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Lann is 15!

Yesterday was Lann’s fifteenth birthday. Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, bedroom and indoor

It has been fifteen years since I started to become forged in the fires of motherhood.

Fifteen years since I brought that first baby to my breast and offered him my life.

Fifteen years.

Mothering has been hard on my personality, but good for my soul. And, this little baby, whose soft head I cupped in the night and cried while worrying he would grow up to be a “bad teenager,” has always been so easy to love (and he isn’t bad at all!). He was a sensitive and high-need baby, who grew into a timid and creative toddler, and then into an energetic, high-spirited, playful, expressive kid, and then now into a still-sensitive, but calm, helpful, easy-going, cooperative, pleasant, kind, creative, capable teenager.

From 8lbs4oz to 5’11 in just a few years, on the morning of his birthday when we measured him to Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sittingsee how tall he is, I found myself crying. And, then I remembered something I wrote in 2011:

The tears that may spring unbidden to our eyes in the future when our growing child makes us remember this potency of early childhood, the very fact that we look back with such a pang, means that we did a very, very good job with the savoring—if we hadn’t savored, we wouldn’t know how to feel so deeply later.

I became an artist because of my babies. When I was pregnant with Lann, I made numerous small needle felted birth goddesses to prepare me for birth. His birth introduced me to the goddess as an embodied reality and I started to consider that the power that I felt course through me as a birthing woman, might just be available to me all the time, not just while pregnant and laboring. With my second pregnancy, I continued to create needle-felted goddess sculptures. During my fifth pregnancy, following two devastating losses, I started to create goddesses in clay as a means to heal my grief, to reintroduce Pregnant Woman into my identity, to give me the courage and trust to birth again, and to create a 3-D journal of my life. These little hand-held goddesses spoke to others too and from that original process of self-exploration, honoring, and healing, the whole of Brigid’s Grove was born. 

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Happy Birthday, Tanner!

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I actually got the perfect picture this morning of our birthday boy! Tanner is TWO! He says: “I’m two!” He speaks in 2-3 word sentences and adds words every day. He can basically say anything. He loves tools and fixing stuff and “working” with mom and dad. He watches closely enough that he even blows on the tops of the heads of tiny goddesses when he sits down with them and tries to work on the tops of their heads. He likes cars and trucks. He is the first kid to run to help when someone says, “help,” including trying to be the other side of furniture moving. Loves swings and big boots and running fast. Is observant and attentive and clever. Likes knives (too much!).

Falls asleep in my arms each night, just like he did the day he was born.

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His birth video is here and his birth story is here

We having his birthday party tonight and going to a Halloween party. He has a dinosaur costume as well as a karate kid t-shirt so he can be Johnny, the blond kid from the Karate Kid movie (he was Draco Malfoy last year. Apparently, I can only think of blond-hair-related costumes and bad kids in movies are blond?!) I have made a non-professional-looking pumpkin cake with super yummy pumpkin cream cheese icing.october-2016-076

I can’t image a world without a Tanner in it! He is a powerhouse, a dynamo, and an inextricable part of our family.

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Talk Books: Lost on Hope Island

Patricia Harman is an experienced midwife, beginning as a community midwife in the 1960’s and goatmidwivesthen becoming a CNM and maintaining a busy practice with her obstetrician husband Tom. Her memories about midwifery practice are some of my all-time favorite midwifery memoirs. She has a delightful gift with sharing stories, wisdom, and creating what feels like a true relationship with the reader. Now, she has put her attention into a new project: fiction for middle-grade children. Her first child’s novel, Lost on Hope Island: The Amazing Tale of the Little Goat Midwives, tells the story of two siblings, Trillium and Jacob (ages 12 and 8) who are shipwrecked on a small island in the Pacific Ocean and separated from their parents.

