The Orange Week in San Diego

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


For a week straight, my 7yo daughter and my 4yo daughter ate Cheetos for every meal. Every meal. A week straight. They occasionally supplemented their diet with cookies or chocolate milk, but mostly it was those greasy-yet-powdery orange snack chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

At home, this would not have been acceptable. I have standards for what I feed my family, and Cheetos do not fit the bill. But we weren’t home.

We were in San Diego for my grandfather-in-law’s funeral. He’d died at the age of 91-years-young, and my mother-in-law — who had not been his daughter-in-law for over 20 years –bought plane tickets for all seven of us (!) so we could attend the memorial, and stay in San Diego for a week.

My mother-in-law babywearing Cousin It at Legoland

San Diego is where My Chemical Romance was born, and lived for 26 years. His entire extended family is there: both parents and their spouses; two sisters, one brother-in-law and two nephews; all four grandparents; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Animal and Mineral, fishing with My Chemical Romance’s Grandpa, at Imperial Beach Pier

We lived there together for three years after we got married, when Animal and Mineral were babies. The Informant was born there.

Currently, we live in North Carolina, which is approximately as far from San Diego as you can get. Our life here is a lot different from what it was when we lived there. We have no built-in babysitters, and no last-minute family help when there’s an emergency. There are no weekend barbecues with extended family. There’s no Grandma reading to them before bed, or Grandpa attending a Cub Scout pack meeting.

Aunt Julie (pregnant with a new cousin) and Cousin It at J Street Marina

Luckily my children don’t seem to mind. They don’t remember living near their San Diego family, and we’ve never lived closer than a 2h plane ride from my family. They don’t expect the closeness that comes with physical proximity with family. But it bothers me. I grew up living no more than 20 minutes from my grandparents, and approximately that same distance from aunts and uncles and cousins. And while we weren’t always close, they were always there.

Face-painted family!

So I make an effort to bridge the distance with my in-laws. We call and text — and thank goodness for Skype! Sometimes the kids’ homeschool copywork is a letter to an aunt or a cousin. And on those rare occasions when we do get a chance to visit family, I try not to sweat the small stuff — like the Cheetos — and just let my children enjoy themselves with their family.

My Masterpiece and My Chemical Romance’s Grams

However, as soon as we got on the plane to go home, I told the girls that I never wanted to see another Cheeto for as long as I live.


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

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

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child’s grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family…
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What’s Next can’t imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son’s life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt… until she remembers what it’s actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My ‘high-needs’ child and ‘strangers’ — With a ‘high-needs’ daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter’s extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family’s summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the “village” even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don’t get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must’ve been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don’t have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs– Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn’t an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We’re Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.

30 Responses

  1. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  2. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  3. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  4. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  5. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  6. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  7. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  8. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  9. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  10. Children only know that they know. Sounds simple right? It certainly is harder on you to be away from family than it is for them. It sounds like you are all very close despite the distance.

    As for cheerios and cookies…yeah – I get that. It’s a “haven’t seen my grandkids in forever” thing. 😉 My MIL does it too!

  11. Love this post! Not sweating the small stuff is always a motto of mine I have to work hard at! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  12. […] The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego. […]

  13. I loved this post – mainly because:

    1) I too am from North Carolina (though, tonight I’m not too pleased with my state…)
    2) My The Boy and his family are from San Diego
    3) We’ll be flying there soon (with a one year old…soooo nervous!) in order to visit my mother-in-law and grandfather-in-law and attend the Comic-Con.

    There have been many times in my babe’s short on year of life that I’ve had to clench my jaw to bite back spewing out “the rules” about toys, foods, online presence, and bed times – and I foresee this only get more difficult as she gets older. Besides, grandparents are supposed to spoil the kids, right?

  14. How interesting that my husband and I just returned from visiting our kids and kids-in-love in San Diego … and my daughter-in-love is from North Carolina! We, too, used the “not sweating the small stuff” philosophy with our extended family. We never regretted it! 🙂 Deb @

  15. You have such a wonderful attitude – it’s good to be relaxed. A week of Cheetos isn’t going to completely wreck a healthy diet, and it will probably only add to the warm and fuzzy feelings your kids will have about their grandparents 🙂

  16. I really enjoyed this post! It sounds like flexibility is one of the many tOols in your tool box. I find it is one of the tools I use the most and I would be lost without it. It always warms my heart to see someone placing family above whatever rules or preferences they have, especially in short term situations. You sound like a real joy to be around. 🙂

  17. I don’t think I could hack a week of Cheetos for my kid – I’d have to be wearing a Whiskas – Go Cat mast to hide my facial expressions! Or if the option exsisted I’d be cooking a ‘special’ dinner every other night to ‘show my appreciation’ !!

  18. What is it with the Cheetos? My children expect one meal for lunch at their great Aunt Rita’s: chicken fries (frozen from Schwans home delivery company), cucumber circles (that is to placate me) and Cheetos! Oh, and ketchup, they dip both the chicken and Cheetos in it. She lives on the other side of the country, so it is special when we are visiting. And yes, we all have comfort foods we ate at relative’s houses from time to time. The problem is we visit for 3 or 4 WEEKS and they eat lunch there EVERY SINGLE DAY. And they request this specific lunch EVERY SINGLE TIME. But just like you, I hold my tongue. It’s tough.

  19. I go even one step further – My MIL makes “grama cookies” (which are fairly easy to make but I have NEVER made them). They are hers and hers alone to make for my boys. Also when their great grama was still alive she kept a bowl of m&m’s on her end table and JJ still talks about great gramas candy bowl !!

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