post: Every. Single. Day. By Hybrid Rasta Mama

I am utterly indebted to Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama for this wonderful and timely guest post, at a time when the Earthly household is struggling to segue from day to day. Thank you Jen!
Remember to stop and smell the roses
My name is Jennifer and I am former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter (“Tiny”) brought earthside in early 2009. I am passionate about breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, a Waldorf approach to education and parenting, playful parenting, getting children outside, as well as cooking and eating Real/Traditional Foods. Why call myself the Hybrid Rasta Mama? Easy - I see myself as a hybrid mama. I take a little of this and a little of that and blend it all together into something that works for me, Tiny, and my husband. As for the Rasta part of my moniker. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reggae music and the Rastafarian culture and way of life. Reggae music touches my soul more than any other music out there. The Rastafarian lifestyle is based on clean living and a devotion to expanding oneself in all areas of life. It’s something that I can embrace with ease.

Motherhood is an endless to-do list. The care and maintenance of your children, the care and maintenance of your home, the care and maintenance of your spouse/partner/whomever, and the care and maintenance of other family all add to a to-do list that seems to grow and grow and grow. So how do you prioritize your basic daily must-dos with all of those other should-dos, want-to-dos, and going-insane-because-you-really-NEED-to-dos?



A daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythm. 

I think it is important for everyone to understand rhythm and how it can help you. So, I am going to send you over to my blog to read THIS POST which pretty much covers all you will need to know.

What I want to share here, is what I consider to be the MOST important things I do Every. Single. Day. These are the priorities on my to-do list. These are things I make sure I do because if I died tomorrow, I would carry guilt around with me for the rest of eternity for NOT having done them. I hope everyone reading this has the same sort of list. 
Shared Sleep
1. My daughter and I bed-share. The very first thing I do in the morning is give her a snuggle, kiss her, and say good morning my love.
2. If my husband has not left for work yet, I give him a big hug and kiss and tell him to be safe. (He is an electrician so anything can happen at any moment.) If he has already left, I call or text with a virtual hug and kiss and a reminder to be safe.
3. I call my mama every morning before 9:00am. This way she knows my daughter and I are alive and well and I know she is alive and well.
4. I sincerely thank anyone who has provided me with any help that day. Even the smallest of favors is HUGE for busy mamas. I thank people not so they will keep helping me but because I am genuinely grateful.
5. I let my daughter help me (as much as a toddler can) whenever she expresses an interest in doing so. I want to cultivate her natural desire to imitate me, no stifle it because I am in a hurry.
6. I remind myself to stop and smell the roses. 
7. I allow my daughter the opportunity to enjoy being a child. 
8. I find little ways to connect with my daughter throughout the day.
9. I forgive myself for any imperfections that reared their ugly head. 
10. I thank God every evening for all of his blessings and ask him to continue guiding me on my journey as well as watching over family, friends and loved ones. 
Hybrid Rasta Mama: A Natural Parenting, Healthy Living Blog

What is it that you do Every. Single. Day? What would you regret not doing if you did not get a tomorrow.


You can find Jennifer over on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Gentle Sleep Solutions: It Takes Two Baby

Friday evening, 7.30pm and I have an aloe vera face mask on and my toenails painted. Girl Earthly is asleep in bed. Should I hold my breath? We shall just have to wait and see!

So what was the Last Great Gentle Sleep Solution? It was in fact Father Earthly's idea. I blame the fact I'm so sleep addled and wretched I couldn't think my way out of a chocolate factory at the moment (would I want to? I don't know...). That's not to say he isn't sleep addled too, but at least he doesn't have to get up and breastfeed in the middle of the night. Are you ready? Have you tried everything else and can think of nothing left in your gentle armoury? Are you pretty much ready to throw baby out of the window in an attempt just to get some god-danged sleep?

Well, try one last thing please. I think it may just have worked for us, and I'll certainly keep you posted. If you're a two-parent family, what does the other half do while you put baby to bed? Make dinner? Watch TV? For us, it has been a case of Dad puts boy Earthly to bed and I try and put Girl Earthly to bed. Until the last few months, this has worked. If you read my last post, you'll know it hasn't worked for some time now! What if... what if both of you try? Not individually in shifts, but at the same time...?

