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    WPPW (Week 5): Enjoy





    I've so enjoyed the experience of writing poetry over the last five weeks; it's hard to believe the month of April has gone already! This week brought so many experiences and changes to our lives - overwhelming at times, and yet, I still found the time to sit and write; I think that says something good about poetry. Having not written poetry before, I found it challenging and frustrating, and yet - satisfying in its simplicity, and so I hope to continue - even without the gentle push of a weekly goal. Thank you Lauren for hosting, and thank you - anyone - for reading along.

     

    This week's poetry theme was Enjoy. As there is nothing I so enjoy as time outdoors with my children, it seemed only natural that experience would inspire my final week's poem.

    Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop


    Gardening  

     

    Afternoon Spring sun warms our shoulders as we crouch, hunched over our hardened-off sprouts.

    Searching for the heartiest amidst curved shoots, wilted leaves; small fingers examining each stem, you are engrossed.

    A swallow - darting,  just inches from the sun-warmed top of your head; you are undeterred.

    This one looks strong.

    And I agree. I haven't taught you this; selection is innate.

    Each one you gently separate, place, settle down into fertile soil.

    Dirt in your hair, fingernails, in the scrapes on your knees.

    And wonder in your eyes - perhaps imagining a future filled with fruit and vegetables.    

    Until - suddenly - concern crosses your countenance, interrupting your calm:  

    The water is knocking him over.

    It's okay, I say, Time will make him stronger.

    You nod, returning to your work.

    The swallow darts again, and we smile.


     

    Posted: May 05 2013, 17:25 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Earth Day: Outside-In





    I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. 

    - John Muir, Preservationist (1838-1914)

     

    For indeed, when we walk into the forest, we open our hearts to nature, the rhythm of the earth. No longer outside observers of landscape - sheltered behind our screens, houses, cars, windows - but immersed IN it. Walking delicately on spongy earth, breathing heady aromas of pine needles, leaves, rich humus; we realize we are from the earth, of the earth. We all ARE the earth, the sky, the universe - all of us.

     

    Happy Earth Day, my friends.

     

     

    Posted: Apr 22 2013, 12:26 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Hurricane Sandy and the Jersey Shore





    If you'd like to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, click here (to jump right to the bottom of this post).


    Two weekends ago, we took the day to travel "down the shore" (that's how we say it here in New Jersey). We went to Long Beach Island because it's the closest to us - a little over an hour drive - or 35mi due West as the crow flies.


    (running along Spray Beach in LBI)


    (one of the street markers located at each opening in the dunes along LBI)

    I'd been meaning to share our trip with you here in pictures, because it was such an idyllic  weekend at the beach. But then... Hurricane Sandy (known pre-disaster by the moniker "Frankenstorm" for its proximity to Halloween) came through my state.

    For my family, the hurricane meant a bit of scrambling around in preparation - gathering supplies, the unique opportunity to witness a hurricane up-close, 24 hours of lost power, frantic working to keep our warehouse up and running, and a delayed Halloween. We were truly fortunate to have missed some of the worst weather and after effects.

     

    For other families, some I know personally and others I've only seen in the media reports, the hurricane brought power disruption, home destruction, and most devastatingly, loss of life. The pictures I see coming in from the shore (where we JUST. WERE.) and from the surrounding towns and cities are almost incomprehensible.


    (looking towards the ocean on LBI during the storm - source unknown)


    (car buried in sand on LBI after the storm- source unknown)


    (the dunes, no longer there - LBI after the storm - source unknown)


    (a beach marker, nearly covered in sand during post-storm cleanup efforts on LBI - source unknown)

    My heart goes out to those still struggling. It's COLD here in New Jersey right now; and there's a Nor'easter coming this week (that means a BIG snow storm for those of you not from the North East USA). Millions are still without power, thousands of homes were damaged, and there's a gas shortage in the Northern part of my state. It's hard to watch the news, to talk about it with my children, to understand what happened so close to home. But it helps to know so many people have have donated time and money to help those most in need. The generosity of the human spirit is alive and well in New Jersey; I am so thankful.


    If you'd like to donate to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in my state, and the surrounding areas hit hard by the storm, here are a few places you can do so. (Each of these charities are non-religiously/politically affiliated and have received a commendable rating at CharityNavigator.org)

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy child welfare efforts: Save the Children

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy hunger relief efforts at the Jersey shore: The Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy medical supplies and equipment: Direct Relief International

     

    To donate directly to Hurricane Sandy companion animal rescue and care efforts: Best Friends Animal Society

     

    To donate directly to general Hurricane Sandy emergency relief efforts: American Red Cross

     

    To help find or to offer breastmilk storage to those without power: Human Milk for Human Babies - New Jersey

     

    Thank you for reading, for donating, for keeping those affected by Hurricane Sandy in your hearts and thoughts. Peace.

    Note: I am not affiliated with any of the above listed charities. When you click on the above links, you will leave my site, and go directly to the individual charity pages.
    Posted: Nov 03 2012, 17:10 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Life Without Status Updates





    I saw this the other day on (ahem) Facebook, and it got me thinking:

     

    {Calvin & Hobbes are awesome}


    We were blessed to have a lot of time to be together as a family this summer, away from hectic schedules and routines and crowds. We were also blessed - though it may have been one of those proverbial blessings in disguise - to be in places where fast internet (or internet, at all) isn't a priority. Having a difficult time using your phone makes you use it less. Using it less makes you look up more, look around, reach out, find ways to fill the moments you'd been so used to filling with checking emails, status updates, photos, games, news, videos, posts. Sometimes you fill the moments with simply being. Listening. Observing. Living. Loving. Noticing things that have gone unnoticed at digital life speed. Looking up at the stars.

     

    {heaven is here} 


    Seeing nature and parts of our earth I'd never seen before - without the constant companion of palm-sized information diarrhea - was inspiring. Releasing. And humbling. Because… HOW? How have I gone so many years without knowing what the stars really look like - as they do on the Kansas plains. They look there, nothing like my lightpollutedbackyardpostagestamp view of the New Jersey sky. Watching my children explore the earth, dig in the sand, splash in the water, move rocks, climb trees, find wildlife – without the interruption of status updates – was simply wondrous.  It is wonderous, as well, to do these things yourself. Experiences in real life, real time.

     

    {hiking through the foothills}


    To be honest, it wasn’t easy at first. Being away from technology… initially, it's like a tugging, pulling, calling to me that doesn't subside. HOW can I be without INFORMATION? Without conversation - the typewritten kind, anyway? Without UPDATES? Weather? Pictures? News? Videos? DISTRACTIONS? But the pulling gets weaker. After a few days, I forgot to carry my phone with me a couple of times. The information and news that seemed so necessary last week, became more unnecessary, with each passing day. The immediate loses its charm. I started to forget. I began to relearn patience and observation, being present, and how to embrace boredom.

    {being present}


    I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a book: it doesn't update, doesn't change, refresh, or move forward. It stays right where I left it on the precise page I dog-eared yesterday when my children needed me. It was still there, unchanged, when I had time or desire to come back to it. Uncluttered with ads. Devoid of noise. Black text on white page. Tangible. Unmoving. There's something grounding in that. Grounding like the silence of the sunrise. Or the thinness of the air at twelve-thousand feet.

     

    {Maine at 5:58am}


     

    {Colorado at 12,310 feet}


    Being away from the stream of constant interruption gave me opportunity to really THINK about the interruption we experience every day in our digitized lives. We’re always being physically interrupted – a status check here, an email there, a text message here, a photo there. And, as such, we’re in a state of continual mental intrusion that these updates often cause – often without our full consent.  Think about this:  When is the last time you were able to log into to your favorite social media website, read something, post a reply, and walk away without giving it another thought; undeterred by how your comment might be taken – by people you may not really even know. It happens even if you don’t stop to participate in the conversation – the comments of others swirl around in your mind or you analyze the content of the story or you mull over the ensuing conversation. All about people you aren’t actually interacting with, over things that often don’t directly impact your life, all the while, an intrusion on your state of mind, your peacefulness, your presence with the people you ARE actually interacting with, and the nature within which you actually LIVE. This happens, I’ve found, without even being aware that it’s happening. You just start feeling a little off, a little down, a little distracted – not sure why. Your responses to your spouse or children or friends might be a bit short, irritated, less patient. How CAN you be patient with the weight of the internet world on your shoulders along with all your physical time demands. Then you realize… oh. It’s that blog/message board conversation/video I read/participated in/watched that has me concerned. And maybe then you can let it go. For a while. Be more present. At least until the next log in.

     

    {relaxing, without mental distraction}


    I didn’t fully recognize this happened to me, too until… the internet, and the distraction that comes with it, wasn’t there anymore. And I was left with a lot of… empty space and time in my mind. When you have space to think, without mindlessness to fill it in, you actually… start to think. And to FEEL. And to realize - perhaps most importantly - that the people I really most wanted to communicate with were right there - within touching distance of me. The things I wanted to experience were right beneath my feet. Neither of which required a computer or a phone at all.

    {siblings} 


    And yes, I recognize the irony of my writing this - at my computer. With the intention of posting it on the internet. And then using social media to disseminate it.But that, of course, is because I recognize the benefits of the digital age in which we live. I understand and appreciate the value of the internet for a variety of purposes – Information: looking up the names of the constellations, the words to a poem, a vegan recipe, how to spell something correctly, the list of awesome, immediate access is endless. Support & Community: connecting with people who have similar areas of interest and experience - particularly important when your interests may lie outside of the norm. I can't enumerate how many times I've found great support for breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle parenting online… heck, it's one of the main reasons for my writing this blog: to share my experiences with other parents who may be looking for suggestions and support on how to parent from their heart, who may not have those resources and support in their physical lives. But while I understand all of the wonders of the internet, when weighed against the wonders of just BEING with your loved ones, I have to tip the scales in the direction of real touch and interaction: more time on the floor with my kids than in front of the computer; more nature exploration than website exploration.  This realization may make me deficient in social media, but a nature and family connection deficiency is far more grave and long-lasting.


    {studying a sunflower}


    So my challenge, and one I present to you, is to aim towards taking a few more moments out of each day to look at the stars, watch the sunrise, look in your kids' eyes, and leave your computer off and your phone behind. On purpose. Live life without status updates. It will be worthwhile, I promise.

    Posted: Sep 09 2012, 18:44 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    All Things Seem Possible in May





    The world's favorite season is the spring. 

    All things seem possible in May.

    ~Edwin Way Teale

    I've never done a monthly wrap-up post before, but because May was particularly awesome this time around, I've decided to give it a try. What blessings hath May brought? 

    I RAN ten miles (without stopping!) at the Broad Street run in Philadelphia - My longest running distance ever (so far!): 

      

    The kids completed their first season of Soccer; making me a… (wait for it…) Soccer Mom. Should I get that soccer ball sticker for my minivan yet?


    Speaking of Mom, on Mother's Day weekend, I was treated to a box of brownies, breakfast, flowers, gifts, a drive-thru zoo where the giraffes come right. Up. To. Your. Car. (I love New Jersey), an amusement park, and dinner at my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Philly. Not bad if I do say so myself:


    Many of my flowers started blooming. May is one of the most amazing months in the garden.


    I traveled to a television studio in New York City and met two blogger friends and an attachment parenting guru:


    Next up, my baby turned FIVE. Five I tell you. Unbelievable. My heart:


    Later that week, we took the kids for their very first backpacking trip - 11 miles, three days, and two nights out in the backcountry of Virginia! It was amazing and awesome (and wet and exhausting) but so wonderfully bonding as a family. It was incredibly refreshing to get so close to the earth, and back to basics (No social media! No laptop! No cellphone service!):

     

    And we concluded with a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums and Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day:

     

    It's been a spectacular month. I can't wait to see what's up next - bring it on, June!!!    

    Posted: Jun 02 2012, 10:54 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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