January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: We Never Left the Grind #carnatpar

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Recovering from the Holidays

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over.


Some quotes from a typical day at my house, pre-holidays:

  • “Mom has back pain/butt pain/is hungry/was up all night with the baby/is editing her book — try to give her a few minutes of quiet today!”
  • “Has Mineral taken his ADHD medicine today?” “C’mere Mineral, let me look into your eyes.” (If he stays still and allows me to examine his eyes, he’s taken it. If not, he hasn’t. He hasn’t yet figured out how to pass this test when not on medication.)
  • “Oh crap! We haven’t done any traditional schoolwork in weeks! Quick, kids, here’s a math worksheet, and some lessons on grammar. Got it? Good. Back to reading and watching documentaries on Netflix.” Phew.
  • “Mommy? I forgot to tell you I threw up/peed/got a bloody nose in my bed last night. Can you wash my sheets?”
  • “I’m hungry.”
The Informant and Cousin It

The Informant and Cousin It

Other than celebrating Christmas/Cousin It’s birthday, nothing really changed during the holidays except my ass got smaller. My Chemical Romance went back to work on January 2. Here are some quotes from a typical day at my house, post-holidays:

  • “Mom has back pain/butt pain/is hungry/is tired/was up all night with the baby/is editing her book — try to give her a few minutes of quiet today!”
  • “Has Mineral taken his ADHD medicine today?” “C’mere Mineral, let me look into your eyes.” (If he stays still for me to examine his eyes, he’s taken it. If not, he hasn’t. He hasn’t yet figured out how to pass this test when not on medication.)
  • “Oh crap! We haven’t done any traditional schoolwork in weeks! Quick, kids, here’s a math worksheet, and some lessons on grammar. Got it? Good. Back to reading and documentaries on Netflix.”
  • “Mommy? I forgot to tell you I threw up/peed/got a bloody nose in my bed last night. Can you wash my sheets?”
  • “I’m hungry.”

I’d say we’re back to the grind, but really: NOTHING EVER CHANGES. Even the weather stays the same; this weekend it was in the 70s and I swear I’ve not even seen a frost yet this winter. However, to all the families who had difficult transitions back to “real life,” I wish you some peace and a day of Netflix documentaries.


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

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

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

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

Toddler Nursing (take one)

I say “take one” because I didn’t nurse the rest of them as long as I’ve nursed Buffalo — 21 months and counting. Because I used a lot of donor milk to supplement her for the first year, I wasn’t even sure that she would continue nursing into toddlerhood. But — ha! She’s gone through periods of time where she was more interested in the world than my boobs, but like a bad ex-boyfriend, she just keeps going back.

What I am trying — ineloquently, probably because I’m so sleep deprived — to say, is that she is still nursing and she’s a toddler. Which means that while we’re nursing she does the following:

1. Twiddles

2. Kicks

3. Sings

4. Pinches

5. Climbs

Or everything simultaneously. She also wants a snack at any time of the day or night, with my nipple available — pointing directly at her mouth — whenever she wants.

How self-centered!

 If this didn’t interrupt my sleep, I wouldn’t give a shit. But it does. She doesn’t want to sleep unless she’s attached to me — and not just my nipple. After a long day of… what is it I do? Oh yes, being a mom!… I’m ready not to be touched by sticky hands at 9pm. I want to be left the hell alone with the DVR and My Chemical Romance and my Kindle and a bath and People Magazine. I want to glance at my calendar and note what we’re doing the next day (today’s agenda: get knives sharpened at Farmer’s market, take everyone to gymnastics class, cook dinner) and go to sleep.

It’s like having a newborn again. I remember dreading bedtime, because I was so tired, and I just wanted to GO TO SLEEP, but I couldn’t just GO TO SLEEP because SHE WHO MUST BE COMFORTED had to be comforted to sleep first. By the time I got her comforted, I was keyed up and wired and unable to sleep, myself. Then she’d wake up and want to nurse (insert any of the girls’ names for SHE. Or even the boys.) Except this SHE isn’t a baby, she’s almost two!


Parenting as They Grow

Animal and Mineral — okay, all of the kids, really — are getting older. And even though I enjoy being able to have conversations with them, and I appreciate the logic they use to lie to me — if I say the baby did it, then I’m off the hook and mom can’t be too mad because the baby is just a toddler who likes to destroy/spill milk on/use a knife against everything! — it’s also much more challenging, emotionally.

20120918-233726.jpg(The “easy” one)

I want them to share with me, but I don’t want to push them if they’re not ready.

I want them to be honest with me, but I don’t want them to think that being honest absolves them of consequences for poor decisions.

I want to give them opportunities to enjoy life without the confines of being in a classroom, but I want them to learn the basic communication skills necessary for functioning in society. (And maybe also their times tables. And some history.)

