Welcome! We meet the first Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at 14 Carrot Whole Foods, 5300 Sunset Boulevard, Lexington, South Carolina, 29072. Please join us for a meeting, learn more about our playgroup and explore other ways to get involved. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar: Questions to Ask your Doctor

How To Choose A Doctor (from Babble.com)

• Ask friends and family
• Check their background
• Think about your parenting philosophies
• Think about your personality
• Do an interview

Questions to ask (from Babble.com)

• How do you feel about vaccines?
• Is this a solo or group practice?
• Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
• What are your breastfeeding recommendations?
• What insurance do you take?
• What are your opinions on parenting hot topics?
• What hospitals do you have privileges at?
• What kind of schedule do you have for well baby visits?
• Do you return parent phone calls the same day?
• What is your protocol for emergency calls after hours?
• Are you a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics?
• How long have you been practicing?

Regarding Vaccinations (from HMN Forum)

What is your philosophy on Vaccinations?

Are you supportive of a parent's choice not to vaccinate?

Will you support an alternate schedule and/or separating the shots?

Have you had patients that experienced vaccine reactions?

What were the common reactions?

What serious reactions have you seen?

Have you or any Dr. in this practice ever filed a vaccine adverse event report to VAERS?

Have you personally done independent research on the safety and efficacy of vaccines?

If we choose not to vaccinate, will you refuse to see our child as a patient?

Would the practice provide a medical exemption for those vaccines we do not wish to have administered if my child tests immune without vaccination?

Why are "boosters" required, when this increases risk of adverse reactions such as allergic response to the toxins in the serum?

Antibodies are passed in mother's milk, so if I have been vaccinated won't my child be protected?

May we have the packaging information for all the recommended vaccines?

Could we have a written list of the brand, strain and dosages of any and all vaccinations administered?

Would you confirm in writing that a vaccine given to my child is both entirely safe and absolutely essential… that you have personally investigated the risk-benefit ratio of the vaccine and that, having looked at all the evidence, they believe that the vaccine is safe and essential for my child in particular?

If we choose to vaccinate can you please answer the questions for each vaccine strain given:

a. What is the vaccine intended to protect

b. What are the ingredients

c. How many children get the disease each year and how much result in death or permanent damage?

d. Just because you are given the antibody does that guarantee you are protected?

e. How many children have adverse reactions to the vaccine?

f. Which patients should not be given the vaccine?

The package inserts state that vaccines haven't been tested for their ability to impair fertility...that concerns me especially for MMR and Varivax since both these vaccines contain protein and DNA from human fetal cells used in manufacturing.

Could an immune response develop to fetal specific proteins so that the maternal immune system could do harm to a fetus developing in utero?

With the claim that vaccines are safe and effective, how would you explain children that get the disease even if they were vaccinated? And secondly, how would also you explain all of the children that have suffered vaccine injuries?

Bonus Question: What % of revenue comes from vaccinations in this practice?

Friday, May 6, 2011

MEETING : Clean and Green

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This month we talked about how to be clean and green! We shared cleaning "recipes," made our own cleaners to take home and even received samples to try. For the meeting notes, including the "recipes," please click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wild Edibles

Poison Ivy
American Indians would eat the small leaves to get immune to it


Sweet Gum Tree
first chewing gum!

Arrow head/Duck Potato
a root crop, like potatoes, edible raw, but better cooked

Poke Weed
make salat (cooked greens), use purple berries for dye, when bigger the plant is more toxic (you can see the pink color rising up the stem), best cooked and best eaten when small about 8" high

Mulberry Tree


tips like asparagus


Possibly White or Black Snakeroot
a medicinal plant

Wood Nettles
stinging hairs make it difficult to pick, this is deactivated by cooking, mostly found in shade in the US (vs. stinging nettles in South Asia grow in sunny areas)

Wood Nettles

note - most RED berries are poisonous

River Cane
slow growing, slightly edible tips and shoots

Russian Olive
nitrogen fixer (pulls nitrogen into the soil), orange brick red fruit, sweet

highly productive, cough syrup, wine, purple berries in May/June

Curled Dock
liver tonic, great for blood pressure, young leaves are edible raw or cooked, larger leaves are fibrous

Pearl Dock

Chick weed

this is delicious!

