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Category Archives: Parenting

Natural Baby Parenting Series

I’ve scheduled the next round of classes.  All classes meet at Natural Baby from 6pm-7:30pm.  The cost is per student/couple.  If you are a single mom or your partner cannot come, you may come alone or bring a friend/family member.  The cost is 20.00 per class or you may register for the entire series for 80.00.   To register for the entire series, please email j_byers@bellsouth.net or stop by Natural Baby.  Please rsvp for all classes so that I have enough swag and handouts.

Try to See It My Way:  “Why is my baby crying? Is this normal? I don’t understand what she is trying to say!”  Come learn about infant communication and cues. We’ll also discuss birth bonding, attachment theory, soothing skills, and finding balance. Plus lots of tricks for calm parenting. Babywearing lessons included!  This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.

Breastfeeding:  In our breastfeeding class, we’ll learn about the biology of breastfeeding.  We’ll discuss common issues, finding help through community resources, and returning to work.  Babies are welcome in all classes.  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class.

Now What?  The First Six Weeks:  The first six weeks can feel like a whirlwind of emotions and the learning curve may seem steep. Learn what to expect during the postpartum. For mom, we’ll discuss physical changes, healing from birth, and creating a postpartum plan. For baby, we’ll look at common issues such as jaundice and gastric changes. And we’ll learn about baby care basics, newborn procedures at the hospital, and vaccine choices.20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes

Sleeping Like A Baby:  *Yawn* Who came up with the phrase “sleeping like a baby” anyway? Learn about the physiology of infant sleep. We’ll talk about naps and nighttime parenting. And, of course, tips and tricks for getting restful nights for the whole family. 20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.
Having a Baby without Breaking the Bank:  Having a baby does not have to put a giant hole in your wallet! Learn practical tips for DIY, saving money, and what is safe to buy used. In fact, saving money can also be a sustainable and non-toxic choice. We’ll talk about creating a lean and green baby registry. What do you really need to raise a baby?  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming.  This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes.
Parenting the First Year:  Parents have many decisions to make the first year. This class will discuss solid-feeding, safety, teething, discipline, learning through play, and infant development.  20.00 per student/couple the night of the class. RSVP at the link to let us know you’re coming. This class is appropriate for parents-to-be or new parents. Babies are welcome in all classes

Staycation

It was fun.  It was exhausting.  I think we’ll stick with vacations away from home in the future.  Here is a summary (pic heavy):

  • Cider doughnuts
  • Lazy mornings
  • Paddling

  • Mimosas
  • Bounce House
  • Fort Building

  • Pancakes
  • Apple picking

  • Thrift stores
  • Slushies
  • Roller skating

  • Brie and baguettes
  • Sleeping until 11am one morn (thank you, Scott!)
  • Aquarium

  • Candy shop
  • Swimming

  • Mexican food
  • Keeping Cedar from falling into the sea urchins

  • Toy stores
  • Skating rink pizza
  • Soda shop

  • Strong coffee
  • Camping

  • Playground
  • Art

  • River tubing
  • Campfire popcorn
  • Dolphin show

  • Miles and miles of driving
  • Poprocks
  • Yoga with penguins

  • Not charging my phone (pretty sure I lost a voicemail from a person who needs a doula.  If I haven’t called you, call me back!)
  • Daddy lovin’

  • Not charging my iPad
  • Silliness

  • Strolling
  • Fiction, in teeny increments

  • Mountains
  • Marshmallows

  • Margaritas
  • French press (thanks Noelle and Zach!)

  • Bicycles
  • Learning here or there

And a tremendous, tremendous mess

Lost in 120 Hours

It’s been quiet around here.  Any guesses why?

a).  I’m terrifically bored and lack anything interesting to say.

b).  The kids are slave drivers and keep me too busy to blog.

c).  As the only people on the planet who never watched Lost, my husband and I (stupidly) decided to watch the entire show from episode 1 to episode [gulp] 120.

The answer is (c).

Crazy, right?  Believe me, we have regrets but we can only move forward at this point and make the best of it by consuming good popcorn and excellent beer.  This Lost madness has left little time for late night blogging. *

Truly, this admission is the most pathetic thing I’ve ever written on this blog!  Readers are leaving in droves now.

To woo you into remaining and to force myself to follow through, here are some upcoming posts:

  • When your doula is not invited
  • Hiring a doula as protection
  • A review of the Grovia trainer
  • Cedar turns three
  • “I will not have a homebirth.” Oops.
  • My continuing refusal to be a homeschooler

I’m certain you’re all on the edge of your seats.

Meanwhile, my old fallback:

Adoring: Cedar’s lisp.  Especially when she says, “Smell these flowers, mom.”  Flowers sounds like flylersh.

Listening to:  A mix of broadway and I-don’t-know-how-to-categorize Trampled by Turtles.  Norah fancies the first.  Especially Cats.  Cedar will dance and bellow for hours to the second.

Seriously.  Watch that clip.  It makes me fret that the fiddler is going to collapse.

Proud of:  Norah’s art.  She draws constantly.  She still isn’t very interested in reading but her sketches are amazing.

Never Leaving Home Without:  Hmmm, I don’t have many necessities lately.  A map app?  I’ve had some prenatals in unknown territories.

Learning:  for the 15th time, how to thread my sewing machine.  It is pitiful, really.  I only use it to sew rice socks.  Meanwhile, why are sewing machines so complicated?  We progressed beyond the printing press and the butter churn.  Why is the sewing machine still so complicated!  Also, I need to learn to knit again.  I was at a birth recently that very much needed knitting.  Remember, I never produce anything.  I only knit in circles.  Perhaps someone could cast on and get me started again?

Appreciating:  an amazing massage I received from Blissful Massage Therapy last week.  Hot stones, loving hands, and a listening ear.  My body and soul felt serene.  And I felt somewhat selfish when I left as if she had taken some of my stress into her hands.

Nostalgic about:  Autumn.  I realize it will come again soon.  Still I’ve missed it.  And each Autumn, I remember skipping school to drive to Highlands, NC with my boyfriend.  We would drink fancy hot chocolate, window shop, and dream.  We still return each year to buy a single Christmas ornament but it is different now.  And the hot chocolate shop is gone which has left a hole in our lives.

Reading: The Birth House, The Happiness Project, Stalking the Wild Asparagus“I Love You” Rituals, Rootabaga Stories, and a bazillion old books for Norah.

Buying:  building materials for Scott’s workshop remodel.  Wow, wood is expensive!

Drinking:  coffee, of course.

Working on:  organizational structuring and plans for Upstate BirthNetwork.  Norah will be attending a fine arts program which will give me a weekly day in the UBN office to work.  If I could work it out so Natalie would be there, too, then Cedar and Naima will play while the mamas work.

Wishing:  for a shorter commute for Scott.  Miles and miles he drives now that his office has moved to Mauldin.

Giddy about:  my friend who is soon welcoming her Airman home!!

Feeling:  a familiar dissatisfied tug.  A feeling of impending change.  Go back to outside-of-home work?  Sell the house?  Buy a yurt and move to an intentional community?  Go paleo?  Adopt a pygmy hippo?  Exercise?  Paint my toenails?  Put the kids in school?  Try a new recipe?

Missing:  oh, my sister, my baby sister.  I hate when she’s sick and I can’t be there.  It makes me walk about distracted and irritable.  And my nephew turned TWO!  And also, they are healing at that lovely spot in Thailand.  Really, I need to go take care of them.  And eat yummy Thai food.

Grumpy that:  I say “yes” much too much.

*NO LOST SPOILERS!  That would be cruel and too awful to comprehend.

Classes and Free Events, July and August

Upcoming events:

NB Parenting Series:  “Try to See It My Way“:  Tuesday July 10, 6pm  “Why is my baby crying? Is this normal? I don’t understand what she is trying to say!”  Come learn about infant communication and cues. We’ll also discuss birth bonding, attachment theory, soothing skills, and finding balance. Plus lots of tricks for calm parenting. Babywearing lessons included!  

Greenville Babywearing Group:  Wednesday July 11, noon

Cloth Diaper 101:  Saturday, July 14, 1pm  I’m possibly teaching this class while the instructor is on maternity leave.  Join me as we discuss the many options for cloth diapering.  Dads are encouraged to attend!

NB Parenting Series:  “Breastfeeding“:  Tuesday July 17, 6pm  In our breastfeeding class, we’ll learn about the biology of breastfeeding. We’ll discuss common issues, finding help through community resources, and returning to work.

NB Parenting Series:  “Now What?  The First Six Weeks Postpartum“:  Tuesday, July 24, 6pm  The first six weeks can feel like a whirlwind of emotions and the learning curve may seem steep. Learn what to expect during the postpartum. For mom, we’ll discuss physical changes, healing from birth, and creating a postpartum plan. For baby, we’ll look at common issues such as jaundice and gastric changes. And we’ll learn about baby care basics, newborn procedures at the hospital, and vaccine choices.

Blessingways:  A Gathering of New and Expectant Families:  Saturday, July 28, 2pm.  It is my month to host!  Our birth story will be a Hypnobabies birth.  I will talk myths and truths about hypnosis for childbirth. Is it pain-free or all smoke and mirrors? Come find out.

NB Parenting Series:  “Sleeping Like A Baby“:  Tuesday, July 31, 6pm  *Yawn* Who came up with the phrase “sleeping like a baby” anyway? Learn about the physiology of infant sleep. We’ll talk about naps and nighttime parenting. And, of course, tips and tricks for getting restful nights for the whole family.

NB Parenting Series:  “Having a Baby without Breaking the Bank“:  Tuesday, August 7, 6pm  Having a baby does not have to put a giant hole in your wallet! Learn practical tips for DIY, saving money, and what is safe to buy used. In fact, saving money can also be a sustainable and non-toxic choice. We’ll talk about creating a lean and green baby registry. What do you really need to raise a baby?

New Hypnobabies Series:  Begins August 8 from 6-9pm in Greenville.  We’ll meet for six weeks.  I have two spaces remaining. 

NB Parenting Series:  “Parenting the First Year“:  Tuesday August 14, 6pm  What is baby-led weaning?  How can I make my house safe for a crawler?  Parents have many decisions to make the first year. This class will discuss solid-feeding, safety, teething, discipline, learning through play, and infant development

I also (still!) have doula openings for August.  Email me at j_byers@bellsouth.net

My Mother’s Day Manifesto

I’ve noticed that people on the interwebs are becoming increasingly prickly.  Maybe it is because everyone has a soapbox platform now.  We blog, tweet, facebook, comment, vlog.

Hey, I get it.  I’m doing it now.

But this phenomenon has turned every news article, research study, opinion piece, heck–even the obituaries into an opportunity to express one’s anecdotal experience.

Laboratory of one.

Want an example?

I read an article about a kindergarten kid who was forced to sit in her own feces during testing.  Terrible story about a specific incident.  I knew what I would read in the comments.  “That is why we homeschool.”  And, “If you have a kid about to enter the odd social experiment American public schools have become I fear for you.”  Over 1000 comments.  Ad nauseam.

A study that shows breastfeeding boosts immunity?  You guessed it:  “Well, my kid wasn’t breastfed and he never got sick.  Not once.”

A soccer team gets sick from germs on a reusable bag.  “Please hippies, stop using your reusable bags.  You’re going to kill the rest of us.”  Real comment.

Can we please stop taking everything so personally?  Everything isn’t about you.

Cloth diapers vs. disposables.  Breastmilk vs. Formula.  Bed-sharing vs. Crib-sleeping.  Free-Range vs. Helicopter.  Public school vs. Homeschool.  Hospital vs. Homebirth.  SAHM vs WOHM.  Vaccinations, Cry-it-out, Attachment Parenting, Child-Led Weaning.

Guess what?

At the end of the day, these are not moral decisions.  They are choices.

I know they are important choices to the parents making them.  But in the scheme of things?  These are distractions to bigger issues.  And bottom line:  who cares what choices other parents make?

The so-called Mommy Wars keep us busy fighting petty battles.

I admit that when I was a new mom, high on oxytocin and prolactin, I proudly stamped the labels after my name.  Have you seen such?

NorahsMom: non-CIO, babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, no-circ, waterbirther.  Go ahead.  Google me.  You’ll probably find pages of forum activity.  You’ll find me all fluffed up with icons and smileys.  Full of advice.

Embarrassing.  Ridiculous.  Thank goodness I realize now we’re all pretty much clueless, hanging on by a thread, and doing the best we can for these children we love.

Listen mamas.  There are real issues that involve moral decisions.  Issues like maternity leave, access to healthcare, toxic food and products, children without mothers, maternal mortality and morbidity.  There are children who are trafficked and children who work on coffee plantations.  Why aren’t we taking our fierce mama bear selves and fighting about that?

I write a blog about my life, my work, and my choices.  My life.  My work.  My choices.  I parent in the way that feels normal.  To me.  And yes, I advocate for natural birth and cloth diapers and the like.  I’m passionate about these things.  But I do not assume these translate into roadmaps for other families.

Yesterday when I overheard some women talking about attachment parenting in a dismissive and demeaning way, it made me angry.  But then it made me wonder, when have I done the same?

The so-called Mommy Wars keep us busy fighting petty battles.

Polarizing us.

Paralyzing us.

A mom is a powerful force.  With our multi-tasking skills, our sacrificial love, and our relentless desire to protect, we are unstoppable.  Sounds a bit like a superhero.

Alright, I admit I am caught up in the Avengers.  Maybe I am dreaming of a Mothers Initiative.

So I’ll start small.

I’ll start with not taking everything personally.  And taking a step away when I get too close to the choices I’ve made.  My fight is not with other mamas.

We are on the same team.

(And while we’re talking teams, can we please pick out some uniforms à la avengers?  Something high-tech with snazzy gadgets?)

Ordinary Days

Today was such an ordinary day.  The sort that I imagined when I became a mostly stay-at-home mom.

The girls jumped into my bed at 7:30.  I drank coffee.  They ate pancakes.  I made lists.

We went to the dry cleaners, the library, and the grocery store.

Note to self, when asking the 6 year old to dress the 2 year old, check to make certain the 2 year old is wearing underpants prior to walking into the grocery store.  Particularly when the 2 year old is sporting a tiny sundress.

Norah glammed out. Cedar sans underpants.

At the grocery store, I pushed that wretched cart with the red car in front.  One steering wheel was missing so I had to facilitate driving disputes through the entire trip.  I lasted six years before caving to that horrible shopping cart.

I digress.

There was some home-learning, lunch, and exercise.

I tried to do yoga but Cedar pounced on my back during downward dog.  I have a very sore wrist now.

I talked to a couple of friends on the phone, tidied up work appointments and schedules, paid a bill, texted breastfeeding help to a former client.

I even made cookies.

I cooked a big meal and delivered it to a family.  Picked up our produce from the co-op.

I made salsa, drank sparkling pink lemonade, and tucked children in bed.

Then I snuggled on the couch with my hard-working husband to watch Star Wars.

Such a very ordinary day.  I wore yoga pants and tennis shoes all day.

So unlike day before yesterday when I unexpectedly caught a baby in a couple’s bedroom.  My hand on her head as she scrunched her face and then drew her first breath.

You never know what the days might bring.  The ordinary days confuse and surprise me as much as any other.

I read this blog post today about how the days we fail do not define us.  Wow, I rest in that.  Days like yesterday when I was, as stated by the 2 year old, “the meanest mommy ever, ever, ever.”  Then I realize that none of my days define me.  Not my ordinary mundanes or the outstanding over-the-tops.

My identity does not come from my days.

My identity does not come from my days.  My kids.  My husband.  My job.  My success or my failures.  Who likes me or who doesn’t.

May I be ever mindful of this Truth.  And learn to rest in it.  Then perhaps I will scrunch my face for that big effort to take a new breath.

The old has gone.  Behold, the new is here.  

Clever as clever

When I was five,

I was just alive.

But now I am six,

I’m as clever as clever.

So I think I’ll be six

now and forever.

(from “Now We Are Six” by A. A. Milne)

An update on Norah:

Truths

*  She has incredible self-discipline.  I’ve mentioned this trait before but wow.  At the Christmas parade, she gathered only the candy she felt appropriate.  Leaving pieces on the ground all around her as other kids eyed them.  While Cedar gobbled up as much as I allowed and then cried “CANDY!” all the way home, Norah admitted she had not eaten any because she hadn’t had dinner yet.  After dinner she ate a single peppermint.  One of many examples.  It truly is extraordinary.

*  Her favorite food is brussel sprouts.  Don’t look at me.  I hate brussel sprouts and following a vicious brussel sprout incident from my childhood, I vowed never to feed the evil things to my kids.  Her other favorite foods are raw turnips, green peas, and roasted okra.  But I cannot get her to drink much of anything besides hot chocolate.

*  She is smart.  In that sharp, scary way.  She has a no fluff learning style and prefers math, handwriting, and science to reading and history.  While I like to try out different methods and change my mind about everything, Norah wants all things to stay the same.  Forever.

*  She loves snuggles.  Cartoons.  Unlined paper.  Journey (yes, the band).  Playing her tin whistle.  Classical Music.  Pretending to be “mama” to her stuffed animals.  Her nature table.  Science lab.  Anatomy.  My iPad (especially the camera feature).

*  She adores art and has some nice pieces from museum classes.  She despises crafts at home.  I have learned that we cannot do crafts together.  Usually one or both of us end up crying.

* She wants to be an architect when she grows up.  And she is already an inventor.  She plans to open a business inventing things.  For those of you who didn’t see my facebook post, she plans to invent holograms so that Daddy and Papa won’t need to work.  The hologram will stand in.  When asked why Mommy didn’t get a hologram, she responded, “Mommy doesn’t work.”  She is designing a baby brother which she expects to animate using a placenta (presumably to be filched from one of my clients).

* She makes friends easily and is gracious with smaller kids.

The Questions (a sample of questions she asked in the last few days)

* Why do Buddhist monks like orange so much?

* What part of our body did God make first?

* Why don’t carrots have seeds?

* Do Buddhist monks like carrots?

* How are babies made?

* Who wrote Korobushka? (yeah, I had to look it up, too)

* Do we thank the farmer or God for this potato?

* Can we go to Cambodia for my birthday?

* Why is the sky different colors of blue right now?

* What is the difference between karate and kung fu?

* What do tadpoles eat?

* Where would I go if I were very small and got flushed down the toilet?

* Is Papa really doing magic when he drives with no hands? 

The Challenges

* Homeschool is harder than I expected.  More from personality.  Mostly mine.  It has revealed selfishness and impatience.  Ugly stuff.  Also, there is tension between being comfortable with letting her play most of the day and fearing that if I change my mind and send her to public school, she’ll be behind.  Because she plays most of the day.  I think play is where most learning occurs at this age.  Public school disagrees.  I don’t have a crystal ball.   Tension.

* Norah has a phenomenal memory for details.  I don’t.  She can remember what kind of car someone drives, what color pants someone wore (turquoise or cerulean), etc.  I’m much more into narrative and feelings.  Because I don’t remember as she does, she thinks she is smarter than me.  And has said so.  This issue adds to challenge number 1.

* And she is cautious.  Afraid to be alone.  Often helpless (perceived or real).  Complains of odd and specific ailments–“my elbow feels like my nose when it is about to sneeze.”

However, she is not cautious about science!  She has studied a sheep’s heart, given a pygmy hedgehog a bath, built a catapult, and touched all manner of slithery things this year.