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Friday, May 29, 2015

Do You Believe in Magic? Looking at the World Through a Child's Eyes



We went to Sesame Place last week. During one of the craziest, crowded, most insane weekends I've ever been there (and I have had a season pass for 5 years!) While we were waiting in line (out the door) to go to the bathroom there were some of those claw machines. You know the kind where you move the joystick to position the claw and hit the button to watch it descend while hoping it will grab a stuffed animal by the limb and hold onto it for dear life until it gets to the exit door. Yep, that one. The kids were so so so so so so so excited to give this a try. In their minds they were incredibly likely to win - how could they not? Just grab and go, right? "I want that Bert behind the glass. He's right here. So close I can almost touch him. All I have to do is move the robot arm like in a video game and I rock at video games. I'm sure to win." 

There is so much magic there. In the hope my children express every day. When they ask to have another treat. When they anticipate the arrival of the toothfairy. When they watch a butterfly, hear the birds, jump into the pool, "try out a dance move and make it look just like the people on tv." They wholly believe they CAN DO IT. They show me glimpses of a world far less jaded than the adult perspective I find myself falling into, I wonder where or when that hope dissipated in the first place.

I've always been a benefit-of-the-doubter (even when people don't really deserve it). I've always been sort of knowingly naive (though that sounds like an oxymoron, I'm not using it as such). 

Does hope stray when your brain develops? Becomes more organized, more connected? Does magic fade when you test your incredible ideas to failure? Because my children seem to hold onto this hopeful notion even the 78th time they jump off the couch and don't actually fly. Is it only when it fails time and time again that we replace the theory of hope with the seed of doubt and hopelessness? Does imagination dwindle when others start telling us magic doesn't exist? Or does it disappear when thoughts turn from ideas into the less-than-optimistic pieces of reality in our day-to-day lives? When we listen to only our head and never our hearts? Life is filled with both magical moments and really hard minutes. Is hope just a feeling you have inside? Or is it a mindset? Is it merely a way of looking at those life-pieces? Is it genetic or can it be learned?

Many adults chalk up this way of thinking to "child's play" - as if to suggest it's unimportant. As if to say it's unproductive,  unreal, a waste of time. But is it? 

Some of the greatest, most innovative inventions came from notions that first seemed magical - impossible - intangible. 

Then why, as adults, do we let hope and magic whittle away? Why don't we spend time cultivating and embracing the power of "What-If"? Spend time in the magic-zone ? In FLOW (that space you get so caught up in time seems not to exist because you're so engaged)? 

I invite you to pause today. Ask a what if. Expand your boundaries. To the place of impossible. Unfathomable. Let hope seep in -- deep down -- and take root. Look at the world from a child's point of view and just bask in the beauty of magic and imagination.

My children have taught me more about myself and my world than I ever thought possible. 

My 4-year-old's drawing of an animal fairy.



My 4-year-old's drawing of Tinkerbell



Fairy Friends can be found at Mama May I

http://www.mamamayishop.com/products/fairy-friends



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Legacy Building - What do you Most Remember about the Characters in Your Childhood?



I have been thinking a lot lately about our legacies - the historical past that has shaped our life narratives. It takes a bit of pause and reflection to look back on your past and SEE the puzzle pieces of the narrative that lives within. So much of our experiences directly affect how we engage (or disengage) and interact with our world; how we internalize new input; how we assimilate new information; how we cope; how we feel; how we LOVE.

I have always known I've had a past. Mostly filled with love. Some bumps and hurts and growing pains along the way but mostly a positive bringing up. It wasn't until I began to look at the characters within my story that many of my story-lines, and common threads and themes began to make sense. 

I recently read an article in the NY-Times by Sarah Williamson in reference to children's real-life, story-narratives and how important they are for building and maintaining self esteem; cultivating a rich understanding of a child's family; providing a sense of belonging to a child within the bigger life picture; creating a sense of community; and installing a sense of BELONGING. ( http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html?_r=2&referrer )

As I'm reading this article and pondering my Life Story,  I'm wonder about the current narratives of my own little authors- who are building their life stories every day. Stories in which I am merely (and most wonderfully) a character. How freeing and exhaling is that? I cannot completely control the tale they are creating but I am certainly an influential character in each of their stories... And I wonder what my character will be. Control freak? Loving nurturer? Friend? Disciplinarian? Supporter? Advocate? Good cop? Bad cop? These are all ways in which I can play a role in my children's story but there are so so many. And to know I am many roles (and to know I can work to change my roles) is an empowering discovery. 

But what will they remember? When they look back on their lives, what will live on in my character?

I'm exploring the characters in my life's story and invite you to do the same, if you're into that kind of thing. 

To make it a more doable task I decided to write it in Pillow Book form. When I was a junior in high school I took a creative writing class and my teacher, Ms. Jessup taught us about Pillow Books Writing - a running list of items that fall under a certain category. In high school I wrote some silly ones like : 

Things I Want To Test In The Microwave 

and

10 Thing You Can Do With A Toothbrush

I also wrote some Get-me-through-the-day lists like:

10 Quotes That Inspire Me

10 Things I Love About ME

In this Legacy-Witnessing Challenge, my list is :

10 Things I Learned From {Insert Character's Name Here}

I started with my Grandma Dawn because I always think about her a lot this time of year. You can make your list longer or shorter (and can even offer this writing-style to your children!) the idea is that you do NOT have to write ALL the information down at once. You sit with the theme or subject line and allow your mind to wander and walk through it. As inspiration strikes you can add them to your list. {Often I am inspired in the shower and have a shower crayon handy to jot down shower-wall notes!} It's really a practice in allowing your intuition to guide you into your writing. I have found this to be a very useful tool in my mindfulness toolkit. 



Here is my list for my Grandma Dawn. I had not intended on it being so lengthy.... But here it is...in all my thought-processes.

1. Meals on Wheels
2. SOUP
3. Listen To The Animals
4. Long Nature Walks
5. Poopy, Poopy, Poopy
6. Wardrobe Shopping
7. People Watching
8. Mother's Day Flowers
9. Kid Friendly
10. Craft Shows!
11. Vacations In The Mountains

That's the short list. 


What do the characters in your legacy look like? 

What will your character traits be within the stories your little ones are making?

Love and Reflection to you all <3

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Power of Living An Uncropped Life


Inspired by this post: Behold, the power of cropping by Rachel Wolf 

http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2013/08/behold-the-power-of-cropping.html

Normally I try to get "the shot". The one with the perfect light and subject matter hitting just the right angle, creating interest and intrigue; mystery and curiosity; capturing the essence of one something perfectly. I have come to realize that all this perfectionism kind of  misses the much bigger picture. The messy big picture. Because, life is messy. And life is too short to wear masks and facades in an attempt to cover up and hide the reality {the humanity} in every day life. 

So, I have been slowing down....way down. I am still tapping into "the shot" but am trying to soak in the messy life all around me as well. The rawness of my moments. The comedy in life's imperfections. Instead of trying to control "the shot" I am trying to embrace the feelings, thoughts, and wisdom bestowed in each messy moment. I want to see it. All of it. Soak it all in. Breathe through it. Acknowledge my realities : however simple, big, messy, or beautiful they are....as just that...only that: a moment. And remind myself that those moments don't define me. 

I am not perfect. 

Many of my friends think I am. Some have pulled me aside and said things like "you're just so damn intimidating to me, as a Mom. You make it look so easy. How do you remain so calm?"

The truth is, I don't. 

Not always. I am messy beautiful, too. I have big dreams and big fears. I yell. I shout. I cry. I stomp. I sometimes growl. I breathe. And I say I'm sorry. 

They don't always believe me. Perspective taking, I can see how I might look zen from the outside. But inside I constantly question; berate; criticize; remind myself to JUST BREATHE (damnit!!).

... In an effort to remind myself that messy beautiful is okay too...in an effort to live my life more authentically ... Over the past year I have been posting FaceBook posts about the messier side of mothering. The untidy side of being me. The questions, queries, and struggles that are very real to my story. And, you know what? 

You haven't gone away. 

In fact, the posts about my truth get more views, more interactions, more Connection than most. That alone tells me that you need to hear the real life as much as I long to connect through sharing it. There is something human and powerful knowing that we are not the only ones going through the messier moments. We ALL have them.

That warms my heart in so many ways.

I would far rather connect with you over something meaningful and relevant in your life {however messy it may seem} than about what color nail polish you have on {though I completely appreciate a pedicure!!} You don't need to put your makeup or your bra on to show up here. 

Tell me your stories. Your beautiful truth. I will continue sharing mine. 

Today I was working on a new recipe post to share with you. It's yummy. It's delicious. It's vegetarian. And my kids ate it. 


But I wanted to share with you the chaos surrounding this shot. While I was making this delightful dish, my children were melting down and burning out the way the oil and garlic were burning on the stove. But I knew it was mostly out of HUNGER so I tried to remain cool while they screamed and tantrumed and I helped put each leg through pajama bottoms and hugged their little bodies {while in my head I was shaking them and pleading, please for the love of God stop screaming!!} But we made it through and dinner was finally served and now things have cooled off and here I am, reminding myself, of the messiness it took to get to the peaceful beauty of a homemade meal.


It seems so small, really. 




Friday, May 15, 2015

Mama May I play - Feature Friday


After spending a lot of time engaged in rainbows and sensory play outside this week, I couldn't help but feature the Flutterfly Streamers as our Friday Featured Product.


We keep ours in our rhythm and movement bin ( in the living room, near the tv ). They often put music on the tv by themselves and this is an easy-access point in our home for them to pump up their jam session with some movement exercises and play.


We also bring these cutie hand-kites outside to catch the wind. There is such a whimsical feathery feeling to watching the float against a bright blue sky. 


Each Flutterfly Streamer set comes in a pair. 2 wooden rings, each with three colors of silk attached. Red, orange, yellow on one ring (warm colors) and green, blue, purple (cool colors) on the other. You can use them as a pair, one on each hand, or take turns being the fire and the water.

You can buy the set from Mama May i here:

http://www.mamamayishop.com/products/flutterfly-streamers




Sunday, May 10, 2015

Banana Breakfast Cookies

You know that post from the @KidsActivitiesBlog that went around about "How to Make Breakast Balls"?

The original post and recipe can be found here: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/59088/breakfast-balls

The concept of Breakfast Balls absolutely intrigued me from mys first read. Packed with protein and healthy fats, it has been our go-to-breakfast of choice around here when we have little a.m. time (for over a month now!!) 


I LOVE how involved the kids are In making them. It's the perfect "experiment" type kitchen creations for little ones because you add a little this,- little that, your preference here, your favorite that and voila-instant deliciousness. They are more likely to eat things they've had a (messy) hand in making. 



We each make our own "flavors" when we make a big batch - we buy the nuts and dried goods in bulk and experiment with flavor mixtures. 


We've made this recipe (or a variation of) for play dates - each child made her own creation. She took them home but not before taste testing each concoction!


As much as we looooooooove this recipe as a base, we've had some failed attempts at creating the perfect hold-together consistency of the balls.



Here are some variations we have cooked up.

We found, to take the pressure off the ball formation, we could use mini cupcake tins instead of rolling the batches into balls. We press the mixture into each tin, cover, and put in the freezer for a few hours (or overnight) before popping them out and putting them in the storage bin. I personally find it easier than the stickiness of the ball-forming step. And I love that they are a consistent size / portion! 




Once (or twice) our balls failed to stick together (too much of the dried goodness!) We tried to freeze them and it helped until it thawed and then they crumbled again. Sooooo... we began rolling our bananas in the crumbles, and putting the bananas on a sticks. You can freeze them like this or eat them right away. They are so good and, I have found, any item "on a stick" is an instant hit in our house! 


Or you can add chocolate drizzle and stick the crumbles to the drizzle. Like a banana-sicle but with a high protein punch for dessert. 


One of our favorite variations: Banana Cookies!! First we cut the bananas in thick slices and then press the "cookies" into the crumbles - so the crumbles become the "sprinkles". They are portable, bite-able, delicious morsels that every member of my family can't get enough of. Yum!!


I hope you and your family enjoy these delicious morsels as much as we do



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mama May I Friday Feature Product - Silk Play Scarves



Mama May I play : Friday Feature Product!

Silkies - Silk Play Scarves. Each set comes with 6 different play scarves in a rainbow of colors. Silkies are available in large size (35" x 35") and small size (21" x 21"). 

My little ones play with these play scarves  e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y. We use them in movement and rhythm and dancing. We use then in pretend play (often the blue becomes the water when they play "going to the beach")...the green is often used as a farm playscapes when they are using their blocks. We use them in dress- up for costumes and fancy-wear. We use them to babywear! 


We use the to make baby hammocks and baby swings when playing "house". 


I love how versatile they are. I love how durable they are. I love how much softer they get with each play. I love that my 7-year-old enjoys playing with them as much as my 4 year old...as much as my 20-month old. These are absolutely a timeless, classic toy that will get loved and passed down with new imaginative and incentive ways to play through the years. 

What's your favorite way to play with play scarves? 

You can buy them at Mama May I Shop :
http://www.mamamayishop.com/search?q=Silkies


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Interview Free Printable

Last year for Father's Day I had my little ones answer some questions about Dad on video. I just recently came across the footage and absolutely love having these little dialogues about life and love recorded to look back on. Even as I was doing it for my partner last year, I had wished I had done it [for myself] for Mother's Day earlier in the year! This year, I am.

I have created a list of loving prompts for you to use: writing prompts for older children or verbal interview prompts if you are into videoing your little cuties. The printable is sweet enough to use as a Mother's Day card or in addition to some hand-picked wild-flowers; breakfast in bed; or set out next to Mom's bedside for her to find when she wakes up [because we are all going to let Mom SLEEP IN this Mama's Day, right??] Enjoy!

Happy Mother's Day!! <3


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Broccoli Chips - a Raw, Healthy, Crunchy, Snack Your Kids Will Eat



Broccoli. One of the green veggies I can consistently get my little ones to eat. Usually we eat it cooked. Sometimes dipped in hummus or homemade dressing. Almost always in stir fry. But rarely do we eat any part except the "crown".

Until recently.

While visiting with my Aunt a few weeks ago she told me about a crunchy snack using the "leftover" part of the broccoli stems: Chips.

This concept immediately got my attention. Anything that sounds like "party food" might win over my little eaters and add a new healthy snack to our rotation of raw and healthy offerings.

As I was about to throw out the rest of my broccoli stalk from my Chicken and Broccoli Crock Pot dinner earlier this week, I was reminded of our "broccoli chip conversation" and decided, instead of wasting the stems, I was going to repurpose them. Hey, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, right?


I dissected the stalks into chip-like thickness and sprinkled a little salt on them. I don't usually like raw broccoli but found this snack to be so crunchy and satisfying that my 7-year-old and I were fighting over the last broccoli chips on the plate. This will definitely be a continued tradition; using the broccoli crown leftovers for a crunchy snack!


A great way to prep for your healthful- eating week ahead!