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Magic Sprinkles

With enough mommy wisdom in the spotlight (for even just a day) I am fairly certain we can change the world. And that is just exactly what we are going to do.

Along with our future cast, our St. Louis Listen To Your Mother team of Co-directors and Producers are excited to announce, with your support we will be putting motherhood center-stage come May 2013.

Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day. For the past three years LTYM performances have been organized by local communities for local communities and they have a vast body of motherhood wisdom to show for it.

With over 200 video readings about motherhood on their YouTube channel and growing, LTYM is artfully and heart-fully capturing the truth, wisdom and wet-your-pants funny moments we all know and love as moms. This movement is making a difference for families one community at a time, raising funds for local charities and bringing people together to share their lives.

After seeing a few LTYM videos online and learning about the founder, Ann Imig, I knew I wanted to be involved. Ann and all the many other talented people that have made this movement a reality described in a single word? It would have to be: ROCK.

This movement. These women. They are the stuff of My Mommy Manual. Moms connecting. Truth telling. Sharing stories. I am so in love.

When we share our life’s stories from the heart, our stories come with magic sprinkles. Little yummy, brightly-colored, sweet truths. These magic sprinkles have the power to bring us together. To make things better. They have the power to change the world. Magic sprinkles. That is what this event is all about.

Our St. Louis production promises to take you on a WILD ride. My sistas in planning this crazy fun, Ellie Grossman, Laura Edwards and Naomi Francis are talented and equally passionate about this project. You will get to know them better in the months to come as surely I will be sharing stories with you from our production journey, because sharing stories is what we do.

So get involved. Sign up when audition time nears in February/March. If you are far from St. Louis (as many of you are) check here for a performance near you and if there isn’t one, make one happen in 2014!

Because magic sprinkles are a beautiful thing.

xo

 

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Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

Happy Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN y’all.

CONNECT IN THE KITCHEN

 

Halloween. It’s a big deal when you are a kid. Plans for what to dress up as can begin as early as July…

Here are three super easy ideas that don’t take a lot of supplies, talent OR time and are SURE to be a hit with your kids no matter their age – tots to teens.

 

Watermelon BRAIN: Just a small watermelon, a potato peeler and a knife will get you this good looking center piece!

Bread Stick Roll BONES: My kids had a blast making these femur bones and ribs out of a roll of bread stick dough. They ate ‘em up with a side of butter cinnamon sugar to dip them in. Get creative and make your own shapes!

Scary HAND Veggie Dip: Just cream cheese “glue” almond slices onto the ends of five finger-looking (peeled and ends cut off) carrots, then stick ‘em in a bowl of dip and you’ve got a spoooookie treat. Your kids will want to eat even their GREEN veggies with this one. (for the picture, check the video above.)

How to Bake Pumpkin Seeds

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xo

Suzanne Tucker is co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com and a proud mom of four. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

The Crayon Connection

I am so happy my friend Shanna agreed to write for us about crafts today. She’s a mom of two under age three and I am inspired, not only by her and her crafty-ness, but by the simple truth she shares with us today. Thanks Shanna!!!

(PS: Crayons rock. You two have inspired me. I have our crayons out today) … ;)

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I’ve done a million crafts with my daughter and for the most part, they have been really fun and educational. So when Suzanne asked me to write about crafts and connection, I must admit, I kind of panicked. As I thought back to all the crafts we’ve done, my mind kept going back to one thing…crayons. Silly, right? I thought so. I kept saying to myself, “Crayons just won’t do.”

I pondered and pondered what I could write about. What would be the best craft to help us connect with our kids?

Thinking…thinking…Crayons…Really? That’s still in my head?

After sleeping on it, I finally realized why crayons were so prevalent in my thoughts about this post. When I color, simply color and draw with my child, that is when I feel the closest, the calmest. I notice it in my daughter, Grace, as well. We clear the table and the excitement builds as she’s helping me. I go to our art station and grab the crayons and A LOT of paper. She asks me to let her carry them and she’s so proud to do so. We get ourselves set up and we are off to the races.

The crayons allow us to tell a story to one another…Grace has great stories.

The crayons allow us to talk about fear, love, sharing and caring.

The crayons allow us to learn together.

The crayons allow us to encourage and complement each other.

Grace is only three years old, but has a vast vocabulary. I enjoy talking to her and hearing what she has to say and I want her to know that I am always willing and excited to listen. But let’s be honest for a moment. When I’m cooking or cleaning, I’m not doing my best listening as to how she just saw the COOLEST ladybug. And when she’s really focused on her dolls and giving them checkups with her doctors kit…well, Mommy is the last person she wants to tell about the nice dragon that visited her and who would now like to be her friend.

But I want to hear about that ladybug and the adventures they have together. I want to hear about the nice dragon and I don’t blame him for wanting to be my daughter’s friend…she’s AWESOME!

When we color, I get hear those great adventures and she gets to know that I’m 100% listening…we’re connected.

I always stand from the table feeling like I know my daughter better than when we started. I always feel closer. We get to laugh together and tell secrets and share our creations together.

It may not be a huge craft with themes and glue and buttons and glitter and pom-poms…those are really fun and we do them all the time. However, there is something special about the connection I get with my daughter through a simple crayon.

That little waxy, colored tube gives me a window into my daughter’s heart and mind and I can’t help but think that somehow, in her own little three year old way, she gets an understanding of mine.

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By guest blogger Shanna C. of Momma C. Designs.

Remembering…

I am not the same person I was before miscarriage, before our angel babies Leo, Mary, Tucker, Lily and Nina forever rocked my world.

I feel my angel babies making a difference every time I sit down to write to you.

I feel them in my heart when my second daughter tells me how she feels her angel brothers and sisters are looking out for her.

I feel them when our eldest daughter, now twelve, draws her family portrait at school with me, her dad, her two sisters and brother and herself surrounded by five cupcake stickers; the stickers she only later tells me are her angel brothers and sisters.

And I feel them when, last month, celebrating fifteen years of marriage, I experienced a love there between my husband and I, stronger in spite of (or maybe even because of) the times we pushed away from one another, grieving so much loss together but more often, separately.

I am remembering my baby angels today, something I usually do privately or maybe here with you or with other angel mamas; but today I will do this publicly, with friends and family and some that may not quite understand why.

I will do this because October 15th is a day for the world to remember angel babies and the ones they left behind, that we may know we are not alone.

If you have lost a child, know that I and many, many others are remembering with you today. We want to wrap you in love and light. We want to listen to you. We want to say your baby’s name aloud.

Write your angels name below and we will say it aloud with you, that all those that come here know, your angel is remembered.

xo

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

Let’s Build Each Other Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the best thing anybody said to you after you had your first baby?

Say that to new moms you know.

What was the best thing anybody did for you? Was it a friend that came over to scrub your toilets instead of coming over to hold your cute new baby? A meal dropped by without a visit attached? A card? A kind word when you nursed in public even though it was new and still uncomfortable for you?

Do that.

Was there ever a mom that listened to you complain without trying to solve your problem or make it bad or *wrong*?

Listen this way to other mothers.

Was there ever a mom that told you early on (when you thought you could do nothing right) “YOU’VE SO TOTALLY GOT THIS”?

Say this to other mothers.

Was there ever another mother that told you “Perfect is overrated” and “Don’t worry, when it comes to babies, there is no such thing as NORMAL”?

Remind other mother of this too.

Today, if you see another mother out and about, be kind. Smile at her even though you do not know her. Be for her what another mother was (or could have been) for you in those first few fragile days, weeks, months… years.

We are more connected than we are separate. Make a difference for another mother TODAY.

“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

- Mother Teresa

xo

 

 

 

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

I Don’t Want to Do Something Wrong…

My friend Desi wrote to me last night wanting thoughts on how she might best support a friend:

My girlfriend just lost her baby. She was around 27 weeks. I don’t know what I need to do. I am going to mail a card tomorrow, but I don’t want to do something wrong at this sensitive time in her life. What can I do for her?

I love my friend. She is the mom of two, her baby just months old. She has never lost a child, but in her compassion, she is reaching out to learn how she might best support her friend. This is the sort of person everyone deserves to have in their life when bad things happen. I was (am) lucky enough to have friends and family like Desi, but so, SO many are not.

Here is what I wrote back, my immediate reply to a friend asking for advice. It took me all of about 48 seconds to write… and instead of adding to it or making it pretty, I thought I’d share with you just as it was, not in spite of its unedited-ness, but because of  it. (Sometimes our heads just get in the way…)

do listen. just listening, with your whole heart, without a need to make it better or make it go away… this is the most powerful thing you can do.

do be compassionate in your listening. you do not need to have had a loss to be of comfort to her.

do tell her you are sorry. that you are thinking of her. over and over, many times. those are really the best words. you can tell her in a card, in a gift, in a phone call, in a meal you drop by.

avoid fresh flowers. they die and can be a sad reminder when eventually they need to be thrown out.

ask her how she is. talk to her about her baby and call her baby by her baby’s name.

never feel you are best not mentioning it because you don’t want to “remind her” because, trust me, she won’t have forgotten and likely she is thinking about it anyway.

do not give her advice on how to feel. ever. things like “everything happens for a reason” or “at least you have another child” or “well, your baby is in a better place.” These words ring empty and do not comfort most in their loss.

do sit with her while she cries. drive over to give her a hug if she lives in town; even if she tells you she is okay and doesn’t need you to do this, hug her.

do ask if you can buy a plant or a tree for her to plant in her babies memory so she can see it’s life cycles and remember her sweet baby angel with each passing season.

do offer to help organize the memorial service. a balloon release or something of this sort where all can remember her baby with her. lots of ideas online.

do put this on your calendar for this time next year. remember this day with her then as she will be thinking about it. it may be a tough month even. likely nobody else in her world will be remembering along with her (unless she is really good at creating this sort of support in her life) and you remembering for and with her… this is a great, great gift.

give the gift of you. your heart. your listening. your tears. your understanding. your permission for her to grieve. she may denying these very things to herself. i know i did.
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you are a real gift in her life. you are a good friend to even ask.

 

What would you have replied? (And thank you ahead of time. I plan to add your thoughts to JOURNEY.)

xo

 

 

PS: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day is coming up October 15th. This might be a nice time to remember a friend’s loss for and with them.

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I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you know what it is to lose a child, be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, I hope you will walk with me and other moms here, because this journey we are on is better when we are holding hands. Join and receive email support and inspiration for the journey of life after losing a child.

This Is My Intention

I know this feeling. I have another something growing within me. This something has a soul. I’m not pregnant (with a baby anyway) but something is definitely growing. 

It’s still new for me to say it out loud, but I’m going to say it anyway. I am writing a book. A companion journal for mother’s who know loss be it to infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant loss or any other. Loss is loss.

I can see the journal so clearly, how it will look and even how it will feel to hold; to write in. This book will be covered in pretty things, tied with a ribbon and a promise to hold all it contains forever close. This book will be a place for mother’s to feel less alone, to capture memories and search their hearts, unearthing the treasures that await them there. Gifts for them alone.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And so it is for healing, more a way than a place one arrives. Being with our grief is a worthy journey. Though not popular in our culture, being intimate with our suffering has the power to bring peace and healing. This is the inspiration for this companion journal.

After seven years of living in my journal alone, this book is unfolding. It begins with a chapter on stillness and ends with a chapter on sharing. Each of the book’s five chapters includes stories, quotes, and poems followed by big, beautifully illustrated open spaces to journal.

Writing this companion journal is part of my healing journey to be certain. In 2005 we lost our first son. Leo took flight and left me with a heart full of pain. About a week into my struggle to accept our loss I experienced what I can only describe as a calling. It happened like a tap on my shoulder, a tap that spoke to my heart even though it made no sense to my head. I was supposed to write about my journey with loss.

I doubted this tap. I though, “Who is gonna want to read about my life?” But I started to write anyway. With pen to paper, I wrestled with my life and searched for answers to the questions that filled me.

Six months after losing Leo, one miscarriage turned into two. Turned into three. I was down on my knees and the call got louder. I wasn’t doubting anymore. Turned into four. Turned into five.  Somewhere in the middle there, I started to believe. I was supposed to make time for my grief to live; to  hold love present to my pain that I may be called ever closer to the fullness of life; to share my story and to listen to the stories of others with out judgment or conditions. I was supposed to tell my story.

The chapters are taking shape, miraculously, like little baby fingers and little baby toes. If this book were a baby I think I’m somewhere near the end of my first trimester. An early spring birth, 2014, in time for Mother’s Day and the anniversary of Leo’s passing. I hope so anyway.

It takes a team to have a baby and I am very clear, it will take no less to bring this book to life. I hope you will be there for the long haul so together we can wonder at it’s creation into being.

In my next post I’ll show you a picture of how I see this companion journal looking. Like an eight week ultrasound, this picture will give you a glimpse of what I hope this ‘lil angel will look like one day soon. I can’t wait to show you. (I think it’s going to have my husband’s nose…)

xo

 

 

 

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I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you are a mother that knows loss, I hope you walk with me and other moms that know what it is to grieve as well. This journey we are on is easier when we are holding hands. Join for support and inspiration for the journey of life after loss.

Not For a Reason

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I used to say this, but I don’t anymore.

If everything happens for a reason, would it not follow that there is but one reason for the things that happen? What if my reason and your reason don’t match? Who gets to name it?

How can we apply reason to all the unreasonable things that happen in this world and to what purpose?

For most all of us who have lost a child, these words ring empty. Though meant to comfort, they leave us with more questions than answers, directing us in our grief to search our minds for what possible reason could exist to explain our pain.

Rather, I would offer that everything in life can have meaning. Why get stuck thinking about reason when we can turn to the heart of the matter for meaning instead? In meaning, we can have endless interpretations; my meaning different that your meaning, though neither one right or wrong in the naming of it.

For me and in my life, even the most tragic of events have had the power to draw me deeper into the fullness of life. In each, I have found meaning.

How about you? What do you believe?

To join other mothers walking with loss, click here.

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

A Curvy Road

The beginning of my third decade on Earth brought with it our first child and there began my walk on the spiritual path of motherhood.

How to sum up this walk???

For me it’s been a spiritual practice in many things, but forced to name just three they would be acceptance, self-love and intuition.

Acceptance.

Ever the fighter for control and/or having things go the way I’d like them to go, Spirit wisely threw me quite a few curve balls in my late thirties. I’d sum up the spiritual exercise of early motherhood and later, living through five miscarriages in a single word. Acceptance.

Being a first time mom and feeling the grasp I thought I had so firmly on life slipping through my hands. Living through loss after loss, accepting I had no control over whether, with each new baby, I would carry them full term or not. The experiences combined, motherhood and miscarriage… better than a college credit course in teaching me to allow.

I look at our experiences with loss now differently than I did while they were occurring. I still feel the sting of these experiences but can also appreciate them for what they brought me. As I see it life forced my hand, demanding of me to learn to be with what is rather than how I’d have it.

Non-attachment. Not an easy lesson, but a valuable one and I am still a student of (big-time). Life as “mom” gives me new lessons in sweet-surrender on a daily basis. Holding on to letting go. It’s become my mommy mantra.

Softening into life rather than fighting it when inevitably it doesn’t seem to be going my way. This is the lesson acceptance has offered and it’s been immeasurably helpful in parenting, especially of late now that we have two tween daughters and twin 2.5 year olds.

Two’s and tween/teens. All you READ about parenting these ages has to do with conflict and power struggles. The terrible two’s. The dreaded teen years. Thankfully we are not there (knocks on wood.) I think the resistance that might exist between us has been lessened by a great extent thanks to the lessons life delivered to me (be it with me kicking and screaming every step of the way) in learning to allow. The practice of pausing and allowing before moving head first into responding and reacting; invaluable of late for me. Thank you Spirit.

Self-love.

I look at self-love as coming to better know and love myself for the person I am while forgiving myself for the person I am not (a rather long list).

How can I love another if I don’t first love me? Good question, and one I found motherhood brought into sharp focus for me.

When life feels hard I breathe in “I love myself” and breathe out “I am enough.” This is my other mommy mantra, the one I reach too when life is feeling hard… and it’s been healing beyond measure.

Being enough. Life brings me many opportunities for me to practice self-love, breathing into my mistakes and letting go of the “not-enough” when inevitably I find myself judging (myself and those I love… that’s who we judge most harshly though, isn’t it?) or otherwise resisting life. This is a daily (if not moment by moment) practice for me and probably will be for the rest of my life. It is in modeling self-love and forgiveness I teach my children the most precious thing I have to teach them about love, namely, that I am love. That they are love.

That love is a noun… not a verb.

Intuition.

I see intuition as tuning in and trusting myself and the inner knowing I pose (we each possess) to guide me. I believe this inner knowing to be Spirit and I look to this place inside myself for very real guidance on matters large and small, in parenting and in life.

So many ways to go. Do I do this? Say this? Go this way or that? How do I manage this crisis, this conversation, this decision, thought, emotion? I would be LOST in parenting were it not for the practice of pausing. Were it not for the guidance I receive when I stop to ask,  listen and receive. All that is left for me then is to follow. Thank you Spirit.

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Suzanne Tucker aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting. If she can be a support to you on your spiritual path of motherhood, please reach out to her today!

Thick As Thieves

I wanted to share a story about my dear friend, Julie. We met five years ago, when we found ourselves on the first day of school, dropping off our girls in Kindergarten. I’m not sure who was more nervous then, the kids or the moms!

Since then, we’ve been “thick as thieves,” as they say. We’ve shared many a laugh… like the time I dragged her to my strip aerobics class and she called me the next day to report that her a** was so sore, she could barely lower herself to the toilet seat. Hey, we’re moms. I know you’ve all done that move… snicker while you can!

We’ve also shared more serious moments, like the time I called her at 5 am saying I was leaving my marriage and needed a place to stay. Or, the day she called and told me that she had tested positive for BRCA1.

BRCA1 (and BRCA2) are tumor suppressor genes. Mutations in these genes are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. At the time, [Read more...]