It suddenly makes so much sense to me now. Baby is at that stage where she is beginning to realise Dad is an important figure in her life too, though she's still very attached to Mummy of course. So while she really wants Mummy, she's not keen on Dad disappearing either. Think about it: her life revolves around us and when one of us disappears she naturally frets. When will she see us again? Are we gone forever? How can she sleep if she's fretting about that possibility?

Tonight there was no screaming or crying (from anyone). We just both lay down with her and soothed her together. At one point Father Earthly had to go and check on boy Earthly, and immediately girlie started to wriggle and squirm and become very unsettled. When he returned, she calmed down again and within minutes she was asleep on Father Earthly's chest, sound in the knowledge that I was also nearby.

So there you have it. It might seem OTT, but when it reduces the household fractiousness and bedtime ritual to something so much saner again, I am ALL for it.

Has anyone else tried this? If you're having sleep issues, I urge you to give it a go. What more nurturing, holistic, family-oriented and peaceful way could there be?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I want my Mummy: When Dad Just Won't Do

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation ~ Kahlil Gibran
The last few months have been tough with girl Earthly, really, really tough. What we thought must be a short phase of physical discomfort has extended to weeks and weeks of traumatic bedtimes, sleepless nights, and too-early mornings. I have been scouring my memories of boy Earthly's babyhood for a glimmer of something similar, but they were such different babies that it is difficult to compare. 

I think at the time, we just got through it (somehow) and then forgot all about it. But I do remember now that we had real problems getting boy Earthly to "attach" to his Dad. He just wanted me, ALL the time. Of course, I have the boobs and therefore I hold the prime comforting tool. Typically this made Father Earthly quite distraught; he wanted to help, to give me a break, and to bond with his son. But his son didn't appear to be interested!

The same is happening with girl Earthly. Except it actually seems worse, somehow. We've always known she is more easy going than her bro, until the point when she gets cross and then she blows it. So while her brother always seemed pretty grumpy, girl Earthly goes from nought to sixty in about 2 seconds. And Father Earthly is currently having to bear the brunt of that...

Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places but I just can't find much helpful information on this kind of separation anxiety: all the advice typically deals with separation from both parents, not one or other. And it's not like our babies never get to see Dad - he is around and physically 'there' for them far more than most I would say. I wonder if the problem is related to breastfeeding, but browsing some forums I've read that some mothers have had a similar issue with formula-fed babes. 

So what's going on? And why is there such a lack of information on the subject? All of the stuff I've read on separation anxiety talks about the separation from those who are familiar (i.e. parents) and the anxiety shown amongst strangers. Well, both my babies have always turned winning smiles upon strangers and really don't have a problem being held by friends and other members of the family. But they don't like to see me disappear

Currently, our nights go like this:
1. Bedtime for both kids. Boy Earthly goes without a fuss. Girl Earthly has a last feed and I try to get her to wind down. Sometimes I just try and cuddle her until she falls asleep, at which point I stick my pinky (if needed) in her mouth and try to place her down on the bed.
2. Girl Earthly knows what is happening and fusses. She wakes up fully and starts to cry. At this point I've tried everything, from rocking and singing to passing her over to Father Earthly, and in some moments of exhaustion, simply leaving her to see if she'll self-settle. NOTHING WORKS.
3. It's now well past dinner time and we've been trying to get her to sleep for about 2 hours. If we leave her she cries like a banshee. If we try and comfort her in any way, she cries like a banshee. We take it in turns but Dad struggles more than I do because she just wants me. With me however, she decides it's time to play and "isn't this jolly mummy? Just you and me, we could have a party!!" I get cross and hand her back to Dad. After some time, both of them fall asleep.
4. If we can both still be bothered, we have dinner between 9-10pm, try to relax for an hour and then fall into bed. Otherwise we just fall into bed - knowing it's the best sleep we'll get all night.
5. Girl Earthly wakes up any time between 10 and 12. I feed her and usually manage to get her to go back to sleep, though rarely in her cot or hammock any more.
6. Father Earthly and I have started sleeping separately, as girlie was fussing and wriggling all night long, pushing me out of bed whilst trying to get closer and closer to me, but never settling. Now he takes her until she wakes for a feed. I feed her and leave them again.
7. After every night feed girl Earthly wants to stay with me and hates to see me go. She fusses with Dad for a while, but will usually eventually get back to sleep.
8. At around 5 or 6am, she awakes and won't go back to sleep. Often she will fuss and cry for an hour or two until her brother wakes up, at which point she almost always settles and goes back to sleep for another few hours - all by herself! This is both infuriating and a relief.
And all this after months of simply settling her, putting her in her hammock, and having her wake a few times for a feed but going straight back to sleep (in her hammock) and not waking until 8am or so.

