A New Life After Loss

By , August 13, 2014 4:12 pm
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Feeling very Earth Motherly at the potential new homestead
(photo credit: Kelley Baker Ewert)

 

I vacillate wildly between accepting that there is a plan and purpose to our time here on Earth…to the other extreme that there is only chaos unless we create order through our choices. So, as you can imagine, I have a hard time accepting change and loss and flux in my life. I either have an unseen, unknown Creator to blame. Or myself. And yes, I am totally oversimplifying for the sake of brevity. There are some nuanced and subtle variations of grey in these dichotomies at times. But for the most part I have struggled with finding meaning in loss. Unfairness really chaps my ass. Uncertainty invokes anxiety. I am not alone in these feelings, I think they may be the unofficial motto of all westerners. Hashtag First World Problems, amirite?

So of course I had to get out my Poor Me World-View Microscope™ to analyze our most recent pregnancy loss and find THE cause— THE reason —THE place to direct blame. After a hasty assessment, I had to come to the conclusion that the blame was with me: my age, my health, my greed and desire to have more blessings than I deserved. It was an easy conclusion to come to during a time of pain. The loss was an extremely difficult one:  I had a 10-hour labor– without the help of Sir Hubby– alone with the kids. I had several incidents of severe hemorrhaging that left me rattled and weak. I was too light-headed to drive safely for some time. It was all of the worst aspects of bad timing for our family mixed with personal loss and coping with the unexpected.

But there were blessings woven within the pain as well: the outpouring of love from friends and family meant the world to me. I have no regrets about sharing our pregnancy news even though there was (and always is) the chance for a loss. We set up our village to be exactly that: a resource of acceptance and community during the joyous times and sharing the burden of the hard times.

What I didn’t expect was to have multiple opportunities fall into our laps directly following our loss. Plans for our future seemed pretty steady-as-she-goes: we would probably continue to live in our house…possibly buy it and build an addition if we needed to. We had given up finding our perfect home and property. Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are  felt like a sensible bet. Forever dreaming about our future while whittling away the joys of our today seemed silly in the face of having so many blessings in our lives: healthy kids, careers we thrive in, friends and family…our cups runneth’d over. We had even begun the process of figuring out what sort of an offer we would be putting in for our current home. We hired an appraiser, we were looking at zoning maps, we contacted the planning board to find out about fencing and building options. And while not overwhelmed with excitement about living here long-term, we began to fall into a comfort zone with the idea. It was prudent and safe and simple and we could ease into it as we welcomed a new baby without huge upheaval.

But then there was no more baby to plan for.

A few real estate listings crossed my path as I was recovering. Our good friends were on the lookout on our behalf as well. Sir Hubby followed up on every single one of them and we found them lacking in one way or another: too far away, no mineral rights, no internet service (Sir Hubby’s job depends on this, it IS what allows us to live the lifestyle we choose to live), or outrageous taxes. We felt like giving due diligence to looking one last time before we settled on staying was prudent. And I was feeling unsettled. Without a pregnancy to plan around, without a baby to plan for…our options just opened up again and maybe this house wasn’t the smartest option, just the safest one during a time when I felt vulnerable and sought security.

There was a place that had shown itself several times over the last year of property searching. The pictures of it were less than encouraging. The price was good but just slightly out of our reach. The location was iffy. It didn’t call to us in any way. We kept it on our list, but never followed up with it until after the loss. One visit and we knew we wanted it. A few days later, some amazing business opportunities literally knocked on Sir Hubby’s door. We are only at the halfway mark of both of these new endeavors. We have no proof that they will work out. We are uncertain about our future as of today. But I can’t help but recognize that none of these blessings would be on our radar without the loss that came before them. I would have been preparing for birthing and having a babymoon right now, not contemplating a total upheaval of our lives to renovate a one bedroom, one bath cabin into a home for our family. No way would I have told Sir Hubby to go for it when these new business ideas presented themselves. There is zero chance I would have consented to taking a leap of faith like this in both our home and our business lives at the same exact time if there was a baby in my belly or in my arms right now. I am just not wired to take chances when my hormones are on Full Throttle Maternal Mode.

I cannot say whether these events fall into the category of things that are happening TO us or BECAUSE of us. Did these blessing come to us because we have worked hard and sought them out? Are these rewards the natural consequence of the life we have been leading up until now? Are we just clued in to the type of opportunities that are more likely to work out? Was this always in the plans, but the universe knew I would not be on board with following through because of a new baby? I trust that these will be questions I ponder for some time to come. But there is a small part of me that somehow knows our baby decided to give us the time to figure it all out. We have been trying to have a new baby since last summer and have had 3 losses in that time. Consciously diverting my energy to being content and happy exactly where we are at didn’t give me the baby we were dreaming of. Instead, it gave us gifts we had given up as being options. Our loss has brought us an entirely different life to grow and nurture and pour our love into. We have given up on TTC for the time being. I do not know if we will revisit this in the months to follow or not. I have a feeling that like all of the incredibly meaningful blessings in my life, a new baby will most likely arrive when I am least likely to be planning for it.

 

How We Night Weaned

By , June 13, 2014 9:33 am

With my first five kids I left night weaning for last. It seemed like such an easy way to handle night wakings.  And it seemed (rightly so) to be the hardest nursing sessions to give up. But of course they just started ramping up their night nursing to make up for the missed ones in the day. Toddlers don’t mind missing the day sessions: there are toys and food and dogs and chickens and episodes of their favorite shows during the day. Day weaning is easy. So I took the low hanging fruit. But night time became a living hell.

More and more nursing…less and less sleep. So with Mars (six time’s a charm!) I decided to night wean as soon as I noticed he would easily be distracted from a once-beloved day time session; which was about 15 months. He had clear words and signs to express himself. He understood our words and directions. Having phrases and rituals that accompanied the start of nursing and the end of a session were important for us even in the day time. “One minute na na” became our phrase for “you may latch on for a minute or two, but I will ask you to latch off soon” he would nod his head and put up one finger to indicate he understood the terms before latching on. After he had a little milk, I would tell him “we are going to latch off in one minute” and he would nod and put up his finger again. After another minute I would say “we are latching off in 10, 9, 8…3, 2, 1… Latch off please!” And sometimes he objected and I might need to repeat my request in a firmer tone and shift my body to indicate that I was preparing to vacate my seat…but very often he would happily latch off and scamper off to play.

Nursing session that were intended to produce naps or were allowed to be as long as he liked were called “Bed Bed na na’s” and meant laying down, body contact, blankets…the whole comfy deal either in bed or someplace cozy. He still craved the unlimited contact with me that he had been getting at night from nursing, so giving him that on my terms during the day allowed us both to get our needs met.

So, what does ANY of this have to do with night weaning? With our clear communication since 15 months, it became easy for him to understand that nursing had some boundaries and that we negotiated before the session so the expectations were clear on both ends. Going to bed was a Bed Bed session. Subsequent wakings were one minute sessions and latch off meant rolling over to face away from me or going to daddy, but latching off had to happen. And he got it pretty quickly!

So then we began introducing the “Not Now. See Daddy” session and Sir Hubby committed himself to doing what it took to comforting him: singing, walking, a cup or bottle of coconut milk, warm tea, or water.

So I picked my times:

Bedtime = A long Bed Bed session.

Before midnight = One session of one minute.

12-6am = Daddy.

6-8am another one minute if he woke.

So by 17 months Mars didn’t ask for nursing at night. Or when he did, he was very quickly and easily redirected to see Daddy or even sometimes would simply go back to sleep. The key was our daytime nursing communication and trust! He knew he could count on me to mean what I said, to communicate clearly with him, and to be respectful of my own boundaries AND his needs.

When Birth Servants Are Pregnant

By , May 28, 2014 12:17 pm
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Lovingly attending a radiant momma during her pregnancy.

Being a birth servant who is also pregnant can get pretty… complicated.

I am fully confident assuring the families I work with that their normal pregnancy symptoms and feelings are:

  • 100% valid
  • Statistically unlikely to be serious
  • Likely resolved with rest, hydration, nutrition, or a tincture of time

I understand and accept that they are experiencing a real symptom and deserve acknowledgement and validation of their concerns. I also work hard to assist them in creating a plan of action to restore their comfort if at all possible. It is my goal to support and assist them on this empowering part of their pregnancy journey. I truly empathize with their feelings and want to help them feel as joyous, vibrant, and healthy as possible.

So why do I wring my hands in helpless anxiety over every single one of my own (valid, unlikely to be serious, and likely resolvable) pregnancy symptoms?

Fatigue? Oh no! I must be absolutely depleted of all minerals and vitamins! I am probably sucking the marrow out of my very own bones to build a placenta! Gah! 

Nausea? My hormone levels must be completely effed! Surely I have been impregnated with two sets of triplets! Or worse, my liver is so damaged that  it is a a shriveled up old husk turning to dust in my abdomen!

Achy Pelvis?  Ectopic Pregnancy! Miscarriage! Tumors!!!! Placental accreta!

Or even more likely than the worry is the total dismissal accompanied by disrespectful self-talk:

You should toughen up. It’s not like you haven’t done this before.

Buck up and eat some protein.

Oh great. It’s only a few months in and you can’t even practice what you preach. Good luck with the birthing process. 

 

So what gives with all of the pregnancy self-bashing? Why would I be consider myself to be any less worthy of validation and self-care than the other lovely expectant women I see each week?

I am not sure that I have *the* answer, but I think that there is the self-perception as a birth professional that having negative or challenging symptoms somehow means I am failing at pregnancy. Surely if herbal, nutritional, and peaceful gestation advice is sufficient to prescribe for other mommas, then I just must be failing to do it enough myself if I still have any symptoms. As if knowledge were an anecdote to suffering from biological mechanisms within the body.

I belong to a few boards that consist of other birth professionals. Many of us do similar things. Most of us are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are carrying twins or triplets. That our symptoms are absolutely and bizarrely abnormal. We are probably having breech babies. We are certainly measuring way too big and feeling movement way before we should.

As happy as we are to be expecting Seven of Nine (our nickname for this 7th baby in our nine member family!) I want to put this energy out there for myself and for any other birth servants who are doing the same thing as I am: Let’s treat ourselves as enthusiastically, lovingly, and kindly as the families we serve.  I would never measure a mommas belly and exclaim “You are HUGE! It must be triplets!” or sneer at her complaints of fatigue or nausea while accusing her of not trying hard enough. I would never imply that she was not making a big enough effort to *affirmation* her way out of physical symptoms. I would look that momma in the eye, marvel at her beautiful roundness, and declare that she was measuring perfectly to allow her baby to grow. I would advise her to re-frame discomfort as a sign to rest and rejuvenate. I would remind her to surround herself with loving thoughts and to wash her baby’s emerging DNA in radiance.

So, Sisters, if you see me looking a little green around the gills or pushing myself further than I should, would you ask me what I am doing to care for myself?  Have I eaten in the last 7 hours? (I can tell you the answer is of course not) Would you be willing to step into the role of midwife or doula for a few minutes and make sure I am not being too hard on myself? All of these lessons are part of my ongoing and ever-enlightening education as a servant to other families.

 

 

 

Breaking News

By , May 14, 2014 2:28 pm

d87c5ab57f7be3fdfadc5a15b4ace7b2I’ve recently announced our NEW pregnancy to family and friends. I have a Pinterest Board for this pregnancy already. It is a “Life Event” on my Facebook Timeline. My grandma knows. It is pretty Official at this point. With a capitol ‘O’.

So why the Early Bird reveal?

Our culture tends to accept that “sharing the good news too early” is not a great idea. What if something goes wrong? What if you have an early loss? Won’t it be awkward to tell people?

Mainstream pregnancy websites like Parenting and Baby Center provide some pros and cons of the timing of announcements. But the pros are few and the fears are many for the Early Bird Revealers. So much emphasis on potentially uncomfortable social interactions with co-workers and so little on support, community, and loving relationships. I find it disturbing that so many humans are sharing significant amounts of time and space and energy with people they have no true rapport with. Hiding your vulnerability and authentic self  from so many people for so many hours a day seems exhausting. What message is it sending to your baby about the type of world they are preparing to be born into? They talk more about hiding your “poochy belly” (nice body shaming happening there, see? My gawd…someone in your office might think that you ate ice cream and skipped Pilates class if they see you with a new pooch) than they do about reminding you that your rapidly developing baby is more important then the body-snob gossiper who answers phones in accounting.

Why would I want to keep a secret from people who care about me? Why would I want to endure a loss without the love and support of my family and friends? Why would I want to surround this little bundle with negative energy that screams ”you are not important enough to acknowledge…let’s see if you stick before we invest in you”  Knowing what we now know about the science of epigenetics– which accepts that carefully orchestrated chemical reactions in a growing organism activate and deactivate parts of the DNA genome– why would I want any emotional chemicals other than oxytocin shaping this baby’s genetics? The science is clear on the effects of stress hormones on a growing life:

The fetal environment can be altered if stress in the mother changes her hormonal profile, and in humans, there is a strong correlation between maternal and fetal cortisol levels….It is suggested that extra vigilance or anxiety, readily distracted attention, or a hyper-responsive HPA axis may have been adaptive in a stressful environment during evolution, but exists today at the cost of vulnerability to neurodevelopmental disorders. (abstract here)

Cortisol appears to cross the placenta and thus may affect the fetus and disturb ongoing developmental processes. The development of the HPA-axis, limbic system, and the prefrontal cortex are likely to be affected by antenatal maternal stress and anxiety. The magnitude of the long-term effects of antenatal maternal anxiety/stress on the child is substantial. Programs to reduce maternal stress in pregnancy are therefore warranted. (abstract here)

Let me repeat that last bit : Programs to reduce maternal stress in pregnancy are therefore warranted. The very first Essential Truth  from The Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children states: A child who is nurtured in the womb of a healthy, loving, and tranquil mother receives the best possible start in life. Oh, this is the crux of my work with families. Knowing how incredibly important it is to surround MotherBaby with support drives my passion to do more. To advocate more. To demand more. To expect more for myself and my pregnancy because it is good for our entire culture when babies are born with a well-wired brain, secure attachments, and a mother who is supported.

So, yes. I have broken our news early along with a social rule or two. I’m not much for norms anyhow.

It’s okay if you have kept your early pregnancy private. It’s okay if you will keep a future pregnancy private. These are all personal choices that no one should be commenting on outside of the partnership that created the pregnancy. I am not trying to convince you that an early reveal results in smarter babies or healthier pregnancies or happier mothers. Personally, I am happier knowing that my loved ones understand that I am tired and don’t assume I’m being rude or uncaring when I choose rest instead of activity. I am happiest knowing that I do not have to pretend like my nausea isn’t happening around certain social groups. I am happiest wearing my stretchy skirts and not squishing myself into spanx or wearing billowy shirts or trying to get an extra month of wear out of my regular jeans by holding them together with stretchy gadgets. I am simply sharing what I do know: whatever will bring you peace and tranquility is what is best for your pregnancy. Make your choice to announce or not based on YOU, not on social norms that may or may not apply to you.  I support the choice that brings you and your baby peace.

Suggested Reading: 

51x19IDSxgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Conscious Conception: Elemental Journey through the Labyrinth of Sexuality 

Conscious Conception is an alternative exploration into understanding personal fertility, as well as a comprehensive guide to discovering newfound meaning in our sexuality. Combining knowledge of myth and culture, authors Jeannine Parvati Baker and Frederick Baker offer a step-by-step manual of fertility awareness, depth psychology, and psychic birth control and interweave the five elements—Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether—as tools for discovery in the face of reproductive challenges. Including numerous contributions from experts in the field, the book investigates a broad range of topics, from the causes of infertility to the spiritualization of sexuality. Conscious Conception urges us to see all of the possibilities in life’s plan of continuation and to seek a clearer communion with our own reproductive .

 

Master Tonic aka Fire Cider: For Your Health!

By , March 27, 2014 10:01 pm
Freshly Made Anti-Plague Formula!

Anti-Plague Formula! Fire Cider! Master Tonic! Whatever you call it, viruses don’t stand a chance against it!

Want to keep your family healthy? This is an incredibly powerful way to heal your gut, bolster your immune system, and colonize your body with kick-ass pro-bugs. After this is ready, we bottle it up and use it in our salad dressing (mix a tad of balsamic and maple syrup…amazing!) We use it as a marinade for venison and other local, sustainable meats. I also make a warm honey-lemon tea and add a spoonful of this for everyday use. Even the baby will drink it that way!

So, here’s whatcha need to make it yourself! (I got the original recipe from Heal Thyself and have added a few personal touches along the way!)

  • 1 part fresh chopped garlic cloves (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitical)
  • 1 part fresh chopped white onions, or the hottest onions available (similar properties to garlic)
  • 1 part fresh grated horseradish root (increases blood flow to the head)
  • 1 part fresh grated ginger root (increases circulation to the extremities)
  • 1 part fresh grated horseradish root (increases blood flow to the head and sinuses)
  • 1 part fresh chopped Cayenne peppers, Jalapenos, Serranos, Habeneros….any combination of the hottest peppers available
  • 1 part fresh cilantro (binds to heavy metals and helps remove them from your body and is a powerful anti-inflammatory)

Preparation

I use a full cup of each of these ingredients…but I am making a gallon of master tonic for a family of six.  I begin this formula on the NEW moon and bottle on the FULL moon, (approximately 14 days). I do this on the last new moon of September so that it is ready for the fall cold and flu season. I begin another batch on the first new moon of the new year since we are almost out of our fall batch by then.

Fill a glass jar with equal parts of the fresh chopped/grated ingredients.  Then cover completely with raw unfiltered, undistilled apple cider vinegar (aka ACV). I use Brags ACV.

Close and shake vigorously. Top off with more ACV if necessary. Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks.

Shake or swirl the tonic daily.

On day 14 you can filter the mixture through a clean piece of cotton straight into smaller mason jars for storage (I make a few jelly jar sized ones since I know I will end up gifting folks with a few over the months!) After straining it will keep indefinitely at room temperature. Store in a dark place if possible (I keep mine in my herb cabinet with all of the other tinctures) I feed the leftover strained pulp to my chickens. 

Dosage:
1/2 to 1 ounce, two or more times daily, as needed.

Free Range Kids. Sort of.

By , March 25, 2014 8:48 am
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The three littles and the two dogs on their way to our little patch of woods.

We live on 1.5 acres of land. It is not our land. It is not our house. It’s a rental. It is in a crappy location–too close to the road. Too close to the stores and the gas stations and the highway. Not the ideal situation for raising free-range kiddos.

But it does have a patch of woods with a creek running through it.

This little corner– this 1/4 acre of unmanicured, unmowed, undeveloped land is why we said “this’ll do” to making this our home. Not our dream home. Not even our daydream home. But the home where–for right now– our kids can roam, and pretend, and build bridges. Make fires. Wield sticks. Make forts. Dig holes. Grow things. Unearth treasures. Catch crayfish. Climb trees. Lay in the sun. Ride sleds. Raise chickens. Run with dogs. Roll in the grass. Get hurt. Yes, get hurt. Fall. Bleed. Cry. Dust themselves off, take a deep breath, and try again. Hold out their hand to one another and ask for help when they can’t do it themselves.

And to make it all even better, our neighbor across the creek has a handful of amazingly fun kiddos who participate in the outdoor merrymaking with our crew. And also they have chickens. And a pig.

With recent articles (here and here and here) floating around about the ongoing conflict of balancing safety with free play, this topic has been on my mind a lot. I get it. I really do. We all do not—and probably cannot— live on acres of wooded land, miles and miles away from the perils of the city. Not all of our neighborhoods are safe places to allow children to roam free. But practically, I bet we can all make a few choices in our everyday lives that will allow for less structure, more autonomy, more confidence, and less parental interference. We all must balance safety and free play. For instance, despite our free-ranging outdoor play in the yard, I don’t permit my older kids to ride their bikes up to the nearby store. Not because I am worried that they cannot handle themselves at the store (they could) but because the traffic situation is unsafe. So, I find ways to give them more autonomy in public spaces so they can get some of the experience without the dangerous bike ride. It’s not the total free-range solution that many of us had growing up. But it’s a start. In what ways and in what spaces can YOU provide more freedom?

Mother Blessings

By , July 9, 2013 12:46 am

A belly cast, flower crown, and blessing necklace...

I am now offering professional Mother Blessing planning and hosting.

I will help expectant mothers (or their friends and family) plan a beautiful and thoughtful Mother Blessing! You will be able to custom-create the perfect blessing ceremony to honor the momma-to-be and the sweet baby she is about to meet.

Previous Mother Blessings have included some of the following:

  • Smudging Ceremony
  • Creation of Prayer Flags
  • Birthing Necklace
  • A fresh Flower Crown for Momma
  • Weaving a Web of Blessings
  • Belly Casting
  • Belly Henna
  • Dancing For Birth with Krista Meyers
  • Signing up for a Meal Train
  • Babymoon Planning

Please contact me to learn more about how I can help you plan the perfect MotherBlessing! Fees will vary depending on location and types of services requested. But I strive to make all things affordable and accessible! Write to me at MotherBlessing@StateoftheHeat.net

Radiantly You Review & Giveaway!

By , January 31, 2013 9:57 pm

We have a pretty firm policy at our house: If you can’t eat it, you should not be putting it on your body. More and more families are adopting this policy, too. This goes double for mommas while they are pregnant & lactating and also for babies & kids, who cannot afford to waste energy or resources compensating for toxins when they need to be growing brains and bodies. That is why I cannot say enough good things about the products from Radiantly You. Melissa has focused her passion for transforming lives into this ever expanding line of beauty, health and cleaning products. I was lucky enough to try out four of the fantastic body care products:

Calendula Baby Butt Balm - GMO & Petroleum Free

Homemade Soap - Organic Sweet Orange Vanilla with Orange Peel

Whipped Body Butter - Mango Coconut

Vanilla Coconut Lip Balm

Luxurious is the very first word that came to mind. Opening up the package was a sensory experience in itself. Delicious scents that are not made of scary frankenchemicals! Beautifully packaged and presented! These items are not simply for pampering yourself, they are exactly the kind of gift that others would LOVE to get (nudge wink wink to all of you looking for a lovely Valentine’s Day gift this month!) I’m all for luxury, but more than that, I am all about quality. And these products deliver both.

With forced-air heat this winter, we have all had our share of chapped lips and dry skin in our house. The baby (now 7 months old) especially has been struggling with dry skin issues. It felt wonderful to know that I could use ANY of these products on his skin without worry! Right away we busted out the Calendula Baby Butt Balm and by the end of the day his chapped bottom and thighs were soft as…well, as a baby’s bottom! We also all used some of the Lip Balm several times throughout the day and loved the light scent and the wonderfully smooth application. It also looks great over a lip stain as a gloss! Before bed, all of the kids were treated to some of the Homemade Soap during their bath. Even the kids, who normally don’t care what sort of soap we are using on them, commented on the rich, foamy lather and the amazing smell. Post-bath massages with the Whipped Body Butter proved to be a lovely experience for them AND for my dry hands! After everyone was tucked in, I treated myself to the same (well, not the tushy balm ;) ) and was not disappointed! The biggest endorsement though? Sir Hubby loves each of these products, too! These truly are products that the entire family can use.

More than anything. Melissa and I want YOU and YOUR family to feel as radiant and healthy as you deserve to feel! Use this Rafflecoptor link to enter to win ANY PRODUCT from the Radiantly You Etsy store. Contest runs for one week from February 1, 2013 until midnight on February 8, 2013. Winner will be contacted via email or facebook  on February 9, 2013.

Enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

Nix The Paper Review

By , January 21, 2013 11:24 pm

Maybe it is just our family, but we generate a TON of paper mess in our house. Bug, T-Bird, and Little Chief spend 87% of their day creating works of art, maps, notes, comic strips, stories, graphs, signs, charts, instructions, codes, recipes, origami, and projects of all sorts with PAPER. We re-purpose and reuse as much as any human possibly can, and thankfully our township has single-stream recycling and we can easily ensure that the paper reaches a facility where (hopefully) additional post-consumer magic happens. But, from a human energy perspective, I can tell you that I sorta kinda despise finding all of this paper waiting for me 46 times a day.

This is like 3 minutes worth of paper generation in my house. It. Never. Stops.

Of course we have spent tons of time trying to devise complicated and Pinterest-worthy systems for deciding which art work makes it to the coveted “fridge” spot; which pieces get entered into the homeschool folder; and which pieces simply get used as kindling or stuffed into the recycling.  I would be lying if I said any of these systems has lasted more than a week. I’d also be stretching the truth if I said that I have not just gathered up an entire pile of drawings and stuffed them into the bottom of the trashcan after everyone has gone to bed. Dealing with all the paper around here could be a full time job. But a full time job that makes you want to pull all of your hair out and drink wine before noon. Okay, I’m being hyperbolic, but I am simply trying to convey how much blood, sweat, and tears has gone into picking up paper in my house: big sheets, little sheets, colored sheets, graph paper, computer paper, newspaper, paper bags, envelopes (oh dear, the envelopes…) paper, paper, paper. I really buy into the idea that providing plenty of material and resources for kids to be creative with is a vital for learning and mastering many skills, but sometimes I cringe at the amount of waste despite our “green” efforts. And did I mention that it kind of drives me batty to have 67 paper messes to clean up per day?

Deluxe in owl print and pocket-sized in robot print. Adorable!

That is why I was so excited to see these incredibly innovative Washable Coloring Books from my friend Nichole at Nix The Paper *. First of all, the only thing I like more than supporting WAHM’s is supporting WAHM’s who are also really groovy people! Second, these things are adorably cute. I am a sucker for textiles of all sorts, but fabric really makes me giddy. However, when I got them in my hands, the thing that REALLY impressed me was the fantastic quality and attention to detail in the construction. We got one of the smaller Pocket Sized Washable Coloring Books (5″x5″ $7.50 each) done up in adorable robot fabric and a bigger Deluxe Washable Coloring Book ($25 with 6 coloring pages!) in a bright owl fabric. Both books came with a supply of chalk-crayons in the built-in pouch and a special microfiber cloth for wiping the surfaces clean before starting over again. Both have wipeable  white coloring pages and also blackboard style pages. Right away the kids loved comparing and contrasting how the different colors looked when they were on the different backgrounds.

Checking 'em out for the first time!

An entire 25 minutes of mess-free artwork? Priceless.

Little Chief is totally impressed that his blue crayon works on the black page!

We still generate some paper around here, don’t get me wrong. But if given the option, the littles prefer to use these fun alternatives instead. They really seem to enjoy being able to erase only what they choose to erase, which makes “editing” their work a possibility now instead of starting all over again with a new sheet of paper.

Full Disclosure: I need to mention that my kids would fall into the “rugged” category when it comes to the things they play with… and they have yet to ruin these coloring books after 2 whole weeks of use.  That is endorsement enough as far as I am concerned! The fact that they are also cute enough to take everywhere is another bonus since most places we frequent are probably pretty sick of my kids stealing napkins and coupon flyers to draw on while we spend money there.

These Washable Coloring Books are at the top of my gift-giving options for birthdays this year, for sure! Be sure to check out Nix The Paper on Facebook for more fabric options (you can get a customized book!) and other fantastic products like Cloth Diapers and Homeopathic Remedy Rolls!

*I was given these products at no charge in order to review them. The review is entirely my own genuine experience. A positive review was not expected or required by Nix The Paper. Thank you to Nichole for giving me the opportunity to promote and support her work!

Girl Talk Workshops

By , December 6, 2012 4:54 pm

The summer session is scheduled to begin on July 13th 2013. Girl Talk’s goal is to empower, educate, and support 9-17 year old girls as they journey toward womanhood. This 6-week course will cover the biology, the history, the legacy, the commercialization, and the power of the female menstrual cycle while creating community and a safe space. Each class will be $20 or the entire course will be $100 if pre-paid. The fee includes supplies as well as ongoing support long after the course is complete! To register for the class or buy a gift certificate for a young lady in your life, please write to me at GirlTalk@stateoftheheart.n et

This Girl Talk Workshop is the class you WISH you had taken when you were young! Join me for this 6 week course on menstruation;  honoring their femininity; finding their power; discovering traditions from history and other cultures; creating self-empowering rituals; and embracing their authentic selves!
This Girl Talk Workshop will be facilitated by me, Justine Julian! My educational background includes anthropology, sociology, psychology and theatre. My professional training is in parent education,  pregnancy & childbirth support, midwifery, and child development.  My most important training and experience has been spent “in the field” while parenting my own 6 children over the last 24 years (including a fantastic 18 year old daughter who has taught me tons about the complicated and amazing journey into womanhood).
We will also be joined by Kathryn Hamilton who is a Fertility Awareness Method facilitator. She has also studied herbalism with Susun Weed and is a passionate advocate for healthy body image and body awareness for young women in our culture.
****While this workshop will be about very intimate aspects of womanhood, this particular workshop will NOT cover topics like sexual education. All of the material we cover in class will be age appropriate for girls in the 9-17 age range. Additional resources or internet pages may be sent home for YOU to research or share with the student to facilitate further discussion and ongoing learning. Some of these resources MAY incidentally contain more mature subject material.

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