Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sleep Training/CIO

I hear a lot of parents discuss sleep training and cry it out as techniques for getting their children to sleep. There are plenty of reasons people do this. Mostly because they think they should, but often also because they want time with a spouse or time alone. The thing is that sleep training can be harmful. There are plenty of articles out there that discuss studies and personal experiences. What I wonder, though, is why is it okay to leave a child unattended while awake? When is another time you would leave an infant alone and unsupervised, no a baby monitor camera in the room doesn't count, while awake?

I never planned to have children, yet I have three and I chose to rise to the occasion and meet their needs. That is my job from before they are born until they are adults. If I was not up for the job I would have let someone adopt them. During a discussion, I told another mom this week that people do not always understand that children are a job from birth to past the age of twenty. If you have them, love and nurture them. If you thought cry it out/sleep training was the thing to do please do some more research. I can tell you not only from personal experience, but also from my years as a teacher, that children need their parents to be available 24 hours a day. If you are not up for the challenge then please do not have kids. If you are up for the challenge make sure you have support for the times when you have had enough and need a moment or two. This way your child is not left alone when he or she needs supervision and love. No one is perfect, certainly I am not perfect, but we can make each day better than the one before.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Note For Parents Regarding Safety In Schools

I want to be sure parents understand, public school teachers work very hard. Most, if not all of them, have your child's best interests at heart. Keep in mind this information is coming from a former kindergarten teacher who now homeschools her children. I do want to make sure parents know something else. In light of budget cuts, your child's classroom and/or school may be at risk. I hate to "go there" but people have been asking me how I would keep my students safe if a tragedy happened where I worked. The truth is that I have participated in many lock down practices and one situation that was "for real". The real situation happened because a man had robbed either a local bank or local store, I cannot remember now which it was, and ran through our campus to hide in the wooded area behind the buildings. Though we were there several hours later than the end bell, we were safe and so were the children. We were fortunate. Here are a few things I want for EVERY parent to insist upon at a child's school. Remember, due to budget cuts a teacher may request these things to be done and they may hear the word "NO". Parents can make a difference by insisting upon safety measures including, but not limited to, the ones I list below.

1. Create a check in process in the front office including a photo ID.
2. Hire a full time officer for EVERY school site even if the PTA or SAC has to fund this.
3. All windows need window shades that are NOT broken or missing on all windows.
4. There should be a key for EVERY teacher's classroom door and perhaps a deadbolt above the children's reach.
5. Doors should be locked after the begin of the school day.
6. A fence/gate that opens and closes needs to be around the campus building. (This is a tough one to get folks.)
7.  You need a way for substitutes to lock their doors without another teacher having to do it. Not having this idea in place will not only put the substitute's class at risk, but also the other teacher's class at risk as she/he runs to lock BOTH doors.
8. Practice for emergencies as a school. Have a plan.
9. Have a safe word that tells if someone is in the room or not. For example, daisies, fish, or shoes.
10.  Always have an accurate list of who is on campus and where he/she is located even when at special area classes.
11. Insist upon small class sizes even in special area classes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Raise a Healthy Child

How to Raise a Healthy Child

1. Eat healthfully during pregnancy.
2. Choose a birth practitioner, not a surgeon unless you have a high risk situation.
3. Avoid doctors unless you have a health concern, need a referral, or someone is ill.
4. Try a chiropractor or naturopathic doctor before a conventional one unless someone is having an emergency and is in need of a hospital.
5. Nurse your child. If you cannot nurse check into milk banks and HM4HB.
6. Once your child is eating solid foods, hopefully well after 6 months of age, focus on organic and healthy foods rather than processed GMO foods.
7. Teach your child how diseases are passed from person to person. Teach prevention as well.
8. Make sure you have clean water and a healthy environment.
9. Avoid vaccines as they do contain foreign DNA of other humans and non-human animals as well as known carcinogens.
10. Avoid unnecessary surgeries and procedures such as circumcision, ear piercing, fluoride treatments, etc.
11. Teach your child self respect and respect of others.
12. Enjoy life, laugh, love, play, etc.

Sometimes we do everything "right" and still a child is ill. If this happens check into food allergies and leaky gut. It can be those or something else. It is rare, though, that a child will have health issues if we value and protect natural immunity, an intact body, and an intact immune system.

Much love and peace to you!

Why I Am NOT a Supermom

There have been many compliments. I appreciate them. There have been many who asked me for help, advice, or a brainstorming session. Thank you for trusting me to support and help. I have to say though, I am NOT supermom. Not by a long shot!

I notice that some of my friends get upset because their children do not behave the way mine do. They have even gone as far as to say that my children are just different and that children like mine are rare. This is not true. Anyone can behave in a responsible, kind, and helpful manner. It does take time, patience, and support to get to that point. Every person has his or her own timetable when maturing and learning.

My children were born with interest in learning about our world. They want me to be proud and they want to help. Most children, if not all, want these same things. When my children ask to help clean, I make sure they can in their own way even if they are very young. My two year old currently LOVES to use the spray bottle to clean the house. I have to make sure the spray bottle has only water so he doesn't harm the dogs or himself, but he can do it. By allowing this natural curiosity to bloom he will become a responsible adult. If I chose to ignore his interests and do everything without his help, he would quite possibly lose interest and begin to think that I am responsible for his behavior and choices.

My oldest daughter often will clean when I am in the shower or busy with her brother. She likes to help the family especially when it is her own idea. She is very much a self starter. If I ordered her around all day, even in a gentle way, she would not get as much done. Trust me, I have tried that idea before and it was not fruitful. When I stop micro-managing, the children do a lot more around the house. When I have fewer rules, they find it easier to help and their expectations tend to be higher than I think they will be.

Some children prefer to wash dishes or cook and others prefer to mop or garden. Not everyone will like all tasks the same. It can be advantageous to have all family members sit and talk about how they can help each other with little to no frustration. My daughters love to clean any mess that is not their own which makes me giggle. They would love for me to clean their dinner plates and in turn they are happy to clean the toy room and bring laundry downstairs. I clearly have the easier job when they choose to do this!

I want to also mention that two of my three children often have meltdowns due to their sensory issues. During these meltdowns they often do not realize other people are present. There is basically no way of calming them until the meltdown runs its course. So when people say that my children are easier than theirs or my kids are rare, I feel frustrated. No, my kids are not the exception. They are children who have had the opportunity to seize the day and express themselves. They have parents who are willing to rationalize why we keep our home clean and how we can help each other through actions as well as through respect. I have worked myself ragged to be patient, kind, supportive, and model positivity for my children. To say that they were born like this ignores my hard work as well as my children's hard work.

I want for others to know that every child has potential. If a child is not doing what you want, then take some time to evaluate the child's likes, dislikes, and other behaviors. Maybe you are expecting one thing and they prefer something else that is equally helpful. I am not blaming anyone here. Just pointing out that sometimes perspective has helped me to calm down and find solutions. No one out there is a bad parent because his or her child refuses to clean up toys or do any other chore. My point is that working with our children instead of against them can work out. If I can do it, so can you. I promise. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Should I Parent Without Coercion?

I used to make my children sit and have time outs. I used to raise my voice even when a child was near me. If these techniques worked for a short time, they never worked long term. I was not a bad parent and I did not use these techniques daily. But they were used sometimes. I hear people discuss children testing boundaries. I wish they knew what I know now. You do not have to yell, punish, or take anything from your child unless he or she is being unsafe with said item. (In that case you can keep the item and child safe for a time then give the item back if age appropriate.) There is a way to parent without coercion. You see what I found is that when I tried to intimidate someone into making a kind responsible, or helpful choice he or she often ended up making the choice because I said so. The definition of coercion as found on the site is


[koh-ur-shuh n] 
1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

My children now make choices because they are kind, responsible, or helpful rather than because I said so. This means that they are learning and beginning to understand empathy, how to take care of their things, and how to make choices independent of my wants and desires. I cannot go to college with them or be in the car every time they drive. I cannot punish a 20 year old because I don't like a choice he or she made. My children need to know how to make choices on their own that are sound in judgement.

There is the added issue of coercion teaching children that bigger is better which often leads children to think that bullying someone who is smaller is acceptable. This was a constant issue in my kindergarten classroom and also when I worked in daycare. The children who took from others were often, though not always, children whose parents went heavy on coercion and punitive parenting techniques. There were occasions when a child was developmentally not ready to share or take turns which is fine, but when a neurotypical six year old child is constantly hitting others and taking their things something is going on in that child's life that to cause such a behavior to repeat.

So how can you deal with a child who is not responsible or a child who refuses to listen without punishments? My answer is to model responsible choices, have patience, use your words, practice what to do in different situations, and use play to teach skills. It is not easy to go this route, but helping children to grow into responsible adults without coercion is worth the time and effort.

Anyone can parent without coercion. If you were raised with coercion, it may be hard to break those binds but you can do it. Seek out support. Take breaks when you need to. Know that no one is perfect and we all have easy days as well as hard days when parenting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should We Push Our Children To Do Things?

A few weeks ago our sitter said something that rubbed me the wrong way. However, it did make me stop and reassess how I parent and how I aid in my children's personal growth. Many know that I am more of an instinctual parent than a demanding one. I prefer for my children to grow and learn because they want to, not because I force them to do this. It is a HUGE help to work with children who have sensory issues rather than try and force them to do what I want them to do.

So when our sitter said that I should push my son and that he "needs to be pushed to do things", I really was not pleased. First, I am the employer and I was not harming my son by allowing him to use his words and make a choice for himself. Second, I have been purposefully modeling peaceful parenting techniques in front of her because she is, now, newly married and wants to start a family soon. When my son said he did not want to go with her to the mailbox, I asked again to be sure and allowed him to stick with his choice. Validating his choices, as long as he is not in danger, is my job.

My son has always had issues going with others whether it be our nanny, his dad, or the in laws. Every day when I left for work he screamed and screamed nearly the whole day. He knows all of these people fairly well so not wanting to go with them is a worry for me BUT he is young and has always been this way. I must honor his feelings and worries so he learns that his needs will be met and exceeded.

I will say that when someone makes a comment like that I do tend to become annoyed, then I reassess just in case I am wrong, then I move on in an appropriate manner. No one is perfect. Our children do learn and grow. Sometimes as a parent it can be easy to get used to a certain stage or behavior and expect that daily from a child when the child may actually be ready for a new stage.

That being said, I will not push my child. Instead I will support him just as I support his sisters when they are ready to try new and different things. I will share information, my life experiences, and help in any way I can. I will encourage. I will not, however, force them to do things that are unnecessary or harmful. I will not steamroll their wants, desires, or self esteem. There will be times I have to say no or redirect, but there will be a great many more times when I can gently foster my children's interests and capabilities as they grow. No, he did not need t be pushed to walk to the mailbox with the sitter. He more likely would have screamed, thrown his body on the concrete and banged his head repeatedly. This is far more dangerous than waiting until he is a bit older and ready emotionally to walk to the mailbox with someone other than me.

(Sidenote: I still do not know if it is separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, or perhaps difficulty adjusting to change that spurred his anxiety over being with someone other than me BUT in the past six months he has been able to stay with or go out with my husband a few times so progress is being made on my son's terms as he is able to handle it.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Power Trips

Often I come into contact with people who say words like me, my, mine a lot. You would think they were referring to a home, clothing, or a job. Sadly they are referring to their children. When I come across a parent who says "It is MY choice!" I wonder if they truly understand what this exclamation indicates. Ownership of another human being in the United States of America is not legal. Please stop regarding your children as something to own rather than someone to protect. Please protect their rights, their bodies, and their futures by NOT putting them through unnecessary and harmful practices. I thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mental Health and Our Home

Sometimes people think I am a negative person. It is not that I am negative, but rather that I have a lot going on and because I am very idealistic and very much a self -starter that I tend to seem negative. The truth is that I can change a lot of things in life. I can do a lot for others and give information to others. There is one exception.

My significant other struggles with mental health issues. He is very smart, articulate, can be fun, and can be caring. The thing is that he is not always this way. I do love him and I do want to be with him. I am glad that we have children and he is a good dad when his mental health is on an upswing. When his mental health is on a down swing it is a little more difficult to be thankful. It is like being a single parent with four children rather than a person who co-parents and has three children.

In some ways I do blame him. A parent needs to do everything in his or her power to be healthy in order to be there for the kids. I mean really, forget about me being the spouse and me needing his support, the kids have to come first and be taken care of. In other ways I can see his worry and stress. Who really wants to dredge up childhood abuses that were so horrid they are now repressed memories? Who wants to go off medications that make you relax and forget about the few memories you do have that were so bad? And let us be honest..depression is a bitch and it can be nearly impossible to climb out of depression.

But then again I need him and my children need him. We don't just need him to be here physically. We need him to be present as a father and husband. I need for him to be the same person day to day, not a person who has mood swings all the time without warning.  It is not an unsafe situation physically, but truly mental health issues can bring the mood of the whole family down.

My hope for the near future is to help him make peace with going to a psychologist of some sort who can not only prescribe medicine, but also can help him address childhood issues when he is ready and as quickly or slowly as he can handle. I doubt his current diagnosis is correct because he really has not improved much over the past 5 or 6 years. My hope is that he will continue to make efforts to stay on his medicine until he no longer needs it to handle life. My hope is that he will seek treatment so that our home life is a bit more joyful and has less of a dark cloud over it. Our children deserve the best. I deserve the best. truth be told, HE deserves the best.

So if you know someone who struggles with these issues please do not judge harshly. Please offer to lend an ear or help watch the children so the spouse gets a break. Please be available for the person who is struggling with mental health issues. Please pay attention for signs of things worsening. I hate to say you should step in BUT if someone seems like they would harm themselves or others please step in. The quality of life for those who have mental health issues and their loved ones is often greatly diminished and not just for a day or two.over time it can be really trying to deal with such issues.

I am grateful to my friends who listen without judgement. They do not ask me why I stay with such a man or why I do not force him to see a counselor. They are gentle and kind with me while being honest as well. I appreciate the support.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You Know You Are the Parent of a Child With Allergies When...

This is a conversation I had with my 29 month old son earlier this evening.

Ezra: I want cow milt (milk)
Me: We tried cow milk last weekend and you threw up all day, we tried it two days ago and your face got booboos on it. We need to drink mommy milk or water.
Ezra: Cow milt! Cow milt! Cow milt!
Me: Would you like to try cow milk again? It may give you tummy troubles or more booboos.

So I pour a TINY bit of cow milk into a cup.


Me: ok so would you like water or mom's milk?
Ezra: Water and granola bar please mom

At least he is starting to understand the food allergy/sensitivity business.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

GMO Labeling

Gmo, genetically modified organism, labeling is important to everyone whether they know it or not. It is even more important to my family than most people realize. My son breaks out when he eats strawberries and corn. Corn also gives him behavior problems. I have written about this issue, as well as his sensory problems lessening with diet changes, many times before today. It turns out that ONLY sprayed gmo strawberries and corn cause him these issues. The food we get at our local, organic, no spray farm is perfectly fine for him. He also has allergies to gluten, dairy, egg, and carrots that may very well be due to gmo issues or sprays. I have not yet been brave enough to do food trials of these foods with him yet. We NEED to know what is in processed foods and when contamination may occur with fruits and vegetables being set out at the grocer should our farm stand be closed in the off season. I realize not all election results are in at this time, but I am truly saddened to see so many Californians voting against my child's health and safety. Do they not know that prices will only go up if manufacturers choose to charge more? Do they not know that the packages are constantly changing anyway so no higher costs will be incurred due to the addition of gmo warnings on labels? I hope that when I wake up in the morning, California will be safer for my children but I am not so sure that will happen. Thank you to those who did take the time to research and vote. To those who did not, I hope the next time this topic crosses your path, you remember my son and how this issue directly affects so many others.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Naturalist...

Dear Naturalist,

First, let me say thank you. I know it looked rainy and you were concerned about your animals and specimens being safe. Thank you for coming anyway. Thank you also for making an expensive program affordable for a small homeschool group to afford. We do appreciate your time and knowledge.

I do need to let you know something for future programs. Sometimes homeschool groups have young children. If you are not interested in having young children participate please speak up during the planning stage of the event. We would understand. Also, if you are not comfortable having your animals near children who are living with special needs please mention that during the planning stage. Keep in mind that most homeschooling groups do have toddlers and preschoolers as well as children living with special needs.

You mentioned working with older children which is great. Keep in mind, though, that younger children have different developmental needs and stages. When you requested that no child pick up a rock or stick at a regional park, I was a little surprised. Surely you were trying to keep everyone safe which I understand completely. However, my toddler is usually allowed to hold a thin stick or, as when you gave him a dirty look, hold a pine needle. This is part of normal exploration and learning. As I directed my son toward an area further from the animals because he had items in his hand, he protested because he loves spiders and snakes. Sadly you chose to interrupt my interaction with my son to tell me how you cannot compete with his noise. I was already on the case and the issue would have resolved much more quickly had you stayed out of it. Did you hear me clearly enough when I said, as kindly as I could muster, that he is two and this is normal behavior even though he is living with Sensory Processing Disorder? Did you notice how four parents, all paying clients just like me by the way, walked to me and supported me as I brought my son to a location further from you? Please know that I understand where you are coming from, but I need for you to understand that my son lost out on part of a very educational experience because of your choices. I will not go into the detail regarding how far my child has come since the days of banging his head repeatedly for up to an hour. I will say that if all he did was yell a few times while outdoors, that is huge progress in his situation.

