Harvesting Good Food and Good Memories

kaylyn watering at rrFor my birthday, wanted to keep it simple, celebrate with my family, and give thanks for the abundant support I receive in so many areas.   I went to a “pick your own” working farm and kid-exploring paradise.

It was a lovely day spent with my daughters and my dad. We went to Miller Farms and took a hayride around 180 acres of pick your own vegetables. I like getting my hands dirty, getting lots of good produce, and helping my daughters know where their food really comes from.playing at Miller Farms
Now we just have to process or store all the cabbage, carrots, onions, leaks, kale, swiss chard, peppers, and potatoes we brought home. Getting food from the fields doesn’t really help unless you know what to do with it.  Luckily, some things are really simple.
Potatoes will keep for months in a cool, dry, dark place.
Kale and swiss chard can easily be frozen. Blanching first will make it last longer.
A bit more involved but still simple is turning cabbage into sauerkraut. The live enzymes of lacto-fermented veggies are good for digestion (which in turn is good for clear thinking and balanced emotions). 
Here are the sauerkraut basics with more details available at http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sauerkraut-2/
  • Cut, chop, or shred the cabbage leaving out any moldy, rotten or bruised bits.
  • Use a bowl, crock, or canning jar to pack the shredded cabbage.
  • Sprinkle a layer of cabbage 1/2 – 1″ thick.
  • Sprinkle a salt generously over the top of the cabbage.
  • Repeat cabbage, salt, cabbage, salt packing down with your fist or a tamper periodically.
  • Fill your container.
  • Put a plate or other covering over the top.
  • Weight the plate (a jar full of water works) to keep the cabbage below water level (water comes out of the cabbage but if there isn’t enough liquid to submerge the cabbage after a day or so, add some salt water that is about as salty as tears).
  • Check the ‘kraut every couple of days.
  • Eat it when you like it.
Put it in the fridge to slow down fermentation and make it last longer.
Kassandra Brown is a coach based in Boulder, CO.
making sauerkraut from http://p-fst2.pixstatic.com/52002742fb04d604c60057d2._w.540_s.fit_.jpg

Teens and Online Privacy

Lately, there has been chatter regarding our youth’s preoccupation with devices and how they are living a distracted life. Parents read stories about cyberbullying, Internet addiction, Smartphone obsessions, sexting, and the oversharing of personal information. Parents will eventually find themselves questioning a teen’s right to privacy in our hyper connected society.

However, we need to take a step back and consider our own relationship with devices. It is always easier to control our own behavior rather than correct a child’s. Ultimately, we want to carefully consider the message we are sending our children and teens.

8 Ways to Protect Your Kids from the Techno Trap

Here are 8 steps to approach technology that convey a positive relationship with our devices to our children:

Unplug during family time. It is important to power down during family meals, activities, and conversations. Give teens and children your whole attention and send the message that they are more valuable than a text message.

Avoid using your Smartphone while driving. We all know how dangerous it is to text or surf messages while behind the wheel. If you don’t follow your own advice, you can’t expect a child too.

Put down your phone and be active. Take a walk, pick up gardening, hobby or activity that doesn’t require battery life or data.

Limit the amount of time you are online. Display a healthy relationship with technology by shutting it down. Try to set aside time each day to relax or work without the soft glow of a screen.

Start open conversations about technology and Social Media issues. Ask questions and listen to your teen. If they notice you are not hiding concerns they might be willing to voice their opinions freely.

Avoid Social Media blowups. We all have “those” friends who have no filter and post anything they want. Often, a verbal fighting match erupts over taboo topics like politics, religion, homeschooling, and anti-vaccines. Lead by example and refrain from these types of posts.

Don’t expect your teen to avoid game apps, trendy apps, or online shopping if you frequent the sites. Lead by example and do as you say. Actions always speak louder than words.

