Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Win free PJ's and help a great cause!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and last Sunday, November 14th, was recognized as World Diabetes Day.   A leading sleepwear company, Komar, has launched an initiative called "Pjs for the Cure" with the goal of raising $1 million dollars to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Before I get to the fun pj giveaway, here are some facts you may not know about juvenile diabetes and this great event:
  • Each year, more than 15,000 children are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
  • You cannot "catch" diabetes, nor has juvenile diabetes been linked directly to genetics or lifestyle.  
  • Insulin does not cure diabetes, it only helps to keep the patient alive.
  • 100% of every sale from PJs For The Cure will be donated directly to the JDRF to fund further research to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. 

 To win a set of women's, girl's, or boy's pj's, , please post one comment for as many of the following as you like.  And please tell your friends, too!  
I will select a winner at random on November 30th to receive a pair of jammies.  Please make sure I have some way to contact you for size, style, shipping address, etc.

Spread the word!  And thanks for supporting Juvenile Diabetes!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Komar and PJs For The Cure and received a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Books Campaign: Prayers Like Shoes*

This review is part of the Green Books campaign
.  Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.
The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on "green" books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website

I'd like to say that I fearlessly tackled the idea of reviewing a book of poetry.  The truth would be that I was a little terrified.  I know real poets.  I'm not one of them.  I know real writers and real literary reviewers and I'm not one of them.  What do I know about poetry?  I should not have worried.  I'm listening to Ruth Forman on NPR as I write this, looking for inspiration.  Her smoky voice eases my worries like a cool, wet washcloth to a fever.  Ruth Forman somehow transcends racial lines and even literary ones, to make her material accessible even to the mama sitting in front of this screen.  Especially to this mama.  "What's a woman without good stories?" Forman asks in one piece.  "Stories make her know which step a good step."  

I read the book in a single sitting.  Then I read it again.  And again.  Forman divides her book into four sections covering love, politics, family and religion.  Each section resonates with her sturdy but soulful voice.  I feel grounded and lifted at the same time.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  

Thank you to the Green Books Campaign  and Eco-libris for bringing me Ruth Forman and reminding me to find a place where I can sit and eat good stories.  Isn't that why I blog?  I'll end with one of Forman's pieces that really spoke to me and my every-day life.  In the midst of my eating, breathing, diapering, feeding, laundering, comforting of tears-ing and general daily junk that tends to get me down, this piece lifts me up and reminds me, especially, of my commitment to a "barefoot" life.  
Unload your burdens, kick your shoes off, and wear your prayers, instead.

If I Forget to Dance

If i forget to dance
remind me

yes if i forget to dance
take my hand
lead me to the polished floor
help me take off my shoes
put on myself

*This inside of this book was printed on 100% post-consumer recycled material

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Landscape and Memory

I've been remembering all the things I love about living here and ran across this little piece I wrote awhile ago. 

  As we wind through the mountains, past familiar landmarks, a few snapshots remain from our weekend in the city: the lush green of Grandma’s garden, the towering elm and maple dotting the urban landscape, the busy buses and crisscrossing freeways.  This weekend in Portland my husband and I return to a memory of home and to our first years together.  A comfortable longing for where we began settles in our hearts, but an anxiety also flows through the moment.  Is it right to long for the past?  Is it possible to recreate the best moments, leaving the worst behind?  We had eaten breakfast at our favorite diner in the neighborhood and took the MAX train to the zoo for our daughter’s first encounter with real elephants, bears and tigers.  That concrete forest is behind us now as we begin the journey home.  I can almost see the zoo animals parading through my daughter’s mind as she is momentarily calm, quietly reading books in her car-seat.    My mind drifts to another place of memory, my own childhood.  How will my childhood memory differ from hers?  How does that memory shape me as a mother?
   I smell mossy, wet Douglas Fir forest as we reach the crest of the Cascade range.  The scent evokes memories of camping trips, day-hikes and canoeing in murky lakes.  I see the ferny underbrush fly by and remember encountering my first banana slug.  We played in streams, climbed on giant mossy logs and scraped our way through brambles of blackberry and vine maple.  Worms, silverfish and caterpillars inhabit my memory.  So does sadness, a broken family and a deep longing for what my child now peacefully takes for granted:  security and the knowledge that she is safe with us.  Her family is intact.  No one is leaving, or moving her out of her life.  There is no doubt in her mind that Mommy and Daddy belong together.
  Returning from my thoughts I observe the fir outside my window suddenly give way to Ponderosa Pine as we careen down the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains towards Warm Springs.  Something about the thick moisture that lingers in the air in the western forest causes a fossilization of my memory.  Thoughts pile up, detritus on a rainforest floor, slowly decomposing like a wet mass of imprinted ideas.  My breathing tends to be shallow, saturated and anxious.  But as my eyes step out into this conifer forest, I feel the dry air immediately lift a weight off of me.  Wide open to the sky, my heart cracks open like packed, dry, lake-bottom dirt and all my trapped memories and thoughts escape on a breeze of juniper and sage.  Here I am, heart wide open to receive, ready to love, not bogged down in a broken past.  I can breathe again. 
   The forest opens up even more to reveal the largest of the Central Cascade peaks in the distance; Jefferson, Washington, the Three Sisters.  They are familiar now, but still majestic in their own right.  Whether it is merely my perception or actual reality, I suddenly feel connected to this place in a new way because it is my daughter’s past, now.  This landscape is shaping her memory.  I want my daughter to live this wide-open life.  This is the gift I give my daughter as we drive home across the expanse of juniper and sage:  I want her heart free and wild; able to love. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

a new thing...

She's here.  Josephine Rain joined our family on July 29, 2010.  Josephine means "God will increase."  There were thunderstorms the week she was born, but the loudest cry came from my own heart. 

We had an emergency c-section with our first daughter and worked hard toward the dream of a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) with our second daughter.  I compare it to climbing Mt. Everest.  You can turn back with the experience of having known the mountain, or you can make it to the summit.  After having contractions for three solid days, I labored hard for another 18 hours with back labor (ouch).  Succumbing to my own human weakness, and a few other factors, I enjoyed the benefits of an epidural and pushed my daughter out at 12:58 am.  Her squishy, squashy head pressed against my shaking chest as we bonded, born as one, a mother and daughter.  I made it to the summit.

God promised me a new thing (see verse headlining the blog) weeks before Josephine was born.  And He delivered.  I yelled at Him a little, mostly because I needed to yell at someone, when I hadn't progressed after eight hours of hard labor.  But He held my hand while the labor suddenly sped ahead in only two hours.

She is a brand new thing.

Life with two kids is like adding punctuation to an already great essay.  Being one of two girls, my life seems to make more sense with two kids.  I've been reborn, again, as a mother.  Reintroduced to piles of diapers (we do cloth), the endless sorting of clothes outgrown, the exhaustion, and of course, the milestones.  But she smiles at me.  And it is a new thing.  A beautiful thing. 

Check in, soon, for more of our adjustments as a family, life with a sensitive child and a newborn, and our homeschooling adventures!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Birth Journey

It feels like eons since I've written, fellow bloggers and friends.  I'm sorry to say there's no excuse, except for this alien life form who has taken over my body, and this new house which seeps endless to-do lists from the walls.  We are loving this journey, but I have to admit I would be even more of an emotional wreck without my few saving graces:

1) My amazing husband.  Seriously.  He really puts up with a lot.  He cooks and cleans, too.  Thank God and thank his mother.

2) Our kiddie pool.  On a 90+ degree day, nothing switches my mood like a play-session in the pool with my almost-4-old.  My husband freely admits that he bought it primarily for me.  Thank you! 

3) Hypnobabies.  If you're looking for a birthing class, please do yourself a favor and check this out- it's not as weird as it sounds.  I feel so relaxed, comfortable and ready for this birth because of this amazing program!  Many women experience little or no pain through the process of self-hypnosis during birth (it's not a "silent" program- just a meditative one). 

4) God.  This birth reminds me that my body is a sanctuary, a vessel, meant to serve Him in every way.  This child is a gift to Him, and this body is a gift, too.  Thanks for the perspective, Creator of the Universe.

5) Friends and Family.  To everyone who calls, Facebooks or e-mails me on a regular basis to "check-in"... thank you!  I don't feel like I had a fraction of this support when we had our first daughter.  What a blessing!  I'm even making a few new friends in our neighborhood...

I'm really going to try to write more often, though I'm sure that's a silly proposition when we have a baby due anyday.  Just know that I'm out here, I have lots to say, I'll be back soon! 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Great Give Away for a Hot Mama!

Another fun blog tour for another great book!  The Hot Mom to Be Handbook is a great read for first-time moms.  Author Jessica Denay is part of a mom's group called "The Hot Moms" and gleans a lot of wisdom from the ladies in her circle of friends as well as from her own experience.  This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek but informative look at preparing for baby from Week 1 to Week 41!  

Chock full of encouragement for mom, sexy ideas for partners and great products to peruse, this book has it all.  What other new-mommy book have you read that covered the all important issue of what to do about your nipple rings, not to mention other piercings?

About mood swings:  "Sure, it's natural to start sobbing in the middle of Pottery Barn because the new colors are just so beautiful and literall the next minute feeling like you want to drop kick the sales guy for saying hello."

About exercise during pregnancy: "...a stopwatch might seem a bit over the top, but trust me, it's the fun part.  In the beginning it won't be a big deal, bu by the end of your pregnancy it will be downright hilarious when it takes you fourteen minutes to waddle past your neighbor's house."

The good news for you- I'm giving this book away!  This is the perfect gift for any new mom-to-be in your life.  It's hip, fun and upbeat while giving a realistic look at some of the difficulties of pregnancy and birth.  Stories from famous people and regular moms are all through this book and it is truly a fun read!  This is a great book for both a mom who is planning to go back to work, and one who is planning to stay-at-home.

My only criticism:  Denay confuses the terms midwife and doula (there is a difference) and while she does consider more "natural" options for the earth-friendly mama (more than a lot of books do), this book is primarily for more mainstream moms.  Of course- this review is coming from a cloth-diaper, dirt-loving, hippie mama... so take that into consideration!  

To win the book:  Leave a comment on this post!  Tell me a funny story about your pregnancy or from someone you know and I'll randomly pick someone and ship the book to you, free of charge!  Thanks for visiting my blog and please share with your friends!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of HarperCollins and received a copy of The Hot Mom to Be Handbook to facilitate my review. Mom Central also sent me a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gardening adventures with little people...

Gardening with kids can be challenging, especially if you enjoyed gardening before you had kids.  Here are some tips I’ve learned over the past three years of motherhood to help you in your quest to get yourself in the dirt with your kids!  Our kids are like little seeds, themselves- ready to grow and learn.  Give them a chance to watch the wonder of a small garden patch (or a large one) this year!

Preparation of the soil: Read books about gardening with your kids  (go to my Barefoot Books website for some great titles about gardening!).  Think of this as “compost time.“  Talk about how a seed grows.  Talk about how long it takes, the necessary components (sun, water, healthy soil).  Have your child help you decide where to plant and do some weeding, together.  Remind each other that a garden takes work, but is more fun with a friend!  When it comes time to actually prepare your garden, don’t forget to add real compost and work it into the soil. 

Choose the right seeds or seedlings:  Take your children to the nursery with you and  let them pick a few things they really want to grow, but be realistic about the space you have as well as the feasibility.  A peach tree will not grow well here, but you could probably grow some carrots or easy flowers like sunflowers.  When choosing seeds or seedlings, consult your local nursery for quick growing, cold-resistant varieties.  If one of your little “seeds” is not interested in gardening, don’t force it.  He may enjoy it later in the summer when it’s time to harvest! 

Planting: Find a sunny spot, and do let your children help with this part.  It is very challenging to not follow behind them and straighten out their rows or re-space their seeds, but let them have a space that is their own to plant as they like.  Then make sure they respect your part of the garden as well!  By letting them own a bit of earth in your big garden (or maybe just a pot on the porch) you are letting them grow, too, in responsibility, stewardship and a love for the outdoors.

Water and Feed:   If you don’t have sprinklers or a timer, make sure to water your little garden everyday.  Kids need water, too, so please soak them liberally.  This works best if you don’t mind getting a little soaked, too.  Feed your plants and your children healthy nutritious food.  Vegetables and flowers (especially tomatoes) need lots of nutrients to grow.  Little people need more nutrients in the summer, too. 

  It’s time to enjoy all that hard work!  Your little gardener has sprouted his own fruit and is ready to share it with the world.  Flowers make lovely gifts for friends and family or just to have around the house.  Have your child help you harvest flowers and vegetables, and don’t be a stickler about washing everything first- there is something very satisfying about enjoying something right off the plant.   Even the most reluctant herbivore cannot resist munching on something he grew himself.

A final word: Don’t forget to warn your friends if you’re planning to drop a truckload of zucchini on their porch.  Zucchini blossoms are delicious, too.  Enjoy the sun and have some fun!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just TRY not to dance along!

Here's a fun little video, just out, from Barefoot Books.  Share it with the kids in your life! 

Monday, March 1, 2010

O Blow Thou Winter WInd

Where oh where has winter gone?  Here in Central Oregon winter seems to have passed us by.  No massive piles of snow in the yard and forts, tunnels and slides carved of ice and snow are a thing of years past (though we did enjoy some fun sliding on the snow, this year).

Winter often signifies death, hibernation and rest.  That time of rest has been welcomed and enjoyed by our family, though it seems to be passing too quickly.  Spring has taken an early jump into our yard (the daffodils, tulips and crocuses concur) as well as into our lives.  Much change is on the horizon for us.  We are taking advantage of the housing market (Bend, OR is the worst in the nation for housing deflation) to buy our first home.  We could be moving as early as six weeks from our home of the past three years.  Also, we are expecting our second child this summer.  On top of that, we've recently received news that my husband has congenital arthritis in both hips and needs hip replacement surgery (he's only 32!).  We're facing difficult and significant struggles in our immediate family, as well.  Change is usually good, but it can be challenging.

After a difficult winter for so many of losing homes, jobs and livelihood, I'd love to hear what is springing forth in  your lives, now.  Does spring promise renewal of old dreams, or simply a change in scenery?  Are the crocuses blooming in your hearts as you face the new year or are you anticipating an overgrowth of weeds?  Or are you expecting a few more months of winter?  Share your heart, here, friend- let's see where we are headed, together!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homeschooling Mom Confesses Desk Fetish

If you didn't know already, I'm secretly an in-the-closet-organizer, though my closet would probably argue differently.  I'm here to share a secret.  I've found a new outlet for all this pent-up Martha Stewart energy:  Homeschooling.  It's starting to feel as exciting to me as the first day of school did when I was 8.  The smell of books, pencils and glue; and of course the feeling of learning something new.  Organizing my desk for the first day of school was a task I always loved most of all, at least until I reached the age of accountability:  locker and binder organization. Ahhhh... (did you join me on that one?).  Who doesn't remember the first day at Middle School (or Junior High), being handed your first *gulp* locker combination!

I digress.

There are no lockers here at our house, but there is a new (to us) flip-down desk, painted robin-egg blue.  We inherited it from my grandmother who acquired it somewhere around 1945. 
The best part about the new desk was having June help me put all her homeschool supplies in the cubbies: glue sticks, scissors, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, paper, stickers... so fun!

Tomorrow is "Gg" day.  We're learning about giants, goodnights, geese, grace and God as well as enjoying green grapes and green beans... who said homeschooling isn't fun?  Not me!