The last few weeks have involved all kinds of measures in a vain attempt to relieve the situation. Father Earthly has taken her on many a drive in the middle of the night, and ended up sleeping in a car park somewhere for a few hours. I've also tried having her on my own all night, thinking she just needed more of me, but to no avail - neither of us slept. Father Earthly has tried taking her on his own too - we tried this with boy Earthly when we had a similar problem and it worked. It didn't this time!

Have any of you experienced this form of maternal separation anxiety? How did you cope and did you ever figure out the causes?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

How to be a Super Woman: Meet Fanciful Alice!

1. Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself
I would describe myself as a mother, wife, writer, dreamer, vegetarian, gardener, crafty girl and most certainly the owner of itchy feet! Currently I live on a narrowboat not too far from London with my husband, young daughter and our beloved dog. I write on a freelance basis for a number of magazines about travel and sustainable living and in 2009 my first non-fiction book, Tales from a Travelling Mum, was published. 

2. Do you have a 'grand plan'? Do you think this has changed at all over the years?
I think that since f . o . r . e . v . e . r my plan has been to live a life true to my heart's desires and for as long as I can remember those desires have always been focused on the ability to travel freely, live in new and exciting places, meet and learn from inspiring people and then write about those experiences. Sometimes I think I was born with a pen and a map in my hand and I feel so blessed that thus far I have been able to develop my life so that travel and living in other countries, and in turn having the words there to share, has been a major part of it. 

When I was 17 and working in a 9-5 office job paying rent on a flat I dreamt of seeing the world, I just wasn't sure how or when it was going to happen. I would devour books from the library on travel and living abroad and spend my days clock-watching, staring out of the window day-dreaming. Eventually I did get the opportunity to do short back-packing and driving trips through France and Spain before I headed off on my first big trip to Japan for six months at age 24. You could say I was hooked then. Hooked on spending extended time in places, hooked on new sights and sounds, and in love with just getting out there and living an adventure.  

After that I landed a job writing for a tourist guide which saw me travelling the world solo - I was in heaven! I absolutely loved the thrill of being out there seeing places and meeting people, but I also realised that solo travel - although an amazing experience for me - could get lonely. On a break from that job I met my now husband and after a brief stint of settledom, in 2008 we sold up, packed our belongings and headed off around France, Spain and Portugal with a camper and a loose plan that we might find somewhere to start a new more sustainable way of life. We had a fabulous time but we didn't find the right place at that point so eventually we returned to England and for the last year or so we have been living on a narrowboat. We love it: the slower pace, the feeling of being so close to nature, the sense that we are living more lightly on the earth ... but the feet are itching and now that my daughter is a little older there is talk of another adventure.

I really believe that you see so much more, hear so much more and live so much more when you pack a bag, a tent (or a camper) and leave without a plan. This kind of simple travel, which needn't be to the ends of the earth, has always been, and still is, my favourite kind. No doubt my desire for this kind of trip came about after I read Laurie Lee's, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, many years ago. The idea of taking only what we need and really submersing ourselves in a new culture is like a drug to me and doing a major trip on foot is definitely something we have in mind. 

