It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips – On Mothers As Heroes

After coffee with some girl friends last week, I wandered through a supermarket picking up a few groceries, when I remembered that I had wanted to buy a bunch of daffodils for Ameli to take to preschool the next day. They have a ‘Spring Table’ where they bring something from home for show and tell, and she had said she wanted to take a flower. I decided to buy her some, so that she could take a whole bunch and give them to hear teachers at the end of the day. I had a mental image of her walking into playgroup with a handful of beautiful flowers, head held high, confident and on some subconscious level, thinking her Mama was a hero for bringing her those flowers.

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

A small voice in the back of my head said “nonsense, she can pick something on her way to school!” but in our life of budgets, stretching the ends to near-breaking point to make them meet and generally never splurging on anything, I couldn’t resist a £1 set of tulips, reduced to clear. 352 - Family PhotosMy mind was playing tricks on me, and for a moment, I could see her happy little face. Not because of the flowers. Not because of the money spent or not spent, but because Mama had gone out and even ‘out’ had been thinking of her, and of what would make her happy.  I don’t know if she ever will – probably not – but hopefully, maybe, somewhere in the recesses of her memory banks, she will remember the small acts and will look back at this and things like this, and see them as displays of love. Last week when she came home from preschool, I had decorated the living room like a scene from The Lorax: she was beside herself with excitement. May that be a memory that finds it’s home in that same happy place. The tulips I bought were beautiful, and if you were watching a movie of my life, you’d see me standing in the supermarket, breathing deeply of their scent, before being transported back in time, almost two months ago. My mother’s friend had come from Holland, and brought tulips with her for the funeral, to put on her friend – my mother’s – coffin. For a moment, the supermarket was gone, and all I could smell and remember were those tulips, on my lap, in the car, on the way to the funeral. My mother wasn’t always my hero. To say she was would be the kind of lie people tell about those who’ve died, when they want to remember them a certain way. I don’t want to remember her a way she wasn’t. I want to remember her for what she was, because I respected my mother. She was honest. When she loved you, she was a fierce and loyal friend. She was exceptional at her job. She could spot a disease, or an illness, or a cure in the most random places. She could diagnose medical conditions without much examination sometimes. She transformed people’s lives – I’m not kidding, she really did. I remember one day standing in a buffet line in a restaurant when she was talking to strangers about their toddler’s constant migraines. Five minutes later she’d given them advice – a month later they rang her to say they’d taken it, and their child had no more headaches. She did stuff like that all the time. She was a terrible person to have with you if you were in a hurry to leave.  She could talk to anyone. My mother could break the ice at her own expense. She could play the fool to get a smile, a reaction (positive), a change in behaviour, out of anyone. She was a wonderful person to have with you in government buildings. Getting your drivers licence renewed, or your passport especially. Those soulless places where officials don’t dare smile, don’t dare look like they could possibly enjoy what they do? Those were the places you wanted her with you. She could make those people crack a smile. And she made their day. And she made her teenage children cringe, but it was admirable. Like at the movies. You buy your cinema ticket, and as you pass through the doors, they take your ticket, tear off the stub and give it back to you. She’d say something like ‘hey! I just paid for that, now you’re tearing it!’  or “Excuse me, you gave me the back half of the ticket, but I’d like to see the front part of the  movie this time, so could I have that bit instead?” At first, normally, they’d look at her weird, then realise she’s joking and laugh. It sounds so stupid, written down, but she could always make them laugh. Precious moments My mother had her faith, and her belief, and her opinions and one of the things I respected most about her, is that there is no question in anyone’s mind, whatsoever, what they were. You didn’t have to agree with her, but you knew what she thought. She was steadfast. She was consistent in them. She was generous, to a fault. She bought a house for the mother-in-law who doesn’t like her to live in, paid for a school education for a family member who couldn’t afford it,  used loyalty points to give friends who couldn’t afford it holidays. She liked to give people little things they couldn’t give themselves, when she was able. (All with my dad, of course) As a mother, to me, the kind of mother I would have wanted, she wasn’t always that. There were many things I never spoke to her about. Many things I just didn’t raise, because I knew they didn’t fit in with her ‘way’ or because I knew I’d get an ear-full, when maybe all I wanted was someone to crack open the ice cream or pour me a glass of wine. She wasn’t that kind of mother. And she made mistakes in her life. But she loved me fiercely. She was open with me, and she was honest. She was the only medical type I’ve ever trusted. She could make me laugh and have fun with me.   I always knew where I stood with her, and I always knew where her limits lay. I had no false hopes or expectations, or delusions of our relationship. I could call her any time of the day or night, as she did me (she could not get her head around time zones!) and I always knew that little gifts, little tokens of love came from her – a bottle of perfume, an extra lipstick, a top up on my Starbucks card.  I knew that she loved me fiercely. And all those things are things I want Ameli and Aviya to be able to say about me, fifty years from now, when it started with things like Truffula Trees and Tulips. I guess she was an inspiration, a hero, after all.

*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn’t have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of “superheroes,” ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte‘s little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she’s learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone’s Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone’s hero. Read Mandy’s lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter’s superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don’t Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka “Hot Mom”) asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It’s not heroic when you’re living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Parenting Fears And Reality Checks

Parenting is a cacophony of emotions. When you’re not thoroughly worn out from sleepless nights, exhausted from good parenting days, or simply just trying to make it through, there’s always something to worry about. Someone you know lost a child, someone in your area had a child go missing, someone who knows someone who was a really good parent ended up with a junkie-teen. Just like people love to share a terrible birth story, and tend to shun those who had wonderful birth stories, everyone loves to share the bad stories about what happened to someone else, or how another child turned out, and it doesn’t really matter – to some extent – how they were parented, it’s normally the mother’s fault.

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

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 stories and wisdom about parenting fears.


It’s the fear of these things that make parents so susceptible to marketing, spending (often wasting) money on the latest gadgets and basically living our lives doing everything we can to prevent something bad, and encourage something good happening to the little people entrusted to us.

The scary thing though? Like most of us, I know this, but I still have three particular fears where my two little girls are concerned:

In no particular order, there’s the fear of death, kidnapping and failure.

cuddlesMost of us know someone who has lost a baby – born or unborn – or a child. I never knew how ‘common’ infant loss was till I became a mother myself. And then, because Ameli’s birth was such an amazing, enriching and empowering experience, I was terrified when Aviya’s turn came. For  months I really worried, almost believed that I would never get to hold her alive. I was so worried something was going to go wrong in her birth. I mean, what are the chances that I could be so blessed, twice.

And now, even though I am a confident second time mother, and even though I am confident and relatively experienced in my use of homoeopathic and herbal remedies over conventional medicines for most of the girls’ minor ailments, when Aviya, specifically, gets ill, this niggely, horrible voice in the back of my head forces me to question myself, reminding me of that ‘feeling’. It takes a lot of pulling myself together to trust my intuition as much with this lovely second child of mine.

While many of us know someone who has been touched by the loss of a child, very few of us – me included – knows personally someone who has had a child kidnapped. And yet, it’s probably one of the biggest fears a parent faces. I can’t imagine how parents who have lost a child this way go on. I can’t imagine the horror. And yet, the statistics on ‘stranger danger‘ and someone doing something to our children are so different to what our fears justify.

stranger dangerIf you’re a parent who lives in the shadow of this fear, I highly recommend Sue Palmer’s book, Toxic Childhood (US Link). It highlights how rare something like a stranger kidnapping really is, but how, because we see the lost and forlorn little face, and the obviously heartbroken parents in our living room, on repeat, day after day after day, it imprints on our brains to the point that we start almost identifying each replay as a new occurrence.  (I actually recommend this book for a ton of other reasons too, it doesn’t make you feel guilty, but does encourage you to see a lot of reality in parenting and child raising. It’s one of my top three parenting book recommendations!)

Failure. Failure is a big one, and we all get it from the day our babies are conceived. Didn’t have a natural birth? Will I be able to bond with my child? Didn’t breastfeed? You and your child will probably both die of cancer. Didn’t babywear? Your poor child will lag behind in literacy for, like, ever. Didn’t co-sleep? Poor kid will have intimacy issues for the rest of their lives. You sent them to nursery school for four hours a week? Oh, the drama. Didn’t send them to a Montessori/Steiner/Waldorf/Forest school?  What kind of parent are you!?

Pretty much everything we do is wrong to someone. Praise your kids? Wrong. Don’t praise your kids? Wrong. Send them to school? Wrong. Keep them at home? Wrong . Feed them grass-fed meat? Wrong. Feed them no meat? Wrong. Make everything from scratch? Did you sprout the grains first? Well… did you?

I think a lot of parenting and enjoying parenting comes down to three things:

Let go – of the things you can’t control. 

Be realistic – in accordance to what’s real, your circumstances and what you can really do

Trust your instinct - listen to your child, listen to the voice inside you, and when you’re confident in your choices, no one can make you feel judged. And when you’re not confident, do your own research. 

If you can – if I can – let go of things I don’t control, be realistic about my limitations and abilities, circumstances and finances, and trust that everything I do is for the best of my children and our family, the fears are a lot easier to quell, and motherhood is a much more fulfilling, enjoyable ride.


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 (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

 disclaimer for links

A New Reality Now – Poem

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Precious momentsThe more things change,
The more they stay the same,
it’s the same ol’ story
but it’s a whole new game.

Ever present, always there
From the moment of my birth,
So wrong, so sad,
we too soon returned you to the earth

I say the words,
but they don’t feel
like they could possibly,
at all be real.

The rain still falls,
the world goes on
How can it be?
It feels all wrong.

Now who will be there,
to answer my call?
To feel so intensely,
when I’m hitting the wall?

They warn us,
when mothers we become
that our hearts will now forever
outside our bodies run

Our babies will be carried
More than our prayers can know
Our arms will ever stretch
no matter where our children go

Now whose heart will carry me?
Whose prayer will be my wings?
Whose arm will be my shelter?
No answer comes for any of these things.

I guess little has really changed
in the simple day to day,
But everything is different,
now that you’ve gone away




Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Being Prepared For Personal Disasters

When people say ‘emergency planning’ we all tend to think about natural disasters and catastrophes but there are more emergencies in life than those. Not to downplay the effects of an earthquake, flood or tsunami, which affect the lives of the many, but sometime emergencies are small, affecting only a few, but those are no less debilitating or stressful to the few. In fact, in a huge tragedy, there’s often more help available, because there’s more attention drawn to it, but in a small tragedy, people are often alone, frightened and helpless.


Welcome to the May 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Emergency Preparedness

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their plans to keep their families safe. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



What are these ‘small’ tragedies?

How about the sudden and unexpected death of a spouse? The main breadwinner? A loved one? Or the unexpected loss of a job? Or a house fire? Or a malicious burglary? (i.e. where they don’t just take the TV and computer, but destroy all important documents and so on?) These are smaller scale emergencies, but huge to affected none the less.

