guest blog


Hi, I'm Charlotte and I'm guest blogging in this space for Meg while she prepares for Quilt Market this month.  I feel honored to be writing here on this very page where our special friendship began.  I started reading Meg's blog before Finn was even born and sometime during his early months I realized that Meg and I lived in the same town, with boys just a few months apart.  So I wrote to her, and it felt something like writing to Punky Brewster when I was seven years old, only instead of a junky fan club postcard and Punky headshot, I got a playdate with Meg, the crafting and parenting rockstar. (Guess what?  Despite being starstruck in the beginning, she's just like you and me!) We found some common ground.  We got to know one another.  Then we got pregnant at the same time again, this time with Lachlan and my little girl, Kenzie.  We rode that rollercoaster together, and our bond strengthened.

Meg is one of my best friends, and when I thought of what I could say during my time in this space, I kept coming back to Meg herself.  I hope to share the things I love about Meg with you, and give you a more intimate look at the woman behind the blog.

This week we headed to our favorite river spot together, me with my four kids and Meg with her two. We hope to make this a weekly adventure through the seasons and this week's visit didn't disappoint, with clouds and rain and sun all in the same visit!  The rain didn't dampen our spirits and even made the views more beautiful.

I suppose to an untrained eye, nothing remarkable was happening.  Kids played.  Kids got wet.  Boots got muddy.  Insects and snails were captured.  There were smiles (a lot) and tears (a few) and lots and lots of snacks for our busy adventurers.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind.  We could spend that extra half hour cleaning house or doing one more work task or simply  choose to stay inside on a slightly damp day to avoid the mess and fuss.  But we wouldn't want that, now would we, Lachlan?

No.  Because the outdoors has lessons to teach us.  My own over-active brain slows down and breathes deeply.  Questions bubble forth from my older ones with regularity - do trees have DNA?  How do the leaves in the river affect the ecosystem?  Did the rocks erode from rain or from the river when it was higher?  They relax and open themselves fully to the experience, with creativity and problem solving blending into one seamless experience.  And Kenzie?  Well, she's been hesitant around steps lately.  My house has six sets of steps inside (yes, six!  they vary from 1-3 steps all the way to a full flight) and she was refusing to go up or down them, protesting to be helped each time, even transitioning from room to room.  But outside?

Despite their size and irregularity, she conquered that fear.  Thank you, nature!  And thank you, Meg, for bringing this city-girl out into the wild every week and reminding me that we have so much to learn just by being present.

motherhood is ...

What an honor it is to have Grace from Uncommon Grace visiting here today for the last reflection in the "Motherhood is ..." series. You see, Grace has just given birth to her third baby - a beautiful little girl. I'm sure so many of you can appreciate the life transitions that occur when a family grows in number... new sibling relationships are formed, papas go back to work, and life moves forward in beautiful yet sometimes challenging ways until you settle into a new "normal." So please go and visit Grace in her thoughtful, Waldorf-inspired home, and wish her well!


...the hardest, best, funnest, and most motivating thing I have ever done

...getting to know each of your children as individuals: realizing how very different all people really are

...the opportunity to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything afresh baby bliss

...rough nights with the confused emotions of a three-year-old

...having to say "no": to family, friends, your partner, yourself, playdates, classes, the latest critically-acclaimed novel, and even, sometimes, to your children


...learning to live in the moment, even if it's the hardest life lesson you've ever had to learn

...holding a tarantula and telling your squeamish daughter that it's "no big deal", even though you'd rather be doing anything else in the whole world

...nursing while typing

...that first (second, third...) terrifying drive to the emergency room

...knowing everything about another person and still being surprised every single day by their very being

...needing your own mother again


...wanting to freeze time, and knowing you can't

motherhood is ... an awakening

The exceptionally talented, generous, and uplifting Jennifer from JCHandmade is not only a prolific knitter and a wonder-worker with her sewing machine, she is the mother of twin girls. I love visiting her space, being inspired, and knowing that I'll leave feeling refreshed. Thank you, Jennifer, for making this world a little brighter for all of us!

