Road Trip to Niagara Falls

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation
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 their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I've made several goals for myself since losing my husband. I wanted to push the envelope so to speak, get out of my comfort zone. Some of my goals were small, such as to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Others were harder, I wanted to take the kids out of the country by myself. My husband was always a big traveler. He had spent most of his child hood in other countries. He lived in places like England, New Zealand, France and Thailand, just to name a few. I loved hearing his stories and knowing how those experiences shaped his view of the world. On the other hand, I had never been on an airplane until I was dating him, let alone be out of the country. During our married life together we had many opportunities to travel out of the country and I cherish all of those memories. This was something I wanted my children to experience.
A glimpse of Kalahari Resort 
We started our journey at the end of May by attending the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering (UWG) in Sandusky, Ohio at the Kalahari Resorts. This was our second year attending. It's really a lot of fun for parents and kids. My cousin flew in from Vermont to meet up with us for the week. She was a huge help and she's a ton of fun. There were some great speakers like Cindy Gaddis ( I LOVE her book about Right Brain, Left Brain learners called The Right Side of Normal)and Laura Flynn Endres. It was inspiring for the parents to hear from unschooling veterans. It's refreshing to be around a group of non-judgmental people that share a lot of the same ideas in regards to raising children.
Besides having the largest indoor waterpark to keep the kids busy there were also plenty of other activities such as a nerf war, kids marketplace, and dozens of funshops to chose from. I was particularly proud of my daughter for organizing a Littlest Pet Shoppe funshop. She was quite pleased that so many other kids showed up and shared a similar interest. They had fun making clothing for their pets out of balloons and learning how to decorate their pets and create props for them. You can see my daughter's Youtube videos of her Littlest Pet Shoppes HERE.
In the evenings there were fun family activities such as a dance night, a family carnival and on the last night a talent show. It's quite an eventful week. It's quite exhausting, but very inspiring at the same time. I've been really impressed with the children and young adults I've met at UWG. As a whole they are very creative and joyful people. I always leave UWG feeling good about unschooling and trusting my children's ability to learn. They have their dates set for May of next year, it's a great deal at a great place. After 5 days in Ohio we headed up to Canada. It was about a 6 hour drive to our hotel in Ontario. We were going to be in Canada for about 5 days and I was looking forward to a bit of a slower paced day. We had said good-bye to my cousin, and we were back to just the three of us. Our trip over the border to Canada was rather uneventful. I did find it rather interesting that our Cell phone immediately knew when we were out of the country,and informed me of the change in charges. That prompted me to turn off my cell phone for our entire stay in Canada. We had a lovely slow paced stay. I had scheduled some time to just find things along the way that interested us. We stayed in Brampton, Ontario. We had a lovely hotel that a twirly slide and big pool, just in case the kids didn't have enough time in the water at Kalahari. In Brampton we found some fabulous places to eat. Our very favorite was called That Italian Place. There menu was new everyday. They made there pasta and sauces fresh and we had a vegetarian sandwich there that I still dream about. Did I mention they also have homemade cannoli!! Yum!! I wish I could eat there everyday, my son said he wanted to live there. One other unexpected highlight of Brampton was Chinguacousy Park. We spent an entire day there walking around seeing the beautiful ponds, wildlife, petting zoo and botanical gardens. Oh how I wish I had a park that near me on a daily basis! We were about an hour away from Niagara Falls. We made sure we visited the IMAX theater to see and hear the stories of those adventurous souls that attempted to go over the falls. We were actually very surprised to learn how many actually survived. Did you know a man went over the falls in a kayak and lived to tell about it? Crazy! We spent the day in Niagara Falls wandering the streets, enjoying good food and marveling at the gorgeous view. We also took a ride out to the falls to see them up close and personal. It was a bit too up close for my five year old,but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We saw some amazing rainbows and felt the mist off the falls. Our original plan was to stay until the night time fireworks. However, we all agreed we were quite tired and ready to leave before waiting for the illumination of the falls and then the fireworks. SO we left feeling satisfied at the beauty we had seen that day.
The kids had fun learning about Canada, it's history and culture. We met some new friends that we've been keeping in touch with and hope to visit again. I was really impressed with Canada's efforts towards sustainability. They had wind mills everywhere, as well as recycling bins. I was also impressed that their highways weren't littered up with billboards every two feet. It somehow made for a more relaxing drive enjoying the scenery. So this was a baby step to what I hope will lead our family to further international adventures. I always learn so much about myself and my children when we travel together. Road trips are a fun way to see what's out there. We finished our trip home by traveling country roads through upstate New York. We found a fun place with large metal sculptures along the way that was a lot of fun. We then traveled through Pennsylvania and stayed with family for another week before returning home. I'm already trying to plan our next road trip. Where are your favorite road trip destinations? !-- START BOTTOM STRAIGHT LIST CODE -->


