Vegan Pumpkin Waffles with sweet pumpkin topping

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it? We bought a couple cans* of pumpkin and have already made a few pumpkin items over the last week. This was what we made this morning with less than a whole can.


Now, if you’re new to my page, you might not know that I hardly follow recipes or write down exactly what I put in my concoctions. So, really, this is just my eye ball recollection of what I put in my waffles this morning. If it doesn’t look right to you, add a little more of this or that, okay? But waffles are hard to mess up so don’t worry about it.

Vegan Pumpkin Waffles

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbs baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I use pink Himalayan sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of water (add more if the batter isn’t thin enough)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into your waffle maker. Pull out when they’re ready and top with whatever you’d like or maybe some more pumpkin! My simple pumpkin topping is just mixing some pumpkin puree with some maple syrup and spooning it on top of my waffles. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for Paleo version, this one looks pretty good. I personally, am trying to minimize my family’s animal product consumption these days so we’re avoiding the butter, milk, bacon that used to go with our waffles. We still eat some eggs from our backyard chickens but waffles don’t really require eggs.

*Be sure to buy organic pumpkin in BPA-free cans, though fresh or in glass is better because BPA-free doesn’t mean toxin free. Apparently, Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin is BPA-free as well.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or comment below!

 

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The argument for less school and more play that everyone should listen to

[My children enjoying unstructured nature play.]

Play. What a simple and important part of our lives. From infancy until our eventual death, play is essential to our emotional and physical health as human beings. During our formative years, play is critical to our children and their development. They gain knowledge through play, how the world works, how to think, remember, solve problems. They learn how to appreciate nature, have empathy for others, how to trust themselves. Free play develops their language and social skills, gross and fine motor skills, and even survival skills. There are too many benefits to list, really, and being a sleep-deprived mom of three kids under 5, I can’t really articulate all of my thoughts on the subject anyway. But I do know that the lack of children playing outside and the rise of neighbors and strangers calling the cops and CPS on parents who allow their children to free range for a bit, is concerning to say the very least.

I am fairly certain if you read my blog, we’re on the same page. Even so, if you have a spare few minutes, please watch The decline of play: Peter Gray at TEDxNavesink. ”In this talk, Dr. Peter Gray compellingly brings attention to the reality that over the past 60 years in the United States there has been a gradual but, overall dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play with other children, without adult direction. Over this same period, there has been a gradual but overall dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents. Based on his own and others’ research, Dr. Gray documents why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and outlines steps through which we can bring free play back to children’s lives.”

After I finished listening to Dr. Grey speak, even I, a parent who prides myself on letting my children free range and have lots of unstructured free play in their own skin or however they see fit, felt a little regret. It made me question myself, just a little bit. Do I let my children play as much as I’d like, as much as they need to? Do we spend too much time in the car driving back and forth to various field trips and activities, to see our friends and family? Am I over-scheduling our family? What is the balance between relaxing and doing everything we want to do, that we feel passionate about or compelled to explore? I would love to move away from the busy city and have more nature play, all day, every day, and have our community we connect with within walking distance from our front door. But that’s just not where we are right now. We have to drive to both of those things. Our weeks ebb and flow as we need them to. We slow down and spend more time at home napping, cooking, gardening, reading, painting, and watching our chickens. On busy weeks, we’re out and about every day exploring all that the SF Bay Area has to offer, playing until bedtime and then crashing into our beds. Well, the kids anyway. I’m here typing away until midnight right now.

Schooling: Too much, too soon

The absurd push for earlier enrollments and more homework are also a valid points in Dr. Grey’s talk. Why are children across the globe starting school earlier and earlier? Why are their years of free play getting cut short when research overwhelmingly supports starting “formal” education later in childhood? According to the University of Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, “this evidence relates to the contribution of playful experiences to children’s development as learners, and the consequences of starting formal learning at the age of four to five years of age.” Children need to learn how to trust themselves, to feel in control of their bodies, their lives, before being thrust into school.

Our family has taken steps to allow our children to learn through play, through life, as we’re an unschooling crew. I quit my job and we barely scrape by to make it so I can stay at home with our kids and help guide them. I look forward to our days together and I have confidence in what I have to offer them over brick and mortar education. But that’s just not everyone’s reality. I understand that. Parents with kids in traditional schools can try keep them from being bogged down with excessive homework as well. We all know assigning homework for children that are not even five years old is not helpful. They may hate it or love it but really, they should be spending their free time playing or doing whatever they want, not something a teacher assigned them to do because they are part of a system that thinks homework is necessary.

It’s time to push back. Talk with your child’s teacher, the principal. Tell them you value free play more than prepping for testing. Ask what outdoor activities they offer or can make space for. Let’s push for more arts and music while we’re at it too, right? And when your kids are out of school, haul the whole family off to unplug and enjoy what this earth has to offer. Take your shoes off. Take their shoes off. No more helicoptering. Free range those kids. They will thank you for a lifetime for it. We can do it.

What do you think? Do your children have undirected, unstructured free play? Do you think they are getting enough?

Join the conversation on TwitterFacebook, or comment below.

 

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My Reflections on Motherhood thus far: Three kids under 5

[Loving my children. Photo copyright Nicole diGiorgio of Sweetness and Light Photography]

It just occurred to me this morning that I have never thought of myself as a nurturing person. Until now. Maybe that seems strange considering I already have three kids and I write a parenting blog. But I think I have reached a point in my journey through motherhood now where I feel like a real nurturing, supportive, mothering type to my children. I know I am no where near perfect, that our family changes and grows, and we go through rough patches but I now finally have more moments where I think I’m doing a good job than feeling overwhelmed and unhappy with myself as a parent. Sure, sometimes I still put the kids to bed and have a couple regrets from the day that trouble me, how I could have handled a situation a little better, how I had a parental meltdown instead of just breathing and relaxing, but mostly, I feel pretty good.

Do that make sense? I’m just free-flowing here. Maybe these first couple of months and years of parenting is like having a new job. You start a job that you don’t have any experience in, you’re just thrown in the position and told to figure it out. You really wanted the job but are suddenly filled with self-doubt. You mess up a ton at first, you wonder if you’re going to get fired, but eventually, you start feeling proud of yourself and your contribution to the whole, and you stop worrying about getting canned.

I read something about parents only being as experienced as their oldest child and to treat ourselves accordingly.

There is also another saying that comes to mind when I think of my journey through motherhood. What’s the saying, “Fake it until you make it”? It’s not that I’ve been faking it, being a fake or distanced parent, but when I had my first daughter, I felt a little numb at times. Perhaps it was the unplanned c-section, not feeling the labor and birth, being just handed a baby that left me feeling like I wasn’t really a mother. But we got better. I started to feel bonded and I was feeling pretty great about how I was doing. Then my mother passed and I had to keep on keeping on. I thought I had it all down by the birth of my second child, a wonderfully healing homebirth, but then I started feeling overwhelmed with two kids in diapers, the fact that no one really spoke to me in full sentences, all of the crying, two children needing me at conflicting times. It wasn’t that bad, really, looking back but reading my journal entries from that time have me wishing I never feel that way again. Things were tougher, my mother had only been gone a year and my husband was in school and work, gone 12 hours a day. I felt isolated. I didn’t have a community of like-minded mothers to feel connected to, vent and laugh with like I have now.

My third child’s gestation and birth was so incredibly freeing and our transition to a family of five seemed pretty smooth. Quint was a dream baby. My older girls were sleeping well and out of diapers. But then, as usual, I started feeling overwhelmed. I had long days alone by myself without family to help. My middle child went through a potty regression. I started losing all of my hair again. I felt tired and always hungry. I am thankful I wrote down my feelings to see the comparison from then to now. Every month that goes by, my girls mature and have really turned into efficient little helpers, thoughtful and compassionate people. Now, at 7-months postpartum with my third baby, I feel like I totally got this parenting gig down now. They (mostly) listen when I ask them to do things, we work as a team, they eat and sleep well, they’re getting better at sharing, and I feel a sense of pride seeing them interact with friends, strangers, and each other. I’m sure our family will go through more rough patches and I will certainly have to grow and learn with my children as they do, but I’m taking the time now to be appreciative of the good times that we are in right now and my confidence as a mother. That’s not saying I don’t have bad days or expect parenting to be smooth sailing from here on out, no, not at all. I feel that it’s all a ride, this life, my feelings about it all and parenting. It goes in waves.

Parenting continues to teach me more than I ever thought possible about myself, these little people I am raising, our community, and the world. I am filled with gratitude, love, strength, and courage, raising my children. I hope to give them and live my life with presence, grounding, and equilibrium. (Thank you for the inspiration, Jessica, and all of the ladies who keep writing their appreciation posts at the end of the day on Facebook!)

<3 Paala

PS – My baby just woke up and I just got pooped on and have to wash the sheets again. Yesterday, my baby peed on my head at dawn and woke us both up. Life is messy!

How are you feeling in your journey through parenthood? Do you have three kids or more? Is it easier than one or two? Or is it just an age thing – Do kids just get easier as they age?

Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or comment below.

 

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Facebook censored Bare Reality’s “100 women and their breasts” project, I shared it anyway. Then they deleted it.

Did you hear about Facebook censoring Bare Reality‘s “100 women and their breasts” project? They did. They claimed it was an error though, deleting all the link shares and images of the poster. Well, I shared the image on my blog’s Facebook page yesterday to show that I stand united. It’s been shared and liked hundreds of times on my page and it still stands. Good. [Update: It look about 24 hours for Facebook to delete it. No warning. No message about it. Just gone. So I reposted it in defiance but it was gone an hour later, despite dozens of shares. I guess the bots are removing it without notice.] Women need to see Laura Dodsworth’s work, female breasts as normal. I will not blur out my fellow women because of misogynistic assholes. (And that means men and women.)

Here are the women and the lovely variety of their breasts, in all their glory. No airbrushing. No photoshopping. Just as they are.

[Bare Reality. Shared with permission. Copyright Laura Dodsworth]

Soraya Chemaly, the author who also shared my free nipple when announcing the Facebook breastfeeding policy change back in June, wrote about this censorship issue on The Huffington Post yesterday.

#FreeTheNipple already, Facebook & the world. It’s about time. Women don’t just need to be breastfeeding, have had a mastectomy, or be a piece of artwork for our nipples to be allowed on social media and in public.

Speaking of breasts in the public, today, I accidentally left a boob. Say what? Yea. I left it completely out while having a conversation, not realizing my child was finished breastfeeding. The mom didn’t notice, or if she did, she didn’t pause or blink an eye. I was momentarily surprised when I reallized my “error” but then thought, who cares? Who really gives a flying you-know-what if I left a body part out? No one I’d care to be friends with, that’s for sure. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point in my level of comfort with myself and I never want to go back.

Isn’t it interesting, sad even, how women have to slowly adjust themselves to being comfortable with their bodies in public spaces? Or they never do? Men can flash nipples all day long without a care in the world from birth to death. However, they too used to be banned and arrested for being topless in public back in the 1930s but, according to Rue Willis, “Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness.”

It’s time for equal top freedom rights for men and women across the globe and on social media. We’ve been persecuted and censored enough. There is nothing wrong with our bodies, our breasts.

Please support Laura’s important project on Kickstarter if you can or just share the message.

How do you feel about your breasts? How does the routine censorship & criminalization of women for merely being female make you feel?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

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Indiana daycare’s policy denies breastfeeding rights, deletes their Facebook account after public backlash

A daycare in Indiana has a breastfeeding policy that tells moms they have to either breastfeed in the ladies room or outside, breaking state law.

Here is a photo of Grace Academy’s written policy:

 [Grace Academy's breastfeeding policy]

Indiana Code § 16-35-6 allows a woman to breastfeed her child anywhere the law allows her to be. (HB 1510) Telling a woman she must cover herself and her baby and only breastfeed in a special room or outside certainly seems to contradict state law. What is the reason for this policy? Are they banning all bottle-fed babies from eating, except in those places as well? Are they afraid of seeing breasts? All I know is that if the law backs the mom and a head religious leader, the Pope, recommends breastfeeding in public in his presence, in the Sistine Chapel even, this little child care facility can support moms and babies too. If they can’t handle seeing babies eat what they were biologically made to eat, perhaps they shouldn’t be in the business of babies.

How can you help?

Contact Grace Academy and respectfully request that they comply with state law.

  • 4001 Lincolnway E, Mishawaka, IN 46544
  • Call (574) 257-8539
  • Write on their Facebook page wall (Update: They have disabled comments and have deleted all public comments about their breastfeeding policy but you can still send them a message. 2nd update 9.9.2014: They have now deleted their Facebook page.)
  • Send them a message on their website.

What is the policy at your daycare or preschool?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below.

 

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Warrensburg, Missouri breaks state law, denies basic human rights to all breastfeeding mothers & children, booting them out of all city pools

Warrensburg, Missouri’s city parks department just declared that moms can no longer nurse their kids in or near any of their city pools.

Really.

They are not being sarcastic.

[Update: They've removed their ban after public backlash. See bottom for details.]

Their policy prohibits breastfeeding, denies children the basic human right to nourishment and comfort by their mothers, in or near city pools due to “concern for the general sanitation of the aquatic facilities.” Parks Director Dodee Matthews said the change follows “clarification” of breast feeding rights in a new state law that took effect Aug. 28.

