Finding Priorities in Changing Environments

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


IMG_5117As a military family, we are not strangers to change.  Orders change, duty stations change, daddy leaves, daddy comes home. Mommy’s happy; mommy’s overwhelmed. Change is just a part of our lives and we have adapted to it as our family grows.

But this Christmas, 6 months after our big PCS move from Kittery, Maine to Kodiak Island, AK, I noticed just how much an environmental change had impacted our family dynamic, and the truth was startling. It would seem insignificant to someone in the lower 48 states, but we are totally limited to the food, activities, and events that occur ON Kodiak Island, AK.

Family Changes

When we watch TV, we see commercials for places, restaurants, and activities that occur all over that State of Alaska (which is BIG, if you’re not familiar). But unlike Alaskans that live on the Mainland of AK who can reach these different places by land, we say to one another, “well, we can’t even drive there” or “wouldn’t Pizza Hut be yummy? Too bad we’re here on the island.”


You see, the only ways off of Kodiak Island are a 9 hour + ferry ride, or a plane ride to Anchorage. And plane rides aren’t cheap for a family of four. Through our military base, we can take a Space-A flight on one of the Coast Guard planes to Anchorage for a day trip once a year (or more times, if we put our names on the list and wait for availability) – and we do plan on doing that in the Spring. But it’s a huge change from anywhere else in the United States in that I can’t say “I need to run to target” or “Let’s go to the mall and walk around.” This is so different for us and for our Silly Bears, because driving to the mall to walk around and visit the play place on a rainy day was commonplace, and we enjoyed going to Target and Joann’s Crafts and all the restaurants that just aren’t available here. . . the kids would look forward to earning a special eating-out trip, as long as they didn’t accumulate three strikes for unruly behavior during the week. Their favorites: The Grapes and Chocolate Spagetti Store (Olive Garden) and the good ol’ House of Mouse (Chuck-e-Cheese’s). Neither of which is available here on the island (and if anybody on Kodiak is reading this, wouldn’t a Chuck-e-Cheese franchise here make BANK!? Just saying. . . )

Fitness Frustrations

The most impactful issue facing me regarding this change from mainland life to a secluded, limited island life is the issue of fitness. When we were in Maine, I had gotten into a really solid workout routine at the YMCA in the neighboring city to ours (a 20 minute drive at most) and 5-6 days a week, I would take the kids with me to the Y, and they would enjoy an hour and a half playing in the KidsZone child care center while I worked out, got a shower, and enjoyed some peaceful, mood-boosting exercise, un-hurried and unencumbered.  It was good for ALL of us. Kodiak Island has no YMCA, and no gym with childcare that I know of. I tried taking the kids to the “Parent Room” in the gym on base, but honestly, I hated it. I would’t get a good workout because I was constantly stopping to parent my kids. And by the end of however much time the kids allowed me to have, I was more stressed than before I went to go exercise.


There’re more things that I tried to do in order to get exercise while mommy-ing my little Silly Bears here on Island. But the time that Abbey is at preschool (and Joe is home with me) is the best time for me to have work/college time, and at night, after the kids go to bed, is just not a productive time for me to exercise. I’m tired, and usually, I’m also facing deadlines for college or writing or sewing for my shop, so I use that night time for those tasks as well. Hiking and jogging outdoors is only feasible during a few months out of the year. Playing in the snow is fun exercise, but it seems like we get more icy rain than snow here (at least this Winter so far).

As a result of moving here and not having access to the community amenities (like the YMCA) that I had at our last mainland duty station, I’ve gained at least 5, if not 10 pounds, and most importantly, my mood and energy level has suffered as a result of not getting the exercise that I was accustomed to.

Changing – To Stay the Same

But it really is true – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even facing a really frustrating situation and suddenly realizing the issues it was causing for me, I was still the determined, multi-faceted, creative thinking person that I’ve always been, and after telling my husband that I needed to have his support in creating a way for me to get exercise (preferably kid-less at least a couple days per week), I set out to make a plan to get it done. We’re a week into 2014, and I have been exercising consistently 5 days a week for the past 2 weeks. It feels SO GOOD. I missed it SO much. I’ll write more later on the ways I have achieved this.

I really don’t care how many pounds I lose, or the fact that exercising will make my clothes fit better again (of course, that will be nice for my self-esteem!). I care that I FEEL GOOD AGAIN. That’s always been a priority of mine, and it will continue to be.

