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DIY Vegetable Dyed Easter Eggs

DIY Vegetable Dyed Easter Eggs :: nurturedmama.net

Over on Liz Lamoreux’s blog this week, I’m sharing another project for her Pinned It, Did It series.

This spring I wanted to try making naturally dyed Easter eggs, as I’m forever disappointed in the limp colors from the drug store egg-dying kits. And wow, was I happy with the way these came out! They were much easier to make than I expected, too. You can read all about what vegetables I used and see more of the gorgeous colors at Liz’s blog.

I’m going to be filling in for Meg, the regular writer of this series, for the next few months while she bonds with her new baby. Keep an eye out, because I have some good stuff planned! A couple of sewing projects, yummy treats from the kitchen and even an educational craft to make with little ones.

And if you need even more yummy color? Catch me on Instagram to see the yarn I dyed with the leftover color when I was done with the eggs. I’m swooning!

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Practice Radical Self Care

Practice Radical Self Care :: nurturedmama.net

I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago, when my partner was traveling for 10 days and I was solo parenting. I don’t know why I never published it, but when I was thinking about this topic again this month I found it in my drafts folder. As it is still so very topical (though my child is a year older and my partner is not traveling this spring), I decided to dust it off and share it with you. Enjoy!

If you do a Google search on “self care for moms” you get a long list of articles that include suggestions like “Take a shower,” “Get a pedicure,” “Drink a green smoothie.” While they are all well-meant and possibly helpful in the short term, I don’t think they get at the essential ways we mothers need to care for ourselves.

What we need is radical self care, which comes from knowing ourselves deeply. It comes from being able hear our souls calling for what we deeply need and being willing to provide it for ourselves.

That isn’t easy and what we hear may not be what we really want to do in the moment.  It might be scheduling a dreaded appointment. It might be going to bed early, maybe as early as the baby. Maybe every night for a month. It might be letting go of a relationship with a friend or even a family member that is toxic and draining. It may be asking for help in small or very large ways. It might be letting go of our expectation of accomplishing things, specific or general.

This week I’ve had some lessons in practicing radical self care.

My man is gone on a spring-break trip with his almost-grown son, exploring a mountain in Venezuela. My Bean is being two, in all of the beautiful and devastating ways that two manifests. In the few days that he has been gone so far we have weathered together a midnight vomit-fest, double skinned knees, Easter and the sugar-high-then-crash that came with it, and saying goodbye to English cousins she had grown to adore during their brief stay.

Her language is exploding, and with it the ability to tell me what she does and does not what, more and more specifically. Yet still she melts down and cannot articulate what is the matter. Last night she sobbed all through dinner, pressing herself close to me while I tried to shovel just enough food in my mouth to sustain me.  She sobbed all through our bedtime routine and then sobbed herself to sleep.

The only thing I could determine was that she missed her father, her brother, and our cousins. I got her settled in her crib only to have her wake half an hour later, sobbing and hiccuping.  I undressed, brought her to my bed, held her and whispered how much I loved her while she cried and cried and eventually fell asleep turned perpendicular to my body. The top of her head pressed into me all night, the same way she used to sleep when she was a newborn. This morning she woke with both of her eyes were oozing and a trip to urgent care confirmed that she has bacterial infections in both eyes.

Last week, before LHM and The Teenager left, I made a list of things I was going to do while he was gone. I was going to get all caught up on my Project Life album, make two baby blankets and an outfit for Bean, get the front garden weeded, and re-start my art journaling practice.  That was just what I put on the list.  I was also planning to send some pitches to editors, finish reading a book and start another, make some awesome spring crafts and stage an easter egg hunt. I wanted to revise an essay I’ve been working on, write several blog posts, clean out my studio and build a brooder for the baby chicks I want to get next week. I thought I’d have so much time!

But the reality is that by the time I get Bean in bed each night, whether that is 9 pm or 7 pm, I’m exhausted. I want to do all those things, but I know they are unrealistic. I’ve scaled back my expectations so far that anything I accomplish outside of basic parenting and housekeeping is an accomplishment to be celebrated. My radical self-care this week is this:

  • Letting go of my own expectations and also my own judgements about how much is “enough” to accomplish each day.
  • Leaning in to my need for rest.
  • Doing what I can to recharge within the limited time and energy I have.
  • Drinking enough water, getting exercise, and eating regular meals.

What do you do when you realize you need reserves you don’t have? Do you force yourself to push through, or do you turn your attention to refueling?

Try making your own radical self-care list and make it personal to you. It might be specific to an event or crisis you need to get through, or it might be something you keep handy to remind yourself what you need when you are feeling drained and listless. Your radical self care might be:

 What would be on your radical self care list?

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Make Your Own Herbal Healing Salves (on Modern Alternative Mama)

Make Your Own Healing Salves :: nurturedmama.net

As part of my ongoing quest to green the products in my bathroom, I tossed out a bag of commercial ointments and skin treatments and replaced them with home-made healing salves.

My initial motivation was to replace a diaper rash cream that I realized was petroleum-based. Not only that, but it didn’t work to heal my daughter’s rash. I found a company making small batch lotions and salves from organic herbs and oils for that first diaper cream replacement, but after doing some further research I realized it would be really easy to just make my own. These three recipes are ones I have developed and use at home on my family.

Read the rest of this post on Modern Alternative Mama.

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How To Be More Patient Right Now

Need some patience - now? How to Be More Patient :: nurturedmamablog.net

Something I’ve been asked over and over again is “How are you so patient?”

And here’s my secret: I’m really not. I get frustrated all the time. I’ve just taught myself not to react so fast when my patience is being stretched. I’m not so patient. I’m just not so volatile.

But here’s the thing: Actively practicing having conscious reactions to my frustrations has, over time, given me more patience. Having more patience is so valuable when you live with small children! They say patience is a virtue, but I believe it is a skill we all have access to.

If you want to be more patient – or at least seem more patient – here are the five steps I use to manage my responses in moments of impatience and frustration.

Identify your triggers.

Knowing what makes you impatient is the first step. Think about the last time you felt your impatience or anger rising. What had just happened? What events, people, or phrases set you off?

It might help to just notice for a week, without trying to change anything. Make a list of all the things that cause you tension or frustration, or make you react in a way you regret later. Also pay attention to what’s happing with your body when these feelings arise. Are you hungry? Over tired? Too hot to cold? Feeling constricted? What physical factors are contributing to your emotions? Can you identify a pattern?

My triggers are standing in long lines and having people speak to me condescendingly. I also know I’m less patient when I’m anxious, like when I’m running late, and when I’m hungry or tired. Knowing these things tells me when I need to pay attention to how I’m reacting to others.

Pause yourself.

When you feel your impatience rising, take a mental step back. Choose not to act or speak from that wound-up place. When I react in the heat of emotion I’m most likely to say or do something I’ll regret or need to apologize for. So just hit the pause button.

If it helps, pretend someone is watching. Sad but true, we all behave better when we think we have an audience.

Get into your body.

Use that old advice – count to ten. Take a deep breath and let it out through your mouth. Take another one if you need to. Notice where you are holding tension in your body and consciously let it go. You will start to feel your frustration draining away.

Offer empathy.

If it was a person who triggered your frustration, step into their shoes for a moment and see how the interaction looks and feels from their perspective. Maybe your child is throwing toys. Is he working through a strong emotion? Is she overtired or needing a snack? Perhaps someone said something something that felt rude or inappropriate to you. What’s going on in that person’s life today that might make them behave that way?

In my experience, most people strive to do their best. But sometimes their best is hindered by pain or distraction. Or just by their own baggage. But that’s their stuff. And responding in anger doesn’t help anybody feel better.

Choose how you want to respond.

What do you want the outcome of this situation to be? Leo Babuta recommends asking yourself the question, “How does this help?” before you say anything, especially to your children. Yelling or scolding rarely helps anybody.  What would actually help in this moment?

Sometimes the answer to that is “Do nothing,” or “Walk away.” Sometimes the answer is “Give love,” or even “Ask for help.” Even my 3-year-old is surprisingly willing to cooperate if I explain that I need her help to get through the store, to get dinner on the table, or just to deal because I’m having a hard time today.

Using these tools will help you manage when you are in a moment of frustration and need to reach for some patience and calm.

Having tools is great, but it is even better when you don’t need to resort to them. If you find that you are having to pause yourself an awful lot, go back to your list of triggers and see if there are things on there you can be proactive about. Are you prone to impatience when you are hungry? Make sure you have small snacks readily available to keep your blood sugar level. Is being over-tired an issue? Work on setting better boundaries around your sleep time, or build in space for naps and breaks during the day if your sleep is being interrupted by small people in the night. Are you an introvert and not getting enough down time? Practice radical introvert self care.

It doesn’t feel good to yell at our kids or to be frustrated multiple times during the day. Take control of your reaction. You – and the people around you -  will feel so much better as a result!

Where could you have used a little more patience today? What might you do differently next time?

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What Does Mom Look Like?

What Does Mom Look Like? :: nurturedmama.net

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

What does “Mom” look like to you?

If you read a lot of parenting magazines, you might think Mom is supposed to be tall and lean, probably blonde, always smiling.

If you watch much TV or many movies, you might think she always has perfectly coordinated outfits with nice accessories, gorgeous makeup and hair. She wears heels and skinny jeans and never has spit up or toddler food smears on her shirt.

If you read a lot of Hip Mama magazine, maybe Mom has sleeve tattoos and short, spiky hair.

In my town, many of the moms I run into are over 35 and dress pretty casual, but are mostly really fit. Possibly that’s because I mostly see them at the gym and the yoga studio?

Really, I never did. And I don’t really want to.

Before I had Bean, I had a corporate career, and I spent a good portion of my budget on nice clothes, which looked great on me.

But since silk blouses and high heeled boots don’t go well with nursing babies and I no longer had an office to go to, all those clothes got boxed up and put away while I was pregnant. What was left wasn’t very pretty.

For the next two years I wore loose jeans and yoga pants with knit shirts that were easy to nurse in. I was comfortable, but it wasn’t a flattering look for me. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that as a mom, I didn’t need to put energy into my look. Why bother? My kid didn’t care and I hardly went anywhere anyway, right?

A couple of months ago I took a good look at myself in the mirror and realized I really didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like how my clothes fit. I was wearing my hair in a medium-length cut that I didn’t like and wasn’t flattering, and I no longer wore any of the scarves or necklaces that had once been so much a part of my signature style. I felt bland and boring, and not at all attractive.

This wasn’t how I wanted the world to see me, and it wasn’t how I wanted to feel.

It was time to pay attention to how I looked, how people saw me, and how I felt in my clothes.

The first thing I did was get my hair cut back to the pixie that I wore years ago and loved for its no-stress good looks. I spent some time thinking about the style I wanted to cultivate and made a board on Pinterest reflecting that. Then I cleared out my closet (roughly following the Project 333 challenge guidelines) to only the things that fit well and I felt good in. I went shopping at the thrift store to round out what what I didn’t have and wanted to try.

It is working. I feel prettier, sexier, more fun. I actually enjoy getting dressed in the morning and putting together an outfit, not just finding throwing on is clean and comfortable. I’m even wearing jewelry again.

It feels so good.

Have you reached a turning point in the way you look? Maybe you are frustrated by what you see in the mirror, or tired and uninspired by everything in your closet. Maybe your body has changed so much since pregnancy that the clothes you love just no longer fit and you haven’t got around to replacing them.

What do you want Mom to look like, when that mom is you?

Need some inspiration?

How would you love to feel when you get dressed every morning? What one thing can you change today that will get you closer to that feeling?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will make a small income from the sale at no additional cost to you. The income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

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Find Your Moments Of Grace

Find Your Moments Of Grace :: nurturedmama.net

photo credit: jared via photopin cc

We’ve had stuff going on behind the scenes here lately. Some tough stuff, some just busy stuff. The tough stuff has included a week (and counting)of a cold for Mama that just won’t let go.

Thankfully, and somewhat unfortunately, this cold passed right over Bean and she didn’t have any symptoms. So while I’ve been coughing myself awake for nights running, nursing a sinus headache, sounding  like a frog and downing cup after cup of tea, she’s been lively and full of energy.

This mama is exhausted trying to keep up with her.

When Mama’s exhausted, things start to unravel. When I’m not on top of picking up the house, it starts to feel like the clutter is taking over. When I’m not on top of our schedule, we are constantly running late and I’m juggling trying to reschedule and un-conflict the conflicts. There has been too much TV and and too much bargaining over TV and far too many times I hear myself saying “I don’t want to have to say this again…” and too many tears – both hers and mine.

On one particularly hard day last week, it felt like every single interaction was a fight. I picked her up from daycare at 1:00 and it felt like we had been fighting since 1:15. We fought over getting into the car, getting out of the car,  all through the grocery store, and then getting into the car again and then into the front door when we arrived home.

I was so tired.

I was so done.

I wanted her dad to get home NOW so he could take over and I could check out. I wanted to give up. I really wanted to stop fighting.

So when she said she wanted to play outside, I gathered up my journal, a handful of Derwent Art Bars and my water brush and resigned myself to ignoring the fact that she was going to dig holes in my DG patio and I was going to ignore her doing it. I just wanted to feel the sun on my shoulders and lay some color down on a page. I wanted to pass the last hour before dinner without a screen and without a fight about a screen.

Once outside, she started playing with her shovels and buckets while I settled at the picnic table with my colors. She came over pretty quickly to see what I was doing and said, “Mama! I want to do that!”

So I went back inside and found her journal and another water brush and set her up next to me.

Find Your Moments of Grace :: nurturedmama.net

For the next half an hour we sat together at the table in the late afternoon sun and painted while the neighborhood went on around us.

It was peaceful. Quiet. Healing. It was exactly what I needed to re-connect with my sweet child.

By the time we went inside to finish dinner I was feeling like a whole new mama. I had my patience back, at least enough to get me through to bedtime. I felt gentle toward my daughter again, which was a feeling I had lost somewhere in the middle of the afternoon when all I felt was angry. I felt like I’d been offered some grace in what was otherwise a really difficult day.

Later in the evening I posted a photo from our afternoon art date on Instagram and a friend commented that is is these rays of sunshine in otherwise really hard days that remind her there is joy in parenting.

Today, may you remember to stop in a moment of grace and really absorb it. Set aside the frustrations of the previous moments and the worry of the next ones and just stand in the beauty of the moment that is right now.

Have you experienced a moment of grace this week, in parenting or otherwise? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear about it.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will make a small income from the sale at no additional cost to you. The income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

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Real Food Chronicles (on Modern Alternative Mama)

Real Food Chronicles - On Modern Alternative Mama :: Nurturedmama.net

All during the month of March, Modern Alternative Mama is sharing stories from their contributing writers called “A Day In The Life of A Real Foodie .” These stories are interesting because they really show the breadth of ways to eat and feed your family contentiously, healthfully, and with real food. Some families are working around food sensitivities, some are following specific diets, and others (like me) are just trying to cook good and healthy food from scratch and save some money while doing it.

Each post follows one day of food in the life of the contributor, with pictures and sometimes recipes. They are really fun. You can read my contribution to the series on Modern Alternative Mama here.

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How to Have Room Of Your Own

How To Have Room Of Your Own :: nurturedmama.net

original photo credit: nerissa’s ring via photopin cc

Of the things I crave most about my pre-baby life, stretches of time alone ranks high. Before my partner and his teenaged son moved in with me when I was eight months pregnant, I lived alone for three years. A month later I gave birth to a baby who hated to be anywhere but in my arms.

I wasn’t alone again for more than a few minutes for nearly nine months.

I love my family. I do. But it wasn’t until I learned how to carve out small amounts of time alone that I started to feel like myself again after all of those changes. That was too long to go feeling like a stranger in my own skin.

Are you also someone who craves alone time? Maybe you are an introvert, a writer, or an artist. You need stretches of silence to process your inner world, to make sense of your thoughts. Maybe you just like to read books without people interrupting you. Maybe you have a meditation practice, or would like to have one. Maybe you just crave some time where you aren’t at someone else’s beck and call and can truly sink into rest.

If you are struggling to find space to be alone in your life, here are some strategies that may help:


Recognize Your Edges

The best time to create a little time alone is before you storm out of the house and threaten never to return. I may have done that once or twice in those first nine months. But since then I’ve learned to recognize my warning signs. I get edgy and twitchy. My attention span dwindles to zero. I start to snap at my partner when he really isn’t doing anything deserving of my harsh tongue. I vacillate between daydreams of impassioned projects I want to start and despair that I never have time to do anything I love anyway. I glaze over when people are talking to me because I cannot possibly process any more input.

What are your tells? Do you know when it is time to walk away for a bit so you can recharge before you are all the way to empty?


Stake Out Private Space

In 1929, Virginia Woolf published an essay titled “A Room Of One’s Own,” that talked about the need for both literal and figurative space for women writers and female characters in fiction. She wrote, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Likewise, I believe that if a woman is to raise a family without losing herself, she must have space of her own to plant her feet, hold on to her individual identity, and house the things that make her a woman separate from being a mother.

Your space might be as big as a room with a door you can close or as small as a reading nook or an altar of items that are meaningful for you. In our house we have a tiny room off of our dining room that I can close off with a baby gate, although the walls are only half high and open to the rest of the house. But it is mine. It is where I write, where I keep my art supplies and my journals. Others are allowed in only by invitation.

Where in your house can you stake out some space that is just yours? You may need to get creative and you will need to set clear boundaries, especially if this is something you haven’t done before.


Cultivate Solo Habits

After my daughter was born it was hard for me to even imagine being alone again. She nursed so often and needed my physical presence so much. I took her everywhere with me. Even when I probably could have left her with my partner or my mother for an hour or two, it didn’t occur to me to try. But I should have. Instead, I waited so long before I started making space for myself that it was hard for me to even envision how to do it.

If I were to do it all over again, I would have asked my partner to take a more active role in bedtimes much earlier. I would have gone for walks and taken yoga classes more regularly, and I would have taken a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon to go sit, alone and in silence, at a coffee shop with my journal.

You can take a break. Your children will be fine without you for a little while. They need time with their other parent, with other adults, and with other children. It is actually quite good for them.

What do you enjoy doing alone? Are you a runner? Would you like an hour at the gym a couple of times a week? Can you mark out two hours on Sunday afternoons as Mom’s official off duty time? Mark these spaces on your calendar and treat them like the important appointments that they are.

Once you are in the habit of creating and maintaining space to be alone, you may find that you are much more resilient. You won’t feel as desperate for a break when you know you have something scheduled in the next few days. The up and down stresses of life with small children are easier to navigate when your personal cup is filled.

What is your best tip for creating alone time and space when you have young children?

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How To Be A Passionate Mama

How To Be A Passionate Mama :: NurturedMama.net

photo credit: BenRo3 via photopin cc

This week I went to see Sting and Paul Simon perform together. Seeing Sting perform live was a long-standing entry on my bucket list.

It was a great show – both artists are incredible and have rich and diverse musical careers individually. It was wonderful to see them each perform each other’s songs and witness their obvious respect for each other and love of music and performing.

But the thing that struck me most about this concert was the band. Behind Sting and Paul Simon were a dozen other musicians, and each of them played several instruments each. They didn’t just dabble in a few instruments, they played each of them well enough to back up Sting and Paul Simon.

And they were having a blast. The violinist played with such intensity that he was shredding his bow. The accordion player was doing a 2nd line shuffle every time I looked at his corner of the stage. One band member switched from cello to electric guitar to recorder and had a special stand so he could play measures on a tenor sax without taking off his guitar. The three (!) percussionists were laughing and egging each other on during one particularly notable rhythm-section solo.

It got me thinking about how long it takes to learn a skill, and how much passion is a motivator, but also how passion is the payoff.

Also on my bucket list are these items: Write a book. Learn to play the cello. Learn to speak Italian.

In my life right now, being the primary caregiver to a 3-year-old and feeling responsible for keeping our home clean and organized and running smoothly, it sometimes feels impossible to reach for those things. How will learning to play the cello support our household? How do I justify the time it will take for me to learn that kind of skill, to put in that kind of practice? What will I, or my family, have to give up to make room for me to pursue those passions?

Watching those musicians, I saw the answer differently than I often do.

It is valuable for me to pursue my passions because when I am living passionately I burn brighter everywhere in my life. I am more alive in my parenting and my mothering and even in my home-keeping. I’m more able to follow my child’s interests where they lead and more willing to support my partner in his own outside-of-our-home interests.

Over and over I run in to this deeply embedded notion that because I choose to stay at home with our child, because I choose to not work in the traditional, office-based way, that I cannot or somehow do not deserve to spend time doing anything else.

I hear this voice saying I don’t have time for hobbies. I don’t have time for naps. When my child is in childcare I must be doing some kind of financially-productive work to earn the privilege of that time off for me. Which makes it not actually time off, just a different kind of work.

Over and over again I attempt to unravel that old idea and reprogram the voice. Because I really don’t believe it.

But it is very persistent.

If you feel guilty taking time for your own passions, you are not alone. If you have trouble turning off your to-do list, you are not alone. Us mamas, we feel like we have to do it all. Raise kids, have a career (or a successful solo business), have a beautiful clean home, have a busy social life.

All of which leaves very little room for us, the real women who are so busy spinning all those plates and wishing we just had time to paint, or read a book, or learn a language. Just because we want to. But that voice tells us we don’t deserve to take the time away from all those other things to spend on ourselves.

But let’s try this: Let us stand together in overcoming that voice that tells us we do not deserve. Because we do.

Mothers deserve to be autonomous, well-rested, passionate and engaged people, too. We deserve the time to learn new skills, pursue our curiosities, even to simply rest.

Not every single thing we do has to be of service to our family. It is enough, really enough, if it is simply of service to you.

Even when you are the primary caregiver. Even when you have young children.

Especially then.

If you could give yourself permission, what would you spend some time on that is just for you?

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How To Create a Peaceful Morning Routine (on Modern Alternative Mama)

How To Create A Peaceful Morning Routine :: nurturedmama.net

The way you start your morning has a huge impact on the rest of your day. Do you feel rushed,  frustrated, or cranky before you even finish your breakfast day after day? If so, it might be time to create a more peaceful and nurturing morning routine.

When you begin your day intentionally, with activities that ground and nourish you, you will be better prepared to deal with the challenges of a busy day.

Read the rest of this post on Modern Alternative Mama.

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