Baby Wearing Ninja

Originally posted in February, 2012I can hardly believe it took SIX kids for me to fully embrace and enjoy the art of wearing my baby! (They make great accessories, you know – LOL) Sadly, my first five missed the physical and emotional health benefits of being securely snuggled next me for a good portion of the day. But like I said in my last post, I’m experiencing a whole new education with this little guy.

If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of baby wearing, check out this article.

I used a Baby Bjorn carrier with all the others, but it didn’t work well for newborns, and it put a lot of strain on my back. When the kids were older, I used a metal-frame hiking backpack, but you can imagine how comfy that was, and being so big and cumbersome, it was hardly like throwing a cloth sling in the diaper bag to use on the go.

After the birth of my fourth child in 2004, a dear friend sent me a Moby Wrap. She promised I was going to love it, but trying to put it on felt like advanced calculus to me. It seemed more complicated than I was willing to grasp.

Secretly, I felt like a bit of a failure. I admit that I didn’t try very hard, but just my unwillingness to learn made feel inferior to all the awesome moms I saw toting around their little ones, snuggled against them in beautiful cloth wraps or ring slings.

It turns out all I needed was a good teacher. Thanks to my buddy Tanya Taylor, I am now becoming a baby wearing ninja! Tanya makes her own wraps under the brand Baby the Baby, and she’s got a host of videos like the one below to help moms figure it all out. Although this video talks about nursing your baby in a carrier, it’s also a good demonstration of how to front wrap.

Here inSarasota, we have three different baby wearing groups that each meet once a month. I am so excited to try all different kinds of wraps and techniques and learn from the veteran wrappers.  If you don’t have a group in your area but would like one, contact a local homebirth midwife and see if she would let you host it in her office. That’s what Tanya did, and now it’s grown to three meetings in different locations and extends through the entire natural birthing community here.

If you love to wear your baby, tell us about your favorite wrap.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

This Baby Did What?

Welcome Matthew James Junior! Our sixth child was born on January 27, 2012, and in so many ways, he has been surprising. For starters, our first five children were all born in the 38th week. Now, I admit, I encouraged a few of those births, but this little guy had us hanging in suspense, finally making his debut more than a half week late, which felt like nearly three weeks late to us.

We planned a water birth at home and rented an Aqua Doula from our midwife, but knowing that it takes a couple of hours to fill the Aqua Doula, and that my labors tend to be quick (for baby #5, my water broke at 10:00, and she was born at 10:10), we knew we would need to fill the tub before labor started. Subsequently, we filled (and emptied!) the tub four times in the month of January. My kids have become siphoning experts!

It was a fairly typical birth for me. Labor started at 1:35am, and he was born at  3:03, but my water didn’t break this time, and the pressure at the end was much more intense as a result. The kids gathered around the tub (except our oldest, who is autistic and would be bothered by the noises, people, smells and sights of birth), and when the pushing began, the midwife put a flashlight in the tub so they could watch their brother enter the world.

Seth (our third child) wrote a journal entry about the experience. I copied it below.

Once the placenta was delivered, the midwife found a few interesting things. For starters, he had a knot in his cord.

Cord Knot

He also had a battledore placenta, which occurs in only 7% of births.  Instead of the umbilical cord being attached in the center of the placenta like this:

Placenta

Baby Matt’s umbilical cord was inserted at the margin of the placenta. When the midwife held it up, it looked like a giant tea bag.

Supposedly this rare formation could lead to low birth weight. Maybe that’s why he was only 8lbs 10oz (bahahaha!). See, I told you this little guy is surprising.

The timing of his birth was bittersweet. Sweet, of course, because our precious boy was finally here, but bitter because Jody and her girls, who had been planning to attend the birth for months, were in the midst of a crisis and couldn’t come.

Jody’s husband had what seemed at first to be a heart attack. They later learned it was pericarditis, but it was a terrifying experience for their family, and we were distraught knowing they were going through it and we couldn’t be there to comfort them. They too were distraught, knowing that we were experiencing the birth of our last child, and they couldn’t be here to witness it. All around, it did not go down the way we had hoped. But thankfully, Jody’s husband is doing very well, and we’re all one big happy family again.

The birthing team left later that morning, and we all went to sleep. When we woke up, it was time to confront the first meconium poop, but as part of my new education with this baby, we had prepared his bottom with olive oil. It took six babies to learn that I shouldn’t put anything on a baby’s skin that I wouldn’t eat. Who knew? Then again, it turns out I’m not going to need any kind of diaper ointment after all.

