50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4

Our visit to Wray Castle in England checked off 15 of the activities on our list in a day! We may be completing this list shortly since our boys are such outdoorsmen!

I thought of something today. I got through 5 and 1/2 years without a stroller. I wore by boys in carriers until they no longer wanted to be toted and since then, have let them run free. I’m not saying this has been an easy task. When they get tired, my husband and I carry them and always have. I’m often surprised by the strength we are given when it comes to our kids. Our fortitude and stamina far exceed what we believe we are capable of.

I see mothers with their headphones on and savoring a latte, while happily pushing the stroller. She seems organized, relaxed and comfortable. I will never know that comfort and I suppose I chose the hard way. Now that our boys are almost 40 pounds each, I must say, it isn’t easy when that time comes to pick them up and carry them up hill, in the rain.

Yes, those are the stories our parents and grandparents told us…uphill and in the rain. Now I know they were telling the truth :) I sure do miss wearing my boys and I love seeing how active and athletic they are. They definitely take advantage of any land in front of them and seize each moment.

Enjoy exploring this world with your children and don’t be afraid to get dirty! Mud pies may not be tasty, but the joy we witness on their faces as they make them, is worth every bit of mess! Being outside, scouting and discovering nature and this planet, truly is the best education I’ve witnessed. The questions and learning that take place, during and after a day in the wild, are what education and knowledge are all about.

Our children are curious. They want to learn. They want to know Every. Single. Thing.

Rain or Shine…We’ll see you outside!

Happy Travels and Exploring!

 

 

 

 

 

My Husband Has Something to Say

I’m so delighted to introduce my husband to those of you who don’t know him. He’s been wanting to share about our trip around the world from his point of view and took the time today to put his thoughts into words. I’m very proud of him, his commitment to our family and for the truly amazing and unforgettable gift of this journey together. Here’s Mr. Daddy…

My wife has done such an amazing job capturing breathtaking pictures and writing beautifully descriptive pieces of our journey so far. I have not felt the need to add any additional perspective from my viewpoint. As I was catching up this afternoon, I had the opportunity to take a full glimpse of our trip up this point. Seeing every picture, reading every blog and reliving every moment, has inspired me to put something into my own words and share it with you.

People often ask me what I am learning from this experience. The simple answer is…more than I can ever put into words or this format. There are so many things that may not seem important but are everything to me. Holding both of my boys’ hands and running through some new place that none of us have ever seen before. Watching the awe in their eyes (and mine) as we discover new ground, a new country or a new castle. Driving on roads that should not be driven on and seeing their pure amazement that we are paving new roads. I have learned that I am appreciating the journey more than the destination.

Sandy and I picked the countries we wanted to see and so far I have no regrets. I feel that the least pleasant of our destinations has given me the greatest personal rewards. It might be seeing people live such different lives than ours or the chances I’m given to really remove myself from my own day to day routines. It has awakened something in me that either has not existed or was long ago forgotten. This for me is the marvel of this journey.

Time with my family is the key. I have always tried to spend quality time with my boys. I have put emphasis on being the best father I can be. This trip allows me to be with my boys, all day everyday. I am witnessing how they develop constantly and they get to see me in a more complete light. I will never regret taking this time with my family and stumbling through this beautiful and sometimes rocky journey. It’s a gift that I haven’t finished unwrapping but I know will continue to be incredible and life-changing.

Best,

Dana

 

 

 

Let’s Run

Our three-year-old son enthusiastically yells these words as we step out the door each and every day! That may seem like something every child says but let me tell you why this warms my heart and inspires me to share with you.

My little Aston was inflicted with many chronic issues since three months of age. We spent most of his first two and a half years of life in the doctor’s office, the hospital, on a nebulizer and suffering in some way. This never stopped Aston from smiling and persevering though. In fact, it made him stronger and more compassionate.

He doesn’t want attention when something is wrong. He actually wants to prove that he can endure it and wants to move on to more exciting things. He is a deep thinker. He is a philosopher. He is wise beyond his years. He touches my heart and melts it with each word he utters and each action he takes.

I am an attachment parent. I am so grateful that I get to be with my two boys all the time and that we are so close. I am thankful that I chose to breastfeed for an extended period of time and was blessed with an abundance of milk for over five years. I wore both boys until they were ready to be on their own. I continue to co-sleep today.

I am sharing these things because I wouldn’t have it any other way. When something is wrong, I am right there. When I am needed, I am there. We are so connected and I know my boys like I know myself. Aston communicates clearly whenever something is bothering him. He tells me if his stomach hurts and why. He tells me if he can handle it or if he needs something. He reminds me to give him his medicine and vitamins each day.

I want to mention a very important person to us and how she has made such a huge difference in our lives, Dr. Nancy. I am so thankful we were led to her and she is the greatest pediatrician we could’ve asked for. She practices homeopathy which is what I believe in and use for myself and my family. She guides me and I trust her. Thank you Dr. Nancy for all that you have done for my boys and for all that you continue to do even from afar these days. We love you.

As we are on this journey around the world, I see my son growing. I see him thriving in a way I always knew he could and would. His brain is always working and his imagination is always creating. As we walk the streets of each city, rain or shine, he grabs my hand and says, “Mommy, let’s run!” When I slow down, he says, “Let’s run faster, Mommy.” When I am tired he runs over to Daddy for some more.

This brings tears to my eyes each day and as I write this. He is my little Rocky Balboa. I see him in his sweat pants and hooded sweatshirt running his little heart out with more soul and love than I can even express. He inspires me. He shows me how to live. He shows me how to Love. He is my little angel.

His big brother loves him so much and he loves his big brother just as much. They are so close and so connected and for this, I am so grateful also. As Aston runs each day, Pierce lets him lead and he says, “Aston is the fastest runner ever.” If you knew how fast Pierce was, you would understand why this is so sweet and says so much about Pierce. I am so proud of my sons and I love witnessing their precious souls develop and grow each day.

This trip is all about allowing each of us to grow at our own speeds. To let life unfold before us as we discover new lands and new people. We learn as we go. We spread love like we are sprinkling fairy dust through the air. Our education is life and the rewards are priceless. We have never been closer or more connected as a family.

Aston’s spirit is what guides him. He won’t let anything hold him back and he wants to take in and savor all of the splendor this life offers. I feel the same way about life and I am truly grateful for every second I am given.

“Let’s Run.” I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow, hear those words…and do it again.

Signed…Better Late Than Never

Hello all,

I wanted to share this letter below that I received today. I am deeply touched that this person, identity unknown, took the time to express himself so openly and honestly. I hope we can all read it and take something from it, whether we are parents or not.

 

Dear Sandy,

I’m probably not your average reader. I’m a single man without kids.

I take responsibility for the path I have chosen to follow in life and the dreams that have never come to pass because I have never followed them to see where they would lead. Still, there is a part of me that wonders how much different my life would be today if I had a mother who had loved me, the way you love your boys.

I wasn’t yet in the first grade and I remember going to bed at night, looking forward to the hugs and kisses my mom would give me. I loved her so much and couldn’t tell her enough times or kiss her cheek often enough. Then a moment would come, before bed, when she would tell me that she’d had enough and it was time for bed. I would ask her to tell me just one more time that she loved me and she would refuse, telling me that it was getting to be a bit much.

I would begin by asking nicely and when she refused to tell me that she loved me, just one more time, I would begin to beg, “mom, please tell me that you love me, please.” “No”, she would say. “Now go to bed and quit being a baby.”

I remember the feeling of going to bed wondering if I had upset my mom and if she even still loved me at all. In the morning, I would wake up and look for a smile on my mother’s face or a hug to reassure me that she did in fact still love me.

It was this one event that continually reoccured. She quit tucking me in at night because of the fuss it would cause and this is what began the deterioration of my self confidence. From that point forward I remember that I would never hear her say, “I love you” often enough. Even when she did say it, I doubted whether she really meant it or was just saying it so that I would behave.

The feeling of insecurity that comes from believing you must earn your mother’s love, is damaging beyond belief to a child. When I made this observation last week, I began crying uncontrollably.

I just want to say, “Thank you for showing me what love looks like.” From this one observation I have been able to take back control of my emotions and I have a confidence in myself that I have never had before. Now, for the fist time in my life I truly feel comfortable in my own skin.

Signed,
Better late than never.

Thank you, Mr. single man without kids, for your kind words and for allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I respect you for looking at yourself, and your upbringing, and for being open to learning and growing. I am so happy you are comfortable within your own skin and I wish you so much love and happiness in this life. We all deserve to be loved and I do believe that the need for LOVE begins at birth and continues on always. I am so delighted that you get to move forward and live your life from a different perspective and with a newfound confidence. Much Love and Respect.

Please always tell the ones you LOVE that you LOVE them. Please do your best to show it by being patient, respectful, loving and kind. We all need to hear it and feel it. I choose Love always and I am sending my Love to all of you.

Our Journey Begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am sitting on the plane en route to Costa Rica…both boys on my lap asleep, my husband a few seats down asleep as well, and I am so grateful for this quiet time to share. I have so much to say and I only hope I’m able to convey some of it in these precious moments.

When I first suggested we take this trip as a family around the world a few years ago, I remember the surprise and enthusiasm my husband experienced as he pondered the idea. I’ll never forget the look on his face and the light that shined within him in those minutes.

There are so many roads to take in this life. There are so many choices. I’ve never been one to take the road most traveled and since becoming a parent, I’ve truly found a path and many side streets that are my own. I’ve been questioned and doubted along the way and as I always say, I’m sure that will continue and that is just fine.

This story and idea of traveling with our family first began as an idea, a thought and perhaps even a dream. I do believe strongly in visualizing what you really want and putting your energy, passion and love into everything around it. That said, with the actions and intentions, I also believe things happen the way they are supposed to…when they are supposed to.

So, here we are. We are at the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. We are facing the unknown with all eyes open. Inspiration, love, and excitement are taking over our beings as we fly away to new lands and toward new experiences.

The preparation of this journey alone sparked new life in all of us. Our sons not only took an interest in world maps because they found them fascinating and colorful, but also, because they wanted to understand the world we were planning to tread our feet on. They want to talk about the food in each country, the sports played, the modes of transportation we will take, and mostly, of course, which superhero costumes they will be wearing in each place along the way.

Curiosity is one of the greatest gifts we are born with. Sadly, I believe society often wants to squander that natural curiosity in an attempt to place everyone in the “traditional” norms most people find to be comfortable.

I am thankful and proud to say that I didn’t conform. I didn’t let anyone take my curiosity away or the spirit that makes me, ME. I will do everything in my power to give our children the opportunity to explore this world freely and openly. I want them to discover and create who they want to be in it with all of the love, determination and free spirited nature of their precious little souls.

This is how I choose to parent. This is what I believe will empower my sons with all of the tools necessary to grow and thrive in this world that so badly wants to make everyone the same. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Here’s to an enlightening, thought-provoking, fascinating, soulful and loving adventure. My wish is for all of us to allow new awakenings and perspectives for and within ourselves. More risks and less fear. More action and less hesitation. More Love, More Love and More Love.

We are just over Costa Rica right now and I am feeling the importance and magnitude of this very moment. Allow yourself to do the same, no matter where you are. This is your life. Live it the way you want to and don’t back down.

I am grateful to be an attachment parent now and always.  Home is wherever we are together.

Much Love from this crew of superheroes above the clouds and beyond.

Tides

 

As I’m packing my life into boxes and storage containers, I’m finding myself nostalgic at moments. I just found a file box from over 20 years ago.  Inside was a folder with many pieces I wrote when I was younger.  I wanted to share this one with you.  I was 17.

I will never forget sitting on my special grassy hill in college, a place of much introspection and inspiration.  I wrote this and I must say that I still feel the same way today.  Don’t exist within a mold and don’t let anyone or anything define you.  You define YOU.

As a parent, we can easily fall into the mold society and previous generations tell us to fit into. I am thankful that my instinct guides me to my own places and my own choices.  I am thankful that I trust this and follow it each day. I suppose this was appropriate to find today.  I am definitely living these words and allowing myself to LIVE and be FREE.  I wish the same for you.

Tides

The tide of existence protects us from and exposes us to the harsh nature of this place.  As the waves crash from a distance, we are forced to open our eyes and face what we know is there.  As the tide comes into shore, we are blinded by the realities before us.  As it goes back out, we see more clearly, not only what we want to see, but rather, all that hides in the stretch of sand beneath it’s Mother.

Why are we so afraid of this vision?  We create superficialities in order to better understand who we are, what we are, what we’re doing and why.  We’re so mesmerized by these false perceptions that we mistake them for the truth.  What is the truth?  What is real?  That which the tide covers and at times reveals, I’d rather not see.  Everything around us is more or less temporary and sooner or later, the problems of today will fade into the light of tomorrow.

There should be no final destination of goal to reach, no ladder to climb.  The path need still be there but only as an unformed, undefined passage that contains no boundaries.  Regulations, rules and social conventions bound us from the freedom our bodies so desperately need for expression.  Why can’t we just be free and experience what it is to “Live” rather than “Exist” in this mold formed around us?