My mother was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness – as it happens she’s defied all medicine and doctors are confounded as to why she’s still alive, but at the time of diagnosis when they gave her four weeks to four months, we didn’t know that was going to happen.

I’ve learned a fair bit from this experience.

For one thing, my mother was the higher wage earner at the time she was diagnosed. She suddenly had to stop working, and if her life insurance hadn’t covered the cost of their house, they would have stood a very good chance of losing it to medical bills. Having the correct insurance in place saved huge amounts of stress, and potential financial ruin. She’s not rich for having her life insurance paid out, but it’s given them private treatment options which is probably why she’s still alive.

Having a savings account with a few months worth of salary in it is essential. Don’t get excited though – I have a few months salary worth of debt, rather than savings, but I’m working on it. I went to Australia to be with my mother for six months, and wasn’t allowed to work. Savings would have helped us all out. Dave Ramsey recommends starting with a three month buffer, and working towards six months.

Have backups of important documents. Seriously. We have traveled a lot and one of the best tips I ever received was to scan and email all your important documents to yourself – at an easy to retrieve address, like Gmail. It’s no good if you can only access it from the home computer that was just stolen!  Scan your passports, visas, bank card numbers (but don’t put passwords and pin codes with it!), insurance information, birth certificate and all that information and email it to yourself. Our children’s godparents have copies of their passports, birth certificates and ours in case they ever need it for information pertaining to legal guardianship.

One of the hardest topics of conversation in mothers groups comes from the question: where do your children go if something happens to you. I’ve rarely met a parent who emphatically knows without doubt or concern who their children will go to if they died. It’s a horrible conversation. It’s also a really important one and a will is necessary to make sure that your wishes have a voice. I’ve had to think long and hard on this, and for me the decision is partially to do with which country I’d prefer my children raised in, since our family is split over three continents.

Also, in cases where one person is the primary financial managers for the family, it’s valuable to have an ‘in case of… ‘ file or folder somewhere – again, not locked behind a passworded computer! – that a spouse/partner can find important information, like life insurance policies, medical aid information and other important information at the drop of a hat. As I say that, I realise that I don’t even know some of the companies my self-employed husband works for. He is also password king, so I’d never crack his codes, and he would literally just drop off the grid! (Which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter, but it’s still polite to let people know the work they’re expecting isn’t coming!)

And finally, and I feel so strongly about this one, is contracts and agreements. No one gets married to get divorced. No one falls in love to simmer in hate, no one falls pregnant to be bound by a lousy partner. No one goes into a relationship, baring your vulnerabilities, weaknesses and heart to another person, expecting them to use those very things against you.

Unfortunately, just in this year, I have seen three cases where this has happened and one parent has used choices made with regards to child raising against the other person in custody cases.  Especially in the case of mothers, but not exclusively, I might add, we tend to make most of the day to day choices for our children. Of course we take our partners views into consideration, but often it is the mother that drives how things happen. I have seen court cases and custody battles involve breastfeeding, or a couples decision not to vaccinate being used against the mother, or a desire to homeschool manipulated by  lawyers into something it was never meant to be.

My husband and I have agreed, in writing, the decisions that we have made with regards to our children. We don’t plan to divorce, but should that ever happen, neither of us will be in a position to use our choices now against each other, even if we wanted to, because we’ve agreed it.

(It goes something like ‘I… and I… have jointly agreed to babywear, co-sleep, practice baby led weaning, etc etc [all stipulated] and jointly commit to raising our children present and future this way based on our individual and joint research into the varying styles and options available to us. We both feel that these choices meet the needs of all members of our family, as pertains to parenting and child rearing.)

We hope to never need to use this document, but I certainly never want to be fighting for custody of my children because of something we agreed on together – like co-sleeping. And sadly, as deeply as we love, so deeply we can hate, and the future is unknown.

So, despite this grim and downer post, remember that every moment is precious, and that life is in fact, very, very short.




Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon May 14 with all the carnival links.)


Vranameer Chicken : A Family Recipe

The moment I finished reading the topic for this months Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes, I knew exactly which recipe I would share: Vranameer Chicken.

Welcome to the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes

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 their recipes, their stories, their pictures, and their memories.


Translated from Afrikaans, Vra Na Meer means Ask For More. That’s what this is all about. Eating more cause it’s so yum.

Actually, some time after my mother’s terminal diagnosis, I sat down and asked myself what I would wish I could have asked five, ten, twenty years from now. One of the first things I thought about was this recipe.

My mother has never been big on food. She’s not much of a cook, and doesn’t particularly enjoy spending time in the kitchen – although she’s a fabulous baker! But this was a meal she would cook for us.

Be warned. It’s not what I would call healthy, although it could be made healthier, but it is really quick and easy and very, very, very tasty. It would particularly appeal to anyone who likes sweet and sour Chinese food.

I’ll have to try it again sometime with made-from-scratch ingredients.

Vranameer Chicken : A Family Recipe
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 3 - 4
  • Serving size: 1
  • Calories: 439
  • Fat: 5.3
  • Saturated fat: .3
  • Carbohydrates: 89.5
  • Sugar: 33.8
  • Sodium: 1146
  • Fiber: 3.2
  • Protein: 6.7
  • Cholesterol: 11.9
Recipe type: Main Meal, Chicken
Cuisine: South African
You could make this recipe healthier by making the mayonnaise and chutney from scratch before hand. The chutney you use also makes a difference to the flavour. Traditionally you use Mrs Balls Chutney (Amazon US), but any sweet fruity chutney works.
  • 6 to 8 chicken portions
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chutney
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C
  2. Brown the chicken and set aside in an oven-proof casserole dish.
  3. Sauté the onions gently for 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and has a golden colour. Add the water and mix to make a 'soup'.
  4. Mix onion with chutney and mayonnaise, and pour sauce over chicken.
  5. Cover casserole dish and bake in oven at 180°C for an hour.
  6. Serve with fluffy rice and fresh, mixed salad.


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 April 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • German Red Cabbage: A Family Tradition — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares her favorite dish and a part of her family’s history.
  • Rotisserie Chicken Recipes for Meal Planning — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama shares a new recipe that is in her family’s meal-planning rotation. Check out how she uses a rotisserie chicken to get through the week.
  • Grandma Wicken’s Sugar Cookies — Jana Falls at Jananas talks about how special her Grandma’s sugar cookies made her feel.
  • Recipe: Seed and Bean Burgers — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings shares one of her favourite frugal recipes that is also super-healthy and totally delicious.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich — Lisa at The Squishable Baby PULLS dinner together for the kids.
  • The Best Banana Muffin Recipe (Gluten Free & Vegan) — Dionna of Code Name: Mama’s adventures in gluten free baking have not been 100% successful. But today she is guest posting at Fine and Fair to share a banana muffin recipe that will knock your socks off!
  • The Pierogie Mama Whips Up Strawberry Pierogies! — Bianca at The Pierogie Mama shares her family’s recipe for strawberry pierogies…a sweet, summery version of the Polish dumplings that she affectionately named her daughter after.
  • Mom’s Cookbook — Tree at Mom Grooves digs into the big book her mom created for her six daughters and shares a favorite family recipe.
  • Crispy Duck Confit — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes the liberty of starting a family recipe tradition with this super simple, totally delicious crispy duck confit.
  • Stovetop BBQ Chicken — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares a yummy BBQ chicken recipe that you can make on the stovetop in less than 25 minutes, fridge to table!
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole w/Bacon — Martine at Whey Beyond the Naked Truth shares a naked food twist on an old family favorite!
  • Strawberry Panna Cotta — KerryAnn at shows you her favorite dessert, a quick and easy Strawberry Panna Cotta that she enjoys so much, she had it instead of a birthday cake this year.
  • Special crepes for a special day — Mikko at Hobo Mama is learning to cook his grandma’s signature holiday meal alongside his dad.
  • Three Favorite Family Recipes: To Eat, To Wash, To Play — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is back with three family favorites: gluten-free shortbread, DIY powdered laundry detergent, and something fun for the kids: homemade “Flubber”!
  • Black Bean Soup Forever — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a soup recipe that’s been around forever.
  • Do you want to know a secret? — SRB at Little Chicken Nuggets lets go of her mac and cheese recipe, a comfort food favourite for friends and family for years.
  • Creating Our Own Family Recipes — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM shares how she’s trying to create meals that her girls will want to pass down to their own children some day.
  • Vranameer Chicken: A Family Recipe — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares a recipe that reminds her of childhood and more specifically, of her mother. It’s a South African take on sweet and sour chicken and what it lacks in healthy it makes up for in tantalising to the taste buds.
  • One Recipe, Three Uses: Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Dish Soap, and Hand Soap — If you love saving money and time, you’ll love this green recipe from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network.
  • Our Family’s Favorite Pies — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares recipes and tutorials for the quintessential American dessert.
  • Deliciously Easy Crock Pot ChiliLactating Girl shares her crock pot chili that is not only quick and easy, but awesome.
  • All-Purpose Crock Pot PorkCrunchy Con Mommy‘s simple “recipe” for cooking perfect pork in the crock pot is for whatever mood her family is in!
  • Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony — Cooped-up kids + winter weather + frazzled parents can all blend together into a recipe for disaster. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares what brought back the peace in her house.
  • Favorite Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s healthy eating experiences along with links to free printable vegetarian recipes that her family has created with love.
  • Grandma’s Banana Bread — Megan at The Boho Mama has early and fond memories of her grandma’s banana bread. It’s love in a loaf!
  • Family Comfort Food — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares a recipe handed down that moms have made for their kids, for regular meals as well as to comfort.


Talking To Children About Death

Six months ago, my mother was diagnosed with Peritoneal Mesothelioma and told that without treatment she would have four weeks to live. Our visas were taking longer than that to be granted – my mother lives in Australia, I live in England, and the Australian government had no sympathy or compassion and made it as hard as was legally possible for us to get the visas for reasons I’ll never understand. My mother decided to have chemotherapy so that we’d make it to her, to say goodbye, and we arrived in Australia the day before her second round of chemotherapy, a treatment that nearly killed her.

Between my mothers diagnosis and our leaving, I wasn’t very emotional about it.

That’s what I do. I go into ‘how can we solve this’ mode, and I need time to process what I’m feeling. People who know me well know that the things I’m talking about I’ve normally dealt with. It’s when I go quiet that I’m not really coping. When I don’t know what to say I haven’t processed it yet. Really, it’s when I go quiet on a topic that those closest to me know to start worrying about it.

So, between those two dates, I was given a copy of the Mother Magazine, which had the article A sacred transition: children and the death of a loved one by Starr Meneely, of Gentle Mothering. Her mother had recently succumbed to cancer, and she had flown half way across the world with her children to be by her side.

Her words wrenched at my heart, and my emotions broke. I sat in the corner of the room at our mother’s circle and sobbed. It was the release I needed, and it provided the gateway to being able to talk about it.

I guess, then, the first lesson I learned about talking to children about death – specifically a long, protracted, pending death, rather than an accidental or sudden passing, is having at least in part dealt with some of the emotions yourself.

If I had broken down that way in front of Ameli, I fear that she would have looked at death as something to fear, something painful. (Of course, it is these things, but it also isn’t, and I think the best thing under the circumstances is to introduce death as something not to be feared.)

Telling Ameli that Nana is dying was interesting in itself. How do you convey meaning in a word that has no context? Hot you can explain by providing low heat. Run you can explain by demonstrating. How do you explain ‘say goodbye, because we are going away for a while?’ And how do you explain going away for ever? How long is for ever?

These are vague concepts, mere words, to a child.

I told her Nana was going to die and we wouldn’t see her here on earth again. She said she didn’t want Nana to die. I said none of us want Nana to die, but we all die eventually, and it’s okay.

She tried to rationalise it in her mind.

“I have a good idea! Maybe we can go visit Nana when she’s died.”

“I’m afraid we can’t visit where Nana is going. We’ll miss her sometimes though, and that’s why Mama’s a little sad.”

“It’s okay. We can just look at photos of her. That will make us feel better.”

“That’s a very good idea, I think.”

“Can I have some juice now?”

While she hasn’t been able to experience the finality of it, and doesn’t have the apprehension of the longing, it’s impossible to explain.

In fact, I’m 30 years older than her, and I find myself trying to imagine what life without my mother will be like, and I can’t really imagine it. It’s the closest I’ve come to imagining what life with a child will be like, versus what life with a child is really like. It’s oddly the same process. Simliar to our five stages of grief, Ameli seems to have traversed the stages too, but without the sense of fear or loss. She’s faced:

  1. Denial – “no, she’s not dying” – I’m afraid she is, darling, even though we don’t want her to. 
  2. Anger – “I don’t want her to die!” – None of us do, but sometimes things happen, even if we don’t want them to. 
  3. Bargaining – “I know! We can just take her to the hospital. Then she’ll get better” – Not this time. This isn’t something the doctors can fix.
  4. Depression – “I don’t want Nana to die {with tears this time}”. I know darling. Neither do I. It’s okay to be sad. 
  5. Acceptance – “When Nana dies, we won’t be able to see her anymore, but that’s okay, because one day we will be with her again and till then, we can just watch our videos of her.” – That’s a good idea girlie. Do you want to watch one now?

Something that has been helpful has been allowing her to ask questions, make {crazy} suggestions, and at times be almost hurtful in her throwaway comments – I wont miss Nana. I don’t mind if Nana dies. I don’t want to see Nana.

Separating her child behavior from my loss has been essential in gently explaining death to her. You can’t fear loss if you’ve never felt loss, so expecting an adult level of saying the right thing at the right time from a child only sets you up for pain.

I remember when my dad’s grandmother died. I didn’t really know her, and I didn’t have a relationship with her. I was really upset that I had to cancel my 13th birthday party. I saw it only in light of it’s impact on me, but having never known the loss of a loved one, I didn’t understand.

I asked a group of friends one day how you deal with this type of death, and how you explain it to a child. Most of them agreed that the children tend to accept death as another part of life. It’s just something that happens, and while they may have vague fond memories of the person, and might even ask for them, for the most part, life goes on. (Assuming it’s not a direct care giver, I think!)

Of course, in our situation, despite the terminal diagnosis my mother is still going strong, making the concept even harder to explain, but when we arrived in Australia, and the chemotherapy was eeking the life out of her faster than the cancer was, it was simply a matter of reinforcing, explaining, reminding what was going on.

Now that she is on so-called alternative therapies and thriving, getting stronger and even thinking of returning to work, it all seems a bit confusing, but, with the true resilience of childhood, Ameli carries on.

How to talk to children about death:

  • Talk to them when you are calm and relatively controlled in your grief
  • Talk to them at a good time, when there aren’t distractions and they aren’t tired or hungry
  • Explain in age appropriate terms, and according to your beliefs. We believe in heaven, so we were able to explain that we will see her in heaven again one day, once we’ve died too. 
  • Allow for questions generally based on the stages of grief – this is a good measure of their understanding too
  • Don’t take hurtful or insensitive comments personally. 
  • Be led by your child. Don’t put your feelings and emotions on them, and don’t expect them to have an adult understanding or response to your grief.

How do you talk to children about difficult situations? Do you remember when you first lost someone? How was it dealt with and how do you think it could have been handled differently?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.


Fresh Awakening

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Recovering from the Holidays 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 written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over. ***

Something interesting has been happening of late. Something I decided to keep quiet about because I’ve seen cocky gloating parents eat their words time and time again: I’ve been getting sleep. That’s right folks. As much as 8 barely broken hours in one night.

There were days, weeks in fact, where the exhaustion was so severe that its only in retrospect that I  realise that i was even tired. In fact, I always said I wasn’t sleep deprived! I guess I accepted tired as the new normal.

So why am I sharing this now? Because with a good nights sleep comes a certain clarity, a new sense of perspective and new directions and ambitions. And of course a new year doesn’t hurt either. It’s the global time for making promises to ourselves, after the madness, the loss of routines and the relative insanity of the holiday season.

In a weird way the new year hasn’t really started for me yet.  I’m sill in Perth, still house sharing, still dancing very much to someone else’s tune. But this year I realise something very important: the future doesn’t start tomorrow.

It didn’t start on January 1st, and it wont start the day I get back to England.

The future starts right now and while I may not be able to implement huge changes in my life today, I can lay the foundations, do the groundwork, throw myself wholeheartedly at the small differences my life needs to end up where I want it.

I cant have a “spend nothing month” but I can have a week a month or a day a week where we actively choose not to buy anything, to say no to something we didn’t really need in the fist place.

I cant be totally gluten-free while I’m not totally in charge of my shopping or my budget  but I can be gluten free in my snack choices, and the shopping I am in charge of. I cant follow a raw food diet wholly right now, but just because I didn’t start on 1 January doesn’t mean I cant still learn, develop, grow.

My children deserve the health and lifestyle benefits every day irrespective of when it starts – irrespective of my circumstances.

So watch this space, friends and readers because this year I aim to bring you two self published books, at least halve my debt and establish and adopt a new relationship with food, and I am sure you’ll be the first to hear all about it.

The past is the past.

It’s time for me to look through the fog, and grab on to the new day dawning, the one where my children bring me new challenges, and open doors for me to something new, something better, and most of all, something I never knew I wanted.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Teresa

*** 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 this March! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • Pinterest Inspiration for Easier Winter Holidays Shannon, writing at Natural Parents Network, shares inspiration for having more relaxed winter holidays from their Handmade Holidays Pinterest board.
  • Seven Recipes for Beans – Post Holiday Cleaning — Destany at They Are All of Me shares her favorite bean recipes that she hopes will help her body recover from overindulging her sweet tooth during the holidays.
  • The Recovery in the Change — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen made changes in her life and attitude throughout 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at how those changes impacted her holiday recovery!
  • Could this question change your life for ever? — To get your new year off on the right footing, Mrs Green of Little Green Blog is challenging us all to love ourselves with commitment and discipline. She asks you to focus on a simple question which might just bring you back in balance…
  • Holiday Recovery — Meegs at A New Day talks about how the holidays can be overwhelming for a toddler, and how she’s helping her 3 year old recover.
  • 5 Ways to Detox After the Holidays — Brittany at The Pistachio Project gives a few ways to help you detox and get back on track after the holiday season has passed.
  • 3 Simple Ways to Establishing Rhythm After the Holidays or Any Time — Sheila at A Living Family shares 3 simple ways to reestablish a rhythm of connection and calm in your family after holidays, visitors, travel or any time.
  • Gemstones For Holiday Hangoverss — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delves into the power of gemstones as an often overlooked means of dealing with the holiday letdown.
  • Getting back to Healthy — Bess at A Warrior Mom talks about the struggle of getting young ones back to eating healthy after several days to weeks of getting more candy and sweets than normal for the holidays and gives some suggestions on how to get them back to eating healthy in the new year.
  • Post Christmas Juice Feast — Sam at Love Parenting explains why she has created a new tradition of juice feasting, and how she includes her toddler when detoxing.
  • The Java Monkey On My Back — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs realizes it is time to kick her cup of Joe habit as a first step toward detoxing.
  • Minimalist Holidays — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t find much need for recovery after her minimalist version of the holidays.
  • Do something for you — Lauren at Hobo Mama urges you to find a silly and indulgent reward of me-time — and she has hers.
  • do we recover? — Kenna at Million Tiny Things wonders what recovery really means in the context of the tragedies of this past holiday season.
  • 37 Easy Ways to Save Money — Shannon at GrowingSlower is sharing these money-saving tips to help get your budget back on track after the holidays.
  • A Two Year Old’s ResolutionsThat Mama Gretchen is putting the holidays behind her with a spin on traditional resolutions — New Year’s goals for her two-year-old! Sound crazy? Read on for an explanation!
  • How to Find Balance after the Holidays — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her favorite ways to start a new year with hope and calmness.
  • Fresh Awakening — For Luschka at Diary of a First Child, the new year has coincided with a return to restful nights. With sleep, she’s found new directions in life, but while she can’t make too many changes to her life right now, she’s inspired and excited about the future.
  • Learning to slow down after a busy Festive Season Stoneageparent describes the joys and lows of this year’s festive season, as well as her New Year’s resolutions.
  • Detoxing’ Your Toddler After the Holidays — Does your family suffer side effects from the holidays? Join Christine from African Babies Don’t Cry to learn how she detoxed herself and her toddler off the treats and festivities of the season.
  • Scheduling is OK! — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep explores the possibilities of the — SCHEDULE!!
  • Holiday-Free but not Stress-Free — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot takes it easy after moving with her husband and new babies to Scotland.
  • A Vacation from the World — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children retreats with her family at the end of every year in order to recuperate and enjoy one another.
  • On the Road to Recovery — Dionna at Code Name: Mama isn’t just recovering from the holidays, she’s recovering from a lifestyle.
  • We Never Left the GrindErika Gebhardt compares a typical day pre-holidays and post-holidays.
  • Remembering and Recovering from the Holidays (One day at a time) — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM is recovering from holidays slowly–taking one day at a time–while trying to remember all the sweet moments that passed too quickly.
  • 5 a Day — To get back on track Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy needed a simple system to help her family learn new values.
  • Holiday Detox & Healing: Bieler Broth — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her secret for a gentle, whole-foods-based post-holiday detox: Bieler Broth!
  • I’m Mama Not Supermom — After a year filled with changes Angela at EarthMamas World has to remind herself that she does not have to be supermom while recovering from the holiday chaos.


Memories Of My Mother

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


There’s nothing quite like the end of something to make you think about the beginning of it again. I lay on a thin hospital bed with my desperately skinny mother a few weeks ago, waiting for her to be wheeled into surgery so that a plug could be put into her abdomen so that she can drain the fluid that cancer is releasing into her body as it slowly squeezes the life out of her.

She was laughing, as she is prone to doing, as I had just said I was going to handcuff myself to the bed to make sure they had no choice but to allow me to go in to theater with her. They arrived, the porters ready to roll her in, and I buried my face in her chest, as I must have done so many times as a child, but haven’t done in my living memory. I buried my face so that she would not see the rush of tears to my eyes.

My mother always wanted to be better. She always wanted to improve herself, and to make the people who loved her proud. She is a fierce friend, honest to a fault, and sometimes tactless as a heart attack. She has the same heart she had 20 years ago, just with twenty years of life added to it.

I get my adventurous and sometimes chaotically spontaneous side from my mother. She once bundled us up on a hot and sunny day and drove us high up into the snow capped mountains to have pancakes on the side of the road, in the snow. I think that was the first time I ever saw snow, and I remember it so well.

She bought us water paint books and my sister and I sat in the warm rain ‘painting’ with the rain water.

Powerfailures weren’t dramas in our home… nope. They were opportunities for roasting marshmallows!

Things weren’t always rosy, and at times, money was tight. I remember once my dad was away with work and my mom took us to a local steak ranch. She had just enough money for 1 adult and three child buffet dinners, not a cent more. There wasn’t even money for drinks. I think the waiter took pity on us that night, because he delivered cokes to our table, even though we hadn’t ordered them and weren’t able to leave a tip – but what a treat eating out was!

My mom is a woman of amazing faith. Even now with the disease riddling her body, she is strong in her faith and her status updates on Facebook elicit comments of awe and amazement from her friends. Just this morning a mutual acquaintance told me my mother is a ‘picture of Victory’ even in the face of death. That’s quite something, and an amazing legacy to leave.

My mom worked as a nurse for many years, and there she showed her patients incredible care and compassion. She has sat by the bed of many a dying person, so we can’t even say that she doesn’t know what’s coming, hence the strength – nope… she has held the hands of dying people for three decades. And she’s prayed with many of them too.

This faith hasn’t just come in the face of death either. She’s always had it, and as a result our lives have been peppered with miracles. Like the time my brother fell of his bike and broke his collar bone. A friend of my mom stayed up all night praying for him, and the next day the doctor couldn’t find any trace of an injury. Or the time we were really broke and had nothing but potatoes in the house – someone (we still don’t know who) dropped off a months supply of groceries at our front door.

There’s a long list of things that have happened in our family that make faith almost a no-brainer. We’d have to be blind to not believe.

My mom has given up so much over the years, for the sake of her children, her family, her husband, and now when she should be taking back and getting back, that opportunity is not being afforded her. It’s sad, but sometimes life is sad.

Of course, most of us aren’t saints, and she has her foibles too, but in the face of the end of a thing, it’s good to look back at the beginning, and remember the good bits, emulate them, and remember the bad bits, and do them better. I am sure my own children will say the same, in years to come. I just hope that when they look back on my life, they remember more good than bad, and that they recognise with the hindsight and wisdom of adulthood the things my being there improved, and my being afforded them as I do when I remember my mother.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here’s To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter’s childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow…
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn’t able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter’s experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna’s carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother’s sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it’s so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child’s Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family’s loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories – Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family’s tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.


Children in (Volunteering) Service

I have plenty memories of volunteering in various places as a child. There was an animal shelter we’d go to every Saturday and help clean out the cages. There were kids we’d visit in hospitals. Later, in highschool, we used to visit elderly people in an old age home and sing to them, read to them, or just do odd jobs for them. We fundraised for our club or for trips by washing cars or baking and selling cakes. We went to a very rural school in South Africa (Venda, actually) and helped with the building of a new classroom, and painted buildings in our own school. We even worked with street children at one stage. As a school group, we were very active in community and volunteering projects, and at home, my parents encouraged the same.

There were a few places we went, during the course of my childhood, Delmas, Kwasisa Bantu, Petra – all mission stations, mission schools, and outreach programmes – where we were shared in the duties of the community.

My parents were active examples of how to volunteer, always there for other people, always helping people out, caring for others and the reality of other people’s lives. I’m incredibly grateful for these experiences. I truly believe that they’ve shaped who I’ve become, and it’s something I hope to pass on to my own children too because I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned from volunteering:

  • I believe that in volunteering a child learns skills they wouldn’t have necessarily have been exposed to – painting, bricklaying, cleaning, cataloguing library books, are just a few of the ones I was involved in.
  • In volunteering, children are shown that there is more to life than the life they know and that some people have a really hard time of it, have no families, have no food or are left alone and forgotten (like children or old people who have no visitors in hospital)
  • Children learn compassion by seeing other people in less than desirable circumstances – they notice the forgotten, the street children, the homeless. They learn to not be afraid of things they don’t understand.
  • There has been some research that has shown that children who are involved in volunteering have more of an interest in their community – which makes perfect sense, really – we all care more about the things we’re interested in.
  • It gives children a sense of value, and of worth, within the context of their community and environment, teaching them that every act of kindness matters.

“One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.” Hannah More

I would like to think that I am raising my children to be more concerned about the environment than celebrities, more focussed on what they can give than what they receive, and aware of the feelings and realities of life as faced by other people.

I hope that, when the time comes, and they can start reaching out, no matter how child-like the act may be, I hope that it will instill in them a sense of service, and of kindness and of giving back. I don’t believe it’s ever too early to start, and as JC Penney said, ““How can we expect our children to know and experience the joy of giving unless we teach them that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving.”



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 November 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter’s irritation with litter led to eekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family’s approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year’s holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she’s excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again… but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children’s generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.


Pick Your Own And Eat It

Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

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 written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.


We receive fortnightly organic food deliveries, a frugal luxury that is essential to our family’s healthy eating. We don’t get the box with fruit, however, so every now and then, we like going to one of the many local Pick Your Own farms. Sadly, this, again, is a financial luxury, but as Ameli is growing and able to appreciate it more, I hope we’re able to do so more often.

Last week we went for a fruit picking session, with strawberries and raspberries on the menu.

I love how Ameli engaged with it. I love how initially she needed to check with me whether they were pink enough, or too white, but in the end she was picking all the gorgeous red berries.

I also love the fact that at almost three, my little girl knows where food comes from and that she doesn’t assume it comes from the shelves in supermarkets.

We picked courgette (zucchini) flowers, washed them, stuffed them with Mozzarella and anchovies, dipped them in ice cold tempura batter and deep fried for a deliciously scrumptious dinner.

Does this count as ‘real food’? I don’t know. But I do know we picked it, and we cooked it, and we ate it, and we made an afternoon of family fun out of it, and that’s pretty real to me.


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 August 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • 10 Simple Ways to Make the Farmer’s Market More Fun for Kids — Lorie at Reading Confetti shares ideas and books to help kids get the most from the farmers market experience.
  • 10 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter About The Importance of Shopping at the Farmer’s Market — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares the ten lessons she hopes to impart to her daughter about the importance of shopping at local farmers markets.
  • Charmed by Two Small Town Markets — Shannon at GrowingSlower was charmed by two small-town farmers markets while on vacation.
  • The Olympia Farmer’s Market (and a giveaway!) — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes and family took a trip to their state capitol to experience a new market. See what they saw, and enter to win a book written about that very market.
  • — Exploring the farmers market by Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writing at Natural Parents Network — with a scavenger hunt!
  • Exploring the Market … Alphabet StyleThat Mama Gretchen is in the midst of creating a learning tool for her toddler and it’s all about the market!
  • Unschooling at the Farmers Market — Megz at Aspen Mama loves building memories as a vendor at the Market.
  • Montessori-Inspired Vegetable Unit — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares links to Montessori-inspired vegetable printables and activities to help your family get the most out of a trip to the farmer’s market.
  • Markets — How sustainable mum has fitted a monthly farmers market into a weekly food shop.
  • The Farmers Market In Under An Hour (“Carl Style”) — Andrea and family at Tales of Goodness adapt their farmers marketing approach to make everyone happy.
  • Tales Of a Troubled Gardener — Sam at Love Parenting writes about her dream of self-sufficiency and her lack of gardening skills!
  • A Few {Of The Many} Reasons Why I Love Our Farmer’s Market — Even though the experience can sometimes be less than peaceful, MomeeeZen shares why she enjoys taking her family to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
  • Experiencing the Farmer’s Market from a Different Perspective — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM had a great time letting her toddler lead the way at the farmer’s market…
  • Ask A Farmer’s Daughter — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter answers questions about her life growing up on a small family farm in New England.
  • Giving Up the Grocery Store — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her family’s summertime challenge to eliminate trips to the grocery store and rely almost exclusively on local, farm-fresh foods.
  • Urban farming and fresh food in the city — Lauren at Hobo Mama takes trips to farms, gardens, and markets within reach of a big city.
  • Market Tip: Get to Know Your Farmers — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finally gets up the guts to talk to her farmers and learns she is among ardent food lovers.
  • New Farmer’s Market Find — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is excited to make a new find at her new farmers market.
  • “The Real World” Grassroots Edition — jessica at instead of institution takes some time out to write a love note.
  • 9 Insider Tips for Farmer’s Market Newbies — Dionna at Code Name: Mama chatted with a few farmers to bring you some insider information on how to get the most out of your local farmer’s market.
  • The Place Where I Can Say “Yes!” — Erica at ChildOrganics gives you a tour of her favorite vendors at her local farmers market and discusses the benefits of creating community through the market.
  • Raw Local Milk — Jorje shares her family’s field trip to a local dairy. Learn what you can appreciate from a small town farm at Momma
  • Italian Secret Vegetable Soup Recipe — Alinka at Baby Web convinces an Italian Farmer & Cook to reveal a precious minestrone recipe and shares it with her readers.
  • Where do our eggs come from? A visit to Sucellus Farms. — Carli at One Fit Mom takes her family to meet the chickens that have been providing their daily eggs.
  • Beyond the Farm — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and her family enjoy looking beyond the food at the local farmer’s market to see the wares of the over vendors.
  • Magic at the Market — Do you ever take time to really look at the food you eat? Amy at Anktangle enjoys marveling at the beauty (and the utility) of the foods and goods available at the farmers’ market.
  • Farmer’s Market Discoveries — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen reminisces about the discoveries she’s made at the Farmer’s Market throughout the years.
  • Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”) — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience.
  • Pick Your Own And Eat It — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares their trip to a PYO farm and the journey from picking to eating her favourite food