01 December 2011


The month of December is upon us and with it, a whole hoopla of stuff to do. In other words....

I'm taking the month off from blogging.

Shocking, I know, since I've been blogging like every day for the past two months...*snark*

I have plenty of reasons for doing this, but at the top of my list are:
1. Making Christmas presents: I will probably be hand making everything I give (and if not, *almost* everything), so I need some time to do that, especially considering that a certain someone has a birthday at the beginning of the month as well.

2. I need to prepare for my class: I'm teaching in January and with all these gifts I'm making, I probably won't have a lot of time left for preparations. I need to devote whatever time I have to reading, composing a syllabus and doing some sort of math to make grades for these people. I hope they like it.

I will probably resume gratitude posts on Christmas weekend, since my gifts *should* be made by then (!!!!), but if I don't, know that they will certainly return by the new year.

I appreciate your understanding in this matter (cause of course this is a formal business letter) and I wish you all the happiest and best holiday season filled with gratitude and joy. :)

26 November 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Seeing Family: I got to see a lot of family members the other day that I haven't seen in a long, long time. One person in particular I haven't seen since I was a very small child but it didn't really seem that way at the end of the day. I always enjoy getting together with my family because most of them are pretty hilarious (in case you wondered where I got it from) and I can pick up some new jokes, like the one my father told about a nun getting up on the wrong side of the bed....

My father coming to fix my computer: Assuming that he "fixes" it enough so that it will actually work reasonably well again, I'm pretty grateful. OK, OK, I'm grateful that he's coming to fix it anyway, even if he doesn't.

Chocolate Mint Soymilk: Yum.

Soup: Can't believe I forgot it on my other gratitude list! I love soup. Even you know that! I just had some and it was tasty. I'm glad it exists.

Gratitude Challenge Participants: I'm thanking these wonderful people again because they are all so attractive and appealing. I love each and every one of them for their individual talents and amazing traits. Thank you, thank you, thank you again for taking the time to join me this week in gratitude.

24 November 2011

The Gratitude Challenge

1. My children: They are truly my greatest gift in life. They have taught me so much already and will only teach me more for the remainder of my life.

2. My husband: He has supported me many times when I needed it and is always someone I can go to when I need to talk about something important.

3. My parents: Obviously, I owe them my life. They helped mold me into the person I am today and I am forever grateful to them for their hard work and dedication (and love, of course).

4. My pets: Over the years, I've had several dogs and each has left a wonderful paw print on my heart (sorry for the cheesy imagery). I still miss the ones that passed occasionally, but I know that my future can only hold more awesome dogs (not cats).

5. My car: I've had my car for nearly 10 years and it has treated me so well, despite the fact that it hasn't been vacuumed in at least a year. I am continuously grateful for its gas mileage, get-up-and-go, and resilience. Thanks, car. I'll miss you when it's time to move on.

6. Artichokes: I am eternally grateful for the existence of artichokes. They are my life (food life). I would not be the same person if I could not have them.

7. Bragg's: I am so pleased to have been introduced to this tasty condiment, especially since it has endless uses!

8. Chocolate: Whoever decided that chocolate is a good thing is a good person. I'm not a huge sweets eater, but sometimes, you just need chocolate. It's nice to know that it's there for me when I need it.

9. An extra freezer: I used to have one in our previous residence and never realized how much I would miss it when we moved. I am grateful for the future awesome extra freezer that I will have again some day and all the wonderful, homemade food I will fill it with.

10. My crock pot: I loved my previous crock pot, but when the lid broke I was semi-devastated. I was fortunate enough to have been given a new one for free from a member of my church and though it is smaller than my first, it is fully functional! Crock pots are genius!

11. Trees: I think trees are some of the most beautiful, amazing, functional pieces of natural architecture in existence. The amount of life that can be supported by one tree is incredible when you think of all the bugs, birds, other small animals, fungi and even humans who benefit from its life. After the tree has lived its life and falls to the ground, it completes its cycle by decomposing back to its origin. It is the perfect symbol of a fully productive life and I am so grateful to be in the presence of trees regularly.

12. Gardening: Even though my gardens have not been amazing, I am so grateful to them for producing anything they have given to me. I look forward to growing huge, prosperous gardens in the future and storing the bounty in an equally awesome location.

13. My tea pot: It is electric. It boils water. I use it to make tea 5 times a day. It is my life. The end.

14. Beans: I am so thankful for the existence of beans even though I disliked them most of my youthful life. Now, they are a staple for me and I thank them every time I eat them. Thanks for being there, beans.

15. Peppermint Tea: My favorite. I love a good, strong cup of peppermint tea (no honey) at any time of day. It just makes say, "Ahhhhhhh." Love.

16. My dishwasher: Although I'm perfectly proficient at washing dishes by hand, it is so, so nice to have something to do it for you in large batches. Thanks for working (most of the time) dishwasher.

17. Air conditioning: Though we're nearing the end of the heat season, I still remember how delighted I was to walk into a nice, cool house after being out in the sun for a while. The person who invented air conditioning was brilliant.

18. Running water: There are many things I can live without, but running water is a pretty good friend of mine. I can do without a shower for a little while, but I'm pretty fond of toilets. Really, really fond of them. I thank them for working every day.

19. Our ancestors: Every person who has ever lived has played a role. None of us know how big or small our own roles will turn out to be. I am grateful to each person who came before me and paved the way for my life to be as comfortable as it is.

20. Electricity: Although I think it is something I could *almost* live without, I am incredibly grateful for its existence. I could handle not having lights, a computer or digital clocks, but I would have a really hard time not having a fridge or freezer. I'm glad I have those things.

21. Books: I drool for books. I live for books. I spent most of my undergraduate years at a bookstore. If I had endless alone time, I'd probably be reading everything ever. Some day, I will.

22. Traditions: Certain things remind me of the holidays (all of them) because my mother always made a point to celebrate everything possible. I am so grateful to now be able to carry those large and small traditions on with my own children and hope they enjoy them as much as I did.

23. Marching Band: Some of the fondest memories of my life are from high school days during marching band. Yeah, yeah, yeah...think whatever geeky, nerdy thoughts you want, but a team like that is incredibly important in the formative years of anyone's life. I wouldn't be who I am today without those experiences.

