Ending the Mom War

This morning a post popped into my news feed called 10 Types of Moms that Suck. A few more friends shared it, and it kept begging me to click, so I took a peak. Not surprisingly, I immediately identified myself as #2 – the “I buy and make everything organic Mom.” Personally, I respond more frequently to, “Crazy Hippie Mom,” but that is a topic for another day. You see, the truth is, I am all 10 of those Moms. The more I read, the more I realized that my critical inner voice has accused me of all those stereotypes. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem like I was reading another woman’s finger pointing. Instead, I was hearing my own monologue.

What I want to talk about is dialogue. I have been talking with myself for 29 years, and I have finally realized the startling impact and strength those words have on my life. Not only do the words that wake me in the morning create a map of my day, but they are filling my children with an inner voice. It is my biggest challenge to foster an inner voice of courage, spirit, willfulness, and kindness in spite of anything that may have shaped my own inner voice to the contrary. Trust me, I get jokes. I understand that posts like these are funny and they make me laugh, too. The problem for me was that I never stopped laughing in childhood. I didn’t spend time deeply understanding my emotions and the complexities around me enough to find a space where I fit in.

I know I am not the only Mom struggling right now. Up until six months ago, my own words fit into a chorus of those around me. “It’s so hard to make friends now that I’m a Mom.” “My kids are making me crazy.” “Have you tried (XYZ) to solve (every childhood problem ever.)” All the negativity crushed me. I fell into a deep solitude and began grasping at every straw in search of any lifeline to pull me out of the slump. At first, the solutions were so abundant that I almost gave up before even attempting to make the climb. How could I chose just one shining star for my aspiration? So much was missing in my life and I wanted to have it all.

When I shut my computer, dove into the written word of healers, and reached out to join a thoughtful community I found that life is truly filled with joy. There are so many amazing Mothers in this world that I am privileged to know. By taking the time and space to observe families in their element, I have given my own family an opportunity to shine. We are courageous, adventurous, and we march to a beat of our own, but I truly believe that we have many more similarities with others than differences. It is that very belief that propels me into new friendships and understandings each day.

Time has slowed and life is really beautiful right now. It is not perfect. It is abundantly messy, wet, cold, sluggish, ragged, and clumsy. I have grown to love all those aspects. Today I am offering myself forgiveness, love and compassion for a job well done. I know that the end of the Mom War starts with me. It starts with my personal acceptance of this role. With a little luck and gratitude, I’ll be able to start it all over tomorrow with the same smile that fueled me through this day. No matter what, I know that deep within I am feeling the love. Tonight as I laid in a sandwich between two easily breathing, sheepily dreaming toddlers, I heard myself say, “Good job, Mama.” And for the first time, I believed it.

Farm Fresh Food in the Neighborhood

I am excited to announce that I am hosting a CSA pickup location for Lancaster Farm Fresh at my home this summer. This means that you can pick up a box of locally grown, certified organic produce each week right Downingtown. It begins in May and all the members will receive a weekly delivery (25 weeks) of farm fresh, local produce. A full share is $750 and is intended to provide the veggies for a family of 4 as side dishes.

lancaster farm fresh

In addition to vegetables, you can order fruit, milk, eggs, chicken, bread and more. I’ll be arranging activities for kids and potluck community picnics, too. This year, I’m sharing my newfound love of real food with my neighbors and friends. Find out more and sign up for the West Bradford location at http://www.lancasterfarmfresh.com/csa/default

Kimberton Waldorf School Open House – 4-13-2014

One of my biggest inspirations as a parent is the Waldorf Community. If you are not familiar with Waldorf education, it is a lifelong journey that focuses on natural living, mindfulness, and experiential education. One of the differences between public schools and Waldorf schools is that young students are not exposed to technology. This allows children to develop and explore the world through the use of physical skills like fine and gross motor activities.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to explore Kimberton Waldorf School at their open house. I learned about the program from faculty, toured the early-childhood education facility, saw a performance by the high school drama students, and sampled the organic food from their school kitchen. The vast displays of creativity from the community are astonishing. I highly recommend touring the school at their next open house to experience this firsthand!

waldorf open house

 

 

