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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

Father's Day 2015

Father’s Day 2015

Today we spent Father’s Day at the beach while visiting my parents in Florida. It was a great day and my husband did what he does best: he did the things the kids love to do that I just can’t because I’m too nervous. He takes them out into the water and jumps and floats and and lets the waves lift him and the kids off their feet for a second or two, or body surfs with them onto the sand. I, on the other hand, can barely watch because I can’t stop worrying that they’ll be sucked out to sea by a rip tide or rogue current. I am glad the kids have their dad to do those things with because he keeps them safe and they are definitely thrill seekers like he is. Their screams of glee and laughter tell me they are more excited than scared. While Burton, Kate and Cooper got their adrenaline rush, I walked on the beach with Lauren, our oldest and hunted for shells and interesting sea creatures.

My husband is also the one who has been teaching the girls to ski and he’ll be taking Cooper this year too. This is another task he’s taken on because to him, it isn’t a work at all. To him, it’s the best part of being a father and he’s been looking forward to teaching our kids to ski since they were born. For me, teaching the kids to ski would be a chore. It’s not that I don’t want them to ski but because I still have so many things to catch up on on the weekends that I’d prefer a few less kids in the house on a wintery Sunday than fifteen trips down a bunny slope at a ski mountain an hour away.

He has also taught the girls how to play chess, how to shoot a bow and arrow (with a beginner’s archery set) how to fish, how to do backflips on the trampoline and how to climb our rope swing in the backyard. I’ve been known to joke that husbands are more like having one more child to take care of but there is some truth there. Many dads seem to be great at re-living their childhoods when they have children and letting go and just having fun. It’s something I need to work on myself instead of constantly worrying about that load of laundry that needs to go in the dryer or what I’m going to scrape up for the next meal.

Now that our children are past the infant and toddler stages that often significantly limit the social lives and leisure time activities previously enjoyed by both new moms and new dads, my husband is able to really enjoy doing things with our children and it’s brought out the best in him.

He’s not the most patient person in the world, he can’t stand the whining (who can?) or the kids climbing the walls bored at home while we try to get household chores finished. But those are my strengths. I don’t always enjoy being the multi-tasking boo-boo kisser and fight mediator…but I am good at it. I’m patient, I’m forgiving, I’m firm but kind and I frequently use humor to ease tension. If one of the kids is in a funk or feeling emotionally fragile, they come to me. But for an adrenaline rush, for exercise, for tickle fights and anything outdoorsy and active, Daddy is the man. We don’t always agree but our parenting styles and strengths compliment each other and I think our kids are turning out ok.

What does Daddy do best in your family? Do you have different parenting styles?

It wasn’t until the 1960s when a typical middle class household had a television, but today, nearly all of us do—and not only that, but access to information and images of all sorts, all the time on our laptops and smart phones. One very useful and under-used tool that both the World Wide Web and Television can provide for modern-day children, other than keeping them entertained and quiet for a while, is the ability to look into the lives of others. What exactly do I mean by this? Read on.

“I am so hungry—I’m starving! No I do not want a banana or a sandwich or cheese and crackers or carrots and hummus….etc etc.”

To satiate this sort of starvation, I like to serve a hot, savory episode or two of “Survivorman.” “Do you see that man, there? He hasn’t eaten in three days and now he’s cooking up some juicy grubs that he found in a hollow log for dinner. He’s so hungry that even though those grubs aren’t the most delicious food in the world, he’s eating them because he’s really hungry and he needs to eat to stay alive. Oh, you think a banana sounds pretty good, after all? Good choice! I bet Survivorman wishes he had a banana right now too!” I am trying to teach Lauren, Kate and Cooper that food doesn’t have to be “their favorite” or the “one thing that they are in the mood for” if they are really hungry. Sometimes we need to eat for survival. You aren’t really starving if you have enough caloric energy to turn down half a dozen snack choices.

“I’ll clean my room later. It’s not even very dirty,” or “I’ll clean my room but I am emotionally attached to every scrap of paper I’ve ever scribbled on and every contraption I’ve ever made from paper-towel tubes, 8 feet of scotch tape, cotton balls and empty water bottles. That’s NOT trash. That’s a trap for bad guys!”

Time to Clean Your Room!

Time to Clean Your Room!

Time to watch Hoarders: Buried Alive. Yes, it is hard to throw things away sometimes and cleaning up isn’t always fun. But we do these things for a reason because if we don’t, we can actually be buried in our own possessions–just like that woman who can’t walk through her living room anymore on TV. I can relate to being emotionally attached to tangible possessions, books, my children’s artwork, old notes and souvenirs that I’ve saved since I was a child but I draw the line at holding on to actual trash. We don’t need to keep the ripped box Barbie came in—even though it is a pretty color pink and has pretty pictures on it. And the apple core under the bed? Yes, the way the mold is growing on it is really cool, isn’t it? It’s like a science project. In fact, it’s so much like a science project you can take it to school and show it to your class or you can throw it in the trash—where household science experiments involving old food belong.

“I hate brushing my teeth! Noooooo!”-followed by or while running away and/or kicking.  To combat the occasional  Toothbrushing Strike, I have Googled pictures of rotting teeth and shown them to the kids. I really have. Plaque, gingivitis, possible cavities and inevitable dental bills are something too abstract for a lot of kids to grasp and many remain convinced that toothbrushing is simply a cruel and pointless nightly ritual. Thank you Google for bringing Reality and Graphic Images into our home. A single close-up picture of rotting teeth truly does speak 1,000 words…while the 10,000 words spilling from a parent’s mouth often go unheard.

