July 24, 2014
by Tricia

Growing Together: Golden Spoons and the Blankie

growing together

With my daughter, it was a monkey. A little stuffed monkey with a rattle inside. She sleeps with it still. My son has his cheetah. A small stuffed cheetah, swag that I brought home from a conference but somehow more important to him than the pluto or goofy we bought him at Disney.

Today, Lisa shares her story of her littlest and a blankie. I feel the same way about the day when monkey and cheetah are no longer clung to in the same way.

I met Lisa a month ago at Blog U and we even hung out in her dorm room so she feels like an old college friend! I am so honored to have her here today. Enjoy her words and then be sure to visit her at The Golden Spoons!


My youngest daughter, my “baby,” will turn seven in just a few short weeks. Somehow, seven seems like such a huge leap from six. It’s second grade instead of first. It’s more independence and more personality shining through. It’s hard for this mama to wrap her heart around it.

It’s also this:

girl and blankie

That’s my sweet girl still groggy one morning after having just rolled out of bed. She is snuggling a familiar friend – one of her many “blankies.” In times of fatigue or fright, these rags that are nothing more than old cloth diapers once used as burp cloths, are her trusty companions.

When she was an infant, I would nurse her and, then, hold her on my shoulder with a blankie slung across it to catch the inevitable. As I patted her tiny back, she would, eventually, rest her head on my shoulder and fall asleep with her delicate, little cheek pressed against the softness of the cloth.

As she grew, she continued to find comfort in those blankies. She would cover her face with them, taking in their clean scent, as she dozed off. She carried them with her everywhere and I did not dare to leave the house without a primary and a spare.

Time marched on, though, and the blankies became less necessary. She went to preschool and they stayed in the car. Then, she went to kindergarten and they stayed at home. Now, at almost seven, she still snuggles them through the night and whenever they are not a hindrance during the day, but she doesn’t need them like she once did.

Nevertheless, she clings to them still. Metaphorically, I cling to them, too. You see, they are the last shred of babyness left in her; left in our lives.

When we had her, our third daughter, we knew with confidence that she would be our last. I have never regretted that decision and have no desire for a fourth. However, with that decision, every single one of her firsts also became a last. The last first words; the last first steps; the last first birthday; the last first day of preschool and kindergarten. Soon, the very last day ever of having a six year old. I am extremely grateful and proud as I watch her grow. I appreciate her increasing self sufficiency and her ever blossoming personality. Yet, there is something so incredibly bittersweet about all of these lasts firsts.

The pacifiers and diapers are long gone, but the blankies remain. As she, again, takes in their scent and feels their softness against her freckled cheek, I cling to the last remaining morsels of a rapidly disappearing phase of life. As I look forward to the future, I also hold on to the past.

One day, she will spread her wings and fly away, but, even then, I’m certain the blankies will stay. Perhaps, then, I will be the one pressing them to my cheek, soaking up tears; finding comfort in their softness and the perfume of days gone by.


Lisa Witherspoon is a former preschool teacher turned blogger and freelance writer, who lives in North Carolina with her husband and three amazing daughters. Fueled by coffee and chocolate, Lisa writes about the joys, frustrations, surprises, and chaos of motherhood on her blog, The Golden Spoons. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

July 23, 2014
by Tricia

Do you know how your clothes were made?

Before my girl was born, I went to Africa.

I went partly for the adventure. And I went partly because I wanted to help. I wanted to make a difference. Do some good. I’d volunteered for dozens of local organizations and I was ready to take the next big step. I was ready to step outside of myself and my cozy little place and make a difference for people who lived in a vastly different world than I did.

I expected to get hooked. To fall in love with the desert and the jungle, despite the heat and the bugs. I expected to plan many return trips, deeper into the heart of Africa. I planned to return home, bring new life into this world and then swiftly bring my new little love back with me, initiate him or her early into the way of doing good and making a difference and stepping outside of our cozy little world.

But it didn’t happen like that.

I spent two weeks in Africa and I didn’t feel as though I helped much at all. I did some construction work, but not much. Save for a little painting and some nail hammering that the actual construction team had to supervise, I didn’t feel that I’d made a dent in the huge job that was building an HIV hospital in the small, poverty stricken town. I connected with a few kids over books and there is one little girl, Dora, who still sticks out in my memory. I have a photo of us together and it’s one of my favorites from the trip. But volunteers streamed into her village every other week or so and I’m sure that our afternoons spent under the shade of the trees near her school soon faded and melded with those of all of the other men and women who dipped into her life for a few days one summer.

women in ghana

In the weeks and months after my return from Ghana, as my belly swelled with new life, driving me into an adventure of a different sort, I began to question the idea of doing good.

I began to doubt that it is possible for someone like me to change a life, let alone the world. I suspended belief that it was possible for me, one woman, one mama, one person with a very big heart but what feels like achingly few resources, to even make a dent in the problems that plague us.

I still grapple with this, a good six years later. As we round out my daughter’s fifth year on this earth, I feel that I’ve barely shown her an inch of the path of good-doing. We haven’t volunteered much. We rarely donate. And when I engage in a little social good, I don’t talk about it with her. The world I dreamed of as my Accra-bound plane took off, of me and my little people in far away places with hands and hearts made for helping, it has vanished. And I’m still grappling with how to replace it.

How does doing good really work for people like us? What does it look like?


Slowly, I’m starting to pull together pieces of the puzzle.

I’m starting to realize that doing good starts with the way we choose to live here. It doesn’t have to be as big as a big ‘ol plane ticket and shocking my body into near meltdown on an 8-hour long flight. It can be as big as intentionally selecting the coffee that we brew, the fruit that we buy, the threads we choose to curl up in. It can be as big as reading and learning what fair trade really means. And exploring whether or not the products that float in and out of our cozy little world are sustainable. Whether the people whose fingers wove that fabric were treated and paid fairly for their art.

A few weeks ago, Emily of INDIGENOUS organic + fair trade fashion reached out to me and introduced me to Ethical Fashion. We live parallel lives, Emily and I, both of us raising a 4-year-old little girl and 1-year-old little boy and we instantly connected over our shared motherhood journey. But it wasn’t long before I dove into Emily’s other world – that of social media and design for INDIGENOUS.

INDIGENOUS elevates artisans in the poorest regions of South America to world renowned status in the handicraft textile market while paying a fair living wage. They work with over a dozen fair trade field organizing teams and quality control centers that coordinate over 300 artisan work groups.


And this is it, of course. Good with purpose. A piece of the puzzle. I went to Africa 6 years ago just aimlessly looking to do good. INDIGENOUS has set up camp in South America to do good with a purpose. To meaningfully change the lives of people with opportunity and fairness. To meaningfully do good in the world through sustainable and responsible practices. It’s starting to come together for me.

I’ve been sold on clothes for a cause, threads for good, for about as long as I’ve been blogging and I am delighted to add INDIGENOUS to the list of companies I turn to to make a difference with just my own choices, fulfilling my own basic needs.

Emily sent me the Aerial Poncho to review and can I just gush for a minute? Because I’m in love.


It is soft and beautiful and that shade of white that my children’s fingers will never be allowed to touch. The perfect date night, client meeting, conference going attire. If you have plans to see me between now and forever, don’t be surprised if I’m draped in white.


Even better, check them out yourself. They make the most beautiful pieces that I want to live in always. And each item comes with a QR code on the tag. Scan it and learn about how your clothes were made. My poncho was made in Callale, a small town high in the Andes, by a woman named Silvia. Silvia has lived in that small town all her life, in poverty. With INDIGENOUS, she learned hand-weaving skills and is paid fairly to work with beautiful organic cottons to make pieces like my poncho.

Each time that I meet a new person or organization who has figured this out, this doing-good path, this way to make a difference, I feel a little bit more hope that my dream of following such a path with my littles may not be so far fetched after all.

Learn more about INDIGENOUS and slide into some beautiful, organic, ethical fashion.


disclaimer: I received the Aerial poncho for free from INDIGENOUS. All opinions, thoughts, and ideas are my own. All dreams of doing good – those belong to us all.

July 21, 2014
by Tricia

Looking and seeing

Every day, I look at my babies with the same eyes.

walking over the bridge

Tired eyes. Red and dry from the exposure to the elements. Every day. I look at them every blessed day and I study them in detail. This bump here. That bruise over there. Hair that needs to be washed, fingernails that need a trim. Every day I look closely and study and my tired eyes wash over them, translating to my brain the list of things to attend to. To fix. I see cuts and scrapes and dirt beneath fingernails and remnants of breakfast in the corners of mouths.

Every day I scan, looking for the little.

Missing the big.

In my constant scan over them I miss the minutiae of their growth. I miss that her face has continued to mature. There’s that photo of her. I took it just last month. And there she is, my baby. The chubby cheeks that push up into big brown eyes when she smiles. There they are. I had thought that all of the baby had all but melted away months ago. But the melting happens every day. Every day drops of chubby cheeks and tiny pudgy hands melt away, into smooth lines and fine features. Giving way to the woman she is becoming. Every day I pour over those features and yet, I miss the melting. I always miss the melting.

I miss that his hair has continued to grow. A mess of curls now sprawls atop his head and a new one forms every single day. I always feel that his hair is so long and it’s been so long forever. Until I look back and realize it wasn’t there before. It’s been growing all along. Lengthening and curling and waving around his face. Every day I comb that hair and try to tame it’s wild ways and smile appreciatively when someone notices his gorgeous curls. But I miss the growing. I always miss the growing.

I look at them every day. I scan their bodies for health and cleanliness.

I see the little specs of blueberry and eggs.

And I miss the rest.

feet and flip flops

Family comes into town and there are hugs and squeezes and through the eyes of an aunt and an uncle, so much has changed. She is so much taller and bigger. His curls, just look at them! He’s got new tricks, she has new words, and it’s a marvel a minute the entire weekend through. With their eyes, their fresh eyes, dry only for want of seeing them more and soaking in every waking moment, they study them in detail. Look at that face he makes! See how luxurious her eyelashes are! You can just see how much they love each other.

The delights that meet their eyes awaken all senses and for two days straight, aunt and uncle feast on a sea of giggles and cries and hugs and kisses. Every movement like a little celebration.

As it should be, of course. Because every movement is. A celebration of the growth and the growing, the reaching and the grasping. We really do live in a time of a marvel a minute. That the bumps and missteps and bruises in between overshadow those marvels is my fault. It’s the fault in my eyes.

Family leaves and they take their eyes with them. And I am left feeling blind. Wondering how do I keep seeing my children while looking at them? It’s trickier than it should be, this seeing while looking. When we look, we miss so much.

But when we see, we capture it all.

July 17, 2014
by rhadmin

Growing Together: Growing Pains with Work in Sweats Mama

growing together

After a brief, holiday inspired break, Growing Together is back today!

Nicole is one of those bloggers I had kept running into on other people’s blogs. One day I finally moseyed over to her place and was taken with the way she weaves her story. And then when I realized all that she does – work full time, run, write, mama, I was amazed. And I couldn’t stop reading her stories and breathing in the grace with which she does her thing. Nicole also does some group contributor post and her Spring Cleaning one is one of my favs.

Today, I am so honored that she is here with a beautiful story about growing pains. Enjoy and then head on over to Work in Sweats Mama for more of Nicole!


Startled out of a deep sleep, I wake to the sound of my oldest crying.

Mommy, my legs hurt.

After whispered reassurances and a dose of Children’s Tylenol, I kiss my daughter. I tuck her long limbs back under the covers.

The growing pains no longer surprise me.

After another year of watching my daughters change and grow, the signs are undeniable.

Painted toes flirt with the edge of sandals.

Hems that once kissed knobby knees now skim sun-bronzed thighs.

No longer forced to compete with chubby cheeks, a single dimple stands out.

One strides toward age 5 and kindergarten. The other rushes headfirst into terrible twos.

I kiss invisible boo-boos. I wipe away tears. I tell them the aches and pains, the bumps and bruises, are just a part of life.
Yet, more than ever, I feel the sometimes tender, often agonizing, tug on my heart.

My own growing pains.

The moment I welcomed my first into this world, I felt my heart overflow, my existence magnified in ways I never knew possible.

I looked to my husband and knew we would never be the same. A love greater than we’d ever known changed our lives forever.

My heart ached with the joy, beauty, and pain of it all.

Two and a half years later, I marveled at the innate ability of my heart to expand again.

Today, another two and half years later, my heart still grows.

It soars with each success. It suffers with every failure.

My daughters experience aches and pains before rapid growth. Like them, hardships sometimes accompany my own triumphs.

Sometimes our greatest breakthroughs go hand-in-hand with the greatest anguish.

Pregnancy stretched, pulled, and gave way to the agony of labor.

I barely remember the pain. I recall newfound appreciation for my body, transformed beautifully to sustain and nurture.

I evoke memories of delicate babies, perfect in wrinkly new skin, placed into my arms for the first time.

Cracked nipples and engorged breasts healed.

Hours spent with a flushed-cheeked child remain an enduring reminder that sacrifice brings the most surprising rewards.

