Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February meeting notes: Savannah Mayfield


As a result of your survey responses in October, this year, PDXCityMamas will host a handful of speakers from your most popular topics instead of holding monthly meetings.  One of the themes we heard loud and clear from the survey was "Work-Life balance".  We are so excited to delve into this topic with you!  We have a whole speaker series planned for the year to explore the many aspects of this theme.  More on that later...

We started our first gathering of 2012 with speaker Savannah Mayfield on the topic of Self-Nurture.  We were so happy to have her back!  She first spoke with our group in October 2010.  It was great to see so many moms at the meeting.  Welcome, new and familiar faces! 

So here are my notes: (As always, feel free to add anything that you may have remembered that I didn't capture here.  Savannah has such a calming presence that it seemed almost counter-intuitive to be taking notes ;) .)

First, we went around the room, introduced ourselves, and Savannah asked us to give an example of how we each "self-nurture".  Yeah, right!  Everyone laughed, and Savannah said she was in the right room!

"Self Nurture" is more than just scheduled activities or self-care actions - it is really about your relationship with yourself.  It includes taking the time to recognize and know ourselves completely.  It includes the "feeling" state beyond, say, the activity of exercise, but how that activity makes you feel.  For instance, if it is stressful to get to yoga because it means coming home and rushing to fix dinner and rushing back to put kids to bed, then that's not really self-nurturing.  Or if you love massages but feel guilty about paying for them every time you have one... you get the idea.  So how do we get beyond this?  We need to take the time to nourish the whole self, working it into our schedules and daily lives...

Savannah wanted us to focus on mindfulness.  An exercise she shared with us that afternoon was to take a moment to think about a time when we felt depleted, when we were not able to take care of ourselves.  Then she asked us to think about how much energy and attention we were able to give to the people we care about...  She asked us to listen to our bodies.  What feelings did we have?  Many of us shared that we felt a wince of pain in the back or neck, had difficulty breathing, or felt tension or pressure.

Next, she had us do the same exercise, this time thinking about a time when we felt nourished.  What did our bodies tell us then?  Many of us shared feelings of relaxation, lighter, more open.  Some even felt guilty because the "happy place" they went to was a time before kids or spouse!  (p.s. this was my happy place)

Savannah walked us a little through some of her handout, which included five self nurture principles.
(link to her handout)

They are (my notes in parenthesis):
  • Taking time to nourish your whole self (the physical, emotional, mind, spiritual, energetic self - asking yourself, what do I need in these areas?)
  • Listening to your inner voice (Self talk is very important.  There are many voices to parse out.  Which are your true feelings and which are the "Self-critic"? the "scared me".  Listen to yourself by shutting out the voices that do not reflect who you are.  Know who your true self is.)
  • Honoring yourself in your relationships through your actions, communication and healthy boundaries
  • Cultivating self love and being mindful with self talk (Be positive to yourself!)
  • Living your values, including the way you care for others (Living your values, meaning, "This is who I am.")
We had a great discussion in and around these principles.  It was nice for so many of the group to have a chance to open up.  Many of us shared similar experiences or at least related to one another in a way that was uplifting and encouraging.  Then, time was up!  One mom told me, "It feels like we just got started!"

So... for those of you who are interested, Savannah does a Self Nurture Women's Group for 7-8 people.  This includes 10 sessions, about twice a month for about 2 hours each.  A few of you have expressed interest, and Savannah handed out her flier.  It's also posted on her website.  If you are interested in gathering together, please email me your contact information.

Thanks again to our speaker, and thanks to those of you who were able to attend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

School Fundraisers: Family CIrcle Artcile and Your Thoughts

We are in the midst of school auction and fundraising season here in Portland at least. I thought this was an interesting and thought provoking article from Family Circle. Our school (Title 1, w/60% free and reduced lunch) tried to do an "ask" to cover the fundraising we used to do with paper, cookies, etc. I think it was $4.50 per child. We have not yet reached this goal. To contrast schools - we are looking to raise $35,000 - the most we have ever raised - at our auction on Saturday and trying to get 200 people. In contrast, a school in same cluster just a few miles away made over $85,000 at their auction. I have not even been to the auction and have already spent at least $300 on: wine donations (two wine showers with three $10 bottles of wine each), stuff for a New Orleans dinner basket including Treme DVD, tickets (including sponsored tickets for families that can’t afford them and one for the student teacher). In addition, I will host a dinner for six in April, and a nature park play-date for four kids in June.

What are your thoughts on the article and school fundraisers in general?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kitchen Science

Making food is just science and math. It's proportions and chemical reactions. And it can be really fun for kids. Here is a case in point.

Last night I was thinking about breakfast and decided we should have pancakes. Problem was that there was no butter in the house. But there was half a pint of heavy whipping cream. And so there was a solution - make some butter. I called Jordan in to help.

We poured the half a pint of heavy whipping cream into a mason jar. Then we put a marble into the jar and screwed the lid on very tight. Next came the fun part - shaking. Shake, shake, shake. Everyone got a turn, even daddy. First it becomes whipped, the consistency you'd expect for topping a piece of pie. More shaking. Second it starts to look grainy, but still white. More shaking. Last the watery parts of the cream separate from the fats. The fats come together and are light yellow. The liquid is cloudy. We opened the jar to test the consistency, it wasn't quite solid enough so a bit more shaking. And done. We poured out the liquid and put the butter in a dish.

Jordan asked to taste it. "Wow, it tastes like butter!" I said, "That's because it is butter."

Note - Personally I don't like salted butter, but if you do you can add a little. After you put the butter in the dish add 1/4 tsp of salt and mix it in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kindergarten Roundup Time!

For those of you who will have Kindergarteners this fall, or those of you who are just curious and want a little inside information on Portland Public Schools, check out these resources:

Here's some information about Kindergarten on PPS' website, including Kindergarten readiness booklets with activities for your children and information for parents, Roundup calendars, and information regarding before and after care.  Check out the roundup calendar if you plan to attend this year!  Some of the roundups have already started. 

Also, if you're curious about the school lottery experience, read Darcy's recent guest post here.  School choice website is here and as Darcy's blog post cites, check out the Scoop on Schools for a parent-insider view of how to navigate school options, including non-PPS.

Also, if you want a little insight from urbanmamas, here's a post from last year at this time, with lots of resources as well.  

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coming Home…Heading Out. Enter…Exit…Repeat: Organizing Post from Beth

Coming Home…Heading Out. Enter…Exit…Repeat.

The entryway is the first thing you see as you arrive and the last thing you see as you leave. You may come and go through the front door, the side door, the back door or even through the garage door. We work hard to keep the entrance that guests use looking welcoming and presentable but often neglect the entrance we use on a daily basis. What feeling do you get as you enter the door? Does it welcome you or are you stressed by it? Do you trip over shoes, shove the bags out of the way or struggle to find a place to hang your coat? Do you ever feel like turning around and leaving again? Let’s bring order to your entry space, so it greets you with a warm welcome.

Entryways must meet many needs. They hold so many things that go in and out with us on a regular basis. Your space may house shoes, coats, hats, backpacks, keys, briefcases, and miscellaneous items ready to depart with you the next time you leave. So how do you create that welcoming space ready for easy exits and entries?

First take time to evaluate everything you have in the space. Does it really have to be there? Does it go in and out of the home on a regular basis or just every so often? Have you taken it with you in the last week? Eliminate the excess by keeping only the things that you are presently using. Give away the shoes and coats that no longer fit and find a different place to store those that are out of season. Consider moving your incoming mail station or sports equipment to another area of your home.

Next set up areas for storing the different items you need in your entry space. All garments in one place and things from your pocket or purse in their own area. Think through how each item should be contained or housed with a focus on accessibility. These items will be leaving and returning to this spot often, so you want to make it simple to do. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to maintain. Here are a few suggestions that may help make your entryway feel inviting and organized.

Create a drop zone for keys, change, wallet, or cellphone. Place a small container or two on the counter or table to hold these smaller items. This will prevent them from being misplaced.
Designate a hanging area for coats. Install a coat rack with enough hooks for each family member. If you are using a closet, remember that hooks are easier for children. Add a lower rack or a few simple hooks, so they can hang their own things.

Use shelves, cubbies or large baskets for shoe storage. Open storage is best as it is easier to access. Make sure the containers are large enough to hold the necessary amount. Don’t forget to include a place to sit to make putting the shoes on easier.

Designate a small clear bin for each person to hold their hats, gloves, ear buds, etc. You can place a multi-compartment clear shoe organizer over the door for this kind of storage as well.

Allocate a bin or basket specifically for items that are outgoing. These maybe library books, dry cleaning, a store return or a dish you borrowed from a friend. Make sure you check this “outgoing” area each time you leave to see if there is something that you could deliver during your trip out.

Take control of your entry by implementing some of these tips and you will make it a space that says, “Welcome Home!”