Water Hemlock
a toxic plant that resembles carrot
Wood sorrel
not a clover

Wood sorrel
Muscadine Grape
Paw Paw
wonderful fruit like avocado and banana


Matthew Kip, Community Gardens, University of South Carolina

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


With Christopher Leventis Cox, former Wall Street Fund Manager

1960s concept of social investing started in churches

  • didn’t want to invest in sinful activities

1980s shifted to individual level

  • Today $2 Trillion invested based on social responsible investing
  • people spend more time choosing their clothes and washing machines than choosing how to invest their money
  • socially responsible investing does not get you wealthy quickly

There is NO defined guideline but a PERSONAL CHOICE. 2 screens fit criteria of socially responsible investing:

  • negative screening
    • issues against belief system:
      • tobacco
      • oil
      • animal testing
      • GMOs
  • positive screening
    • things that make sense: some companies are innovators and try to make positive changes, while others are making the current situation better
      • organic foods
      • companies that help stop people smoking
      • eco-friendly products
      • water solutions
      • solar power

Where to look for information on companies?

What to look for?  Company’s

  • Quarterly (10Q) and annual reports (10K)
  • Practices
  • Policies
  • Products

What if I don’t understand something?

  • Call the company’s investor relations 1.800# and they will answer your questions.

3 ways to invest:

  1. personal investment
    • use a spreadsheet
    • need to be calm and objective
    • need to keep goal in mind because it is challenging as Socially Responsible Investing does not make money like mainstream investing does
    • you have direct control
    • open on-line accounts:
    • Probably need at least $2,000 as a base to make an investment worthwhile

  1. mutual fund
    • someone else manages your funds
    • negative:
      • depending on how your money is managed, the yearly fees range 1-30% of your $
      • pay attention to their strategy because it can change all the time
      • pay attention to the management team:
        • socially responsible investing is not a popular place for a fund manager
        • best if they had been there 3-5 years and show returns on investments
        • need 3-5 year track record

  1. index
    • buy and hold stocks that fit criteria of social responsible investment
    • it is not managed daily
    • fees are lower
    • S&P, Dow, NASDQ à 80% of managers cannot beat an index
    • Look at 3-5 year record of grid index, solar energy, clean energy
    • Gold only beats inflation ½ the time
    • Look at average trading volume
    • No enter and exit fees

Socially Responsible Investing Forums/Funds

RULE #72: Diving the percentage of your return by 72 to get an idea of how long it will take to double.  E.g. 10% will double in 7.2 years.

Friday, February 4, 2011

MEETING : Green Budgeting

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This meeting was all about how to live holistically... on a budget! One of our co-leaders was unable to attend, but shared this information through the other leaders at the meeting.
My name is Toni. I’m a 36-year-old stay-at-home mom to 20-month-old Jackson. I am also one of your co-leaders, as well as our playgroup coordinator. I’m sorry I was unable to join you all in person this morning. I did however, have quite a bit of information I wanted to share, so I’m sending it with our other co-leaders. If you have any questions about anything I’ve shared, please feel free to message me through the Yahoo group or the chapter e-mail address.

The first thing I want to be clear about is where I’m coming from. You may be thinking I have no idea what your budget is like. No, I don’t. But I do know what my budget is like. My husband, son and I have a monthly budget of about $1,000, which pays all of our living expenses, bills, groceries and entertainment. There is no money in savings, and I don’t have health insurance. It scares me to death most days, but I always have faith the universe will provide. Yes, our lives would be much better if I simply went back to work. However, as a family, we decided on our family mission and priorities. Among them is the decision to keep our son at home with us and to try to live holistically. That means tough decisions have to be made – all the time.

I’m telling you this because when people learn I’m “crunchy,” one of the first questions I often get involves the cost. “Isn’t it expensive?” Yes and no. In my experience, living holistically can often be a bit more expensive, but in the long run it actually saves money. And, more importantly, it also saves our environment for our children. There are so many examples of this.

One of the best examples I can offer are cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. I’ve seen several different numbers, but, on average, the number is somewhere around $2,000 for disposables for the duration of your child’s time in diapers. On the other hand, you can spend around $200 to $300 setting up a cloth diapering system. $1,700 is a HUGE savings, and it also points out a huge problem.

Our culture is disposable. For the sake of convenience, we are creating insane amounts of garbage. Sadly, so much of what we deem disposable could be reusable if different materials were used – ditching plastic straws for glass ones, buying a reusable air filter for your home, shopping bags, cloth napkins, cloth kitchen towels, cloth wipes, glass containers and so much more. Unfortunately, if you don’t have much money, accumulating these things takes time.

When I find something I’d like to replace, I simply start setting aside a little bit of money for it each month. For example, right now I’m taking $5/month from our monthly grocery budget to save for a $50 reusable air filter. Yes, it would be nice to just go ahead and buy it, but buying it now means sacrificing $50 from our budget instead of $5.

One of the largest chunks of our budget is for food. Processed foods are not an option in our home, and I am terrified of GMOs. Buying organic foods, however, is more expensive than your standard grocery store fare. There are ways to help. Joining a CSA saves us a great deal of money on vegetables each year. Buying meat in bulk also helps. I’ve learned to buy fruits and vegetables in season and in bulk for canning, preserving and freezing. I grow vegetables in a spot in our yard and herbs in pots on my porch. I’m going to start raising chickens this spring. I shop sales. And, when I can find good ones, I clip coupons. I never fail to take advantage of whatever savings card a store may offer. For example, 14 Carrot has the Carrot Club, which, when you spend $200, you get a savings certificate for $10.

Of course there are a million other ways to save money and live holistically. Some cost more money up front such as swapping all of your standard light bulbs for CFLs to save money on your electric bill or installing low-flow toilets to save money on your water bill. Others cost less from the beginning such as using baking soda and vinegar instead of expensive green cleaners or going no-poo instead of buying so-called natural shampoos.

If living holistically is a priority for your family, you should also consider looking at exactly where your money is going and how it aligns with your family’s mission. Most people are horrified when they learn we don’t have cable or satellite, but watching television doesn’t align with my family’s mission to fully live our lives so why would we spend $100 each month on that when we could spend it on supplies for our garden, a food dehydrator or something else supportive of our decisions? We keep ourselves on track by saving all of our receipts each month, and then having a family meeting about how we did and what our plans are for the month ahead. If I know I want to join our CSA for the spring, summer and fall, that means I have to be sure I am setting money aside for it. If I spent $600 in one month on food, we’d only have about $400 left for everything else for the entire month.

As my final point, I want to encourage you to think outside the box. You’ve all heard of the three R’s, right? Reduce, reuse, recycle? This is one of the biggest keys to saving money and living holistically.

Reduce what you buy. Ask yourself if it’s something you really need. Limit how many presents you buy for holidays and birthdays. As an example, we have a rule for my son. Whatever the occasion, we give him something to read, something he needs, something to play with and, later, we will add on something he wants. Another case? I don’t use very many cosmetics, limiting myself to a natural stain I use for cheeks and lips and mascara. I use a blend of castor and olive oils to clean my face, a homemade bar soap for bathing and baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean my hair.

Also reuse. Before you toss something into the recycling bin or garbage, ask yourself if it’s something you can reuse – even in a different way. Last year I was going to throw away an old metal shelf from our bathroom. I put it on the porch, and, with a little thought and help from my husband, I was able to turn it into a really cute, functional shelf for my herbs. I also never, ever toss glass jars. I use them to store grains and beans in the kitchen, sort random things in the bathroom and more. Hate the ugly lids? Buy some mason jar lids or give them a coat of paint. Before giving away old clothes, think about whether you could repurpose the fabric into some napkins. You will be surprised how many things you can reuse if you just stop to think.

And, finally, recycle. I don’t mean just glass, plastic, paper. Can you give the item to someone? For example, art teachers are often in need of glass and plastic containers. Is there another mom that could still get use out of your cloth diapers? Giving is an important part of living holistically, and it helps someone save on their budget, too.

I feel like I’ve gone on too long, but I really want you to be empowered to save money and live the most holistic life you can. You really can do it. Remember that even small steps and small changes add up to a big difference for your family and the environment.

Here are some of the Web sites I use to help me save money:
  • SavingNaturally.com offers coupons, deals on bulk purchases and more.
  • OrganicDeals.com is similar to SavingNaturally.com, but sometimes has offers the other misses.
  • MamboSprouts.com is a great place to search for coupons for organic products.
  • NaturalFoodList.com is another site similar to MamboSprouts.com offering a range of deals and offers.
  • SteadyHomeDeals.com is temporarily down, but has offered some great deals. The mom who runs it has several other sites, and hopes to have it back up sometime soon.
  • Amazon.com has an Amazon Mom’s program that will give you a number of months of free two-day shipping. You can also take advantage of their “subscribe and save” program to save even more money on a number of items. And their prices (especially with the free shipping) are often cheaper than what I can find in the stores.
  • LearnVest.com is a great site for teaching you about money, budgeting and more.
  • Also, don’t forget to Google the company of a particular brand you love. Sometimes there are special offers, rebates, coupons and discounts to be found on the brand’s site or through their e-newsletter.
Suggestions from other members included:
  • Borrow from the library
  • Borrow from friends
  • Shop consignment stores such as Once Upon a Child on Harbison, Good As New on Highway 378, Madison's, Belles and Beaus and Tot Trade
  • Buy food at local farmer's markets
  • Paperbackswap.com for book swapping, you just pay for mail
  • Craigslist.com
  • Freecycle.com
  • eBay.com
  • Etsy.com
  • Diaperswappers.com
  • K.D.'s Treehouse sales

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MEETING : How Does Your Garden Grow?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

 Eric McClam from City Roots stopped by to tell us about their "in-town sustainable farm." Their mission is to "produce clean, healthy, sustainably grown products while enhancing and educating our community about the benefits of locally grown food, composting, vermicomposting and other environmentally friendly farming practices."

Eric shared many of the things they are doing at City Roots, some of which can be applied to our own gardens, including:
City Roots is located on a three acre site tucked between a small airport, soccer fields and a residential community. They grow a variety of vegetables for local farmer's markets, restaurant sales and for their market on site. Their retail building on the farm is designed to suite the SC climate, minimize site and environmental impact and is seeking LEED certification.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system,  providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Read more about LEED here.

In the City Roots' green house they raise tilapia in a 3,000 gallon tank and produce nearly 500 varieties of micro-greens and sprouts. The tilapia are raised in a tank which has an adjacent biological filter that consists of two race ways with watercress to serve as both filtration and as a marketable item. They also grow citrus and use the green house for propagation for their field production as well.

City Roots grows around 30 varieties of vegetables and fruit. They have several bee hive for both pollination purposes and for honey. They have a variety of chickens that they free range and move in their chicken tractor. They have a large-scale composting operation which aides the fertility of their soil and is also used for growing several speciality mushrooms. Even their street trees that are required by the city's zoning produce fruit.

One of the key factors in starting their farm is an educational component and a community outreach program. City Roots provides farm tours for local schools, universities and the public, and hosts festivals and workshops. Those interested in volunteering or learning sustainable gardening practices should contact City Roots for more information.

One of the inspirations behind City Roots is Growing Power, a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner. You can also read more at the Growing Power blog.

For those interested, City Roots is also starting a CSA. More information can be found here.

Visit their Web site at http://www.CityRoots.org. City Roots is located at 1005 Airport Boulevard, Columbia, South Carolina, 29205. The hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Contact them at cityroots@cityroots.org or 803.254.2302.

Their produce can also be found at Rosewood Market, The All Local Market, Healthy Carolina Farmers Market and several local restaurants.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

Nikki DeSalvo, former leader of the Holistic Moms Network Midlands Chapter and founder of The Pregnant Point: Sacred Arts for Whole Families, spoke to us about VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and her practice.

Here are the topics discussed:

SC State Law for Midwifery: 

THERE IS NO LAW but CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) are regulated through DHEC mandates.

The HEALING process from a Cesarean Experience in important:

1. heal the body
2. heal the psyche
3. heal the energy
4. heal and consider relationships
  • familial
  • care provider
  • midwife - your philosophy must match
  • ask yourself: do I want to be in control or do I believe my midwife knows more than I do?

For a successful VBAC, it is best to be in it for the journey and the outcome will take care of itself. 

1. Ask:

- what modalities work for you
- what do you respond best to: nutrition, energy work, herbs, etc...
- WHY do you want a VBAC?  What is your commitment level?

in order to bring yourself to your center.

2. Trust that Mama Knows Best:

- research, policies and politics mean nothing when compared to a woman's deep knowing about herself and her body
- Mama and baby are ONE, not separate
- important to be empowered and do what is right for the individual


Cesarean Voices - A web site by, for, and about cesarean born people

Childbirth Connection - a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of maternity care... promote safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care for all women and families.

ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network is a non-profit advocacy and support group whose mission is to improve maternal and child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, provide support for cesarean recovery, and promote vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).  The Clarion is their quarterly ICAN Newsletter.

NOTE - ICAN Midlands Chapter is not operational at present.  Anyone willing to lead it?

Lamaze International - a nonprofit organization that promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman’s body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MEETING : Local Eating, Pantry Planning and More

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Laura brought along some homemade mozzarella cheese to share. It was delicious, but she discovered a typo in her cheese making kit. You only need 1 teaspoon of salt, not 1 tablespoon!

On our agenda for the day was to discuss Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a wonderful book about eating locally not just organically. From here, our discussion jumped around all over the place as we talked about the disconnect from where our food comes from and more. This was clearly a topic of great interest and discussion. Below are some of the resources and ideas we discussed.

Homemade Vanilla

Did you know imitation vanilla is actually a paper byproduct?! Yuck! Often, however, true vanilla extract is pricey. The middle ground? Make your own!

3 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka
glass jar with tight fitting lid

Cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving about an inch at the end connected. Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka. Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake and replace your beans once a year or so.

A great place to find decorative jars? BET-MAR Liquid Hobby Shop, 736-F Saint Andrews Road, Columbia, South Carolina, 29210.

Food, Inc.

We all seemed to agree that both the movie Food Inc. and the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle are life changing. Here's a snippet about the movie from the Web site if you haven't seen it yet:
"In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults."

Chickens seem to be a hot topic these days, especially since Columbia now allows backyard chickens! A terrific book for those getting started is Ashley English's Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock. If you're looking for your own brood, be sure to check out CraigsList.org for potentially free chickens!

Canning & Preserving

Canning and preserving is certainly a great way to eat locally year round, and it helps the household budget, too. For those looking to learn more, there are two books members discussed as the best of the best -- Ashley English's Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More and Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

Also, we will be looking into a potential canning class/session with Heritage Fields Farm in Irmo, South Carolina and maybe even a canning swap!

Make Your Own

A recurring theme during our meeting was making and doing for yourself and your family rather than relying solely on convenience. We quickly realized our members have a host of skills -- canning, preserving, cheese making, tortilla making, bread baking and more. We will be looking into hosting some special classes at members' homes in the coming months!

Where It's At

How do you go about finding locally grown and/or produced foods? Be sure to visit PalmettoVore.org and CertifiedSCGrown.com for resources, including a list of what's currently in season in South Carolina. There is also the Locavore Network, which may return some different search results.

The Greens

Drive down just about any country road in South Carolina this time of year and you'll spot plenty of greens growing -- they are definitely in season! We learned at a recent meeting about raw food, they really are quite tasty uncooked and have much more nutritional value. Here is a recipe for marinated collard greens and another for raw thai spring rolls with "peanut" sauce.


One question that arose (pardon the pun) was where to find local flour. On the CertifiedSCGrown.com site, there was only one local flour mill -- Allen Brothers Milling Co./Adluh Flour Mills, 804 Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201. However, it is not clear where their wheat comes from. Carrissa pointed out Anson Mills, 1922-C Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina, 29201. She said they're local, but nationally known and most of their products come from the south east. We also talked about grinding our own flour, but the cost of the mills is prohibitive.

The Farmer

With all this talk about food, we couldn't leave out the local farmers! Two places we all thought of (and may plan trips for with our play group) are City Roots and Caw Caw Creek. Toni also brought along brochures from her family's CSA, Big Moon Farm. We talked about CSAs, local farmers' markets and more. There is a lot of information on the South Carolina Department of Agriculture Web site, including lists of markets.

Grow Your Own

It wasn't surprising to learn a number of us are trying our hand at gardening, and are interested in heirloom seeds. Two potential places to find them are Seed Savers Exchange and Heavenly Seed, the latter of which is a South Carolina business. For heirloom seed-saving tips, click here. And for additional information on heirloom plants, click here.

There has also been talk about the HMN starting a community garden, and we hope to get this started soon!


Like vanilla extract, butter is extraordinarily easy to make. To get started, all you need is a food processor, a stand mixer or a plain old jar (great workout for the kids!), as well as some heavy cream and salt if you want to add it. Pour the cream into the processor, mixer or jar and get to work. When you think you're done, you're not. Keep at it until the buttermilk separates from the butter. You can pour it off and use it for something else. You're not quite done though because your butter will quickly turn if you don't "wash" it. To wash butter, simply add about 1/2 cup or so of ICE COLD water at a time to your processor, mixer or jar. Turn it on or shake it for a few, pour off the water. Keep doing this until your water runs clear. If you haven't been using a jar, now is the time to transfer it over to one. Shake it to remove any excess water and pour it off. Do this a few times. You can leave it in the jar, put it in a butter crock or wrap it in wax paper. It should keep just fine for about a week.

If you like flavored butters, it's very easy to toss your seasonings in at the beginning and make a great butter. One of Toni's favorite butter recipes is to add about 2 1/2 tablespoons of white or yellow miso paste, 1 tablespoon of finely minced fresh chives and 2 cloves of finely minced garlic to her homemade butter -- terrific served over grass-fed steaks!


We talked a little about how it sometimes feels weird to ask so many questions and question so many habits. However, we all agreed it is in the best interest of our families, community and world if we step up and do just that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Conscious Discipline

Too often discipline is about punishment or controlling your child.  Rather, conscious discipline should be emotional education -- a way of teaching your child to handle his feelings and reminding him how to behave.  The ultimate goal is to help your child gain self-control. It is making life predictable for your toddler. Your approach to discipline teaches conflict resolution and teaches your child how to get his needs met for the rest of his life.  

What you focus on, you get more of

The power of our attention can be a powerful foundation for change.  Too often, we impose upon our children everything we DON’T want them to do (“No hitting” “Stop whining” “Don’t bother me right now.”)  Instead, we should change our language to reflect what we DO want (“Please sit down” “Use a calm voice” “I will help you when I finish this”) This is a key concept.  Focus on what you DO want, and change your language to reflect this. 

Look at your own behavior to see what you’re teaching your child

The way we handle situations- set limits without anger, act instead of react, and deal calmly with stressful situations- is the way we show children how it looks to be in control of our emotions. Children are like sponges. Be careful.

Whenever possible, plan ahead; avoid difficult settings or circumstances

With very young children who can’t understand why something is off-limits, it’s best to steer clear of more challenging situations. Whenever possible avoid anything too loud, too frantic, too demanding, too cognitively advanced, too scary, or too physically taxing.

See the situation through your toddler’s eyes

Sometimes what appears to be aggression in a toddler is simple curiosity. Or your child may be overtired. Also, if you’ve been inconsistent about setting boundaries, you can’t expect your toddler to guess your standards.  Try to understand what is motivating your child instead of punishing.  Also, showing empathy helps your child to process disappointment and validates his feelings.

Pick your battles

It’s important to know when it’s absolutely necessary to enforce your boundaries and when it’s okay to relax them a bit. If it’s cleanup time and your child is overtired, help him put away the toys. Sometimes you need a quick solution- use your judgment and ingenuity, but don’t make excuses or go into long explanations

Offer closed-end choices

Toddlers are often more cooperative when offered a choice, because it gives them a sense of control.  Example: If your child is whining and you want him to calm down you can say, "Joe, you're whining and need to calm down so you can either go to your room or sit on that chair to calm yourself.  You pick."  This way he feels like he can make the choice, but either way he's going to do what you want.  Example 2: If your child is jumping on the couch you say, "Joe, you can either sit on the couch or jump on the floor.  You pick."  Offering choices helps you focus on behaviors that you DO want, and builds your child’s self esteem by allow them to have some responsibility.

Don’t be afraid to say “no”

There are some times when you’ll have to deny your child’s requests. We set children up for a rude awakening if we never teach them to accept “no” for an answer.  If you allow your child to ignore your limits, you teach them to infringe on others.  Being assertive lets you set boundaries and teaches the value of respect.  Remember to empathize: “I know you’re disappointed” or “It looks like you’re really angry about that” to let him know it’s normal to be unhappy sometimes.

Praise good behavior and correct or ignore bad

Sometimes we are so busy disciplining and saying “no” we forget to notice when our child does something right. It’s even more important to notice good behavior than to reprimand bad. Praise your child often. Whenever he whines, either ignore him or correct the behavior by saying “I can’t answer you unless you talk in your best voice.” Model what a best voice sounds like: “Say it like this: ‘Help me, Mommy.’” Be aware of what you “reward” with your attention.

Don’t rely on corporal punishment

Physical punishment is a short-term solution that teaches nothing positive. Instead, it teaches children that we hit when we are frustrated; we hit when we don’t know what else to do; we hit when we lose control. If you do hit your child by accident from fear or knee-jerk reaction or end up losing control you should apologize “I’m sorry. It was wrong for Mommy to hit you.” Every parent makes mistakes.
With these ingredients, you can create an atmosphere of loving guidance in which you teach your child to meet his needs in an acceptable way without dominating or demeaning him.  “Teaching is about giving, while control is about getting.”  As parents, we have the responsibility to guide and teach our children to be more likely to choose appropriate behaviors. Conscious Discipline allows us to raise our children to be both free and responsible.

Excerpts and ideas for Conscious Discipline come from Dr. Becky Bailey’s “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.” An excellent read! Thank you to Mary Koon for these notes!

MEETING : Discipline Through Attachment Parenting

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We started by reviewing The Declaration of Children's Rights to remind us how to honor and respect our children, and we looked into the article The Decline of Children and the Moral Sense to remind us why attachment parenting is very important to the well being of our children, as well as our society.

A couple of suggestions were:
  1. Stop and take a deep breath (work on dealing with our own anger)!
  2. Preventative parenting through routines (before it gets to a level that some type of discipline is needed).
  3. Parenting by the golden rule (One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself).
An interview with Dr. Jane Nelsen from a blog called Naturemoms. Dr. Nelsen has written several books including Positive Discipline, Positive Discipline for Preschoolers and Positive Discipline: A to Z, and has a wonderful Web site www.PositiveDiscipline.com. Dr. Nelsen said there are five concepts behind positive discipline including:
  1. Be kind and firm at the same time, or respectful.
  2. Let children know they belong and are significant.
  3. Tool is designed for long-term, not just short term.
  4. Teach social and life skills for good character, learning solutions.
  5. Teaching them they are capable and use their own power in useful ways.
Dr. Nelsen talked about being an "asking parent" instead of a "telling (controlling) parent." She said to ask for help with solutions through things like a family meeting. She also talked about the harm of punitive parenting, especially for younger children because they cannot understand cause and effect. Dr. Nelsen said many parents say that "My child(ren) doesn't listen" and her response is "You are talking too much!"

Some other helpful hints that were given during the meeting (can't remember if they were all from the interview or not):
  1. Connection with your child before correction
  2. Respond to your child with "I love you and we can talk...."
  3. Do not respond to their behavior with the same behavior. For example, if they back talk to you, do not back talk to your child (thus making them think it is an okay thing).
  4. Have something like a "self-soothe area" a feel good place a child can go to when they need time to calm down, reflect, be removed from a situation, to redirect and diffuse.
  5. Have a routine chart that makes them feel capable and empowered.
 Other book recommendations including: 
  • Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky A. Bailey 
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn 
  • Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn (one of my personal faves) 
  • Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and Max Lucado 
  • Parenting With Love And Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay 
  • The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears by Elizabeth Pantley
 Other summary recommendations from a member's blog: