Nurture – And Giveaway!

March 16, 2013 § 24 Comments


Often we have to break down in order to break through – Renee Peterson Trudeau

When a publicist emailed me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing a book on my blog, my first reaction was no, thank you. However, after hearing about Renee Peterson Trudeau’s Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, I agreed to at least read it and then decide.

And I was hooked after the first page.

Rather than trotting out a 10-step plan for perfection, Trudeau begins her book by talking about how chaotic her early years were and she freely shares challenges she had with her husband and son. Like many other books, she emphasizes the importance of self-care, but in Nurturing, it goes beyond pedicures and massages. “Nurturing yourself is not selfish,” she writes. “It’s essential to your survival and well-being.” What I loved was that Trudeau outs many of the ways our society doesn’t promote self-care and often shames mothers into feeling selfish if they put their own care on a par with their families’. Instead, Trudeau takes multi-tasking out at the knees by illustrating how much of our own lives we miss when we try to do too much: we react, we take things personally, we lose compassion, and we miss the good stuff.

This isn’t to say that Nurturing the Soul of Your Family is an easy read, however. While Trudeau is relentlessly compassionate, she is also relentless. The book is divided into five sections that focus on healing and supporting yourself, reconnecting to what you love, spending time together as a family, doing less and learning to say no, and finding support. Within each part are journaling exercises, new practices to try on your own or with your family, and really tough questions that demand honest answers. And I appreciate this so much! My own family is in a time of growth as Gus, my baby, is now four, and Oliver, seven, is in his first year of full-day school.

This winter has been a tough time of growing and molting for all of us. Oliver broke his arm in November while riding his bike and was in a cast for eight weeks. He’s already a sensitive kid, and being sidelined during recess and play time was devastating to him. Additionally, right after his cast came off, his entire school participated in a jumping rope fundraiser for the American Heart Association, which proved difficult with his arm. His seat was changed on the school bus, his new seatmate sometimes teased him, and his best friend from Washington, DC stopped returning his letters. One day he came home from school upset and told me that he doesn’t want to only have girls as friends but sometimes the boys are really rough. The months of January and February were difficult in our house, full of tantrums and unexplained meltdowns, tears and anxiety.

Added to this, I’ve felt my own unraveling this winter. It seems that the more yoga I do, the more I recognize unhealthy patterns and even unhealthy friendships that I’ve had to come to terms with. For years I’ve been able to bury my head in the daily tasks of raising babies and toddlers and preschoolers, but this winter, I’ve had more time to face my own fears and obstacles.

One morning last week, after the jump rope competition, and after Oliver reinstated himself on the recess monkey bars, he woke up upset and cranky, yelling at me before he had even climbed down from his bunk bed.

“Oliver,” I asked, feeling weary already, “What is it you need?”

He lay his head in my lap. “I want to stay home with you,” he said, in an uncharacteristic moment of vulnerability. “I want comfort.”

He wanted to read in bed, watch a movie with his brother, eat Starbucks lemon pound cake, build new Lego sets, go down to the bay and visit the “secret” cave. I explained that if he didn’t go to school that day, the following Monday would be that much harder, but we made a plan for a lazy afternoon full of Legos and reading, and even lemon muffins, which I adapted from Ina Garten’s supposedly “healthy” recipe (we all know better, Ina).

And I had Trudeau’s book to remind me that my to-do list could be put on hold for a day, that I could trust myself to recognize that my son needed comfort more than he needed to be reminded not to yell, and that I didn’t have to ignore my own needs in order to meet his.

Today, as I lie in bed on this gorgeous spring day, trying to recover from the bronchitis that won’t seem to leave, my husband glanced at Trudeau’s book, laying next to me. “Huh,” he said, “Maybe I’ll read that.”

Hopefully you will too. I’m giving away a copy of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family to one lucky reader. And you all get my adaptation of Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake, below.

1 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill is good)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
zest of 2 organic lemons (organic is preferable because you are using the rind)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
juice of 1 lemon

For extra lemony-ness:
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with muffin cups.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the almond milk, sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the coconut oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins are set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, for extra lemony-ness, cook the juice of one lemon and the agave nectar until it boils and then simmer for a minute. Set aside.

When the muffins are done, pour a tablespoon of lemon/agave mixture over each muffin. It will be quickly absorbed.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the muffins. My kids love the glaze because … well, obviously. But these are also great without the glaze.


§ 24 Responses to Nurture – And Giveaway!

  • Alana says:

    Oh yay! A review from you is exciting! I’m going to see if I can make those muffins gluten-free. xoxo

  • sherilee says:

    My heart ached a bit for your boy, reading those passages above… you are blessed that he is able to articulate a need for comfort, and kudos to you for the pause to take care of you, and him.

    The lemon muffins sound pretty lovely, and a little spring-y too!

  • Oh hugs to Oliver and to you, as you know I *get* this sensitive kid thing.

    Three such wonderful gifts in this post: the usual beautiful writing, the delicious recipe and the book suggestion! Thanks!

  • Christa says:

    This sounds like the book we all need to read. Imagine how that would change things… Hugs to the boys and to you!

  • Stephanie says:

    Pam, I’m tucking away your response to Oliver’s not wanting to go to school in my toolkit for later. Thanks!

  • erin says:

    lovely post and wow, it’s my first time here. your love for your boy shines through so clearly. the book sounds great, we all come to a place as mamas (and collectively as families, i think) where we have to face inevitabilities and change. we are in the midst of that now, and getting through with a day by day philosophy, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy or that needs don’t compete when resources are in short supply. i would love to read this book!

  • Kate says:

    oh, we’ve taken comfort days over here… and in my heart i’ve been calling this winter ‘a setback’, and i don’t think thats so helpful. trying to be more graceful with myself and my patterns… faithful that i will keep trying…

  • Yep, we’ve taken comfort days! Moreso when they were little, but my mother–even into the teen years–gave us a “free pass” day. I cherished them.

  • Laura Plumb says:

    Pamela, You are just divine. Making lemon-y muffins sounds like a comforting way to heal and renew. Your boys are lucky to have you. As are we all. Thank you for this warm inspiration, and the sunny sweetness of the recipe.

  • Sarah says:

    Pam, thanks for your beautiful writing. The book sounds like a great one for many families, mine included!!

  • What a brave boy to ask for the comfort that he needs….and what a smart, intuitive Mom you are to ask him that question. The ‘to be’ replaced the ‘to do’ list with legos, lemon muffins and plenty of love which is always the best recipe for family time and for this afternoon in Oliver’s life. He will remember this….and you will remember that you listened, honored and understood what your children needed. I honor you, Pam for being an attentive and present parent. Bravo.


  • Bravo Pam:

    What a courageous boy to ask for the comfort that he needed and a loving Mom to have listened and honored his request. Oliver thrived on an afternoon on Legos, lemon muffins and a lot of love….bravo to you for honoring his request and embracing your intuition to ask the right question. Behind anger, agitation and anxiety is always an undercurrent of needing affection, acceptance or affirmation.


  • Patricia Dolan says:

    Hi Pam:

    I so enjoyed reading this post. I attempted to post for the giveaway but I’m not sure if the entry was received due to my

    Here it is again for consideration:

    Bravo Pam:

    What a courageous boy to ask for the comfort that he needed and a loving Mom to have listened and honored his request. Oliver thrived on an afternoon on Legos, lemon muffins and a lot of love….bravo to you for honoring his request and embracing your intuition to ask the right question. Behind anger, agitation and anxiety is always an undercurrent of needing affection, acceptance or affirmation.


  • Elaine says:

    I wish I could hug Oliver right now. I totally understand the broken arm playground issues. So hard. You might consider talking to the bus driver (if it still feels like an issue). Earlier this year, Connor’s teacher moved him away from his recently declared “best friend”. Connor cried when he told me about it – so devastating. Parent-teacher conferences were coming up and I told his teacher how upset Connor was by the move. That afternoon when I picked Connor up, he smiled and shouted “I get to sit by N. again!”, and his teacher just smiled at me. I also mentioned it to the school counselor (who is a neighbor) and she seemed like she was going to follow up – so I’m not sure if it was my talking to the teacher or the counselor’s talking to the teacher that mattered, but something helped. Also, I found it pretty profound that O. is able to recognize he needs comforting. That’s a pretty safe, wonderful next you’ve built for him. He’s lucky to live in it.

  • Dani says:

    Pamela I so much enjoy your blog as it takes me back to my own life 15 years ago, as our lives run on parallel veins. Raising my 3 sons, while living the challenging life as an Air Force wife, led me to eventually search for “places inside that scare you” through yoga and the continual journey of self love. The one thing I would love to tell you is that when you look back at these times, you will treasure them like no other time in your life. Do what your heart tells you, and if it whipers, you have to listen quietly. My sons are beautiful, wonderful men now and we have retired in your old stomping grounds (San Diego). Making lemon cake, sounds like the perfect thing to do for your son. He won’t forget that his Mom was there when he needed her to Be. You won’t forget.

  • Unraveling is always good I think, better than being tightly bound. As always, I love how honest you are, and how what begins as struggle and vulnerability is transformed, just in the process of your writing, into beauty and understanding and grace, whether you are “digging” into the dark places of your own soul, or reviewing a book (lucky author!), or trying to figure out just what your little boys need and how to give it to them. xo

  • Wolf Pascoe says:

    Lemon cake from lemons. Yes.

  • Self care is so difficult at times. I had to learn to start telling my daughter no once in a while – and it is still hard. And the idea of a lazy day is wonderful. We do them on snow days now and again.

  • Andrea Miles says:

    That sounds like a great book, certainly something I need to read. I have a lemon bread recipe, but not nearly as healthy as yours so I’m going to have to try it!

  • Andrea Miles says:

    Also, (did my 1st comment post?) him putting his head in your lap and wanting to stay home with you – so sweet and heartbreaking! They’re getting so big…and yet they’re still little.

  • Dana says:

    Thanks Pamela for sharing this wisdom. Families are really seeking fresh perspectives and right now; it feels like we’re all ready to drop our old habits and explore new ways of being. Look forward to reading Nurturing the Soul of Your Family and checking out Renee’s offerings!

  • Kathy says:

    You have made me want to read the book! Great review.

  • Hi friend! I’ve missed the inspired, quiet and brave cadence of your words.

    I was just talking about self-care with a friend–and how important (but hard) it is to prioritize it. I look forward to reading this book–thanks for the review.


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