76th & Newbury Review

**I received free product from 76th & Newbury for this review however all opinions are my own**



When I was contacted by 76th & Newbury to review their products, I was both excited and nervous. Excited by their beautiful and expansive collection of products to choose from, and nervous for a couple reasons. First, because I had never ordered a customized product and had no idea what to expect, and secondly because having a severe case of mom brain renders all decision making far more stressful these days!

 

 

Continue reading 76th & Newbury Review

On Raising a ‘Sensitive and Emotional’ Child

 

Despite being twins, my babies are remarkably different little humans, I am reminded every single day as to their uniqueness. This was a lesson I had to learn at first, to not compare them (see my earlier post where I talk a little about comparing babies in general here). My son is a sponge, he is constantly absorbing and feeding off of his surroundings. My daughter less so, she currently goes through her days happily singing to herself and her play frogs. Already I can tell her imagination is a deep and colorful one. As she grows I will continue to make a point to be invited into the beautiful world inside that mind, to make certain she always feels safe to include me, and never shuts me out. Because who knows how deeply things are affecting her, perhaps she just doesn’t express them as easily as her brother. And I have an entire post about that challenge, but today I want to talk about the challenge of raising a sensitive and highly emotional child, my little boy.

 

Harry has always been affected by his surroundings, and there is nothing wrong with that. I feel like in our culture we are so ready to invite concern over a little one’s emotional state, or feel we need to ‘fix it’. I really hate that mentality. My son feels SO deeply, and expresses those feelings with complete lack of inhibition. I will set him down for a brief second to change his sister’s diaper and you would think I had abandoned him in a remote Peruvian forest alone. And yes at times his pathos is a bit comical in the intensity with which he expresses his feelings, (cue face down on the floor complete body throw and sobbing) but the facts are, that is REALLY how he is feeling. His tender heart has not yet learned to hide itself. Yes, eventually he will learn that being set down for a few moments isn’t the end of the world, and he will also learn that when he wakes up he is never alone and left for dead. And one day he will talk to me about his feelings instead of just sobbing.

But, THOSE are the things I want to teach him, not to hide himself away. Someone once told me to ‘stop babying’ my baby. (first of all, right now he IS A BABY. But I digress). BUT, I am not babying him. I am teaching him validation of himself. That who he is MATTERS, that who he is is BEAUTIFUL. That what he feels is beautiful, that there is nothing wrong with his heart and emotions. I do not want to teach him how to stuff his feelings down inside, I do not want to teach him to feel less deeply. I want him to learn how to manage situations that affect him and protect himself, I don’t want him to learn that he should ‘feel less’, or that something is wrong with him because someone hurt his heart. It’s more than I don’t want him to have the ‘man up and suck it up’ mentality. It’s that I want him to celebrate the depth of his heart, to learn to protect it without paralyzing it. I want him to learn he is more than enough, and to not judge his personal worth according to how others treat him. And yes obviously I want the same for my daughter! But I know I will need different approaches to teach each one of them this. We were at the playground the other day, and he was cracking UP watching two little boys run back and forth while my daughter happily played with my mom. They were very kind little kiddos, and engaged with him and played with him despite the age difference. And I watched my baby light up like the sun with their interaction. But, I know not everyone will be so kind. Not everyone will respond to him in such a manner. One day he is going to reach out with his heart and it will not be lovingly received. And I want him to be prepared for that day. I want him to know when that happens it’s ok it hurt his feelings, it’s ok to talk about it, but that in no way is it a reflection of him, in no way is he wrong that it hurt his feelings. I want him to not only give kindness, but to expect it in return, and when it is not given, to not lay the blame on himself.

 

It is so easy to question ourselves when we have unpleasant encounters, to say, what did I do wrong? And I am not stupid, I know eventually one day my son will not handle an encounter to the best of his ability, he is HUMAN. But I do not want it to be his go to reaction to question himself. There is a difference in being responsible for our actions and being immediately ready to blame ourselves. I don’t ever want him to ask himself, was I too much? Am I too much for that person? Is that why they didn’t like me? I don’t want him to clam up, shut down, hide his heart away. I want him to KNOW he is exactly enough, that he is precious and irreplacable, that while he might not be everyone’s cup of tea that doesn’t mean he needs to change his flavor. I want him to know his flavor is not only one of a kind but to teach him to have confidence and celebrate it. I have lots more to say about this, but I will save it for another post. And yes, OBVIOUSLY I want these things equally for my daughter. But we will talk about that in another post all about her.

It’s Your Thing…Do What You Wanna Do (Even if Everyone is Judging You For It)

We’ve all talked about mommy shaming. We will talk about it more. Daddy shaming, mommy shaming, shaming in general is just a big pet peeve of mine. I was talking to my mother yesterday and she mentioned, “When did it become so wrong to have differences of opinion and be able to have a civil conversation about it?” But really, when did it? Having differences of opinion is a beautiful thing. If we were all programmed robots, all thinking the same thing, there would never be division. But imagine a world where everyone agreed all the time. I don’t think that’s beautiful. That is not diversity. Imagine a world where differences of opinion are celebrated, in all areas, personal areas such as parenting choices, lifestyle choices, etc. And while many claim that is what they aspire to do, not many actually do it. The other day my children ate peanut butter toast off my spoon while running around the play room. One friend’s children ate goldfish crackers that same day for breakfast and yet another friend’s children ate breakfast sitting down at the table like they do every morning. Each one of us parents differently and each one of us is giving our all to be the best parent we can be. And each one of us is doing GREAT.

Breakfast time at my house does happen more frequently as a free feeding carnival and once summer comes we will probably continue this tradition while they run around naked outdoors. (They will probably even pee in the grass…GASP). Even dinner time at the table can be a somewhat exciting experience with beans flying and squash face masks. But, my children do sometimes eat even breakfast at the table and my friends children do eat other things than goldfish. Parenting is not an exact science, and what matters is the big picture. Hey, at least none of us chew our food and spit it back into their mouths like Alicia Silverstone did with her son Bear…(Yep, I am totally sitting here still thinking that is weird BUT I would be willing to bet she made that admittedly disgusting choice because she truly believed it to be the best for her kid. I am just waiting to see what he thinks later, but I won’t shame her for it. I mean, that took balls to admit to in public you have to hand her that).

One of my friends just weaned her one year old, another just weaned her three year old. Both of them are amazing moms and neither one made a wrong choice. Each one made the best choice for her and her child. Each one should be confident in her parenting decisions, for they are both doing their BEST. I have doubts in my parenting abilities, just like we all do. Sometimes I even cry about it (just ask my husband about the other night when we all went to bed after 10pm and I was momentarily convinced I was destroying my children’s development by having irregular bedtimes and so we all three sat in bed and cried while the poor man tried to calm us all down). For us, naps and bedtimes differ because my husband and I both work and we made the choice to have flexible scheduling so we can spend more time with our kids. But, my children do nap, and they do sleep. Sometimes we go to bed earlier and they wake up at 8. Sometimes I work late and they wake up the next day at 10:00. They even sleep with us and our crew of cats and yes we are all still alive and well. And for the most part, I try to practice what I preach and own my parenting choices in confidence, but it can be SO difficult when we are inundated with not only everyone else’s opinions but we also have a zillion articles pelting us via social media every day on how we should parent and why we should do things a certain way. I mean, hanging out with other mamas can straight up give me flashbacks to watching Mean Girls with Lindsey Lohan. (That scene in the school where everyone acts like a jungle animal? Yeah, just replace the school with the park playground).

Why don’t we respect each other’s choices? (parenting and other wise). Why do we feel it is our own personal mission to ‘correct’ one another? I may not agree with you, and I’m not only more than willing to have a civil and respectful conversation about it, but also equally willing to admit that perhaps neither of us is wrong. Maybe we are both right. Maybe I don’t understand why you do what you do, and for that matter you may not understand why I do what I do, but I am going to leave it to the Big Man Upstairs to work that out. Let’s toast to our differences and leave it at that. I have many friends, (both mom friends and non mom friends) who I know have different opinions than I do. However, I am not going to let that effect my opinion of them or my love for them.