The physical agony of running 26.2 miles vanished when I heard my daughters’ cheers at mile 21.I stopped just long enough to embrace them. Their love bolstered me to finish strong.

Even the deep grief as I held our beloved dog in the last seconds of his life was just another moment of growth.

As my husband and I said goodbye to MacAfee, I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to endure it. Even months later, I can’t think about that day without fresh tears.

My heart still aches, but a love so clear and pure strengthens me in ways I never expected.

As our hearts broke, my husband held me. And I held him.

Despite the pain, we grew together. After ten years of marriage, our hearts opened to each other in a new way.
Now, when I tuck my daughter back into bed and promise the hurt won’t last forever, I believe my words.

I know growing pains will give way to longer legs and a stronger, fuller heart.

I tell myself the same.

Next month, I’ll clutch my daughter’s hand and usher her into a kindergarten classroom. I’ll know the ache in my chest is just a growing pain.

I’ll embrace it.

Beyond the pain, there is growth.

Glacier_NGNicole Goodman is a full-time working mama and the caffeine-driven mind behind Work in Sweats Mama.
After business hours, you’ll find her chasing her fearless two-year-old, verbally sparring with her precocious almost-five-year-old, seeking an endorphin high on long runs, avoiding housework, and slurping down gigantic fountain Cokes.
Nicole’s idea of the perfect vacation involves lots of GORP (Good ‘Ol Raisins and Peanuts) while backpacking in a National Park. Trail running and SUP-ing in Hawaii is a close second.

July 16, 2014
by Tricia

Unrelated questions

“Can I ask an unrelated question?”

“Sure.” She doesn’t sound sure. Her hand is on the doorknob and I’m sure she wants to make a quick exit, order that strep test she recommended for my fever-riden boy and move onto her next appointment for which, I know, she is already quite late. I have no doubt this is why doctors don’t stay on schedule. Unrelated questions.

“He is 20 months old,” I remind her, “and he’s not talking.”

“Not at all?” she asks.

“Well sometimes he says ‘No’ and he’s said ‘Mama’ but not always to me. He’s not consistent.”

“Not all of his language has to be understandable but he should have 20-30 words by now.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t. I called early intervention this morning.”

She nodded, “It’s time for an evaluation.”

I feel instantly validated, as if I have done the right thing, and simultaneously terrified that I’ve waited too long. And frustrated that I was led to a place of inaction, being told not to worry for so many months.

I blink back tears on the way home as my little boy struggles to stay awake and fight off a virus. Completely unrelated.


I have to admit that when I wrote last week about my little boy, I was worried but not alarmingly so. Concerned but comforted by our doctor’s previous assurances at every appointment since words should have begun to appear, that he was ok. He was communicating and understanding and developing in all the right ways, except for this one. I worried the same amount that I worried when neither of my children toddled off on their own two feet when the development checklist said they should. When sitting up for him did not happen on the same date that it did for her. I worried the same amount that I worry whenever we pass a milestone moment without placing a check in any box, development complete.

But I didn’t worry too much because milestones are general and people are individuals. We all do our own thing. Lord knows I’m not as developed as a normal 33 year old should be in all the appropriate areas.

And for a while, I worried, but not alarmingly so, because I didn’t look around. I didn’t want to hear about your child who also wasn’t talking at this age. I didn’t want to talk about your little one who has a delay or a special need. I didn’t want to think about it because I didn’t want to think about it. And for a while I believed that if I didn’t think about it, he would just start talking and I wouldn’t have to think about it. Time would move on and one day I’d look up and realize I never looked around and now it was all over, so I’d move back to eavesdropping on the chatter between my two little humans and continue along our day.

little boy head

Last week, I looked up and I looked around and I’m glad that I did.

Because now, I’m hearing about your child who wasn’t talking at this age. And I’m talking with you about your little one who has a delay or special need. And I’m thinking about it and doing about it.

We’re waiting for early intervention to call us back. We’re taking down names of specialists from anyone who has one to recommend. We’re reading this site daily and looking at this one too, just in case. We’re looking up and around and we’re talking about it.

I may not share a ton about the next steps of all of this here. Or I may share it openly and without apology and you might get tired of hearing about it. I’ve never been through something like this before and I’m not all that much of a sharer of things like this but I’m also a writer now, full time and on my own and that has made me braver about telling you my story.

But, either way, thank you for your support. For consoling me and reaching out to me and comforting me and recommending to me and sharing your story with me. We wouldn’t be here, in this place right now, without you and it’s good that we’re here.