I thrive on stability in exercise. I’ve definitely realized this as a result of our move here and the environmental change that took our normal “fun activities” out of the house off the table along with my beloved YMCA with a child care area.  I pretended for the first few months that island life wasn’t much different from life in the lower 48, but I’m not pretending anymore. It’s different here, and it’s vital to stay consistent in my priorities and adapt them to my environment in order to make sure that I, mommy, am feeling good.

Have you ever gotten out of a good habit as a result of a change in environment? How did you reconcile your needs and your new environment?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Colds, Christmas, and Christianity: Our December

IMG_4909Wow, this December has been a mad rush of Nutcracker ballet rehearsals, preschool parties and presentations, Christmas shopping, family outings, and all of us trying to overcome the yuck that has poured down upon us from a cold virus Hubs brought home from his specialty Coast Guard school in Virginia earlier in the month.

I mean, really: just call us the ill Willas. At this rate, we’ll still be using 6 boxes of tissues per week and filling humidors with water, salt, and Vicks vapo-pads long after Christmas has passed.


Oh, yes, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Actually, this year has been pretty low key for us, which is nice, considering Christmas really isn’t about presents or feasts or what Santa’s going to bring. . .

we’re finished with shopping for one another, the kids are appropriately jazzed for Santa’s visit, and in order to keep Christmas about Christ in our household, we have been doing weekly Advent Family Nights, led by a lovely book that my sis-in-law sent us in a care package, and I have included the birth of Jesus in every conversation that we have about Christmas, emphasizing that He is the best gift we could ever get, and I let Abbey tell me why.

IMG_4911Her responses are sometimes adorable

“because I get to color him pink on every picture I want”

“because he is GOD!”

and sometimes miss the mark

“um, because he’s such a cute little baby?”

But amid the fuss of rehearsals, the cloud of sickness, and our seclusion in a small town environment in rural island Alaska, we’re having a pretty great December.

If you and your family are Christian, tell me: How do you keep Christmas about Christ and downplay the commercialism? Do you have specific family traditions for giving, feeding the hungry, or serving others?

My friend and fellow Natural Parents Network author Laura has a wonderful tradition of bringing seasonal joy to families who have babies in the NICU in her town. And this post on The God Article really hits the nail on the head with reminders on avoiding Christmastime excesses that go against what we actually believe as Christ-followers.

ThankFULL Weeks 2 & 3


Wow – the rest of November really got the best of me! I am finally finishing this post . . . the day after Thanksgiving.

But, really, every day should be a day of giving thanks. So, I’m not late. No. . . totally not. *wink*

Every day, I fill my tank FULL with the blessings that I have! And it makes my outlook so much more free and anticipatory.

These past two weeks, I have been thankful for:

9. My Health

While I’m still trying to lose weight that I gained throughout my two pregnancies, I am thankfully able to cook healthfully for my family, understand how to snack wisely, and keep my weight and overall health at a good point. There are so many in this world that are either underweight or overweight, under-nourished or gluttonous . . . and I am glad that neither I nor any of my family members are in those places. Because no matter how you get there, by choice or by chance, being unhealthy is a giant burden to overcome. So this week, I am so glad and full of thanks for my health and my ability to attain knowledge and skills to keep myself and my family healthy.

10. My Kids’ Development

My kids are so smart and funny and well adjusted, and I am so grateful for that. No, this does not mean that we don’t have disciplinary issues, or tantrums, or bedtime struggles. . . we have all of those in the Willa house. But when I interact with them, I can tell that they are healthy and growing and that their brains are full of curiosity and brightness. When Joe babbles on about helicopters and fire engines and steamrollers and concrete trucks. . . and Abbey – oh, Abbey. That bright little girl keeps me on my toes constantly. From practicing penmanship to making up stories and games, to having a strong curiosity regarding Jesus and his sacrifice for us. . . she keeps me on my toes and I am so grateful for her cheerful (well, sometimes not so cheerful) zest for life and learning!

11. My Embroidery Machine.

Seriously, I can get so crafty with this thing. It brings my creativity to the next level.

12. My friend Melly for teaching me how to knit.

Because knitting is so awesome and productive and satisfying. It mellows me, and I’m glad that Melly took the time to sit by me while I tried and tried and tried again when I was learning!!!!!

