{ This Moment }

Inspired by SouleMama
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

DSC_0073

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

spring play

Cooperative Games: Preschool

We play quite a few board games around here. Two of our littles are toddler/preschool aged which typically prompts us to play most of our games in a cooperative fashion even if the game isn’t built that way. It eases up the rules, gives the opportunity for easy outs in case a particular two year old decides 20 minutes is her limit or for the inevitable potty break. It also allows us to work together toward a goal and celebrate in the accomplishment together. In a world with so much competition, it’s freeing to play games with your kiddos where you all win or lose together.

preschool cooperative games {beeraftertea}

Some of our favorite cooperative games for the toddler/preschool crowd are:
* The Little Orchard by Haba
* Hoot Owl Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom
* Count Your Chickens by Peaceable Kingdom
* Feed the Woozle by Peaceable Kingdom
* Harvest Time by Family Pastimes

And a few games we play cooperatively which may not follow the rules entirely:
* Cariboo by Cranium
* Bendomino Junior by Blue Orange
* Zimbos by Blue Orange

What are your favorites?

{Our Right Now}

xylophone cherry tree

chive blossoms

miles on his bike

radishes

pork belly and slaw

* The garden is beginning to sprout. I was sure I had planted too early, and perhaps I did for a few plants, but my radishes, arugula, beets and chard have all risen above ground so I have hope that the rest will do the same.

* We built an outdoor xylophone. We’re in the process of building many more and will share details on how you can get one soon.

* The chive blossoms are almost here! Last year I made chive blossom vinegar and plan to do the same again this Spring. It has a subtle chive taste, but most of all the champagne vinegar with chive blossoms just looks gorgeous in a nice bottle.

* Pork belly confit. Need I say more? I took a page out of Charcuterie and spent a few days making Le Pichet’s pork belly confit. I served it alongside a very spring slaw of asparagus, fennel and radishes. Delicious.

* The littles are enjoying the sun. Today we dipped our toes at Point no Point… it was perfect. We are loving it here in Kingston. <3 <3

Spring, fertility and eggs.

What a brilliant weekend here in the Pacific Northwest! Spring is truly upon us. Our Facebook news feeds are flooded with sunny pictures, bursting gardens, weekend hikers and babies in bonnets. We spent the last week celebrating spring with a trip to the ocean, a couple hikes from our house to the water (which is quite the feat), a load of dirt dug into our first garden bed here, the move of a friend’s chicken coop to our yard and many many hours outside together.

Brubeck lounging in our new bed

Brubeck lounging in our new bed

our kids' future hideaway

our kids’ future hideaway

foraged nettles

foraged nettles

salmonberry blossom

salmonberry blossom

the beginnings of the coop

the beginnings of the coop

playing at the ocean

playing at the ocean

Elle feeling her way around the sea life

Elle feeling her way around the sea life

writing in the sand

writing in the sand

happy pup

happy pup

 

Crunchy product: Bees Wrap

We’ve all seen the reusable snack bags and the glass food containers and the BPA free this’ and that’s, but a replacement for plastic wrap? A mother and farmer in Vermont has created a product using organic cotton muslin infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin to replace traditional plastic wrap. The wrap molds from the warmth of your hands and stiffens within seconds. They are sold in four different sizes to accommodate half an apple or an entire loaf of bread. Visit their site to read more about their story and see their products in action.

Soulemama readers have access to a 10% discount via her blog through the end of March.

beeswrap 1

beeswrap 2

Parents singing to fetus and newborn: Part II

Penny Simkin discusses the research around parents’ singing to their babies in utero and the post birth benefits. She also shares how birth professionals can encourage clients, patients and students to start this practice during pregnancy.

Originally posted on Science & Sensibility: A research blog about healthy pregnancy, birth and beyond

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What is the research evidence for postnatal benefits to parents or babies of singing to the baby before birth?

• Fetuses can sense audio vibrations and rhythms early in pregnancy. Later in pregnancy they hear and distinguish various sounds. (4)
• They recognize their parents’ voices after birth (1)
• Newborns prefer their parents’ voices over the voices of strangers (1)
• Repetitive prenatal reading of one story by one parent every day for weeks results in the newborn’s recognition of and preference for that story. (2)
• Fetuses respond to music by calming, becoming active, changes in FHR (depending on the music) 5,6)
• Premature babies are calmed by calming music. (7)
• Newborns and young babies are calmed by familiar music, as demonstrated by the universal use of lullabies.

Combining these findings, a proposal

In light of all that has been learned about babies, I think we can combine it all into a simple approach to enhance bonding, soothe the baby, empower parents with their own unique tool that no one else, even the experts, can do as well as they. (8) I propose that we who provide care and education for expectant parents urge them to do the following at around 30-32 weeks’ gestation (or earlier or later):

Simple steps to singing to the baby in utero and after birth
1. Choose a song that you like and is easy for you to sing. It might be a lullaby or a children’s song, but it does not have to be. It can be one of your favorite songs or a popular song of the day.

2. Sing it every day. Both parents can sing it together, but each of you should also sing it alone much of the time. It can be played with a musical instrument some of the time, but it also should be played without an instrument much of the time.

3. When your baby is born, after the initial lung-clearing cry, sing the song to your baby. The baby can be in your arms or with a nurse in the warmer. If your baby is crying, try to sing close to his/her ear or loud enough that he/she can hear it at least during the pauses to take a breath.

4. Continue singing it every day, especially during times when your baby is crying (and has been fed; don’t use it as a substitute for feeding!)

5. Sing it when bathing or diapering your baby, when soothing or helping your baby go to sleep.

6. Sing it when your baby is upset and you can’t pick her up, such as when driving in the car and you can’t stop or take the baby out of the car seat; or at a checkup if the doctor is doing something painful.

If parents feel they can’t sing or are too embarrassed to do it, I suggest choosing a poem that has a nice rhythmic meter, and recite that to the baby. I recommend Mother Goose Rhymes or poems in books by AA Milne, such as “When We Were Very Young” and “Now We Are Six;” or Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and others.

Recent students in my birth class took my suggestion to heart, singing “Las Mañanitas,” from their Mexican culture, to their unborn baby frequently. The dad would lie with his head on the mother’s pregnant belly as they sang. They even videotaped sessions while the mother was having a non-stress test that showed the baby’s heart rate steadying when the dad was singing, and rising when he was not. We also see the dad singing to their sweet little daughter right after the birth. Though she cries pretty hard when being suctioned and rubbed with blanket, she calms down with his singing.

I’ve just completed a film for children (9). In the film, we see 4 year old Maia singing ”Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to her baby sister before birth and again right after birth. Neve, her sister, calms down when she hears Maia singing the familiar song.

Enjoy these heartwarming scenes in the video below.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when parents sing one (or possibly a few) songs repeatedly to their child, before and after birth, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a unique, meaningful and fun connection with their baby. The child already knows and loves the song as sung by his/her parents more than any other song, sung by anyone else. Parents always have their voice with them and can use it to comfort, soothe, and play with their child for years to come. Parents have the opportunity prenatally to give their baby a gift that becomes a gift for them as well.

Singing to the baby before and after birth is a lovely and very special thing to do. Would you consider introducing this ritual to your students, clients and patients? Have you already done so? How has it been received? Do you have any stories about parents who have practiced this connection? Please share in the comments section, I would love to hear about it. If we all get the word out to expectant families, it could have a very positive impact.

References:

Brazelton B. Cramer B. (1991)The Earliest Relationship: Parents, Infants, and The Drama Of Early Attachment . Da Capo Press Cambridge, MA.
De Casper A. 1974, as described in Klaus M, Klaus P, Kennell J. 2000. Your Amazing Newborn. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA..
Odent M. 1984, Birth Reborn. Pantheon Books: New York
Klaus M, Klaus P, Kennell J. 2000, Your Amazing Newborn. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA.
Verny T, Kelly J. (1982) The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. Dell: NY
Chamberlain D. (2013) Windows to the Womb. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA.
Lubitzky R, Mimouri F, Dollberg S, Reifen R, Ashbel G, Mandel D. 2010. Effect of music by Mozart on energy expenditure in growing preterm infants. Pediatrics 126;e24-e28. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-0990.
Simkin P. (2012) Singing to the baby before and after birth. International Doula 19(3):30-31
Simkin P. (2013) “There’s a Baby: A Children’s Film About New Babies.” PassionflowersProductions: Seattle.

Joseph Conrad on: the Artist

An interesting, if not inspiring, Friday morning read…

A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential—their one illuminating and convincing quality—the very truth of their existence. The artist, then, like the thinker or the scientist, seeks the truth and makes his appeal. Impressed by the aspect of the world the thinker plunges into ideas, the scientist into facts—whence, presently, emerging they make their appeal to those qualities of our being that fit us best for the hazardous enterprise of living. They speak authoritatively to our common-sense, to our intelligence, to our desire of peace or to our desire of unrest; not seldom to our prejudices, sometimes to our fears, often to our egoism—but always to our credulity. And their words are heard with reverence, for their concern is with weighty matters: with the cultivation of our minds and the proper care of our bodies, with the attainment of our ambitions, with the perfection of the means and the glorification of our precious aims.

It is otherwise with the artist.

Confronted by the same enigmatical spectacle the artist descends within himself, and in that lonely region of stress and strife, if he be deserving and fortunate, he finds the terms of his appeal. His appeal is made to our less obvious capacities: to that part of our nature which, because of the warlike conditions of existence, is necessarily kept out of sight within the more resisting and hard qualities—like the vulnerable body within a steel armour. His appeal is less loud, more profound, less distinct, more stirring—and sooner forgotten. Yet its effect endures forever. The changing wisdom of successive generations discards ideas, questions facts, demolishes theories. But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition—and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation—and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity—the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.

It is only some such train of thought, or rather of feeling, that can in a measure explain the aim of the attempt, made in the tale which follows, to present an unrestful episode in the obscure lives of a few individuals out of all the disregarded multitude of the bewildered, the simple and the voiceless. For, if any part of truth dwells in the belief confessed above, it becomes evident that there is not a place of splendour or a dark corner of the earth that does not deserve, if only a passing glance of wonder and pity. The motive then, may be held to justify the matter of the work; but this preface, which is simply an avowal of endeavour, cannot end here—for the avowal is not yet complete. Fiction—if it at all aspires to be art—appeals to temperament. And in truth it must be, like painting, like music, like all art, the appeal of one temperament to all the other innumerable temperaments whose subtle and resistless power endows passing events with their true meaning, and creates the moral, the emotional atmosphere of the place and time. Such an appeal to be effective must be an impression conveyed through the senses; and, in fact, it cannot be made in any other way, because temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion. All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its highest desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the colour of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music—which is the art of arts. And it is only through complete, unswerving devotion to the perfect blending of form and substance; it is only through an unremitting never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to colour, and that the light of magic suggestiveness may be brought to play for an evanescent instant over the commonplace surface of words: of the old, old words, worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage.

The sincere endeavour to accomplish that creative task, to go as far on that road as his strength will carry him, to go undeterred by faltering, weariness or reproach, is the only valid justification for the worker in prose. And if his conscience is clear, his answer to those who in the fulness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused; who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked, or charmed, must run thus:—My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm—all you demand—and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask. To snatch in a moment of courage, from the remorseless rush of time, a passing phase of life, is only the beginning of the task. The task approached in tenderness and faith is to hold up unquestioningly, without choice and without fear, the rescued fragment before all eyes in the light of a sincere mood. It is to show its vibration, its colour, its form; and through its movement, its form, and its colour, reveal the substance of its truth—disclose its inspiring secret: the stress and passion within the core of each convincing moment. In a single-minded attempt of that kind, if one be deserving and fortunate, one may perchance attain to such clearness of sincerity that at last the presented vision of regret or pity, of terror or mirth, shall awaken in the hearts of the beholders that feeling of unavoidable solidarity; of the solidarity in mysterious origin, in toil, in joy, in hope, in uncertain fate, which binds men to each other and all mankind to the visible world. It is evident that he who, rightly or wrongly, holds by the convictions expressed above cannot be faithful to any one of the temporary formulas of his craft. The enduring part of them—the truth which each only imperfectly veils—should abide with him as the most precious of his possessions, but they all: Realism, Romanticism, Naturalism, even the unofficial sentimentalism (which like the poor, is exceedingly difficult to get rid of,) all these gods must, after a short period of fellowship, abandon him—even on the very threshold of the temple—to the stammerings of his conscience and to the outspoken consciousness of the difficulties of his work. In that uneasy solitude the supreme cry of Art for Art itself, loses the exciting ring of its apparent immorality. It sounds far off. It has ceased to be a cry, and is heard only as a whisper, often incomprehensible, but at times and faintly encouraging.

Sometimes, stretched at ease in the shade of a roadside tree, we watch the motions of a labourer in a distant field, and after a time, begin to wonder languidly as to what the fellow may be at. We watch the movements of his body, the waving of his arms, we see him bend down, stand up, hesitate, begin again. It may add to the charm of an idle hour to be told the purpose of his exertions. If we know he is trying to lift a stone, to dig a ditch, to uproot a stump, we look with a more real interest at his efforts; we are disposed to condone the jar of his agitation upon the restfulness of the landscape; and even, if in a brotherly frame of mind, we may bring ourselves to forgive his failure. We understood his object, and, after all, the fellow has tried, and perhaps he had not the strength—and perhaps he had not the knowledge. We forgive, go on our way—and forget.

And so it is with the workman of art. Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off. And thus, doubtful of strength to travel so far, we talk a little about the aim—the aim of art, which, like life itself, is inspiring, difficult—obscured by mists; it is not in the clear logic of a triumphant conclusion; it is not in the unveiling of one of those heartless secrets which are called the Laws of Nature. It is not less great, but only more difficult.

To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile—such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a very few to achieve. But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished. And when it is accomplished—behold!—all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile—and the return to an eternal rest.

1897. J. C.