24. My trumpet: Yes, that is the instrument I played for a large portion of my life. I've "beat" that bad boy up so much and yet it still actually works. Amazing. It got me through so many concerts and performances and is still going strong, nearly twenty years after I got it. Even my children play with it out, so I'd say it was worth the money we paid for it.

25. Riding lessons: I am fortunate enough to have taken riding lessons as a young girl and gotten the chance to interact regularly with beautiful horses. I was able to compete a few times and still have the ribbons I won. I've already introduced my children to horses and hope that I may also give them the gift of at least a few lessons because everyone should have the chance to feel the beauty and power of a horse beneath her.

26. Harry Potter: I was not someone who started reading HP when it first came out. I actually didn't read the first book until I was in grad school, but after that time, I was hooked. I still haven't seen the final movie, but I love the story so much I just feel all warm and fuzzy when I think about it.

27. Heat: As it is getting colder these days, I'm grateful to be inside buildings and a car that provide my body with external heat to keep me comfortable. I pray for those who do not have heat and continue to be grateful for that which I have.

28. Hot water: Something we all take for granted is a hot shower; that is, until that hot shower must be cut short because there is not a lot of hot water available. I'm so glad to have hot water when I do and I relish the moments of a nice, warm shower every few days.

29. A dryer: At the moment, I do not have one and I am remember the ease and wonderful simplicity of throwing items into the dryer. I look forward to the day when I have one again and I will never take it for granted.

30. My computer: I complain about it a lot (I've had it since 2007), but I am so glad that I have it. If it wasn't for my computer, I wouldn't have the "adult time" I crave so often at the end of the day. Thanks, computer. I couldn't do it without you.

31. Natural Parents Network: Ahh, what can I say about such a wonderful website. I stumbled upon it by sheer accident and it has really changed who I am as a person and a mother. Of course, I also met some amazing people as a result!

32. Natural Parents Network Volunteers: I have met such amazing people in the past 10 months since I became a volunteer and I couldn't be more grateful. It is really difficult to put into words what these relationships mean to me, which is why I simply say thanks to everyone in this crew that has helped me in any way.

33. Work: I've held a number of jobs since I started working and each one has helped me in one way or another. I've met fabulous people and gained incredibly valuable experiences that I continue to treasure on a daily basis. I look forward to what wonderful work experiences lie ahead for me.

34. School: I loved school. I still love school, which is why I want to work at a school. I love learning, I love the atmosphere of college and I love every little detail about that experience. I would love to go to school for the rest of my life earning degree after degree, but hardly think that's possible. I do hope to get at least one other one in the future, perhaps when H & P are school age, because I cannot imagine a life without continuous learning.

35. Cloth Diapers: I'm so thankful to have been introduced to cloth diapering because I love it so much. In spite of every challenge I have faced in order to keep it going, I wouldn't go back to disposables if you paid me! Thanks to everyone who kept pushing me to do it!

36. Terri at Random Mama Brain: I know Terri in real life and I am so grateful to her for helping me on my road to cloth diapering! She was always available to answer my questions and is still a great resource for anyone looking to start cloth diapering!

37. Kirsten at Our Small Tribe: Yet another real life friend who helped me on my cloth diapering journey, she has also been an inspiration to me in a number of ways. She's a vegetarian and has given me some great recipes and she gave birth to her second child completely naturally, as I can only hope to do if I ever have another child. She is also the perfect example of perseverance as she pumped exclusively for her first son to have the best possible nutritional start. She's all around awesome so do check her out.

38. Stephani at The O'Hara Family: I feel like I cannot thank Stephani enough. She has helped me so much in the past 3 years it's scary. She has given me her breastmilk for Heidi, she has helped me pack and move on two occasions and repeatedly bestowed gifts upon me or my children. She's always ready to help me at the drop of a hat, even with two children of her own now. And she's also my HBAC hero. All around awesome.

39. Amy at Nom, Nom Yum: Amy is awesome. She also helps me whenever I need it and is one of those "real" friends you can count on to help with a move. She's also a pretty good Food Network date. And, she can cook a lot of things that taste good, especially since she uses coconut oil as her basis for life. She rocks.

40. Dionna at Code Name: Mama: She let me stay in her house! I, a perfect stranger to her, felt so welcomed and comfortable in her home during our awesome NPN get together last month that I am still flabbergasted at how willing she was to let random people stay with her for a weekend. Plus, she's totally awesome at everything else she does and is to be admired. I'm so grateful to know her.

41. Lauren at Hobo Mama: She's hilarious. She's a killer button maker. And she knows her stuff. I'm thankful that I get to interact with her regularly and that she's around to pick up my slack. I look forward to the day when I can punch her in person. Figuratively. With my wit.

42. Shannon at The Artful Mama: If I ever have to drive across the country again, I'll ask Shannon to go with me before anyone else. I'm so grateful to have had her with me on our long journey because even though she was pregnant, she kept up her end of the deal by switching with me as frequently as was needed. Before we even met in person, we were great friends and I am thankful for every moment she has taken to listen to my blabbering.

43. Jorje at Momma Jorje: Before I met her in person, I knew she was awesome. She is always willing to lend an ear and offer any advice she might have when needed. Beyond that, she is an incredibly compassionate and empathetic person who genuinely gives of herself as much as possible. She is an amazingly inspiring person who I cannot wait to see again.

44. Julia at A Little Bit of All of It: Even though I haven't met her personally yet, I've spent quite a few evenings staring at her dark cave of a house via Google Plus and I am always grateful to see her. She's a wonderfully caring person who I am so pleased to have met via NPN.

45. Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings: Melissa has been following me for a while, even before I really knew who she was. I've been fortunate enough to talk to her several times via Skype or Google Plus and she is always, always there with a heartfelt positive comment. I'm looking forward to the day she returns to the states so I might actually have the chance to see her in person.

46. Zoie at Touchstone Z: Zoie is one of those people I can feel the energy from through the computer. I've only ever commented back and forth with her, but since she is an avid gratitude poster, I have interacted with her a great deal. I'm so grateful for her continued participation and promotion of my weekly gratitude posts as well as her creation of the Mindful Mama carnival. Please check her out if you haven't already. She exudes amazing-ness.

