Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm moving!

I am excited to announce the launch of my new website - The Artful Mama.  Blogger will always have a place in my heart but I want to grow as a writer and needed to spread my wings.  If you have enjoyed my posts and want to continue exploring attachment parenting and balancing work join me at my new home away from home.  Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monday's Mamas: Reflections on Balance Part 1

Balance can mean different things to different parents, and we are all familiar with the concept. In dissecting the word to uncover the feeling beneath, you may find that you are ultimately trying to experience a sense of peace as you go about parenting and life.

Peace comes in many forms. Sometimes we just don’t feel peaceful or balanced. Parents who work have the unique challenge, or opportunity depending on how you view it, of combining the busyness of family life with being away from the family in one way or another. There are several ways to "find balance."

One potential saving grace for the working parent is to observe and nourish the family's rhythm. Routine and rhythm can be similar, although routine generally speaks to things we do regularly and rhythm points more to the flow of our day.

Tuning into the basic rhythm of life (unencumbered by our to-do lists) is as easy as noticing our breath. Just as we inhale - expand, take in air - we also participate in activities of life that are expansive, energetic, and powerful. As the oxygen goes to all parts of our body we receive what we need for the next phase of breath: exhale - contraction of the lungs, the release of air and toxins - time to release, introspect, and focus inward. In between the exhale and inhale you can observe a small space; a nothingness. This space is often missed in family life - the time to just be and not necessarily take in or let out anything.

Observing the family's rhythm may or may not initially feel so easy, but with a little practice you will begin to notice trends in your family. Start by tuning into the rhythm of your breath whenever you remember and particularly when you feel stressed. Just notice the cycle of expansion-contraction-space. It is amazing how the body has an already built in rhythm that we can live our life from.

Next, choose a length of time such as a week or two weeks and observe how your family goes about the day. Notice what types of activities everyone is engaging in - expanding, contracting, spacious - and what results are experienced. Notice what doesn't work, what does seem to work, and areas you would like to observe further, get some help with, or explore as you go along. For example, you might notice your infant does well when you nurse and talk first thing in the morning. On days you are too busy to talk and try to rush out the door she may be fussy. You may notice that too much TV results in crabby kids or that not enough healthy food in the house results in a crabby mom. Just take note.

From there, spend some time with your notes each evening and list your priorities as a working parent. Obviously your relationship with your child is important, as is your health, and your job. On a daily basis what do you really want to put first and what can you cross off the list when you feel like it's just too much? Be accountable to yourself and re-evaluate your priorities as necessary. Be gentle with yourself and your family along the way; this isn't about meeting some idea of a perfect rhythm.

Nourishing the family's rhythm is about honoring and doing what works, in momentary increments. Many times we have a pretty good idea of what does work for our family and just need to see it on paper. Sometimes we need some help figuring that out. Other times we just need to honor the rhythm of life and change to a different type of activity.

Consider thinking about your family's rhythm like you do your breath. It is already there; it just needs noticing. It may or may not be as rhythmic as the breath because it involves many people, their preferences, and uniqueness - but it is there. Attention to the rhythm allows you to focus and slow down. Sometimes just adding in some free space to do nothing can make the difference in a day that seems completely haywire.

Reflections on Balance Part 2 will discuss the value of presence in experiencing balance as a parent.

Amy Phoenix is a gentle yet direct parenting guide, healing facilitator, creator of Peace 4 Parents, and mother of four dedicated to sharing insights and practices to transform frustration and anger, heal the past and nurture conscious relationships.

Are you a Monday's Mama?  Do you have a story to share or a product/service to make a mama's life easier?  Let me know and your article or product could be featured in the next Monday's Mamas.  

Monday's Mamas will be a chance for the working mother who identifies as natural or attached to share her story with the online community.  It can be a personal story or it can be an informational post about just how does an AP mama manage all those tasks we have to do while still caring for our children in the way we have chosen?  This is open any mama who maintains a dual lifestyle: working out of the home, returning to school or the work at home mamas (WAHMs).

