Answering Hard Questions

Answering Hard Questions

Recently, our nearly six year old has been asking some real gems about the world. I have entertained several queries about God, her body, my body, the bodies of others, people’s intentions, what happens when people die, and even questions about disasters and murder.

This is not something you generally prepare for when expecting a child or when raising a youngster. Thankfully, answering hard questions can be simplified by keeping in mind three simple guiding ideas: truth, tact, and appropriateness. Please take a moment to read more at my post today on Natural Parents Network: Answering Hard Questions, and leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Review/Giveaway: Gettysburg Flag Works {ends July 4} $40 ARV

Summer is full of reasons to fly a flag! From Flag Day on June 14th every year to Independence Day on July 4th and all those fun summer days between and after. . . flags are an easy and inexpensive way to liven up the front porch or celebrate a holiday or passion.


And you’re in luck because Gettysburg Flag Works has you covered – with flags for all seasons and reasons. From their classic durable American flag, to flags for military branches, different careers, services, events, and seasons, Gettysburg Flag Works’ selection cannot be beat. Gettysburg Flag Works reached out to me to offer one of their flags to our family to say “thank you” for our service as a military family — I was so excited about the chance that we made it a review and giveaway. I chose to receive their colorful and durable “Summer” flag from Gettysburg Flag Works and I have to say, I am very impressed. It’s quality, durability, and price were all top notch, and I love our new flag. Just the thing to brighten up our sometimes dreary and never consistent summer days on “The Rock” in Kodiak.

summer flag


The quality of the Summer flag that I received from Gettysburg Flag Works is great: to give you an idea of how strong the construction is, it is ideal for our windy and sometimes quite foul weather conditions. There have been a few nights that an unpredicted windstorm (with rain) will whiz through our street, and in the morning, the flag is just fine, right where we left it, with not a rip, tear, or any adverse aesthetics.  The design is crisp, clear, and colorful. These synthetic woven flags do not have the image painted on to where it will  peel off or fade – we have been using our flag to liven up our front porch area for upwards of three weeks, and it is just as beautiful as when it arrived!


Like I mentioned above, the Summer Flag from Gettysburg Flag Works has really stood the test of a Kodiak summer: and that is no joke. Some days, the sun is bright, and the next, its raining and blowing wind.  Our flag never gets a break, and it’s still just as beautiful as the day we took it out of the package.  I enjoy that this is a decoration that is durable and I know that I can use next year, or every day out of the year if I wanted.  It is not going to fade quickly or break any time soon. The stitching and construction are very high quality.


The flag that we reviewed is $40 USD, plus shipping.  I feel that the price matches the product, and most of the flags on the site are $40 or less, which makes Gettysburg Flag Works a very affordable place to purchase flags, garden flags, banners, and other decorations.  If you need something to liven up your porch or to help you celebrate a season or occasion, visit Gettysburg Flag Works – and I promise, you’ll find something to love!

Gettysburg Flag Works is supplying one free shipment of merchandise up to $40 USD to one of our readers.  Complete the mandatory entry below to enter, and do as many of the additional entries as you like (some can be done more than once). Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter system on 4 July and emailed regarding their prize!  Good luck, and thank you for being a reader of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Its not our house without a dog!

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.


“It’s not our house without a dog”

Abbey and Raven 2009Those were the words my children sang to me a few weeks after we arrived in our most recent home at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak, Alaska. I had previously met their “when will we get another dog?” with a simple “maybe soon- we’ll see.” I told them that getting a new dog and training him or her was a lot of work, and that mommy was kind of enjoying not having to clean so often and that our family was still getting used to being in a new home. . . I explained that our housing unit did not have a fence around the yard, and that we already have a dog (just “on vacation” with the in-laws for our tour in Alaska). . . I tried all of the adult logic that I could, and then with one line they convinced me to take yet another trip to the shelter like Hubs and I had done early on in our marriage and see if there was a helpless canine that struck our fancy that needed a nice place to live.

“Mommy, it’s not our house without a dog.”

It’s true, in the most literal sense, and in an emotional way. We have had a dog in the family (at times 2) since I was 5 months pregnant with Abbey. Raven (our now 8 year old lab) lived with us from before Abbey was born until we moved to Alaska last summer. She is now spending time with her dog-grandparents in Wisconsin – we weren’t sure how a move all the way to Alaska would affect her. The kids have never known a house without a dog. And obviously, having a dog in some way meant something to them. . . so we went to the shelter.

We came home with Mya, a pitt mix with a lovable personality, that had sadly been roughed up by the other dogs in her former home. You could see relatively new scars where she had been scratched and bitten, and she was energetic, to a fault. The poor thing really did need a loving home and some exercise and discipline. So, she became mine.

Our dog Mya

Mya is extremely strong, so I needed a little help training her to walk and obey. A neighbor gave me a pinch training collar and blessed me immensely by showing me how to safely use it to curb Mya’s pulling and teach her that I’m in charge. It was a real necessity in the beginning, but now, after consistent training, she walks and obeys without it for the most part. We got a yard and park training collar for her as well – it shocks if she needs a serious reminder like if she tries to dart out in front of a truck or jump on a child, but mostly, all Mya needs to hear are the positive and negative tones of the collar and she remembers what she ought to and ought not to do. I spend a lot of time training her to obey, and all of our neighbors remark at what a different dog she is now than when we first brought her home from the shelter.

The kids (now 3 and 5 1/2) assist with feeding and watering Mya and they love to pet, love, and play with her. Sometimes, they accompany us on walks, but Mya and I are pretty brisk walkers, so sometimes I walk Mya in laps around the park while the children play. Even though Mya is all muscle, she is very gentle with the children, and I am so happy for it.



In the past 10 months, Mya has come a long way from the neglected and super-hyper puppy that we adopted into a gentle, silly, and loving canine part of our family. It’s hard to imagine what kind of life our sweet dog would have if we had not decided to give her a second chance in our home. I’ll get on a soap box for a second and say that I agree wholeheartedly with Bob Barker: “please spay and neuter your pets!” because there are SO MANY unloved and unwanted pets in shelters all over the world that wouldn’t have been there if their parents had been spayed and neutered.

10426576_10103742821662281_4687028894505643436_nSome would wonder why I “gave in” to the pleas of the children and got “another dog” to take care of when I could have just stayed dog-less and avoided the cost, stress, cleaning (can you say shedding?), and extra responsibility that comes with being a dog owner. My answer to that question is that it’s not a dog or cat’s fault that they’ve come into the world. It’s not fair for them to be mistreated or to live in a shelter (no matter how humane). Abandoned, neglected, and abused pets don’t deserve to waste away with no one to love and discipline them. If I can help one have a comfortable and useful life, I will. In our married life, Hubs and I have fostered 2 puppies that we found on the street, and fully adopted 2 dogs that bring love, energy, joy and a sense of discipline and responsibility to our home.

So, I guess the kiddos were right when they said in their way-too-grown-up-tone: “But mommy: Our house is not our house without a dog.” Both Mya and Raven have challenged us to give attention, love, and discipline to something other than ourselves – and I think that in a nutshell, that’s a main positive of having a pet.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus

    Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s BunniesOur Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!

Censored for Talking About Lactation

Censored for Talking About Lactation

A while back, I was censored by the head of my friend’s beauty school. My experience brings to mind the double standard that our society holds regarding what is “okay” to talk about in public, and what discussions are offensive. We can talk about breasts when we talk about cleavage, celebrities, boob-jobs, or fashion, but when we talk about breastfeeding and human lactation, even in a subdued fashion, people can get very defensive and upset. It’s a strange commentary on our modern society.

Apparently, it is not ok to talk about mother’s milk, cow’s milk intolerance, or human biology at this beauty school.

Come check out the (very tame) conversation that occurred and share your own experiences: have you ever been censored for talking about breastfeeding? And how can we stand up for our rights to discuss feeding our children?

Read and discuss at Censored for Talking about Lactation today at Natural Parents Network.

Wordless Wednesday


Wordless Wednesday: Goofy Guy


Mindful Inventory – Winter Edition

Haven’t been writing much recently – have I? Well, I have been writing term papers for college classes, but blog articles? Not so much. So, what’s been going on with ME that’s made me so “blog-silent” the past few weeks? To answer that, I’m going to do what I call a “Mindful Inventory” . . .

I like to do these for myself when my head starts spinning with lots of things going on. It helps be remember to be proud of my accomplishments, aware of the joy in my life, and to plan for the time ahead.


IMG_4768THE MAIN IDEA of the Winter has been: Acclimating to a new place, and especially to a Kodiak Winter (totally different than a New England Winter, apparently!) And as a native Texan, I am missing my warm, sunny weather. Bad. Abbey has followed suit. She talks constantly about Grandma and Grandpa and how she wants to visit them in Texas.

THE BEST THING about the Winter has been: Celebrating Christmas, Valentines Day, and getting ready for Easter as a family. Sledding has been super fun this winter (though we only got a chance to do that twice . . . the rest of the snow was not powdery enough for sledding).


1. Continuing my online college courses with A’s and B’s (I only have two full-time semesters and one 1/2 time semester left till graduation!)

2. Sledding with the Hubs and kids.  Abbey and Joe are getting so big, and are sledding down the hill all on their own now!

3. Meeting new people and getting to know Kodiak better: This is a very different place for me, having grown up (and always lived in) a moderately large to huge city, and having been born in the South.  This winter was both depressing and uplifting, depending on the day! I’m proud to have gotten through it and I am looking forward to the Summer!

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE SUMMER: The SUNSHINE, picking salmonberries, and doing more outdoor play and hiking. This winter has been so dreary and grey. I cannot wait for some brighter weather!

WHAT I WISH I HAD DONE MORE OF THIS SEASON: Writing for and Sewing and marketing for Silly Bear Handmade

WHAT I DID JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF: Getting to know new people and taking Abbey and Joe to the indoor pool. Seriously, the indoor pool saved us this winter. I also did very well on my online college courses and talked with my advisor to plan out my last three (yes – only three!) semesters!

WHAT I’M PROUDEST OF THIS SEASON: Being able to balance school and home responsibilities, overcoming obstacles to get back to exercising regularly, and learning some new recipes.

GOALS FOR THE SPRING & SUMMER:  Sew more, and worry less. Write more, and procrastinate less. Enjoy the family, and get Abbey ready for Kindergarten in the fall and Joseph for his first days at preschool! Hubs is planning to teach Abbey to fish and to ride her bike on two-wheels. . . I’m hoping that Joseph will be fully independently pottying (he still wears a pull up at night) by the end of the summer, and I would like to have written more here at

Thanks for reading, as always. I blog to share my life and thoughts with YOU so that we can have a dialogue about life.

How has YOUR Winter been?

Are you ready for the SPRING and SUMMER?!

Mindful Inventory Winter

Wordless Wednesday: Indoor Active Play


Wordless Wednesday: Recent Craftiness


Milestone Moments: I gave away my cloth diapers!

Joseph has not been wearing diapers for a few weeks now. He still has trouble remembering to go potty when he wakes up in the morning – hence the night time pull-up – but as of two months before his 3rd birthday, he has been wearing big-boy underwear full time during the day, with accidents few and far between.

At a certain point in these past few weeks, I had to decide what to do with my stash of cloth diapers.

Sweet Ride Diaper

Most of them were sewn by me: Mama made, Silly Bear Handmade fleece diapers made up about 90% of the stash. I couldn’t fathom trying to sell them on a swap site, since my WAHM diaper brand is not well known, aaaaand I’m pretty attached to some of them. . . not gonna lie. But I wasn’t sure if or how to give them away. . . because I spent so much of my time (nearly) perfecting the art or sewing cloth diapers, and all the memories of Joseph with his fleecy little bum are still so fresh in my mind.

But they had to go. I wasn’t using them anymore, and someone else could. But who?

Finally, I wandered into the perfect conversation: A friend of mine in the Kodiak community that has a large family (talking, kids from college-age to diapers) was talking about her youngest boy, who is a friend of Joe’s. He is nearly two, but she wants to hold off on doing any potty learning or training with him until they get back from a family vacation to the lower 48 this summer. Smart. However, she said, lately, J. had been pooping in several diapers per day, and she said that she just felt so wasteful throwing out diaper after diaper. I offered my stash of fleece cloth diapers, and she accepted – she asked if she could buy them off of me, but I told her NO.

“Enjoy them, take good care of them, and pay it forward to another family once you are finished with them” I said.

And then I packed them all up, handed them to her at the next play date, and that whole two-year period of Joseph’s life was absolutely over. No more diapers.


What a milestone moment.

I have a second preschooler now, wearing underwear and the nightly pull-up. Not a baby, not a toddler: a kid. Nearly three. And I gave away my cloth diapers. Wow. Amazing how life just bulldozes forward and we all grow and grow and grow.

I was very pleased to have found a family to gift with my diaper stash. And I hope that they are pleased with their gift. And I am incredibly proud of my big boy Joe that just keeps growing as if there is no stopping.


What did you do with your cloth diaper stash after your littlest was finished using it?


What kind of emotions did you experience as your children learned to potty independently?