On Being Gentle {Heather Caliri for #wholemama}

(Heather speaks a language and knows a way that sings softly alongside my own inner experience – echoing grace, freedom, and calm into the worn and tired places. I am so happy to be able to share her words with you all today! Enjoy and be blessed!)


By Heather Caliri


When my oldest daughter was a toddler, her favorite thing to do after lights-out was to stroke my arm. I have a variety of moles; she’d rub them like little worry beads.

In my head, I felt honored by her touches. They were (mostly) gentle, and meant that my very body was a comfort object. How could I be anything other than charmed by the soft caresses of my daughter’s chubby fingers?


I’m ticklish. Not in a ‘funny-ha-ha’ kind of way, but in a ‘panicking-get-away-from-me” way. It’s worse when I’m constantly surrounded by people. Funnily enough, my own children count. Factor sleep deprivation and the endless nighttime routine of my very alert toddler, and you have a recipe for a giant monster of ugly resentment.

Some of my most shameful mothering moments were in those quiet bedtimes: me finally snapping and being, well, not gentle at all.

She longed for my body to comfort her. I offered exactly the opposite.

My daughter is ten now. I’m so grateful for my relationship to her, so grateful for what she’s taught me about love and openness and gentleness.

And the hardest lesson in her early life was learning boundaries.

I longed to be gentle. I wished myself beneficent and patient and kind. I saw my friends mother their kids in generous ways. There in the dark every night, my moles and my nerves plucked like an out-of-tune violin, I felt incredibly ashamed of my limits. I wanted to erase them. To love things I hated, to respond how my brain thought I should rather than how I actually did.

So I’d try harder to keep still, to ignore my annoyance, anxiety and irritation, until some nights, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

In my desire to be more gentle and giving than I actually was, I actively did harm. My desire for gentleness turned into its opposite.

It really sucked.

Looking back, I ran roughshod over my own boundaries as a mother. I longed to be more touchy-feely, but I’m NOT. I’m an imperfect mother with her own limits, and I did not communicate them gently to my daughter. Instead I tried to have it both ways: be the kind of mother I fantasized about being, AND also a mother that didn’t resent her child.

I had to choose between my fantasy and actual gentleness.

I did better with my second child. I said no more often. No, I had had enough touching that day. No, I could not lie in the dark for an hour until she fell asleep. No, I could not do endless bedtime rituals. No, I could not go two years with half as much sleep as I needed.

Sometimes, those noes did not feel gentle. It gutted me to set aside the attachment parenting principles I adore when it came to sleep. I didn’t go Babywise on my kids, but there was more crying involved than I preferred.

But when my youngest was nearly a year old, we sat in the armchair where I usually nursed her at night; I looked out the window at the setting sun. She was stroking my arm, and my moles, much like my eldest had once done.

And I realized I felt altogether different. I did not feel faux gentleness and real resentment. I felt peaceful. I sensed that my life and my motherhood were beautiful.

I also felt realistic: I had about three more minutes of tolerance left for touching, but I would stop her when I reached that point.

I felt awe that though her first year of life had not been much easier than my eldest daughter’s, I felt entirely different about it.

I had enjoyed it. I enjoyed my baby. I enjoyed my three-year-old. I felt whole; my relationships with my kids felt whole.

That wholeness despite the taxing demands of two children was so much more valuable than the stolen ‘gentleness’ I’d tried for before.

What I learned about gentleness from my kids was that gentleness should work for everyone. It’s no good being “gentle” with my kids and awful to myself. The awfulness will out. It oozes out with resentment; it explodes with impatience.

Gentleness is a cloth with no tear, no cut, no hole, no seam. It does not require destroying one person to build up another. It nurtures and builds everyone, because it is honest about its limits. It is not endless, but it is warm. It grows with practice and trust, not by magic.

And it sprouts best in people that know themselves, and respect the real needs in their hearts.

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Heather Caliri is a writer from San Diego who knows first-hand how tiny, brave yeses can transform lives. She’s scared of (among other things) bees, heights, and the children’s movie Gremlins—but slowly found out she’s more courageous than she thought. Get her short e-book, “How To Become Braver,” for free here.



wholemamaWrite on the word “Gentle” and link up with us below! The linkup will be live until August 2nd.

If you’re curious about #wholemama, go here!

Or to our #wholemama Facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)

Our next linkup is on July 26th for a wholemama roundup. Our next prompted linkup will be on August 2nd with the word ‘love’.

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Spontaneous and the Enneagram {#wholemama and some nerdiness}


The enneagram has helped me embrace spontaneity a bit. I am a 1, often called a perfectionist. It was one of those things where I really wanted to be a 5 (because I like to know things) or maybe a 9 (Because peacemakers might fix the world), but alas, I am a 1 to the core (because I want to be perfect. and know things, and fix the world). I want to get things right and to be sure I am doing things right. I have a quick shame trigger if I mess something up, even if it’s minor, and an automatic aversion to spontaneity.

If you aren’t familiar with the enneagram you can read a book or check out the enneagram institute (once their site is back up…). It’s a 9 type personality system that gauges how we interact with and look at the world. It’s different from MBTI in that it outlines healthy and unhealthy pieces of our personality with proactive ways to engage further and become more whole.

Knowing the enneagram helps me creatively engage with my life. I tend to entrench in known things, but the Enneagram challenges me to look at my own tendencies, acknowledge differences, give words for habitual behavior, and allow room for improvement. It makes me feel more sane to have all my quirks outlined – in a “other people act like this too and here’s why” kind of way. It’s encouraging.

Anyway, spontaneous.

I am not very spontaneous naturally. I like to have things planned. And that isn’t really a bad thing in the long run, but there is definite benefit in spontaneous living as well.

But there is hope. On the enneagram circle on of my “arrows” is a 7. The arrows on the enneagram circle can give insight into how our behavior/tendencies change when we are engaging the world in more and less healthy ways. For example my type 1 has an arrow pointing to type 4. That means when I am moving in less healthy ways, I take on the negative characteristics of a 4. I, personally, become more withdrawn, obsessed with being different or being the first to try something, and being overly introspective in negative ways.

Versus when I am moving in a healthy direction, I take on some of the positive characteristics of 7s. Healthy 7s are known for being more spontaneous, jumping into new things, risking for the sake of enjoyment, doing whatever floats their boat, and engaging more actively in the world.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Israel is a 7, as he challenges me and makes my life better in many many ways.


It’d be easy to get on my high-horse and claim that making plans is the best way with no room for spontaneity, but thanks to the enneagram and my adventure loving husband I am taking note and leaning into spontaneity when I find it or, more accurately, when it finds me.

These days it looks like asking my sister for some sourdough starter and learning to bake bread (It’s so easy), jumping into a summer of pool-visits and hiking, pulling a book off the new books shelf at the library, and learning how to say yes when Israel suggests something new. And every now and then suggesting something new myself.


I’m hoping it will find me in the woods soon.IMG_6811

What about you? Do you know what your Enneagram type is? Any other 1s struggling with spontaneity?

Where is spontaneous finding you these days?

wholemamaWrite on the word “spontaneous” and link up with us below! The linkup will be live until July 19th.

If you’re curious about #wholemama, go here!

Or to our #wholemama Facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)

Our next prompted linkup is on July 19th with the word “Gentle”!

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Meet My Mama: Mary Ostyn – {#Wholemama}

Sometimes when an idea starts to feel more confining than it used to it is good to talk to someone and just get a feel for how their life works if just for the sake of curiosity and sharing insight or encouragement. This is where #wholemama is taking me. I want to hear how life actually works for us #wholemamas in just a few kid-centered or creative details. And then share it all with you! :)

And even though this is my own mom we’re talking about -shouldn’t I know all this already? – I was very encouraged to read her responses to my questions :)


My family at Christmas. Just my siblings, parents, and the grandkids :)

I am so glad to have my mom as an example of being a #wholemama. I have 9 siblings between the ages of 11 and 27. Over the years she has published three books – A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, and Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting – and consistently created the time to pursue her own passions in all the chaos. She is still doing just that in these days with just five kids still at home, working part-time, building a grand adventure, and having grandkids to visit whenever possible. You can find her blog, books and latest projects at Owlhaven!



And the interview!

Often, I find it easier to talk like a #wholemama than to live like a #wholemama. How do you make it practical personally? Are there specific things you’ve chosen to do or not to do as a result?

I have a vivid memory from when you oldest 3 kids were all preschoolers. A friend came over and I was showing her some dresses that I’d just finished for you girls. She was awestruck that I’d found time to sew. I laughed and said something about my toilets that needed scrubbing.  Maybe it’s not quite that simple, but that’s the basic concept. I specifically allowed some parts of housework to slip so I could choose to nourish this passion of mine even in the midst of mothering little ones.

I continued to make choices like this through all our kids’ growing-up years. As kids grow, they can begin to take on more of the housework, and so things didn’t always look as chaotic as they sometimes did when you kids were tiny. But always I tried to make choices that were sustainable.  

Sometimes that meant giving up organized sports, or doing activities that several kids could enjoy together so that we’d have more time for storytime with Dad in the evenings. In some seasons I even limited playing with friends to a couple days a week, because I so much wanted to preserve time for siblings to play with each other.

Other times that meant being more careful with the grocery money so that we’d have money for a yearly vacation– or even more on point, so that we could afford for me to quit work and be at home full time.

Everything is a tradeoff, so I think a big key is being willing to release what is less important so that you can fit in what is soul-growing and life-sustaining.

As a mom of littles I want to teach my kids to be brave and intentional with their lives. How do you think we can teach our kids about chasing their dreams even in the midst of completely ordinary and full lives?

There are two main ways, I think.

First of all, to help kids explore their own interests– check out the library books, and get out the art supplies, and go see the interesting places.  Kids will often bop between lots of different interests, which can sometimes be disconcerting to us as parents. “What, you don’t want to learn guitar after all…?” But if we give them the flexibility to grow passions organically, we set the stage for them to be lifetime learners.

Second, I think it’s okay, and even important, to model passion in our own interests, to the degree that this current life stage allows. The trick with that, though, is to be mindful of how important it is to pull back from our pursuits when our kids need face time with us, and to make peace with the fact that ‘our’ stuff is going to take awhile to accomplish. In some stages of life, we may only get a 15-minute spell once or twice a day to work on what it ‘ours.’ And that’s okay.

What inspired you to start writing and keep writing? What are you most excited about in your creative life these days?

For me writing was a form of processing my life, of grabbing onto what was beautiful and good and right—- the stuff that I wanted to do more of– and getting it out on the page. I love to encourage people, and sharing that mothering experience with others was encouraging and motivating to me.

I have been blogging about motherhood and family life since 2006.(owlhaven.net) But these days I’m heading down a different, related rabbit trail.  John and I are building a beach house on the Oregon coast. Some of our very best family time has been at the ocean, and it’s been a dream of ours for a lot of years to have a place of our own over there. This summer we’re beginning the build of a really neat family home over there, and I am planning to blog about it all. (owlhavenvacation.com)  I’m SOOOO excited!

What is your favorite way to spend a leisurely afternoon?

These days I have been spending way too much time dreaming on Pinterest, thinking through decisions about flooring and furniture and color schemes. We are designing a vacation house that will be really practical for a family, and so I want the finishes to be practical and hardworking. But we also plan vacations as retreats, places to get away from regular life. So I want this home to be visually beautiful as well—a place that wraps its arms around you and invites you to snuggle into a comfy chair and just be. A place of peace.

Can you tell me about a #wholemama moment or experience you had recently?

It actually happened over the course of a day. I work two nights a week as a nurse, and sometimes between their schedules and mine, I can go a day or two without seeing one of my older teens. So on this particular day I’d worked the night before, had to sleep most of the day, and then needed to work that next night. But somehow in this accidentally lovely choreography, I was able to talk to a couple of my kids earlier in the day before I went to bed, then caught another one in the afternoon when I woke up, and the other three kids just before I headed off to work. And in at least 3 cases, they were important, meaningful, connecting conversations, somehow managing to fit in just little slivers of time. It was such a gift, and really reassuring to me to see that, yes, this really was working, and our kids really are growing and thriving.

Do you have any questions for my mom?  :)

This month I’d like to again share some posts that made me think of all you mamas.


A Call to Learn This Rhythm by Jamie Wright Bagley – breath-taking poetry on empathy and mourning.

The Heritage of Faith by Heather Caliri for SheLoves – “But it’s not just strength I’m loving with. Not just mind. No, it’s soul and heart, too. Perhaps I should take it seriously if the latter two are lacking. Because the God I long to share with my kids is bigger than my bullet points. He is wholeness. He is a place to dwell.”

wholemamaWhat’s encouraging you? You can make your own collection to share or just link directly to the posts you’d like to share!


Our next prompted linkup is on July 5th with the word ‘spontaneous’.

If you’re curious about #wholemama go here or join our facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)


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The Less and More Life {Challenge – #Wholemama}



When I consider my life in the light of wholeness, I am invited to grab up all the pieces of who I am or want to be and meld them together into my own one life.

The challenge is knowing how to fit all the pieces in, which pieces to choose, and where to even begin.

Right now with my three littles I have a rather busy life. We have lots of toys, tantrums, smiles, giggles, games, fighting, tears, diapers, and everything in between as you might imagine. And it leaves me tired.

But there is freedom in embracing the seasons of my life. I can choose adventures and goals and time based on the season and with the knowledge that seasons change and I can simply enjoy this one for now. New seasons will bring new adventures, new orders, and new pursuits.

Right now, I am in this season of little kids and I know I am invited into my here instead of out in the wheres of the world.

It means a little less writing sometimes, as we are out and about and naps/writing times are sometimes scarce.

It means leaning away from some things and diving headlong into others.


It means a less experimenting, less wandering, less time alone. It means more adventuring with my kids, more running, more cooking, more working, more arbitrating. But I know I am invited and welcomed and called to dig deep into the things I know I love, and find the way of wholeness right here.

In this little place where screaming is sometimes shouts of joy and sometimes all the mayhem.

In this more and less life.

It’s listening to the needs of my own family to be together and to get outside.

It’s building our family culture around adventure and holding hands down the steep parts


It means discovering a strong sense of place and a lifegiving purpose with these people I know are mine.

It’s more writing some days, and less others.

More becoming, more growing, more laughing and learning.


More trusting, more denying, more surprising.

More loving.

It’s more.

More whole.


It is the challenge of wholemama.

It is taking the sum of everything you can see and paying attention to what you can hold in your hands at any given time.


It’s leaning into the hill on the way up. Stopping to gauge progress and sip some water. Determined and strong.

It’s gazing across the horizon when you reach the top. Taking that selfie or taking in the view. In awe and accomplished.


It’s holding hands on the way down. bumping, running and skidding towards whatever is next.  Tired, but happy.

Every little thing comes and goes.

I can choose the now and here all while envisioning what might be coming.


I choose more.


Write on the word “challenge” and link up with us below! The linky will be live until July 5th.

If you’re curious about #wholemama, go here!

Or to our #wholemama Facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)

Our next linkup is a Wholemama roundup on June 28th with our first #wholemama mini-interview!

Our next prompted linkup is on July 5th with the word “spontaneous”!

Find me on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads!

Lose and Find {Five Minute Friday}


The losing and finding of all the pieces has been this motherhood journey for me. I’ve lost the sideline dreams of a career of some sort (for now, you know) and I’ve found this perpetual challenge of walking alongside my munchkins.

Sitting with their tired tantrums and wishing I knew exactly the right way to end the power struggles or simply begin the happier mama moments that make life work well around here.

I’ve lost some inhibitions and gained others. I’ve lost the perspective of a childless person and perpetually think in relationships now.

It’s a circled strand of family and friends and time and giving and taking as we all support each other a little more carefully here.

We feel the fragile moments of our hours and theirs a little more easily.

And we know just how hard it is when you let someone be as close to you as your children.

I lose my own self a little bit. I’m not so much my own person as I am their person, even in these quiet hours of after-bedtime I am thinking through the art and lens of mothering well.

But somehow that’s not a loss actually. The things I lost were less than this. And this is greater.

I find myself here in motherhood. I mother, I write, I carry close, I make cookies and rolls and dole out graham crackers by the sleeve.

But I am still myself even here in this overwhelming mama life.

I’ve just lost some of the unimportant pieces and gained some more lovely ones.



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Books Books, All Books {Quick Lit – Spring 2016}


Welcome to my dedicated book post :) What could be better, right?

Here’s what I read this spring and a few thoughts about each book!

In March I hit the weirdest slow spot with my reading. I didn’t want to read. Almost at all. It was very strange. I finished reading Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and then took life easy only reading my lent book and a book of poetry for Holy Week. It was just about right. (I got out of my slow spot, thank heavens!)

  • Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey – truth be told I had this one on my shelf longer than I thought I would. I struggled to dive in because I am struggling right there in that changing place myself and it made me a tad anxious about my own position. Out of Sorts seems written in a less prophetic and more personal tone than Jesus Feminist. It’s a story of becoming and being as a person of faith.

“For me, it was a subtle shift but a powerful one. Instead of becoming someone who “did” things, I simply took my place in my own life as it is now. Instead of waiting for the mythical “there” of ministry, I could simply live as if my life were ministry.”

-Out of Sorts, p222

  • All Our Untold Stories: Empathic Poetry for Holy Week by Jamie Wright Bagley – I don’t read poetry much, but I have always loved books that take real stories, especially bible stories (For example: The Bronze Bow or One Night with the King) and turn them into something I can relate to. My favorite section was written as if taken from Judas’ thoughts.
  • Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent by Henri J. M. Nouwen – this was my first time reading a book for lent, and, though I missed a few days, I will definitely be doing it again. It as only a page or two each day, but I found it an excellent way to ground myself a little more in the happenings, back story, and different themes of the Easter season.

In April I jumpstarted my dry spell with two assigned books and some fiction. Exactly what I needed to get back into the book life.

  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – Not a book I would generally pick up, but I was intrigued when it was described in an episode What Should I Read Next. Since I loved the movie and had another recommendation, I picked it up from the library and inhaled it. The movie is a great movie by itself, but the book has a slightly different angle that gives it more life and depth than what is possible when making a movie. Less emphasis on the outer relationships and more on the internal processing the drives relationships. I liked being privy to the inner dialogue and a little of the psychological tension that makes Pat’s character really come more intensely difficult, relatable, and human. I really enjoyed this one.
  • Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life by Brett Lott – an “assigned” reading for the Writing with Grace course from Ann Swindell. Excellent, honest, inspiring, and I may just need this one for my personal library. :)
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin- I found this one also thanks to the What Should I Read Next Podcast. I was not disappointed. It was a quick read, but just delightful. Colorful characters, a little bit of book nerdery, and the ever-intriguing topic of human relationships.
  • Love the Home You Have – Read it, skimmed it. It was helpful in some ways, inspiring in others, and then it just got long so I started skimming. I found The Nesting Place more inspiring, because: pictures!
  • Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander – Beautiful, tragic but intensely whole, insightful and challenging. Written by woman whose husband passes away suddenly, she lets us into the emotional worlds of their relationship, her marriage, the process of grieving and finding wholeness. I read Light of the World as part of the Shalom Sistas Bookclub and would highly recommend listening to Osheta Moore and Cara Meredith discuss the book on the podcast after you read it!

May found me catching up on ALL the What Should I Read Next podcasts and digging into my own mile long reading list so I had plenty of books to choose from. I also found my pace and read similar amounts of fiction and non-fiction as I have been trying for all year!

  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – this lovely long book follows the story of twins born in Ethiopia to a nun and a surgeon. It has nuanced emotional depth and relationships, insight into a trade (surgery – so slightly graphic at times), historical relevance, and the added value of a story told over the course of many years. I thought it was fantastic.
  • The Contemplative Writer by Ed Cyzewski – Interesting little book about how the contemplative spiritual practices are helpful for writers and how writing is a spiritual practice.
  • No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline without Shame by Janet Lansbury – This was one of those books where I would just like to absorb the knowledge, maybe memorize it even. Just so I could have the know-how for these crazy toddler years right where I need it. Lot’s of practical advice and knowledge about toddler development.
  • How to Be Here by Rob Bell – my word for the year is ‘here’ so this was too perfect a title to pass up. Lots of inspiration for daily and wholehearted living. Light and easy  encouragement to be right here. Just what I wanted.
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – I picked this one up at a little free library and love it. The linguistic interest alone is enough to make my linguist heart happy. Set in a south american country during some skirmish adds a bit of cultural benefit as well. But lovely well-written characters plunged into a dramatic hostage situation with many different perspectives makes for an interesting read.
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay – a lighthearted novel for the Jane Austen lover. :)
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – gritty content that may have made me put it down but relationships and characters were intriguing enough to get through it.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi – This novel was fantastic. I loved that it spanned many years in the character’s lives, explored tense cultural and racial topics, and let me into a unfamiliar perspective. A satisfying and challenging read.

What have you read and enjoyed this spring?

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Linking up with Literacy Musings Monday and Quick Lit

What I’m into | Spring 2016

Well. We have been up to a lot and out and about a lot. I have been trying to take the kids hiking once a week. We’ve also been hitting up the zoo, the library, and nana’s house about as often for some playtime for the kids and solo running time for me. It has been busy.

But now that we have hit the first really hot weekend of the summer maybe it is time to gain some closure on spring. :)

So here.

For your nerdy joy.


Words I’ve found around the interwebs:

The Unbusy Pastor by Eugene Peterson at Christianity Today – For everyone really.

People Are Expendable: My Root Struggle with Church by Ed Cyzewski – This resonated with me.

When Your Soul Has a Bad Idea by Emily P. Freeman – “First, stop being shocked by my own capacity for terrible thoughts.”

On Sustainability by David Shirk – “We are serving together, rather than fixing each other, and that is a good thing.”

The bigger kids have been loving painting, crafting, going to the library, hiking, visiting the zoo, reading books, playing outside, digging in the dirt, and learning to ride their bikes.

And Meg has been into all the normal things: Meg Ylva – 8 Months

I have been enjoying listening to podcasts while I drive, run, walk, or fold the laundry. It has been a lovely way to make use of brain-space during boring activities.

I’ve been listening to:

  • Shalom in the City by Osheta Moore- for awesome ideas/encouragement for wholeness and shalom.
  • Hopewriters Podcast by Emily P. Freeman, Myquillian Smith, Their Dad: Gary Morland, and Brian Dixon – writing encouragement from a favorite writer… :)
  • What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel – aka Modern Mrs. Darcy – I can’t read while I’m driving so book talk is definitely the next best thing. :) :)
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin – for tips and fun on more positive living/habits/relationships.


Books I’ve Read: I have the whole list coming monday here!

I’m currently reading Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison and Still Life by Louise Penny

I’ve been:

  • brainstorming wholemama stuff
  • forcing myself to cook new and good things a bit more
  • hosted a plant exchange party because why not and it turns out I like having people over.
  • hiking with the kids
  • running 12-14 miles a week (working up to a marathon in October or April depending on what works out)
  • signing up for and perusing races – I’m currently signed up for two 5ks and a full marathon (might switch to the half if I need to). I’d like to sign up for a 10k, a trail race, and another half or two to round out my running this year. we’ll see what seems doable. :)

We also had a very fun trip with my family to the Oregon Coast in March:

img_20160413_183437.jpgimg_20160329_104407.jpgwp-1465656825363.jpgIt was BEAUTIFUL. :)

I’m looking forward to:

  • A summer of #wholemamamoments
  • Camping
  • swimming
  • running more!
  • writing more!
  • And everything else.

What are some highlights of your spring?

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Shake off the Shoulds! {#wholemama}

So it’s summer!

img_20160604_123333.jpgIt’s the season for swimming, hot weather, sunscreen, growing things, early morning hiking, camping, exploring, normal life, and often anything to escape the heat.

We just had our first glimpse of summer weather: 90F and above. With three little kids we have to do something to get outside everyday. They for some reason don’t appreciate the beauty of staying inside with a good book.

Summer is the time of intentional play. Nothing changes too much for me since my kids are too young for school right now, but I do have to be a little bit more purposeful in finding those activities that are best for the summer heat and using the cooler morning hours a more carefully.

So we play.

And I play a little more and it’s good for all of us.

I often feel like I should play with my kids more. And I should do more of this and less of this and then the shoulds go on and on. But maybe there is a way to play with them that doesn’t require mommy being high on caffeine or sugar for fun to happen.

Emily P. Freeman mentioned something in a podcast recently that Annie F. Downs says about choosing what social media to use. Annie says to “chase the fun”. You do you. You do what is fun for you because that is where you can have the most impact.

I think that’s true when it comes to playing with your kids as well. Chase the fun. Do what is fun for you, (and maybe sometimes you’ll give in to the begging to do what they want you to do, because kids and love and you’re a good mom, etc ) but don’t feel like you have to make all the Little People or stuffed animals talk to each other always if that is not your thing. It means seeking out those things you can share with them that all of you can enjoy.

For me, that means swimming. I can supervise them in our little inflatable pool from the shade or jump in with them to spend more energy all around.  and cool off. And maybe get tan. Swimming is something I enjoy and can gladly jump into with a playful attitude.

We also draw with chalk, play cards in the tree house (yes, two year olds can play uno), blow bubbles, read lots of books, have tinker toy car races down the driveway, and bike time in evenings.

Shake off the shoulds and play.

I find myself wanting to try this in other parts of my life as well. What am I doing simply because I should and where could I reengage in my life by chasing the fun? Where could I chase the fun in my writing life? Maybe I could writing more or less formally or reread some old posts for inspiration? Or in my housekeeping? Could I pair podcasts with laundry or seek out different methods for staying on top of things? Or my spiritual life? Could I lay aside the shoulds and embrace the grace and joys a little more?



The possibilities are exciting and might just change how you look at things.

So let’s chase the fun this summer! Choose whatever area sparks your interest most and start there. It might be easy or it might be harder than we thought, but let’s embrace the opportunity to choose and fill our time with more fun.

What is most interesting to you?

And: *Duhdadah!!* (<—that was a trumpet, btw)

I’ve been looking for ways to play with the ideas behind #wholemama a little more in my real life. Would you join me on instagram with the hashtag #wholemamamoments? I will be posting moments that make me breath a sigh of relief, feel less crazy, help me acknowledge the crazy beautiful, or just let me think a little more purposefully about what it means to be a wholemama in my day-to-day.


So join me there and I will be sure to find and follow you so we can encourage each other, have a glimpse into other wholemama lives, and just live more fully engaged.

<3 to you all! Happy Summer!



Write on the word “play” and link up with us below! The linky will be live until June 21st.

If you’re curious about #wholemama, go here!

Or to our #wholemama Facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)

Our next prompted linkup is on June 21 with the word ‘Challenge’.

Find me on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads!

Meg Ylva – 8 months


Meg is 8 months old. Somehow.

She is just so much fun. :) She has 4 teeth and eats just about anything allowable. And, actually, everything else as well. Such a baby. ;)

She is trying to crawl! She has backward crawling down and would love to be able to go forwards. She crawls backward to sitting up. She’s also beginning to try to pull up though she hasn’t managed to get higher than her knees yet.

She sleeps like a baby: waking 1-3 times a night and napping twice if we’re lucky.

She is very verbal and often very loud, mostly happy loud, but still.

Pretty much the most agreeable baby ever.

Currently chunking out at 19.5 lbs and about to outgrow the weight limit on her swing. But we will figure out what to do about that later.

Such a fun little girl <3


Find me on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads!

Who is encouraging you? {#Wholemama Roundup}


A big part of my becoming in this #wholemama life has been learning who to listen to, finding voices that encourage me to be more at ease in my own skin, and taking note of the things that speak to me in a meaningful way. Kind of a record keeping of encouraging words and ideas. It’s been meaningful to look back on and helpful in deciding where to spend my time being a faithful reader.

And I’d like to know what and who has been encouraging you this month?

Each month I’d love for us to curate a list of articles or blog posts that have spoken to us. And as a part of it it’d be amazing if we could share a little bit of #wholemama love with these authors and take a minute to encourage them in what they are doing.

Who’s in??

Tell me what, who and where you’ve been reading and finding encouragement and let’s kick off this #wholemama summer well! This Linkup will be open until June 15th or so and then you’ll have to start saving links for the next round!

Share away and visit around for some whole-purpose-heart-person words from across the interwebs. :)

Here few of my favorites from this spring:

How Alive Do You Want to Be by Ashley Hales for The Mudroom – “When you create, no matter the prettiness of the product, you are coming alive.”

Off Brand by Sarah Bessey  – about being open to change even if it’s different from who we thought we were or how we thought we’d do things:
On Power, and Politics, and Where Our Dignity Comes From by Esther Emery  – “If I could lead a movement, it wouldn’t be towards anybody’s platform. Not anybody’s, not even mine. It would be toward healthy, ordinary life.”

To the Writer Mamas by Leslie Verner – “You will be more whole and available to your family if you are using your gift and following your call as a writer. But also know that you do not have to achieve all of your goals right now. ”

What about you?


If you’re curious about #wholemama, go here!

Or to our #wholemama Facebook group to get on the insider’s loop. :)

Our next prompted linkup is on June 7 with the word ‘play’.

Also look for a special announcement later this week! :) I’m excited!

Find me on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads!