Days to Remember …

I’ll be enjoying a good bit of summer fun with my little ones until July 10th.  Please come back and see me again then.  In the meantime, when the dreaded combination of extreme heat, exhaustion, excessive sugar and overstimulation threatens to turn all of your children into little monsters (we’ve all watched as our child melts down over the smallest of things), remember this wise parenting adage:

The days are long, but the years are short.


Abbracci gratis/Free Hugs in Sondrio, Italy

For Juan Mann, sometimes a hug is all we need. I’ve not before heard of the Free Hugs Campaign inspired by Mann, but as I viewed the video of “abbracci gratis” or free hugs being offered in Sondrio, Italy, I felt a tight little knot in my chest.  How could this simplistic act of human connection inspire such emotion in me? 

Baby Items natural

Amber Teething Necklaces … fact or fancy fiction?

As my fifteen month old chomps and drools continuously on just about any object her tiny fist can jam into her mouth, I ponder ways to soothe her sore gums as the teething process goes on …

and on …

and on …

Just this morning, I searched in the recesses of my mind to recall when my son finally stopped awakening at midnight from teething pain, but long term memory is the first thing to go once you have a second child.  I did, however, remember seeing something … somewhere … some time ago … about amber teething necklaces and bracelets.  My brilliant MacBook Pro readily directed me to various sites that herald the mysterious healing powers of amber.

open ended play toys

Open Ended Toys: Play Kitchens

“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” Plato

This weekend as I watched my children derive intense pleasure from endless hours of digging sand and splashing water on the beach, I started thinking about all of the toys around our home that sit gathering dust.  Everyone with children can probably name the top ten toys that see the most action in his or her home, and I’m no exception.  I’ve come to realize over the past year that the best toys are those that allow my children to invent new games at will, that don’t constrict their imaginations with one specific way to play, that are by nature “open ended.”

dolls Lightning Bugz natural Steiner Waldorf

Lightning Bugz: bambole, bambole e più bambole … Dolls, dolls and more dolls (of the Waldorf persuasion, of course)

Lightning Bugz dolls …

Let the obsession begin

Having a daughter altered my world in ways I never could have imagined, but perhaps the one thing that has surprised me most is my reaction to the “girly” things I despised when I was child. I know my mother scratched her head not infrequently as I climbed trees, kicked soccer balls, insisted on wearing the same pair of burgundy cords and blue swish Nike sneakers nearly every day and vociferously rejected every bow, dress or hairbrush she pleaded with me to try. I was, without apology, a tomboy. I wore my tough girl badge proudly and defied anyone to change me into a “little miss priss” (as I was apt to call my much more feminine younger sister). Dolls? Better to keep them out of my sight lest they become fodder for one of my games. I recall that while on vacation in Florida my friend and I hung my sister’s Norfin doll to the ceiling fan just for kicks. My sister’s persistent wailing did nothing to soften my heart. Don’t misunderstand. I loved (and still adore) my sister, but I truly detested the endless stream of dolls that inhabited our shared bedroom.

babywearing sling woven wrap

Finding the Wrap Love

It all started with a simple sling. I remember the day vividly for it was like all others in those early days of my second child’s life. I was learning (slowly) how to manage both my 3 year old son and my 3 month old daughter and I was frazzled (at best) most moments of most days. While I reveled in the chaos of a two child home, I simply couldn’t figure out how mothers of multiple children did ANYTHING. It was in that period that I first came to understand what my own mother meant when she would occasionally lament, “I only have 2 hands!” And she had four of us!

*** I interrupt this regularly scheduled segment to applaud my mother. You are a wonder, and I am still awed by the grace with which you parent and grandparent.

Heaven on Earth play Sharifa Oppenheimer Waldorf

Heaven on Earth … and it is …

I’ve been a mother for nearly four years now, but I experienced a mental shift in the way I parent about one year ago when I first read Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer.

It was in the pages of this magnificent guide that I first learned about the Waldorf philosophy of education. I reveled in each page as I pondered creative ways to build my family culture with a “guiding principle of love.” Ideas abound for art projects, storytelling, festival celebrations, indoor and outdoor play spaces that are both functional and mystical, natural and open-ended toys, and perhaps most importantly for making play the foundation a child’s day. This book is a revelation, and I credit it as the impetus for my journey into my own version of attachment/natural/slow parenting.

For all of you who have found my little blog while you seek ways to connect on an intimate level with your children, read Heaven on Earth before you do anything else. You won’t regret it.

Have a magical weekend …

death of a child Henry Louis Granju loss

Henry Louis Granju 1991-2010

I am new to the mommyblogger world, and as a scholar of literature, I thought it best to do some research before plunging full force into this new endeavor. Thus, last night I began to chart this new terrain and happened upon a story that utterly flattened me:

Henry Louis Granju was the son of Katie Allison Granju, author of Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child and the prominent blog mamapundit: motherhood, and all the rest of it.

This courageous mother has laid bare the details of her son’s drug addiction and chronicled the month she sat vigil by his hospital bed as life, marvelous, joyous, painful, bittersweet, fascinating, complicated life, trickled out from his young body. As I read back through her blog, piecing together the story from a blend of her own words and those of journalists and fellow bloggers, my breath slowed and my heart pounded. Henry’s curly tresses, his piercing eyes, his vivacious spirit — all of this washed over me and left me limp. To think of Katie running her fingers through that splendid head of hair when Henry was but a boy of five and then again when he lay still fighting for his life … there are no words, only prayers. Prayers for Katie, her children (one of whom still swims comfortably in her mother’s womb unaware that her brother’s energy has passed on to a different place), Henry’s father and stepparents, his cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. Prayers for all of us who look at our own children today and weep for joy that we can press our hands against their warm faces, touch our lips upon their downy soft backs, embrace them, love them, nurture them, imbibe their impulsive grasping at life … prayers that we may parent with a consciousness that overrides the daily challenges of raising young children and that we may learn from Henry’s precious life and death so that his passing may not be in vain.

The knowledge that Katie Allison Granju, a writer who cracked open the the world of attachment parenting to many of us mainstream mammas, had to use her exquisite talent for crafting prose to pen her own child’s obituary leaves me breathless. She remembers the act as such: “It was a writing assignment so devastatingly, achingly painful that I can’t even find words to describe it.”

While I envision this blog as a place where we together can steep ourselves in natural parenting, borrow from the Waldorf and Reggio Emilia philosophies, delight in slow living and slow food, meander through aisles of natural toys, consider the importance of play, of family time, of limited television viewing, of reading with our kids, of storytelling and of dancing in our kitchens, I would be remiss if I didn’t memorialize in this blessed moment Henry Louis Granju, a bright spirit whose presence here was far too brief.


Why It Is Finally Time to Play, Eat and Love …

I’m an academic. It is what I do, what I know, what I love, but since having children, I’ve created a sacred space in my life for pure, unadulterated, kick your heels up and twirl around, bubble blowing, cartwheel turning, top of your lungs singing, snow cones from the ice cream man PLAY. It’s simple to do really. Just follow your little ones. They’ll show you how it is done in the most simple and least self-conscious of terms. Summer is here and the days are lengthening, and as they do, the eternal call of lightning bugs and frog filled creaks echoes in my memory. I think it is time to follow that call again and to play, eat and love. Won’t you join me for a while?