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In Love

Posted by Julie on February 25, 2010 at 11:51 PM Comments comments (2)

Looking down, there is my River, the newest addition to my family, sleeping/nursing in my lap. It never fails to surprise me when I feel this intense wave of love wash over me while I stare into a new face. While pregnant with #2  I could not imagine that I could love another baby as much as I love the first. And when pregnant with this third my head knew I would but my heart could not grasp it. Not, that is, until I saw that face and held her wet body in my aching arms.

Is it not amazing the depth of love we are capable of? A heart so full already, brimming over again.


Posted by Julie on March 18, 2009 at 1:14 PM Comments comments (0)

The moderator of a NL/AP message board asked me to share a little about unschooling and I thought I would share it here, as well.


 My girls are still very young, 2 and almost 4, so we are not yet obligated to officially begin any type of education yet but we have already decided this is the route that is most aligned with our beliefs and "child rearing" philosophies.

Unschooling, descibed simply, is child-directed learning. It is built on the belief that children truly do love to learn and given time and space will come about it in their own way. We hear so much that no two children learn alike. This is something people like to say when talking about children with mental handicaps and learning disabilities and yet they still try to fit children into a learning mold of curriculums and tests and "must learn" subjects. Unschooling is about trusting your child's innate desire to grow and learn, to soak up as much of the world around them as possible. I hear alot "how are they suppose to learn math?". But honestly, if it weren't something that we have to deal with on a regular basis and had no practical application then why would we teach it? I am a big knitter and I love designing new knits. I use math to do this. I use math when I cook, pay for groceries. I point out math and numbers to my girls all the time, just because. Numbers are all around us and so are learning opportunities. The one thing about unscooling is that you can't be lazy and uninvolved about it. This is very "hands on" parenting. You also have to be willing to let go of the fear that they won't ever pick it up, they won't learn at the rate our society has deemed "age appropiate". A really excellent unschooling resource is Dayna Leigh Martin's youtube channel. I'll link it at the bottom. I watched her on Dr. Phil. He was doing a show about home/unschooling and he talked about how much he hated history as a child, hating having to learn it in school but now, as an adult he saw that it was valuable because we see how history repeats itself. Her husband pointed out that this was a prime example of learning at your own pace, even though that may mean you learn it as an adult. That you don't necessarily have to pack it all in as a child. This point was, of course, lost on Dr. Phil. But the thought process in our society seems to be that we have to learn it all right away and then be plunged into adulthood (knowing everything) asap.
I try to let my girls learn and live in an unhindered way. We would be described as "radical unschooolers" in that we extend this philosophy to just living. We let them make discisions, choose for themselves. We don't punish or coerce. We simply let them be and live and learn for themselves, without trying to control and dictate to them who they should be, what they should feel, learn, do, etc. We are here to protect them and provide an environment conducive to learning and discovery of their authentic selves. We try to introduce them to a wide variety of things and above all we focus on their emotional well being because we feel that insecurities and emotional stumbling bocks tend to hinder growth of any kind. Radical unschooling is also referred to as consensual living. I'll link it, as well.
Unschooling does go against the standard, "acceptable" form of education and so I feel it's very important to maintain some sort of support. While, so far, I don't know any other unschooling families, I am part of several unschooling, consensual living yahoo groups and I really benefit from hearing from other unschoolers on a daily basis. They are really a wealth of support and knowledge. If you are considering unschooling I would highly recommend that you make some sort of contact w/others. It's so hard to stand alone when others (and they will) question and condemn what you're doing. Which is, I guess, what brings us here to this group, too.

Compassionate Living

Posted by Julie on March 11, 2009 at 9:12 PM Comments comments (1)

I have been giving compassion alot of thought lately. I have been thinking about what great importance is placed in a child's education and what they will grow up to be but not much at all cultivating a loving, compassionate heart. What a shame that empathy is not held in as high esteem as good grades or a winning score. But how would you even teach something as intangible as compassion. You can't make someone feel something. So how does a parent go about planting the seeds of compassion in their children?

I believe that children learn more by seeing, experiencing and observing the examples set out by those around them (that would be you) than by any other means. So what does this mean? It means they "learn" compassion by observing you being compassion. Or you could say that they 'remember', as I believe that children are born compassionate, loving beings.

So, this sets us on our own compassionate journey. I must say that the society we live in isn't exactly fertile ground for cultivating a loving spirit. We are encouraged to 'rise above the rest', it's a 'dog eat dog' world and you can't let anyone hold you back. But I want to share some thoughts that found here about living compassionately. These are simple tips, and perhaps, if any of these ideas are appealing to you, you could could explain to your children why  you are doing them.


1. Grow your compassion! Incorporate compassion in all of your relationships – to people, animals, the environment, and yourself. Like a muscle, the more you use your compassion, the stronger it will get. Here is a small sampling of ways to live compassionately:

  • Help people: Do not support sweatshop-labor. Buy fair trade and union-made goods. Treat both friends and “enemies” with love. Admit your prejudices and work to remove them. Consider volunteering.
  • Help animals: Go vegetarian, boycott fur and leather, spay and neuter your animal companions, buy products not tested on animals, and don’t patronize circuses and rodeos.
  • Help the environment: Go vegetarian, drive less, bike more, consume less, reduce your waste, use energy efficient appliances/vehicles, and take more walks in the woods.
  • Help yourself: Most of all, take care of yourself. Don’t wallow in guilt, or live in fear. If you’ve wronged someone, make amends. If you’ve been wronged, learn to forgive. Spend time in nature and socializing with friends.

2. Nurture your compassion daily. Pray or meditate daily to strengthen your moral courage, integrity and persistence to create a world where all beings are free of suffering and misery. Read the writings of compassionate people for inspiration, such as Jane Goodall, Mohandas Gandhi, and Albert Schweitzer.

3. Work compassionately to live compassionately. The majority of our waking life is spent at work, so make sure your occupation is part of the solution and not the problem. If your employer makes or sells products that harm people, animals, or the environment, look for a new job – or work diligently to reform the business.

4. Have compassion at every meal. Eating creatures causes so much harm to people, animals, the environment and oneself (see this for yourself at that dropping animals from your diet is a good initial step on the path of living compassionately.

5. Progress not perfection. Trying to live a compassionate life can be overwhelming. Be content with persistent and steady progress in the right direction.


I like the first one. Compassion is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. All it takes is simple steps. To learn more about raising compassionate children check out this site.

New Diapers!!!

Posted by Lerin on March 7, 2009 at 2:42 PM Comments comments (8)

 I'm so excited!!! I love cloth diapers!  And I got some new ones.

  I don't do the traditional plastic pants & pins- I use pocket diapers. I use disposables at night (more on that in a minute) and when I'm going to be on the go and running multiple errands.

 At any rate- I use the disposables at night, since Eowyn sleeps primarily on her side. When she's on her side in the pocket diapers, her pee comes right out, all over the place. The pocket diapers that I bought intially, there were soo tiny, I was only putting one flat fold in there. I tried all different ways of folding it. Then I started putting a washcloth in with the flat fold, just in the crotch.  That works really well when she's upright, flat on her back, or flat on her tummy. 

  She's growing like a weed, so I started looking into buying a bigger size, but found a one-size option. I went ahead and ordered one to try it out. It came with a microfiber (towel type) insert, so while I was waiting on the one-size, I searched for microfiber inserts. I checked fabric shops first. I finally settled on some waffle-weave kitchen towels at Wal-Mart. They work really well, but still that leak on the sides.

  My mom, taught me every frugal thing I know, suggested that we look in the car section. I'd haflway thought of that, picturing those yellowy-orange chamois things that my dad uses on the cars. I did find a 24 pack of the towels at Sams. I washed them this morning, and they're on the line now. Also, my one-size diaper arrived too, with it's own microfiber insert- some thing, but a better quality. The 'car' towels aren't as bulky as the 'kitchen' ones, luckily- even when I've got them doubled.  Eowyn's sleeping now, but the next time I change her, I'm going to use the one size with one 'car' towel and see how it goes. I'm just soooo excited! I couldn't wait til I tried it out to post about it.

  The funny thing is- she leaks pee in the pocket diapers, but no poo. In disposables, she leaks poo but no pee.  I've taken regular care of enough babies since I was 10  (my younger bro, my sisters 3 kids and now my 2) to say, that my little Eowyn is the most poopingest baby I've ever had the pleasure to change.

Snow For Us?

Posted by Julie on March 2, 2009 at 3:51 PM Comments comments (0)

I hope everyone got out and enjoyed the snow today. I really thought it was just going to pass us by this year. But the girls have been looking for it all winter and had fun today. My hubby got to have a snow day from work. They were so excited to have him here to play with us. You can read all about The Mittens here.


I think we'll spend the rest of the day doing abit of baking. Happy Snow Day everyone!

Birth Experiences

Posted by Lerin on February 28, 2009 at 8:29 PM Comments comments (5)

 After reading the previous post, and discussing the fact that I didn't utter any profanity gave me the idea of writing about my 2, eerily similar, yet very different birth experiences.

 My first pregnancy was uneventful-  I did everything the generic route. I was young, and I didn't know any better. I did plan on a drug-free birth, however.

 My labor started and I went to a regularly scheduled appointment. I asked about the baby's positioning. The doctor said 'it feels like a head'.

  So I went on with my day, and arrived at the hospital the next day. I had not prepared myself mentally for labor, and ended up having a single dose of a drug to 'take the edge off'.  When I was ready to deliver, the Dr. arrived and gave us the news that our baby was butt-first and I would need a c-section.  I was shocked and disappointed. Not at all how I thought things would go. When my daughter was pulled out, she took half a breath.  I was aware of what was going on as they worked to get her breathing, but I felt so detatched from it.

  My daughter was healthy.  I healed quickly and without complication. Life went on.

  When I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd baby, I went back to the same doctor. I asked him about VBAC. He said it was certainly an option we could discuss as my pregnancy progressed. That wasn't good enough for me.

   My mother is an RN, and had done Labor & Delivery at the same hospital where my first daughter was born, where my doctor delivered. They'd just put in place a policy that any VBAC patient had to have her Dr. in the hospital at all times during labor. That all but said we don't VBAC anymore.

 I set out to find a mid-wife. I found a practice that was closer to my home that had 3. I had visits with them all, and they were all very nice. VBAC? No problem. I was, of course worried about the possibility of having another breech baby.

 At my last few visits, they assured me that my baby was heads down, and she didn't have alot of room anymore. The preassure was different- much lower this time, so that kept me in good spirits. I was worried too, about which midwife I would get. Would I get the by the book midwife? Would I get the very nice, but very quiet midwife? Or would I get the one that I really wanted- the youngest, yet the one who had the most experience?

  I went into labor on a Monday, as I had with my first daughter. My labor died down in the eveing, just like the first time.  I stayed up late trying to get some last minute things done. I went to bed. My true labor started around 4:30. I stayed home as long as I dared. I was worried that the 30 minute drive to the hospital would disrupt or prolong my labor. I was also worried about the hospital itself, as it wasn't the one that my mom had worked at, where my first daughter was born, that I was familiar with. I was worried that if I got there too soon, I'd be tempted to get an epidural. I also kept thinking of my sister and how she made the births of  2 of her children that I got to see, look really easy, and how she bounced out of bed after each one and said she could have a baby everyday.  I kept thinking too, that if I waited long enough to push, I wouldn't really have to, my baby would slide on out on her own.

  At the hospital, I was moving in slow motion, not in a rush but I asked for the epidural. It gave me something to think about; to distract myself from thinking about how much pain I was in. I knew it was too late. They told me that the midwife that I wanted was on her way. When she got there, she told me that I could have my baby in 2 minutes. When 2 minutes had passed, I started to get worried that my labor was going to slow down, or stop.  At the end of every contraction, I could feel my baby 'sucking back up'. ("Two steps forward, one step back" a friend later told me. How had I missed that in 9 months of reading?)

  I don't think it's ever been acurately described because it CAN'T be- but the shock that runs thru you right at the end, instead of contractions. My sister described it as feeling like she was being split apart. I've read about it being the power of the universe, amoung other things. I wasn't prepared for that.

