Category Archives: Community

Building a Community Montessori Program

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A little corner of our space.

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into week eight for our Montessori program. It feels like we only just got started! Things are busy with a just-big-enough room full of three and not-quite-three-year-olds, all of whom are new to Montessori, but I see things settling, slowly, surely. So many readers have shared my excitement over this new undertaking, and yet I haven’t fully explained how it came to be or how it’s set up to work so far. I know a few others have considered something similar, so I thought I’d explain how our program works. Below are the steps I took in establishing it, which did not and do not necessarily need to happen in this order.

Clarify The Vision Continue reading

My Farewell Mother Baby Blessing

Photo (and henna) credit: Amanda of Gaia Eco Solutions

On one of our last Saturdays on Guam, the amazing mothers I had gotten to know through Garden Day got together and made me feel like the luckiest woman alive. I’m not really sure what to call the gathering they had for me, but it made me feel incredibly blessed, so I suppose a Mother Blessing is the closest thing. To any who were a part of it and may be reading this, I can’t say how incredibly grateful I am to know you, and to have you in my life – even if only from a distance now. All day long, I kept looking around at the people surrounding me, thinking, “Is it possible that I could ever find such an incredible group of talented, generous, caring women again?” There are amazing women everywhere, of course, but it’s a rare thing to find so many in community with one another. In the past I have dreamed of pulling together and introducing all of the amazing women I know, but on Guam, they were already friends and I’m honored that they shared that friendship with me, too. Continue reading

Catching Up

I have mentioned already that this has been, for me, a very sleepy week and I have been a lousy, lousy blogger in terms of keeping up with my community. One of the reasons for that is that the husband has been out of town, but he returned home last evening and has given me the morning to myself, so I’m doing my best to start the process of catching up. Rather than write yet another post without doing the reading and responding that I so long to do right now, I finally finished up something I’ve been working on: My Community Page.

My one and only concern with creating this page is related to the knowledge that I have inevitably forgotten someone. I had to create several incarnations to finally get the code up and running properly, and several times chunks of my code were eaten. I checked and rechecked, but there is surely an oversight somewhere. If you’re surprised that you don’t see yourself on there, because you know I like to check in with you – do not be shy! Please point out my mistake. I also did not go through to check who had buttons and who did not, so I only added those I knew for sure existed. If you have a button, feel free to send me the link so I can add yours, too.

And with that, I’m off to check in with as many of you as I can before it’s time to put my little love down for a nap!

xoxo

Melissa

The Toddler Pumpkin Extravaganza

Scraping the bowl after making the cookie icing

After reading my bloggy friend Jessica’s enthusiastic plans to host a pumpkin themed toddler Halloween party, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I pushed my nerves aside, and decided to throw a party for the toddlers and moms who attend the weekly play group I organize. Generally, we meet at different parks around the island to give the children a chance to run and enjoy some fresh air, but it is the rainy season, so I thought I would invite everyone to our house to eliminate the need for a contingency plan. Our party was on Friday, and I was thrilled that almost everyone we invited was able to make it. On an average Friday, we have no more than half a dozen moms at play group, but we had eleven moms at the pumpkin party. It was a bit chaotic, but it was tons of fun and totally worth it.

Of course my planning was inspired by Montessori, so I felt it only appropriate that I share the details for Montessori Monday with One Hook Wonder and Living Montessori Now.

The Activities

My goal was to make sure that everything was edible and safe to explore. I also wanted to offer a few different things to do so that the toddlers could choose whatever appealed to them. There was no schedule of events – I just set up the activities and the food in advance so that the kids could lead the way. We did: Continue reading

Building a Modern Day Village

On the weekend of October 8 some of the amazing women and men who work hard to make Natural Parents Network the wonderful community and resource that it is got together for a meet-up at two locations across the U.S. — the Midwest and the Northwest. This was the first time that many of the volunteers have met in person after a year of collaborating on this amazing website. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of links so that you can read what some of the other volunteers had to say about this incredible First Annual Natural Parents Network Team Get-Together!

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Lauren of Hobo Mama and Stefanie of Very, Very Fine
and their littles let us in on the fun via some google chat action.

While we’re all familiar with the old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child,” too few of us actually know what it feels like to have a village. In fact, our fast paced and spread out global society often contributes to a feeling of isolation for mothers – especially new ones.

Those of you who have been on this blogging journey with me from the start know that I became pregnant with my first and only child almost immediately after moving an ocean away from all of my family and friends. Then, just ten days after our daughter was born, my husband had to go away for eight months. I had no community at all and felt alone in a deeper sense than I had ever known. I knew I had support from friends and family far away, but it was in no way the same as having them nearby, and the extreme time difference often meant that I didn’t even have anyone to call on the phone. To my joy, I slowly made connections in the months that followed and at this point feel very little of that previous sense of isolation, but that experience has made me uniquely aware of the challenges of tackling new motherhood without that village.

While a true, physical village is hard to come by these days, I have found a modern version in my friends from the Natural Parents Network. I’ve been woven into the fabric of a fantastic community here locally, but because we are all so far away from the rest of the world, friends travel often and for long stretches. Others are so different in their philosophies that it’s difficult for them to give or understand exactly the type of support I need at any given time. I don’t want to discount the value of these local friends, but I do want to say how much I appreciate my NPN village.

It has been almost a year since the creation of the site known as the Natural Parents Network, and about as long since I joined the ranks of their volunteers. In the months that followed, I began reading the blogs of many of the mamas involved and many of us slowly built connections with one another. At this point, most of us communicate regularly. Some have done book discussions together, others have worked together on various projects, but virtually all have come to share parts of our lives and our journeys with one another that we have no other safe place to share. I have never before seen a safe place quite like the one that this group has created. There is support without one-up(wo)manship. There is hearing, seeing, and understanding. There is kindness, warmth, and generosity. There are even mother blessings and other outpourings of celebration and support. This is exactly what I picture living in a village to be like, minus the actual sharing of physical space.

The chat in action. Jennifer and her Tiny are the big picture,
while Annabelle and I are one of the teeny, tiny boxes below.
Three cheers for technology!
Photo credit: Lauren at Hobo Mama

Many of the members of this village got together over the long weekend. Most were meeting in person for the first time, and as far as I can tell, it was a beautiful thing. Geography and the exorbitant cost of airfare kept me from them, but I look forward to a similar event next year. While I could not be with the others in person, I was able to “hang out” with them via google+ for a bit, and I was surprised by the rush of emotions this brought on. As I watched the various attendees of the events mill around the room, it struck me that I truly felt like I knew each one – even the children and spouses of the volunteers themselves. I had some sense of what it had taken to get them to the get-together, and how they were feeling about it. These women truly had become my friends.

It’s a strange feeling to have friends you’ve never spent time with in the same room, but it’s a wonderful feeling to know that they will listen to you without judging, and offer support precisely when you need it. While I do have a rather extraordinary community here on Guam, the nature of my family’s situation means we’ll be off to a new home in less than a year’s time. I am surprisingly comfortable with this, because I know that, while I will dearly miss my Guam friends, I will have this circle of support no matter where we end up, and there’s a good chance that I’ll even be fortunate enough to live within visiting distance of at least one or two of its members.

While modern life makes the one type of village rather difficult to find, it does make possible the stitching together of virtual, geographically diverse villages of a different kind. And for that I am grateful.


To learn more about all the members of the Natural Parents Network team, visit our about page. To become a volunteer for NPN, first please check out what we’re in need of, then contact us if you’re interested in helping out. Here’s information about some of our lovely volunteers, including all of those who are writing about the gathering today:

In The First Annual Natural Parents Network Cross-Country Get Together, Natural Parents Network thanks the many volunteers who made our first annual get-together a success, and the awesome companies who donated to fill “welcome bags” for the Midwest group.
Northwest Gathering Attendees:
Lauren at Hobo Mama writes Meeting My NPN Friends.  Also find Lauren on Twitter and Facebook!
Amy at Anktangle writes Meeting the NPN Family.  Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.
Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes Meeting Those People…. Also find Jennifer on Twitter.
Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes writes Thanks.
Midwest Gathering Attendees:
Jorje at Momma Jorje writes Vacation Weekend with Volunteers.  Also find Jorje on Facebook!
Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes The Gathering.  Also find Amanda on Facebook.
Rebekah & Chris at Liberated Family.  Also find Rebekah & Chris on Twitter.
Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend:
Melissa at The New Mommy Files writes Building a Modern Day Village.  Find Melissa on Twitter and Facebook.
Rachael at The Variegated Life.  Find Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.
Sarah at Parenting God’s Children. Find Sarah on Twitter and Facebook.
Julia at A Little Bit of All of It. Find Julia on Twitter and Facebook.