Dream a Little Dream with Me

I was blessed to become a mother nearly seven years ago.  Nurturing my daughters has come naturally to me.  However, like many moms I have struggled with the important task of nurturing myself.  We make sure our children eat healthy, square meals while we get by on the discarded crusts or a candy bar nibbled in stolen moments from the high cupboard (I can’t be the only one).  We make sure our children get enough sleep, while we often feel like we could use some toothpicks to prop our own eyelids open.   We make sure our children are seen regularly for check ups, and we pause at their every cough, sniffle or wheeze but often overlook our own health.  We make sure they get lots of fresh air and exercise so their bodies will grow strong and healthy, while  we make a hefty monthly “donation” to the local health club.  We nurture their interests but leave little time to explore our own.  And you know what?  For the most part we don’t mind!  Our children are amazing little beings, and they are only little for that magical window of time.  I always rationalized my self-neglect with this thought - my children are the most important thing in the world to me.  They come first.  Then when I was at my most depleted, a very wise woman said to me,

“The mother is the well from which the whole family drinks.  Having an empty well helps no one.” 

Oh boy, was my well empty.

As powerful as this truth was to me, things did not change overnight.  It continues to be a challenge for me, finding the balance between one who nurtures and one who is nurtured.  

Part of my dream for Bloom is for it to not only be a magical, nurturing place for little ones, but also for their parents.  I want to support the whole family.  Families with young children need and deserve an incredible amount of community, love and support.  It is hard work nurturing these tiny beings, and it is the most important work we will ever do.  What deserves more support than that?  

So with that in mind, I want to hear from you, moms and dads, about what kind of support and nurturing you desire.   What do you want to do, see, hear, participate in? 

Prepared to-go dinners to take home at pick up time?  

Classes or workshops?  On what? Parenting?  Self care? Healthy living? Yoga or Meditation?

Handwork (crafts - knitting, felting...)?

Parent-child events?

Personal laundry service? (Okay, I think I’m kidding on this one but seriously, think outside the box!)

Please know that your input is valued regardless of whether or not your child attends Bloom.  I would like to open things up to the community as a whole whenever possible.  xoxox


What's on YOUR list?

You can justify just about anything, but you can’t fool yourself (try as you might). 

When something feels wrong, you can’t shake that feeling despite trying to tell yourself its no big deal or that everyone is doing it.  I have been brushing off that sinking feeling for a while now, and as is often the case, my six year old illuminated things for me.  It was 6am.  I was on the couch alone with my phone when my daughters woke up and joined me.  I tucked the iphone aside.  After having a snuggle, I asked my daughter if she would please bring me my glasses.  When she returned from my bedroom with my glasses and my slippers (dear, sweet thing) I again had my phone in hand....just for "two seconds" while I finished a Facebook post (ironically, a post about my children).  She sat down next to me and began to draw.  Inspired by her efforts to bring me what I needed to start my day, she said she was drawing, “What Mama needs when she gets up in the morning.” Glasses, coffee, slippers, bathrobe, phone.  Ugh. She looked at me, smiling, proud of her drawings.  

This is what she thinks is important to me first thing in the morning. 

I can only imagine my expression.  I felt horrified. “How about snuggling?” I asked (no doubt with pleading eyes).  “That’s something I need every morning.”  So she added snuggling.  Sensing my sadness (she is so wise that way) she began to add “things Mama likes to do” to her picture...smiling, laughing, picking her up from school.  We both smiled.  She was trying to make me feel better, though I’m sure she didn’t really understand why a cloud had passed across my face.

I am connected with so many people via my phone - texting, emailing, social Facebooking, business Facebooking, an app that connects me to my website, Scrabble.  But the people I should be most connected with, the people who matter more to me than anything, don’t deserve the distracted-ness that all of this connectedness creates.  I am disheartened by what I am missing while I am behind my screen, by the example I am setting for my children, and by what I might be doing to their self esteem when they feel like they need to compete with my phone for my attention. Do I really want my phone to be on my daughters list of things she thinks are most important to me?  How did this happen?

As a business owner I have convinced myself that I need to be in constant contact.  The truth is, this is a bit of a pretext.  Certainly, not all of the “contact” I have relates to business.   I need to find a way to be accessible without my phone becoming an extension of my hand.  I need to set some rules and stick to them.  I can lessen the barrage of bells, chimes and beeps currently set to go off on my phone by turning off some of my myriad of notifications. I can check my phone periodically when I am with the children, but I don’t need to respond to everything immediately.   Scrabble can wait, as can Facebook, for when my children are not with me.  

The fact that this seems like it is going to be really hard to do is exactly why I need to do it. If I haven’t convinced you to join me, I dare you to read this post by Hands Free Mama.


In the Wake of Tragedy

I have simply found myself without words for what happened in Connecticut on Friday.  When I logged onto my computer and read the news story, like many of you I suppose, all I could do was cry.  I haven’t wanted to talk about it or even think about it.  I have avoided the news and reading Facebook posts because its just too painful.  I don’t feel I have anything to gain from knowing the details beyond that initial article I read. 

Having two young children, one in kindergarten, just makes this tragedy too raw for me to process, and I am a grown woman with a pretty high emotional IQ (at least I like to think so). I cannot imagine how a child exposed to this news could possibly make any sense of it. 

When Hurricane Sandy devastated our New York and New Jersey neighbors, I showed my six and a half year old an image of a street in the Bronx, where everyone’s belongings were piled high on the sidewalks, and I explained to her that all of their belongings were ruined, and many had nothing - no clothes, no toys, no electricity...  She helped me to deliver supplies to a friend traveling to New York to help.  I thought it was important and age appropriate for her to begin to understand her good fortune and that it is important to help others in need.   

But this is different.  So different.  I see absolutely no need for my children to learn of this horrible tragedy it at all.  Period.  I will do my best to protect them from this news.  My children will not see or hear any of the media coverage of this tragedy at home.  I will do my best to avoid them overhearing adult conversations about it. 

Despite our efforts, though, many young children and (of course) older children and young adults will hear this news and they will need our help to process it. I came across this article on helping children who have been exposed to news of tragedy (thank you Lisabeth and David  Sewell McCann of Sparkle Stories for sharing it with their subscribers).  I think it is excellent and wanted to share it.

Let us all hug our children a little tighter this holiday season.  There is no greater gift.

 {Author's note: I was very much wearing my "mom" hat when I wrote the above.  Below is the letter I sent to parents on 12/17/12}




My "Bloom Administrator" response:

Dear Parents,

As we begin our work/school routines this week, I'm sure like me your heart and mind are a little heavier with thoughts of Friday's tragedy in Connecticut.  I wanted to take a moment to let you know how we are handling the aftermath here at Bloom.  
We are hoping that the young children in our care  have not been exposed to the news or adult conversations about Friday's events.  However, we realize this may have happened despite your efforts to keep them sheltered. We are choosing as a faculty not to bring discussion about the events into the classrooms.  If a child who has been exposed to the story wishes to discuss it, his/her teacher will gently let them know that that topic is best discussed at home.  We don't want the children to feel it is not okay to talk about it, however we would like to protect the children who have not been exposed.  I also ask that parents refrain from addressing it with the teachers or each other while in the classrooms or busy foyer.  You are more than welcome, however, to come into the office (or call or send an email) to address with me any concerns or suggestions you may have.
We have a faculty meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, during which we will discuss the procedures for a "lockdown".  {Details withheld}
As you know we have a code to the front door.  As a reminder, the code to the door is for parents and faculty only.  Please do not give out the code to ANYONE.  We also have the added security measure of transmitters, which the teachers wear around their necks.  These not only activate the doors, but they also allow for immediate contact to our alarm company, who will dispatch the police or fire department when a certain button is pressed.  
I hope this helps in some small way to reassure you.  
Blessings on us all,




Notes from Bloom's Clean Food Coach Visit

Last week we had a visit from The Clean Food Coach, Jeannette Bessinger.  She came to Bloom to speak on “Finessing Finicky Eaters.”  A group of about twenty moms came out for the event, but I know many others were interested and would have joined us if schedules had allowed.  With that in mind I wanted to share some little nuggets (no pun intended) of wisdom she shared with the group.  Some of this stuff may be obvious to you, but perhaps there is a something that might inspire an “A-ha!” 

Sugar, salt and fat are addictive substances.  The more you have, the more you want.  Once a child is hooked on foods high in salt/sugar/fat it is difficult to abate that desire.  Once a person’s palate is accustomed to these foods, it can take a year or more to "re-train" his palate to desire healthy foods. Best to avoid this path from the get go.

Many toddlers go through phases wherein they are not very interested in food.  It is during these phases that many parents, concerned that their child is not eating enough, begin to place less-than-healthy options in front of their children just to get them to eat something.   Once the door is opened to less-than-healthy choices, it is hard to revert.  Better just to keep offering healthy choices.  When your child is hungry, he will eat. (This is of course assuming the child is in general good health).

If you don’t want your child to eat “junk food,” don’t buy it.  They have radar for the stuff.  If its in the house, they will know!  And as Jeannette noted, “They aren’t driving themselves to McDonalds!”

When presenting your child with a new food, be completely neutral.  Don’t try to oversell it by going on about how yummy it is.  Conversely, don’t say, “I know its not your favorite, but...”  Simply serve it without commentary. If they like it, great.  If they don’t, its okay.

It can take trying a new food fifteen times before a child will like it.  If your child tries something and doesn’t like it, don’t give up.   Keep serving it. 

Always try to serve something on the dinner plate that you know your child will like, alongside other items that may not be as well received.

Whatever you are serving for dinner, stick to it.  Don’t offer anything else.  If your child is hungry, he will eat something.  If he knows he’ll get offered something else if he refuses what is offered, he will hold out for another (likely less nutritious) option.

Most importantly, don’t give up on healthy foods!  Here are some tips from Jeannette for how to get your child to eat more veggies.  Find Jeannette's website here and find her cookbooks online here.


A Garland of Experiences

Advent is swiftly approaching and Christmas decorations are beginning to spring up.  Personally, I love it.  Its not that I want to be rushed to celebrate Christmas sooner, but rather that I like to enjoy the holiday season for as long as possible.  There is so much richness to be enjoyed if we can remember to slow down and savor the moments shared with the ones we love.

Like most children, mine begin asking how many days there are until Christmas as soon as the turkey is off of the Thanksgiving table.  This is one of the reasons I love Advent calendars.  Although I suppose I have loved them since I was a child and my mother made one for my brothers and me.  An advent calendar gives a visual representation of time and also gives the children (and the parents) a little something special to look forward to each day.  Most are made of paper and a small window is opened each day to reveal a tiny image.  The one I had growing up was a large felt tree with 25 felt ornaments which were placed on it one by one.  My two brothers and I took turns placing an ornament on the tree each day, and this simple gesture was something to which we all looked forward.  We now take turns passing this family treasure from one sibling to another so we can each share it with our own children.

In the last few years I have noticed a lot of Advent garlands.  Different from the calendars, they are designed not only to represent the days of Advent, but also typically have pockets so that one may place a small gift in each.  Advent garlands are beautiful, but the idea of placing a gift in each pocket gives me pause for a couple of reasons.  First, who has the money (and the wealth of ideas?) to equip the garland with twenty-four little gifts, and then still have something left over on Christmas morning?  Of course, one could opt for inexpensive little plastic trinkets, but then you’ll have twenty five little plastic trinkets, which will inevitably end up going into the landfill (or into the family pet).  I also don’t like planting the seed that Christmas is all about receiving things.  So, last year I posed the question to friends: 

How about an Advent garland full of experiences rather than gifts? 

We came up with a wonderful list of experiences, each of which could be placed on a little note card in each pocket of an Advent garland.  You may need to really plan out which experiences fall on which days (weekday versus weekend, for example), as some require more of a time commitment than others.  I actually held our stash of cards aside and chose one each night to place in the pocket for the next day.  A couple of small handmade or well chosen gifts or bits of candy can be interspersed as well, but the overall sentiment behind this kind of garland is more about giving and spending time together than about receiving a gift.  

Here is the list my friends and I created:  

Have a treasure hunt to your stash of Christmas books (make a treasure map for the children to follow)

Do something kind for the Earth today

Do something kind for an animal today

Do something kind for another person today

Tonight we will have your favorite dinner

Wear your pajamas and have breakfast for dinner

Go outside and look at the stars after dinner

Write a letter to Santa

Call someone and tell them you love them

Draw a picture for a friend or family member 

Write a letter to a friend or family member who lives far away

Bring some food, clothing or toys to a shelter

Buy a toy for a child less fortunate

Bake cookies

Visit a new playground

Hike in a new location

Have special alone time with Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa...

Make a Christmas gift for someone

Go to the Children’s Museum

Bring cookies to local community workers (police, fire department...)

Choose a friend to have over for a play date

Go to the library to choose some Christmas books

Have a scavenger hunt in your home for items red and green

Make a list of things for which you are thankful

Visit an elderly neighbor

Go caroling

Decorate the tree/Pick out a tree

Make ornaments

Invite a neighbor to dinner

Make some reindeer food (granola, bird seed, nuts, seeds - the birds like it too)

I welcome you to add more ideas in the comments below!  Have fun!

{Pictured is a simple garland I made last year from craft paper.}