Of course, this constantly evolving way of living can cause frustration, but perhaps more with other people's views on how we are all supposed to live! Now I'm 35 I am becoming more open to the idea that I am simply a perpetual wanderer always looking to embrace and enjoy new experiences and places. I'm lucky that I have a husband who shares the dream and that we both believe there are huge pluses to raising a child in this perhaps slightly unorthodox way. 

So no, looking at my answer, I don't think the plan has changed at all over the years!

3. What gets you up in the morning?
My 4-year-old daughter and our dog climbing into bed... that's if the ducks haven't woken me up first tapping their beaks on the hull of the boat!

4. Run us through a typical kind of day
Well, I stay home with my young daughter while my husband works - some mornings, some afternoons. When he's not here we hang out, usually gardening, doing crafty stuff, painting, reading books or visiting her friends and my friends. When daddy gets home we normally go for a big dog walk or cycle as a family and now it's Summer, we always take a picnic. We like to spend plenty of time just hanging out together at rivers, lakes, forests, play parks, and beaches whenever we get the chance. Throw an ice-cream into the equation and that's our kind of happiness. Obviously we try to throw in travel trips whenever we can, both in England and abroad and cruise up and down the canal here in our floating home throughout the Spring and Summer months. 

I fit my writing work in during the evenings and I am also busy working on my second book, which I am writing long-hand whenever I find a spare moment before typing it up chapter by chapter. Despite temptation to write a follow-up to Tales from a Travelling Mum I have decided to follow my heart and concentrate on writing a novel, travel-inspired of course! I'm both excited and nervous about embarking on the journey towards trying to find a publisher for my fiction.

5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
I believe in rolling with my feelings so if I'm feeling hit by a setback I just let myself be hit... and slowly I try to listen to my body and mind, recharging and refocusing along the way. Writing a diary helps me with this - if I can look back and see how I'm feeling on paper then I feel much more able to make greater sense of what is really going on and make plans to fix it.

6. Who or what inspires you the most?
People who follow their hearts and aren't afraid to push boundaries, step out of the box and do what makes them happy. People who have found a way to live a kind and thoughtful life submersed in nature. Close friends. My husband. My daughter. Books. There are so many books that inspire me, but perhaps sometimes it is just a few simple quotes that are enough to really touch my soul. I'm always dipping in and out of something or other. 

At the moment I'm reading 'Last Chance to See' by Douglas Adams and despite it being a great book full stop, in particular the other night I was reading a chapter on the endangered Northern White Rhinos in Garamba National Park. Here Douglas met Kes Hillman-Smith, a world renowned rhino conservationist and describes the house she lives in with her husband and their two small children: 
"It was a house they built themselves, out in the bush on the edge of the river ... when it rains they lower tarpaulins over the spaces where the windows aren't. For the two years it took them to build the house they lived in a tiny mud hut with a pet mongoose that used to dig up the floor looking for worms, a dog, two cats - and a baby."  
When I read something like this I immediately feel less crazy and most certainly inspired by the idea that life doesn't have to be all two up, two down, mortgage and new car sitting on the driveway. It can be, sure. But it doesn't have to be. That snippet of text has stuck with me the last few days.

7. We all have bad days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities. How do you get through yours?
I try to remain focused on those closest to me; those who I know really love me, support me and believe in me. Safety within a small unit of friends and family is all I need in life, that and I cry in front of a good movie, bake cakes ... and eat them.

8. What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
When I worked as a researcher for a tourist guide I had to visit resorts and hotels across the world and compile and write information to include in the guides. My first trip was to Canada in the middle of winter and I was s**t scared. I had fabricated the truth somewhat in my interview and had never actually driven in another country, let alone with snow chains. Getting in the hire car at the airport in the dead of night and driving around Calgary trying to find my hotel - I could have cried, screamed, thrown a tantrum and everything in between ... but I kept going and went on to drive the amazingly spectacular Icefields Parkway in a snowstorm the day before they shut the road due to bad weather. After achieving that I felt that whatever life threw at me, I could deal with it. I think many people fail to realise the strength of the human spirit and allow fear to stop them from taking leaps, but I realise from overcoming my own fears that we are all so much stronger than we believe. 

