Pregnancy & Parenting

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Adoption | Attachment Parenting | Blessingway | Education
NJ Places to Visit | Parties | Pregnancy | Strasburg Itinerary | Waterbirth | Vaccination

Our parenting philosophy has been mostly guided by what is called Attachment Parenting. This is an age old and worldwide way of raising children that emphasizes close bonding with infants from day one. It encourages unmedicated birth, prolonged skin to skin contact with baby, prolonged breastfeeding, and careful and constant attention to baby's cues by parents. We have chosen to avoid circumcision, vaccinations, and many of the gadgets that substitute for mothering. I think my list of links will do a better job than I would of explaining some of the ideas I've found helpful during my pregnancy and parenting. I've wanted to be a mom for a long time, and while I certainly have my unpleasant moments, it's really more than I ever dreamed - I'm having the time of my life.

Pregnancy - I was very fortunate to have 3 relatively problem free pregnancies, easy and fast labors, and three beautiful healthy baby boys. I know not everyone has it so easy. I am very grateful for my luck, the wonderful friends and family who have supported me and these organizations that have all helped me through. I believe that pregnancy and birth are a normal healthy events in a woman's life, but they require attention to taking the best possible care of yourself. Although I love my boys and all their boyishness, I have a deep desire to mother a daughter, and Trip and I think adoption would be a wonderful way to add to our family, and welcome the daughter of our dreams. After a great deal of thought and study, we decided that foster-adoption was the path for us to pursue. We are now licensed foster parents, and have started on a new phase of parenting with many joys and challenges. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact your county department of social services and ask about their foster parent program.

  • Mothering Magazine - one of the biggest influences on me from the start when I was just pregnant with Elliot. It has informed me and supported my decisions and I'm sure it's made me a better mom.
  • Interactive Birth Plan - fill-in the blanks and make some choices. Never assume that preparing the birth plan guarantees anyone will follow it. Every birth is different, surprise is part of each one. And far better than a birth plan - is a present, watchful advocate, (your husband, your doula) who knows your wishes and is prepared to protect you.
  • Birth Intuitive - Teresa Robertson, RN,Certified Nurse Midwife,MSN as a birth intuitive provides information, support and tools to assist her clients with connecting to their unborn children during pregnancy, to promote fertility, and to heal pregnancy losses. I read about her in Christine Northrup's Mother Daughter Wisdom book - and even though I haven't saved any money to hire her myself, just writing to her about my struggle and reading her understanding reply helped me move towards healing my grief.
  • Ask Dr. Sears - When I was a new mom, I loved Dr. Sears' books for his calm, reasonable, mother-baby friendly advice. As the parents of 8 children, Dr. Sears and his wife have years of practical experience with babies and children. As a pediatrician and nurse practicing for over 30 years, they have a great deal of professional knowledge to share. Highly recommended!
  • The Compleat Mother - Breastfeeding, childbirth and pregnancy online. Very pro-breastfeeding Canadian magazine.
  • misc.kids.pregnancy - tons of FAQ's about every aspect of pregnancy and conception.
  • The Pregnancy Daily: Your day-by-day guide to pregnancy - This site tells you news about your developing pregnancy every day.
  • Bella Blu Maternity - The nicest collection of maternity wear I've ever seen - and some prices are actually reasonable!
  • My Vasectomy in Pictures - maybe you're done with all that... This site is so informative - perhpas more than you wanted to know...but well done.

Blessingway

As I was expecting my third son, my friend Michele gave me a wonderful gift. She planned and arranged a blessingway for me where I was attended my several of my dearest friends as they wished me well on my birthing journey. A blessingway is a traditional Native American ceremony, celebrated by the Navaho and several other native people during times of expecting childbirth or moving to a new home or various life passages. For me, it was such a beautiful evening. Michele brought a candle for me to light while I labored and I gave each friend a candle which they lit from mine while they offered their blessings silently for me. Michele smudged my house and our guests to purify it and help us enter a ceremonial space. Each of my friends brought a dish to share, and flowers and a dinner for the freezer (for after the baby) along with their loving thoughts and good wishes for a healthy and speedy delivery. (That wish was certainly granted!) Each friend shared with the group their connections to me while they brushed my hair, and then I had my feet washed in fragrant water and dried with cornmeal. I will think back on this day with the same joy I feel as I remember all of my most precious moments. I was truly blessed and felt almost as if a bubble of bliss surrounded me up till my birth and afterwards. I found a nice writing about a Blessingway by Sue Robins here. Some other resources are below:

Blessingway.net

   
Retreat I didn't know where to fit this in, but it seems fitting here... My friend, Michele, who organized my Blessingway, also wanted to do something special for another friend of ours who was mourning the death of her mother, and going through a time of great stress. A lot of people might say, "Oh, we should do something." but one of the things I love about Michele is that she followed through and called several other friends and we all chipped in different gifts for our friend. One friend is a massage therapist, and offered a discounted rate for a full body massage, and many of us split the cost. In addition, various friends bought: a manicure gift certificate, a gift certificate for Chinese takeout, some brought food, loaned books and videos, donated some Avon bubble baths and lotions, brought home made fruit smoothies, one friend watched the kids for the day and our friend's husband picked them up from there and took them for an overnight. I made her this brochure, describing our gifts to her, which we called a Spiritual Retreat. We all signed the back. You can download the pdf by clicking here retreat brochure and if you really love it and want the original Microsoft Word Document so you can alter it, just send me an email.
Retreat Inside
Inside of Retreat Booklet


Waterbirth

Nathan is my water baby, but despite the fact that he was born into a warm tub, he doesn't seem to like baths yet! My midwives Gee Gee and Linda offer tubs for rent for those who want to give birth or labor in water. I wasn't quite sure about how I would feel when it came time to push, so I wanted the tub upstairs so I wouldn't have to go up the stairs at the last minute if I changed my mind about being in the water. Laboring in the warm water helps because the warmth helps to sooth the muscles and the buoyancy of your body in water helps you relax. It certainly made my labor more comfortable, and I felt nice and clean afterwards. Most people's first concern upon hearing about water birth is that the baby will inhale under water, but I've learned that the drastic change in temperature is one of the things that causes babies to take in their first breath of air, so passing into the warm water of the birthing tub is a smaller transition for them. Our room was very dark and warm - just what I wanted. I was attended by Trip, Gee Gee, and Stephanie (and Alex). The room was so dark that Stephanie was quite concerned when Gee Gee handed her "an instrument" and said, "Here, Stephanie", but she soon realized it was just a camera! She snapped these wonderful pictures of our birth. I think they are modest enough for me to share with everyone, so if you find yourself being offended, you've got impressive eyesight!

Nathan's head coming out!

Gee Gee catches his body


The first look!


Whew!

Attachment Parenting

  • Rules of Attachment Parenting Who wants more rules? I'd call them suggestions... I forget what site I found them on, forgive me.
  • 1. Take good care of yourself!
    2. Be proactive rather than reactive.
    3. Do not allow your child to play one parent against the other.
    4. Create an emotionally as well as physically safe environment: Avoid sarcasm and anger.
    5. Use natural consequences to teach life lessons.
    6. Use empathy in the face of these consequences.
    7. Communicate in a loving manner; set a positive tone.
    8. Use thinking rather than fighting words.
    9. Save the pizzazz for the positive behavior, use neutrality with the negative.
    10. Allow your child to express his/her feelings verbally.
    11. Minimize use of the television.
    12. Only give choices you can live with.
    13. Be consistent.
    14. Avoid power struggles.
    15. Determine whose problem it is and if it is not yours, stay out of it.
    16. Only allow freedoms and responsibilities that will result in opportunities for success.
    17. Keep a sense of humor.
    18. Remember, it is not the parent's job to "fix" the child, it is your job to create an environment conducive to healing and loving.

  • Pentagon Opt-Out - According to the Pentagon Public Affairs office (at 703-428-0711), JAMRS is the organization formed by the Pentagon to oversee the development of a database of 30 million 16-25-year-olds, including name, address, email addresses, cell phone numbers, ethnicity, social security numbers and areas of study. This database is updated daily and distributed monthly to the Armed Services for recruitment purposes. I will be updating my site soon with information on opting out of this list from Asheville schools.
  • Seattle Draft and Military Counseling Center - Thorough information about the Conscientious Objectors as the law applies to them. The purpose of the SDMCC is to provide accurate, comprehensive, and objective information of Selective Service and Military law, regulations, and administrative procedure to anyone in need of this service, and to assist them in applying this information to their own situation and goals. SDMCC also supports conscientious objectors and promotes individual and collective resistance to war and preparations for war.
  • Mothering Magazine - Not just for babies - it still informs me and supports parents well into the teen years!
  • Wholesome Baby Foods from Scratch from the Vegetarian Resource Group
  • Nurturing Online - Website of Nurturing Magazine - lots of articles about Attachment Parenting
  • The Natural Family Site: Introduction - lots of articles about Attachment Parenting
  • Healthy Child - a parents guide to reliable, practical information on natural, holistic health for children.
  • The Aware Parenting Institute - more articles on attachment parenting
  • Twenty Alternatives to Punishment by Aletha Solter
  • Holistic Moms Network a resource link for helping parents to find support and information on natural health, wellness, and informed holistic parenting.

Vaccination

Education

So far, Elliot is thriving in public school, Alex enjoyed his Pre-K last year and will be entering full day kindergarten. I am not sure what the future will bring. Alex would love to go, but I'd like to try structuring some home learning and play time. I still believe that in the long run, we will be home schooling, and will probably be much more active in this area when I'm doing it myself. For now, I will leave the link below - just because Apple is so cool!

Places to Visit with Kids

Camden Children's Garden $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children. There is a modest additional fee for the Train Ride and the Carousel. Visitors wishing to also visit the NJ State Aquarium can choose to purchase a combination ticket. The Garden staff can provide educational lessons in the Garden or via distance learning. We also provide children's birthday party packages! Children's gifts and souvenirs can be purchased in our unique Ginkgo's Gift Shop. (Not the best web site for info. 1-856-365-TREE(8733))

Wheaton Village Crafts Studios: Ceramics, Flameworked Glass, Woodcarving and Tinsmithing are demonstrated and interpreted to visitors by skilled artists.

Batsto Village, Wharton State Forest (609) 561-0024
This Pine Barrens village is composed of thirty-three historic buildings and structures including the Batsto Mansion, gristmill, sawmill, general store, workers' homes and post office. Batsto Village was a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867 and currently reflects the agricultural and commercial enterprises that existed here during the late 19th century.

Skylands Manor & State Botanical Garden, Ringwood State Park (973) 962-7031
Skylands Manor, with its English Jacobean architecture common in the English countryside 400 years ago, was designed by John Russell Pope for Clarence McKenzie Lewis, a stockbroker and civil engineer. Built in the 1920's, it is constructed of native stone and half-timbers and has 44 rooms. The garden is a culmination of two eras of landscape architecture under the direction of Francis Lynde Stetson, owner of Skylands from 1891 to 1922.

The 157-foot Cape May Lighthouse at Cape May Point State Park is another popular destination that features a 190-acre park that is mostly a natural area where visitors can observe migrating birds and butterflies.

Parties

When my kids' birthdays come up I love planning their parties. Usually, they have some theme they choose - it's now something that gets discussed way in advance, but I don't commit to anything until about a month before because kids can be fickle. Once we're committed, I go to two places first:

Birthdaypartyideas.com Search by subject for parties, view party ideas by age group. Some of these parties seem over the top for me, but I'm sure some people would say the same of some of my parties. I always check the honorable mention and best rated ideas, then choose the ideas that work for us.

Family Fun I think this magazine has some affiliation with disney, I've subscribed to it for a few years, and really love the kid-friendly crafts and fun ideas in it. Their party planning section is wonderful. I found several of my ideas here

It's definitely a lot of work, and I never have done it alone - usually my mom helps a lot and I try to involve the kids as much as possible. Since I love making things, and generally enjoy doing crafts with kids, none of these parties has been overly expensive or seemed to be "too much". Here are some party photos and some of the things we did to make the parties special.

Invite Inside
For Elliot's 1st birthday party we chose a Carousel theme - Mostly because I had just received this gorgeous set of Animal Cookie cutters and started thinking about them decorating a Carousel Cake. We searched the internet for a picture of a Carousel Lion - Elliot is a Leo. We have chosen to hold family "Blessings" on the kids' first birthdays where we formally welcome them to the family, offer prayers and wishes for healthy and happy lives and generally celebrate their birth and place in our family. For party favors, I had bought a pack of wedding bubbles, wrapped each in a round piece of blue tulle, attached a painted wooden carousel horse and tied it with a blue ribbon.
For Elliot's 3rd birthday he was heavily into Trains. My Aunt Bernadette scored a deal on a bunch of Engineer's Hats and Bandanas, we played Pin the Smoke on the Train (Aunt Stephanie made a train out of posterboard). All the guests had their pictures taken in the cardboard train (made by our dear friend Glen). Though it's hard to see, the Train Cake is carrying cardboard cars filled with cupcakes.
Alex wanted a ladybug party. He has Ladybug Cupcakes - I love them for small kids at parties. I made my first Pinata - a Ladybug of course, nice and easy. I decorated a red plastic tablecloth and our balloons with black paperpunched circles. And I made several little Ladybugs with googly eyes out of cardstock to decorate around the house.
Nathan's 2nd birthday party featured a farm animal theme. I used those leftover bandanas again for table decorations, decorated his cupcakes with paisley designs, bought him a little straw hat (he refused to wear it, although he later played with it.) I cut out some animals to decorate, put animal stickers on his goody bags, and we played pin the tail on the Pig. (I made it out of a sheet of craft foam.
Alex wanted a Pokemon Pizza Party where we invited all of his school friends. So we scheduled it for after school on his birthday. Alex's birthday (and mine) fall 9 days before Christmas, and I am always under more time pressure - so I try to keep his parties simple and manageble. I had seen Pokemon cakes at the grocery store - but when I priced them, I decided instead to make my own (box cake and icing) and decorated with the boys own figurines. We certainly have enough of them!
race car party
race car cake Before Elliot's Racecar Party, I collected several cardboard boxes, cut them into a car shape, painted them all different colors, and glued headlights and wheels. I made safety cones for the yard, bought race car helmets, and for our craft when the kids came, we decorated license plates (yellow foam sheets with foam letters and stickers for decoration). Then we had a racecar pinata.

Pizza & Pumpkin Juice (orange soda) in the Cauldron

Presto! It's Putty! - this was great - I handed out the baggies (no mess!), distributed the ingredients with fanfare, each kid chose their color food coloring for me to drop in their bag and they mixed by squishing the bag. Because the putty seems to form at a certain stage of mixing, I tucked some glitter in my hands and as it began to change, shouted Alakazaam! threw out the glitter with a flick of my wand and the stuff magically transformed into Silly Putty!

I picked up a 4 yard cut of great Wizard Cape fabric (using a 50% off coupon at the Rag Shop) - a sheer dark blue with an irridescent purple sheen and stars woven in a pattern. I cut it in half widthwise, and then into 4 equal lengths. A little pleating and stitching to a piece of ribbon and I had 8 capes. For crafts I bought 2 or 3 dowels, cut them and stained them brown and the kids decorated Their magic wands with glitter and glow in the dark stickers.
Ellio'ts Harry Potter party was probably the most involved, but he was at just the right age, and so interested in Harry Potter that it was all a pleasure. I decorated with a gold & silver balloons, gold & silver cardboard stars, all of our appropriate Halloween stuff (bats, rats, plastic caudrons) and a string of wired silver star tinsel garland that I shaped into a spiral and hung from invisible thread from the ceiling so that it looked like a swirl over the table. I bought themed glasses, hats, plates, napkins and cake decorations. I bought the Wilton Harry Potter Chocolate Lollipop kit and made them, then used the leftover chocolate to make Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Log Magic wands - dipped in edible glitter and non pariels. We also had a game where we put gold coins in balloons, and tied them to the back of kids shoes, then they ran around trying to stomp on other peoples balloons to collect the most coins. The winners got regal looking gold iron on badges. Everyone LOVED this party! When I'm planning parties, I stretch out my purchases from the Rag Shop, I use a coupon for anything not on sale - you can print out a 50% coupon a day.


Mistress of Ceremonies

Pokemon Cupcakes
Pokemon Friends
The kids and I had great fun with this party. For the cupcakes, we picked a few reasonable Pokemon characters to re-create, I made cupcakes (from the box), bought a tub of white icing, dyed parts blue, purple, orange, yellow and pink, and used licorice strings, sliced jelly candies and tic-tacs to make Pokemon. The hat instructions and some of the ideas for the cupcakes were on Family Fun. We decorated with the kids Pokemon toys, and primary colored balloons and streamers. We played Pokemon Bingo - free online printout - which was great in that you didn't need actual knowledge of Pokemon to play. For party favors we gave out stickers, candy & homemade bookmarks.

Strasburg, Pennsylvania Family Vacation Itinerary

For two years, Elliot was intensely into trains. He played with them all day, we read him stories about them, he watched Thomas videos, and when we were able to take a weekend vacation, he was in his glory at Strasburg, PA, where he enjoyed one train event after another, even spent the night at the Red Caboose Hotel, sleeping in a caboose! I have included the information for the places we visited below - all within a short distance of each other. (current as of September 2006).

  • The Strasburg Railroad - this is a working train line, with beautifully restored train cars and several options for rides. I have detailed two below - one fancier, one more budget friendly:

    DELUXE LOUNGE CAR "HENRY K. LONG"
    Choose the elegant lounge car with solid cherry interior and stained glass accents. (round trip) Adult: $12.00 Child: $7.00

    COACH
    Our standard coaches are beautifully restored in authentic Victorian style. Enjoy the comfort of pot-belly stove heat during cold days. Adult: $10.00 Child: $5.00
  • Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania - An amazing museum - full of trains, with a great children's area.
    717-687-8628.
    Monday -- Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM*
    Adult (ages 13 – 59) $ 7.00 Youth (6-17) $5.00 Under age 6 FREE
  • The Choo Choo Barn & The Shops Of Traintown - a huge model railroad setup, in the same building as Isaac's Deli.
    (717) 687-7911
    10 am to 4:30 pm
    Adults $5.50 Kids 3.50 Children (Under 5) FREE
  • The National Toy Train Museum the name says it all, right next to the Red Caboose Hotel! It's not "hands-on" so keep that in mind...
    717 687-8976
    Strasburg, PA 17579 10am-5pm
    (Cost $12.00)
  • Isaac’s Deli - A huge selection of sandwiches, including delicious vegetarian options, even grilled sandwiches or Pretzel Bun sandwiches! Most $5-$7, great for the whole family. In the same building as the Choo Choo Barn
  • The Red Caboose Inn - over 40 rooms made from fully restored 25-ton cabooses, including a restaurant in a dining car (diner food - but nice enough for breakfast)

    Eden Resort Inn and Suites (voted Best Hotel in Lancaster) 99.00 one night (two nights is $199.00)
    Two Queen Deluxe- No Smoking
    We are located at 300 Paradise Lane, in Paradise Township, PA, between US Route 30 and PA Route 741, in the middle of Lancaster County's beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch countryside.
    Total 318.00 + (lunch before we head back)

 

Sasha's Roots | Our Family Tree | Photo Album | Elliot | Alexander | Nathan | Voluntary Simplicity | Health & Fitness
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Date Last Modified: September 3, 2006