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Monday, June 29, 2015

strength & courage: a miscarriage story - Jillian Brooks

I am so grateful to Jillian Brooks for being the first mom to answer some questions for me about miscarriages. She has gone through several of them. Her determination to grow stronger from those tough times and reach her happy ending of delivering a healthy baby boy #2 this spring is inspiring.

I hope Jillian's story helps another mom out there to keep the faith.

Thank you, Jillian.

Pictures shared from Jillian Brooks

1. When did you experience a miscarriage? 
I have had 4. 1 was a year before my first son (unplanned pregnancy) and then 3 back to back before I conceived my newest babe in February. 

How far along were you? 
Between 5-8 weeks for all 4.
2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically? 
It's very painful, and lots of bleeding. You aren't allowed to use a tampon obviously, so you are basically gushing blood into the biggest pad that exists in the grocery store. It is nothing like a period (as the nurses say) way more painful, way more clots. The worst part about that for me, was every time I went to the bathroom there is a HUGE reminder staring at you all day long. And you never know when it's going to start. Even if you know through bloodwork that you are carrying an unviable pregnancy, the bleeding can begin any time. 
3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider? 
The first time I didn't even know I was pregnant until I ended up in the ER in pain, that process was emotional because I had the news YOU'RE PREGNANT! Which was a shock, and then a few hours later learning it wasn't viable. The last 3 were emotional differently, because we were trying really hard to conceive. 

With each back to back loss, you feel like it might actually not happen for you EVER.
4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience? 
Lonely, sad, exhausting
5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same? 
You always have this small amount of hope, even when the doctors tell you it's not viable. You always hear those stories where they went back in for a D&C and it turns out there is a heartbeat or something crazy. So I guess that was sad and silly at the same time. The hope just makes you even more disappointed. 
6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.? 
I am RH negative, which means if I miscarry, or when I'm pregnant I need a shot of Rhogam in case baby's blood mixes with mine, which could cause antibodies to attack baby or me. So on top of having to get bloodwork every time I got a positive test, to make sure my HCG levels were high enough for a viable pregnancy, each time I miscarried I had to get the Rhogam shot within 48 hours of bleeding, which is just the icing on the cake when you go through that.  
7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better? 
My husband kept telling me that we would just keep trying, which was good and bad. My family of course was supportive and loving. 
8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time? 

I think the normal reaction is for people to say "well better it happened early on," or "something must've been not right with the baby" but it's still not great to hear. No reason is ever good enough to go through it. 

Someone said me to me while going through it "isn't your one son enough?". That was a real killer. If you want another baby nothing will get in the way of that, and you will figure it out somehow.
9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember? 
It's ok to remember, whatever special something you need to do for that loss is ok too. Some people remember dates, make a name, etc. 

Whatever helps YOU get through it and move on is what you should do. 

10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? 
Just be the helpful loving friend that you probably already are. 
11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience? 
I was amazed as I had my 3 miscarriages how many clients of mine would tell me stories of how many they have had or their girlfriends had. 

I think once you open up and talk about it you realize how many other people are going through the same thing. I'm not sure why people don't open up about it more- it's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, it's life. Literally.
12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience? 
I don't personally. I almost wish I sort of did write down the dates or something. But I was so focused on getting that baby no matter what. The one thing I do is call my newest son my "rainbow baby" which is a baby born after loss. 

I do think of what all of those little souls would've been like, or who they would be or if they were girls or boys, but I try not to dwell on it too much.

13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother? 
I think in a weird way I am that much more obsessed with my littlest guy. I went through HELL to get him here, so I was thrilled to be pregnant, thrilled to be in labor, and am still just over the moon that he's even here.

14. Is there a happy ending to your story? 
We did discover after some fertility doctor appointments, that my husband has a normal sperm count, but the morphology of them is bad. Less than 4% of his sperm are viable. So if there is a next time around for #3 I think we will go straight to do IUI where they take his 4% and use that instead of chancing the 96% fertilizing and making me miscarry again. 

And my happy ending is that after almost a year of trying, and 3 back to back losses I naturally conceived and gave birth to Griffin in February. We actually had an appointment for IUI scheduled for the week after and I ended up pregnant the old fashioned way, with no help needed!

