Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Learning to be a parent by the book

I’m learning to parent. One day my oldest, upon seeing my library book on parenting, had an epiphany that I had never done this parenting gig before and exclaimed “you mean…I’m an experiment?!” Yes, indeed. I’m trying to relate to my children a little bit better, to be aware of their emotions, be empathetic, and internalize guidelines for navigating through their days while keeping my sanity intact.

So here are a couple of tips I’ve gleaned:

• When you want your child to do something, tell them they may (whatever it is). For example, “You may pick up your blocks now, and then you may have a snack.” Speak what you want them to do. Children desire to cooperate and need clear directions.

• If they need help getting all the blocks picked up, offer to help. This does a couple things: 1) it helps prevent them from getting frustrated and it gets the job done and 2) you’re modeling what you want them to do (besides pick up the blocks)—which is to help others.

• Children want to be autonomous. Allow them that by making a safe environment where everything within their reach can be played with. Let them dress themselves, pour their own drink, fix a snack.

• Speaking of dressing themselves, try not to control this too much. Much of parenting is letting go of our own expectations and control. Autonomy is a good thing, I try not to squelch it. I’m over caring if my child wears a striped shirt, a flowery skirt, and her pink boots. I think it looks darn cute, actually.

• Get down at eye level with your child. This goes a long way toward working together with your child. It connects you and allows you both to give each other your full attention.

Krista Bocko is living and learning in Noblesville and striving to be a better parent (chocolate helps). See her blog at www.cachetwrites.blogspot.com to comment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No TV or phones? Yes, kids, that's the way it used to be

In November my daughter and I went to a local craft show on a whim. Just as we were on the way out, we walked past a few more tables. I nearly missed the small table with the books on it, then the woman stopped me and invited me to take a look. I was drawn to the titles, one of which is the title of this article. People that know me know I am enamored with old homes and aprons and vintage Pyrex and the like, so I’m always thrilled to listen to stories from people that lived in earlier times. The author, Laura Konger Nicodemus, grew up on a 30 acre farm in the 1930’s near Churubusco, a small town north of Fort Wayne
It had always been Laura’s dream to paint a picture of the daily lifestyle of a child growing up on a farm, and the text and the illustrations in these four books is delightful and informative. Children are fascinated to learn that there wasn’t always electricity, TV, phones, and she ‘shares the feeling of freedom from the visits to the outhouse in the middle of the winter cold and the summer rains’ when indoor plumbing was installed.

I bought the set of four books and Laura autographed them. I am excited to read them with my children and open up their minds to how children their age used to live, compared to the relative life of luxury they live today. These books are a great classroom resource for elementary teachers also. Visit www.tcswoodentoys.com or The Wild at 884 Logan St. to purchase ($20 for the set of four). I’m also hosting a Christmas giveaway on my blog, an autographed set of these four books! Tell me something special you remember about your grandparent(s) or parent(s). The winner will be announced Dec. 25th.

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for playing along!  Be sure to sign in or post your email when you leave your comment so I'll have a way to reach you!  Pass this on, too.  Good Luck!


And the winner is....Kristen (Emlynsmommy)!  Thanks again for these great memories and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  And welcome to Noblesville, Michael.  :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Be a kid again and create with family or on your own

Children have an innate need to create and the gift of creativity. So do adults, whether we recognize it or not. My family does lots of creating—rarely is our table free of some sort of project in the works. Children are wonderful and open artists. I love watching their progression from stick figure drawings that can’t really be distinguished to more sophisticated recognizable animals, and their excitement over any new form of media they discover, whether it be different paints, watercolor crayons, making cut-out Christmas cookies, or building a fairy house out of found natural materials.

Last week I was at my parents house and my mother had a large basket full of pottery that we had made in art. I looked through it, pretty sure that there wasn’t any of mine left in there, since I’m the oldest and it was probably long gone. There was one, a little pinch pot, and it was painted greenish-gray. It was pretty homely really. But I looked at it and thought about the times my art projects were judged and how the joy of creating was taken from me. If I could talk to myself back then, I would have looked at the little girl that made that pinch pot and found something good to say about it to her. So what if it wasn’t cute, she had made it and because of that, it was special.

Do you have childhood experiences like that too? Remember that we all need to create, in whatever form it takes (there are many!), and honor that. There are a wealth of ideas out there to get you started. As a new year approaches, commit to making space in your life to create and experience the joy of making something, too, either with children or on your own.