motherhood is

motherhood is an awakening.

slowly you rise each morning to draw back the curtain on your tiny window to the world. you swoon at the luminous colors cast across the sky by each sunrise and sunset. you go about your days, do your thing, life is what it is.

and then one day a door opens. a door which had previously been obscured from view now lies open. it invites you to pass through. and as you do, you find yourself in a vast castle with more rooms and corridors than one could ever possibly imagine. and as you set foot into this new space, life as you know it is irrevocably changed.

with each sunrise, you make your way down a corridor trying the door handles as you go. eventually one opens and you enter, drawing back the curtain on yet another tiny window to the world. some days the sun streams in with such brilliance you are knocked off your feet as it warms your very essence and fuels your soul. and then there are days when you find only darkness in your space, challenging your course, eating away at your energy. as you stumble, you come to find that the only one tripping you up is you. and so you pause, you breathe, and you try your best to embrace the moment for what it is: an opportunity. over time, you come to truly appreciate the light and warmth as it allows you to step back and gain perspective of precisely where you are, and to be thankful for your journey thus far. and though it is tempting to look ahead, you learn to savor the bliss of each moment in each room in time.

motherhood has been and continues to be the greatest gift I have been given. even if I could, I would not alter the course that has brought us to our here and now. as each new door opens, I gain a tiny bit more perspective on the world and our particular moment in time. we continue down the path that lies ahead: some days we will guide, some days we will be guided. getting to that place – being in that place – is sublime. xoxo

~jennifer casa [march 2009]

motherhood is ... so worth it

Today we welcome Marcy from Life is Good. Marcy is a fellow Montessorian, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was the first person who ever bothered to read this blog, way back in February 2007 when it was still "Montessori By Hand!" I've thoroughly enjoyed reading Marcy's witty, honest, and uplifting posts about her journey through pregnancy and motherhood - she and her son Donovan are just a step ahead of me and my little boy! When you get a chance, check out some of Marcy's gorgeous photos.


When Meg first asked me to write a post with the theme of "Motherhood is..." I thought it would be a pretty simple and easy one to write. But when I started thinking more concretely about what to say, I realized that it would actually be kinda hard. And that right there sums up motherhood in a way. Motherhood is in some ways such a simple, easy, natural thing. It is also so, so difficult and complex. Motherhood is a uniting force, but it can also feel very lonely. Motherhood is an experience so universal, and at the same time so unique and personal.

I became a mother a little over a year ago. It's not much of a stretch to say that the past year has been the hardest of my life. I've been sleep-deprived through most of it, feeling more exhausted than I ever thought possible. I have worried endlessly about this little boy that came into my life and into my care, constantly second-guessing my decisions and whether I was doing a good enough job. I have read countless parenting books, and become deeply annoyed by most of them. I have been "on call" 24/7, with never more than maybe a couple of hours "off" every once in a while. There have been tears, anger, and frustration. Yes, it has been tough.

But as that old, but so true, cliche goes, motherhood is both the hardest job I've ever had, and also the most rewarding. I think my son has made me laugh-- really laugh, those deep belly laughs-- at least once a day, every single day of his existence. My husband and I often turn to each other and gush about our little boy, wondering how in the world we wound up with a child who is so adorable, so smart, and so awesome. I'll watch him as he falls alseep at night, and my heart fills with such love for him and I wish I could just freeze that moment in time and keep it in my heart forever. I am in awe of him, seeing the world through his eyes as he absorbs everything around him. His every achievement, no matter how small, fills me with pride and joy. I adore him to death, and feel so honored to be his mother.

I know I have many years of more worrying, questioning, and probably some more tears ahead of me in my continuing journey into motherhood. I also know I would never trade this for anything in the world. Motherhood is so worth it.

motherhood is ... finding balance

A warm welcome to the ever-thoughtful, supremely creative Maya of maya*made! I just love her words of wisdom, which are such a wonderful reminder even if you aren't a mother!


Motherhood is... finding balance
~ when to hold your child's hand and when to let it go
~ when to listen to others' advice and how to hear your own wisdom
~ how to give to yourself, while you provide so much to everyone else
~ learning how to play and still get work done
~ learning how to get work done and still play
~ figuring out what is too much and what is just enough
~ flexibility vs. structure
~ spontaneity vs. routine

Motherhood is a bit like walking on a tightrope and balance is what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.

I'd love to hear about your balancing acts...

liberated man: house chef/food scientist

homemade caramel popcorn

This is Meg's husband, Patrick. She asked me to write up the experience of making caramel popcorn for the first time this morning. I based it on a recipe I found in a Ready Made magazine. It was fairly easy, actually, once I figured out how to overcome the problem of crystallized sugar.

First step, make the popcorn. This is just as easy on the stove top as it is in the microwave, and you can avoid all those synthetic chemicals that fool your tastebuds into telling you you're eating butter. Just buy some popcorn kernels and heat a large, covered pot on high for a minute or two. Add some oil to the bottom, which will help ensure that all the kernels get heated equally.

You need to let it get really HOT, at or just below the temperature at which the oil starts to burn. (There is a small amount of water inside the kernel, and you want it to very rapidly reach the boiling point so it causes the kernel to explode. If you start on too low a heat, the pressure generated by the water boiling will escape slowly, and you won't get a fluffy piece of popcorn.) Test the temperature by throwing in a couple kernels. If they pop in 10 seconds or so, you're probably good.

Now throw in all your kernels and cover it. I added a little less than a cup of kernels, and probably got somewhere between 8 and 10 cups of popcorn. Now, wearing your oven mitts, move the pot around over the heat, ensuring that the kernels all receive heat, and shaking so that unpopped kernels fall to the bottom. Like in the microwave, turn off the heat when the popping slows almost to stopping. If you leave the pot closed, some kernels will keep popping. Be sure not to burn the popcorn too much.

Mix in some unshelled peanuts with the popcorn, to taste.

For the caramel, I added about 1 cup of sugar to a saucepan, then 1 cup of water. You heat this on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, allowing it to boil and bubble away, stirring often. It should turn a nice golden color at some point. When it's a nice brown, turn down the heat. Then add about 6 tablespoons of butter and stir it in. If you have extra water, like I did, I don't think it's a big deal. You could try to pour it off (since the caramel will sink), but I decided just to pour it over the popcorn and peanuts too.

BE CAREFUL not to touch the hot caramel. It will be scorching hot and STICKY - a bad combination.

The first time I did this, the sugar suddenly crystallized on me, coating my pan with hard rock candy. (If you've ever taken a good chemistry class, you might be familiar with the reason for this. Sugar dissolves in water at higher temperatures and with mixing. As the water boils off, the ratio of sugar to water increases, and the solution can become saturated, meaning no more sugar can dissolve in that amount of water. If you continue boiling off the water or lower the temperature of your mixture (which I did), the solution will become "super-saturated." You have more sugar dissolved in your water than is actually possible to dissolve! This is very unstable, so any disturbance - such as your mixing spoon - will cause the excess sugar to crystallize, touching off a process that will quickly turn your liquid into a solid.)

I think this happened to me because I live at a very high altitude, where water boils at a lower temperature (due to the lower atmospheric pressure). So, when I followed a recipe written for you low-landers, I didn't add enough water. The sugar didn't get hot enough to carmelize before most of my water boiled off.

Not to worry, I simply turned off the heat, added more water, and used a wooden spoon to scrape all that crystallized sugar off the bottom. I started up the heat again, this time stirring the entire time. The sugar eventually redissolved, turned that golden brown, and though I had a little extra water, once I added the butter, it made some delicious caramel popcorn!