Monday, September 30, 2013

motormouth studios family photo shoot.

At the last Portland Blogger meetup (Whoops, forgot to do a post on that one), we won a photo session with Macey from Motormouth Studios in an Instagram contest. We were so excited because we've only had one other professional photo shoot done, and it was almost a year ago, and I had been admiring Macey's photos and trying to figure out how to afford another family photoshoot! So if you follow me on Instagram and you liked our family picture, thank you!!

Macey captured this photo of Afton at the meetup and it's one of my favorite pictures of her, ever.

We met at our neighborhood coffee shop and then walked down to the little Montessori playground to let the girls run around and "get happy." They didn't ever become as cheery or smiley as I wished, but I also realized that they're two years old and do not bend to my whims. On another note, this article from Janet Lansbury really set my fears about not always having outwardly "happy" kids at ease. For the shoot, I had two requests: one of the girls' kissing, and one of them smiling. We had to work for it, but it happened!

These are a few favorites from our little shoot. One of my goals this fall will be to make a little photobook on Shutterfly or another photo site and order prints so we can finally put up our gallery wall of family pictures.

Macey is fantastic and I hope she continues to be our family photog! Check out her website to see some of her beautiful work.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homeopathic Remedies for a Healthy Smile

Growing up, my little brother spent way too much time at the dentist and orthodontist, and I always felt bad when he came home in pain because another tooth needed to be pulled. My husband suffered the same fate and has terrible childhood memories of the dentist's chair. As an adult, he continues to struggle with painful and sensitive teeth. 

While I never had to experience that excruciating pain, besides braces and having my wisdom teeth removed (which I would not have done now and will not make my kids have this procedure, especially after the American Public Health Association even recommended against it), I was wary of any dentist who looked at my mouth too suspiciously. 

In our journey towards living more holistically, I've become very skeptical of modern one-size-fits-all, single solution dentistry, especially after reading story after story of people healing their cavities through nutrient-dense foods and special diets. When nutritional therapy does not work, there are a number of holistic dentists who treat the whole person, and that is encouraging. We've seen vast improvements in my husband's dental health using intentional nutrition (like homemade stock, raw milk, lots of butter, coconut oil, and cod liver oil, plus k2 supplementation), and in seeking out a dentist willing to treat the whole person. 

For our kids, though, in addition to making sure they're consuming nutrient-dense, nourishing foods, we also give them a little boost through homeopathic cell salts and I'm really hoping that it will help in the long run...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Local PDX: Richard Herrera About Hair

Now that we're coming out of the don't-leave-the-house stage of my daughters' lives, I've been feeling the need to update my look. I don't do much self-pampering, but over the past couple years, I have realized that keeping up on a nice cut and highlight is a really great way to feel good about myself. I don't do it regularly - two or three times per year - but when I do, it makes such a big difference and I wonder why I don't make it more of a priority.

That said, I've been in Portland for five years and have yet to take the time and energy to find a consistent salon or stylist. I need someone who can keep my very fine (but lots of it) hair looking like it has volume and keep the color the right shade for my skin tone without immediately going brassy or washing me out. I also need it to be on the natural side, because sometimes it will be a good four months before I can get back in, between the cost and the scheduling. When local salon Richard Herrera About Hair contacted me about trying out their services, I was like YES. Yes, please!

Richard Herrera, a native Oregonian, began in the hair business 30 years ago, and since has built a trusted reputation and a sought after experience at his downtown salon. "Recognized as Portland's premier, trendsetting hair salon and bridal boutique by numerous publications, Richard Herrera About Hair offers the very latest in hair cutting techniques and hair coloring and has a fabulous array of salon services and professional products of the highest quality" (from their website). After a pleasant email conversation with their manager, I set up an appointment and started counting the days.

I went in on a Saturday morning to a happily bustling salon where everyone looked happy to be there. I was given a light robe to change into and sipped some coffee while flipping through the newest Elle. First up was color. My colorist was friendly and easy to chat with as she deftly folded my hair into foils. She's expecting her first child, so we had some great conversation and the time flew by.

I sat under the dryer and picked up my Elle I had been clutching with a death grip - I don't get much fashion mag time anywhere else - and at the end of the setting time, I met Kate, who would be doing my cut. She's a Portland native with a great sense of humor, so we chatted and laughed for the next hour as she gave me my cut. At first, I was thinking just a clean up trim. But then I realized that this is probably the best place to get a new, fresh cut, and I should live a little. So, I received THE BEST BOB OF MY LIFE. Not joking. It's amazing. I'm really, really in love with it. And I've had my share of bobs. She also showed me how to get the best straight iron curls - I like my curls loose, fast, and easy. I'm still working on perfecting the curls and getting them the way she did, not quite there.

What I appreciate about Richard's philosophy is that it is heavy on continuous education. Sometimes you end up with a stylist that has been cutting something like "The Rachel" for ten years and it doesn't end up well. Or they pick up a razor. NO! A razor is a death sentence to my type of hair. All clients at Richard Herrera receive the latest techniques in hair cutting, hair coloring, and salon services. So I felt like I was in completely competent hands with Kate, and she even remarked that Richard has made her cut bobs over and over to perfection.

After my BEST BOB, she took me over and waxed my eyebrows - first time, nothing to it - and did my makeup using a new line of mineral makeup called YoungBlood. I had run out of my Alima Pure powder so I picked up this new brand and we'll see how I like it.