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:

  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia's Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don't take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don't just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you're a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki's post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our "Western Adventure" — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look "picture perfect" to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan's recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers "behind the scenes" so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family's new "beach house"!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip, in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier - and your kids happier - and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won't make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents' station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!

Everyday Superheroes

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes
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 talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes." -Lajos Kossoth

Superhero Austin

This has been a tough month for the Walker Warburg Syndrome (WWS)  Facebook Family. Because WWS is extremely rare, most of us never meet anyone else in person that has the disorder. Thankfully due to the internet we can now connect with other families dealing with WWS. Many of the babies struggled in and out of the hospital with infections and breathing issues through the winter.Sadly, two of our sweet WWS boys passed away during the month of February. These babies are my superheroes.

My daughter Bella suffered from Walker Warburg Syndrome. I wrote more about that, here, here and here. To briefly summarize the rare genetic disorder is characterized by Muscular Dystrophy, blindness (microphthalmia), Hydrocephalus and Lissencephaly. Most parents are given the diagnosis at the 20 week ultrasound. We are usually offered an abortion, which clearly the parents in this facebook group have declined. We've chosen a different path.

We've chosen to live with the uncertainty, the heart break, the struggle. Please don't forget that we've also chosen love, life and joy. Yes, joy wiggles it's way in there when you chose love and life. These sweet babies have only entered our life for a short time, but they left an impression that will last. They may be small but they teach mighty lessons. Mostly I feel they taught us all a lesson in unconditional love. Their lives were important and they mattered.

"The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."-Thoreau
Superhero or Rock Star?? -My Sweet Bella 

Superheroes exhibit extraordinary strength and power. Here are a few superheroes that have touched my life:

My Bella. I witnessed her strength up close and personal. She was strong beyond words, as I believe all of these Walker Warburg babies are. I know her life wasn't comfortable. I know she suffered through seizures and surgeries. But most of all, I know she was loved.

Baby Austin- I haven't met Baby Austin in person, I've met him through the WWS facebook group. It's his family that gave me the inspiration for this post. They often dressed him in Superman clothes and refer to him as their little superhero, and that he was. He fought for 9 months and passed away in his Momma's armsFebruary 16, 2014. You can see his facebook page, and learn more of his story here.

Baby Evan- Another sweet baby I've only been able to know via the internet. His chubby cheeks and happy disposition reminded me of my sweet girl. This superhero passed away on February 22, 2014. You can learn more about Evan HERE and support his family HERE.
Baby Evan 

Every superhero has a sidekick, these superheroes are no exception. The families that supported these sweet superheroes can not be forgotten. They are left behind to carry the torch with a broken hearts and empty cradles. They leave behind big brothers and sister. But most of all they leave behind memories that will be cherished forever.


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 updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Beware! Single Mom Camping

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears 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 stories and wisdom about parenting fears. ***

I have come to realize that I really was in a place of comfort relying on my husband for so many things. Now that he's gone, I find that I need to push myself to get out of my comfort zone if I want to have the life I want to live.
 I never went camping before I was married, it was a new concept that he introduced to me (along with things like air travel, leaving the country..). I loved it. There is nothing quite like being outside and close to nature to clear away the cobwebs. I really want to share these things with my children.
This year as we were getting close to the one year date of losing Ian, I knew I wanted to get away. I felt it would be wonderful to go camping with the kids. It would be the perfect stress reliever, right?
  I was worried about whether or not I'd be able to pull it off. After all, Ian always did most of the organizing and planning for our trips. This was now going to be  my responsibility. Would I be able to step up to the challenge? I have learned that most of the things you worry about don't happen. But what about those things that you didn't worry about... I decided to just do it. I put the plans in motion, researched online our campgrounds, packed our food, tent and got us ready to go. However, things didn't go quite as I expected.

  Day 1:  We pack the van to leave & head towards Cummins Falls. We check into our campground at Edgar Evans State park. We then drive back & go to hike the falls.
 The falls were gorgeous but the hike was much more difficult than we anticipated. There was a spectacular view from the top, but the bottom was where all the action was.  It was an hour hike along steep cliffs and along the river. We didn't realize we had to cross the river until there was no further to go.   With the help of other hikers we were able to navigate across the rocks and over the river.
   At one point I was trying to cross the river and fell in. The big tough guy helping us was strong enough to pull The Z's across but I sunk in about 4 feet of water.  Unfortunately, my cell phone was in my pocket. With the help of others we were able to make it across the river and eventually to the falls. I wasn't able to use my phone to get any pics because it was soaked. I did ask a lady to to take pics of us & email them to me, which she did. So I do have those. Thank you kind lady!!
   We had a great time at the swimming hole, it was a neat experience. We spent some time there swimming and exploring.  I was dreading the long hike back.
 A family in front of us said there was a shorter way back but you had to climb UP. They did it before and said it was fine.  We followed... Up and up we went straight up the mountain. By the time we reached the top we were rock climbing, trying to hold on by our fingertips and wedge our feet into crevices. I made the mistake of looking down, and had an instant feeling of panic. Lil'Z  was in front of me and the girl in front of us helped him get to the top. I didn't realize how hard we worked until I noticed I was still sore four days later. I had shin splints and a sore chest the whole week.

We made it back to the van, I kept my swimsuit bottoms on because my pants were wet from me falling in the water. So those behind us on the way up the rock climb had quite a view. (Sorry BigZ!)
Anyway we load ourselves into the van and pull out of the parking area. I hear a weird noise and have BigZ jump out to check our tires, she did but  didn't see anything. We keep going.  We get out on the main road only to hear a whooshing noise. We pull over and I see my rear driver's side tire is flat. Lovely.
 I can't use my phone because it wasn't working since I fell in the water. Fortunately a nice young couple that rocked climbed behind us pulled over to help. They offered me their phone and I called AAA. While I was on the phone with AAA another young guy pulled over and offered to help. I didn't have a jack handy so he said he lived close and he'd be right back. AAA couldn't find our location and I didn't know where I was I get off the phone with them and wait for the other guy to come back.
  He comes back with a truck he uses for the fire department. He is a part time firefighter and works at the Walmart Tire and Lube. Perfect!  He changes my tire and has me follow him down the road to a gas station to check the air pressure on my tires. The other young couple from Nashville kept the kids busy during the changing of the tire.
  We said good-bye to them and followed the firefighter to the gas station.  He was my knight in sweaty armor. He had sweat dripping off his nose and had the thickest southern accent. He had never been to Cummins Falls or even heard of the campground where we were staying (30 minutes away). He said he didn't get out much. He was so sweet and helpful. He offered to follow us to Walmart to get a new tire so I wouldn't have to keep driving on my spare. I told him that wasn't necessary, that we'd go the next day. I figured it was going to be dark soon and I didn't want to arrive at camp in the dark. I offered him some money but he wouldn't take it. He asked if I had enough money for fuel. I said I did and thanked him. I realized I was still in my swimsuit bottom, looking like a goof. We must have looked like we were homeless. We head back to the camp before dark and get the fire going. We had a pleasant evening collecting firewood and cooking over the open fire.

 Day 2:
We drive almost an hour to the nearest Walmart. My emotions were on a short fuse and I was not in a good place mentally. They asked what I wanted at the tire place and I started to cry. I asked if there was a payphone I could use, they directed me to customer service. Well, they had a payphone that was recently removed and everyone seemed to be out of minutes to let me use their cell phone.
 One of the tire employees went and got a manager. They escorted me out of the store to use his cell phone. I felt like a freak show,  again we were looking like we were homeless and living out of our van. They told me they'd help me get tires. I told them I didn't need help getting tires, I just wanted to use someone's phone! I finally use the phone, have them replace my tire and take the kids to eat.  I come back, get the van and drive back to the campground.
 There was no Sprint store around, but I did stop in the Verizon store. The girl was very helpful and told me to take the phone apart and put in into a bowl of rice. I did, it worked! Yay! So at least I had a phone in case we broke down, but the camera wasn't working.
 We're delayed a day from our original plan, but it didn't really matter. We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the park and finding some awesome rocky bluffs. I was thankful the weather was beautiful and it wasn't raining on us.
  We heard some cool owls hooting at night. The kids were brave and went hunting in the dark for firewood by themselves, they were quite proud of themselves.  We cooked another yummy meal at the camp and chilled around the fire before turning in for the night.

 Day 3:
We wake up and start packing up camp. It's takes some time and I regret my plan to hop to a few different campgrounds. If hindsight would have been foresight I would have planned to just stay in one campground. Setting up and tearing down camp is not an easy task to do by myself. While I do have "helpers" they sometimes slow me down  and end up causing new problems.
 We FINALLY get in the van, which I will now name "Slumdog". I turn the key and it's dead as can be. :-(  We hike to the camp hosts lot. They had stopped by to introduce themselves earlier. There are not many people in the camp so he knows who we are when we arrive. He asks if I have jumper cables, I don't. He digs for his, then shows up at our camping spot a bit later. He connects the cables and I try to talk to him. He tells me he can't hear very well because he was "blew up in Iraq". I then try to speak clearly and look right at him when I speak.  I try to start the van again, and it still doesn't start. He readjusts things and tries again.  He asks, "Where's your husband?" I was NOT expecting that. I say "He died.." and tears start to come to my eyes, making him feel pretty awful.  Then I ramble on about this being the one year anniversary since he died,..blah..blah. The poor man stops everything and hugs me and apologizes. He then invites us to dinner and a tour on a boat and begs us to stay longer at the campground. I told him if I can get the van started I'd really like to continue with our trip to Alabama. Finally the van starts, it was the battery after all..whew. We thank him and cruise on out of there and head four and half hours to Tannehill, AL.

We arrive at Tannehill late that afternoon. We tried to find a decent place to eat before heading to camp. I didn't want to have to try to make dinner at camp after such a long day already. We picked up Subway as a last resort and headed into the Campground. This campground was a lot busier than the one we were at previously. It was a historical park and I was excited for all of the activities to keep the kids busy.
 We check into a primitive site since we don't need electricity or water. We had to drive through several lots of RV's to get to our location. The kids were excited to be around other people, but when we get to our site we are the ONLY campers in the primitive sites. So we set up as close as possible to the RV's. ha.
 A friendly couple helps us gather up some rocks to build our fire ring. They explain how exciting things are here at the park for the Halloween festivities. Apparently it's the biggest Halloween campground around. The RV's are arriving 6 weeks ahead of time to set up their decorations and get ready. (really!) We also find out that the entire pioneer village and all of the activities are not open until the weekend. :-(  WHAT?! We would be leaving before the weekend. We head to bed on that note.

                                                                                     Day 4:
We have a nice campsite near the water, we have the advantage of deer running through our end of the camp. The kids ended up counting over 30 deer, that was neat. I was glad I packed their scooters, they happily rode them around the park around all of the RV's and Halloween decorations.
 The kids are pretty disappointed that they don't get to do the pioneer village, blacksmith shop, paper making, Sweet Shoppe or any of the other activities I told them about.   I told Lil'Z this could be his opportunity to be a Junior Ranger. So we began to pick up trash through the park and we learned about scat and animal prints. However, when I asked about the Junior Ranger program they said they didn't have one. UGH!
  We hike to the museum and learn about the history of the area in relation to the civil war.We also do a "slave trail" hike through the park.The trails were NOT clearly marked and we ended up walking a bit further than we had planned.  We were exhausted by the time we got back to camp.
 The kids get back to ride their scooters, it's the fastest way to take the trek to the bathhouse. At this point we realize Lil'Z 's scooter is gone. We look everywhere and can't find it.  We check at the registration office and see if it was turned in or anything. We also leave our info so the rangers can keep a look out for it.
  Anyway, we were clearly disappointed that we drove all this way only to have the park activities closed. I did check the website for all of the hours and activities. I guess that's another downfall of me not using the phone.  We made the best of the day anyway.

