Category: Motherhood

That’s What I Got

Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

That’s What I Got

Two half-broken hairdryers
A dishwasher that won’t wash a dish
A diabetic, blind dog with diarrhea & fleas
That’s what I got.

Home cooked meals every night of the week
Silly screams
Neighbors that give me beer when I’ve finished my only one
That’s what I got.

Tons of paperwork
Homework
Voicemails to return
That’s what I got.

Hot water
Sacred space
Coffee & tea
That’s what I got.

Mosquitos
Messy clothes
Sticky tables
That’s what I got.

Warm blankets
A stocked pantry
Herbs & spices
That’s what I got.

A cold kitchen in an old house
A broken door
Many creaky floors
That’s what I got.

Love, snuggles, family, health
Big windows for sunshine
Books & candles that are mine
That’s what I got.

I’ll take it all.

 

Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn on Unsplash

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Oh hello there again, Shit I don’t want to deal with
How’d you find me?
I’ve been hiding from you
Secretly.

I don’t have time for this
It’s early and there’s so much to do
I turn my head and feel a ping of realization
I have it all backwards here

Those things I have to do
Are not my lessons
They are the distraction
From the work

Right here, in the messy fears and tears of those plugged into me
Is the “to do”
The entire freaking list
Is screaming at me
They need me

I breathe and switch gears
How could I have nearly missed this chance again
The chance to show up
The opportunity to change the day

These are the moments I prepare so attentively for
Through mantras and silence and yoga
And they come and then I trip, with disappointment in my heart
But not this time

It wasn’t perfect
But I tried
Grateful for the opportunity
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit stronger

 

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

3 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mother & Other Breastfeeding Resources

Family Inspiration Motherhood

3 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mother & Other Breastfeeding Resources

Breastfeeding, like parenting, unexpectedly altered everything about me. I found it an avenue to dive into the topics of food, health, well being, parenting and attachment and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on a topic that has endless opportunities to learn about myself, my growing baby and my body.

My breastfeeding journey with each of my children was unique, but had many similarities. I found much support and direction from a group of smart, supportive women in my community (La Leche League of Montgomery County East). I also pulled from a variety of resources to collect tools and emotional support along a journey that shifted my view and reframed my perspective on mothering through breastfeeding.

My shadow at Wilder Park (outside Chicago), the birthplace of La Leche League. I had to find my way there and it was worth it.

 

Perhaps you are the partner of a breastfeeding mother or the grandparent of a breastfed baby and you find yourself in unusual territory. Here are 3 ways to show your support for the woman you love:

  1. Go get a glass of water and set it in front of a breastfeeding mother.

    Don’t ask if they want it, they NEED it and it will be much appreciated. There were many times when I’d sit down to nurse and the second Brady or Meadow latched on, an overwhelming sense of thirst took over me. A friend once suggested creating “water stations” around the house and just leaving water bottles where you frequently nursed. That is such good advice!

  2. Show interest in hunger cues and encourage feeding.

    There are signs that a newborn gives when they are hungry. Here’s a handy tool to interpret them. Learning to notice them is like having a conversation with the little baby in your life without words.

    I often felt worried that I was feeding my son too often. Once I realized how easily and efficiently breastmilk is digested, I understood that he wasn’t being a bugger when he was hungry just 30 minutes after a feeding, but that his body had efficiently processed his milk and was ready for some more! Our first pediatrician warned me not to be the pacifier and further warned against nursing for comfort. I was perplexed by that because I felt that was my job and the beauty in breastfeeding – I was providing food and drink along with comfort and security. I could not love this essay more – on the beauty of being a human pacifier.

  3. Provide a pillow and reading material. 

    It’s the little things, but these make a HUGE difference!

Because I had so many supportive mothers who had been where I was to help me on my breastfeeding journey, I choose to offer the same support in return serving as a La Leche League Leader for 2+ years. No matter if your goal is one week or 5 years, you may have many questions – from technical to emotional – and hopefully some of these resources at the bottom may offer guidance.

Resources

  • The most helpful book I found was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. You can buy it through the local LLL group I mentioned above for $10.
  • Infant Risk Center – If you are taking a medication, say getting a cavity filled, or whatever, call them and they will talk to you about the latest research on whether or not to nurse the baby and how soon. I called multiple times and spoke to a real human.
  • United States Breastfeeding Committee – Leadership, advocacy and collaboration resource.
  • Embarrassed: Spoken Word by Holly McNish – a beautiful spoken word piece of her experience breastfeeding in public. It gives me chills every time.

And if you are passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers – support them! Much of the research states that the community around a nursing mother is one of the most important tools to help her meet her personal goals.

Go to local meetings of whatever group makes sense to you and volunteer or host a gathering. La Leche League has annual local conferences that I attended and even co-led a session and those were very fulfilling and exciting learning opportunities.

Happy Breastfeeding!

xo,

Marjorie Sarah

 

Top Photo Credit: Pixabay 

 

A September Like No Other

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A September Like No Other

Holy smokes, what an emotional roller coaster.
Just left Meadow’s preschool meeting – she starts tomorrow.
Don’t be alarmed if she doesn’t speak to you, I say.
Last week my little man marched off to kindergarten.
The excitement, the fears, the new world opens; it suddenly appears.

Time has switched all up on me.
No morning quiet, where is my meditation?
Packing lunch, walking to the bus, breakfast chats.
Days are choppy, different, busy, slow, busy, slow.
I hurry then wait, then hurry, then I wait.

I love preparing the lunch containers, the meals.
I love after school chats and getting the scoop on all that went down that day.
There’s so much joy to be found in the small things like these.

I see the road next to school and as I drive along I realize this: for the next eight years I will be parking, waiting and looping around there for the elementary school pickup.
And I love it. This job of being the mom, the container to both hold it all and serve as a launch pad is again a paradox.
The beauty and the letting go all tangled up.
They are ours but not to keep, just to snuggle & let soar.

Happy September,

xo, Marjorie Sarah

 

 

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

A Game Changer

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A Game Changer

Every once in a while, you meet someone or read something that touches you so deeply that it literally changes your life.

In the summer of 2012, when I was only a mother for about 6 months, I was walking through Suburban Station in Philadelphia as I had every day for years. Breastpump and work bag in hand, I hurried to my platform but out of the corner of my eye a magazine cover pulled me immediately towards it. The cover is the one you see above. You may have seen it, read it or read about it. It started a large conversation.

Written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a top woman in government at that time, this op-ed article shook me to the core – in a good way. Her main message was that the infrastructure of “work” in America is incompatible at times with a woman’s need/desire/want to be available to her family while still maintaining a serious and escalating career.

Anne-Marie found that by the time her sons were in their teen years, she needed to be with them more and stepped down from a major career role to switch gears back to academia to be more available and closer to home. She lived in Princeton, but only on the weekends. At that time, Slaughter was commuting to Washington, D.C. Monday through Friday and was with her family on the weekends only.

Okay, so that is completely unlike most of our lives, I know. Her message wasn’t even to leave the workforce altogether and be with you children, but somehow that planted the seed for me that it was OK for me to do so. And that has become one of the most OK moves I’ve ever made.

Shocked by the desire to be a stay at home parent, I literally didn’t recognize the emotion at first. The incessant pull to move away from a career that I had been working towards and in the direction of my life at home felt alien to me. A life of singing and dancing, pajamas and walks in the park. Literally. Let’s remember this was a day when I had one child and I was so elated to be home that every single day felt like vacation. Like all honeymoons, that wore off, and I write about that love its evolution here and here. Nonetheless, I still love my life at home parenting with all the new challenges it presents to me each season.

So when I saw this smart, career driven woman identify a flaw in the system and see that it is literally at odds (yet possible) to have a career and a growing family, I felt connected to her. Even though our lives could not be more different, even though she was not telling me to go and be with my family and throw my career to the wind. I saw a deeper message in her story which was one I’ve chosen to live by – you have to follow your heart and do what feels right for your family and your inner compass.

I’d like to clarify that I see having a career and a growing family as an amazing choice for many women, just that it was not for me when my children were babies. I could not handle the mental challenge, the constant switching of roles between work and home. I felt constantly interrupted and that broke me down. I literally fell apart inside. I was physically ill all the time. I also still feel like a piece of me is a failure because of this. Why couldn’t I just make it work like so many others? Why couldn’t I hold it together?

I admire the women that can handle the juggle and I know that is a weakness of mine. But I’ve chosen to turn it into a strength by making my life at home as rich and fulfilling as I choose. And now that my kids are growing and they are both older than 3, I’m starting to feel the pull to be away a bit more. So I’m turning towards developing a work life that makes me feel alive and lets me create. Creative small business is where I’ve found a new home in the work world and although it’s light years different than a political career in Washington, D.C., the work makes me come alive.

Were it not for Slaughter and this piece, I’m not sure I’d have come to the realization that it was time for me to leave the paid workforce for some years, find my center at home, refuel and move on in the new direction I find myself.

Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Motherhood Self-care Simplicity

Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

On February 24, 2017, Zen Parenting Radio, a podcast on self-awareness and how it relates to parenting, held their second annual conference just outside Chicago. Last year, I decided to fly half-way across the country and be away from my family for a night to be a part of this amazing event.

Todd & Cathy Adams are the hosts of the weekly podcast as well as the conference. I stumbled across their work when my back spazzed out and I literally could not carry my baby a while back. I called in my best friend, Emily, who happened to be off for a couple of days came and stayed with us to help out. A true friend. During this visit, she explained podcasts to me and told me what they were all about.

Having my back “out” for a week and not being able to care for my kids alone felt horrible, after all, it’s my full-time job. After I was better and life was getting back to normal, I wondered why the heck that happened to me. Stress and shallow breathing are the physical answers I came up with but the behind the scenes reason is what I was looking for.

Fast forward a few months and I was a HUGE fan of Zen Parenting Radio. I never would have found them (or possibly would not have found them til much later) if it weren’t for those unplanned days of chatting and hanging out with Emily.

I consider Todd and Cathy to be incredibly powerful teachers in my life. I learn SO MUCH from their shows and found in a short time that we have much in common. I felt connected to something by being a fan of their show. So much so that I decided to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago to hear them speak.

 

I also traveled to the meeting location of the first La Leche League gathering while I was at the conference. An organization that is dear to my heart started just outside Chicago. I wanted to see where it all began.

 

Some of my notes while at the show can serve as a testament to the feeling and the vibe that they created.

  • Something to practice: If we are going to shift the dynamic in our home, we have to make the change.
  • Dr. Shefali Tsbary was the keynote speaker at the conference last year and her talk was as good as her book, The Conscious Parent. I was not disappointed. Something she made me think about is “Guilt is another form of ego.” Hmmm, that was so interesting. I’m a big guilt partaker. I also learned a lot about energy and how engaging with certain energies grows them and how to redirect your focus to dissipate certain things.
    • Her new book at the time, The Awakened Family, was what she was pitching and I was drawn in by her premise to make an “Internal commitment not to walk the mainstream’s ways of parenting.”
    • She asked us to ask ourselves if we could see our children for who they really are. Not who we want or who others want them to be. Makes me also ask myself, can I do that for myself? For all the people in my life?
  • Jennifer Weigel had me on the edge of my seat in her breakout session where she talked mainly about ituition and developing it. I had NO IDEA that is what the session would be about and I was riveted. I’d felt incredibly grateful to be there by accident because I learned so much and her talk gave me tools to explore our innate intuitive nature. Two tools in particular were energy cleansing and how to become grounded and “turn on your heart light” as she said to diffuse certain energies. I found this particularly helpful for screaming toddlers. Mind blown.

At a time when uninterrupted sleep was a foreign concept and connecting with like-minded people interested in bringing awareness to their parenting felt like a dream – I found this event. Or it found me. Either way, the energy that radiated from the experience was at such a high vibration, so fun and positive. I learned so much about how to be open and to be me and be aware and available so that I can be the best me to be the best parent (I can be). Not saying perfect, that doesn’t exist. Or everything is already perfect. Depends on which lens you’re viewing this whole thing called life through.

I wasn’t there there this time around but enjoyed hearing the updates on their 2017 event. I’m hopeful that I will make my way another one of their gatherings in the future.

Zen Parenting Radio Conference
Conference Sign – LOVE IT!

 

 

*top image photo credit: Pyramid From The Stones ID: 16383273
© Nataliya Lukhanina | Dreamstime Stock Photos

More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Adventures & Travel Family Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Something I have right now is flexibility. Tons of it. We can fill our days pretty much with whatever we want, working around a small preschool schedule. Adventures are always calling and I’m frequently on the hunt for something fun to discover with the kids, however, whenever I google kids activities, I always feel empty inside. The usual kids museums or activity centers come up in the search and that’s about it. I’m always left wanting more. And frankly, a little baffled. I do love those places, and we’ve been to most of them, but that’s just one small bucket of ideas.

Kids stuff doesn’t have to be limited to “Kids only” stuff. Kids are real people that want to interact with the world and be intrigued and challenged. Their brains are literally wired for discovery and it’s my job to provide the path. Here’s three kid-friendly ways to spend a morning or afternoon. These are all local to Philadelphia/Montgomery County, PA.

Abington Art Center

This beautiful campus is super close to our house and it’s always felt a little mysterious because it’s behind large walls. We made our way one chilly February day when everyone was bouncing off the walls. They had an exhibit by Temple University students and an Art trail to walk, all for free. SOLD.

abington art center field
Running off into the field for ninja turtle battles

The exhibit was entitled Surface Tensions Wall Projections by Temple University Graduate Film & Media Arts  and it was a feast for the eyes. When we entered the exhibit hall, the lights were out and projections of lights and videos flashed about on the walls. The looks on the kids faces were priceless. Meadow, holding her baby doll, looked up in wonder. Brady, eyes wide, said, “What the HECK is this place?” “Where areeee weeee?” asked Meadow. I told them and they were fascinated, albeit a bit confused.

We wandered about and took it in. The work was interesting and the kids reaction to it was even more fun to watch. And this is what I love about art! “Who made this?” They exclaimed in wonder? “Why?” The questions were hilarious. We had a blast. Then we wandered around the building and found the fabric workshop and were invited in where Brady asked some questions. The bright and beautiful room was even warmer with the welcoming teacher who didn’t seem bothered by curious children. The bathrooms were great too, big enough for a stroller and clean – that’s how I evaluate most places.

frugal fun with little ones
Little wooden booth we discovered on the trail

We made our way to the art trail where the questions continued. A field large enough for ninja turtle battles, a stage to continue our battle and little wooden houses and huts to tuck our bodies in and pretend we lived in. There was no end in sight for the fun and it was all free. Our moods shifted from being out in February winds and that was part of the goal in discovering that trail.

RyersS Museum

This place is amazing. It’s a FREE museum in Burholme Park (northeast section of Philadelphia/Fox Chase). I have very fond memories of being here while I was a kid and kinda forgot about it until recently. It’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so plan for that but it’s so worth the visit!

It’s both a museum and library full of family heirlooms and collections of the Ryerss Family from their travels around the world. We got a children’s coloring/activity book in the library when we were there and it says, “Visiting the Ryerss Museum is like taking a trip around the world.” I could not agree more!

The first floor has the parlor and dining room setup so you can see what it was like when they lived there. Little dolls and tea sets caught Meadow’s eye and I explained that you can not go under red ropes in museums. Just as soon as the words left my lips she looked and me and proceeded to go right under the red rope towards the Victorian tea set. Note to self: explain museum etiquette more clearly.

Ryerss Museum Dining Room
Dining Room

The back parlor was cozy and dark and explained the family’s Turkish corner. Have you heard of this? It amazed me! The exhibit rooms housed Buddhas, shoes, seashells and swords. Brady was engaged. I commented on how impressed I was that he was behaving so well and he said, rather seriously, “Well I’m busy. I’m doing the scavenger hunt.” We got a scavenger hunt worksheet in the library before we toured the house, it was great for the kids. Nothing fancy, just images of several statues that they had to look for.

Ryerss Museum with Kids
Scavenger hunt, very serious

We ended in the library where there are kids tables and coloring sheets. I had some questions about the dollhouses I saw as a kid but seemed to be missing from the exhibit hall. Apparently Fairmount Park claimed them as they didn’t belong to the Ryerss Family, but to a neighbor. BUMMER – they were my absolute favorites and I could not wait to see them after all these years. The library is a real library and you are welcome to borrow books if you live close by.

They also do kids activity days and flea market events at the museum. Don’t forget to walk around to the front porch and you’ll pass their pet cemetery on your way. Victorian porches steal my heart and they really help me imagine the time period when I’m on one.

They have free parking and a playground as well.

Ryerss Museum Library
Magical Ryerss library – kid friendly

Ikea – Kids eat free on Tuesday

Have you ever heard of Ikea? That’s a joke. Of course you have. Well, it’s a really fun place for kids and not because they have a play area that you can leave your kids at (we’ve yet to utilize that feature but it does look fun in there). It’s literally a HUGE indoor playground. We love to go and wander, stock up on candles and pretend we live in the little fake living rooms.

The cafe can be accessed via shortcut as soon as you enter (at the Conshohocken location) and it’s right next to the children’s department. We’ll go on a Tuesday, I’ll get a veggie/hummus wrap or whatever and the kids meals are both FREE. And you get a free coffee if you have their “Family” card. Plus they just got a new cafe machine so it makes lattes! I’m not sure if this is permitted but I bring my latte to the children’s area and sip it leisurely while the kids take their shoes off and roll around in the beds. I know. I know. I told them not to but they don’t really listen sometimes so whatever.

Ikea kids fun
Meadow playing at Ikea

By the time we get home, we’re all exhausted from Ikea, we relax and then I make dinner. Day planned. 🙂

Now pick one and go explore!

xoxo

 

 

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Books Community Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Three women, three yogis, three friends – that’s how it started, our book club. We are all so different yet so the same and that is the recipe for great conversation, good fun and the most exciting start to our book club!

The “club” consists of Kate, the hiking/cereal/yoga loving beauty who is my husband’s birthday twin. The similarities between these birthday twins are uncanny, and I love to spot them! Kate is a go-getter and bride-to-be with whom I can (and have) talked for hours on end about everything under the sun and moon and it is one of my favorite activities.

Beth is the brunette beauty who the universe called to be my friend. It wasn’t spooky at all the Halloween that she answered the door to a house my little goblins were trick-or-treating at. It was exciting! Mainly because I’d known Beth from my professional days commuting on the train. We had been friendly from seeing each other daily but when I met her again, it was such a pleasant surprise. Her and her husband came over for dinner soon after and the rest is history. Oh and she’s a celebrity on Ireland. I swear!

We are all at different stages in our life – Kate on the brink of marriage, Beth just coming out of the newlywed season and I am knee deep in motherhood. They keep me young and teach me all the trendy things that I don’t even know exist, although I don’t think I’ve admitted just how out of the loop I am to them. hehe.

Onto the book selection. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner could not have been a better choice. It’s a read about life, identity, insecurities, motherhood and self – topics that are so dear to me and that I think and write about often. I’ve been moved to tears many times throughout the book, because I can relate to her stories and because they are just oh so beautiful.

We talked for 3 glorious hours about our pick, using the “Conversation Starters for Self Discovery, Courage and Truth” that the Chasing Slow team sent us as a thank you to pre-ordering the book! I know, SO COOL! We learned more about each other, and I think even about ourselves, as we thought through our answers and sipped kombucha, wine, beer and snacked on broccoli and cookies. I KNOW!

Erin articulates parts of motherhood that are so universal yet so hard to put words to at times. I can taste the experiences she talks about. I’ve had the same thoughts, visions and realizations. The same struggles of where do the kids end and where do I begin? The same wondering of who am I without a job? The same anxieties. The same journey in search of  so many things to be halted in the middle with tears in my eyes and on my hands wondering where the heck I am going and why.

The same but different. Because this is Erin’s story. Her bravery in telling it so true and raw is so inspirational and refreshing. Her peek into feelings of online life and work are rare. I find it hard to find honesty in the over-staged online world that I love so much and here in these pages, you find it. The most amazing thing to me is that Erin doesn’t throw up her hands and close her online accounts because they are superficial at times or part of the race to perfection. She continues to work and find balance and truth and brings her true self to the game. That is the best part and the hardest part.

How do we show up now that we know the rules? Now that we know you can look perfect in an instagram photo or facebook post…”Look how much fun I’m having!” Now that we know this, how do we balance it with truth in our everyday interactions? For me, I try to post real things – like messes and feelings – along with staged beauty, because sometimes you really do need a filter to make the picture look pretty right? Or do you?

 

 

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.

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!