15. Anything else you want to share? 

It's awful in the moment, that week, that month, even that year. But you WILL get that baby you are dying for. Whatever it takes! And each day you move forward, the losses are in your mind a little less and you feel a little better. Promise

strength & courage: miscarriage stories

Recently, a mom who had experienced a miscarriage messaged me an anonymous question. She was feeling alone, overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared. She seemed like she had nobody to talk to. So many supportive comments were replied to the anonymous question in the Facebook Mommy Stories group, I was so moved by this.

It is a topic most don't talk about... yet here was this mom struggling and then receiving such great support from moms who WERE willing to open up about their experiences with miscarriages. Nobody was alone anymore.

So this next series on the blog is about strength and courage, getting through the loss of a baby or babies.

I'm so grateful to the moms who have opened up and shared their stories, and even more to those who have agreed to join a Miscarriage Support Moms list (15 moms joined!) to offer one-on-one support to moms in the future who experience miscarriages.

Let's start talking more, moms. It's OK to open up about the tough stuff.

I have several moms who are willing to open up about their experiences with going through a miscarriage. I admire their honesty and willingness to help others. Every one of them has agreed, "If I can help someone else, it's worth talking about."

Here's to the strong mommas... so many of you out there. I admire all of you.

It's more common than we think. 
As many as 75% of all conceptions miscarry.
About 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
About 15-20% of all confirmed pregnancies can end in miscarriage.

So many women go through this, so let's begin talking about it. There is nothing to feel ashamed about. It's OK to reach out for help.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

a birth story - Heather Martin

Thank you to Heather Martin for sharing her birth story - from planned to unplanned, and yet in the end she has the sweetest baby girl!

Images shared from Heather Martin

1.What happened the day your baby was born? Did your water break, and if so, where were you, how did that feel? Who took you to the hospital? What helped you during labor (ice chips? music? etc.)? Any funny or scary stories about the labor itself or the birth? How long was your labor, start to finish? 
My due date was July 25, 2 weeks later they said that they wanted to start to induce me, and I asked for the weekend, give me the weekend, I'll go in Sunday. So Aug 4, we heading into the hospital. My Hubby Bob took me in, Sunday night, we went and dropped our dog Lucy off at camp for a few days. drove there. Sunday night started the meds, so I could start poticen on Monday morning. Walked around sunday night, enjoyed dinner, hanged out. Monday morning my MIL came to wait with us, my dad (and his girlfriend) and sister came down from Maine. So we spend all day monday waiting, on Poticen, kept moving it up, had to call the dr to get the order to go higher. Monday around 4, my first 24 hours of waiting, no change so off the meds, they let me eat. SO I made them order from this burger place right down the street, and they gave a little sleeping pill to help me sleep that night. we all night long i was have contractions but only on the monitor, I wash't feeling them, so I was happy, thought it would be easy.  

Well Tuesday morning I sent Bob home to shower and take a little nap. The Dr came in, and check me, after all night, I was only 1 cm, STILL!!!! No Change!!!!! So he wanted to try to take a folly catheter and blow it up and try to get my to dilate that way, so we could go in and break my water, sounds great right?? HELL NO, that hurt sooooo bad, so ater 2 tries they give up, and back on Poticen I go till about 4 in the afternoon, 48 hours after I came in. I bounced on the yoga ball, I walked the halls, I walked my room, I watched everyone eat subway, drink coffee, oh and I couldnt eat other then jello and water. my dad was sitting on the yoga ball saying that I was lying and that I wasnt preg, that i just wanted to hang out with everyone. he was being silly. So 4 on Tuesday I called it, i didnt know what the effects of poticen on the baby was, or even my self. Bob and I talked about it doing for a CS, and getting her out. So 8 PM on Tuesday I walked into to the OR, sat on the table and started. my Nurses and DR were great. they kept me laughing. my DR asked me my name, ( did that about 1000000 times) I started to say my name, Heather Martin Date of Birth 10/29/79 I am her for a CS, and started to cry, and she comes over and looks at me and tells me No crying in the OR, we dont have time, all while she is laughing, and my nurse was great, she kept telling me that everything was going to be okay and that soon my daughter would be here. 8:26 pm Taylor Noel Martin was born, 7 lbs, 14 oz, 19 in. and a score of 9 out of 10!

2. What did you pack in your hospital bag? 
Everything, swim suit, I wanted to spend some time in the tub, shorts, underwear, tank tops, clothing for the baby, both newborn and 0 to 3 months, Didnt know how big she would be. breast pump, boppy pillow. 
What did you forget to pack that you recommend pregnant moms to be pack in theirs? 
3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)? 
The nurses, one of them became a friend, and they really made my stay.
4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)? 
One of the night nurses, she was a pain in my a**, I asked for Taylor to be in nursey for about 2 hours or so I could get some rest, well 10 mins after leaving the room, she was back, they took her temp and she filled out.
5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable? 
Bring snacks for those late night feedings, a pillow and blanket for dad. Enjoy your time.
6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*? 
After having a CS, took me a few weeks, I couldnt do stairs by my self for a week or so, but other then that, I felt, and still feel like I failed in my birth, having a CS was not the easy way out, I would have loved to know what contractions felt liked, or what does it feel like when you water breaks, or even having to push.
7. What was it like the first moment you saw your baby or held your baby? 
It was unreal.

8. Anything you would do differently? 
Other then going with my birth plan, but she didn't want to come out.
9. What is your advice to moms headed for labor soon? 
Don't stress about the small things. Don't stress about your birth plan, it will all work out in the end.


We love fruit, but we love even more picking fruit and eating it! YUMMY!

I look forward to taking these pictures every year!

Sassy girls can also be sweet!

They get so excited seeing the fruits of their labor!

My favorite part about strawberry picking... yes, of course, it's the pictures!

I've learned as a mother that YOU need rain boots yourself! It's so much fun. I feel like a kid when I wear them.

My tips for a great strawberry picking experience with kids:

  1. Bring a camera and make that your focus, instead of you picking tons of berries yourself. With the camera, get down low, see the experience from their point of view. 
  2. Dress them cute. Rain boots are the best for this! 
  3. Bring a bowl or bucket so you don't have to pay extra for their boxes. However... I always pay the 50 cents it costs for the green buckets the kids use... they make for cute pictures, and it's the real deal that way! 
  4. LAUGH. It's so fun! 
  5. Eat a berry :) 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mom of the Month - Stephanie Gay Hatfield

I am very excited to feature our June Mom of the Month, Stephanie Gay Hatfield! She sounds like the most dedicated, hard working, determined momma around. Having started out her motherhood adventure when she was 18 years old, she has worked REALLY hard to provide for her family. Her sister who nominated her had so many positive things to say about how far Stephanie has come in a few short years.

My parents had me when they were 18 and 19 years old and it was not an easy road, so it's with great pride that I feature another young mom who has made a wonderful life for her children, is caring, supportive, and THERE - even when she's working hard at night or during the days she is always there for them.

Congrats, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing your life with us. Beautiful children and momma!

Images shared from Stephanie Hatfield 

  • 1. Describe your children in 3-5 words. How did you choose their names? 
    Connor- energetic, smart, determined, loving Ava- stubborn, loving, funny, smart Kaitlyn- helpful, independent, creative
    Kaitlyn Amber- Her mother picked out her name. Connor Michael- Connor has always been my favorite boys name (my pick). Michael is my husband's first name (his pick). It just went perfectly together Ava Natalie- I always wanted to name my daughter Natalie (after my grandmother). I was having a hard time with a middle name. My sister was over and helping us choose names. She rattled off Ava Natalie and it stuck. We couldn't think of a better name because ironically Mike had loved the name Ava before we shared that with anyone else.

