28 August 2012

Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy?

Today I am hosing a post written by one of my favorite online people, Momma Jorje. Read and enjoy!
The Taboo Carnival
Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES! This guest post was written by Momma Jorje for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My parents divorced before I can remember. Knowing the two of them, I do not know how they ever managed to last as long as they did! All growing up, I had to listen to the two of them bad mouth each other constantly.

On the way to my dad's (in his truck), I'd stare out the window as he went on and on about how she was taking all his money. I've heard stories about her spending all his money when they were married, too. How she was book smart, but had no street smarts. He always referred to her with foul language, too, of course.

As soon as I'd get home, I'd hear it from my mother. I heard tales of how my father fired a gun aimed all around my mother's head when there was a window behind her and my brother was outside. Her stories all sounded really crazy, but my father owns up to all of them!

When they got divorced, my brother was asked where he wanted to live. The story goes like this: My father promised him it would just be the two of them and would be so much fun. Soon after, they were living together with my soon-to-be stepmother (and my mother's former best friend) and her 3 kids. Not the dream picture offered.

My mother had to fight for custody of him for several years. When he finally came to live with us, they fought a lot. He would only wear name brand jeans and shirts.

I lived with my mother until I was 14/15 years old. We got into a big fight and she basically kicked me out. And then she had me arrested as a runaway. She told the detective that I was suicidal, which prompted him to walk my papers through the system. I was arrested within 24 hours. However, in order to report it in the first place, she had to sign a form stating that she could not control me. My dad knew she had no way to win. He picked me up the next day and I went to live with him.

All this to say, neither of my parents were saints. I didn't get much approval from my dad, though. If I got an A, he'd ask why it wasn't an A+. Short version: his lack of time, affection, and approval resulted in my desire for approval from men... men that looked, basically, like him.

Once I became an adult, I gave it some thought and figured: I'd be sad when my mother passed. I would be crushed when my father passed. I spent some time obsessing about cherishing every moment with my dad. Thankfully I got past that because it is not a healthy state!

My mom passed away last year. I was sad. I miss her. Often. But I wonder if I called it. I don't know if I'll be as crushed as I predicted when my dad goes. I've known him longer now. He has done a lot for me, but... well, he is a personality. You would just have to meet him. People either love him or hate him - no middle ground.

Overall, I think my father has been my favorite parent. I think it would hurt my mother to know that. If the tables were turned, I doubt my father would be hurt, but he'd sure complain about what an idiot I was. Why was he the favorite? My mother and I were very close for short bursts of my life, namely while I was pregnant with Tyler and Sasha. She was incredibly supportive.

Are your parents still together? I wonder if that has any bearing on how strongly a favorite is... favored. Do you prefer one parent over the other?


Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 28 with all the carnival links.)

  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what 'looks' like favourites but is more causal than reality.
  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother's accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro guests hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don't raise children based on what's fair but on what's right for each child.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at Strocel.com tries hard not to play favourites with her kids - but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.

01 August 2012

Being Vegetarian

Today, August 1st, marks one year since my decision to become a vegetarian.

Awesome, eh?

I had a lot of assumptions about becoming vegetarian. Well, actually one major one, I guess. I never thought about the time I might need to "grieve" the "loss" of meat. I figured I would just dive into this head-on and everything would be fine and dandy. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I felt extremely ashamed of how much I wanted to eat meat (mostly chicken) and I allowed myself to have a couple bite size pieces after the first month. I knew that I could always go back to my meat-eating diet, but I am someone who doesn't like to go backwards and this idea was not a real option for me. So I pressed on.

And I realized something: Gentleness, with myself. Of course I wanted meat, I'd been a meat-eater my whole life! It isn't easy to turn 26 years of meat-eating (give or take) into a meat-less diet, in spite of how determined I was to make this work. I allowed those feelings to be present, to remind myself that I might not be able to turn my palette around in just one month after years of being a carnivore. I knew I had to take it easy on myself, so I did.

I still love New England Clam Chowder and every once in a while, I eat it. I love won-ton soup, and I eat that too, carefully eating only the noodle and not the contents of the won-ton (go ahead and laugh. I do too.). Sometimes, I might eat a shrimp, or two. For the most part, though, I've lost the taste for meat. It still smells good to me when it's cooking, but I don't want to eat it. If I did, that would be OK, too, because being vegetarian, for me, is a process. It isn't over and it wasn't quite instantaneous. It will continue to evolve over the years the same way that I do.

I love being vegetarian, really and truly. Even though I have some trouble coming up with things to make for dinner (still), I have no intention of changing this lifestyle and I only look forward to feeling awesome for the remainder of my life.

05 July 2012

Weeding My Thoughts

Welcome to the July Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindfulness and Nature

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have shared their experiences of mindfulness and the natural world. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Sometimes, I have a hard time controlling my thoughts.

This has been happening to me more often as of late and I knew I needed some sort of outlet, a distraction that would help me regain control. I've always believed in the power of good, old fashioned manual labor to help anyone work through her problems and I can't think of a better place to labor than in nature.

I find that one of the best ways to silence my thoughts is to get in the dirt, literally. I had an opportunity to go to my mother's house recently and I was able to help her a lot with her very large yard. I shoveled and transported dirt, mowed the lawn on her tractor and did a decent amount of weeding, in addition to planting a few new plants.

As I gripped the overgrown grass with one hand, gathered it in a clump and sheered it at its base, I found I suddenly had no room to think of anything else. I became focused on the moment at hand, the weeds immediately before my eyes left naked after I removed their cover. I couldn't stop until I had made the whole area even. My mind was deep in this task, the same as it was listening to the sound of the shovel hitting the dirt or the feeling of the newly grounded plant placed gently into a hole. I knew I needed nature to help my mind and it came through, as it always does.

At the end of the day, I was tired. The kind of tired when your whole body has been working all day long and couldn't possibly do anything else. Each day I was there, doing this work, that is how I felt. And I loved it.

Being mindful of my thoughts enough to stop them from spiraling out of control is not always easy. However, nature has a way about her that always brings me back, back to a state of mental control where I can watch my thoughts without being consumed by them. Thank you, weeds, for being both a source of endless frustration and endless awareness.


Mindful Mama Carnival -- Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #MindMaCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Mindful Mama Twitter List and Mindful Mama Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has found a connection to nature in her very own backyard, thanks to her chickens.
  • Healing Gemstones and Crystals for Children Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses which genstones and crystals are best used by children to support physical, emotional, and/or spiritual healing.
  • A Gardener’s Meditation Andrea at Tales of Goodness shares how she finds peace and renewal through gardening.
  • Weeding My Thoughts Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how nature keeps her in the moment and stops her endless stream of thoughts.
  • Grounded in Nature Rani at OmSheSaid shares her walk in nature, and through expressive words, shares this journey to coming home.
  • Embracing the Magic of Moonlit Nights Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares ways to embrace the magic of moonlit nights with your children and as a woman.
  • Meditation for a Mindful Mama Alinka at Baby Web guides you through her research on the science of meditation, its numerous benefits, and presents to you a life changing meditation exercise.
  • The Wild Within Naturemummy at Motherhood: My Latest Adventure reflects on the soothing qualities of wild places.
  • Nature’s Lessons in Mindfulness Tat at Mum in Search wants to bring the same mindfulness that comes so easily in nature to her relationships.
  • On Manicured Nature: We Roam in Small Spaces Featherstory at The Aniweda Dream shares her gratitude for her limited natural settings and her plans to expand her children's experience with the natural world.
  • Garden (Time Out) Meditation Do you ever need a time out for yourself? Amy at Anktangle finds that during a difficult parenting moment, taking pause to spend a few minutes outside is just the thing she needs to be able to experience renewed patience, focus, and energy.
  • Nature Makes Me a Better Mother Terri at Child of the Nature Isle could not imagine parenting without Mother Nature.
  • Natural Renewal Karen at Playful Planet shares her experiences of reneweal in the natural world.
  • Natural History Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets out into nature, 200 years ago, and isn't sure she likes it there.
  • Nurtured by Nature Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares with us how being in nature helps her feel centered and connected.
  • Mindfulness and Nature Zoie at TouchstoneZ explores the connection between mindfulness and the natural world.
  • A Sense of Awe and Wonder Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the feeling she never fails to get from the natural world and how it guides her to the mindfulness she craves.

21 April 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Getting into grad school: I'm going to get a Ph.D. Wow. Sometimes, I take a look at that statement and I catch my breath. I will be the first person in my family, on either side, to obtain this degree. I'm really proud of that fact.

My sinuses: My sinuses are beating up my face. This has never happened to me before and I thoroughly feel for those of you who have yearly allergies. Yuck. Good to know I have sinuses....

Pasta: Sometimes, you just need to make pasta for dinner because all other options require work. I love the old standby I have in pasta.

Echinacea and Goldenseal: They've been helping me along and I'm so glad my mom bought them for me :)

Warm days: I've really enjoyed going outside with H & P after dinner nearly every day to play with chalk and blow bubbles. I am, however, looking forward to the rain we're supposed to get tomorrow so that the Earth can be a little squishy.

07 April 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Easter break!: Even though the semester is almost over and I have so much to do with my students and not nearly enough time, I'm reasonably glad that I have two extra days off for break than originally planned.

Tired kids: A couple nights this week H & P were so tired they fell asleep within 10 minutes of their heads hitting the pillow. Granted, extreme tiredness is not always a good thing, but its incredibly helpful at the end of a long day when I need to get things done. Mostly though, when they're really that tired at the end of the day, I know that they had a lot of fun and got a lot of exercise.

My camera: Still love it, even though I don't use it as much as I'd like.

Peanut Butter: I love peanut butter. I eat it every day. It makes my cinnamon raisin anything taste better.

No alarm clock: OK, even though my break is technically about a week long, I only get to turn off my alarm for three of those days. However, I relish those days. Even if children still wake up at the "normal" time without an alarm...

31 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Getting away: I needed to get away. Like whoa. I've worked nearly every single day since January in either one form or another and I'm tired. My mother's house is a perfect retreat.

Fresh air: It works wonders on children. Not quite as well on Piper as I would have liked, but still it does them good to run around for an hour or so outside without me having to curtail their exercise.

My congregation: You know I love my church, but this Sunday is my pastor's last day after 35 years of service. I can't be there, but know what they are doing for him literally brought tears to my eyes. It reaffirmed why I love them so much and why I'm so proud to be a part of them.

An interview: I'm not going to tell you what it's for, but I'm grateful for it. You'll know when something happens.

29 March 2012


I was mean tonight.

I was mean tonight when I yelled,
"Enough is enough!" and
slammed the cupboard door.

I was mean tonight because
the garbage bag pulling and
the 2+ consecutive hours of whining and
the I-can-only-sit-in-your-chair and
the I-can-only-eat-your-food and
the I-only-want-to-drink-your-water and
the I-need-to-touch-every-dirty-thing-sticking-out-of-the-sink and
the I'm-too-tired-to-pick-up-my-toys and
the I-would-rather-bash-my-face-into-a-doorknob-than-let-you-brush-my-teeth
finally got to me.

I was mean when
I sent them out of the kitchen because
yet another glass of water
was purposely spilled on the floor.

And I was mean when I said
"I can't even talk to you right now!"
because I needed a moment to calm down.

I was mean tonight
but instead of being hard on myself,

I said:

"You need a break."

Yes, I was mean tonight.

And now tonight is over.

26 March 2012

How DO you do it?

It's that time again! You might remember the great post in December 2011 that highlighted the Natural Parents Network Volunteer's most popular or favorite posts from the year. Well, we are back and this time we are bringing you a collection of posts that focus on Do It Yourself projects, How To's, Tutorials, Recipes, and anything related to a step by step guide or informational how-to.

There are a lot of really wonderful posts here and I hope that this serves as an excellent resource that you can pass on to your friends! Enjoy!

Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy mommaJorje of Momma Jorje.com shares her Family Cloth Tutorial in pictures. She includes step by step photos with some tips for making very neat family cloth. You can find Momma Jorje on Facebook, too!

Lani at Boobie Time Blog shares "How to Help a New Breastfeeding Mom." This post provides some tips on helping a new mom while she is learning to Breastfeed. You can also find Boobie Time Blog on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares "How I Make Cloth Wipes." This post details how Amanda made all of her cloth wipes. You can also find Let's Take the Metro on Facebook.

Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares "Lessons in a Picture Book." A Lesson plan for pancakes and how to make your own butter! You can also find True Confessions of a Real Mommy on Facebook and Twitter.

Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares "Tips for Road Tripping with a Toddler." A long car trip with a young child can be a great way to make some wonderful memories if you are prepared to meet the challenges. You can also find Monkey Butt Junction on Facebook and Twitter. 

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares "Maple Cinnamon Swirl Bread." This recipe tutorial shows you how to make a sweet whole wheat bread with beautiful cinnamon swirls in each slice. You can also find Farmer's Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.

Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares "How To Consume Coconut Oil Plus Coconut Oil Candy Recipes." This post provides some tips on how to get your daily dose of coconut oil down the hatch. It also provides some very tasty recipes for coconut oil candy! You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Alicia at Lactation Narration gives some ideas for how to accomplish Partial Weaning for moms who would like to cut down on nursing without completely weaning. You can also find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares "A Learning-Rich Environment." This post provides a number of suggestions for creating a learning-rich environment and incorporating learning into everyday life, with a particular focus on the preschool age. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

BecomingCrunchyKelly at Becoming Crunchy shares "Kale Chips = Awesome!" This post shares a super easy recipe for making a super easy (and surprisingly tasty) snack from one of the most healthful greens around. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares "How to Move to California." A silly how-to she wrote while she and her then fiance were driving to their new home. You can also find Shannon on Pinterest, Flickr, and Google +.

Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen shares a recipe for "Homemade Fruit Leather." It's easier than you ever thought and the perfect snack for you and your family. You can also find That Mama Gretchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares "How I Cloth Diaper (Part 1)." This post details the way Julia has cloth diapered her daughter along with the products she uses. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Joella at Fine and Fair shares "Our First Sensory Bins." In this post, she shares how she made a "Scoop, Measure, and Pour" themed sensory bin, as well as an "In the Garden" themed bin. She also shares some tips for making your own sensory bins! Fine and Fair can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Visit Code Name: MamaFor all of you breastfeeding mamas, Dionna at Code Name: Mama has the ultimate DIY experience with the main ingredient being your breastmilk! 58 Medical, Cosmetic, and Other Alternative Uses for Breastmilk includes a cradle cap remedy, an anti-itch salve, weaning jewelry, lotion, and more. You can also find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings offers several ideas for "Keeping a Toddler Happily Busy on a Long Flight." The list includes handmade felt activities, among many other things. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Shannon at The Artful Mama shares "Preparing Toddlers for Birth." This post features MamAmor dolls and shows some alternative ways to talk to toddlers about pregnancy and birth. You can also find The Artful Mama on Facebook and Twitter.

Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her "Family Binder DIY." This post shows how to put together a family binder, to help organize cleaning, meal planning, shopping and budgeting all in one convenient location!

I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares "5 Green Living, Spring Cleaning Tips." This post provides easy ways to keep the toxins out of your home and to freshen up your home for spring. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares "Daily Bread: My Favorite Whole Grain Bread Machine Recipe." This recipe is easy, highly adaptable, and a great starting point for creating your own daily (or almost daily!) homemade bread. You can also find Intrepid Murmurings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares "10 Tips for Toddler Carseat Woes." Check out these ideas of dealing with toddler carseat issues without resorting to punishments. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares "DIY Mom's Night In." A somewhat humorous solution, this post provides exhausted Mamas the recipe for the perfect way to recharge!