To submit an article for consideration, please use the Google Docs web form or email your article to Shannon (artsymama.riley {at} no later then 11:59pm EST on Friday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Art Show

I sold these two Artist Prints of my watercolors at an auction the other week for charity to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Research.  I had them made with the hopes of selling more I just don't know when I am going to find the time.  These particular ones are part of a limited run.  It was a little heartbreaking to actually part with them but it was for a great cause.

Images are property of the artist and may not be reproduced.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Call for Submissions for The Freedom of Cloth Carnival

Logo created by The New Daddy
using an image from Erica Blonde on Flickr

As the Natural Parents Network works to compile your articles into a cloth diapering resource, we're excited to announce that we will also be hosting a week long cloth diapering carnival. The Freedom of Cloth Carnival is scheduled over the week of July 4th (July 3-9) to celebrate the beauty of finding independence from unnecessary waste through the use of cloth diapers, as well as to support independent, mama-run businesses.

The Freedom of Cloth Carnival, hosted by Natural Parents Network, is being planned and coordinated by two incredible NPN volunteers: Melissa at The New Mommy Files and Shannon, aka The Artful Mama formerly The ArtsyMama. We will be choosing themed posts from carnival participants to feature here on NPN throughout the week. In addition to the great posts by carnival participants, there will be several exciting giveaways featuring products from cloth diapering related WAHM (work-at-home-mama) businesses.

Freedom of Cloth Carnival Daily Themes

Sunday, July 3rd - Cloth Related Recipes
Do you make your own wipe solution or rash cream? Have a perfect system for lanolizing wool? Maybe you have gone so far as to sew your child's entire stash of diapers. Feel free to get creative and share any cloth-related "recipe" or tutorial from your repertoire.

Monday, July 4th - Choosing Your Cloth Style
Do you use a little bit of everything, or one style of diaper exclusively? Tell us why you love AIOs (all in one diapers), or why fitteds are all you could ever need. You can write a post focusing on one style of diaper, compare different types you've used, or explain why you love what you love. Share your style with us, however you'd like!

Tuesday, July 5th - Cloth Diapering Must Haves
Are there cloth diapering accessories you simply could not live without? Tell us about the most important items in your diapering stash and why you love them! Feel free to concentrate on a single item, talk about the pros and cons of different diapering-related products, or list off every single thing in your diapering arsenal - it's up to you!

Wednesday, July 6th - Wordless Wednesday
Feel free to share photos of your stash or your children with their fluffy cloth bums. Submit your photo by email, with preferred caption and a link to your blog, to Jorje {at} The deadline for photos only is Monday, July 4th. If you choose to create your own fluff themed Wordless Wednesday post, there's no need to submit it in advance. There will be a linkup on Wednesday here at the Natural Parents Network, so visit our Wordless Wednesday photo montage to link up!

Thursday, July 7th - Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence
Did you find that what worked for your newborn suddenly failed to cut it when you had a mobile baby? Maybe you had to change your whole routine when your toddler learned how to open an aplix diaper. Do you use cloth as a back up for elimination communication, or cloth trainers with an older toddler or a preschooler? Share with us how cloth worked for your child through one or more stages on their path to potty independence.

Friday, July 8th - Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day
Do you have the perfect wash routine? Tricks on how to get to the bottom of and fight smelly diapers? Did you find a way to keep your busy toddler from taking their diaper off, or to keep your heavy wetter from leaking through her pajamas at night? Maybe you love your wool dryer balls so much that you want to write a whole post about them. Share your best tips and tricks for solving any diaper-related problem.

Saturday, July 9th - Inspired by Cloth
Has cloth diapering led you to use cloth instead of disposable products in other parts of your house? Do you use mama cloth, un-paper towels, or cloth napkins? Tell us how cloth diapering has inspired you to become "greener" overall.

Submission Details

You are welcome to participate on just one day, or join us all week long. Write on as few or as many themes as you'd like, but please fill out the webform below once for each post you submit, or click here to open it in a new tab.
Send a separate email with the text of each submission to Melissa {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com and ShannonR {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com no later than midnight central time on the submission deadline of Friday, June 24th.

Posting Details

Once you submit your post, you will receive an email from one of the carnival hosts to let you know it was received. Once we have read all the submissions, we will follow up with details on when to publish your post and suggestions for any necessary edits.
You will also receive a separate email with code for the top and bottom of your post prior to each day you're participating.

Please do: Write well. Write on topic. Write a brand new post for the carnival. The carnival themes aren’t meant to be exclusionary. If your experience doesn’t perfectly mesh with the day's theme, please lend your own perspective. Please also feel free to be creative within the gentle confines of the carnival structure. If you’re feeling so inspired, you could write a poem, a photo essay, a scholarly article, or a book review instead of a regular blog post (though those are welcomed, too!), as long as what you write is respectful of the carnival’s intent. If you want help determining that ahead of time, please talk with us.

Please don’t: Please don’t use profanity of the sort that might be offensive to more sensitive readers or their children. Please don’t submit irrelevant or argumentative pieces contrary to the principles of natural parenting. You don’t have to agree with all our ideals — and certainly you don’t have to live up to them all perfectly! — but your submission does have to fit the theme and values of the carnival.

Editors’ rights: We reserve the right to edit your piece or suggest edits to you. We reserve the right to courteously reject any submissions that are inappropriate for the carnival. Please also note that since there are two co-hosts on different schedules and conferring over email, our personal response to your submission might seem delayed. Don’t be alarmed. We also reserve the right to impose consequences if the responsibilities of the carnival are not fulfilled by the participants.

If you don’t have a blog: Contact us (Melissa {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com and ShannonR {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com) about potentially finding you a host blog to guest post. Please write your piece well in advance of the deadline in that case, so we can match you up with someone suitable. But if you really have something amazing to write — why not start your own blog? If you want advice, we find Scribbit’s free Blogging in Pink ebook to be a very helpful and down-to-earth guide, for beginners on up.

If you have questions: Please leave a comment or contact us: Melissa {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com and ShannonR {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com

Links to tutorials: Our NPN co-founders, Lauren, Dionna, and Dionna’s husband, Tom, have written several tutorials for Carnival of Natural Parenting participants about how to schedule posts in advance, how to determine post URLs in advance, how to edit HTML — all for both WordPress and Blogger users. These will be extremely useful for The Freedom of Cloth Carnival as well. For these tutorials and more, please see this handy summary post at

Grab the carnival button for your site!
Freedom of Cloth Carnival

Saturday, June 4, 2011

No food goes to waste in this house!

Little Man loves food. He also loves his cat. So the two go hand in hand in this house. A bite for Little Man and a bite for Ollie. It isn't ideal but it makes for some mealtime fun and a lot less mess with a living vacuum cleaner following my toddler's every move. If the cat isn't having it - the dogs will. Little Man especially enjoys his rides around the dinner table courtesy of our enthusiastic pug, Dory.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday's Mamas Musts: Menstrual Cups

I know what you are thinking - why is she going to talk about this, I don't want to talk about my period.  But this week is my first cycle since Little Man was born!  It is an odd feeling waiting for the return of your cycle after you give birth especially if you are waiting a long time.  For me it has been two years since I had a regular cycle.  Personally I did not feel like a woman without it.  It was nice for a while not to have it and not to have to worry about when it was coming or having to deal with all the symptoms and extra things I needed for it.  When I didn't have it though I would worry that I'd be caught some where in public without my necessary accouterments.

Disposable pads gave me problems with yeast and I always hated before when choosing a tampon that I either chose something with too much absorbency or too little.  Plus disposing of your tampons or pads had its own list of issues for me.  I hated the smell in my bathroom and when I was a teenager and didn't know better - I cost my parents a tidy chunk of change fixing our septic by flushing them.  I've been cloth diapering with Little Man so I thought maybe I should look into reusable options for myself.
I found that the women I went to for my other parenting and natural solutions had a wealth of information on the topic.

Hobo Mama: Instead vs. Diva Cup for Your Menstrual Cup Needs
The Green Girls: The Diva Cup
The Crunch Chicken: Two Years of Diva Cup

Menstrual cups can save you money, time and the environment!  You have a greater investment up front but you save money over time by not having to buy them month after month.  I will cover the cost of my cup after three and half months and be able to keep using my cup long after that!  Sounds a lot like cloth diapers, huh?  There are many options out there and apparently most women become collectors of cups - another thing they have in common with cloth diapers.

I chose The Diva Cup, which is latex, BPA and dye free and had excellent reviews.  It comes in two sizes: Size 1 for under 35 pre-pregnancy and Size 2 post pregnancy or older then 35.  The cup is sized so it can fit snugly inside.  It works with suction to stay in place and prevent leaks.  Fluid is collected inside the cup and you empty it in the toilet, rinse it and replace it.  You sanitize it before the first time you use it and then again at the end of your cycle.  It gets stored in the breathable bag that it comes in and it is always there for you when you need it.  Oh and neat little fact: Diva Cup was created by a mother-daughter team - Francine and Carinne!

So why is it a Monday's Mamas Must?  Because you only need one and it is very easy to travel with.  Having to remember only one of these handy little things is one less thing you need to think about as a mama.  Depending on your flow, it can be emptied once every 12 hours - time saver!  The contents are flushed down the toilet and it is reinserted - nothing for a toddler to "find" in your garbage!  It can be worn while swimming or exercising.  Reusable menstrual cups are very convenient for busy mamas.

Resources for further information :
Diva Cup

Are you a Monday's Mama?  Do you have a story to share or a product/service to make a mama's life easier?  Let me know and your article or product could be featured in the next Monday's Mamas.  

Monday's Mamas will be a chance for the working mother who identifies as natural or attached to share her story with the online community.  It can be a personal story or it can be an informational post about just how does an AP mama manage all those tasks we have to do while still caring for our children in the way we have chosen?  This is open any mama who maintains a dual lifestyle: working out of the home, returning to school or the work at home mamas (WAHMs).

To submit an article for consideration, please use the Google Docs web form or email your article to Shannon (artsymama.riley {at} no later then 11:59pm EST on Friday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post: Flats Challenge with Elizabeth of Mothering The Maelstrom

#FlatsChallengeThis week is the Flats and Handwashing Challenge from Dirty Diaper Laundry.  Bloggers and others from all over are using flat diapers and handwashing them in an effort to demonstrate exactly how economical it can be to use cloth diapers. 
Cloth diaper use has skyrocketed in recent years, but the focus has been primarily on "modern" cloth diapers.  All-in-one diapers with the waterproof cover built in are very easy to use, there's no doubt about that.  With the elastic legs and velcro closures, they are basically a Pampers that you throw in the washing machine instead of the garbage.
But all this diaper technology comes at a cost.  A decent all-in-one diaper will set you back anywhere from $15 to $25 for just one.  While this is still a savings over disposable diapers in the long run, it can make it difficult for families on the bottom end of the economic spectrum to get started with cloth diapers.  All-in-one diapers (and their cousins, the pocket diaper and the all-in-two diaper) can also be tricky to wash.  Fancy fabrics require special detergents and special care to prevent build-up, leaks, and other problems.  It doesn't take long to learn how to take care of cloth diapers, but any additional effort makes them one step further from being accessible to needy families.  Let's face it, when you are struggling just to put a room over your head, you don't have a lot of time or patience to fuss around with diapers.

Wordless Wednesday: 15 Months of Nursing!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Mamas Musts: Lanolin

This is going to be a short but important one.  Do not forget the importance of lanolin.  Most everyone knows that it is a great nipple soother in those first few months of getting nursing and your latch down.  What you may not realize is that it comes in handy again when your nursling begins teething.  Your nursling's latch changes during the introduction of teeth and teething pain so you need to work with them again to maintain good nursing habits.  Lanolin is a great soother when you are being used as a soother for sore gums!
My other uses for lanolin:

  • I also use a tube of it to relanolize my wool diaper covers.
  • I use it as a barrier cream for diaper changes.
  • As a first aid ointment on infant scratches because it is safe if they nibble on the affected area.
  • Hand protectant during cold winter months for cracked and dry hands.
What are some of the uses you've found for lanolin?

Are you a Monday's Mama?  Do you have a story to share or a product/service to make a mama's life easier?  Let me know and your article or product could be featured in the next Monday's Mamas.  

Monday's Mamas will be a chance for the working mother who identifies as natural or attached to share her story with the online community.  It can be a personal story or it can be an informational post about just how does an AP mama manage all those tasks we have to do while still caring for our children in the way we have chosen?  This is open any mama who maintains a dual lifestyle: working out of the home, returning to school or the work at home mamas (WAHMs).

To submit an article for consideration, please use the Google Docs web form or email your article to Shannon (artsymama.riley {at} no later then 11:59pm EST on Friday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Winner & Coupon: Oh Plah! Teething Cuff

oh-plah-bracelet_2A big congratulations to the winner of the Oh Plah! Teething Cuff giveaway sponsored by Roundhouse Design Collaborative — #10!


Sarah says:
"My 17 month old son would enjoy the Oh Plah! bracelet. He is getting his eye teeth in and chews on everything...he especially loves things that don't look like traditional teethers."
This was a joint giveaway with Natural Parents Network, so entries were combined and one winner drawn. The winner entered here at The ArtsyMama!

winner-oh-plah-10.pngThe Oh Plah! Teething Cuff is latex-free, BPA-free, phthalate-free, recyclable teething bracelet looks perfect on parents, but it's safe and fun for babies and kids to play with, bend, twist, and chew.

If you were not the lucky winner, you can buy an Oh Plah! Teething Cuff at Roundhouse Design Collaborative and receive a terrific discount when you do so!
Get 15% off an Oh Plah!
at Roundhouse Design through June 30!
Enter code ohplah15 at checkout.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Mamas Musts: Inspired by Finn Teething Necklace

I chose the 15" length so that Little Man could wear it longer.

A few weeks ago I had written a post with my alternative solutions for a teething baby.  In that article I mentioned baltic amber necklaces but as of then had not used one for Little Man.  After the positive responses I had gotten from that article and the feedback from other moms who use the baltic amber, I had to try for myself.  I mean if I can prevent his teething discomfort instead of soothing it after the fact with my other methods - I'm all for it.
I visited Inspired by Finn to get a teething necklace for Little Man.  What I liked about their necklaces was the selection and the various patterns.  There were many different options for styles and lengths.  Their site has recommendations for styles that would look good on boys - a must if I was going to be able to convince my hubby to put a necklace on his boy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I have not gardened very much - really not at all.  Not since I was a child and really enjoyed finding earthworms.  I'm allergic to bees and I have Irish skin to boot.  The outdoors and I have shared an understanding - I won't try to mold you to my ways and nature won't try to kill me.  The house I bought with my hubby three and half years ago had sat neglected and empty for nearly a year.  The woman who had owned the house had a garden though.  How do I know?  I found this plaque in the "weeds" from my vantage point of the back deck.  There are raspberry plants all over my yard.  I have yet to have any because they attract all sorts of flying, stinging insects and then by the time I realize the flowers are gone and there might be fruit there - the deer have already feasted on them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday's Mamas Musts: Four Hand Massage

Being busy attached working mamas we need to remember to stop and take care of ourselves.  That being said there is not all the time in the world to sit back, relax and kick up our feet.  I barely have time to put moisturizer on before I'm running out the door in the morning or nursing, wearing, entertaining Little Man in the evening.  But all this can make me a very uptight and unhappy (physically) mama.  So I forced myself on vacation to go with my own mom to get a massage.  Let me tell you it was hard work!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Irresponsibility on Television: Sleep Training

