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Since I view this time of year as the official new year for many families, it seems a perfect time to chronicle a little bit of what family life looks like right now. What’s everyone into? What are you all wanting? What did you love about summer? What does a typical day look like? What’s working? What’s not? All of these questions and more can be answered in Look At Us Now thereby creating a time-capsule of sorts, a memoir, of your family life. Plus, the pages you fill out will serve as a good guide for moving forward with intention into this next school year.

If you need proof that everything in family life changes always, just take a look at where you were one year ago? Are things the same? Heck no. So capturing where you are right now is a great way to reflect AND project.

look at us now imageWait, what? You don’t have your copy yet? You can order yours here…

look at us now pageHere’s some ideas people have shared with me. Find some inspiration here and then share your own ideas and pages too!

  1. For getting inside her teens heads one mom brings the book with them when they go out for their weekly Saturday breakfast. Of particular interest to this mom was the page where everyone describes things they really, really want. She was surprised at all the information garnered and surprised at some of her own answers too!
  2. For planning a family outing we used the Places We’d Like To Go page. By the time we were finished we had an entire outline of steps needed to make a particular event happen. And now that outing has become one of our favorite summer memories.
  3. As a Saturday morning family activity one family fills out a page before they even get out of bed. It offers a fun way to plot out the weekend, plus a little more lounge time for the parents.
  4. A dad who shares custody with his ex, uses Look At Us Now as a tool for jump starting conversations with his kids. It’s hard sometimes when everyone’s been apart and Look At Us Now gives them all an intimate glimpse into each other’s daily existence.
  5. One mom wrote to tell me she uses Look At Us Now as an incentive tool for her kids as in, “You can play XBox after we sit and fill out a page together.” And we both agreed incentive sounds way better than bribe.
  6. Feeling frantic? One mom says whenever she starts spinning out, she tries to find 10 minutes to sit with her kids and fill out a page.
  7. Need to process a bad day? One dad told me he sat and filled out the Worst Day Ever page with his son after a battle they had. By the time they were finished they were laughing about it and coming up with ways to avoid such a mess in the future.
  8. A mom wrote to tell me she left the book open to the page One hundred things we are so glad about and by weekend’s end the pages were full!

The ways to use Look At Us Now are endless and the connection and information it can provide are beyond measurable! Let me know how you use Look At Us Now in your home and what it’s bringing to your family’s experience. Wait? What? You don’t have yours yet? You can order one and leave a review here!

It’s a brand new year people!!

 

 

 

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Carrie and I had a little hang out the other night. A time for setting some intentions about the weeks ahead. Getting clarity on what we want to put in and what we want to get out. We do this every now and again and at the end we always feel rejuvenated, reenergized, relaxed and sometimes redirected too.

 In all this discussion, the idea that kept coming up, was “how deep do you want to go?” We were talking about something rather specific but the more I ponder this thought, the more I realize it can serve as a guiding force for so much.

If we are scheduling our days and putting things back to back, the question is there as a guide, “how deep do you want to go?” If you want to go deep, don’t overschedule. If you want to go deep, keep it spacious. If you don’t want to go deep however pack it full and it will stay surface whether you like it or not.

If we are looking into our own psyche’s (as Carrie is wont to encourage) the question is there too and is totally up to us, the owner of said psyche. How deep do you want to go?

Try it. For love, work, play, bedtime, dinnertime, housecleaning, vacations,  exercise, grocery shopping, relationships, whatever! Just ask yourself, “how deep do I want to go?” Try it on as a guide and let us know what you think.

I’ve tried it already this week and the information that has come back to me with this one simple question is really quite profound. Pair it with “is this working for us?” and I think we may have the answer to all of life’s situations.

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I’ve been spending lots of time these past few weeks focused on kids and outdoors. Part of my time was actually being outdoors: in the very rare snow that we had last week. In the freezing cold temps. Hanging out in the yard around the fire. Hiking with the kids.

Part of my time was spent talking about kids and outdoors: with Austin Children in Nature Coalition discussing ways to increase kids time outdoors. Watching the film Play Again, an amazing documentary that took 6 kids away from their video world and introduced them to the outdoors.

In all of this play and discussion and sharing of ideas, the word inspiration keeps coming up. When I’m actually outdoors and spending time with the kids I am continually amazed by the inspiration I find in our whole experience. Being outdoors with them also inspires lots of stories of my own youth – times of play, sledding, swimming, skating, just being in the outdoors. I am inspired too by their own stories. Their own sharing of the inspiration they find. The ideas they concoct. The places they create and their pure love of the air they breathe and the plants and the rocks and the wildlife they see.

What I’m realizing, is that for most people, whether they grew up in a city apartment building or on a 1000 acre ranch or on a tropical island far, far away, there was a place, or a person, or a moment in their childhood that inspired their own love of and connection to the natural world. I’m curious about that piece of the natural connection. What was your inspiration? Where were your magical outdoor places? Be it a 14th Floor apartment window staring at the moon, or a tree growing up through a suburban sidewalk, or a stretch of abandoned dirt road that went on for miles on end – where did you go to connect to nature? And what did you discover about yourself when you were there?

For me it was Snake Mountain, Holstein’s pond, Hussa Pond and Indian Lake. I am lucky that all of these places still exist as natural spaces and have even been preserved recently so that they will always stay natural places. In those places I learned to climb trees and rocks, ice skate, dig for clay in the muddy banks, paddle a canoe, balance on a fallen log, and just be. Just lay on my back on the moss or on the frozen pond or even on the bottom of the canoe, staring up into the sky, the trees, listening to the geese fly overhead or watch the robins build their nests or taste the water dripping from the end of a melting icicle.

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While I do get to bring my own children to those very same places each year, it is the feeling of those places that I get to share with my children every single time we are outdoors – wherever we may be. Those feelings of connection to the self. To the outdoors. To the trees and the sky and the plants all around me. And to the people I’m with.

Try it. Try going outdoors with your kids or with yourself. Try laying on your back looking up at the sky. Try connecting to the feelings of your own childhood magical places. And try sharing those stories with the people around you. The feeling of connection you’ll find is like no other.

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Inspired by my time camping with the Little Green Witches, I’m bringing back the girls group I did a few years ago. With a twist. This time for my littler girl. And for any girls ages 7-10 who would like to join us.

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This group, run by Bernadette, is for girls ages 7-10 who are interested in discovering, crafting, writing, singing, learning and exploring all that life has to offer. Together we will ponder the power of our true selves and our connection to the world around us – through weekly and ongoing projects and discussions. In the 6 sessions we will…

* create, make, and explore ways to bring art into every part of our lives.
* discuss joy and appreciation and the importance of living in both
* learn how to tune into our own needs – body, mind and spirit – and tend to those needs as best we can.
* look at the families and communities in which we live and find ways to strengthen our connection to it all.
* explore the earth on which we live and how we can minimize our impact.
* discover and practice good tools of communication that will bring us to a greater connection with ourselves, friends, family and all those with whom we share this world.

In these sessions we will write, craft, hike, explore, draw, create, talk, paint, ponder, make, meditate and investigate what makes us, us. And we will come away with a better sense of what it means to let our own lights shine their very brightest, all the while building the greatest connection we possibly can.

* When: Alternate Tuesdays starting January 18th – April 12th 3:30-5:30 + Saturday community service day (2:45 start for Zilker students who will meet after school and walk over together with Bernadette)
* Where: Sanctuary at Amala Foundation just off Treadwell and South Lamar
* What: Snack will be provided
* Cost: $175.00* Can be paid with cash, check or paypal.
* Questions: Contact Bernadette via email or call 512-627-0652

*Arrangements can be made for monthly payment if needed

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**NOTE: A glitch in the system with the discount code has been fixed! So go forth and subscribe.

If you’ve been here before you will know that Brain,Child; the magazine for thinking mothers, is one of my favorite parent magazines. It’s been called the New Yorker for the parenting set. It’s got amazing features, fiction, essays, news, debates and more. Nary a parenting how-to in sight. Just recently they raised their rates, with good reason of course. But from now until October 4th, Brain,Child is offering a special suscription deal to all our Slow Family readers.

Here’s what they have to say…

For ten years now, Brain, Child magazine has been publishing award-winning essays, features, debates, humor, fiction and news about parenting, in all its glory and all its challenges. Between the covers of each issue, we tackle topics that span the gamut of childrearing–from babies to braces and beyond–and that range across the whole breadth of the parenting experience, from homeschooling to slacker moms, from homebirth to international adoption, from debates about co-sleeping and toy guns and teen sex to in-depth features on the state of fatherhood, the eco-housewife movement or cosmetic surgery for mothers. Brain, Child is a community, created by and for avid readers who enjoy thinking about what raising kids does for the mind and soul.

Winner, 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for Best Social & Cultural Coverage
“Brain, Child invites “thinking mothers” to share everything–the joys of parenting, the sorrows, the hiccups–in each exquisitely written, sharply edited issue. There’s no sugarcoating here, but neither is there complaining: just reflection and wisdom to spare.” –from the Independent Press Award announcement.

