Rocks, Pebbles, Water

Just like me, my son struggles with organization.

Last Friday I urged him to clean out his backpack.

He refused.

“There’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be,” he said.

I pushed.

He pushed back.

When I promised to put all the binders and folders back in for him, he finally agreed.

Nothing in there?

Just several inches, an entire can’s worth, of crushed sour cream and onion Pringles.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

And just as I was about to ring his disorganized neck,

Susan Kruger showed up in our lives.

Well, her book did anyway.

And it’s a game changer.

It’s called SOAR (Set Goals, Organize, Ask Questions, Record Your Progress) and it’s full of simple tips and tricks that support student’s success in and out of school (and in this case, their mama’s, too!)

My favorite tool is the time management one Kruger uses for establishing priorities.

The approach is so brilliant in its simplicity.

Imagine you have a big empty glass jar.

That jar represents the 24 hours in your day.

Now fill that jar with rocks.

Those rocks represent all the things you have to get done in your day; the “must-dos.”

For Tuck, it’s his math homework, studying for his French test, and talking to his teacher about a report.  For me, it’s meal prep, laundry, bills, responding to correspondences, writing and exercise that comprise my rocks.

So now you have a jar full of rocks, but is the jar full?


There are empty spaces in between all those rocks that can be filled with pebbles.

Tuck’s pebbles are soccer practice, working on his mountain bike trails and hanging out with friends.  Mine are tennis, yoga and coffee with a friend.

But believe it or not, there is still room in the jar.  Pour in water and it fills in the spaces between the rocks and pebbles.

That’s the time left for Tucker to watch tv or play games on his Kindle or Wii.  For me, it’s a 20 minute nap, sitting down with a book or watching my favorite t.v. program.

And what Tuck and I have both realized, is that if we fill the jar with our pebbles and water first, there ‘aint no way to fit in those rocks.

Essentially I’m still doing exactly what I’ve already been doing everyday, but the real difference is that I’ve categorized and prioritized everything.

Here’s what I mean…

Old Way – Empty 1/2 the dishwasher… answer email…take Meg for a walk… answer phone…empty other 1/2 dishwasher…check Facebook…put breakfast dishes in  dishwasher…put a load of laundry in washer…answer the phone…check email…jot writing idea down on slip of paper (later lose)…and on and on I go until I look up at the clock and it’s 2:45 and I’m late picking up the kids.

New Rocks, Pebbles, Water System – In the morning I draw several circles on a piece of paper (my rocks) and begin filling them in.  1 hour household (clean up kitchen, plan dinner, laundry, bills etc).  When that hour is up, I’m done. The rest can wait until tomorrow’s hour or I can pass on a couple of things to the kids as after-school chores. 1 hour communication, i.e. sit down at my desk and go though my email, Facebook and twitter, replying to whomever I need to.  I also use this time for phone calls.  Another hour is for writing. Another for exercise.  You get the picture.

Basically I’ve finally stopped flitting through my days and focus solely on the current task at hand. So by the time the kids get home from school, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much and can be wholly present to them, ready to kick around a soccer ball, play a board game or just hang out.  Once their rocks are complete, that is!

RocksSquareWhat about you? Do you or your child struggle with organization? Do you have favorite tricks or tools to share?

That for Which I am Willing to Shout from the Rooftops…

Here are a few of the things I’ve been really digging lately:

1.) My new iPad cover. I do most of my writing old school – pencil, paper, composition notebook. When I found this cover I was beyond excited – Old meets new!

2.) This Youtube video.  An Open Letter To Moms from Kid President  I can’t get enough of this kid!  But my kids are a bit worried about the “dance in the grocery store recommendation,” because, well, I already do!

3.)  My milk frother.  Last summer I discovered a love of lattes, but it turns out I just really love frothy milk. So every morning I whip up a bit of milk and pour it right on top of my regularly brewed cup.  Andie also loves it with her mint tea.  I couldn’t find a link, but I bought it at Target for 20 bucks.

4.)  This Tedtalk blew me away.  Amanda Palmer: The art of asking. Brilliant.

5.)  My two new favorite TV shows.  Touch and Nashville.  (Thanks Mom for turning me on to Nashville!)

6.)  Enneagram.  Enneawhat?  Enneagram is a system of personality types that I am finding wildly fascinating.  Now that I’ve determined my numerical type and that of my kids, I totally “get” myself and them on a whole new level.  A good place to check out the descriptions of each type is here – Introduction to the 9 Enneagram Types

7.)  This utterly fabulous workbook on study skills. Not only is it helping my kids get organized, but me, too!  I cannot recommend this book enough!

More to follow in a future post!

8.)  Coconut Water Mango Smoothies.  Tucker loves them and I sneak more healthy stuff in there then he’d ever imagine.  Not much in the way of a recipe.  I just throw a bunch of frozen mango in a blender (sometimes pineapple, and if I’m drinking alone, a handful of spinach!) and fill just above the fruit with coconut water, which is full of electrolytes and lots of other good stuff.  I throw in a splash of o.j. and milk (makes it taste like a creamsicle), protein powder, flax oil, acidophilus and the calcium pills Tuck won’t take.

9.)  My perspective on aging.  After hearing Laura Linney’s on this Fresh Air interview I welcomed my crow’s feet.  “As I’ve been aging, and parents are dying and I’ve unfortunately lost friends who were way too young to go — you realize what a privilege it is to age.  And that’s not a message we hear a lot in the United States.”  You can check out the entire interview here – Linney Mines ‘The Big C’ For Serious Laughs

10.)  Hanging out with other Preemie Parents at the March of Dimes March for Babies, which I’ll be doing again this coming weekend, Sunday, May 19th at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH.  Once again, proceeds from all book sales will go to the March of Dimes!

(By the way, nobody’s paying me to do this rooftop shouting.)

So what’s got you shouting these days?

What Does it Mean to Mother?

I just left the Medieval Games at my children’s Waldorf School where I watched my strong, athletic, capable and highly competitive 6th grade daughter compete her heart out.

I stopped in at our local cafe to escape the heat, sip a lemonade and possibly write a bit.

As I sat, ready to begin writing, I opened my computer to find a notification informing me that my dear friend/editor/writing coach/book midwife, Suzanne Kingsbury had just posted a Mother’s Day essay on her wonderful blog where she posts “entries from my grandma Maggie’s (rather famous) late 1930s diary and fiery truth and wild musings from my writer’s life in Brattleboro Vermont in the 21st century.”

The cafe is busy and bustling on this warm Friday afternoon, and I am trying without much success, to contain my tears that refuse to stop.  I am stunned and honored.

I’m also amazed at the timing, for all day I’ve been thinking about all the “mothers” (including my own) who’ve shown up in my life to love, nurture and guide me along my journey.

Please read the post from Suzanne Kingsbury here –

And to read a piece that I wrote about my mom a couple of Mother’s Days ago, click here –

Mom Memories

And to every woman out there, whether you’ve had children in the traditional sense or you have “mothered” in whatever way you’ve been called, I send you love, gratitude and many blessings.

It is sure to be an incredible Mother’s Day weekend here, as I will spend tomorrow, Saturday, May 11th at The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire, side by side with many other preemie moms (and dads) participating in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies. I’ll be there signing my books  and donating all proceeds from the book sales back to the March of Dimes. If you’re in the area, I sure would love to see you there!

WIth much love,


Happy Spring!


I hope wherever you may be, you’re finding moments to get outside and enjoy the glorious return and renewal of spring.

With Blessings,

Kasey and Miss Meg


For spring break, I took the kids down to Florida to visit my parents.

Once again I was reminded of the healing power of one of my favorite meditations – simply sitting on the beach watching my kids play in the sand and water.  What a gift.

A Bittersweet Goodbye

I haven’t written over here much in the past couple of weeks because…well, I’ve been grieving.

Her name was Josie and we only had her for one week…


But, in that one week I fell head-over-heels in love with her.

She came to us as a foster pup for Tucker’s Eighth Grade Community Service project.

Originally Tuck wanted to work at a nursing home or senior center, playing checkers or reading to shut-ins, but rules and restrictions made it unbelievably impossible to find an applicable situation.  Andie also had to complete community service hours this year, and she discovered a small dog rescue in the next town over where she went once a week to “socialize” the pups; i.e. sit on the floor and play amongst a pack of puppies!

“I’m always looking for foster families if you guys are ever interested,” Heather, the director of the shelter mentioned a few times.

Tuck was reluctant at first, knowing a puppy is a lot of work, especially in the early morning hours when his teenage body clings to the mattress for any extra minutes of sleep.  But with a deadline looming, he ultimately agreed to head over to the shelter and pick out a pup.

Upon walking in the door, he immediately saw Josie.  “That’s the one,” he said, but I encouraged him to take his time, get to know all five of the puppies who’d just come two-thousand miles from the “high-kill” shelter in Arkansas.  (“High-kill,” Tucker discovered through his research, meant that dogs brought to the shelter by their owners were euthanized in three days and those found on the streets, five.)

We stayed an hour, sitting on the linoleum floor, puppies nipping at our ears, but Tucker never swayed from his certainty about Josie.  We left with a big bag of puppy chow and the crate in which Josie would sleep.

I won’t go too far into the details, but let’s just say, Tuck got a lot less sleep than usual and cleaned up his share of “accidents.”  I, on the other hand, discovered just how wonderful it felt to be needed; to have to plan my daily schedule around a puppy’s needs to be let out several times throughout the day.  As Meg has gotten older, we’re down to just one walk a day, but with Josie, we were taking three.  And rather than walking alongside Meg in silence, I laughed out loud as Josie tumbled over snow banks, and I squealed words of praise every time she peed or pooped, mimicking her mentor teacher, Meg.

I know what you’re thinking, So why didn’t you just keep her?  Believe me, we talked about it.  And we totally could have, but the thing is, I believed (and now I know first hand) that it would be so much easier to keep her than to let her go to another family who’d have the chance to love and adore such a wonderful puppy.

It was the Saturday after we brought her home, we were at the kid’s last ski race – a big festive, end of ski season party on snow – and Andie was walking Josie in and out of the pop-up tents, around beach chairs and grills, proudly announcing to anyone and everyone who cooed over our newfound pup, “She’s a foster dog. You can adopt her.”  And before I knew it, another ski family from another mountain had fallen in love with her.

All their references checked out and a few days later their application was approved.  I’d already known, when Mom fell to her knees on the snow at that ski race and held Josie to her chest, that she’d adore her as much as I did.  Still, it didn’t make it any easier when the entire family arrived on a late Wednesday afternoon, having driven nearly two hours from their home in Massachusetts, with a new pink leash and lots of squeaky toys in hand, ready to take Josie home.

I waved and watched them drive out, Josie looking back at me from Mom’s lap in the front seat.  The tears totally surprised me, but I just couldn’t stop them.  They came hard and fast and from some place so deep, I knew they were about more than just the loss of that sweet, sweet pup.

Enough time has passed to understand that as I enter this knew phase of parenting, especially with Tucker, whose voice has gone down deep and whose height has shot up to just an inch or two from mine, that this grieve is about so much more. About those long ago days when I felt so needed, when I held a little one to my chest and napped and felt comforted in knowing there wasn’t anywhere else in the world I’d rather be.


Lee and the kids keep trying to comfort me, reminding me just how chaotic the house was while Josie was with us.  And I nod my head as if I agree, but I know that in fact the chaos was part of the joy.  All the scattered puppy toys and bones underfoot, just like the long forgotten Playmobile, Matchbox cars and wooden train pieces.

Even though it’s been so painful to say goodbye, the amazing part is, I’ve already told Heather from the animal rescue that I’ll foster another pup.  “The longer you do it,” she told me, “the easier it gets to say goodbye.”

Time will tell, but in the meantime, I will delight in every photo Josie’s new family sends my way – Josie on the end of her pink leash being walked by her adorable girls, Dad giving her her first bath, asleep on a pile of fuzzy pink blankets – and know that I am willing to open my heart and love again…and again…and again.

Am I alone in grieving my kids growing up or have you experienced some of that too?


In times of uncertainty and sadness, I find great comfort in this poem,


The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


May the coming days bring peace and comfort to you and those you love.

For those seeking advice on how to navigate times of uncertainty, sadness and fear with your own children, I found this article by Bonnie Harris of Connective Parenting incredibly helpful.

In Time of Tragedy, Look to Yourself First

With Blessings,


EMDR Therapy

EMDRDo you or anyone you know find yourself overwhelmed by fear?  If so, I wrote an article on EMDR therapy that you may find really helpful.

It’s posted today over on the Preemie Babies 101 Website. Please know that EMDR is not just for parents of premature babies.  EMDR is wonderful resource for anyone working toward overcoming trauma.

Here’s a bit of the article. If you want to read more, please click the link below to read the rest.

“I entered our local grocery store, only to have my eye catch the front page of a Boston newspaper. A photo of a large hypodermic needle and the big, bold letters across the front page read “Swine Flu…” but before I could read the rest, my knees buckled and I had to hold on to a nearby display rack to keep from falling over.

“I can’t live this way anymore,” I hissed at myself. Then I stood up straighter, pulled my shoulders back and said it again. “I can’t live this way anymore.”

I turned around and left the store, dialing the phone number of my friend. When I asked if she could help me find a good therapist (she works as a grief counselor) she suggested I look into EMDR therapy.

And I did…”

A Need For Change: EMDR Therapy

If you want more information or have further questions about my experience with EMDR, I’m happy to answer as best I can. Either leave a comment over on the preemiebabies101 blog post, here on this post, or you can email me at premature

With blessings,


Returning to Normal

crutchesWith Lee just returning to work this week, and driving himself for the first time today, I’m attempting to catch back up on my life.  I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who sent along well wishes, positive thoughts and healing energy.  It really worked!  Lee is recovering beautifully.

To my friends and family in the role of caregiver, I’d like to extend an apology.  I’m always preaching to you about self-care, but I now know that it’s way easier said than done.  On the other hand, I can also attest to the fact that I see now more than ever, how vitally important it is to take time for yourself.

Yesterday, I gave myself the gift of a long, quiet walk in the woods and then sat down with a cup of tea in front of my favorite program, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (I record it every week).  I’ve been so excited because her guest was the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Gifts of Imperfection (I wrote a blog post about it here).  I could go on and on about Dr. Brene Brown and the research she’s done of shame and vulnerability, but I spent much of the morning at the local cafe enjoying a lovely conversation with a new friend and now the piles of untended dishes, laundry and bills are demanding my attention.  I did, however, want to share with you the amazing Parenting Manifesto Brene read from her new book, Daring Greatly on Oprah’s show.  I copied and pasted it down below, but the manifesto is available on Oprah’s website or you can download a beautiful poster format from Brene’s website.  I hope it resonates with you as much as it did me.

I think The Parenting Manifesto ties in nicely to the work in Renee Trudeau’s book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.  I’m happy to announce that Jackie, who left the beautiful comment, “I would love to just be able to experience joy in everyday, without getting distracted by all of the should-haves and to do’s. I want to be able to breathe freely knowing that I am setting a good example for my son to be purely happy, not sensing my stress!” was chosen by as the giveaway winner.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll look forward to checking in with you next week!


The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

(from Daring Greatly, by Dr. Brene Brown)

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and loveable.

You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.

You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both. 

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.  

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude. 

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life. 

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it. 

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

New Knee

Do you know anyone who has an upcoming surgery?  Perhaps my husband’s story will help…

Three days ago I was sitting in the hospital waiting room while my husband, Lee was having the ACL and meniscus in his knee repaired.

As you may know from my book or blog, I believe illness and injury, though an unwelcome guest, can be opportunities for personal growth.  It’s been amazing to follow Lee on his journey, as he’s gone from seeming incredibly vulnerable, to information gathering and eventually empowered and certain.  As much as I wanted to insert myself in his process, I had to repeatedly remind myself that this is his journey and for him to learn all his lessons, I could support him, but not do the work for him.  (If you have a child undergoing surgery, as a parent, you can do the following recommended exercises on your child’s behalf, as we did for our daughter.)

That being said, when we first learned he needed surgery, I left Peggy Huddleston’s book, Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster on his bedside table.  It was a few nights later when I found him already in bed half-way through Chapter One.  “You’re so subtle,” was all he said. I hid my smile behind my hand.

And my smile continued to grow as I watched and witnessed Lee accept and embrace the suggestions in Huddleston’s book as his surgery date approached.

He reached out to the people he works with, the guys he mountain bikes with, and all his ski racing buddies to create the suggested “support group.”  “Hey if you think of it,” he would say, “send some positive energy my way Monday morning at 7:30.”  Later, on our drive to the hospital he confessed that wasn’t easy for him.  “To put myself out there like that, to ask them to think of me, was really hard,” but after a moment he added, “But I’m so glad I did because it was very well received and they felt included in my process.”

The other big take-away from Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster was the healing statements.  These are intentions written out by the patient and read by someone in the operating room as the patient goes under and comes out of anesthesia.  Huddleston talks in her book about the research that has proven that even when a patient is anesthetized, he/she is still hearing what is said during surgery.  She sites examples from hospitals in Boston, New York, Atlanta and London who’ve all shown that “patients who had positive statements spoken to them during general anesthesia recovered more quickly with less pain and complications than the patients in the control group, who were not given the statements.”

In the pre-op room, Lee mustered up his courage to hand the sheet of loose leaf paper on which he’d written his statements to the anesthesiologist and ask that they be read during surgery.  I watched Lee relax into the bed when the anesthesiologist said, “Yeah, I’ve seen this several times now. Must be somethin’ going around.”

Prior to surgery, we learned that Lee had the choice to use one of his own tendons to replace his, or one from a donor.  Based on his age (46) it was repeatedly recommended he use the donor option.  It was about a week before surgery that it really hit home for Lee that his new tendon would be coming from someone whose life had been cut short.  The last of his healing statements reflects that.  With his permission, these are the statements he wrote:

  • I look forward to this procedure and wish for it to go smoothly, efficiently and as simply as possible in a safe and clean environment.
  • My immediate post-op recovery will be pain-free, and set the stage for a pain-free rehabilitation.
  • All medications from surgery will transfer easily out of my body.
  • My body’s response will be swift, thorough and strong.
  • I express deep gratitude to the donor of this tissue and intend that this tissue will be welcomed and accepted as a part of my body.

I can happily report that three days post-surgery, Lee is doing wonderfully well.  He’s off all pain meds, making good progress on his physical therapy and already making plans for next ski season!