10 tips on gratitude

sense-of-gratitudeEvery year, the Thanksgiving holiday gives us an opportunity to remember to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. API encourages you to make thanksgiving a daily practice. Learning to be grateful for even the most simple things in our lives can change us profoundly, creating overflowing capacity for joy and peace in both our individual lives and our parenting.

Gratitude is one of the most-written-about features of Attachment Parenting. Here are 10 tips on gratitude from APtly Said posts through the years:

  1. “Having a deep sense of gratitude benefits us in developing the ability to savor the pleasant moments in life and preserve through the painful ones.” ~ Effie Morchi, mother of 2 and API Assistant Editor, “Thankful kids
  2. “I am grateful for many things big and small, grand and mundane. Today, it is the joyful shriek of my girls running in the twilight.” ~ Leyani Redditti, API Leader and mother of 2, “Gratitude
  3. “There is an appreciation for all of us when we take the time to offer our thanks for something that happened during the day.” ~ Lisa Feiertag, API Leader and mother of 2, “Sharing gratitude on a nightly basis
  4. “Learning to live a life of gratitude is like a ‘walking meditation,’ being present in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future but really living in the now, feeling intensely grateful for the many blessings we have in our lives.” ~ Lysa Parker, API Cofounder, mother, and grandmother, “Learning to live a life of gratitude
  5. “Let’s start right here and right now by mindfully experiencing and expressing gratitude, even in the midst of what might sometimes look like a complete disaster.” ~ Inga Bohnekamp, mother of 1, “5 tips for mindfully coping with chronic illness, for your child and for you
  6. “I know that I am so lucky to be a parent, and my days are peppered with gratitude as I watch my son laugh, play, or sleep — ordinary magic moments that make me so thankful.” ~ Yvette Lamb, mother of 1, “For Today, a poem for parents
  7. “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.” ~ Sandy Gordon Frankfort, mother of 2, “Are you afraid to admit the challenges you face as a parent?
  8. “I honor each stage of your early development. How blessed we are to spend these days together. My heart fills with gratitude to your daddy who works long hours in the week to make this possible.” ~ Amy Wright Glenn, mother, “A day to live again
  9. “Thank you, API, for giving me these wonderful gifts: joy in my parenting and peace in my life.” ~ Rita Brhel, API Leader, mother of 3, and API Executive Editor, “Thanksgiving for joy and peace in my parenting
  10. “In awe, my son exclaimed, ‘Mama, the sky! It’s so colorful!’ I turned to him, and seeing his exuberant joy, my heart flooded with deep gratitude. To this day, years later, I still carry those words with me — my son’s gentle reminder to move a little slower, appreciate a little more, and pause long enough to enjoy the moments of delight our days have to offer us.” ~ Kendrah Nilsestuen, mother, API Leader, and API Education & Support Coordinator, “The sunrise of balance

Thankful kids

Effie2 (2)It’s this time of year — Thanksgiving holiday — when we pause and take a moment to reflect on all that we are grateful for.

A few years ago, I adopted Thanksgiving as a daily practice, and to my surprise, it has transformed my life for the better: I’ve become more centered and peaceful which naturally affected the well-being of myself as well as my family.

Having a deep sense of gratitude benefits us in developing the ability to savor the pleasant moments in life and preserve through the painful ones.

I find that as challenging and complex parenting can be, it is equally inspiring and simple — that is, if we are mindful and appreciate every challenge, pain, delight, and triumph on our parenting journey.

Our children serve as our constant reminder that the ordinary is actually the profound. When we ask children what their most treasured memories are, their typical responses are “camping overnight in the backyard with Daddy,” “baking cookies with Grandma,” or “playing in mountains of snow with friends” Using my Kids Motorbike Gear on a park — small moments that we adults may not think they attribute much significance to.

I am grateful for being around children on a daily basis — observing their actions and interactions. Getting a glimpse into their delightful world keeps me grounded, reminding me that connection, mindfulness and simplicity are the essentials that fill our heart and soul. Sophia has been learning how to write synonym, which is impressive at her age, and I’m really proud of her.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, we bring you reflections from kids around the United States as to what they are most grateful for:

Emma, 7: “I am most grateful for my family and health. I am grateful that we are all together. I am grateful to God for everything.”

Sophia, 5: “I am grateful for my parents, sister, brother, and grandparents. I am also grateful for breastmilk when I was small since it made me grow strong.”

Valerie, 2.5: “Food. Yogurt, peanut butter in a bowl, apples, and peanut butter sandwich.”

Abby, 4: “Strawberries, because I love strawberries.  It’s my wordcloud6favorite fruit.”

Josh, 9: “Family, food, and water. Family because it’s family, and food and water because we need food and water to survive.”

Nicholas, 12: “Having a good mom.”

Tatiana, 11: “I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the house that I live in, for the food that I eat, that I have education, that I’m healthy, and that I am alive.”

Gianna, 8: “I’m thankful that my mom makes dinner for both sides of our family.”

Adriana, 4: “I’m thankful for pancakes, because I don’t like turkey.”

Rachel, 10: “I’m thankful for God, for veterans, for my family, and for my pets.”

Emily, 9: “I am grateful for my life and everything that God created, and for heaven, and I’m grateful for my family, my house, my clothes, my food, everything.”

Nathan, 5: “I am thankful for birdies and that we love animals, and I’m grateful for my family and pets.”

Camille, 18: “I’m thankful for the people who love me and the opportunities I have been given.”

Nicole, 10: “I am thankful for Tapping (EFT) and the breathing technique Mommy taught me to discharge stress.”

Luke, 14: “I’m thankful for being able to choose my career. I’m thankful for Internet. I’m thankful for love, and I’m thankful for family.”

Zaiah, 10: “Friends and family. The chance to live every day and have food and water.”

Julienne, 14: “I am grateful for music.”

Kaiya, 11: “I am grateful that not all animals are endangered.”

Ethan, 2: “Toys!”

Jared, 9: “I’m most grateful for my family.”

I am thankful for Attachment Parenting International (API) for granting me the opportunity to be part of an organization that promotes an intuitive, kind, and gentle approach to parenting — the foundation of our quest for a more tolerant world. I am also grateful for our API volunteer community and readers for all of your support, and for spreading the message of peace and harmony — because together we are a greater force, capable of making a real positive difference in the world.

My warmest wishes to you and your family on this Thanksgiving holiday. May you always find inspiration and gratitude on your parenting journey.

With Mindfulness and Light,

Effie

Reflecting on Earth Day through my family’s every day green choices

divya singh 1I hope you were able to reflect on ways to make changes in how you live during this year’s Earth Day on April 22. Having a baby has made me so conscious of every day choices I make for myself and my soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter. Parenting is a learning experience, and when I look back, indeed every day has been nothing short of a live classroom.

Before I was expecting, a local Earth Day event had really got me thinking of the power each of us holds to change things.

My family’s health has become my top-most priority, and eating well is a big part of that. We get farm-fresh milk from a local dairy, fresh vegetables from another farm and freshly baked goodies from local bakers. The rest, we cook at home most of the time.

We had always recycled, but we still generated some waste. That waste multiplied manifold when we had our baby and made me look for ways to reduce diaper waste. I found cloth diapers. We also have a compost bin in the backyard that helps us eliminate most of our remaining waste. The compost is used for our fruit trees and vegetable beds.

I love gardening with my kids, we use use grow tents for indoor gardening and they love it. My little daughter even know all the names of each plant we have.

The joy on our little one’s face when she plucks her own fruits and vegetables to eat is so immense that it keeps me going with gardening no matter how busy life may be. Sometimes, she just relaxes under the parasol and I realised how Parasols for your garden can be a boon on a scorching day.

Gardening is among the leading hobbies just about everywhere in the world. The popularity of gardening with the aid of home greenhouses online kits has caused an explosion of green house equipment and supplies designed for the hobby gardener. What was used only in commercial or institutional growing houses is now being used in the avid gardener’s own custom built greenhouse as well. Many of these supplies can be costly and it is necessary that you realize what you will need when planning a custom hobby greenhouse.

Growing your own produce, fruit and vegetables all year-round is making the basic gardener consider a hobby greenhouse for low cost sustainability. Hobby greenhouses, whether it is a kit, a lean-to or a stand alone greenhouse, are all great ways to become a part of this vast emergence due to the high costs of living and the concern for organic products and healthy choices.

Besides planning a place in your yard for your hobby greenhouse, the builder will guide your project through a professional and successful construction and installation process. Hobby, school and commercial greenhouses and greenhouse supplies are also items you will want to ask about in your planning stages.

For example, if you live in colder climates, you will want certain types of heating systems and particular materials in the greenhouse to aid your plants in healthy growth year round.

Misting and fog systems are common greenhouse equipment that is used in southern greenhouses and hot climates. Misting systems aid to cool greenhouses with a fine mist that depresses air temperatures when it evaporates. Greenhouse supplies for misting and fogging come in many sizes and costs and your greenhouse builder will also help you decide the proper size and will order it directly through his various sources.

Greenhouses provide a controlled environment for plant life by the common use of venting. This is where the vents are built into the greenhouse roof, and allow the heat to rise, or the mist to ascend. This allows most vegetation or floral to grow at the control of the gardener.

Another utility for healthy agricultural growth is with hydroponics. Hydroponics are usually a steel or plastic piping that allows the root to grow while it feeds on the nutrients in a water solution. No soil is necessary and the beauty of this method is the fact that it rids all plants of soil based disease and is more cost effective in the long run. Hydroponic greenhouses are growing in numbers within southern greenhouse regions. The greenhouse builder or manufacturer can either supply the hydroponics or they will point you in the right direction for setting up your hydroponic greenhouse.

While a custom built greenhouse is a permanent greenhouse due to size and land restrictions, lean-to and stand alone small greenhouses are good solutions.

Lighting for greenhouses are another greenhouse supply that you may wish to also include. Greenhouse lighting artificial lights may be required if your growing area does not provide adequate light. Grow lights are great for helping plants maintain healthy growth. It can also aid the grower in sprouting and germination of the select plant of choice.

There are also other greenhouse supply options that are useful, such as plant hangars, sprinklers, misting wands, extra doors, shelving, and greenhouse shades that roll over the roof of the greenhouse to provide more adequate shade solutions. PVC fittings, even greenhouse insulation and benches are also very popular.

If you live in an region with a short growing season, the cool weather can overtake crops like tomatoes and peppers when these would be at their peak. With greenhouses, you extend your short season so you are able to delight in the ability to have fresh vegetables longer.

Mini greenhouses, or very small greenhouses range in non-enter to small walk in greenhouses the size of a small coat closet. They are a great way to ease into greenhouse gardening. These are also built by the custom greenhouse builder and you can order kits as well. The kits may be simple inferior products due to the materials used, but at least it could be a simple solution to a new beginning in greenhouse gardening.

Anyone can grow plants, but to grow plants well takes a little knowledge, skill and the right equipment. Each city and on line resources offer excellent information on starting a greenhouse garden. A greenhouse creates the perfect atmosphere for plants to flourish; so many people are building greenhouses on their properties, and stocking them with the right greenhouse supplies.

One last type of greenhouse structure to consider is the luxury greenhouse. These are very large solarium’s and greenrooms, some with many stories and swimming pools, water fountains and foliage resembling that of a vacation hideaway. Again, ask your greenhouse builder for more information on building a luxury greenhouse and planning your custom greenhouse.

When we started solids, my daughter started daycare around the same time. I struggled with the reality of balancing life and work with the option of serving prepackaged food versus preparing fresh food. Eventually — between breast milk, some freshly prepared food and some store-bought jars — we found our balance.

Soon after our daughter’s first birthday, we bought our first house. The house came with a yard that was landscaped with native species of shrubs and trees. It attracted some rare species of birds that I have gotten to see thanks to our little one who encourages me to spend time outside with her, rain or shine. The freedom from having to water the yard even in the driest of Oregon summers is such an advantage.

Every new parent knows the amount of stuff we accumulate when babies arrive in our lives. Trying to fit all the stuff in an apartment when we had our baby made me very conscious of how much “baby stuff” I was going to get, either as gifts or buy on my own. I did not stop myself from buying something if I really liked it, but I had to make a conscious effort to say “no” to a lot of gifts. Moving into a house hasn’t changed much in terms of lack of storage space, and I continue to use stuff from close friends and pass down stuff to new families as soon as I get the opportunity.

Celebrating birthdays has been another occasion where I have put my green choices to great use. I call these “gift exchange” parties and encourage friends to bring used or recycled toys. I send home potted seedlings as return gifts that our friends’ children can plant to enjoy their fruits.

As a mother wanting to raise a like-minded daughter, I am already starting to reap the benefits of sowing these “seeds” of conscious living. My daughter saves her toys to give away to other little ones, and whenever the kitchen tap or shower faucet has running water flowing with full force, my little one reminds me to use it just as much as I need and to not waste too much water in the shower.

I hope you have been inspired to make some small every day changes in how you live to benefit the health of our Earth.

“Simplicity Parenting” with Kim John Payne

Kim John PaynePurchase this one-of-a-kind API audio recording for only $9 and learn how to:
– Define family values for our children
– Put limits in place to guide our children to our family values
– Develop a multi-faceted foundation of connection with your children, being careful that connection isn’t based on a sole factor
– Understand the power of simplicity in reducing stress and boosting connection, creativity and relaxation among both parents and children within a family
– And so much more!

The simple attitude of gratitude

flowerAs parents, one of the most profound messages we can convey to our kids is a deep sense of gratitude.

Their world is one full of abundance of materialistic possessions and choices. Many homes have countless toys, ice cream flavors, clothes and TV shows to choose from. One may think that the many choices would lead to happiness and contentment, but scientific studies show that they lead to feelings of unhappiness, regret and deficiency, according to this article from Scientific American. Observing my kids and their peers makes it abundantly clear to me that these findings are so.

I recall the day a few years ago when my husband and I were shopping with the kids and made a stop at a toy store. We had each of our kids choose a toy. Our daughter chose a Barbie doll, and my husband suggested she choose another toy as she already had a few dolls. With a whine in her voice, she objected, “But I only have 35.” I thought, “Only? 35? What?!” My husband and I looked at each other with dismay.

I discussed this incident with a friend and how I felt my daughter was unappreciative of all that she had, that it just never seemed to be enough — to which my friend replied, “And who got her most of the 35 dolls?” Her words struck me. I felt disappointed with myself, as I knew this attitude was not in line with the priorities and values I strive to instill in my kids. I realized that somehow, surrounded by all this materialistic abundance and going with the flow of society, we were raising our kids in a manner that didn’t agree with our core values and who we truly are.

In the face of materialistic abundance, I wish for my kids’ abundance to be of a different kind — abundance of simplicity, love and appreciation…not materialism and ungratefulness. I am aware of how this shift in outlook transformed my life for the better, so I’m inspired to teach them with my words, as well as my actions, about gratitude and simplicity.

Alongside my kids, I’m growing and learning the meaning and significance of gratitude. I’m grateful for all the bliss and light my kids bring into my life. And I’m grateful for all the challenges that come with parenthood: the exhaustion, the scary visits to the hospital, the worry, the diagnosis we didn’t want to hear, the strain on the marriage, the constant demands of raising kids. They are all a part of our journey as individuals and as a family.

So, on warm, sunny days, we play at the park and I remind my kids how fortunate we are to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. On dreary, rainy days, I remind them how nice it is that Mother Nature showers us with water and we get to enjoy a quiet, cozy day at home. And on the occasions when we are stuck in snail-pace traffic, I reserve my frustration and focus on making the best out of the time we have together in that small space. We enjoy listening to music and talking, doing our best to keep the mood light. We never know what tomorrow will bring. We may wish we appreciated that precious time we had together, traffic and all.

If we raise our awareness, we become stronger and better with all that we encounter. When we are grateful for it all, we get to see and appreciate the whole picture — with its dark and the bright colors.

Effie2 (2)Today and every day, I am grateful for all that we have and all that we “lack” as a family. I am thankful for the ride — for each and every curve, valley, uphill climb, mountain peak and the magnificent view along the way. They all led us to where we are today and lead us to where we are going.

May we all remember to always give thanks for all the challenges, joy and inspiration that come with being a parent!

Inspired to read more about gratitude? Check out these archived posts from Attachment Parenting International (API):

+ “Learning to live a life of gratitude” by API Cofounder Lysa Parker, coauthor of Attached at the Heart

+ “Gratitude” by API Leader Leyani Redditi also on API’s blog, APtly Said

+ “My Dear Crying Baby” by API Member Tamara Parnay on The Attached Family, API’s online magazine

Kim John Payne is tonight!

APM 2015 logoToday is the day! Kim John Payne is speaking on “Simplicity Parenting” tonight at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST during a special API Live teleseminar as part of the 2015 Attachment Parenting Month: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society” — helping families worldwide put in practice what we know is critical for investing in early secure attachment.

Very basically, our lives cannot be too busy for our children. But in our very busy lives, what can we do to slow down and simplify in order to give our children the presence they need to thrive?

Kim John PayneKim John Payne, world-renown author of Simplicity Parenting, is the very expert to inspire any family — no matter their life circumstances — on how to give a bit more presence to their children. He helps parents look at 4 realms of their home life to reduce stress on both children and their parents, allowing room for connection, creativity and relaxation:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Increasing predictability
  3. Soothing schedules
  4. Unplugging.

e4aee175-1115-4d03-bb68-c3009e6c4d4fKim John Payne and his Simplicity Parenting is a vital link in connected parenting. This API Live teleseminar promises to renew your focus on life balance, both for yourself and your family!

Enjoy this huge value for only $9 for API Members. (It’s free to join Attachment Parenting International (API), and you can join before you register for the API Live teleseminar to enjoy the discount!)

Register now to get a “seat” to tonight’s event — from the comfort of your own home or wherever you happen to be, as you join the audience via your phone. And if you can’t be on the teleseminar tonight, register anyway — everyone who registers gets a recording of this API Live teleseminar to listen to at their convenience.

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Who is Kim John Payne? And why I want you to join me on his API Teleseminar

“Imagine your life with a sense of ease as you begin to limit distractions and say ‘no’ to too much, too fast, too soon. …For those who want to slow their children’s lives down but don’t know where to start, [Kim John Payne] offers both inspiration and a blueprint for change.” ~Simplicity Parenting.com

basketball-1442709It’s hard not to over-schedule our children. There are so many classes, teams and other activities offered at younger and younger ages. As parents, we believe that our children will benefit by becoming involved in a wide range of endeavors, mastering as many of them as possible. Perhaps, we say, our children can find their talents early and have the opportunity to develop their skills sets — and self-confidence — sooner than we did ourselves.

We want our children to be happy and successful. We want to give them the very best start in life. But maybe encouraging our children to fill up their days with activities isn’t the way to do this.

I’m contemplating this right now. My 9-year-old daughter — who is already involved in 4-H, church, a monthly science day camp and occasional community service projects — brought home a school flyer about joining a 3rd-grade basketball team. She wants to do it. I don’t.

I am not taking this decision lightly. I don’t want to prevent my child from an activity she may enjoy, but I also feel that what she has going on is enough for now.

I want her to be able to fully enjoy her childhood, unfettered by the pressures and stress of a packed schedule. I would rather she be able to enjoy a few activities to the fullest. I know that the number of possible activities will only increase as she grows older, and I don’t want her to burn out. I don’t want practices and classes and busyness to get in the way of our strong attachment and intentionally slow lifestyle at home. I want to continue maximizing parental presence as she grows into the more turbulent preteen and teen years, being able to provide gentle guidance aligned with our family values as she finds who she is as a unique person.

I feel like our lives are balanced well right now, and I don’t want to upset that balance with nightly practices and weekly games on top of full days of school and after-school homework.

She is my oldest daughter, so we’ve been figuring out Attachment Parenting (AP) together — paving the way for the rest of the family — since her birth. And while we’ve been doing AP for 9 years, each stage of development opens up new challenges in navigating her attachment needs.

So I’ve been wrestling with what to do about 3rd-grade basketball. Go ahead and sign her up, and upset the balance we have with an intense schedule of practices and games? Or say “no” to another activity at this time? Perhaps I should say “no” and instead substitute an activity with a more flexible schedule, such as music lessons? I could teach her to play the clarinet myself, even.

e4aee175-1115-4d03-bb68-c3009e6c4d4fAs I continue on my parenting journey, I am glad to have access to the network of AP experts offered by Attachment Parenting International (API) through the API Live teleseminars. And how timely is it that the next API Live teleseminar — on Monday, October 19, at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST — is with Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting!

You may have been following along with API Reads discussions on Simplicity Parenting. But even if you’ve never heard his name before, you’ve likely heard about Kim John Payne’s concepts on simplifying — which are becoming more and more influential as parents try to slow down in our fast-paced culture — in order to reduce stress on children and their parents and allow room for connection, creativity and relaxation:

  1. Declutter the home environment
  2. Increase predictability and rhythms of connection and calm
  3. Soothe schedules
  4. Unplug from media, consumerism and adult concerns.

This is exactly what I need at this moment in my parenting journey! I very much look forward to listening to Kim John Payne’s teleseminar on October 19 — to find validation and gain perspective on the direction I should take with my daughter and the increasingly overscheduled childhood that our society promotes. Register to join in!

Kim John PayneAre you wondering who this Kim John Payne is?

My introduction was this 2012 Huffington Post article about how simplicity parenting is the better way to prepare kids for the future, rather than getting our children in as many activities as humanly possible.

Aside from reading his book, Kim John Payne’s biography from his website speaks volumes about both his experience as a parent educator and his heart as someone who truly wants to help families to slow down so parents can enjoy their children and children can enjoy their childhood — and grow up to be successful adults in our society:

519zubFyxUL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Kim John Payne, M.Ed, is the author of the #1 Best Selling book, Simplicity Parenting. A consultant and trainer to more than 200 North American independent and public schools, Kim has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher, educator and a private family counselor for 27 years. He regularly gives keynote addresses at international conferences for educators, parents and therapists, and runs workshops and trainings around the world. In each role, he has been helping children, adolescents and families explore issues, such as social difficulties with siblings and classmates, attention and behavioral issues at home and school, emotional issues such as defiance, aggression, addiction and self-esteem, and the vital role living a balanced and simple life brings. He has also consulted for educational associations in South Africa, Hungary, Israel, Russia, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Kim has worked extensively with the North American and United Kingdom Waldorf educational movements. He has served as Director of the Collaborative Counseling program at Antioch University New England. He is Co-Director of the Simplicity Project, a multi-media social network that explores what really connects and disconnects us to ourselves and to the world. Kim is the Founding Director of The Center for Social Sustainability.

In addition to authoring Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kid, he also authored The Games Children Play and The Soul of Discipline, and coauthored Beyond Winning: Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment.

He has appeared frequently on television including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox; on radio with the BBC, Sirius/XM, CBC and NPR; and in print including being featured in Time Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Parenting, Mothering, TimesUnion and the LA Times.

Kim strives to deepen understanding and give practical tools for life questions that arise out of the burning social issues of our time. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, with his wife and 2 children.

I hope you’ll join me in the audience — on our personal phones from the comfort of our living rooms, mini-vans, benches outside of our child’s sports or dance practice, or wherever we are on October 19 — to learn more about, and inspired by, what Kim John Payne says about simplicity parenting. Register today!

(Oh, and if you can’t make the teleseminar on October 19, or just want to listen to it again, everyone who signs up for this API teleseminar gets a recording to listen to at their convenience. Register for the recording here.)

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