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
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