It was like a bad first date …

Last week, I had one of my dreams come true.

Through a random series of events, a good friend of mine contacted me last-minute with an extra ticket to go see Ina May Gaskin, an amazing American midwife and activist, speak at a conference in Toronto – potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Brad was kind enough to help me figure out how I could work it out (I had to leave at 4:30 and wouldn’t be home until 10:30, the longest I’ve ever been away from Gil, not to mention that Brad had already made some fairly firm plans for that evening).

Honestly, the thought of seeing her and potentially meeting her had my heart beating faster than is normal ALL. DAY. LONG. I was so excited! We worked it out, and I headed out to see one of my sages. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that both Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth AND Spiritual Midwifery are both on my list of essential childbirth preparation books. These books were tantamount in my ability to trust my body and choose a homebirth for both of my kids.

The event began at 7PM and she spoke until 9PM, with a short intermission in which she did a book signing. It was an incredible evening full of inspirational talk – from everyone except me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Book Review: Reimagining Church

Can we please be daring enough and creative enough to change this five-hundred-year-old ritual – which incidentally doesn’t have a shred of biblical warrant to justify it? Can we accept the challenge to equip God’s people to function under the headship of Christ without human control? And if we don’t know how to do this, can we please be humble enough to bring in someone who can and see what happens? (Reimagining Church, p. 266)

What a fantastic book! While Pagan Christianity exposes the non-scriptural nature of most of our church practices, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity discusses what church would look like without them – and challenges its readers to act on their new knowledge. Author Frank Viola walks the reader through reimagining the following:

  • the church as an organism
  • the church meeting
  • the Lord’s Supper
  • where church is held
  • the family of God
  • church unity
  • leadership
  • oversight
  • decision-making
  • “spiritual covering”
  • authority and submission
  • denominations
  • apostolic tradition

This book packs a big punch and led me, for one, to see what church could look like done in the tradition of the apostles and the first century Christians – truly a Christianity of which I would be unashamed to be a member, and Christianity for which my soul cries out!

The biggest things that stood out to me is that being a passive spectator to a once-weekly ritual is waaaaaay easier than being in real relationship with other Christians. Consider the following quote:

“There’s a price to pay in responding to the Lord’s will for His church … You’ll bear the marks of the cross and die a thousand deaths in the process of being built together with other believers in a close-knit community. You’ll have to endure the messiness that’s part and parcel of relational Christianity – forever abandoning the artificial neatness afforded by the organized church. You’ll no longer share the comforts of being a passive spectator. Instead, you’ll learn the self-emptying lessons of becoming a responsible, serving member of a functioning body … And you’ll incite the severest assaults of the Adversary in his attempt to snuff out that which represents a living testimony of Jesus.” (Reimagining Church, p. 278)

Interestingly, while my intellect shudders at that description, my spirit jumps with joy – or perhaps it is His Spirit within me? Either way, I’m excited – excited that perhaps I’m not crazy. That I’m not alone in feeling that if Jesus were here on Earth today, He wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with the way we “do church”.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I’ve signed up to a forum for organic churches and have been invited to a conference event to hook up people looking for organic church. I don’t think that there are any organic churches in our area – not that I’ve been able to find. So what do we do? Wait for someone else to plant a church? Pursue planting one ourselves? Do we even know enough people passionate about this type of Christian living to make this a reality?

Questions, questions. I’m hoping to purchase Finding Organic Church. It is apparently a very good book – discussing finding, planting, and sustaining organic churches.

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Book Review: Pagan Christianity

I was lucky enough to piggy-back on an order that Brad put in for some programming books a few weeks ago. He ordered me The Birth of Hathor (which took me completely by surprise!), Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, Pagan Christianity, and Reimagining Church. I quickly dug into Pagan Christianity and would like to offer a short review here. Read the rest of this entry »

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My current [parenting] to-read list includes …

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Book Review: Diaper Free

I was recommended the book Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene (Ingrid Bauer) by a number of parents on an email list in which I participate. At first the idea of Natural Infant Hygiene (NIH), or Elimincation Communication (EC) as it is often called, totally grossed me out – after all, aren’t babies and diapers part and parcel?