Lost on Hope Island is set in the modern day, it is not a Swiss Family Robinson reboot. On the island, the children must learn how to survive with only each other, and the goats the inhabit the island for company. They make some surprising (and convenient!) discoveries left behind by previous homesteaders on the island that help them survive and they develop close relationships with their goat friends. After the traumatic death of one baby goat, they learn how to help the nanny goats on the island give birth to their kids when they encounter difficulties (specifying that their mother and grandmothers are midwives and they know that if a mother isn’t have any trouble, it is best to keep your hands off and leave her alone!). This tale is not a fantastical or “glitzy” children’s read, nor does it shy away from complicated and difficult topics, instead it opens the door to real questions about relationships and feelings and how to draw on one’s own strength when you think you can’t go on. It is unusual to find a middle grade children’s book about realistic people in unusual, but not fantasy, circumstances. The book is illustrated with charming little hand-drawn pictures of the goats and the island’s adventures.

I read Lost on Hope Island out loud to my kids at bedtime over the course of a few weeks. My kids are ages 2, 5, 10, and 13. The older boys groaned a bit about reading it and found the goat-birth scenes to be a bit “icky,” but after they settled into the rhythm and pacing of the story, they listened with rapt attention and we often mentioned the story at other points during the day. My five-year-old daughter loved the book and it taught my nearly two-year-old son how to both say “midwives” (in a truly adorable fashion…he would get the book and bring it to me saying, “mid-wiiiifes”) and also “bey-aa” like the goats in the story.

If you are looking for a family read aloud, this adventure story with a birth-worker twist, is the book for you!

Past reviews of Patricia’s other books:


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Crossposted at Brigid’s Grove.

Eighteenmonthababy!

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The serious little face. The fishing pole. The lactivist-baby t. The tiny Crocs. The blond hair.

This is what an eighteenmonthababy looks like.

I feel inspired to share a quick update post about our little Tan Tan and his adventures in becoming March 2016 012Boy instead of Baby. He is adding new words constantly. I cannot keep up with them all. We’ve skipped right past the stage at which I can keep a list of the words he knows how to say, because he can say anything (albeit with limited range of enunciation. So, most words are not clear, but you can ask him to say anything or repeat anything and he will do it. He will also follow instructions like, “go find a dinosaur and bring it to me.”) He is also starting to do a few two word combinations: “big car,” “yes, dog,” “Daddy, outside.” We are lucky in that he’s been able to shake his head for yes and no for many months now, which eliminates lots of frustration and confusion in communicating with someone with limited vocabulary. This month he has begun verbally saying, “yeah” as well though.

He adores going outside and would live outside all day long, in whatever weather, if he could. He April 2016 043loves playing on the trampoline and runs around on it in impossibly fast circles with blond hair sticking straight up all around his head. He also runs very fast inside and there his hair flops up and down in an adorable fashion. He has begun using the potty with some regularity on his own accord. Often wakes up with a dry diaper and will even pull at his pants saying, “pee pee, potty,” sometimes.

He has to do a lot of keeping up with everyone in the house and has a tendency to run after me/get left behind while I’m doing whatever it is that needs my attention. Falls asleep for nap each day in Ergo and sleeps by my leg in the bed, waking instantly if I try to get up without him.

Fascinated by the cats and enjoys the fact that we have baby kitties right now for him to study. Stares with delight. Says, “wow!” and “yay!” and “uh oh” liberally and has a most indescribable twinkle in his eye + the most impish grins and expressions of any toddler I’ve ever seen. Climbs on stuff. Jumps off stuff. Uses my body as jungle gym. Is a wrestling act to even keep him in the air while holding him, as he writhes and twists and climbs my body instead of just sitting on my him. Wants to be on counters and tables March 2016 007constantly. Desperate to “help” with all business elements like packing orders and attaching jump rings. It is hard to take good pictures of him because he is constantly in motion. I’m not sure if it is the fact that I’m older than I used to be, or that I have four kids now, or that I have a business to run, but it is extraordinarily tiring to parent this small delightful whirlwind of a person. I feel literally worn out and worn down by him at the end of every day. It is physically exhausting just to hold him. And, even exhausting and a physical strain on my body just to nurse him while wrestling his other hand around from my other nipple and holding myself up as he flops from side to side, kicks and twists his legs, stands up, etc. while also nursing. He has a huge presence in life and in our family. He is good at “rolling with it” in terms of noise and chaos and people suddenly swinging him up into the air. He is funny and clever and a tiny problem solver and “engineer.”

He also loves his shovel.

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I can hardly believe he is one and half already and yet, he is so here with who and how he is, I forgot that he hasn’t always been in our family.

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Product Review: Robeez Soft Sole Boots

My almost 18 month old has a favorite pair of shoes and will rarely wear anything but them: a hand-me-down pair of Robeez soft leather shoes with cute little puppies on them. My daughter wore her favorite Robeez with dragons on them and my older son had a favorite pair with trains. These shoes are inextricably linked with toddlerhood to me–the small hand reaching up to join mine and then setting forth on uneven terrain with an extra bounce of confidence in the step, once securely hand in hand. So, when I had a chance to review some fabulous new Robeez soft leather boots, I jumped at the chance! Available in multiple sizes and colors, these little boots are quite simply: beautiful.

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Soft and flexible, they mold to my toddler’s feet, protecting them from his adventurous terrain and yet allowing them full range of motion so important for healthy foot development. For our family, Robeez shoes have been all-terrain, all-weather, sometimes-even-napped-in, childhood favorites. All of our kids have liked to go barefoot whenever possible and we find that Robeez are the next closest thing.

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The fur-lined interior of the boots gives them both extra comfort as well as extra protection against wear, meaning they will last for a long time. Plus, did I mention cute?!

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These boots have a non-slip suede outsole which helps prevent slipping. They also have an elasticized ankle band which does a great job keeps the boots on securely.
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The boots in my photos above are the Brown Classic Baby Boots. Giveaway now closed. I’m excited to have another pair of Robeez boots to give away as well! The giveaway pair are the Cozy Ankle style instead, which have a suede upper and faux-fur lining.

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Size 12-18 months, there are several ways to enter to win this pair of Brown Cozy Ankle Boots for your own precious little one.

  • Leave a comment letting me know why you’d like to win these boots!
  • Follow Talk Birth on Facebook and leave a comment on the picture I post there.
  • For a bonus entry, share this post on social media (and leave a comment letting me know you did so).

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Giveaway is open until March 28th. Good luck! These are certifiably adorable!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary pair of these boots for review purposes. All photos in this review were taken by me of the boots I received.

Home from the Beach!

12783712_1710227505856131_31295821355430542_oSo, I posted that I’d finished my dissertation and then I ran away to the beach and haven’t posted since! We’ve been wanting to take a family vacation to Dauphin Island for several years now. Last year, Tanner was an infant, so we didn’t do it. The year before I was pregnant with him and it didn’t seem like a good time to take a long car trip. We have been feeling the itch for a family adventure for a while and then we found out how much lower the beach house rates are in the winter and in January we decided to just go for it. We went for a week at the end of February. While we have tight bonds with Pismo Beach on California’s central coast, Dauphin Island, Alabama is the closest ocean-access point within driving distance for us from our beloved but landlocked Missouri, so that was the clear choice. Paying for gas and driving six people somewhere is much less expensive than flying six people to California! Aside from a very short stop at Castaway Cay on the Disney Cruise Mark and I went on in 2001, we’ve never been to an island before, nor have we seen or experienced the Gulf of Mexico.

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We were worried about how Tanner would handle the drive, so we split the trip there into two parts, but on the way back we just powered through and did the whole drive in one day (it is about 11 hours if you don’t stop, but took us 14 to get home due to one dinnertime stop and then a disastrous accidental wrong turn when we were only one hour from home! And, yes, somehow, it is actually possible to be in five states all in one day!). Tanner did an amazing job, no tears and just kind of accepting of his state of confinement. I sat in the back seat with him the whole time, crammed between two car seats, unable to face my body fully forward and instead having to sit sideways. Was it worth it? YES! Not only did we feel like brave, intrepid, adventurous explorers doing cool things with our family, but we had a beautiful and fun and unforgettable time together on the island. The weather was quite variable with the kids able to be in just bathing suits the first two days, the wind becoming so ferocious the following day that we couldn’t really go out (and the house literally shook the whole night!), to icy gusts of wind that required down coats and hats (and horrible windburn for Mark on his hands). We ate fresh crab legs and shrimp, bought amazing cinnamon rolls and french bread, and ate one dinner of delicious whiting that Mark caught in the ocean. We petted stingrays at the aquarium, drove back over the thrilling bridge to the mainland and ate dinner at Golden Corral in Mobile, AL (and got our week’s groceries at Wal-Mart). We stopped at a bayside park and all went on the swings together. We spent hours upon hours walking on the beach and picking up shells, just like we imagined. Except for Mark, we also all got fevers and coughs and sinus headaches to varying degrees, sprinkled throughout the trip. Tanner was extremely clingy the entire time and I spent what felt like 12 hours a day wearing him in the Ergo and nursing him at the same time (in addition to the coughing, he is also getting what seems to be six new teeth at once!).

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Excited about stingrays!

I became obsessed with taking full moon, sunrise, and sunset pictures with my new camera and not only did I not succeed, I ended up annoying Mark by fretting over the photos instead of enjoying the moment.

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We built sand castles and dug holes and sketched a labyrinth in the sand with our toes and walked it. I made a goddess in the sand and spent hours memorizing the charge of the goddess poem and reciting it on the beach into the hair of my dozing baby.

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We took boxes of goddesses and Womanrunes books with us and mailed them to people around the world from the tiny island post office (hope they all make it to their destinations!). I got sidetracked by Facebook advertising campaigns that weren’t working. We baked pound cake and ate raspberry sorbet. We went to bed by 10:00 and were up by 6:00 to watch the sun rise.

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We were very often the only people within sight on the beach. We had trouble differentiating whether that made us fools or geniuses, but there is nothing like a broad open stretch of sand and sea, with only your most treasured loved ones around you.

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The Return from a trip is often exhausting, not just the travel day, but the re-integrating into “real life,” especially when it doesn’t slow down (and all my students submitted their final papers Sunday night!) Maybe I will come back and do a more detailed recap post with more pictures some other day, but I’m betting that this is all I’ve got!

I have the Red Tent and Womanspirit programs beginning on March 21st and I also go back to teaching at the Fort that same day. I have a training manual to finish writing, a website to update, and spring ritual kits to finish creating. The kids are still coughing and I’m sitting in my bed next to my sleeping baby writing this post when I really should be grading papers. And, I’m so, so glad we carved out the time and space to be adventurous together anyway. It was totally worth it.

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After the third try to take awesome priestess robe beach pictures I gave up and asked Mark to take a reality mamapriestess beach picture instead.

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“I and so many other mothers before me have fully lived this ritual of connection and sustenance. We are the Life Givers, and we are holy in our work.”

–Jennifer Pratt-Walker (in SageWoman magazine)

Thursday Tidbits: The Flow of Life

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This watery blue birthing mama sculpture is making her way to Alaska right now.

I recently got a copy of a new book, The Other Side of the River, to review. Written by Eila Carrico and published by the wonderful Womancraft Publishing, it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that I’m going to like the book. Plus, that cover! Amirite?

January 2016 026A blog post Eila recently wrote about flow and yoga (and chaos) spoke to me this afternoon:

I learned how to let go of perfection and control by watching the traffic patterns of this small town in Tamil Nadu. There were no signs and rules about where and how to walk, drive, or ride through the streets. There was just an invisible feeling of one’s way and a trust that we will look out for one another. I walked at first, hesitant to enter into the hectic currents of auto rickshaws, massive lorries, herds of uniformed schoolchildren, bikers, bone-thin stray dogs, and shirtless, turbaned old men with ox drawn carts. They all co-existed in this little dirt road, with their diverse speeds, agility, and force. Somehow, they were all given space and flowed together to get where they were going.

Source: Chaos: The Cure for the Common Practice — Annapurna Living

I then enjoyed this blog post about the flow of a Red Tent:

…We might sing a chant like ‘A River is Flowing’, or ‘Mother I feel you under my feet’. There is a time of breathing out before we look forward to the new moon, and write down our positive intentions, changes we plan to make for the month ahead. We share these with the group, which again leads to open discussion. A lot of the themes are about self development, and giving ourselves the time to look at how we are, and how we move forward with renewed strength and courage. The evening flows on, and we end with a song like ‘Evening Breeze, Spirit Song’

Source: [guest post] My Red Tent – Moon Times Moon Blog

Speaking of Red Tents, I recently wrote a FAQ post about the differences between Red Tents and Women’s Circles (and my own two programs about the same): What is the difference between a Red Tent and a Women’s Circle?

This article looks at the increase in Red Tents around the world and the role they play as a safe container for women’s multifaceted experiences:

But while these huts may have been used to restrict, control and keep tabs on women, the modern-day equivalent is an altogether more empowering experience. Like the women in Diamant’s mythical Red Tent, members of modern groups are finding support, sanctity and solace in sisterhood. And because women aren’t all menstruating at the same time anymore, Red Tents are usually held around the New Moon so there is a regularity to the meetings and every woman is welcome.

Source: Why women are gathering in ‘Red Tents’ across the UK

As a homebody introvert type of person, I’ve still been feeling a call for “adventure” lately. My life seems drawn in and “small” somehow lately and I want to go somewhere different and do something different. We are going on a special trip to the ocean this month and I’m really excited about it. I also am reasonably confident that I have the gene for “bloom where you’re planted” rather than the gene for frequent travel: The Genetic Reason Why Some People Are Born To Travel All Over The World – Living Outdoor

I’m not really known for my “flowing” personality, but I have maintained a dedicated daily yoga practice since 2000. I recently laughed until I cried while trying to do a Brigid’s Cross yoga pose suggested by one of my Womanrunes Immersion students:

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So comfy! So flowing! So serene!

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This is the picture I laughed hysterically over. My “perfect” alignment. My serene atmosphere. It’s a thing of beauty!

I wrote about the messiness of living a creative life with children in a post at SageWoman: Claypriestess

And, about the everyday underworld descents of parenting (featuring fondant pandas) at Brigid’s Grove: Everyday Inanna – Brigid’s Grove

And, I returned to an older post about listening to the soul of art:

“I will be gentle with myself.
I will be tender with my heart.
I will hold my heart like a newborn baby child.”

This song by Karen Drucker replayed in my mind as I sculpted. The baby woke, the watermelon got dragged along the floor collecting dust, and it was time for our collaborative dinner, so I had to put her away unfinished. When we got back to our own home, I was compelled to finish her, working feverishly as the baby pulled on my legs and I said, “just a few more minutes!” to the older kids who were trying to play with him to let me work. Again and again I re-rolled the clay baby’s head, trying to make it “perfect,” and worked to lay down the strands of her hair, against of the backdrop of this often-chaotic, noisy, home-based life we’ve consciously and intentionally created together. She was created to represent holding my own center in the midst of motherhood. I will be tender with my heart. I don’t create sculptures like this because I AM so “zen” and have life all figured out, I make them to remind me what is possible if I listen to my soul.

Source: Listening to the Soul of Art – Brigid’s Grove

If you’re looking for pockets of joyous creation on your life, you might enjoy this Creative Joy playbook from the beautiful Jen Louden: CreativeJoyPDF.pdf

In other tiny, creative tidbits from life, Mark originally drew this mandala for one of our free goddess greeting cards bundle for the holidays. We then started using it as the logo for the Creative Spirit Circle and for our new Womanspirit Initiation program. I decided to get a print of it made to hang in my tiny temple (kids’ clubhouse turned personal work space) and I’m so very pleased with how it turned out!

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