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    Hurricane Sandy and the Jersey Shore





    If you'd like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, click here (to jump right to the bottom of this post).


    Two weekends ago, we took the day to travel "down the shore" (that's how we say it here in New Jersey). We went to Long Beach Island because it's the closest to us - a little over an hour drive - or 35mi due West as the crow flies.


    (running along Spray Beach in LBI)


    (one of the street markers located at each opening in the dunes along LBI)

    I'd been meaning to share our trip with you here in pictures, because it was such an idyllic  weekend at the beach. But then... Hurricane Sandy (known pre-disaster by the moniker "Frankenstorm" for its proximity to Halloween) came through my state.

    For my family, the hurricane meant a bit of scrambling around in preparation - gathering supplies, the unique opportunity to witness a hurricane up-close, 24 hours of lost power, frantic working to keep our warehouse up and running, and a delayed Halloween. We were truly fortunate to have missed some of the worst weather and after effects.

     

    For other families, some I know personally and others I've only seen in the media reports, the hurricane brought power disruption, home destruction, and most devastatingly, loss of life. The pictures I see coming in from the shore (where we JUST. WERE.) and from the surrounding towns and cities are almost incomprehensible.


    (looking towards the ocean on LBI during the storm - source unknown)


    (car buried in sand on LBI after the storm- source unknown)


    (the dunes, no longer there - LBI after the storm - source unknown)


    (a beach marker, nearly covered in sand during post-storm cleanup efforts on LBI - source unknown)

    My heart goes out to those still struggling. It's COLD here in New Jersey right now; and there's a Nor'easter coming this week (that means a BIG snow storm for those of you not from the North East USA). Millions are still without power, thousands of homes were damaged, and there's a gas shortage in the Northern part of my state. It's hard to watch the news, to talk about it with my children, to understand what happened so close to home. But it helps to know so many people have have donated time and money to help those most in need. The generosity of the human spirit is alive and well in New Jersey; I am so thankful.


    If you'd like to donate to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in my state, and the surrounding areas hit hard by the storm, here are a few places you can do so. (Each of these charities are non-religiously/politically affiliated and have received a commendable rating at CharityNavigator.org)

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy child welfare efforts: Save the Children

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy hunger relief efforts at the Jersey shore: The Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy medical supplies and equipment: Direct Relief International

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy companion animal rescue and care efforts: Best Friends Animal Society

     

    To donate directly to general Hurricane Sandy emergency relief efforts: American Red Cross

     

    To help find or to offer breastmilk storage to those without power: Human Milk for Human Babies - New Jersey

     

    Thank you for reading, for donating, for keeping those affected by Hurricane Sandy in your hearts and thoughts. Peace.

    Note: I am not affiliated with any of the above listed charities. When you click on the above links, you will leave my site, and go directly to the individual charity pages.
    Posted: Nov 03 2012, 17:10 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Attachment Parenting - New York City Edition





    Last Thursday, I received an email from my fellow blogger, author, and friend, Dionna Ford at Code Name: Mama. Turns out it was a good thing I checked my email before heading to work that morning. As, less than an hour later, instead of driving to work, I found myself driving to New York City where I had the opportunity to meet the lovely and eloquent Dionna (and her sweet, nom-able baby daughter) in person, fellow natural parenting blogger Rachael at The Variegated Life (whose children *may* have the coolest names ever), the exuberant attachment parenting guru, Dr. Jay Gordon, and even got to shake hands with attachment parenting advocate Mayim Bialik!

    (Me, Ailia, and Dionna)

    After a three hour drive (yes, you read that correctly. My usual 1hr 20min drive to the big apple took THREE HOURS. I hear the President was in town for the day; so I'd like to thank POTUS - I've never seen the Lincoln Tunnel in such great, and drawn-out detail.), I was more than relieved to take my wrinkly-pants self out of my car, and into the busy studio of Anderson Cooper’s daytime show. The topic of the show segment being recorded that day was Attachment Parenting and breastfeeding; as prompted by the now-infamous Time Magazine cover. While waiting for Dionna to go to “hair and makeup” and then to on stage (squeee!),

    (Dionna, getting pretty)

    we both had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Jay for a good long while. He’s an amiable, straight-talker with a true passion for normalizing breastfeeding and attachment parenting. He also happens to be the pediatrician to several Hollywood stars’ children – which as a complete non sequitur, did make for even more interesting conversation. I highly recommend checking out his site – which I referenced several times myself when my kids were babies.

    (Me, Ailia, and Dr. Jay)

    (backstage view - that's Mayim in the light)

    I was able to watch - with one eye - much of the filming from backstage with babe-on-hip (note to self: everyone wants to talk to you when you are holding a baby). However, I've yet to see the episode in its entirety. Once a full video can be found online, I'll be sure to post a link here! I've been told that, unfortunately, much of Dionna’s articulate responses to Anderson’s and audience member’s questions about breastfeeding and attachment parenting were left on the editing-room floor. I can attest in person, she did a fabulous job of representing the very normal side of extended nursing and natural parenting, and she did so with an air of confidence - in front of a large audience; including some celebrities (speaking of celebrities… while we were waiting backstage, Ailia and I took this photo):

    (Billy Bob Thornton)

    After the show, I was able to talk with Rachael a bit, took a few photographs of the city, then headed back home (a far shorter experience on the way back!). It was an excellent trip, all around. It felt so good to be able to talk attachment parenting in depth with real people - who really got it. I'm hoping, in spite of the shock-value nature of the Time cover, the subject of attachment parenting and breastfeeding will become more a part of the landscape and conversations of parenting in general; less a fringe "extreme" style, and more understood for what it truly IS: a natural and easy way of relating to our children. I'm grateful for mothers who stand up and speak out for what they believe in; together we can change the "norm" of parenting!  

    (Rachel & Dionna - city gals!)

    Posted: May 22 2012, 17:55 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    What Attachment Parenting Is (and What It's Not)





    What attachment parenting IS:

    A way to form a lasting, loving connection between you and your children.

    A nurturing, gentle, and compassionate method of parenting and relating to your babies and children.

    A way to build a foundation of trust, understanding, and mutual respect between yourself and your baby that will last throughout childhood and into adulthood.

    A natural and instinctual method of responding to and interacting with your babies and children.

    A validating approach to parenting that encourages you to follow your baby's cues and trust your own innate ability when responding to your child.

    A way to help fulfill your baby's needs through nurturing touch, responsive feeding, close physical contact, gentle guidance, and empathetic communication.

    A style of parenting which fosters security, self-esteem, inner harmony, and independence in your children.

     

    What attachment parenting is NOT:

    A strict set of rules you have to follow.

    Attachment parenting has several guidelines suggested to help you foster the natural connection you already feel for your child. They aren't rules, and you don't have to do all of them in order to be an attached parent! The spirit and basis of attachment parenting is cultivating a deep and trusting connection between you and your children. Things like breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping are all tools which can help you feel closer to your baby and to be naturally and more easily responsive to their needs; but you needn't practice all of them in order to practice attachment parenting.

    A method of parenting that you can only practice with babies.

    The ideas behind attachment parenting transcend babyhood. You don't have to start only when your child is a baby, nor feel like you've missed out! The principles of nurturing touch, empathetic communication, and gentle discipline can be put into effect at ANY TIME in your child's life. EVERYONE benefits from being truly listened to, understood, and respected. You may even find yourself attachment partnering! ;)

    A parenting method only for at-home mothers.

    While having consistant, loving care is critical for every baby and child, there's no reason that care needs to come from ONLY mom! Fathers, grandparents, siblings, and care givers can all care for babies in an attached way. You only need the desire for connection, a willingness to honor baby's cries as valid communication, and the ability to respond with sensitivity, empathy, and love to the wide range of childhood emotions - even the more challenging ones. Babywearing can actually HELP caregivers more effectively and responsively care for babies, while getting other things done! I know many parents who brought their babies to work in a sling (myself being one of them!), or who were able to reconnect lovingly at night after work, through breastfeeding and a family bed.

     

    Attachment parenting is, at its core, a method for relating to babies and children in gentle, nurturing ways, in an effort to form a lasting, loving, joyful connection with them. It's easy to do, feels good, and is wonderful for your children - AND for you!

     

    For more information about attachment parenting - what it REALLY IS, and how you can bring it into your life with your own children, grandchildren, or other children you care for, please check out these wonderful articles (listed alphabetically, except for NPN... because I write there, too!):

     

    NaturalParentsNetwork.com: What is Attachment Parenting? 

    AskDrSears.com: What AP Is: 7 Baby B's

    Attachment Parenting International: What is Attachment Parenting All About?

    TheBabyBond.com: Bonding Matters… The Chemistry of Attachment

    DrJayGordon.com: Flower Shop (Why You Should Attachment Parent)

    GreenChildMagazine.com: How Does Attachment Parenting Foster Independence?

    GreenMomHappyMom.com: How to Balance Work & Attachment Parenting

    The Hippie Housewife: Attachment Parenting (Series)

    MommaJorje.com: WHY Attachment Parenting?

    Our Crazy Corner of the World: What AP Looks Like

    Radical Ramblings: Attachment Parenting is for Everyone - Really!

    True Confessions of a Real Mommy: 7 Principles of "Too Lazy"

    TheVerigatedLife.com: Five Truths About Attachment Parenting 

    VibrantWanderings.com: Why Practice Attachment Parenting (Series)

     

    Do you have a favorite post that describes attachment parenting in an uplifting and positive light? Please share!

     

    Posted: May 17 2012, 19:25 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
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    Derision and Scorn: How Time Dropped the Ball on Attachment Parenting





    What comes to mind when you think attachment parenting?

    Perhaps you envision a young, lithe, white woman, standing in bold contrapposto, staring unapologetically into the camera, her nearly four-year-old perched on a chair, hanging somewhat awkwardly from her one perfectly exposed breast, also staring - though less boldly, and more confusedly - into the same camera?

    It isn't what would come to my mind, nor, likely most parents who practice attachment parenting.

    But, with that very image, accompanied by a purposefully provocational headline and subtext, Time Magazine would like to convey the message that this pose/interaction (whether breastfeeding, breastfeeding an "older child", breastfeeding without cover, or perhaps, simply, a woman staring unabashedly at the viewer) is extreme (which, extreme, it's not. Perhaps, in 1863, when Edouard Manet first shocked the world by painting a bare-breasted woman staring unrepentantly at the viewer, "extreme" might be a suitable description, but in 2012, when sexualized breasts are the advertising norm, no),

    that it represents attachment parenting (which, considering how deliberately unengaged the two are in this photograph, it doesn't), and/or, that breastfeeding is the epitome of being "mom enough" (which, a child fed and clothed - all that's represented without dispute in this image - may be indicative of mom enough, but, I'd argue being a mom - a PARENT - takes far more than open mouth, insert milk; and the last time I checked, parenting wasn't a contest - at least not to anyone other than the media). In other words (through all my parenthesis) Time failed miserably with this cover.

    In truth, the only thing Time managed to do with this photograph, was to present a lovely woman with her cherubic child in an awkwardly stylized pose; slap an outlandish headline on the front which practically screams for people to get up in arms about - take your pick: attachment parenting, nudity, breastfeeding, mommy wars - and sell lots of copies of an otherwise less-than-unbiased and far-less-than thorough news magazine gossip rag.

    Certainly Time wasn't going for normalizing breastfeeding - which, could have served mothers and children everywhere. I say certainly, as, if that HAD been their intent, they would have chosen the alternate photograph for the cover - same mother and child, in a far more natural, comforting pose. With THAT photograph, they could have showed how breastfeeding is as much about nurturing as it is about nutrition, and that gentle, loving touch between mother and child doesn't have to end simply because a child is able to walk, talk, and get themselves dressed. They COULD have chosen an image that didn't reinforce the confounding and insidious public belief that breastfeeding beyond infancy, or exposing breasts for breastfeeding at all, is somehow sexual. They could have taken the road less travelled. Instead, they followed the path of least resistance: sex and shock value sells.

    Look, Time wasn't attempting to bring any real understanding of attachment parenting. If THAT had been their intent, certainly such martyr-esque language as was used to describe one featured attached parent would've been left behind in editing. Case in point:

    "[Joanne & her partner] ended much of their social life when they became parents. There are no date nights. Joanne doesn't get away for afternoons to have lunch with her girlfriends. In fact, the only time Joanne has ever left either of her children in anyone else's care was when she was in labor with her second child.... the child-rearing philosophy Joanne subscribes to, It's called attachment parenting ... a style that's more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids. ... Attachment-parenting dogma also says that every baby's whimper is a plea for help and that no infant should ever be left to cry."

    In fact, the accompanying article (The Man Who Remade Motherhood) was positively fraught with blatently obvious stereotypes, judgments, and purposeful overstatements:

    "…for months, Beauregard sat on the couch in her Denver-area living room, nursing her infant from sunup to sundown"
    <!--[endif]-->

    (ALL that BREASTFEEDING - can you even IMAGINE? Oh, the OPPRESSION!) - and -

    "So is attachment parenting a misogynist plot to take women out of the workplace and put them back in the home full time?"

    (yes, yes, responding with empathy and gentleness to your infant is a "misogynist plot". But wait, where does it say only women may attachment parent, or that women must not work, or must breastfeed in order to attachment parent? That's right, nowhere. One wonders, after reading this article, if the author did any research but for the most cursory Google search on "Attachment Parenting" before writing.)

    I can't help but believe Time's sole intent was pure derision and scorn of an already beleaguered and misunderstood method of parenting.

    I praise Jamie Lynne Grumet, Dionna Ford, Jessica Cary, and Melinda Larson for taking such a brave step towards bringing greater understanding and acceptance to attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding. In all, it's terribly sad that Time missed a grand opportunity to present to its wide audience a nurturing, loving, gentle way of relating to children. By miring breastfeeding and attachment parenting in phony controversy and manufactured scandal, they really dropped the ball.

    Posted: May 11 2012, 22:31 by kelly | Comments (10) RSS comment feed |
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    Breastfeeding in Public - Madonna Style!





    I’m a long-time fan of Madonna. In the 80's, I'm pretty sure I wanted to BE the queen of pop. The first outfit I bought with my own money? White roll-down mini skirt with grommets, and orange shirt with roll-up mesh sleeves. One of the very first CDs I owned was the soundtrack to Dick Tracy (please don't tell any of this to my indie-alterna-grunge self of the 90's, she might die a little bit). Anyhow, Madonna’s already a legend in my book: independent, self-assured, ambitious, spirited, doesn't give a hoot about what anyone thinks of her. So, where's this post going, you ask?

    Well, her new album is being released in a couple of days, so I decided to check out the video for the first single, to get a taste of where her music has gone this time and... jaw drop. Because?

    Breastfeeding. Madonna, breastfeeding. In her video! "Squeeeeeeee!!", says the lactivist in me.  

    Now yes, okay, it's not a REAL baby, and yeah, she tosses the baby like a football at the end, and alright, the song isn't that great, nor is the rest of the video (though, dang, her legs look fabulous!), but still, all that aside, there is Madonna in the video, not once, but TWICE, breastfeeding "in public". So, Madonna. I still think you rock; but even more so now.

    If you want to see the video for yourself... 

    Posted: Mar 21 2012, 22:18 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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