April 18, 2014

Deliberate Motherhood: The Power of Individuality

Welcome to the Deliberate Motherhood series!  If this is your first post, you can see
the rest of them here.  There are 12 Powers that help bring peace, order, and joy
to mothering.  We're focusing on one each month.  You don't need a book to join the discussion-
I'd love to hear your thoughts on each issue.  But if you want one, you can order it here.
THE POWER OF INDIVIDUALITY
When I got married, my mom gave me a book- one of those fill-in-the-blank books where she told me all about her, my dad, how they met, what she learned in the early years of marriage and motherhood, and so on.

One of the pieces of advice that stuck out to me was when she said "Be yourself- and don't lose your identity.  Don't lose Valerie!"

Thirteen years later, I think about that- particularly as it pertains to motherhood.  I've had many roles in my adult life, and one of my favorites is being "Mommy".  But as all mothers know, being "Mommy" means sacrifice, in many different forms.

The big question is: does it have to?  Are we sacrificing things, not because we really need to, but because we somehow feel like we should?  Do we have to give up pursuing our talents, demonstrating our passions, spending time with our friends, eating before our food gets cold, going to the bathroom alone?

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More often than we would think, the answer is a resounding "no"!  As April Perry so vividly reminds us, "Mommy is a person too!" 

Certainly there are stages and seasons of life where some things do have to fall lower on the priority list.  We gladly give up sleep (though it isn't necessarily enjoyable) to soothe our newborns.  Needy toddlers can't wait to be served as well as older children can.We spend time tutoring our children so they can succeed at math instead of watching our favorite TV shows.

But let's admit it- your husband can hold the baby while you shower (or a bouncy seat can do the job as well!) A babysitter you trust can give you time away.  You can teach your family to let you eat before plying you with requests.  

Even better,  our children would benefit from seeing their mom as a person with actual interests, hearing about the subjects and topics that excite and interest us, and learning from our example that women can pursue education, talents, and careers while being wonderful mothers!

I am a musician.  I started playing the piano in kindergarten, the flute in fifth grade, and have never really looked back.  I majored in music education in college, was in the marching band, and was a high school band teacher for five years.  


When I had my first child, I left my teaching days behind for two reasons: first, I had always wanted to be home with my babies, and second, because I knew there was no way I could be the mother I wanted to be, and be the committed band director my students needed.  I left behind 12-16 hour days so that someone else could give them what they needed without being distracted by a longing for home and family.  


Somehow, along the way, my pursuit of music also fell by the wayside.  It was too difficult to play the piano with sleeping babies and toddlers, and when they were awake I would be frustrated with their "helpful" banging of the keys as I attempted to play.  As for my flute?  The high sounds caused crying or startled my babies, and as they became toddlers they would try to grab something that was delicate and expensive!  My musical talent was relegated to occasionally playing the piano at church, and once or twice a year being asked to perform on the flute.

As with most talents, in playing an instrument, it's use-it-or-lose-it.  My low point came a while ago when I performed for my church group on my flute, and had so little muscle control that I couldn't play a note that would have been cake at my flute-playing height!  I went home and cried and cried.  What was the point of all those years, all those hundreds of hours of practice, if I could barely play a simple church song?

Then I realized: my children are older.  There is no reason I can't pull out my music and practice- just for fun. Maybe my children would like to hear me play!  Maybe it would inspire one of them to play a musical instrument!  Being a flutist is truly a part of me, one that I don't want to give up.  Because of my husband's responsibilities at church (he's a bishop) I don't have a lot of time to play outside of my home, but I know when the time is right, I can join that orchestra or flute choir.  My children will survive without me for a few hours, and I will feel better about myself.


Happy mom, happy home!

This month's goal:  identify the areas where you are needlessly sacrificing YOU.  What is something you can do to celebrate your individuality as a person and as a mother?  How can you share your passions and interests with your children?

Join the conversation- what are some ways we can regain our sense of selves when we are still busy moms? What works for you?  Or, what do you struggle with? 
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April 16, 2014

Personalized Sippy Cups AND Applying Vinyl to Curved Surfaces

A good friend recently asked me to make her some personalized sippy cups as a baby shower gifts! I don't know why I had never thought of doing this before! It's super easy, something that will get used, and when it's personalized it's always a great gift!
The only tricky thing is applying vinyl to a curved surface. If you haven't done it before you might find yourself creating wrinkles or bubbles in places you don't want. Let me share a few tips to help it go on smoothly!
After you have cut your design and removed excess vinyl, apply your transfer tape/contact paper.


Now cut around all the edges so you have as little material as possible to apply to your surface. Be sure not to cut through your vinyl design! Eliminating all this excess material helps it go on smoothly.


Now for the most important part. Find the center of your design and remove a section of the backing. I did this using an exacto knife and folded away the backing from the center. This allows you not only to center your design without fully placing it, but this will help apply on a curved surface.


Slowly work from the center outwards, pressing your vinyl onto your surface and pushing the backing off the design. Do this on both sides until the design is fully applied. You may have some bubbles in your transfer tape, but none should be left on your actual vinyl design. Voila!


I've seen people do this on mugs for teachers, decals for helmets, even Christmas ornaments! The possibilities are yours to explore! Now I know what to do the next time any of my friends has a baby!


Side note: some vinyl is perfectly good for dishwasher use or handwashing! Be sure to read the criteria of your vinyl before applying.
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April 8, 2014

Easy Mother's Day Gift (Motherhood Realized)


*** Disclosure:  I was given a copy of Motherhood Realized to review.  I was not compensated
in any other way.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  

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Motherhood is hard.  It's thankless, it's messy, it's monotonous, and it's often derided as unimportant.  Deliberate mothers know better.  We know that being a mother is one of the most important jobs we can do, and brings us joy and peace (yes, peace!) in a way nothing else can.  Still, we all face stress, challenges, and moments where we just want to throw our hands up in the air, walk out the door, and never look back (at least not until we've had a few hours away!)  What do you do in those moments?

If you've been reading my blog this year, you know I've been singing the praises of Deliberate Motherhood,   a book that changed the way I view parenting and made me want to be a better mother.  I've even started a series focusing on one of its 12 "powers" each month.  

The online community behind Deliberate Motherhood has released a new book called Motherhood Realized.  It is a series of essays, questions, and challenges to help you feel even more empowered and enabled to be a mother, appreciate your mother, or look forward to being a mother.

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You may have seen some of these essays floating around Facebook or Pinterest.  I know many of my friends shared the article "Your Children Want You" in their news feeds.  Mothers everywhere were thrilled to hear this message.   Many of you were also emotionally touched by this account of one author and her cancer-stricken mother, entitled "Worth Fighting For."   I was so happy to see these essays included in Motherhood Realized.

Maybe you clicked over to these articles and got caught up in their message, as I did, and as many others have.  This book is full of essays just like this.  Each one has its own touching, strengthening, and thought-provoking message that speaks to mothers in all stages of life.  
Motherhood Realized is broken down into four sections, each with essays grouped by a specific theme.  
- Becoming Our Best Selves
-Getting Through The Hard Times
- Shifting Our Perspectives
- Savoring Moments

Paraphrasing the book's introduction, this is the kind of book you can enjoy an essay, a chapter at a time, or read in chunks as you're searching for help and inspiration for your phase of mothering. The mothers in this book are real, and are in all stages of life.  This is a book to buy and savor, with essays you will turn back to again and again.

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One of my favorite things about the book is that it gives you something to act on after you've read an essay.  It asks you a thought-provoking question or two, then gives you a challenge to apply what you've read to your own life.  I just might take this on as my next blog project after I finish my Deliberate Motherhood series!

Ladies, mothers, we are not alone.  We have each other.  We are a great sisterhood of mothers who can strengthen and lift each other.  This book doesn't replace the mom network you hopefully have in your real life, but it does give gentle reminders, sage advice, and needed encouragement in those moments where you might not have someone to turn to.  It is truly sisterhood in book form!

Make the pledge to support Deliberate Mothers everywhere by purchasing this book, either for yourself or a special woman in your life who could use it.  If you purchase the book, click here to fill out the form to receive this awesome gift package (valued at $40)

- a digital copy of Deliberate Motherhood (so you can play along with me in our series!)
- access to a 1- hour "Love Languages" training to help you develop relationships with your children
- Half price on a Lifetime "Learning Circles" membership at Powerofmoms.com

While you're there, become a member of the Power of Moms community.  You'll be glad you did :)

What's the hardest part of being a mom for you?  What brings you the greatest joy?  
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