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Monday

Spelling Stones ...

I saw an idea similar to this  floating around Pintrest that I could never find again.  I thought my boys would go bananas for it.   I was right.  The version I saw on Pintrest provided only one word written on a small set of stones.  But my oldest loves to put together words himself from the full array of the alphabet and my littlest is doing lots of great work learning to identify capital and lower case letter companions and sounds.  So I opted to by a few bags of decorator stones from the dollar store.  I made 3 sets of capital and small alphabet stones.  I had some spare stones so I added a few additional common letters.  They play with the stones in so many different and wonderful ways.  My oldest often leaves me notes on the play table.  My youngest loves spotting letters and sounding out words artfully arranged by myself and his brother.  But they also love to use them to build mountains, rivers, and streams during pretend play.  And they just love the sensory experience of it all. 

So are you ready for the hard work it takes to build this wonder toy.  Here it is in two steps.

1 - Purchase about 3 bags of decorator stones from the dollar store.  (Yep ... that should come out to about $3)

2 - Get out your paint pens and get to writing.  I allowed mine to dry overnight all though that was probably excessive. 

You are Done!  Happy Spelling! 

No time to run to the store: Grab what you need from Amazon:





Wednesday

The Switch Witch


We have so much fun at Halloween, but given our food allergies it can get pretty stressful.  Peanutty candies in particular seem to be everywhere this time of year.  Yes, we trick or treat. But we try and keep our holiday healthy and allergen free by following a few simple rules . 

1 - No reaching into bucket
2 - No eating while trick or treating.
3 - Everything in our bucket goes to the Switch Witch.

In our house patience is a virtue!  Because those who wait are rewarded with a visit from the Switch Witch.  If you haven't heard of the Switch Witch.  She is a funny little witch who in our house collects candy to send to our troops and to feed her fat cat who can only eat CANDY!  She leaves behinds fun games, toys and delicious alternative treats that we can enjoy.  It's a fun easy tradition that keeps us eating and treating safe.  :)



Monday

A pinch and a dash of Gratitude!



It can feel like the entire discussion on the subject of gratitude is a bit over done.  But honestly, it is one of the best practices I have found to stay productive, focus on joy, and get the energy boost I need to manage the day to day.  This New Year's my dad gave us a big mason jar to be our gratitude jar for the year.  I now keep it on the dining room table with a crayon and little slips of paper so that I will remember to write down a daily gratitude statement.  I don't do this religiously, but just looking at the already nearly full jar sitting on our dining room table is all the reminder I need some days.  Then there are days like yesterday; when I get an extra boost!  As I was writing down some of the things I am grateful for, my youngest son came in with a crayon grabbed a slip and started scribbling on it while saying, "Happy for elmo. Happy for favorite shoes."  So I wrote both things on his paper.  He then crumpled it up and tossed it into the mason jar.  :)  I added one more thought to my gratitude statement...  "I am grateful for unexpected little helpers!"

Sunday

Montesorri Printshop Give-Away!!

I know we say it a lot but it's true!! There are so many reasons to love Montesorri Print Shop!  We use so many of their awesome printables in our daily activities and lessons.  This summer they have added one more reason they rock to the list! They are sponsoring a terrific give away.  Check out the link here: http://blog.montessoriprintshop.com/2013/06/17/win-over-1290-printable-montessori-materials-from-montessori-print-shop.aspx

What's up for grabs?

Deluxe 2 Disc CD Rom Collection includes:
  • 1287 printable Montessori Materials
    • all materials are in pdf file format
  • 4 Primary Montessori Teaching Manuals in pdf file format
    • Practical Life
    • Sensorial
    • Language
    • Math
This collection includes ALL of the materials in our store:
1.   Primary Teaching Manuals
2.   Classified Cards & Picture Cards (vocabulary enrichment)
3.   Culture
:Celebrations, Music, Peace, Visual Arts
4.   World Geography
5.   Language: Pre-Reading, Moveable Alphabet,
Phonics, Pink Blue Green Series
6.   Grammar: Primary (3-6 years), Elementary Grammar Box (6-9 years)
7.   Math: Intro to Numbers, Operations, Extensions, Geometry
8.   Nomenclature: Botany, Zoology, Other (Health, Science, etc)
9.   Science : Animals, Astronomy, Plants, Science, Weather
10. Sensorial
11. Teacher & Administration
12. Toddler






Monday

The Sound of Silence ...

