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In Real Life

Hello, readers –

So this has been on my mind for a while. I feel like such a fake when people tell me I am so organized or I am so calm. Those things are true some of the time…definitely not an all the time thing.

I have tried to write about motherhood and grace and not being able to do it all on this blog. Yet, I had the nagging feeling it isn’t enough, because what people see in public is very pulled together. The truth is, I am just as big of a mess as all the other mothers who are just trying to float on top of the chaos that is real life with active children.

Our culture has sold us on the idea that we must be happy, be quiet and look good while somehow magically doing it all.  I am guilty of trying to live up to that expectation.  As I journey out of that stereotype, I want to be honest about the whole of me.

We seem to gravitate towards visuals on our devices…we believe what we see. So, I started a new account on Instagram called @irl_mother.

If you want to see what’s behind the organized calm front that goes out the door, please join me and know in your heart of hearts that no one truly has it all together.  Even the most “together” person has something they are hiding and they don’t want you to see…I want to show you my “behind the scenes” so that you can find some peace with yours.

I will be posting at least one IRL picture every day, and doing my part to break down the expectation that mothers must live up to some “fakebook” perfection. If you only like pretty faces on hazy white backdrops, then this account is not for you. If you want to know that you are not alone in your piles of laundry, the dirty dishes, the unswept floors and messy rooms, let’s hang out over on IG together.

Follow my new account on Instagram:


A post shared by Krystyna Bowman (@irl_mother) on

A photo in my hiding place…the bathroom

Europe 2018 Fundraiser

Note from Puma, Night Owl, Charger and Otter:

We are embarking on an exciting adventure as a family in 2018.  All four of us are participating in a tour through Europe that will allow us to expand our horizons as we experience new cultures and languages. In addition to the educational opportunities, we will also be performing with our dance troupe, The Christian Dance Company, as we travel through several countries over the two-week trip in June.

Our Itinerary:

  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Lucerne, Switzerland – Dance Performance
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Venice, Italy – Dance Performance (on a raked stage!)
  • Salzburg, Austria – Dance Performance
  • Hallstatt, Austria
  • Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
  • Prague, Czech Republic – Dance Performance

To help us achieve our fundraising goal, we are reaching out to the our audience and  inviting you to sponsor us on our trip.

  • Puma is now 13 years old. She is the current Dance Masters of American National PAC Solo Winner, placing first in her 2017 age group (9-12 years old).  Night Owl is 10 years old.  He and Ysabella are the current Dance Masters of American National PAC Duo/Trio Winners, placing first in their 2017 age group (9-12 years old).  Charger is 8 years old.  Otter is 6 years old.  All four of us participated in our church talent show and are the winners for our performance of “When The Saints Go Marching In”.  If you would like to see us dancing, please email our mom and she would be happy to send you some private links to view us in action on stage:

Image: JLeigh Photography


There are three ways you can help us if you feel called to do so:

  • Save us your clear plastic bottles and aluminum cans. We will happily pick them up and trade you some home-baked cookies as a thank you for your collection efforts that we can sort and turn into cash. Text our mom when you are ready for a pick up (Krystyna cell: 602-684-6567).
  • Buy a World’s Finest Chocolate Bar from us – we are selling them on the last Sunday of the month at our church, or at our dance studio on Saturdays. Bars are $1/each and come in 5 flavors: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Caramel, Crisp, and Almond. Text our mom for the address and let us know what to save for you (Krystyna cell: 602-684-6567).
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to our studio through The Christian Dance Company, as it is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our dance director will earmark your donation towards our tuition for the Europe trip. Anyone who makes a tax-deductible donation will be listed on our sponsor tee-shirt that we wear as we travel through Europe.  Email our mom and she will send you the mailing address (


