Episode 25 | Returning to Nature



Last summer, Todd and Carrie Minturn took their two young sons on the road trip of a lifetime. They visited twelve National Parks and National Monuments, camped, hiked, collected ranger badges, and logged thousands of miles of adventures. On this trip, Todd retraced the path of a trip that he took with his parents when he was six. Revisiting these wild spaces with his children was an invitation to reconnect with his own childlike sense of wonder and innocence.

In our conversation, Todd and I talked about the importance of nature and the power that nature has to draw us into our true selves. Todd reflects on what nature has taught him about fatherhood and what he hopes to instill in his boys by making sure they have lots of time exploring wild places.

Our conversation reminded me of a book that I read several years ago, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.  The author describes nature as an essential ingredient for healthy child development. It is a beautifully written, well-researched book, perhaps best summarized by these words:

Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of senses. Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, and turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion. Nature can frighten a child, too, and this fright serves a purpose.  In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace.

Enjoy this timely reflection about the deeper process that may be happening on that family camping vacation.



Episode 24 | Travelling with New Eyes: A Family’s European Adventure


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Melinda Bey is an artsy, blogging, stay-home mum from Melbourne, Australia.  I recently came across her lovely blog, stupendousjoy.  Her artistic eye and open, reflective writing drew me in immediately.

Melinda, her husband, Shef, and their five-year-old son are in the midst of a three month international adventure that has taken them throughout Western Europe. In our conversation, she reflects on the value of international travel, what she has learned by parenting on the road, and the ways that her Buddhist practices have shaped her as a parent.  Mindfulness, gratitude and humor are central themes in her life, her travels, and in her parenting.

I highly recommend her blog: http://stupendousjoy.blogspot.com/.

The photos on this post are © melindamelou and are used with permission.



Episode 23 | Finding the Sacred in Life and Death: A Conversation with Juli McGowen Boit


Juli McGowen Boit is a nurse practitioner who has been living in a rural part of eastern Kenya for the past nine years. She founded The Living Room, a center that provides hospice and palliative care to those affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life threatening illnesses. She cares for men, women, and children in immense pain. At times, her work involves the sacred act of tenderly accompanying people to the last moments of their lives.

She and her husband, Titus, are expecting their first child, a daughter, later this month.

Our wonderful conversation covers a range of topics, including the parallels between birth and death, her village’s sense of communal responsibility for children, and her prayer that her daughter will develop a compassionate heart as she grows up in the midst of the poverty and suffering.

To learn more about Juli’s work visit The Living Room website or find her on facebook.

Episode 22 | A Winding Path of Culture and Vocation


Nadia Elrashidi Ahlsten  is a stay-at-home mom with four kids under the age of five. Yep, she is hardcore.

Thankfully she comes to the job with excellent credentials: the Peace Corps in El Salvador, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the World Bank, the West Bank, and Kenya.

She used her experience with complex systems to navigate the adoption and immigration procedures of three countries. When she and her family were living in Kenya, they navigated the adoptions of twin boys from an orphanage in the Congo.

Nadia has made some tough life choices that may seem like big sacrifices. She’s done so with eyes wide open. She recently wrote this on her facebook page: “No one said love was easy or even something that comes natural to you. Love is love. It costs you everything but you (generally) will gladly give up everything (and more) to have it, save it, and keep it”.

We had a wonderful conversation about choices, culture, adoption, and the adventures of motherhood.

Thanks, Nadia!


Episode 21 | Loving Liam: Welcoming a Son with Down Syndrome



A few days ago I posted a link to Andrew Solomon’s TED talk about parents with children who are “far from the tree”; children who are very different from their parents on key aspects of identity (intelligence, criminality, deafness, disability). Understanding, accepting and coming to love a child’s “otherness” is a central part of parenting for all of us. However, the margins of this process are stretched for families who find themselves welcoming a child who is vastly different than they expected and whose difference may alter the course of the family in painful and difficult ways. I find these stories so compelling because the presence of these kids can stretch parents to their limits and force transformation, hopefully for the good. Parents must reimagine what their lives and their families will be.

I met Eddy and Rhoda Ekmeji before they were married, when we were all in college together. Eddy is the Area Director of Black Campus Ministries for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. Rhoda is an elementary school teacher. They have a daughter who is eight, a son who is five and they recently welcomed a new baby boy, Liam, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.

In his interview, Eddy talks about how Liam (and Down’s Syndrome) have altered his family, his faith, and his experience of being a father.

Eddy blogs at servingbread.com. Be sure to check out the post he wrote about Liam’s birth.  You can also find Eddy on facebook or on twitter @EddyEkmekji.

Episode 20 | College by 12


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Mona Lisa Harding is the homeschooling mother of ten children. Six of her children, began college by the age 12. She is the mother of the country’s youngest female physician and the youngest architect in the American Institute of Architecture.  When I interviewed her, she was helping her 10-year-old prepare to take the ACT.

Despite their achievements, this is not a family of hard-driving academics. Their basic philosophy is to support the interests of their children. This means lots of independent reading, learning play and exploration- whatever develops curiosity, interest and vocational goals.

The Harding family has been featured on the Today Show and on CNN.

Mona Lisa and her husband, Kip, recently published an electronic journal about their family’s experience. It can be downloaded at www.collegeby12.com.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was that Mona Lisa has prepared all of these children for college, without having complete college herself. Way to go, mama!

Episode 19 | Audry Adams: Redeeming Hard Things


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Audry Adams is the mother of the kid throwing the tantrum in front of all the other guests at the birthday party.

Yes, many of us have been there. But, Audry has those difficult parenting moments more often than most. Her oldest son has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that can make it difficult for kids to communicate well, engage in social interactions, be emotionally flexible, and calm down when they are upset.

Because Audry has had so many challenges as a mother, she has learned to seek out ways to redeem these difficult moments. She shared her story on our podcast so that other parents of “difficult” kids would know that they are not alone in the unique struggles that they face.

Audry is the mother of three children, the wife of Jim and a supportive and encouraging presence to a large community of friends.

Episode 18 | Katrina Kenison’s Extraordinary Ordinary Days


Katrina Kenison is the mother of two young adult sons and the author of three books:  Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a HurryThe Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir , and Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. She writes about motherhood and the moments that she has savored during the ups and downs of nurturing, raising and launching children.

She and her husband live in New Hampshire where she is a yoga teacher. Katrina blogs at www.katrinakenison.com

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is one of my favorite books about motherhood. It was a tremendous pleasure to spend an hour talking with Katrina and I am excited to share our conversation with the Parenting Reimagined community!

Thanks for listening.