 Day 5:
We wake up, pack up and get ready to head home. It only takes me about 3 hours to do this, blah. The scooter was never found. Someone said they saw it behind a tree, but it was never located. :-( I do get the front security card to present Lil'Z with a "Junior Ranger " badge and pin. It was enough to make him happy, he couldn't have been more pleased with being a ranger. 

It was quite warm in Alabama. Did I mention we don't have working A/C in the van? So we hop in and head home. Fortunately we did not have any more blown tires or dead batteries. I was so thankful for that. We stopped in Chattanooga and ate some homemade pasta and some delicious pastries on the way home.
  All in all I think the kids enjoyed themselves. They gained some independence and confidence. They got really, really dirty and had a lot of nature time. I was hoping to have a little more reflection time for myself, that didn't really happen.
 We survived. I learned a lot, I think we all did. We faced our fears, and overcame them. We were even able to come out the other side stronger. I am so grateful to these kind strangers we met along the way, they were a blessing beyond compare.

  *** 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 (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Mamatography Week 5 : Sick Days

We were sick this week. We have spent all week resting and watching a lot of TV. It sucks being a single mom and being sick. I've had zero energy, and the kids still need to be taken care of.

Unfortunately, I shared with the kiddos. Big Z did find the time to pamper me a bit before she came down sick. Aren't my toes pretty?

Yesterday they were getting their strength back. How do I know? They started to argue and get on each others nerves. They did make some cute clay animals though.

Clearly between being snowed and and being sick, we've been in the house too much!!

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Mamatography- Week 4 : Snowed In

  We met the most darling pig while we were downtown early this week. I have a special place in my heart for pot-bellied pigs. I've had two so far for pets, and they are just amazing. So gentle and lovable. This little gals' name was Spoon, isn't she adorable?

We had an unexpected snow storm arrive late Tuesday morning. So we spent the rest of the week bundled in close to one another. Our heater was broken and only working at half speed, so we were quite chilly. We used a space heater to warm up the bedroom.

We did cello lessons via Skype this week. I really enjoy the two of them working together on their cello. BigZ is really quite a patient teacher..most of the time.

Even the cats have been chilly this week. They've happily snuggled with us under the blankets. They are like furry little hot water bottles. I'm thrilled to say our heater was fixed today, but hopefully the cats will still want to snuggle.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Mamatography- Week 3: Sinking

The Titanic Museum has been open for four years now. We have always enjoyed driving  by and seeing the giant ship and iceberg. We've been interested in visiting for awhile now. Finally this year the museum offered Area Appreciation Days, where local counties could visit for only $8.50 per person. Tickets are normally over $20. for adults, even if you are with a group. So this was a great deal, I was thrilled! We were able to enjoy the museum with a few friends. You receive a boarding pass when you enter giving you the identity of one of the passengers on the ship. You find out your fate at the end of the tour.I'm pleased to say I survived! It was a bit depressing, but very interesting. The audio tour was included for that price, I enjoyed the fact there was a separate audio tour designed for children. It was worth the four year wait! 

This week was tough because it would have been the week my middle daughter, Bella, turned 8. (See Bella: A Special Needs Diagnosis). A dear friend took my two kiddos for a few hours while I had a little alone time. I spent most of that time curled up in my bed reading and catching up on Downton Abbey. Our dear kitten, Scooter,(who was previously stuck in a tree), cuddled with me under the blankets all afternoon. Animals really seem to be intuitive to your feelings, have you found that?

Lastly, I wanted to share that Lil Z's creation. He had fun creating a shield and crab in one. Yes, you read that right. He was very pleased that he made a crab (?) and a shield combination toy, with the beneficial feature of it clipping on your hand. It's little things like this that give me chuckles through the week. Do your kids do crazy stuff like this?
 So why title this week "Sinking"..the titanic is obvious, my heart was sunk this week thinking of my sweet Bella..and a crab sinks in the ocean of course! 


We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Bella- Part 1: A Special Needs Diagnosis

Today my Bella would be 8 years old, it's hard for me imagine what she would be like if she lived to be that old. She was like a newborn during her short 16 months on earth, so I always imagine her as my darling little chunky baby.
We had a healthy three year old when we were pregnant with Bella. We had planned her birth at our local birthing center. Since they didn't do ultrasounds there, we were sent to a local hospital for our 20 week ultrasound. We were just hoping to find the sex of the baby and have an uneventful pregnancy. We took our daughter with us for the exciting day. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong when the ultrasound tech was very quiet and wouldn't answer any of our questions. She excused herself from the room and came back with the doctor. The staff quickly ushered us into another private waiting room. The doctor and a nurse sat us down and quickly said that we were pregnant with a girl, but part of her brain was missing so it would be best to schedule an abortion. As the word was hardly out of his mouth my husband stood up and said "NO! That is not an option for us." We start asking questions, not getting much answers, crying and feeling like we've been punched in the gut. Needless to say we were now in the high risk category and our life was forever changed.   (See The Ultrasound and Goodbye Birth Center, Hello High Risk! )
Over the next few months we had numerous ultrasounds and tests. I wrote more about her specific measurements HERE . By the time it was time for her to be born we knew she was missing a small part of her brain, she didn't have normal eye development and she had hydrocephalus. There was a possible diagnosis of Dandy Walker at this point. We did what we could to prepare ourselves with what information we had, we toured the NICU and began to brace ourselves for the tough times ahead. (See Touring the NICU) We started gathering our resources. The NICU social worker shared some places for us to start. We began to look into what services were offered in our state for families with special  needs.
Personally, I really struggled with the idea of having a C-section. I was in denial through most of my pregnancy that a Cesarean was nigh. It took a lot of mental preparation for me to be okay with the idea of a Cesarean. There is a mourning process you go through when you have a special needs diagnosis. Every parent envisions their newborn being healthy and growing up..taking their first steps, saying their first word. I was mourning the loss of my healthy baby girl and all of the visions that come with that. I was also mourning the natural, peaceful birth I had envisioned. I struggled seeing healthy babies in the grocery store. I took up the habit of wearing my sunglasses inside the stores, because I never knew when the tears might begin to flow. It became a joke with my husband and daughter, they would comment how my nose was getting red, so they knew I was crying. The sunglasses trick is still one I like to use.
It's important when you receive a special needs diagnosis that you gather all of the information you can get on the topic: research, research, research! You will become the expert for your child. You will feel at a great loss after the diagnosis, but doing research and gathering your information will help feel like you are at least moving forward and doing something. In our case, there were no books, only a few dismal case studies online. Our real learning came from chatting with other parents online. It's really tough to be prepared for something when you have so little information. I look back  now at how little we knew at the time, we didn't even have the correct diagnosis for our sweet baby girl. I"m so thankful that it's becoming easier to diagnose and more research is being done on Walker Warburg Syndrome. I"m so thankful that there are support groups online, the Walker Warburg Syndrome Facebook group has become a valuable resource for families with this diagnosis. It's great to have parents to share your stories, gather information and give and offer support.
Our family and friends were very supportive through this tough time. It's important to share your special needs diagnosis with friends and family. It's true that some friends and/or family members may not be able to handle the news. They may need to go through a mourning period themselves. To be honest, so people will not know how to deal with the news and may not be able to continue to be in your life.  But it is also amazing to see the friends that will step up and go out of their way to be there for you and support you when you most need it. Filling our freezer with healthy, easy to prepare meals and offering childcare while went to doctor appointments were things we found most helpful.  Siblings to children with Walker Warburg Syndrome don't have it easy. We did our best to prepare our then three year old. We shared things with her on her level, but there was no way really for us to prepare how hard things were going to get. (See What's a Big Sister to do?) We spent extra time with her before Bella's birth, because we knew things were going to be very hectic afterwards.  We also talked about the changes that were soon going to take place so it wouldn't be a surprise to her.
Have you or a family member had to deal with a special needs diagnosis? What have you found helpful?

Mamatography 2014- Week 2: Drama

 Can you spot the kitten in the tree? Our dear kitten was excited the sun was shining and got so thrilled to be outside to play. He ran up the tree and just kept going. It quickly became apparent that he was stuck and couldn't find his way back down. He kept climbing higher and higher, then started to wiggle himself out to the tiny branches of the tree. Our ladders wouldn't reach, we tried opening cans of food and calling him down but it was all to no avail. Sadly, he stayed up there all night. Surprisingly enough he was down to greet us when we looked for him first thing in the morning. Whew!
The drama doesn't stop there with our dear little kitten. Leave it to Big Z to continue the drama. Since my arm is broken and the dishwasher is too, it's been her responsibility to do the dishes. Instead of doing the dishes after each meal, or at least at the end of each day, she decided to let them go until there was no choice. We'll call this a lesson in procrastination. The poor girl spent approximately four hours scrubbing every last dish until it sparkled. She did stop to make this pose for me and give me a chuckle. Now the question remains whether or not she'll learn from this experience and decide to do the dishes on a daily basis.
How do you motivate your kids to help around the house without drama?
We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Mamatography 2014- Week 1: Cookies

A dear friend of mine invited us over to make cookies with a few other kids. Little did I know it was a cookie extravaganza!  The cookie dough was made ahead of time, then we just had to roll out the dough, place the cookie cutters and bake. The kids had a blast decorating farm animals, dinosaurs, cowboy boots and random shapes. It was great for the moms to get together to chat while the the kids had a blast running and laughing together.
Instead of focusing on the artificial food coloring I tried to focus on the fun (while encouraging the nibbling of carrots).  How do you deal with parties and times with friend and family that includes food that you'd prefer to avoid?

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)
Each week, we update the Linkytools code so that you can add the blog hop to your post if you wish. This will be a current list of participants, kept currant by participants themselves. In other words, when you've published your post, add the link to the blog hop, so that the other participants and their readers can see the post.

Without Dad-One Year Later

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

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 stories and wisdom about life changes.


It's been a little over a year since the death of my husband. I look back and at times it feels like it was yesterday he was here with us, wrestling the children, wrapping his arms around me in a big hug after work. Then on the other hand, this seems like the longest year in history. Each morning being harder to start without him, I have to give myself a pep talk before swinging my feet out of the bed. After Bella died, people would comment on how strong I was. I didn't have much of a choice to tell you the truth. It's the same with Ian's death, I'm stronger than I never wanted to be. I have two children that need my constant attention and care, so it's quite necessary to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm so thankful for them in my life. Though I feel they are not getting 100% of their mom, I'm doing my best. At times my best might not seem like much, but it's all I've got. My kids see me cry and we talk about their sister and their dad a lot, I don't want those memories lost. A few things I've learned about myself over this last year. I really LOVED being married, being a wife. I'm afraid I took it for granted for the 15 years we were together. I had a really incredible husband, and I'm not sure I always expressed to him how amazing he was as a husband and father. Often if I complained about something in my life, he would say how much we had to be grateful for. He really kept me balanced and appreciative. I try to remember that and often hear his voice telling me to be grateful and happy for having my two healthy children with me. I hate the word widow. Widow conjures up images of bent over ladies in tiny villages wearing scarves around their heads and wearing black everyday. I remember in Portugal asking why all of the little old ladies would be dressed in black. I learned after their husband dies, many of them stay in mourning for the rest of their lives and show this by wearing black everyday. That's not me. I don't consider myself a little old lady in any respect, I just need a different word,just not widow. I do not take pride in being a single mom. In fact, I hate it. I do not like being the only parent. It is so INCREDIBLY HARD! No offense to all of the hard working single moms out there that are rocking it. That's just not me. I loved having the support of my husband for home schooling, for everyday decisions and for talking to at the end of a rough day. I have not found my single-mom groove yet. Though I like the double-parent title better, I still don't take pride in the fact that I'm doing it alone. I feel like I was a much better mom when, I had a supportive husband around. My whole support system is gone so I feel like I'm dangling off the ledge at this single parent gig. I am living in chaos most of the time. You would think a year would be ample time to have got things organized after the death of your husband.Oh no, this is not correct. I am shocked at how disorganized and chaotic things still are in our lives. The tedious amounts of paperwork and the overwhelming amount of things that I've had to ignore just to focus on my priorities is ridiculous! Because of losing our daughter several years ago, I thought I was on top of things as far as paperwork goes. No, no,no. I beg each of you that is reading this to take the time to talk with your spouse and make some lists and get things organized now, before it is too late. I recommend the site She has simple checklists and forms that will be sanity savers when/if something traumatic happens to your family. And for goodness sake, please have a place where you can find passwords for important accounts, etc in case one of you dies. I now have it a priority to get myself organized for my children's sake. On a positive note, this year the kids and I have had a lot of quality time together. We've taken adventures together camping, visiting family and friends, and going to conventions. It's made us pretty tight knit. So even if I am having a bad day and I lose it, I am able to talk to the kids about it and tell them what I'm feeling and apologize. I have learned to do things I never thought I would need to do, like start campfires and clean fish tanks ( I still call my brother to help with the mouse traps ;-) ). Little by little I see us making progress as a family, moving on to our new life ahead of us.I do feel excited about our new adventures that lie ahead so that makes me happy. I hope to be able to move on with a positive attitude, though that may not be my first inclination. Sharing with my children that despite all of the awful things that has happened in our life, we can still chose to be happy. We have hope, and it's a true blessing. I hope to introduce them to new adventures and continue to travel with them to new and exciting places. This year we hope to get their passports in order and be able to travel out of the country. I am excited about our new learning possibilities and all that is out there waiting for us... as long as I can keep swinging my feet out of the bed.


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:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she'd left behind - that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama's parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she's ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up... for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter's transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, "Will I be enough for what comes next?"
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen's hobby of writing and blogging - it has turned into a side business. She's sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you're interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep's soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.

Safety Sense and Self Confidence

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
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 stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Are you the kind of parent that sets back in what Charlotte Mason refers to as  "masterly inactivity"? Here's what Charlotte said on the topic: " (Parents) try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education” (Vol. 3, p. 27). I love that! "Wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education." It can be easy to feel we need to jump in to protect our child from any discomfort, but is that wise?
 We live in a different time, we may look back at our childhood and remember long days outside playing with our friends in the neighborhood. We didn't come home until we heard the call for dinner, maybe we climbed trees and played in the river all without a care in the world. Our parents did not follow us around and watch our every move. My husband told a story of him running around the streets of Paris as a young boy. That isn't something that would happen in our day and age.
 It's all about balance. Kids need time to explore on their own. Of course it wouldn't be safe to let our child run free in the streets,but we need to allow them time to find their own sense of security. If we are overprotective and help our child with every hurdle they face, we are actually undermining their development. Take the playground for example, would it be best to hold onto our child's body every step they take, or would it be best to allow them to find a way to hold on and balance themselves; maybe offering a reminder to hold on if we feel necessary. If we give our little ones the chance to take small risks and chances, they'll learn self confidence. This helps them develop a sense of safety and manage their fears.
 Show them a safe way to take risks. Worrying, hovering and being overprotective does not help our children. It doesn't solve any problems or make our children any safer, it just sucks the joy out of everything.
This idea can even be applied to infants. In her new book, "Peaceful Parent, HAPPY KIDS" Dr. Laura Markham explains "Help your baby develop his emerging safety sense. For instance, as babies become mobile, most will scoot to a stairway or the edge of a bed to look over but won't crawl off. Instead of scooping her up to prevent her going near the edge, we can spot her so she can't actually hurt herself and observe her as she explores. Babies who feel "in charge" of their own safety learn more quickly how to keep themselves safe. "- Page 211 So by following this advice, from an early age our child will learn to take safe risks and develop self confidence. We all want our children to be safe, none of us want our children to be hurt. But how do you find that fine line between keeping your child safe and giving them space to explore? Balance. We can not remove every germ and obstacle from the way of our children. But we can be there to help them lay the foundation in developing their own safety sense and safe risk taking.
How do you help your child develop their own safety sense?
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 updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to cars eats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"
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