I did cry when I had to drive in Bangkok though.

9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
I have to admit to feeling a little scared when you asked me to do this interview because I certainly do not see myself as a Super Woman. For me a Super Woman - other than someone dressed in a blue and red lyrca suit - is a woman who is strong and comfortable in her own skin, driven and unafraid to try and succeed in her chosen dreams and who radiates love to those she cares about. I want to live my life learning every day, to try and be the best person I can be so that I can live the best life I can... I don't always get it right, but these are the ingredients I do my best to include in my recipe for life.

10. Final words of wisdom?
Life really isn't a dress rehearsal and just because a large percentage of people are doing one thing, it doesn't mean it has to be right for everyone. If you have a different dream about how to live, don't be afraid to get out there and live it. I truly believe that you will regret it if you don't.

You can find Alice over on her website, Etsy shopFacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Love over Fear
One day a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine was getting ready to go on holiday with his family. With just a few bits left to pack into the car and the kids running riot, he decided to pop the children into the car whilst they finished up.

Living where they do, their car is situated in a residential car park a little way from their house but within viewing distance, so whilst his wife finished up in the house, my friend took the kids to the car, locked it and then went back for the last few bits. On his return trip to the car (he'd left them for no more than 2 minutes), a woman absconded him and told him if she saw him do that again she'd refer the couple to social services: "You don't deserve to have children," she said. When he opened his mouth to reply in stupefaction, she snapped back "Don't even dare or I'll call them right now". So he had no choice but to wait where he was. Some minutes later his wife appeared, fully laden and rather cross at him for not coming to help - until he told her why.

When Father Earthly and I starting to think about raising a family, I found myself careering crazily between the much-promised delights of parenthood and an enormous gulf of fear. At times the fear threatened to overwhelm me completely and I couldn't comprehend how I could trust myself to look after such a small and fragile being - particularly as I wasn't even too good at looking after myself.

If you pay even one iota of attention to the Western media, then you may believe the world to be a very scary, dangerous place. A place where hazards of all shapes, colours and sizes are just waiting to jump out at your precious bundle of joy the moment you turn your back (or not in some cases). Ferocious (maybe even rabid) dogs and other assorted animals, omnipresent bacteria and viral infections/diseases, household medicines and chemicals, garden dirt, mindless motorists, small pieces that may or may not be included with your child's toys, and of course paedophiles and child-snatchers who may be lurking just behind those bushes or be luring them via their Facebook account.

I do not mean to trivialise such very-real dangers. As I said above, I was absolutely terrified of all of these things before having children. Interestingly though, since starting a family the fears have shrunk back to a more manageable size again. Perhaps it's because once you have kids there is simply too much to worry about, every second of every hour of every day. If we went around with adrenaline pumping out nineteen to the dozen we'd simply drop dead ourselves.

More than this, though, the simple act of having children - and particularly via home-birth - is so empowering and demands so much decision-making along the way that by the time I was holding my first precious bundle, I already knew that the best way I could care for him was to follow my instincts first and foremost, and take all offered advice with the merest dusting of salt.

One of the turning points came when I was browsing baby stuff online whilst still pregnant, and looking very seriously at purchasing a Gro-Egg room thermometer - one which turns blue if the room is too cold, or red if too warm. At the time we were living in a camper van and so I thought it could be quite useful as we don't have a central heating thermostat like most folks. And then I thought, "hang on, we live in a van - what the hell am I going to do if it IS too cold or too warm?" I started thinking about how recent baby thermometers are and how people have lived to this century just fine without them, in all kinds of hostile environments. So what on earth did I need one for? When baby actually came, we just used our common sense: if the temperature seemed a bit on the cold side, we'd put another layer on him, or light the stove, or both. Just like we would do with ourselves, only recognising that he was much smaller and newer and therefore a bit more sensitive. Same with bath water. And bedding. And being in the sun or the snow.

And looky-look, he's now survived two freezing Winters (the coldest on record as they love to tell us), first in a van and then a canal boat - both of which must have plummeted below -10°C on more than one occasion overnight once the stove had died down. His sister is also thriving on the same brand of common sense.

Throughout my first pregnancy and our first year or so of becoming parents, we were plagued by the fear-mongers; they throng around new parents like flies round excrement, offering up platters of apparently well-meaning advice, admonition and cause for alarm in equal measure. By the time our second was on its way we had gained in confidence, and were able to fend off the flies with a few well-placed swats. Yes, we live on a boat with no running water, central heating or walls/doors/child gates (as yet) - so what? Can your imagination not stretch far enough to see how we might overcome these challenges just as you might when camping? Yes, we regularly co-sleep with our children and never squish them despite our oft-sleep-deprived states of consciousness; yes, we follow baby-led-weaning and are always so proud to see our children's gag reflexes working perfectly when necessary; yes, we believe in an educational environment over a protective one - so instead of placing a gate at the bottom of the stairs, we repeatedly explain why they are out of bounds. 

Yes, we are always there to watch our children like hawks so the split-second they step into dangerous territory, we are there to catch them and to show and explain where they went wrong. And yes, it's exhausting! We are forever carrying, (re)moving and running after our children. But we feel it is better to instil in them now a sense of naturally-won self-confidence and common sense upon which they can draw in later life, than bringing up sheltered, naïve children who are likely to unknowingly take greater risks with potentially disastrous consequences as soon as they reach a state of independence.

But no, I will not overshadow their lives with wretched tales of caution and I will not prevent them from making their own mistakes; only guide them mindfully away from those mistakes as far as I am able. They will know of the hazards in the world and they will be proficient in using their own judgement as to how they should negotiate them in their everyday life. But they will not live their lives in fear, for such a life is not worth living at all.

So, had it been me, to the woman in the car park I would have said this: 
"No, I don't feel great leaving my kids alone in the car because I love them with every shred of my existence. And to be separated from them for even a moment is painful for me. I do appreciate and thank you for your concern, which is very community-minded of you. However, I do not subscribe to fear-mongering and my children will not be brought up to fear for their lives at every turn and twist in their life-adventures, simply because it is popular to do so. Rather I hope, they will use their own brains and follow their own instincts in life and take risks where they judge it to be safe enough because life is too short and precious to live in the constant fear that something untoward may happen." 
Of her callous, monochromatic and self-righteous, social-vigilante-style behaviour - and as a peaceable person myself - I can only hope that she is someday soon visited by Scrooge-like spirits who force her to see life, and everyone in it, anew and in a more positive, fearless light.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)
  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Me Made June: Update!

SO meant to be in the circus, me...
Ok, so I have a confession, which you probably guessed by now. Me Made June, was, in short an epic failure on my part. <insert really unhappy face here>

Truth be told, June was a pretty horrendous month for us Earthlies. Girl Earthly has, in the last few weeks, turned into a small wailing monster, day and night, and refuses to sleep (day or night), resulting in - well, a bit of a mess all round really. So, all in all, it's a wonder I ever got dressed at all!

That, together with my sewing machine being finally laid to rest (after many hours spent flogging a dead horse) and, well, you get the picture! Bleurgh...

On the positive side (because there always is one, somewhere...), I have finally - wait for it - finished my corset!!! WOOP WOOP! I cannot believe I've managed it (with the help of MIL's and a friend's sewing machine) and what's more, I'm really pleased with it. It is absolutely FULL of horrors - the sewing for a start - and doesn't fit as well as it should, but considering all the odds, and this being my first real sewing project, I'm really rather chuffed!
Also, it has given me the confidence to do something I've longed to do for aaaaages, and that's to start making my own undies. Being an awkward size, it costs me about £30 per bra, and as much as I love to shop for them (especially now I can fit into styles I like again after being pregnant!), I just can't afford that kind of money right now. And yet I need bras... and matching pants would be nice too. So why not make my own? I have already sourced some online suppliers for bits n bobs, so watch this space :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

How to be a Super Woman: Meet Cassandra from Gypsy Love Warrior

1. Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Cassandra, I'll be 29 in August, and I live in the great state of Texas with my boyfriend and mini dachshund, Freddy. We don't plan on having any children (a puppy is a handful!). By day I work at a university in the Human Resources department. My main responsibility is helping students through the process of finding jobs and working on campus.

My true passion is writing and art. In my precious spare time I make all kinds of things, from paintings to jewelry to altered glass bottles. I just recently set up an Etsy shop to share these creations with others.

I have always wanted to be a writer. From before I could even write I knew that's what I wanted to do. I was impatient going into kindergarten because we couldn't learn to write and read fast enough. My aspirations never changed as I grew older. When people asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” it was always a writer. I have published several poems in newspapers and magazines and more recently self-published my first collection of poetry. I've also just started a website and blog that focuses on self-love and loving life.

I can't forget to mention that I'm an avid dancer! I'm trained in classical ballet and can be found in a Nia class every week.

Go and Love Yourself!

2. Do you have a 'grand plan'? Do you think this has changed at all over the years?
The plan to be a working writer has never changed. Like I mentioned before, from the time I put pencil to paper I knew that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It would be amazing to do nothing but write and create all day. I know that in time this will happen. But even if I never get paid another dime for my words, I'll be okay with that because it's not about the money – it's about writing from my heart and releasing those thoughts into the world. It's a gift and I'll do everything in my power to continue using it.

3. What gets you up in the morning?
Unfortunately, the alarm clock Monday-Friday. I have to be at work by 7:30 a.m. But on the weekends, I wake up to the sun or the sounds of the birds. If we're not talking literally, the chance to get one step closer to my dreams is what gets me up. Also, love, a good breakfast, an idea, Freddy's kisses and wagging tail, and the ability to dance and dream and create are all things that get me up in the morning (or the afternoon sometimes).

4. Run us through a typical kind of day
Monday-Friday is pretty much the same routine: wake up at 6:15, get dressed, pack my lunch, leave the house at 7:00 to get to work by 7:30. Then I'm at work until 4:30 doing various HR tasks. When I get home from work I usually try to get some exercise in, read, take the dog for a walk, and work on any projects I have going. Yeah, it's kind of boring, but the goal is to break out of the routine and live my dreams of living solely off of my creative work.

Find Cassandra on Etsy
5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
Lots of introspection and journaling. Even reading an inspiring book helps me through those times. Of course, my family and boyfriend are always ready to listen and lend their advice. My boyfriend is great at problem solving and breaking things down into manageable pieces to help me get grounded again. The same goes for my family; there have been plenty of times when things didn't go according to plan and they were there to help me up and get me moving in the right direction again.

6. Who or what inspires you the most?
So many things and people inspire me! I feel like a whole slew of empowering women have come into my life to cheer me on. I guess I'd have to say the person who has inspired me the most is Francesca Lia Block. She has been my favorite author since I was 16 and I can always read her books for inspiration. I just recently finished taking two novel writing classes with her. Talk about a dream come true! I never thought my favorite author would be reading my work. This year has been filled with amazing moments like that.

7. We all have bad days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities. How do you get through yours?
I try to quiet my inner critic as much as possible. She's really good at saying things like, “Who do you think you are?” and, “You'll never make it,” but I imagine myself shutting the door on that voice and reminding myself that anything is possible and I know everything I need to know right now and that with faith and perseverance, I can achieve my goals.

8. What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
Just hearing other women say, “You've inspired me,” is an amazing achievement. To know that my words can help someone else heal and be inspired and dream big is the greatest feeling. I don't think anything can top helping others and using my gifts for the greater good.

9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
A Super Woman is a woman who gives completely of herself, but doesn't forget who she is and holds on to what makes her feel alive. It's a delicate balance and hard to do and I admire any woman who can be a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and still go after her dreams. Ingredients for success:
1. Be yourself
2. Express gratitude
3. Never give up

10. Final words of wisdom?
Squeeze all the goodness out of life; forget the naysayers; come in to this world full and leave it empty.

You can find Cassandra over on her website/blog, Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and Flikr.

Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.

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