Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day

We had a sunny, windy Earth Day yesterday in Boston and I went for a long walk with Ichigo on my back.
We stopped by the Goodwill to drop off some clothing donations, and found a brownie pan, a picture frame and an "Easter basket". Then we stopped in an adorable shop called Magpie. They sell all kinds of handmade stuff that I was drooling over.
We also went by When Pigs Fly bakery. They have such delicious bread, and they always have samples on the counter. I picked up some apple cinnamon bread, and old fashioned hot pepper jelly. How I have gone 33 years without knowing about "old fashioned" hot pepper jelly is beyond me. It is deeeeeeeeeeeelicious. Imagine the sauce you get with spring rolls, but a little spicier, turned into a jelly. I couldn't stop eating it!
After that we stopped in Eurobaby, a kid's resale shop that specializes in European brands. I traded in something and got Ichigo an Oilily outfit.
After that I was exhausted, so we walked home.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Moment-Reuse

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



In honor of earth day, it's...Ichigo in a recycled car!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Small Steps

When I first came back to the US from Japan, I was dealing with reverse culture shock and a general feeling that I had no control over my life. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances like an extended visit by my in-laws that aggravated all I was feeling. I felt hopeless and I was sick to my stomach with anxiety. I kept thinking to myself, "Why did we come back here at all?"
During that time I also got a new android phone which allowed me to surf the internet as I nursed and as I held Ichigo in my arms for her nap time. All that internet surfing was perhaps not the best thing for my state of mind. I got really obsessed with all the "dangers" in America. No, I'm not talking about "stranger danger". I'm talking about pesticides, GMOs, toxic chemicals in my toiletries and the like. These are all very real dangers, but getting obsessed with them at a time like that caused me to feel more stress and helplessness. While that was not a fun time for me, I got through the reverse culture shock, and I was inspired to make a lot of positive changes in my family's routine.
I was already a fan of natural cleaning products, but I made a decision to start using fragrance-free, non-toxic cleaning products everywhere I could. The fragrance-free part was an important component, because I became highly sensitive to synthetic fragrances while I was pregnant. Now we clean our bathroom and wipe our tables and counters with vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner's castile soap. Natural fragrance from essential oils doesn't make me feel nauseous and light-headed the way that synthetic fragrances do. This was a small step, but it has created cleaner air in our home and it saves us money. Those small steps add up quickly. Is there something small in your routine that you're ready to change?

This moment-Swinging

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Natural Parenting Blog Party

I'm taking part in the Natural Parenting Blog Party hosted by The Peaceful Housewife.

The Peaceful Housewife

I've never really written a self-introduction on this blog, so now is the perfect time!


How many children do you have, and how old are they?

I have a 7 month old daughter, Ichigo.




2. Do you have a partner, or are you a single parent?
I'm married to Kuma.




Have you made any parenting choices that you didn’t think you would make before you were a parent, i.e. cloth diapering a child when you had previously thought it was disgusting?
I had never really thought about co-sleeping until I got pregnant, and then it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

Is there one book or person in particular that’s heavily influenced your parenting choices?
I like Dr. Sears' books a lot. But I cannot underestimate all that I have learned from reading blogs during pregnancy and after my daughter was born.

If you had to describe each of your children using only one word, what word would you use?
Joy!

Is there one parenting decision that you regret more than others and wish you could change?
I wish that I hadn't used a snuggle nest after my daughter was born. I was nervous about having her in the bed with us, but now I wonder if it was a barrier to early bonding and breastfeeding.


Is there an area of your parenting you wish you were better at?
I'm really disorganized! I feel like parenting could be a little easier if I were more organized.


Now for the fun questions – is there one particular food or type of food that you could eat every day?

Ice cream. Is that a food?


Vanilla ice cream or chocolate?

Chocolate.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Bravo reality TV. I looooove it.

If you could be part of any television show, which show would it be?
Top Chef.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

At Peace with the World

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

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 shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Ichigo at 5 weeks old.


The way I parent Ichigo is totally foreign to some of my friends and family, but I'm not really one to get up on a soapbox (aside from blogging) and give impassioned speeches about attachment parenting or natural parenting. Instead, I just go about my life, parenting Ichigo with love and patience, and then talk about my choices when it comes up. One thing that Kuma and I do comes up fairly often in conversation- babywearing! We didn't have a car in Tokyo, and still don't have one in Boston, so we are very visible as we wear Ichigo everywhere.


Kuma and Ichigo at her first matsuri (Japanese festival).


I love telling pretty much anyone who asks about it how awesome babywearing is. Ichigo is warm, safe, relaxed and portable when we wear her! Kuma and I have worn Ichigo while shopping, while eating out, on the streets, on buses, on trains, on planes, around the house, in the hospital. You name the place, we wear the baby!


Babywearing while sightseeing at Harvard.


Recently, Ichigo and I flew back from a visit to Michigan. Every flight we've been on (this was #4) starts out with a collective, silent groan from all those seated around us...and ends with all of Ichigo's new friends telling me how amazed they are by her.

This last flight started with me nursing her to sleep before we took off, and then holding her as she slept for about an hour. Once she woke up she jumped around in my lap for a bit and smiled at everyone around her. Then our flight started getting turbulent. The turbulence was strong enough that I started worrying about being able to hold on to her, so I put her in the carrier. For the rest of the flight I patted Ichigo's back and sang lullabies to her. She got really calm and quiet and buried her face in my chest.

After we landed the man across the aisle from us started talking to me. He told me that he had never seen a baby be so calm on a flight. I just shrugged and explained that this was her fourth flight, so we had a system figured out. He told me that he had four grandchildren, and that they were all a nightmare on planes (his words, not mine). Then he said something really powerful. He said, "She must really be at peace with the world."

Wow. I wasn't expecting that! His comment made me realize that by parenting Ichigo with empathy and always responding to her needs, I was being an advocate without saying a word. That man across the world was right. Ichigo is at peace with her world. She is at peace with the world, because she knows that she can depend on her father and me to meet her needs promptly, and to always treat her with love and respect.





***



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!



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




  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.

  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.

  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.

  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.

  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.

  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don't share your views.

  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.

  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.

  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.

  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don't parent the way you do.

  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!

  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.

  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.

  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That's The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she's learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the "good news" of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.

  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.

  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.

  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.

  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.

  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.

  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people's children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter's senior kindergarten room.

  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the "great divide" through gently teaching and being teachable.

  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.

  • The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how "The Three R's" can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.

  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.

  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.

  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.

  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.

  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.

  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she's been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.

  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.

  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.

  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.

  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she's doing — and it's a gift.

  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.

  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.

  • Putting a public face on "holistic" — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.

  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.

  • One Parent at a Time... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.

  • Self-compassion — We're great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.

  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.

  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by "just doing her thing," she may be advocating for natural parenting.

  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.

  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.

  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.

  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.

  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.

  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.

  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.

  • Why I'm not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!

  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.

  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.

  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.

  • don't tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.


Friday, April 8, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home Sweet Michigan

Our trip to Michigan in photos...



Playing with cousins.




Going to cafes with friends.




Brushing tiny teeth with Grandma and Grandpa.




Meeting cousins for the first time.





Petting pretty cats.





Hugging cousins.





Having dinner with cousins and aunts.




Catalogue shopping.





Eating new foods.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Surf

I read a great post on the Beltway Babywearers blog about volunteering while babywearing a few weeks ago, but never got around to writing a Sunday surf until now!

I had always heard that most people install and use car seats improperly. So before and after Ichigo was born I did a lot of reading and watched online videos about car seat safety. Videos and pictures helped me much more than just written descriptions, so I was excited to find a picture heavy post about car seat safety on the daily momtra. We all make mistakes, but if you can learn to do it better, your child will be safer next time they ride in the car!

Ichigo has been sharing meals with us since she was a newborn. We have eaten many, many meals over her head as we wore her, or as we held her in our laps.


Sleeping through lunch in Tokyo!


Now that she's eating foods, too, it's fun to think about mealtime rituals that will develop in our family. I really enjoyed this post about creating dinnertime rituals on the Lusa Organics blog.


Right now our mealtimes are more mess than ritual, but we're enjoying it nonetheless!


Speaking of food, the allergykids blog had 2 great posts about food dyes and preservatives here and here. As well as a post with a great tip for spotting genetically modified produce by looking at its product code! I try to buy organic fruits and vegetables for Ichigo whenever possible, but sometimes I can't get the food I need as an organic, or our budget won't allow it. Now I know how to at least avoid the genetically modified produce!

And my favorite post that I read this week was by Hobo Mama about post-partum sex. It's a challenging subject and she wrote about it with amazing honesty and humor!

Hey! What's that sound?

I just got out of the shower and heard...nothing. The sweet, sweet sound of silence. Ahhhhhhhh. When you're a mother, silence is golden. Or perhaps I should say, silence is platinum.
Before I got in the shower, I suggested to Kuma that he try and lay down with Ichigo if she started acting tired. And it worked! For about 3 weeks now, I've been trying to lie down with Ichigo for her morning nap. Prior to that, she would nap if one of us wore her, or if I nursed her to sleep in my beloved Ikea rocking chair.


My little elf and I in the nap chair.



Whenever I would try to lie down with her in bed for a nap, she would just refuse. Or fall asleep for 10 minutes then wake up "refreshed" (quotation notes denote my sarcasm). I decided to try to nap in bed with her everyday in the hopes that one day she might be willing to nap alone. So far, she is napping in bed, as long as I am with her. If I wait until after the transition between sleep cycles (after about 45-50 minutes), I can sometimes escape. However, if I escape she is usually up within 10-20 minutes. So, if I want to get a full hour and half nap out of her, I need to stay in bed. Sometimes I just take a nap, too. Sometimes I read blogs and play wordfeud on my phone.

In my heart of hearts I would really like her to nap by herself, but I'm not willing to leave her to cry, so I soldier on. If you have a challenging napper, please feel free to leave a comment in solidarity!