Thursday, May 31, 2012

In Which I am Annoyed (and Over-Use the Word Awesome)

Do you read Sew Liberated? Meg is a Montessori mom whom I find to be beyond inspiring. I read every word she writes and I have, on several occasions, used her posts as "ammunition" for setting up our house and encouraging autonomy in our child. My reasoning has always been: "If she can do it, there's no reason we can't give it a shot."  

And since the first post of hers I read was about Following The Child, I have never ever ever ever ever felt like she was in any way trying to make everyone else feel inferior. If she owns smug pants, I have never seen them.

So last week, when she posted about how her son was showing signs of readiness to begin a more "formal" homeschooling, I took the information I found helpful and wished her well. 

I was very happy to see a new post come up later that same day (two posts in one day?!?! It's like Christmas!) until I opened it and my eyes crossed. She titled it Mama Solidarity

An excerpt:

"I just want to add something here - an apology of sorts - if this post made any other mama feel overwhelmed in any way. My dear friend commented to me today that some people might feel worried that, if they're not teaching reading at age three, then they are not "up to par" as a mother."

I'd like to bang my head on my desk, now. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate that she delt the need to post that. I hate even more that I KNOW PEOPLE who have stopped reading her blog because they feel like inferior mothers compared to her.

These are the same people who avoid Pinterest because they get all down in the dumps over not living someone else's highlight reel.

(here, via Pinterest)

These people are the reason everyone gets a trophy, whether they win or not (or maybe they're the product of having gotten a trophy for showing up?) 

Eight years later* (probably ten or twelve after these lines were actually written) this clip is still so, so relevant: 

By trying to suppress those who are truly awesome, we are only doing ourselves a disservice. Don't we want a society full of people striving to make things better/easier/more awesome? Don't we want to raise confident kids who are secure in their talents and abilities and unafraid to push envelopes and challenge the status quo? Because the status is NOT QUO.

The world is a mess and I just need to rule it.**

To all of you people out there who would just be happier if everyone else would hide their light under their bushels: GET OVER YOURSELF. (This includes the people who can't seem to find one thing to like about their bodies/brain/personality/lifestyle.) Take a note from the countless inspiration boards that you're ignoring on Pinterest.

Even Kipper is annoyed with your insecurity getting in the way of the good stuff.

Some people are awesome. That's just how it is. And if you're wanting everyone to be the same level of awesome, perhaps the focus should be on raising the bar rather than lowering it.


*can we get a sequel, please? That would be awesome. OKthanksbye.
** I plan on putting that on a canvas and hanging it in my son's room. Because it is awesome.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

The First Rule of Attachment Parenting is: You Do Not Talk About Attachment Parenting

I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival buttonWelcome to the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
This Carnival is dedicated to empowering ALL parents who practice and promote and peaceful, loving, attachment parenting philosophy. We have asked other parents to help us show the critics and the naysayers that attachment parenting is beautiful, uplifting, and unbelievably beneficial and NORMAL!
In addition to the Carnival, Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy are co-hosting a Linky Party. Please stop by either blog to share any of your posts on the topic.
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Post topics are wide and varied, and every one is worth a read.

"It was on the tip of everyone's tongue...[Dr. Sears] just gave it a name."- Chuck Palahniuk

Attachment Parenting has been around since the dawn of time, people. Until THE BOOK came out, it was just called "the way we parent" or "the way I was raised" or it was called nothing at all. Parents followed their instincts, read their babies (instead of books) and no one found any of it odd...

And then something happened. Parents suddenly needed to listen to experts (real or imagined), and read lots and lots of books and do things exactly as the book (or expert) spelled it out. We all got sucked into the IKEA nesting instinct (if anything happens, we have that carrier thing COVERED)

But rules...guidelines...they can say anything. They can be anything. They're like art - once the artist lets go, the viewer sees only themselves. So what if we change the rules? What if we take these 8 guidelines of AP:

     1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting:
     2. Feed with Love and Respect
     3. Respond with Sensitivity
     4. Use Nurturing Touch
     5. Ensure Safe sleep, Physically and Emotionally
     6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
     7. Practice Positive Discipline
     8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

And make them these:

    1. You do not talk about [Attachment Parenting]
    3. Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over
    4. Only two guys to a fight
    5. One fight at a time, fellas
    6. No shirt, no shoes
    7. Fights will go on as long as they have to
    8. If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

And then we'll talk about how THOSE look in our family:

   1.  You do not talk about Attachment Parenting: Seriously. You don't talk about it because this is what you get: When are you getting him out of your room? When are you weaning? You don't need to wear him, just put him in the cart/stroller/swing/bouncy seat/bucket. Do you need to go to the bathroom to feed him? What kind of hippie freak are you, letting him pee in your compost heap???? (that last one has nothing to do with AP, but you get my point - you open that door and people will walk through it and use their sanctimony as a door stop to keep it open.) Best to just do your thing and nip all commentary in the bud.

   2. You DO NOT TALK ABOUT ATTACHMENT PARENTING: Seriously. Otherwise you'll end up on the cover of TIME magazine having your life twisted and getting hate mail. Or you'll be compelled to leave facebook because the rest of the world has missed the part where you're an actual human being and not an emotionless robot/sociopath.

    3. Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over: If an adult expresses emotions that indicate they have a genuine need, you respond accordingly. If your partner/sibling/bff/colleague/whatever told you that he needed a break or privacy or a shoulder or an ear or a sandwich or provide those things in the best way you can. (A caveat here being if you don't give a rat's pinky toe about your relationship, at which point - sabotage away.)

   4. Only two guys to a fight: Who's parenting, here? You? Your parents? Your neighbor? Too many signals = confusion. Let the parents parent. If you are not the parent/designated caregiver, your job is to be supportive and refrain from passing judgment. Unless it's complimentary. Praise is always welcome. As is babysitting.

   5. One fight at a time, fellas: Babies are like computers - they operate within a finite set of parameters. When Baz was tiny and crying, Husband would set about debugging: diaper, temperature, sleepy, hungry...babies are so small that they (like fairies) can only feel one thing at a time and it overwhelms them: that is why their cries are all-consuming, as are their coos and giggles. Focus on what's happening right now and let the rest happen as it comes.

   6. No shirt, no shoes: Amusingly, our rule has always been No Shoes For Nursing (now called Milk-n-Snuggle) will be your rule, too, when you get beaned in the eye by someone's foot while they're dancing at the watering hole, as it were. As for public advice is to be discreet and use those shoes to throw at anyone who gives you the side-eye for feeding your kid. (And by "be discreet" I mean "don't strip" and "invest in cute nursing tops and necklaces so you feel a little more put together and people will focus on that and not the slurping, squirmy, happy baby who is covering up your 'exposed' boob with his giant noggin.")

   7. Fights will go on as long as they have to: It takes as long as it takes. "When do you think he'll sleep through the night?" "When will he start crawling/walking/dancing/singing/speaking/making a decent sandwich?" When it happens. And when your child is an adult, no one will care that she walked at 9 months, or didn't walk until 15 months, or that she spoke her first complex sentence at 18 months, or not at all until she was 4 or 5 years old. It takes as long as it takes, and then - just in time-  it happens.

   8. If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight: You will find yourself, from time to time, defending your choices as a parent (person). Whether they were choices you made consciously or accidentally, whether they worked or didn't work, whether you stuck with them or abandoned them, you will come upon someone who tells you you're wrong, you're an idiot, someone should call CPS on you. You will also have times when you think someone else is wrong, that your way is better, that if they would just OPEN THEIR EYES they would see that the magical solution is right in front of them in the form of what you know better about their family. Hackles will rise, resources will be flung about, names invoked. It will happen. On the internet, at the grocery store, in the park. You will get sucked in and then wonder, later, how it all got tangled up and how you failed to unwind before it all went shockingly awry. Regardless of whether common ground is stood upon, you will think back and wonder how you could have done better. (And honestly - this could happen with your own child, who is searching for their own autonomy...their own identity.) But the reality is that you have to debate. When it's done well, a good debate can spark reflection upon your choices. It can alter your approach, or ground you further in your own truth.

After all, how much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?

I will leave you with two little videos - the first is fully safe for work, if you have the kind of work where you can read blogs and watch youtube. The second has some language, so be aware.

All of this to illustrate that you can pull anything out of context and make it be what you want -from a movie about men finding their own primal support to an article about mother's nursing their children past the modern conventional "acceptable" age.

"You have to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a [Dr. Sears] sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide....In [Dr. Sears] we trusted..." - Chuck Palahniuk

Thank you for visiting the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children. Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants and check out previous posts at the linky party hosted by Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 28 with all the carnival links.)
  • Good Enough? — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes about how Good Enough is not Good Enough, if you use it as an excuse to stop trying.
  • The High Cost of High Expectations JeninCanada at Fat and Not Afraid shares what it's like to NOT feel 'mom enough' and wanting to always do better for herself and family.
  • TIME to Be You! — Becky at Old New Legacy encourages everyone to be true to themselves and live their core values.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH — A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Motherhood vs. Feminism — Doula Julia at encourages feminists to embrace the real needs and cycles and strengths of women.
  • There Is No Universal Truth When It Comes To Parenting — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how parenting looks around the world and why there is no universal parenting philosophy.
  • Attachment Parenting Assumptions — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings argues that attachment parenting is not just for the affluent middle-classes, and that as parents we all need to stop worrying about our differences and start supporting each other.
  • Thoughts on Time Magazine, Supporting ALL Mamas, and Advocating for the Motherless — Time Magazine led That Mama Gretchen to think about her calling as a mother and how adoption will play an important role in growing her family.
  • Attachment Parenting: the Renewed Face of Feminism — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children embraces her inner feminist as she examines how the principles of attachment parenting support the equal treatment of all.
  • What a Mom Wants! — Clancy Harrison from Healthy Baby Beans writes about how women need to support each other in their different paths to get to the same destination.
  • Attachment Parenting: What One Family Wants You To Know — Jennifer, Kris, 4 year old Owen and 2 year old Sydney share the realities of attachment parenting, and how very different it looks than the media's portrayal.
  • We ALL Are Mom Enough — Amy W. of Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work thinks that all mothers should walk together through parenthood and explores her feelings in prose.
  • A Typical Day Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares what a typical day with her attached family looks like...all in the hopes to shed light on what Attachment Parenting is, what it's not and that it's unique within each family!
  • The Proof is in the (organic, all-natural) Pudding — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about how, contrary to what the critics say, the proof that attachment parenting works in visible in the children who are parented that way.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Time Magazine & Mommy Wars: Enough! What Really Matters? — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter encourages moms to stop fighting with each other, and start alongside each other.
  • Attachment parenting is about respect — Lauren at Hobo Mama breaks down what attachment parenting means to her to its simplest level.
  • I am an AP mom, regardless... — Jorje ponders how she has been an Attachment Parenting mom regardless of outside circumstances at Momma Jorje.
  • The first rule of Attachment Parenting is: You Do Not Talk about Attachment Parenting — Emily discusses, with tongue aqnd cheek, how tapping into our more primal selves actually brings us closer to who we are rather than who we think we should be.
  • Mom, I am. — Amy at Anktangle discusses how Attachment Parenting is a natural extension of who she is, and she explains the ways her parenting approach follows the "live and let live" philosophy, similar to her beliefs about many other areas of life.
  • I Breastfeed My Toddler for the Nutritional Benefits — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares why 'extended' breastfeeding is not extreme and how she is still nursing her toddler for the nutritional benefits.
  • I Am Dad Enough! — Attachment parenting does not only have to be about moms; their partners are just as important. In Code Name: Mama's family, Dionna's husband, Tom, is papa enough for lots of things.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Snap Shop: A Review

FOLKS, can I just take a moment to spread some Ashley Ann Campbell love? Because as you know, a few weeks ago I invested in her SnapShop course - an online photo course designed to get beginning photographers away from the automatic setting of their fancy new DSLRs.

In the interest of complete honesty: I was not strictly a beginner. But my fancy DSLR is the first DIGITAL SLR I've owned, and the ISO control was mind-boggling, so I had been shooting to give myself control over the Aperture and Shutter Speed, but leaving my camera to do auto ISO. It did a decent job, but it was only 2/3rds the amount of control I really wanted to have. (if you care, my 35mm SLR is this one. Ashley Ann shoots on Canon, but has helpful Nikon info as well.)

As an example - here are some of my BSS (before Snap Shop) images - all fine, but none stellar. There are unedited, and I used my kit lens.  

 In retrospect - adjust the framing and the exposure.

 Again - framing, drives me crazy that his face is so dark.

I'm ok with the framing on this one, but the exposure...whew. And now all I can see is the orange that looks like an earring.

So - then I took the plunge. 3 weeks, at my own pace, with her advice and techniques rolling through my brain. Composition, tell a story, get the exposure right, don't be afraid to use an action when the light in your office/music room is all kinds of wonky.... and while they're not perfect, I can see that it is equal parts my pushing the equipment to its limit and pushing my own technique to its limit. With practice (and better glass) my images will only improve. But what I've got now is nothing to sneeze at:

 This is a Nelly Nero Action - like Ashley Ann, I find that actions to be an amazing timesaver. Could I have sat at the computer and adjusted curves and color casts until I got here? Sure. But, as I'm sure you can tell by the frequency with which I've been posting lately, life is busy. 

Let's just say Actions are to Photoshop as Dishwashers are to dishes. (I say as someone with NO DISHWASHER. It's inhumane, really.)

Other actions/PS goodies I love can be found here and here.   

 This one is imperfect. I do not care. 

This is one of my favorites - I managed to catch this expression (he's delighted that Daddy has just come to "light" his coals) and the lighting is good and there are no weird mergers and I'm happy with the cropping. I've got this one printed and waiting to be hung already. (The little barbecue can be found here.) 

Let me just say that if she ever sets up a Snap Shop Phase Two, I will be all over it. Or even if it's Snap Shop Photo Retreats...and if we're ever in the same town, I am buying that woman coffee. Or a smoothie. Or something. Because SHAZAM...I love her.

If you're looking for tips/inspiration and you just can't wait for the next snapshop - check out her Photo Tips here. Some of my favorite inspirational images are among those posts.

PS: At the risk of just going completely gooey-centered....she's not just an amazing photographer, she's a great mom, a fun crafter, and a truly inspirational human being. If you follow that last link, make sure to read about the incubator project and what became of it - she's not only opening her home to a child who needs one, she's helping improve the lives of children she'll never meet. We should all be so lucky to have someone like her in our lives.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In Which I am a Genius

Before: do you see where the toy company failed?

Solution: I used a pin instead of a paper clip because a) I couldn't find any paper clips and b) I felt the clasp would work better with the glue - more surface area to stick. 


Voila! So simple, a toddler can do it.

PS - I'm almost finished with my photo course - I'll do a wrap post with a couple of general tips next week - it ends this weekend. Photos (mostly unedited) are appearing in my flickr feed, perhaps progress is already apparent there?

PPS - not so wordless this Wednesday, but I'm ok with that. I don't blog regularly enough to restrict myself like that. ;-)
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