Grow It Again

Hi, I’m Sam. I’m 11 years old, and I’m Jenni’s son. My mom asked me to write a blog post on re-growing food scraps. This is something I like to do because it’s fun and easy and leaves room in your garbage can. I am passionate about gardening, so my mom got me a book called Grow It Again. Most of my tips come from this book. Although a few come from my own experiences. Growing food from the fruits and vegtables in your home is a great activity for families to do together. If you´re interested in the tools I use, yu should first check out Gas Mowers: Best Push & Self-Propelled Mowers Compared before anything else.

I’m going to show you how to grow food again in three different ways:

  1. Take it from the top
  2. Seed time
  3. From the ground up

Take It From The Top

I will show you how to grow two different foods in this category: pineapples and carrots.

Carrots

Let’s start with carrots.

Step one — Take a small, shallow container, and place a layer of stones at the bottom.

Step two — Cut the off about 2 ½ inches from the top of the carrot. Kids should have an adult help.

Step three — Place the carrot tops in the container with the rocks, and pour a thin layer of water in the carrots (about half an inch high).

Tips

Carrots seem to sprout best with a few carrot tops in the same container. Space them one to two inches apart.

Every other day, change the water.

Once you start to see tiny little green stems (check with a magnifying glass once a week), plant the carrot tops in soil in their own containers, and then water two to three times a week.

They like to live in partial sun.

Pineapple

Now for pineapple. Pineapple is one of my personal favorites, but it takes a long time to grow.

There are a few ways to grow pineapples, but the one I’m going to teach here is the one I have had the most success with.

Step one — Cut off the top of a pineapple. (Have an adult help.)

Step two — Cut all the flesh of the pineapple off, and keep cutting until you see tiny black dots on the rim of the pineapple top.

Step three — Peel all the leaves off from the first inch and a half.

Step four — Leave the top out on the counter to dry for about four to five days in room temperature.

Step five — Plant in potting soil in a large pot, and in a few days it will start to root.

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

Tips

Water every time the soil gets dry.

If you follow the steps, you will probably grow a healthy plant, but don’t expect a pineapple any time soon. It takes about two years before you see a blossom and about another seven months to produce a pineapple.

Seed Time

I’m going to show you how to sprout seeds that are difficult to grow, but if you follow these steps you will be able to grow them just fine. The three plants I will show today are oranges, apples, and avocado. I’m going to start with oranges because I live in Florida, and that’s one of the most common crops here.

Oranges

Step one — Take a small round plastic container or plastic cup, and put just a few stones at the bottom.

Step two — Fill it the rest of the way with soil and crushed egg shells for nutrition.

Step three — Take about three seeds from a ripe orange, and place them about an inch or two apart in the soil (the farther apart the better), but make sure the seeds are not too far into the soil.

Step three — Moisten the soil just a little.

Step four — Take a plastic sandwich bag, and put it over the container. Then wrap a rubber band around it to keep it in place

Step five — Leave it in a sunny window indoors.

Step six — Check every week to make sure the soil is moist, and in about three weeks, when you see sprouts, take the bag off.

Tips

Keep the seeds in a pot until they are strong enough to handle the environment.

Apples

Apples cannot grow in Florida because they need to go through a process called winterization, but when planting the seeds you can fake it!

Step one — Take out the seeds.

Step two — Put the seeds in a wet napkin.

Step three — Put the napkin in the refrigerator.

Step four — Check every day.

Step five — When it roots plant in soil.

Tips

If you live where it does not snow, you wont have any success with growing apples, even if you winterize the seeds in the fridge.

Avocado

Avocados are fun but difficult If you like a challenge, this is the plant for you!

Step one — Take out the avocado pit, and peel off the skin. Have an adult help.

Step two — Take toothpicks, and stick them into the avocado seed around the circumference of the seed. You want to put in 3 or 4 toothpicks. If the seed splits in two, it’s ok just tie the two halves together with a string.

Step three — Place the seed over a 4 to 5 inch cup filled with water. Make sure the bottom of the seed is in the water.

Step four — Once the root is three inches long, place it in soil, and water it three to seven times a week.

Tips

Be careful with the roots. They can be broken very easily.

This plant likes full sun.

From The Ground Up

In this category I am going to teach you how to grow two plants: garlic and ginger.

Garlic

Garlic is also one of my favorites. It’s fast, easy, and fun!

Step one — Take a small, shallow container (about the size of the carrot container), and place a layer of stones.

Step two — Peel about three garlic cloves, and place them in the stones so that they  are standing up. Make sure the pointy end of the clove is facing up.

Step three — Fill the container with about a ¼ inch of water, and leave it in a sunny windowsill for two days.

Step four — Plant in soil.

Tips

Clip the tops of the garlic every week. They get big quickly.

The tops are good in salads and are very healthy.

You can grow the garlic in the container with the water for a very long time. That was one of the things I did.

Ginger

Ginger is fairly easy to grow, so it is something I would say you should try.

Step one — Get a container like the one you put the garlic in.  Place a small layer of stones at the bottom and then fill it almost to the top with soil.

Step two — Place the ginger root flat on top of the soil.

Step three — Put soil around the ginger but leave its back out because ginger prefers it that way.

Step four — Water the soil just a little, and keep it in a sunny window. Within a few days it should root.

Tips

Water when the soil gets dry.

Transplant when the container gets too small.

Give the plant part sun.

They will eventually grow shoots. Some may die, but new ones will replace them.

They grow quickly. In about a month, the plant will be about three feet.

Don’t eat the shoots.

 

If you have any questions contact me at thesam326@gmail.com. You can also visit my blog and leave me questions and comments.

Sam Stahlmann

Farmer Sam is a sixth grader who is passionate about farming and learning alternative growing methods. He blogs about gardening, growing all sorts of plants and keeping a healthy worm farm. Visit him at farmersamblog.wordpress.com.

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You Can Do It — Baby Wearing

When my older kids were babies, I often used a Baby Bjorn carrier to hold them while I was doing housework or taking a walk, but it didn’t work well for newborns, and it put a lot of strain on my back. When they 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 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 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 was a baby wearing ninja with our sixth child! Tanya makes her own wraps under the brand Baby the Baby, and she walked me through it, step-by-step using a Smart Water bottle as the baby.

Contact your local midwives and ask if they know of any baby wearing groups in your area. We have quite a few here in the Gulfcoast Florida region. These groups can you practice with different types of wraps and offer all sorts of helpful tips, including how to breastfeed in a wrap.

In case you’re interested, here is an article by Dr. Sears on the benefits of baby wearing.

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.

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I Want a Do Over!

Sadly enough, when I was growing up my mom told stories of how she and my dad barely had enough money to feed and diaper me. She reminisces about destitute times of eating potatoes for days on end and washing my cloth diapers in the tub, sink or whatever was available to clean my butt covers and then hanging them to dry all over their one-room apartment. I would laugh and think, “Wow! We must have been really poor if we had to use cloth diapers.”

The truth is my mom had it right! Even though at the time it was all being done out of necessity, her only option was to take the natural route in almost everything she did. She fed me table food, carried me everywhere, had me sleep with her and didn’t put chemicals on my behind.

I started this post with the word “sadly.” The sad part in all of this is that during that era, all of those things were looked down upon. Only women with no money handled their babies this way.

Isn’t it sad that the cultural norm in our society says that doing something natural (the way God intended it) is basically low class?

Well, I WANT A DO OVER!

When I had my first baby I was nineteen years old. I knew NOTHING! But, my mother-in-law had FIVE children. To me, she knew EVERYTHING and was clearly experienced. Now, let’s remember, this was before the days of the internet, and I lived out in the country in a very small town where people didn’t really educate themselves about better ways to parent. They just did what their moms did.

I was schooled in the cheap way to formula feed your baby. Yep, my sweet little one enjoyed whole cow’s milk with Karo syrup and a splash of vitamins. I was instructed to NEVER let my baby sleep with me because it would cause him to be insecure and clingy.

And how about this one?

“LET THAT BABY CRY! Don’t you be pickin’ up that baby at every scream. He needs some tough love. He’ll sleep through the night if you slap some cereal down his throat and let him cry himself to sleep.”

Now, in light of all the new information I have, it hurts to even type those words.

My son Chase had cereal at three weeks old (this was 26 years ago, mind you). I’m lucky this poor kid lived through it all. Well, he did live through it, but we paid in spades with allergies.

I felt horrible. It was so hard to listen to him cry himself to sleep. So much so that I cried every time it happened. Why didn’t I just listen to my instincts? Oh, that’s right, I was inexperienced.

I can remember long hard nights of just wanting to nurse him on my side and fall back to sleep. I was told I could smother him, and it was simply unhealthy. I remember fighting diaper rash on a daily basis. No one told me that cloth diapering pretty much solves the diaper rash crisis. UGH!

