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Old fashioned, and proud

‘Families for Natural Living’ seek a more sustainable path.

Toddlers and babies jump and roll around on a thick living room carpet, as their mothers leaf through catalogs for organic foods.

What looks like a playgroup is actually a meeting of the Families for Natural Living at the home of group leader and islander Selena Mordue.

The non-profit organization is a resources and support group for parents who choose what members call a “natural living” lifestyle: holistic health care, natural birthing, alternative schooling, environmentally conscientious living, and “attachment parenting.”

The group was founded by Mordue last October, and already counts two dozen members on its mailing list.

“The interest in natural living is exploding,” said Mordue, who serves as the West Coast vice president for the national board of an organization that lists about 24 groups across the United States, and in Canada and India.

One feature of Natural Living, especially for parents of babies and toddlers, is “attachment parenting,” which advocates extended breastfeeding beyond the usual six months and lets children self-wean, and a “family bed” where families sleep together in one bed.

Mothers also frequently carry children in slings and don’t use a crib; an infant’s meals aren’t scheduled, but rather, the baby is fed when it’s hungry.

After being an FNL group leader in West Virginia, Mordue and her family moved to Bainbridge Island last July.

“In Virginia, people were more isolated and didn’t know that many others,” Mordue said. “Here, there were already clusters of people talking about issues (such as breastfeeding), so it was very exciting for me to come here.”

The group hopes to host events in the community, such as an alternative education forum in Bainbridge and North Kitsap that would invite speakers to talk about the different types of alternative schooling available.

At a meeting in early January, seven mothers attended with their children, and although three were participating in a meeting for the first time, many had previously exchanged email on the group’s mailing list.

First-timer Tanya Agnew of Bainbridge Island said the mailing list has been a great resource for discussion of anything from skin rashes to home canning.

Nicole Millican of Poulsbo, also attending her first meeting, said she home-schools her children and “wanted to meet people with the same lifestyle as us,” which she described as “not rushing children to grow up too fast.”

“This is just a more old-fashioned way to raise kids,” Millican said.

Several mothers are glad to find out they’re not alone in pursuing a natural living-style parenting.

“You realize there are other people to connect with. Reading a book is not as effective as talking to people,” said Julie Rosenblatt, an island chiropractor.

Mordue and her husband, David Mordue, emphasize that there are “shades” of natural living; some people might be drawn to “attachment parenting” and others might not, while at the extremes, some are vegans and others live in yurts.

“Our house doesn’t look strange,” David Mordue said. “Natural Living is looking at what we do and doing it more naturally.”

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