Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Play

 Adora loves playing and creating. It is really interesting to see her mind at work as she organizes and hypothesizes structures.

Adora spent at least two and a half hours (I'm not even exaggerating..she loves these toys so much) planning out and setting up this structure.The characters are Playmobil, some of her favorite toys.
 It is fascinating to see her process of thought as she sets up the castle. It's seriously amazing to see her applying things we read about Midaevil times to the toys.
She has so much focus for this, which I think is fascinating.
I mean, seriously, you guys. Look at this.

 We're also enjoying building roller coasters out of Rory's old train set.
Adora would like to see a roller coaster that includes the red and white "changer" piece, so as to create a different roller coaster experience every time one rides it. She gives Disney World permission to use her idea, as long as she receives profit enough for a small mansion.

 The changer piece in action.
For some reason, she is especially proud of this bridge.
This is Rory using the SAME train tracks, circa 2000. Notice my feet making a cameo.
Adora's train, 2013. Crazy stuff.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Kimono

     I'm SUPER looking forward to celebrating Japanese festivals, like Tanabata, with Adora this summer!  Both of us are looking forward to wearing kimono on these festivals.
I have many yukata (cotton, summer kimono), but I had never learned the official way of tying them on. I went for the "winging it" way. PS: This is not all of them! Here are 5, of many.
 I had some magazine instructions that promised to make me a "Yukata Beauty", so I decided to try and learn how to properly tie Yukata before Tanabata (Sorry it's sideways. Apparently I'm too lazy to turn it). How can I say no to "Yukata Beauty"? I can't.

The instrustions seemed pretty simple, so i decided to go for it (just kidding. They were about 21 steps. It was SO long. But very fun).

 The first step is to make this pouch-esque thing, meant to bring the "one size fits all" yukata to the correct length. About 3 tries later, here I am!
 I have no idea why I'm smiling when, in reality, this portion was a major fail. The next step is to flatten oneself out, using towels. I had a premonition that there was so little to flatten that this was unnecessary, but I did it anyway(I can't say no to the Japanese instructions, right?).
 Another view of the towel. Notice my obi (sash) tail coming out the front. I'm still learning, guys.
 ..Maybe not. Here are my many sash tails about the back. I've gotten better since then, but it's tough to hide so many sashes!
 I added the final covering sash, but was disappointed to find it would not cover the towel. GRR. Also, the towel succeeded in nothing, other than making me look chunky and lumpy, so disappointment.
 Light blue, giant sash to the rescue! It covered the towel (which was still making me look lumpy..I was not feeling the towel, dudes), but you could still see the stripes, so GRR.
 It was, however, a pretty combination of colors, so I was happy.
 Apparently, I'm seriously bad at this sash thing, you guys. Wow, that's sad.
I removed the towel and tried again. SUCCESS!! No more lumpiness. I may not look like "Yukata Beauty", but I can tie yukata correctly now! I can't wait to try again with Adora on Tanabata.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

They See Me Wearin', They Hatin'

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
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 are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.
But first, a little bit of perspective:
I am NOT a parent, so deciding to write for this Carnival was a little bit like showing up for a chef's convention, and telling everyone I make all my own meals. Because I cook my own food, I understand things about making food, and I might have perspectives on cooking that are different than those of a chef, but I am not a chef, if we're being completely technical. To that end, I am a natural childcare provider. I work with many children, and have different experiences and perspectives, but I am not a mama. I feel that caregivers who are not parents (baby sitters, teachers) care for children and love children, and can show a different face of care, whether or not they are mamas. I am, mama or not, offering my observations about babywearing. The theme of the Carnival is  "parenting views changing when you have kids"(little hard to work around the "not being a parent", but hey). I'm attempting to discuss the idea of babywearing in theory vs. babywearing in practice, so, here we go!
PS: I'm seriously amused by the fact that my computer turned the colloquialism "the" into a URL. It's pretty much a website that has a picture of what looks like TMI at the top, and is then filled with ads for wigs. I have no idea. VISIT IF YOU DARE. Just kidding.

When I became interested in the concepts of natural childcare, and of natural life in general, I expected a fair amount of controversy. I'm super anti confrontational, so I was kind of wary of this, however, I knew that it was something I would have to deal with. As you're probably aware, for some odd reason, controversy seems to radiate around natural decisions. Not because there is anything wrong with these decisions, or because people are choosing to do something harmful, but because apparently, nowadays, everything is controversial. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. If you eat meat, you're killing animals. If you don't eat meat, some people will think you're a wimp. You just can't win, which is irritating. However, as you are probably aware, natural childcare choices tend to draw a lot of heat, even moreso that things like veganism or vegetarianism. Since I have discovered the natural childcare community, this fact has baffled me. I wish we lived in a world where everyone could make their own decisions, and we could expect everyone else to respect them, but we do not. I can't grasp what's wrong with opting  to care for your children in a natural way. I wish that everyone could make the right choice for their family and have that choice be respected, but I understand that in the modern world, we question everything. That's just how it is, that's culture, and we must slog through it, friends. I understand that natural parenting draws heat because it is different, because it is natural, because it involves touch, contact, responsiveness, interpreting of cues, respect-things not always emphasized or respected in North American parenting. People are uncomfortable with new things, and I feel that sometimes people become insecure about their own decisions when faced with a new idea-even if these so called "new ideas" have been around for years! How long have people been ECing, am I right? But hey, that's life. "New" may not mean "new", but people's interpretation tends to remain the same, whether techniques are from 2013 or 1013. Sometimes other people feel the need to prove they have made the "correct" decision, at the expense at the feelings and opinions of others, which is kind of uncool. However, we are all just doing our best, and people aren't perfect, so I get it. Although I wasn't thrilled that my choices would draw controversy, I knew that I had time to get over it (I'm not a mama yet!), and I know that the decisions I have chosen to make, whether now or in the future, are ones I truly believe are best for kiddos. My opinion tends to be one of "PSHH-who cares what people think anyway! NOT ME!" In my perfect world, I would waltz around, babywearing and breastfeeding and ECing, and everyone can think what they want. Obviously, my perfect world does not exist, so I am prepared for whatever comes. However, as an attachment caregiver, one thing has drawn some heat that I was completely and totally unprepared for:
    When I read Beyond the Sling,by Mayim Bialik, I was surprised to hear her talk about negative comments she had received about babywearing. PSHH, "babywearing haters"? That's not a thing, right? Who could hate babywearing? People, I tell you. The world is a crazy place, and honestly, I have been completely taken aback by certain comments I have received since then. I could barely fathom frusterations with babywearing. Seriously, babywearing is the! You carry your baby around all the time as it is, right? Non walking baby + 24 hours a day = A LOT of carrying! Slings are a fabulously easy way to tend to your child's needs while still taking care of the necessary things in your life. I love slings, because you can be hands free, take care of other children, engage in activities with friends and family, and do normal things, all while still caring for your child. Seems like a win-win situation to me. I use my ring sling often, especially when I am caring for big groups of children;slings make it so much easier to help older kids with a craft or food, while still caring for a baby or toddler. They basically eliminate the phrase "Wait, I have to put down the baby", which is fantastic. With a sling, you can hold the baby AND help the kid! ULTRA win win, right? Apparently not everyone thinks so. Evidently, some people are still skeptical of babywearing., perhaps because it is still gaining popularity and momentum. Admittedly, most people are supportive and kind, and babywearing has become very well accepted recently(The other day, Rory was watching "How I Met Your Mother", and I saw a character using a pouch sling!!), but I still get confused comments from those who are unfamiliar with it or skeptical of it. As I mentioned, I have a ring sling that I use when I am nannying. I absolutely love it, and it is super convenient, because it can easily be adjusted and fixed to the correct size for any given child. I use the sling for babies and toddlers alike, and oftentimes, if we are out, I'll let an older child walk, but bring the sling just in case. The comment I get most often when I take out my sling to babywear?
"She's/He's too old for that thing"
, or "That's too small for him/her".
I've gotten both comments multiple times, and as a new babywearer(I made my sling in Februaryish), I'm still learning how to answer.
     The thing about people considering the ring sling "too small" for a toddler or older baby? Hey everyone, just a Public Service Announcement: IT'S ADJUSTABLE. It has a pouch that, if I expand it totally, could probably fit 8 year old Adora. I'm fairly certain that it isn't too small. I'm a little confused about the "too small" comment, though. I'm not sure whether people suggesting the child is too old for a sling, or they are suggesting that my sling is too small for that particular child.  I know that I should probably ignore the comment, but the fact that I have had more than one person say this to me has me kind of freaked out; is my sling actually too small, or is this just a case of people who need to mind their own business? The cloth in the sling itself is very large, and the rings can hold up to 200 pounds, according to their package, so I can't see how it would be too small. I'm hoping the problem is that people cannot tell it's adjustable, because otherwise I'm at a complete loss to what they mean.
     As for the "she's too old for that thing" comment, just whatever, man. Seriously, people are going to think what people are going to think, and I think a two year old is not too old for a sling. I realize everyone has their own opinions about this, and that's cool. If you think two is too old for a sling, no problem. However, in response to that, I usually go with "she/he is still small, and she/he still likes to be carried, so it's what's working", or, "Really? I think she's the perfect age!". For the "that sling's too small" comment, I'm not 100% sure what the person is trying to point out, so I usually explain what I explained here: "Oh, I know it looks small, but it has a ring here that anchors the cloth and allows me to adjust it," or simply, "No worries, it's adjustable!" Usually, these satisfy people. If not, I change the subject, or make it clear that I'm really not interested in debating: "I know babywearing isn't for everyone, but it's what works for me," or "Hey, who likes pie? I do!" Although I don't usually feel like arguing about it with people on the street, I am curious as to why some people are uncomfortable with people wearing toddlers. Sure, they can walk, but on long walks or day trips, small legs get tired. I'm guessing they would not look twice if I had the child in a stroller, so I am somewhat confused, but que sera sera.
Does anyone have any experience with people on their backs(no pun intended, LOL) about babywearing toddlers? Have you had people tell you your sling is too small? How did you respond?
Again, I am still learning, so advice is well appreciated!
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 (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):
  • My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5 Easy and Green Projects to Help Kickstart Summer

What time is it? SUMMERTIME(for those who don't get the reference..AKA anyone under about 23 years of age:'m ashamed that I've seen this..and that I made the reference.)! I absolutely LOVE summer! Warmer weather, more time outdoors, and the end of another school year. Although "school vacation" doesn't mean much to most unschoolers, it does mean more playmates during the day! With more kiddos hanging out at your home, opportunities to flex your creative juices with your kids are abundant. Summer is a great time to try out new projects-if it's warm, you can move the project outside, and can use paint and other messy things with no clean up necessary! WOO! That's enough reason for me to break out the craft supplies and get creative! Here are 5 ideas of simple, fun projects to do with your kiddos (and their friends) to kickstart your creative ideas. A few are recycing/upcycling, and all of them use simple supplies that can be found around the house (because who wants to go and buy supplies? I know I don't). I've provided simple explanations, but I think the projects are fairly easy and self explanatory, so it should be good (I'm hoping?). If you see a project you'd like step by step instructions for, please leave me a comment and say which one you're interested in. Then, I can make a step by step guide to that particular project. I realize my instructions are kind of cryptic, so please, do not hesitate to ask questions if I've completely lost you. My instructions basically consist of an explanation of the craft and supplies, and then steps to put it together. It's pretty vague and unnumbered (PSHH, who needs numbers), so bear with me. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of many of the crafts, even though I've made them with so many different kids! I wish I had thought to take pictures (BRAIN FART). Any time I have them, I will include them.
1.Snow Globes
Snow globes are easy to create and use super simple supplies, and all the kiddos I've created it with love them. Grab a container-any kind can be used. I've had the best experience with jars- e.g baby food, olive, peanut butter/jelly, mayonnaise(does that even come a jar anymore..?), but in reality, any clear container will work-water bottles, juice/Gatorade bottles,shampoo bottles-as long as it is a clear contained with a lid, go for it! For the snow, I usually choose plastic beads, however, I'm sure you can use a ton of different sorts of objects. As long as it floats, you can stick it in there, and it should work. I like using beads, because I have a ton of them available (like I said, whatever is on hand!) and kids can choose their favorite beads, go by a color scheme, whatever. It allows for some extra creativity, which it nice. I think it would be fun to try with sequins or foam pieces, too. But, just a PSA-GLASS BEADS will not work as well . The beauty of the craft is the floating aspect, and they do not float. They tumble around, which I think is cool as well, but it's not exactly the effect produced by the plastic ones. I am, unfortunately, speaking from personal experience.
Have your kiddos put whatever sort of "snow" you are using into the jar. I can't easily give a specific amount, because it depends on the size of the container. Maybe fill it to about 1/8 full? Basically, just use your own judgement on what will work. It's pretty much impossible to mess up, so no worries. Extra snow will just make it extra cool.
When you are finished choosing the "snow", try fill the jar to the TIPPY TOP with water. If there is space without water, there will be a huge bubble when you turn the jar upside down, and that's somewhat disappointing. Then, put the top on, tape it to avoid leakage/opening, and VIOLA! You're done. Really, it's so simple. PUT STUFF IN JAR. ADD WATER. That's the basic gist.