There are only a few shows that I watch on a somewhat regular basis - mostly because I don't have time anymore.  If I do get the opportunity and the urge to start bedtime is not an overwhelming draw I will sit and watch something.  I had such an opportunity tonight and now I wish I hadn't.  Fox has some hits and misses.
I love Glee and had grown fond of Raising Hope the show about a single dad raising his daughter while living with his young parents and crazy grandmother.  Most of the time the show presents parenting situations in a funny and amusing way.  This episode was not one of them.  It was about their attempts to 'sleep train' Hope.  The parents are friends with an affluent couple who appears to have it all together.  They get into a conversation and suggest that the family sleep-train Hope so they can make her more independent and a self-soother.  Typically that particular family is held as a comparison to the main family as they look like they have it all together but they have managed to create a jerk of a son and are materialistic. While the main family might struggle with finances but their son is being responsible for his child and is a genuinely nice person.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quick Travel Tips from the Road

Forgive the quality of my photo - we are enroute home. So I wanted to share the little wisdom I have garnered from this trip before it escapes my road-weary mind. Here are my tips for traveling with toddlers, they are in no particular order.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Rest Stop Break

We stopped during our drive for a little fun.  I think this was about 19 hours into our drive.  Little Man slept most of the way and only one meltdown which was quickly remedied by Mama sitting in the back to make silly faces and hand out cheesy bunnies.  On Friday we'll be doing it all again so wish us luck.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Natural Parents Network Volunteers' Favorite Posts

Visit Natural Parents Network

I'd like to share with you some of the best posts written by other NPN mentors, authors and moderators, all volunteers in this incredible network. If you haven't yet, I encourage you to join the NPN community on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Joella - Fine and Fair - An Unusual Gripe with Bebe Gloton

Amy at Innate Wholeness offers simple tips to be present with family whether you're having fun and want to soak it up like a sponge or would rather run and hide in a cave.

Charise at I Thought I Knew Mamashares sound bites from her miscarriage journey of forgiveness and gratitude.

Shannon H - Pineapples and Artichokes - Let's Talk About Diversity - Shannon writes about how she is trying to raise her daughter to be accepting of everyone.

Jennifer - Hybrid Rasta Mama - Don't Say No To Me discusses the overuse of the word "no" and offers some aid in finding creative ways to avoid "no."

Melissa - The New Mommy Files: Memories, Milestones and Missteps - The Case for Instinctual Mothering

Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a comprehensive list of all the food she keeps on hand.

Suchada - Mama Eve - Sleep, Crying, and Balancing Closeness with Boundaries

Shannon R - The ArtsyMama - Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before Little Man

Kristin - Intrepid Murmurings - Babywearing Twins: Tips and Tricks for Babywearing Two

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It tells the story of how motherhood came to her and how a miscarriage shaped her feelings and perceptions surrounding the birth of her first daughter.

Emily - Embrita Blogging - 10 Things That Make Me Happy

Lauren - Hobo Mama - Postpartum sex vs. sex before kids

As part of an ongoing series about balance, Amy at Anktangle writes about a daily ritual she has adopted to help her maintain balance in her life.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife is reminded that while the days may sometimes be long, the years are short, and after a rough day the best thing to do is give thanks for the best parts and try again tomorrow.

Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers 7 Alternatives to Good Job: "Good job'ing" kids can be a mindless habit to fall into. Instead of using a generic "good job," try one of these ideas to really connect with and nurture your child.

Darcel @ The Mahogany Way has the ultimate boredom busting activity for children of all ages.

Alicia at Lactation Narration discusses the long journey of child-led weaning, during which she thought several times that her child was weaned before she really was.

Mandy @ Living Peacefully With Children: Letting go of the illusion of control opens up a an entirely new world.

Luschka @ Diary of a First Child talks about the battle between breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers and the industry that stokes the flames of a war on mothers.

Mary Michael @ The Accidental Natural Mama recounts her journey to Mama-hood.

Momma Jorje shares some good news and important information about Lindane and Lice.

I hope you enjoy these links, and that they give you plenty of encouragement, inspiration, and a little something to think about! I know I've learned a lot from these girls and I hope you have too!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Call for Submissions for Monday's Mamas

Monday’s Mamas on The ArtsyMama
The ArtsyMama was started as a personal blog for an attached parent returning to work after the birth of her first son.  Shannon the writer of The ArtsyMama had found an online community of natural and attached parents during her time home with her son but had not found one for working parents who practice AP.  She began her blog as a way to discuss her thoughts and feelings, her triumphs, successes and even her pitfalls that came up while she was venturing into this new didactic of AP Mama and Working Mama.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why Nurse a Toddler?

PhotobucketThis post was written for inclusion in the April Carnival of Breastfeeding brought to you my Elita of Blacktating and Tanya of The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog.  This month's theme is on Extended Breastfeeding.  Please check out the other submissions listed at the end of the post.

Little Man on his Birthday!
I guess to really answer this question I have to start at the beginning.  Our start was extremely difficult - I was told I was not nursing him correctly and to use a Supplemental Nursing System and to supplement with formula or pumped milk.  This was so awkward to do and I did not want to use formula that I resorted to exclusive pumping.  I did this round the clock for two, very long and stressful months.  During month three I finally got help from a lactation consultant and was able to learn how to nurse properly.  At month six, I returned to work, which meant back to pumping.  I struggled to maintain an adequate supply for my son while I was away at work.  I ended up having to supplement because I could not keep up.  At month ten, I read a great article from Natural Parents Network and began bed-sharing to increase my supply and to get some much needed sleep.  Finally, I was getting the hang of this nursing thing after months of struggling.
Squiggling during Christmas Festivities
So we've continued to nurse now at thirteen (almost fourteen) months.  I have finally found the light at the end of our tunnel that most nursing moms struggle with and overcome earlier.  Our plan of action will be to continue nursing until we decide it is no longer right for us.  Hopefully, this will continue to be his decision and not mine.
This newly discovered ease of nursing has arrived just in time for toddler antics.  My son - who probably knew what to do all along anyway - can now nurse while trying to stand on his head.  He can walk up to me at home, lift my shirt, nurse and then off he goes.  He can nurse while thwarting my attempts at writing (or pepper it with his own little flair).  Or he can have days where he is so distracted that he ignores me completely and only settles down for a marathon feed at bedtime.
Nursing, has magic healing powers.  If he falls while trying to chase down the cat - nursing makes it better super-quick so he can be off again!  If he is feeling awkward, nervous or shy in a new place, we can quietly nurse until he feels confident enough to engage the situation.  We nurse when he is cranky or tired because he feels relaxed and peaceful in my arms.
Our nursing bond has helped me as well.  When I've had a stressful day at work, I can reconnect and let go with my child in my arms.  His wiggling and squiggling remind me of the love we share and how much fun we have together.  All the day's stresses melt away when I look in his eyes.  That moment is ours and ours alone to share with each other.
Now that we have reached this point in our nursing journey I have been able to assist other mothers who may be struggling with their own nursing relationship.  I have been able to share my story with others and help them find the resources that they need in order to continue.  I model breastfeeding as normal no matter where we are so that future parents see it and become comfortable with it.  I share my extra milk with mothers who need it to feed their children.  I nurse a toddler - because I can nurse a toddler.

Carnival Participants:

Mamapoeki from Authentic Parenting: Extended Breastfeeding?
Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
Elita @ Blacktating: The Last Time That Never Was
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk
Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Favorite Moments
Tamara Reese @ Kveller: Extended Breastfeeding
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler
Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding
Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough
Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler
Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing
Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes
The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding
Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things
The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?
Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding
TopHot @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes
Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings:  Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding
Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors
Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding
Jona ( Breastfeeding older twins
Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler

Special Inclusion:

Dulce de Leche: What is it Like to Breastfeed an Older Child
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