47. Kelly at Becoming Crunchy: Kelly rocks my socks. She published a ridiculous guest post by me in spite of the fact that it was, well, ridiculous. I've really enjoyed getting to know her online over the past few months and I always appreciate the amazing opinions and ideas she shares on her page.

48. Amy at Peace 4 Parents: Amy is always a ray of nurturing light in our group of NPN volunteers, offering incredible insight and pure support. She is very open with everyone about her own past experiences in hopes that others can learn from the challenges she faced. Her spirit shines through the computer and I am so grateful to have met her face to face.

49. My phone: I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am very thankful for my phone. When my computer doesn't work, or my GPS is screwy, I can count on my phone to save the day.

50. GPS: Even though it takes me on some wild rides, I'm glad to have it as a back-up if I'm ever truly lost and need a little guidance to find my way home.

51. My godparents: My mother and father picked truly wonderful people to be my godparents and I am still grateful to have them in my life. They have provided consistent, loving support to me throughout my whole life in many different forms. My godmother is a minister and she not only married my husband and I but she has also christened each of my children. She is a real blessing.

52. My pastor: I have only known him for about eight months but I feel like I *should* have known him my whole life. He is one of the best speakers I have ever listened to and he has counseled me and inspired me to be a better person. He played a tremendous part in the making of who I am today and I will be forever grateful that I was able to find and attend church with him in his final year as pastor.

53. The Associate Minister at church: Just as I am so glad to have been able to listen to and speak with my pastor, I am equally glad to have listened to, talked with and learned from the associate minister. She too has inspired me in more ways than I can count and is yet another beam of light in my life. I look forward to every day that I get to see her or hear her speak and I hope to take many more classes from her at church.

54. The Sunday School Director at church: I really can't even begin to describe how amazing she is, so my best effort will be lost in words of thanks. I thank her for being a wonderful influence on my children, a fantastic childcare provider and a great friend. Thank you.

55. My church: Of course this list would not be complete without me expressing my gratitude for the church as a whole. Never have I ever before felt so welcomed and at home in a church. It is my desire to remain with this church for as long as I am "supposed to" so that my children will have an amazing, faith-filled foundation for their lives. I am glad to finally be home.

56. Whole Foods: If you don't have a WF near you, I'm sorry. I have only lived near one for the past year and it has made all the difference in the quality of food my family eats. Of course I do not shop there every day (or even every week sometimes), but when I do (and I get awesome bargains!) I am able to stock up on what I know is great food. I trust this company because I know they are committed to providing fairly-traded, "properly" grown and raised products to the public. I hope to always be near a great store such as this one.

57. Wegmans: Another of my favorite stores, this one is perhaps "second best" to WF, but nevertheless, a substantial provider of good produce, local and organic products. They also put out awesome recipe ideas and great booklets for each month with valuable information, coupons and more. Now that I sound like a walking advertisement, let's move on.

58. Everything Natural: Back before it was "cool" to eat organic, natural foods, my mother and I frequented this store where we used to live because it was the only one of its kind to provide "the good stuff." It's still going after a number of years because of it's excellent variety of natural products, both edible and non-edible. If you're ever in the area, check it out!

59: My chiropractor: Even though I do not see him much anymore because he is located where I used to live, I am grateful for all the help he provided me over my life span. I saw him since I was a small child for anything that ailed me and he was always able to make me feel better. This, of course, was back when chiropractors were equal to martians from outer space, but even though I got strange looks whenever I mentioned him, I kept on trucking. He's still practicing even though he is well into his 80's and I'm sure he has a ton of people who are equally grateful for him.

60. Barbara Hoffman: Back in April, I designed and executed a small tribute to one of my favorite professors in order to honor her life. I am so grateful to have taken classes with her while she was still walking this Earth (in that body) and I will forever pay tribute to her awesome memory.

61. Sr. Rose: She is one of my favorite people ever. She is kind, loving, sweet and brilliant in so many ways. I was fortunate enough to have her as a professor and even as a private counselor of sorts for a number of years as a student and beyond. I am incredibly grateful to her for listening to me and teaching me on so many occasions.

62. Dr. Crawley: One of my favorite undergraduate professors, I owe him so much, especially for giving me the opportunity to teach right after I received my masters degree. He is a wonderful person to know.

63. Dr. Renjilian: He was my adviser all throughout undergraduate school and never ceased to challenge me in all of the classes I took with him. He's a wonderful teacher, friend and now colleague.

64. Dr. Bush: Another favorite of mine from the English department at my undergraduate school, she is absolutely hilarious yet incredibly full of knowledge. I fully enjoyed the classes I took with her and so wish I could learn from her again.

65. Dr. McMillan: I took nearly every class she taught, much like I had with Barbara Hoffman, because of how awesome she is. I learned so much from her and I am incredibly grateful to have been taught by her.

66. Dr. Morris: My adviser, program coordinator and favorite graduate professor, he single handedly helped me graduate. He accommodated me when I found out I was pregnant so I could still get my degree on time. I literally owe him my masters.

67. Dr. Mrykalo: Though he wasn't my favorite (sorry), he was an impressive teacher who influenced me a lot. He is full of knowledge and life experience and brought so much to the table.

68. My family: All of my family is wonderful. I am so, so thankful to be related to so many amazing people who care about me so much. I bless every day I spend with any of them.

69. Blogging: I started blogging as a means to write when I felt like I was losing my touch. I managed to generate a bunch of followers and 'likers' on Facebook and I am forever grateful to everyone who has stayed with me through my journey.

70. Everyone who has ever commented on my blog: Thank you for your time and thank you for your opinions, thoughts and wonderful words. You are all amazing!

71. Nursing: I haven't nursed a child in over six months, but when I look back on my nursing relationships with both children, I am happy. So happy I was able to nurse them as much as I did, to give them that amazing nutrition and have those experiences to reflect on for the rest of my life.

72. Not nursing: As much as I enjoyed nursing, not nursing is equally as enjoyable. My body is my own and that feels good.

73. My body: I've always been pretty pleased with myself and I still am. I'm grateful for my body that was able to grow and nurture two children and which continues to sustain me in good health every day.

