blogging, Books

springtime (and a present for you!)

It’s officially the spring equinox today. The sun is out, the grass is getting greener, and new things await for all of us.

The rhythm of changing seasons is such a comfort, isn’t it? No matter how cold and bleak something is looking in the present moment or what little annoyances are speaking loudly in your ear, it will come and go and eventually make way for something new. Nature mirrors everything else for us if we pay attention.

March brings my own birthday, and it also brings the “birthday” of this little journal – one I began late at night in a chair at my kitchen desk in a house that is now two houses past with a baby who is now a growing boy and a life that is now a million lifetimes ago. I never in a million years – never ever ever, I cannot stress that enough – saw this tiny space as becoming what is has been for me in my past year and a half. I chose a blog title somewhat hurriedly and randomly when I knew that I’d be writing mostly about motherhood and a little about books. I had no idea that it would become about so much more than that. A journal of pain and heartache but also one of light and gladness and immeasurable personal revelations born in moments I never foresaw.

And here we are, six years later, I’m still writing and still recording details of my days that may or may not be of interest to anyone but me. But sometimes they are, and sometimes they have led to moments of clarified purpose that propel me forward even now to some place new.

I think words have a way of healing us like nothing else can. They have a way of shedding light on confusion when nothing else makes sense. I often write about someone else’s words and how they changed me, and it is my very favorite thing to get emails from readers – during this past year they came from as nearby as Atlanta and as far away as Germany – telling me that my words have done the same for them. Personal purpose and a burning need to record my own experiences is why I sit down to write in the first place, but it’s the circle of influence and the ripples that result that keep me showing up again and again.

In celebration of the 6th birthday of this little journal, and in appreciation for every one of you who reads here, I put together a little giveaway with the help of some amazing Etsy artists to pass on to a lucky winner. I’m starting with a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough, which is a compilation of quotes from her earlier works. I got my hands on it last fall when it was initially published, and it’s hard to choose a favorite passage. It’s a handy little guidebook when I’m feeling overwhelmed or lost, and Strayed’s usual no-nonsense wisdom shines on every page. The title stems from her passage in an essay on The Rumpus when she tells a reader to “be brave enough to break your own heart,” and that concept echoes on every page. It astounds me how many times in the past year of my life someone has called me “brave” when anyone who knows me knows that I am, in many ways, the opposite of brave. I am scared and cautious and careful at almost every moment of every day, but I’m realizing real bravery stems from the insistence to stand in your own truth and show your real heart. There’s nothing that requires more courage, and there’s nothing that provides those same feelings of peace and power.

To add to my bookish gift, Brianna over at BBeadazzled is giving this beauty. It seemed like the perfect accompaniment to Strayed’s work and a reminder to be brave and show up in the truest way every single day.

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And Lovewell Handlettering added this sweet little journal as well. Gratitude as a general concept and gratitude as a daily practice are two totally different things, and I cannot overestimate the ways my life has grown and changed by my persistence in recording the beauty of everyday moments in this space. It opens my eyes everyday to see the good in what’s around me. I’d love to pass on an encouragement to you to do the same.

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I have passed on quote after quote and underlined paragraphs and scribbled marginalia in so many books in the past few years and then shared those words with you here. What I’d like for this bloggy birthday is for you to do the same thing in return. What quote sets you on fire? What line have you underlined or scribbled somewhere in hopes you wouldn’t forget it? It’s hard to choose just one favorite passage, but I’d love to hear one that rings true for you right now. Pass it on and share it with the rest of us.

You are welcome to leave a comment here, or if you are reading from your phone, click on over to Facebook and leave one there if that’s easier. (This post is pinned at the top.) This Friday, the 25th, I’ll number the comments, let a number generator choose the winner, and then check in with the winner to ship your goodies!

Sharing words is my very favorite thing to do, and I can’t wait to see what bits of wisdom you scatter here. I’ll go first with a passage that has guided me immeasurably in the past year and continues to do so when I read it again and again.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

So many times in recent months I have repeated live the questions now again and again in my head, and it still amazes me that words written in 1929 by someone I will never meet can do what they do in my own life. Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

So now it’s your turn. Tell us below or over on Facebook. What words shine like a light for you? I’ll choose a winner on Friday.

Happy birthday, little blog.

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Books, gratitude

Lucky Winner

I’m happy to say that the lucky winner of the giveaway is comment number 11.  Congrats, Tally! I know you’ll rock the beautiful handcrafted set.  I really enjoyed reading all of your answers on this one, and I have another interested Etsy shop, so I think I’ll do additional gratitude giveaway in a few months.

And a funny side note: I finally dove in to One Thousand Gifts that everyone has been raving about, and it is absolutely not a typical read for me at all, but I started it yesterday and cannot put it down.  (Bleary -eyed this morning because of it!)  It’s Ann Voskamp’s story of challenging herself to write down 1,000 things she is thankful for and how that changes her life.  This woman is a seriously beautiful writer, and I love her way of describing things.  I’ve been reading on my Kindle a lot lately, but I ordered the “real” book because I knew I’d want to underline and come back to it again and again on my shelf.  She describes how transforming it can be to write down your list of things you are thankful for, “I mean, they are just common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like.  Gifts He bestows.  This writing it down – it is sort of like …. unwrapping love” (45)  Such an apt description of the value of gratitude.

So basically this book is all about recognizing the beauty in the everyday, and look at the cover.

And again, look at Tally’s new jewelry that she won by practicing some gratitude herself.

Funny, huh? So, I don’t know….. it’s just a weird little cosmic connection with this whole bird’s nest, gratitude, life-is-full-of-possibilities-when-you-look-around kind of thing. Now I have an association with bird’s nests and am reminded to say thanks when I see them.  And I might have already searched Etsy and found a million bird’s nest things I want now.

Enjoy your new bling, Tally. And enjoy your weekend, readers. Be full and happy.

blogging

Happy Birthday, little blog! {And an Etsy Giveaway}

{Giveaway Closed}  The winner is comment #2 from Kreative Karing.  Congrats!

 

As the calendar flips to March, I realize it’s been a year since I’ve started this little journal, and I didn’t want the anniversary to go by without something special to commemorate the occasion.  A few facts:

  1. I’ve written 87 posts so far, averaging 1.6 entries a week.
  2. My most commented-on post is What I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding .
  3. My most visited post is this simple one on inspiration for a carnival birthday party followed closely by this one on my freezer cooking extravaganza and this one on the things I don’t miss about my old job.
  4. The posts most landed on by random search engines are my posts on our circus birthday party last October.
  5. The weirdest searches that landed someone here were vagina in the potty and teacher won’t let me use the bathroom what should I do.  Those are so bizarre that I can’t believe I even admitted them to you. (I think I maybe mention “vaginal” in my birth story??)  I’ve got no idea how that gets someone here, but I’m guessing they didn’t find what they were searching for.   [As a side note, someone landed here once by searching for “boobs,” and I think that’s kind of hilarious considering a post on breastfeeding isn’t really what was expected, I assume.]
  6. The most common category for my posts is Gratitude with 23 entries.
  7. The one entry that changed blogging for me was this one, which I’ll expand on a little next week.  (With another Etsy giveaway!) I wrote it late one night on a whim, and I feel like my entire blog totally changed direction after that.
  8. My most favorite entry is this one; it still makes me happy to go back and read it.  My birthday letter to Jude is a close second.  His birth story is also close to my heart for obvious reasons, and I love these entries as well.  It’s funny how the posts that mean so much to the writer aren’t necessarily the most commented on or most viewed posts.
  9. My most favorite thing about this little blog? It makes me notice the things I would have missed otherwise and give thanks when I need to. My gratitude category has opened up a whole new practice for me that is really worthwhile, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it has honestly made a difference in my daily life and my perspective.
  10. My most unexpected happy thing about blogging?  All of you! I love hearing from you whether in a comment or an email, and I’ve been surprised at the sense of community and friendship that can happen in front of a computer screen.

So thank you, little blog for showing me how take notice of my own life.  And thank you, reader, for listening and talking.

_____________________

 

And now for the fun part!  In honor of the first birthday of Mama the Reader, Bookish Charm Etsy Shop is kindly giving one of my readers this adorable necklace.

How sweet is that?  And let’s be honest that most of the time I end up rambling about a million different topics from food to crafts to parties to toddler tantrums, but a thirst for knowledge and a love of words are still the foundation of what drives me here at Mama the Reader, and I know my readers are bookish, too!

So this is how you enter:

Hop over to Bookish Charm.

Take a look around.

Leave me a comment about what your favorite item is.

It’s as easy as that!  Personally, I’d love to wear one of these.

 

A quote from Pride and Prejudice! Oh, Mr. Darcy!

or this

or this

Seriously cute stuff!  All comments should be completed by  Friday, March 18th at noon when I use random.org to choose a random number to be our winner.

If you’re not a subscriber here, don’t forget to drop by next week for some words on the value of gratitude and another Etsy giveaway as well. [Or head to the side bar to click and subscribe. ]

Thanks for reading, y’all!  And happy birthday little blog!

**Linked to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.

**Etsy jewelry, free or otherwise, is definitely a thing I love!  This post linked to Things I Love Thursday as well.

Baby, In the Kitchen

Things I Love Thursday: Convenient Organic Baby Food – EcoMom GIVEAWAY!

Giveaway Closed: Winner is ALICIA.

This post is included in Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.  Head that way to see more lovely things!

I have a confession to make.  I am a baby food snob.  Jude has been on solids for  about 7 weeks now, and I have been making all of his food.  Every other weekend, I get out the cutting board, peeler, bowls, and blender and puree organic fruits and vegetables before pouring them in to ice trays to freeze them for later use.  The process has been easier than expected, and it becomes somewhat addictive.  Before you know it, I’d become a little territorial with his food as I only gave him what I’d prepared.

When EcoMom gave me the opportunity to sample and review their new line of Plum Organics, however, I was intrigued and even broke my homemade-only baby food streak.  Truth be told, there is definitely some value in convenience, and with EcoMom, you get the best of both worlds because you are giving your baby 100% pure organic fruits and vegetables, but you also have the convenience of a little BPA-free, screw-top pouch.  For me, this was a novel idea as I’ve been thawing and stirring to get my own baby food ready for Jude to eat.  So for Things I Love Thursday, I love convenience.  And even better?  Convenient organic baby food that you know is good for your baby.

I found that Jude LOVED the flavors of EcoMom’s Plum Organics blends.  The spinach, peas, and pears combo disappeared faster than I could give it to him, and he got so impatient waiting for that spoon to reach his mouth. The purees are definitely pretty thin which is great for younger babies.  They are thinner than what Jude is used to since my blender tends to make a slightly thicker consistency, but I mixed the thin peach pureee with a little rice cereal to make a great breakfast for him, and he couldn’t get enough.  I’ve always thought sweet potatoes were his favorite, but after his excitement with the peaches, I’ve changed my mind.

EcoMom has all sorts of great blends and flavors of babyfood, and each of them comes in a convenient pouch.  You can rescrew the top back on the pouch if you only need part of it, and the rest can be refrigerated and consumed within 24 hours.  So convenient!  EcoMom also has a line of healthy snacks for those of you with older toddlers, and their healthy options extend far beyond purees.  They sent me some Strawberry Mish Mash that I passed along to my 2 year old niece, and it got rave reviews as well.

I was definitely impressed with the guilt-free packaging, convenience, and purity of the Plum Organics line, and I can tell you for sure that Jude loved it!  EcoMom is offering one of my readers a giveaway of $20 worth of Plum and/or Revolution Foods, and if you win, they’ll ship it right to you!

So listen up baby mamas and mamas-to-be, and do any of the following to have a chance at winning.  Leave me a comment telling me you’ve done any of these, and I will randomly choose a comment number as a winner.  Be sure you leave your email address in the comment, and leave separate comments for each of these actions to increase your chances of winning.

  1. Subscribe to  Mama The Reader via RSS or email.  If you already do this, let me know by leaving a comment.
  2. Follow EcoMom on Twitter
  3. Become a fan of EcoMom on Facebook
  4. Head on over to EcoMom, and take a look around at their products.  It’s not just baby food!  They’ve got cloth diapers, teethers, creative toys, and stuff for you.  Best of all, it’s all safe and natural.  Tell me your favorite or one you’d love to try and why you like it.
  5. Sign up for the EcoMom newsletter

And even if you don’t win my EcoMom giveaway, you can get a 15% discount between now and May 31 when you use the code they are sharing with my readers.  That code is SBBL301, and as you can see, there’s a lot of great stuff over at EcoMom, so take advantage of it!  For those of you who repeatedly buy EcoMom goods, the EcoPass program can also help you save on products and shipping.  Good luck, and a giveaway winner will be chosen on Friday, May 14.

Disclosure:  I received a Plum Organics baby food sampler from EcoMom in order to complete this review.