Thursday, March 1, 2012

inspired internet: february 2012

Today, the Spring 2012 edition of Rhythm of the Home (ROTH)is released. I have an article in it, the little Woolly Sheep project, seen above. The ROTH blog is doing a give-away. You can enter to win the materials needed to make your own woolly sheep!

food, home, and garden:
  • A new gluten free pie crust to try, via my friend Rachel.
  • Did you see this launch? taproot magazine.
  • Well, this is book, needle craft, and food all in one. I really appreciated this review Heather (Shivaya Naturals) wrote on Nourishing Knits. I am looking forward to reading it! I also got a lot out of Heather's links and mention of weighing flours in baking!

parenting and education:

other creativity:

  • Rhythm of the Home - Spring 2012 edition is out!
  • Sparrow Magazine - Spring 2012 edition is out!
  • Victoria of Made With Love UK has some amazing ideas and recipes. Just click on the topic of your choice from the photo links on the right side of her site.
  • I just want to plug my cousin and her partner...these two are so creatively talented. You will love their blog and Etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

yarn along: finally!

The 29th is Leap Year Day. That means a whole extra day this year. Every fourth year, we are gifted with an entire extra day. What are you going to do with yours?

I am joining Ginny today for Yarn Along.

He's trying to blow a bubble with his gum. Pretty cute if I do say so myself!

I finally finished Finn Luca's (Christmas!) scarf. Super simple but I am super pleased because he is super pleased, you know? I am world's slowest knitter and looking at all the talented, incredible things other bloggers churn out, I have been super self-conscious of that. Until now. Finishing this was so satisfying and you know what? I have to admit, knitting is fabulous; it is portable and I want to get better, isn't my favorite craft. And that is just fine.

On the needles now are the first few rows (shared knitting with my girl!) for another little cat. She has a cat lover friend and when the friend's mamma saw Lala's, she was wowed that Lala had knit it, and hinted that Lala's friend would love one. I will share a how-to very soon.

Reading...lots lately. Finishing lots lately. Right now, though, Katrina Kenison's The Gift of An Ordinary Day. It seemed a perfect pick given my parental fumbling these past few days.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I have been thinking a lot lately about how quickly we have moved through the days to find ourselves already at the end of February, which here means almost planting time. Or, in the case of a mild winter (this was 75 degrees the other day), a family wanting to spend some time together, at home, and a little guy whose one request for the weekend was "I want to dig!," it is planting time now.

As we chose some plants together and as we planted some seeds together, I thought about what this means in the rest of my life. In the rest of their lives. That for all the screw ups I make, for all my tired, impatient moments at bedtime, for all the temper tantrums they have that I handle badly out of embarrassment, for all the hollow threats "If you don't, you'll lose....," it is the more abundant moments like this one, the moments like digging in the dirt together, the new-morning-fresh is these moments that are planting the seeds that will help them grow into strong, capable little people who know where their food comes from, that their needs and wants are heard, and that they are loved. Growth happens here.

(Speaking of planting the seeds...check out Erin Goodman's latest online program, Planting the Seeds.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

parenting is...

Parenting is so hard sometimes. I know, not an insightful statement to all the parents out there, but I haven't said it recently, so I am just putting it back out there. It is hard and I am t.i.r.e.d.

Now, granted, I cannot blame my children entirely (at all?) for my fatigue. My own choices about sleep and Mike's long hours have definitely contributed to my fatigue, however, I reached the end of Sunday (yet another day that seemed to end later than usual due to a certain girl having trouble falling asleep lately), feeling tapped out.

I have generally been enjoying my time with my kids, but also feeling extremely tired from the amount of effort I have been putting forth to keeping as calm, neutral, loving, and engaging as I want and need to be. Perhaps my fatigue is greatly due to their amazing curiosity and my attempts to keep up with it. I would really like to be one step ahead of them! Mike and I are in this sort of parenting limbo lately, aware that our usual tactics have been less effective and not liking the feeling that we unintentionally seem to have landed ourselves in the middle of bribe-threat-reward territory.

We are currently in the muddy stage of transitioning how we are handling behavioral issues, which is part of my fatigue, because this takes excessive patience (with the kids and with myself for being responsible for getting us here). We are being asked repeatedly for treats and rewards (how did we get here?!!!) and are dealing with our first 7 year old dose of grumpy sass. (Sunday ended with my actually telling Lala that she and I both needed to find our smiles so that we could end the day with joy. And it actually wasn't even "one of those days." Bad sign. We did find our smiles. Good sign.)

Although I truly believe the patience, calm, and consistency will pay off, it is exhausting. So cross your fingers for me that Mike and I can find our way back to positively parenting so our kiddos naturally want to be helpful. It wasn't that long ago we were there, right?

I've been getting inspiration from the following:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

the logs

There is a place at Lala's school known simply as "the logs." Every single student in her class, which is made up of children of all backgrounds, home lives, and personalities, loves going to the logs. And I am the lucky mamma that gets to go with them (right after handwork, which I also get to do with them)!

Imagine my pleasure when we get down there and they all start squealing "turkey tails! turkey tails!" They point and tell me where to click the camera. And then they show off tree sap, mushrooms, centipedes, and lady bugs.

I simply love how much these kids love nature. How it envelops them and entertains them. How it educates them and engages them. Me too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


This (long) weekend, I felt so full. I have been really tired, with poor sleep finally catching up with me. (Mike and I crashed one night this weekend, immediately after the kids were down!) We had a lazy, few-plans weekend, which is sometimes welcome, sometimes exhausting. This time, it was fulfilling. I felt life's abundance this weekend.

He wanted to go for a tricycle ride (which even he is a bit big for), so she wanted to go, too. He had to push her...her legs were awfully long.

Our friends have the most amazing back yard, creek included. We, and another family, got invited over for dinner and play.

Mike immediately found his way to and bonded to the littlest person in the group.

All this time watching me sew, no interest. Knowing her friend Julia got a machine for Christmas, priceless.

Of course, he was about a dozen stitches behind.
My brother got me a sprouter for my birthday. We love it. Mike and I are having fun and I am thrilled that Finnian loves them!
Oh. Then she wanted to learn how to embroider.

Poof. Spring. And we never had winter.

I did a little rearranging. I put the little table and chairs in the kitchen and the play kitchen in the dining room. It hasn't been this way in ages. I took a photo before a new mess took over.

A lesser goldfinch and a house finch.

Yum. (Marina, this is where you need to go.)

And puppet shows.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


When Erin (of Exhale. Return to Center.) announced her 10-Day Family Re-Charge, I was so excited. Thrilled to sign up to join a group of people interested in doing within their families what we had already begun doing in ours. And I loved that it began on my birthday.

Our family read the welcome packet and settled on the word teamwork as our intention for the re-charge.

Day 1: So glad I'm here.

Attached to the this heart tugging video, the start message was "accept where you are, live in the moment, making messes means making memories." Okay. So...that is actually where I had been for some time. In fact, I felt fairly confident beginning the re-charge that the exercises were simply going to serve to strengthen where we already were and help keep propelling us forward. forward to 'after breakfast' on day 1 and I hit my first brick wall. Day 1 was my birthday. I was served breakfast in bed (so lovely!) and expected that we would have a relaxed, somewhat normal day, which would include the two things I asked for (sewing time and a family outing to the plant nursery). I didn't plan for Mike to be so exhausted from his work week that he would need a nap (I am not sure why I didn't...he's been working some brutal hours) and I expected the kids to be on their best "please mamma" behavior. (Ummm, what was I thinking?) So, as a result, I was on my own, parenting two kids who seemed to need constant interference and we didn't get time for the two activities I had asked for. (We did have a really nice dinner at my parents' house!)

The week preceding day 1 also marked the first anniversary of the loss of our 3rd child (early in pregnancy). We still want another child (there, I said it) and quite honestly, I didn't expect to be celebrating Sage's one-year-gone without another new addition or a pregnancy. We have neither, and every month that passes, I feel another piece of that dream break away and it hurts. (There, I admitted that, too.)

So...this was where I was on day 1. It was no where near a "bring on and bear the joyful messes of motherhood" mood. I really needed a break from my kids and even from myself! Not being "on it" from day 1 frustrated me those first couple of days of the re-charge, as if I had failed myself and everyone, before we had even really gotten going on a togetherness effort that we had been succeeding at before the re-charge. I felt behind before even beginning. But that isn't the point of a online program like this, is it? One can just pick up from any point and roll with it.

From that moment on, I began soaking it all in, being mindful of where we were already, considering each exercise, but not starting anything new without thinking it through and thinking about each of us, first. As Erin says...start where you are.

And looking back at my photos, I see the abundance. I see the happy memories being made. The happy moments are what I feel, just a week later. I feel a tad bit of guilt for having been so grumpy about what wasn't, and I feel...So glad I'm here.

Day 2: Get Out in Nature

I really needed this after day 1. Day 2 wasn't that much smoother in terms of my mood, but we did get out to a favorite park and that was so lovely. This park is nearby, but you feel miles away from everything. A visual break and a pause for the soul. Honestly, we we spend a lot of time outside and often do a Sunday family outing outside, so this felt like an easy success to the re-charge exercise.

Day 3: Get Offline

This one was easy, but mostly because it fell on a Monday and Mondays are a day when Finn Luca's friend, Lily, arrives at 7am to spend the day with us. We generally have an outing or activity planned and there is no time to be online. I did get online briefly during their nap, but not for long, and again briefly to print a coupon off on the printer. Mostly, the computer was shut at home. It was an excellent exercise for me, though, because it has been a practice of mine for the past year or two to have the computer shut when my children are present. I have a laptop and if I am sitting, the computer sits on a roll out shelf and should roll in on that shelf and hide behind a curtain. This exercise pointed out clearly to me how much I have slipped from this practice in recent months and the computer has been sitting, open, on top of the desk where I can just walk up to it. I bet if you ask my children, they would say I am on the computer during my time with them. Day 3 made me realize I need to re-calibrate this again. (And it is forcing me to clear my desk top, too!) My trick for keeping the computer shut is to keep a notebook handy in which I can make lists or write down things I want to research or write online.

Mike has to be on the computer for work, so where this comes into play is a need to figure out how to limit the amount of work he has to do from home. I wish I could say eliminate, but I know that isn't currently realistic. There is a clear rhythm to my day with the kids that allows me to transition us through the evening, but that is from experience of being on my own with them for the bedtime routine. We need to establish the same for Mike, so he can end his day relaxed.

Day 4: In the Kitchen

We all love being in the kitchen, in different ways. In thinking on it, Lala is my least kitchen-interested family member. Mike loves cooking. I love baking. Finn Luca loves to get in there wherever we let him. Lala doesn't, although she is my tester for all sorts of things. I make good hummus because of Lala. But Lala also likes ceremony. The three of us have regular tea parties because there is so much pleasure for all of us. So on Day 4, we set the table nicely, lit candles, and made a dinner party out of our meal. This was special because in our family, we only have dinner with all four of us on the weekends. Mike is not generally home until after the kids are in bed. (That means I am always on "arsenic hour" by myself. I do kid dinner, baths, books, bed, then Mike and I eat together when he gets home.) On Day 4, I decided that as often as possible, I will sit with the kids for their kid dinner and make that time about the three of us. Previously, I served them, chatting from the kitchen while I began dinner for Mike and me. This is less necessary since I began meal planning in October. (Organization helps flow, immensely!)

Our family meal time is breakfast, so, because of this re-charge exercise, I was grumpy on this particular morning when breakfast together was ill timed and fell apart. I had to communicate how important this is to me and to all of us. We jumped back on board on Day 5.

Day 5: Integrate

A day of rest to absorb and process days 1 through 4. I needed this as day 1 was such an unexpectedly rocky start to this re-charge. I learned from Erin on Day 5 that namaste means "The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you." (I learned there are different versions, including the "good" or the "beauty" rather than the "light".) Regardless, I had not known this before and was profoundly touched by the beauty of this. The exercise for this day was to make aromatherapy play dough, and while we did not, Finn Luca and I had the loveliest morning together, biking outside in the sunshine. Then, we picked up Lala (early dismissal) and went to open gym, where they had a blast and I got mamma chat time. It was so restorative. While not Wednesday, I failed to mention that on Monday (Day 3), Mike and I had a date. This focused time, just on us, really helped to bring us back in line with one another after our tired, grumpy weekend.

Day 6: Fresh Perspective

What does it look like after a break? It looks calmer again. But (even though we already know this...boy, do we know this), we desperately need to find a way to lessen Mike's work load and increase his pleasurable time. Given his schedule, I believe we do extremely well with family time and rhythms, but I am aware that he gets very little time for himself in a restorative way.

Day 7: The Anchors

What do you remember as family time in childhood? For me, I remember always having dinner together. I remember my mom volunteering in the school library and that meaning a lot to me. I remember my dad being the one who took me to and from music lessons and gymnastics, just us. (We went out for burgers after!). And always summers at the lake.

What are the things we do daily, weekly, seasonally, annually, that anchor us as a family? It took these questions to make me really think about it! We have so many seasonal and annual anchors in our family. Apple picking, Winter Solstice, Christmas morning, summer at the lake, family camp with Mike's family, Yosemite, etc. These came quickly to mind, but it is the daily and weekly ones, just the four of us (all four of us!), that I had to pause and think on. I realized that we have quite a few, but we come in and out of them, and for now, that is okay. What I mean is...we mostly eat breakfast together (but it doesn't happen every day due to Mike's schedule). And the kids sometimes have breakfast with dada on the weekends, just the three of them (but they will do this for weeks, then stop for some weeks, then on again). We almost always do a family outing into nature on the weekends (but occasionally this will be called off in favor of an extended family gathering or projects that must get done at home). We often have a night of the week where we have a homemade pizza picnic on a blanket in the living room (but this doesn't happen weekly). And so on. I think what is most important to each of us may differ, but I do want there to be consistency in at least one that includes all of us. The favorite activities and consistency are something we need to decide on and work on. (For me, it is our weekend outings into nature as a family that mean the most to me.) Overall, though, I hope, when they are grown, our kiddos remember that mamma was there to support them whenever they needed it and that dada happily, joyfully, dropped everything to engage with them in whatever project they excitedly thought up.

Day 8: Share Your Stories

Sharing stories. Making up stories. Letting our children hear us tell stories orally, using our imaginations. I admit...we haven't tried this yet. I have lots of memories of my dad singing songs and playing the guitar, but I don't do this for our kids and neither does Mike. I should. I need to, either through stories or song. It might help me personally process my challenges with the passage of time, allow me to connect with my past and with my kids as they continue to grow and pull away from me slightly (something we have actually worked hard for, but, in all honesty, am struggling with how to parent now that I see it happening).

Day 9: Grown Up TimeLink

Remembering, within a family, to focus on ourselves as grown ups, individually, and as a couple, is so challenging, isn't it? Erin said something in her letter on this day for which I was so incredibly grateful. She talked about the typical things that cause strain in relationships and she included work, both under and over employment. We are a family suffering from over-employment. I commented on the Facebook group how hard this is but how guilty I feel saying this, because so many people have taken this to mean I am not grateful for the work. I am...Mike's job provides us with a good income and benefits. It allows me to be fully present for our children. But, despite those benefits...he has been doing it for nearly 7 years now and has had some huge personal costs.

Kelly of Perched to Fly and Sparrow Magazine shared a list of 20 questions. Mike and I sat down together for dinner by candle light over a period of several days and answered these questions together. Through our steps toward balance, we have discussed many of the questions before, but some were worded in such a way that they got us talking a bit differently about things. This was so helpful and so enlightening, and while neither of us are sure how to get over or through the (next?) big hump, we agree on what it is and where we are going. That means a lot.

One thing Mike and I do regularly, which I have shared and will share again, is to have date nights. This does not mean you have to go out. Often, they happen right here at home. I clear(!) and set the table nicely, make a nice(ish) meal and we sit together, eat, and talk. The ideal date night is one with no screen time (other than maybe a shared movie). No computer surfing, no work from home, etc. Basically, it is your typical date, without the cost (of childcare, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) and with all the comforts of home!

Day 10: Keeping the Lines Open

How can we go forward, living with intention and connection? It has taken a long time for me to come to this place, but I think I do this fairly well most days. I do want to be more mindful of giving the attention needed to the people outside of our little of family of four, though. In order to give everyone the attention they need (including myself), I am personally working on setting limits with others (and myself) and reaching out and letting people know when I am thinking of them.

Day 11: Onward
Erin, thank you my friend, for having this brilliant idea and the bravery to bring it forward. What a success it has been! The Facebook group has been incredible. Those posting, sharing links, ideas, support, recipes...oh my goodness....I have so much to still read and bookmark.

Our family ends much where we began (well, before the grumpiness of day 1), but Mike and I, (I'm speaking for both of us here) are more in tuned with each other again about where we are heading. I had been getting really frustrated with his work schedule, which had not been helping, since he is frustrated by it, too. Knowing we are in the same place with it means we can work together to change it. And that is our next big step toward balance.



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