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.

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.

Hey, Connection Isn’t Always Easy

re·la·tion·ship [ri-ley-shuhn-ship] noun

1. a connection, association, or involvement.

2. connection between persons by blood or marriage.

3. an emotional or other connection between people.

4. a sexual involvement; affair.

Being a mother, wife, lover, woman, friend… sometimes it’s hard. Maybe it’s just that by definition relationships are hard. Look above. The word connection is used in three of the four explanations of relationship and hey, connection isn’t always easy.

I opened the Bible on a day years ago when life and my relationships were getting the better of me. I was down and looking for some encouragement. I love to open certain books (the Bible being one of my favorites to do this with) to a random page and let where ever my finger falls speak to me. The words on which I land almost always knock me off my feet with the wisdom they hold. A word, passage or an entire page; on this day the message for me was contained in a single word.

“Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). Mark 7:34

This single word spoke volumes to my heart [Read more…]

How to Listen to a Birth Story

Women have been talking about their births for thousands of years. And yet somehow, as the tide of childbirth has shifted dramatically in the past 70 years, we’ve forgotten the importance of being on the listening end of a birth story.  The next time you hear a mother start to discuss the details of her birth, consider taking these recommendations to heart:

Take Responsibility For Your OWN Emotions! I cannot stress enough how important this is. Women should be free to share their birth stories without fear of “offending” another mom. For example, if a woman is sharing how she labored without any pain medication, please do not jump to the conclusion that she’s calling you a wimp for choosing an epidural! Whatever your birth experiences were, they are yours and yours alone. Maybe you’re still carrying disappointment or sadness about your births, for any number of reasons, and those emotions often resurface when hearing another woman’s story. But instead of projecting your emotions onto another mother (which we sometimes unknowingly do), own whatever emotions you’re experiencing and resolve to set aside time to work through those feelings. By doing so, you will be better able to objectively love and support other mothers.

Do Not “One-Up” Her Story With Yours! Do we really think it’s helpful  to say, “Oh 20 hours of labor, that’s nothing!! Listen to my whopper-of-a-birth-story…” Certainly it is in our nature as mothers to talk about our births.  Even elderly women will gladly share all the details of their births when asked. We want our stories to be heard and they should be heard! But choose with caution the opportunities to share your story. Instead, if you’re listening to another woman’s story, listen intently and remind yourself that this is her time.

Respond with Empathy. Many women are burdened with painful emotions they are carrying from their birth experiences. Often we feel uncomfortable when a person is sharing about their grief or sadness. In our discomfort, we end up saying things such as, “Well at least your baby is healthy” or “the best thing is just to move on.” But to a hurting woman, these well-intended words are like pouring salt into her wounds.  Instead, validate her emotions. Phrases like, “That must’ve been so scary for you” or “it’s understandable why you are disappointed” are reassuring and can aid in her healing. And if you really do not know what to say, you can always respond with, “I’m so sorry you experienced this.” Remember: you might be the very first person to respond to her pain with empathy and kindness.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.”

~Brenda Ueland

by Expert Mommy, Sarah Baker

How to Parent Soul to Soul

We all want the best for our kids. The best foods, toys, sitters, teachers, friends… but are we giving them the best “us” there is? It dawns on me that in this moment, as I multi-task with my kids (sorting the mail and writing to you as they do their homework) I am not. In giving them my divided attention I’m clearly not parenting from my “soul” place; more like my “just-a-minute” place.

***3:55 pm — PAUSE WRITING***

***8:55pm — RESUME WRITING***

I’m so glad I’m writing about this to you today. 🙂 It’s not that I was being a “bad” parent… just a not very present one. They didn’t notice… But I could feel it. And this is the sort of thing I’d like to be ever more aware of. Am I parenting soul to soul? I certainly hope so. Do I parent from a place less than this? (on a daily basis?) You bet ‘ja.

Amidst the diaper changing, soccer games, grocery shopping and laundry sorting, each of us experience opportunities to share our TRUE selves with our families (or not). A story from our past. A feeling. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our fears. Let’s not wait until life slows down or for when our kids are a little older to do this very important thing.

Children (even babies) understand way more than we give them credit for. On a soul level, while we are trying to remember, they are trying not to forget.

Our guest is Annie Burnside, author of Soul to Soul Parenting: A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family (I know, right?!? Great name.) Listen as she walks us through four ways to connect with our kids, no matter their age:

  • Unborn: Take moments to connect in silence and/or stillness during your pregnancy with your unborn child. You are sharing the same blood after all — how much more connected can two souls be?
  • Newborn: Whisper sweet nothings into their ears: listen to the very sweet way Annie welcomed her children into this world.
  • Tot: Look beyond the terrible two’s and share sweet stories together, planting the seeds of forgiveness, empathy, worthiness, self-love and more.
  • Young Child to Tween/Teen years: Make the space and time for weekly family chats: Annie shares how to dive into the same themes you touched on when they were little… but with a bit more depth.

I hope you’ll consider adding Soul to Soul Parenting to your night stand. I’m glad the publisher sent me a copy and that Annie Burnside is on mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts about any and all the things Annie and I spoke about… including ways YOU connect on a soul to soul level with your kids.

Share yourself on a soul level with your child today and you might be surprised by what shows up; a child that’s been sharing themselves on a soul level with you all along.

[Read more…]

Zen Mommy Minute: Cool Smoothies – connecting with our kids


Cool smoothies. They’re YUM and nutritious… hence the perfect after school treat for you and your child of just about any age to make together. Here’s a great recipe with pineapple, lime… and yes kids, a scoop of ice cream. 🙂

Tell me about your kitchen adventures. Do your kids like to make up their own recipes as much as mine? (whose latest creations,  “Reindeer Peanut Butter Snacks”, were left out Christmas eve with a copy of the recipe so Mrs. Claus could make more of them once Rudolph and the gang got back to the North Pole.)

due logo

This Zen Mommy Minute is published in partnership with Due Maternity, a great place for maternity clothes. xoxo

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy [Read more…]

How to Get Bound with a Book

My dad died a long time ago,  long before I had children. Yet, among other things, we are still bound by a book. It’s a hardcover edition of Mark Twain’s short stories. My dad bought it when I was a toddler and gave it to me the night before I got married, telling me that Twain’s humor and wisdom would come in handy in the years ahead. It did, and it still does.

book_boundWhen you share a book with someone it’s as if you’re saying “I value what’s in this book enough to want to share it with you because I value you too.” Simple sentiments become more powerful when accompanied by a book.

Parents of small children know how important “book/cuddle time” is to raising a reader and making essential connections. Parents of preteens and teens can continue to build a special closeness through books: [Read more…]

Zen Mommy Minute: Unscheduled Time

How important is unscheduled time in your life? For your children? This week, join me in making down time a priority for yourself and your family; for truly, it is in these moments of “doing-nothing” time that the magic and wonder of childhood (and life!) happen.

It’s in our “being-ness”, not our “doing-ness” that we feel connected to life. If you are feeling disconnected, where can you say “no” in life and perhaps schedule yourself some much needed unscheduled time? 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on [Read more…]

How to Raise Your Child to be HAPPY

Childhood Roots of Adult HappinessAs much as we’d like to wrap happiness up and give it as a gift to our kids this holiday season, alas, we cannot. Happiness comes from within. It can only come from within. No amount of telling our children they “should” be happy for this or that can actually make it so. So how can we raise our children to be happy if we cannot give them happiness? (This is starting to sound like a Zen riddle!) Well, there’s hope…and it is not complicated. Research shows we can give our children happiness in the way we parent and in the way we live our lives.

One of my all time favorite books on the subject details this out very plainly, giving real world examples and strategies that help kids tap into their own internal wellspring of happiness. The book is The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward M. Hallowell.

In it, Dr. Hallowell examines the research on how kids learn to create and sustain lifelong joy…regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Profound. He offers a simple explanation and five easy steps parents can take.

If you are like me you are thinking, “What ARE the 5 steps??! Give me the formula!” Well, the book is worth a full read, but here they are in a nutshell:

1. Connection

2. Play

3. Practice

4. Mastery

5. Recognition

Through his personal experiences and as a child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell reminds us of the significance of CONNECTEDNESS (my favorite theme of all time), playfulness, optimism, and joy in our daily lives. One major take away is to avoid over scheduling your child’s life. They need lots of time to just BE, to play and create and imagine…you know…like you and I got to do when we were kids? Not dance, soccer, gymnastics, music and karate classes…just your child/ren and chunks of time with nothing to do but be a kid. This book really helped me off the hook of feeling I somehow needed to entertain my kids24/7 if I was to be a “good mom”.

Now the words “Mom, I’m bored” are music to my ears. It means I’m doing my job and my kids are being given ample down time to just be; to practice figuring out how to create their own happiness. And they do. Minutes after “I’m bored” our girls move head on into some of the most creative and magical games you could ever imagine…making fairy clothes out of leaves…dressing the cat to look like a rock star…the list goes on.

This enlightening book is thought provoking and a must read for anyone hoping to inspire happiness in the lives of children. I am encouraged to know that as parents, we can make a profound difference in our children’s abilities to create and sustain happiness no matter what challenges life may bring their way. I hope you will read this book and that it brings joy and ease…to your children and to your parenting.

I’d love to hear about your favorite parenting reads and what you got from them!!!

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. She is also the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting course.