Krista Bocko lives in ‘Old Town’ Noblesville with her husband and four children. She strives to encourage creativity and enjoys documenting their creative adventures. She can be reached via her blog at www.cachetwrites.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Educate before you vaccinate

We choose not to vaccinate ourselves or our children, no, not even for (or especially not for) H1N1 and seasonal flu. It is a hard decision and one that I am constantly re-evaluating but am ultimately most comfortable with. These are some of the questions I have gotten when I bring up the fact that we don’t vax. Considering that today’s CDC schedule (which I can only see increasing in the future) recommends 30 shots, yes, that’s 30 sticks by age six , any and every parent needs to become informed about the risks and benefits. This number doesn’t even include the now recommended yearly flu shots.

How are you able to not vaccinate? No one can force vaccination. Parents have a right to decline them for their children.

Aren’t you worried about your kids? Yes, which is why we have researched the issue and chosen not to vaccinate.

What about school? Contrary to what the schools say, they cannot refuse entry to a partially or unvaccinated child. You need to file a yearly exemption with the school, citing your reason for vaccination refusal (even if your child(ren) have only missed one vaccination) Anything short of the full CDC schedule will require an exemption. Indiana allows for a religious exemption, see my blog for a sample letter.

Don’t vaccines protect us? I agree (in theory) that vaccines work, however, vaccines include aluminum, formaldehyde, thimerosal (mercury) and other toxins. I think it’s highly risky to inject so much of these ingredients into our children and not consider the long term effects. Vaccines also bypass the bodies natural defense mechanisms, and acquiring natural immunity as nature intended is superior to artificial immunity.

Are you…healthy? Pretty much. We try to avoid the typical American diet, we eat whole foods as much as possible, exercise, seek regular chiropractic care, and are dosing ourselves up with multivitamins, Vitamin D drops, Vitamin C, and Omega 3’s.   Northstar Health Store, at 9619 E. 116th St. in Fishers, is an excellent resource.

Bottom line—every person considering vaccines for themselves and/or children needs to spend some time researching them. Choose to be informed.

Some books & resources I have found helpful in my vaccination/health research:

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives

The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child

A Critical Look at Vaccines

Video-A Vaccine Primer

Vaccine Debate article--costs 1.99--worth it

Northstar Health

Sample Exemption Letter:

(School & Address)
Noblesville, IN 46062

(Parent Name(s))


To Whom It May Concern,

We will not be completing the vaccination schedule for our child, (child's name), citing the religious belief exemption as allowed for by law under Indiana Code Article 8.1, Chapter 7, Section 2.

Thank you and sincerely,

(parent name(s) and signature)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Schoolhouses and Cemeteries

On a beautiful, crisp October day, we visited some old cemeteries. Old cemeteries are everywhere, often we don't even know where they are. We live just down the street from one that now sits between a school and a grocery store. We were here for years before we even knew it existed. There are 2 south of us, both on busy roads, that I drove by a million times before I noticed them. One we visited is a secluded, fenced and treed spot that backs up to Verizon. There are only a handful of graves, only taking up a small part of the cemetery, the latest dating from the 40's. There was a grave for a stillborn and a 2 month old, both alone. That was so poignant and sad. I wondered these people's stories. It's so hard to imagine that this spot, once distant to town and in the country, now is in such close proximity to loud rock concerts, something these people could never have dreamed. Now on concert nights the stillness is broken and the sound reverberates through the ground.

As we traveled to another cemetery (we were geo-caching) we passed this old schoolhouse (pictured). Again, the questions. When was it built? What is the story? What was the teacher's name and what was she like? What did the children go on to do? I wish I could go back in time and get glimpses, it's so hard to imagine it at all. And again, it's so desolate and sad. Why has it (and so many like it) been allowed to fall into ruin? I have always loved old schoolhouses. There used to be one in near ruins near my house growing up, and I dreamed of fixing it up into a house. It was torn down. I was sad then too. Why do so few people seem to care to preserve our past?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If this old house could talk, what stories would it tell?

I am an old house lover. The mystery and intrigue of old houses and things never ceases to cast a spell on me. When I’m in an old house I wonder, “Who built this house? Who has lived here and what were they like? How many babies have been born within these walls?” I could go on and on..

The other day my husband reminded me that we needed to measure the children on the coat closet door. I said I had just been looking at the measurements on the door and thought the same thing. While I was looking at the measurements of past residents, I started in my reverie again of these people that used to live here. What happened to Jimmy, Martin, Chad, Taylor, Jim, Morgan, Sean, Sherri, Chris, Sullivan, Mary, Marshall and Steven? These faded names on the door are the only clues I have as to who once lived here. Marshall was 2 in 1999, so he’s the same age as my oldest daughter. Hmm. That leads to some speculation right there, to which my oldest daughter would definitely roll her eyes.