I figured it couldn’t hurt to read the book and maybe it would give me some interesting things to try with Gwen, so I picked it up from my library and dove into it. People, I love this book!

The idea behind NIH is that babies are born with the ability to consciously relax their bodies and urinate or defecate just like an older child or adult, but that we train them to use a diaper instead. From pages 98-99:

“Elimination Communication begins with the baby’s awareness of subtle sensations, which indicate the filling of the bladder. The baby may then signal the parent, or the parent may anticipate the need through timing or intuition. The parent holds the child over a receptacle and make a familiar sound. The child then voluntarily relaxes and releases the urine before the bladder has become uncomfortably full. Over time, as muscles strengthen and conscious control increases, the baby is able to retain and hold in larger quantities of urine for longer periods of time if necessary. This occurs gradually with no particular focus or effort as a natural and inevitable consequence. About the time the sphincter muscles fully develop, the diaper-free baby achieves consistent continence.”

Bauer then goes on to contrast this with conventional potty training, in which a child has learned to pee in its diaper only when the bladder is very full and it cannot hold any more urine. When we then ask that child to begin using a toilet or potty to urinate in, he or she must contract the sphincter muscles and make it to the potty or toilet to release the urine. These kids just literally don’t sense the subtler signals that their bladder is sending to their brain in order to pee voluntarily before the bladder is full until much later than the toilet learning has begun.

I think one of the most interesting things I learned in this book is about the differences between the Western world’s concept of ‘toilet readiness’ – that a child cannot possibly toilet train before at least 18 months because they don’t have the ability – and the Eastern world’s belief that children are quite able to communicate effectively about their elimination needs. I enjoyed this quote a whole lot – from pages 70-71:

“One of the most glaring problems with the concept of toilet training readiness is its heavy ethnocentric focus. The “readiness” theory can only even begin to be considered viable if one pretends that the vast majority of the non-Western world does not exist … Millions of mothers around the globe know that babies are “ready” and aware from birth. The empirical evidence is overwhelming and stretches back for eons. Why has the experience of the majority of the world’s mothers and babies been ignored for so long? Are only modern North American and European babies subject to this maturational lag?”

The book then describes the suspicious timing of the release of scientific literature to promote the ‘toilet readiness’ theory by Dr. Brazelton during the year the first disposable diapers – Pampers – were released. Not to mention that Dr. Brazelton happened to sit for a time on the Pampers Parenting Institute Pediatric Roundtable. Coincidence? I happen to think not!

The book is filled with stories and instructions as to how best support your child’s elimination – whether you start at birth, after a few months, or start later with a toddler. I’m planning to start pretty early with Love Bug – we’ll see how it goes!

Here are some other resources for learning about NIH:

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The Continuum Concept: A Book Review

Wow. Can I say wow?

The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff, is in my opinion, largely a social commentary. The writer spent a great deal of time living with and observing Native South Americans in their tribal communities and contrasts their methods of child-raising to our very different North American methods.

Basically, Liedloff postulates that these tribal humans live much closer to the natural human state (the ‘continuum’) than we “civilized” humans – a postulation with which I’m sure none of us would disagree. However, she also asserts that as such, their children (and adults!) are happier, more well adjusted, and enjoy a higher quality of life than do their Western counterparts. She stresses that we have come to rely so much on our intellect and so little on our inborn instincts that we miss out on much of the truly human experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t worry, I’m still here!

I just busy. And feeling like I’m not sure what to write. And I haven’t a clue where my camera cable is. Time for a bulleted list, anyone?

  • I’m 23 weeks pregnant now. Over halfway, 5 more weeks in my second trimester. Wow. Brad got to feel Love Bug kick this morning. I think that’s one of my favourite pregnancy experiences :)
  • Our kitchen is coming along swimmingly. Cabinets are in, sink and flooring are purchased and the counter-top people are coming on Monday to do the template.
  • I’m getting sick of living in renovation-land. I’m ready to have a working kitchen and dining room and to dig my living room out from underneath the paraphenalia associated with each unfinished area. Sooooo ready.
  • I’ve been reading quite a bit! I finished ‘Kids Are Worth It!’ by Barbara Coloroso and LOVED IT – thanks for the recommendation, Chelsea! I’m almost finished ‘The Continuum Concept’ by Jean Leidhoff and am enjoying it immensely. Lots of interesting information that’s making me think long and hard about Western life.
  • I’m knitting too! I’ve started some Christmas knitting, as well as a pair of socks for Gwen. Too cute.
  • My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are spending a few weeks with us, which I love. I love having people here to share my day with – and Gwen loves having more big people to follow around and imitate!
  • Next weekend I have an all-day LLL conference to attend. Should be interesting with Gwen.
  • I have an appointment with a thrombosis clinic next week to check out my varicose veins – I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going on in there.
  • I’m pretty sure we’re not doing the H1N1 vaccine. 99.8% of me is comfortable not being vaccinated – after all, I don’t ever get the seasonal flu shot … but there is 0.02% of me that’s terrified by all the fear-mongering. If I wasn’t pregnant, I’d be 100% sure I wasn’t getting it.
  • I’m newly addicted to the show Gossip Girl. It’s horrid. But good knitting entertainment!

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Parenting Books

As you may have noticed, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about parenting types and styles. I am completely confident that attachment parenting is for Brad and I, but beyond that, how does one discipline?

I’ve got a couple of books that I’m hoping to read soon. With Gwen well into toddlerhood – my goodness, I feel like she’s had a toddler’s mentality since she started crawling! – we’re thinking more and more about discipline and I’m finding myself more and more confused as to what feels right for us. The only thing I do know is that I don’t want to hit, and I don’t want to punish. I want to discipline – to teach our children the correct way of being in relationship with others.

Here’s my list of soon-to-reads (I hope!):

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Gwen loves books!

She loves them a lot. We read a tonne of books every day. A couple of weeks ago, we found out that she understands a lot more than we give her credit for! Check it out :)

Gwen and Her Books from Kim Schell on Vimeo.

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Gwen Update … sans les photos

My laptop is … not cooperating? That’s my polite way of saying that the darn thing won’t turn on.

Yeah, I know. That’s what I think of it, too.

So anyways, I had some cute videos I was planning to upload and share today but here we are, without cute photos OR videos, but text’ll just have to do!

Gwen has started a very cute cruising behaviour – pacing back and forth along the couch, end table, exersaucer, chairs, etc. Go to one end … stop … go to other end … repeat. I love it!

Gwen can now “climb” the stairs. She can’t do it on her own (yet), but she rather enjoys climbing up the stairs while you hold her hands. She uses her right knee to get up the stair – it’s rather entertaining to watch!

Gwen wants to walk EVERYWHERE now. She will grab my fingers and then hurl herself off my lap and expect that I will indulge her and help her walk around the house. If I refuse or if I stop at any point, a full on screaming, head-thrown-back, gasping-for-air temper tantrum ensues. Charming.

I’ve been wondering why Gwen’s so … fussy … lately, as I hadn’t been able to see anything going on in her mouth. I snuck a look in there today and sure enough, her right eye tooth (which had been looking white but then gone away) is now white and a bit bulgy. Poor girl’s going to have completely lopsided teeth! She’s got the two middle bottoms, the right middle top, and the one to the right of that poked through late last week. If she gets her eye tooth it’ll be completely unbalanced. But cute 😉

We ordered some more board books for little miss so that we don’t go crazy reading the same ones again and again. We got Yes Yes (includes No No Yes Yes, Big Little, and Yummy Yucky), Pat the Bunny, Eco Babies Wear Green, and Urban Babies Wear Black. They’re all great books – the only thing I don’t like about any of them is that in Urban Babies Wear Black there’s a lot of pacifiers and bottles – no slings, no breastfeeding … but that’s the lactivist in me coming out!

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