What is a Birth Community?

The three most commonly asked questions of any pregnant woman are as follows:

When is your baby due?

Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl?

Where are you going to deliver?

I’ll answer the last question for you because it’s the only one I know. I am giving birth at home. This little fact nestles me amidst a small, but growing birth community in the Philadelphia suburbs. Because of the women who participate in the Rising Moon Midwifery practice, I had an amazing experience today that I want to share with you. I feel like it poignantly illustrates the quality and compassion of care in a birth community. It fills my heart with joy when I answer the question about my upcoming delivery in May. Here’s why I love the delightful web of friends and Mamas who are part of my birth community.

After church this morning, I drove through the early flakes of snow to my friend Brittany’s home. Brittany is a doula, photographer, and aspiring midwife with a heart of gold. (Follow her Facebook page for the most amazing birth photography here.) She invited me over to receive a trial run of her new prenatal practice, a belly cast. I eagerly accepted her invitation after she colored the offering with kind words of empowerment, love and confidence towards the work I am doing carrying this sweet baby.

Now, I have to tell you that her home is a beautiful, lovable state of disarray. It immediately made me think of the chapter I read last night from the book No More Perfect Moms. Can you guess which chapter? It was called No More Perfect Homes. As we walked upstairs and she paused to shift her clean laundry alongside our path, I told her that I feel happy coming to her home and the authenticity makes me love her even more. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t her first time hearing the sentiment.

Imagine my surprise walking up the steps when I was greeted with a stunning image of our friend, the mother who gave me that book, shining in her robust pregnant glory last summer. I admired her and the other friends artfully displayed on the wall, like our midwife Kate, triumphantly holding a baby I know into her mother’s first gaze. Another picture showed a woman nursing her baby. I had met her, just weeks before the image, at a Christmas party and confessed to her that I needed help refraining from eating more than a dozen cookies from the swap. Surrounded with mementos of our community, we shared from the heart about life, birth, and family as we captured an icon of my burgeoning belly. I closed the circle of our community involvement, for now, as I washed away the drips of plaster with Lelayna’s amazing homemade soap. But who knows where the next steps of the Belly Cast will take us. Perhaps it will hang over a community circle while honoring other pregnant women.

The one thing I took away above all else is the value of this prenatal work. Brittany confided that these steps connecting with birthing mamas are so important to her because she wants to arrive into the sacred space of a birth as a known friend and helper. She truly shines in her ability to make this work a labor of love.

belly casts

Photo credit: Brittany Ortiz

Home is Where my Mat Is

There is a space that gives me comfort. Through the gift of yoga, this space exists wherever I unroll my mat. Beyond the noticeable effects of a dedicated, long-term practice lies the heartfelt truth that peace comes in every asana.

As I reach through familiar poses and sequences, my mind stills. Sometimes when I pause for reflection, I remember the journey. In the early days I looked to admire instead of listening for intuition. My ego crowded my thoughts with anxiety so ferociously that sweat poured from my body and hands. I thought it was a great workout based on one physical reaction of cleansing. It wasn’t until I allowed yoga to flow freely through my life that I discovered the growth that occurs within. The same mat that once grounded my feet now carries ten friendly and energetic toes through each practice. Where I stood and faltered through balance by assessing over-praise or negativity is now a sanctuary of strength and self worth. The same wheel that a ponytail once blocked now opens my heart even through some of the darkest places.

I have known death, trauma, loss of love, and addiction. But, in spite of all the hardships, I have found my true home on a space that holds a vibrant yoga practice.

Nectar of Life Yoga Retreat 2015

Nectar of Life Yoga Retreat with Jeannette Bezinque

Pendle Hill, Media PA

April 10-12, 2015

Immerse yourself in yoga and the foundations of a healthy lifestyle on this 3 day retreat at the tranquil Pendle Hill in Media, PA. Explore the practices of Power Vinyasa Yoga and meditation with your host, Jeannette Bezinque. Enjoy nourishing, organic meals and plenty of time to explore the outdoors, art studio, or library. This retreat is suitable for all levels and promises to be a nurturing experience for the mind, body, and soul.