    2. How old are your children? How did you tell people you were expecting a baby?
    Kaitlyn is seven Connor is five Ava is four
    Kaitlyn is my step-daughter. I was only 18, when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was terrified. I had never missed my period and was on birth control. When I hadn't gotten my period, I didn't know what to think. Mike was at work. I went to Walmart, picked up a pregnancy test and immediately checked out. I couldn't wait, so I went straight to the Walmart bathroom. I had received a positive home pregnancy test. I was so scared. As soon as Mike was home from work, I told him and he was so excited. I waited a few weeks before working up the courage to tell my mom and brother. My mom made me tell my dad that same day. After my immediate family knew, we told his family and our friends.
    Connor was 9 weeks old when I found out I was pregnant with Ava. I thought I was scared when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. How am I going to afford two children at 20 years old? I was even more scared this time. I cried A LOT before telling anyone. I told my mom first on our way to a family reunion. When we finally accepted that we were having another baby, we told our friends and family. It took us a little while to accept it. Mike of course was very happy. He's always wanted a big family since he was a foster child. He never had a dad growing up.

    3. How would you describe your pregnancies? How was delivery, birth and labor for you? 
    My pregnancy with Connor was absolutely miserable. I was sick 24/7 and even in and out of the hospital hooked up to IVs because I was dehydrated from getting so sick. I gained 9 lbs the entire pregnancy. Labor was just as miserable as the pregnancy. I had kidney stones while in labor. I was sent home 3 times before finally being admitted. Contractions were close and the pain from the kidney stones was awful. I was in labor for 3 days. I was finally induced. I had back labor the entire time. I had my husband and my mother in the room with me. I was in so much pain and my mom was trying to be so helpful. Finally was able to get an epidural- Smooth sailing from here. It was the best thing. I was able to get a little sleep. My water broke and I didnt even know until the nurses came in to check dilation. Once we reached 10 cm. I pushed for 20 minutes. Connor Michael was born at 9:39pm. 7lbs 2 oz + 19.5inches.
    Pregnancy with Ava was very different. I was sick for the first trimester, but not nearly as bad as the first pregnancy. The second and third trimester was smooth as could be. No problems at all. I started having contractions April 19th. I called the doctor, but she told me not to go in. I went for 3 walks throughout the day and rested at home. I tried to get some sleep, but was having back labor again. I knew it was time to go to the hospital the next morning. I called my mom, and she met us there. I had forgotten how much the back labor hurt, until i was experiencing it again. I wasn't able to get an epidural just yet, so the doctors had given me a different pain med through my IV. This was the worst decision EVER. I was so out of it. I knew exactly what was going on around me, but couldn't move, think, or even communicate. The med hadnt worn off yet, and i was able to get the epidural. Just after, they came in and broke my water. I remember the nurse saying,if you start to feel any pressure, call us right away. Not two minutes after the nurses walked out, we had to call. They asked if I was ready to push and i screamed NO. The med they had given me was just now starting to wear off. I want my baby girl to be born while i couldn't do anything. I felt paralyzed, it was AWFUL. I waited as long as i could, until I couldn't wait anymore. Baby was coming out whether I was ready or not.Thankfully, by the time she was born, I was functional. Ava Natalie was born on April 26th 7lbs 5oz and 21inches.
    4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words. 
    I would have to say I am a fun, loving, caring mom.

    5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you?

    I hope my children will understand why I am strict with them. I hope they will say I am a fun mom.

    6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of? 
    Like I said before, I became a mom at 19 years old. I never went through the partying stage as I wasn't really able to. I am proud of myself in that aspect. Every now and then I will go out for drinks with friends and family but back to mom duties as soon as I am home. I wouldn't have it any other way smile emoticon

    7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
    The most difficult part of being a mom has been figuring out my husband and my work schedules. We have never put our children in daycare so family has been a huge help with caring for our children while we are at work.

    8. What is your favorite baby/child product(s) that makes your mom job easier? 
    Right now our children are 7, 5 and 4. Today they are very self sufficient. When they were much younger, gates were our best friend. This way we could get things done around the house and the kids were confined to one room. I don't know how we would've done without them!
    9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother? 
    I would have to say learn as you go. You will never know all you need to know being a new mom. Ask questions when you have them and don't always take other peoples advice. There will be many people that tell you to do things a certain way. Do things that way you are most comfortable. The child is YOURS, not theirs. What works for one mom may not work for another.
    10. What is a typical day like for you? 
    6am- I wake up, shower, get ready for work 7am (if the kids are awake)- get breakfast ready 7:20 am- leave for work- dad has the kids during the day 1:30- my mom or sister will come over to hang with the kids while we are at work a few days a week 5:30- I get home 5:45- make dinner 6:15- Eat dinner 7:00 bath time 7:30 bed time
    11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object? 
    I don't necessarily have five things I would like to do as of today. I want them to travel as much as possible and see as many things. We recently bought a timeshare while on our honeymoon in February so we can travel as much as possible and cant wait to start!!! Our first trip will either be a cruise or Disney. We also will be traveling to South Carolina frequently because Kaitlyn (my step-daughter) just moved there with her mom. Even though she comes up once a month, we will go down there as well to see her smile emoticon
    12. What are your favorite summer outings, events, plans, trips, etc. you like to take your family on? Tips for making the most of your summer with kids? 
    Summers are hard for us. I work 8-5 M-F and my husband works nights and weekends, so there isn't a lot of family time. I go to the beach almost every weekend while dad is at work and we have a few cookouts with family. We would like to plan a camping trip at some point during the 8 weeks Kaitlyn is with us. We also will be driving to SC for Kaitlyn's first day of 2nd grade to get her on and off the bus. She will also show us what she likes to do in her new state!

    13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine. 
    For the first 4 years of being a mom, I was a waitress/bartender. I always worked nights and oftentimes went days working double after double just to make ends meet. A little over a year ago, I started a new job working 8-5 M-F while still working as a bartender/waitress at night. I felt like I was never home. I finally said screw it...I quit the restaurant job. I didnt realize how much time I had missed out on until now. I never was a part of the nightly routine with our children and it upset me a lot when I first quit. I am so grateful I can cook dinner, give baths and tuck the kids into bed now. 

    I felt for a long time that I wasn't doing what moms should be doing at night. I sat down talking to my husband about this. He said "You didnt fail, you were working to give them food on the table and a roof over their heads." And this is when I realized I didn't fail {by working nights}. 

    My husband had it all under control and I can do this part now because we basically switched roles. I work days and he works nights!!!! I do miss spending the days with them though!
    14. What makes you a strong mom? 
    What makes me a strong mom is always knowing I can lean on my family. They are always there for me if I need anything, especially my mom. Connor and Ava are so close in age and often times fight over everything. When I need to vent, my mom is the best one to call. She keeps my mind straight! She often times says "this to shall pass." I just have to keep it in my mind, they wont always be this age and the times I am frustrated will pass with time! I love my children with every ounce of love I could ever have!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

book - How to Get Kids Offline, Outdoors, and Connecting with Nature by Bonnie Thomas

I am really excited to feature local Maine author, Bonnie Thomas, on my blog this week! She is a Child and Family Counselor, mother, and author of the book How to Get Kids Offline, Outdoors, and Connecting with Nature - 200+ Creative activities to encourage self-esteem, mindfulness, and wellbeing.

I love this book for many reasons, including how I can use it in my work as a school counselor, but most importantly about how amazing her ideas are for being the coolest mom ever - simply by getting OUTSIDE and connecting to nature. I have a son who I tell everyone "being outside is like medication or air to breathe for him - he NEEDS it!" My son is better behaved in the months when we can get outside. He's happier. We are more in sync with each other, more patient and having WAY more fun when we're outside daily for an hour or more. In the long winter months when we can't get out as much, I notice a big difference in our household. We're grateful that three of four seasons we can be outside for an hour a day no issues, living in Maine we have that luxury.

Even if you aren't a nature or camping or outdoors person, you NEED to read this book! She gives you great tips for bringing nature indoors and using natural things like rocks for your kids to play and enjoy the benefits of the natural world.

Images from Bonnie Thomas

As a school counselor, I loved these activities to use with students: 
  • Draw your family as animals, body of water or tree.  (page 34)
  • Wish books - filling journals or art books with pictures, words, etc of wishes and hopes and dreams. I LOVE this idea! (page 39)
  • Message stones -writing words, pictures, etc on rocks and stones you find outdoors, painting them, etc. (page 75)
As a mom, I loved these ideas:
  • Making a fort out of snow!
  • Snow picnic - eating outside, hot cocoa, etc.
  • Scavenger hunts outside to find objects 
  • Painting acorns in the fall - never thought to paint faces on acorns and then let my kids play with them. So fun! 
  • Just being OUTSIDE - running, jumping, touching, getting dirty!

