Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elimination Communication

After our first workshop on "Connection Parenting" by Pam Leo and our first guest speaker (Cody Dale), I felt compelled to share and support one another on a very interesting topic.  It has many names: Elimination Communication (a.k.a. EC), Diaper Free, Natural Infant Hygiene, Infant Potty Training, and Potty Whispering.  I'm sure there may be other names but these are the only ones I'm familiar with.  Heck, other countries don't even have a name for it.  It just is a part of life for them.

To organize the new topic, the original group got together one night to share our ideas of how we wanted things to flow with the new topic.  We discussed this over some yummy lentil soup, home made bread and pesto pasta.  Since we had been meeting up once a week to do the Connection Parenting workshop within a span of 7 weeks (since there was 7 chapters), we figured with all of our busy lives, to continue trying to meet up once a week for future topics might be a little too much (especially too much for our pockets since it was potluck each week)!  So we agreed that twice a month was doable (once a month would just somehow lessen the connection that we were creating, the closeness of this village so twice a month it was)!  And we had changed the times from evening to Saturday mornings from 11am-1pm.  A much better time where our lil ones could play with one another and where parents could still get things done on Saturdays!

Next was deciding how long we wanted to talk about EC.  We figured 2 months (meeting 4 times to learn and share our experiences with ECing would be suffice).  Of course ECing could always be discussed in future gatherings or online but 2 months was a good enough time before moving onto other topics.  And so began our village journey with ECing.

Before I begin sharing the journey though I thought I should at least give you readers a brief description of what the heck is EC (Elimination Communication)?  EC is a conscious and loving practice between the parent/caregiver and the baby with tuning into the baby’s elimination needs.  It is a gentle, natural and non-coercive method that not only helps effective communication with your baby’s elimination needs but it also can help to create an intuitive connection and trust. 
To make it easier, here's a link to my other blog, Made With Eco Love where EC is fully explained and a medley of resources are provided.

Our very 1st gathering on the EC topic was held at one of the village homes located in Burbank, CA on Saturday Feb. 6, 2010.  We had a great turnout.  It began with everyone filling their tummies with a yummy brunch feast consisting of granola fruit salad, plum dumplings, bagels and cream cheese, homemade pumpkin bread, Hummus and side dishes that I can't seem to remember (it's been awhile since the first gathering).  Then once everyone got settled in, I began by having everyone introduce themselves and their families, their parenting philosophies and what they wanted to get out of the group.  After the introductions, I gave a brief description of EC and its benefits.  We discussed the common signals that babies give when they need to or are in the process of going pee or caca.  I also went over the Four Tools for Diaper Freedom (which I derived from the book "Diaper Free - the Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer).  Myself and a couple of the families already doing ECing shared our experiences with ECing to the group.  To end the very successful gathering, I handed out documents on everything that was discussed, as well as an EC Log that I had created on Excel (in case any parents wanted to record their EC journey of "catches" and "misses".  To those curious, a "catch" is when you are able to catch a pee in the potty and a "miss" is when the lil one eliminates in their diaper (or the floor). 

The 2nd gathering was held at another village home located in Silverlake, CA.  Again, we began by having a scrumptious feast of fresh fruit, an Israeli Cous Cous dish with veggies, pesto pasta, bacon (for the meat eaters), muffins, and vegan nut cheese (to die for)!!  Of course I can't seem to remember everything served at this brunch either because well I've got mommy brain (I'm surprised I even remember what was served since it was about 2 months ago - shoot, I'm happy even remembering what I ate yesterday let alone 2 months ago!)...LOL  Oh and just in case, you're curious why I'm even mentioning the food - well to tell you the truth, I love food.  And food brings people together...and this is what the Family Love Village is all about - connecting people together!  So just so you know, I most likely will be mentioning food and possibly recipes from myself and other villagers in future postings.  ;o)

