Category: Family

Transformation in Progress

Creating Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Spiritual Exploration

Transformation in Progress

Tomorrow is the big day. The day I register my baby for kindergarten. So many emotions.

When Brady was born, I shifted everything, as we parents do, and I shed all the skins that I wore and all the roles I thought I “should” be. A transformation that has shook me to my core. One that I thought was complete several times over, but I’m coming to find is a marathon journey that I am still on.

I’d love to carry a sign or wear a name tag that reads: Transformation in Progress. Wouldn’t you? Aren’t we all transforming every minute?

Now my days of caring for a precious baby are spent caring for a growing child and toddler. Soon those days will grow longer as Brady spends his days in a school desk and I’ll find a slower day with just me and little Meadow. Then she will slowly peel away for preschool – our first real separation. Ever. Much more on that in the coming years.

I’ve shed all those skins and roles since transitioning to motherhood and now I’m left with who I know I’m called to be. The real work of continuing to show up now that all the masks are removed lies ahead. I intend to follow my heart, my true creative nature to learn and share and create. It’s exciting yet unknown.

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Simplicity

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

The possibilities for fun are endless when you’re a stay-at-home-parent. Unless you’re having a bad day, then it feels impossible to plan an adventure (for me, at least). So I keep a list of fun ideas for each season handy for days when we want to go out and about but don’t have much money to spend or for days when we just NEED to get out of the house.

When my oldest was in preschool one morning last week, me and my youngest, Meadow, went over to Be Well Cafe in Bryn Athyn. It’s simply adorable there. They are in a new space, a few doors down from their previous location, and the energy and flow in there are invigorating! I can grab a tea and get a little treat for Meadow for $5 while we sit and enjoy and chat.

be well bakery and cafe
be well bakery and cafe

 

The best thing about the new location is that they have an adorable play space for little ones complete with a wall chalkboard, kitchen, books and action figures. Different toys = happy kids. It gets crowded almost always, but that’s ok. After we had some fun we hopped in the car for a 2 minute drive to the Huntingdon Valley Library where they (obviously) have a beautiful book selection, but OH MY, the toys! Full size wooden kitchen, dollhouse, giant trucks and more. Meadow made me lunch 5 times at the library kitchen and it was delicious. They have all the fun ingredients – wooden jars with removable lids and pretend milk cartons! I sat at the kid table and soaked in the sunshine by the huge window. It made me smile.

The only problem was the not wanting to leave. It was the first time I was late for a preschool pickup! Eeeek.

Huntingdon Valley Library
Huntingdon Valley Library

 

Some of our other local frugal favorites in Montgomery County, PA include:

  • Briar Bush Nature Center – Free for Abington residents, very small fee for others. Live turtles! Snakes! Real bugs! Trails to explore and a bird watching house that is creepy in a fun way (at least to me). Clean bathrooms. They offer affordable camp options and fun looking birthday parties (neither of which we have experienced yet). Of note, I did not find the trails to be stroller friendly, so pack or borrow a baby carrier.
  • Meadowbrook Farm – This tiny little gem is one of my FAVORITE places on earth. I love to just visit and explore the grounds and the garden center. This is FREE, parking is easy and once you park you get a little red plant wagon to pull around for fun! We don’t usually buy plants (more on that later)…well ok it’s later, I need a lot of help keeping plants alive. But we LOVE them! A magical path of wonderful greens and flowers leads you to a crossroad, and you decide your fate. Travel right for the garden center and explore the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse full of hanging terrariums, cute gifts and creative pots and plants OR turn left and explore the historical grounds and see fountains and ferns and statues and lily pads! Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.
  • Meadowbrook Bird Sanctuary – This is across the street from Meadowbrook Fam. This is a slice of peace. Here you find a small patch of earth full of winding trails and cozy benches. Little birdhouses and a children’s garden. The link is old but the pictures look just like I remember. We usually bring a picnic lunch. The kids love to chase each other with the butterfly nets from the children’s garden.
  • Library Cultural Passes – This simply makes me giddy!!! Many of the libraries in Montgomery County have passes to awesome places (that cost a lot of dollars to get in) for FREE! Yep! We are kinda like library groupies. We are ALWAYS at one of our local branches. Lingering. Jumping around. Occasionally we read there but the kids really like to frolic and we leave with huge stacks of books that we read at home. My mom banned me from the library when I was younger because I’d get a million books and apparently lots of late fines. I still get tons of books today but I’m much more organized about renewing them.

I hope this inspires some frugal fun with your little one! Depending on your interests, these could even be fun for a solo-self-care quiet day alone or a sweet date with someone you love.

xo,

Marjorie

Where’s the Quiet?

Creating Family Motherhood

Where’s the Quiet?

It’s 6:20 am on Saturday, I’ve already done a morning meditation and started drinking my coffee. Normally I LOVE to devour books at this time of the morning but I’m committed to this blog and really need to set some more pieces of it up. So I open my laptop and start logging in. I start thinking. The gears are turning. I work on a quick post idea draft in 5 minutes. My brain is on already.

Then it happens. THE KIDS ARE UP. Crap. How are they up already? How do they never sleep? How is this possible? Good for everyone I’m feeling balanced today, otherwise this occurrence may send me into an anxious place that can last the whole day.

Sean and I have a deal. He can have from 5:30-8:30 am uninterrupted so I can leave for yoga at 8:30 am. It’s my turn to get the kids. I run upstairs with the sips of coffee I have left and find the cutest kids in the universe standing at the door of a pitch black room on the verge of freak out. They are half-awake and confused and starting to scream. We all snuggle back into bed. My thoughts are with my computer. I try to shut that down and be grateful for the 1/2 hour of uninterrupted time that I really enjoyed already today.

I’ll give it 15 minutes. If they don’t fall back to sleep, we’ll all start our day together. It doesn’t work. They are AWAKE. We start singing silly songs and make our decent downstairs.

There is no guarantee to time around here. Ever. It’s so hard to accept sometimes. I cannot think or focus unless there is quiet. I can’t work on blog stuff, make soap or pay bills when the kids are talking to me. Can anyone? Instead of wishing I had more time, I try to accept this maddening opportunity to be present yet again.

It’s gonna be a great day!

The Sweet Spot

Creating Creative Small Business Family Motherhood

The Sweet Spot

How did this happen? This finding what I love as a stay-at-home-mom which evolved into a handmade, creative business owner which feels a little strange because I never thought any of this would happen. Run on sentence = intended…that’s how my brain works.

Not having a “9-5” felt incredibly strange for a bit, but now I’m used to it and loving it. The biggest struggle for me is continuing to relish in the gratitude I find deeply embedded in my heart while being frustrated beyond belief at feeling as if I have no “time” to do anything at all.

My brain is flooded with ideas on my business, soap creation, recipes, networking and essential oil scents yet I can only grab these thoughts in fleeting moments between screams of “Mommy!!!!” and daily dinner prep. I hurry to write an idea before it evaporates. Frequently the ideas do run away before I can grab a pen (or crayon) and I’m trying to trust that an evaporated idea may not have been a good one so I let it go.

The irony for me is that I feel frustrated at not having chunks of time to create and brainstorm and think and write because of my parenting responsibilities yet being a parent is what got me in this stay-at-home position which led to an abundance of awesome soul-searching and making space for things I actually love. It’s just so ironic.

Sometimes it’s hard to say just how content I feel in my role because the waters chop and I get mad and anxious and then I question things. Or I feel inauthentic because here I am claiming to be in a sweet spot yet I feel stuck on certain days. Am I really happy? How did this happen? But after many rounds of that, I always come back to center and realize it was just a bad day or week. My true nature is not that shaky ground. When the earth moves a little, I just need to stay put and the ground will become still again.

So, I find myself in the sweet spot, day after day, being a stay-at-home-parent and relishing in all that this role has to offer while dreaming and grabbing at whatever scraps of time I can wrap my fingers around to dream, write, think and create.

The Hudson Valley With Small Children

Adventures & Travel Family Inspiration

The Hudson Valley With Small Children

Traveling with small children is insanity in the making, yet I love it. Well, I love travel and I have kids that I love, so that equals loving traveling with small children in my head. The first time we took Brady across the country on an airplane I had a panic attack in the bathroom and sent frantic messages during the trip to my mom and sister that he would not listen to anything I said. He was 18 months old. Ha, it’s par for the course.

Since then, we’ve sat out on a few vacations and I’ve gotten a little more savvy with my research and planning (built in down time and space for kids to run is hugely important for our family).

Here are my notes and tips from our family vacation we took June 2016 where we road-tripped to the Hudson Valley, NY and rented a cozy cottage in the country. Every family flows differently, this is a snapshot of our “flow.” Enjoy!!!

 

The house we rented was perfect for our family of four. I loved it so much when we arrived that I cried. I could not believe we got to stay there for a week!!! It was complete with cozy nooks, window seats, books galore, games, kids toys, gorgeous views of the meadow behind the house and comfy beds.

I loved drinking coffee in the morning in this house and the coziest table was in the kitchen that looked out the window. It was perfect for dreaming. Nikki, the house owner, was so hospitable and we even got to meet her one day when she had to repair the swing in the yard. Her design touches were so inviting and enjoyable.

Cozy morning cartoons
Cozy morning cartoons.

 

Kitchen Window
The view from our kitchen window.

 

Kid's Room
The kids checking out “their” room.

 

Trampoline fun in the yard.
Trampoline fun in the yard.

 

Yard fun with Daddy
More yard fun with daddy.

 

dreamy kitchen table
Cozy table in the kitchen where I wrote and dreamed one morning.

 

meadow painting
Meadow painting in the kitchen.

 

The last night at the house.

 

♡Fun things that I researched in the area. Time noted is drive time from Red Hook, the town our house was in.♡ 

What we did:

Greig Farm (5 minutes away). They had pick your own fruit, we picked strawberries.  BBQ truck was cool (pictured below) and there are goats to feed with a cute shop where we got great local syrup and jam to bring home. They also have a Saturday market that we didn’t get to.

Poets Walk Park (in Red Hook). 2 miles of trails, we allowed 2 hours at least. Breathtaking Hudson River Views, bring water! A dreamy place with benches to read and think.

Montgomery Place (in Red Hook). Recommended by our Airbnb host, Nikie, “Historic Hudson Valley site. Beautiful park and spectacular waterfalls. Very nice hike.”  These grounds were breathtaking. Gross bugs by the water but we had fun exploring, sitting on the porch and taking in the falls.

Village of Rhinebeck Has many kid-friendly restaurants, shopping, Sunday am farmers market (10-2). I went to the farmers market and it was worth the special trip but parking was crazy hard. Town is adorable but all the shops close early. Makes for peaceful strolls down the street, but would have liked to browsed after dinner.

Lake Taghkanic State Park (15 minutes away). Has lake, beach, playground, paddle boats. Loved this place. It felt HUGE! Cleanest bathrooms ever. My kind of beach, park your car, walk 10 feet and sit under a tree in the shade on a beach! Loved it.

↠Town of Woodstock -Would have loved to had more time here. We didn’t have a plan and were hungry so that’s always a lethal combo but we went to the local pizza shop and had beer and pizza and the world was ok again. We had new “toys” and markers for the kids in our bags. Yay, us! We saw a community drum circle on the main street and felt very “Woodstock” to me. I wanted to tell everyone to hold on while I snuck in a yoga class, but that obviously never happened. Made our way to Opus 40 it was really cool and different, great for adults and kids.

Red Hook Lunch
Lunch spot in Red Hook.

 

Poet's Walk
Poet’s Walk, Where the cranberry fight took place.

 

Poet's Walk
Poet’s Walk

 

Lake Taghkanic State Park

 

Lake Taghkanic State Park – beach!

 

montgomery place
Exploring Montgomery Place…

 

Montgomery Place views

 

Sawkill Farm, Red Hook
Sawkill Farm Store – where I got to talk soap techniques with the shop keeper!

 

Woodstock, NY
Woodstock, NY

 

My travel “journal” is below and is basically an assortment of phrases and words that I write down each day on vacation. I’ve surrendered to the fact that I don’t really write much on vacation but want to so badly. So I bottle up a few words, to me, the only words that matter. These may not make much sense but you get the idea!

Saturday, June 11, 2016 Roadtrip begins! “Is there blood in blood inside blood?” Asked Brady in the car. Arrive at Spring Lake Road house…BEAUTIFUL!!! Kids love it. Cool kids room. Awesome toys! Amazing discovery. Would you rather? game. Books galore.

Sunday, June 12, 2016 Cocoa puffs, turtle battles. Connect four. Rhinebeck Farmers Market. Opus 40…”Whichever path you choose will be the right one,” says the older man. Woodstock. Catskill pizza. Community Drum circle.

Monday, June 13, 2016 Poets walk park. Kids fighting over cranberries. Meadow in the meadow. Dead mouse on trail. Long meadow nap. Brady and I found play doh in the house. Trampoline and swing fun in the yard. Snake! Dinner at Terrapin in Rhinebeck. So good and fun! Kids were awesome at super fancy restaurant. Ice cream. “Hey! How’d the moon get here?” Turtle batters on the street.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Catskills…Kaaterskill falls. Crackers. Crackers. Crackers. Hold my sweatshirt. Crackers. Ninja battles on viewing deck. “Take a video of me. Let me see it.” Beautiful waterfalls! Dangerous cliff. Skipping stones. Throwing rocks. Snake! Chipmunks everywhere. Pink hair. Snacks in car. No service. Dunkin Donuts. Beer. Wine. Fussy Meadow. Poor kid needs to sleep! Turtle paints. Beach toys. Beer on deck with Jack Johnson. The Sandlot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 Relaxing morning, coffee on deck, breakfast in sun room. Turtle battle. I was Mikey. Lake Taghkanic State Park. Playground. Brady bug bite. Beautiful lake and beach. Saw cabins and tents. Sandlot part 2. Smores.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 Greig farm strawberries. Tastebuds lunch. Bug collection. Flat Iron. Sticker book. Tick. Super fun hangout night with wine and Battleships and Connect Four and Bubble Guppies.

Friday, June 16, 2016 Early rise, super tired Brady. Montgomery Place – amazing views of Catskills & Hudson. Cool porch. Gross flies. Waterfalls. Gigi Market with cool local buys. Crazy screaming kids. Goats. “Is hay dirty?” Airstream lunch with wiffel ball. MUCH needed naps for both kids. Blue skies, amazing weather. Last afternoon in our house. What a treat this house is. Meadow said at Montgomery Place about a squirrel, “Chipmunk! Chipmunk! Chipmunk! I’m just kidding.”

 

Good Links that helped me research and plan: 

General www.redhookhudsonvalley.com

For Kids Activities: http://hudsonvalley.kidsoutandabout.com/content/top-20-places-take-kids-hudson-valley

The one that started this whole idea: http://cupofjo.com/2010/07/hudson-valley-trip/

The family road trip packing list from The Art of Simple: http://theartofsimple.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/packing-list.pdf

I hope this inspires your next family adventure! xo

If You’d Asked Me Then

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood

If You’d Asked Me Then

If you’d asked me then

Way back when

What motherhood might hold

My younger self may have told

Stories of hopes and dreams

And what I thought it might mean

To care for a small child.

A little fun, a little wild.

If you’d asked me then

I’d never have known

About a love so deep

A heart to keep

Lessons that drive me mad

Feelings I didn’t even know I had

How it all comes rushing past

A love so strong, so fast.

If you’d asked me then

I’d be shocked at the grounding we felt through breastfeeding

A conversation with no words,

We found deep meaning.

A lesson in converting food into energy

A lesson in letting go, letting be.

If you’d asked me then

What this magical piece of the universe that we named Brady might become

I may have guessed some dreamy profession just for fun.

But if you ask me now what this child will “be”

I’ll tell you the truth:

He is the architect of the authentic me.

 

Family Inspiration

Painfully Beautiful

So hard to concentrate or focus

Tempertantrums, tempertantrums, screaming

Sooooooo annoying.

So many books I want to read

Whenever I’m regulated, someone else is freaking out in my face, in my space.

Whenever I’m disregulated, I can’t see straight.

So much I want to do, learn

So much love in my heart

So much wanting people to be happy

But seeing so much unhappiness.

Books Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Self-care Simplicity

Gift From the Sea – my personal takeaway

A close friend recommended I read Gift From The Sea. I realized why it sounded so familiar, it was a book I’d seen for years on my mom’s bookshelf, completely unaware of what treasures filled its pages. I asked my mom if I could borrow it. We arrived on vacation and my mom brought me my own copy – one that she had purchased for her mom years ago. The bookmark still remained. It is one of those bookmarks with your name and the meaning. Being that I was named after my mom’s mom, it’s extra special that the bookmark says “Marjorie.”
*
I started the little book on vacation and finished it soon after my return home. It seems appropriate to share my thoughts with other mothers at a similar stage in motherhood where I find myself and where I understand Anne Morrow Lindbergh found herself when she authored it.
*
Written in 1955, 60 years ago, I was struck by her take on the world all those years ago. Much of it speaks to me as if it were written this morning. Modern amenities and endless distractions that make life busier and more challenging at times…I can relate! How we are fortunate enough to have the option to choose how complex or simple our lives are. That made me think about my choices and what do they say about me? How solitude and space are necessary for a woman to grow and be and think. How it felt as if she was losing an appendage when she said goodbye to her family for some time away but once she was gone, she knew it would all be ok.
*
Morrow Lindbergh beautifully provided insights to the ebbs and flows of relationships – relationships between romantic partners, sisters, mother and child – using her treasured seashells as metaphors. Many of you may find yourself in what the author described as the “Oyster Bed.” Here is how she describes it:

“It is an oyster, with small shells clinging to its humped back…Sprawling and uneven…It looks rather like the house of a big family, pushing out one addition…to hold its teeming life…It is untidy, spread out in all directions, heavily encrusted with accumulations.” (80, Morrow Lindbergh)

I know that sounds much like my oyster bed of a house. Amazingly awesome and full of life yet chaotic and almost crazy making at times when everyone including the dog beckons me for breakfast simultaneously. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like it. These are the days of my life.

She reminds us how therapeutic work can be when we are not rushed and how simple pleasures of earth and conversation are fulfilling. When she talks of “purposeful giving” she perfectly explains it as:

“Is not as apt to deplete one’s resources; it belongs to the natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give – like milk in the breast.”

And she further explains,

“Even purposeful giving must have some source that refills it. The milk in the breast must be replenished by food taken into the body. If it is the woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too. But how?” (47-48, Morrow Lindbergh)

 

I’m so grateful for the personal essays Anne shared with me and so many for the past 60 years. Her reflections answer her question of how to replenish and what those moments of solitude and intention did to refuel her soul.

Family Inspiration Motherhood Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

How Natural Birth Deepened My Yoga Practice

I’ve always been drawn to yoga, even before I “understood” it. Even when I was in high school I wanted to do it, but wasn’t sure what it was all about. I know I practiced yoga when I was younger, but it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I’ve felt connected to my practice. And it wasn’t until after I gave birth to my second child that I felt an even deeper connection.

Preparing for natural birth, I read many books and blogs and did a lot of work to prepare my mind. Breath work, and understanding that breathing is a tool to stay present and not fly and wander, was very helpful to me. I believed the tools would help, but it wasn’t until I was living the labor and doing what I’d been so prepared for, did I fully understand what it all meant. I felt like I was mindfulness embodied, for the first time in my life.

Natural labor and birth were both a challenge and a reward. Now when I am in a pose on the mat that I think I can’t tolerate for one more second, I go back to the breath and the patience that I know I have because I experienced it during labor and birth. I think, “Oh, right, I know how to do this, and this is easier than childbirth!”

In addition, Ujjayi breath has helped me calm a fussy baby, sooth a little one to sleep and find my inner stillness. Also something that I don’t think I’d be so in tune with without my natural birth.

I’m simply fascinated! I had no idea that all the work I did to prepare for a natural birth would have rewarded me down the road into a deeper practice.

Namaste!

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood

My Work

My adventure of a stay at home mom continues and it has been a whole year! It’s hard to believe that I worked outside the home from the time Brady was 3 months – 18 months but I did and it’s what makes me realize and always remember just how sweet these days at home are. Even when the dog is crazy and the kids are crazy and I’m crazy, I still love my job. I NEVER knew what it was like to love your job until very recently. People often talk about loving their job and over the years I thought maybe I loved my jobs too…I could not have been more wrong. That right there…the fact that I “thought” I loved my job is evidence that I SO DID NOT love my job. Ever date anyone you “thought” you loved…right.

So I’m pretty sure I loved my stay at home job since day one, however, the revelation of, “this is what it must feel like to love your job” didn’t hit me until about February. I remember it was a cold snowy day and me and Brady got up early to go babysit our friend, Samantha. I was driving down the road with my little guy in the back seat and I thought, “Wow, this is great – WOHA, I LOVE MY JOB!” Sounds kinda silly, but once I realized that was what was happening, my job got even more fun and I take it very seriously. I’m always volunteering for new projects like researching non-toxic products, how to make your own cleaning supplies, how to eat healthier, recipes, you name it. Being home affords me the time to look into these things more closely for my family and in turn I think it makes a huge difference in our physical and emotional health.

“Work” is a funny thing. I think about it often. It’s so many things. It’s not just a 9-5, or doing what you studied in college. It’s volunteering, it’s parenting, it’s also a 9-5 and doing what you studied in college. It’s how we feel productive. How we contribute to society, or even how we think we are contributing to society. It’s a major force in our lives, all of us, and whether it’s paid or unpaid, it’s part of our story and a huge part of each of our journeys. My “work” has been so many things but my recent work is so different than I ever thought work could be. It’s parenting, mothering, nurturing, cleaning, cooking, creating in countless ways, entertaining, researching, volunteering, consulting for my friend’s company, motivating, loving, living and being. It’s so much more than all of that but that’s what comes to mind presently. I love my work, even when I’m cranky and I seem like I hate my work, I’m fooling you.