THANK YOU, Bonnie, for answering some questions about your important work. I admire what a wonderful path you have led with your own son and now helping others to incorporate nature into our work and daily motherhood adventures. Thank you again! 

1. How many children do you have? 
I have one child, a 15 year old son

2. What is your work background? 
I have always worked in the field of social work and counseling.  The list is pretty long but I've worked in psychiatric hospital settings with children; I've worked in group homes for teens; I've worked with juvenile offenders; I helped to design and coordinate a mentoring program for youth living in public housing; and for the last  15 years or so I've been doing child and family counseling. 

3. How do you use nature in your everyday practice as a counselor? 
I keep nature based materials in my office that kids enjoy looking through and doing crafts with -- sometimes we make worry dolls, fidgets, puppets, or other crafts that combine coping strategies and self expression with the natural materials at hand. Some kids just find it soothing and calming to look through a container of different rocks or shells.    I also use visualization that frequently involves nature based imagery-- the kids especially like visualizations that involve playing or relaxing with animals, swimming in warm ocean waters, or flying in the sky.  These are all activities that are easily accessible rain or shine, indoors or outdoors-- so I use these the most.

4. How do/did you use nature in your everyday life as a mother? 
It's depended on his age and season, but when my son was younger we would play and explore outdoors a lot.  We built snow forts, went walking in the mud, looked for frogs and salamanders, had picnics,  collected natural materials for projects, etc.   As he got older we did more hiking, exploring trails, and letterboxing.  We started going on annual camping trips as well so he could experience sleeping and cooking outdoors.  Now that he's a teenager we schedule our time differently.  We don't have time every day to get outdoors and/or spend time together.  It's more like a couple days a week now.  But we still explore trails, marshes, beaches, the woods, etc. and do some gardening or walks together.  We still take annual camping trips and explore new parks and trails along the way.  

Follow Bonnie's blog at :

5. What are some of your top 3 favorite suggestions for busy parents to incorporate nature into their children's daily experiences? 

Eat a meal outside, skip a gym workout and play outdoors with your kids instead, go for a walk with your kids before bedtime.  

6. Why is it important for our children to get outdoors more to connect with nature? 

The natural world is more conducive to our well being. We need fresh air; it's healthy to get your hands in the dirt-- it's not only good for your immune system, but the microbes in the dirt/soil act similar to antidepressants; sunshine provides a vitamin D boost; and kids need to play, run around, explore, and be just be kids.   What better place to do all of that than outdoors? 
7. Why specifically is it important for our children to get offline more? How do you see technology becoming a problem for some youth?
I am not anti-electronics but I think, like many things,  there needs to be moderation and balance.  Too much of anything can be detrimental.  For those children who grow up with TV shows, online videos, and video games as their "babysitter" or main daily activity, that's concerning for many reasons. 

Childhood is a critical time to learn self regulation and if they only learn to self regulate via electronics they are not going to fare well in their relationships, education, careers, etc.   Kids need social interaction, nurturing, boundaries, and plenty of time to play (and yes, outdoors when possible).  

8. Where did you find most of your ideas, what inspires you?
I get bored easily and I have ADHD, so I have a tough time being idle.  I like to explore and experiment with objects and activities which then leads to finding new ways to do something or new ways to use an object.  Pretty much everything inspires me. 
9. What is your personal favorite thing to do outdoors that helps you feel like a more patient, calmer, in control and relaxed, energized mother?
It depends on the season.  In the warmer months I do a lot of yard work.  Yard work is a great work out, so it releases a lot of stress and boosts my endorphins;  I get vitamin D from the sun which helps with my well being; I get fresh air; I experience mindfulness and relaxation as I observe all the natural phenomena happening around me (listening to the birds, watching wildlife, smelling the flowers, etc.); and when I go back indoors I have this beautiful yard to look at.  So for me, yard work encompasses a lot of positive benefits and helps me feel connected to the natural world that is right outside my door. 

