Friday Features: ‘Garden Mama’ And ‘MamaUK’

I wanted to share two different bloggers with you this week. If you don’t know them, you won’t know of them either, as they don’t seem to belong to any networks – but if you don’t drop by, you’re missing out.

Garden Mama is one of the very first bloggers I ever read. I don’t remember how I found her blog, but I know exactly why I stayed, and why I keep visiting – it’s a place of tranquillity. Reality, and tranquillity and beauty.

You can’t see through the screen to what someone’s life looks like in reality, but I know that I would love the life that she portrays through her pages.Read more: Friday Features: ‘Garden Mama’ And ‘MamaUK’

Friday Feature: ‘Monday Morning Coffee’ And ‘Kitchen Witch’

Monday Morning Coffee is a simply gorgeous blog. It’s pretty much a photo journal of the kind that makes me want to retake the photography course I did about ten years ago.  Her pictures evoke emotion. They are bits of art, each and every one.  Reading – or watching – Monday Morning Coffee unfold is like reading the pages of someone’s diary, but without guilt, because they’ve handed it to you. It’s beautiful and peaceful. It’s a privilege to be invited in.

Friday Feature: 'Monday Morning Coffee' And 'Kitchen Witch'

Jenni has a large family and step family (five kids from baby to 17 year old!), many of whom have food intolerances and allergies, so when my gluten and dairy free friend comes to visit, you’ll find me perusing MMC for a recipe for our dinner!

Monday Morning Coffee is still quite a young blog, started in August last year, with a small following, but deserving of a larger one. I highly recommend that you visit this website – you’ll leave feeling like you’ve just had coffee with a friend.

—-

Kitchen Witch is an incredible blog that I’ve been a silent reader of for a very long time. Joni Rae is an awesomely talented woman – you can see that in her blog design and creative doodles. She is also a passionate activist in a number of arenas – like breastfeeding – and speaks with a fervour and intensity that makes you sit up and listen.

Friday Feature: 'Monday Morning Coffee' And 'Kitchen Witch'Joni is also deeply honest about her life, her past, her depression and her battle with body image. She also doesn’t mind standing up for her beliefs in the face of possible criticism. For example, there are many in the AP circles that don’t believe in praising children too much, and many have written on the ‘dangers’ of ‘good job!’ But Joni tells her kids when she thinks they’re doing a good job. (I do too. And I tell my daughter she’s beautiful… daily!)

But once in a while?  A kid just wants to say “Look what I can do!” and stand on their hands before they run off to play again.  That’s when a “that’s fantastic!  Great job!” is all they are asking for.  A quick stamp of approval.  A small bit of praise that conveys “I acknowledge what you are showing me and it is awesome!”  They aren’t looking for a long-winded “I love the way you placed your hands on the floor and the way you are able to hold you body so straight! You are very strong!” because that would cut into whatever game is in play in the backyard.

I agree wholeheartedly. When my child says ‘look mama, at what I can do’, it’s her way of making sure I’m still paying attention to her, still conscious of her and still ‘with’ her, even if I’m busy with something else.

Joni’s husband weighs in on this by saying:

Good job to a five year old is the equivalent of a quick ‘I love you’ to a grown up.  We don’t have to wax poetic about the depth and breadth of our love, we just want to acknowledge that it is there.  Do these same people not want their spouse or partner to say “I love you” before they hang up the phone or turn over to go to sleep at night? ‘Good job’ is a quick snapshot, a verbal thumbs up.

It was a real relief to me, to find someone else in the AP society who doesn’t have a problem with praising her children.

Kitchen Witch is a Pagan blog, so our belief systems are different, but our styles of raising our children, our belief in nature and in doing the best for our families are so similar, that I feel an affinity with Joni Rae, and a little bit of envy at how beautiful she is able to make her corner of the web.

 

Friday Features: ‘A Little Bit Of All Of It’ And ‘Smiling Like Sunshine’

A Little Bit of All Of It is a beautiful, compassionate blog written by Julia about, well… all of it. She describes herself as a ‘mommy blog’ with a little bit more. In my view, she’s selling herself short – there’s a lot more to A Little Bit of All Of It.

In October, for example, Julia hosted a series of posts for National Pregnancy Loss and Infant Remembrance Day, and the posts she featured were… gut wrenching, heart stopping, and touching… probably not ideal for reading when you’re in your third trimester. There was another series back in July on adoption and the posts in that were equally emotional and touching, and provided a deep and intense insight into both giving up, and adopting a child.Read more: Friday Features: ‘A Little Bit Of All Of It’ And ‘Smiling Like Sunshine’

Friday Features: ‘Pineapples And Artichokes’ And ‘The Mahogany Way’

Pineapples and Artichokes is a warm and loving blog, written by Shannon, mother to Moira and Davis. Shannon writes in very much the way I tend to think: with a steady stream of consciousness and deep introspection. She turns it into a narrative of her children though, and is – to my mind at least – an incredibly conscious mother and very present in her own life.

I absolutely respect and admire how Shannon handles things with her daughter. For example, when Moira was struggling with dealing with her emotions, Shannon drew a happy and sad face and they made a list of things that made her (Moira) one or the other. I thought it was an ingenious way of exploring emotions.

Shannon posts a lot of photos and pictures of her family and their life. It’s a visual representation of a mother’s dedication to her home and her people, and it’s always beautiful. She’s also incredibly crafty and sews quilts and clothes. I envy people who have the patience to sew – I learned how, but can’t be bothered with it. I glued my advent calendar together in December because I got fed up with tiny stiches!

Friday Features: 'Pineapples And Artichokes' And 'The Mahogany Way'

Shannon also blogs at Food & Laughter where she shares some of her fabulous recipes.

If you ever want wholesomeness on paper (or on screen, in this case), Pineapples and Artichokes will leave you feeling… just… good. And a little happier, in your soul.

Another blog bursting at the seams with beautiful, wholesome family life, is The Mahogany Way. Written by Darcel, her home life is depicted charmingly in her blog.

Aside from being an awesome Mama though, Darcel is a passionate breastfeeder – which is how I discovered her in the first place – and shares her own breastfeeding journey with her four children.

In the post ‘Freedom’, Darcel writes something that really resonated with me – not in a ‘yes, me too’ way, sadly, but rather in an ‘I yearn for that’ way – she writes about the changes in herself and her views on parenting over the last five years and how she used to believe that she could shape her children into who she felt they ought to be:

Now I clearly see that it’s a waste of time and energy to even think that way. I’m proud to say that my kids are free to be kids….free to be themselves. I’ve learned not to hush them when they cry, or tell them how to feel, or what to think.

In this house you’re free to simply be.

I think that’s beautiful, and I’m so conscious of the words I use with Ameli, and more importantly, the ones she repeats back to me. (She has a habit of telling me that she’s a good girl. “You’re a big girl now.” “No, I’m a good girl!” or “Mama’s a bit sad today”,  “Ameli make mama happy?” How do you explain, “No darling… happiness comes from inside, no one else can make you happy” to a two year old? And why does she feel the need to be ‘good’ or to make me happy??)

It’s not all sunshine though. Darcel has dealt with her share of depression – particularly the post-partum kind – and while I love her posts on pretty much everything, it’s the honesty in her writing about depression that deeply touches me. I never had so much as the 3rd day blues with Ameli, but due to sickness in both pregnancies I’ve had my own share of pre-partum depression – if that’s the right term?  Darcel’s openness is refreshing and valuable and I’m sure means a lot to mothers who also find themselves yelling at their 9 week olds will find solace and hope in her words.

Both bloggers make me want to pour a cuppa, put my feet up, read a while, and then go away and cuddle my baby.

 

Friday Features: ‘Peace 4 Parents’ and ‘Living Peacefully with Children’

You’ve made it through Christmas and the children are back at school. You’re breathing a sigh of relief and hoping the weeks to the next holiday time stretch a little to give you some relief. You relish the quiet around the house, and the time to get stuff done. You wonder why on earth your children can’t talk without yelling, why they can’t hear you unless you do. Now, I’m not the parent of many, nor of older children, but that’s the picture I see around me all the time and it makes me sad. It tells me that we’ve lost something, lost some of the joy of parenting. I know it’s not a way I ever willingly want to feel.

I am still trying to learn to parent peacefully. I think it’s like learning to be a doctor. It takes forever to get your qualification and then, to be any good at what you do, you have to keep learning because diseases keep evolving. I think that’s what peaceful parenting is like – how can you ever get ‘there’ when ‘there’ changes every day? You can’t.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying.

Which is where websites like Peace for Parents and Living Peacefully with Children come in.
Read more: Friday Features: ‘Peace 4 Parents’ and ‘Living Peacefully with Children’

Friday Features: ‘Little Snowflakes’ And ‘The Variegated Life’

Little Snowflakes is a blog I hate to love. She tidies her house. She has a plan. She works out and makes it sound like a good idea. And she proves that everything I say I can’t find the time or energy for is just an excuse. She’s bothersome and it’s totally my own fault – which is kind of why I love her blog. She makes me uncomfortable, which makes me get up and go pack the dishwasher and sort the laundry. Which, in turn, makes me feel good.

Read more: Friday Features: ‘Little Snowflakes’ And ‘The Variegated Life’

Friday Features: ‘Becoming Crunchy’ And ‘Liberated Family’

When mothers sit in a circle at toddler groups talking about the allergies and asthma and eczema in their children, and medical professionals say that these are all on the rise, and levels are higher than ever before; when people in their twenties and thirties (three of my friends in the last two years) are diagnosed with random cancers, I find it hard to not want to shake people when in their very next breath, they will say that the cleaners, sterilisers, and chemicals we use so freely in our beauty products, in our homes and on our skins make no impact on us. The ‘I used it on my child and s/he is healthy and normal’ argument makes me seethe in it’s erroneous  stupidity.

We’ve been trying, ever since Ameli’s birth, to phase toxic cleaners out of our home. In some things we’ve succeeded, but in others, not so much.Read more: Friday Features: ‘Becoming Crunchy’ And ‘Liberated Family’

Friday Features: ‘Fine And Fair’ And ‘The Hippie Housewife’

Parenting is a ride where everything changes all the time. No sooner have you figured out something, possibly even mastered it when WHAM! In your face: it changes. That’s happened to me a lot this year as Ameli has gone from baby to toddler to two. I have made a stand against the whole concept of  ‘terrible two’s’ and doing so has made a difference in my relationship with my child, but trust me, at every corner, and in every ‘free’ moment, I’m reading a book, or a blog or something aimed at teaching me how to be better at motherhood. I consider it my PDP (professional development plan) in this, my ‘career’ as mother.  (At work I used to get study leave though now I have to work it in ‘after hours’, normally the wee ones.)Read more: Friday Features: ‘Fine And Fair’ And ‘The Hippie Housewife’

Friday Features: ‘African Babies Don’t Cry’ And ‘Parenting God’s Children’

Today’s bloggers in the spotlight are ladies who stir something within me. Reading their blogs is sometimes painful as it triggers a memory, something I prefer to keep shut away, so that I don’t have to remember, and with remembering, feel loss, or loneliness, or worse: longing.  They might not inspire the same emotions in you as you don’t share the two things I share with them: my homeland and my faith, but I’m still pretty sure that if you allow yourself to, you’ll find yourself lost in the pages of their writing for hours.Read more: Friday Features: ‘African Babies Don’t Cry’ And ‘Parenting God’s Children’

Friday Features: Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama

Over the next few weeks – or probably half a year – I want to introduce you to some of my favourite bloggers.  These aren’t all people I agree with 100%, we don’t all parent the same way, we don’t all give birth the same way. Some are way more crunchy* than I am, some way less. But they’re all women (and here and there a man) who inspire, encourage and keep me going. Read more: Friday Features: Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama