Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Carnival: Birthing and New Beginnings…and Better Mothering

Welcome to the first edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!

In the month of January, we start afresh, a new year, new ideas. Hence, our participants have looked into the topic of “Birth and New Beginnings”. Take a look at the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants.


I’ve never had New Year’s resolutions before, but this blog carnival got me inspired.

Here was the prompt for this month’s carnival post:

January is the month where we start afresh, take the plunge again and leave the old. What are your new year’s resolutions? Maybe you will be welcoming a new baby (or have done so recently). Share all your insights about birth and starting afresh in this very diverse carnival.


Here’s what went through my head:

        • I will gladly “take the plunge” and drop some old baggage; I am in need of an attitude adjustment when it comes to my two-year old daughter (as my Tandem Nurturer posts admit).
        • I never have had or kept New Year’s resolutions.
        • I did  just have a baby boy on December 22!
        • I just posted the first of a three-part Birth Sunday Surf Series with over 40 links for labor, birth preparation, baby, postpartum and more.
        • I need to make some resolutions about my relationship with my daughter that might help me make the change I’m desperate for. Maybe if I tell people I don’t know about it online I’ll work even harder to stay committed and conscious for the long term.

These are some overarching goals I came up with to build some concrete resolutions:

  • Overall health and well being come first.
  • Be more YES.
  • Stay mindful.

Surprise Snow in October

So, here are my first New Year’s resolutions. (Please let them help me be a better mom.)

  1. Get 15 min outside with my toddler each day — snow, shine, dark, cold. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Oh, and she leads the show.
  2. Say yes to at least one thing a day, just b/c she wants to even if I have all kinds of reasons (excuses) not to — includes getting moving and getting messy!
  3. Keep my mouth shut when I feel frustrated or angry (rather than just reacting immediately). Use the silent time to scan my feelings and thoughts, to breathe, to observe my daughter and the situation and consciously make choices in which I cuddle instead of criticize, laugh instead of lecture, and relinquish control to my child instead of retaining power and privilege for myself.

My idea right now is to start with one moment at a time, build my confidence, become mindful of my life, and look at each interaction as a new opportunity. I need my relationship with my daughter to be more consistently joyful. I’m going to try to focus on these three things in the hopes that I can create a more conscious and loving relationship with her.

In general, I hope these help me be a more creative and playful, and positive and present mother.

Warm Rain Walk Treasures


Visit Authentic Parenting and MudpieMama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Back to Reality Blog Break

I have totally been having funky fussy feelings.

I want to blog and hang on A Living Family Facebook page since I’m feeling momentum . However, I need to create another life for myself (financially), and part of that is becoming a childbirth educator. Instead of reading and researching and writing to finish my certification, which hopefully will get me some income in the future, I’m doing the same things for free. I love doing them, but I’ve only been given two years to finish my certification and over a year has passed. EEK!

Step in Christine of The Aums and her Blog and Laundry Break post.

Seriously, other than the fact that I have no idea what a meme is, this woman was speaking directly to me! I need to take a blog break. This is hard because I love writing and have so much I am thinking about, so much that seems worth sharing (I hope). I also feel eager to start building a new life  around all these things that I am passionate about: childbirth, breastfeeding, home/unschooling, and all kinds of parenting topics from babywearing to baby-led solids, from signing with children to gentle discipline.

Christine’s taking a week off, but here’s my plan.

I like feeling community on Facebook with all the mamas out there, so I’m going to keep doing that but limit my computer time to an hour a day. On the blog, after I finish the book club post that is late, I’m going to run the posts I have scheduled. I will keep up the Unconditional Parenting posts every week and the Sunday Surf every other week. I’ll also share my Mamatography blog each week. Then I will take the month of February and see what I can get done when I get serious with this birth educator work.

As Christine requested, here’s what I’ll be doing instead of blogging:

  • Reading Birth Reborn (Michel Odent), The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth Birth (Henci Goer), Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding …. and finishing Unconditional Parenting….but I don’t have to write a book report on that.
  • Tour a hospital or birth center (need two, but I’m aiming for one) and interview a medical professional there.
  • Interview my homebirth midwife.
  • Spend time with and create activities for my two year old daughter.
  • Stare at, smell, cuddle and kiss as well as marvel at my baby boy.
  • Try to get some sort of routine/regularity/rhythm in our family life.
  • Keep my house (and myself?) cleaner.
  • Write my birth story for my second homebirth.
  • Get outside daily. (Carnival post with the rest of my first time ever New Year’s resolutions coming next week….)
  • Sleep a bit more…..?

So folks…..

Tagging Tuesday: Decluttering and Organizing Your Life

Although Tagging Tuesday originally began on Facebook, there are so many wonderful resources on the Internet that are not FB-connected. I’ll focus on those here as well as post links to FB pages that have websites. Please comment if you have any additional resources to share!


Serenity … from here


Simplify:  Figure out what ideas and goals are important to you

Declutter:  Get rid of what doesn’t belong

Clean & Organize:  Clean what’s left and create a system to keep it that way!


Check out my organizing board on Pinterest and revel in more organizing goodies, including the Householder’s Holy Grail:  the Home Management Notebook (complete with printouts).  If you’re not a pinner yet, send me an email and I’ll invite you!

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Update!

This is where I get to focus on the things I have done (right) in the last week! Mostly I just wanted to share a few activities I tried spontaneously that ended up working out well.

My daughter seems to have been having some fussy days lately. Needless to say, necessity is the mother of invention (and creativity). As I said in the latest Better Mom post on activities, I want to create and offer more hands on learning/play activities. Here are three things that came to me after all I read all the awesome things other mamas are doing with their littles. (See activities post for lots of resources for learning/play ideas.)

Sensory Bin: Paper

I get these circulars in the mail that frustrate me because I don’t want them and it’s such a waste of paper. The other day I felt like ripping them up. Just after, I walked by the bin I wanted to use as a sensory bin. I decided to have my daughter help me crumple them up and toss them in the bin. Then I let her play. She got to explore texture, sound, her body and more, turning an annoyance for me into a wonder to explore for my daughter!

Crumple Crumple

Stomp Stomp Stomp

Squish, Smash

Scoop and Pour Activity

Then the other day I had my daughter help make Vietnamese spring rolls by giving her the bean sprouts, chopped cilantro, and chopped lettuce to put into separate bowls for my husband to assemble. I went to put the peanuts in a bowl myself and realized it was the perfect scoop and pour “Practical Life” Montessori activity that I read about all the time. She was so into this. After an initial spill (see the peanuts on the counter?) she realized on her own how to be more careful and spilled not a single peanut more. It was quick but a great learning experience for us both, I think.



Open and Close Activity Bin

More recently, she had gotten her pep back after a cold and wanted to play. I was doing dishes, washing out a ketchup bottle, when I decided to look around for “open and close” jars, boxes and things for an activity box. I surprised myself by easily finding a number of things. I had fun along with her realizing how fun and different containers are to open and close. She did ask for help with the inner spice top, but ended up actually opening it once herself. The best part was hearing her ask for help and then say “Try it” to who I thought was me. After initial frustration, she actually told herself to try opening it, and she did try a couple of times rather than giving up as easily as she initially intended.

Some of the open and close materials, found around the house....

Little screwtop


Larger screw top (spice jar)

Was more complicated and exciting than we thought!

Yet another unexpected open and close experience awaited us!

It even came with a smell that led to a cooking conversation. (Plus we needed to put something inside. See it?)

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Activities

It’s taken me a while to get to the next part of the Be a Better Mom series. Why? Because I’ve been trying to be a better mom! I’ll be posting about materials separately, turns out. I feel so inspired to get my creative juices flowing and my hands working as I think about activities. I’ve been taking time to look through blogs of some mamas doing fun stuff with their kids. Much time has also been spent brainstorming some magnetic board activities for my daughter. There’s also been gathering materials and making things!

So far, all I’ve done is made one magnet set and start another magnet/felt set. One is a button shape/size sorting activity — 4 colors, 3 sizes. Unfortunately, the first set has already been scattered from off the fridge through multiple rooms (before pictures were taken). I am thinking now that future magnetic sets should be meant for the board only, just so there are more buttons to play with than are stuck under the fridge.

The other set I started is a color/fruit sorting activity where she could “pick” apples, bananas, plums and/or pears from the tree and put them in a basket. I was hoping to go apple picking soon so it makes some experiential sense. Now I am thinking, that I might make just an apple set with numbers to 10 on them. The other day she was insisting I count to ten, and she’s been into numbers lately.

There are a number of activities I’d like to do more of with my daughter to make our time together engaging, exploratory and playful.

Sensory activities are where she’s at right now. Sensory tubs are one idea; so far I have thought of waterbeads, leaves, and beans. I’m waiting for fall to advance a bit for the leaf one. Then I want to collect leaves together and bring out a fall leaves/tree magnet set I hope to make. I also liked this loud-quiet shaker idea and this smell matching activity.

Pouring is what Montessori would call a “Practical Life” activity. She is into pouring for sure. Any parent of a toddler knows that spilling and playing with liquid are fun times. My daughter seems pretty good at pouring from big things with help, but I want to get her a kid-sized pitcher from For Small Hands so she can pour things herself. I hope to put this pitcher with some of her small glasses on a table so she can get her own water and snacks. (Time to modify the snack station of old?)

Finally, it is feeling like time to move from chopping to cutting. She loves to cut with her wooden knife and food set. I have also helped her cut with a big butter knife. I’d like to find something like a small butter knife to help her cut things like banana. Her cooking role can take a new turn, and she will have more to offer and do in the kitchen.

Eventually, I’d like to get into the light box and other fun from the links below, but I’m trying to focus on things I know I can follow through on and actually accomplish. I still want to share the awesome ideas I’ve run into through my online travels…

Here are some play-based learning blogs/sites I found to keep an eye on:

Warm Rain Walk Treasures

Ideas by Category:

For the road: Toddler Activity Bags



Magnetic Board:

Rock Play:

Outside/Messy: Play at Home Mom Outdoor Play

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Time

TIME. I never seems to have enough. I always seem to need more.

I’m not convinced I use the time I do have wisely. Sometimes I find myself standing or sitting there, wondering what to do with myself. Well, I have a perfectly long list of things to do–what is the big question?

Somehow time management is not that simple, especially with a little one (or more!). I think I will be a better mom if I can wrap my head around managing several projects and responsibilities at once. As a teacher at school, this comes more easily to me. At home, not so much.

My goals for this area of mom improvement are:

  • have a clear(er) sense of daily tasks
  • have a stronger feel of a rhythm to our lives
  • build in some predictable routines and activities to set that rhythm
  • have a more accurate sense of time passed and “productivity”
  • assign a purpose to bits of time so that I can be more present with my energy

These goals are lofty, but I do plan on following some of Stay at Home Papa‘s insights into efficient use of time to help me along. I suggest you read his post for more clarification, but here are some basic tips he has to offer:

  1. Make a “To Do” list and prioritize it.
  2. Get the most important, life-changing items done on your list first. 
  3. Check email no more than 2 times a day.
  4. Batch items on your list, especially minutia.
  5. Set a timer.

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Spaces and Organization

I know everyone always says their house is messy (when it’s not), but I really am organizationally and spatially challenged in some ways….like the ways that keep a house clean and put away.

I love to see things organized, love baskets and boxes and labels and rows of things. It’s just that doing whatever it takes to get to that point doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether or not it is my strength, I need to develop a clear sense of organization and purpose in the spaces in our house, for the sake of every family member and friend who inhabits those spaces. Plus, with a little one on the way and due during the middle of winter, I want to make sure my daughter has an engaging and comfortable space to play inside when it’s hard to go outside. I have one room she can kind of take over, but otherwise I have always liked and tried to have a little play space in every room (including the kitchen). This calls for different structures for different spaces. I have some moving around of stuff and furniture to do, but more than that I needed to think on what those play spaces look and feel like.


I know I want them to be organized.

I would like for it to be easy and clear for my daughter and any adult to know where everything goes. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” If there are baskets and bins with clear purpose, everyone can use them. Eventually I would love to make my own labels (in English and Spanish and maybe even ASL), like Christine from The Aums did when organizing her clothing station. [Oh goodness, a clothing station was one of the things I wanted to maintain…..and haven’t. Clothes are my own worst offense, and now I’m in charge of someone else’s clothes?!]

I, and my daughter, need the space to be as YES as possible.

The more YES the space, the less “no” I have to say. When she was smaller and just starting to get mobile, everyone was telling me about child-proofing, which we don’t really do much of. Every child is different, and some children need more safety boundaries than others. My daughter has always been a rather safe explorer with a will that can be reasoned with. (Who knows what #2 will be like…could change everything!) She began moving around, and we went through the house trying to make things as YES as possible. This meant that if she could reach it, we had better consider whether we wanted her to be able to reach that thing or not. Well, we need to do that again. She is considerably more mobile now, and I find myself saying “No” more than I need to just because of the way my space is organized and set up…..or not. Ideally everything in reach is touchable and ok for play.

The space, the things in it and the way they are set up should encourage and support opportunities for my daughter’s independence, confidence and sense of belonging.

Once she has a clear, organized space that is mostly YES, I want to make sure the things I put in there and the way it is set up fit her developmental needs. Right now, she wants to do everything she can for herself. One thing I would like is for her to have greater access to food and drink items so that she can pour for herself. However, this means, I need a developmentally-appropriate space for her to be able to do these activities. For instance, right now, there isn’t really a child sitting/work space. Having a more functional, child-centered space will most likely be good for her and good for us (and the new little one).


Now that I had a sense of what I’m looking for, I wanted to do some research and see what other folks want out of their spaces.

I liked what Childhood 101 had to say about creating a child space that is inspirational:

  • Inspires them to play in more purposeful, meaningful ways.
  • Inspires them to learn through those play experiences.
  • Inspires them to value what they have.
  • Inspires them to help maintain the space in an organised way.
  • Inspires who they become…

Reading about Montessori principles and home/school spaces inspired me to get more clearly organized so that my daughter can take more ownership of the activities in her life. Here are some guidelines for spaces:

  • They are attractive, orderly and clean.
  • They have a place where children can store and organize personal items, as well as keep complete and in-progress projects.
  • There is adequate open space for children to easily move around, and for everyone to sit together during group time.
  • Children can independently access their Montessori materials from low shelves. They can also help maintain the order on these shelves. It is also important to have appropriately-sized tables and chairs so the children can sit and move with ease.
  • There should be a few interesting, real-life pictures at child’s-eye level, a few beautiful objects that could break easily, living plants, and pets (even small, non-poisonous reptiles and fish are fine).

Reggio Emilia history, philosophy and approach, in addition to the concept of the environment as a child’s “third teacher,” gave me aesthetic ideas for an overall feel and look. Here are some aspects a Reggio class might have:

  • indoor plants and vines
  • natural light
  • open to view
  • capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions
  • displays of project work are interspersed with arrays of found objects and classroom materials
  • ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features
  • encourage community

In addition, there are some RIE principles I’d like our spaces to facilitate. Similarities across the board, here. You are surely seeing a theme emerging.

  • Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
  • An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
  • Time for uninterrupted play.
  • Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
  • Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient.
  • Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs.
  • Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

With a better understanding of the principles and values I’d like to encourage, I was ready to look at actual play/learning spaces other people have set up.

NEXT STEPS: Move things around, go through “stuff” (post to come), set up spaces!

I am inspired!

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