So, in the next few blog posts, I’ll share our new experiences, including baby wearing, sign language, amber necklaces, and the biggest and most exciting change of all…infant potty training (or EC, as we call it)! I’ll include pictures and videos…we’re working on those now. Check back in the next few days. I promise you will be intrigued, and perhaps even entertained. Here’s a sneak peak. This was taken when Matthew was about 2 weeks old.

potty

Seth’s Journal Entry

Hi my name is Seth, and I am writing this because my mom is in labor. I am so excited. My mom is making really weird noises. The noises are getting louder and louder. My dad put a warm washcloth on her head. Priscilla,the midwife’s assistant, said the baby is getting closer. I am going to get one of my toy dolls named Jeero. My mom is pushing. I see his head. It is a little bit scary and hard to watch. I see him. He is beautiful  (and a little bit dirty). He popped out. He made it. I love him. He is small and cute. I adore him and love him. I can not believe I was him once. I shot out of mom, now I will shoot out of a tree or something. Right now it is baby and mommy attachment time. He is nursing right now. He was born at3:03am. The water is gross. Before he came out there was a strange fart noise. The baby is out, but mom asked us to sit down until the placenta comes out. I am happy crying. I cut his cord. The placenta is out. It looks like a giant tea bag. I will get to feel the placenta (with gloves). We did a placenta exam and found a knot in the cord and a super rare thing with the placenta called a battle door entry.

By Seth Stahlmann, age nine, born April 22, 2002

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Living in the Growth Zone

Want to help your kids reach their potential in all areas? Encourage them to live in the Growth Zone.

A couple of years ago I read a book called Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin, and it introduced me to a concept that has been fruitful in my home (and Jody’s too!).

There are three basic zones where we can choose to live: the Comfort Zone, the Growth Zone and the Incompetence Zone. Most of us choose the first for obvious reasons – it’s familiar, it’s automated, it’s habitual, it’s quick, it’s easy…it’s comfortable. The Comfort Zone is simply doing what we are good at, what we like, what we always do.

In some areas, the Comfort Zone is both appropriate and efficient. Think of morning and evening routines. We want our kids to wake up, start the day with prayer, make their beds, tidy their rooms, brush their teeth, get dressed, and get to the breakfast table on time. Routines help make this process quick, smooth, and comfortable. As it should be! The same holds true for the bedtime routine.

But when it comes to schoolwork, life skills, exercise, and specialized skills, we want our children to blossom and flourish. We want them to strive for excellence and mastery, and this process is inevitably and necessarily uncomfortable.

Think about developing muscles. It takes consistency (working out even when you don’t feel like it), discomfort and endurance.

The Music Example

My husband is a musician, and he teaches guitar part time. When a new student comes, he tells them that their success hinges not on the time they spend in the lesson but on the time they spend practicing at home. The more they practice, the better they will play. But here’s the catch – practicing guitar can be painful for a new student (the strings literally hurt their fingers), and it can be boring. Until they learn enough basics to begin playing something recognizable, chords and scales can be a drag. But unless they are willing to drill these basics over and over, pushing through the discomfort and the boredom, it never gets easier, and it’s never fun.

But the key to mastery in every area is pushing through the difficult part to reach success. My husband has been a musician for more than two decades, but he still practices an hour every day (sometimes two or three) and learns new theories, seeks out new sounds and sets new goals.

Guitar practice is a great example of how the zones work. Often my husband’s younger students have the most difficulty practicing. They don’t have the inner motivation to get through the discomfort, so it falls on their parents’ shoulders to enforce practice time. Typically, his teenage students have a clear goal, and they’re more willing to persevere.

Incentive

It helps to have incentives. If our kids can’t find an intrinsic reason for growing, we can offer extrinsic rewards. Some parents shy away from rewards, thinking that it’s just bribery, but if presented well, rewards can go a long to helping kids learn to develop their own inner reasons for pushing through to success.

Just as consequences teach that bad choices equal bad results, rewards teach that good choices equal good results!

 

In our house, kids get points for things like housework, and at the end of the week, points can translate into cash. That’s not to say they can choose to abandon their duties if they don’t feel like working. In fact, not doing your chores with excellence can lead to discipline in our family, but if they work hard, without being told and achieve a level of excellence, our kids will be rewarded.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

With or without rewards, growth always begins by leaving the Comfort Zone. For music practice, it means setting aside time (typically an interruption in a person’s schedule is uncomfortable) and drilling the basics over and over (often painful to the fingers and usually boring). Then, at the lesson the student has to display what they have learned so the instructor can inspect how well they are doing and what needs adjusting. This can also be somewhat uncomfortable for the student.

But when a student is willing to endure these discomforts and is willing do it again and again, he will grow. Consistent practice of foundational skills over time is operating in the Growth Zone.

Pushing Into the Growth Zone

Now, once a student masters a set of skills, he has to begin learning new ones or else he becomes comfortable and stops growing. This seems like common sense, right? But in life, we see it happen all the time. How many times have we, as grown adults, worked hard at something only to reach a comfortable place and then stop? Think about weight loss. Anyone who has ever battled the bulge can probably relate to a time when they worked hard (leaving their Comfort Zone) for a season, only to slip back into old, more comfortable ways once they’ve achieved a small measure of success.

So continuing to push into the Growth Zone requires consistent evaluation and increasing challenge.

The Incompetent Zone

But there is also a point where we can push too far. As a teacher, my husband has, on occasion, over estimated the ability of a student and given him a task that’s too difficult. In that case, the student is pushed into the Incompetence Zone, and just as he can’t grow in the Comfort Zone, he can’t grow where he is still incompetent.

Let’s look at another area where this concept can help our kids grow and succeed. One of my main goals as a parent is to raise children who are capable of running a household with excellence by the time they leave my home.

Growing Life Skills

I want my kids to be able to budget money and save, plan and prepare healthy meals, maintain a beautiful home that offers a place of rest and rejuvenation, and be good stewards of their things (cars, tools, appliances, etc.). All of this takes training.

I will never forget the first time I went grocery shopping for my new apartment. I was out on my own, and I had to make all of my own meals. Eating out for every meal wasn’t in the budget, and I didn’t have the dining hall to fall back on, as I did in college. Nor did I have roommates who would pick up my slack, as I did when a bunch of us moved off campus.

Walking up and down the aisles on that first shopping trip, I grew more and more perplexed. Hmmm…what should I get, I thought? Milk! People buy milk at the grocery store. It’s a staple, right? Oh, and bread! That’s important.

I went on to collect a strange hodgepodge of things in my shopping cart that I thought I’d need. But after a day or two, I realized that I didn’t have much to make actual meals, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t survive forever on cereal and pasta.

It took years for me to learn how to make a menu, use recipes, and build up a stock supply of spices and other ingredients. Cooking is both a science and an art, and I had to learn the building blocks to be able to eventually do it well.  Truth be told, I don’t enjoy cooking (thank you God for giving me a husband who does!), but I can do it, and I can do well when I have to.

Still, it was an uphill battle, as was learning how to clean efficiently, budget, balance a checkbook, save money, and so on. I decided that I didn’t want my kids to struggle as young adults the way I struggled. I wanted them to leave my home as fully competent adults.

Finding the Growth Zone

When we start teaching our kids life skills, it’s easy to allow them to either live in their Comfort Zone or to push them into their Incompetence Zone. I remember trying to teach my older daughter how to sweep. She was seven at the time, and I soon realized that no matter how hard she tried, the broom was too cumbersome for her little body, and she was not going to do it with excellence until she was taller. At that point, she was an incompetent sweeper.

My fourth child is now nine, and sweeping is not on his task list, but after almost a year of consistent training, he does an excellent job of washing the dishes, wiping down the counters, folding and putting his clothes away, changing his bed sheets and keeping  the living and dining room tidy throughout the day.

When he started, it was messy and uncomfortable (both for him and for me). He would wash and rinse the dishes, and then, dripping wet from chest to waist, he would come find me and ask for an inspection. There was water all over the counter and the floor, and there was still some food and soap on the dishes, which meant I needed to do some retraining, and he needed to try again. Dishes took a LONG time to get through in the beginning, and I made sure he did it all by himself, including drying up the water mess, changing his clothes and hanging the wet ones out to dry and then being responsible for putting the clothes in the hamper when they dried.

Once a chore is mastered, it’s time to either have that child train up his replacement (a younger sibling) or add a new level of responsibility (perhaps learning how to plan and cook the meal). Otherwise, they will slip into the Comfort Zone and the growing will stop.

Growing in Academics

Perhaps your daughter has great math grades and her homework has become a breeze. She might be operating in the Comfort Zone, and that means she’s no longer growing. I’ve heard this story many times – a child gets great grades for a time, but eventually they start to slip, and parents are left baffled. What happened to my honors student, they ask?

Chances are they grew comfortable, and began to find excitement and stimulation somewhere else. But by encouraging them into the Growth Zone, we can help our kids find lasting success.

So take our math whiz who now breezes through her nightly homework. It might be time to hop online and pick up some supplemental math workbooks or find games that will challenge her skills. Help her set a goal and choose a reward for completing the goal. Maybe you can contact her teacher and see if there are any students in the class who might enjoy a peer tutor. If so, your child could reinforce her own skills by teaching them to someone else, plus it will build a strong work ethic and sense of civic responsibility.

In the summer and on long breaks, you can help your kids get ahead in math or master those times tables. You can assign them to a read a great novel or pick up a book of fun science experiments and challenge them to finish all the experiments before the end of the break. You can download a song of the 50 States and offer a date with mom when they can recite all the states and capitals, or pick up a field guide of trees and challenge them to identify every species they can find on your block.

Growing Kids Means Growing Parents

Most kids won’t push themselves into a Growth Zone; they have to be coached. Let’s face it, human nature does not gravitate toward discomfort. We, the parents, have to also remember this means growing for us as well. It’s not comfortable to consistently remind (and sometimes demand) our kids to practice an instrument or sport or do extra academic work. It’s often inconvenient to stop what we’re doing to inspect a child’s work and re-teach a skill and then inspect it again. But we can not expect what we’re not willing to inspect. And without allowing our kids to work at something again and again, we won’t help them master a task.

However, if we can work diligently with our kids to examine their school work, special skills, life skills and health and wellness, we can help them set big (but attainable) goals and then hold them accountable to consistently working. In the end, they will achieve well-rounded success.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Transcending The Ballet Budget

It’s back to school time, and that means time to pay tuition for ballet, club soccer, swim team, and whatever else your budding star might pursue this year.

While we all know financial constraints are a reality, especially when it comes to extra curricular activities, if it’s God’s plan, He will provide. If your child is passionate about something, but the cost doesn’t fit your budget, pray and ask God for creative ideas to fund it.

Call the activity directors and ask if there are scholarships or financial aid or if you could exchange work for lessons. You might be able to answer phones, file, stuff letters, and so on, in exchange for all or part of your child’s tuition.

Horse back riding lessons are pricey, and we have a big family. But when our older daughter had dreamed of being an equine vet and know everything cheap flea medicine to the most newest treatments, so we knew that horses need to play a part in her extra curricular plan. During her annual week of horse camp, she had built relationships with the trainers and worked out a deal to exchange cleaning out stalls for riding instruction.

Now that music is her primary focus, opera is a focal point in her education. On our own, we wouldn’t be able to afford the youth opera program, but the opera house has wealthy supporters who want to infuse the next generation with a love for opera. Their endowments mean scholarships for kids like Skyler who are passionate about music.

If all else fails, talk to family members. A semester’s tuition could be a far more valuable Christmas or birthday gift than toys or clothing – especially if it’s something that feeds your child’s true passion.

As you plan this year’s extra curricular activites, don’t let financial constraints hinder your child from pursuing her passions. With God all things are possible!

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

A Three Cord Strand

When it comes to friendship, there is a prevailing myth that three is a crowd – an assumption that with three, two will team up and overpower one. That’s not a biblical message. In fact, we should actually encourage our kids to seek out groups of three.

The Bible says a threefold cord is not quickly broken. So the idea that three is a crowd an anti-biblical message. We need to understand that every idea is either a Christ message or an anti-Christ message – anointed or not anointed. God said we are either for Him or against Him. There is no in between.

When it comes to groups of three, think of it this way: God is a triune being. We are created in His image as a body, a soul, and a spirit. Three is not a crowd. In fact, there is protection and accountability in three. Even if two have a wrong idea, the third may disagree and bring discussion before a bad choice is made. We have seen first hand, in the lives of our own children, that three kids who are living for God are more powerful (and have more fun – in case that counts!) than two.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts

Another Question…Really?

One thing Jenni and I have discovered throughout our research of the education process is the need for our children to be able to ask the right questions.  So, when you feel bombarded with 50 questions, don’t despair.  Instead, rejoice that your children want to become expert investigators.

Every time your child asks a question, write it down.  Tear the questions off into individual strips of paper, and place them in a box or jar.

Teach your children how to use Google.  Show them what words to type to research a particular topic.

Once a week, have your child pull one out, and research that question in depth.  You will be amazed at what they will learn and retain by answering their own questions.

After they’ve completed their research, have them put together a presentation to teach the family what they’ve learned.  This incorporates public speaking and organization — priceless skills.

Below are some questions to add to what your kids may ask, just to help them get started.

  • What happens to a potato’s chemical composition when it’s deep fried?
  • Why do certain shoes cause foot odor?
  • Why are flamingos pink?
  • Why do some chickens lay eggs that we can eat and some lay baby chicks?
  • How can you purify water in the wilderness?
  • Is global warming real?
  • What does the moon have to do with the ocean’s tide?
  • How does the rain get in the clouds?
  • How deep is the ocean?
  • Can I dig all the way toChina?
  • How does a microwave work?

Share your questions with us.  We’d love to hear what your kids are asking.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

More Posts