The Nectar of Life Yoga Retreat Experience:

Organic meals, snacks, and refreshments

Daily Meditation and Power Vinyasa Yoga sessions

Creative expression through art, writing, or reading

Comfortable accommodations on site, double or single rooms available

$480 all inclusive, $460 (double occupancy *bring a friend!)

email jeannettebezinque@ecoincognito.com to register

Photo Credit: Pendle Hill

Photo Credit: Pendle Hill

yoga retreat 2015

Photo Credit: Pendle Hill

 

nectar of life yoga retreat 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanskrit

One of my favorite parts about yoga is the sanskrit lingo. We have words that express so much warmth and light in just a few syllables that we can’t help but want to tattoo them all over our bodies in between lotus flowers and Buddha visions. The first word I ever learned was namaste, and to this day I can hardly explain the definition without sprawling it across a paragraph. Roughly translated, it means that I honor the space in you that is light from the space in me that is light and when we are in the space together, we shine. But how can you roughly translate that?? You need to swaddle these words in photographic images of beauty instead of punctuating an expression that has been around for thousands of years.

I would love to tell you that I know all the yoga words. I do not. In fact, I struggled to come up with a list of 15 from memory in my journal the other night. Don’t even ask me about the spellings on most of them (utita hasta padabustasana?(sic)?) Still, I love them all. I love hearing them in class and imagining the way the words are based on the sculptures of our bodies as we express the asanas as phrases. I love watching the scribbles dance across their lines in sanskrit. I love the way I feel when someone says, “namaste y’all.” Sometimes the simplicity of barely understanding brings out the essence of new beginnings and true presence, which is what yoga is all about.

A couple years ago, I had the divine experience of walking into the surf and practicing yoga on the sandy beach of Tulum, Mexico. The gentle rocking of the waves humbled my balance while the sun gently shone around as I woke the various limbs of my body through a familiar sun salutation. My mind quieted while my limbs moved into poses that they have found hundreds, maybe thousands of times. Standing in the sand, each pose felt new. My heels responded to the movement of the sand and cascaded energy throughout my body until surging towards my fingertips. I rocked through chaturanga and pushed away the Earth, giving way below me simultaneously. The sensations of the land underneath me were addicting, and I haven’t been able to turn down an outdoor experience since.

Standing behind my place in the sand and pausing, I noticed my imprints in the sand. My motions had produced beautiful imagery from the very poses I expressed with an essence of love for the practice. I couldn’t help but relate my experience to that of the earliest yogi writers. How else could anyone possibly create an OM other than through a graceful dance across the sand?

Ever since, I leave messages in the sand. Tickling and rearranging the tiny particles is just one of the ways that I commit to my practice spiritually.

practice

Be present and it’ll all be ok.

Confession time: I have been dreaming big dreams. Something shifted off balance in me a year ago, and by the time I recollected myself on my feet I realized that the strength I needed to get back up had transformed me so much that my small, steady dreams no longer fit my heart. Those who know me closely, know that big changes are taking place in my life. Baby number 3 is anticipated at the end of the spring and I’ve shifted yoga to a pertinent place in my life. I’m thankful to have embraced the full concept of mind, body, and spirit in the practice to keep me grounded to the truly important aspect of life: the present.

Each day I’m making small steps toward a future of God’s design. There is an immense freedom that comes from releasing my needs and desires to the care of something much more understanding than I could ever hope to be. Instead of pick pocketing my seconds and stealing the simple and beautiful parts of each day that weave together to form my life by shrouding them with a dark cloud of worry or guilt, I’ve found an umbrella.

Life is different now. I had to update my About Me section to incorporate my new path. I have to carve out time for the things that matter. But most importantly, I have serenity and I know where it comes from. It didn’t come in a day or even an hour, but in the careful practice of honoring myself with trust and devotion.

DIY Cleaning Wipes

I love the convenience of pre-made wipes. They have helped me sweep away an infinite number of messes with ease over the years; even before I had babies. But, once I had babies, I suddenly had two problems with my favorite store-bought wipes. First of all, they were expensive to buy again and again and secondly, the ingredients were too harsh to be around the new, sensitive noses in my home. Now that my children have grown into toddlers, we have even more reasons to use wipes and they are so willing to help me in all my cleaning endeavors. I decided that we needed a reusable, natural solution for our wipes and now I am excited to share that with you.

We make these wipes all the time. I give them as gifts, I stash them in my car before road trips, I even share them with the neighbors. There are so many times that these wipes have come in handy, that I love recreating this simple project over and over again with my children.

The materials are simple. Reuse a jar and upcycle a teeshirt or other cloth. I use Thieves from Young Living for my concentrated cleaning supply and rely on water for the rest of the work. I’ll share how to put it all together in just a few simple steps. The next time you need a rainy day activity, ask the kids to help assemble these useful household wipe jars and you won’t regret it!

wipesMaterials:

  • Thieves Household Cleaner
  • Water
  • Tshirt
  • Scissors
  • Jar

Step 1:

Cut the tshirt into a simple shape for wipes. I find that rectangles, about 6 inches by 8 inches work best.

Step 2:

Add ¼ capful of thieves oil to the jar. Just that small amount will do the trick. It has the best smell and is an all-natural option for cleaning. If you want to use these wipes for baby bottoms, try tea tree oil mixed with water. Fill about 1/3 of the jar with water, then shake to combine.

Step 3:

Stuff the wipes in the jar one by one. When they are all inside, turn the jar over to soak all the wipes.

 

Voila! It’s that simple to make your own effective cleaning wipes. Now you’ll be prepped and ready to tackle the next mess. There are so many amazing uses for Essential Oils in the home. I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils and I would love to share my tips with you anytime! Email me to set up a phone call or one:to:one meeting if you live in the area.

If you loved this post, check out what the rest of my friends whipped up with their Essential Oils. You’ve got an early start on the Holiday, so make the most of the time to DIY special gifts for your loved ones.

Essential Oil Sea Salt Gift Set at DIY Show Off

Peppermint Bark at Mama Teaches

Peppermint Twist Face & Body Scrub at Eat Sleep Be

Lemon and Lavender Sugar Cookies at O’Boy Organic

DIY Bath Salts at My Scraps

DIY Cleaning Wipes at Eco Incognito

Santa’s Helper Stress Away Scrub at Oily Oh My

DIY Soaking Salts and Body Mist at The Lunar Fae

Homemade Peppermint Bath Bombs at Making Lemonade

Looking for more DIY Essential Oils Projects? When you buy a Premium Starter Kit this month, you’ll receive a FREE e-book featuring projects from several creative bloggers like Darlene from Fieldstone Hill design. Sign up NOW.

Eco Incognito’s Holiday Gift Guide

Inspired by the Holiday Gift Guide from Momastery.com, I decided to curtail our wish list to something that would help us focus on the spirit and joy of Christmas. This year we’ll ask for:

1: Something you WANT

2: Something you NEED

3: Something to GIVE

4: Something to READ

To me, this has the opportunity to be a very fulfilling gift season and I love the idea of sifting through the abundance to the things that really come out as memorable gifts. In that spirit, I’m sharing a few of the ideas for my 2 and 3 year olds that are really going to have some ZING under the tree and bring us joy throughout the year.

1: When it comes to toys that I want my children to have, I always turn to Mama May I. I have been so inspired by Jessica and her wonderful shop since even before Hannah was in utero. I used to while away my spare moments reading her blog that triumphantly described her day-to-day exploits with her sweet daughter. In the years, her business has grown by leaps and bounds because the COLORS oh my goodness, the colors and the CREATIVITY, oh my goodness the creativity. I could literally sit in front of the computer screen reading her product descriptions for hours because each one is so sweetly delivered. Perhaps, Jessica will combine them all into a book that I can loveable leaf through or keep on our bookshelves for rainy days ;)

This year, we have our eyes set on the Animal Action game. There are so many ways to use these creative tiles, and they grow really well with inspired activities as our children grow. These will help us get exercise as we act out the animal actions together as a family.

Photo credit: Mama May I

Photo credit: Mama May I

Check out all the amazing toys at Mama May I here.

2: Something everyone needs is a durable and dependable bag. I think the girls will adore these backpacks from Pottery Barn Kids. The bonus of buying out of the back-to-school season is that they’re part of a deep discount so that’s a win for me! Plus, we can stuff the bags with a water bottle and some art gear to build up our craft supplies.

PBK backpack

3. I put a lot of thought into what we can give this season. Originally, I wanted to get a subscription to a local Garden, where we would be able to take friends with us throughout the year. However, my friend Pamela Badolato just launched the Plaid Pajamas project to help ensure underprivileged kids in the area have a festive and soft pair of PJs to celebrate the season. Any way that we can give back, especially with friends, is a welcome opportunity to exhibit the true character of Christmas. You can help, too! Donate here or check back to see as new names are added to the list: http://www.plaidpajamasproject.com/.

 

4. We absolutely love to read. This season, I’m so very thankful to have a great selection from our library. We can check out the classics and bring a few new seasonal favorites into our home to bring some variety to the evening story routine. I’ve noticed that a few of the books we borrowed from the library became instant favorites earlier this year and now it’s time to add them to our collection. The girls are getting Where the Wild Things Are and Dandelion. Last week, Kelly Whalen from The Centsible Life hosted a tweetup at Barnes and Noble to show us their special Holiday offerings. I love that it is truly a one-stop-shop for holiday gifting for all ages and they’ve added some neat social features to help find the perfect gift. Did you know that you can tweet with the hashtag #BNgifttip to get a suggestion for anyone on your list? The social media elves even helped me pick my next read!

#bngifttip

In a land of Cyber Mondays and endless battery operated toys, it can be easy to become a Grinch. Trust me, I’ve been there! But what I found worked for me was to simplify. That way I can accept anything that comes our way with gratitude (even itchy, polyester pajamas) because the true meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with what comes in a box. Rather, it’s about shining the love and light of the magic of the season with everyone, everywhere.

Disclosure: I received promotional items from Mama May I and Barnes and Noble to facilitate this gift guide. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Xfinity Moms visit the Philly Design Home

When my friend Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media said she was throwing a party at the Philadelphia Design Home, I knew it wasn’t to be missed! This million dollar estate that is custom decorated by featured area designers was filled to the brim with inspirational home wonders. Each year Philly Mag hosts the event to raise funds for a deserving local charity. This year, MANNA benefitted from every eager visitor. To find out what the design home features, you can take a virtual tour, or better yet, be sure to check it out yourself next year!

Photo credit: Philadelphia Magazine

Photo credit: Philadelphia Magazine

photo 3

We pulled up to the breathtaking estate and discovered an immaculately landscaped lawn paving the way to a garage with, not one, but TWO Mercedes inside. The home itself leaves nothing to be desired. Everything is incorporated thoughtfully and the design elements include everything from lighting to greenery to high tech upgrades from Comcast. We were fortunate that our tour included a showcase of the Xfinity options taking place behind the screens. They wired the home with security features and a handful of apps to turn the home into a true smart home.

terrarium

My favorite room in the house was the master bedroom suite, which at a staggering 1200 square feet is bigger than my entire first home! I could easily have fallen asleep amid the dozens of pillows on the luxurious bed after a soak in the tub. The rooms even included elements the entire family would enjoy.  The simulated family of 5 adorned the children’s rooms with creative designs and minimal clutter. Plus, the home included plenty of spaces for entertaining, lounging, or playing in the game room. It also had an amazing pool! I hope you have a chance to check out the Design Home next year and all the Xfinity apps that make this high-tech space so special.

 

Disclosure: I attended the Xfinity Moms event at the Philadelphia Design Home and agreed to share about my experience on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Comcast provided a media gift in exchange for my attendance. 

Popcorn Playtime #kidsinthekitchen

One of Hannah and Audrey’s favorite snacks is popcorn. Hannah loves to make it, Audrey loves to eat it, and they both squeal when they toss it all over the place. I felt inspired by their enthusiasm for the fluffy treat, so I engaged them with a popcorn inspired activity. The word “activity” is a loose interpretation because this is sort of a guided movement visualization designed for them and delivered by me in the moment. I’m not sure how to describe it because I’ve never experienced it with anyone else, but when it flows, it just feels fun for all of us.

brown bag popcorn

I’ll share it with you as I shared it with them. Let’s get started as popcorn seeds. We crouch down, really tiny and nestle our way into the ground. Take a deep breath in as you feel the soil around you and the sun start to rise over you. Let’s take another deep breath. That sun is really starting to warm the soil. Now that it’s getting hot, I’m ready to move. I feel a little shaking happening. My seed is ready to burst into a corn stalk. Let’s start growing! Reach up to the sky and feel that sunlight. Let’s grow a little bit at a time and feel that sunshine. Oh, I think the sun went down, we might shrink a little bit or pause our growing. Ok, here comes the sun, let’s stretch again. Really high this time. Reach up like tall, strong, organic corn plants ready for a harvest. Now stretch out your arms and hold out your corn cob. Pluck that cob and let’s get ready to make popcorn.

We can peel all the kernels off our cobs. Let’s imagine we’re peeling off row by row and placing in them into a bowl. Take as much time as you need and let me know when you’re done with a smile. Moving right along, let’s imagine that we are the popcorn while it heats up and pops. This is going to be fun! Let’s crouch back down like we are teeny tiny kernels in a big giant bowl. Do you feel the heat? Start to wiggle, a little more bouncing, now JUMP! JUMP JUMP JUMP with all the kernels! Let’s keep jumping for 30 seconds, then we’ll take a little pause for a deep breath. Now we’re another kernel. Wiggling and shaking and ready to pop. Ok, JUMP JUMP JUMP with all the kernels! We’re going to jump, then pause, then jump again one more time. Deep breath. First we wiggle, then we get up and go. JUMP JUMP JUMP!

Wow, would you look at all the popcorn around us? I think this is going to be a great snack! Let’s eat.

toddler popcorn game

Of course we ate popcorn after this much fun. Hannah helped prep it and Audrey helped spill it. Thats why it became a little outside game, too. We had a blast with popping our kernels. What have you been up to lately?

popcorn sensory bin

Join us for the linky party by sharing your own posts about cooking with your kids. #Kidsinthekitchen strives to encourage learning and loving food. Tune in every Friday for recipes.

Come join my co-hosts, Melinda of LookWhatMomFoundSarah of Play to Learn with Sarah,Paula at Frosted Fingers and Sara at Sensibly Sara, each week linking up a post, new or old, that feature the theme Kids in the Kitchen. It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are doing it together, enjoying it and learning something along the way.

You’ll find so many more ideas on the #KidsintheKitchen Pinterest Board.

An InLinkz Link-up


25 Things I do for my Health Every Day

My life has changed a lot in the past three years. Let’s face it, that is bound to happen with the emergence of two little ones. With the responsibility of motherhood has come the awareness that everything in my life begins with me, and I get to make the choices if those influences are positive or negative. This has been particularly poignant over the past 6 months because I have noticed the connection between physical, mental, and spiritual health.

1 Timothy 4: 7 Exercise is good for your body, but religion helps you in every way. It promises life now and forever.

Each day, I turn my will over to God by connecting through scripture. I have two amazing bible study groups, one online and one at home, that help me learn and understand the word of God. For these, I am grateful. I have been encouraged to sing praises about my experience so that others who feel the same way will know I feel it, too. For my spiritual health, my mental health, and my physical health, I am always happy to accept company in the charge.

25 Things I do for my Health Every Day

  1. Wake up with gratitude
  2. Smile at my children
  3. Thank The Lord for this day.
  4. Breathe
  5. Stretch
  6. Drink water
  7. Pray
  8. Read scripture (*almost every day)
  9. Respond to scripture
  10. Meditate
  11. Walk
  12. Laugh
  13. Talk to friends
  14. Hug my husband
  15. Sing
  16. Eat something fresh
  17. Spend time outside
  18. Spend time nurturing my body
  19. Diffuse essential oil blends
  20. Cook foods with local ingredients
  21. Share my joys
  22. Write about my journey
  23. Give praise for my progress
  24. Love myself
  25. Read for pleasure

I have room to grow because of all these steps. Life is a beautiful journey and I am so happy to be present in this delightful moment. May God’s peace be with you as you choose steps for your health and happiness each day.

Our health is a gift from God. How we use that is our gift to God.