Ok back to the topic.  Since there were a couple of newbies to the group, I had them introduce themselves, their parenting philosophies and what they wanted to get out of the group (this is what I do when there is someone new that joins our group so that everyone gets to know the new villagers).  For this gathering, I discussed various types of cloth diapers and EC wear you can use while ECing.  Just for those new to this topic, it's best to have your babies in cloth diapers so that you can tell when your baby goes pee right away.  And this allows your baby to also become familiar with the feeling of being wet and become of aware of when they are going.  This cannot be achieved if your baby is in a disposable diaper because the chemicals in the diaper are what help to keep the baby feeling dry for hours on end (even though they're basically sitting in their soiled diapers for hours on end too)!  I also brought various accessories that parents can use on their babies for ECing, such as leggies, crotchless split pants (to make it easier to eliminate), and the Sumo style (which is basically a prefold that you put on your lil one and then have a prefold belt that holds it in place).  Just as a side note, you don't have to buy a prefold belt.  A dear friend and fellow villager, Yvonne suggested purchasing stretchy headbands at Target work just as good.  My hubby, Dalmacio bought 10 in a pack for $3.  They tended to be a little too stretchy so we ended up tying a knot at the end of them. I also shared EC accessories, such as wool puddle pads and various types of potties and toilet seat reducers. It had been yet another successful and fun gathering!  By this point, I was starting to get extremely thrilled with the outcome of our village and the synergy and friendships that were beginning to flourish.

After the 2nd gathering, we took a little bit of a break due to schedule conflicts.  So then it was decided that we would meet one last time to talk about ECing and share our experiences.  Our 3rd gathering took place at Griffith Park, near the Trails Cafe.  And let me just say that this place (like the link says) has a forest of vegan goodies!  I had heard of this place and had been meaning to check it out.  And what better way than to have our last gathering on the EC topic.  The food was amazing - so amazing that Dalmacio and I went back for more after our gathering for a late lunch and dessert!  The best part of this cafe is that you don't have to eat at the cafe because it's in the middle of the forest!  And since it was packed with so many families and hikers, I was grateful that Dalmacio and I were able to scope out the area and find a quieter spot across the way with a table and benches, along with a grassy area for our babies to play. 

On this particular day, another family joined our village (by this point, our village had been growing pretty steadily, at least one new family at each gathering)!  Yayyyy!!  Yep, it was pretty exciting to see our village evolving!  :o)  For this gathering, I wanted it be different and fun.  So I printed out potty songs that parents and babies/toddlers can enjoy together while ECing and demonstrated how to make a potty charm.  We also shared our experiences of ECing and those experienced in it, answered questions to those who were still iffy on making the transition.  Our son, Andrik even demonstrated his ECing skills by "going in the woods" and his buddy, Rylo demonstrated his sign language skills with signaling the word "potty". 

Ahhh yes!  It was a perfect sunny day on April 3, 2010 and the perfect way to end with this topic - picnic style at the park. To end the gathering, I had everyone write down topics that they were interested in learning more about so that we could pull our next topic from the hat, or should I say, in this case, pull our next topic from the potty!  ;o)  And the next topic that was picked was Cloth Diapering (so very fitting with ECing as they do go hand in hand until our lil ones are fully potty trained).

And there it was.  Yet another wonderful and eco-friendly topic for our village to support each other on.  Just so you know, before we go onto Cloth Diapering, the next post will be about our very first FLV field trip on Saturday 4/24/10.  This is going to be a very special field trip to the Whole Children Whole Planet Expo that I'm soo very excited to experience and write about!  So look out for this post next! 

To end this post, I just wanted to let the readers know that if you are interested in joining the EC journey but have questions and concerns, please send me a message and I will be happy to answer any of your questions and support you on your own EC journey.  And again, if you haven't checked out my other blog, Made With EcoLove regarding this topic, I highly suggest you do.  It gives great resources for online support, as well!  Good luck and happy ECing to you all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Birth of our 1st Village

It all began with a book.  The name: "Connection Parenting - Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear" by Pam Leo.  Its message: a loving guide to helping parents bond/connect with their children while getting everyone's needs met in the process.

Our son, Andrik Darius Pueblos, was about 2 months old when I began opening the pages to this priceless book.  There are 7 chapters and at the end of each chapter are exercises and tools to help discover how to connect with our children without having to use coercion or fear.  Each chapter was a gem...a key to unlocking the many mysteries to parenting with a gentle and loving approach.  Where a world full of No's!, Don'ts! and Be Careful's! is considered normal in our society, it was a breath of fresh air to read something positive and enlightening.  This is what I was looking for all along - a more effective way to connect and bond with our son and get all of our needs met by connecting instead of coercing, through love instead fear!  I mean come on - the very title of the book "had me at hello"!  ;o)

After reading the book, I was so inspired by its message that I started doing research online to see if there would be any workshops in the Los Angeles area where my husband, Dalmacio and I could attend.  But to no avail, I couldn't find anything.  Finally after some thought, I decided to send an email to Pam Leo to see if I could get any tips on how to create my own workshop for my family and a group of friends.  The message was that powerful that I felt empowered and wanted to share the many jewels written in each chapter.  Not to mention the medley of resources that Pam offers throughout the book from other authors and organizations.  I don't think I've ever read a book that promotes other positive resources as much as this book does!

Carmine Leo responded to my email and thus began a very fruitful conversation with a plethora of great tips on how to start my own workshop.  I still have that email saved up to this day.  It was back in March 28, 2009.  I also got the opportunity to speak to Carmine over the phone.  Such a pleasure and an honor to connect with this man.  He definitely went the extra mile to make sure I felt comfortable and well-prepared to facilitate the workshop.

After sending out a mass email to family and friends who have children, only three families confirmed their interest in the workshop and purchased the book.  Thus, began the journey of our first gathering.  And since it was a gathering about families on such a loving topic, I decided to call it the Family Love Gathering.  The workshop took place within 7 weeks to cover the 7 chapters.  My intention this whole time though was to hopefully go further than just this workshop.  I wanted to create a group where families could discuss, share and support each other on similiar interests, such as holistic wellness, eco-friendly living, natural/attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, unschooling, etc.  I wanted to create a loving space for like-minded parents to feel at home, where their parenting choices would be heard and supported vs. being scoffed at and ridiculed.  I was so excited when all the families wanted to continue supporting one another!

To monument the end of the workshop along with the end of 2009, we celebrated with a yummy holiday feast along with a special topic.  It was facilitated by an inspiring guest speaker, Cody Dale, who is an expert with the RIE philosophy and is now a parenting coach.  The basic premise of RIE is rooted in a foundation of respect for children - giving children the opportunity to learn from exploring. This idealogy encourages children to be an active participant in their play and allowing them to become independent learners.  RIE is very similiar to the concept of the Waldorf Education, except it caters to a child's first 2 years of life whereas Waldorf usually starts from preschool/kindergarten and on.  And although some people might think this concept contradicts our family values about attachment parenting (i.e. co-sleeping, wearing Andrik in a sling, extended breastfeeding, etc), I truly believe that there is a balance to everything in life.  And that also goes for attachment parenting and philosophies such as, RIE and Waldorf.  Which is why I feel it is important to have topics in varying degrees to share amongst our "family".  As long as they all have the same goal in mind; and that is to anchor gentle, positive, loving and respecting values for our children and families. 

Although we had finished the workshop and 2009 had passed, it was not the end of our gatherings.  2010 marked the beginning of a beautiful new year, with more families interested in joining along with a fascinating new topic.  The topic: Elimination Communication (which will be discussed in my next post).  Ahhhh yes - it was time for change, time for expansion and an evolved vision.  What was once a mere dream to just continue creating the space for support with our intimate family had emerged into a larger vision to connect more families together (perhaps even in other cities besides ours or even better yet, around the whole world)!  Because as the age old saying goes "it takes a village to raise a child".  And so what had begun as a Family Love Gathering was now transformed into a Family Love Village.

Welcome to my blog.  May you find a home within these pages...may you find your village.