Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: May 2012

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bloggers for Birth Kits

When I had my home births, my midwife brought out a tote bin, approximately 18 gallon size, of supplies that stayed at the house from 36 weeks on.  It contained all of the various medical supplies that would possibly be needed for a safe birth at home.  In addition, she had us assemble a birth kit containing epsom salts, olive oil, extra towels and wash cloths, a dozen diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes, baby blankets, a hat for baby, receiving blankets, vinyl table cloths to go under me or the birth pool to keep other surfaces dry, pads for me for after the birth, witch hazel and extra sheets for the bed.  All of this filled up another tote bin of the same size.  For weeks, they sat in the corner of the dining room, keeping the supplies inside clean and dry, with the birth pool folded on top of them.

This was all I could think of when I read about the birth kits being assembled by Bloggers for Birth Kits to help birthing mothers in rural Papua New Guinea.

In rural Papua New Guinea, 1 out of every 7 mothers dies in childbirth.

Many of these mothers die simply because of a lack of sanitary supplies for giving birth.  This is where Bloggers for Birth Kits, and you, come in.

What can you do?

1. Make a birth kit. Assemble one yourself or gather a group of girlfriends, a moms group, work associates, or a church group to make a box full of them! Mail your kits to: Adriel Booker, Bloggers for Birth Kits, PO Box 6221, Townsville, Queensland, 4810, Australia. We will distribute the kits in some of the poorest regions of Papua New Guinea on our Medical Ship.
2. Donate for a birth kit to be made on your behalf. ($10 will buy 5 kits!) All donations for B4BK go toward the assembly and distribution of birth kits, as well as maternal care education. Make your online donation here. Please be sure to write Bloggers for Birth Kits in the “additional comments” box so the funds will be allocated properly.
3. Help raise awareness by posting about the cause on your blog, facebook, pinterest, and twitter (using #B4BirthKits), or add the Bloggers for Birth Kits button to your blog. (See the footer for code.)

What’s in a clean birth kit?

clean birth kit contents

The specifics:

1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).
2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.
5. Three pieces of strong string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.
7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).
Click here for instructions on proper assembly of birth kit, if you chose to assemble your own.

The discrepancy in care is astounding to me.  While I took such great care knitting the perfect wool hats to fit my tiny babies and keep their heads warm, these women are dying for lack of a $2 birth kit.
So, this is your call to arms!  Can you donate $10 today?  Or assemble 5 birth kits?  How many lives can you personally save, by simply providing a clean surface for a baby to be born on?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ten Tips for Travelling With Young Kids

As I've discussed a lot lately, our extended family is split between 2 different areas of the country - Missouri and Ohio.  So we have traveled with the kids since they were born.  Sofi's first car trip across was when she was 4 months old.  Walter's was at 3 weeks, and Elliott went to Denver with us (same distance, different direction) at 2 weeks old.  They are seasoned travelers, even at their tender ages.

Along the way, we've honed some great travel skills - parents and kids alike.  And we've done it all the old fashioned way - without laptops, audio books, game devices, or dvd players.  In fact, our travels resemble our home life, to a great extent.

I always have so much fun telling people about the little tricks we've learned, so I'm going to share some with you today, my fabulous readers!

10 Tips for Traveling With Young Kids

10. Prepare ahead of time by talking about it, so they are excited and know what to expect.  My kids are involved in every aspect of the travel that they can be.  Sometimes specifics aren't something they can decide (like, when Daddy can get time off work), but they can help choose clothing to pack, fold it and roll it to put it in the suitcase, and carrying things to the vehicle.  And for the days and weeks before, and while packing and loading the vehicle, we talk, talk, talk, talk about getting in the van and how we are going to be going to (insert destination here); WHY we are going; what we are going to do there; how much FUN we are going to have there; how we will be DRIVING for a LONG time to get there, and ALL THE FUN THINGS WE WILL DO ON OUR DRIVE!  So when we buckle in, the kids are ready.  They know we aren't stopping any time soon (ok, our kids have traveled with us long enough to know that we'll have to stop at least once before we actually make it out of town, most times, but THEN it's on)!  They already know what toys they've chosen to bring, what sights they will be looking for along the way, what snacks they will be eating, and whether or not we'll be stopping at a hotel for the night.

9. Dress comfortably - yourself and the kids.  Clothing that is too tight, too loose, will lump up in the seat, or won't let a child move freely while driving is maddening.  After a few hours in the car, sitting with a knot in the middle a child's back, a meltdown will be coming.  Also, my kids have learned to ask first, but that they are allowed to take off their shoes to have more room to wiggle their toes.

8. Pack snacks.  Keeping the kids' blood sugar even makes a huge difference in the way they will manage the stress of a trip.  Feeding snacks on a regular schedule really is so important.  Many food items are friendly for car travel.  Another tip that I discovered on our last trip was to let them choose their snacks when they got back in the car at each stop, instead of trying to feed them while we were stopped.  This gave them more time to eat, and more time to run - win/win!

7. Have toys and drawing supplies within reach of the kids.  These don't need to be new, and they don't need to be fancy.  Just some simple notebooks, a small pencil box with crayons, pencils, maybe some pens or washable markers, if the child won't be likely to draw all over the back seat, a few toys that they especially love and will keep them busy for hours.  I actually forgot to pack any toys at all for the kids coming from MO to OH on one trip lately, so we stopped at Walmart and I bought them each an $8 doll that came with a hooded blanket and a potty.  They played with those dolls the entire drive - happily.  I put all of the toys in one of the kids' backpacks, and used a suction cup hook to stick it to the back window where Sofi could reach it.  She can pass the toys out in the back seat and put them back in the bag when people are done with them.  When we stopped, I would scoop up any dropped toys and put them back in the backpack, ready for another round.

6. Set a timer for driving and breaks.  It is common knowledge that people will need to stop often to stretch, pee, and other sundry things while driving.  At the same time, this has to be balanced with actual forward momentum of the vehicle, in order to reach your destination.  I use the magic kitchen timer theory for the road, with most excellent results.  When we get in the car, I set the timer on my cell phone for 2 (or sometimes 2.5) hours.  I tell the kids, who can't yet tell time, that we will be finding a place to stop again when the timer goes off.  This makes sense to them.  The timer is set for lots of things at home.  They don't know what 2 hours is yet, but they can rest easy in KNOWING that the timer will go off eventually, and the van will stop.  This gives them something to expect and count on, and makes the driving much easier for them.  When the timer goes off, I find a suitable place to stop, and we get out of the van.  I set the timer again, for 30 minutes (or whatever is appropriate for the stop), and when the timer goes off, we load back up, grab our snacks, and get back on the road!  Again, the kids have an expectation and they don't struggle, because they know that the timer will go off again, and we'll do it all again.

5. Keep a routine.  Just like at home, kids thrive on routine.  If every trip follows a similar pattern, they learn what to expect, and are not as stressed about the difference in their daily routine.  Routine can come in the form of steps followed packing and loading the vehicle, steps followed at stops, setting the timer, or whatever pattern works for your family.

4. Stop where the kids can run, and let them run whenever you stop.  My kids' favorite place to stop for a break is a good playground.  We try to find them whenever we can.  There is usually a bathroom at the playground, and we can make a quick stop for gas on our way back to the highway, if needed.  The kids get a fast way to blow off some pent up energy, and they love the excitement of getting to discover a new set of equipment in a new place. If a playground isn't handy, or the time of day isn't compatible, there are many different options.  Many businesses have a nice strip of green running alongside or behind them.  A nice long strip of grass can be a great place for the kids to run - literally back and forth - and stretch their little bodies. If that isn't available, one of our favorite tricks is to find a Walmart (they are nearly everywhere), go to the bike section and find a bike or tricycle, and pop the kids on.  Let them ride the bike (calmly) through the store while we have a nice long walk.  Sometimes there is something we need to buy at the store, but usually it is just a clean bathroom and a good stretch, just like stopping at the park.

3. Bring books to read or tell stories.  A great outlet for the boring parts of the trip, or after dark, is stories.  My kids love to hear me tell tales about when I was a little girl, or about where we are going, and most especially, when I was a little girl and I went where we are going.  When those stories run out, a chapter book will do.  I use the kindle app on my phone for this usually, and I can read even in the dark.

2. Teach them to look out the windows.  This really is a practiced art form.  Simply looking out the windows does not really register with kids.  They really need to know what they are looking for.  Point out things to your kids that you or they find interesting.  Sofi is into firetrucks and other rescue vehicles, so we always watch for them.  Walter loves farms with great barns, animals, and silos, so we always watch for them.  Both kids love hay bales.  Point out the rivers, the trees, the differences in the landscape from where you live and where you've been.  Point out semis painted in your kids' favorite colors.  Point out trains.  Point out interesting things that you've never noticed before, or landmarks that you watch for each time.

1. Practice at home so they aren't used to being entertained.  Kids who depend on you for entertainment at all times at home will also depend on you for entertainment at all times while driving.  This can be annoying, frustrating for the kids, and downright dangerous if you are the only driver and you are also trying to entertain the children.  And it isn't fair to them, or to you, to expect them to suddenly be content driving in the car for hours without a constant stream of interaction from you, if they are used to always having that at home.  So, my number one tip for car travel is to let your kids practice being bored at home and coming up with a solution.  They don't have to sit still to practice - having the skill of finding something to do with what you have and where you are is invaluable, and translates to other media very easily.  A child who can stand in the middle of the back yard and figure out something to play, who can sit in a bedroom and figure out something to play, who can stand in the living room and find something to play, who can crawl under the dining room table and find something to play, will also be able to sit in a carseat and find something to play.  This is the beauty of creativity and imagination.  Just give your child plenty of time at home, without any input from you, to figure out how to entertain his or her self.

What other travel tips do you have?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Intentionally Angry!?


These words come out of Walter's mouth at least once a day.  And that is a good thing.  It means that already, at almost 4 years old, he has learned to use his words and tell us how he is feeling.  I'm pretty sure I was in my 20's before I acquired that skill.

One of the harder aspects of intentional living is anger.  Why on Earth would anyone get intentionally angry?  And yet, anger happens.  It is a healthy, normal process - if we let it be.  Things happen, and we get upset.  So, intentional anger isn't so much about not getting angry, or about getting angry by choice, but more about making choices about what happens when we do get angry.

Here are 4 tips for intentional anger:

1. Don't make it personal.   It's ok to be angry, but keep it to the issue, not the person. Focus on the problem, and not on what the other person is or isn't.  No name calling, and no hitting.
    Example:  Your kid just squeezed a brand new tube of toothpaste all over the bathroom counter?
    Solution:  Explain that  you are angry - even if you yell it.  Explain WHY you are angry, in words the other person can understand.  It is completely appropriate to say something like, "I am very angry that there is a big mess and now we don't have any toothpaste.  Please don't do that again."

2. Make I statements.  Try to start your statements with "I,"  Especially instead of "you".  Saying things like, "I need help to do the dishes every night," instead of, "You need to do the dishes every night," will garner much more cooperation.

3.  Focus on resolution.  There is no happy ending in blame, shame, or trying to get someone to admit that they were wrong.  The happy ending lies in finding a solution that works for everyone.  So focus on getting the real issue out in the open, and finding a resolution for the issue.  This is true, even for yourself.
    Example: Your spouse isn't pulling his or her weight on household chores.
    Solution:  Ask for the specifics of what you want done.  Don't name-call, make blanket statements like "always" or "never", or try to force your spouse into admitting fault.  Instead, specifically state your problem and your desired solution.  "I cannot get all of the chores done by myself.  I would really like for you to start putting away your own laundry, and make dinner one night per week."  But remember to be open to compromise, as well

4. Take a time out.  When you feel completely overwhelmed with anger, walk away for a few minutes.  Don't make any major decisions.  Just take a minute to calm down. If children are involved, it is ok to assure that they are in a safe spot and walk away from them for a little while, too.

What other intentional anger rules do you use?

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Mom Hacks Monday - A Better Use for a Butterfly Net

We drive a VW Eurovan - the MV - which has the middle row of seats turned backward against the front seats, and a bench across the back.  We have a deep and undying love for our van.  Feel free to ask me all about it!

But, that isn't what I am writing about today.  I am writing about the bench seat across the back of our van, which is a LONG way from the front seats.  Long as in, we once had a full sized washing machine in our van, with room for the kids to ride in their carseats too.

So we often run into an issue where we have a child WAY back in the back who needs something from WAY up in the front.  And then what is a mama or daddy to do?

We bought this fabulous butterfly net at the farmer's market last summer, and it has since lived between the front and middle seats.  When a cherub in the back seat needs a water bottle, or an apple, or whatever else they may need rightthisminute, the item is placed in the net, and the net is reached to the back seat.  The cherub retrieves the item from the net, and the net is stowed again for the next emergency.  No tears required.

****Disclaimer - do not attempt this maneuver while driving a moving vehicle.  Please let the front seat passenger pass the net back, or pull over to allow the driver to pass items back.********

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Foodie Friday - Tastiest Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy Free Waffles

Just as an FYI, the eggs pictured are not in the waffles - they were on Papa's plate! 

2 1/4 C Rice or Millet Flour (or a mix, if you feel fancy)
1 1/2 C Tapioca Starch
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
Prepared Egg Replacer Equivalent of 6 Eggs (or, ya know, eggs, if you can eat that kind of thing)
1/2 C Palm Oil, melted
2 C Milk Substitute (I use Almond Milk.  Water leaves these rather flavorless, so I do recommend some sub, but water will work in a pinch.)
2 Tsp Vanilla
Cinnamon to taste

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the liquid ingredients, one at a time.  When you are adding the milk sub, go slowly.  You should be making a thick batter, but not a dough.  If the batter is getting too runny, stop adding milk sub, even if you aren't yet to 2 cups.

Bake these up in a waffle iron and enjoy!  Made in a "regular" waffle iron, these come out on the crispy side.  Made in a Belgian style waffle iron, they are nearly cake-like.

This recipe yields about 7 standard waffle iron sized waffles.

What do you top your waffles with?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Keeping It Green on Vacation

We all know that the biggest thing we can do to be more environmentally responsible is to REDUCE - which is why it is the first step in the green mantra, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."  But, for many of us, that goes right out the window when it is time for vacation.

People who cloth diaper regularly will switch to disposables, just for the trip.  People who can't imagine using paper napkins at home will suddenly use only disposable items for the trip.  People who usually carry their plastic bottles home in their cars to be recycled will suddenly throw away everything they don't use.

People justify the impact for the convenience it breeds while travelling.  Since they are regularly conscious, people feel that the short time while travelling isn't as important.  But reducing waste on vacation doesn't have to be difficult.

Here are 10 tips to reduce waste while travelling:

10.  If you have a child in diapers, pack extra wet bags or a diaper pail and continue cloth diapering.  Utilize hotels or campgrounds with laundry facilities, borrow a friend or relative's washing machine or go to a laundromat to wash every few days.

9.  Ditch disposable tableware and stock a picnic basket of travel dishes and utensils.

8.  Stock wash cloths and a bottle of water in your vehicle.  If you don't have one for other wet cloth items handy, keep a wet bag or a collapsible nylon bag handy for the wet wipes.  This will replace paper napkins, paper towels, and disposable diaper wipes.

7.  Don't buy individually packaged snacks for the trip.  Instead, buy regular sized snacks and repackage them in reusable containers.

6.  Pack reusable water bottles and refill them instead of tossing plastic ones.

5.  Cook your own food while travelling, instead of relying on fast food.  Portable grills or camp stoves make this easy, affordable and fit easily in a vehicle.

4.  String a clothesline and hang your laundry out to dry.  Even in a hotel room, or at a campground, a simple line can be run to dry laundry easily.

3.  Utilize electronic maps via a gps unit, laptop or a cell phone instead of purchasing new paper maps or printing out directions.

2.  Compost while travelling, too.  Keep a bucket with a lid in the vehicle, hotel room or campsite for food scraps.  Ask around where you are vacationing to find an area to drop it off.  While camping, the owner of our campground has allowed us to use her own personal compost.  Relatives have let us use theirs.  Whole Foods has composting receptacles in store.

1.  Find recycling drop off centers and drop off recyclables instead of sending them to the landfill.  While in a hotel room or camping, keep an extra receptacle handy just for recyclables.

What else do you do to reduce your waste while traveling?


Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Mom Hacks - Knitting Row Counter Stitch Markers

Several months ago, a dear friend showed me how to make a fantastic new stitch marker.  I am abysmally bad at stopping my knitting to do any type of row counting.  Thus, I am constantly squinting at my rows, measuring, and trying to figure out if I have knitted the prescribed number or not.  Let's just say this isn't the best method for turning out a refined product.  So, when Tracy showed me how to make these stitch markers, I was over the moon.

Exhibit A is the chain stitch marker.  This was so easy to make!  I bought a package of jewelry findings that were simply rings large enough for my larger knitting needles to easily slip in and out of.  I used a simple pair of jewelry pliers and hooked the links together in a chain of 10.  At the end of the chain, there should be some type of a marker, so I slipped on a button.

Now, when I am knitting, I slip my stitch marker on my needles through the first link.  Each row I knit, I slip it to the next link.  No more squinting to count rows!  I just count my easy to see chain links.

But then, I started this shrug, and I only had a chain of 10, but I needed to count 80 rows.  So, how to count how many sets of 10 I've done?  I had an aha moment and slipped on a new stitch marker every time I finished a set of 10.  When I have 8 stitch markers on, I know I've done my 80 rows.  No more squinting!

I'm completely giddy over this new little knitting trick, and also because I smile EVERY SINGLE TIME I get to use my rainbow stitch markers from Ella Bleu Creations.

Do you have any great row counting tricks to share?

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Friday, May 18, 2012


This post was written as a contribution to the Boys Have Long Hair, Too Blog Carnival.  The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences, struggles, and opinions surrounding having a son who has long hair.

When I found out I was having a baby boy I was torn. I've never been into rough and tumble little boys, much. How would I parent a little boy? How would I raise my little boy? What would my little boy be like and would I like him? I spent a lot of time watching other little boys thinking about what I liked about them. Finally I realized there were a few little boys I really didn't mind. The ones, for example, who would grow up to be like my husband.

Realizing that helped me to realize how to nurture this sweet, sensitive side of a little boy. So when my little boy came along, and he was sweet and wonderful, I nurtured that. I honored his wants and needs instead of teaching him to be tough. I listened to him. I let him make choices so he would feel powerful.

One of those choices happened when he was almost two years old. While I was brushing his sister's hair one day, he told me, "I want a ponytail too." But his hair was short wisps, not long enough to put in a ponytail. So without judgment I told him, "You'll have to grow your hair long enough to put it into a ponytail." We had this exchange almost daily for about another year. Finally his hair was long enough to be put into a ponytail. And he was ecstatic!

As long as he has been able to talk he has told me that he wanted long hair. Because I want him to listen to others, I listen to him. His hair is his choice. His clothing is his choice. His appearance is his choice. And that makes him powerful.

His hair may seem superficial. Many have told me I should just cut it. But his hair is part of a greater lesson.

His hair is teaching him that he is powerful. Because of his hair, he knows he can make choices without fighting; without muscle. Being allowed to make his own choice shows him that people respect him. And not having to fight to be who he wants is teaching him to be sensitive; to care about others.

So when he says he wants to grow his hair long long long, and he wants to grow a beard down to his belt, I listen. After all it is his hair.

We'd love it if you stopped by to read submissions by the other amazing carnival bloggers

My Happy Hippie Boy -- Andie from Crayon Freckles shares why she and her husband have chosen to let their 3.5 yr old son’s hair go uncut. 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Father’s View -- Alex from Glittering Muffins says it happens that not only does his son, Nico have long hair, he as the father has no problem with it either. He personally does not find that long hair emasculates a boy (or adult alike)...

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Maman’s View -- Valerie from Glittering Muffins son has been called a cute little girl for about a year and a half (he’s 2.5 yo). So she corrects people and tells them he’s a boy and loves his long hair (Once in a while she even throws in a “he also loves to watch Strawberry Shortcake”). 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too --The Monko from Taming the Goblin explains why she likes it when her son is mistaken for a girl and asks the question "Do mums of girls feel this guilty when their child doesn't like having their long hair brushed?"

Sampson -- Kellie from Our Mindful Life reflects on how long hair gives her son power.

Trials and Tribulations of a Boy with Tresses -- Carolyn from Mama's Little Muse talks about her experience in raising a boy with hair too beautiful to cut short. It is about how people have reacted; how she has created keepsakes featuring his hair; and also how they have arrived at a game that they play so that the hair brushing experience goes more smoothly.

His Hair, His Decision -- Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn't a boy have long hair?”. Her 'answers' are historical, personal and family-specific.

Boys Have Long Hair, Too -- Sarah from This is Me…Sarah Mum of 3 is mum to 3 children a boy aged 10, girl aged 8 and a boy aged 5, Always loving the longer hair styles for boys her two boys have had many different hair styles over the years but always seem to resort back to the longer locks even against the negative comments they sometimes recieve.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

10 Great (Allergen Friendly) Travel Snacks

My family has spent a LOT of time on the road lately, what with driving back and forth across the country over and over and whatnot. And because of our special food considerations, we have to pack everything we intend to eat. And because I'm picky about what I let the kids eat, and I don't have an unlimited grocery budget, we have to get a bit creative when we do this. But, by the time we were settled here in Ohio, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the snack supply. So I thought I'd share some ideas with you, my faithful readers!
10. Lunch meat - We should have bought stock in Hormel before we started this adventure! Their natural line of lunch meat is easy to come by in many grocery stores. It tastes good and is highly portable. And while lunch meat is a tad high in sodium, and price, it was a staple for us on the road.
9. NuGo Bars, Lara Bars, Enjoy Life Brand bars - If you haven't yet discovered NuGo brand snack bars, you are truly missing out. All NuGo bars are based on the beneficial properties of dark chocolate, and oh my do they deliver taste! They come in several different varieties, with more or less allergens in them, so read carefully if this is a concern for you. But even without the allergen concerns, these bars are heavenly! My kids really love the Enjoy Life brand bars as well. They prefer the berry flavor, but will take apple in a pinch. And Lara Bars are always a good alternative, too. It is easy to come up with copycat Lara Bar recipes online, if you prefer to save money or just make it yourself. And homemade granola bars would also keep costs and processing lower, but I didn't have time for any of that this go round.
8. Berries - My kids love berries, and they really were a great portable food! I had never thought of them for trips before, because they seem so delicate, but in the plastic clam shells from the store, they traveled quite nicely. They needed no dips or garnishes - just a damp wipe to keep in the back seat!
7. Raisins and/or dried cranberries - We eat a ton of these at home, and on the road was no exception. Dropped in a bottle, they were a great road snack.
6. Dried Fruit - my kids eat a TON of dried fruit. We regularly have dried mango, apricot, banana, pineapple and sometimes papaya. These are in addition to the obvious raisins and cranberries. And a friend makes dried apple slices that my children refer to as "apple pie". This is so easily portable and non-messy that it was a must have for the trips.
5. Nuts - Protein can be the hardest nutrient for us to get when we are travelling, because it almost always has something in it that we can't eat, and it can be hard to get protein to travel well. Nuts are a great option for us, since we don't have nut allergies. My kids prefer cashews because they are easy to chew, but they'll eat peanuts in a pinch. Toss them in a bag with some raisins and cranberries, maybe a few chocolate chips, and you've got a tasty trail mix! Just, watch those chocolate chips in a hot car. Not that I've had any experience with melted chocolate chips lately, or anything.
4. Ants on a log (or ants in a bowl) - This was one of my kids' favorites on the road. We packed celery, cashew butter, and raisins and made ants on a log (peanut butter in the celery with raisins sprinkled on top, for the un-initiated). Walter thought up the idea of "ants in a bowl" too, and stirred up peanut butter and raisins, sans celery.
3. Cooked pasta - My kids can eat some serious pasta, let me tell you! I cooked up a big pot of plain pasta before we left, put it in a zip top bag, and the kids snacked on it the entire day. I could have made pasta salad by adding some beans, a sprinkle of cheese, peas, sunflower seeds, or other non-delicate add-ins. But, my kids like their pasta straight up. Even the baby chowed down on it.
2. Apples - We each eat an apple a day, most days, and seeing as they travel very well, we did so on the road too! More delicate fruit can be harder to pack in an accessible yet protective way, bruises or becomes overripe in a warm vehicle or water-logged in a cooler. But the hardy apple goes the distance! We prefer fujis or honeycrisps.
1. Carrots, celery, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes - These were my favorite of the trip foods! A pack of baby carrots was low prep (just open the bag), and my kids ate them for days. Cherry tomatoes were basically the same, only they did have to be picked over for freshness here and there. Celery required little more than a wipe and breaking off the ends, and again, even the baby loved chomping on it. Bell pepper is another of Walter's favorites, and sliced up ahead of time and stored in a canning jar, they travel well too. Put them all in a row and you've got a little rainbow of nutrition, even in the car!

Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

This is the majority of what got us through. What foods do you pack for trips?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Intentional Living

People sometimes wonder what I mean by "Mindful". For my family, being mindful is our journey with intentional living. Intentional living is the process of choosing how to spend your time. In essence, it is the process of deciding which action to take, instead of being a passenger in the vehicle of life. Living intentionally means giving meaning to each moment. It is planning how to spend your time, which words to speak, how to treat yourself and others. It is living life by your rules instead of simply allowing life to happen.

Living intentionally looks different for everyone who does it. People focus on different areas to bring intention to their lives. For some, it is about faith, living intentionally in the mores of their religion. For some, it is about activism; social, environmental, health, or any number of causes, giving oneself over to the cause and always working towards furthering that cause. For some, it is about lifestyle, and always being a part of that lifestyle. The intentions vary. The thread that holds all of these people together is the focus of living in your intention.

However, intentional living is not about obsessing over making the right decision. It is not about a second guessing yourself. It is not about feeling guilty for making mistakes. It’s not a rigid set of rules for life. Instead, it is more fluid than this. It is accepting that we are human, and that we all make mistakes, yet striving every day to be better in some way, and to get closer to our goals.

Intentional living is about making the choice moment by moment to be the person you want to be.
What is your intention? What are you striving towards?

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Snack Bottles

The kids and I did a few road trips recently. Ok, so maybe a bit more than a few. And all of this driving has really helped us to get a grip on some great travelling snacks! I'll be sharing a good list of these later on this week. But for today, I'm going to share a great travel snack tip that I stumbled upon while driving from Ohio to Missouri last week. Walter wanted raisins for a snack while we were driving, but it really scares me to let him have anything so small in the backseat, since his seat is right next to Elliott's.

Also, I only had a big bag of raisins, and would have to portion them out for him. I fished around for some small container to put them in, but I didn't have any of my usual items with me. There were no baggies, no jars, no bowls. And as I dug and jostled through things, I remembered the ONE container in the entire van; an unused baby bottle that had come in the kit with my breast pump! So, I dug it up and put the raisins in the bottom. Now, I still didn't realize how perfect this solution was at this point. It wasn't until I watched him in the backseat with the raisins that I realized I had hit upon the PERFECT travel container!

The bottle had a lid, so if he decided not to finish, he could cap it back up and not spill in the back seat. The size and shape made it easy to hold - much easier than the canning jars we use much of the time. But the contour of the bottle is what made it the most perfect! Rather than pour the raisins into his had, dropping them all over the carseat, Walter was tipping the bottle up to his mouth as though he were drinking from it! Bingo! NO MESS! It really was a thing of beauty. And the wide bottom on the bottle meant that the raisins all fell right back to the bottom instead of clogging up inside the bottle, and causing frustration.

So, I finally found the perfect use for all of those old baby bottles. And from now on, baby bottles will be our go to container for snacks in the van!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Moving On

Things have been changing for our family, in many ways. The largest of which has been a cross country move. We have spent the last few months planning and preparing to move closer to my family, and it has been happening! Technically, our residence is still in Missouri, but Papa started his new job in Ohio on May 1, so we have bought a camper and we will be spending as much of the summer as necessary in it, until our house sells. Hopefully, that will happen sooner than later.

And with the move, other things have changed. One of these things being that I've closed Mindful Life Shop. 

And, since I've closed it, I feel more comfortable with having more personal information on my blog. I've long referred to the kids as the Bean, the Bug, and Squeaker, because I wasn't comfortable with having their names, ages, personal information, pictures and their address all together on the internet. But, now that we are a bit more anonymous, I'm going to drop the pseudonyms in favor of their real names; Sofiya, Walter and Elliott.

Another thing that has changed is that Elliott is getting older and more mobile, which means that I have my hands to myself a bit more than I have for the past year. And at the same time, we've moved from roughly 1850 square feet into about 300 square feet of living space. So, I have more time and more hands! Which means I am planning on more blogging. I've got several blogs planned for this coming week, so stay tuned! 

Here's hoping that I can be more regular with my blogs from now on.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I grew up in a world called Family. I was surrounded by Family at almost all times. I lived at the end of a row of six houses that were all Family. My father was one of eight children, and his parents also raised two of his cousins. My mother is one of five children. Holidays, birthdays, weekends and summers were spent in a swarm of parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, aunts, uncles and cousins of all ages. It seems, in my memory, as though there were always babies being born, children were almost always around to play with, and the delightful murmur of voices cradled me from every side.

I gained so much from growing up in such a group of people.

When I became a mother, I pictured my children growing up in the hum of so much family. I pictured weekends with adults playing cards while the children played past bedtime. I pictured holidays where we rushed to the gatherings early in the mornings, and stayed until late in the evening, visiting and enjoying one another’s company. I pictured my children sleeping over at aunt and uncle’s houses, excited to play with their cousins. I pictured cousins having pajama parties at our house.

But one of the realities of life, especially in parenting, is that Mama is not the only one in the game. In our case, we started out our parenting journey, with me having a difficult pregnancy and 600+ miles to our closest relative. We made the choice, at five months pregnant, to quit our jobs, move back closer to family, and start over. Again, though, there was a “but”. But, Papa is from the Kansas City area of Missouri, and I am from northern Kentucky, in the Cincinnati area. So, “family” wasn’t a union where we would all be together for birthday parties, or taking turns at holidays. We had to choose which family we would live closer to.

In that space, we made the choice to go to Missouri, to be closer to Papa’s family. Papa’s family is wonderful. They are kind, and loving, and helpful. They have been there for births, birthday parties, and holidays. They have watched the kids for me to help me get gifts made before they were due. I treasure them. But, Papa’s parents were both only children, so the flurry of people isn’t present at holidays and birthdays. There are only two sets of aunts and uncles for my children, instead of the thirteen that I grew up with. Instead of being one of twenty-five cousins, my children have known only three, all of whom are a fair amount older; too much older for pajama parties. Holiday traditions are different. We typically meet for a late lunch or an early dinner, and then everyone visits for an hour or so and goes home. The long days and mayhem are not so much their style. And my children have thrived. They have loved their holidays, birthdays, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. They have loved what they had because it is what they knew.

I replaced the close relationships that my parents and their siblings had with close friends who have children similar in age to my children. I have replaced late night card games with afternoon knitting groups. I have replaced summertime family parties at the pool with summers at the spray park with good friends. I was born into a village, so to speak. My children were not. I had to create their village, and my own parenting village. And I did. And it is a lovely village.

But… But I missed my world called Family. And I missed it all the time. I missed it on Saturday evenings, sitting by myself while the kids slept and Papa did school work. I missed it on Easter morning, when there was no mad dash to get ready to go to Grandma’s house. I missed it at birthday parties when we had to whittle out lists of who to invite, instead of already knowing. I missed the crowd. I missed my family.

And so, with a lot of tears, and a lot of courage, we made the decision to move back to Ohio, to be near my Family. The house was already on the market, as we had already made the decision to move to a farm. Papa found a new job in Ohio. And this week, we are beginning our journey to living in Ohio!

We hope that our house will sell quickly so that we can buy our perfect farm soon. And we are looking forward to the round of summer birthday parties!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child's grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family...
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn't Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What's Next can't imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son's life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt... until she remembers what it's actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My 'high-needs' child and 'strangers' — With a 'high-needs' daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter's extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family's summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the "village" even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don't get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must've been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don't have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs-- Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn't an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama's sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We're Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.