2.Find It
This is also very simple, and is created in a similar manner to the snow globe. A find it is basically a large, clear bottle filled with sand and special objects. The child moves the bottle, therefore moving the sand and objects, to try and find each special object located inside. It's great for a busy bag activity, and it's nice, because kids can help make it, and then play with it, too! Win-win, right? Once again, commandeer a clear container with a lid-I recommend a shampoo bottle or disposable water bottle, but any clear container will work. Grab a filling(this can be pretty much anything. I usually use steel oats, however regular oatmeal works, and I think sand would be perfect, as well) and special objects. Unlike the snow globe, the objects don't have to be able to float, and they can be pretty much anything;it just has to be able to fit through the top of the container! I usually use gemstones, beads, foam shapes, unneeded board game pieces, small toys, etc. Seriously, guys, anything that fits will entertain the kiddos.
Asisst your kids in choosing some find-it pieces (a good amount-maybe 1/2 inch?) and place them into each child's respective containers.
Pour in about 2 inches worth of the filling. Replace the top and shake, shake, shake, until the special pieces are mixed throughout. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until the container is filled to very close to the top. After you finish one layer, I suggest adding the new find-it pieces and new filling, shaking it again, and so on. This will ensure that the pieces are strewn throughout, otherwise, you may end up with a ton of special things at the bottom, and only sand at the top, which is pretty disappointing.
Avoid filling it to the very top;if you do this, it will be difficult to shake it.
If you leave a small amount of space, it's easier to shift the contents and find the special things.
That's basically it! You can vary it however you see fit (the beauty of simplicity, I tell you).
3.DIY Coloring Pages
 The other day, I founds a website that transforms your photographs into coloring pages online, and I'm kind of in love with it. It's fantastic for when you would like a coloring page of a particular image or idea, but can't find a coloring page online, and it's insanely easy. Just select the photo, and VIOLA! It turns your picture into a coloring page in about 10 seconds. Then, you can choose to color it online, or print it and color it with art supplies. I think it's super useful, and in my experience, my kiddos have enjoyed seeing the picture turn into the coloring page. I'm super excited to use it with Adora, because she LOVES this kind of thing.
Also, I think it would be great for when you have a craft for which your kids need a picture of themselves, but you don't want to give them a real, printed out photograph, lest it be butchered with scissors, or for which you need a picture of your kids for a craft, but don't want to print a legit one out (am I the only person this cheap? Printed ink is expensive!). This is the site:
This is one of myself and Rory..they can't all be perfect. However, they did get my stripey socks, and the wording on Rory's sweatshirt, which is interesting.

4. Edible Play Dough
Play Dough you're supposed to eat? It's every little person's dream! And apparently some older people, too-a few years ago, I made this play dough to bring to a homeschooling co-op for which I was providing childcare, and I think the eleven and twelve year olds got more enjoyment out of it than then preschoolers did! It's fairly simple, and tasty, too:
Honey (YUM <3 Vegan friends can try Suzanne’s Specialities’ Just Like Honey Rice Nectar if still interested in the recipe-or another kind of honey substitute? I have no idea if this stuff is any good-I legitimately just googled "vegan honey" and found this).
Flour (I think almond flour, or any flour substitute, should work the same way, for anyone going gluten free)
Peanut butter (I think sunbutter should be fine, if you are peanut free).
Mix together.
That's basically it. But just FYI, I recommend keeping the flour out while mixing the play dough together, because although it calls for equal parts, I usually use twice the flour it calls for, or it becomes too messy and sticky. And also, when mixing, your hands will get messy and sticky, as well, so I would just be prepared for that. VERY MESSY, but fun!
5.Nature crown
I really enjoy this craft in the fall, but I think it will be great for now, because summer is just beginning, and flowers are abundant!
This is Adora's take on it-we make this a few Falls ago, and she wore it for Halloween, and loved it. Basically, just collect leaves and flowers, then glue or tape them to a crown (made of heavily folded tinfoil). This is nice for families working on the whole "living simply" thing, because the crown will only last a few weeks, then the flowers will pass away, and you can recycle the materials. If you feel your kids would get upset about that, you can press the flowers or leaves beforehand, and then they are able to last much longer. However, they may be a little more fragile, so that would be a drawback. Pluses and minuses, I tell you.  The crown part is super simple-just take a sheet of tinfoil, size it to your child's head, and fold it! If you feel that's not strong enough, you can add extra layers.

There they are! I hope these ideas get the creative juices flowing  as you and your family look for activities to try together. If you are confused about my somewhat less than eloquent directions, please do not hesitate to leave me a question in the comments! Also, if there is a craft you would be interested in seeing step by step instructions for, please let me know. I can post a more detailed explanation with photos. Enjoy getting crafty with your kiddos! If you decide to create any of the crafts, I would love to see your photos! Link me to some in the comments, or email me! Thanks.
What are some of your family's favorite crafts? Do you have any tips for getting crafty during the summer?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Art Museum


    I created a ridiculously long Wordless Wednesday post, which for some reason Blogger refuses to process, so GRRRR. I'll save that for next Wednesday, I suppose. For now, enjoy this much shorter Wordless Wednesday!
Guess where we are?
Does this help?

Rory sang that the whole way up the stairs!