74. Soft blankets: Who doesn't love a good soft blanket? I love their softness, comfort, fluffiness and warmth on cold winter's nights and cool fall evenings.

75. Paintings: My mother is an artist and I have a number of her pieces in my possession. I am incredibly grateful to have them as much as I am grateful to every artist who has ever expressed himself on canvas.

76. My camera: Steve purchased my camera as an anniversary/mother's day/every birthday for the next 10 years present and I love it. I asked him for a "good" camera so I could take more serious pictures and I am so thankful for the one I received.

77. My bookshelves: My father bought me a few bookshelves a number of years ago and I continue to put them to use in every home I'm in. Right now they are very multi-purpose holding books, sheets, towels and pictures. I'm so glad I have them because otherwise, my floors would be pretty cluttered.

78. Boots: I don't wear boots very often, but when it's snowing and icy outside, I'm very thankful to have them. They keep my feet reasonably warm and dry and give me traction in tough situations.

79. Toys: I complain about toys a lot, but as a child I had quite a few myself. Eventually I outgrew my use for most of them and kept only those that had deep meaning for me. I'm so glad to have kept them, though, because now my children have the opportunity to play with the same things I enjoyed so many years ago.

80. Music: I am someone who generally needs to listen to music whenever I'm in the car. I can get by without it for most of the day, but I really look forward to driving just so I can listen to the radio. I cannot imagine my life without music, much like I cannot picture it without writing.

81. Facebook: Sure, people complain about it all the time but it has served an amazing purpose. I've been able to keep in touch with so many friends and meet and interact with so many new ones. I'm very grateful to have it as an outlet.

82. Vacuum cleaners: I like a good broom and dustpan, but a vacuum cleaner is pretty nice too. Particularly with two small children who like to decorate the floor, it's essential equipment and I'm glad for it.

83. Jane, Julie and Juli: I was fortunate enough to work with these three women while doing my assistantship in graduate school and couldn't have dreamed up a better team of women. They were so incredible and I learned so much from them I have no words except thanks.

84. Traveling: I've done a lot of great traveling in my life so far including trips to Australia, Panama and some islands in the Caribbean and I am so, so grateful for all of those experiences. It really is true that each trip you take changes you in some way and I look forward to taking my children on as many trips as I am able.

85. My immersion blender: Steve got me an immersion blender for my birthday since I've been wanting one for a long time and though I haven't used it yet, I am grateful to have it waiting in the shadows for me to use at my will.

86. Reusable water bottles: I've gone through a ton of reusable water bottles because I wear them out pretty quickly, they get broken or misplaced. I'm so glad I have them, though, because they are the sole reason I manage to stay hydrated most of the time.

87: Water: Well, we really wouldn't be much of anything without water, would we? Thanks is not enough for the most important resource on the planet, but that's what I have for it right now. Thanks, water.

88. Farms: We owe our lives to farms, literally. Without farms, we wouldn't have any food and we certainly know where that would put us. Give thanks every day for the food that is on your table and the farm it came from.

89. Farmers: These are amazing people who work incredibly hard to feed the masses. I thank each of the farmers I met this summer at the farmers markets I attended for their hard work, dedication and willingness to provide good food to the public.

90. Farmers markets: I miss the farmers market so much right now that I'm almost looking forward to the summer just so I can go again. I feel displaced without having at least one to go to. I'm thankful that they will begin once again.

91. Great writers: So many fantastic writers have come before me and so many exist right now. It is amazing to be able to read the words of so many talented people from the past and present, to get lost in their imagery and entranced by their thoughts.

92. Stoves: I am so thankful to have a stove, even though it isn't my favorite, so I have somewhere to make the healthy meals I believe so much in. I really don't know where I would be without one so I thank it every day that it continues to work for me.

93. Elderberry: I haven't known of this awesome berry for long, but once I found it I knew it would never be out of my life. I know it has helped my family steer clear of illness on many occasions and for that I am eternally grateful.

94. My sewing machine: Although I'm used to sewing things by hand since that is how I've gone about it for a very long time, it is really, really nice to have a machine do the work every now and then. Even though it drives me crazy sometimes, I thank it for working when it's not being temperamental.

95. My dryer balls: I only have a few, and they're not very good, but I think they work a little bit. I'm glad I made them and really need to make some more so they work even better.

96. Wedding gifts: I didn't have a big wedding, but I received a wonderful bounty from family and friends to help us get started. I know I already sent out thank-you notes a long time ago, but I am still as grateful for those gifts now as I was then.

97. Baby gifts: Much as I am grateful to everyone who gave for our wedding, I am even more grateful for the continued support I receive for each of my children. Initially I was given so many of the things I "needed" for a baby that we truly wanted for nothing for months. We are still blessed to be receiving necessities for each child and I am still grateful.

98. Help: Sometimes, I need help. I'm sure this is true for everyone (right?) and as difficult as it may be to ask for it, I'm always grateful to anyone who gives it to me, no matter what form. Help is never too big or too small and is always, always appreciated.

99. The Gratitude Challenge Participants: It doesn't matter to me how many people participated in this Gratitude Challenge because I'm so very thankful for each and every one of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you one hundred times for joining me.

100. Sharks: The end.

19 November 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

A place to live: A week ago, I wasn't sure where I was going to be living until the day before I had to vacate my apartment. I am so, so thankful that I have a roof over my head and a new place to call home.

A job: I have at least one guaranteed job this coming January and I am incredibly grateful for it. I have faith that I will have another and I am already grateful for the bounty it will bring me.

Wonderful friends: It seems I cannot thank my friends enough and I'm sure they're getting tired of hearing 'thank you' 10,000 times, but it is so appropriate. I really have the best friends in the world who help me at all hours, dropping their lives to help make mine more comfortable. You people who are my friends: You rock.

My eyes: I've never needed glasses and I can see pretty darn well, thanks to my amazing eyes. I'm grateful for the work they do every day, for letting me see my children, the food I'm making and the beauties of the Earth.

My drying rack: Never before have I ever been so grateful for my drying rack. At the moment, I do not have a dryer so drying space for my clothing/diapers is at a premium. I'm glad it affords me some space to hang things even if it isn't hardly enough.

