Archive for 'Media'

Hands Free Life

This fall just about all of my decisions have been made in the name of ease and balance. From morning routines to after-school activities to evening plans and homework and classes, all are filtered first through the lens of ease and balance. Not that we always achieve this ease and balance but always it is in our scope so that when we are NOT there we seem to know it quickly and we at least know that it is indeed a goal.

hands freeBecause of this lens I found myself with a bit of time this weekend to FINALLY dive into Rachel Macy Stafford‘s new book, Hands Free Life; 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better & Loving More. Right from the introduction I was convinced that this is one of those books that changes lives, “With a Hands Free view, you have the power to rise above the distractions of the world and see a clear path to what matters most.” Less distractions? Clear paths? Yes please. And this book offers practical tips for ways to get there now.

The message of Stafford’s book is so simple and so profound at the same time. It is written in such a way that even if reading a whole book is not in your future, it is easy to pick up and randomly choose a section or chapter to peruse. With chapters like, See What is Good, Establish Boundaries, Surrender Control and more, you can see that in these pages are lessons for all of us to create more of what we want so that we can find more balance , more presence and more heart connection with ourselves, with our families and with our communities too.

If reading a whole chapter is STILL too much for you to ponder, worry not. Throughout the book there are little “clouds” called HANDS FREE LIFE DAILY DECLARATIONs which are little nuggets to help the reader create daily habits. Things like, “Today I will seek two empty-handed moments…” “Today I will view the messy trails in my home as sacred evidence that living, loving, creating, and growing are going on here…” Even if ALL YOU DID was go through and read these little bits? You’d still get an amazing amount of loving, emotional, powerful and powerful information that truly offers a new lens on what we want, what’s important and what doesn’t matter a smidge.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews or recommendations, but this book so closely aligns with the goals of Slow Family Living and really offers ways to get where we all want to be, more connected, more satisfied, and more in love with our families.

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Slow Family on the Radio!

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Last week the Motherlode blog post about picky eaters got well over 200 comments. Obviously a sore spot and matter of concern at dinner tables across the country. The post was written by Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic, a self-proclaimed childhood picky eater turned food-writer and author of the book SUFFERING SUCCOTASH; A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate, published by Perigee Publishing, the same publisher who will be putting out my Slow Family Living book next March!

The book delves into the plight of the picky eater. Lucianovic takes her questions into labs and the inner sanctums of feeding clinics. She interviews “fellow picky eaters and adventurous foodies young and old.”  And attempts to answer what it means to be a picky eater and what we can do about it.

It’s part memoir, part scientific analysis, and in whole a good read for anyone who as either uttered or heard the phrase, “Three more bites and you’re done.”

I’ll be giving a copy of this book away next week and will pick a winner on Tuesday, July 17th. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment about your own picky eating days as a child or about your days of parenting a picky eater.


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Homework. And family life.

Have you seen Race To Nowhere? The documentary film that was making the rounds last year and talking about the way our current school system has overwhelmed and overloaded kids with a false sense of what’s necessary in order to “succeed”. And I put succeed in quotes because I think it’s one term that everyone really needs to define for themselves.

The documentary has sparked a movement  in this country and now the filmmakers have started a splinter movement and made a short video about Healthy Guidelines for Homework which they are presenting to the National PTA in an effort to create national guidelines around homework. They’ve got the homework king on their team – Alfie Kohn and many others who speak eloquently and intelligently about the research findings on the value of homework. Which seems to be very little before high school and even then, needs to be a lot more thoughtful than it currently seems to be.

Watch for yourself. And leave your thoughts here about homework in your child’s life and in your family’s life.

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Is this goodbye to Brain Child?

Well, in a way it is. As of May 31st Brain,Child Magazine has decided to shut down its print publication. August will be the last issue. 13 years after their first issue. I remember the first time I found that magazine – just about a year into my own parenting journey. I felt like I had found gold! Beautiful images and real stories from the trenches. At the beginning my own parenting journey was full of dogma, ideas that my way was the right way. I even submitted a story about preschool and how my way to do it was the right way. I now realize my ego was blinding me to the fact that there is more than one way to educate a child, raise a family, and tend to your own parenting. This realization was due in part to their wide range of stories presented.

I loved that magazine for so many reasons.   I loved the amazing writing that filled its pages and the debates that took place so eloquently put as to make me definitely see both sides of the coin. I loved the book reviews and news from the world of parenting issues. I loved the dogma free tone that showed me aspects of parenting that I never thought about. The stories in there made me mad, sad, sentimental, empathetic, laugh and empowered. I loved the way I could dive into each new issue and totally abandon my children for a few hours of delicious reading time. I always joked that it was the one parenting magazine that made me a bad parent for the way it would make me ignore everyone in my house!

And I loved having Slow Family in its pages issue after issue.

The magazine will continue online.  don’t know if I’ll read it there or not but if you’re an online reading kind of person, I hope you do.

I’m sorry to see Brain Child go. To all of the amazing people there I say congratulations for an amazing job well done. And my condolences too for having to come to this decision.

It’s a sad day for the print world. And a sad day for new moms who won’t know the thrill of curling up with an issue behind a closed door while your children call to you from another room.

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If you’ve been here awhile, you know how I love the magazine Brain,Child – touted as the magazine for thinking moms and filled with incredible essays and feature articles and debates and reviews and words that will make you cry, sigh, rage and empathize. Without a big agenda. And without any dogma.

