Answering The Question

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

"Are you the one who fills our Easter baskets?"

The question surprised me, though I had been waiting for it for years.

Wondering when they would ask.

Are you Santa?

The Easter Bunny? And all of the rest?


The truth is, I was dreading that question.

The Question.


You see, I did not come easily to the idea of a magical childhood.

Precisely because I knew I would someday have to answer The Question.

When Sage was a baby magic felt like a lie. And I wouldn't lie to my kids.

No Santa. No Bunny. No magic.

I wanted to be honest with my children. Always. Completely. No exceptions.


But then a friend convinced me that magic served a very important role in childhood.

That the very nature of childhood is magical, and that magic is where young children should dwell.

Magic sets the young imagination ablaze with possibility.

Magic creates comfort in an overwhelming world.

Magic makes adult concepts digestible to a young developing mind.

Magic makes the unseen possible.


And the more I sat with this idea during Sage's early days, the more I began to agree.

Magic stopped feeling like a lie, and more like, well, magic.

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

The decision was cautiously made.

We'd give it a try.

We would invite magic.

For better or for worse.


My reservations quickly faded as I saw awe in my child's eyes when something magical happened. 

Even fireflies became magical to him.

"Look mama! There are stars and fairies all over in the forest!"

Within a moment I knew that we had found a good fit for our family.

And in our home anyway, childhood became a magical experience.

  Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

There was magic everywhere!

Standard issue magic folk and playful new creations.

Santa. The Tooth Fairy. Saint Nick. The Easter Bunny.

Also the Rhyme Elves, leaving a poem during the night beside a child's bed.

The Pumpkin Fairy, transforming Halloween candy into a lovely new toy.

The Solstice Elves, delivering a gift for the children to share each Solstice Eve.

And okay, I'll even admit to the obscure Van (as in: mini van) Fairies, who would hide a thrift store book in your car seat on a long and trying road trip.

And so many others.


We were rich with fairy folk.

Magic unfolded around us.

And years passed.

And I waited.

For The Question.


Finally it came.


Are you the one who fills our Easter baskets?


It was said with curiousity but not anxiety. Simply. Plainly.

I took my child by the hand and we found a quiet place to sit and talk.

And with my arms wrapped around this growing spirit, this is what I said.

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

Since you were very small your life has been full of magic.

On holidays and everyday.


Elves, gnomes, and fairies.



Inviting that magic into your life was a decision your papa and I made when you were very small.

Because we believed that a childhood full of magic could help you believe in things you could not see.

And as you get older believing in things you can not see can help you go anywhere you dream to go.


And yes, filling your Easter basket was a part of that.

Along with many other things.

We tried to make magic into something you could see and touch and believe in from the very start.


Because I believe that magic is real.

But it changes as you get older.

And instead of being the winged fairy folk or Easter bunny sort of magic it is a magic that is harder to see and touch than that.

    "Yeah," my child said. "Like the magic of the universe."

Yes. Like that.


I continued…

Your papa and I decided that we wanted you to have a magical childhood.

We thought it would help you believe in yourself when things seemed impossible.

We believed it would help you reach for things that others thought were unreachable.


And so just like Nanny and Bumpy did for me and their parents did for them, your papa and I have helped bring magic to life for you.


My child paused only for a moment, then smiled and said,

    "It's still magic. It's mama magic."

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

There was no sadness. No deceit. No disappointment.

Only joy, awe, and a new twist on what it meant to hold magic in our hands.

It all made perfect sense.

To both of us.

And it was time.


And then I passed the torch.

Because once you know this truth, you also become a magic keeper.

Your work is to help keep magic alive for other children who still believe.


And this – this! – was the best part of all.

To pick up the torch and become a part of the magic?

My child could hardly wait to get started.


Yes. It is still magic after all.

It's mama magic.

It's papa magic.

And now it is kid magic, too.


And kid magic I suspect is the most powerful magic of all.

They grew up believing. 

Who better to keep it alive?


My heart is full.


Behold, the power of cropping.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

I am almost embarrassed to admit to you just how many peaches I brought home from that roadside stand on Friday.

Because if you are thinking a bushel or two would be a lot you would be right.

And then if I suggested three bushels or God forbid four, well that would teeter on the edge of bonkers.

Four bushels. Humph.

But then if I told you there were already two bushels in the freezer for winter smoothies and treats and four more came home, well, I suspect that my peach issue would cease to be charmingly eccentric and become full on crazy pants.

Because how on earth could we even eat this many peaches and peach-based things in a year?

I have no idea.

Can we talk about something else?

And while yes, I did spend the weekend making: peach leather, dried peach slices, peach ketchup, cardamon-brandied peach halves, canned peaches, spiced canned peaches, peach soda syrup, peach butter, peach jam, and ginger-cardamon peach jam (*gasp*), I really emerged with a singular thought to bring to you, my dear friends.

That thought is this: cropping.

Life is one big, juicy, sticky mess. And anyone who's life appears dialed in in every way is cropping.

Cropping out the dog hair or the back talk, the bounced checks or the broken heart.

Cropping out whatever isn't working.

Because something isn't working in all of our lives.

It's the nature of life. If you aren't screwing something up you aren't really living.

So the next time you leave your favorite blog or social media with a sigh and a heavy heart, convinced you are inadequate because your life just doesn't measure up, know that it's all bullshit.

You totally measure up.

It's just that everyone else is cropping.

Here. Let me demonstrate using pretty peaches in my kitchen. Because Lord knows I have plenty of peaches.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

When you see these peaches in my sink, all glistening and succulent in that vintage colander, you know that my life is perfect. Right? Right.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

But when I allow you to see what's happening in the other sink and across the back splash, well, let's just say we no longer have peachy perfection. Oh, no. Now we have a health hazard.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

Let's do another one because it's so much fun. Quaint, rustic jars of peaches on my old-school table. I know. It's like stepping back in time to your grandma's kitchen.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

Or maybe not. Because your grandma probably didn't have a broken window screen, a battery charger, a knitting basket, and an inexplicable pair of latex gloves (!) on her table. Ahem.

Among other things.

So seriously, sister. Stop beating yourself up.

And the next time you feel inadequate, crop that shit out of the frame and forget about it.

And then marvel at how damn beautiful what you've kept truly is.

Behold. The power of cropping. [Clean.]

P.S. I love you.


Edited to add: if you love this post but were put off a bit by the colorful language, here is a swear-free version, for your sharing pleasure.

Ten ways to rock your parenting – wherever you are.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

When I wrote this post last week so many of you got it. You really got it. But most of you probably did before you read it too.

Blogs are so often like that. We are taking to the people who are already there. Because that's why so many of you come here. It's familiar. It's reinforces what you already believe.

But one mama wrote something about that post that I couldn't shake.

She said,

beautiful. But just reminds me where I fail. We live in an apartment,
in a bad neighborhood. I can't send them outside to explore, by

Oh. Right.


That reality of so very many parents in the world. Where it is safer indoors than out. Where there is no backdoor to throw open; no grass to run barefoot through. And even if there were, you wouldn't. You couldn't.


And if this mama assumed I was writing with a picture in my head of kids living in safe, green neighborhoods, well… she was right.

That was humbling.

I didn't picture a child living in the inner city or on the fifth floor of an apartment building.

I didn't picture a child at school all day and at after-school care until seven.

I didn't picture so many of the stories that are reality for so many families.

I pictured my family. Here. In the country.

And I pictured the countless backyards devoid of children in neighborhoods where it is perfectly safe to venture out and play.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.} 

The more I sat with her comment the more I felt that what I said might have missed the point for some of you, simply because of the context.


So today I'm giving it another go. This time written more for those of you without a yard or other safe place to run free.

Because giving your kids just what they need does not require special tools or a fancy environment.

It doesn't! You can rock this gig anywhere. Yes, even in an apartment in a bad neighborhood. Even without extra cash. Even with little spare time.

So thank you, mama, for reminding me to think outside of my small green box. This post is for you.

Here is another take on giving kids what they need – no matter where you call home.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Ten Ways to Rock Your Parenting – Wherever You Are

1. Put down your phone.

No matter where you live you can
cultivate presence with your child. Choose your priority. Your time with
your little one is fleeting. Facebook isn't going anywhere.
Like any addiction it can be uncomfortable to make changes. But do it. It's so very worth it. (Tell you what. I'll do it too. There. Now you have a buddy. I won't check Facebook or Email except mindfully twice a day. I'll turn off my phone too. Are you in?)
Edited at 3:30 PM to say: Dang! This is hard. Really, truly hard. I honestly found myself sneaking online (not sure who I was hiding from) to check for comments on this post. Sneaking! Oh, the irony. Know that unplugging is as challenging for me as for you. Mercy. But I'm doing my best. And it ain't perfect.

2. Turn off the screens.

If you're going to go, go big. (See discomfort acknowledged in step 1. Ahem.)

Curb your own screen addiction and that of your child. I know. Media is easy. It's relaxing. (Sort of.) It's like a mini vacation.

But it's not the best way to spend your free time. Especially when you're a kid.

I've always taken a pretty radical
stance on media for children. Turn off the screens and they will become
more grounded, more imaginative, more present. And in that space life will bloom.

3. Embrace boredom.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

do not need to entertain your child.
Nope. You don't.
And while I'm not suggesting that you ignore them, I am suggesting that you let them get bored.
Boredom can be uncomfortable (for
you and for your child) but it's a path that leads to creativity if you
let it do its work.
When you move through boredom creativity will flourish and magic will happen. (But first it might get a little ugly.)
The steps that follow can help mitigate some of the discomfort that comes with this change and turn your family on to a whole new presence of mind.

4. Find nature where you live.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Nature can be found in big expanses of green or in a clay pot on your windowsill. Heck, nature can be found in a crack in the sidewalk it you just take time to lay on your belly and look.

Do one of the items on the list below, or do them all. It's up to you.

*Watch clouds drifting across the sky and imagine aloud the magic pictures they contain. You can even make cloud art with your child, painting with a teased apart cotton ball instead of a brush.

*Watch and/or feed the birds. Hang a feeder from your window, or visit a park and sit quietly beneath the trees.
*Keep a pet fish. Thrift stores often have old aquariums for a few bucks, and a goldfish can be had for less than $1 out of the "feeder" tank at the pet store. Super affordable, simple nature experience. Done.
*Make a nature table. A nature table is a simple shelf or corner of your home where you arrange pinecones, sticks, leaves, flowers… anything that communicates the season to your family. Every month or so remove anything ratty looking and add some new items. Your kids will go crazy for this.


Prepare yourself for so. Many. Acorns.
*Make a homemade terrarium in an old peanut butter jar.
*Plant flowers with your child. In your yard. In a chipped tea cup on your kitchen table. On your balcony. Or my favorite, in a vacant lot down the road. Anywhere. Read the book Miss Rumphius (the Lupine lady) for inspiration.
*Find a safe, nearby natural area to visit often. It need not be big. Just green. Take your child there often. Make a ritual of visiting your "secret nature spot". 
*Look into the starry sky. No matter how much light pollution your neighborhood provides, you can surely see a star or two if you look deeply enough. Rooftops are often great for this if you have safe access!

5. Create rituals to celebrate the seasons.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Pagans celebrate the turning of the seasons at eight points in the calender. At the start of each season and at the mid-point. You don't have to be Pagan to celebrate the turning of the year!

These celebrations can be as simple as making a season painting together at your kitchen table, gathering with friends to celebrate, or taking a walk on the same path to take note of the turning of the year.

Put these on your calendar as you would an important birthday. Make time to celebrate the turning seasons.

6. Keep a phenology journal.

"Phenology journal" is a fancy way to say "seasonal nature book". Grab an old notebook and have your child decorate the cover.
Then every time you notice something happening in nature – say, the maple leaves turning color in the fall or the last frost of the year – write it in your book.
You'll begin to tune in and notice birds, insects, and weather patterns you never saw before.

7. Make art together.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

We thrifted a big stack of old nature magazines recently. With some scissors and a little diluted white glue we could spend all day at our kitchen table, creating collages on old boards and pieces of cardboard.

Stock a drawer or shelf with some basic, affordable art supplies and let art replace screen-time. You'll all be glad you did.

Supplies to keep on hand: watercolor paint, tempra paint, thick paper (watercolor or other painting paper is nice), white paper (we use regular office paper), colored pencils or markers, and a few jars of random extras – buttons, glitter, acorn caps, etc.

You'll find lots more tips over here.

8. Grow food, prepare food, and eat together.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

This is a powerful act.

You can grow food in a big garden outside or right on your kitchen counter.

Sprout seeds in a mason jar or grow edible herbs in pots. Re-grow celery from a cut off stalk.

Growing and eating food is a wonderful lesson to empower us in our lives!

9. Embrace unscheduled time.

We tend to over-engage, over-schedule, and over-plan. Childhood is no exception. Let your kids have free time. Lots of it.

They don't need more activities. They need more undirected free time. (Yes, even if it's happening inside the walls of your flat.)

10. Let them explore.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Give your kids a bucket of rocks to play with. Or their own bin of flour in the kitchen. Or some clay pots full of soil.

Fill the dishpan with soap bubbles and a pile of yogurt tubs and measuring cups. Stick them in the bathtub with a baking soda and vinegar.


While my kids love playing mud kitchen, they also love what they call "potions". And this, friends, is like mud kitchen without the mud. And, um, indoors.

Potions involves vinegar, baking soda, beet juice, food coloring, stale spices, flour, water, cut grass, seeds, a mess of little jars and bowls… you get the idea.

Just let it flow and let it be and allow them to explore their world. Don't tell them what to do. Just let them go.

Clean-up can be epic, but it's worth the mess.

(We often do this in the tub.)

11. Love yourself and your life.

Ten ways to rock your parenting - wherever you are. {Clean.}

Okay, make it 11.

Know that life is imperfect. It's meant to be. There are lessons to be found in your less-than-ideal life, home, or schedule. Embrace the imperfection while you sift through for the magic within.

To live in a fifth story apartment means that when you do run barefoot through the grass it can be ecstasy. Even if it only happens once a year.


What I need.

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. The LuSa Organics blog}

What children need. {Clean. The LuSa Organics blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

What children need. {Clean. the LuSa Organics Blog}

I don't need you to keep me busy.

I don't need you to cure my boredom.


I need you to throw open the back door and invite me outside.

Into the sunlight or the moonlight or the hazy morning fog.


I don't need more lessons or activities or organized after-school-anything.

I need to wander out in the rain and the snow.

Aimless and dreaming. Exploring.

Where I will see fairies dancing in the mist.


Give me time for games without rules.

Give me space to run barefoot through the dew.