I do hope you enjoyed your time with the other children and parents. They seemed to have fun too. My daughters enjoyed learning about scorpions, snakes, and spiders. I chose not to confront you because I was not calm and in that case nothing good would have come from such an exchange. I do hope you will think about the development of young children and elementary age children before you do another program. I also hope you enjoyed the tip our group gave you. I always tip for a service rendered because it is not easy to present to children. I hope that you continue to serve the community with naturalist programs because you are very knowledgeable. Just please keep in mind who your audience is each time.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Please Validate Your Child's Feelings

I often see young children being told "it is ok" or "calm down" when crying because they are hurt or sad. I know the parents probably feel like others are staring at them or judging them. Honestly though, I am thankful when a parent scoops up a child who is having a hard time and validates the child's feelings. We all have feelings. We all have the right to express those feelings in a safe way. Young children often do this by crying. Crying relieves pressure and stress.

Please validate your child's feelings as normal and necessary. No one thinks you are  bad parent because your child has feelings. If a child is stifled and bottles feelings up now, he or she will not be able to work through larger emotions when grown. Eventually all those bottled feelings WILL come out very possibly in a less than safe manner. This is most definitely part of why we have violence in the world.

Thank you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Memorization Versus Practice and Use

My son likes to make letters with toothpicks, clay, rice, stickers, and other items.
Today I overhead a conversation between two parents while out and about. The discussion was about memorization and how they still remember things they memorized in school now that they are adults. One parent mentioned an educator she knows who suggested memorization occurring at a quicker pace if the information is put to music. Most people would not think anything of this conversation. I will be honest, I am not like other people and I question everything. This conversation made my stomach turn a bit sour. Keep in mind that I taught for many years and currently teach my own children at home. In my experience, children who know how to look up and use information are quicker to solve problems and can see problems from varying viewpoints more easily than children who have spent much of their time memorizing facts and figures only to be forced to regurgitate the information.

We humans naturally memorize information we use often and benefit from research skills. If I know the way home, then I can get home safely as well as teach someone else how to get to my home. If I memorize times tables I may or may not be able to recall them out of order to solve problems because outside of school my daily life may not include the need for this skill especially the use of two digit numbers. It is more important to give our children repeated experiences to practice skills and use information, than to have them sit and work on a worksheet or sit and look through flash cards. Remember, repetition and practice are necessary and a child will not learn everything there is to know about a topic in one sitting anyway even if you use flashcards and forced memorization.

Below are some ideas that will help your child practice skills without forcing memorization on the child. You can even use flashcards for some of the ideas! You are still practicing commonly known information, but not keeping your child from using the information in different and creative ways to think critically. I hope that my post helps inspire you to find hands on ways to teach children rather than using rote memorization to teach topics.

1. Play go fish
2. Play memory
3. Teach someone else the information
4. Draw an advertisement
5. Write a story or paragraph
6. Use the information to solve a problem
7. Science experiments

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Need The Bucket

I will be using colorful have been warned.

Today I needed a Fuck It Bucket. What is that you say? Well many years ago I taught kindergarten with a very wise woman who stole this idea from a book she was reading. If I knew who authored it I would let you  know but I do not remember. Basically the idea is that you get a bucket with your favorite candy, wine, or even a book and when life seems to be throwing everything negative at you all at one time you say "FUCK IT" and get something out of the bucket and consume it. So yes, today I needed a fuck it bucket. I think my to do list tomorrow will include making one.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Kids' Classes Are Stressful...For Me

I am a peaceful/attachment parent. I am not perfect, but I work hard to make each day better than the last. One of the things we save our money for is community center classes for our children. They each choose what they want to do and we make sure they can attend.

My son is a toddler and has gone to his class of choice, toddler gym, for nearly a year. He enjoys this for the most part. Sometimes he becomes stressed if there are people in his personal space or if his sensory issues are bothering him on that particular day for some reason or another.

It seems, though, that every time I take him to class people try to chat with me which I really do not mind. The problem I am running into is that these people are very confused as to why my family operates the way it does. I do try to be an example of speaking and modeling instead of threatening and pulling on a child. I leave info cards about peaceful and attachment parenting in the restrooms as well. However, sometimes I end up spending more time educating others than time with my child or children.

For example, one time a lady noticed that my son was not interested in speaking to another child. She was concerned, though I was not, I went on to explain that some children prefer to take their time in getting to know others. I also threw in a quick bit of info about sensory processing disorder. The lady, meaning well, went on to say how preschool helps with that. In her defense, she did not know I hold  a master's in teaching or that we homeschool. I probably had a horrible look on my face because I was so shocked that anyone still thinks socialization occurs in early childhood classrooms at an acceptable rate. I quickly recovered and let her know all the information above and that we are working on an new evaluation for my son.