So it's no secret that popularity has never been my strong suite.  As an adult, I like to think that I have begun to learn the art of managing healthy relationships inside of odd large group dynamics.  And, that I am now immune to auditioning for love and acceptance. But to be honest, I'm still a work in progress.   Drawing the line between authenticity and acceptance is not an easy thing to do. 
 
 

 
When I was younger I had always imagined it much like a line graph.  With ultimate hubris, assuming that it was my responsibility to find acceptance with everyone while somehow managing to stay authentic to who I am right now in the moment.  Impossible really. 

Especially, when you consider that we are all constantly changing, growing, facing new challenges and meeting new opportunities.  As I have gotten older I have become less and less interested in relationships that require me to be less honest about who I am and where I am in my life.  Don't get me wrong.  I am all for social grace.  I think it's important part of our social system.  But only to the extent that we do not have to deny ourselves ... ourselves.  Life changes constantly sometimes in small ways and other times in enormous ones. Not to long ago I underwent several fairly painful procedures that required I lie very still, very awake, and very quite for a not to insignificant amount of time.  No big deal, right? 

Day 1: My head raced with all things on my to do list that really needed to get done. (i.e. *Need to get the cell phone fixed, *Dr. Appts for the Littles, *School Planning, *Dinner Planning ect.)  Believe me that list goes on and on and on.  My heart raced.  I felt like runner who had just been stopped cold at the starting gate.

Day 2: I committed to dusting off the prayer meditation skills I picked up at a church conference some years ago.  Every time, one of those things I couldn't change right now popped into my head, I imagined it was a book.  I closed the book and put it on shelf in my mind.  Not forever, just for right now.  I refocused myself on the stillness I needed to accomplish.  I spent the whole time closing books.

Day 3: Those books were much easier to close and I found myself focusing on the stillness.  I was listening to nothing, not the sounds the machine was making, not even my own breathe just experiencing the stillness.  And I sobbed ... the whole time. 

Day 4:  I went in feeling every inch of the disconnection that was occurring in my life at large.  My own inability for the moment to be and do all the things I wanted to be for myself, for my friends, my community.  As I laid there, I did my best to pack it all away ... it took while.  Then the radio in my head started play "A Beautiful History" by Plumb ... just the chorus over and over again. 

"I am here
I’m holding you
You’ll make it through this
I am here
I am here"

I didn't try and pack it away ... I just listened.

Since that moment I have challenged myself to view the journey of acceptance and authenticity less like a line and more like this ....

I have also shifted my focus away from other people and right back to me.  I have challenged myself to accept myself, unconditionally right now as I am.  See that yellow dot ... my intention is for that to be me.  That is I exactly how love my children, my husband, my family.  What I pray will help me stay there is knowing not just who I am but whose I am, knowing that indeed I am never truly alone.  The number of other people, friends, family that may be in cross-section of authenticity and acceptance will without doubt change with the seasons, but the truth that I am already loved enough will remain.  I know it sounds simple and small but it's quite epic for me. 

Everyday, things do their best to creep in.  It can be hard to learn to let go of the unreturned phone call.   It stings to be left out of play dates that you surely would have invited your friends too. Or my personal favorite when I forget the one product that I went to the store for in the first place!  But none of that really matters.  Because we already have love enough for the journey.  It would be simply untrue to say I am heading into this week fearlessly.  But it is undeniably true that I am heading into this week fearfully and wonderfully made. 

 

Friday

Picnic with Claritin in Tow!

Our family not only suffers from food allergies but also some seasonal allergies.  Given the high pollen counts we are definitely glad to have our Claritin on hand to help us enjoy our outdoor spring adventures.  As a member of the Claritin mom crew, I had the pleasure of hosting a spring picnic planning mommy meet-up. 

We had so much fun sharing healthy tips for seasonal allergy planning provided by Claritin, reveling in the awesome kid friendly allergy cool packs, and sampling several of our favorite allergy friendly recipes.  Below you will find 6 of the recipes that our moms shared.  They print out as 5 x 7 recipe cards and are completely free to download!  Enjoy the recipes scroll down and keep reading for tips on how we picnic with food allergies.  :)



As a mom with a child with food allergies picnics can be filled with a bit of anxiety, because they are a natural environment to share and taste other families foods. I am always appreciative of families that pack with our allergies in mind, but never rely or expect that. Here are a few things I do to make sure we don't miss out on the fun but do our best to stay food safe:

1: Bring your own blanket and make it a big one!

This is one of those realities that makes me feel like a heal, but we rarely sit on other peoples blankets.  The reality of crumbs or chips that could harm us is just to great.  I typically explain this reality to our little friends and most have no problem sitting close but not with us if they have allergens. 

2: Pack extra water, wipes, hand sanitizers and towels.

Mom's rarely look unfavorably at having extra wipes on hand.  This way you can not only keep your littles hands clean but you can also help little friends contain any present allergens remaining on their skin.  Of coarse, for those with severe contact allergies this may be of no help.  We discussed this process with our allergist and I highly recommend you do the same!  Every allergy is unique and some require complete containment and separation from the allergen.


3:  Have your epipen and anti-histamine protocol in the thermal!

I literally pack my thermal complete with a medicine bag that includes several doses of anti-histamine as directed by our allergist and an epipen twin pack.

4:  Bring enough to share and bring a few recipe cards.

I am often surprised when people are stunned by how  delicious and kid friendly allergy foods can be.  This inspired me to always pack with sharing in mind.  I keep a record of any of the top eight allergens that are present in the recipe for my fellow allergy moms.  Having the card ensures that if someone likes what they taste they can recreate it at home.  Got to  love the idea of non-allergy moms cooking allergy friendly by choice :)

5:  Don't forget what you didn't know before your child had a food allergy.

People almost always want to include, help and share.  But don't forget that food allergies are complex.  When you first started looking at food labels, were you shocked at how many items contained hidden allergens?  Did you understand that foods sitting to closely in the fridge can contaminate otherwise safe foods?  Did you know how to properly sterilize cooking vessels to ensure that they would be safe for cooking specific to your allergy?  Probably not.  Most people don't.  With that in mind we rarely eat foods made in non-allergy homes.  When we do I always make sure that I am comfy enough with the person that I can ask some down right rude questions.  My rule of thumb has become if they aren't close enough to understand the need for the rude and frankly invasive question that accompany how they prepped the food, the best answer is thank you but no. 

Sending out a big thanks to Claritin for inspiring such an awesome play date and congratulations to all our moms and kiddos that won Claritin cool packs!

Thursday

Searching for light ....




As splash park play dates and summer fun get under way I am called to remember a precious family and little playmate taken to soon. Today June 6th is the day that Charlie went to heaven.  This year Kate asked that we commemorate Charlie's heaven day by sending biodegradable wildlife safe floating lanterns to heaven in honor of his life.  Since I have class today, I elected to take my boys and my niece out to the beach yesterday evening to send our lanterns in honor of Charlie.   In Chinese culture red symbolizes joy and energy and white symbolizes mourning. We sent one of each.

I have no words to express how cold the truth of Charlie's passing is to me.  How it shakes me to my core even still to embrace the reality of a beautiful, wonderful boy taken from the loving arms his mother and father at such a tender age.  From the moment this tragedy occurred there have been no words that have ever been able to bring light to the darkness of this moment.  All the platitudes that I have thought seem empty and hollow against void.  The truth of the embrace of eternal, everlasting love is all that comes close to shining through for me. 

As we giggled and struggled to figure out how to get the lanterns off in a fairly windy day one of the guys from the guard station came to join us.  (We had contacted them ahead of time since we were at the beach ... if you decide to this it's important you notify the lifeguards or Coast Guard so they do not mistake your tribute for a flare)  We successfully sent 2 out of the 3 up.  As I watched them almost magically drift towards the cloud a few tears found their way to my cheek and I said "Thank You, God for Charlie and for holding him and his family."  My son looked at me and said "Can I have a big hug."  The answer was a resounding yes and a group hug that included the poor little guy from the guard station.

To learn more about Charlie and his awesome family you can check out Kate's Blog: http://www.embracinglifesjourney.com/ shop at her etsy store for some precious baby blankets, toddler aprons, bags and more: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ShopCharliesPlace

Tuesday

Reaching for Greatness ...

Recently, a mom I adore posted this adorable quote pic by greenChild magazine (a periodical that love).  She is terrific, inspirational and stupendous.  Hanging out with her and other moms like her does indeed rock and their advice and council is much appreciated.  For the record, I love the quote and the intent behind it.  But man did it ever get me to thinking in a whole different direction. 

Hanging out with great moms can be so inspiring.  The experience of motherhood and the sisterhood that I feel to other moms is something that I cherish.  It is so relaxing and wonderful to find a group of moms that you can unapologetically hang out with.  Moms with whom you share that unique bond of being a parent and even better when you share similar beliefs about how best to navigate the triumphs and tragedies that abound in your life as Mommy.  But it can also be limiting and lead to "group think". 

So what's wrong with "group think".  On the surface, really not much at all especially if your group is super cohesive and still encourages diversity of thought and if alternative opinions on key topics are welcomed.  But when "group think" starts impacting things like your own critical thinking and creativity in decision making, even hanging out with greatest moms can lead to less than great outcomes and down right dismantling, emotional turmoil.

Surrounding myself with great and greatly diverse people has lead me to some of my favorite mommy moments.  Some of those great people where moms and some where not.  Not to long ago I had a former co-worker stop by for lunch at the house with me and my boys.  As I watched her shocked expression as I changed my sons cloth diaper and put on a disposable diaper.  I hung my head in shame.  I said, "I know I'm only changing 3 cloth a day and truthfully it's1-3 a day depending on the day.  I haven't been able to get my cloth diaper mojo back."  You see, in my circle of moms, I consider myself to only be mildly crunchy and the fact that I almost completely fell of the cloth diaper wagon for a time is embarrassing to me.  At that moment she exclaimed, "You wash that thing ... you wash 1-3 of those things a day ... OMG you are an environmental super-hero but wow that is GROSS!".  Watching her responses and the way she interacted and played with the boys was enlightening.   When my son started deconstructing his toy airplane ... she asked for a screw driver to show him how to get the thing completely apart.  He loved it.  It was a great day.  We played in totally new ways ... and it's safe to say she did too.   

Hanging out with people who have diverse focuses, beliefs and life situations can be hard.  This is especially true if they get overwhelmed with the frantic pace of having preschoolers, tots and babies around.  Hearing opinions that are not supportive of your decisions just plan stinks.  Having to explain your decisions can get old.  Getting parenting advice from someone who has no idea just how enormous of a price would be paid that night for letting a toddler just overload on sugar so we could finish our conversation in peace can be tedious.  But all of these moments are also opportunities, the gift of new perspective. That perspective can either help you to galvanize your beliefs or help you take new action that you hadn't considered. 

Moments of challenge and discomfort inspire creativity and, yes, greatness.  No one enjoys things like those terrible glares that come from passers by in grocery store as your child launches the mother of all tantrums.  But I have come to look at those moments as opportunities to expose myself and my boys to our world.  In those moments we experience the cold hard truth that the world doesn't always appreciate us.  I am given the chance to challenge myself to accept who I am as a mom even when others don't.  I get the opportunity to show my little ones how to handle uncomfortable moments - and - that other resounding truth, while the world my not always embrace them, I will.   

Even though it is valuable and undoubtedly easiest to share the challenges of parenting with great moms who share a similar experience much can be gained and challenged by sharing the experience with others.  So this mama is grateful for the awesome moms and all the wonderfully diverse people in my life who inspire me to reach for greatness!




Saturday

Belle's Castle is a Beast for Allergy Families!

