Attachment parenting works for us & announcements from API

API buttonAs many of you know, I’m a big advocate of attachment parenting. I’ve seen the benefits of raising my children according to AP principles such as breastfeeding (feeding with love), baby wearing, responsive nighttime parenting, gentle discipline, etc. My husband Jody and I didn’t start out the road to parenting set on AP, it just kind of happened. For us it just feels natural, like we are trusting our instincts.

We’ve seen the way that Ava has blossomed into an almost 4-year-old who is secure, loving, friendly, healthy, imaginative and independent, and we attribute this largely to the way that we raised her. Julian is only 16 months old, but he too is a very happy, healthy, well-adjusted little person. I believe that by meeting our children’s needs when they are little, they have come to learn that they can depend on us and trust us for the long haul. It’s certainly not all been easy nor a bed of roses, but anyone who thinks parenting is convenient is surely mistaken. It is my hope that by building a solid foundation with them when they are young, we are creating a lasting, trust-based relationship that will endure throughout their adolescent years and into adulthood.

I feel fortunate that I have found a support network of like-minded parents here locally through Attachment Parenting International.

Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents, has several exciting changes they would like to announce, including:

  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org (Check out the photos on the home page – at least one might look familiar to you. It’s Jody and Ava on the right and I also took the first picture in that grouping. A few more of my pictures are scattered around the site. My little claim to fame. hehe.);
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program – a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by the website and check it out for yourself. Perhaps you’ll find something that resonates with you. 🙂

Let’s go fly a kite (BSM -3/31/08)

Saturday was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm with just enough wind for flying a kite. Jody bought a kite for Ava several weeks ago and she’d been excited to give it a try. Her excitement grew after she received the Mary Poppins DVD for Easter. So on Saturday we went to the park and flew that kite, up to the highest height. 😉 It was a good thing we took advantage of the nice spring-like weather on Saturday, because we woke up to snow on Sunday!

Here are a few pics of Ava, the kite-flyer. 🙂

Wow! It’s flying! 3/29/08 Ava holds on tight to her kite string - 3/29/08 Ut oh! It’s heading for a tree! 3/29/08

As for my “best shot,” I’m having a hard time choosing between these two. Which do you prefer?

The kite flying high - 3/29/08

Ava flying her kite - 3/29/08

Head on over to Mother May I to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

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Reminder: Earth Hour is tonight (3/29/08)

Just a reminder that Earth Hour, when millions of people around the world are turning off their lights (and other electronics), is from 8 to 9 p.m. (local time) tonight.

Sign up at Earth Hour

Learn more about it:
* Crunchy Domestic Goddess – Can you turn off your lights for just one hour? – with tips on making it a fun family event
* National Geographic – Earth Hour: Cities, Landmarks to Go Dark
* National Geographic – Global Warming Fast Facts
* World Wildlife Fund – Earth Hour: A global event created to symbolize that each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change

Typical North American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids – fish isn’t the only solution

Cross-posted at BlogHer

New research from the Child & Family Research Institute has shown that the typical North American diet (think meat and potatoes) is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. This information is especially important to pregnant and nursing women since the deficiency may pose a risk to infant neurological development.

salmonOmega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that are typically found in some types of fish like salmon as well as in eggs and chicken in lesser amounts, and in some seeds and plants which we’ll explore later. The fats are especially important for the baby’s developing eyes and brain.

The study revealed that babies of mothers who consumed a lot of meat and little fish and were deficient in omega-3 fatty acids didn’t score as well on eye tests as babies who’s mothers were not deficient.

Dr. Sheila Innis, the study’s principal investigator, head of the nutrition and metabolism program at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital, and professor, department of pediatrics, University of British Columbia, says “During pregnancy and breastfeeding, fat consumed by the mum is transferred to the developing baby and breastfed infant, and this fat is important for the baby’s developing organs. Our next task is to find out why the typical North American diet puts mothers at risk. Then we can develop dietary recommendations to help women consume a nutritious diet that promotes optimal health for mums and babies.”

This news follows studies that have showed that pregnant women and children need to limit their fish consumption due to high mercury levels. And then, as Katy Farber of Non-Toxic Kids points out in “Do You Eat Fish?” there’s the question of the safety of farmed salmon. So what’s a mama to do?

Dr. Innis believes the key to health for all of us may lie in the old adage – everything in moderation. “For better health, it’s important for pregnant and nursing mums — and all of us — to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, eggs, and fish while minimizing consumption of processed and prepared foods,” says Dr. Innis.

To my knowledge, no vegetarian or vegan women were included in this study. However, vegan mothers also have ideas on how to stay healthy and get in their RDA of omega-3 fatty acids without looking to fish for the answer.

Debbie Took of Raw for Life points out that omega-3 fatty acids are found in many plants.

The good news for the raw vegan or vegetarian is that omega-3 is contained in many plant foods, such as dark green vegetables (like spinach and broccoli), walnuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and wheat, but one of the very best sources is…flax seeds (also known as linseeds).

Flax seedDebbie includes two tasty recipes on her blog for a Rocket (Arugula) and Mango Salad and an Orange and Flax Energy Drink, both high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Vegan mother Half-Pint Pixie discusses the merits of hemp, wonderful hemp. She adds the seeds to her 1-year-old vegan daughter’s mashed bananas and her daughter happily eats them up.

Vegan mother, cook and best-selling author Dreena Burton is a big fan of hemp seeds and discusses some of her creations such as Hemp-anola!, Hemp Burgers, Chocolate Hemp Squares and Energy Cookies on her blog Eat Drink and Be Vegan.

I consider my kids and myself “flexitarians” in that we eat a lot less meat (and no beef) than the average American. While I already add ground flaxseed to our smoothies, I’ve yet to try hemp seeds. However, all of this talk about chocolate squares and cookies has motivated me to pick some up on my next trip to Vitamin Cottage. I’m highly in favor of any time I can justify eating chocolate and cookies in the name of good health!

Related links:

Safe Fish CHEC List For Children, Teens and All Women of Child-bearing Age
Yorkshire Hemp Limited: Hemp Food Nutrition
Women’s Health: Omega-3 Fish Oil

Can you turn off your lights for just one hour?

Planet Earth

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, people from around the world will join together for Earth Hour 2008 and turn off their lights from 8 to 9 p.m. (your local time) to reduce greenhouse gases and raise awareness about global warming.

Last year Earth Hour 2007 was a Sydney, Australia event where 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour. This year it’s getting worldwide attention and millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv, will unite and turn off their lights for Earth Hour.

If your kids are still up at 8 p.m., you can make Earth Hour into a fun family event.
Candles

  • Light some candles (out of reach of the kids)
  • Have a “camp out” in your living room
  • Play a game like Hide and Go Seek
  • Talk about your day
  • Talk with your children about why you are turning off your lights for an hour
  • Try to do their normal bedtime routine in the dark or by candlelight (We did a dry run of this Monday night and Ava loved it!)
  • Go outside and look at the stars
  • Just enjoy the time together

And if your kids are NOT still up at 8 p.m. (lucky!), then by all means, enjoy a nice quiet candle-lit evening with your significant other. I won’t give you a list of activities. Surely you can figure something out. (Makes me wonder if we’ll see an “Earth Hour baby boom” 9 months from now.) 😉

Will you pledge to turn off your lights for just one hour?

  • Sign up for Earth Hour and then tell a friend or two. Together, our small actions can make a big difference.

Earth Hour doesn’t have to end at 9 p.m. on Saturday, you can incorporate it into your everyday life by doing little things like:

  • turn off lights when you leave a room;
  • switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs;
  • turn off appliances when not in use;
  • unplug things like cell phone chargers, the toaster, microwave and TV when they aren’t in use;
  • use less hot water;
  • switch to green power.

Every little bit helps to reduce global warming.

Hope you’ll join me and millions of others in the dark on Saturday! Don’t forget to sign up so you are officially counted.

Best Shot Monday – 3/24/08 – Egg-citing!

That’s egg-citing, not to be confused with egg sighting, though I guess either would work in this case. 😉

On Saturday we dyed a crapton of 26 eggs using natural dyes made from things like tumeric, chili powder, beets, blueberries, and red cabbage. We did 14 during the day with the kids and my sister (Aunt Carrie), and then because I wanted to experiment some more, Jody and I did another dozen after the kids went to bed. We now have enough boiled eggs to feed a small village.

I will do a post with the details of the natural egg dyeing, including what worked well and what didn’t work so well and pictures of the process, later in the week. For today, however, I’m just sharing some pictures of the egg-dyeing egg-stravaganza, our indoor egg hunt (due to snow) and then my best shot of all of our eggs in one basket (I know, I know, they say not to do that) is at the end. 😉

Most of the pics were taken with the point and shoot, and a few with my SLR. Mouse over the pics for a description.

Our natural egg-dyeing egg-stravaganza was on Saturday. Julian enjoyed eating leftover blueberries (from the dyeing process) while the rest of us dyed the eggs.

Mommy with Julian, the blueberry eater - 3/22/08Mommy dyes eggs while Julian signs for more blueberries - 3/22/08The egg dyeing commences - 3/22/08Julian, the blueberry-eating boy - 3/22/08Family egg dyeing - 3/22/08Mommy with her silly girl Ava - 3/22/08Julian laughs at Aunt Carrie - 3/22/08Ava shows off a green egg (with spinach still on it) - 3/22/08Aunt Carrie cleans up blueberry boy - 3/22/08

Our Easter egg hunt on Sunday was inside (since our snow from the night before hadn’t melted yet). Ava had a blast finding all of the eggs, while Julian enjoyed smacking eggs together and throwing them around the house.

The egg hunt gets underway - 3/23/08Daddy makes sure all hidden eggs are accounted for - 3/23/08Ava, the bunny - 3/23/08Ava and daddy make deviled eggs - 3/23/08The kids hang out with daddy - 3/23/08

And lastly, here’s my best shot. All 26 of our naturally dyed eggs (in one basket). 🙂

Our naturally dyed Easter eggs - 3/23/08

Head on over to May Papers to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

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Dyeing Easter eggs naturally

Easter is Sunday and, of course, this weekend we have plans to dye eggs for our annual Easter egg hunt. Ava enjoyed it last year, in the snow I might add, but is even more excited about it this year. And I think Julian will enjoy getting in on the action this year too. We might have to dye more than a dozen eggs.

Easter eggs dyed naturallyThis year I’m excited to try dyeing the eggs without artificial colors. I found a couple great web site with tips on “Natural Dyes for Elegant Easter Eggs” and Natural Dye from Organic.org. The natural dyes come from spices like paprika, tumeric and cumin; vegetables like spinach and red cabbage; fruit juices and even coffee. All of your dye ingredients can (and should) be composted after you are done.

The pages have dyeing instructions for a boil method (which produces darker results) and a cold-dip method, which is suggested for children or if you plan to eat the eggs and is the method we will be trying out.

Why dye with natural colors instead of artificial? According to Organic.org, “Many food colorings contain color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5, which, according to a 1983 study by the FDA, were found to cause tumors (Red No. 3) and hives (Yellow No. 5).” I wrote about the drawbacks of artificial colors a while back if you’d like to read more on the topic.

It is more time-consuming than using a store-bought conventional egg dye kit, but it is healthier for your kids and the environment. “Dyeing eggs the natural way gives you the opportunity to spend more time with your family, teaching kids to use alternative project methods that are healthier for them and the environment.” I think it will be a lot of fun and a great family project.

I will report back on Monday (perhaps with my Best Shot Monday post) on how the natural dyeing process went. 🙂 And I’d love to hear from any of you who give it a shot (or have done so in the past) as well.

3/22/08: There’s an UPDATE in the comments with some of our results of what worked well and what didn’t (as well as what other people’s results have been). More to follow with pics of the egg-stravaganza fun on Monday. 🙂

*Photo credit: Organic.org Natural Dyes

U.S. mothers are dying. Why don’t we know that?

Cross-posted on BlogHer

This past week as I wandered, or you might say stumbled, around Stumble Upon familiarizing myself with the layout and realizing the potential to find a lot of great blogs, I came across an article that stopped me in my tracks. I wish I could say it was a fabulously uplifting story, but the reality is that it was the complete opposite.

I want to pause for a moment here and take this opportunity to note that I did not write this with the intent of scaring pregnant women. There is already enough fear surrounding childbirth in this country and I don’t wish to contribute to it. However, I feel strongly that the information below needs to be brought to light and so I wrote this with the intention of raising awareness and educating those who are interested.

A couple of years ago Orlando mother Claudia Mejia checked into Orlando Regional South Seminole hospital to have a baby. The birth went well, but then something went wrong, very very wrong. Ms. Mejia was told she contracted streptococcus, a flesh eating bacteria, and toxic shock syndrome and if she wanted to live, she would have to have both sets of limbs amputated. No further explanation was given. Twelve days after giving birth she was transferred to Orlando Regional Medical Center where she became a quadruple amputee, unable to hold or care for her new son. She has since filed suit against the hospital asking for answers as to how this could have happened. It appears that a judge ruled in favor of releasing her records in April 2007, but I was unable to find any more information to indicate if that ever happened.

This is no doubt a major tragedy, but what I find even more disturbing than the fact that this happened is that it did not seem to get much media attention. Why is that? Had Ms. Mejia been famous, more affluent, or Caucasian would it have made national headlines? Or would that even make a difference?

Unfortunately, this scenario of obscuring maternal complications and mortality appears to be the norm in the United States, rather than the exception.

Not two weeks before, I read an article by pioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin titled “Masking Maternal Mortality” in the March-April 2008 issue of Mothering magazine. Gaskin asserts that “the number of American women who die as a result of pregnancy and birth is almost four times higher than it should be” and says that begs the question, “Why is no one talking about it?”

The last time I recall hearing about a maternal death in the news was in the spring of 2007 when Valerie Scythes and Melissa Farah, two friends and teachers from the same school, both died following c-sections at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J. Had they not had the coincidences of knowing each other, both having been at the same hospital, and dying within weeks of each other, would either of their deaths have received media attention?

The maternal death rate in the United States is the highest it’s been in decades – 13 deaths* per 100,000 live births and, even more startling, for black women 34.7 deaths per 100,000, in 2004. Gaskin asserts it also may be seriously underreported. According to the Center for Disease Control in 1998, “there is so much misclassification in the US system of maternal death reporting that the actual number could be as much as three times greater than the number officially published each year.”

A significant part of the problem is that the 50 states are not required to use the same death certificate and only 21 states ask on their death certificate some version of this question, “Was the deceased pregnant in the week or months preceding her death?”

Another issue noted by the CDC is that physicians often do not fill out the cause-of-death section of the death certificate accurately enough. Additionally problematic is the US autopsy rate has dropped to less than 5 percent, there is usually no external review process when a maternal death takes place and hospital employees with knowledge about the death are generally warned to stay quiet about it.

How can we possibly expect to have accurate reporting under those conditions?

Contrast this with the United Kingdom where every three years the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists publishes a book titled “Why Mothers Die.” In addition to providing detailed, accurate numbers for each category of maternal death, “Why Mothers Die” also makes recommendations regarding what should be done to reduce the number of deaths over the next three years. The book is available to the public in bookstores, so anyone and everyone can have access to this information.

Also in sharp contrast to the US, when a maternal death occurs in a hospital in the UK, a team of people who do not work at the hospital is dispatched to review all of the woman’s records.

Where does that leave us here in the US? We have a mother who was forced to become a quadriplegic unable to get answers from the hospital as to why. We have an underreported rate of mothers dying from pregnancy and birth complications, often without any kind of outside review. And according to the CDC we have no improvement in the maternal death rate since 1982. Yet none of these stories are getting the kind of media attention they deserve.

To help draw attention to the underreported maternal death rate and lack of media interest, Gaskin started The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. Whenever she receives documentation that a US woman has died from pregnancy- or birth-related causes from 1982 to the present, she arranges to have a quilt square made to honor her. The quilt, which can be viewed virtually online and is up to 85 squares, “acts as the voice for women who can no longer speak for themselves.” It is quite sobering to view, even online. The last square was just added one month ago.

Perhaps by raising awareness and demanding more information, we can turn the tide in this country.

She who has health has hope; and she who has hope has everything. — Arabic Proverb

 

Related links:
Refuse to be a Womb Pod: The Top Five Underreported Birth Stories for 2007
Banana Peel: I think I’m moving to Iceland…
The Lactivist: Go to Give Birth, Come Home with No Limbs
USA Today: Answers prove elusive as c-section rate rises
SouthCoast Today: At 67, hippie-midwife who changed childbirth in America still crusades for natural method

* Ina May informed me that since she wrote the Mothering article, the most recent figure for the maternal death rate has risen. It’s now at 15/100,000 births.

Freezin’ our buns off

A few weeks ago Ava inadvertently turned off our heat. As a result we had a very chilly night in our house. I woke up several times wondering why I was so cold, but in my freezing state I refused to get up and check the thermostat and instead tried to curl myself into a smaller ball to stay warm. Ava woke up several times too, crying out in her sleep, which I could only assume later was because she was too cold. I covered her up with her blanket each time, but she invariably kicked it back off again.

thermostatBy the time we woke up in the morning and Jody went downstairs to check the thermostat (I stayed in bed with the blankets pulled up to my ears), the temperature in the house was down to 58 degrees. Yes, it was downright cold, but it also got me thinking. If we wore socks or added some extra blankets, could we survive turning our thermostat down a bit at night?

For the last year or so (in the winter), we’d done 68 degrees during the day and 67 degrees at night. The reason I had balked at going lower than that (other than the fact that I don’t want to be the heat tyrant that my dad was, though I understand now why he was) was that the kids tend to sleep without blankets on. We cover them up, they kick it off. I didn’t want them to wake up as little icicles in the morning, so I hadn’t tried turning the heat down.

Crunchy Chicken has had a “Freeze Yer Buns” challenge going on this winter to see how low people can go with their thermostats in the name of saving energy. I haven’t signed up because I don’t feel like I can compete with the majority of people who are involved in it. “62 during the day, 55 at night,” and many go even lower than that! But our little Ava turning the heat off impromptu experiment proved that we can stand to go a bit lower at night – not 58 degrees, but lower.

I know it’s a little late in the season and spring is right around the corner (though we got a few inches of snow tonight), but I decided to reset the thermostat to 67 degrees during the day and 66 at night (update: Oops! I wasn’t giving myself enough credit, I just checked the thermostat and it was set for 65 at night. Just knocked it down to 64. Yeah, I’m living on the edge now. *wink*), and we’ve been doing fine with that ever since. It’s only a slight change, but I have to think that every little bit counts. The kids still stay warm enough at night this way and I feel like I’m contributing in a small way. In fact, per Crunchy Chicken‘s blog, “for each degree set below 68 degrees, energy consumption decreases by about 6 to 8 percent.” So our little change does make a difference! 🙂

What about you? What is your thermostat set at? Do you think you could lower it a degree or two? Will you? 🙂 Not only do you save energy, you save money too!

More energy saving tips.