Tuesday, May 28, 2013

just write: trees of life.




I haven't been around very long, but it seems like in motherhood there are seasons where you can't see the forest for the trees. It's simple. The trees are diapers, food, toys (currently bubbles and beads), and more food. There is nothing more, nothing less. What forest? There is a forest? 

Oh, let's not forget mama or dada's arms, depending on the very second that they are hit with the insatiable desire to be "Up". Ruthie seeks me out and lifts her arms, this child has mastered the pity me look, and gently says, Up? and then I fold like a napkin and up she goes. I joke that she would probably crawl back up into my womb if it were possible. Afton sees her go up and is upset, barreling over insisting on the same treatment. Up? Up? 

I wrap them in my arms like branches, or vines; we root them on our hips and backs and shoulders, creaking under their growing weight but still we hold firm, swaying in the breezes and storms of life that have seemed to come so often in these first few years. Mama and Dada, their trees of life. Growing our roots deeper, wider, trying to anchor our family in those good things: love, joy, peace. 

If I were them, I'd want to be in the same spot - climbing up and camping out in the safety of these arms that have held them and loved them from their first breaths. 





the mindful parenting ebundle sale!

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale, organized by Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama, Lauren from Hobo Mama, and Laura from Authentic Parenting!

The Mindful Parenting eBundle is 22 titles by esteemed parenting authors. This is a handpicked selection of e-books, workshops, e-magazines, and audio, with themes such as creativity and play, peaceful guidance, mindfulness for mothers, children and food, self-care and relaxation, and more.

That's a total value of $274 USD for $24.95!

As an affiliate of the sale, I'll make a commission off everyone who purchases the bundle using my links and specific code. If you're a regular reader/friend/family member, I'd really appreciate it if you'd consider purchasing through this site!

The list of contributors:
  1. Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett
  2. A Unique 7-Step Parenting Tool: Sleep talking by Marcy Axness
  3. Relaxation Meditation, audio by Amy Phoenix of Presence Parenting
  4. Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes of Positive Parents
  5. Issue three of the Play Grow Learn magazine by Christie Burnett of Childhood 101
  6. Getting Back on Track! Why We Explode and What We Can Do About it, audio by Genevieve Simperingham of Peaceful Parent Institute
  7. Stress Relief for parents, audio by Genevieve Simperingham of Peaceful Parent Institute
  8. Creative Play Workshop, email course by Gina Kimmel of Connecting Family and Seoul and Katherine Lockett of Creative Playhouse
  9. Mindset for Moms by Jamie Martin
  10. Moods of Motherhood by Lucy Pearce of Dreaming Aloud
  11. 42 Rules for Divorcing with Kids by Melinda Roberts
  12. Mommy Overwhelm by Laura Schuerwegen of Authentic Parenting
  13. Nurturing Creativity, Guide for Busy Parents by Renee Tougas of Tougas Café
  14. The Playful Family by Shawn Ledington Fink
  15. Poetry of a Hobo Mama by Lauren Wayne of Hobo Mama
  16. Encouraging Words for Kids by Kelly Bartlett of Parenting From Scratch
  17. Raising a Creative Kid by Jillian Riley of A Mom With a Lesson Plan
  18. Children and Food by Tara Wagner of The Organic Sister
  19. Coming of Age, audio by DeAnna L'Am
  20. The Parenting Primer, A Guide to Positive Parenting in the First Six Years by Michelle Carchrae of The Parent Vortex
  21. API Live! Teleseminar Series: “8 Principles of Attachment Parenting” by Attachment Parenting International
Plus a lovely freebie by Jennifer Saleem of Hybrid Rasta Mama: The Mindful Mothering Challenge.

This bundle at this price is available only from May 28th to June 10th. 

Click here to visit Mindful Nurturing.

If you've been around for awhile, you know that the practice of gentle discipline and peaceful parenting has been a topic heavy on my mind. I'm really excited to be a part of this sale and glean from these admirable mamas and their experiences. Maybe we could start a Mindful Parenting summer book club?


Buy Now


Friday, May 24, 2013

the tension of motherhood.



(my babies are almost TWO. When I look at these pictures, it's a blur. It makes me sad that I can't even remember those crazy days...and makes me thankful for Instagram and this blog!)

How many times a day can one's heart burst, break, mend, and do it all over again? The tension of motherhood is a beautiful and ridiculous condition to ponder. I am reminded of the paradox every single day, especially during these fragile and testing toddler years. 


How is it that their cries and screams can simultaneously break your heart in two and rise up the bile in your throat? The little pudgy hands that reach desperately for your arms are both limiting - because can't I just get something done - and freeing, because they are your world and then nothing else matters. 

Those little freckles appearing in random places on their baby bodies are sacred, a mark of unique humanity that leaves you in awe and yet you wonder if someday it might turn into cancer. 

Sometimes, being present in the moment is a glory, and sometimes it's just plain exhausting.  

They are maddening and their actions drive me to swearing under my breath in the most creative ways, yet the next moment I'm reveling in their intelligence and seriously just how adorably can someone push a plastic shopping cart around the living room? Or when they hear and airplane and both scream and point at the sky yelling, Apa! Apa!

To sneak in and watch them sleep, and every time I look twice their arms and legs are longer. 

I beg, slow down and let me catch up, let me process everything that has happened in the last two years, and yet - please, grow up a little more and gain some more independence so we can start to really have some fun together..and yet, I know that their need for connection with me is as strong as it's ever been and my expectations continue to jump ahead of their development. 

And then, I know one day they'll jump out of my arms and suddenly be independent women with dreams and ambitions and wounds and longings. And I'll remember how I used to cuddle them up together like I did today, calming their after-nap grumpies and sitting with them at their little table as they snack on watermelon. 

I stumble upon this quote frequently, but it must keep appearing because it really is true: 





Sunday, May 19, 2013

sister smoothie time

We spent the last week at my parent's house because, well, we're still homeless...until early July, when we'll be moving into a new house! And we couldn't be more excited.

My girls love spending time with both sets of grandparents, and I'm so, so thankful that we've been able to stay with my parents and be near Andy's parents as much as we have. It's been a lifesaver during these first years with these two cute crazies!

I LOVE it when I catch the girls chatting to each other. It's the best thing, ever.


Monday, May 6, 2013

PDX happenings: mother's day shopping event

Head down to North Williams on Friday May 10th for a street-wide Mothers Day event hosted by Queen Bee, Ink & Peat, Lark Press, Yoga Shala, myoptic and Lodekka

From 5-8pm, stores will be hosting with festive drinks, snacks, and offering 20% off everything in their shops!


At Queen Bee, they'll also be selling raffle tickets to benefit the local Children's Book Bank. Bring in new and used children's books and for every book donated, you'll be entered to win some sweet prizes.  


We love hanging out on North Williams, there is great food, coffee, and unique shops all within a few blocks radius. I've gone into Queen Bee and admired their beautiful bags, covet everything at Ink & Peat, wish I lived close enough to make regular classes at Yoga Shala and long for some super stylish hipster glasses at myoptic. Lark Press has gorgeous paper and cards, last time we were there we bought a set of Portland Bridges cards to hang as artwork. Lodekka is a super awesome dress shop IN a double decker bus.  Definitely worth checking out!




Sunday, May 5, 2013

the sunshine project: bringing light into delivery rooms


It's time for our Mother's Day project!

I'm so blessed to call Adriel a friend (and I get to meet her next month!) and her generous heart for the women and children in Papua New Guinea has literally changed my life - it was through her Project Baby Bilum initiative that I started Umi Sling, and the year before that, worked with her Bloggers for Birth Kits drive. Adriel is on it and she's kind, wise, and innovative in coming up with ways to improve the lives of women everywhere, whether it's an encouraging word or a solar suitcase - which is this year's Mother's Day project!

This month, she brought all the projects and initiatives under one umbrella to create the Love A Mama community, where we can come together and support women and children who have so little and don't need a hand out, but a hand up and the opportunity to give birth in a more sanitary environment or carry their children while collecting the food for their families.

Introducing the Sunshine Project


During a research trip to Africa, Dr. Laura Stachel discovered that women were often giving birth in clinics by candlelight, lantern, or the dim glow of a cell phone because electricity was unreliable and inconsistent. While observing a c-section, the power cut out and she assisted by holding a flashlight for them as they finished the procedure. Can you imagine?

From the We Care Solar site:

"She witnessed deplorable conditions in state facilities including sporadic electricity that impaired maternity and surgical care. Without a reliable source of electricity, nighttime deliveries were attended in near darkness, cesarean sections were cancelled or conducted by flashlight, and critically ill patients waited hours or days for life-saving procedures.  The outcomes were often tragic."



After returning to the states, Stachel and her husband developed the Solar Suitcase - a suitcase outfitted with solar-powered light and power, plus a fetal doppler, that could be given to clinics and aid posts so they can care for patients in all situations. Dr. Stachel's story was even shared in a CNN Heroes feature!

And we're going to send one to Papua New Guinea, with your help.

From the Sunshine Project post:

This year the Love A Mama Community (that’s you guys!) is fundraising to obtain one solar suitcase to trial in the Gulf and Western Provinces of PNG. We need to raise approximately $2000 to pay for the suitcase as well as the international shipping. If it’s something that works well within the areas our ship reaches, then we’ll look at getting more to help outfit as many clinics and aid posts as we can. But for now, we start with one:
One suitcase that can bring light to many.
One simple innovation that can help sustain life for countless women and children.
Learn more about the Sunshine Project and get all the info for donating by visiting Adriel's web site and the Love A Mama community.









Wednesday, May 1, 2013

keeping your cool during toddler meltdowns {peaceful parent, happy kids series}



Thanks for all your encouraging comments after my last mama meltdown post. You all gave me some great tips and also the reassurance that this parenthood thing is pretty hard but that we're not in it alone - how lucky I am! It's hard to break life-long habits and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my commitment to raising my girls without physical discipline, because it's just what most people around here DO. Fortunately for me, I've found a great community of moms teaching me how to do it a different way. So thank you and keep coming back and lending your voice to this series! 




After that post I felt ready to dive back into Dr. Laura Markham's book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

and continue on with the series. This book is so packed with innovative information, I'm pretty sure this will be a loooong series.

This week's topic is something that I wish I'd read about 2 weeks ago: keeping MY cool during meltdowns. Yes, it's important to learn how to help my kids work through their tantrums and big feelings, but they can only do that when I'm calm and in control. They can sense my crazy and I've experienced firsthand that it makes things worse.

Let's be real: young kids - toddlers, especially - are sometimes just plain crazy. Sometimes I look down at them on the floor crying and just go "um...what?" 

But Dr. Laura explains that children get upset often because of their cognitive immaturity, and that they are still developing the neural pathways to calm themselves. Basically, it's their brain's fault! This knowledge certainly allows me to feel more empathy for my kids and to realize that really, it's not personal.

Even though it's plain biology, it still doesn't make it any easier on me as their mama. We generally respond in three ways: Fight, Flight, or Freeze. We want to get away (flight), experience a sudden rage and the desire to make them shut up (fight), or we just go numb (freeze). Or like me, you experience all three in a ten second period.

This is totally natural - our bodies are programmed to respond this way, because we perceive our child's outburst as a threat. But what if we could learn how to not respond this way? Sign me up.

Dr. Laura gives some tips for managing our reactions to our kids' upsets, and after reading these tips and really working intentionally on this for the last week, I can say that it has definitely helped me cope, and in turn, either I am perceiving less tantrums (possible) or they really aren't melting down as much (possible?). Below I've listed four of my favorite tips; there are lots more in the book but these especially resonated with me.

Tips for Keeping Your Cool During Meltdowns 


Take deep breaths and...

Acknowledge your own feelings and remind yourself that this isn't an emergency. 

Say hi to your panic and then tell it that you can handle this. My new favorite catchphrase is "feelings are not an emergency, feelings are not an emergency," and it actually helps! Which leads me then to...

Remind yourself that expressing feelings is a GOOD thing. 

So the hard part is that my kids are going to feel big, deep feelings no matter what I do, and according to Dr. Laura, the only question is whether I will make it OK for them to feel or teach them that their  big feelings are "dangerous." If isn't expressed, it gets stuffed! From there, I can begin to teach them how to regulate their own emotions.  

Tolerate the emotion without taking action. 

I don't need to act on my anger or panic, and when I keep it under control, I'm modeling to them the same thing. But this is a hard one for me, especially when other people are present because I'm a pleaser. It's so easy to feel judgment - and there might actually be some judgment happening - but what's more important, keeping up appearances or nurturing my child? 

As long as she is not hurting herself or someone else, or interrupting something important, there is no emergency. If need be, I can take her into a different room/area and sit with her until she calms down. Again, the teaching moments come after the emotional episode and when their brains are calm enough to be reasoned with...so all she needs during an emotional outpouring is my presence, either right next to her or close by.  

Keep it simple: choose love.  

Our kids need to know that they are loveable despite their behavior. Dr. Markham emphasizes the need for parents to witness their kids' displays of emotions and not to try and fix it in that moment. "Don't force her to express herself in words; she doesn't have access to her rational brain when she's so upset. Of course, you want to teach - but that needs to wait. Your child can't learn until she's calm." Contrary to what I always believed, the teaching moment comes after the emotional episode. Right after a big tantrum, they need an even bigger hug.

And don't forget to breathe!

How do you keep your cool during your kids' meltdowns? 

Check out Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting for more helpful tips for keeping your cool. 

So now I know how to walk myself through my own emotions during my child's meltdowns, but how do I help them walk through their own emotions without making the problem worse and help them learn to regulate themselves? Up next!





01 09 10