Carnival of Gentle Discipline Call for Submission on

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  This should be a well-written, unpublished piece submitted by June 18th using the submission form.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.

Sunday Surf: January 22, 2012

[box]Welcome to Sunday Surf!  My favorite reads from around the blogosphere this past week.  You can always see what I’m reading on my homepage (middle column below Popular Posts) or you can follow my Google Reader Page!

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama

Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama are now hosting Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

  • For MLK day Lauren at Hobomama addresses Talking about race with (white) kids.   It is an excellent post and I’m sure it was hard to write (as I’ve drafted my own a few times but was afraid to publish) because white people often feel they have no right to talk about race.  Lauren argues it is important to talk about it – especially with the kids!




  • Good Googs talks about 10 Things People Say Before They Are Parents.  They are funny in that “oh, I said that” way but also important because they perpetuate discrimination against kids (“just leave them home, or at least keep them quiet!”.



And don’t forget to submit your favorite post from 2011!

The Best of Me

The only rules are:

  1. The post was written by you
  2. It was previously published in 2011
  3. Any topic – it doesn’t have to be parenting related!  (I do reserve the right to not include a post that is grossly in direct opposition to natural parenting).

That’s it!  I’d love for you to be involved as I think this will be a great list!


The deadline for submissions is January 30th 2012.

My Month With Water Kefir


Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

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 reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Since becoming a SAHM I’ve been on a streak of introducing new, more natural and healthy, things into my diet.  For example I’m making my own laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo.  I even been washing my face with oil! I’ve also been making things from scratch like bread and healthy cookies.

There were a few things that just became incongruous in my lifestyle.  One, coloring my hair which I’ll talk about soon and two, drinking large quantities of Dr. Pepper.  If you “don’t like” pop (as we call it in the Midwest) and it is easy to stay away from it for you then I’m jealous.  Sometimes when I first wake up all I can think about is a Dr. Pepper.  I’m like a junkie.  Despite abstaining during my pregnancies I picked my habit back up with much glee each time.

Now, Aellyn wants drinks (she says “bites”) of mommy’s pop.  I know there is just no way to convince her forever to drink only water if I’m not doing the same.  Thing is I hate water.  I know, I know it doesn’t “taste like anything.”  I’ve heard it all before but the fact is I don’t like the way it does or does not taste.  I can have a drink to quench my thirst when I’m working out but I don’t like to drink it at other times.

I needed a healthier drink choice I could happily share with my daughter.

I first read about water kefir, also called tibicos, when I was researching making my own yogurt.  You may have heard of water kefir’s more famous sister milk kefir which is often just called kefir.

What is Water Kefir?

Kefir is a living product.  Like yogurt is a product of milk with bacterial colonization, kefir is a product of either milk or water colonized with a symbiotic community of bacteria AND yeast. They create a matrix that looks like little gelatinous crystals called kefir or tibi grains.  They are white but can take on the colors of the sugars they are cultured in.  Here is a good example of the difference between water kefir (l) and milk kefir (r).

Milk kefir eats lactose – the sugar in milk.  Water kefir eats sucrose or fuctrose – so it needs sugar or another type of sweet like molasses.  (note: although I’ve seen recepies online for honey – honey is technically antibiotic so it is generally NOT recommended).  If you give kefir food it will thrive and grow.

Why Water Kefir?

As a cultured, fermented food it provides beneficial probiotics.  Generally the probiotics of kefir are considered 10x as powerful as those of yogurts.  Also, as water kefir does not require any dairy it is one of the few fermented foods available to those who do not tolerate dairy or who are vegan.

Probiotics help you maintain a healthy gut flora which is so important for the whole immune system.

It is super cheap to make and is self-perpetuating.  Well cared for kefir grains multiply and the other ingredients you have right in you pantry.

You can learn more about water kefir here and here.

So How Do You Make Water Kefir?

Super easy!  You need:

  • 1/4 cup of water kefir grains
  • 1/4 cup of organic brown sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • a wooden spoon
  • a glass mason jar
  • a non-metal strainer

It is important to not use purified water (because the kefir like the trace minerals in water) but also NOT to use chlorinated water.  So, if you have municipal water (and if you do, you aren’t drinking it anyways because of the fluoride, right? 🙂 ) you need to let the water sit out for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate.  Spring water is another option (but make sure it is spring water and not municipal water with the word “spring” on the label).

Step 1:  dissolve the sugar in the water.  I just stir it in but some people like to heat it up to really get it incorporated.  If you do heat it up make sure it cools completely before you introduce the living kefir grains. OPTIONALLY you can add dried fruit at this step which should be sulfur-free – available at most health food stores.  Apricots and Figs are popular ones.  I started with just the sugar.

Step 2:  pour in the kefir grains.

Step 3:  cover the jar with a lid or with a towel and rubberband.  I’m using the rubberband method.  It does not need to be airtight in this step

Step 4:  Allow the kefir to ferment for 24-48 hours.  Do a taste test.  If it is too sweet you can let it ferment for up to 6 days.  It seems people find there perfect time based on taste preference so you have to experiment.

Straining my kefir grains after 48 hours of fermentation

Step 5:  Strain the water to remove the grains, which are now ready for a second batch, into another jar that has a tight fitting lid.  In this next step you want to hold on to that CO2 so you want a lid that will hold that in.  A flip-cork style is best (see below).

Step 6:  Now you can add flavors!  Fruit juices, fruit, vanilla, ginger, the options are endless.  I’ll list my experiments below.

Step 7:  Allow this mixture to further ferment for 24 hours then drink!  You should have a light bubbly carbonation and a sweet and tangy drink.

Stumbling Along

I got my kefir grains in the mail 2 weeks before Christmas and immediately started my first batch!  The instructions that came with the grains mentioned that it can take the grains several fermentation cycles to acclimate to their new environment and I’ve found this to be true.  I don’t feel I’ve gotten much fermentation happening.  I feel like I’m drinking sugar water and don’t notice any carbonation.  I should taste a decreased sweetness but it has really been too sweet.

In my 3rd batch I put blueberries in the second fermentation and the next day poured out a gelatinous mixture.  I wish I had videoed it! lol.  It was like loose jello. Clearly something is going on, right?

This led me to research and this is when I learned about the chlorine problem and to not use metal utensils.  Sigh.  I’m not going to give up.

My next two batches were delicious.  I used raspberries and lemon in the second fermentation and made a delicious raspberry lemonade.  I’m still not feeling any carbonation but I might be expecting too much?  I’m going to keep at it.  Also, this week since I have been drinking this now for a while I stopped eating my daily yogurt to see if some of my previous intestinal problems would return (I have IBS) and they have not.  So, I feel that I’m at least getting the probiotics I would have gotten in yogurt.

My 2nd fermentation with raspberries and lemon (l) and my 1st fermentation (r) of the next batch

I’m still craving carbonation and I think I may have found an alternative solution to that but the water kefir tastes great and is another traditional, healthy food I can add to my diet!  I say, the experiment was definitely worthwhile!

Fermentationally yours,

Baby Dust

Have you tried kefir or water kefir?


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:

  • Make your own moisturizer! — Megan at boho mama whips up a winter skin-friendly moisturizer.
  • Cold Water Only — Brittany at The Pistachio Project talks about how you do not need hot water to wash laundry.
  • Family Cloth… Really?? — After lots of forethought and consideration, Momma Jorje finally decides to take the plunge with family cloth.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about decluttering her home in an attempt to create a gentler living space. She takes on a new project where she sets a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling every day.
  • Pros and cons of family cloth — Lauren at Hobo Mama would love to continue replacing paper products with family cloth … if she could only get over how damp she feels.
  • Craftily Parenting — Kellie at Our Mindful Life finds that crafting makes her a better parent.
  • Changes — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one area to experiment with, so she wrote a long post about all the fun changes initiated in her life!
  • Life without Internet: Not all it’s Cracked up to Be — Adrienne at Mommying My Way tries to go a week without the Internet, only to realize a healthy dose of Internet usage really helps keep this stay-at-home mom connected.
  • My Progression to Raw Milk — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her natural parenting progression all the way to trying raw milk.
  • mama’s new little friend. — Sarah at Bitty Bird tries a menstrual cup to “green her period,” and is pleasantly surprised when she falls in love with the product!
  • Before you throw it out, try homemade laundry soap! — Jennifer at Practical OH Mommy shows visual proof that homemade laundry soap is cheaper, easier, and works better than the store-bought chemicals!
  • Oil, Oil, No Toil, No Trouble — K from Very Simple Secret talks about her foray into the oil-cleansing method.
  • I Need a Hobby — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro couldn’t decide which experiment to run, so she did them all.
  • 7 days of macrobiotics for a balanced family — The Stones make a [successful] attempt to release the “holiday junking” with 7 days of macrobiotic meals to balance their bodies and souls. Elisabeth at Manic Mrs. Stone includes an explanation of macrobiotics.
  • Chemical Free Beauty Challenge — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction turned to natural alternatives for her daily beauty and cleaning routine, with great results.
  • Greening my Armpits!? My Green Resolution — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about how she decided to give up her traditional antiperspirant and make the switch over to crystal deodorants and definitely isn’t looking back!
  • Going Raw (for a while) — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares her family’s experience with raw food.
  • Do we get to eat gluten today? — Sheila at A Gift Universe has been trying to figure out if her son does better with or without gluten in his diet … but it’s really hard to tell for sure.
  • Hippies Can Smell and Look Fabulous Too! — Arpita of Up, Down And Natural details her experience of going shampoo-free and overhauling her cosmetics to find the balance between feeling beautifully fabulous and honoring her inner hippie.
  • Our cupboards are full…but there’s nothing to eat — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud takes on the challenge of chomping through the contents of her storecupboard rather than going shopping — but there’s something that she just can’t bring herself to do …
  • Elimination Experiment 3.0MudpieMama recounts the messy adventures of her baby daughter trying to be diaper free.
  • Family Cloth Trial — Amyables at Toddler in Tow talks about making and using family cloth wipes in the bathroom for the first time.
  • Taking a Hiatus — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares how her experience of much less internet interaction affected her family and how it will change her approach in the future.
  • Trying Out the Menstrual Cup — Lindsey at an unschooling adventure ditches the tampons and gives menstrual cups a try.
  • Managing Food Waste in Our Home — Tired of the holiday waste, Robbie at Going Green Mama takes a weeklong focus on reducing food waste in her home, and learns some lessons that can take her through the new year.
  • Going Offline, Cloth Tissues, and Simplicity — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses over her time away from blogging and social networking. In addition, she shares her newfound love of cloth tissues and simplicity.