Our house is right around 135 years old. I talk about it a lot with the children, how when this house was built there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no cars! What would it have been like to hear hooves clip-clopping down the brick street? So many memories have been encoded within these old walls, hopefully many, many more happy ones than sad ones and, hopefully, many more happy ones to come. I hope to one day meet some of the people that have once lived here and hear their stories. And this is partly why I write, to preserve my story and my voice for the future.
Krista Bocko lives in “Old Town’ Noblesville with her husband and four children and is passionate about old houses and preservation of stories and the past.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DYF (do yourself a favor) and DIY (do it yourself) November 17, 2009

Make your place

I’ve got a sweet and sassy book that I am loving right now. I just got this book by Raleigh Briggs in my hands recently and am so glad I did. Do yourself a favor and get this DIY book (DIY stands for Do It Yourself for the uninitiated). Contact Jane at The Wild (gotothewild.com) to get yourself a copy. It's $7--seriously--for a total wealth of information that is engaging and easy to understand. Topics cover Health & First Aid (making tinctures! salves, how to treat headaches, depression, colds, etc.) to Non Toxic Cleaning and Body Care, to Gardening.

I was sold on this book before I even read the Intro and reading the Intro when I got it made me love it even more:

."..no part of the process was trivial or mundane. Creating and using something homemade never is. I came to realize that my skepticism abouth the importance of these acts was based on a cultural belief that the domestic sphere is somehow less important than the public sphere. Which, of course, is such a load of crap. (amen, sister!) If we DIY only the elective, recreational parts of our lives-or only what other people can see-then how much of our lives are we really reclaiming?

...DIY is for everybody! Gardening, homemaking, healing: these are all such basic aspects of human life on this planet, and they are important for just that reason.

...to me, DIY is not a show of prowess, or even a hobby, rather, it is a necessary step towards living our lives on our own terms. ...we cannot depend on a market-informed cultural consciousness to enlighten us--we have to do it ourselves." (ding ding ding!!)

--raleigh briggs

Yes, DIY is worth it in so many ways.

Love Mother Earth this Holiday Season (November 17, 2009)

I am always striving to do better in treading lightly on the Earth, so with that in mind I wanted to share some ideas for making this season greener and simpler.

1. Have a willingness to change your shopping, decorating, and celebrating habits. Do you always wish the holidays were simpler and less hassle? So does everyone else. If we want to get more out of Christmas/Hanukah/New Year’s, let’s do less.

2. With that in mind, consider giving fewer gifts to family and friends. My husband and I strive to give each of our children a few really meaningful gifts. Usually this consists of something to wear, something to read, and something to play with. We try to find a balance that strikes the chord of just enough.

3. Shop local when you can. And by local, I don’t mean a chain in town. I mean a real independent shop. I’m partial to the downtown courthouse square myself. Go spend some time browsing the shops and get a cup of coffee at Noble Coffee & Tea (bring your own travel mug) or a homemade ding dong at Logan Street Marketplace.

4. Shop secondhand stores. Why? Items are less expensive, recycled, and your purchase benefits good organizations. Don’t forget craigslist and eBay, and for new gifts that support artisans, try etsy (www.etsy.com).

5. Buy fewer plastic/battery operated/insanely packaged toys and gadgets. Recycle cardboard boxes and plastic packaging.

6. Bring your own reusable bags when shopping.

7. Wrap presents in kraft paper (can be recycled), re-used gift bags, fabric bags, or not at all. You could hide the unwrapped presents and leave 3 clues as to where it’s hidden.

I hope these ideas help you—visit my blog at www.cachetwrites.com for more ideas and to leave your own comments!

**more thoughts--instead of a regular gift exchange at large family gatherings, have a silly exchange.  At last year's family gathering, I instructed each participant to bring 2 prettily wrapped presents that are cheap but preferably useful, some examples would be: a pack of pens, washcloths, a bag of peanuts, etc.  Then we went around in a circle and each person could choose one from the pile or steal one.  On it went till everyone had 2 presents.  It was a hoot.  This could of course be modified to everyone bringing a secondhand item, either one they bought at Goodwill or one they brought from home.  Another idea would be the stipulation that everyone bring something they created themselves (or that someone else made).

Speaking of family gatherings and other parties--use real dishes.  Most people have a dishwasher, so it's really not a big deal to put them in the dishwasher.   Sooo much less trash is generated this way.  Use cloth napkins, too.

Consider a family membership to an area museum as a gift.  Conner Prairie is excellent (and so close).

Commit as a family to tread more lightly on the earth.  Brainstorm together.  Ideas--Recycle more . Walk or bike more places.  Drive less.  Buy used as much as possible. Wear clothes several times before washing/re-use towels.  Buy or make your own natural cleaning products. 

Either skip the christmas cards, or send out postcards instead.  Either way, you'll be saving paper AND money on stamps!

I'm sure I will think of more!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mama 'nose' best when it comes to piercing (November 3, 2009)

(I had to show this because I love the photoshopped arrow.  I need to get photoshop, that would be fun)

I got my nose pierced this year. No, it’s not a desire to look ‘cool’. I drive a minivan for pete’s sake, I’m over trying to look cool. It’s more of an outward sign of rejecting the neat little box of ‘what I should be’ and trying to express my authentic self. (What’s next—a tattoo!?)

It took a long time to come to this, this idea of me getting a nose piercing. The question of ‘am I too old’ of course surfaced. So, abandoning for a moment my not-caring-what-anyone-else-thinks attitude, I did what any reasonable human being with internet access would do. I googled ‘am I too old for a nose piercing?’ The answer was a resounding ‘no—if you’re still alive, it’s not too late’. I was heartened to read stories of women who were also in their 30’s, as well as women in their 40’s and even 50’s who have gotten one and love it. So that sealed it. I went to Metamorphosis in Broad Ripple (excellent) and after one somewhat-painful-but-not-too-bad stick later had my silver little nose stud.

I love it. It suits me, and even though nose piercings aren’t exactly uncommon, they are somewhat taboo in society, especially if one isn’t a teen or in their early twenties. That’s partly why I like it, it is a visible reminder that I am striving to go my own way and listen to my authentic self, whether it’s a nose piercing or having my babies at home or painting with bright colors just because I love it. I hope to impart that to my children, the desire and the courage to go their own way too, whatever it is. They can do amazing and bold things when they do.

And now I need to get back to planning my armband tattoo.

Krista Bocko lives in Noblesville with her husband and four children. She questions pretty much everything and is on a journey to express her authentic self. She can be reached at kbocko@sbcglobal.net or via her blog at www.cachet-cachet.blogspot.com

Inside the Hoop (October 20, 2009)

                                                    Hooping it up can be exhilarating

We come spinning out of nothingness,
scattering stars…
the stars form a circle
and in the center we dance.

If you’re lucky, you may just see a group of hoopers in a public park sometime, blissed out and hooping it up with some custom, colorful hoops. I love hooping and am excited that it’s experiencing a surge in popularity. These are not the hoops you played with as a kid! Real, customized hoops are larger, heavier, and therefore rotate slower, making it easier to keep them going round and round. People who say they can’t hoop, are amazed to find they really can hoop when they try a real one!

Hooping is a great way to get or stay fit and have fun while doing it. The challenge of learning new tricks and moving to the music keeps it exciting and fun, plus it’s a great activity for all ages. My children love it. Lots of times, I’ll grab the hoops and take them to the front or back yard and we’ll all go out there and hoop. It’s fun have ‘hoop-offs’ with the neighbor children or my own. And sometimes I even let them win.

And then there are times when I spin and twirl—just me in my hoop—lost in the music and the movement, feeling the circle spin around me again and again. Closing my eyes and feeling, just feeling and being in the moment. It’s exhilarating and never gets old. It’s so meditative to swirl and twirl and just move. You know when you’re doing it right, too, because the hoop stays up!

Visit hooping.org for more info on hooping, and if you are interested in either purchasing a hoop or just trying one out, contact me. Happy hooping!

Krista Bocko loves finding herself in the hoop. She and her children (and sometimes her husband) can often be found hooping in the yard. She enjoys making custom hoops and spreading the hooping love & can be reached at kbocko@sbcglobal.net or via her blog: www.cachet-cachet.blogspot.com.

To Circ or not to circ, that is the cutting question (October 13, 2009)

To Circ or not to circ, that is the cutting question
It's a t(ouchy) subject
By Zach Dunkin

If you’re the kind of guy who winces at the thought of having your male parts sliced or one who objects to the discussion of the male genitalia in public you might want to take a pass on reading Page 9. And maybe skip the rest of this column, too.
Noblesville resident Krista Bocko, who “enjoys thoughtful parenting and questioning the status quo,” uses her Page 9 opportunity to ask the question: to circ’ or not to circ’ – to have your newborn boy circumcised or left “intact,” as she puts it. She is the mother of four children, including two boys, who are intact.
Bocko told me she felt compelled to write about circumcision in response, candidly, to a commentary another of our columnists wrote a couple of weeks ago, a commentary Bock said “quite frankly contained quite a bit of misinformation about circumcision,” a topic she has researched quite extensively.
However, after editing the piece, which attempts to set the record straight about circumcision, I realized Bocko had not answered the question I had about circumcision: is there any research which shows what adult male and females prefer aesthetically? What do they prefer “it” look like?
She had an answer.
“What I have found,” Bocko told me, “is that for the most part it’s very much dependent on what you have always known. So, in the U.S, where it was way more common to be circumcised, that’s what people thought was more appealing because they had rarely seen an intact male. In other parts of the world (like the U.K.) where the vast majority of males are intact, a circ’ed penis looks quite bizarre.”

As it turns out, circumcision rates vary even within the U.S. depending on where you live, with the Midwest leading the way. According to figures released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 75 percent of newborn boys born in the U.S. in 2005 got the scalpel. The West had the lowest rate at 31 percent, the Northeast, 65, and the South, 56.
Bocko’s next column, by the way, will be on hoopdancing as a way of keeping fit. Troublemaker!

Should I circumcise my son?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about circumcision. After extensive research of my own and discussion with other parents who have also given much thought to this issue, this is what I have discovered:

Fiction: most baby boys are circumcised, so in order for a boy to fit in, he should be too.
Fact: once upon a time, most baby boys were circ’ed, but no longer. According to my children’s pediatrician and my midwife, 50-60% of baby boys now are intact, with that number only expected to climb.

Fiction: My son won’t fit in if he’s not circumcised.
Fact: see above. If that is a concern, leave your son intact. (Do boys really go around comparing their penii in locker rooms? Curious)

Fiction: my son needs to look like his father.
Fact: he won’t ‘look like his father’ for a very long time. And again, see above. Kudos to those dads who are circumcised and then do the research and the parents choose to leave their son(s) intact.

Fiction: it’s cleaner.
Fact: an intact baby’s penis is easy to clean, certainly no more difficult than cleaning a girl. Rule of thumb: only clean what is seen.

Fiction: it’s better to circumcise when they are babies and won’t remember.
Fact: is there really a good time to remove a functional body part? The foreskin is not simply an extraneous flap of skin. If it’s there on their body, it probably serves a purpose.

Fiction: there is no risk to the procedure.
Fact: there is risk to every medical procedure. Risks include infection, excessive bleeding, or in rare cases, death. Be informed.

Fiction: it’s medically necessary.
Fact: it’s cosmetic in most cases.

So let’s reframe the question to: should I leave my son intact?

Krista Bocko enjoys thoughtful parenting and questioning the status quo. She and her husband and four children live in ‘Old Town’ Noblesville in a historic home. She can be reached at kbocko@sbcglobal.net or via her blog: www.cachet-cachet.blogspot.com.

Six Reasons Why I Homebirth (Sept. 29, 2009)

Contrary to the popular saying that “all that matters is a healthy baby,” I believe that women matter too.

After 2 hospital births, I sought out the amazing alternative of homebirth. I am now a homebirth junkie.  Two of my children were born gently at home.

Here are 6 reasons why:
1. I knew I needed my own time and space to go within myself, free from time constraints and hospital protocols to conform to. I didn’t want to be ‘on the clock.’
2. I didn’t want to subject myself to the typical hospital interventions, not to mention the much increased risk of a c-section (about 1 in 3 hospital births on average end in cesarean).
3. I wanted to feel the power of birth and know that we, we, did it ourselves. I wanted a gentle, welcoming entry to the world for my baby, who would be surrounded by people who loved him or her.
4. I believe birth is for families, and I wanted my older children to be participants if they chose.
5. Every story I’d read of homebirth was beautiful and empowering for the woman and her family. I wanted to experience that.
6. I knew homebirth was safe and that by empowering myself and taking responsibility for pregnancy and birth, by choosing my attendants and by consciously releasing the societal conditioning of fear of the birth process, I had done everything I could to ensure a happy and healthy birth.
If you are intrigued by homebirth, read more about it. Knowledge is power, and when we open our minds and learn about alternatives to the norm we can only benefit from that knowledge. So seek it out! Some resources I recommend are The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer, Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block, and the documentary The Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.
Krista Bocko is a self professed birth junkie. Two of her children were born gently at home. She and her husband and four children live in ‘Old Town’ Noblesville in a historic home. She can be reached at kbocko@sbcglobal.net or via her blog: www.cachet-cachet.blogspot.com.