12 November 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

1. Friends: You can't go wrong having real friends. I have a few (real life) real friends that always come through for me no matter what. I am so grateful to them, yet feel I've never expressed that gratitude enough. I hope to do that effectively in the future.

2. Rocking Chairs: The other night, Piper was upset to the point where it was keeping her from sleep, despite having all other needs met. Since I haven't utilized the rocking chair in a while, I decided to rock her in it to see if she'd fall asleep. Sure enough, the magic still worked. If you have a child, you MUST have a rocking chair. Period.

3. A full fridge: My mother came to visit this week and brought a ton of food with her. This was after I had gone shopping a few days prior, so my fridge was awesomely full. I just love a full fridge.

4. Christmas stuff: Sure, it's early, but Heidi and Piper love looking at the Christmas stuff in the store! I love watching them look at everything because they are just now starting to actually care about it (as opposed to previous years). I hope I can make their childhood as magical as mine was.

5. The playground: I have mentioned before that we have a small, fenced-in playground very close to our townhouse that I take H & P to frequently. Since the weather has been unusually nice, I've been taking them almost every day so they can take advantage of the time outside. I am incredibly grateful to have this playground so close and even more grateful that it's surrounded by a tall fence!

08 November 2011

Kitchen Control

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m going to tell you now: I’m a bit of a control freak. Over the years, I’ve done a fair to decent amount of work on this “problem” and I’ve allowed other people to have control in some situations where I previously wouldn’t have felt physically comfortable doing so. Needless to say, I still have a lot of work to do before I am fully comfortable allowing my children to help me in the kitchen because of this intense need to control what is going on. However, I want my children to be comfortable in the kitchen, develop a love of cooking and the skills necessary to feed themselves from as young an age as possible. In other words, I need to suck it up. (Nevertheless, Additionally, On the other hand, how many more introductory phrases can I use in this post?)

Piper eating some bread or something.

Heidi is at the point where she will frequently ask me to help while I’m cooking. She wants to stir, dump ingredients into a bowl or pot, or use whatever utensil I have in the works. Certainly, this is only natural since she is a curious, intelligent young child and I know this to be true. It does not, however, make it any easier for me to “deal with” as someone who becomes physically changed by a lack of control.

In an effort to squelch this issue, I have tried pre-measuring everything for her to dump into whatever container we’re using, but this does not help me as much as one might think. She (and Piper) still sticks her fingers into whatever she’s dumping (or sometimes an entire hand) and this makes me twitch. I can feel my muscles start to tense up and from there, it’s only a matter of time before I become short-tempered and start restricting her activity. I wish I had some way of turning this off, but too many thoughts of waste and lack float through my head about how expensive the ingredients are and how I want whatever I’m making to still turn out well. Controlling in the kitchen is a real problem.

I’m working on it, as I said. Whenever I remember, I let her dump flour or sugar into a bowl, let her stir it a little or let her dump vegetables into a pot I’m working with. I think the best thing I can do is to allow her to help a little bit at a time in order to build up my comfort level as well as her skills. I have a strong desire for both of my children to be well versed in cooking from an early age; all I need to do is let that desire overpower my need for control in the kitchen.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter's suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • "Mommy, Can I Help?" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food - it's a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn't cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa's making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won't eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children's favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What's Next? panicks about passing on her food "issues" to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family's relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M's first adventures with food.

05 November 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

1. Daytime Potty Trained?!: Is it true? Can I say it out loud? Or proclaim it from the rooftops? Heidi appears to be fully daytime potty trained!!!!!! The excitement in me is intense! Can I make this all five of my things I'm grateful for this week?

2. Not washing as many diapers: I've been doing laundry just about every day for the past year or more and now that I don't have to wash diapers every day, I don't know what to do with myself. Sometimes, I can just...sit.

3. Only changing a few diapers every day: Now that I'm only changing Piper's diaper throughout the day, I feel like I can do more with my life. No longer am I governed by the amount of diaper changes I must do! I can actually do things like breathe, walk through several rooms more than once and drink tea without having to constantly change diapers.

4. Not carrying a million diapers everywhere we go: It's nice to drag along my reusable shopping bags without a giant backpack full of diapers, even though I *should* also be bringing along a change of pants for Heidi, just in case.

5. Clothes that fit Heidi's butt: Sure, cloth is cute on the bum, but it's nice to know that I can buy anything for her and it will fit! Granted, most things are usually too big so I need to utilize those handy adjustable straps to tighten the waist, but it's nice to have to do that rather than loosen them all the way out to fit the booty.

29 October 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Chatting with friends: Last weekend I was able to see a few of my friends (in real life) that I haven't seen for a while and as always, I'm forever grateful to have those wonderful adult moments.

Dunkin Donuts gift cards: When I was in graduate school, there was a Dunkin Donuts on campus so my father would get me gift cards so I could buy myself tasty items between classes. Not having given this institution my patronage much since then, I still retained those cards and was able to use the remainder of them to buy a friend of mine some coffee and a muffin (and a chai for myself). I'm grateful to have kept them so long and to have been able to use them for someone other than myself.

The Universe: Even though it's messing with my mind, I feel like I might actually be moving in the right direction right now and I'm grateful for everything that is in store.

My Teaching Philosophy: This is something that is driving me nuts, so like I normally do when things are bothering me, I am declaring that I am grateful for it. I'm grateful for what I've already written, what I will continue to write and what the finished product will be (because it will eventually be a finished albeit work-in-progress product).

Dogs: I love dogs. I can't wait until I have one again. (Technically, I can because I decided that I would not have a dog until both my children are potty trained and even then I will have to make the decision based on whether or not I want the added responsibility, but the idea that somewhere in the future I might have an awesome dog is very pleasing to me.) I am glad that dogs exist.

28 October 2011

Yeah, I'm Pretty Cool

Welcome to the I Love Me! Carnival!

This post was written for inclusion in the I Love Me! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle. This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from the other carnival participants.

Oddly enough, I’ve always liked myself (and still do). I say this is odd because just about everyone I know has something she desires to change about herself, no matter her age or status in life. I’ve never really felt this way, which is probably weird, but since I have such a high respect for my body and myself, I hope to develop this in my children before they begin heavy interactions with others.