As you may have figured out.  I am a huge Disney Park fan.  We love heading to the parks throughout the year.  By in large I have found Disney extremely accommodating as it relates to managing our peanut and egg allergies.   With all previous successes in mind, I was thrilled to venture out yesterday to explore our first Disney dining experience at Belle's Castle.  I am sad to report the experience was ... well ... BEASTLY! 

Disney employs an electronic touch screen with a wireless rose to manage your order.  The device does give you the option of entering in special dietary needs.  However, unlike the kiosks at Disney's Contemporary Resort walk-up dining experience these kiosks do not remove options that are unsafe for you to eat from the menu.  They simply replace the picture of that item and replace it with an image that says "customize this order".  When you click on a customize this order option it does not give you a list of the ingredients or modification options for that dish.  You must ask to see a chef.  However, the kiosk does not prompt you to ask for help.  If you click the customize this dish option and do not speak with a chef, who hand writes your changes on the ticket the order may be prepared without regard to your allergy needs. 

We always ask to speak with a chef, as do many of my fellow allergy families.  We had a chef standing at the kiosk with us and even he was confused at times by the prompts.   We were there during walk-up hours and the service staff was extremely scattered, flustered, and lacked that typical Disney Magic that makes you feel welcome and happy.  The staff at this location seemed under-educated about managing special orders and rather than relying on the awesome traditional Disney allergy protocol.  They rely on a machine that while fun has incomplete information as it relates to making special orders that accommodate those with severe food allergies. 

Once you have placed your order, your rose acts like a beacon so that service teams can find your table to deliver your order.  I find this to be super fun and yes enchanting! As delightful and fun as this feat of Disney Imagineering is it did serve up some scary complications for us.  The first round of waiters showed up at the table and placed an order in front of my son that was hastily pulled from a cart that had several other orders that did not look familiar to me on it.  I asked promptly, "Is this the allergy friendly kids order" He looked puzzled.  I picked the plate up quickly.  Which as you can imagine delighted my very hungry toddler.  (N.B. my intense sarcasm)  The waiter than responded with, "Is there an allergy at this table?" In the end we realized that he had placed my nieces order in front of my son.  Then long after everyone else in our party was eating and nearly done staff emerged again.  This time to discuss concerns with what was entered at the kiosk by the chef.  After we finally had our "safe" food order in hand the other members in our party had either already eaten or were starring at VERY cold plates.  Thank goodness we had a snack bag full of allergy friendly goodies for our little ones to munch on while they waited and waited and waited.

The space itself is indeed a magical dining room.  You can choose to dine in Beasts tower complete with the ravaged portrait of the prince and quickly fading rose, the gorgeous dining hall where Belle and Beast took their first famous waltz, or Belle's favorite room the library.  We elected to eat in the Dining Hall and though it was hard to enjoy given the mistakes made by the kitchen and serving staff with our orders it was beautiful.  Snow gently falls outside the far window, the chandeliers provide a soft glow and illuminate a ceiling covered in cherubs.

Long story short Belle's Castle is a BEAST!  Here are some suggestions based on our un-welcoming adventure to the castle if you decide to brave it. 






1. DINE DURING DINER - during dinner hours reservations are required.  Typically staff during sit-down reservation hours are more knowledgeable and prepared to handle special requests.

2. ASK TO SEE A CHEF IMMMEDIATELY

3. Make sure to communicate with the waiter that magically appears at your table before they place food on your table that you have a severe allergy and the food they are bringing have been sent with special instructions.  (N.B. They push all the food around on enclosed carts with other orders which increases the chance that your order could get contaminated.)

All in all ... I am hopeful that Belle's Castle is just struggling from it's status as the new kid on the block.  But as for me and my family, I am not comfortable trusting them with our children's health for a second time. 

For more quick tips on how to experience a stress free - allergy free trip to WDW check out our quick tips on doing Disney with Food Allergies blog post: http://wastingnothing.blogspot.com/2012/09/doing-disney-with-food-allergies.html

Happy Saturday Night!


