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BirchLeaf Designs a Farm

Playsilks and Swords and Shields, OH MY! We recently came across a photo of a boy who was not afraid to play. His imagination was wondrous!

Boy who was not afraid to play.
Boy who was not afraid to play.

Wondrous and amazing…very much like this mosaic shield. Made from a blank shield from our shop and then sold at an auction to help raise funds for the Portland Waldorf School in Portland, Oregon.

Mosiac Shield. Photo courtesy Portland Waldorf School.
Mosiac Shield. Photo courtesy Portland Waldorf School.

The mosaic shield reminds me so much of our life…with the family in the center, the heart, the hearth, the fiery life-force. Then, branching off of the heart center are our many activities in which we are involved. Each day is filled with a bit of this and a bit of that…from eating healthy foods, to homeschooling, to farming, to making toys. These past few weeks have found us in the woods. Many blessings are upon us!

Maple Sap is flowing!

Pro Maple sap taster!
Pro Maple sap taster, Kiah.

Little baby chicks are healthy and here!

Baby chicks are a'peepin'.
Baby chicks are a’peepin’.

And little lambs have arrived!

Meet Patience.
Meet Patience.
Kiah and her lamb, Patience.
Kiah and her lamb, Patience.
Milo and his lamb, Temperance.
Milo and his lamb, Temperance.

It only gets livelier from here on out! Garden starts are ready to be planted. Piggies are due to arrive April 20th and bees shortly thereafter. Festivals and art shows are in the not so distant future…which brings us back to our shop…BirchLeaf Designs…Playsilks and Swords and Shields, OH MY…

Wendy, Mojo and their 2 children, Kiah and Milo live, homeschool, farm, and make toys off the grid near Marquette, Michigan. Please visit their shops at and

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This quote is a good one to remember on days like today (for me) so I thought I would share its beauty.


To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Get rid of Lice Naturally

Our family has been afflicted by very unpleasant companions last month. Well, those with long hair did, and the boys remainded lice-less except for one little guy on Papa’s head. We got rid of it naturally, whitout any chemicals. If you don’t want to use the shampoo from the drugstore (which is not that effective anyway) There’s pretty much 2 ways. A friend of mine and all her kids got them in the same time as us, and she decided to shave everyone’s head. But my hair doesn’t grow 2 inches a month like her, so I decided to take the somewhat less effective way. Here’s the methods I’ve tried and their results for me and my daughter:

1. Covering your head with oil (I used almond oil) and letting it sit overnight.

I don’t know how many I had on my head, but after that precedure I still had about 15 lices when we passed the metal comb. The eggs were falling off easily, thought – and there was so many of them!

2. Shampoo with vinegar +added EO (I used Tea tree, minth, lavender and Geranium)

The point of using vinegar or oil is to drown the lice, because they have a special dispositive not to drown in water and oil or vinegar makes it shot down for good. My hairs were really, really clean after that! But we still found a lot of eggs and 2-3 living lice.

3. Pass the metal comb, twice or thrice a day.

I beleive this is what was the most effective, more then shampooing our hairs with anything. It’s important to use a metal one since they are the ones that will unlodge the eggs.


We’ve been lice-free for more then a week now. Hope this helps!

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how to teach children to ride a bike: grass hill method

I thought this post might come in handy for some parents out there. It’s hard to believe but I recently met a young man who never learned how to ride a bike. I was utterly confounded by the news. A kid 15 years of age who got his driver’s permit but does not know how to ride a bike? How was it possible? His parents are quite embarrassed about it. I guess they just never got around to it when he was a young fellow. They are not bikeriders themselves. A couple of years ago the boy started asking if they could teach him so he could ride his bike to middle school. They made an attempt or two. But it was already too late…The boy was mortified to be seen outside practicing riding a bike at this age. It’s so sad. How could this happen?

I think the greatest gift we can give our children as parents is the gift of confidence. It’s our job to help them accomplish these milestones in life. It’s hese milestones that make them feel they can do stuff on their own. One of them is riding a bike. Another is being able to swim. By learning to do these physical things they gain pride and confidence and can move on to bigger things.

I wrote about my traumatic childhood memories when it comes to learning to ride a bike on my personal blog recently. It definitely wasn’t good being put on a bike without training wheels and pushed down a steep hill until you fall…What parent would do such a thing? My Dad! But at least he cared enough to teach me how to ride a bike as painful as this lesson turned out. Plus I learned something else: it made me determined to do better with my own children.

Like other parents from the NaturalKids Team who kindly shared their photos with me – my husband and I used a much gentler approach with our children.

I think it’s important to make kids feel safe on the bike first. My kids both rode their bikes with training wheels for a couple of years. Then, when my son turned 5, I decided it was time to take the training wheels off and teach him without. The first couple of days I would just walk beside him. You know the break-my-back-hold-on-to-bikehandles and running-running-alongside-your kid method. But my son just wasn’t able to balance. Some kids just have a harder time when it comes to balance. Then I had an idea. We have a soft grassy hill where our grass slopes down into the neighbor’s yard. I used my dad’s approach, using gravity rolling down a hill, but without the hard fall. I would run along and push the child and then let go. We used this method with both of our children. They both did fall  a few times – but they landed on the soft grass. All it took was ONE afternoon. Both of my children learned in one afternoon by using the grassy hill method. Once they got the Feel for it they were okay. They went from the hill to the sidewalk that same day.  And there was no crying, no injuries, no bruises.

Please, take the time and teach a kid how to ride a bike! You will make a real difference in their life! Plus, it’s good excercize and great for the environment too.


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World Breastfeeding Week

As my social media sites have been filling with beautiful images and stories celebrating the connection of breastfeeding mothers around the world, I am reminded of so many of my own funny feeding moments from when my three boys were little…

The boys and I were standing in line at our local market on a busy Friday evening, waiting to check out. I leaned around Luke, who was less than a year old at the time, to help the bigger boys empty the cart onto the convauyer belt. With about a dozen customers standing behind us in line, Luke took full advantage of the opportunity.  He pulled my breast right out of my v-neck t’shirt and tried to help himself to a snack!  It got a good laugh from everyone, except Luke who quickly reminded us that he was still hungry.

What funny breastfeeding moments do you have to share?





















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My Journey With Hypnobirthing

What is one of the first things you think of when you hear someone is pregnant or when you found out you were pregnant yourself? How did you envision labor and birth? Were you bombarded with information about your friends births and that of their friends as well? Was it positive or not? Chances are you had more negative stories than positive, unless you were very lucky. I was 23 when pregnant with my first. I was very scared of all the pain I was to endure when birthing a child. But I also had an aunt that was only 8 years older than I who had had 2 very successful homebirths. None of my other family even thought twice about another way. My poor grandmother was strapped down and knocked out, waking to her newborn babies. This was the norm for a very long time because women were looked at, and still now in many ways, as weak and not being able to withstand the intense physical and emotional process of labor and birth.

I knew there had to be another way. I shouldn’t have to look back on the birth of my children as scary and excrutiatingly painful. After all, women didnt have any anesthetic for thousands of years and we seem to have done fine. I was determined to see this as a positive thing. The alternative was just too overwhelming to deal with. I chose a nurse midwife to deliver our baby in a “natural birth” friendly hospital.  Sitting in the office one day I saw an ad for Hypnobirthing classes. My only thoughts about hypnosis were strange and fake episodes where the participants have to be playing along. I mean, cmon! But I thought it was something to look into and our first meeting would be free. When my boyfriend Aaron and I went to the first meeting we were a bit skeptical but thought we would give it a shot. After talking with us, our instructor Amy gave us a fear release. This was just really a guided relaxation that made you visualize and name your fears and consciously let it go. You are conscious the whole time. You choose how deeply to relax. I tell you after leaving that meeting I felt somehow lighter. I dont know quite how to explain it but one thing I can compare it to is doing yoga for awhile. I was relaxed (so not like me).

The main idea behind hypnobirthing is that your mind and your body are connected.  When we are scared your body reverts to fight or flight and your body then releases catecholamines, a hormone from the adrenal glands as a result of the stress.  In hypnobirthing, you are training yourself to relax and release the good feeling endorphins that lead to a more comfortable, easy faster and calmer labor and birth. In addition to that, it teaches your partner and you how to be in sync.  It also teaches you about the language of birth in our intervention based society.  How the word “labor” is changed to “birth process”, contractions are changed to “surges” and to not listen to anything negative about birth…from anyone!

This last one was the hardest by far.  Because you all know as soon as you tell someone you are pregnant then all of their stories about how long their labor was, and how all these interventions had to be done and how scary it was and awful and blah blah blah.  Do you ever wonder why women have to do that?  Why we are at constant competition to one up each other with birthing horror stories?  We have been conditioned to think that we are incapable of dealing with the intense process of birthing our babies.  This is not to say that there aren’t people out there who really do need interventions and I am conscious and thankful that I’ve had 2 low risk pregnancies and live in an age where if I had a real problem it could be attended to properly.

But I am here to attest and promote this fantastic way of labor and birthing.  It wasn’t until I had my second that I really understood how amazing our minds really are.  Like I said earlier, we were very young and broke with our first baby, barely together a few years and about to bring another soul into this crazy place.  My hospital journey was as good as it could’ve ever been.  I had zero interventions, and was able to labor and birth in a tub.  My labor lasted quite a while, about 24 hours, but I can say with confidence that I myself was the reason my labor lasted so long.  I was very afraid of becoming a mother.  I didn’t have the most concrete of upbringings, and I still struggle with my relationships with my parents.  My own fears of what kind of life I could give this innocent child prevented me from embracing  it all and just letting it be.  It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our daughter almost 6 years later that I realized this.  I knew this time would be different, because if I thought it, it would be.

My goal with my second pregnancy was to have a 3 hour homebirth from start to finish.  I was determined.  My husband and I had a few refresher courses but mostly did everything on our own.  He is an amazing coach and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in these wonderful experiences. We got an awesome team of homebirth midwives that truly respected our methods. Looking back, my labor was off and on for about 2 weeks.   So frustrating, but every time I thought I had a “surge” I envisioned my cervix opening ever so slightly each time.  My surges weren’t really consistent and they weren’t much at all really; more like Braxton-Hicks than anything.  One night, about a week or so after my “due week”, my water broke.  Immediately I was in high gear, but it felt so different I wasn’t sure I was in active labor really.  I felt so relaxed and it  just felt like rhythmic pressure.  I knew once there were no breaks between the “surges” that this was going to be fast.  We called the midwives and they got to our house just in time.  My daughter was born in the water and my son got to cut her cord.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more.  When all was said and done, I was interested to see how long my labor and birth was.  We ended up with a time of 3 hours and 19 minutes from water breaking to completion of 3rd phase.  Good enough for me 🙂

So if the fear of having a baby or another traumatic birth overcomes you…look into Hypnobirthing.  It may be the best thing you ever did.

Brittaini Pulver is mother to Santiago, 7 and Adelina 1 and lives in Columbus, Ohio with their amazing father, Aaron.  They plan to have more hypno water babies in the future.

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Girls Love Dinosaurs

My middle daughter loves dinosaurs. She loves cars and trucks and playing the boy parts in pretend play. She plays rough and growls to show what a big, scary dinosaur she can be. She also likes to wear ‘boy clothes’… shirts with bugs and cars and, of course, dinosaurs.

Not every day. Some days she is a fairy or a princess. Some days she likes to put on her frilliest, pinkest dress and be ‘girly’. Some days she absolutely won’t wear the bug shirt because she “doesn’t want to dress boyish!”. Some days she feels torn about what she likes and I would say, even feels bad about being a little different than some other girls she knows, or somehow thinks girls should be. I really don’t know where this comes from. I encourage my children (three girls) to try out any type of toy or style of clothing they may like, trying my hardest to ensure they aren’t getting any gender stereotypes from me. I suppose, though, try as I might, that these stereotypes are going to sooner or later leak in somewhere. Obviously they have, perhaps from playing with friends or her cousins who live just next door.
So, how do I protect my children from these stereotypes? How do I give them an environment where they can make up there own minds about who they are and what they like and who they want to be?

This is no easy question.. or, perhaps if it is you can fill me in. Our society is saturated with gender stereotypes (among many others). Girls like this and behave this way and dress that way, same for boys. We get uncomfortable when those lines are blurred. I know parents who are afraid to let their little boys play with baby dolls. What is this fear?! Who determines these roles?Well, I for one won’t. My little girl can play with dinosaurs and trucks and baby dolls and fairy wands til her heart’s content. It is not for me to decide who she is or what she likes or who she will be. When she becomes upset that someone might tease her if she wears her bug shirt, I remind her, it’s not ‘boy clothes’, it’s Zoe’s clothes.


For more on the topic of children and gender stereotypes, check out this series of articles by Lori, of Beneath the Rowan Tree.

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Sleepover Nightmares…

I am having a really hard time with the American institution of the Sleepover or Slumber party. I had never heard of the existence of such a thing until I moved to the US. What in the world is a sleepover?

When I was the kid growing up in Germany, the only reason one would spend the night at someone else’s house would be because your parents were hospitalized or on a romantic Getaway. The only place you would spend the night would be your grandma’s or a relative’s house. But then this rarely EVER happened. My parents were not the vacationing type.

Let me ask you: Why would you let your child spend a night at a perfect stranger’s home? I remember the agony of my kids asking me once they started school, begging me to spend the night at so-and-so’s house. After all, I already stick out like a sore thumb with my German accent. Then I also became known as that German lady who wrecks birthday parties.

I am sorry I am having such a hard time with this. I just don’t see why children should be allowed to go to another kid’s house and stay up all night eating candy, watching inappropriate movies, and do anything BUT sleep. I have seen the zombie-like victims of such parties at soccer games the next day…

Even better, one time this kid walks up to me, not knowing me from Adam, and says: “Can I sleep over at your house?” What in the Sam hill?

I feel bad for being the crusher of so many sleepover dreams but it took me a while to wrap my mind around this idea. I don’t want to be mean or anything, I just want my kids to be safe and not worry about them getting in the middle of some bad scenario. I have actually had parents confess to me about their regrets letting a child sleepover at times. Looks like I am not alone with my fears.

Over the years I have tried to find a healthy middle ground where I can exist and my kids can still have fun. I developed some rules that make me feel better about letting my child participate in a sleepover. So hopefully all of us can >sleep like a baby< when they are away from home…

1. Knowing all members of the family and what the sleeping arrangements will be is a must for me! I don’t let my child sleepover at anyone’s house unless I have met both parents and the siblings. I have to be able to trust my instincts. If I have any doubts about my child’s safety, I will say “No!” to the sleepover.

2. I talk to the parents about rules in their house and try to assess whether my child will get any sleep that night. If we have big event on the agenda for the next day, and I get the impression that this will be more of a “Awake-over” party, I may allow my child to go to part of the party. I pick them up after they had dinner at their friends house. They just don’t do the sleep part of the party…

3. I make sure I have the parents’ house and cellphone numbers and that they have mine in case of an emergency.

4. It’s also a good idea to discuss what foods are being served, especially if your child has allergies or is a picky eater.

Points to consider from the child’s perspective:

Is he/she emotionally ready to sleep away from home? Will my child be comfortable spending the night at another person’s house?

Discuss with your child what happens in case they wake up before the family in that house does? Our kids are early risers. They are up early regardless of the time they went to bed the night before. Will they be comfortable upon waking up?  What will they do when they are awake before everyone else?

Hope my little check list helps you and your kid stay safe and avoid any nightmares.


Ulla Seckler  is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.  Don’t forget to stop by her Etsyshop and take a peek at her wonderful doll creations.


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Knitting a Community

Every Tuesday my mom and I go to meet up with our knitting circle. It consists of a group of six ladies, more or less. Most weeks it’s not all six of us. We each have our families and responsibilities that keep us away some of the time.
Nancy is a senior citizen and she has been pre- diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Her speech is labored and she is often difficult to understand. But it’s well worth it to listen closely. She is so full of life. Makes one think the ‘Golden Years’ really are the best years of our life!
Tammy and my mom are about the same age, have grown children and grandchildren. They’re both so full of wonderful advice for a young mother like myself. Tammy is an avid knitter but my mom is just learning. I try very hard to remain patient!
Katy is a little younger than those two. She’s a single woman, no children but loves her dogs like they are her children! She’s very crafty and sews tea towels for her little Etsy shop. Katy is moving to Wilmington North Carolina today, to be near the beach. She will be missed.
And then there is myself and my friend Alison. We’re both mothers in our 30’s. She’s married, I’m separated. She sews handbags and pouches, I knit toys. She doesn’t knit.. at all. But she sometimes brings along a project, or just comes and talks and drinks coffee.
And we all talk, and knit (or crochet, or hand sew, or just talk). We talk about our families and our work. About fiber and knitting and selling crafts. We talk about new babies and grown ‘babies’ and family troubles. We talk about transitions and longings. About new adventures and old habits and songs we are fond of and contestants on television shows.
We are all different and yet a common bond, a humanity and need for community bring us together… through craft. Through working with our hands and creativity.
In the end, we’ve got a little knitting done (or not), but we walk away with much, much more.

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The Second Time Around


I am 24 weeks pregnant with our second child.  A little over half way. This pregnancy, as every second time mother has shared with me, is very different to my first.  I was very reflective and spiritual about my daughter’s gestation.  I talked to her all the time, I sang, I dreamed of what life was going to be like with her from the moment we tested positive.  Now, with my daughter nearing her second birthday and my son, due to be born a few months after that, I realize that I am just starting to imagine.  That isn’t to say this pregnancy hasn’t been spiritual.  It has been.  It has been the perfect balance of living in the moment and surrender.  I have such little amounts of time that I don’t get a chance to read birthing books that half freak me out and half inspire me.  I don’t get the chance to dwell on each ache and pain.  I just am.  
This is ideal because what I learned last time is that there is very little you can control during labour and delivery.  My memory of my birth has not faded and I understand that what is going to happen will.  What I can do is harvest love and support from those around me and within my family.  Support for my daughter and her relationship with her brother to be.  That is where I start to imagine.  I have entered the mother phase of my life a million times in the past two years.  Each time a piece of who I was, and the effort I put into myself, to be whole and connected to the empowered part of myself shines through.  Being a mother feels natural to me.  Being pregnant again has been a great experience of wisdom.  It has given me a chance to be a much more mellow woman than I was for my daughter.  I move smoothly through the transitions of gestation with a grace I am pleased exists.  


I am looking forward to celebrating my experience of motherhood within my community.  With my daughter, I was unable to do this because I was new to the area.  This time I am going to plan a blessingway.  I am going to include family living in other countries and incorporate art to decorate my belly. I am fostering ideas as we speak but am curious to know: 
What are some ways that you celebrated your motherhood while pregnant?
Written by Rachel from Oast