Showing posts from May, 2018

Mamas, Let's Be Intentional This Summer

It is so easy to get caught up in the moment.

Parenting is hard. It's nitty gritty. It's exhausting.

Even once we exit the trenches of baby-and-toddlerdom, it's still rough. The challenges change, but there are hurdles to surmount nonetheless.

It's so easy to get caught up in the moment.

Adulting is hard. Work, marriage, running a household, paying bills on time, meeting expectations and deadlines... it's enough to make one wish they were a bear and it was winter and hibernation were in order.

But seriously.

Life is hard.

Sometimes, we trudge through life the best we can.

Sometimes we use autopilot. We feed our kids, clean our homes (perhaps), and manage to not strangle our spouse.

Yet life was not meant to be merely survived.

We were made to thrive.

When we are intentional about parenting, for example, we pour ourselves into raising our kids. We set goals. What specific things do you want to accomplish with your children this summer? Do you want to read the Chron…

Eating Around the World-- Adventures in Foraging and Wild Edibles in NE Florida

If you were to become lost in the woods, would you know enough about the local flora to live off the land until you were found?

Do you know which plants are edible and which are poisonous where you live?

Do you have what it takes to survive?

While I have no plans to forage for survival any time soon, the back-to-the-earth food movement fascinates me and I was excited to learn more about foraging and Florida's wild edibles with St. Johns County Naturalist AyoLane Halusky.  The kids and I started our school day with an introductory wild edibles class at Alpine Groves Park along the St. Johns River in NE Florida.

One doesn't have to trek far into the mountains to forage for food. There are wild edibles all around us.  One must consider pesticides and pollutants before popping a leaf into their mouth though. Our friendly naturalist guide recommended being extremely cautious: "When I find a plant, I look it up in a book, then locate it in another book. Then, ask a naturalist.…

Try New Things: Adventures in Mushroom Gardening

Mushrooms are rather terrifying. I love them in my salad. Grilled, sauteed, fresh, they're nutritious and delicious. They are also fairly interesting to spot and try to identify in the wilderness. Yet eating the wrong mushroom can kill you and there are so many lookalikes in the mushroom kingdom that it it can be frightfully difficult to distinguish between a safe fungi and its poisonous or hallucinogenic counterpart.

Yet I've also read a lot lately about farmers successfully growing and harvesting their own mushrooms. There's a whole world out there I know little about: mycology.  Interesting blogs and Twitter feeds led to books and fascinating groups. There are entire associations devoted to mushrooms. Some people live and breathe mushrooms. I'm on the other end of the spectrum: I have a tiny knowledge  of mushrooms and a spark of curiosity. This led me to want to know more.

An interesting Facebook event populated my newsfeed. One of my favorite local farms, Eat Your…

Review: The Kind of Parent You Are-- Becoming Your Best Person So Your Children Can Become Their Best Adults

"Knowing who you are and backing it up with behaviors allows you to approach things with purpose. It lets you put more into life. And it allow you to get more out of life-- more enrichment, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment," writes Brian Vondruska in his new parenting guide, The Kind of Parent You Are-- Becoming Your Best Person So Your Children Can Become Their Best Adults. Coming out in late June 2018 from Aurora Park Publishing, this parenting guide has a lot to offer hopeful, expectant, new, and veteran parents alike.

I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this ebook from City Book Review and thoroughly enjoyed swiping through the pages. My official review will publish in the July 2018 issue of San Francisco Book Review.  Here, I'll give a basic overview of the book and share in detail what I loved.

The Kind of Parent You Are is unique from other parenting guides on the market because it focuses on the intentional improvement of both the parent and the chi…

Nature Makes Me a Better Parent-- Discovering the Art and Science of Forest Bathing

It's 8 am and the kids have already been bickering for an hour.

Tears have been shed.

Threats have been made.

Sound familiar? Surely mine is not the only household in which its youngest citizens insist on turning the institution into a circus on a daily basis?

Some days it's hard to keep my cool.

Nature provides the perfect opportunity to escape and compose myself.

I bring the kids. It doesn't have to be far from home. In fact, the closer and easier the better some days. There's a sweet trail along the river not far from our house. When WWIII is about to break loose or I feel my last threat of patience about to snap, I load the kids and dogs into our mini van and head to a trail. With some comfortable shoes, sun screen, bug spray, and water bottles, we're ready for an adventure.

It's not always peaceful. The fighting continues sometimes. I've been known to tell the kids (frequently) that I want to hear the sounds of nature, not their voices.

Some exercise …

5 Reasons Why You Should Dig in the Dirt With Your Kids

Getting dirty has a whole lot of benefits.

When the military relocated my family to the South East, I was excited to grow a whole plethora of fruits and vegetables that don't thrive in the Northwest. Citrus trees, anyone?  I was also thrilled that after years of living in base housing or renting, we were able to purchase a home with lots of room for gardening.

I was not raised by gardeners, but have always had the urge to grow things. My base-housing porches often hosted a variety of tomatoes and strawberries in planters and I've been known to sneak broccoli and cabbage into my landscaping. Just saying.

With the space to grow our own food, it's been an adventure in trial and error. Some plants die. I have no idea why. One day they are fine. The next they are yellow, limp, or squashed flat to the ground by the mysterious character "Not Me."

The kids love helping plant new seeds and sprouts. They don't enjoy weeding, but they love eating the fruits and veggies…

Hiking With Kids- Rejuvenate Your Soul, Inspire Your Mind

There's just something about nature and being way out on a trail with the twittering birds and seasonal flora that keeps me coming back again and again.

Perhaps it's because I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in the shadows of mighty Mt. St. Helens and among the misty fir forests.

I feel more alive in the woods than anyplace else. I love the workout. When hiking, I use muscles I wouldn't ordinarily use. Blood pressure decreases. My heart grows stronger.

Hiking rejuvenates my soul.

Any season is great for hiking and has a lot to offer, but I am partial to spring.  Here in Ne Florida, the forests are thick with vibrant greenery and birds abound.  The eighty-degree weather begs for outdoor activity and feels like warm silk on one's skin. How could we possibly stay indoors? The kids and I hit the trails at the University of North Florida today and marveled at the tiny pink and white blossoms on the wild blueberries. We discussed the animals that might rely on…