  • If we use your products already, we will make sure our audience knows it – we are not asking for free or discounted products. We will call you out on our social media as we travel across Europe rehearsing and traveling in your line of dance wear. We are on Instagram (@sweetpeafamilies), Twitter (@sweetpeafams), Facebook, and our mom will be blogging about our experience when we arrive home (
  • Your sponsorship can be made as a tax-deductible donation to “The Christian Dance Company”, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization at our studio. Our dance director will earmark your donation towards our tuition for the Europe trip. Email our mom and she will send you the mailing address (
  • Our sponsors will be listed on our sponsor tee-shirt that we wear while travel through Europe. If you decide to be one of our sponsors, please email your logo, as well as a release form to print your logo, to our mom at:


Thank you in advance for your consideration.  We are looking forward to experiencing this trip together as a family, and we appreciate your support to make this an adventure to remember.

Getting our sillies out for our photographer, Nancy Hall from Still n Motion Picture Company. We promise not to post too many silly pictures from the road!!

The Short Story

I married an entrepreneur. I knew this going into our marriage. He happened to be in an upcycle when we met – his business was growing, he was moving and shaking, the business grew – it was sold – money was abundant.

There came a period of introspection. Learning. Trying something different. It was good – but it didn’t feed his soul. Sprinkled in there were little comments that we were living outside of our means. It didn’t click until I saw that his stress levels were going up the longer he financed our lifestyle.

A little sub-text in the story was the unbelievable election cycle in 2016. I had this nagging feeling we had to cut everything loose just in case we wanted to be free to go anywhere in the world. I knew it would be hard to walk away from our comfortable home if we had a mortgage on it.

Then one night,  I told him the craziest thing I never imagined saying: Let’s sell it all. Let’s get rid of all the burden so you can create again.

Even though it killed me to say it, and it took me a long time to get there, I said it. I meant it…I know that the creative spirit is bound by temporal things, and I couldn’t stand to see my husband unhappy.  I couldn’t imagine how to invest in a start-up while having to contend with all our bills. We sold our vacation home in the Rim Country, we sold our beautiful home in the metro area, we cut back on all the extras that were a luxury. Thankfully, we were still able to provide all the extra-curricular activities for our beloved Sweet Pea Kids.

As the Master Planner would have it, there was a job offer for a start-up in Boston that came along around that time – selling everything made sense. Then that offer didn’t come through as we had hoped, however we were still in a place of having the flexibility to do whatever we wanted to do for our family. There was serious talk about moving overseas after the election results. I was tying up loose ends, continuing the purge process, and researching different places we might want to travel with the children.

Then a new door opened.

“Whatever” came along about a month after my husband walked away from the Boston opportunity.  After he did a few months of business consulting, we are “all in”. There have been months of travel to a different city. Single-mom status during the week. Quick hellos between the crazy weekend schedule we keep. Slowly finding ways for him to be home more and travel less as the company moves it’s home-base to Phoenix.

We have also learned to appreciate abundance in all things – our good health, our loving family, making joyful memories, the time when all six of us enjoy a meal at the dining room table without having to be anywhere else.

And we are happy. We listened to the still, small voice that was telling us to let go and trust God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind.  I am glad we listened. I can’t wait to see where we go next.

Here are some quotes that remind us why we embrace the entrepreneur lifestyle. And to borrow a line from baseball, “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low”.

Image credit ~
Penny Chenery Quote:
Secretariat Image:

World Kindness Day

This is a guest post submitted by Alexandria Heinz from FTD Florist.  I feel that the three images she shared go well with our commitment to attachment  parenting. The third image speaks to me of self-love, a practice that allows time for the “me” that needs to be honored in order to find the Peaceful Mama that we love and adore in our home.

Wishing you a beautiful day as you spread kindness in your corner of the world <3

World Kindness Day is a beautiful day each year where people around the world set aside their differences and go out of their way to be kind to one another. This a perfect time to show your family how much they mean to you. This can be by simply setting aside an extra hour of the day to spend time with them or giving them random compliments.

To help inspire ways that you can spread kindness this November 13th, our friends over at FTD have compiled 30 of the best kindness quotes around. They even included a printable card that you can write your own message on! Enjoy.


Finding Solutions

I keep waiting for life to get simpler.  We have downsized – we have simplified.  Or so I thought.

Then comes the last-minute rush to get out of the house and I realize that we really have a LONG way to go.

“Where is my (insert item here)?” 

“Who has seen my (I need it now here)?” 

“What do you mean you still haven’t packed your dinner or filled your water bottle?!?!”


It can become overwhelming.

One of the mantras we are working on that I have borrowed from the Birthing From Within classes that I mentor: NEXT BEST THING. It fits in with the idea of focusing on solutions instead of berating our children for not being ready…again.

What is the next best thing we can do in this situation?  Our answer has been to make a checklist so that we have a clear vision of what has to happen to get out of the house without anyone having a meltdown.

Puma and I are taking turns making “Get Out Of The House” checklists on our whiteboard.  This is going well when we use it.  We put it up the night before or in the morning.

Putting it up the night before lets them start getting used to the idea of planning ahead. And now, when the kiddos have break in during our homeschool day, they get to start working through their checklist. And then they can get back to playing when it’s not their turn with me.


This is a Wednesday morning board – we are gone all day between their enrichment program and the dance studio; and soccer in this season!!

I am enjoying seeing Puma take charge of this project – I did the first two and she has pretty much taken over the rest. Every once in a while I get to sneak in a chart if I make it before she wakes up in the morning 🙂

It is great for each of the children to take some responsibility for their part in getting out of the house without anyone breaking down in tears, present party included. They can look at the board and figure out what they still need to do and have the pride of getting it done and checked off the list. I am a big fan of seeing them build self-esteem from personal accomplishment.

It helps me feel less overwhelmed, the “I have to do it all” feeling that I find self-defeating and pitiful. Having the markers right there on the board so each Sweet Pea can take charge of their destiny is amazing.  They help, I can take care of what I need to in a timely manner, and we are leaving early which makes our time-driven children VERY happy.

And who knows…if they take after their father and design the latest and greatest in software, they better get used to using whiteboards and dry-erase markers.  This is a good start!

Wordless Wednesday

Here is some fun from a Phoenix Zoo Trip with our SPB friends – we went to see the Dino In The Desert exhibit; plus the lions were putting on a show of their own!









We love early mornings @phoenixzoo – we got to hear the lions this morning 😍🦁

A post shared by Sweet Pea Families (@sweetpeafamilies) on


Parenting Forward


I recently met with a student who was having a hard time reconciling her mother’s instinct with the pressures from family and friends to parent in a more socially acceptable way.  We had a long, heartfelt talk, and here are some of the “heart-lights” we had that I want to share with you.

If nothing else, remember that you alone are responsible for your child.  You have to live with them, you alone will bear the joy and the guilt of all your decisions. Acknowledging and accepting that, know that trusting your instinct is right and worthy.

Parenting with the end goal in mind looks different than parenting decisions made for immediate behavior modification.  Yelling when it’s not an emergency, hitting, slapping, intimidation, etc., will probably get your child to stop doing what they are doing or get them to do what you want them to do against their will. Taking the time to think about why you are seeing this behavior, asking ourselves if there is a way to change their focus or solve a problem takes time…and if your child is having a full-blown public nuclear meltdown, it may activate our own issues with “being a good/bad parent” or attracting attention, or our stories about acceptance and rejection.

It can be so hard to parent what I call the “long way” when your child is acting out. It is much easier to bargain, bribe, or force the outcome that is easiest in the short term.  Going the long way means letting them cry or tantrum in public, taking the time to ask questions and listen to your child, try to figure out exactly what they need or find a solution, and then patiently see it through so that interactions are loving and peaceful. It may mean changing our plans and trying again another day.

Speaking specifically to the times when our children get loud, the goal of parent intervention is to stop the tears or the tantrum.  We have stories deeply ingrained in our culture about parents who can’t control their children, and therein lies one of the problems. It is a mindful decision to treat them as little humans with their own set of feelings and desires, instead of chattel to control or do our will.

In my mind, the first thing we can examine as a culture is this idea of needing to control children.  Why not start with changing the paradigm? Instead of “children that behave” why not shift the focus to “adults that can make decisions”? It means acknowledging that children are human beings that are going to need to learn to navigate life, with all its ups and downs.

When we start to parent with the idea that our children need to be equipped to be whole, loving, and capable humans when they leave our home, it may drastically change the reasons why we chose to do or not to do when the time comes to teach them the lessons that come with the situations that challenge them.  With that mind, it gives us permission to parent them per what we feel is best for them. Each child is ready for different milestones at different times.

Here are some of the different areas of disagreement with heart-led parenting versus socially-based parenting that came up in our discussion.

Some children are ready to sleep on their own before they are a year old, other children need the warmth and comfort of a parent or sibling into early childhood or the elementary years. Would it help you to know that in other cultures, they consider our practice of tucking children in to sleep by themselves is considered neglectful and sad for the child? Read THIS article or THIS article by Dr. James McKenna on The Natural Child Project site, and THIS one on (warning: the title is a bit abrasive).

Oh the places you could go with this topic.  Here is the information on the side of extended breastfeeding if that is your choice…

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children are breastfed at least until 6 months old, and to continue breastfeeding after that point – link HERE.

Drs. Melissa Bartick and Arnold Reinhold published a STUDY in March 2010 with these findings: If 90% of new mothers in the USA were breastfed just to the six-month mark, it would save $13 billion in healthcare and other costs – read more about that HERE

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until a child is two years old…really!! Read their statement HERE

So there are three huge pros in your corner if you want to breastfeed, and continue past the 12-month “normal”.  I hope you are encouraged to follow your own rhythm when it comes to breastfeeding your Sweet Pea.

This is the age of mindful eating. We know there are inflammatory foods (list HERE), we know the benefits of probiotics (links HERE and HERE), we know that when offered healthy food,  children will eat it (read THIS fascinating study).  It is okay to trust that if you consistently put healthy choices in front of your child, they will not starve, and they will eat healthy food.

So what if you don’t eat out at fast food restaurants, or it takes you five minutes to place your child’s order at a restaurant? You alone are your child’s advocate until they know what is good for them and know how to place their own order.  And you will be so proud of seeing their healthy food choices and their awesome physical health when you see how they compare to their peers.  They will spend more time in the classroom and less time in the doctor’s office when they eat healthy, whole food.  It is worth it!!

Behavior modification:
Another loaded discussion.  I would invite you to trust your mama bear instinct here.  Also, try to address your own hang-ups about being a “good” parent and/or giving and receiving love.

This came roaring to a head for us when Otter was three years old.  She went through this phase of hitting me when she was angry…and one day when I was tired and worn down and I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth, “When you hit me, it makes me feel like you don’t love me.”  That came from a deep and old place, a story that I had from my past. It validated why I do not want to hit our children, and made me even more dedicated to the theory of “gentle parenting”.

Here are some of my favorite parenting resources for you to explore:

Laura Markham – aha! parenting – gentle parenting resource

Janet Lansbury – gentle parenting resource

L.R. Knost – Little Hearts – gentle parenting resource

Positive Discipline – great ideas to help set boundaries and keep them without intimidation

Five Love Languages – discover what moves your family members, and then love them the way that speaks to their heart


What are your thoughts?  What are other areas you feel heart-led about and you find hard to talk about or outright disagreements with your family or friends?


Breastfeeding Beyond the Fifth


Otter and I in 2015 – she is three years old in this picture. Image: Erin Rudd Photography

I have been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to share this part of our breastfeeding journey most of the summer.  It is hard to talk about breastfeeding beyond the first year in our US culture, let alone past the second birthday and beyond.

Otter and I have been nursing since her birth-day in October 2011. So that is now 5 years and 10 months…and we are still going.  She tells me that we are going to be nursing until she turns seven.  I am not so sure about that. She just lost her first baby tooth, and in my mind we were going to go until this point in her development.  Most mammals nurse their young until they lose their milk teeth, otherwise known as baby teeth in humans.

Did I ever imagine I would breastfeed a child this long?

Absolutely not! Never in my wildest imaginations did I ever think it was even possible. When I heard that people nursed into a child’s seventh year, I thought NOT ME. It’s crazy, it’s gross, it’s weird…yes, I thought all those things, too.

How did we get here?

Puma and I nursed until she was 22 months old.  She weaned on her own, it was an easy process.  We cut out one feeding at a time when she was around 18 months old. I happened to get pregnant around that time and she didn’t like the way the milk was tasting anyway.  After our miscarriage, she carried on as before, nursing 2-3 times a day. Then one night, she said she wanted to go to sleep without nursing, and that was it.  A couple of weeks later, she asked to nurse again; I said no because I assumed all the milk was gone.  Come to find out, it’s possible I may have made milk for her.  As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Night Owl nursed until he was around 18 months old. I stopped nursing him when I got pregnant with Charger. I tried to keep nursing through the pregnancy. My OB did not support that choice, and since we had already had a miscarriage, I didn’t want to take any chances with having more contractions. I was feeling them pretty much every time we nursed…so wean we did. It broke my heart – I knew he could use the boost of extra antibodies through the winter months, and I felt like I had to choose between breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Along came Charger…he was almost two years old and still nursing when I got pregnant with Otter.  I assumed he would naturally lose interest as Puma had when the flavor of the milk changed as my pregnancy progressed. I was wrong.  I could tell he wasn’t ready to wean – I tried all the things that had worked when I weaned Night Owl: replace the sessions with play time, or other food, or snuggle time.  He would take those options, and then insist on nursing after we had finished whatever we were doing to distract him.

I was definitely having contractions when we nursed again. Two years after our first experience of trying to nurse through a pregnancy, I had met people who had been able to and not miscarry. (Thank you, La Leche League!) This time around, armed with more knowledge, I made up a mantra that I would repeat as I started nursing to remind my body that the oxytocin I was making was for nursing, not for labor. Thankfully, it worked and the cramping during nursing sessions subsided.

He was still nursing when my milk changed to colostrum.  I could tell because all of a sudden he was having newborn-like diapers. YUCK when you are pregnant and you are changing toddler amounts of seedy, yellow, mushy poops.

He did tell me once that the milk tasted salty. I asked him if he was ready to stop then, and he just said, “No,” and kept on nursing.  Then came the mad scramble on my end – how was I going to feed two children at the same time? (set boundaries and expectations) Will there be enough milk for both children? (YES) Clearly the milk was adjusting to feed the newborn…would he still want the milk after the baby was born? (YES)

Thankfully, my wonderful La Leche League leaders helped me prepare and navigate tandem nursing. One of the leaders who had tandem nursed prepared me that the milk for the baby was going to be very creamy and full of fat again, and that most older nurslings LOVE to nurse again after the newborn milk comes in. This helped me set the boundaries and expectations that worked for us…after he ignored me for two days after his sister was born, he was right back to nursing without any hesitation.

We made some great memories as a tandem nursing family – as the sweet peas got older, they had quite the time telling each other when it was each other’s turn, and sometimes they made “reservations” to nurse on a particular “side”.  Hilarious. They usually took turns – I wasn’t crazy about having them nurse at the same time. We do have some Kodak moments captured of the few times they did happen to nurse together – for that I am grateful. Any way you look at it, I now understand the term “bosom friends” in a different light. Those two children remain close to this day.

Charger ended up nursing through his fifth birthday. At that time, I felt confident that I had honored his desire to nurse. He still wanted to keep going, however, he accepted that his fifth birthday was the time to end this part of our journey. I sure did miss the added immunity boost he got from breastfeeding. He was more sick that winter than he had ever been before.  The first time he got sick, I actually did nurse him and he recovered pretty quickly. It seems like there might have been an emotional component to healing without breastfeeding. Once we reminded him that he had a very strong immune system thanks to the years of breastfeeding, he seemed to stop getting sick so often. To this day he continues to make a quicker recovery when he is sick.

If you are doing the math, Otter was almost three years old when he weaned. She was kind of happy at first – both breasts all to herself…and then she was sad when she realized she and Charger were really not going to share in breastfeeding anymore.

Two things influenced my decision to allow Otter to self-wean. After seeing the remorse Charger had at being “forced” to wean at five, I did not want to make her have an end date. I also got to see a presentation by Dr. Nils Bergman in which he taught the biology of breastfeeding across mammals. He is the one who pointed out that the majority of mammals nurse their young until they loose their milk teeth, aka “baby teeth”.  LIGHTBULB. Okay, so now I really understood that nursing a human child until their the sixth or seventh birthday made sense from an evolutionary biological level.

Is nursing an older child like nursing a newborn or a toddler? 

Not in our case. Newborns nurse around the clock.  Around 6-8 months of age, most human children develop an interest in eating what is known as “solid food”. At that point, they breastfeed first, then try the solid food, and top off with breastfeeding to make sure they have gotten enough nutrients for that meal. We never stressed about what our children ate. We love that mantra that comes from the baby-led weaning crowd, “Food before one is just for fun.”

Around the first birthday, we would naturally lose a breastfeeding session as our children went from two naps a day to one. Then you drop some sessions around meal times as they become better eaters. As they start to move more and become toddlers, the interest decreases again. Our toddlers (18+ months) would nurse upon waking in the morning and before bedtime; anything in between was incidental: tired, overstimulated, injured, etc.

Somewhere between the second and third birthday, we told the sweet peas that they could only nurse at home. I was always willing to honor our children’s need/desire to breastfeed, however I was not willing to push social norms outside our home.

We kept to this morning/evening pattern until Charger and Otter were four years old.  At four, they had to choose: nurse upon waking or nurse at bedtime. At this point, any nursing during the day was as a last resort because all other comfort methods had failed.

I noticed that Otter’s pattern changed when she was 5.5 years old. She would go 2-3 days without nursing, and then ask again. I will always tell her, you can try and see what happens.  So far, she has always gotten milk.  How long will this last? I have no idea.

Why would anyone breastfeed this long?

For us, the benefits far outweigh being an outlier on the social norms scale.  The ones we have enjoyed are the bond between mother and child, the seemingly endless enjoyment of food and willingness to eat a large variety of flavors, and the immunity boost that lasts throughout the breastfeeding relationship (and beyond in Charger’s case).

I love this image from The Alpha Parent that outlines the many benefits of breastfeeding into the toddler years:

Little boy (2-3) with bare chest, arms up, portrait


What does my husband think?

He supports this choice. There is no way we would have breastfed Charger as long as he was, or continue breastfeeding Otter this long, without his support. It meant he had to be mature enough not to feel jealous of the children, which he always has been, thank God. In addition, he very readily accepted that my breasts were not “his” or the children’s.  They were MY breasts, and they could be used to feed our children, and still be sexy when we had our time together.

Is the choice right for every family? My guess is probably not, even though it would be lovely if more children were fed until at least the second birthday if circumstances allowed. If it is something you are mulling around and you would like more information,  I would be happy to help if I can.  Please leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Other blog posts I have written about our extended breastfeeding journey:

Our Journey Into Tandem Nursing May 2012 intro about our chosen path

Still Tandem Nursing August 2012 update

Tandem Nursing – Extended  July 2013 update

My Take on Toddler Nursing – Today August 2013 photojournal of “gymnurstics”…thank goodness that was only a phase!

Breastfeeding a Toddler  August 2015 Otter was four years old and my only nursling at this point

Nursing By Example: The power of peer-to-peer support

Nursing a Toddler: Benefits, and why it’s good to follow your instincts and your children’s cues

Extended Breastfeeding: the science behind why it’s beneficial

Breastfeeding & Tandem Nursing: Encouraging parents to follow the right path for their family



Thoughtful Thursday: Dance Drama

As we enter a new season of dance, I feel compelled to write a little something about the drama that plays out after every audition season.  And believe me when I tell you that I have had to bite my tongue and sit on my hands…because I do not want to be one of “those” parents. So this is a reminder for me, and hopefully if even one parent who finds themselves getting wrapped up in their children’s activities can get a little peace of mind, then my intention with this post is fulfilled.

I see this every dance season: (mostly) mothers who are comparing notes as they receive their children’s schedules, complaining to the other mothers, asking their children why someone is in a class and they are not, going to the studio directors and asking after their children and their placement.

Number one: Your children have no idea why other dancers are the classes they are in.  Leave them alone.  Dance at it’s most primal element is an expression of emotion (joy when you are a child)…so let them revel in the joy of dancing.

Number two: When you hound the teachers, you become one of “those” moms. Do you really want to be one of “those” moms?

Number three: This is not about you. If you enrolled your children in dance classes to fulfill one of your childhood ambitions, then you are doing both of you a disservice. Children who feel pressured to do something will probably do one of two things: quit when they are ready to claim a little independence; or if they stay in it to keep you happy they may suffer the ill effects of stress: illness, injury, depression. What is this childhood ambition of yours really worth?


Here is the thing: if your child went through an audition process to be placed, their instructor saw them.  They see where they are today, and if you have history with the school, then likely, they have seen them the last 2-3 years.

Leave the schedule be. Even mindful teachers sometimes overlook children through the audition process, and when that happens then they will move your child into the correct placement. That is the key: THEY do it.  “They” as in the teacher, and “they” as in the child. You stay on the “cool parents” list, and your child has the joy of accomplishment as their progress is recognized and they on their own merit, get to move up to the next level.  When the child moves up on their own merit, they are not the kid whose mother got them in the class (people talk…both parents and children).  When a child does the work and gets promoted on their ability, the child knows they earned it themselves. Hence, the opportunity for a huge milestone on their journey to build self-esteem.

This is what it all comes down to in my book: either you trust your child’s instructors, or you don’t.  If you trust them, then deep down you can come to the realization that maybe your expectations for your child do not match their abilities “for now”. If you feel like the teachers are not doing their job or are not judging your child fairly, then by all means find another dance school that is a better fit for your family.

Bear in mind that “for now” doesn’t mean forever, it doesn’t mean for always…just for now.  Even though it digs at me sometimes, I have to go back to my mantra: I would rather see my child in the front line of a lower-level class, instead of pushing them up to the next level where they are relegated to the back line and lower self-esteem because they can’t quite keep up just yet.

I am not suggesting that you do not allow your child to goal-set.  Here is an idea if there is a class in which your child would like to participate, or you want them in.  Instead of appealing to the teacher to admit them, ask the teacher what the child needs to work on to be promoted to that next level. Then, if your child wants to, bring them in to the school a few minutes earlier so that they can work on those skills before classes start. I have seen other families hire some of the senior students help coach…that works, too, as long as it’s a child-led desire to do the extra classes to improve.

We have also seen our children flourish when they perform solos or small group numbers.  It allows them to receive more individualized instruction. In addition, a mindful teacher will choreograph a routine that plays to the child’s strengths while also putting in some sequences that challenge them to grow.

So trust the process, mama and papa. If you want your child to love dancing, then take them to class, feed them well, ensure they get plenty of sleep, keep them in shoes that fit, and enjoy watching them grow in the art of dancing. For grow they will, in their skills and their love for dance.

For tips on finding a good school, click HERE.

P.S. This is the cool part…when you leave your kids and their teachers alone, and you just sit on your hands and close your mouth because you trust the teachers and your trust their process…amazing things can happen.  One wish: your child becomes an amazing artist who is poetry in motion.

We had the honor of watching a very cool and collected Puma win not one, not two, but five national first place awards at the Dance Masters of America National Convention. Two for her solo, two for her duo with Night Owl, and one with her small group. She is a child who was “passed over” year after year as other children around her age were advanced. I trusted the process and stayed the course, trusting that her instructors are amazing, caring and capable people, and that they would move her when she was ready. Our beautiful, self-confident child reaped the rewards of HER hard work and dedication because SHE cared and did if from a self-drive to succeed. So very proud of her. For my part, thankful for the wisdom that comes with maturity. Because God knows that it took a lot for me to be still.


Fessin’ Up

I want to take a minute to make something very clear because two people have made comments along the same thread in the same week.

My base belief is that those of us who choose to function in society are doing the best we can with what we have.  I try not to judge myself against others because the other thought I remind myself is that no one is perfect. We are all disorganized somewhere, and some are just better at hiding it than others. 

I am writing today as a reminder: When you look at someone, try not to assume that they have it all together or judge yourself for not doing enough…because unless people “fess up” like I am about to do, then they may look like they are, “doing it all”. In reality they are just getting along as best they can like everyone else.

Comment 1: “You had time to make dinner for all your kids?”
Because mama saw me at the dance studio with our little IKEA bento boxes at the studio, which our kiddos take because we hate buying fast food.

Answer: Our nannies cook. I make sandwiches and cut fruits and vegetables. When the nannies pack the boxes, there are meals in them. When I pack the boxes, there is *cold* nutritious food in them.

Comment 2: “How are you doing? Because you give, give, give and I want to make sure you are taking care of you.”
From a friend of the family we see on a weekly basis and who we interact with professionally in our birth classes. He sees what I do on social media and all the events we host/attend.

Answer: I am doing great. You know why? Because my amazing husband works his a** off for our family, and we make the choices that allow us to afford 2 **amazing** nannies that do all the cooking and the laundry, or at least 95% of it. Which frees up my brain and my time to do everything I love to do, which is give to our family by homeschooling, and to our community by teaching classes and promoting or attending events that support pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the family.

AND AND AND all our children are out of diapers AND they are all potty trained. It’s hard to understand just how momentous that is until you see a mom up to her eyeballs in babies and toddlers (that of course she loves very much, just like I loved our children so very much when we were in that stage). “No diapers, no accidents” is such a huge new milestone I am finally embracing; instead of grieving the fact that I will never birth again.

So even though I put on a good front, I have a huge amount of support that makes it all work…pretty well on most days.  If I am tired, I get snappy; if I am sad I cry, just like every other human parent out in the world.  Since we’re doing true confessions here…sometimes it gets worse than that. I had a meltdown in a parking lot last May and I was reminded of my humanity again in February of this year.

Just like many of you, I have days when I am completely overwhelmed, and I have days when I am filled with joy…sometimes in the same day. What is amazing is that as our children grow, they are helping more and that makes it all worth it. They are starting to take ownership for their part in making our family run smoothly, and they are funny and giving and helpful. They are also putting us through growing pains again as we are approaching the teen years. I love it all and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 There is one more thing I want to add: aside from all the earthly support and help that I have, I have an awesome God.  He lights every step of my journey on a daily basis.  I have lived through dark days when I tried to run away from my faith. Then I was welcomed joyfully back and have walked with the Holy Spirit in my heart every day since then.  I am by no means perfect, however I know that I am loved. That makes it all worthwhile and so very doable.