  I was apprehensive too, about crowning. I'd heard nightmares about the burning. I felt the pressure, but no real pain. Not like my body was ripping at all, which it inevitably did, which the same friend told me that I had an "irrational fear of tearing".

  So those are my stories. Like any mother, I can recall every detail, like it was yesterday and am always more than willing to share my story with whoever wants to hear it.


The Business of Being Born

Posted by ncnaturalfamilyliving on February 28, 2009 at 5:08 PM Comments comments (4)


This is a really beautiful and thought provoking film from Ricky Lake (yes, the talk show host) and director Abby Epstein. The documentary explores how and why giving birth has "progressed" in our country in the past 100 yrs. It follows one midwife in NYC in particular and talks with various people in the business of birth, OB/GYNs, nurses, midwives etc.  In one scene three OB/GYN residents are asked how often they get to see a natural birth occur. They seem at loss and then one answers 'rarely', another 'almost never'.

During the course of making the film the director becomes pregnant and plans to homebirth (Ricki Lake's second child was born at home and you do get to see clips of that birth). It follows two other couples, one of which gives birth at home, the other in a birthing center.

What is startling about the film are the frequent statistics that are given throughout. Many I was familiar with, some not.

The US has the second highest newborn death rate in the developed world.

The US has one of the highest maternal death rates among all industrialized countries.

In 1900 95% of births in the US took place at home. In 1938 half of all births took place at home and in 1955 less than 1% of births took place at home and it remains that number today. (This is actually a shock to me as, for myself, it just seems seems so common place and natural, I really thought that number would be at least a little higher.)

Since 1996 the cesarean section rate in the US has risen 46%. In 2005 it was one in three births.

These are just some of the statistics. The film also talks a great deal about the 'cycle' of intervention that happens in hospital births and how the end result is often a ceserean section.

I only ever seriously considered homebirth for either of my births. But watching this film made me think how can it not be obvious that a hospital is not an appropriate or desirable place to give birth. Perhaps I am biased. Either way, I think it was beautifully done. I watched it with Kaiya, my oldest (she will be four in May) and she was completely entranced by the birth scenes. She has seen births before on Discovery Health Channel's 'House of Babies' about a free standing birth center in Miami Florida. She becomes so still and her little eyes get so wide. She loves to just watch them again and again. They are censored, of course, so this film was the first time she had ever seen it so graphically before. I think it is so important for my girls to see birth happening naturally and without fear. For me, watching women give birth naturally really stirs something within me, causing me to think back to my own two homebirths. These are such wonderful memories.

A note, though, in case you do let your children watch it; there is, of course, quite a bit of female nudity and one close-up shot of a head crowning. This kind of nudity I consider completely tastefull and do not mind my children watching (they are girls but I feel the same about boys). Also there is a smattering of profanity (honestly, who gives birth without letting some swears fly?), not much but this does include F****. I did not realize this and decided to simply point out that "that lady said an ugly word". Regardless, it's really a wonderful and inspiring film and I highly recommend it.



Letting Go

Posted by Julie on February 25, 2009 at 3:53 PM Comments comments (0)


This is still a journey for me. Letting go of the power and control. My mother had always told me that parents always need to win the battles, as though we are to be at war with our children. I still hear this sometimes.

A friend asked me today about  our choice to unschool. What if they didn't want to learn? What if they chose never to pursue 'reading, writing and arithmetic'? One of my children is very bookish and seems to have a real love of learning new things and figuring things out. The other is very active and abit of a "wild-child". What if she is  never interested these things our society dictates we must learn? My family asks what if I can't get them to "behave" without punishment? How do I expect to make them do as I say?

My job as their mother is to protect and nourish them. To provide them with an environment that lets them express their individuality and creativity. Their passions and desires. Their thirsts for whatever it is that drives them. And, to be the most complete and whole person that I can be, for I have observed that their best learning tool is the examples set forth from the people around them.

My job is not to dictate to them what they "should" be doing. Not to make them want and value the things I want and value. Not to bend them to my will. Not to make them learn what I think they should learn.

I do struggle to remember that they are not mine to control. Fortunately, it is never too late to stop, breathe, rewind and let go.