13. New Friends

Because wherever you go (or wherever life takes you) you need friends. Real ones.

14. Old Friends

Because friends that you leave behind should never be forgotten!

15. Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Without a NICU, our sweet Abbey might not be here today, and the staff that works in the NICUs of this world are extraordinary people. I hope to be one of them someday!

8. The Internet

For the way that it connects people, especially the way that it opens doors for knowledge, learning, and collaboration.

9. Coupons

Because seriously, a dollar (or even $0.40!) is something saved. Especially when added up.

10. Meal Planning

Because it limits my impulse buys at the grocery store or commissary, and it allows me to make a detailed list and know exactly how much of our grocery budget will be spent!

11. Compassion

Feeling for another and actually doing something about the needs and pains of others is so rewarding. Sometimes, just by looking at another’s struggle and really listening, we can unearth hidden strengths and weaknesses that benefit us and those around us. Compassion is totally cool.

12. Natural Parents Network

What’s not to like about a group of like-minded (and yet totally diverse!) group of parents actively participating in the spread of fact-based, compassionate information to grow healthy families and inspire a commitment (small or large!) to a brighter and more informed generation of families! LOVE.

13. Parent Coaches and Social Workers

Without whom Hubs and I probably would have been lost in the grief and helplessness of having our two-day old sweet firstborn go under for major surgery in 2008. . . and the parent coaches with whom I have crossed paths that have imparted such simple wisdoms to me that, shared with my Hubs, have brought us closer to success in this really really trying parenting gig ;P

14. Charity

I love introducing Abbey and Joe to the idea of doing something for someone out of love for our neighbors, not for any other reason. It was hard for Abbey when we first introduced the idea that there are people that have literally NOTHING in this world. But she cheered up a lot when we explained that everyone in the world has the opportunity to be charitable and help out those in need, no matter what the need might be, and without expecting anything in return but the joy of giving.
15. Hot baths

16. The amount of laundry chores I have. . .

Because that means that we are blessed with enough clothing to wear in all seasons, for all the days of the week. Some people cannot say that (see #14 for what we try to do as a family about that injustice).

17. The dishes in my sink

Because, again, this means that I had the food to prepare for a meal, the utensils and appliances to cook it healthfully, and the plates and cups to serve food and drink to my family for the entire day! How blessed we are to have that!

18. The magic of the Christmas season

Doesn’t need an explanation.

19. The anticipation of the birth of Christ!

Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you! It’s so thrilling to look forward to celebrating the birth of our amazing savior Jesus Christ!

20. My extended family

Because they care so much about us, and are always thinking of us and caring for us by sending love and prayers, taking phone calls whenever I call, and sending lovely little care packages that just warm my days and encourage me always!

21. Snail Mail

It’s always fun to get a REAL letter.

22. Student Grants and Federal Loans

They allow me to pursue my education, and apparently they boosted my credit as well.

23. My IRA fund, and our monthly contributions to it.

Someone (eghem, Mom?) taught me that you need to start one of these sooner rather than later, and it feels stellar that my retirement account grows every month. It’s one more thing not to worry about!

24. Military life

Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

25. Integrity

Because real and honest people are the best.

26. La Leche League

An amazing organization that not only bolstered my family, but now gives me the opportunity to bolster the families of others – through leading La Leche League group meetings and spreading fact-based information and compassionate support for breastfeeding and expectant moms. Whoot!

27. Tradition


28. Forgiveness


29. Collaboration

Amen. Just thank you Lord for all of these blessings in my life! Some of them seem like challenges at first glance, but I always am drawn to see the good because I know that you have plans for me, and I am blessed to be on the path you have drawn out for me!

What are you thankful for this month?

How was your Thanksgiving Day?

Mamatography Week 44

We have finally started settling into a good, healthy rhythm here in our new home at Coast Guard Base Kodiak in Kodiak, AK. Just in time for winter to blow in!

Abbey Ballet 2013

Abbey has been enjoying preschool Monday through Thursday and dance class on Friday afternoons!

Joe Oct 2013

Joe has been busy doing lots of toddler stuff. . .

throwing birthday parties for Thomas the Train and taking pictures of his toes, to name a couple.


We have also been busy with crafts. . .

I’m pretty sure I caught Joe red (rem, green) handed in this pic!


Abbey LOVES the perler beads craft set Grandma sent her on her birthday!