10. What is your advice to busy moms who feel they are rushing to and from school, work, practice, lessons, errands, etc. and feeling like they haven't had enough time outside to just BE?

Listen to your gut.  If you are wanting or needing more time outdoors and/or if you are feeling overscheduled, then simplify your life and do more of what makes you feel healthy and happy.  Be the example of how you'd like your kids to manage their own well being.  

If you need or desire more time outside, try to incorporate it into what you already do.  For example, if you are going to eat dinner anyways, eat it outdoors.  You could eat on your back steps, on a patio, or on a blanket in the yard.   

If you need physical activity to relieve some stress, get yourself and the kids outdoors and do something together-- have the kids ride their bikes while you run, play basketball or tag with them, build a fort in the yard, etc.  I think any mom will tell you though, if you need time outdoors all by yourself, just ask if anyone wants to help you rake the yard or do other yard work.  I can almost guarantee you will get your time alone outdoors :)
11. Can you share a fun outdoor memory or experience you've had with your children over the years that explains how important it is to you to get kids outdoors?

Making memories is one of the best gifts you can give your children, in my opinion.  The more time you spend with your kids, the more memories you will make.   

However, I find that doing something slightly out of the norm is what makes an event especially  more memorable.  For example, my son and I used to build a snow fort every winter, which was memorable on its own.  But the most memorable part  is that we would choose one night to have dinner in the fort, usually by candlelight.   We also read bedtime stories in the fort, or had snacks and hot cocoa in the fort for a winter picnic. 
12. What do you feel are the benefits for kids going outside more? What are the benefits for busy parents?

When kids get outdoors they tend to play and explore.  Even if they sit outside and complain about being bored, it's still healthy and okay for them to feel boredom.  The benefits for the kids are that they learn some skills around self regulation and social interaction, as well as get the added benefits I mentioned above (playing in the dirt, fresh air, and vitamin D).  

Some kids sleep much better after exhausting themselves by running around and playing outside--most parents love that side effect. 
13. How often do you think kids should be outdoors?
It depends on the child.  I think kids should be outdoors as much as they can or need to be.  The general rule in our house has been that at least an hour a day outside (on average) is mandatory.   

14. For those who have youth or children who are seeking a counselor to talk to about something going on for them, why do you think it's helpful for the counselor to incorporate play and nature into the work with children? How does it help kids with therapy?
I see nature based activity as leveling the playing field in counseling with youth, regardless of the child's age.  We all share the outdoors-- so as a counselor, if I can show a child or teenager that there are natural resources and/or spaces they can use to help them cope with their life challenges, then that's a resource they can access during their entire life.  For example, if a child learns that getting outside for a brisk walk helps to manage their anxiety, depression or other uncomfortable feelings, then they have learned an important skill that is free and most likely accessible to them their entire life. 

15. What are 5 words you think your children would use to describe you as a mother?
Kind, generous, creative, unique, hard working. 

16. What was your goal in writing this book?
To remind parents and professionals how important it is to get our kids outdoors and in nature and to provide plenty of ideas of ways to help them do so. 

17. What are 3 of your favorite things to do in the summer in Maine?
1. Labyrinth lightings-- We have a simple labyrinth in our backyard that is bordered with paving stones.  Each summer we have one or more "labyrinth lightings" where friends come over to decorate the stones with chalk, flowers and candles.  The stones can be decorated in memory of someone or a pet that has passed away ; they can write wishes on the stones;  they can decorate a stone to send positive thoughts and love to someone far away or someone who needs it; or they can decorate a stone just for fun-- then we light a candle on each of the stones.   It's really magical and beautiful.   
2. Explore the Maine coastline
3. Go camping on Hermit Island
18. Anything else you'd like to share?
Not everyone has the same accessibility to outdoor spaces, parks, a back yard, or a place to garden so I understand that I am writing and presenting information from an idealistic standpoint.  However, in my book I try to address this issue more specifically by writing about how to bring the outdoors inside and/or how to make use of blacktop spaces for play.

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