The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

new for 2013: RIE parenting

The new year has me thinking about goals and perhaps changes for the big green parenting experiment. As a new-ish blogger, it can be challenging to find that perfect niche.

I love writing about sustainable living and parenting in a green way. These are both very important to me and I plan to continue to include those topics. I have plenty more ideas, information and fresh Friday recipes to share when CSA season starts back up again.

For 2013, however, I plan to dive into a parenting concept that is relatively new to me. It’s called RIE (resources for infant educarers). The approach is based on ‘honoring infants and young children as equal members in relationships.’ (RIE.org)

I was introduced to the concept by a friend who recommended that I follow Janet Lansbury on Facebook. After reading some of Janet’s work, I am ready to dive in and put these ideas into action. When my daughter was born I hadn’t really considered what ‘type’ of parent I would be. I stumbled upon attachment parenting after we discovered that Schy had reflux and was sleeping in our bed, on one of our chests at night. From there I started researching co-sleeping and naturally, discovered attachment parenting. This parenting style seemed natural for us and we agreed with most of the prominent ideals involved: co-sleeping, breastfeeding, not wanting her to cry and generally meeting her every need in order to create a loving, trusting bond.

I do still believe in certain aspects of attachment parenting but am coming to resent others. Perhaps it’s just because the principles aren’t working anymore. And maybe they never truly worked and we are just realizing this now that Schy is old enough to start expressing herself. I am falling in love with this RIE approach and am excited to shift my focus from being a slave to my baby to meeting both of our needs.

I’ve just ordered the book ‘Dear Parent: Caring For Infants with Respect’ by Magda Gerber, founder of RIE. I am so looking forward to further understanding her concepts and putting them to use. I feel this is exactly what the big green parenting experiment needs and I am SO excited to share what I learn, what works and what doesn’t. I’ll be starting off with an outline and some basics of RIE so you can familiarize yourself with the principles involved. As always, feedback, advice and experiences are welcomed as I embark on this new parenting journey!

Stay tuned for this exciting addition!

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26 acts of kindness: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

I know, I know… It is taking me forever to post these! I haven’t forgotten. I would love to blame the holidays but they’ve been over for some time now. I know I’m not the only who needs time to restore normalcy after the holiday madness, right?!

Lets continue with our kindness, shall we?

kindness: act 8

This was an awesome day! It was awesome because we had an act of kindness come back to us, as well as performing one! I had an important event to attend, so Schy & I went out to Boscov’s to get some of my favorite mascara that I was out of. It was a cold, icy day here, so in honor of Dawn Hochsprung (06/28/65), we stood by the door after we entered and held the door open for multiple people who were also coming in from the cold. Schy thought that all of this door holding was hilarious and her laughter brought a smile to almost all of their faces! It was sweet to see her brighten the day of others.

While at the Estée Lauder counter, the woman searched and searched for the mascara to no avail. (Apparently this is their best seller. Who knew?) She looked in different locations, high and low, determined to find what I had asked for. She asked if we had a moment, which we did, and she scurried off. She returned with a promotional sized mascara and lash primer and said “you can have these!” I was so delighted. I thanked her so much and let her know how appreciative I was for her taking the time to find that for me. I think someone as giving and selfless as Dawn would approve!

kindness: act 9

That same day, I spread kindness for Madeleine F. Hsu (07/10/06) by offering a ride to someone who was attending the same event that I was. I was hesitant at first, but there was no reason not to, especially since we live so close to each other and were going to the same place. I thought of little Madeleine, extended the invitation and it was graciously received.

kindness: act 10

Today we hit the kindness jackpot at our local supermarket. I honor of Catherine V. Hubbard (06/08/06) we spared some change for the customer in front of us. His order came to $5.26 and he was frantically searching for 26 cents. I could sense his embarrassment as I reached into my coat pocket and felt a bunch of change. I handed the 26 cents to the cashier and she smiled. He must’ve said thank you 4 or 5 times before leaving. Thanks for the inspiration, Catherine!

kindness: act 11

Same supermarket, same line… we were just picking up some almond milk and a couple vegetables. Next up, Chase Kowalski (10/31/05). An elderly man joined the line behind us with just one item, a small container of milk. I asked the cashier if I could pay for that, too. She looked at us kind of blankly and said “really? Ooook”. I said “yes, we are paying the kindness forward.” She scanned his item while he was opening up his wallet, not realizing what was going on. We grabbed our bag and left without looking back. I hope that even this small gesture made him smile, as well as the cashier when she told him that his order was paid for! This small gesture, made for Chase.

kindness: act 12

One more for today, in honor of Jesse Lewis (06/30/06). While I was strapping Schy into her carseat, a small elderly woman rolled her shopping cart up to the car next to us. By the time I was finished buckling, she was closing her car door after loading up her groceries. I reached out and asked if I could return the cart for her. It wasn’t far, but it was cold (14 degrees here today!). She simply said “thank you, dear” and climbed into her car. I returned the cart, thanks to Jesse, and returned to my car as she was driving off, giving me a wave. It is so rewarding to help someone in a small way. I drove home from the store feeling so happy today, and with the Sandy Hook victims in my heart.

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bring it on 2013! my resolutions

Unbelievable. Here I am, on New Year’s Eve, wondering where 2012 went. This has been a remarkable year for my family and I and I am confident that 2013 will be even better. I am totally one of those people who is looking back, reflecting on the year and thinking of the changes that I want to make for 2013.

Yes, I make resolutions. I do believe that a new year is great motivation to make fresh starts and set goals. Some succeed, some fail. For 2013 I’m going all out and focusing on something that I have been neglecting: ME. These resolutions are important goals that I have set to help me feel like me again, more like a human. As a first time mom, I’ve been completely focused on the happiness and well being of my baby. And while I understand that this is completely normal, I also understand that my mood and energy affects hers also. By focusing a bit more on myself, I can be better for her and for my husband.

So, here they are:

1. Eat clean. (again). I feel so incredible when I am eating a totally clean diet. My biggest challenge is going to be conquering my sugar addiction. My plan is to go cold turkey and try to replace refined sugar with more fruits and clean substitutes. I plan to log what I’m eating and drinking, focusing on fresh, whole foods and plenty of water. I used to do this and I know I can. Also, contuining our crusade to rid our house of GMOs.

2. Scheduled exercise. I used to be fit. I so want to get back there. I used to weight train 4-5 times a week, run 9-10 miles 3 times a week and do yoga every day possible. My goal is to schedule 20-30 minutes of “me time” a day to do an intense workout. My body is really craving it and I know it’ll be the boost I need to gain my self confidence and energy back. I can’t wait to have that “hurts in a good way” feeling again. I am also running the Saratoga half marathon this year so I WILL be ready!

3. Work on time management. Routines work. It can be tough with a teething toddler who may or may not resist a nap and require my undivided attention. But much like she thrives on a routine, I think I will too. Allot time for housework, exercise, meditation, play, husband, blogging (of course) and rest. I would love to try and devote time to all of these things that are so important to me. All of the things that make me ME.

These are some pretty tall orders, I know. But I’ve done them all before and I CAN do them again. The better I am, the better I will be for my family and that is my motivation.

Better me = better us.

Let’s get this New Year started!

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acts of kindness: 4, 5, 6 & 7

The past week has been super hectic with Christmas and toddler. Now that the holiday is over we’re ready to get back on track sharing our acts of kindness.

kindness: act 4

On Sunday, in memory of Olivia Engel (7/18/06), we went to deliver Christmas gifts that we had collected for families in need. Unfortunately, the first family that we were scheduled to meet with never showed. I never heard from them again. From what I understand, this was a domestic violence situation and I am really, really hoping that those children had a good holiday. I’ve been wondering for days what the heck happened.

We were, however, able to meet with the second family. I was particularly excited about this one since the family lives in my [small] hometown! When we arrived I discovered that it was actually someone that I had graduated with. Clearly it has been a much different road for them than I have traveled since I graduated high school. It saddened me a bit at first, but then made me realize how fortunate I really am. And the important thing is that their daughter had a great Christmas! I received an email and a thank you on Christmas saying how much she enjoyed everything. Thanks to Olivia for making Christmas bright for another child!

kindness: act 5

Since our first family didn’t show up, I now had a pile of gifts and donations for children that weren’t going to be given. I was determined to find a home for these wonderful gifts, in honor of Josephine Gay (12/11/05). I hit the Internet with just hours before Christmas Eve. I decided to check the community board on Craigslist as one of my last efforts. I discovered a plea for help, not for herself, but for a neighbor that has had a streak of horrible luck and was unable to provide Christmas gifts for his 3 young children. I sent an email with fingers crossed and within an hour had heard back! I explained to her what we had and she was ecstatic! She was able to drive an hour on the morning of Christmas Eve to pick everything up. We were all so happy! We gave her a big warm hug and thanked her, explaining our 26 acts and that this one was for Josephine. I’ve never seen a more sincere smile. That was a truly great moment. A bunch of people pulling together for the good of others. Thank you for inspiring us to give it one last effort, Josephine!

kindness: act 6

In honor of Ana M. Marquez-Greene (04/04/06), we decided to leave Christmas cookies for our neighbors. We live pretty close together and have very different lifestyles (us: toddler that needs sleep, them: couple of rowdy teenagers with loud friends). We get along alright, but have had our disagreements. Since we made more cookies than we can should eat, we decided to surprise them with some, with a note about little Ana. Hope they enjoy them as much as I am!

kindness: act 7

This was our original act of kindness idea and we were super excited to carry it out, in memory of Dylan Hockley (03/08/06). We baked dozens and dozens of cookies on Christmas Eve and couldn’t wait to share. We made a nice big plate and brought them to our local volunteer fire department with a card expressing our gratitude. The fire fighters happened to be out on a call when we stopped so we left them by the door for them to find when they returned. Thank you, Dylan, for the inspiration to commit a generous act for such generous, selfless people.

To be continued…

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26 acts of kindness: 3

Kindness: act 3

Today we are honoring one of the wonderful teachers lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy, Rachel D’Avino (7/17/83). Schy and I baked some delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to share. Today we wrapped some up with ribbons and left them for our mail carrier, in our mailbox with the flag up. We are hoping that she will be pleasantly surprised and enjoy them while she finishes up her route. We also included a Christmas card, thanking her for her hard work and to let her know that the gesture was in honor of Rachel, one of the Sandy Hook victims. Thank you for today’s inspiration, Rachel.

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26 acts of kindness: 1 & 2

The Big Green Parenting Experiment observed a blogging day of silence yesterday, December 18, in honor of the Sandy Hook victims. I did, however, stay true to our 26 acts of kindness and will share those with you today.

Kindness: act 1

Yesterday, in honor of Charlotte Bacon (2/22/06), I did a little research and reached out to two local families in need of assistance with Christmas gifts for their children. There are many families out there that could use a hand in making Christmas special for their little ones, so my family and I are doing what we can to help. A little goes long way this time of year. I am very excited to have received some great donations from friends! I will be sure to let these families know when I deliver the gifts this weekend, that they are in honor of little Charlotte. Thanks to her inspiration, three needy children will have a merry Christmas this year.

Kindness: act 2

Today, in Daniel Barden’s (9/25/05) honor, Schy and I went on a mission to find a Salvation Army volunteer. They selflessly stand outside, ringing their bells in the cold December air for the good of others. We thought it would be nice to bring one a nice hot cup of coffee in honor of Daniel. Because of Daniel, that bell ringer is a little bit warmer and is reminded of the good in humanity. He was speechless, by the way.

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Kindness feels awesome!

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26 acts of kindness for Newtown

I know that many of us, especially parents, have really been struggling with Friday’s tragic event. I myself have been on an emotional roller coaster, just trying to take in and process all of the details of the horrific event. Add to that the ongoing battle over “the solution” to preventing similar occurrences in future. Gun control. Mental health care. Armed teachers. It’s enough to make your head spin.

While I do agree that we should let the tears dry, I also believe that there is no better time to discuss these issues. This can’t happen again. It just can’t. And we owe it to those innocent, beautiful children, brave teachers and their families to see that it doesn’t.

I’ll admit, I lost a bit of faith in humanity on Friday. I cried and asked why and held my baby tight. I questioned whether there was any good left in this world and how I could ever protect my child from the demons that continue to commit these unthinkable acts of hatred. I was nervous going to Target and thought about where I could hide to keep her safe if a crazed gunman were to storm the store. Paranoid? Maybe. Ridiculous? I think not. Not now. These things are real and a part of life now. I know that I’m not the only one thinking about them.

So how do we conquer this way of thinking? How do we begin the healing process? How do we move on and still grieve and honor the lives of those lost? Until today my answer was ‘I just don’t know.’

There is an amazing movement taking place now, inspired by a tweet by Ann Curry. “Imagine if everyone went out and committed 20 acts of kindness for every child lost in Newtown.” 20 quickly became 26 to include the heroic teachers that were lost as well. This is such a fantastic challenge. It is a beautiful way to honor each individual lost on that day and to also restore some faith in humanity.

Are you up for the challenge? Can you wake up each day for the next 26 days, hold one of the Sandy Hook victims in your heart and perform an act of kindness in their honor? What a beautiful thing to share with your friends on facebook, twitter, blogging or even just to keep for yourself. Help spread the kindness for these angels. I will be sharing my acts of kindness with you and I hope you’ll join in the movement. If you choose to share yours, be sure to use the hash tag #26acts.

I am totally up for any challenge that helps to make the world a better place. Let these precious lives inspire you to be better, kinder and more gracious.
What do you say?

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top 10 parenting lessons of 2012

I began 2012 with a tiny, helpless 4 month old who has since become a brilliant, silly and passionate individual. I have learned more from her in the past 12 months than I ever could have dreamed. I wanted to share the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned as a parent, the ones that have helped us grow both individually and as a team. These aren’t the only lessons I’ve learned, just what I feel are the ten most important.

Here goes:

1. When she thoughtfully shares a soggy Cheerio from her mouth, you open up, eat it and smile. End of story. Oh, and say thank you.

2. Toddlers understand. Everything. Choose your words wisely.

3. Flexibility is a necessity. If something isn’t working, be flexible. Try something else until you figure out what works for you & yours.

4. Every child is vastly different. Mine is “passionate” and that does NOT make her bad.

5. Respect for your little one goes a loooong way. If you’re going to invade her space (ie- wipe her face, snatch her up), just let her know. You’ll be amazed how well it is received.

6. Be available to help without taking control. She learns so much more when allowed to accomplish things herself. It may be difficult to stand by and watch her struggle at times, but the reward is worth it, for both of you.

7. Put down your devices. Trust me, she would rather all of your attention for some of the time than some of your attention all of the time. This can be difficult, but also extremely rewarding. The difference in behavior is astounding.

8. Hug, hug, hug. Sometimes you’ll get pushed away, but hug anyway. Let her know how much you love her and that it’s ok to show it. Any time, any place.

9. Let her have her feelings. Feelings are meant to be felt, not bottled up. Let her feel, experience and work through her emotions in her own way. It’s healthier for everyone.

10. Have patience. These precious days are few and gone all too quickly. Take a deep breath. Enjoy and appreciate each moment. Someday you’ll long to have it back.

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A river for you, Newtown.

Today I cried. I cried a river. With every reporter that I witnessed choking back tears, the river grew deeper. The moment when it was revealed to Lester Holt that the gunman attacked a kindergarten classroom and he uttered ‘kindergarten’ with tears in his eyes and a shudder in his voice will forever be burned into my memory. I don’t really watch television, but at the first buzz of the horrifying words ‘school shooting’, I had to turn it on. I shared the thought that so many others expressed: ‘oh please no. Not again.’

This is the most horrific thing that I have ever witnessed in my life. 9/11 was awful. This feels worse. Perhaps it’s because as I sit, staring at the television with tears rolling down my face and a hand covering my mouth which just will not close, I am also looking at the image on a small monitor. The image of my own little angel, sleeping soundly. This beautiful image usually makes me feel at peace. It makes me smile. Today it makes me cry harder. It makes me question my ability to keep her safe in a world filled with hate, violence and tragedy. It forces me to wonder if I can ever prepare her, or myself, for the unimaginable. And if I will be there in her greatest times of need.

I am so sick today. Sick with sadness, grief and anger. Sick of humans taking lives, innocent lives that could have changed our world for the better. Sick of excuses. Sick of waiting for the next tragedy and wondering which one will be the last straw. What the hell are we waiting for?

What has happened to America? The world? Why am I dreading the day that I send my child to school, the mall or the movie theatre? Why do I suddenly feel guilty for bringing new life into this world? For fear that some mental defective will mow her down without batting an eye if she happens to be in his path of destruction? Is this really the world that we live in? I feel so sick.

I am sorry, Newtown. Like, really, truly, whole-heartledly sorry. I am sorry for your pain. I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for what your children have witnessed, for innocence lost. I am sorry that your school, your town, your lives will never, ever be the same. I am sorry for the gifts that will go unopened. And for the sorrow that this date will forever bring. I am so, so sorry.

Please know that we are grieving for you, with you, Newtown. Your children are our children. Your hearts are our hearts. Your pain is our pain. And while things may never, ever be the same, may your souls feel the love and find strength in this river. A river we are all crying for you.

Rest in peace, sweet angels. Rest in peace.

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one day on earth project: 12/12/12

This is so amazing that I just had to share! I am really not sure how I didn’t know about this before.

Tomorrow is 12/12/12. The last repetitive date that we will see. Ever. (Alright, until 1/1/3001, anyway.) And there is this project called One Day on Earth which, on 12/12/12, will rely upon filmmakers everywhere to document just that.

Excerpt from One Day on Earth: “On December 12th, 12.12.12, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the third annual global day of media creation called One Day on Earth. Together, we will create a shared archive and a film.”

This film will document the ordinary and extraordinary and showcase what people of the earth, living in vastly different worlds can create, together. What an amazing project. There is still time to sign up and bring a piece of your community to this project! I hope that some of you will consider it. This is truly inspiring and I can not wait to see the finished project!!

To learn more and/or participate, sign up here.

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