I’ve been lucky to know some of the incredible writers that have graced their pages and it is the one magazine that I subscribe to that I read, without fail, from cover to cover. And though much of the material makes me a better mom in the sense that it gets me thinking about certain issues, it actually makes me ignore my kids because it’s that good. Sorry kids.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Brain,Child is offering a special Slow Family Living discount on one and two year subscriptions – for both new subscriptions and old. If you haven’t read it before, treat yourself (or treat the mother of your children or your mom or your friend) and if you have read it before, well, you know how good it can be so get on it! And re-up your subscription at this special Slow Family rate.

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Screen Free

As free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, I want to be free! At least for a few days, wouldn’t it be fun to have your whole family be free from screens?

Do you know about the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood? They do a lot of good work lobbying to get commercials and marketing and advertising out of children’s lives and out of public schools. They bring a lot to light for families and for organizations in regards to just how much advertising is thrust at our children, at our families, from birth on. Check out their website to see just how much good work they do.

This month they are also organizing the annual SCREEN FREE WEEK from April 30th-May 6th. It’s a great way for families and children to break away from the screens for a week and see just how big a part screens play in our lives. Everyone on their own screen – watching, texting, reading, exploring and zoning out on the screen be it phone, computer, tv, game station or other. It’s sort of relentless. It’s not that screen usage is bad, au contraire! But the numbers show that the average child spends 7.5 hours per day on a screen. That’s a lot of time staring at electronics. And a lot of time not engaging with the world and with each other.

In our house during school days we do a couple hours everyday screen free – from 5-7 there’s no surfing, texting, emailing, viewing. It’s not always easy. But it feels pretty good. And 2 hours feels totally doable.

Can you do it? Do you dare? Can your family be screen free? Can you turn it all off (excluding work of course which still must get done!) Can you spend that time doing something else? Here’s some ideas to get you going…

  • Go outside and lay in the grass.
  • Hug a tree
  • Play jumprope
  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Play a game
  • Draw together
  • Go for a walk
  • Look up random words in the dictionary
  • Visit a neighbor
  • Have friends over
  • Throw a party – invite only your own family
  • Have a fancy dinner
  • Play charades
  • Listen to music
  • Build something

Take a week and slow it down. Connect with each other and with nature and with your imagination. See what you come up with. And if you’ve got some screen free ideas of your own, let me know.



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Slow Family in the News

USA Today had a big story yesterday about slowing things down for your family. They touched on some of the points such as cutting out some of the excess activities and really putting the connection in place now so that you can have connection down the road.

Read it yourself and let me know what you think…‘Slow
family’ movement focuses on fewer outside activities –

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What’s old is new again

We received a sweet box in the mail the other day. Perfectly sized and illustrated with a sweet little manatee drawing. Inside were 3 beautiful board books with an outdoorsy theme – including one featuring illustrations by the amazing Charley Harper whose 1960s era science book artwork is getting some acclaim right now. The books were lovely and well received by our resident pre-schooler.

But the box was kind of cool too. In order to bring back the old idea that the box is as much fun as the contents, this box came with “instructions” for use. Ideas for making robots or other fun box creations, corn starch packing peanuts that could be used for building and drawings to be colored in and used for the aforementioned box creations.

The idea comes from Blue Manatee Boxes, a little independent bookstore in Ohio. Started by a pediatrician, the idea is a return to basics and the idea too that in this age of fast paced learning and high tech toys, what’s old, such as a cardboard box, can be new again. And used by kids for imaginative play.

If you know of some household that could use a little creative inspiration, not to mention some really beautiful books which can be purchased by such themes as art, eco, baby, birthday or love, The Blue Manatee Boxes are pretty sweet. And might just inspire some good play on a hot summer day.

And if you aren’t in the market for books right now, I hope this post inspires you to look at the next cardboard box you receive with a more imaginative eye.

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Brain, Child

Have you seen this magazine? It’s one of my favorites by far. Sure it falls  into  the parenting category of magazines but it’s way more than any parenting mag I’ve ever read. It’s got good essays and fiction. Lots of humor. It always holds a good meaty feature story. And it’s got tidbits of newsworthy pieces pertinent to your role as parent. There are no how-tos such as top ten ways to get your child to sleep or to get them to eat. It holds no strong views on whether or not you should nurse or circumcise or co-sleep or vaccinate. Instead it’s just got really good writing. And thoughtful discussions. And funny cartoons.

And, perhaps one of the greatest things, it arrives quarterly. That means you’ll have no pile-ups of unread issues or backlog of materials. You know how those monthly mags can sometimes go? You’ve finally picked up one and the next one is stuffed into your mailbox? With Brain,Child you’ll be super psyched when each issue arrives and if you’re smart, or lucky, or both, you’ll carve out a little solo mama reading time all to your very own so you can fully dive into each issue. Is it wrong that a parenting magazine makes you want to stop parenting in order to be able to fully digest each issue?

Referred to as the magazine  for thinking moms, it really is one of my favorite magazines of all time. And even if I’m not in total thinking mom mode, it can bring me there a lot faster.

For the next week only Brain,Child is offering a special rate to Slow Family Living readers. Just $19.95 for one year and $34.00 for two years. Click here to get it while it’s hot. No limit on the number of subscriptions! Good for renewals AND gifts.

That’s it! Now go get yourself an issue and you’ll be ready for the summer issue which will be out soon. Have I mentioned that I love this magazine?

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