How do you use TV or the internet to convince your children to do things or to put things like “hunger” into perspective? Or maybe you don’t…but would you?

 

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Storms in Colorado

Storms in Colorado

Fourteen stuffed animals
One pair of clean underwear
A toothbrush (that was a surprise!)
A tin “Frozen” box with $1.83 inside
A water bottle
Three markers
A pad of paper shaped like a Halloween kitten
A box of kids’ energy bars stolen from the kitchen cupboard

Q: What do the above items and the picture of the ominous looking storm clouds have in common?

A: They are what a first-grader packs in an Emergency Preparedness Bag in case of a tornado.

Before last month, I never worried much about tornadoes. We do have them in Colorado occasionally but usually on the plains. We live fairly close to the Flatirons which are the beginnings of the Rocky Mountains. I had always thought the mountains somehow offered us protection from storms gaining enough energy to become tornadoes.  Apparently, that isn’t the case–see the article at the bottom of this blog called “Fact or Myth: Colorado’s Mountains Offer Protection from Tornadoes.” Rats.

The increasingly intense weather that much of the United States (not to mention the world) has been experiencing lately has made me more and more nervous Within two years both of my home states—Vermont and Colorado, experienced devastating 100 year floods where rushing water and steep terrain made perfect conditions for fast moving walls of river water and snow melt to destroy houses and roads, move boulders the size of small cars, rip trees up from the roots and generally wreak havoc upon anything in its path.

This past May and June we’ve had more flooding in Boulder. We had a month straight of rain, several damaging hail storms, lightening storms that lasted for hours and so much electricity in the air that the clouds flashed like strobe lights. We’ve also had dozens of tornado warnings—and at least nine tornadoes have touched down in Colorado. One of those was twenty miles from here in Longmont. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a tornado.

Now I realize I need to stock up on bottled drinking water, canned food, batteries and flashlights and we now have a  “tornado plan.” If a tornado or super storm comes our way, the whole family will head to a large storage closet with no windows that is under the stairs in the basement.

For those of you who have experienced extreme weather, and especially those of you with infants and toddlers, do you have a designated place to go in your house? And if so, what supplies do you keep there? Drinking water, extra cans of formula or baby food? Do you have extra disposable diapers in case you can’t wash your cloth ones for a week? What else do you have on hand for your little ones?

The first day of summer!

The first day of summer!

After a month straight of rain and grey skies (which is very rare for Boulder, Colorado) the first weekend of summer vacation finally feels like summer. It’s sunny and in the mid-80s. The kids are at the neighborhood pool with Daddy and right about now, I’m hoping he’s applying a second layer of sunblock to any exposed patches of skin.

I recently read a blog that listed the 11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids and I was dismayed to realize we actually have what they are calling “The Worst” in our cupboard right now.

Putting sunscreen on my kids is probably the only thing I don’t like about summer. They whine, protest, wiggle and run when tell them it’s time to put it on. Maybe that’s because they don’t understand the cause and effect of “Not wearing sunblock” and “Getting a painful sunburn.” They’ve never been sunburned, unlike their sun-spotted mother, and I aim to keep it that way.  But because they don’t really understand the importance of wearing sunscreen outside, they don’t feel as inclined to cooperate as they might otherwise. In fact, it might be easier to apply an even layer of lotion on a ticked-off, greased piglet who is trying to get away than to put it on my children. I don’t know how many times they’ve gotten sunblock in their eyes because they squirm when I am trying to cover their faces. Sunblock and eyes are not a good mix ever for anyone involved--the Sunblocker, the Sunblockee, and anyone else whose trip to the beach or the pool depends on everyone in the group being adequately slathered and preferably, not screaming in pain.

I’ve yet to find a sunblock that meets all of my requirements:

  • Non-toxic
  • Organic
  • Doesn’t cost a fortune
  • Goes on quickly and evenly

It also needs to meet my kids requirements:

  • Doesn’t make them white and pasty looking
  • Doesn’t sting eczema flare ups
  • Doesn’t run into the eyes

The best sunblock I have found, that meets all but a few our combined prerequisites for perfection, is Sierra Madre Sun Cream. It looks and smells so delicious, sweet and creamy with a light citrusy scent, that I almost want to spread it some toast and eat it. It doesn’t sting my children’s sensitive skin, it’s fairly waterproof, it all-natural and non-toxic. The kids do complain that it makes their skin white (that would be the zinc, which is a physical blocker and one of the best ingredients to look for in a sunblock), it is rather thick and pasty but it rubs in well but unfortunately, it costs a small fortune. We use it as often as we can but sometimes, we do resort to the chemical concoctions in a pinch. I’d rather risk possible long-term effects of the chemical exposure than the immediate effects of a nasty sunburn and the long-term risks of skin cancer and sun damage.

We’ve also avoid sunburns by:

  • Wearing SPF clothing
  • Wearing SPF swimshirts
  • Wearing wide brimmed hats
  • Staying inside during the hottest, sunniest parts of the day
  • Wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection

How do you keep your little ones from getting sunburned? What is your favorite sunscreen?

 

Click here for the EWG’s (The Environmental Working Group) list of 217 Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens.