Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A giveaway for Mother's Day

I don't spend too much time talking about having kids on this blog. I've mentioned my kids a couple of times, but this certainly isn't a parenting or family blog. I think that's mostly because crafting is my break from motherhood. It's the thing I do to relax, re-energize, and have some time for myself. So it's no surprise that my kids don't make more appearances on my craft blog.

As I've read post after post on what to make for mother's on Mother's Day (all great ideas, btw), I decided to take a little different approach to my Mother's Day post. I thought it would be good to talk about what has helped me become a better mom, and how I maintain my sanity in the crazy day-to-day of having kids.

I can't say that I've had the rosy perfect motherhood experience. After my first child was born premature (she weight four pounds!) and battled raging reflux for most of her first year, and my thyroid went all to heck after my son was born (causing me to go nutty and gain a bunch of weight) it's no wonder I looked around and thought, "um ... remind me again why I did this."

But I am reminded every day why - in little ways. Like how my son - home sick from school and curled up on the couch next to me right now - just snuggled in to me and said, "I love you, mama." out of nowhere.*

Crafting has made an incredible difference in my state of mind - especially over the last year. Exploring my creative side, connecting with other creative folks, and making things with my hands almost daily has been hugely important to maintaining my mental health. I love to see how other moms do the same.

I came across Carrie's blog back in February and was totally inspired by her Flood quilt. Here's a picture and her artist statement about the quilt. You can read more about the quilt on her blog here and here. Thanks, Carrie, for permission to post the picture and info!
"Most of the pieces on display were inspired by my experience of becoming a mother-the joys and challenges that come with such a life-altering event. The four largest quilts reflect my experience with postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter. It is a time that I’m choosing not to forget, a placemarker for my experience as a new mother. Because of the intimate quality it gives my work, I choose to stitch, embroider, felt and appliqué by hand. I love the meditative quality of hand-stitching and the feeling of connection I have with other women while I am creating."

Isn't that amazing? I am so inspired by her work. I love seeing moms use art and craft to work through emotionally difficult times (with, of course, all other kids of necessary support!)

One thing that helped me become a better mom (and I'm not talking packing-whole-food-snacks-for-the-park-and-never-cursing-in-front-of-my-kids mom) and helped me treat myself better was being part of a Personal Renewal Group for mothers. Meeting with a group of mothers to talk about subjects like reconnecting with your former self and exploring ways to bring more adventure and creativity into my life helped me stop beating myself up and, instead, start taking care of myself - at least half as well as I took care of my kids. It also spurred me to spend more time exploring things that made me happy - like crafting!

After a few years in my PRG, I was fortunate enough to work with a team of moms to bring the materials behind the Personal Renewal Groups to moms everywhere. Our group leader, author and career coach Renee Trudeau, took her work that she developed through her PRGs and created a beautiful book called The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. It's a gorgeously designed month-by-month guide on reconnecting with yourself and creating balance in your life from the inside out.

We're not talking lists and systems on having a cleaner house here. This book is about digging deep and exploring your experiences and expectations around being a mom, and on how to take better care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It sounds like heavy lifting (and it can be at times) but it's the work that I did in my PRGs that really revolutionized how I treat myself and how I view motherhood. I've facilitated my own PRG for the last year with a really fantastic group of women and have loved it.

So now on to the giveaway. You ready yet? The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal and PRGs around the book are a huge grass roots movement to help moms take better care of themselves. If you are looking for a Mother's Day gift, I highly recommend ordering a copy from Renee's web site (don't even get me started on how much Amazon takes from authors) and ask your local bookstores to carry the book.

Next, check out her web site to learn more about the book and Personal Renewal Groups. Then take a look at the downloadable chapter called Month 4 - Managing Your Energy: Setting Your Priorities, Saying No and Asking for Help. Read the chapter - really read it (it's one of my faves). The chapters are short and easy to read. Then leave a comment here with what your favorite way to say no (from the book, or if you have another one to add) is. If you want to enter twice, post about the book and the contest on your blog and link to it in the comments here. You've got to show me you've read the chapter - incomplete comments won't be included in the drawing. I'm going all old-skool teacher on you here!

I'll draw a winner on Mother's Day (Sunday the 11th) and will send that person a copy of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal. Heck, I may even be able to get it signed for ya!

I also have to add my mad crazy love for my fantastic support group of intelligent, funny, supportive, diverse amazing women through the AustinMama Yahoo Group. I couldn't have survived motherhood this far without them! I recently talked with a friend who is pregnant with her first child, and my one bit of advice for her was: find a group of women who support you no matter what, and dig in with them. That community has been my life line.

So how ever you celebrate Mother's Day, just be sure to go easy on yourself and take some time to take care of yourself.

* Lest you think I've had an idyllic writing experience this afternoon, you should know that it's taken me more than three hours to get this post wrapped up, and I've helped him in the bathroom, watched several episodes of Scooby Doo, played some hockey with a play doh lid and eaten fruit cheerios with him. I envy folks who can sit down and complete a task uninterrupted in a huge way!


  1. Have a very happy Mother's Day!!!

  2. I would have to say my favorite is "It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No :)

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  3. Wow! I just read that chapter, and if I don't win the book, I'm definitely going to be buying it soon!

    I'm definitely guilty of allowing myself to commit to to many other things instead of focusing on things that are important to me. Usually when I do that I start to get physically sick (like right now) and I have to reassess and re-prioritize what I enjoy spending time doing, versus what I feel like I should be doing.

    I'm going to definitely look into finding a Personal Renewal Group around here, I was always hesitant leaving my little ones home alone with their daddy, but I'm finding out that's just the control freak in me- I'm slowly starting to let go and ask for his help more and more, and it is rather freeing.

    My favorite way to say no is the "my family is the reason" I use that sucker all the time, and I do feel more relaxed because of it. I'm just going to have to become more adept at executing all of the other ways to say no as well, I think I'd be a much happier and content mama because of it!

    Thanks so much for this post, it's an excellent resource!

  4. I used to use The “My Family is the Reason” all the time. Now I just say "No".


  5. Wow, that chapter really hit home. I still think I'm superwoman (from my before kid days) and sometimes I think that I can still do it all.

    My way of saying no is to NOT volunteer myself. I always want to be involved in activities, helping others, etc. So when my moms group needs volunteers I just don't volunteer myself. Or when my old job calls (i'm work from home and own my own biz) and wants me to come in for a few hours, I say that I'm too busy.

    My biggest challenge is saying no to the internet. *sigh* still working on that one.

    I like the idea of the personal renewal group. How did you start one? I don't know a lot women in my area.

  6. I just blogged about your contest!

  7. Thanks for posting about my quilt...I am honored to be featured!

    Thanks for recommending the book and chapter. How funny that right before reading this post I sent off an email to the organization I volunteer for to tell them that I don't have any time to volunteer for the foreseeable future. I felt so bad to do it, but reading this has helped me feel a little more confident about my decision.

    Thanks again and Happy Mother's Day to you!

  8. That quilt is so beautiful!!! Happy Mother's Day and thank you for the contest!

  9. I think I tend to use the #2 and #3 ways of saying No most often. Since I had kids, I really fear committing to anything and not being able to handle the responsibility. I would hae to let anyone down or disappoint, or heck, make myself look bad! It's not so tough these days, as the girls aren't babies anymore :-) I'm gradually taking more on.

  10. I'm not entering... I just wanted to say what a wonderful and honest post this is! I love the quilt you've highlighted, too... and the end note... oh... so many of us can sympathize. Happy Mother's Day Burb_Mama! (Amy)

  11. Thanks for this post it validates for me the reason I said no to helping the youngest childs teacher tomorrow, for one I have to take care of me.. my husband travels alot so when he's not here the only me time I get is when they are at school.. and I am already stressed with a birthday party this weekend and one next, and mothers day thrown into it all .. I just said no I have an appointment tomorrow, which I do. ITs with ME. thanks for the post again and Happy day to you too! just say NO!

  12. I'm a Just Say No kinda gal but would like to work on being more of a Setting Boundaries mama. One thing I avoid is using the word "can't" when I mean "won't." As the chapter discusses, it's about choice. Yes, I CAN do XYZ that you asked for but at the personal expense of losing ABC and that ABC is more valuable to me at the moment, therefore, I WON'T accept your request.

  13. My favorite way is "the gracious no". I do that all the time.

    The more I say no the easier it gets to say no.

  14. I'm big on the "I'm Sorry No". I guess it helps assuage some of my guilt at having to turn people down. Right now it seems that most frequently I'm turning down my single, non-children-having friends for social invites. Sigh.

  15. Ooh, I use 2, 3, 6, 8, and 9 interchangably. It took a while to learn to say 'no', but once I did, I became, quite obviously, an unstoppable juggernaut of, well, stopping.

    I still overcommit sometimes, but I overcommit to the right people, so I am already invested in finding ways to make something work.

  16. Lovin your blog. I will buy this book for sure, just what I need. I will post some of the sweet vintage embroidered pieces I have inherited on my blogspot next week.

  17. I had the exact same occurrence with my thyroid. Perfectly normal until pregnancy threw it for a loop. Poor thing never recovered and is dying a slow death. Thank God for Synthroid. :) Wonderful post on mothering. Happy Mothers Day to you!


  18. This sounds like a wonderful book, Rachel! I just read chapter 4, and I think the most common way of saying, "No" for me is #3, The "I'm Sorry" No. I tend to be a big guilt carrier, and find it necessary to apologize profusely for having to say no to someone.

    But after reading the chapter, I think I'm going to try out some of the other methods.

    I'm looking forward to reading this book, as I've decided I'll be getting a copy, even if I don't win the giveaway.


  19. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I blogged about your giveaway!

  20. ok, i seriously need this book. i need to work really hard at saying "no", just like amy i'm such a guilt carrier. i always feel bad for saying "no" specially to close relatives but i think i've gotten better at it now i used to almost nver say "no". my husband once told me that i was turning into a pushover.

    i think i'll be getting a copy of the book as well.

    oh, and i love carrie's statement, it is amazing.

  21. Arrived here vis-a-vis Bernadette's blog and glad I did!

    Now that I have kids of school age, I've realized that "fundraising" isn't one of my strengths. I'll shelf books at the school library, arrange flowers on Teacher's Appreciation Day with the best of them... but I can't fundraise. Drawing this boundary's given me the "space" to say "no" in certain situations. I don't tell folks about my line in the sand, just honor it by saying "Wish I could, but I'm just not able to right now. Sounds great, though!"

    You Austin Mamas! Always so smart and cool! I've linked to you, here:

    Enter me in that giveaway!

  22. Happy mothers day!

    For all the "no stop eating play doh!", "But, why did you put gum in your hair?" "Yes every one poops" And "Wait till your Dad gets home!"
    This Give away is great!

    It totally vailidates my choice to stay home with my kids. even if they do shove pasta up their noses and sit on the cats.

  23. I like the setting boundaries no. Just because I cannot accept the assignment they had in mind doesn't mean I cannot contribute. It is a win win. It really keeps my "shoulds" list down....a list I have always had a hard time controlling.

  24. Truthfully, it has take me a long time to say no and then learn how to say it! I say it in different ways according to my two sons ages!
    Now, I am to, that will be your birthday gift or Christmas gift!
    If it is a going somewhere request, I have to explain why they can't go at that particular time. Many thanks for a comforting giveaway. Cindi

  25. Sorry, If I left the wrong kind of
    "NO" response! To the many school, church, committee and club offers, I have learned to say that I am unable to perform at my best right now and if I can't, I won't say yes! Thanks,Cindi


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