Sunday, April 13
1:00 ­- 4:00 pm

Tour the campus, meet faculty, students, parents and alumni, view samples of student work, participate in a panel discussion, and gain an understanding of Waldorf Education through inspiring faculty and student presentations. Childcare is available upon request. Events are held in the Gymnasium.
For more information:
You can RSVP right here:

https://kimbertonws.ejoinme.org/openhouse

Take a Big Whiff

I am so excited to share the HUGE NEWS that I have been keeping under wraps for months. My personal journey into a greener lifestyle has blossomed into a triumphant memoir that I cannot wait to release. In it, you’ll learn everything from my journey away from deodorant and into a world of peace, joy, and happiness.
take a big whiff
It’s hard to pinpoint just one aspect of my life as the critical element for which to give thanks on this journey because there have been so many. I am grateful for all the friends who steered me to follow my heart and for the inspiration of Mothers near and far who give it their all each day. But, I truly owe all my happiness to the absence of one thing- deodorant. I would not be the woman or mother I am today if I was still shrouded behind the cloud of that manufactured scent. If I still balked each time I put on a black shirt, I wouldn’t walk with such great pride. If I hadn’t discovered the essence of my own smelf, I would not truly understand the nature of the scents that bring me joy.
For all these reasons and more, I pay great tribute to my new found courage in Take a Big Whiff. My memoir is my gift to you and I am delighted to announce that it will be hot off the presses in two short months.

Inspired Family

What is an Inspired Family? According to the presenters, founders, and attendees of the Inspired Family conference in Philadelphia, it is a family that shoots for the stars. Quite simply, an Inspired Family is one that strives to reach goals, draws inspiration from happy people, and rounds each day with a message of love. The timing of the Inspired Family conference could not have been any better for me. The days of anticipation were filled with uplifting messages to break free of the winter doldrums into an inspired spring. For me, the most rewarding part of the conference was taking on a role as a presenter to share my love and inspiration for our gardening hobby.

inspiredfamily

It’s not every day that hundreds of parents come together to learn from experts about parenting, but maybe it should be. The thing I noticed is that people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and dynamics blended together into an astounding audience of eager participants. Toddlers roamed freely through the halls, babies yearned for milk and met calming reactions with mother’s milk. Mindfulness was the key message, so there were a lot of understanding conversations and spirited connections.

When Carla Naumburg spoke about Mindful Parenting, I tuned into a message that has carried me through the darkest and coldest days of the winter. Being a great parent isn’t about anyone but me. It doesn’t reflect perfection from my children, the mistakes I made yesterday, or the support of my partner. It starts from within and grows from consciously living in the present. Naumburg cautions that our role as parents is dependent on our own self care. We must nurture our mind, body, and spirit through activities like meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and (above all) SLEEP! How can we expect our children to thrive if we do not demonstrate a balance of our own?

I truly believe that inspired parenting is not about perfection, but it is about stepping back and looking at the whole picture as it relates to each family. This is why gardening has been instrumental in my connection with my children and the world. By understanding our place in the cycle of life, I have eased fears and lifted the burdens of my past by uncovering the nurturing role our seasons play in the balance of life. Most of all, I know the importance of planting seeds of love.

Knowing that our comments today become the inner voice in our children has given me great pause in my role as a Mother. I began to listen to the echoes of my own parents and fought internally for a long time to understand the origin and nature of those messages. When it became clear that some of those thoughts did not have a place in the next generation, I had to fill those gaps. That blank space opened quite beautifully as a space filled with love. I’ve connected spiritually to nature and I feel comfortable sharing that love with my children and those around us. More and more, I am discovering that when I put good seeds into the world, good things pop up all around us.So it was no surprise that an entire conference filled with positive parenting messages popped up in our own “backyard!”

Not only did we learn from health experts, social workers, child development leaders, and babywearers, but there was also an entire marketplace dedicated to natural parenting products. We all love our cloth diapers, so who could pass up an opportunity to feel that soft fluffiness in person? I saw some of my favorite toys from Mama May I and discovered dozens of resources for health like chiropractors, doulas, and nutrition coaches. Whenever I reflect back on my birth experiences, I wonder why (OH WHY???) did I not hire a doula? Discovering all the many people who offer care and nurturing services to families is a huge joy and inspiration for me.