All I wanted to do was hold this precious little life and smooch him for days on end. I didn’t want him to lay and cry. I wanted to hold him everywhere I went. I’m fairly certain that’s what my mom did considering that car seats (the ones we use as baby carriers with handles) didn’t even exist when I was an infant. Moms used to lay their babies in the seats next to them, no straps. (Okay, so some progress is good!)

How much easier would it have been for me to “wear” Chase than to lug him around in that heavy, clunky infant seat?

Oh, and I was told, “Don’t scrub your floors or do any type of manual labor – your milk will dry up.” What the heck?!

Then came potty training. It was so disgusting to me that my little ones pooped and peed on themselves. Okay, I’m a bit of a poop-phobe. The idea of poop touching anything is gross to me, including your own tushy.

“Just give him an M&M everytime he goes on the potty,” I was told. What? I was not into bribing my kid and feeding him unnecessary sugar (but that’s a whole other story). So, when I first heard about Elimination Communication, it made total sense to me. Of course it’s not natural to poop in your pants then sit in it and squish it all around until someone decides they’re ready to stop what they’re doing and change you! Does that sound comfortable to you? NO! It makes total sense that there is a particular cry when a baby needs to poop, and we need to learn that cue and how to communicate with our babies.

I must have been the dopiest mom ever and completely insecure in being a mom. I DID know what my baby needed. I DID know what to do, but I allowed all the voices around me to take over, first with Chase and then with my two girls.

My biggest heart’s cry for moms of babies is to know that YOU HAVE A VOICE! Listen to your instincts. Don’t question yourself. It’s okay to ask questions, seek council, do research, but be sure YOU have the final say. And ya know what? If you make a mistake, big deal – you made a mistake. You and your baby will live through it. I promise. I’m proof of that.

Do I want a do over? Absolutely! Do I beat myself up over it? No way! Reason being, my experiences now allow me to encourage moms to have a voice.

Oh, and my other regret . . . NOT HAVING MORE BABIES!! (but that’s a subject for a different post)

If you’re interested in learning more about Elimination Communication and how to potty train without M & Ms, tune into this Saturday’s episode of Parenting on Purpose with Jenni and Jody at 10AM (EDT). If you’re local to Sarasota, you can listen live on 1220AM or 106.9FM or 98.9FM. If you’re not local, just go to the WSRQ website and listen to the streaming broadcast or download the mobile app and listen on the go (they use Tune In Radio for that).

So…anyone else want a do over? Or is it just me?

 

 

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.

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You’re Gonna Wish Your Kid Could Go To THIS School!

Last week I went on rant about how our education system is not preparing kids for life. And since we’re doing an extended series on educational choices on both the radio show and on our blog, I just HAD to share a fascinating story about one school that DID prepare kids for life.

The story takes us back to 1940 in Arvin, California. By the way, I didn’t find out until I was an adult (a homeschooling mom, actually) how fascinating history really is. During my public education, it was little more than an exercise in memorizing dry facts and then regurgitating them for a test. But history is full of people’s stories — it’s full of drama and comedy and tragedy and serendipity and hopes and dreams. It’s interesting stuff!

And this story is no exception. It’s the story of the amazing Weedpatch School, and it should be a model for schools all over the country.

Back in 1940, the town of Arvin had a big problem, it was a problem facing many towns in California at that time. The problem was a group of people known as Okies. These were the people who had migrated from the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. They came to California, destitute, looking for work on one of the many lush California farms. They arrived with all of their belongings strapped to broken down old cars. They were starving, dirty and surviving only on a shred of hope that there might be some work for them in California.

Oakies

 

But with so many people arriving at the same time with the same hope, there were at least 10 men for every job. Author John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath to bring awareness to the Okie’s plight and photographers like Dorothea Lange circulated images of the destitution to capture the public’s attention.

Lange-MigrantMother02

The government was aware of how bad things were. They stepped in and set up camps to help house this dying population. One of those was Weedpatch Camp in Arvin.

The Okie kids were having tremendous trouble in the public schools. They were dirty, uneducated, inconsistent in attendance (sometimes their parents needed them home to help with younger siblings or to help make money ) and often they didn’t have proper clothing (some wore over sized potato sacks, broken shoes or no shoes at all). These kids were big targets for bullying, and many teachers didn’t want the burden of teaching kids who were so far behind.

The school board was irritated by the tax burden of caring for these kids, and many shopkeepers and restaurant owners jumped on the irritation bandwagon  and stopped serving Oakie families in their establishments.

But an educator named Leo Hart felt differently. He spent afternoons playing with the Oakie kids in a field next to Weedpatch Camp, and he knew that with the right opportunities, these kids would go far. They had already survived so much, and in spite of their appearance, they had heart and determination.

In 1939 he ran for the office of Kern County superintendent of education and won the position. His motivation was to “to find out what to do for these children to get them adjusted into society and to take their rightful place.” He knew the other schools didn’t want these kids, so he convinced the schools to officially claim that they had no room for them. That allowed him to apply to build an emergency school, which was granted, but he also knew that the school district didn’t want to pay for it. So Leo Hart set out to get donations.

Since the town’s people were happy to have the Okie kids out of their schools, they gladly donated old lumber, piping, electrical supplies, and other materials.

In May and June of 1940, Leo visited a number of colleges and universities in California searching for bright new graduates who wanted to help change the destiny of the Okie kids. He recruited people who would not only teach them the basics but would also help teach life skills. He gathered a group of idealists willing to work hard to get the Okies up to grade level and also teach health, agriculture, animal husbandry, typing, plumbing, electrical wiring and even aircraft mechanics.

Over the next year, the students and teachers and even Leo himself, built the school with donated materials and their own hands. The Arvin Federal Emergency School (better known as The Weedpatch School) didn’t only teach reading, writing, math, science, history and geography, it taught the kids carpentry, masonry and every other skilled labor needed to make the school operational. Kids worked in shifts. One group had lessons in the morning and worked on the school construction in the after noon, and another group did the opposite.

They planted an extensive garden that grew food for the Weedpatch Camp and raised animals. They converted a donated old train car into a classroom, complete with electricity and plumbing. They learned how to make clothing, can food, butcher meat, and even make their own cosmetics (how’s that for a chemistry class!). One of the teachers bought a C-46 airplane from a military surplus for $200, and the kids learned aircraft mechanics, and as a reward for academic excellence, they got to taxi the plane on the field.

The kids even built an in-ground swimming pool.

Soon, word got out about what was happening with the “dumb Okies” in this emergency school, and parents throughout the town wanted their kids to have these opportunities too. After four years of great success, the emergency charter ran out, and the school was incorporated into the larger district.

But by then, the attitude of the general public toward Okies had shifted, and the once discarded population of tattered, uneducated kids had transformed into a population of young people who understood their own value.

From the community of Okie kids who built the Weedpatch School came a college professor, the owner of Utah mining company, two high school principals, owners of two large construction companies in Hawaii and California, two restaurant owners in Boise, Idaho, one of the best Organic SEO managers, a judge, a nutritionist, a mechanical engineer, a legal secretary, a captain of the Kern County Fire Department, an investigator for the California Department of Industrial Relations, along with many school teachers, business owners and postal clerks.

With today’s MEGA push to boost kids’ self-esteem, we ought to take a lesson from the Weedpatch School. Instead of handing out meaningless “awards” and making sure no kid strikes out on the baseball field, we might want to give them opportunities to work hard and build something of value. Imagine how the Okie kids felt about themselves after they’d turned a dried up field into a school with an in-ground pool that they’d built with their own hands.

Now that’s public education at its finest!

Your thoughts?

 

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.

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Does Your Baby Still Use the Potty?

Originally posted in June, 2012

Question: I saw your post a few months ago about how your infant uses the potty. Are you still doing it?

Answer: We get this question quite a bit! And the answer is yes, our baby still uses the potty for poop. Baby Matthew (or Matty J, as we call him now) is five months old (actually, TODAY he turned 5 months!), and now he sits on his own potty chair. My arms are relieved! LOL We use the Baby Bjorn Potty. The high back makes it perfect for infants who are just learning how to sit up independently.

He’s on a counter in this picture, but typically, he sits on the floor, on his potty, next to the grown up potty. For the most part, he’s on a good schedule now, pooping when he wakes up in the morning at 6:30, like clockwork. That’s usually it for the day, but every once in a while, he makes the telltale grunt, and we know it’s time for a potty visit!

We don’t focus much on pee — as we said from the beginning, we’re part time ECers (check out the post to find out what EC means). For that we use cloth diapers. If anyone is looking for an EXCELLENT cloth diaper resource, check out Everyday Baby. The owner, is precious! And she ships all over the country. You can also like her page on Facebook.

October, 2013 Update

Many people wondered if we ever made the switch to cloth, and we did. But after he was about a year old and began having poop misses, we reverted back to disposable. Even after six kids, I’m still pretty poop-phobic. But we won’t be using diapers for much longer.

Matty Jay gearing up for full-time diaper free living! As of now, he tells us when he has to poop (although since he started walking at about 11 months, he often tells us just after he pooped). He pees on the potty when he gets up, before a bath and before bed.

At about a year old, he didn’t like his regular potty, so we got this great potty seat for the big toilet. It’s contoured so that even little ones can sit securely. But since he has trouble getting on and off by himself, we’re bring back the Baby Bjorn chair when training starts in a few weeks.

Stay tuned for more info on our journey to a diaper free baby!

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.

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Infant Potty Training – How Did I Miss This One?

Originally posted March, 2011

Some people call it EC (for Elimination Communication), which happens to be a better name than Infant Potty Training, because it really is more about communicating than training. But whatever it’s called, I’m seriously bummed that I missed it with my first five kids.

We first introduced Baby Matthew to the potty the day he was born. It was slow going the first week, but by the second week, we were getting the hang of it, and although we’re only part time ECers, Baby Matt is a full-time potty pooper. With the exception of two or three misses over the past five weeks, he poops exclusively on the potty. It turns out, poop is pretty easy to catch.

I first heard about this phenomenon when my third child was a newborn (almost 10 years ago), but as most parents who hear the words “Infant Potty Training,” I thought it sounded ridiculous. In hindsight, my main misconception was that parents had to hover over their child and serendipitously catch him in the act. One of my friends made a comment recently that reflected my original misunderstanding of the whole thing. She said, “That is not baby training. It is parent training.”

I guess she’s sort of right. EC is parent training in the same way that understanding your baby’s hunger cry is parent training and recognizing a tired cry is parent training. Her comment reflected my own misconceptions, but I’ve since learned two important truths:

  1. Newborns are completely aware of their elimination needs and have control
  2. Newborns are as capable of communicating the need to pee and poop as they are able to communicate the need to eat

Newborns Have Control and They Can Communicate

I’ve learned that newborn babies are born with an awareness of the need to eliminate. It makes sense when you think about it. I can’t think of another mammal who is born wanting to poop and pee on itself. Based on what I have recently read, babies have control up to three months. After that, if it’s not used, they lose the ability.

Yikes! Could it be that we are actually TRAINING our sweet babies to use diapers? I can tell you for sure that my baby does NOT want to go in the diaper. He squirms and grunts, and if I don’t respond, he eventually cries – sometimes hard. Having had five babies before this one, I am no stranger to these signals. I remember every single one of them crying the exact same kind of cries. I simply did not know what they meant. So basically, I trained them to use a diaper, only to have to un-train them two years down the road.  Hmmmm….

Some things are fairly universal when it comes to babies. Most moms can clearly discern a hunger cry, even in other people’s babies. And they can usually understand a tired cry too. When our babies are hungry, we feed them. When they’re tired, we put them to sleep. And now that I understand the potty cry, when I hear it, I simply hold the baby over the toilet.

I think many moms are concerned that they’ll spend the whole day taking their baby to the potty. It’s as if they think fluids constantly drain from their little ones, like the Baby Alive doll. Actually, I think that’s somewhat true of babies who are trained to go in a diaper. It’s as if they let poop eek out incrementally. But the truth is, babies can eliminate a lot of poop at once. After such a big poop, they don’t need to go numerous times throughout the day. In fact, some of my EC buddies say that pretty soon, Baby Matt will likely go just once a day at a predictable time. Makes sense – that’s how my body works.

We’re Part Timers

So here’s how this whole thing started for us. When I was pregnant with Matthew, we were at a playground with a bunch of families from our school. My baby-wearing buddy Tanya was trying out a new sling with another mom’s one-year-old (Tanya makes great slings). After carrying little Sally around for a while, Tanya recognized the telltale squirm. “Your baby has to pee,” Tanya told Sally’s mom.

“Oh, no. Sally’s not potty trained.”

“Yeah, but she has to pee. If you take her now, she’ll go on the potty.”

Well, this opened the door to a big conversation about EC. And as I listened, I found myself slowly warming to the possibility of trying this. I went home and began researching it, and I read that it was possible to do this part time, which meant we could give it a try, and if it didn’t work out perfectly, it would still do our baby some good.

Our goal for EC is not to have a diaper free baby. Although there are many families that are successfully diaper free. Tanya’s youngest wore panties at three months. You have to special order those.

The average age for potty training in America is 3 years old, so they don’t sell infant panties at Target! Not yet, at least — maybe we if increase awareness of the benefits of EC, that will change. It could happen. In my grandmother’s day, very few women breastfed, and we all know how that has changed. Maybe when my daughters are having babies, the common culture will embrace EC. There could even be EC-friendly day care programs! I know some moms who want to do EC, but don’t know how to handle it when their kids are in daycare. Well…here’s to hoping! Maybe if everyone who reads this post retweets it and links to it on their Facebook page and emails it to friends and family, we can help do our part to bring about change.

In the meantime, our family’s goal for EC is to help our son maintain the awareness of elimination and the ability to control it. Although he poops almost exclusively in the potty, we don’t catch all the pees. Perhaps if I wore him in the sling for most of the day I would be more in tune to the pee squirm. He certainly does signal when he has to pee; I just don’t always see it because I spend a lot of time on the computer writing.

Jody and I write homeschool curriculum, and we teach parenting classes, which means writing the workshops and workbooks. We are also working on our first non-fiction book, and I freelance for parenting magazines…in addition to blogging, tweeting, and of course, homeschooling my five kids. Baby Matthew doesn’t like being in the sling if I’m sitting. So I can wear him when I’m working with my kids or teaching a homeschool co-op class or conducting a parenting workshop or even sometimes during a parent coaching session. But when I’m home at my desk or in the Panera working with Jody (a.k.a. our office), baby Matt is not wrapped to me, and I often miss his pee signals.

From what I’ve read, part time is enough to help him maintain the elimination awareness, and there’s a strong chance he will be diaper free before he’s two. But again, that’s not necessarily our goal. Although, I am thoroughly enjoying NOT changing poopy diapers! Baby Matt is now six weeks old. We have not wrecked one outfit yet, and his little bottom is not red and irritated. All of our kids are so fair skinned that diaper rash was a regular occurrence in our house – but not this time!

Baby Steps

Although the idea of going diaper free is alien to our common culture, it’s normal in other parts of the world, especially cultures that regularly wear their babies. In fact, I’ve even read that in some cultures it’s shameful for a baby to eliminate on her mother because it means the mother was not paying attention to her baby.

I’m certainly not at that point, but I am making small, subtle changes. For one, we are gearing up to becoming a cloth diaper house. For now, we still use disposable diapers (you don’t have to be the crunchy, tree hugging type to do EC!), but since Baby Matthew only pees in his diapers, there’s no reason we can’t use cloth. In the past, I cringed at the thought of cleaning a yucky poop out of a cloth diaper. But for the most part, there’s only one small pee in his diaper when I take him to the potty. I certainly don’t want to put that back on him, which is causing me to go through more diapers than the average family. It’s getting expensive, and I do feel guilty about filling a landfill with all these extra diapers. So…we’re going cloth!

Perhaps the next step after that will be to catch more pees, but in the meantime, I am content to go slowly and enjoy being able to meet yet another need for my sweet boy. There is something very bonding about EC. It’s as though his body and face show how grateful he is that I have understood his signal and helped him meet this need. My husband and other children have also bonded with the baby through EC. It’s been a rewarding journey for everyone so far.

Resources

I’m sure you have a boat load of questions. So I’ll to point you to the experts who have helped me. After all, I’m just a newbie here. If you’d like to learn more about EC, check out Christine Gross-Loh’s book, The Diaper Free Baby.

You can also visit the website ECSimplified. They’ve got some good info, including a downloadable book that I have yet to read (but I plan to).

Be sure to leave a comment below, and let me know what you think about the whole EC thing. And if you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them or point you in the direction of a better resource.

Update -- It's October, 2013, and Matty Jay is a great communicator! He talks up a storm and can tell me when he has to poop. He's totally ready for full potty training. We just moved, and Jody and I have a parenting conference this month. So in the first week of November, we're taking the plunge and going completely diaper free! Check back often for our progress. I'll document the journey here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman

If you have a daughter, she’s got some big shoes to fill, and you can help.

In our last post, I talked about being mindful of raising boys as future heads of a house. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be inNew Hampshire, having a blast visiting my chivalrous young man (a.k.a Lego tantrum boy) as he wraps up his first year at law school. [As of this posting, I am in NH for Chase’s GRADUATION!]

Back home in Florida, I have two young ladies — one in high school and one in middle school. And just as I was aware that I was raising their big brother to be the head of a house, I’m aware that my girls also have important roles to play as future women. Thankfully, I’ve got a blue print this time.

Like most moms, my constant prayer is that my kids will seek the Lord with all their hearts.  That’s true for sons and daughters, but my focus for the girls is different than it was for Chase.

Tucked inconspicuously at the end of Proverbs is the picture of an amazing woman. As I studied her carefully, I knew that I wanted my girls to be like her – I wanted to raise Proverbs 31 women.

Once I knew the goal, I began to study her life and visualize all that she was doing in the passage. I imagined the tools she would have needed for each accomplishment, and began pouring the same ideals into my girls.

If you notice nothing else about Mrs. Proverbs 31, you can’t miss that she’s a hard worker. She had to bust some serious tail to complete all she did in a day.  Whew!  Stamina is a vital tool that our girls need to develop as young people.

Mrs. Proverbs 31 was also the queen of multi-tasking, and it was obvious that she demanded a lot of herself and had the endurance and perseverance to complete what she started.

Often, I’ll see my girls doing dishes or a task around the house and reciting their memory verse at the same time.  “Just killing two birds with one stone — we’re multi-tasking,” they’ll say, and it blesses me because as future women, they will need to be master multi-taskers.

When we head out the door, one of my girls will say to the other, “Grab your knitting and your book.”

My husband laughs, “Why?  You’re going to church. You can’t knit or read at church.”

“Dad, we’ll do it on our way to church.”

Travel time is often put to good use in our family. Our girls have begun to look for opportunities (big and small) to complete something on their task list, especially times that may appear non-constructive (like riding in the car).

Teaching our girls not to eat the bread of idleness and to stay focused (with stamina) will keep them from being tempted in many areas.  Idleness is where gossip, boredom, and trouble breed.

I’m sure Mrs. Proverbs 31’s hobbies consisted of things such as spinning and weaving. For down time, perhaps she and her family strolled through their gardens or the vineyards. I sincerely doubt she would have even considered TV or video games, had they been available to her.

No, the Bible says she was willing to work with her hands.  She got up before sunrise, and I’m willing to bet, she was pooped when her head hit the pillow at night.

In addition to hardworking, God clearly wants His daughters to be educated.

I’ve heard some moms say, “Well, college doesn’t matter. My daughter just wants to be a wife and mom.”

Awesome!  All the more reason to educate her.  The Proverbs 31 woman sold real estate with assistance from Douglas Ebenstein, planted vineyards, ran a textile business, ran a household, managed a staff of servants, and gardened.  She was a supplier, a thriving merchant, and could identify good merchandise — there were no shysters pulling one over on her.  She had to be trained to do these things.

She also had to have great communication skills.  How else could she have been successful in the market place?

These are business skills.  She was educated.

Can’t you just picture Mrs. P-31 going to the market with her carefully prepared list?  She didn’t run out of fuel for her lamp, and she provided all the food her family needed, she even brought some from afar.

She was full of wisdom. So, how do our girls gain wisdom? For one, they need to have a relationship with God because we know that the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. She needs an active prayer life because we know God gives wisdom, and she also needs to apply her heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2), which means she needs an education.

Several times I have stood by close friends who have lost a husband unexpectedly.  It is important that our daughters know how to support themselves and their children.  They need to be ready in season and out of season.

And for those girls who want to have a career and a family, the Proverbs 31 woman shows it’s possible. She was the breadwinner in her house. Her husband held an honored position at the gates. His role at that point in life was a noble one, but the men (elders) serving in these positions were not paid for their government roles (imagine what our country would be like if we had volunteer politicians – just saying!). His wife seemed to have no trouble supporting their family, and our girls need to know that they can help provide for their families and still be keepers at home (Titus 2).

Let’s not forget Mrs. P-31 does have servants, and if we can teach our girls at a young age how to be good delegators, they will be able to help provide an income for their family while loving their husbands and children and being keepers at home. We’ll have some future articles on the power of project management activities. Stay tuned because this is a great way to teach our girls (and boys) how to delegate.

Prioritizing was also high on Mrs. P-31’s list of virtues.  She had to decide what was most important and stick to it until it was complete.  Our Proverbs 31 “women in the making”, need to know how to identify what’s most important: Should I research for my paper that’s due next week or study for the test that’s in two days? And she needs to be able to focus. It’s been said that focus stands for: Follow One Course Until Successful.