Monica Beyer wrote about this news at SheKnows: “I am only assuming that they don’t really understand that Missouri recently amended its state breastfeeding law. They say they do, but they really don’t. It’s been legal to nurse in public in Missouri for years, but now there are specific protections in place that weren’t before — namely, moms cannot be arrested for indecent exposure, lewd touching or sexual conduct if they are breastfeeding in public.

It also includes the following notable change that directly applies here: 

“A municipality shall not enact an ordinance prohibiting or restricting a mother from breast-feeding a child or expressing breast milk in a public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be.” (Missouri HB 1320)”

My thoughts

As a mother of three, I know that I cannot pack up and haul my children out of the pool every single time my infant son wants to nurse for a moment for comfort or cluster feed. We’d be in and out of the pool all day. Just the sight of breasts makes my toddler want to nurse so I’d have to deny her basic human rights to comply with Warrensburg’s unlawful rules. They’re violating the legal and basic human rights of mothers and children. They claim it’s about their polucy to keep food and drink away from the pool. That’s not true. It’s not about no food in the water. Breastfeeding isn’t like regular solid food or drinks. Breast milk can’t be spilled out in large quantities or dropped in like a sandwich. Are they going to ban all lactating women from the pool now? And place a ban on anyone who ate half an hour before for fear of puke or dribble in the water? Food on their mouths and fingers? No.

If they’re concerned about babies ingesting water, they’d ban it just from the pool, not the pool side as well. Every single person who swims gets a little water in their mouth. Babies are no different, whether they’re breastfeeding or not, water is going to get in their mouths. And there is breast milk in the water if a mother has a letdown without a child near anyway.

And if they’re concerned about a little breast milk, what about menstruating women or the kids who pee in the pool, or adults who didn’t wipe properly or have all manner of other secretions, sweat, vaginal discharge, semen, blood, all hanging out in the pool?

How can you help?

Attend the nurse-in on 9/20 at 1pm. Join the Facebook event page.

Contact Warrensburg Parks and Rec and let them know how this illegal decree makes you feel, how they can amend this unlawful situation.

  • Send them a message on their website
  • Write on their Facebook page wall
  • Tweet @CityWarrensburg
  • Call (660) 747-7178 and speak to:
  • Parks Superintendent, Jeff Coleman
Please also take a moment to contact one or all of the following:

Have you ever breastfed in or near a pool? What would you do if breastfeeding was banned at your local pool?

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or comment below.

**9.7.2014**

I have not heard back from the Parks & Rec department as of yet. They posted this update on their wall two days ago:

In case you cannot read it, it says:

“NEWS RELEASE: Clarification of Parks & Recreation Breast Feeding Policy

The Park and Recreation Board has received numerous comments after the August 27, 2014 meeting regarding the policy on Breast Feeding in the Parks.

The long standing policy regarding the eating and/or drinking by or in pools by anyone was not changed. “There is no intent to single out breastfeeding mothers as we are very supportive of those families and their decisions”, said Judy Vickrey, President of Warrensburg Parks and Recreation Board.

This policy as it relates to breast feeding will be reviewed at the September 24, 2014, Park Board Meeting. 

For additional information, questions, or comments contact Judy Vickrey, Park Board President @ 816-678-7619 or Dodee Matthews, Director of Warrensburg Parks & Recreation. dodee.matthews@ warrensburg-mo.com, or 660-747-7178.”

The state rep responded:

**Update 9.14.2014 11:48am**

The breastfeeding ban has been lifted in a new resolution approved by the Warrensburg Parks Board. They will now allow mothers to breastfeed babies anywhere in park facilities, including poolside, following state law.

The Star Daily Journal reported on this update. ”Board President Judy Vickrey said that “created a firestorm” of complaints that “engulfed” city officials, parks board members and department staff.

“We need to get this issue silenced,” Vickrey said. “We can spend the next year talking about the master plan … or talking about breastfeeding.

“For me, it’s a no-brainer.””

 

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Virginia Big Woodys restaurant sexualizes employees’ bodies, kicks out mother for breastfeeding

Big Woodys – Great Bridge, a sports bar chain branch in Chesapeake, Virginia found itself in a social media firestorm this week after news of breastfeeding mother’s mistreatment went viral.

Crystal Dize McCullough, her child, her husband Michael, and their friends were kicked out of Big Woodys – Great Bridge because Crystal was discreetly breastfeeding her child while sitting at a covered deck at a table waiting to order dinner and refused to remove herself or be even more discreet.

This was her review on their Facebook page Monday.

Crystal’s husband also commented on their page. This was her friend Kyleen Calkins’ comment on their Facebook page.

“This is completely disgusting. My friends and I were kicked out this afternoon because my friend was breastfeeding. The manager, Danny, proceeded to argue that there wasn’t a law allowing mothers to breast feed in public. Crystal McCullough was discreet and she even said she would be more discreet while talking with Danny. His ignorance and lack of maturity are unfortunate for Big Woody’s. He said it was a family establishment but I’m not sure how “family” you can get with a nursing mother. He also said that there were locals who were unhappy, implying that we were “outsiders.” Well, we had our wedding rehearsal dinner at your fine family establishment in May 2013…look it up. How much more “local” and “family-friendly” do we have to be? I will NEVER go there again. Kudos to Danny and Big Woody’s for their stupidity.”

Another friend that was present brought up the skimpy uniforms by their waitress. This poster of the incident highlights and photos shared by Big Woody’s helped spread the word:

As you can see, these photos were deemed appropriate but a mother feeding her baby is not. A so called “family friendly establishment,” that makes a profit sexualizing women’s bodies should be held accountable for kicking out a woman for feeding her child and within her legal limits. Any other patrons offended by the sight of a mother feeding her baby should be informed that the business will follow the law and offer to relocate the offended party. A mother and child should not be discriminated against because bullies like to get their way. Breastfeeding is not obscene or lewd or unacceptable public behavior. It’s specifically allowed and Virginia Code Ann. § 18.2-387 (1994) exempts mothers engaged in breastfeeding from indecent exposure laws. Why? Because it’s all about feeding and caring for our children. And that will never be banned from public viewing.

And to clarify, this chain is not just a bar. It’s a bar and restaurant with a children’s menu, the same as Applebee’s saying they’re a bar & grill but they welcome everyone. Families are allowed to eat out. Breastfeeding mothers and children shouldn’t stay home for a year or two, until they’re done nursing so no one has to see them eat their food. Also, before assuming the mother was pounding a beer (she was not) and breastfeeding, read the FAQs on breastfeeding & alcohol.

The restaurant made this public statement about the incident earlier today:

In case you cannot read it, their post says, “Our sincere apologies for not responding sooner, but due to the seriousness of the issue, we wanted to make sure to interview staff and patrons and review our security video to be sure of all the facts. Let us first state that we are very sympathetic to the needs and cares of all our nursing mothers. In our five years of being in business, this is the only issue involving the treatment of breast feeding mothers.

With that said, in this particular incident, we were asked to address concerns by other patrons who were observing the situation. Our manager went to address those concerns and accommodate all parties involved. Unfortunately, we were unable to do this and attempted to rectify the situation amicably without success. We feel that providing more details publiclly would not benefit the situation. We would rather use this incident as an opportunity to provide knowledge to others and help educate the public on the rights of nursing mothers. 

We have always strived to be a positive influence in our community and our mission is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all of our customers, regardless of age.

Respectful Regards,
Big Woody’s Ownership and Management”

Crystal responded to their “apology” saying, “The manager DID NOT try to accommodate at all. He passed judgment on me, did not offer an alternate solution, just jumped to getting defensive and telling us he was cashing us out. And now for Big Woody’s management to say they want to take the time to educate the public on the rights of nursing mothers? HA! Then where is it? Where is the knowledge they want to share with others?”

What do you think of Big Woody’s actions and their public response? Have you ever breastfed your child in a restaurant?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or comment below. Feel free to contact Big Woody’s and let them know as well. Tweet @BigWoodysGB. Write on their Facebook page. Call (757) 436-1919. Send them a message or stop by 123 Battlefield Blvd N, Chesapeake, Virginia.

**Update 9.5.2014**

News on the incident.

Crystal shared this update: ”It is hard sometimes reading the nasty comments people are making about me and my family and friends getting kicked out of Big Woody’s for nursing in public. White trash, call social services, she was probably drunk and obnoxious, what a bad mother, go back to the trailer park, call the cops on her, baby in a bar how dare she, all she wants is media attention etc etc. But I am thankful that I have folks standing by me that know me. Know that I don’t lie, know I would fight tooth and nail to protect my own, know that I am not doing this for selfish reasons. Folks who are willing to help spread the message and take action. Breastfeeding is a natural right and situations like these give us a platform to help educate and inform. To make a difference and help enact laws to protect mothers. Thank you all for being here with me. It is not over yet!”

 

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