I am eager to watch Inspired Family as it takes the next steps. The connection between our generation and our children is in a critical state because of factors like food, media, and bullying. Without seeking deeply within to uncover our own seeds of anger, we cannot help but pass those on. However, I know that for each positive message that we place into the world, the message of love and light spreads quickly to those who will receive it.

It is with sincere gratitude that I think Lizzy Russinko and Nicole Snyder for the opportunity to attend and present at their amazing inaugural conference. I cannot wait to watch this grow!

Inspired Family 2014 – Ticket Giveaway and Conference Details

The Inspired Family Conference is coming to Philadelphia on March 22, 2014 and it promises to connect parents and experts on Mindful parenting topics. We’ll learn and explore everything that parents can do to live in harmony as families from pre-birth through the toddler years and beyond. I am thrilled to be a part of this conference. Not only so that I can attend workshops with experts on family nutrition, early childhood development, and non-violent communication, but also so that I can share my enthusiasm for gardening in a toddler-friendly workshop that is sure to inspire you to grow your own vegetable garden this year! Eco Incognito is proud to be a partner and presenter at the 2014 Inspired Family Conference and I hope you will join me for the Humanity Garden workshop at 11 AM.

Inspired Family

The themes of inspiration and mindfulness are running strong in my parenting style these days. Through reading, meditation, and writing in a journal, I am connecting to my heart in a way that has transformed me. Being a “great Mom” was a charge that I pursued meekly for a long time. I knew I could do it, but I did not embrace the idea because it seemed unfair. What did that mean for the other Moms? More importantly, what did that mean for me on my off days? When I became an observant Mother to myself and my children, I found that being present and mindful had a much more poignant effect on our spirit.

I asked a friend recently, “how do I know when to accept help?” She suggested that I look at the people who have what I want and spend time with them. I took that to heart and realized that I can be a student and a passenger on this journey with my children. I can weave a delightful tapestry with all the strings of the many amazing mothers that I am privileged to know. I can soak up inspiration and make the mindful practices my own. This is why I am going to Inspired Parent. This is why I am an Inspired Parent.

I believe that even small shifts can make a big ripple through the next generation and I would invite you to join me in these practices in the month prior to Inspired Parent. Sow seeds of love in your home and then come to learn how to grow and nurture those seeds with me.

5 Ways to Be a Mindful Parent

1. Breathe deeply and mindfully for at least 3 minutes each day. (Inhale, exhale)

2. Hug from the heart. While you embrace, recite a statement of love internally. (Breathing in, I hold my baby. Exhaling, I smile at my baby.)

3. Demonstrate gratitude to everyone and everything. (Pause for thanksgiving generously throughout the day. Thank doors, stairs, cooking tools, pets, trees, vehicles, children, and of course yourself.)

4. Practice guided meditation. I began my soulful journey reading Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hahn and I recommend it to you, too!

5. Spend time with other mindful parents at the Inspired Family Conference on March 22, 2014.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets to Inspired Family on Saturday, March 22! These tickets, valued at $40 each will give you access to the conference and all 40+ workshops taking place throughout the day. (There are multiple workshops happening at the same time, so you will have the opportunity to chose the one you like best. Join me at Eco Incognito at 11 AM.) You’ll also receive a high-value ($100) swag bag and mix and mingle with many enlightened professionals in the vendor showcase. Your children will love the story demonstrations and puppet shows so bring them, too! Babywearing is encouraged, and if you are a newbie there will be experts on site to help you try on wraps and find the right fit.

To win tickets, simply comment on this post and let me know which mindful practice you are going to adapt right now to make tomorrow a better day for you and your family!

You can also purchase tickets directly from this link!

I Am the Most Successful Blogger I Know

The other day I took a heartfelt assessment of the way I spend my time on the interwebs and realized that I am immensely privileged to be in the company of some amazing bloggers. Because of these creative souls, I wake up in the morning excited to check my Facebook feed and I know that any time I need to unwind and relax, they will have something new to share that will brighten my day. For some blogs, my sense of gratitude goes much deeper. These fine friends have illuminated my parenting path. They have shown me the way to change a diaper, how to entertain a toddler while carrying a baby, and even how to love myself through the amazing journey of Motherhood. When I asked the tech world to help me transition to conscious eating, they beamed recipes and cooking demonstrations to me faster than I could devour the information. My gardening friends are like stars guiding the way to an enlightened life outdoors.

Perhaps because the Oscars are on this Sunday and it is awards season, I feel compelled to write my list of “Thank yous” to the bloggers who have shown me how to have it all (and eat it, too.) You are amazing and you light up my life and MacBook with pinnable greatness in ways that I can only strive each day to exude along with you on the vast and rolling waves of our browsers. (If you write a blog and think that you should be on this list because I read EVERY blog EVERYWHERE but mindlessly omitted it, please email me to be added. I want this list to give off warm fuzzies.)

  1. Musings of a Housewife
  2. Classy Mommy
  3. Chesco Moms
  4. Groovy GreenLivin
  5. The Eco Friendly Family
  6. Go Fug Yourself
  7. The Blogess
  8. Giggles Gobbles and Gulps
  9. Huffington Post
  10. The Sits Girls
  11. OWTK
  12. How to Be a Dad
  13. A Slightly Twisted Fairy Tale
  14. Nourished Kitchen
  15. Where We Wear
  16. Green Child Magazine
  17. Real Mom Media
  18. Opera Singer in the Kitchen
  19. The Vintage Mom
  20. Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen
  21. Diapered Knights
  22. O’Boy Organic
  23. Baby Rabies
  24. Crafty Garden Mama
  25. Real: The Kitchen and Beyond
  26. 100 Days of Real Food
  27. The MommyPotamus
  28. No Sleep till College
  29. Neon Fresh
  30. Centsible Life
  31. Mamavation
  32. The Painted Home
  33. Design Sponge

Amid such great company, I took stock of my own blog and decided that, undoubtedly, I have it all. The most amazing thing about blogging is knowing that others are listening. We’re here on this journey together because I mustered the courage to put words, personal words, onto a screen with the intent to hit PUBLISH. It’s not always easy, but it is always worthwhile because these are our connections.

successful blogger

When I look back at my blogging “career” I realize that it is time to take the quotation marks off of career and succinctly state that this.job.rocks. I have taken trips, received gifts, accepted vast sums of money in exchange for work that I believe in, and, above all, I have made numerous friends that I think of often. The greatest joy comes from meeting someone in person that is also an internet connection. It is the even better than having an awesome blind date with someone from a dating website because there is no let-down. We already know about one another. We know we “click.” And then, in real life, we have a kinship, too. Through it all, I have discovered my voice and the courage to breathe my dreams into reality by molding them on a page.

I have to tell you, that all of this is possible because of your support. I am writing for you, always, because I believe that whether we have known each other for decades or we have just met, that there is the potential for the universe to bring us together to be great friends. Let this be your inspiration. Pin my quote, share it with our friends, and find the success you deserve, too.

Thank you for smiling.

Salsa Garden Seed Growing Kit

Introducing the DIY Humanity Garden seed kits for Salsa!

seeds for sale

Seeds for sale. (Jar is for display purposes only.)

This handy collection of organic* seeds includes everything except the soil for an unforgettable gardening experience. We’ve taken the guess-work out of purchasing seeds and assembled exactly what you need and how much you need to lay the foundation for the garden of your dreams. Imagine plucking a plump, ripe tomato from your back yard or reaching into your windowsill for a sprig of basil. Now you can have everything you need for fresh produce right at your fingertips.

I created the Humanity Garden in an effort to help families start a food-producing garden right at home. It is so important for our children to experience the act of gardening and for them to receive nutrition from fresh, ripe ingredients. Not only will they benefit from digging through the dirt, but gardening has also been proven to have a myriad of benefits for all who participate. Beginning with the warming rays of sun and ending with the relaxation that comes from a hard day’s work, you are sure to be beginning your journey into a hobby you and your family will love.

The amount of work needed to grow the garden is up to you and your yard. Will you grow in containers? Do you have a hanging wall of lattice for upward vines? Are you going to build a simple raised bed structure? All these options are available to you and you have months to decide! However, buying this seed kit now assures that you will have the seedlings you need to fill your garden this May. You’ll save literally dozens of dollars by planting your own seeds versus the cost of purchasing transplants. Plus, you will delight in watching these amazing sprouts emerge and fill your home with their vibrant green energy.

My hope is that at the end of the year, you will understand the full gardening lifecycle. You can sign up for my e-newsletter here to help along the way. We’ll cover everything from seeds to salsa and on through composting and seed collection in the fall. What better way to learn about nature than to dig right in at home and share the experience with your loved ones?

You can purchase your very own kit, right now, for only $25. In it, I will send you hand-packed seeds from my favorite distributor. The Humanity Garden kit includes:

  • Organic Basil
  • Organic Roma Tomato
  • Organic Jalopeno Pepper
  • King of the North Bell Pepper
  • Onions
  • Bee’s Friend flower seeds
  • Instructions for planting and growing a garden in Zone 6


 

Eco Incognito is a licensed seed distributor and Nursery for the state of Pennsylvania. We abide by shipping laws within the contiguous United States. No shipping is available out of the country. Please allow up to 10 days for delivery. Arrives via standard envelope from USPS.

To Jeannette on her 29th Birthday

This birthday is quite a milestone for me. I have wanted to be 29 years old for as long as I can remember, and… up until a year ago, I hoped to remain 29 for as long as possible. Now that I am in the moment, I am ready to soak up all the glory of the age.

Over the years, I collected a variety of words of wisdom that I imagined all would be helpful in the plateau year between my twenties and thirties. From sage advice like, “Moisturize your arms because you can always tell a woman’s age by her elbows” and, “When you’re older, you’ll understand” I felt sure that I could bridge the gap between the decades with ease. Now that I am inching toward the next big step, I am starting to feel the sharp contrast between myself a decade ago and myself now.

Although I eagerly raced through my college years, fake ID in hand, in an effort to jump to my thirties as quickly as possible, I now know that this gap is just as abrupt as the one between 10 and 20. My mind is full of experiences that no piece of faux plastic could hold and I am eager to discover what the next year shows me. But, for the first time in my life, I am perfectly content to be here right now.

This past year has been a lesson in self care. Last year, on my birthday, I treated myself to a massage and haircut. It was the first step on a journey inward. While my inner voice critiqued my quirks in the mirror as the stylist clipped away, I listened carefully as he paused and took his time to awaken my soul with these words:

“When we go on an airplane and we listen to the safety instructions. What do they tell us about the masks? You have to put yours on first. As a mother, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.”

Tears. Just a few. Enough to snap me out of my drained and strained struggle as a new mother. It was time to stop forgoing my needs and to figure out a way to incorporate my own needs to those of my children.

I started with food. I threw my pre-conceived notions of a budget out the window and dove headfirst into the experience of cooking the foods that I needed to eat. The kitchen was no longer a workspace, it was my hearth. Each meal had a positive intention. Whether or not it turned out edible was in the taste buds of the beholder. What I quickly found was that when I blended my time with my children with the experience of cooking and eating my own food, we all ate better. We all ate together.

After that, we started a hobby garden to grow outdoors. Again, we did this together. We added daily walks to our routine. Slowly, but surely, we weaned ourselves from the daily trips away from the house and found a peaceful stillness in staying at home. We know every inch of this house. We have mapped our neighborhood. We all look forward to the steps in our routine from rising in the morning until bedtime each night. There is room for inspiration and plenty of room for adjustment, but each day I go to bed peacefully knowing one truth. I have lived each moment to my best ability.

My final step is ongoing. I am working on being more heartful. For a headstrong girl like me, this may be a lifelong journey. I now know this is the center of my life and my family. I know that if I radiate love and inner beauty, our lives will be filled with joy. So it starts here, with me. There are things I know fill my heart with joy. These are the gifts I will give my children.

less reading / more stories

less pictures / more art

less housekeeping / more homemaking

less cravings / more food

less i / more I

less doing / more being

Today, I can give myself the greatest gift of all. An observation that this life is all I could have asked for and more. I am honoring myself by taking it all in and breathing today in stillness. My family, my joy, and this moment are truly amazing. Thank you for being part of my journey.

believe

11 Must-Reads for Gardening Families

Without a doubt, the best place to learn about gardening is in the dirt. But, we can gain worlds of experience from reading. I’ve assembled a few of my favorite books on the topic of gardening. Since my children are under 3, most of the children’s books are for the very young reader. I still remember the anticipation I felt when I selected the first book that would become my guide to gardening. There were so many volumes to sort through, but I knew it was the right book as soon as I saw it. My goal was clear. I wanted to grow food to feed my family. When my eyes locked on From Seed to Skillet, I didn’t even have to open the cover to decide it would hold everything I wanted to learn before digging in.

There are a lot of ways that reading can help us become better gardeners. First of all, it can keep us on track with inspiration and advice. Since many of the new wave of gardeners may be first-generation homesteaders, we have to dive into the experience with the confidence of any academic endeavor. Recently my husband has taken to calling me a “Mad Scientist.” This is particularly because of the number of culinary experiments brewing at an given moment, but also because of the many pots holding the promise of new life on my windowsill. Through it all I am encouraged to continue purely for the education of my kids. For that, I am grateful for the volumes of colorful and creative reads that deliver a simple message. Green is good.

gardening books

Gardening Reads for Adults

From Seed to Skillet – This book has it all when it comes to information about gardening. It even covers the basics of composting, so you can truly understand the entire food lifecycle. My favorite advice was to grow peas in the garden for my kiddos and to take recipes as a suggestion for how to use whatever I grow instead of as a black-and-white list of ingredients. Jimmy Williams opened my eyes to the wonder of my personal connection with nature.

Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics – What good is a garden if we don’t know how to use the produce? I’m embarrassed to say that before this year I counted ketchup as a vegetable and thought I needed a recipe to cook soup. Luckily, Ina Garten paved the path for me to enter the garden hungry and leave it as a chef.

Gardening Reads for Young Readers

My Side of the Mountain – By far my favorite book as an adolescent, this novel piqued my interest in the natural world. Although it isn’t about gardening per se, it does cover the act of foraging and living off nature’s bounty. Share the joy of reading this book with your pre-teen and awaken the idea that anyone can live outside.

The Secret Garden – I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett’s coming-of-age novel covering many of the trials and tribulations of the teenage years. Although this may be a classic, the themes are still very poignant for our youth today. Lessons of compassion and love are important for all ages to understand.

Matilda – If all of Roald Dahl’s books haven’t already made their way onto the family bookshelf, start with Matilda. This amazing story instills the message that good things come to good people. Those who work hard and dream big can make anything happen. Including, filling your heart with a spectacular home and garden.

Gardening Reads for Tots

The Little Composter – This may be a board book, but it is packed with everything you need to know about how to compost. The simple practice can be daunting at first, so the cheery rhyme helps navigate the yes’es and no’s of what can go into the compost pile.

Home Grown Books: The Environmental Set – In My Garden details the work in the garden with a treasure trove of illustrations. Even the littlest readers can create their own story or begin to recognize words on the page as they follow along. I received a set of these books to share with my little girls. They are not board books, but these sturdy pages will allow young readers to experience the act of turning pages to explore a story.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Who doesn’t love Eric Carle’s vibrant classic about the life of a very hungry caterpillar? Early in my life, I thought the greatest lessons in the book were about counting the fruits and naming their colors. Now I know that the moral carries through the years. If you pig out on party food, eat something green and you’ll feel all better. You might even become a butterfly.

Little Spider – Not only is this book fun to manipulate since it has a finger puppet inside, but it also has the best story. I love the rhyme so much that I set it to a tune and sing it to my girls to sleep before bed. Just like the spider, I can only imagine that my song weaves their sweet dreams.

Who’s in the Garden – Each page of this book is packed with lovable illustrations of garden inhabitants. The thing I like most about this book is that it so closely mirrored our garden, that I was inspired to draw a similar book for our girls based on our personal experience.

Grandpa Green – Winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal, this amazing tale details the life of a young boy through his experience as a soldier and into his aging garden.