We can give our girls strenuous tasks to build their stamina, ask them to prioritize the list, and then stick with one thing until it’s done thoroughly before moving on to the next. And all the while, we’ll be showing that we have confidence in them, cheering them on from the sidelines and coaching them to excellence.

In addition to all the virtues we’ve listed so far, the Proverbs 31 woman was physically strong, well arrayed in fine clothing, and didn’t walk in fear.  Oh, and let’s not forget her community service — she helped the needy. Wow!

How can our girls can be a genuine help to our churches and to the community? Can they clean once a week for an elderly neighbor, vacuum the church sanctuary, and organize a food drive for the local food pantry and a pet food drive for the Humane Society? Programs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Civil Air Patrol, offer great opportunities for our girls to bless the community. Let’s set the bar high and encourage them to do great things.

Okay, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed (and maybe intimidated), but if we meditate regularly on the role model provided in Proverbs 31, our girls can walk in her shoes, regardless of their individual callings in life.

We also need to model this example for our daughters, and we need to be vigilant in monitoring their character development. I can just picture the Proverbs 31 mom going through the secret hiding places in her children’s rooms, keeping tabs on any mischief they may be getting into.  Hey, it says she keeps a close eye on what goes on in her home.  She certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the activities going on under her nose.

Remember, those same children stood up and call her blessed, and her husband praised her. Let’s purpose to have the same testimony and raise girls who will also share in that kind of victory.

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.

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Raising the Head of A House

Got boys? Then you are raising the future head of a house.

One day, about 20 years ago, I was startled by a crash so loud I thought the wall had come down.  I scrambled to the living room to see what had happened, and to my amazement, there was my three year old in a fit of rage over his Legos.  Yes, his Legos.  Apparently, they weren’t connecting the way he wanted them to.

My mind flashed to scenes from extended family history — rage and anger has plagued previous generations.  Instantly, I thought, “Oh, no!  Not my boy. That’s not going to be his story”.

Gently and calmly, I crouched down, laid my hand upon his and spoke softly, but firmly.  “Chase, that’s not how we play.  Now let’s pick up each Lego you threw, put them in a pile, and reconnect each one.”

His eyes were angry and frustrated, but I could see in his heart the desire to please his mommy.

We were on that floor for hours attaching those bricks together one by one.  All the while, I was speaking to him gently, but firmly.

That day, the Lord revealed to me that I was raising the “Head of A House”, and I had better steward his personality and habits as such.

Moms play a very significant role in their son’s lives. Remember the first miracle that Jesus performed?  Mary told Him they were out of wine. Jesus said, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”  (John 2)

But interestingly, Jesus did perform the miracle. That boy was NOT going to disappoint his mama! And I believe that’s just how God intended it to be. If you think about it moms, that gives us a whole lot of power.

The most amazing part of this is that the Holy Spirit allows us to see behaviors in our kids that can be damaging or empowering to them as adults.  Even as toddlers, we can see behavior patterns that need to be gently corrected or strongly encouraged.

Chivalry was not the norm when I was growing up. But I was bound and determined that my boy was going to be chivalrous — and he is!  I taught him at four years old to hold doors open for all women, no matter their age.  I taught him to always kiss a lady’s hand.

He was taught to give up his seat when a lady/girl entered the room. When we were at gatherings, he made sure all the females ate first.  He shook men’s hands with firmness, looked them straight in the eye and introduced himself.  He had every woman falling all over him (and his big chocolate brown eyes) because he was so gentle and sweet, yet outgoing and bold.

So many parents over the years have come to me and said, “How can I get my boy to be like that?”  I believe the answer is to be constantly looking and examining what behaviors need to be addressed, along with a boatload of prayer!

I knew deep in my heart I was supposed to raise him to be the husband I would want.  After all, I was going to be passing him on to a woman much like myself, wasn’t I?

I began praying daily for God to show me what to pour into him and what to shelter him from.  It was so interesting to see how God led me to pray for him as head of a house

We raised Chase constantly thinking, “We need to root out this behavior/habit; he can’t have that as a husband.” It’s made him aware of other people’s feelings and positions. He seems to always take initiative to “father” others.  He’s always been the captain, the leader, the president.

Well, Chase hasn’t thrown Legos recently, but he has had many tests and trials come his way.  And I believe the tools he was given at a young age have empowered him to make the kind of decisions a head of a household should.

Through it all, he has learned servant leadership, and I now have a 23 year old son who brings his mom flowers often (YAY, me!).  But, more than that, he lives his life and makes decisions with the mindset that he will one day be the head of a house.

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.

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