Because I also know that they truly are doing their best and acting on what they believe is the right thing to do. And it probably is. Just because it is different than my choice does not make it wrong. So, in the words of Aretha Franklin, “It’s your thing, do what you wanna do” and I will also add, “R E S P E C T”, let’s start socking that to each other on a daily basis, shall we?

In Defense of Using Technology as a Mom

The other day, I did the seemingly inevitable. I dropped my phone in the toilet. I was rushing, trying to answer an email while simultaneously taking a fast pee break and SPLOOSH. There it went. I immediately turned it off in a panic, burst out of the bathroom frantically and dashed it into a bag of rice (which for the record WORKS, thank God, my dad also wrapped it in paper towel, highly recommend this method). Besides the obvious dread that my phone would never turn back on resulting in me losing precious information and photos, or that it would turn back on but be damaged somehow, was the fact that I had just lost access to emails, Facebook, Instagram, non-iMessage texting and everything related to my blog. My family lovingly reassured me that my phone would probably be fine, but the fact remained that for 24 hours I would be without my technological best friend. I felt naked.
In complete honesty, I still had my iPad, and wasn’t locked out of all my email accounts, but still. I use that phone for everything. I told myself this would be good for me, a 24 hour technology purge. I would probably even sleep better and feel rejuvenated. To my surprise, however, that was not the case. Let me explain.
First of all, a disclaimer. I do not live with my nose in my phone 24/7. I am not that person who is missing precious milestones because I was glued to my Facebook feed when my daughter took her first steps. But there are a few reasons that my phone enriches my life as a mom and I want to share why I am so grateful for the technology we have today.
Let’s start with the fact that I am that person who incessantly records those milestones with my phone camera. All it takes is a quick swipe and tap and I can watch my son saying “hey daddy” for the next three decades. I can even set it down with the camera on and record our moments together. One day when they leave for college I can sit on my couch licking my empty nest wounds and listen to their first words on repeat if I want. And of course there are many times I don’t record except in my physical memory because I chose to be fully in that moment. But I like having the option to do so if I choose. It’s a balance.

I don’t think it can be denied that being a mom can be lonely, the coziest lonely if you will. I have children dripping off me 24/7 and I love it, but the facts are getting out and talking to other moms can be super hard right now. So, while I don’t live off of scrolling through my Facebook mini feed, I am very grateful for the friendships I’ve made via my social accounts. I love sharing mommy moments I have with other moms and relating to each other, even if it’s via our phone screens. We still empathize, connect, encourage and laugh together, even if it’s after 11pm and we do it via the use of a ton of wine and laugh emojis. I’ve made so many incredible and inspiring mommy friends all over the world, many of whom don’t even speak the same language but we can still connect and support each other.
And no, I am fully aware that cyber friendships don’t replace real in person laughing and connecting. But right now for my life that’s hard to make happen. I can click on the photo you posted today and comment and talk when I maybe couldn’t get together in person. I may not be able to hug you in person, but I can say I’m sorry you had a hard day and let you know I care.
Along those lines is the distraction my phone provides, sometimes in the middle of the night when my babies are nursing nonstop, I can’t sleep, and so I read or look at soothing pictures of the water. I’ve been nursing my babies a long time now, almost 15 months. I love it, and I cannot count the hours I’ve spent staring in their eyes while they did. But sometimes, when they’ve been nursing literally constantly, it’s hard. I feel like my nipples have been sucked clean off and all I want is to run away from all that touches me. And sometimes I get through those moments by catching up with mommy friends on Instagram, or retweeting some yummy recipes. (Did anybody see those mommy shaming articles that were circulating a while back about ‘brexting’? Yeah, shut those down). I distract myself, I get through it, and then I hold their hands and enjoy it again. Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it’s also a lot of hard work. (I talked about that in my last Monday morning coffee rant, click here if you haven’t watched it yet, and please excuse the background noise in that one).

And of course there are many ways to distract yourself, and reading is one of my favorite ways, but sometimes I can’t grab a book and I usually do have my phone, which also means I can read if I choose to that way. And yes, I’m a huge advocate for real life paper crack the delicious binding books but we are talking mom survival mode here. We do what we gotta do.
And of course, as in everything, balance is important. I don’t think it’s healthy to constantly be staring at a screen, for physical or emotional reasons! But I for one am very grateful for the opportunities we have with modern day technology and how much it enriches my life as a parent. What are your thoughts mamas?

We Went on a Date

The other day, my hubby and I went on our first solo date sans kids since their birth. I know that might seem extreme to some as our babies are about to turn fourteen months old, but the facts are that with their being breastfed bottle rejectors leaving them anywhere without me just wouldn’t have gone very well. We have mutually chosen to practice attachment parenting, and both understand the additional sacrifices (and joys!) that choice brings. We’ve been on family dates which we have greatly enjoyed, and are innovative with how we achieve special time together. But, I decided the other day that they would be ok for a brief time and surprised my husband by taking him for a coffee, just the two of us. It was quick, we were gone less than an hour. It took some prep, babies had to be fed right before we left and I snuck out the door while my patient and wonderful parents danced and sung to distract them so they would not notice my departure. And, I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about them at all (yes even for that hour!) and my husband and I sat feeling slightly awkward in the quiet without our kids.

But, there’s been a lot of stress and change in our lives and as I’ve mentioned before, I think its extremely important to continuously put work into the marriage relationship. Not only because if we don’t put the work in one day these sweet little birds will fly the nest and there we’ll be, trying to get to know each other again because we feel like strangers (if we even made it at all) but because I want my children to have healthy spousal relationships one day and guess who they’ll learn from? Us. We are the example they see. Last week I wrote about setting an example of self respect and care, and this goes right along with it. I want my daughter and son to learn to both treat their future spouses with reverence and to expect that reverence back. And, marriage and parenting are WORK. It doesn’t matter how in love you are or how incredible your relationship is, if you don’t tend to it, it’s not going to last. And I want my kids to know that. I want them to know it’s ok to buckle down and work it out when the going gets tough. That we won’t like each other every moment of every day, but at the end of the day we still love each other. That while not every moment is butterflies and rainbows, it’s important to make those moments happen too. My parents have been married 45 years. And I’ve been privileged to watch their relationship since my own birth. Nope, they haven’t gotten along every second. But they never quit working to make it through. They still haven’t. That is the example I want to set for my children. Unless there is some extenuating circumstance in which the relationship is emotionally or physically dangerous, it’s worth the work. And work it will be. But work that is absolutely worth doing.

So, my husband and I went on a date. I did my hair, put on the outfit I wore for our first ever date (or at least the skirt part of it), slapped some mascara on and off we went. I even blindfolded him for the three minute drive. Yes, it took longer to get ready than our actual date. But that’s ok. The coffee shop tables were all full, so we tried to sit outside. That was cold, so we had our date in the stale smelling car (but of course not until I had documented the event with a pic). And yes, it would have been a heck of a lot easier to sit at home. But we did it. We made the effort. And we will make the effort again, and again. Because it may sound cliche but it’s true. Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**Nebo Skincare Products New Years Giveaway!!!

fullsizerender**GIVEAWAY CLOSED** Congratulations to Gretchen!!!!! 🙂

As you all know, I am very passionate about both supporting small businesses and caring for the planet. I was so excited when I received an email from Nebo, a wonderful duo of beekeepers who make their own clean and amazing skincare products. They generously offered to sponsor a giveaway and I am SO excited to share these gorgeous products with you! I am obsessed and will definitely be ordering from them in the future! Not only are these products incredibly beautiful, smell amazing and are of an impeccable quality, the family is making a huge difference by lovingly caring for their bees. As you know, bees need all the help they can get these days. And without bees, this planet cannot exist.

Nebo is a family owned operation, and they live, work and play in the beautiful rolling fields and quiet northern woods of the Connecticut River valley in New Hampshire. (SWOON!) Over years of beekeeping, they accumulated a wonderful collection of beeswax and began to transform it into their simple, all natural, small batch lip balms, soaps and lotions. Other ingredients come from the family’s own garden and neighboring farms.

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Nebo generously sponsored a giveaway for an entire Box Set! (See box details below).

 

 

 

To enter the giveaway, simply:

  1. Follow Nebo on Twitter or like them on Facebook
  2. Subscribe to this blog (links for Nebo directly below, enter email at top of this page to subscribe to this blog). (Having technical trouble subscribing? My bad…I’m working on it. Just send me an email in the contact form below and state GIVEAWAY)

Winner will be selected via email so make sure to both follow or like Nebo and subscribe! (Tap links below to follow or like and enter email at the top of this page to subscribe to this blog).

Nebo Twitter

Nebo Facebook

Now, let’s talk about us what this awesome boxed set includes! (Description from Nebo.storenvy.com)

“Surprise your special someone (or yourself!) with this little box full of big goodness. Soaps, lotion, and lip balm bursting with natural ingredients, like beeswax from our honeybees, pure essential oils, and clay from our brook, will take care of the body and mind, and be easy on your wallet too!” -http://nebo.storenvy.com/

Comes in a kraft box with happy green tissue paper.

Includes:
1 Lemongrass, Rosemary Goat’s Milk Soap Bar
1 Lavender, Tea Tree Whey & Clay Soap Bar
1 Herbal Lotion in WinterNights
1 Peppermint, Rosemary Bee•U Lip Balm

 

fullsizerender-41 Lemongrass, Rosemary Goat’s Milk Soap Bar
1 Lavender, Tea Tree Whey & Clay Soap Bar

 

 

 

 

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1 Herbal Lotion in WinterNights

 

 

 

 

fullsizerender-21 Peppermint, Rosemary Bee•U Lip Balm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner will be announced next Wednesday, January 4th, 2016! Winner will be notified via email and tagged on applicable social media accounts.

(sorry, US applicants only at this time!) Per Instagram, Twitter and Facebook rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Twitter or Facebook Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram, Twitter and Facebook of responsibility, and agree to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook’s term of use.

On Setting an Example of Balance

Click here for my latest Monday Morning Coffee Rant “Let’s Talk Body Image”

(as promised, the Apple Crumble recipe is posted above under the ‘Recipes’ tab, enjoy!!!)

img_2110I don’t think it’s a shocking revelation that becoming a parent is one of the MOST beautiful, stressful, all absorbing, all consuming life events that can happen to a person. Being a mom is without doubt the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. It’s also the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. The love you experience as a parent washes over you like a giant ocean wave and consumes your entire heart and soul.  As my mom always said, watching your kids really is like watching your heart walk around outside your body. I am completely, head over heels, in love and obsessed with my children. And no, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I do, however, think that this presents an interesting challenge. While they occupy my every heartbeat and breath, I also have to find a way to take care of myself not only because I am a human and have needs too, but because I want to give them a mother who is interesting, who has passions, who can teach them how to be their best selves by being my best self.

And no, I cannot do this every day. Sometimes (oftentimes) the mommy they get needs a shower, is emotional, tired, and drained. And sometimes I force my smile and pretend I actually got sleep last night. And sometimes I put on Veggietales so I can answer work emails in img_1994peace for ten minutes. And that is ok. We cannot be perfect every moment of every day. What matters is our long term approach. I want my daughter and son to grow up with self respect and self esteem, I want them to be brave and feel confident and deserving of pursuing their passions. I don’t want to give them a mom who is a potato, thus possibly leading them to one day become potatoes themselves. I want to give them a mom who is full of life, passion, drive and balance, and inspire them to become such people as well.

fullsizerenderBut if they grow up with a mother who does none of these things, what am I teaching them? If I never take care of my own needs and desires, never do anything just because it brings me joy, what does that show them? Is that the example I want to be? Heck no. And motherhood is sacrifice. An absolutely worthy sacrifice but sacrifice it is, there’s no way around that. Most days I drink my coffee cold, I buy their clothes and needs first, and I don’t always get a shower. And as I’ve said before, I think that’s the way it should be. I chose to bring them into this world, not vice versa. And I find joy in the sacrifice. I will continue to put them first, always.

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PC: @renegadedrifterphotography

But I do think it’s important to set an example of personal respect and self esteem, and that entails doing things for me. And don’t get me wrong, my children DO bring me joy. THEY are for me. I have never experienced such complete, utter happiness in my heart and soul as I experience watching my children flourish and thrive. No craft project, baked cake, or career achievement could even begin to come close to that feeling.

But I do love to sew, to bake, to write, to play music. And I do want them to learn to love such things also. And they will learn to pursue img_2103what brings them happiness when I share with them what brings me happiness. The joy I have in watching their little personalities develop is unequalled, my daughter is obsessed with cats and Pooh Bear. My son is obsessed with Duplos and figuring out how things work, they both love books and pianos. I want them to celebrate those unique qualities and feel confident in pursuing things they love, and so I am going to do my best to show them that by doing things I love too.

It really is all about balance, isn’t it?

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**Plum Organics Eat Your Colors Giveaway and Review

img_1666Like many naturally minded mamas, my plan was to make all my own baby food. And I did try, I still make some. But frankly, life is CRAZY and I just don’t have the time! So, while I am willing to bend on not making everything, I am not willing to compromise the quality of food my children eat. And I had suuuuuuuch a hard time finding clean, simple baby food! It was so disheartening to see all of the junk that is put in ‘natural’ baby food! Not to mention, wow does that stuff get expensive! To my relief, however, I found Plum Organics. And we LOVE them. They’re organic, clean, delicious and budget friendly! We especially love their new Eat Your Colors pouches! Check out my video below to see why! (And don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway! Details below!)

Plum Organics Giving Back Programs (click each for web link)

The Full Effect

B Corp

To Enter Giveaway:

(Winner will receive six total Eat Your Colors pouches, one each in red, orange, yellow, green, white and purple).

Follow @themamaplaybook and @plumorganics on Instagram

Like and repost the Original Instagram Giveaway Post or like and tag a friend in the comments

Subscribe to this blog (enter your email at the top of this page, those emails are how I will notify the winner!)

Giveaway closes Wednesday December 21st Midnight MST (winner will be notified via email and tagged on applicable social media accounts).

(sorry, US applicants only at this time!) Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.

SnoofyBee Changing Pad Review

img_1538**DISCOUNT CODE AHEAD!! I will only, ONLY ever feature products on my blog that I have personally sought out and use and love. My heart in reviewing products is to be able to test drive them for you mamas, and then if I deem them worthy of your love, I will procure a discount code so you can enjoy them also<3**.

Months ago, I discovered a product called the SnoofyBee and have been wanting to get one ever since. A SnoofyBee is this incredible product that keeps babies hands safely out of their diapers at changing time while simultaneously keeping them entertained. No, I have no idea why I waited this long to get one. Simply put, as I know many babies do, my wee ones each LOVE to turn into a rabid octopus at changing time. Arms, hands, legs and whatever toy is nearby are doomed for a poopy demise. I mean seriously how do they somehow seem to sprout six extra limbs suddenly?! Short of sitting on them I’ve been at a loss as to how in the world to keep them out of the mess at changing time. Clothing, toys, baby and me often get wiped out. But! Enter the SnoofyBee! Mine arrived this week, and all I can say is, HOW DID I EVEN GET THROUGH DIAPER CHANGES before! Mamas, you need this. Dads, you need this. Every parent grandparent aunt and uncle needs this. Seriously, it’s worth every penny and henceforth shall be my go to baby gift (and a cost effective one at that!). Please enjoy my demonstration below, then click here to shop and use code THEMAMAPLAYBOOK for 10% off!!!

 

A Story of Life Inspiration: Shekinah Clay

Preface

img_1174I am so honored to have my dear Aunt Lynne share her story with us today of the birth of her beautiful Raku business, Shekinah Clay. Lynne has been an irreplaceable and important part of me and my family’s lives since literally before my own birth. I am so grateful that my little girl will grow up being able to look up to her, strong women arise having learned from strong women. I want my little girl to have the confidence to pursue her dreams and bring them into reality as Lynne has done. It takes much strength and determination to accomplish and make what we love a reality in our lives. Pursuing that which we love in an effort to bring to pass our hearts desires can be scary, take a TON of work, and don’t always have an immediate payoff. Watching Lynne bring her love to pass, share her heart in her work and truly bless countless lives with her beautiful pieces is such an inspiration and privilege. Please check out her shop, www.etsy.com/Shop/Raku4u (click link).

 

The Story of Shekinah Clay

By Lynne Anderson

img_1173I had just returned to school (and..rather late in life…like in my mid-forties!) to get my Master’s Degree in Art Education. Throughout the years of raising my family and teaching Art K-12 in a rural District, I’d always promised myself that when the children had ‘flown the nest’ I would return to my Alma Matter (University of Northern Colorado) for my advanced degree…and this happened for me in 1994.
Similar to undergraduate programs, the Master’s Degree required some electives and in my first semester, I signed up for an elective course in Ceramics….and that’s when it happened to me. Sitting on a potter’s wheel, with hands muddied up with clay and slip, quite simply…. I fell in LOVE: in love with clay, in love with the malleability of it, in love with the ‘add to it’ or ‘subtract from it’ freedom of sculpting with it, in love with working on the potter’s wheel and slipping into a ‘zen’ state where all else fades away except for hands & clay working together, in love with the process of a clay item being fired into a usable item and in love with the serendipity of the glaze firing process ….that feeling of it ‘being like Christmas when opening the kiln afterwards’ to reveal the unique coloration.
As a result of this new LOVE, I immediately declared Ceramics as a second and equally important part of my Master’s Degree….and I am still as passionate about and involved with it today as I was on day 1 of discovering it!

fullsizerender-3One of the firing processes I learned about ‘back then’ was Raku, and this became my firing process of focus. Raku was learned from the Japanese and has roots in the Japanese Tea Ceremony which pays high honor to its participants. The teabowls, which are hand made of clay, are pulled direct from the firing while they are red hot – a vastly different approach than the more widely used firing process where the kiln cools very slowly so as not to stress the ware inside. Japenese Raku is very organic in nature and more closely resembles some of the more ancient ware seen in our country.
Artists here in the west became interested in Raku in the 1950’s and began experimenting by using glazes with metallic colorants. Over time, Raku in the West yielded stunningly beautiful one of a kind raku pieces captivating many…..myself being one. I’ve always loved iridescence and metallic finishes, and raku certainly captures that.

fullsizerenderThere came a day in the late 90’s when I knew it was time to open a business for the many Raku items that were piling up in my studio. Opening a checking account was a first step – I arrived at the bank parking lot, but in my excitement, I realized that I needed to give the business a NAME and this was the first time it occurred to me! I was a complete newbie at opening/starting a business….hey, I’d always been a teacher in Public Ed!
So, in my car…..in the parking lot at the bank, I prayed….asked God what I should name it to bring glory back to Him? And the answer was immediate and undeniable. SHEKINAH CLAY. And I loved it!….knowing from Biblical studies about the Shekinah Glory….that incredible luminous spiritual light. Loved the name…..but couldn’t remember for sure how it was spelled, so immediately returned home to my Concordance…then back to the bank lol!

fullsizerender-2For many years, my husband and I participated in roughly 2 juried Fine Art Shows per month in a multi state region and I cannot begin to tell you how many times the question was asked of me ‘What kind of clay is Shekinah Clay?’….then would begin a conversation of a more spiritual nature.
To say that I am thankful….that I am grateful….cannot even begin to express the depth and the meaning… working in the medium of clay has brought to me. In essence, I feel it is one of the reasons I am HERE….that I EXIST…it is a means of expressing a gift given me from above….. for the enrichment not only of myself, but others as well. My heart felt mission statement for each item I create is “ Just as words can minister grace to the hearer, may this art work minister grace to all who view it and to the place in which it resides.”

Lynne Anderson, Raku Artist

www.RakuByShekinahClay.com

www.etsy.com/Shop/Raku4u