Daddy and I have also been enjoying crafting with her.


I have been getting crafty myself. . .

now that my college semester is over, I can focus again on my Silly Bear Handmade shop.

Pumpkin Carving 2013

Halloween found us carving pumpkins


And trick or treating! Abbey was a Pumpkin Fairy


Joe was Leo from the Little Einsteins.

Though lots of people guessed Harry Potter.

Mya October 2013

The week wouldn’t be complete without capturing some canine portraits. . .

POttery Painting Datesy

And I had to photograph the masterpieces that Hubs and I painted on our date-afternoon to the coffee house and painting’ place.

I cannot WAIT to see them after they are fired, all bright and glossy and beautiful! It was so fun to leave the kids with a sitter and go do something relaxing and creative with my love.

Joe's Apron and Chicken

I also made Joe his own apron for helping in the kitchen this week.

 I’m not sure how much he likes it. . .

. . . but he sure likes homemade chicken fingers and mac and cheese! Who doesn’t?!

That was our week – how was YOURS?!


That was our August. How was YOURS?

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Wordless Wednesday – Gone Fishin’




Settling In

Our family just experienced our second (and biggest) military PCS – from Kittery, Maine ALL the way across the country and up into Alaska to Kodiak Island.

Map of PCS

You can read all about our journey and all the fun stuff and interesting experiences we had at Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 of our PCS journey (I didn’t blog at all while we were in Weeks 4-6 of our journey. . . they were too hectic while we made it through Canada, finally got to our last ferry, and then awaited a housing assignment while we got here. I just focused on my family and getting us through it!)

It’s been an interesting, kind of crazy, enjoyable, but also bumpy six weeks, and I’m thrilled to report that we now:

1. Have a house (erm. . . housing unit) and are starting to really love it (more on that later. . . )

2. Have met some great new friends.

3. Are finally back on a routine that works for us, and enables my children to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.


Number 3 is definitely the most important one, to me. Both Abbey (almost 5) and Joe (2) were really out of sorts by the time we finally made it onto our last ferry ride up to Kodiak, and were really, extremely off-kilter and stressed the week that we had to stay in the Guest House before we were assigned a housing unit in Coast Guard Housing.

Not that anybody could have done anything more to prevent those stressful days. . . but they were SO stressful.

Having the kids back on a good routine of homemade food, consistent rest/nap times, socialization, and an overall stable home environment has made a world of difference in our family dynamic, and we are so grateful for finally being somewhat settled here in our new home.

Kodiak Island, AK is beautiful, the Coast Guard base here at Airstation Kodiak is a wonderful place to live, and the commissary and exchange, though not as large and comprehensive as other military bases, is definitely helpful in making sure that we have places to buy the things we need at less-inflated prices than off base retailers offer.

New Experiences

Hubs’ friends, the husbands of my new friends, have been keeping him busy fishing for halibut and salmon, and he’s really enjoying the summer here. We even took the kids down to the river the other day, and they enjoyed themselves immensely, splashing around and attempting to get the hang of a fishing pole.





So, yes. I’m still here. And yes, I am finally getting to a point where I can focus a little bit on my work here at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, in my college courses that are coming up soon, and in my Silly Bear Handmade handmade shop (which I’m thinking about expanding to offer local military tailoring services as well). So, hurray for a settled family dynamic, after all the stress and hectic nature of the past two months! Thank you to all of you who have supported us through this time – it is so much appreciated!


Upcoming posts that I have in the works include some tutorials on furniture painting and woodcrafts, my experiences organizing and decorating our new home, and of course, some breastfeeding advocacy as we come up on World Breastfeeding Week.

Our PCS to Alaska Week 3

Week three of our PCS journey to Kodiak Alaska started with enjoying our nation’s beautiful Yellowstone National Park, included a trip to the ER, and ended playing on the very same park that Hubs played at when he was a kid! It was an exciting, challenging, and kind of crazy week, and we’re both glad it’s over and enjoying the memories!

To catch up with our journey, check out week 2 and week 1.



Yellowstone was full of great natural encounters. I loved seeing the soft velvet on this elk’s beautiful antlers.



The Mamouth Hot Springs were incredible. What a wonder to behold!



And we enjoyed other natural miracles together like the Norris Geyser Basin




With it’s amazing thermophiles (living organisms that color the stone under the water, depending on how hot certain parts of the streams are)




Abbey did some “navigating” from the back seat, till she lost her map out the window (cue screaming tantrum)



But we still found our way to Old Faithful, where after waiting for an hour and a half, it finally erupted!

When we left Yellowstone, we traveled to Seattle, Washington and enjoyed time with Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes and her family. Abbey and Joe again were thrilled to have playmates, like we did back in South Dakota with Kym and her family. Abbey and Moira were inseparable and adorable.


And Joe and Davis were pretty adorable, too!


We also got to meet Lauren of Hobo Mama, Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen, and Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy and their families. Super cool! They are all so sweet and genuine, and so much fun to chat and play with.


It was after we left Seattle for Bellingham to catch our ferry to Alaska that things got interesting. Not even three full minutes on the ferry after two and a half hours of waiting in our car. . . and Joseph fell and broke the back of his head open.


We took him to the ER after the medics from the ambulance said he didn’t need to be transported, but that he did need stitches within 12 hours. That not being possible on a three day ferry trip, we had to return to Seattle and fly to Juneau, AK to meet the ferry when it came into port before sailing to Haines, AK.

Joe is recovering fine from his injury (obviously, according to the photos above and below!) and we made it to Juneau, and then to Haines, through Canada (stressful, to say the least!) and into the Anchorage area after one day of flying, two days of waiting, one day of a ferry, and two days of camping and driving. Since Hubs grew up in Anchorage, it was special to play, eat, and camp in areas that he did when he was a child.

IMG_2324Abbey and Joe enjoying lunch on a bench at the Anchorage Zoo.

IMG_3021And Abbey being a monkey just like daddy did when he was a kid, I’m sure. On the same park!

Giveaway: ViaParenting Chaos to Tranquility Program & Coaching Session — $97 ARV {7/13; US}

This is a joint giveaway with Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked “Win it!” for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.


Via Parenting is offering our readers a giveaway of The Chaos to Tranquility Program and Complimentary 30 Minute ViaPhone Parent Coaching Session with Rachel Sklar, B.A., M.A., CPI Parent Coach, a value of $97.

In the Chaos to Tranquility Program, Via Parenting’s Rachel Sklar leads a 4-session recorded discussion on ways to help parents navigate the frightening point of chaos in the family dynamic with compassion and functional support. A transformational Guidebook and access to a private Facebook discussion group compliments the audio program to empower parents of preschoolers to move their families from Chaos to Tranquility.

From our reviewer, Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work:

Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing Rachel’s parent-coaching by phone and through her Chaos to Tranquility audio program. Both were beneficial, thoughtful, and enjoyable for me as a mother and lifted up ideas that were tailored to our family’s needs and experiences.


Mothering a four-and-a-half-year-old and a two-year-old is an exercise in exhaustion daily. I feel like I never get a break, and I am constantly stressed because of the tension created between my husband’s choices and mine regarding uncooperative behavior from our oldest child. Using Rachel’s Via Parenting coaching and resources helped me to pinpoint the issues really at the root of our family schisms and brought forward some ideas to try to help mend an exhausting parenting experience into a functional one, and eventually, a really enjoyable one.

Via Parenting’s Coaching by Phone:

First, I experienced a 30-Minute Coaching Session with Rachel Sklar of ViaParenting by phone. Scheduling the phone meeting was easy, with the ViaParenting scheduling program. One thing to remember is that Rachel is on West Coast time, so you may want to double check that you sign up for a time that is good for you in YOUR time zone, or that you email Rachel to double check your scheduled time.

Rachel was incredibly understanding and flexible when I missed our conversation due to confusion over the time zones. After we rescheduled, I enjoyed a 30-minute consultation with her, in which we discussed my frustrations and the perceived frustrations of my 4-1/2-year-old and my husband as well.

The first ten minutes was spent talking about why I am feeling stress in my relationship with my daughter. Rachel gives an opportunity to write a short message about your reason for scheduling a ViaParenting session before the call, so she was already slightly versed on the situation. Speaking to Rachel was less like talking to a therapist or friend and much more like talking to a partner in problem solving. She collaborates with you to identify the situation that is causing stress, and gives choices for how to try to change things in a positive way.

I was a little nervous talking about my personal parenting frustrations with a stranger, and an expert at that! But Rachel had a special way of putting me at ease and was very friendly and not at all intimidating. She was genuinely happy to help me identify and troubleshoot the issues that were causing stress in my parenting experience.

Rachel has a great deal of education and training behind her coaching, and shares not just empathy for parenting challenges, but really gets to the root of what might be going on. She gives researched and scientific information on the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional developmental stages of children, as well as a lot of good information on coping emotionally with the challenges of parenting.

While wrapping up, Rachel was very supportive and reminded me of the information we discussed at the end of our discussion, encouraging me to view our family dynamic in a positive way and to understand our daughter’s actions in the context of her cognitive and behavioral maturity level. The ideas she lifted up were so helpful to me: I have been reminded to continue utilizing compassion, giving choices, empowering cooperative behavior, and remembering cognitive and behavioral readiness in my children in my parenting, and it makes a huge difference in the way I approach every moment with my children.

The Chaos to Tranquility Audio Program:


Rachel offers a 30-day refund policy, but is 100% positive you’ll enjoy the course!

I highly recommend the ViaParenting Chaos to Tranquility Audio Program. I enjoyed listening to Rachel’s audio course, and I was reminded very effectively of core ideas for compassionate and empowering parenting. This is not a short audio file; it is a four-part course with several hours of fantastic information regarding parenting in the preschool years and creating a healthy family dynamic. The ideas that Rachel lifts up in her four-part discussion are timeless and effective: Coming to a place of tranquility in parenting is not about viewing our children as problems that need solutions, but to get to know our children in a different way, and apply different solutions for common stressors in family life. She emphasizes that in every family, there is a real opportunity to make a breakthrough in family life, and when approached from this perspective, transformation is definitely achievable!

Rachel’s voice and vocal rhythm are friendly, easily audible, and very comfortable to listen to. This is vital in an audio course: If you don’t like the sound of someone’s voice, or despise the way they are speaking, you are not going to want to listen to them for several hours! Rachel’s voice and rhythm are steady, professional, and friendly. She also leaves enough time between her guiding questions for parents to actually contemplate their answers and thoughts.

I may have paid more attention at certain points if there were some additional audio sounds to bridge or designate certain segments of the audio recording. I found myself getting a little bit distracted as I listened, having only Rachel’s voice (and the voices of those calling in) on the recording. Rachel suggests that the course is excellent to listen to while commuting, working, relaxing, or multitasking, but if there were more bridging and segmenting sound effects, or maybe even a bit of music to bring me back into the course if I started to drift away in thought or work, that would have been very effective! The most engaging portions of the recordings were the portions in which Rachel took questions and facilitated discussions among the participants in the calls. I did not get distracted from the material at all when the participants were discussing and brainstorming solutions for their challenges.


Courtesy of ViaParenting

Ultimately, the program is extremely effective in encouraging parents to make simple changes in controllable aspects of life, proceeding through the chaos and moving through breakthroughs into a new area of tranquility with their children. I especially loved the private Facebook group included in the course. To be able to connect with others who are following the very same program is useful and empowering. Sharing challenges, questions, and joys during the program and after listening to all four segments is a super-beneficial part of this course.

Rachel has done a lovely job creating a secret, closed Facebook group for participants and graduates of the Chaos to Tranquility program to connect with others and explore the information in a safe and confidential area, in a very familiar setting — Facebook. There is no need to sign up or sign in to a separate forum, which would have probably deterred me from using the discussion portion of the course. Because it is right there on Facebook, it was so convenient to really apply the ideas that Rachel lifted up and then discuss it with others in the group.

Overall, Chaos to Tranquility in the Preschool Years is a great program for parents looking to make a breakthrough in their family dynamic. It is a great option for busy parents, as there is no set timeframe or meeting to attend, and going through the course can be as fast or as leisurely as fits your needs. The best part is that once you purchase and download the course materials, you can listen to them over and over again for refreshing the excellent ideas and tools that Rachel has to offer every parent.



You can purchase your own Chaos to Tranquility in the Preschool Years Audio Course at ViaParenting. This is a $97 program, complete with a transformational guidebook and access to a private Facebook discussion group.

And just for Natural Parents Network and Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work readers, ViaParenting is giving a 50% rebate off the $97 investment. Rachel is unable to offer a coupon code, but gives these instructions for the 50% rebate savings: The rebate will be refunded via Paypal after purchase. Please email with the request for rebate after purchase. Include the text “I found your program at Natural Parents Network and Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work!”.

ViaParenting also offers personal parent coaching over the phone — Rachel offers a complimentary 30-minute ViaPhone coaching session and a great “Rock Your Inner Mama” Audio CD (available for download or hard copy) for USD $20-25.



For your own chance to win the Chaos to Tranquility Program and Complimentary 30-Minute ViaPhone Parent Coaching Session from ViaParenting, enter by using our Rafflecopter system below.

The winner will receive entrance into the Chaos to Tranquility Program (ARV $97 USD), including four recorded and downloadable parent coaching sessions, a downloadable guidebook, and access to the private Facebook discussion group. Contest is open to U.S. only.

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Information About Our Reviewer:

Amy is a Coast Guard wife and full-time mother to two enthusiastic and lovely children, Abbey (4) and Joe (2). She writes at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work about navigating an authentic parenting, natural living, military family journey with as much grace as she can manage. She is a full time online student of Public Health, and particularly interested in learning and writing about compassion, cooperation, and responsibility as they relate to mindful living and parenting. In addition to mothering and blogging, Amy enjoys sewing cloth diapers, knitting, and volunteering as a La Leche League Leader. She has been featured on Code Name: Mama, ACU’s, Stiletto Shoes, and Pretty Pink Tutus, and Milk Mamas Speak, and loves being a part of the wonderful Natural Parenting community!

PCS to Alaska Week 2.5

Last Friday marked the end of the second week of our PCS Journey from maine to Alaska. If you’re just joining us, my husband is active duty Coast Guard and after three years on the Maine/New Hampshire Seacoast, he has a new assignment at the Aids to Navigation Team at Kodiak Island, AK.

Click here to see the highlights from Week 1. You can also follow our trip on my Instagram , Twitter, and Facebook, or by searching the hashtags #movingtoalaska and #militaryfamily.

Week 2

Week two was mostly spent in or traveling from Wisconsin where we stayed with my husband’s parents. At the end of Week 2, we got to meet the lovely Kym and Phillip and their two boys at their home in South Dakota. Kym writes at Our Crazy Corner of the World, and is a lovely, compassionate advocate for natural parenting, specifically baby friendly birth and breastfeeding.

Kym is incredibly sweet and we got along just like we thought we would: excellently, like we’d known each other forever. It was so kind of Kym to invite us to stay with her on our journey, and staying at her house was so comfortable and fun. The kids had playmates, Jed and I had a relaxing time, and we enjoyed being tourists at Mt. Rushmore, too.




We also had a chance to go sluicing in a sluice pan at the Rushmore Cave, and separated some stones from the dirt. Abbey had a great time sorting them and sharing them with Kym’s son, Andrew.


Andrew and Abbey loved each other so much, they decided they were brother and sister. So cute.


After our adventures and relaxation in South Dakota, we enjoyed camping near Yellowstone National Park in Montana. We camped for two nights, and on our first day, we hiked up to Pine Creek Falls, a beautiful 1 mile hike to a fantastic waterfall in the woods.

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On our second day near Yellowstone, we visited the National Park, seeing the Mamouth Hot Springs, Norris Geysers, and even the famous Old Faithful Geyser (though we had to wait over an hour for it to go off! Maybe faithful, but not timely! haha!).

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For more fun from our trip to Yellowstone (including some great close encounters with wildlife!), check out our PCS to Alaska Week 3.


Mamatography Week 23: On the road.

We are currently moving from Kittery, Maine to Kodiak, Alaska for my husband’s US Coast Guard Assignment.

Some highlights from our trip this week:


Packing Up (Maine)



Hotel Room Hide and Seek (New Jersey)


Coolest Kids at Sesame Place (Pennsylvania)


Daddy and Daughter Amusement Park Navigation (PA)


Vacation Hydration (PA)


“ONE little blonde child, TWO leetle blonde cheeldren. Mua haha!”


Elmo’s Rocket Roller Coaster! Kids loved this one!


Joe was really into the sand, not so into the hanging “bag maze”




Abbey and Nana Playing before bed (WI) Special Effect is from the ToonCamera App.


Daddy and Joe relaxing after a long day at the Mall of America (Wisconsin/MN)




Leinenkrugel’s Brewery in Wisconsin.

More pictures of the brewery and Amish Country WI on my flickr page.

That was our week, moving through the United States on our way to Alaska! How was yours?