Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Mom to Mom: Jennifer Ward

"It is a happy talent to know how to play" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently, I received a copy of Jennifer Ward's new book, "let's go outside" for review...WOW...I was honored! If you're looking for some fun outdoor things to do with your kidlets then you'll enjoy this sweet little guide full of projects and activities. There is a chapter with TEN types of tag that brought back memories from my own child and helped me recall some versions that I played as a child. The chapter on panning was our inspiration on this particular afternoon. Needless to say, I just had to chat her up. It is my great pleasure to introduce kindred mama, Jennifer Ward...


Mom: Jennifer Ward
Of: Kelly (17)
Where: Illinois and Arizona
Site: Jennifer Ward Books

1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?

JW: Wow, that is a question that has an infinite number of answers, because the changes are many and ever-evolving. I was once the overly protective and overly doting mom to my only daughter, and now I'm learning to practice complete trust and faith with my daughter's growing independence and freedom as she approaches adulthood. The protectiveness is still there, in my head and my heart, but I've learned to rein them in and celebrate her independence with confidence and faith. In a nutshell, though, I'd say being a mother has humbled me as a person, and has afforded me an opportunity to grow emotionally, spiritually and intellectually over the course of years as I share my life with another human whose life I help foster and facilitate -such a gift.

2. What message would you like to share with other mothers?

JW: Structure and routine with family life is important, but so is spontaneity and unstructured play time with young children - so create the balance in your child's life that allows them to "be" children. Children have such a strong sense of imagination, curiosity and wonder, and unstructured play ignites all three. In addition, it's vital that parents spend time with children outdoors. Nature is a huge stress reliever, and even children experience stress. And don't we all need a change of scenery now and again? Why not take time to gaze at the clouds, as each peek to the sky is a unique one? : ) Encourage your kids to get dirty when they play in nature. Allow them to experience the choices they make and learn from them, all the while facilitating their actions with love and wisdom. And finally, hug your children often, and tell them you love them.

3. How do you orchestrate your passions as Mother, Author?

JW: The two are fairly intertwined, as I've been writing professionally for most of my daughter's life. She actually gave me the idea for my first published book, "Way Out in the Desert", when she was three years old. Being a writer, though, has been a wonderful profession to embark on as a mother, as it has allowed me to work at home and keep flexible hours. As my career as an author evolved and grew, Kelly's love of creating, reading and writing also grew - we share those passions, which is really wonderful. On a more specific level of orchestrating the two, I try to do most of my "bizzy" work (office work related to writing) and structure my writing time while Kelly's at school, leaving weekends and evenings free. When I do work on weekends, such as having to do a book signing somewhere, Kelly will sometimes come with me, which is nice bonus for me, indeed.

4. What inspired you to create "let's go outside"?

JW: Let's Go Outside! was written as a resource for parents of older children, in order to provide fun, open-ended experiences in nature together. It's a fact that children today spend far less time outdoors as my generation did. And as kids get older and more independent, it can pose an even greater challenge to get them outside and away from the nearest electrical outlet or electronic gadget. Research has proven the many benefits of nature's impact on people of all ages, so "Let's Go Outside" is a simple, user friendly "tool",-if you wish to call it that - that offers activities, games and experiences parents and kids can enjoy together outside, all the while using primarily just your imagination and your senses.

5. What are some simple things that parents can do foster a connection with nature?

JW: The most important thing a parent can do to foster a connection with nature is to serve as a role model in nature. Help your child to be aware of what is outdoors and what nature offers. Point out the sights, smells and sounds you experience in nature. You don't need to go far to discover and enjoy what's outside. It can be experienced while waiting at the school bus stop, in a tree in a parking lot, on a small patio, in a crack in the sidewalk...just make your child aware. Explore a tree's bark. What's going on upon that tree? Experience the sounds wind creates on buildings and in trees. How many different sounds can you hear? Let the rain fall on your face; catch snowflakes on your tongue. Immerse and enjoy! Let's Go Outside! offers many simple activities families can do in nature together, such as taking story time outdoors. And for those families who are regularly immersed in nature as part of their home-routine, there are activities, games and experiences that take your outdoor experiences to a much deeper level of appreciation.

6. Lastly, what moves you, grounds you, fills your well?

JW: Coincidentally, the very things we discussed above: first and foremost, being a mom. Spending time in nature, my family (including four sisters) and having close friends in my life definitely fills my well and grounds me, too.

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posted by Wendy at 5:04 AM

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