Discuss and model Social Media etiquette. Be careful what you post online and make sure it’s always positive. Avoid racy or derogative comments. Above all, be mindful that your teen might see anything you post!

Amy Williams



The full content of Amy’s article is available here

The Healing Power of the Seasons

Fall feels like it’s fully arrived inside me as well as outside my window.

Autumn is a time of harvesting the fruits of the previous season, getting ready for winter and the dark season, and letting go of things that are ready to die.

Fall leaves remind us of the wisdom of cycles - letting go, hibernating, and rebirthing.
Fall leaves remind us of the wisdom of cycles – letting go, hibernating, and rebirthing.

Fall leaves are a great reminder of the cycles of the seasons. The leaves that were green just a month ago have turned brown, yellow and red. They are falling off the trees in droves. They remind me that just because it’s time to let go of something now doesn’t mean that it was useless or I never should have had it in the first place.

The dance of letting in and letting go continues constantly throughout life. Sometimes the cycle is as short as a breath – breathing in and breathing out. Sometimes the cycle is as long as an entire life – birth into this human body and death to leave it. In between the two are countless cycles within cycles as we learn to dance with intimacy. Do we keep someone – our children, spouse, partner, parent, lover, or friend – from touching us deeply? Do we keep love at arm’s length for fear of losing it? Or do we let them in? Do we open our hearts to the most vulnerable experiences of joy and love knowing that these, like everything in our cyclical lives, will pass?

Taking our cues from the trees, we can find comfort in the repetition of the cycles. We must let go of the old to allow it to compost and create space for new growth.

This is true in parenting as we let go of the ways of connecting that worked with our child in the previous season. As our children grow they let go of breastfeeding to make room for more independence. Comforting with a lap and snuggles without warm milk and suckling is a transition, a letting go. My younger daughter still wants a hug and a kiss before I leave her at our homeschool coop. My older daughter doesn’t want to be seen touching me by her friends. Where she used to want me with her constantly, she now says “See ya” from 5 feet away and turns around to talk to other kids.

Relationships grow and evolve, closeness ebbs and flows.

Like the tide coming into shore, relationships ebb and flow.
Like the tide coming into shore, relationships ebb and flow.

Our relationships to our children, ourselves, work, our homes, partners and friends all change over time. When we insist that they stay constant, we set ourselves and others up for disappointment and suffering. One of the challenges of being a parent is to both set good boundaries and allow our children the freedom to grow and evolve. Mindfulness, reflection, quiet time, parts work, and “being with what is” are all great tools to allow the cycles of nature to teach and hold us, in times of closeness and in times of separation.

Kassandra Brown is a coach based in Boulder, CO.

Recipes for fall – Sunflower Seed Pate

Today I’m inspired to share a little recipe that’s a good source of vegan protein. I’m not vegan, but I’m feeding some friends who are tomorrow night. I eat very little soy and another friend who’s joining us doesn’t eat beans. Coming up with a main dish that works for all of us (and tastes good) is a bit tricky. Luckily yet another friend has this recipe for…

Sunflower Seed Pate

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (available in health food stores)
  • 3 t parsley
  • 1 1/2 t basil
  • 1 t thyme
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 cup potato, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 T tamari, Bragg’s or soy sauce

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all dry ingredients. Grate potato and rinse thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients stirring in the potato last. Oil a 9″ pie pan and spread pate evenly. Turn oven down to 350F, put the pate in, and bake 35-45 minutes until golden brown. May be served hot, warm, cool, or cold. Let cool to set completely.

That’s the recipe. I’ve made it before only preheating to 350F and not rinsing the potato. As far as I can tell, it still worked great. This recipe can be doubled or halved any number of times to make the right amount. Freezes and reheats pretty well.

The spices are all dried. If using fresh, double the amounts and then decrease the amount of water slightly so that the pate is a thick paste consistency before you bake it.

As a bonus, here are some salad dressings. One of them will feature on a chopped and massaged kale and collards salad tomorrow.

Miso Ginger Salad Dressing

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3T  light miso
  • 1 1/2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 1 T honey
  • 3 T warm water

Shake in a ball jar with a tight fitting lid then add

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup oil

Sunflower Soy Dressing

  • 1 1/2 soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds

That’s the recipe. Again I’ll probably mess with it. I like to add tahini or sesame seeds and garlic then decrease the oil by about half and add some water.

Let me know if you try any of them and if you like them.

Thanks to Anthony Barrett and Alyssa Martin for the recipes.

Homemade Granola Bars

Like all mothers, I want to feed my children well. I’ve spent many hours in the kitchen and many more hours in my head trying to figure out the right diet. We’ve tried many things – no dairy, no wheat, vegetarian, raw, GAPS diet, making our own cheese and butter, making our own fermented veggies, making kombucha and water kefir for probiotics – the list goes on.

Food is a big deal for most parents. So to make life a bit easier and let you know you’re not alone, I’m going to post recipes and tips from time to time. If you like these posts, let me know and I’ll do it more often.

By special request from my friend Bobbie, here is a recipe for no bake granola bars.  I like them without the chocolate, but my kids favorite part (surprise!) is the chocolate chips.

Everything tastes better and is better for the environment when it is local and organic. Organic food is often grown with more care and fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers making it better for the land, the farmers who grow it, and you. Plus it really does taste better most of the time – so go for it when you can.

  • 4 cups rolled oats (quick are my favorite but any thickness will do)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sorghum, maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tsp salt

You can just throw everything in a big bowl, mix as long as you can with a spoon and then use your hands. We do it that way often.

Slightly easier is to mix the peanut butter, sorghum, and coconut oil (it becomes a liquid at about 80 degrees F). Mix all the dry ingredients together and then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients.

Vary the recipe to your taste, pat the mix into a 9×13 pan and refrigerate. They will harden into bars that keep nearly indefinitely at cooler temperatures.




Quality Time Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Use the chart below and the tips which follow to figure out if you really need to buy something new or if you could do just as well (and maybe even better) by saving your pennies. Connection doesn’t have to be expensive.

Quality doesn't have to mean "new"
Quality doesn’t have to mean “new”


Play More and Spend Less with these practical, simple tips.

Expensive Old Way Lower Cost New Way Added Benefit of the New Way
Going out to movies Make your own entertainment: sing and play music together, read aloud, play a game, create art More connection and stronger family bonds while developing skills and imagination. Get outside. Move. Play. Do projects together.
Buying new clothes, toys, and tools Shop at Thrift stores, trade with friends, and craigslist Reusing means less trash goes in the landfills and oceans. Supporting thrift stores supports valuable charities like stray pets, addiction recovery, and epilepsy research.
Eating out Make your own meals from whole ingredients Homecooked meals are notoriously lower in fat, sugar, salt, and processed food additives helping you both feel and look better.


Is This Emotion Mine?

Does talking with your spouse or kids leave you feeling drained or overwhelmed? Do you want to retreat, eat chocolate cake, or go for a long solo bike ride after spending time with them? Do you notice that you don’t even want to go home sometimes?

While this may happen to all of us sometimes, if it happens often you may be taking their upset or challenges  too personally. While it’s nearly impossible to be completely unruffled by someone you live so closely with, you can take steps to make it easier to both listen deeply and keep your own sanity.

Step 1: Mindfulness

Notice what you are feeling. Ask if this is your emotion. Are you taking on someone else’s work, emotion, or baggage?

Step 2: Discernment

Closely linked with mindfulness is noticing you have choices. What do you want to do right now? Many of us often try to help by absorbing and trying to fix or heal someone’s else’s upset. Rarely does this actually help and tends to disempower all involved. Very often the kindest thing you can do is sit with someone while they feel their feelings with no need to change, fix, figure out, or take them personally. If you think there’s even a possibility that that’s true, try the following exercises and see if they work better than absorbing or fixing someone else’s upset.

Step 3: Practices to Keep Your Ground

Exercise 1 – Energetic Shield: Stand up and feel your feet on the ground. Run your hands in front of you. Imagine you are putting an energetic shield in place. This shield protects you from absorbing or getting exhausted by the person you are listening to. It can let in anything that you need to feel and hear. It can keep out and deflect back to your partner anything that is theirs and that they need for their healing.

The energetic shield is very useful when your spouse, co-workers, or children are expressing their upset. Take a deep breath and move your hands in front of your face, heart, belly, and as far down your legs as you can reach. After some practice, you can do a smaller motion that doesn’t seem as obvious. You can also use it when you’re in an environment that seems negative and out of your control (i.e. doctor’s office with TV playing or your in-laws house when they start to bicker).

With someone you know, you can actively put your shield up with them. Let them know you’re putting your shield up. Pause the conversation and do the motions. This may actually help them feel safer to talk to you because they know they won’t be dealing with the fallout of your overwhelm after you listen to them.

Exercise 2 – Compassionate Presence: Imagine you are pure compassion and empathy. You have no need to change, fix or figure out the person who’s talking to you. You trust they are the experts on their own life. You trust them to figure out their own path and that the kindest and most loving thing you can do it listen to them with complete trust and love.

You may also notice that parts of you get stimulated by their pain. This is what makes it hard to offer compassion to your intimates. Your lives are so intertwined that their pain triggers your own. Hold the pain within you with compassion as well. What if it was OK to just notice it without need to fix, figure out or change? What if you could also ask for compassionate listening time with your partner, a friend, or parent coach?

Exercise 3 – Listen for Feelings and Needs: Compassion, reflective listening, and guessing at feelings and needs are powerful tools for finding our share humanity and creating more understanding. The form is simple: Reflect back what you heard and guess at what the person is feeling and needing. Doing it well takes a lot of practice. Luckily, living in close proximity to other human beings isn’t easy and gives us lots of practice.

Let’s take a common situation. I said I’d bring home milk and I forgot. When I get home my partner is upset that I forgot the milk.

Partner: I can’t believe you forgot the milk. You said you’d bring it home. I can never count on you. Now what am I going to do for dinner? You know I needed it to make the sauce.

Me: I hear you’re really upset and frustrated. You’ve put effort and energy into dinner and you want that energy to mean something. You really want to know your needs are going to be met and right now you’re not sure they will be.

Partner: That’s right. My day’s been so hard. Everything I did with the kids took much longer than I expected. I’m late with dinner. And we didn’t even enjoy being together. Why am I staying at home with them anyway? You’ve got it lucky that you get to work with people who actually want to hear what you have to say.

Me: I hear you really want to be listened to and valued. Some days it’s hard for you to be home with the kids and today was one of them. Are you looking for relief, understanding, and support?

Partner: Yes! (and then you forgot the milk….)

This dialogue would likely go on for some time, especially if this way of listening is new to your partnership. Over time, you’ll each come to trust it more.

An important thing to remember is that I (and you when you’re in this situation) have choices again and again in this dialogue. Put yourself in ‘my’ place as you read the following ways I could choose to hear my partner’s words…

  • How I hear: I can hear my partner’s words as personal criticism.
  • How I react: Then I tend to attack or defend myself.
  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words an indication of a problem beyond my partner’s ability to solve.
  • How I react: Then I tend to problem solve and offer solutions.
  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words as an indication that they are about to quit and go get a job and put the kids in school.
  • How I react:  Then I tend to react with my own preferences and fears/agendas for how the home and childrearing happen.


  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words as proof that I’m not going to get the compassionate listening that I need. Maybe I had a hard day too? Maybe I get worried that my partner needs all the attention and I never get to show my own vulnerability.
  • How I react:  In this case, I’ll tend to react with irritation, withholding my compassion and just wishing my partner wasn’t so needy.

Any of these reactions are unlikely to lead to the closeness and connection I really desire with my partner.

Listening from compassion works so much better. When I beam trust and love at my partner. When I sit with him as though he is beautiful, capable, and I love him. When I listen as though I’m hearing a story that has a great ending, then my energy totally shifts. I’m able to evoke that energy in myself (caring, loving, beautiful) and in my partner. The whole dynamic changes based on how I listen and how I offer my presence.

And remember – It’s really not about the milk.

Kids Trigger Feelings of Hurt and Anger

Why can kids trigger their parents so intensely? What is it about our darling offspring that brings out the ogre in us? Much as we’d love to shake our heads and say “I never do that”, I’ve listened to too many parents to believe it. We all act like someone we don’t want to be from time-to-time with our kids. More than any relationship, our kids trigger us. Is it just karma or the curse of our mothers who said to us “I hope you have a child just like you”? Neither one.

Our kids are specially designed to trigger our own unresolved childhood wounds and fears. The lost dreams, the forgotten hurts, and the beliefs swallowed whole without introspection or digestion are all brought to the forefront of our awareness by our children. Some of those things hurt. They are all hard to feel. That’s why they are unresolved. They were too big to feel and too big to deal with or handle when we were children. So we pushed them down and under and resolved not to look at them. We are still afraid that they will overwhelm us so when our kids trigger them, we will fight with our kids (most often using the techniques our parents used that we hated so much as kids) in order not to be overwhelmed by our triggers.

Parent coaching can help. One of the tools I use called Parts Work in the Style of Inner Empathy allows you to hold compassion for yourself and to talk to the different parts of you as though you are having a conversation with someone else. The someone else is a part of you but instead of trying to figure out, say for instance, your anger by thinking about it and analyzing it you listen to the angry part of you. You ask this part how it is feeling, whether it’s protecting you from something, and what it needs? You ask as your compassionate presence that cares.

Caring compassionate presence is one of the only things that allows effective change to take place. Withdrawing love, threatening and taking away privileges, and bribing don’t allow room for real change. They don’t. They are never effective to teach the lesson we’re trying to teach. What they do teach is that love is conditional and that force is a good thing to use when you really want to get results. We’ve all had enough of that.

So how do you get out of being an ogre to your own children? You probably don’t escape it totally. But you can become more aware. And you can cultivate compassionate presence for yourself and your children. From there, real healing and change happen.

5 Steps to Becoming a Healthier You and a Better Parent

~ Welcome Leslie Mason, parentcoaching.org’s first guest blogger. I like Leslie’s down-to-earth approach to making small changes that can make a big difference. I hope you’ll enjoy this post about some simple steps to create more health and balance in your life and family as much as I did. I particularly like step 5. As a parent coach I see over and over again the value of having (and being!) a safe and trusted confidant for parents. It makes such a difference.

Between the soccer practice and karate class, the piano lessons and dance rehearsal, the meals to make and the laundry to do, parents barely have a spare second to breathe, let alone work on self-development. But think about the areas of your life that you want to improve. It can be daunting to tackle all of these at once. However, there are a few steps you can take to improve your own health and become a better parent all at once.

1. Make Time for Exercise

As a busy parent, exercising is probably one of the last things on your mind. But you need to make it a priority if you want to have a healthier body. Luckily, exercise doesn’t have to be painful and tedious. Playing with your children is a great way to get and stay active. Find out what activities they love doing and would be willing to include you in (the willingness is an important part). This is easier with young children since they are particularly active.

Even if you don’t exercise with your children, hop on the treadmill for just a mile a day. Physical exertion is a great way to relieve stress or reenergize. Showing your children that you care about your health will help them to know that you want to be around for a long time and be involved in their lives. It will also set the example for your children to lead healthy, active lives as well.

2. Eat Healthy

This seems like a no-brainer. If you want to have a healthier body, you need to be more careful about what you put into it. If you fill your body with trash, you are bound to feel like trash most of the time. But if you eat healthy, natural foods, your body will definitely notice and thank you for the difference. You will have more energy, feel less stressed, and have better long-term health.

To feel better about the way you are raising your children, give them the best nutrition you can find. Love your children by feeding them wholesome food rather than by giving them sugar and sweets. Don’t overwhelm yourself by changing all of your eating habits at once. You can take your time and gradually incorporate whole grains and vegetables while you decrease your sugar and highly-processed foods consumption.

3. Pamper Your Body

Your body goes through a lot of extra stress when you become a parent. Not only do moms have to go through the entire pregnancy process, dads also have to adjust to crazy sleep schedules and trying to keep up with everything that their children are doing. With all of this pressure, your body could definitely use a good pampering every now and then.

Treat yourself to some basic and inexpensive luxuries. Get a facial, have your nails done, or take turns massaging your spouse. If your body is having a particularly difficult time, consider visiting a chiropractor to relieve some of the tension in your back and neck. Most health insurance policies will cover an occasional trip for a back realignment. If you want to be able to give your full time and attention to your children, you need your body to be in the best condition possible.

4. Get Enough Rest

It’s amazing what a full eight hours of sleep can do for you. Most of us, whether we have children or not, can barely manage to get this much rest each night. While it won’t necessarily kill you to be a little sleep deprived, it does have a negative effect on your body. Even getting one solid night of sleep can boost your mood, lower your stress level, and increase your energy.

Dealing with children can be a trial. Ornery parents and moody teenagers are usually not a good mix. If you really want to have a better relationship with your kids, work on being in a better mood and having more patience just by getting enough rest at night. If you aren’t sleeping well at night, try to find time during the day to nap and recharge.

5. Find a Confidant

Your life is going to be full of rough patches and hard times. To ease your mind, find a parent coach or good friend that you trust and confide in them. Voicing your fears and worries is a great way to cope with stress, relieve tension, and gain perspective. Kids recharge through play while parents recharge through speaking truthfully and being heard. Some of the benefits of getting support include less worry and guilt for you and less anxiety and guilt for your child. Plus you’ll be a more effective parent. If you vent to your kids instead, you’ll not only set a poor example of stress management, but may also cause them unnecessary anxiety in their own lives.

If you can find ways to improve your body, mind, and soul, you will surely find that your relationship with your children improves as well. To take care of another person you must first make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and making time to treat herself with special visits to a chiropractor in Scarborough.

5 Exercises for Homeschooling (and Parenting) with Empathy

1. Exercise To Get Honest:

Have you ever behaved in ways you regret? Admitting when your homeschooling behavior is different than what you want is a great first step. Journaling, sharing with a friend, and talking to a coach or therapist are all good ways to get honest.

2. Exercise to Welcome the Discomfort:

Listen to the audio to connect to your compassionate listening presence. From your compassion, notice some challenging emotion. Imagine this emotion is a person you can say hello to, sit with, and feel a sense of curiosity and welcoming towards.

3. Exercise to Make Connections:

After welcoming in the emotion in Step 2, imagine having a dialogue with the part of you that feels this way. Listen to what s/he is feeling and needing. Are there any similarities between this part of you and your child?

4. Exercise to Get Help:

Imagine the help you would like with your parenting and homeschooling challenges. Let your imagination go. Don’t worry about the practicality. What would the ideal support look like to you?
I’d be delighted to talk with you and help you decide if the support I offer is right for you. Use the contact form to the left to initiate your free consultation today.

5. Exercise to Enjoy the Changes:

Notice any changes in the way you feel, the way you react, and the way your children behave after practicing Steps 1 – 4. Recognize your efforts and your accomplishments. Not everyone is willing to look deeply into the challenges of parenting and homeschooling.
Take time to celebrate.

by Kassandra Brown
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