Stacy at Sweet Sky shares “Ways to Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Days.” This post provides tips and tricks to bring yourself back to the present moment, so you can be the parent you want to be. You can also find Stacy on Facebook.

AnktangleAmy at Anktangle shows us how to make your own popsicle stick puzzles, a fun and simple "busy bag" activity for toddlers and preschool aged children. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren at Hobo Mama shares "How to sew a mei tai baby carrier." The mei tai is Lauren and Sam's favorite carrier for baby Alrik: as comfortable and simple as it is beautiful. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Visit African Babies Don't CryChristine at African Babies Don't Cry shares "How to Make Rainbow Coloured Rice (Without Alcohol) for a Toddler Sensory Bin." This post provides a step by step tutorial for making vibrantly coloured rainbow rice for sensory play, includes a printable PDF. You can also find African Babies Don't Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares "How To Send A Hug In An Envelope." This post is a creative way to send more than just the standard card to love ones. It literally is a hug in an envelope! You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.

24 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

My crock pot: Have I told you lately how I love this device? I am so, so, so grateful for it as it pumps out great (and not so great) meals every week for me.

The ability to walk: The past two days I took H & P on long walks to a playground with one in the stroller and the other on my back. I'm tired. I am also grateful for the closeness of this playground and the perfect weather to walk in.

Grandparents: I am forever grateful to each of the grandparents who watch H & P while I work because without them, I would have a lot more work to do and a lot more money to shell out. They are incredibly helpful and I am so thankful that H & P get to spend so much time with family.

The sun: I got to dry diapers in the sun this week! You know what this means to me!

Peanut butter: I go through so much peanut butter it isn't funny. Actually it is. So I'm glad it exists. Yum.

17 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Abundance: There is abundance everywhere and I continue to be grateful for it.

Great cookbooks: I have two cookbooks that I use on an incredibly regular basis (though I do have many random recipes that I use frequently too) and I am so, so glad that I have these items at my disposal because they help when I'm having a food/creativity mental block.

Bunny crackers: An incredible invention by Annies. Heidi and Piper go crazy for them and I find them to be quite tasty myself.

The halfway point: I love this semester, but I'm very glad to have crossed over the halfway point. The end is in sight.

Spring?: Honestly, this weather scares the crap out of me. But, in good faith, I will be grateful for the turning of the seasons and all the goodness it brings.

10 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

My bread machine: Even though I am interested in and aiming for a more gluten-free diet, I still use my bread machine sort of frequently and I'm very thankful that I have it. Without it, I wouldn't have had fresh cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast this morning.

My tea cup: It's blue, it's a decent size and I love it.

My electric tea pot: It boils water in minutes! Tea is never far from my hands with its awesomeness on my counter.

My hot water bottle: I never thought that it would be filled with water and carried around like a baby. A baby that eats, uses the toilet, goes to sleep in the bed and gets wrapped up in blankets. I'm glad I have it for such uses when "real" baby dolls just don't cut it.

Break: This past week was spring break. Could have fooled me, but at least I didn't have to "work" every day. It was sort of nice, minus the fact that Piper's new early rising time the past two days has been 5 - 5:30 am; a new personal best. She knew it was break time.

08 March 2012

Sometimes, You Need to Sit Down to Eat

Mornings are busy. I'm sure there isn't one among you who feels differently. If you're working, getting kids to school or going to appointments, you might find taking the time to eat breakfast yourself takes a back seat. I was reminded of the importance of this the other day, though when in my morning rush, I finally stopped to savor the moment.

I always eat breakfast because I know how important it is and because I want to set that kind of example for H & P. During the week, I eat standing up. I get H & P's food first, sit them at the table and then go about doing a million "important" things. Dishes are always bugging me so I'm usually washing them while they eat. I might be also preparing Heidi's lunch for "school" and I'm probably not dressed yet. I need to change Piper's diaper, make the beds and make sure I have all the right books and notes I need. If I'm working, I'm making sure that lunch is available for them along with snacks, diapers are all set out and everything is relatively clean. All of these things take up so much time and I'm working at them with children hanging all over me saying "Pick?! Pick?!"

The other day was different. Heidi barely touched her breakfast and while Piper ate more of hers, I wasn't satisfied. I actually got to sit down in my chair to eat mine, but they had been long gone from the table by then. I decided I wanted Heidi to eat so I went over to her chair, sat down, put her on my lap and fed her. And she ate.

She ate because I was actually present with her instead of washing the "important" dishes. She ate because I was taking the time to feed her, hold her on my lap and let her know that it was important for her to eat. Most importantly was just that I took the time.

I've been letting other things get in the way of spending real time with my children in the morning. That is not to say that I do not spend any time with them at all and in fact, I habitually drop things that I'm doing to go and just sit with them on the couch for a few minutes. But since I value breakfast so much, I need to make more of an effort to make it a meal.

Every other meal we eat, we all sit down at the table, without fail. Breakfast should not be an exception. Dishes can wait. Clothing can *sort of* wait. They can't. They are watching me every moment, using me as a gauge for their own future behavior and this is not something I want them to repeat.

I had my reality check the other day and I'm listening. If nothing else, I will eat three meals a day, at a table, with my children.

05 March 2012

Why I'm Attracted to Homeschooling/Unschooling

*Note: For the purpose of this post, I will be using the terms 'homeschooling' and 'unschooling' interchangeably. I am fully aware that they are not the same thing, but since I am not giving a lesson explaining their differences, (and I'm interested in both of them) I will be using both words throughout.

I've been meaning to write this post for a long, long time, but just haven't managed to hunker down and do it. A while ago, my cousin-in-law specifically requested a post such as this one and I am pleased to finally be delivering it to him. I hope it lives up to his expectations.

Quite some time ago, I was completely against homeschooling. I never had a bad experience with it, and I actually knew some people who were home schooled, but I thought that public school would give my future children a better view of the world and they would be exposed to more variety than at home. This was something my husband and I agreed on before we even got married, so I figured we were set.

Then, I had my children.

Like every parent, I want them to have every opportunity to expand, practice and exercise the talents that they have been blessed with. The idea that these gifts could be squashed or refuted by a teacher or a school is actually terrifying to me. I want to nourish each gift H & P have been blessed with and I'm not convinced that public school can do this. So let's look at a short list of the reasons I'm actually attracted to homeschooling and unschooling.

Freedom: I love the concept of school freedom. They can go to school anywhere, do a wide variety of things every day, use different curriculum or no curriculum at all depending upon their interests and have infinite opportunities for hands-on learning. This amount of freedom, to hand-pick what they will study, is also incredibly terrifying. Nevertheless, it is a process I would love to undertake if it meant that I could provide the freedom for them to blossom on their own time.

Individualized Curriculum: Yes, I'd like H & P to learn all they need to learn to be "successful" in life, but I would also like for them to do it on their own terms. If I can teach them math through art or science only through hands-on experiments, and that's the way they want to learn, they will actually want to do it. Children are not robots and should not be forced to fit some sort of pre-molded curriculum set if it doesn't work for them.

Unlimited projects: If I want to teach them how to cook at age 5 by actually cooking in the kitchen, I can. If I want to teach them science by planting and maintaining a garden, I can. If I want to teach them history by actually visiting a historical place during the school year, I could do that too. The project ideas are unlimited for homeschooled children because you can do so much more with a small group than you can with a large group. (Yes, I realize schools have plenty of projects and they take field trips, but it is still harder to give each child individual attention during that project or trip if there are 30 of them.) The possibilities for fun things to do with them are so exciting!

Options: Just because children are homeschooled, doesn't mean they can't participate in school activities if they choose. They could still be in band or sports, they could certainly take dance lessons or piano lessons, and if they wanted to, they could go to school! *gasp!* There are always options available for homeschooled children to be like "regular" kids as well as to make friends and "socialize" as often as you want.

College students are in charge of their education. They choose where they want to go, what courses to take and when to take them, and what their major area of study is. Why is it that younger children are not trusted to do the same? I trust my children and their inner guidance and I would relish the chance to support their own decisions about school.

03 March 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Two years with Piper: Two whole years! Happy Birthday!

Spring Break!: Even though I still have to do a ton of work, I get an entier week off where I don't actually have to teach. This was a brilliant idea.

Washing machines: I've done so many loads of laundry in the past three days it's incredible. Without a washing machine, I would not have slept and would have instead been up all night soaking things in the bathtub.

Dryers: Same reason as above.

Friends: I always love my friends and I am grateful for the time I get to spend with them.

25 February 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Tea: Heidi and Piper have recently been enjoying the simple pleasure of drinking tea...and dumping out on the table. Nevertheless, I am so pleased to be hounded and badgered until I make some tea for them.

Teaching moments: Just as I have some moments as a parent that take my breath away, I am starting to have some moments like that while I'm teaching. When I can really see someone thinking or learning, because of what I have lead them to, it is amazing.

Adult TV time: No, it isn't what it sounds like. I simply enjoy the opportunity to watch whatever the heck I want to watch on TV at night after H & P go to sleep. MMMM...solitude.

The crock pot!: I made crock pot meals all week! They were awesome and I love the awesomeness of having more than one crock pot.

Finding things that are lost: I've lost the power cord for my Kindle and I'm expressing gratitude for finding it in the future! It holds an awesome vegetarian cookbook that I need in order to make some more awesome meals! Think finders thoughts for me! :)

18 February 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Workshops: My pastor, who is retiring at the end of March, is giving three final workshops at the church and I am fortunate enough to attend one of them. I'm so happy to have known him and been a part of this church for almost a year and I am happy to continue in the new direction we are heading.

Speaking: I've had many opportunities recently to share my thoughts with people who are willing to listen. I relish those opportunities and am grateful for the feedback I receive.

Love: On my fridge, I have a little picture I took out of a newspaper that says "I don't know what to do." and gives four choices: A, B, C or Love. At the bottom, it says "Just keep choosing love." So that's what I'm doing.

Prosperity: I'm feeling it. And I am grateful to the prosperity that is in the works for me (and you!).

Listening: Sometimes, as much as it is important for me to speak the words I need to release, it is also important for me to hear what others are saying. Truly hear it. I am grateful to my ears for doing that job for me.

11 February 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Class discussions: Both of my classes seem to be very good at talking out the information I present them and that makes me happy. I love to see students thinking.

Heidi: Heidi is an incredible help *most of the time.* She holds the dustpan for me while I'm sweeping the kitchen floor, picks up items in the way of the vacuum cleaner and gets me things that I need when I ask her. Sometimes, she'll be in a "Leave me alone!" mood, but for the most part she is incredibly agreeable. I love it.

Piper: Piper's intelligence astounds me and I am grateful to be able to watch it develop so much. She, still not 2 years old, knows exactly where my mother lives, knows that a drain serves the purpose of holding water in the sink (when closed) and announces "circle!" when she draws circles repeatedly on paper.

Homeopathic remedies: Both H & P have had runny noses for a while that have developed into some slight congestion and an occasional cough. I'm grateful to have an arsenal of possible natural remedies to turn to before having to turn to "conventional" medicines.

Almost two years without illness!: This is the first time Piper has EVER been sick! And I say sick sort of loosely since she only had a fever once through this runny nose thing, but she does have a semi-chesty cough...maybe I'm just trying to pretend she's not really sick because I wanted to make it to the 2-year mark so badly :) Anyway, she will be two in less than a month and has not been ill yet, so I am grateful to her awesome health.

04 February 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Test days: I really enjoy teaching, but I also really enjoy standing at the front of a classroom watching my students take a test while I do nothing. It's nice for a change.

Direct Deposit: A fabulous invention.

Buying groceries: I love going grocery shopping. Did I mention that I love going grocery shopping? It's really the only kind of shopping I like to do and I could do it for hours, depending on the store. Maybe I should be a personal grocery shopper.

Drums: I'm so happy that Steve and I got drums for H & P's first birthdays. Not only do they love playing them at home, but they also got to play them in their first drum circle a few weeks ago and they can't stop talking about it! I look forward to their next drum circle.

Having a voice: Given that I lost my voice for virtually an entire week, I have become far more grateful for it that I have been in a long, long time. Especially since I'm teaching. Yeah...it's sort of necessary. Thank you, voice, for serving me so well.

28 January 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

My computer: Now is the time that I really need it and it is coming through for me in leaps and bounds. Sort of. At least it works.

NVC (Nonviolent Communication): I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to go over this book with the Natural Parents Network volunteer team because it brought so many great insights into my life. Now, I'm sharing it with one of my classes and hoping that they, too, can take something positive away from it.

Walking: I love walking to work on the days that I can because I get to exercise and enjoy the fresh air while reminding my body that it has muscles that can move that way. I'm grateful to be living so close that I am able to do this!

Going to bed at 10 p.m.: No, I'm not 90. But I force myself to go to bed earlier than I have in years because I know I'm at my best when I get more sleep, rather than less. I love waking up in the morning and though I might be tired, I can easily recover when I have received at least 7 hours of sleep.

Food: I'm on a "I love food kick" (as if I'm ever not), but these days I'm just so happy to be eating such yummy, good-for-me foods that are readily available. Mmm...food. Am I hungry?

24 January 2012

This Is What My Week Looks Like

Please bear with me....

8-9 am: I teach class #1.
Afternoon time: My mother arrives.

8 am: Drop Heidi off at preschool.
8-10 am: Prepping for class/office hours.
10-11:30 am: Teach class #2
12:30 pm: Pick Heidi up from preschool.

8-9 am: Teach class #1.
10-1:30 pm: Work my other part-time gig.

8 am: Drop Heidi off.
8-10 am: Class prep/office hours.
10-11:30 am: Teach that second class.
12:30 pm: Retrieve Heidi.
Afternoon: My mother leaves

8-9 am: Teach 1st class again

Working that other part-time gig if I'm not traveling.

In other words, my free time has gone from "minimal" to "bare minimal," which would explain my lack in all things that are not class/child related. Just know that I'm still here and will be bringing you the best of the best as soon as...umm...what was I doing again?


21 January 2012

The Gratitude Post

I'm writing a weekly post to express gratitude for everything I have been blessed with in my life. Will you join me in sharing just five things you are grateful for this week?

This week I'm grateful for:

Working: I'm getting back into the swing of things and I am especially grateful to be around adults for most of the day. I love my children, but I need to be intellectually challenged on a regular basis if I am to provide the same challenges for them at home. I feel very happy with what I'm doing right now and it translates into my parenting.

Awesome children: H & P really are awesome. I just can't say enough about them sometimes. We took a day trip on Sunday to go to church (2 1/2 hours one way) and not a single complaint was heard from either of them the entire time. They were fabulous. And, Heidi made it the whole ride down without needing to pee. So, so grateful for them every day.

Books: I'm always grateful for books and as I look at my shelves every day, I smile and am glad that I am so blessed with the written word.

Fuzzy blankets: I love fuzzy blankets. They help keep me warm at night. The end.

Living Green: I love my life. Wait, I love my green life. I really do. I love everything about it from my vinegar to my cloth paper towels to my cloth toilet paper! I'm so thankful that I've made all these changes and so thankful for how my life has changed because of them.