On a related note, it’s genuinely difficult to enjoy all those opportunities when

1. There are five of them, and very few activities fit everyone’s interests
2. We don’t have the financial wherewithal to explore all of their interests
3. Their interests often conflict with other interests (time-wise).

It is probably time to re-read How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk — and find out what comes after that!

20120918-233631.jpg(credit: booksandbones.com)

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Scene: I’d just gotten home from work.

I was sitting on the couch with Tax Deduction Porcelain Buffalo, nursing and watching the guinea pigs chew on their timber hideaway. She was naked because that’s how she rolls. Suddenly she stood up and started crossing her legs. I suggested to My Chemical Romance that he sit her on the toilet, because I’m lazy and wanted to keep sitting on the couch this could totally be the moment she uses the toilet for the first time. I’ve sat her on the toilet for months, and I’ve been sitting her on the Baby Bjorn little potty for over a year. Nothing. Nada. Dry bowl.


But with him, she did it. She totally did it. She totally peed in the toilet!

I see a time without diapers — except for My Masterpiece who is masterful at wetting the bed a LOT every single night — in my future. Maybe far in the future, but I can see it!


Social Media Behaving Badly: The Spanking ECard

Oh, ECards. Those adorably snarktastic one-liners are like Twitter for… almost everyone. Without the confusing hashtags and RT and ampersands.


I post them on my personal Facebook sometimes.

Recently, Modern Parent Charlotte posted the following:


And although I’ve seen one like this before, it was on someone’s personal page — the wife of My Chemical Romance’s cousin — and not a parenting page.

And I un-friended the wife of My Chemical Romance’s cousin, because I just don’t advocate violence.

Yes. I’m one of those people who thinks spanking is violent. I have spanked in the past, and I just don’t think it’s effective punishment. I think it inspires fear and avoidance — rather than teaches anything. If you spank a child for doing XYZ, he won’t do it again. But probably not because he learned why you shouldn’t do XYZ — just because he doesn’t want to get a spanking.

Plus: it hurts, and it teaches that “might makes right.” To spank is to use an unfair advantage — your size — against a child. This is probably one reason why adults don’t spank each other. We generally don’t have the ability to use our size to intimidate. Not to mention that assault is illegal!

Issue two: Modern Parent said the following regarding the ECard, “It was too quiet here! I wanted to provoke conversation.”


But let’s be honest: what Modern Parent Charlotte wanted to do was fan the flames of the Mommy Wars. Whoever posted it on Modern Parent Charlotte’s page knew what she was doing. Spanking is an ISSUE for mommies. Like circumcision, breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public, natural birth vs c-section… these are all situations about which most mothers have a STRONG opinion and ARE NOT AFRAID TO USE IT.

And it worked. It totally worked! The pro-spank moms immediately called the anti-spank moms a bunch of humorless twits who are raising self-absorbed morons. The anti-spank moms bristled and talked about assault and treating children with respect. It was your typical flaming war between moms.

Sigh. I hate the Mommy Wars. Yes, I feel really strongly about having intact boys, nursing and my two natural homebirths. But I’ve also formula-fed, had an epidural and… pierced my oldest daughter’s ears. My mothering has evolved so freakin much in the last ten (!!!!) years. I think I’m a more effective parent at this point, but I couldn’t have gotten here without KINDNESS and EXAMPLES. And none of those mothers who taught me ever called me humorless.


Because that would be just fucking stupid!

Part three: The “Hey I Didn’t CREATE this ECard Therefore I Have Nothing to Do with This” defense, offered by Modern Parent Charlotte. You see, Modern Parent Charlotte doesn’t advocate spanking — they just put a pro-spanking ECard on their public page! But that doesn’t mean they ENDORSE spanking. Just because I “like” the I Ride Inside Anti-Mitt Romney page and post links to it on my Facebook page doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t strap your dog to the roof of your car while you travel from one country to another! I didn’t create that page (tag line “Mitt is Mean. Woof.”) I’m just posting it!


Part Four, in which I am an asshole — gleefully. I still have Modern Parent Charlotte in my newsfeed. So that every time “they” post a question I can respond with, TRY SPANKING! Modern Parent Charlotte recommends it!

Parenting with Expectations

One of the happiest days of my life was when I found out The Informant was a girl. But let me back up — one of the most shocking days of my life was when I found out I was having twins was having twin BOYS.

I’ve always assumed I’d have girls. As a child, my family was just my mom and me until she met my dad (my stepdad who adopted me; he’s my dad). My dad brought to the marriage a 20-year-old daughter. My dad also has two sisters. Growing up, I had three grandmothers — all of my grandfathers died when I was young. I’m just accustomed to families full of women!


But then I had twin boys. When I met My Chemical Romance, we both wanted a big family (and how. Ha.) I got pregnant with The Informant when the boys were about 17 months old, and I was so glad to be having a girl.

With Animal and Mineral, the entire situation was so surprising — and busy! — that I didn’t have many expectations. I thought I’d learn — about motherhood, about twins, about boys, about babies — as I went along.

With The Informant, I had expectations. I assumed because my mom and I are close, that my daughter and I would be close. I assumed because I am a woman and she is a girl, that she would be like me — not just the bad parts! — and I’d understand her.

That hasn’t been the case. The Informant is very independent. She is not usually cuddly or lovey, and sometimes she regards me warily. She can be aloof. She taught herself to read and write, and every day she spends hours in the dining room, drawing and writing picture books. She loves animals. She wears long pants all year round, tucks her shirts in and prefers to be barefoot. She is 7 and 1/3 years old and has only lost one tooth. She taught herself to swim at two years old (!!!) and is a good swimmer, but doesn’t love it. She still naps occasionally.


In short, The Informant is not what I expected. Sometimes we clash because she doesn’t meet my (totally arbitrary) expectations. If My Chemical Romance takes the other kids to Cub Scouts, I’ll ask The Informant if she wants to read with me or talk, and she doesn’t want to. Sometimes we color together. We learn online about dogs.

Mothering her is not what I thought it would be. Knowing her, I can see her leaving as an adult and going on adventures — possibly animal-based, somehow? — and not coming home often. (This could be another expectation, but I don’t assume this will happen; given her personality, it just wouldn’t surprise me). She is happy, though, and that makes me happy. Whatever (again: completely arbitrary, not based on reality) expectations of mine that she isn’t meeting, I know she’s happy.


MacGuyer Has Nothing On Me

Thursdays are All About Mineral days. He has Occupational Therapy, psychological therapy — and occasionally sees his psychiatrist. I spend a ridiculous amount of time driving him around, which keeps Cousin It from napping (as well as My Masterpiece and ME) and also waiting for him because the appointments are short. But! Then! We got new neighbors. And the neighbors had two teenage girls who could babysit. And I rejoiced upon realizing I could pay one of the teenagers to sit in my house and play on her iPhone while Cousin It and My Masterpiece napped, and I could do a few errands without kids (or with just one kid).

It seemed like a great idea at the time.

Thursday we had an hour break between doctor appointments, and like an idiot, I decided to come home and nurse Cousin It. Because I love her, and I love nursing her, and I’m obviously insane. Cousin It chose that moment not to really want to nurse, because she hates me and hates nursing and she’s obviously insane. However she’d already seen me, so I decided to take her with us.

(The other choice was to leave an inconsolable toddler, who has a slight case of attachment disorder [diagnosed by My Chemical Romance’s sister, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, after spending the day with us in San Diego a few months ago] with the teenaged iPhoner babysitter. And while I’m sure the teenager does a great job playing on her iPhone watching the older kids, I’m not so sure how she’d do with an inconsolable detached Cousin It.)

That seemed like an okay idea at the time.

When we got to the psychiatrist’s office, I realized that I didn’t have a diaper bag with me, and also Cousin It had a giant blueberry poop. If you’ve never seen one, it looks like your baby ate some tar. Another issue: she was wearing a dress, and the diaper was not quite containing everything.

This is the dress, being used for its original purpose.

Did I mention that the psychiatrist usually runs at least 20 minutes late, this poop would NOT stay in the sagging diaper and I had no diapers or wipes with me? True story!

I took her to the bathroom to assess the situation… no changing table. Because, OF COURSE THERE WASN’T A CHANGING TABLE. I took off the diaper and began cleaning her off with paper towels and water.

I immediately got a streak of tar blueberry poop on my shirt.

I still had no diaper with which to cover her.

The blueberry poop was kind of sticky and difficult to clean.

Just when I was about to throw my poop-covered hands in the air and let my baby come to the psychiatrist appointment, bare-assed, I discovered some good news: I had a snappi in my purse!

And also, I’m a MacGuyer mom, and Mineral REALLY NEEDED TO SEE THE PSYCHIATRIST (or maybe I’m just projecting), so this happened

She didn’t seem too unhappy about it, overall.

What you can’t see is that she has about 150 mosquito bites on her back and tummy and arms and legs, because we live in North Carolina, about two hours from the ocean and there’s a lot of trees and bugs here.

In the grand scheme of things, this was mostly a huuuuuuuuuge save, because I had no choice — other than nudity — and she didn’t mind it at all, and also she didn’t pee in it and I doubt the snappi even ruined the dress. But really. Really?!?!?! This is my life: putting my mosquito-bite-covered daughter in a pink-and-yellow-dress-turned-cloth-diaper-without-a-cover, while I’m streaked in blueberry poop, and then calmly discussing my son’s issues with a psychiatrist who probably thinks that I’m the reason why Mineral needs medication.


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