Wednesday

 
 
 
 
DIY Dinosaur Fossils are a fun way to expand your little ones dinosaur play.  I was amazed at the simplicity of this project .  All you need is a basic salt dough recipe and a few toy dinosaur figurines. After making your dough use the dinosaur toys as stamp.  Press each one into the salt dough and remove it leaving the imprint of the dinosaur behind.  (Much like you would make a handprint salt dough ornament)  After baking your fossils for 2-3 hours remove them and cool completely.  We had a few friends over for a fossil dig in our sand box.  I simply hid the fossils in the sandbox and let the expedition begin.  It was so much fun and not to much work.  I recommend for continued use and play that you modge podge your fossils to prevent them from absorbing water and becoming soft during outdoor play.  :)

Monday

More about mats ...


It's official montessori monday is back!  Today, i'm going to talk about my beloved montesorri mats. If you have seen true montesorri mats they can be a bit pricey.  Inspired by the Montesorri @ Home Curriculum, I decided until we can afford an upgrade to make my own.  I simply cut out shelf liner to the appropriate size and scale.  They have been wonderful.

As with almost everything there was a bit of a learning curve for both myself and the littles.  There was a time about a year ago that I couldn't have imagined independent play with the mats.  Regardless of my doubts, I used them everytime I taught a 3 part lesson. It is a great way to visually mark the begining and end of a task.  It is also a great way to define personal or working space.

Then it happened.  My oldest son and niece started using them all the time when they want to create space for themselves and create without interuption.  As our youngest started toddling we faced challenge next.  Two bigger littles who use the mats well and one little one who is just begining to understand the process.  Primarily my littlest simply enjoys rolling and unrolling the mats when on his own.    He doesn't always respect the bigger littles space, but a good percentage of the time he does.

Do you use montessorri mats at home?

Friday

Not So Extreme Couponing

Sometime over the holidays, I marveled watching an extreme couponing show on TLC.  It is amazing to me to see the commitment, focus, and success of those extreme couponers.  It is thrilling to watch!  While I am inspired by the savings, there are a few barriers that will always keep me from joining the ranks of extreme couponers. 

Chief amoung these barriers is our commitment to organic, allergy friendly foods.  It prohibits what seems to be the number one rule for extreme couponers; throw out brand loyality.  I spend A LOT of time researching brands their facilities, food saftey policies and allergy statements.  When I find brands that I trust, I am loyal ... always double checking, but loyal.

One of the moms featured was both vegan and focused on organic eating and that got me researching.  I discovered that while it is true that most of the mind blowing 80-90% saving deals would be ridiculously out of reach for our allergy family the average "casual couponer" saves 10%-30% on thier grocery bill.  That was good enough for me to give it a try.  :)

We are now a month in and I can safely say we are seeing great results and not just in the budget.  I am sticking to clipping coupons for brands that we trust and use.  I follow the technique of collecting the weekly flyers and not clipping them until I need them.  Week 2 of coupon clipping my oldest climbed up to help.  It is proving to be a great way to play together.  He is now really great at finding the right coupons and cutting them out without snipping barcode/sku.  :) It's also a great way to practice reading, letter and number identification.  :) Who knew?!



Tuesday

Wrestling with Anger

When I was a young girl, I can remember my mom praying for people that had deeply wronged our family. I remember clearly seeing her pain and yet tucked firmly behind her tears lived this unwavering confidence that we would be okay.  It always beamed from her eyes even in the most challenging times.  As a child with no way to undo the damage, I looked at the people who hurt us and could only see their darkness.  It was then that both my parents dove deeply into teaching us the truth of grace.  The lessons are life long and hard learned.  But over time, I have come to treasure the gift of knowing that extending grace does not mean you allow people to hurt you.  Nor does it mean giving into fear or social hierarchy that says it is ever okay to remain silent when people are being hurt and bullied.  But it does lead us to forgive those who hurt us, to let go of anger, believe that there is always away to extend kindness, and the strength to accept that we may stand alone for a time.  The journey to extending true grace not just social grace is not an easy one.  

If you have been reading since September you know I was excited to join a tot school cooperative in my area.  Despite my excitement and confidence in the curriculum writer, I have found myself unceremoniously on the outside looking in.  The group has for months, as most new groups do, been struggling to find its sea legs.  Failing to provide consistent weekly meetings, behind on delivery of curriculum, and unclear on how to manage the size and needs of the group.  While all of these things are red flags.  I also maintained confidence in the chief moms in charge, believing that overtime they would get in the groove, define rules and roles more clearly and we would be off a running.  On top of dealing with the normal bumps in group formation, I continued to have people reach out and tell me that disparaging remarks about me were consistently made by the leader of the co-op.  It was hard to believe the authenticity of these reports.  My face-to-face and online interaction with her were so limited and never seemed, pardon the pun, out of school.  For the most part, I wrote these comments off as chatter of misunderstanding.  The leader is known to be terse, abrupt and without filter.  At a time when reports where at a fever pitch, I reached out directly to ask if there was a problem, if I could do anything to build the relationship or squash the chatter.  The response I received was that there wasn't a problem that she was misinterpreted and speaking in a global since not about me.  She was frustrated and overwhelmed with the work and size of the group and that it would all settle down soon.  So again with confidence a made the requested payment for the whole year.   

The first meetings were a bit frantic, overcrowded and disorganized despite all the wonderful effort put in by the curriculum writers.  As a result, around two months in, we were told that the group would be divided into two smaller groups with regional meetings.  That never happened but the holidays did: thanksgiving, Christmas and new years.  I along with many assumed that we were just being put on holiday coast mode and that things would pick up again at the beginning of the year.  Then it happened, on my way to pick up my husband from the airport, I received a message advising me that I would not be invited to the meetings, but I would be able to access the years worth of curriculum through the group facebook page.  I was assured that this was just "housekeeping" and not personal.  Then when we arrived at my husbands welcome home dinner another message came through.  "You have been removed from tot school fb page".   Then moments later my phone blinked again.  This time with a firey private message from the organizer.  It was a kidney shot, full of anger and judgement.

As I read her sharply worded message that explained how eliminating me would reduce her anger and annoyance.  I was hurt.  As I read her attack my "drama" filled life I began to cry and then in that moment almost in a whisper I realized, "You can not wrestle with someone's anger.  You can only wrestle with your own".  As I reflect on the past 2 years, certainly there has been a lot of drama.  They have been years that I have heard diagnosis that struck me to my core, years that I have said goodbye to beloved friends gone home to soon, and years in which sleep is a luxury.  But they have also been years full of beautiful silver linings! They have been years when I have been blessed beyond measure to hold babies that I was told I would never conceive, years that I have witness a dog that I was told couldn't be rehabilitated lay down his life for one of those babies, years that every time my strength has run out some one shows up with the perfect word, the helping hand, kindness.  That's when I really started to cry.  I was crying not from the sting of angry words cast by someone who has never even tried to know me, but tears of gratitude for a life full of grace. 

I am so grateful that in-spite of the hot mess that can be my life, I have joy unimaginable.  I am so grateful to know without doubt that the grace that surrounds me has nothing to do with my skill or my ability.  I am grateful to know that while many in the world may see my "drama" and steer clear, I will never be alone. I am grateful that I have been gifted with eyes to see the beauty in madness.  I am grateful for authenticity in my relationships.  I am grateful that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I do not have to stand for being bullied and marginalized.  I am grateful that I know that I will not stand by when it is done to others.  I am grateful that although it would shock the little girl I once was, I am honestly able to pray for these people that have hurt me. 

It is so easy to use grace as an excuse to simply walk away and allow mean, cruel and hurtful behavior to continue unchallenged.  However, to do so is not kind.  It is not kind to the bully left delighted by their control but still festering in anger.  It is not kind to the one being hurt.  I am so grateful to know the truth .... that grace is enough.    It is enough to navigate the challenging conversation, to heal broken hearts, and to give me the strength to know that I will continue to speak the truth and seek reparation with love and respect for those in the co-op.      

The Wasting Nothing Philosophy

Playing, cooking, reading, exploring, loving, laughing, and making a mess with your little one is NEVER a waste of time! It is priority one! It's not just about getting to know your little one. It's about letting your little one get to know you!