2013 Year in Review!

Another year ending and a new one begining. I love New Year! It is so nostalgic and hopeful. I enjoy planning for the new year’s goals and reflecting on what happened in the year ending. Here’s my year in fives.

Top 5 Selfies

I actually used my own mug as my facebook profile several times this year. Part of the reason I rarely did this before is that my kids are damn cute but it is certainly a mark of progress in my journey of self-love that I found myself cute enough to unseat the kids form this coveted spot. Oh, and I like hair color.

New Year's 2013

New Year’s 2013

red hair

red hair

pink hair

pink hair

pink streak

pink streak

white!

white!

Top 5 Moments

I finally published my Gender Neutral Parenting book in late October (print in November) I hope it really takes off in 2014

I finally published my Gender Neutral Parenting book in late October (print in November) I hope it really takes off in 2014

I got my "mom" tattoo commemorating our infertility journey and my beautiful kids.

I got my “mom” tattoo commemorating our infertility journey and my beautiful kids.

We took our first family vacation!

We took our first family vacation!

I started an etsy shop for infertility related goods and jewelry. I liked my snarky cards.

I started an etsy shop for infertility related goods and jewelry. I liked my snarky cards.

This was actually taken at the end of 2012 but that's my grandpa and my sister and cousins. Grandpa died in January which isn't "best" at all but this year was filled with thoughts of him and that *is* good!

This was actually taken at the end of 2012 but that’s my grandpa and my sister and cousins. Grandpa died in January which isn’t “best” at all but this year was filled with thoughts of him and that *is* good!

 

Top 5 Articles

1. A Framework for Feminist Parenting

What Could Feminist Parenting Look Like?

Not feminist parenting as in “I’m a feminist and a parent”, but more in the actionable, skill-based philosophy of parenting through feminism. What if you didn’t use power over your kids but instead shared power with them? What if you nurtured socially conscious adults ready to challenge patriarchy? Let’s explore a fresh look at parenting rooted in feminist ideals of respect, equality, and social justice.


Source: Getty Images

2. Are You Raising a Bully Bystander? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Steubenville is a horrific example of the bystander effect. But what if your kid is a bystander to teasing, to name calling, to social ostracizing – behaviors that some refer to as “kids being kids?” Have you addressed that? Are you sure you’ve modeled the proper way not to stand by? Let’s look at some ways parents might inadvertently be supporting bystanders.


3. Men Feel the Pain of Infertility Too

Plenty of men feel depressed and isolated because they’re unable to conceive, but there are few outlets for support, says Paige
Lucas-Stannard.


 

4. My Homeschool Philosophy Series

Part 1: Introduction Holistic Education

Part 2: Transfer, Transact, Transform

Part 3: Unschooling


5. 4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter

This video blog I did about consent was my most viewed video of the year on my new youtube channel.

Starting a new year and so excited about the changes coming! I have a new book in March (based on the Transformative Parenting class), I have a new unified look for all the websites, and I’m working on a free series of workshops that will be a kind of virtual parents group. I hope you’ll join me!

Carnival of Gentle Discipline Call for Submission on ParentingGently.com

Call for Submissions for the 3rd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline

I’m so excited to say that the Carnival is in its third year!  This year we have more great gentle parenting advice, great giveaways, and wonderful bloggers.

Well, at least I hope.  That’s where you come in!  If you are a blogger or writer please consider writing an article for the 3rd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline.

The 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline will take place June 27 through July 1.

How can you participate?

There are lots of ways!

  1. Original Posts – Submit an original post on a Gentle Discipline topic (see below for ideas) to be posted on your blog during the week of the Carnival.  This should be a well-written, unpublished piece submitted by June 18th using the submission form. You will receive instructions on when to post and header/footer information to include in your post.  I will be grouping posts by topic to debut on different days through out the week so you may submit multiple posts and they will be listed on a different day between June 25 and June 29.  The deadline for submission is Monday, June 18!
  2. If you are not a blogger: please email me at parentinggently AT gmail DOT com and I will find a blog to host your post.
  3. Discussion – Last year we had great discussion around many of the posts from bloggers and readers.  In the end this is the most valuable part of the Carnival!  I received several emails from people thanking me for opening their eyes to another way (perhaps you did too?) and that is the heart of this Carnival.  Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr – let the world know that gentle discipline works!

Oh, yeah, and PRIZES!

A Carnival and a Crusade

Carnivals are, of course, fun but this one can be so much more.  Getting the word out about the dangers of punitive discipline and about the valuable alternatives that exist can make a difference in the life of children everywhere.  You can use your blog posts and the Carnival posts to spread the word!  Tweet the Carnival (#CarGD) post it on Facebook and get the word out.  The more people who read about Gentle Discipline the more likely that we can change on child’s life for the better.

Post Ideas

Please take a look at last year’s topics for ideas.  You don’t have to consider yourself an “expert” on GD!  Writing about struggles/doubts makes GD more real to those unfamiliar with it!  You can write about any topic related to Gentle Discipline (GD) but here are some ideas;
  • Your childhood experience with/without GD
  • Why you choose GD with your kids
  • GD during difficult situations
  • Societal/family pressure to spank or give time outs
  • Permissiveness – the slippery slope and how to avoid it
  • Creating a “yes” environment
  • Using time-in instead of time-out
  • The dangers of praise
  • Respecting children’s feelings
  • Discipline through play
  • Sex differences in GD (apply differently to boys/girls? is this desirable?)
  • “The Hardest Part of GD is…”
  • Sibling “rivalry”
  • Dealing with teachers and caregivers

This is just a sample.  Feel free to post on any related topic!  Topics prohibited include spanking, corporal punishment, love-withdrawal, positive conditioning, parent-forced time-outs, withholding of basic care such as food, etc.

Please spread the word about the Carnival!  The more participants we have to stronger the cry for Gentle Discipline!  I’m a tiny blog in a big pond!  Help me get the word out!

Assumption Free Zone

You don’t have to look very far to find a hulabaloo about parenting.  Helicopter, Tiger, SAHM, WOHM, Attachment, Ferber, etc.  Everywhere you look someone is labeling and then judging other moms.

16260068_117490_rawRecently, on Facebook, a friend posted a picture of a baby being fed with a hands free system.  Her comments weren’t overly assuming (and I love her so I’m not trying to call her out or anything) but many of the comments that followed were terrible. (The picture on the right is NOT the picture posted but it is an example of a “hands-free” feeding system).

Some of the things said (I’m paraphrasing):

  • “why even have kids if you don’t want to touch them?”
  • “who needs moms?”
  • “that mom is lazy.”
  • “she thinks cleaning her house is more important.”

They knew NOTHING about the baby or mother in this picture. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.   A few people pointed out that she probably has twins (there was another empty boppy in the picture) but most didn’t think this was an excuse and some even said that breastfeeding twins is “easy”.

Gah!  You can imagine how that made me feel!

But here’s the thing – I would have said the exact same thing a few years ago. I remember actually seeing the Podee bottles in BRU and thinking “geesh, so lazy!”  Of course now I know those bottles to be life savers [1. You see I use (and promote to everyone I know) the Podee bottle system.  I really love it and it was definitely the kinder, more nurturing thing to do when my twin preemies were hungry and I had to pump and bottle feed.  (And before you ask “why didn’t your forbid bottles in the NICU?” it was more important to get my babies home, with me, than to exclusively breastfeed.  Don’t think you can know until you’ve lived it.)]

In an ideal world we would all have six arms and six breasts (and six months of maternity leave *cough*) and babies would never have breastfeeding challenges. Of course having the ability to hold your baby all day and flood their systems with oxytocin is the ideal but if you think that is worth the cost of an infant crying in hunger and not understanding why mommy isn’t coming and the resulting cortisol flooding their systems then I’m just glad you don’t have multiples. It isn’t a question of bottle propping being better than hand feeding it is about bottle proppiygng being better than being hungry and alone. I could SAFELY feed one twin while holding the other and pumping while I gently sang. He heard my voice, he wasn’t hungry and crying, and he got good cuddles in later.

In hindsight if I ever needed to bottle feed again I would choose Podee because it is an active rather than passive system – so the baby has to draw milk up and when he wants to rest he can with no drip more like from the breast.  It is not dangerous and not meant to be used unsupervised.

I wanted to leave this part out.  It was originally in the body of the post but I thought it took me off point so I took it out.  Then I thought about people assuming things about hands-free and felt I couldn’t leave it out. ]!

Then the last few weeks have been full of bashing extended breastfeeders (I prefer the term child-led) thanks to the TIME cover featuring Jamie Lynn Grummet nursing her 3 year old. The assumptions here were outrageous!  Some people called her a child molester.  They knew nothing about her or her son or the research on extended breastfeeding but they could make that massive jump from “wow, that’s odd” to “devil woman”!

It is like road rage.  It always struck me as odd that normal people could become monsters behind the wheel of a car.  My theory is that we allow cars to depersonalize us.  That isn’t another person trying to go about their day – that is a DRIVER IN MY WAY.  I DON’T CARE WHERE THEY ARE GOING THEY NEED TO MOVE!

I think our media saturated world does this too.  The anonymity of an image or a blog story allows us to depersonalize the issue and then we forget our humanity.  If you met Jamie Lynn in person and she nursed her son (probably NOT on a chair standing up) would you start screaming pervert in her face?? Most of us probably wouldn’t.  We would have a degree of respect even if we disagreed with her.

I say we challenge ourselves to STOP making assumptions.  STOP labeling people we know nothing about.  STOP treating “virtual” people differently than we would treat a flesh and blood person in our living room.  I guarantee if we can stop these things the positive energy will improve all aspects of our life.  That’s not me being new-agey – I literally think that love and peace are like a river and negative thoughts are like a dam.  It clogs the flow of ALL the energy not just the bad stuff.

Actually, Buddhism has a term for exactly this concept: Mettā (or maitrī in sanskrit).  Mettā, often translated as universal love, is a strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others.  Acharya Buddharakkhita talks about Mettā:

“Through metta one refuses to be offensive and renounces bitterness, resentment and animosity of every kind, developing instead a mind of friendliness, accommodativeness and benevolence which seeks the well-being and happiness of others. True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers.”

Imagine that! Overcoming social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers? What a radical change that would make in the world!
Of course, Christianity has the concept as well (John 13:34) but I love the way Buddhism talks of this.  The Karaniya Metta Sutta (Hymn of Universal Love) says it beautifully;

Cultivate an all-embracing mind of love
For all throughout the universe,
In all its height, depth and breadth —
Love that is untroubled
And beyond hatred or enmity.

 Ok, if you are rolling your eyes and calling me a hippy peace-freak (so?) let me make it practical;

Four Ways to Live Metta:

1. Stop commenting on other’s appearance

Even if they are “celebrities” on TV.  It is none of your business how much weight Jessica Simpson gained during her pregnancy, how quickly Beyonce lost her baby weight, or if Christina Aguilara “should” have worn a backless dress because of her body.  The excuse that they make it our business by being in the spotlight doesn’t work.  Remember we are doing this for our own well being.  Why did every description of Jamie Lynn mention her as “thin”?  Would it have been different if she was a fat mom?  Do we have a greater right to sexualize her because she’s pretty?  When you feel the urge to critique – compliment instead.  The more you do it the easier it comes.

2.  Stop commenting on other’s parenting choices.

Now, I don’t mean not commenting on the topics.  Speak out about the parenting topics you believe in but do it with a heart of sharing and support.  STOP making assumptions about the actual people behind the choices.  You can’t look at a ferber-mother and assume she has no patience for her kids.  Or a formula feeding mother and assume she doesn’t care about her child’s nutrition.  Or a non-vaxing parent and assume they don’t care about the health of the community. You can’t look at a baby using a hands-free feeder and assume mom is too self-absorbed to care.  Maybe she’s taking the picture to blog about how this thing saved her sanity?  If you don’t know all the facts then don’t speak.  Even if you do know all the facts – speak kindly with compassion.  Talk softly and carry a bug hug[2. that’s how that goes right?]. 😉

3.  Assign the best of intentions to everyone.

In gentle discipline we remind people to not assume their toddler is trying to annoy them or disrespect them when they throw a toy – but to assume they had a legitimate need.  Same here.  I always try to imagine that everyone is the best person they could be in that moment.  On the highway when someone cuts me off or gives me a rude gesture I try to think about what in their life is currently making them so angry.  Perhaps they are in a hurry on the way to the hospital to visit a sick loved one.  It would be an assumption to say they are just rude drivers when I don’t know the facts.  Basically, if you have to assume – assume the best.

4.  Stop and ask “what would I do if this person were in my living room?”

Most of us are very kind in our real lives but become “road raged” in an online environment or when we think we are removed by the cult of celebrity.  If you want to treat all people with kindness (and reap the benefits) then make it a way of life regardless of distance.  (right before publishing this I was sad to hear how this type of vitriolic attack has affected Mayim Bialik – she reminds us she is a real person.)

These four things were actually my New Year’s Resolutions back in 2002 and I can’t say enough about how they’ve changed my life.  I’m not perfect and I can snark with the rest of them (I have a hard time saying nice things about octomom or sean hannity, for example).  It is certainly a journey I choose to take every day.  I see people now wherever I go.  I never see a “driver”, “slow bank teller”, “rude nurse”.  I see people.  Good and bad – each living their own lives and trying to be the best they can be.

Acharya Buddharakkhita goes on to say that “metta is a “solvent” that “melts” not only one’s own psychic pollutants of anger, resentment and offensiveness, but also those of others.”  I have felt this work for me.  When someone is rude I don’t have to take on that anger and often my reaction is a balm to the other person.  Better yet, my kids see a mom who is (mostly) happy and accepting of all kinds of people.  My kids don’t see me call the guy in the car next to me a bad name.  I model metta and teach them to assume the best of intentions in people.

So, who’s with me? Let’s start a kinder world revolution by striving for Metta – An Assumption Free, Kinder World.


Six Years of Baby Dust

I know it isn’t April anymore but April was my 6th Blogiversary.  I can’t believe I’ve been at this for six years or how much I and my blog have changed in that time.  I started as a heart broken, angry infertile and many of you have followed my journey to the now – 3 kiddos, a SAHM, and a wonderful network of gently parenting blogger friends.  I struggle sometimes with blogging.  I can’t always write everything I want.  I struggle with finding balance and with being a perfectionist.  But, honestly, I can’t imagine my life with out this space of mine called Baby Dust Diaries.  Thank you for traveling along with me on this road less traveled.

Highlights by year:

In 2006 I turned 31:

 At midnight tonight I turn 31 years old.  I have never hated my birthday before.  I’m not the type to get upset at getting old.  I wouldn’t be 21 again if you paid me (unless, of course, you paid me enough for IVF! ).  However, this birthday just makes me want to cry.  I don’t want a birthday or a birthday cake or any festivities.  I want a BABY!

In 2007 I hit rock bottom.  I have hidden the few posts I wrote because it wasn’t me.  You can read a synopsis here.  I think that rock bottom was a necessary part of my infertility journey.  By 2008 my husband and I had survived the hardest times in our lives and our marriage and decided that we weren’t going to let infertility take away each other.  I had overcome the darkness,

I feel so blessed now by my rock-bottom landing and bounce back.  Not only has it given me back my long-lost and much needed faith in God but it has had many other blessings.

One is a wonderfully renewed marriage.  More about that later.

I am amazed to find I feel no jealousy toward mothers or pregnant women!  I am free from that oppressive, dark emotion.  I feel overjoyed for them – they are being given (or have been giving) a wonderful gift!  I have several pregnant friends and I truly feel joy for them – not forced joy.

I wonder if I’m ready to be around or hold a small child?  That one still scares me very much.  Just thinking about holding an infant makes me feel this deep, dark, hole of pain in my chest.

But my hole of pain was about to be filled!  In February of 2008 and I sent off my application for the IVF grant Partnership for Families in my essay The Big Beg (still my favorite post of all time), found a support group in Still Waters.  Of course the darkness still tried to invade in my dreams.

And then in May 2008 (my most prolific blog month ever with 32 posts in 31 days!) I started my one and only chance at IVF.  I got my first picture of my beautiful embryos!  One of these is Aellyn!!!

Of course I didn’t know that until June 1 when I had my first positive HPT

The most beautiful picture in the world!

(those damn things *do* turn pink!)

The rest of 2008 was one of the best times of my life.  Being pregnant when you thought it was something that only happened to other people is like wining the lottery.  Every day I talked to Aellyn and we danced together in the shower.  I loved her so much long before she was born.

In 2009 I finally became a mother.  It was so worth the years of waiting and all the tests and all the shots.  My baby girl was so precious and perfect.  I kept waiting to hate the first few months as many of my friends had but with Aellyn nursing like a pro and sleeping cuddled right next to me my “babymoon” was bliss not stress (not that I didn’t have my moments).  Is was in early motherhood that I found I had a passion for parenting issues like gentle discipline, breastfeeding advocacy,  and vaccine choice.

Not  one to rest on my laurels I did my frozen embryo transfer in July of 2010 while also continuing to talk about breastfeeding rights.  This time I found out I was blessed with TWINS!!  It was not an easy pregnancy but in February 2011 my beautiful baby boys, Asher and Boston, were born at 32 weeks.

Later in 2011 I made the very difficult decision to quit my job after months of discrimination and harassment at work.  It was a horrible circumstance that ended in the best blessing of being a SAHM.  My life is so full now with this,

Enjoying steak n shake after doctors apptAt the dr officeBath time Mohawk

 

2012 is going to be a beautiful year.  Follow me while I explore un/homeschooling, gentle discipline, fat acceptance, and healthful natural eating and living like my Oil Cleansing MethodLavender Rosemary Shampoo RecipeMake Your Own ToothpasteMake Your Own “Vicks” Chest Rub, and healthy, REAL food recipes like Sweet & Salty Cherry Almond Bars (Chewy too!)Make Your Own Mayo and Never Look Back!, or Cinnamon Flax Banana Bread.

Thank you for being an important part of my life.  If you are reading this please know you are a part of my village and I couldn’t do it without you.  Thank you and here’s to 6 more years!

(I think I just wrote myself a new “about me” what do ya think?)