I gave myself a #photochallenge this Summer. A collection of one-a-day shots that encompass, embrace, and exemplify #childhood - sometimes #raw - sometimes #magical - always #real. I want to put them together at the end of the #Summer as a flip video to reflect on the magic and wonder if these crazy crazy years - and the fleeting nature of our moments here together. Feel free to join me if snapping photos is your thing (mine will be from my iPhone because it's totally accessible) and I am going to keep a running album of this childhood Summer. 📷 use hashtag #mamamayiplay to share your photos and check on the real, raw moments of other families in our community 💗 I took this one today 💗 if you're interested, I would love to hear who's going to join me so I can make it a point to check out your photos too! Just comment "I'm in" or something to let me know! I am so looking forward to connecting more! 💗💗💗
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Life right now is super super super intense. Every direction I turn there are fires to put out and hands to hold...while I'm doing those immediate things, my to-do-list is growing exponentially. It's a lot. I look at the Long List and never know where to start. Usually, it's with urgency. But the other stuff kind of ends up in the non-urgent grouping and then halts because I don't know where to start; how to start; when to start. Halts because I (type A) like it to be perfectly scheduled, planned, and executed 300%. When I know I can't give a task or project my all it just kind of goes into the never-done category. So I am writing, saying, thinking this mantra: Good Enough IS a start. It doesn't have to be Perfect to get going. I mopped my floor last night, well enough. I scheduled what I could schedule and tied up loose ends well-enough to have made a dent on each of those lists. I taught a lesson well enough to be enjoyed by my children. Doing life well enough to fulfill my responsibilities and still try to enjoy life well enough. 💗 #mamamayi #mamamayishop #getstarted #getgoing #onestepatatime #parenting #adulting #grownupproblems #enjoylife #mindfulness #mindfulliving #heartbuilding #mantra
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Anxiety and how it affects me and Motherhood.
I am 32. For most of my life I had no idea I dealt with anxiety issues on the daily. It hasn't been until having children of my own; going through disconnection postpartum; feeling so overwhelmed I could barely breathe; and turning into a momster that I realized what I was truly dealing with. I began to invite some self care rituals into my life. And became more cognizant and less judgmental of the feelings that arose inside my mind and body. And while many of these feelings weren't, at first, connected with a verbalized emotion, my body and mind - almost on a molecular level - could feel these emotions - poignantly. The turbulence of certain situations. The heightened awareness. The processing of so so many things at the same time. Seeing them in my mind's eye .... Flooding .... I began to come to terms with my anxiety. Though, even that word doesn't seem to fully bring justice to the overall physiological sensation my body and mind go through when I am in the midst of it.
I thought all people just sensed and dealt with the world this way. I didn't realize this is MY normal, but not necessarily THE normal ... (What is normal anyway?) but now that I can see it I often wonder what it would be like to engage in the same situation without all.the.things. happening at the same time within me.
I wonder if a pill or a glass of wine before some of my "trigger situations" would do more help or harm for me overall. I wonder if being aware of it is enough to embrace the processing that happens simultaneously inside my body.
I know for sure that sleeplessness. Tiredness. Is a huge trigger for me. If I don't get enough sleep I am more at risk for these situations to feel overwhelming. But I have 3 children...the oldest is 8. And I am still a breastfeeding mama. I have been pregnant, nursing, and child-rearing now for nearly 9 years back-to-back. So, sleeplessness. Tiredness. Is basically my norm. I know it won't be forever, and it took a while for me to get to my breaking point, but when it did it went ba-boom. And now I know how important sleep is. I know when Lincoln is night-waking a lot that my anxiety triggers flare up. I know that lack of sleep and my emotional well-being are directly correlated.
I also know that Multi-tasking is a huge trigger for me. Which is interesting in a world that values the multi-tasking-abilities of women in particular. Until recently, I would have said that I was quite good at it. And, in many ways, I still am....in constructing a system of execution to get all the things done - I am phenomenal at. Buuuuuut, when glitches pop up (such as three little people, independently needing all the different things from me at the same time) while trying to be productive or efficient; my brain feels all wonky and I literally have to stop and remind myself, aloud or in my head, to breathe. The pressure I'm feeling is just a system overload. It's okay. It's like a bottleneck. All the things are queued up and I can't focus or do things quickly enough. But, really, who cares if one thing or the other needs to wait another five minutes? The sensation I get in my body, however, is that of extreme urgency. Emergency. All of a sudden all the things need to happen. Right. Now. And I find myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Yes, multi-tasking with uncontrollable variables is a huge trigger for me. And my sanity.
Tardiness is a huge trigger for me. In a world so driven by timelines and schedules and filled with efficiency and deadlines, I find the possibility of being late an extreme trigger for my anxiety. Not wanting to keep other people waiting. Not wanting other people to think I don't have my shit together enough. Not wanting other people to think I don't value them enough to be "on time." This one has been huge, for me, in a world where I appreciate presence. And if I only had my own body to manage I am typical timely and "respectful." But, again, the urgency of a CLOCK. This human-constructed thing that has so much power over me...and the later we are the more momster-ish I become trying to push, coax, and persuade my ducklings out the door. To no avail. I can wake them up 1-2 hours earlier than we really need, only to end in the same predicament - the same emergent rush out the door to be "on time". We would scream and fight and get there no sooner. Instead, we would be disconnected and I would feel guilty about our communication and frustration.
Reason number 346 why we are late today: toddler pooped for the third time this morning, unexpectedly.
Reason number 347: blueberry Keifer spilled (exploded) all over the kitchen counters and floor.
Reason 348: tried that waterbeads-inside-a-balloon Pinterest project before we left the house and the balloon exploded...and so did the water beads. All over the floor.
Reason 349: tried to clean up those water beads. Fuck it. They will shrivel as they dehydrate and then no one will notice they are all over the kitchen floor.
Reason number 350: No one can find their shoes. Two. Shoes. Two of the same kind of shoes. Nowhere to be found (even though we have CUBBIES for the organization of such footwear).
Reason number 351: toddler pooped for the fourth time today. And decided to try to handle it himself by taking off his diaper in his sisters' room. And now. The poop. Oh, the poop.
Reason number 352: someone needs to refill their water bottle before leaving....if not they will whine the whole way and then end up drinking MY water bottle. Even though I have asked several times before to make sure such water bottles were filled.
Reason 353: out the door to find construction vehicles on our street. The toddler sits down. On. The. Sidewalk. To watch. He refuses to move. Refuses to get up.
Coping: This is an anxiety I am slowly starting to release because so much of it is outside my realm of control. I am learning to DO THE BEST I can to get out the door on time ... And breathe through the rest. I apologize in advance for our tardiness or lateness but my perceived social contractual obligation to be on time is simply not worth the disconnect that often occurs between my children and myself to get out the door "on time". I certainly do try my best to be on time but now my mantra is "Do not hurry." "You are not late." "It's going to be okay." "You are enough."
Confrontation is a huge trigger for me. If I even think I may end up in a place of confrontation somewhere along my day's journey or schedule....I will avoid it. I internalize it all. I think maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe you hate me for this reason or that. It's all usually my fault (even though it never really is) ... I avoid it. Nothing is worth getting my blood pumping and body boiling to that degree.
Social situations have me processing all the stimulus all around me simultaneously. I thought this was normal, but I'm pretty sure it isn't or else I don't think concerts, shows, and street fairs would be A THING. I will give a relatively demur for instance and then you can multiply that to get an idea of what a carnival or concert might be like.
Going to a restaurant. I love going to a restaurant. Trying new foods. I love not cooking. I love not having to clean everything up. I still go to restaurants. But my experience is as follows. I hear:
The conversation in the next table, and the next table; all surrounding tables.
The clatter of the silverware on plates.
The sound of the glasses being set down on the table.
The radio playing in the background.
Servers asking what people would like to eat.
The sound of the kitchen pots and pans banging about.
Order Up! Words from the back.
Conversations at my table.
Shoes squeaking as they walk past.
All at the same time. I hear all of these things together. I sense all of these things simultaneously. My heart beats faster. I feel the urgency to waffle my food. Hurry through. Making the panic seem more potent. I "listen" to our conversation but find it increasingly difficult to breathe and to actually HEAR what you are saying to me. To remain present and engaged in our conversation is nearly impossible.
Coping: I have learned to ask for a booth - booths tend to muffle some of the sounds and create a a kind of protective bubble for me, from all the goings on. I try to go during "off peak" times - when it's a bit quieter, less hectic; less busy.
Multiple that by 5, 10, or 50 and you can imagine a glimpse of what it's like to sense a bigger event for someone experiencing life the way I do.
Sometimes I feel a little bit broken. I try really hard to provide my children with all the opportunities to sense and explore the world in new ways. I try really hard to push myself to put these kinds of activities on my schedule so that we can create new experiences together. I also try to remind myself that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to go. I try to have a grownup buddy with me to help lessen the amount of stimulus I have to process. To divide it a bit. And I remind myself to appreciate my going in the first place. To acknowledge and affirm myself for showing up when I can. For experiencing what I can. And for sharing / showing the world to my children when I'm able. I try to be gentle with myself when I know I need to leave. To recoup. And I have been trying really hard to explain what I'm going through to my children when such panic arises ... And explain how I am trying to deal with and cope with it. The anxiety used to manifest into my yelling and becoming out of control...but now that I am beginning to see it; beginning to avoid my triggers when I can; beginning to put safeties in place where I can; and try to see it and verbalize it when I can it has, somehow, had less power over me. Sometimes naming things gives them more power, and sometimes naming things extinguishes some of the power they have (thank you for that reminder, Sheila.)
Through mindfulness.....becoming aware of how my body is experiencing things; what my thoughts are at the time; what I'm sending within; the messages my thoughts are sending my self and my body that I have been able to observe my own anxiety. To see it. To put a name to it. I still deal with it, every day. But it has less power.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
I have been giving a lot of thought lately to where I find MyHappy.
Somewhere on the path of motherhood I lost site of that heartspot. That place where I find my zen. My zone. My flow.
Where I can just be and relish and bask in the wonder of my own thoughts and my own amazingness.
That place where I feel comfortable and confident and full of wonder and hope for what's ahead - where I find gratitude in the places I've traveled.
For a long time I didn't know what my happy looked like. I'm still learning. Inspired by my children's awe-inspiring ability to take risk in every day tasks; to stare in wonder of the world; to ask questions; find their vibe; and explore things as if they are brand new (so often they are, even if I've been here once before; there is still newness in the experiences that now line the memory walls of my mind and shape how and who I am in this very moment.)
I have been reflecting a lot and trying to put my thoughts (and feelings) to paper.
I want my life to reflect ME. I NEED my life to reflect ME. I desire to live in authenticity to my deeper self. In many ways I already do ... And in some places there is extreme discord.
So, I'm back to the drawing board.
Wondering what MYHappy is. What does it look like? How does MyHappy Sound? How does MyHappy feel? What is MyHappy's energy? How does it propel me and how can I incorporate more of it so I can carry that momentum through my daily living? Where is MyHappy found? What different forms does MyHappy shape? When do I push MyHappy away? Why? How can I welcome MyHappy back? How can I invite MyHappy into my life to stay....for good?
It's not that I am unhappy, it's that I don't usually pause anymore to notice the things in my life that are. The way they make me feel. I just get through it (call it survival).
I am determined to seek MyHappy ... and play with MyHappy a bit more. We used to be great friends and I am excited to reclaim our friendship.
💗 Where do you find (Your) MyHappy? 💗
Sunday, April 3, 2016
I bought this book before Christmas truly excited to dive in. I never did. Always wanting to create the perfect #time, perfect #space, perfect way to sit down just so and give it the proper #attention and #presence I thought it deserved, I never got to it. I moved it from one shelf to another; one countertop to the next; beside my bed; in the bathroom....never felt like I had all the time to sit down and engulf it the way I wanted. But it kept popping up. And tonight it beckoned me several times. "Start Where You Are" ... And it dawned on me that I was missing the point entirely. It need not be perfect. It need not be even good-case-scenario. You just have to do it. You just have to #start ... Where You Are. Right here. Right now. What is the #nextstep ? It can be messy and imperfect but #raw and #beautiful at the same time. Whatever you have on hold in your life right now; waiting for the perfect time; the just-right time ... Push Play. Just do it. Right now. Whatever is holding you back, don't let it. Take the next step. Life is too short to wait for it all to be #perfect .
Saturday, March 12, 2016
I have been intrigued by Usborne books for awhile now ... Actually, longer than awhile. I have purchased numerous "homeschool" helper books at thrift shops with this company far before realizing it was Usborne. Last year I bought several titles for my little ones for Christmas and the Holidays from a friend who happens to sell these books. I wanted to support her and I was curious to flip through the modernized versions of the "homeschool helper" books I've collected. These books have been FAVORITES of ours for over a year now. And I've been back for severrrrrrral other titles. (I have always been a bit of a children's book collector). Not sure how these books fit in with Mama May I, I've continued to buy but never signed up to represent them. Until now. We use these books. Often. In our own home.
Just as our Mama May I toys have received my children's play of approval, these books have received their read-of-approval. They love them. Look for them on the shelf. Interact with them. Play with them. And script stories with them using Mama May I handmade learning toys as props. Literacy and open-ended play go so seamlessly together in the world of imaginative, inventive, story-tellers. And this is yet another avenue for their open minds to touch, feel, and explore.
More than a year of loving the Usborne book collection, I have decided to incorporate it with the Mama May I culture and vision of learning-through-play. I'm excited to branch out more through literacy (maybe because some day I hope to write a children's book of my very own! 😉)
I'm not going to push books (just like I don't push our handmade learning toys) but I would be happy to open a conversation with you about reading, my recommendations, and buildable theme-packs for your own home, gifts to share, or your classroom.
Because I am new to this, anyone who wants to host a party will get EXTRA BONUS book points when hosting a party so if you are interested in testing it out this would be a great time to start!
On top of selling books, Mama May I is going to be offering discounts and bonuses for similar type Mama May I parties, clubs, groups, or co-ops.
Please feel free to direct message me or write an email if you are interested in hosting a Usborne Book Party or a Mama May I Handmade Learning Toy Party .... Or BOTH !
If you need a recommendation or help figuring out the perfect gift for different ages and stages feel free to reach out! I have degrees in Psychology and Art that help fuel this creative passion and I am so willing to share what I know to inspire you and your curious little ones!
Click here to peruse this wonderful collection of books.
Here is an example of how seamlessly Mama May I and Usborne go together. This is our March Subscription Box (going out soon!!) This is a collection of Usborne Books to go along with our March Sensory Bin of the Month Club theme : Growing.
Every month, along with our sensory bin I include a list of Books to Read to Explore the Theme. Ways to continue to cultivate play through learning with your little one.
I already make suggestions for books we love....I am so excited! Because, well, I guess
I ❤️ Literacy
Monday, March 7, 2016
#Spring is coming ! I can FEEL it in the #sunshine ! These little Fairy Friends by @mamamayishop are some of our #favoritethings for Spring. My little ones each have their favorite color. We take a walk when the weather warms and they find a suitable #home to set up their vignettes. Kind of like #pixie hollow but the real, pretend kind. Their storylines are incredible intricate and beautiful. And then they add pieces of #nature to their tales. I love when they walk me through the vignettes of their big #imagination . It's whimsical. And wonderful. And magical. And brings me back to a time when life seemed so much less complex and filled with the little tiny beautiful details. The shadows of the leaves; the smell of the Earth; the magnificence of finding hints of beauty in nature coming to life. These little cuties would love to play and explore with your little storyteller. They make wonderful friends. What Fairy Friend Color are you??? They are a perfect addition to #Easter #baskets! No sweet, just a treat! Enjoy! 💗 The whole colorful series can be found here: http://www.mamamayishop.com/products/fairy-friends Or on our #ETSY page @MamaMayi #handmade #handmadetoys #handmadegifts #handmadeholiday #etsy #etsyshop #etsyseller #kids #play #learn #waldorf #colors #color #rainbow #fairy #fairies #makebelieve #friends #pretend #preschool #playschool #playlearning #grandparents #parents #homeschool #unschool #unplugged #childhoodunplugged #montessori #montessori101
Friday, March 4, 2016
Lincoln loves glue. #loves . Like, love loves. He likes to squeeze it. To touch it. Smoosh it. Smear it. Sometimes taste it. Squeezing the glue bottle is such a great fine motor skill builder - he is building up the strength in his hands. I cut a square of cardboard and let him make a sculpture out of little wooden odds and end bits I had around. He loved it. His favorite part was deconstructing the sculpture, however. I even set up a mat under him but was still paranoid about glue everywhere - which is silly because it will wash off. But I recognized it in the moment and, even then, looked at Layla and said "why do I care so much? It's his project to do with what he wants... I just need to let him do it." And I walked away for a few seconds to make tea ... And breathe. Because it's so easy NOT to do these types of projects with my kids. You know, the "messy" ones - glitter, slime, playdough, glue .... But there are SO many skills and cognitive processing involved in the make, explore, make a mess, and take of them that it's totally worth telling my rigid, orderly self to let loose and mess-make. I have my midlife years to have an orderly, clean house. Until then, our floors will looks like science experiments blew up on them.... Our table top will show the marks of kids learning to eat with utensils and leftover glue/glitter from our art-strewn afternoons. This is the process. This is art. And art is good.
And this is what the 8-year-old sat down to create.
"It's a table and a bookcase and another table with butter beer and a chair and ... It's a dollhouse!" And there is her Harry Potter book in the background as she was multitasking while creating this miniature set.
#kidsart #mamamayi #mamamayimake #mamamayishop #art #play #parents #parenting #parenthood #mindful #mindfulkids #mindfulness #mindfulparenting #montessori #unschool #unplugged #unschooling #childhoodunplugged #homemade #homeschool #homeschooling #waldorf
Friday, February 12, 2016
Here are a few of our favorite preschool color books, crafts, and activities. Enjoy!
The Crayon Box that Talks - Shane DeRolf
Dog's Colorful Day - Emma Dodd
Bear Sees Colors -
Rainbow Roller - Mama May I
-a colorful rainbow vibe to turn any monotonous time into play-and-explore-color time. Add as extra dimension to color manipulatives or use as a hide and seek game while waiting. Fun for all ages! Link here: http://www.mamamayishop.com/products/rainbow-roller
Draw a picture of Dog and laminate. Have little ones add colored spots with markers while you read the book then wipe clean when Dog takes a bath. This is a great tool for story-retellings to work on comprehension skills as well! ( the photo of this project I used came from here but it's a different activity than what I usually do http://veronastorytime.com/tag/messy/ ).
Color Collage - this is such a beautiful result from a simple color-explore. I set out a box of rains in colored object. We call it our treasure box. Little ones search for colored object to fill their rainbow collage color-study. We talk about the order of colors and I fold the extra long paper into 6 equal sections. All ages love this and they are so beautiful to look at when they are done!
Color Book - I love this idea by Fun A Day! using step stacking colors to see the whole rainbow and act as tabs to find certain color studies in a BOOK. I love making books. And this one reminds me of a book I made in fabric after being inspired by Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert ! Another fun color read! Link here: ( http://fun-a-day.com/i-see-a-rainbow-preschool-color-activity/ )