Sunday, December 6, 2009

Recipe for Outdoor Writing Fun

Today we have two guests on The Motherhood Muse blog! First we hear from Cara Davies of "Write from the Start" ( Then Paige Hilfer of "Magic Lantern" shares with us a new insight into hope for our children!

Recipe for Outdoor Writing Fun By Cara Davies

This is a wonderful way to get outside and enjoy nature while having some fun writing at the same time. It is recommended for all ages!

Here’s what you need:

Comfy Clothing
Block of uninterrupted time
A good imagination
Paper – any shape, any size
All kinds of writing tools – crayons, pencils, markers

Here’s what you do:

1. Get outside – Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, nature is right outside your door. Pick a place that you would enjoy spending some time. It might be your own backyard or the park down the street.

2. Set up your writing station – Gather your materials in one spot and get comfortable.

3. Use your senses – Stop. Be still. Take in the world around you. There is no doubt that you will find many writing inspirations.

Ask yourself and your child these questions:

What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you feel?
What do you smell?
What do you taste?

When answering these questions, use as many description words as possible.

4. Be flexible - You may only get to answer one question and then take off writing a story about the ladybug on the leaf. That’s okay. Many times all it takes is one spark to ignite the inspiration for a fabulous story.

5. Commit to doing this activity again- Before you know it you will be writing and journaling on a regular basis!

Paige of "Magic Lantern" shares with us a personal story about children and writing...

Sometimes we tend to give up if our child doesn’t immediately take to writing or if they give the all too familiar deep sigh when we pull out the journal or paper and pencil. Here’s a short story about my own experience…

I've been giving Sam, my 8 year old son, the small black journal in the Journal Writing kit to take with him every time we go camping, on a vacation, hiking, or on other short trips. For a year I've "made him" fill at least one page with writing on each trip. He could write sentences, bullet points from the trip, or just fill it with word after word that just related to the trip. It's been a laborious task for both of us for a year. But, coming home from Gunnison several weeks ago, during our 4 hour drive (yes, I forced him to pack the journal in his backpack with snacks and books for the trip), he actually came to me after the trip and said, "look what I did" - he had written 3 full pages about the trip. I didn't even make him do it this time. He just picked it up and did it! It was a whole year of consistently placing value on this activity (for me), not killing him over it, but giving a slight kick in the pants each time, to finally get him to take on that activity on his own. I think parents need to know that it may not happen the first time - especially for boys. And, that with practice, it just becomes a habit for them, just like anything.

To learn more about lighting the path to literacy, please go to Magic Lantern. ( Her site offers many fantastic options for encouraging children to write and to engage in nature!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prize Bag of Boutique Items

Thank you to all of you who have signed up for The Motherhood Muse newsletter! You will all receive the first issue of the magazine free when it is published digitally in January.

I used to pick a number from the list of newsletter subscribers and J. Wilson-Pines is the winner of a bag of boutique items from The Motherhood Muse. Congratulations J. Wilson-Pines! I sent you an email asking for your mailing address.

Thanks again to everyone who has signed up. If you haven't done so yet, please do! On January 1st I will choose one more winner to receive a free one-year subscription of The Motherhood Muse literary magazine!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

January Blog Tour

The Motherhood Muse will be going on a blog tour in January! Each day we will be a guest on different blogs. The host bloggers and a random individual who comments each day will receive a free one-year subscription to The Motherhood Muse literary magazine.

If you are interested in hosting The Motherhood Muse on your blog during January, please send an email to editor(at)themotherhoodmuse(dot)com. We are happy to write a guest post for your blog or if you wish to interview us that works too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Following Foreign Footsteps

Living in Costa Rica, Japan, and Canada for two years each gave me many insights into other cultures. One insight, however, only recently came to the surface of my mind since returning to the U.S. and having my second daughter here: motherhood crosses many barriers, obstacles, prejudices and other challenges. It is its own language, completely universal, and even recognizable in other animals, not just humans.

While living in the rainforests of Costa Rica, I learned that the women living in the particular valley where my tiny hut was located had a deep fear of the forest. Their husband, sons, or brothers would accompany them if they had to walk through the forest before dawn and after dusk. Their daughters rarely ventured out of the house, especially once they no longer attended school (many didn't go further than 8th grade).

At one time I became ill with a serious infection. Unable to get up and leave my hut to report to the local research station where I worked, I remained secluded in my home in pain. Despite their reservations of the dark forest in the early a.m. hours, the local women who came to the station to prepare coffee and breakfast noticed my absence and walked through the forest alone to my hut. They came back and forth individually, bringing me tea made from over a dozen rainforest plants and checking on me. It was as if I was a sole chick with many mother hens hovering around me. At the time I was still in the early stages of becoming fluent in Spanish, so the language barrier presented an additional challenge that didn't seem to faze the women in the slightest.

I saw this capability of overcoming fear and hurdling obstacles while living in Japan. My husband and I had only been married a short time when we decided to climb Mt. Fuji. I had climbed mountains in the U.S. and Costa Rica before this, so I was taken by surprise at the tears streaming down my face as I faced a brutal hike full of sharp jagged volcanic rock and foot deep ash along a narrow path with a steep drop off. I cried because it was too hard. I cried because I was afraid I couldn't go up nor go down. Then along came a five foot tall grandmother. Without a walking stick she passed me up the volcano and continued passing others. She appeared to be at least 70 years old. My eyes followed her footsteps for as long as I could see them, giving me the courage to continue going.

While living in Canada I became a mother for the first time. I found myself missing my own mother even more as I was at a loss what to do to calm my very colicky baby. When I dared to venture out of our house to go on the two mile nature path by our house I often felt panicky if my newborn started to cry, because I couldn't get her to stop crying. It was on this trail among the late-summer blackberry pickers that I found smiles and words of help from mothers and grandmothers. I wasn't alone, and they didn't mind the sound of a baby crying interrupting their quiet solitude. I learned from them that all sounds are welcomed and loved.

We're now residing temporarily on the east coast in the U.S., and I find myself more often at playgrounds than in forests or on mountains. But the mothers surrounding me are no different than the mothers I encountered on foreign soils. We learn from each other just as much as we learn from our children.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FreeDay - For the Bookworms

The Friday idea today is for all those bookworms out there in need of a new book for the weekend! I could not put the following two books down, and I love books that are so captivating I think about them all day long when I am not reading them. So in case you are looking for a new book, perhaps you might try these:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

These two books are very different from one another, but both grabbed me from the first page. Each incorporates elements of motherhood, nature, and children in unique ways!

I am now searching for a new book to read! Any recommendations?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our Boutique Giveaway

The Motherhood Muse has a second prize giveaway coming up!! On December 1st a random person who has signed up for our e-newsletter will be chosen to win a prize bag of several items from The Motherhood Muse boutique!!

So if you haven't already done so, please sign up for our free e-newsletter. It comes out only 8 times a year, and we don't give your email address away to anyone because that is not cool.

To increase your chances of winning, you can do any of the following to have your name entered into the contest more than once:

1. Blog about the newsletter and The Motherhood Muse.
2. Provide the URL for subscribing to the newsletter on your blog.
3. Announce the newsletter and The Motherhood Muse on Facebook.
4. Tweet about it.
5. Email everyone you know about it!
6. Join our Facebook group.
7. Join our LinkedIn group.

Make a comment on this post for each item you've done and we'll enter your name into the contest that many times!

Here's the URL for subscribing to the newsletter: .

Thanks! The winner will be announced on December 2nd!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Down and Dirty

Our guest post today is by Stephanie who blogs at The Beautification Project and writes a feature for The Motherhood Muse literary magazine!

Small Boy squats down on the path, intrigued by something at his feet. He points to it first, like he always does; his inquisitive mind limited by his one-word vocabulary as he looks at me and asks, “DAT?” I bend down to get a look at what he sees, keeping one eye on his Big Sister, prancing several feet ahead under the dripping trees. We’ve happily taken advantage of the break in the steady rain we’ve had for days to venture out and get some fresh air.

(Let me rephrase that. With some gentle prodding on my part: “Quick! Get your shoes on! Let’s go! Now!” and some slight resistance on Big Sister’s part: “NOOOOO! I don’t WAAAAANNNT to go outside!!” and an emergency diaper change requiring the removal of all the layers I’d swaddled Small Boy in, we’d made it outside despite the sky’s threats to open once again.)

Back to Small Boy’s discovery, a small stick shivering in the ripples of a mud puddle. His little fingers reach out with a cautious aim.

“No touch,” I say out of habit. “Yucky.”

You see, I don’t particularly enjoy dirt. I’m a city girl by nurture, and though I now live in a community surrounded by mountains on one side and sea on the other, and though I love – LOVE – the smell of fresh air and the beauty of a natural setting, I don’t want any of the nature on me. And so, while I claim to know that kids are kids and they will – and should – get dirty, I don’t really want them to.

Fortunately, Small Boy chooses not to hear me and plunges his small hand into the depths of the puddle. He raises his hand in victory, the stick wrapped in his fist. He looks at me with a pure joy as the grimy water drips from his hand and he presents his treasure to me. “DAT?” he asks again.

He is so happy. As is Big Sister, skipping toward us on the path to see what he has unearthed. It is such a simple moment. One free of the burdens of plastic toys and commercialized cartoon characters, of planned activities and shuttling between errands. Free of expectations and of high standards. My baby found a stick in a puddle, and he’s happy.

It’s a moment for which it’s worth getting a little dirty.

About the Author:

Stephanie Dethlefs is a freelance writer and mom of two in the Pacific Northwest. Despite her aversion to dirt she loves the outdoors, and she and her husband plan to share with Big Sister and Small Boy the joys of camping, hiking, and a global appreciation of the natural world. A former teacher, Stephanie is the founder of the Young Writers Studio and blogs about creating a beautiful life at The Beautification Project