Today another gal walked up to me and noticed that my son had drawn with yellow marker on his legs. He did this in the car on the way to class which is fine by me. He even said "tada" when finished which was really cute. The lady said something to the effect of oh I see he did art on his legs. I said that yes sometimes he does. One of his sisters used to do that too. She said oh and his toenails are purple too I guess he drew on them too. I said oh well that is nail polish. He asked for it so I painted his nails. She said oh he must like to copy his mommy. I pointed to my unpainted toenails and said no actually we don't do gender roles at our house so he made the choice to paint his nails on his own. She looked confused.

I do not mind being an example. I do mind having to stop and educate when it is a time for my son and I to spend together bonding. It just seems that living in California, there should be less people to educate and more people who peacefully parent. Ok I think my vent is over. Thank you for listening. Now I can be a good example again.:)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Thought He Was Allergic to Strawberries...

My son has a great many food sensitivities and allergies. He did not have them at birth, they are a result of a vaccine injury. We thought we had a list of all his allergens. Then, one day, he had strawberries and began to rash up everywhere. I believe he was about one to one and a half year old at the time.

So I dutifully kept the rest of the family from strawberries because even a kiss with the juice on our lips would cause him to have a rash. He didn't seem bothered by the rash and he did not go into anaphylaxis, thank goodness, so I figured he had a chance to grow out of this allergy.

Not long ago, sometime last spring, we found a local certified organic farm nearby our new house rental. They have a u-pick field with many different fruits and vegetables depending on the time of year. I decided to allow my son to pick strawberries, Benadryl was in my bag just in case. Lo and behold, he did not rash up though juice was on his hands. When we got home I rinsed the berries and allowed him to have two small ones. Again, no rash. I waited several days and then allowed him to have a couple more berries with a meal. Still no rash.

At this point I figured we were in luck! He can have organic strawberries! YAY! So the next week, instead of trekking three kids to the farm on a hot day, I took them to the farmer's market. Most of the booths had certified organic produce and I was able to purchase strawberries that were organic. My son tried these berries and immediately rashed up but only on his face, not all over his body.

The next week I went back to the organic farm and asked if there was a difference between the way in which they treat their plants and the way other organic farmers grow. They told me that yes, in addition to not having genetically modified plants, they chose not to spray the plants AT ALL. They did not even use organic sprays while other farms may.

So apparently my son reacts greatly to genetically modified strawberries,mildly to sprayed strawberries, and not at all to organically grown and NOT sprayed strawberries. Know what you are eating folks. And keep in mind that an allergy may not be to the food but rather to the genetic modifications OR the soil, spray, or type of water used to grow the plants.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Parenting at the Park

My children are homeschooled. In order to stay busy, active, and have fun we frequent local parks. Sometimes my children enjoy playing together or alone. More often, my three kids want me to watch them, talk with them, and explore with them. While I do sometimes chat with other care givers at the park. my children do come first. If I happen to be talking to someone and on of my children needs me, then I end the conversation and go to my child.

I would love to say that I don't judge the parents who are not present for their children at the park. I am happy when moms or dads can get together with their friends while children play. The thing is that I often see children upset because they want help and the parent is on the phone or talking to a friend. I have also seen children harm others while the parents were busy doing other things. I often see parents who would rather sit or stand in one area, than walk to the child and see what he or she needs. Screaming across the park is not really doing anyone a favor. It just makes a parent look like they don't want to be a parent. This behavior teaches the child that the parent does not care about his or her needs.

If you need a break from your child, perhaps letting the child play in a fenced in back yard or watch a movie inside the house is a safer and more responsible choice than going to a park. Save the park for a day or time when you feel recharged, refreshed, ready to take on the world. We all have times when we are tired or need a break. I have those times often, too. I would love to stand and chat with friends all day long, but I chose to be a mom of three so I cannot always have what I want.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Myth of Parents' Rights

Many times I hear people speak of parents' rights. Here in the United States we have a love affair with power and telling others what to do. No wonder we assume that with age or with higher degrees a person has authority over others. The problem is that we do not actually have rights over others. I often come back to the 14th Amendment because it established equal rights under federal laws. This amendment does not discriminate between sexes, ethnicities, jobs held, amount of wealth, or any other factor. Yes, children do have equal rights under the law.

To be clear we have no rights over our children. Instead, we have responsibilities to them. Each child has his or her own hopes, dreams, mind, and body. Our only job is to keep them safe from harm until they are old enough and wise enough to do this for themselves. Rarely does this responsibility require a medical decision to be made due to imminent death. This responsibility never requires hitting a child or calling a child names.After all, discipline comes from within, not from punitive measures.

So then, what should a parent do? A parent must be sure a child has clothing, a school, food, can participate in his or her interests, and is kept from allergies or harmful animals to name a few basics. The great thing about this ideal, is that we lay the ground work of respect, kindness, and positive decision making while our children learn from our example then go out and create a life for themselves bit by bit. None of this has to cost a lot of cash but it does take time. But as a dear friend often says, "Why have children if you don't want to spend time with them?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Survive a Sensory Meltdown

In light of the horrible meltdowns my son had last night, I thought I would write a quick list as a reminder to myself and others that these meltdowns do end and we can get through them. I will say that prevention is key, but then again you cannot always prevent every trigger a child may have. For example, my son flipped out at one point because he thought I had my husband's pillow downstairs when really it was my pillow. My son is 27 months and did NOT get this concept in the midst of his meltdown.

1. Take deep breathes. Just do it. It works.
2. Be patient, though this is easier said than done.
3. Walk away if your child is in a safe place and you need a moment to calm down.
4. Give a bear hug or take a step back depending on the signals your child is sending regarding how close he wants you to be.
5. Remember, meltdowns may be resolved quickly or they may drag on. If it takes time, then it takes time. BUT the meltdown WILL end eventually. Sometimes endurance is necessary.
6. Make sure you have enough to eat and drink. If your energy is low, you will be less likely to deal with the meltdown properly which may escalate your child's behaviors.
7. Get support from friends, family, a mom's group, or others. Have someone you can call, email, or invite over if you need support.
8. Remember, this will pass. It will be okay. There is no emergency, though your child feels as if there is an emergency. You must be calm to show your child that it will be okay. By showing a calm example, your child will see that it is possible to calmly deal with stress. Keep in mind that it takes a long time for some sensory children to get this concept. Consistency is key.

You can do this. The meltdown will end. You are an awesome parent!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Free Range Kids

I have, for many years, been a free range mom. My children are allowed to play on their own, make their own fun, choose how much or little food or TV they have, and so on. While I do keep an eye out for my children, I do not micro-manage their day or lives. I model good decision making and allow them to make their own mistakes when necessary. Yes, my children are free range and I do believe that MOST people are good. However, there are situations where being a free range child is not necessarily safe. As a parent I have to realize that my children's mind swill not be totally formed until their early 20s. This means that my children still need me to watch out for them though I may choose not to interfere unless they are truly in danger.

For example, two of my children have sensory issues. One time my daughter living with sensory issues heard a train at the park and tried to jump from the highest point on the playground equipment. Thankfully I ran and caught her in mid-air. She would have broken an arm or possibly busted her head open very easily from that height because the ledge was taller than me and she tends to get hurt just be walking normally. Thankfully she was not at the playground with just her sister or alone.

My son has food allergies, but he is 27 months. I often have to be sure that his food choices are free of allergens so he does not begin bleeding from his intestine or break out in a rash. One of my daughters gets hives from spiders so she will not ever be too far from a caregiver in case she has a restricted airway and needs medical attention. A friend of mine has a daughter who often walks off with strangers if given the opportunity. There are times we must keep our eyes open while still allowing our children to explore and make their own choices.

Some will say that I am crazy because this is, in their eyes, not truly free range parenting. However, a HUGE part of having children is recognizing what they are capable of and what they are not. Many states also have laws regarding how old your child must be in order to be left unsupervised or in charge of another child. If you ignore the laws you may be putting your child in a situation where he or she will be in a more strict environment than you would like because you may then be "in the system". The key here is to be mindful of your area and what the norms happen to be. perhaps being at the park but not right beside your child is more appropriate than dropping a five year old off and leaving for a run.

I love having free range children. I encourage all parents to try this idea out. Just be aware that there may be age restrictions in your area. Also be aware that sometimes unforseen situations come about and your child may need you to be around the corner or across the park.

You do not have to like my way of free range parenting, nor do you have to do the same. Just keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with keeping an ear or eye out for your children while allowing them to roam as long as the distance they roam from you is developmentally appropriate. As you can see above, my daughters were fine crossing a log they found. However, my son wanted his dad's help. They let us know what they could handle and we were there in case they wanted or needed us.:)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School

It has been a busy couple of weeks in my home. My husband started a new job, my children are back at our homeschool, and we are attending regular meetups and play dates. I love being busy and hate being bored so this is perfect for me. My children love having time to learn but also time to play with friends and do science projects. We are looking forward to an exciting autumn full of learning and new adventures!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Mission

I enjoy helping others. I remember what it was like to have very little in the way of resources, yet to have a family to support. One of my goals this year has been to work to help others. I am now able to do just that in small doses. If others chip in, then more people can get a helping hand. If you know someone who could use a gift card or even a greeting card with a kind message inside please let me know. I will send as many as I am able. Again, If others chip in, then this can become a way to help more people. You can nominate on my Facebook page by messaging me their full name and current address. Thank you in advance for brightening someone's day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Open Letter to Chancellor Merkel and the United States Congress

Chancellor Merkel and Members of Congress,
It has come to my attention that 20 members of the United States Congress have contacted Chancellor Merkel in order to encourage male genital mutilation. This takes time away from creating solutions that United States Citizens need with regard to jobs, healthcare, education, and housing. In addition, the congress members are acting with blatant disregard of U.S. and international laws. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child States in Article 24.3 "Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children." This is only one of many international

legislative aarticles which protect children from genital mutilation. The United States has child abuse laws which

make circumcision illegal in each state which say you cannot leave a mark on a child. Circumcision is illegal

under the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal rights to all regardless of religion or age. Yes, children do

have religious freedom as well as the freedom to not be harmed by others. Courts have repeatedly ruled that

parents cannot martyr their children which makes religious freedom and parents' rights arguments invalid.
Sadly many American legislators and philanthropists mistakenly believe that parents can make the choice to circumcise a child. There are many reasons for this belief including but not limited to the need to feel that a dangerous tradition is acceptable,the need to profit from the sale of foreskins, the need to profit tfrom doing the procedure itself, the need to be right or feel normal even though most of the world is intact.
Circumcision is rarely done with  pain medication and many consider sugar pacifiers and lollipops to be "enough" pain medicine for an infant. There are no health benefits to circumcision, but there are downfalls. A child may die from shock or from bleeding out.  A child may have psychological issues such as PTSD or other psychological and social problems. Circumsion affects breastfeeding and often ceases the nursling/mother relationship. A child may also have physical injuries beyond the amputation of the foreskin and it's immunological protections. He will not be as protected as his intact peers from disease and infection. He will not be able to perform properly during intimate acts with his partner due to the keratinization of his glans among other issues.   
 Muslim parents are not supposed to circumcise and a growing number of Jewish families keep their children intact because they know it is harmful to circumcise. We know that mandated  reporters are the perpetrators of many of these child abuses you so lightly call circumcisions.  Ask yourself, why do American legislators want to foster the mutilation of males abroad? What benefit do they receive from encouraging a practice that illegal to do to females, is illegal in the United Ststes, and illegal under international child protection laws? Perhaps it is time to protect our children, our future instead of raise on high those who would harm our future.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Dear AAP, We Know the Truth

Dear American Academy of Pediatrics,

We know the truth. We know that you benefit from not only the payment for circumcisions, but also by selling the foreskins to cosmetic and research companies. We know you rarely use pain medication and that you routinely consider sugar pacifiers and lollipops to be "enough" pain medicine for an infant. We know there are no health benefits to circumcision, but there are downfalls. A child may die from shock or from bleeding out. A child may have psychological issues such as PTSD or other psychological and social problems. We know circumcision affects breastfeeding and often ceases the nursling/mother relationship. A child may also have physical injuries beyond the amputation of the foreskin and it's immunological protections. He will not be as protected as his intact peers from disease and infection. He will not be able to perform properly during intimate acts with his partner due to the keratinization of his glans among other issues. We know circumcision is illegal under child abuse laws in each state which say you cannot leave a mark on a child. Circumcision is illegal under the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal rights to all regardless of religion or age. Yes, children do have religious freedom as well as the freedom to not be harmed by others. Courts have repeatedly ruled that parents cannot martyr their children which makes religious freedom and parents' rights arguments invalid. Muslim parents are not supposed to circumcise and a growing number of Jewish families keep their children intact because they know it is harmful to circumcise. Yes, we know the truth. We know that mandated reporters are the perpetrators of many of these child abuses you so lightly call circumcisions. No matter what your policy states when it comes out in September, we will continue to share the true facts instead of bow to those who are in it for the money and the power. We hold you accountable to "do no harm". We will be heard. We will bring change whether you like it or not.