Give me a childhood unburdened so that I may be the person I am meant to be.


I don't need more toys.

Or newer. Or better.

I need less. 

Just give me a few wooden planks, your old mixing bowls, and a shovel.

Then let me go without guidance.

To play.

To get dirty.

To live.


I don't need you to plug me in.

Instead I need you to plug into me.


Put down your phone.

Turn it off.

And tune into my childhood.


Dig with me.

Be with me.

Share these fleeting and dreaming days.


Because all that I truly need is you.

And a simple space in which to grow.


Edited: I've added a follow-up to this post. You can find it here.



Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

There are days when I ache with this truth.

I feel it in the marrow of my bones.

Clear into my soul.

Because I know.


These days are fleeting.

Nothing lasts forever.


Not the sleepless nights of a newborn nor the angst of a pre-teen.

Not the sweet milky smile of a baby nor the quick humor or this half-grown child.

Our life has become this pile of snapshots and in each photo I can see you growing up.

Sometimes it feels so fast I can scarcely breathe.


No, nothing lasts forever.

And so I look around and wonder where the time has gone.

It turns out that "this too shall pass," my motto on the hardest days, applies to everyday.

And suddenly I don't want to squander a moment.


Today is fleeting.

And I wonder when my son will be as tall as me.

And when my daughter will no longer curl in my lap and kiss my cheeks.

I wonder at how much longer my arms will be the welcome nest that my children flock to, encircling them as they sleep.


And when they will finally pull away.


And so tonight I will lay beside you until you are soundly dreaming, just in case I wake tomorrow to discover that you've grown up.

I will listen to your breathing and remember the days when you were small and sometimes it seemed so hard.

And I wonder why it seemed so hard.


In the darkness I promise myself to lead with my heart.


To lead with compassion.

Starting now.

I promise myself to stop wasting time speaking words I will regret.

I imagine this life with children grown, off to write their own stories and live their own adventures.

And while my mind delights in them finding their wings, my heart weeps at the suggestion.


And there is that ache again.


Perhaps that ache is love.

True, full, indescribable love. The kind that you didn't know existed until you had children of your own.

The kind you can't explain now because language is inadequate.

The kind of love you whisper into small, sleeping ears because you just need them to know what is unknowable.


This much love.

Yes. Maybe that ache is the feeling of a heart bursting from a fullness that is immeasurable.


And perhaps that ache will help us remember what really matters.

 May it keep us kind.

May it keep us playful.

May it help us find the words and be the parents that we want to be.

Words like "I'm sorry," and "It hurts," and "I understand."

Words like "I love you," and "You are enough," and "I am here."

Words that heal us and connect us.


May it help us remember how it feels to be small.

I remember how it feels to be small.

May we live this life and guide these children with the goal of having nothing to regret.

Not one thing.

And may we remember always that when the sun sets on today our child will be one day older.

One day closer to grown.

And that tomorrow is another chance to start again.


Oh, yes. These days are fleeting.

So I will savor the taste of my child's spirit when it rises up.

I will skim it off and drink it deeply.

So that I never forget these fleeting days.

So that I never forget this perfectly ordinary day that will be dust and snapshots tomorrow.


Today I will hold you in my arms.

I will listen to your dreams.

I will take your hand and go wherever you wish to go.

While you still want to journey there together.


Because soon it will be time.

 Time to open my arms and let you go.

 As you find your wings and soar.

And I ache.


Too much stuff.

Hello folks,

Pete and I are down to the wire as we empty our old house before our closing on Friday.

And despite my great intentions of simplicity, I just didn't do enough. I thought I had, but I hadn't. We're reached the stage of packing where we're just throwing stuff into boxes that we'll have to sort through later. At the new house. Talk about packing up bad chi.


So many of us are buried in things. I thought I had done more than I had. But there is still so much to do.

Today, to inspire you (to do better than I have done!) is a repost from two years ago. From what you've shared it was one of my most inspiring posts ever.

So read on, and be changed. And keep at it. It's big and important work. You won't regret doing it, but you might just regret not getting around to it soon enough.

And with that, I'm heading back to the basement.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~

[A friend of mine] … recently downsized her home from a
large split-level to a small two-bedroom cottage (for her, her husband,
three children, and dog). And she is nothing short of transformed.

We talked long into the evening and I realized her transformation:
she parted ways with her stuff. All of the safety nets of things that we
build around ourselves to insulate us; all the deal-with-it-later
messes and broken items; all of the too-damn-much that surrounds us.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Like me she is a savvy thrifter and enjoys the second-hand-store hunt
for the perfect Hanna Andersson PJ's; the groovy Danish modern chairs;
the quality European blocks for pennies. And like me, she got herself a
little buried. (Okay, a lot buried.)

So she and her family determined to dig themselves out.

The called the thrift store for a pick-up and proceeded to fill the
truck. And then the dumpster. They touched every single item they owned
and asked this vital question: "Do I love it?" or "Would this belong in my dream house/dream life?" And if not, they let it go.

They downsized from rooms and rooms filled with gorgeous Waldorf toys
to a simple dollhouse, a wooden castle, and one doll for each child.
Done. Enough. Go outside and play.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

They downsized from closets brimming with clothing and a large
overflow of additional sizes in the basement to four adorable
season-appropriate outfits for each person with no back-up. Four is
enough if you have a washer, and the children mix-and match to create
plentiful options. Their dresser drawers are empty and so is their to-do
list without all of those things to clean, put away, and otherwise tend

They unloaded those tubs of too-big-now-but-will-fit-later kids'
clothing, believing in the abundance of the universe. We don't need to
hoard these things. We can pass them along and then welcome the right
items in our world when we want them.

In short, they are free. Their stuff-burden has lifted.

As she and I talked I started to feel a familiar discomfort in my
stomach. A feeling of being on the precipice of something really big – of
major transformation coming in my own life. It was a little hard to
breathe to be honest, as I reflected on just how much I have burdened
myself with by way of treasures and finds and just-in-case.

All of my labeled bins of big-kid clothes in the basement seemed
vulgar suddenly, and so did our packed closets, dressers, and baskets of
playthings. And with a slightly-sick-yet-very-excited feeling in my
belly I went to work. I worked from my children's bedtime until my own
and proceeded to fill my van with items I do not need.

The next morning the kids and I started right away moving toys and
clothes and decorations out the door. They selected formerly-precious
playthings to pass along to friends. We joyfully let go of so very many
things. And we feel fantastic. I got rid of the jeans that I still wear
even though I hate them; the dressy clothes I haven't worn in a year;
the beloved Birkenstocks from high school that are useful yet ugly. I
let the kids unload things that were treasures to me but ignored by them
– a fairy bower, two wooden race cars, some Waldorf dolls. And we feel
absolutely free.

And we've only just begun.

Divorce your stuff. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Our dresser drawers are easy to open, the
playroom is spacious, there is less what-to-wear drama in the morning,
and we're all lighter for having less stuff. I even resisted the urge to
sell anything. That is just another holding-on that I need to be done
with. I gave away my Moby Wrap to a (pregnant) farmer-friend, a brand
new nursing bra to a neighbor, plenty of soft-soled kid's shoes to
little friends around town, and a fancy kid snowsuit to a little one I

I'm done. Divorcing the stuff. 

I share this story because I truly think it
is changing me. And I want to invite you to join me. Can you fill a bag
today? A box? Your car? It might just change everything.

Are you in?

Post your progress in the comments how much you send down the road and together we'll transform our families.

With love,

More Peaceful Parenting Step 6. Just listen.

How to listen to your child. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Well hello there. That was a mighty long break from the More Peaceful Parenting series, wasn't it?

Thank you for sticking around while I caught my breath and built my courage to take on this series again. I'm ready if you are.

For those of you who are new or who aren't looking for a new parenting paradigm, let me restate my intention here, just for clarity: This
series is for parents looking for ways to integrate more
connection-based peaceful parenting strategies into their relationships
with their children.

If if isn't resonant to you, then no sweat. Perhaps you have found
your perfect parenting fit. (Parenting, after all, is not a
one-size-fits-all arrangement.)

But if you are in a place of struggle with your child, or if
you are searching for a bit more ease, or if some of the parenting
strategies you are using don't resonate anymore, this series is for you.

This is how we are striving to do things in our home. It is my goal as a mom to reach for deeper connection and to find peaceful ways to guide my children along this journey.

And you know, I'm
learning right along with you. And I don't always find the right fit either.

that's life, isn't it? We aren't perfect. But we're learning and growing

How to listen to your child. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

We began the Peaceful Parenting series last winter. I encourage you
to take a few days to re-read steps one through five. These will lay the
foundation and remind you of the journey we are on.

        More Peaceful Parenting Step 1. Forgive, Accept, and Love Yourself.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 2. Identify the Need.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 3. Validate.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 4. Creating a Yes Environment.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 5. Your Mission Statement.

And now, finally! More Peaceful Parenting Step 6. Just Listen.

How to listen to your child. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

I want to restart with something so basic, so simple, that you are
doing it already.

The change I am suggesting today is for you to deepen and shift how you are listening to hear more than you did before. To truly listen. With all of your heart.

And when we start to listen (really listen) our child receives the message that they matter. That their feelings are valid. That they are valid.

How to listen to your child:

1. Focus on your child.

Kneel down so that you are at eye-level.

Make physical contact if that is what your child desires. Sometimes for my kids it's easiest to talk while we cuddle. Some crave eye contact, others withdraw from it.

Listen to their energy and give them what they need. But give them your focus.

2. Ignore external distractions.

Don't answer your phone. Shut off your computer. Create comfortable quiet where you can focus on their words and body language alone.

3. Quiet your inner distractions.

As parents many of us have a stop watch that is constantly ticking in our heads. We have a lot to do and sometimes not enough time to do it. Stop that clock.

The dishes and laundry will wait. Dinner will wait. Nap will wait. Take a deep healing breath and focus on this moment. Your presence means so much more than anything else that might be on your to-do list.

4. Hear the feelings underneath their words.

Let your child talk without interruption. Hear what they are saying, and seek to understand what they are not saying as well.

What is the feeling (or the need) at the heart of their expression?

5. Accept the feelings they are expressing as valid.

Avoid the temptation to soothe them with words that negate how they feel.

Instead of using words like "You're okay," or "It'll be fine," try reflecting back what you are hearing, "It hurts," or "You're very angry."

Remember that your work in this moment is not to fix anything. Just listen. Just really listen.

How to listen to your child. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Following the steps above will give our children the message that we are really, truly listening and that their words matter. 

We demonstrate that we aren't going to swoop in to try to fix it and we aren't going to tell them that they are wrong.

They will instead hear that it is safe to express all of their feelings to you – even the scary or ugly or overwhelming ones. And this will create connection between you that will serve you always.

From here we can work together to find a solution, empowering our child to step up and participate in that process. 

But before solution there must be understanding.

Let's start by just listening.

There is no label for what you do.


Tonight I've been mulling over these past ten years and how I got to this place from which I mother. How did I become me – Rachel-as-Mama?

This mama. Right here. The one who homebirthed and breastfed (and yes, even happily nursed a couple of 3 1/2 year olds). The one who homeschools and has never issued a "time-out". The one who still co-sleeps most nights with two big and magical kids.

That one.

The truth is, there was no agenda. No book. No checklist. No what-to-do-what-not-to-do advice. I didn't know other new mothers when I became one. So I made it up as I went along.

I didn't set out to recreate someone else's idea of the parent I should become. I wasn't trying to impress anyone or do it all differently that my own mom did. I wasn't trying to contort myself into some extreme parenting pigeon hole to impress myself or anyone else.

I wasn't setting our with any intention at all except to listen to my child and listen to my heart.

Sure, you could label it. But really, it's mostly my own. Even if it does look like something you could call something.

I'm just following my instincts.

You could call me an attachment parent. Or a peaceful parent. Or an unconditional parent. Sure, those fit. But really, why bother? I'm more simply the mama-to-Sage-and-Lupine sort of parent.

Because when we get mixed up with labels and comparing ourselves with others, things get muddled and we lose our way. And all that noise drowns out our own truths.


So who are you? Who are you really when you listen authentically to your child and to your own heart?

When Sage was a baby it was hard. Unquestionably.

He cried, I cried… we've covered this. Babyhood can be in-freaking-tense.

So sure, we had a crib and a nursery. We had a stroller and a bouncy chair. But none of that was going to cut it for my kid. He wanted quiet and mama and nothing else. All day, all night.

And so we shifted. We adapted. We became.

I wasn't concerned with attachment or bonding or brain development or any book or expert. I was simply concerned with making my baby content. I wanted the crying to stop in a way that was in harmony with my soul.

And what that means for me is different than what it might mean for you. And that's okay.

When Sage cried I literally dropped everything – yes, sometimes on the floor – and ran to him. I ran. I really ran. There was no other option for me.

I just ran.

To be honest this habit stressed the hell out of the other adults around me. And I didn't really care. Because my baby was crying and every cell in me needed to respond – and fast. It was instinctive, primal, visceral.

And I had no desire to pretend to not be moved passionately by his cries. I had no desire to be someone other than who I was.

As one wise and wonderful friend told me during that time, "You have no one to answer to but your own child. Not your neighbor, not your mom, not your friends. When your child asks, 'Why did you do it the way you did?' they deserve an answer. But you don't need to answer to anyone else."

When Sage was six months old a neighbor talked to me about Attachment Parenting. "What's that?" I asked, nursing my baby tucked in the sling. "It's what you do," she said, a quizzical look on her face. I was totally clueless to labels. I was just doing my thing the best way that I could.

But sometimes I hear a mutter and a stir about what a wreck someone's life became when they tried on AP with their first child. So with the second (or with the rest) it will be different. No more co-sleeping or night-nursing or baby-wearing or fill-in-the-blank-here. Because Attachment Parenting really tore things up in their world the first time and they won't head down that path again.

But maybe it's not so simple. Maybe it's less about a type or style of parenting that failed you and more the result of trying to fit some predetermined idea of the "best" parent archetype.

Because there is no best anything.

Maybe if we get authentic and say "I will listen to my child and my inner voice and honor those truths" when we embark on this journey, everything would transform.

Our family is served by our mindfulness as we move through this journey – thinking and feeling our way to the best fit for our family, whatever that may be.

Because from here we can begin to release our fear of judgement for that crib or bottle or stroller – or that family bed, five-year old nursling, or toddler in the Ergo.

Because we're all different.

And as long as we lead with love and search for joy then we're on the right path.


It's time to be authentic.

If we fall into line behind someone else's march we'll miss our own journey all together. Find your right answers. Quiet the noise and hear yourself and your child.

And know that parenting is sometimes going to be hard, no matter the label you apply. Doing away with cosleeping (or starting it for that matter) probably won't transform a hard struggle into pure ease.

Because parenting is meant to be big work. For me it is simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding work of my life.

There is only your inner truth. There is no book that knows more than you. No friend who got it more right than you. We're individual. We're all wabi sabi – perfect in our imperfection.

So set out today determined to listen to your heart. To listen to your child. And to be authentically you.

Because after all, that's why your kid picked you and not me to be their mama.

Because you alone are their best.


P.S. If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy What I didn't know: Reflections on Motherhood.

And for new or expectant parents here is a round-up of all of my mothering posts, written from my own perspectives, preferences, and experience.

Baby Love: links for new parents.




I have no less than five friends expecting a baby or snuggling up with a fresh sweet newborn at this very moment. Five beautiful mamas (and supportive papas) spreading baby fever far and wide.

In the past four years I have written some relevant posts for new parents that are a bit buried in the archives.

I thought it would be helpful to round them up and put them all in one place so that you can use them yourself or share them with friends.

Helpful Clean links for new parents:

New Baby Checklist A no-frills list of what you really need for baby.

Honoring Motherhood: The Blessingway A meaningful alternative to the ubiquitous baby shower.

What is a Meal Wheel? Get your best friend on the task of organizing a meal wheel for your family, or organize one in your own community. Meal wheels are transformational.

What I Did Not Know: Reflections on Motherhood This is the closest thing I ever had to a viral post. It clearly hit close to home for many parents.

Your Words: Thoughts for New Parents Your thoughts and advice to new parents. Thank you for what you shared.

Peaceful Parenting  A series of posts to inspire more connection-based, non-violent parenting.

Child-Led Weaning One approach to weaning your child.

Safe Co-Sleeping My thoughts (and a few great links) to help you bed-share safely with your little ones.

Co-Sleeping, Night-Waking, and Growing-Up And this post – a bit of perspective when you haven't slept in days…

There is No Label for What You Do On rejecting labels and ebracing authenticity in parenting.

While I'm at it, here are a few of our favorite books for pregnancy, birth, and babyhood.

Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth Ina Mae is an inspiration. This book is a must-read for expectant parents.

Birthing from Within Preparing you emotionally and spiritually for birth.

Your Best Birth This I have not read but I have bought it for friends hoping for VBAC births. Looks wonderful.

A Child is Born This book rocked our science-geek minds when we were expecting Sage. A photographic week-by-week view of developing baby. Amazing.

The Baby Book By Dr. Sears. I'm so grateful that I had this book when Sage was small.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution Another worthwhile read as you navigate night-time parenting.

Sign With Your Baby Simple baby signs reduce frustration and increases communication between you and your little one.

Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene We did it. We loved it. I can't imagine doing it any other way. Truly. It was life-changing.

How about you? What would you add to these lists? Links to other blogs, books, or websites are welcome!



Natural Whooping Cough Remedies.

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Welcome to Clean. I'm happy you stopped by. This page has seen a lot of traffic recently. While you're here I invite you to explore a bit. I post weekly on peaceful parenting, homeschooling, kitchen adventures, and general craftiness.


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Pertussis is one heck of a cough. It starts as a small, benign cough, maybe a little fever and then – wham. Long, powerful coughing spasms take over the rhythm of your day. Many people I know have it or have had it in recent years. Presently it is making its was through our town and early this month Sage, Lupine and I came down with it too. Good times. Quarantining ourselves, we haven't been out and about since early October (thus the scanty posts here) and we've focused most of our energy on resting and healing.

While this post is hopefully written for a select few of you, I trust it will be of service to some. Bookmark it, share it with your friends, and file it away in case whooping cough finds its way around your community any time soon. It's in our little town right now in a big way. As more people in my area (and elsewhere) have found themselves staring down pertussis I thought that a post collecting some good home remedies for whooping cough would be a blessings.

No whooping cough in your neighborhood? (Well, hooray for that!) Still, many of the remedies below are amazing for any cough, cold, flu, or bug that comes your way this season.

This is in now way a health consultation. Get on the phone to your doctor or health care provider if you suspect you have pertussis. If you test positive (the test is a simple nasal swab) you will likely be encouraged to take antibiotics and quarantine yourselves for five days. If you go antibiotic free you'll be in quarantine for most of a month (beginning after the last person starts coughing in your house). For us it has been a hassle but not a big deal. Pete is healthy and working. The kids and I are sick and staying home. It's a lot of coughing but I'd take this over the flu or pin-worms any day. (That being said, pertussis is especially dangerous for babies, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system. We don't fit into those categories so it hasn't been horrific. Just icky.)

Here are some of the things we've done to ease our transition back to health.

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Pine Needle Bergamot Syrup

When Lupine started coughing we had no idea it was whooping cough. Just a little cough during the day, nothing dramatic. She and I were on a hike with my sister at the cabin. She reached out and picked a handful of white pine needles and stuffed them into my pants pocket. "Mama, I want you to make me pine needle tea." We had never had pine needle tea before. We read once in a children's herbal book that you could drink pine needle tea, but I couldn't remember why. After we determined that it was pertussis I called and herbalist friend who's child had also contracted it around the same time. "The best remedy for whooping cough," she told me, "Is white pine needle tea."

What a shining lesson in trusting our intuition, spirit guides, or the voices of the plants. Pine needle tea and syrup has been my favorite remedy for whooping cough. We dilute the syrup in hot water and drink it throughout the day.

Begin by collecting some fresh white pine needles and/or bark. Take two large hand-fulls and add to a stainless cooking pot (approximately 1 C of needles if you could jam them into a measuring cup). Add 1/2 C of dried monarda (bee balm) flowers and leaves if you have any available. Cover with water, adding approximately 3- 4 C. Simmer until you have cooked the water down to a thick tea, about 2 cups. Strain and mix with equal parts honey. Store in the refrigerator and use as needed, by the teaspoon. Take as a cough syrup or dilute and use drink as tea.

Garlic Syrup

A local herbalist/mama shared this recipe in our local newspaper a couple of years ago. (There is one type-o, where the article reads "4 hours" should say "4 days". Thanks D. for bringing the article to my attention.) We have been taking this throughout our illness and it seems to be a wonder tonic. This is a good one if you are exposed to someone with WC as well as just general immunity boosting throughout the season. A quick google of "garlic syrup" yields dozens of formulas, so pick one and go for it.

We are using this:

1 pound garlic, peeled and chopped

apple cider vinegar



Place chopped garlic in a quart jar and cover with 1/2 water and 1/2 apple cider vinegar to fill the jar. Infuse for four days (or more), shaking often.

Strain, pressing garlic to extract all the juices you can. Make a simple syrup of 1/2 water and 1/2 honey to total the volume of your garlic infusion. (If you have 2 C of garlic infusion, add a simple syrup made of 1 C water and 1 C honey. I pour 1 tsp of this in a small cup for the kids several times a day and take 1 tablespoon myself. This is a great remedy for cold and flu season and shouldn't be reserved just for whooping cough. Spread the garlic out on a cookie sheet in the freezer and use in your cooking.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C saturation is one fairly common method of shortening the duration of whooping cough. I found suggestions for this online and it always led me to take sodium ascorbiate. I couldn't find that version of C without food coloring added, so we went for Ester-C. Each of us takes 5000 IU per day. To determine correct dosage you can follow the instructions here. We didn't exactly follow this method but it was close to what we did. To make pure vitamin C palatable for the kids I powder the capsules in my food processor, then blend with a dab of honey to make a paste.

Herbal Cough Syrup

This is a wonderful remedy for nighttime coughing episodes. Use equal parts elecampane and wild cherry bark, 1/4 C of each and 2 C water. Bring to a simmer, turn off, and steep for 10 minutes. Strain promptly and mix in 1/4 C of honey to make a thin syrup. (You can leave out the honey but elecampane is bitter, especially if you simmer it too long.) Dilute syrup with water and sip as needed, or drink undiluted by the teaspoon (kids) or tablespoon (adults).

Elderberry Tincture

I shared with you how we make it here. We're also enjoying some elderberry syrup this year, made using a recipe from here I think. (I love this book. The recipes are so simple and accessible. Ask for a copy for Christmas or Solstice if you have been wanting to learn more about plant medicine.)

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Immunity Building Tincture

The kids and I made this in the spring and we're loving having it on hand right now. We combined echinacea root and flower, usnea (an immunity-building lichen), rishi (the shelf fungus pictured above), cinnamon, and ginger and covered with apple cider vinegar (enough to cover). It sat for 4 months, we strained it and now add a few drops to our water or tea each day. So good to have on hand, but it requires some mindful work in advance. If you don't have anything similar lying about (unlikely for many I expect), pick up a good quality echinacea tincture. That will do the trick, too. If you want to make a tincture now, you can buy all the herbs your local food coop doesn't carry from Rose Mountain Herbs.

Humidifier with Essential Oils

Every night I refill our humidifier and add LuSa Organics Breathe Deep Essential Oil to the essential oil cup or the water. So lovely, if I do say so myself. We've also used a healthy dose of LuSa Organics Chest Rub this month. I can't imagine not having this on hand but if you don't, straight eucalyptus essential oil will help as well in the humidifier and you can add a couple of drops to a balm of your choice and apply to chest and back.

Herbal remedies for pertussis | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog


There are a few remedies recommended for Whooping Cough. This site gives a good break-down of recommendations.

Rest, rest, rest.

Because you are healing. Your immune system is working. Your body is amazing. Give it time to rest. Nourishing food.

And when all else fails, brandy.

Okay. I'm kidding with that one. But do what you have to to get some sleep. Your nights will be disturbed by lots of coughing, so go to bed early and sleep as long as you can. (She writes through bleary sleepy eyes.)

Wellness blessings to all.