All the girls in my summer camp cabin knew every song on Carole King's "Tapestry" by heart. It was the mid-1970s and that album, along with a little John Denver and the "Free to Be, You and Me" soundtrack were mainstays on our counselor's 8-track tape player. But I always kind of doubted I would ever get my chance to "(Feel Like) A Natural Woman," the final song on King's record. Given my borderline abuse of both Sun-In and Coppertone sunless tanner that summer, no one would dare use the word "natural" to describe anything about me -- especially my brassy orange hair and matching skin color.
While I've fortunately grown out of my Oompa Loompa phase, I still can't make the claim of being all natural, at least when it comes to personal grooming. With gray-obscuring highlights in my hair and fancy face creams with ingredients I cannot pronounce in my medicine cabinet, I am using the best modern chemistry has to offer to ward off the inevitable signs of aging.
To be honest, I'd probably never qualify as a poster child for natural parenting, either. Years ago, when I was three centimeters dilated with my oldest son and painfully pondering whether or not to have an epidural, my labor and delivery nurse told me that the closest thing she'd ever witnessed to natural childbirth at the downtown Chicago hospital was a mom-to-be sans pedicure. Not wanting to break with tradition, I leaned over, stared at my bright pink toenails and welcomed the needle in my back.
I happily went the spinal block route for son number two, as well. And while there was no opportunity for anything even resembling pain relief during my daughter's speedy delivery, I wouldn't have minded a little bit of something--even a glass of wine, perhaps--if time had permitted.
I did nurse all three kids, though, the two younger ones well in to their toddler years. But it wasn't just health or attachment concerns that caused me to unhook my bra every couple hours for the better part of my thirties. No, I was an extended breast feeder for the same reasons many people eat at fast food restaurants--it was quick, cheap and didn't involve me washing dishes (or in this case, bottles).
I think if I had to do babyhood all over again, I might look in to more of the hallmarks of holistic parenting. Cloth diapers? I love the idea of a service that comes to my house, picks up at least some part of my dirty laundry, and then brings back a fresh batch clean. And babywearing? As a woman looking for any excuse to indulge in a new accessory, I think I would have reveled in having an entire wardrobe of one-of-a-kind slings made out of gorgeous, breathable fabrics.
But for those of you who still have time to fully embrace the natural parenting trend, definitely plan on heading down to Monona Terrace this coming Sunday, March 10, for the city's first-ever Natural Parenting Expo . The organizers of the event recognize that the phrase natural parenting means different things to different people, and with over 39,000 square feet of exhibitors, entertainment and educational opportunities, there is sure to be something for everyone.
From a kid-friendly "Make Your Own Pizza Garden" demonstration, to presentations on GMOs, herbicides and hormones in food, to an interactive tween yoga class, you and your whole family are sure to come away inspired. Me? I'm most likely to try to hit the babywearing fashion show at noon, where I fully expect the models to sashay down the runway to the strains of "A Natural Woman."
And I'll be envious. Because they'll actually be able to mean it.comments powered by Disqus
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.