As a special offer to Slow Family Living readers, we have extended our deadline: We will continue to honor our old subscription rates just for you!

To order a one-year subscription for $19.95, enter coupon code SLOW1. To order two years for $34, enter coupon code SLOW2.

No limit on the number of subscriptions! Good for renewals AND gifts. Offer expires October 4th.



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There is definitely not a Slow Family stance on vaccines because we really believe families need to do what is right for them. We know however that it is a discussion that presents itself always when parents get together and discuss the health and well being of their children. And a dialogue that can often get heated as families decide what is right for their children and what is right for the community at large. It is a decision that often makes parents feel confused as to what to do.

We just received an announcement from the producers of Frontline that their show The Vaccine Wars will be aired next Tuesday on PBS. Check out the preview and then participate in the dialogue on the Frontline website. It’s a heavy topic and will only get heavier if we’re not informed.

Seth Godin has long been one of my favorites when it comes to all the social media tools we have at our disposal. Whether it be for work, family or just for pleasure, he offers lots of ideas for how to use all these tools in a way that works for you. As opposed to using them beyond your time, pleasure, comfort and usefulness.

000_0050Today he’s got a message about what we let in. It’s up to us. Just like all the decisions we make in our lives, the social stuff is up to us too. So how do you want your day to go? What do you want to let in? Sort of the same thing we say about family life, before you do anything, before you make any moves or decisions, ask yourself first, “Is this working for us?”

How do you handle the onslaught?

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Bernadette WON!!!!

Stay tuned for details…

Mama’s Fill-up

I was lucky enough to spend the entire month of July at my mom’s with 7 of my 8 siblings, most of our kids, little, big and in between, and a whole posse of cousins, friends and assorted kin. It’s an annual gathering of the clan and has grown bigger each year both with family and friends and new babies too. It’s filled with lots of picnics and parties and sometimes weddings and baptisms or other special events planned at that time because of the gathering already. We all love the connection we feel with both the people and the place. And we are grateful to have the space to make it happen and a mom who taught us through demonstration the joy and the importance of the lifelong connection.

At these gatherings I get to hang with some of my favorite people in the world, my mom, siblings and all my nieces and nephews. I get to watch my kids connect so intimately with all these same people, building lifelong connection and incomparable summer memories. We swim and eat and talk and sit around the fire and eat and drink and talk some more – sometimes until the wee morning. It fills me up like nothing else and sustains me in all that I do from that point on. Really and truly and unequivocally.

Next Friday, August 7th, from 9am-pm, Carrie and I will be holding our third Mama’s Five Hour Fill Up with all sorts of new tools and ideas. I plan on bringing some of the many lessons I learned from my own mom and family into this workshop too. It is a chance to discover ways to fill your own cup, learn ways to stay connected to yourself and your family, how and when and where and why and ways to slow down and how to have fun and relish your role in all its multi-facets and many layers. We’ll offer tea, snacks, a beautiful lunch and the time and the space to just be, be, be. All you need to bring is yourself, ready to relax, receive and fill up.

Come join us. You will be glad you did.


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BOUNDARIES…

Parenting Your Child Ages 1-5: Setting Boundaries

Thursday, July 23rd 7-9:30pm

OR

Saturday, August 15th 10am-12:30pm

PARENTING FOR A PEACEFUL WORLD BOOK GROUP…

If you are interested in a longer, more intensive class, please join us for Parenting For a Peaceful World book study group.
I’m offering a Dads only class that starts on Wednesday, August 19th and meets every other week for six sessions. And I’m offering a Moms only class that starts on Wednesday, August 26th and meets every other week for six sessions. If you sign up as a couple or with a friend there is a price break.
To sign up one person

To sign up two people and receive a price break

PRENATAL PARENTING…

Prenatal Parenting Right From the Start. If you are pregnant or know someone who is pregnant please join me for this class. It’s a great way to start the parenting journey. Four classes, Starting Tuesday August 18th from 7-9pm

MOTHER’S FIVE HOUR FILL UP…

If you are needing to fill your cup join us for a day of relaxation and self-reflection. Friday, August 7th, 9am-2pm

ADDING A SECOND CHILD…

If you are pregnant with your second child and would like tips and tools on how to make the transition smooth for everyone in your family please email me and let me know. I have not scheduled the class yet but I will be offering one soon.

Here’s what people are saying about the classes.

I hope to see you soon! Please feel free to pass this on to friends and family.

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