Saturday, March 31, 2012

Born at Home Toys review and Giveaway

This is a joint giveaway from the Natural Parents Network and Embrita Blogging. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

Born at Home Toys is offering our readers a giveaway of their Happy on the Farm animal set, a value of $28 US.

The Happy on the Farm animal set is a cute six piece farm animal set: a cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, and chicken. They're the perfect size to fit in his little hands, and their simple shapes and minimal detailing make them easy to handle and identify.

From our reviewer, Emily at Embrita Blogging:

Born at Home Toys is a family owned toy workshop creating natural wooden toys for your little ones. We received one of their adorable Happy on the Farm Animal Sets, and my two year old LOVES them. They're the perfect size to fit in his little hands, and their simple shapes and minimal detailing make them easy to handle and identify.

I like them because they're 99% toys - 99% of the play comes from my son's imagination.

Right now, he's still learning which animals are which and which ones make which sounds, which these toys are great for. But in a few years, he'll be able to use them in any way he deems fit for whatever scenario he's acting out.

Because they're wooden, they'll hold up over time - a bit of polishing now and then and basic cleaning and they'll be good as new. (They're finished with beeswax, so if your little one is still exploring toys with their tongue, there are no harmful chemicals to be ingested.)

Born at Home toys is local to Northwest Arkansas, if you're in the area, and available at their Etsy shop if you're not. They offer a variety of little wooden toys: animals and cars, and have recently added the Gro Tower to their lineup.

These little animals would be equally at home in a discovery basket or a homeschooler's farm set - you won't be disappointed.



You can purchase your own Happy on the Farm animal set at Born at Home Toys. The set retails for $28 USD and shipping options are USPS or First Class and is calculated based on destination.

And just for Natural Parents Network and Embrita Blogging readers, Born at Home Toys is giving a 30% discount on all orders from now through 5/21/12. Enter code npnthirty during the ordering process.


For your own chance to win a Happy on the Farm animal set from Born at Home Toys, enter by leaving a comment and using our new Rafflecopter system below.

The winner will receive one Happy on the Farm set. Contest is open WORLDWIDE.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Born at Home Toys and tell us one thing you have learned about the company! You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on this blog post.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.


See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parenting Books That Aren't, But I Love Them Anyway. Pt 1

So I know that I have a book review blog, and some of these may be (are probably) reviewed over there, but I thought since I write about mommying over here, I would compile a list for easy reviewing. This is Part one because there are a few I haven't read, a few I'm sure I'm forgetting, and a few I remember but don't own. Part one is the ones I own.

Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller
(If you click on that link, it reviews both of Karen Maezen Miller's books, as well as She Looks Just Like You by Amie Klempnauer Miller. The latter is a memoir of motherhood by a (nonbiological) lesbian mother. It is well worth the read as well.)

Momma Zen is full of essays and meditations I pick up and peruse over and over again. The subtitle is "Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood" and that is exactly what all mother's need to be reminded of: it's a crooked path. Miller is a Zen Buddhist Priest who recognizes that we are all so many things and that what the cure is for those things that ail us is to accept them and give them time and space to resolve. This book is full of little meditations, with a handy index in the back to direct you to the one you want for your particular hard moment. Entitled: "For the Hard Days" (because no one needs help during the happy times) it has meditations for everything from Balance to Trust. There's even a little "How to Meditate" primer thrown in for good measure.

What makes this book special is that she's not saying "this is how you do it," she saying "this is how I do it, and it helps me, so it might help you." And then leaving you to make your own decisions and form your own opinions.

(I read her blog and follow her on facebook. You can, too.)

Momfulness by Denise Roy

Roy has a Masters in Divinity and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her first book, My Monastery is a Minivan was exactly what I needed when I found it. (Click on the link above to find my reaction to it.) While that book was a memoir, this is a handbook. It is full of little rituals to helps you mother (although it would work for fathers, too) with mindfulness, compassion, and grace. It's one I give frequently as a baby shower gift.

The Rhythm of the Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through the Seasons.
by Amanda Blake Soule with Stephen Soule

Soule's other two books, The Creative Family and The Handmade Home both have a spot on my bookshelves. Those are craft-based books, though, so I didn't review them (maybe that could be my next big book list...) and somehow, even though I read this one in October, I neglected to review it. Which is a shame, because it is amazing.  It is broken down by month, with an essay by Mama and an essay by Papa on each's reflections of that time of year. Following that are a handful of projects for each month/season that are easy for the whole family to participate in. As a mother of 5, she's well practiced in encouraging the young ones to get involved - her confidence inspires me to let go a little and let my own son try his hand at the things he shows interest in.
The have a blog, full of photos and adventures of their life on their farm in Maine - it's just enough outside of my realm of experience (SNOW! For months!) that if I have never felt anything but inspired. Find her here, and on twitter here.

What's Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot, Ph.D.

This is not a book for the casual reader. But it is chock-full of information on your baby's brain. If you follow the link above there's a decent review. I honestly have only picked this up since reading so that I could double check a few of her milestone charts, but I feel like I retained enough that it's helping my parenting. If you're a science nerd with nothing to read: you won't go wrong here.

If Your Kid Eats The Book, Everything Will Still Be Okey: How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness is Really and Emergency by Lara Zibner, MD.

This is another baby-shower gift, and here's why: she deals with the stuff that freaks a parent out in the middle of the night: swallowed coins, bumped heads, cuts, scrapes, fevers, poisoning, bites, rashes, the "plumbing"...she doesn't give two shakes if you've vaccinated or not, or if your doctor is homeopathic or conventional. She focuses on the injury and whether or not it needs to be seen by a trained professional. I've consulted it a LOT in the past two years, and I'm certain I will continue to as the years progress.

The best nugget of wisdom so far? (ok, there are two)

1) The 3/3 rule for head bumps: under 3 months of age, or if they fall over 3 feet onto their head, it's time to consult a doctor. (She lists other symptoms to look out for, but that the basic rule of thumb.)

2) Vomit always looks more voluminous than it is and the only color you should worry about is christmas-tree green or if it's pure blood.

If you're a parent or a care-giver, there's no reason not to have this on your shelf.

So that's a good start. Part two will publish after I've read Mayim Bialik's new book.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parenting and Politics

This shirt was a gift from a very good friend. You can find it here.

So I find myself appalled over and over with the legislation and rhetoric floating around out there. Misogyny abounds, and even issues that should be subject to doctor/patient confidentiality are dragged into the spotlight and used as an excuse to attempt to legislate morality. (Thankfully, I feel that unless the intent of the bill is written specifically into it, the intent is a pointless argument. Because intentions get lost to history, but laws stick around. Just consider the Founding Fathers...and every amendment after the 13th.)

So I've been reminding myself of two things: first, that hearts and minds are harder to change than laws, and really should be what we focus on. (Example: African Americans were freed almost 150 years ago, but it wasn't for another 100 years that the hearts and minds of the country started to catch up.)

Second: that it is my job to raise my sons (and, less directly, my nieces and nephews - existential or otherwise) to not be misogynistic assholes. I've even got a list percolating in my head of my goals. I'll share them with you. Huzzah!

1) Love is universal. Remember that everyone has a heart and a brain and the right (nay, the responsibility) to use both. Add to this that even those who seem too far gone are not, even if it takes a visit from three ghosts.

2) No one can tell you how to feel or what the best treatment of your body is (with the exception of your doctor. Sometimes it does take a professional.) The flip side is that you cannot tell someone how to feel or whether or not it's ok to do what they're doing to their body.

3) You can never know enough about a situation, even if you're in the middle of it. Especially if you're in the middle of it. Friends, family, research materials should all be utilized to help you gain more insight. They can be trusted to help you make decisions regarding your heart and mind and body.

4) If you don't know someone personally, take their opinion with a grain of salt. Your well-being is often not their top priority.

5) As young men, it is your responsibility to stop when she tells you to. (Or he, I won't judge. Unless you don't stop - then I'm kicking your ass.) You will show greater strength, respect, power, and compassion by backing off at the first hint that you should slow your roll than you ever will by forcing the issue. This applies to sex, conversation, and driving.

6) It is just as much your responsibility to prevent/encourage impregnation as it is hers. Not ready to be a father? Buy a condom. Ready? Buy a book. (the female reproductive system is mysterious and amazing and sometimes *really* gross. the more you know, the better off everyone will be.)

7) This planet you're walking on? It's the only one we have. You're walking on it because the people before you planted the trees and tried to refrain from fucking it up too much. They faced a LOT of opposition from corporations and politicians (often the same thing) and persevered. Take a page from their book: reduce, reuse, recycle. Plant a tree, watch it grow. Keep some bees. Buy what you can't grow from the farmers (they know what they're doing.)

8) Every four years the country goes insane. Don't take it personally. Stay informed. Vote your conscience.

9) Have an echo chamber. Have a team of rivals. One will keep you confident and the other will keep you honest. Hearty, respectful debates keep life interesting and keep your mind sharp and opinions well-based.

10) Everybody poops. Your heros, your rivals. Those who save the world and those who...don't.

And that's a good start. What would you add?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Does it count as nesting...

if all I've done is make a new pinterest board? I feel like it should.

Also, I won't post a picture of it, but the detail scan on Monday showed that I am incubating a very healthy little boy. Hooray for brothers!

Ok, I'll post a picture of something...

Clean Sheet Day!

Also, there's a new video here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An unexpected vacation...ish

Dude. How about many weeks in pictures?

Ready? Set? Go!

Updates soon....I hope. This time hasn't been as rough as the first time, but when you add a toddler to the mix, I think I may actually be even more tired. Luckily, we appear to be reaching the "I can entertain myself for more than two minutes at a time" milestone, so that should help. Whew!

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