I have never had many issues with self-image in my life, though I did dabble in a few unfortunate practices during my early teen years. This was more about an attempt to sympathize with the individuals who did it for other reasons and understand the methods for which people engage in these activities, than me actually doing it to defile my body. I’ve tried to do “bad” things to myself before, but find I just can’t. In all my years of living, I have only changed my hair once (in terms of its color) when I had a friend put highlights in it. I hated it and haven’t done anything since.

Obviously, I’m not telling you that coloring your hair is bad (even though most methods are just heavy chemicals that I wouldn’t wish on anyone); it just isn’t my thing. I truly, honestly like myself just the way I am. Why? Because I have a deep, heavy belief that I am the way I am for a reason. I was made this way, exactly, in order to serve some purpose in this world. If I was made on purpose, why would I want to change anything about myself?

It is this belief that I wish to instill in my children. They, too, were made they way they are purposefully and as they are, they are perfect. When they grow up knowing these facts, they will develop the same self-respect that I have. When one has such a degree of self-respect, one is far less likely to engage in any activity that will harm one’s body-temple. Most of the time, I think I’m pretty cool and I desperately hope that this “coolness” will rub off.

Thank you for reading this post from the I Love Me! Carnival. Please take some time to read the contributions from the
other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the afternoon of October 28th with all the carnival links.)

  • The Art of Being Thoughtful – Becky at Old New Legacy likes that she is mostly thoughtful but wants to become more thoughtful. She shares a story that demonstrates that giving gifts doesn't have to be expensive.
  • I love me (and running)! – Sheryl of Little Snowflakes writes about her new love of running and how it has helped her learn to love herself!
  • For the Love of Moe – Valerie at Momma in Progress shares her thoughts on a body forever changed, but forever loved.
  • Where I Find My Worth – Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how finding her worth in worldly things always falls short.
  • Oh Yeah, I'm Cool – Tree at Mom Grooves shares her very favorite gift and the thing she most wants to pass on to her daughter.
  • Loving – Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about some of the things she loves about herself - some easily, and some by choice for the sake of healing.
  • Baby Strikes A Pose – Emma from Your Fonder Heart writes about her family's decision not to let their 7 month old model, and uses the opportunity to think more deeply about girls (young and old) and how they determine their self-worth.
  • I Love Me! - A Rampage of Appreciation! – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle stops waiting for anyone else to tell her she is wonderful and goes on a rampage of appreciation for herself!
  • Raising Healthy Daughters – In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Kate Wicker offers tips to pass on a healthy self-image to the young ladies in our care.
  • Unexpected Benefits of a Healthy Pregnancy – How does it feel to have a healthy pregnancy? Dionna at Code Name: Mama discovers that making positive choices can be empowering.
  • Filling Up Our Watering Cans – Nada at miniMOMist believes that practicing Sabbath is the same as being a gardener who lovingly tends to the flowers in her garden. She needs to fill up her watering can first.
  • Better Body by Baby – Jess from Mama 'Roo and Family Too! shares how having her first baby makes her feel even more beautiful and confident about her body than ever before.
  • These Breasts Were Made for Nursing – Becoming a mother helped Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children to embrace her womanhood and improve her self image.
  • Yeah, I'm Pretty Cool – Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her own self love and how she hopes to foster the same self-respect in her children.
  • Who I've Become – The future is bright with That Mama Gretchen who shares her past and present perspective on body image and how she hopes to become a change agent with her daughter.
  • Ever-Evolving Me – Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about her innate drive to continue learning, growing, and evolving.
  • I love you for your mind – Lauren at Hobo Mama turns a dubious phrase on its head with a little self-loving slam poetry.
  • Stop Think of Love with Your Body – Amy of Peace 4 Parents shares an exercise to gradually transition from hating to loving your body - stretch marks, sags, imperfections, and all.
  • I Love Me! – Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy shares the things that she loves about herself!
  • caught in a landslide – jaqbuncad of wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! shares a list of reasons why zie loves hir body.
  • Love Your Tree – How do you picture the ways your body and mind change? Amy at Anktangle writes about how trees help her have perspective about her own growth over time.
  • Pumpkin Butt – Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes about how birth and pumpkins are the way to accepting her body
  • I do love me – Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the lessons about loving herself she wants to pass along to her daughter.
  • Appreciating Who I Am – Linni at An Unschooling Adventure describes the things she likes about herself and the way she appreciates who she is as a person.
  • I love me! : A journey – Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her journey on arriving at the point where she can say: I love me!
  • My Daughter Doesn't Care So Why Should I? – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama calls herself on the carpet for the image of self love and beauty she portrays in front of her toddler.
  • Finding out who I am – Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares an exercise that helped her identify positive qualities she possesses, and how that has helped her learn to love herself.

24 October 2011

The Gratitude Challenge

You may have noticed that for the past few months, I've been writing a weekly post to share some of the things I'm grateful for in my life each week. Since I feel it is important to be grateful all of the time (not just one day a year), I did not want my gratitude posts to have anything to do with Thanksgiving (even though not all of you celebrate it). However, since this holiday is upon us, I decided to take advantage of its meaning by issuing a grand gratitude challenge to all of you. Are you ready?

My Gratitude Challenge for you is: Write a list of 100 things you are grateful for and post it on Thanksgiving Day.

One hundred things? You bet! Don't think you can do it? That's why I'm giving you a whole month to toil, dream and mark down each and every thing you're grateful for. (Actually, there should be far more than 100, but I'm trying to keep this reasonable for you.)

What should this list look like? The only "rule" I would like to give you per say, is not to list any one thing twice. If you have written a gratitude post before, you are certainly more than welcome to include any or all of the things you are already grateful for (since, obviously, you're still grateful for them). Here's a sample for you:

Try not to include the same item more than once:
1. Sharks
43. Sharks

Do include different facets of the same item (if applicable):
1. Shark teeth - They last forever!
23. Shark fins - They're so pointy!
57. Shark intestines - Best necklace ever!

Note the difference.

I do hope you will join me in this challenge. I'll provide a link-up as usual and hope you can make some rounds to view other posts to admire what everyone is grateful for. You can even read your list aloud at the Thanksgiving table!

See you in one month.

22 October 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Moments when Piper plays alone: Because of how close Heidi and Piper are in age, it is often difficult for me to distinguish her own personality and identity apart from Heidi. The other day, I was able to watch Piper play with two (plastic) turtles for a few minutes on the back of her high chair saying, "Walk, walk, walk" and it was one of the cutest things I've seen in a while. I'm grateful to have had that chance to just watch her, on her own.

Jillian's Drawers: This is one of my favorite stores ever, located in Ithaca, NY. I could spend hours just staring (literally) at all the pretty cloth diaper patterns and wishing I could build my stash all over again from scratch with unlimited funds. Then I could look at all the "green" toys, dishes, and clothing options for another few hours until they finally kick me out for loitering. I love it and I'm thankful that it has been there through my cloth diaper experience (even though it's a distance from me).

Moosewood Restaurant: Ahh, finally, I got to go to a vegetarian restaurant! I'm so grateful for every vegetarian restaurant that exists out there so that we have options when it comes to eating outside the home. Even though most of the things on the menu for lunch the other day had cheese or something else I don't eat, I was still able to find something fantastically tasteful to enjoy. (P.S. Heidi ate all the tofu off my plate.)

Paint: Heidi and Piper had a wonderful painting experience while visiting my mother and though I do not have any pictures, I can assure you their creations are amazing. I'm so glad that they are developing a love of art and that my mother, as an art teacher, will be there to keep that love growing as long as she's here.

Time to sew: While visiting my mother's house, I was afforded some time do get a little bit of sewing done and it was amazing. Heidi was busy drawing with markers and Piper was with my mother so I had the rare opportunity to get something done (well, most of it anyway). I am always grateful for the time that I have on Earth, but I am even more grateful when I can be super productive during that time.

18 October 2011

Who Paid The Price For You?

Last week, I had the privilege of attending church at Unity Village, which is essentially the headquarters for the faith I have followed most of my life. I visited this amazing place once before in my life when I was in 6th grade so it had been well over 10 years since I set foot on those grounds. After dropping my children off in two childcare areas, I headed down to the chapel, got my bulletin and sat down. The first time tears began to well up in my eyes was upon looking at the bulletin and reading the words:

"Welcome Home."

This may not mean anything to you, but as someone who took a 10 year (give or take) hiatus from this way of life and only recently found an amazing church to attend relatively close to home, this is a powerful statement. So powerful, even now it makes me want to cry. Ahh..moving on.

What I want to primarily focus on here is the amazing message given by Rev. Erin McCabe that was centered around a single chapter of a book the congregation had been studying week by week. The title of this chapter, as you might have guessed, is:

"Who paid the price for you?"


If I could have taken a step back upon hearing that question, I would have, but since I was sitting down my hand automatically jumped up to my heart.

Wow again. This is such an interestingly phrased, deep, probing question that I almost immediately began to cry (again). Why?

I thought of my grandmother. A woman who has had such a difficult life filled with near constant abuse, poverty and terrible loss. This is a woman who was never formally educated beyond the 3rd grade. I have a Master's degree. I have never known physical abuse. I have never lived in poverty.

I am so lucky.

She paid the price for me.

Who paid the price for you?

Naturally, the minister at Unity doesn't know anything about my grandmother, but what she did talk about was the women's suffrage movement. Most of the women and young girls today hardly give this movement a second thought beyond what they study in school and yet if it weren't for those women, they might not be studying at all.

Years ago those women fought for a woman's right to choose her life, to have control and to be who she wanted to be. But, as the minister reminded us, they did not fight for our right to defile our bodies. They did not fight for our right to sell ourselves or to work ourselves to death. It is essential that we realize all that our ancestors went through in order for us to have the lives we have today and not to dwell but rather passionately respect the rich past we all have.

We all have elements in our own pasts that may not please us or make us proud, but they are part of who we are, a part that we cannot change. I think it is important for us to understand what our past meant and what the people in our past endured in their time.

Think about this question for a while. I'd really love to hear your take on it.

15 October 2011

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Dionna at Code Name: Mama: I met her for the first time last weekend as she welcomed me into her home right off the street. She was such a wonderful hostess and at 8 months pregnant, pulled everything off seamlessly. I am so grateful to the hospitality offered to me and my family by her and her husband I just cannot thank them enough.

Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch: She hennaed my ankle! I am so grateful for her willingness to give her amazing talent to all of us and so glad I got to meet her in person.

Shannon at The Artful Mama: I love that Shannon jumped in a car and drove to my house, threw my stuff in it and then allowed me to drive her car, half an hour after we met! That is pure trust and I am so grateful that I had her to travel with and that she entrusted hers and her son's life in my hands.

Unity Village: Again I am so, so glad that I got to attend church while I was attending the fabulous get together last weekend. Being there brings such a great sense of peace (even though I cried at least 3 times) and I can't wait to go there again.

Heidi Using the Potty: FINALLY! I've been waiting for her to take the lead in her own potty learning and she decided that right before we left for Missouri would be the perfect time. Yeah. Right. But at least she has used the potty (for both occurrences!) every day since then (with the exception of during the trip)! I'm so excited at the prospect of only one child in diapers I could scream it from the rooftops! Yes, that is what mothers have to be excited about.

13 October 2011

The Gathering

On the weekend of October 8 some of the amazing women and men who work hard to make Natural Parents Network the wonderful community and resource that it is got together for a meet-up at two locations across the U.S. — the Midwest and the Northwest. This was the first time that many of the volunteers have met in person after a year of collaborating on this amazing website. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of links so that you can read what some of the other volunteers had to say about this incredible First Annual Natural Parents Network Team Get-Together!

As you might remember from last week's Gratitude Post, I spent this past weekend with some awesome people who I've only had contact with online before, the volunteers for Natural Parents Network. Even though not all of them could make it to the two planned gatherings, we had a good turn out and did some cool activities, but overall just enjoyed being together. And now that I feel like I'm writing some sort of sappy novel, I'll move on to a more interesting commentary.

Shannon from The Artful Mama and I (not having met in person before, but having chatted on Skype) drove half-way across the country with three small children to go to this meeting. Crazy? ..........I'll leave that up to you.
This is an exact replica of the car we drove. Almost.

H & P and Little Man did really well during this trip. It took us 24 hours to go each direction with Shannon and I trading off on driving the whole time. Stopping every few hours for gas, food, diaper changes, missing water bottles, more diaper changes, caffeine, diaper changes and random detours made it constantly eventful and relatively entertaining. It was certainly not without its challenges, however, specifically the final 2 hours of our time heading to Dionna's house when all three children took turns screaming in a chorus of "Get me out of this car!" I'm not proud of my mothering during that time when I simply had to keep my mouth shut for fear of saying horrendous things I knew I'd regret, but the point is that we made it!

Contemplating the vastness of freezer stencils.
For our "troubles," we each received amazing goody bags filled with great stuff from Tom's of Maine, Natural Newborn, Luna Pads and more. Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children was generous enough to hand make each bag holding all the great stuff, which doubles as a reusable produce bag! I am so grateful to each company's generous contribution to our gathering as well as Mandy's handiwork! Thanks!

As you might imagine, after 24 hours in a car we all passed out pretty well upon walking into D's house and seeing two already made up air mattresses for us to crash on (Thanks again, peeps!). After sleeping, we were able to regain some sort of normalcy and enjoyed breakfast before heading out into the back yard to make freezer stenciled shirts! I had no idea what I was going to make up until two seconds before we did it and then it took me about 100 years to do both designs for both girls. ("Perfectionism" at its best!) I'm fairly happy with the way they turned out, though, and I'm definitely going to be doing more freezer stenciling in the future.

Going above and beyond, before she realized just how high "beyond" is.

Our Saturday afternoon activity was a visit to a local nature center and a mile long hike in beautiful woods complete with limestone rocks. I'm eternally grateful for having brought my Connecta carrier with me, though it didn't do me quite as much good when I had to carry both Heidi and Piper on said trail while it was nearly 90 degrees outside. This hike caused me to come to the awful conclusion that I am out of shape. Terribly. Sure it was 90 degrees and I was carrying 50 extra lbs at some points up hill over large rock formations, but still. Out. of. shape. My legs felt it for the rest of the day.

On Sunday, while everyone else was doing yoga (which I wanted to do pretty badly), I took H & P to Unity Village, which is the headquarters of my church and a place I had only been to once before in my life. After driving all that way, I needed to at least visit because it is such a wonderful place to be. I was fortunate enough to attend their Sunday service while H & P spent some time in their child care program and I must admit that service made me cry at least 3 times. I'll be posting more on that later, but for now you can enjoy pictures of the rose garden (sans roses, sorry).


Ahh, fountains.

The remainder of Sunday consisted of a lovely parenting talk led by Amy at Peace 4 Parents where many of us really got to open up about some of the every day challenges we face in trying to be better parents. It's always nice to be able to open up safely about the troubles we have since, believe it or not, none of us is perfect! We followed that up with an evening of quinoa chili and henna by Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch. You'll probably see a lot of her awesome work floating around, but if you don't get the chance you can at least see my amazing ankle (Even if the photo isn't that great).

One of the things I loved most about this gathering was never having to worry about where my children were. Having so many natural, attachment parent-minded adults around left me feeling so comfortable that I never hesitated to walk out of a room or in and out of the house when I had to. I always knew that my children were in good hands and would never be spoken to in an inappropriate manner or treated poorly. If only we could all be together all the time, to take turns watching children and disciplining, cooking and cleaning...oh wait, that's Utopia right? Or perhaps a commune.

I'm already looking forward to next year's gathering, wherever it may be, because this was such an energizing trip for me (mentally) that I feel the inherent need to do it again. It is so hard to find like-minded friends, especially like-minded parenting friends, and I certainly don't plan on leaving this group any time soon.

To learn more about all the members of the Natural Parents Network team, visit our about page. To become a volunteer for NPN, first please check out what we're in need of, then contact us if you're interested in helping out. Here's information about some of our lovely volunteers, including all of those who are writing about the gathering today:

In The First Annual Natural Parents Network Cross-Country Get Together, Natural Parents Network thanks the many volunteers who made our first annual get-together a success, and the awesome companies who donated to fill "welcome bags" for the Midwest group.

Northwest Gathering Attendees:

Lauren at Hobo Mama writes Meeting My NPN Friends.  Also find Lauren on Twitter and Facebook!

Amy at Anktangle writes Meeting the NPN Family.  Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.

Arpita at Up, Down & Natural writes Me And My Ladies ~ First Annual NPN Team Gathering.  Also find Arpita on Twitter and Facebook.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings writes Seattle Bloggy Meetup & Gluten-free Shortbread! Also find Kristin on Twitter and Facebook!

Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes Meeting Those People.... Also find Jennifer on Twitter.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes writes Thanks.

Moorea at MamaLady: Adventures in Lesbian Parenting writes The Natural Parents Are Coming! Hide the Stroller!

Midwest Gathering Attendees:

Dionna at Code Name: Mama writes Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City! Also find Dionna on Twitter and Facebook!

Jorje at Momma Jorje writes Vacation Weekend with Volunteers.  Also find Jorje on Facebook!

Amy at Peace 4 Parents writes The Value of Parent-to-Parent Support, Truth, Love, and Healing.  Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.

Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes The Gathering.  Also find Amanda on Facebook.

Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch writes The One Where I Go to the NPN Gathering.  Also find Joni Rae on Twitter and Facebook

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children writes First Natural Parents Network Get Together.

Rebekah & Chris at Liberated Family.  Also find Rebekah & Chris on Twitter.

Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend:

Melissa at The New Mommy Files writes Building a Modern Day Village.  Find Melissa on Twitter and Facebook.

Rachael at The Variegated Life.  Find Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.

Luschka at Diary of a First Child writes Dear Screen Name, Are You Really My Friend? Find Luschka on Twitter and Facebook.

Darcel at The Mahogany Way writes The Natural Parents Network Gathering I Couldn't Attend.  Find Darcel on Twitter and Facebook.

Sarah at Parenting God's Children. Find Sarah on Twitter and Facebook.

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It. Find Julia on Twitter and Facebook.