I left the salon feeling refreshed, completely happy with my beautiful hair color and chic cut, and my cleaned up eyebrows and new brand of makeup to try out. The best feeling was coming through the gate and Andy saying, "Wow! You look great!" I was feeling like we needed to go somewhere so the makeup didn't go to we went to the playground.

And if you're a bride or have a special event coming up, they specialize in all things brides and with over 20 years of experience, they have a reputation as the salon of choice for bridal services.

I've put up a sidebar button and you can click through to visit, or you can click on this link. And if it sounds like I'm gushing, I totally am. Because it feels good to feel beautiful, you know? Especially as a mom, when you're not guaranteed a shower or even five minutes alone during the day...

I was contacted by Richard Herrera About Hair to review their services, and happily agreed. I review services and only share them with you if they are experiences/products that I believe in.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Playground Wrangling: Tips for Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions {Carnival of Natural Parenting}

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Oh, the playground.

Or as I sometimes like to call it, the Zone of Death.

There are very few "safe" playgrounds for busy little toddlers. After all, they really just like to find a soft spot in the dirt, no matter where that may be, and get as dirty as possible. They might go down the slide a few times, or climb some steps, but really, I think it's more about the exploration of this big ol' world and the sense of freedom they get from the large, open spaces in parks and backyards.

Going to the park before kids was one of the most relaxing outings. Spread a blanket, sip a drink, and open a book to while away a few hours while lounging under the clouds. Ha! Those were the days! Parks are now an iffy scenario for me and taking these two little busy bees definitely intimidated me at first. How was I supposed to keep and eye on two sets of feet often running in opposite directions? But we have two awesome parks within walking distance and my girls LOVE going there, so we have to make it work!

I also didn't want to be that mom: be careful! slow down! don't do that! Put down that pinecone! Don't get dirty! Share! Not fun for anyone.

These are a few loose guidelines that we use that seem to work:

- If I take them by myself and we take the car, I do a quick drive by. If we walk, I scope it out first from afar. If there are bigger kids on the playground (say, it's been overrun by teenagers after school), we don't stop at that particular park. It's just not fair to try and help 2 year olds navigate around rowdy 15 year olds.

- My role is their "assistant," to put it in Dr. Laura Markham's words. I let the girls take the lead, try to let as much child-directed play happen, and be there to assist and affirm if needed. I try and let them experience that sense of, wow, I did it! whether it's going down the slide backwards or swinging off the structure handlebars. The looks of joy on their faces is priceless! If things are going well, I keep at a short distance. When they look over for affirmation, I smile and wave but stay put. The playground has to work for you, too!

- That said, I set a boundary very early on: I don't help them up the biggest parts of the structure, any high ladders, or on the monkey bars. It's just not wise for me to get into a situation where two little children are hanging from high bars with only me to support them/catch them. If one runs off but one is still hanging, I'm in a pickle. So they know and I know that this is how the park happens with Mommy. If Andy comes with us, he might help them on an "adventure," but when it is just us and they ask, I say, "Oh, we can do that when Daddy comes with us," and they usually laugh, nod, and run off.

- I also try to be very clear about what they CAN do and limit my "No." If there are more than two or three bigger kids playing, I don't want them climbing up to the bigger slide and possibly getting pushed around out of my reach. So I tell them, "There are big kids here, so it's their turn on the slides today. You can stay on this side and play on these slides and I'll watch you."

If that doesn't work, I give them two choices, "Do you see all the big kids? It's their turn on the big slide today. Do you want to play on the other slides or go on the swings?" It's definitely hard for a little one to understand why they can't do a certain thing in such a fun place, so I do try to empathize and get their participation in decision making. If I can come up with two choices, they'll usually be content with choosing one of those options.

- I let them wander (within sight), and give them the option of all of us together leaving the playground to go play in the grass, walk the paths, or whatever has caught their fancy that day. Just because we've come to the park doesn't mean they MUST play on the playground! Sometimes they're more interested in a pile of dead leaves than the slide. That's OK.

- The one I struggle with most: preparedness. Extra diapers and wipes, because someone will inevitably poop if I forget. I also pack a special snack and lots of water. Or sometimes we make it out of the house with only one water bottle - it happens! If all the starts align, I bring a small picnic blanket. Big IF, though.

- About 15 minutes before we leave, I give them a heads up. They usually still have a difficult time leaving, but sometimes if I preface the departure with a couple reminders that we'll be leaving soon, their meltdowns don't last quite as long. But sometimes they come to me and say, "Ready Home," and that's our cue that they're ready to go home. It's dang cute.

- What I haven't figured out: how to get Afton to stop screaming "mine!" or "my turn! my turn!" when another kid tries to go down the slide. She's a tad territorial of her slides and I know it's a phase, but it is kind of embarassing. Right now I just repeat, "We take turns on the slide. It's his/her turn. Your turn is next," over and over and OVER. Or offer another option, like going to the swings or the other set of slides. I'm sure the parents think I'm nuts. Tips are appreciated.

Setting these few loose guidelines have made our outings to the park an actually enjoyable experience, less stressful, rather than a game of chase that leaves me breathless and stressed. I also believe it keeps all of us safer. Oh sure, sometimes it ends up just a bad day, but for the most part, it's been more fun than I thought it could be!

How do you handle the playground chaos with your kiddos?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to cars eats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"
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