Why Attachment Parenting Promotes a More Connected Society

My family and I spent most of the day yesterday in the Federal Building updating passports. It was a very long day in a crowded space and what else does one do, other than watch your kids play superheroes with other kids in their common language, except people watch.

I’ve always enjoyed people watching as a way of understanding the world and people more. It’s so easy to let the little gifts pass us by unless we take the time to look for them. Today we were surrounded by newborns. There must have been at least 20-30 of them with their parents in line and in the waiting area. At first my heart just melted and I had to ask how old they were. Most were only a week or two weeks old. Then my boys and I just stared as we viewed the miraculous sightings of these precious little angels.

I watched the mothers and fathers and it took me back to those first days and weeks. I remembered the magic, the LOVE, the fragility, the fatigue…all of it. I saw first borns, twins and siblings with their new little sidekicks. It made the day go by and I truly enjoyed being around and interacting with such a diverse group of people and witnessing my boys doing the same.

What surprised me the most in this very large crowd was the fact that not one person was wearing their baby in a wrap or carrier. It actually made me sad but I also felt fortunate as I reflected on the years I wore both of my boys in wraps and carriers. I wanted to stand up and tell everyone the joy that comes from wearing your child. The room was filled with strollers and car seats. I watched the babies drink from their bottles, get burped and then placed back into their seats, then repeat….over the course of several hours. My wish is that one day soon, I will walk into a waiting room or public setting and see a room full of parents holding and wearing their babies.

I am not judging those who bottle feed, nor am I judging you if your baby is in a car seat or stroller. What I am saying however, is that I feel our society has become and continues to promote and encourage detachment from our children. They go from car seats, to strollers to walkers, to play pens to cribs. I know they get fed and cuddled somewhere in between but I can’t help but to wish we could all connect even more. We all need to know we are loved and our babies are completely dependent on us for everything. If we are able to give them as much love, contact and warmth as possible, I believe they will feel more secure and safe which will only make them thrive even more.

In other societies and cultures throughout the world, it is normal and commonplace to wear your baby all day, sleep with your baby and spend as much time skin to skin as possible. Especially in the first year of life. I think about newborns. I imagine their world before they were delivered into this one. They are tucked in, warm, cozy, safe and comfortable within the womb of their Mother. When they enter this new realm, they are no longer tucked in tightly. The stimulation must be overwhelming and the warmth and basic necessities are all they require. Sleep, eat, burp, poop, repeat.

I know as a first time parent the responsibility of it all can be intimidating and taking care of the basics makes you feel like you made it through the day successfully.

Again, I want to make it clear that I understand we all do our best. At least I hope so. Not everyone was born to be a babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding parent. I get it. Not everyone will agree with me and in fact I realize many will disagree with me and my ways. That is okay also.

My need to express here isn’t about you or me or how we parent. It’s about the most fundamental principal in all of life. LOVE. If you aren’t wearing your baby in a wrap or carrier, I’m not saying you don’t love the same way a babywearing parent does. I’m saying, let’s do it more. All I thought about in that room all day was how happy those little babies would have been if they were wrapped up close against their Mothers.

I saw people getting frustrated and annoyed that their babies were crying. Babies cry. Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed when yours does. To me though, the quickest way to ease them once you tend to their needs, is to hold them close. Let them feel your heartbeat. Let them smell your skin. Let them hear your voice. Let them feel the thousands of kisses on their little heads as you carry them throughout your day.

Yes, I support babywearing. Yes, I am an attachment parent. I am not saying I’m better. I am not saying it is all easy. What I am saying is this. This time goes by so fast. These moments need to be cherished. The sacrifices we make are worth it. I promise. The love, security, stability, warmth and connection you offer will make a difference. My wish for the New Year is for all of us to Love more. To connect more. To Accept more. To Attach more. That is my wish.

Congratulations to all of you who have already experienced the extraordinary gift of giving birth. I wish those of you expecting to have safe and healthy deliveries. Being a mother is the greatest gift and role of my life. I am so thankful for my boys and for my family and I will love with all of my heart each and every minute I am breathing.

Much Love and Support,

Are You Afraid to Admit the Challenges You Face As a Parent?

I often look into the eyes of my friends, or strangers in Target with toddlers and babies in their carts and ask, “How’s it going? Most of the time I get the big smile and the cheerful voice telling me, “Great!” I stare a little deeper and I ask again in case I might be the one person they want to tell the truth to. If I still don’t get the answer I’m looking for, I’ll ask again, “Do you ever find that it’s hard?” “Do you ever have really rough days?”

I have found that I desperately want to connect and relate with others in the reality of parenthood. I feel the magic, Love, gratitude and magnitude in each moment. This love overwhelms me in the most powerful ways. I am truly thankful for being given the greatest role of my lifetime. The gift of being the mother to my two sons. This said, I find that many people don’t want to admit how crazy hard it can be sometimes. Even when I am standing there giving them the space, or at least that’s what I’m attempting to do, to speak the truth. To let it out. To relate. To understand that you are not alone. I want you to help me realize I’m not alone just as badly.

I am a very positive person and I have so much love inside and so much love to give. I am an extremely patient person as well. Patience may be one of those things that comes easily for me or a choice I make in each moment, yet sometimes, even that doesn’t make certain situations any easier. Yesterday, I broke down a few times in tears and felt completely helpless. I knew why it was rough but that didn’t make the hours go by any quicker and it didn’t resolve the stress and sadness I felt.

I believe we all do our best to know ourselves. Know our limitations, our bodies when we are sick, and our instincts when something doesn’t feel right. I also believe we do our best to know and understand our children. For example, I have learned recently how important a solid twelve hour night sleep is for my boys. They wake up cheerful, enthusiastic and playful the following day. It’s so simple and yet, so true.

Well, my boys have had stuffy noses the past few days and this hasn’t allowed for much restful sleep. That is my excuse and justification for why the past 24 hours have been absolutely and beyond…challenging. I now understand the need to lock yourself in a closet for just a minute to cry and regroup. It is just necessary sometimes. The crankiness, the crying, the attitudes, the not listening to anything I say, the getting hit in the ear with a wooden plank (accidentally)…all of it. I am laughing now as I write this because the visual seems amusing in this moment, but trust me, there was nothing funny about my day yesterday.

At times like those, even with the excuse I tell myself about the lack of sleep, I look at myself and wonder what I am doing wrong. I wonder where I can improve. I wonder if anyone in the world experiences days like these. I just want to cry. I want to go to sleep and let a new day begin.

I got the boys to bed early last night and they slept a full and tranquil twelve hours. Like a scene out of the Sound of Music, a new day began this morning. Big smiles and hugs from everyone, birds chirping, a shower WITH my hair washed, a lovely and peaceful breakfast, boys playing together, a dentist appointment with no crying, and smiles, love, and fun this entire day. I am thankful, recharged and happy. We skipped and laughed and hugged and as I was walking through my day, I felt compelled to share my thoughts.

I believe we are all grateful for those enjoyable moments spent with our children. We are grateful when we get through a store or a day without any ‘episodes’. I just had to express to you how hard it can truly be sometimes. I am not afraid to tell you that. I would love to ask you to express the same when you need to. If it isn’t me you want to vent to, please tell someone. I see so many people in our society working so hard to pretend their lives are perfect. Facebook, a platform I adore for many reasons, is one of those places especially, where I witness the ‘My life is perfect’ syndrome. There is comfort in hiding behind the protection of a computer screen, and fabricating the life you want to present to the world. It is really comfortable though?

I also believe that many of you, including myself, truly are positive and happy and feel compelled to share wonderful moments or photos publicly. I get it. I also believe that when you are down, putting out positivity or even receiving positivity is helpful in beginning a day with a good attitude…even if you don’t have one in that moment.

I’m not telling you to spill all of your hardships onto the social media masses. All I am saying is, don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t be afraid of what people will think of you. Don’t be afraid when you divulge a certain truth, that people will discover you are not perfect. Guess what. None of us are. We are not. Our children are not. Our lives are not.

Whether we have kids or we don’t, we go through ups and downs. I believe it is our attitude and the way we approach and respond to those downs that will get us through. Dig deep for patience in those moments. I know sometimes it may seem impossible. Go cry in the closet. The moment will pass. The day will pass. A new day will begin with another chance to experience the miracle of being alive.

I also want to acknowledge those with newborns. I always think of you. Hang in there. While you are enjoying first smiles and precious glances, you are also experiencing sleepless nights, fatigue and responsibility for another like you’ve never known. Hold on to each moment. Enjoy it. Find the beauty. Find the patience and the Love. Be present. I promise you this. You WILL sleep again. You will have moments to yourself again and most importantly, I promise you this. It all goes by faster than you know. This is it. This is your chance to be the mother or father you never had or like the mother or father you did have and respect so much. This is your chance to be YOU. This is your chance to be the best Parent you can be. There isn’t a greater role or responsibility on Earth…in my opinion.

Much Love and Support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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