Saturday, August 31, 2013

Not Getting My Way

When conflicts arise in our house, the goal is for the parties involved to negotiate and come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Papa and I didn't grow up in this type of environment, so we're learning right alongside the kids.

It is honestly one of the HARDEST things for me to start the negotiation process without thinking I should get my way in the end. I am bigger. I am older. My wants are m
ore important. My ideas are better. Stomp Stomp. Adult temper tantrum.

Breaking these lines of thinking is HARD. It takes literally rewiring our brains. It is important to me to break this cycle for my children, and so I keep trying to do better to teach and model skills which will benefit them. I have a little mantra I say to myself to try and snap myself out of my tantrums. "He is a person too. Just because he is younger and smaller doesn't mean his wants or needs are any less important than mine. His wants and needs are equal to mine, perhaps even more important as he is out of control of so many aspects of his life, whereas I am not."

This usually clears my head and we can begin finding a way to make everyone happy.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Josh's Morning Check

At 8 years old, Josh has got it more together than I ever will.

Josh- I always hear you running water in the morning. That's when I know to get out of bed.

Me- Oh? That must be when I fill the tea kettle for coffee.

Josh- I hear that, then do my morning check.

Me- Morning check? What is that?

Josh- It's when I check to make sure everything is working properly. I wiggle my toes, twist my ankles...(etc, etc)...check my eye lids...(goes on naming each part of his body).

Me- Wow. So you do that every morning when you wake up?

Josh- Well yeah! You never know what could happen and what could stop working.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Disapprovals vs. Affirmations

I'm pretty sure most decent parenting books advise making positive statements over negative statements. For example, instead of "Don't be so loud," say "Please be quiet." Instead of "Stop running," say "Please walk." I admit, this is something with which I still struggle.

Then I got a little kick in the pants reminder from a chapter on language development in Einstein Never Used Flashcards.

"So parents speak to children in what researchers term "disapprovals," while other use more "affirmations." Disapprovals are negative statements such as "No," or "Don't do that," or "stop that." They close off conversation rather than engage children in talk. On the other hand, affirmations include praise, as in "Good job!" and encouragement, "Let's try that again," and compliments, "You really did that well!"

.... When researchers looked at the differences in sheer number of disapprovals and affirmations, their findings were shocking. The average child from a professional family heard 32 affirmations and 5 disapprovals per hour- a ratio of 6 to 1. Those from the working class heard roughly 12 affirmations and 7 disapprovals- a ratio of 2 to 1. In stark contrast, this pattern flipped for children from welfare homes. They received 5 affirmations and 11 disapprovals per hour, for a ratio of 1 to 2.

The effect of these differences and the messages they send to language-learning children cannot be underscored enough. The professional children are being rewarded for talking- the welfare children are not. They are being taught to follow commands. The professional and working-class children are being encouraged and praised, while the welfare children are being told things that cannot help their self-esteem."

5-11 disapprovals PER HOUR? Can you imagine if someone in your life were saying something negative to you every 20 minutes? Or even worse, every 6 minutes? Can you imagine how it must feel to have no choice in whether you live with this negativity or not? Children can't leave a situation the same way we can leave a job or relationship. I'll definitely be more mindful of my word choices from now on.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bear Becomes Real

Bug (2y) has this bear. It was once a handsome stuffed bear, but over 2 years of being totted around, slept on, and played with has left him stuffing-less, except for his head and the beans at the ends of his feet. He is loved.

Recently, Bear has taken on a new role in the family. A 'real' role. It started with Bug feeding him sips of water, then proclaiming that I needed to get Bear a napkin to
wipe his mouth. The Bear started sharing meals with Bug, getting bites of everything Bug ate.

The next step was that Bear needed to wear a seat belt in the car, so he now sits in the middle seat buckled up. Most recently he required a night time diaper and pajama shirt. I'm the opposite of a hoarder, so dressing Bear in a 3T shirt and toddler sized overnight diaper was.... interesting. Some days I even get to hold him over the toilet while Bear goes potty in the big potty chair.

I know from things I've read that Bug's treatment of Bear is a reflection of how we treat Bug. It makes me smile to see them both treated so well, loved so much. It didn't really hit me until bedtime the other night though. The three of us were lying in bed- Bug, Bear and I. Bug and Bear were rolling around, being silly, playing and laughing.

Then Bug said, "Okay Bear, you need to calm down. Okay, time to calm down. Here, I snuggle with you. Here Bear, I get you some covers." He loving laid Bear on the pillow and pulled the covers up to his chin. He snuggled in next to him and repeated the above sentences over and over.

My heart could have exploded. I soaked in his words. I am thankful for what he said, but more thankful for the things he didn't say. No harsh words, no demands, no threats. Just love.

Josh Buys a New Bike

You might remember a few months ago Josh's bike got stolen from our back yard. It was never found and has yet to be replaced. He did odd and end jobs to make some money, like selling cookies to the neighbors, but usually ended up spending it on treats from the ice cream truck.

He's recently been pulling weeds from the neighbor's garden and earning more than a fair wage, so has a chunk of change s
aved up. Last night he was telling me about the things he might buy. I mentioned he had enough to get a new (to him) bike on Craigslist.

"Whoa! Okay, how do I use Craigslist?" he exclaimed. With minimal guidance he had the bike listings pulled up and browsed until he found the perfect one. He replies to the post via email and I coach him on what to write. He asks how to spell 'interested', which I spell out for him. I watch from the couch as he types out "contact", but has misspelled it. He notices the red dotted line, gives the word a right click, and chooses the correct spelling.

He finishes up the email, asking me about formatting the signature. "Do I hit enter once or twice before I say 'thanks'?" Then he hits command and return to send. Fancy. I had no idea that keyboard command would send the email. He'd noticed it pop up when he hovered over "Send" with the mouse.

There was so much learning wrapped up in those few minutes. I love having the privilege to witness it. I love watching him discover new things. I love seeing him use the tools at his disposal. And I especially love when I learn new things right alongside him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sweet Surprise

Hoped in the shower just a bit ago, and Josh (8y) comes knocking on the door.

"Hey Mom, can you stay in your room until I tell you to come out, I'm working on a surprise."

Uh, yeah I can! An uninterrupted showed is surprise enough!

When I got the okay, I walked out into the living room. All the toys had been picked up. The floor was swept. The couch pillows were even straightened. He's cleaned the living room for me. What a sweet heart!

"You're Okay"

Papa is a photographer, and does a lot of contract work in daycares. He sees a lot of "behind the scenes" activity, the way the care givers act when the parents aren't around. What he sees on a daily basis would blow your mind, honestly.

He came home and shared a thought with me recently, that I would like to share with you. I'll paraphrase what he said.

"You know, all day long I hear these teac
hers telling kids they're okay. The kids are tired and want to lay down, but it's not nap time- teacher says, "Quit crying, you're okay." The kids fall down and hurt themselves- teacher says, "Get up, you're okay." The kids cry when their parents leave- teacher says, "Calm down, you're okay." All day, these kids are shuffled around with little regard to what they are feeling or needing. It's no wonder people grow up to think that being tired, hurt, upset, feeling like crap from eating crappy food and all that are normal. They've been told since they were toddlers when they were feeling these things, they were "okay"!"

Is it any wonder?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Josh Finds Internal Motivation

We have two boys- Josh (8y) and Bug (2y). We do our best to teach them the non-aggression principle, and to live by it ourselves, but we regularly have problems with Josh encroaching on Bug's rights; picking him up without permission, taking his toys without permission, that sort of thing. Bug is smaller and less able to clearly assert himself. Josh didn't grow up with this type of parenting, we only started just over a year ago, so there are some habits to break, some approaches to unlearn, for Papa and I as well.

So there I was yesterday, telling Josh yet again not to touch his brother without permission and to listen to him when he said 'no', at my whit's end.

Me- Seriously! What do I have to do to get you to understand that you CAN NOT do that?!

Josh, sullenly- I don't know....

Me- I feel like I'm going to have to resort to punishments. Nothing else is working. I'm seeing no improvement. Every day we go through this over and over with no improvement.

I sat there brooding, knowing punishment was NOT what I wanted to do in reaction to the situation. I 'knew' artificial rewards and punishments do not work. I 'knew' that was not the way to help Josh want to do better by his brother. And then it hit me! Josh did not need an external motivator, he needed internal motivation. So we sat down to talk.

Me- If you hit Bug, would that make it okay for me to hit you as punishment?

Josh- No.

Me- And if you took his toy without permission, would that make it okay for me to take something of yours without permission too?

Josh- No.

Me- What type of person would I be if I did not respect your body or your property like that?

Josh- Well, you'd be a mean person. I wouldn't trust you.

Me- Alright. Now, do you realize that you are being that type of person to your brother? You aren't respecting his body or his property.

Josh- I just forget sometimes.

Me- Do you want to be that person, or do you want to be a better person?

Josh- Better person.

Me- I can't do anything to make you a better person. Punishing you doesn't make you a better person. Only you can change yourself, by changing the choices you make. If you want to be better, you need to think of some way to remind yourself. Think it over and we can talk about it before bedtime, alright?

Josh- What if I think of something earlier?

Me- We can talk about it any time you want, but I don't want you to put it off, so let's plan to definitely talk before bed.

Josh- Alright.

And so we talked before bed. He decided that since he has trouble remembering, he would make a picture to hang up in the living room as a reminder.

Not only were we able to avoid punishments or rewards in this situation, we were able to give Josh some really useful tools for problem solving.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Just Say Yes

Life becomes much less stressful and our relationships have less conflict when I allow myself to say "Yes" more often to the children.

Yes, you can wear whatever you want to the mall.

Yes, your hair can look however you feel most comfortable.
Yes, I will wait and watch you climb a wall on our way inside.
Yes, you can choose a red bow tie even though the rest of us are wearing yellow for our family portraits.
Yes, you can change your mind and choose a purple neck tie at the next store we visit.
Yes, we can stop for snacks.
Yes, we can search the Lego website at the Lego store, even though you could do that at home just as easily.
Yes, we can stop to watch people ice skating.
Yes, you can climb the wall again on our way out.
Yes, you can ride in the cart at the grocery store with the car in the front, even though I think you're probably getting too big for it.
Yes, I will be patient while you walk alongside me instead of being carried.
Yes, I will patiently wait for you to finish your game before using the computer myself.
Yes, you can sit outside and watch the neighbor kid mow the lawn, even though I think it's too hot to be outside.
Yes, you can finish typing this post for me.

It isn't always easy, but I have to ask myself- Is it a matter of health or safety? Am I considering the wants and needs of the boys as equal to my own? Is this encouraging them to be responsible for themselves? Are they disrespecting anyone else or their property? Once I answer these questions for myself, the answer I should give in response to the boys' requests becomes much clearer.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Look to ME for Inspiration?

A few days ago, a dear reader left a comment on a post mentioning that she looked to me for inspiration on parenting. Yesterday another reader brought up the topic of mentor-ships. While I am humbled and flattered to be held in such regard, I also can't help but think, "Me? Really?! Surely, there have got to be hundreds of better examples of parents." I look around my dirty, disorganized house and reflect on my life and think, "Surely people should hope to set the bar a little higher than this."

Not spanking, respecting children, giving them freedom over their education and lives does not a good parent make. These things should be the baseline for decency, in my opinion.

I still struggle not to yell. I struggle to assume the best of the boys in each situation. I struggle to make time for connection each day. I struggle to provide decent meals. I struggle to keep the house clean enough not to be condemnable. I struggle to stay patient. I struggle to put all the great information I read about communication into practice. I struggle every single day in just about every way imaginable. And I very often fail.

I hate struggling. I am human, and I desperately wish for an easy solution, but there is none to be found. As hard as it may be, I continue to strive to be a better parent every day. My kids deserve nothing less. I, as a mother, deserve the joys of a peaceful relationship with them as well. I will never be perfect. I will never be the ideal mother. There will always be ways for me to improve and do better, and so every day I will struggle to do better by my children.

If you want to look to me for inspiration, please, look only at this. Take only the fact that I want to do better each day and leave the rest.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Dangerous Book For Boys

Back at Christmas, Josh (8y) got a book called The Dangerous Book For Boys from his grandmother, which includes all sorts of fun 'boy' stuff like how to build a tree house, set traps, make secret codes, identify spiders, etc (It'd be just as awesome for girls. I don't subscribe to the idea of anything being for one gender or the other).

He never even cracked the spine. It's been sitting around f
or six months. I've left it out in his path, but he'd brush right by it. Lately it's been living on a shelf in his room, a room he is very rarely in now that the cold weather has passed.

Until about an hour ago. He came out of his room asking for some copper wire. I told him regrettably I don't have any, and asked what he was going to use it for. "Making a battery. From my book, The Dangerous Book For Boys." Apparently you can layer quarters, tin foil, and do something with copper wire to make a battery. Awesome. Until we can get to the hardware store, he's outside with a friend working on some other thing from the book.

It was hard to let the book sit without pushing him to read it, without pressuring him to just take a look. But he picked it up in his own time, and I have a feeling he's enjoying it much more now than if he had opened it simply to get me off his back. It is hard at first to let go of the idea that we, as parents or adults, need to be driving the direction of our children's educations, but it gets easier. As you see all the amazing things they come up with and become interested in of their own accord it gets much easier, and eventually the idea that we need to coerce them into learning seems ludicrous.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Disapprovals vs Affirmations

I'm pretty sure most decent parenting books advise making positive statements over negative statements. For example, instead of "Don't be so loud," say "Please be quiet." Instead of "Stop running," say "Please walk." I admit, this is something with which I still struggle.

Then I got a little kick in the pants reminder from a chapter on language development in Einstein Never Used Flashcards.

me parents speak to children in what researchers term "disapprovals," while other use more "affirmations." Disapprovals are negative statements such as "No," or "Don't do that," or "stop that." They close off conversation rather than engage children in talk. On the other hand, affirmations include praise, as in "Good job!" and encouragement, "Let's try that again," and compliments, "You really did that well!"

.... When researchers looked at the differences in sheer number of disapprovals and affirmations, their findings were shocking. The average child from a professional family heard 32 affirmations and 5 disapprovals per hour- a ratio of 6 to 1. Those from the working class heard roughly 12 affirmations and 7 disapprovals- a ratio of 2 to 1. In stark contrast, this pattern flipped for children from welfare homes. They received 5 affirmations and 11 disapprovals per hour, for a ratio of 1 to 2.

The effect of these differences and the messages they send to language-learning children cannot be underscored enough. The professional children are being rewarded for talking- the welfare children are not. They are being taught to follow commands. The professional and working-class children are being encouraged and praised, while the welfare children are being told things that cannot help their self-esteem."

5-11 disapprovals PER HOUR? Can you imagine if someone in your life were saying something negative to you every 20 minutes? Or even worse, every 6 minutes? Can you imagine how it must feel to have no choice in whether you live with this negativity or not? Children can't leave a situation the same way we can leave a job or relationship. I'll definitely be more mindful of my word choices from now on

4 Reactions to Josh

As you probably know, Josh (8y) is an outgoing, confident young man. I am always interested in seeing how other people respond to him when we're out in public. Below are a few recent examples. We usually go out on weekdays, in the mornings when the stores are not at all busy.

At a small general store, waiting in an uncommonly long checkout line. The entire storefront is windows and I can see outside:
Josh- I'm done with my snack, can you hold my trash?
Me- I'd rather not. Can you find a trash can to throw it away?
Josh- Yeah. Oh, I remember there's one right outside the entrance. Be right back.
Me- Okay.
Woman in front of me in line- Um, I think your son just went outside!
Me- He did. He's throwing some trash away.
Woman- *incredulous stare*

At the grocery store deli counter. I am picking up fruit in the adjacent area:
Josh- Excuse me. I'd like to get a pound of black forest ham please.
Deli Clerk- *leans over counter and stares at Josh* Where is your mom?
Josh- Over there getting bananas.
Deli Clerk- *to me* Is he supposed to be over here ordering ham?
Me- Yes, he's supposed to be getting whatever he wants for his sandwiches this week.
Deli Clerk- Humph!

At Target. He is in the toy section and I am browsing the itty bitty baby items directly across the main aisle:
Josh- *pushes "assistance needed" button, waits patiently*
Team Member arrives, pushes past Josh to turn off "assistance needed" button, looks around for customer.
Josh- Excuse me.
Team Member- *continues to look around, right over Josh's head*
Josh- (a little louder) Excuse me.
Team Member- Huh?
Josh- I need help looking for a particular toy.
Team Member- Ummmm, did you push the help button?
Josh- Yes, I'm looking for something particular and I can't find it. Can you look it up or help me find it if you know where it is?
Team Member- Um, Okay.

And finally at Home Depot. We need to find out how to cut our pipe for chimes. There are 3 employees at the end of the aisle we're on. Josh runs ahead to talk to them.
Josh- Excuse me, I need to know how to cut metal pipe.
Guy 1- Hey there. Well, that depends on what type of metal it is.
Josh- These two pieces right here.
Guy 2- Those are both soft metals. You can cut them with a hacksaw.
Guy 1- Do you have a hacksaw?
Josh- I think so.
Guy 3- We have a cutting station back here. I can cut it for you if you want.
Josh- Well, I'm making a chime so I'm going to need to cut lots of pieces.
Guy 3- Okay, well if you want we can do it here.
Josh- No thanks, we'll do it at home.
Guy 2- Alright then. You need anything else?
Josh- That's it. Thanks!

I know there are many factors contributing to how the people responded in the above situations. I do find it interesting and disappointing that more often than not he is treated as a second class citizen. Most people have no qualms about being rude to him but then turning to speak to me with the utmost respect (faked or genuine). People often seem to assume he is 'up to no good' and regard him suspiciously.

When children are treated as suspicious and troublesome so often, should we be at all surprised if they grow up to fulfill those roles? Or to treat others in the same ways they have been treated? What if everyone instead responded to each person, regardless of age, as if they were capable and worthy of respect?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Letter 'P' Taste Testing

Josh (8y) thought it would be fun to have a week revolving around the letter "P", and he helped me brainstorm ideas for activities (invitations). He chose to have a taste testing of foods which start with the letter P today.

I thought I'd jazz it up a bit and do something resembling Hell's Kitchen, which Josh loves watching with me.
So we have the Red Team and the Blue Team, marked by these awesome little shot glasses I found at Dollar Tree. After tasting each pair, he can award a point to the team of the food he enjoyed more. We've got Pears vs Plums, Peas vs Prosciutto, Pineapple vs Papaya, and Pomegranate vs Peach Juice. I'm curious to see which one he finds "RAW!"

Wind Chime Project

Today's invitation-a hack saw and some pipe. Josh (8y) thinks it's great! He's decided to make a wind chime for his hide out, so later he'll drill holes as well and string it up.

Interestingly, we tried this yesterday thinking we already had a hack saw, but we didn't. That turned into some fun learning about what cannot cut through copper pipe. He tried a wood saw (I'm guessing, some old thing we had laying around) and an axe with no luck.
Here is a video showing the final products- 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stressful Night Continued

Our stressful night last night, the one in which I struck Bug (2y) for the first time in his life (see post below), continued this morning. Bug was not talking, whining about everything, and I had no idea what was bothering him or what he needed to feel better.

I retreated to the kitchen and let out an, "Arrrg! I'm going to lose my mind!"

Josh strolled in and said, "You know Mom, that was wrong
of you to smack him last night."

"Yes it was, very wrong of me. A huge mistake and I regret it very much. I hope to never do that again, and I hope Bug will forgive me." I replied.

Josh nodded and walked away, as if he just wanted to be sure I knew he saw what happened and what he thought of it. As if to be sure I knew I'd have big brother to contend with if I thought that type of behavior was acceptable. He was being sure someone spoke up for Bug's rights.

He makes me so proud.

Old Habits Die Hard

Old habits die hard.

The last couple of days have been rough. I'm home by myself with the boys. Bug (2y) had something going on with him where he wasn't eating or talking, running a fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Yesterday he was feeling better, but still cranky and clingy.

Already exhausted from sleepless nights, we lay in bed. He tossed, turned and fussed for hours, never falling asleep. He fl
ailed and knocked me hard, right on the nose, with his fist. I snapped, smacked his leg and burst out "DO NOT HIT ME!"

I am so ashamed to type that last sentence. I sit here, wishing I would delete it. Wishing it wasn't true.

I knew he didn't hit me intentionally. I knew he was feeling just as wretched as I was, likely worse. And boy did I feel wretched as I tried to comfort him and say I was sorry; as he pushed me away, afraid of me; as I listened to his sobbing. The sound of his gasping through his tears still haunts my ears. I can no longer say I've never struck Bug. I feel horrible, absolutely horrible. My heart aches and tears well up in my eyes as I type this.

I must look to the lessons learned. None of us are perfect. I must own up to my mistake, apologize, and do better in the future. I need to better allocate my time and energy in tough situations so I am not on edge. Eventually, I will need to forgive myself. It won't be today, but eventually.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Does Our Parenting Affect Our Children?

My goal in raising our children the way we do- without coercion, without punishments, without schooling- is ultimately for them to be able to lead happy, healthy lives. I hope, among other things, they are able to work well with other people and have healthy, meaningful relationships. This is why we put a lot of emphasis on communication skills, being free and able to express thoughts and feelings, property rights, and negotiations. I know we're not nearly perfect at it, but we try.

We're the only family in the neighborhood who parents this way. I couldn't tell you what exactly the other parents think of Josh (8y) while he's playing at their houses, but I can give you some examples of what I observe when their kids come over here.

Situation I-
Neighbor Kid is made to share all his toys when people come over, and house rules to not apply to, or at least are much more flexible for, guests. He comes to our house and demands to play with anything he wants. He becomes very upset when he doesn't get what he wants, and threatens to break other toys unless given what he demands. He slams doors, jumps on our furniture, throws things, etc.

Situation II-
Neighbor Kid is spanked or yelled at as discipline, and "talking back" isn't allowed. When faced with any minute amount of conflict, Kid shuts down and shuffles over to me expecting me to resolve the situation. I ask questions but can't hardly understand his answers because he speaks so softly and mumbles. Even in the absence of conflict, he shrinks away if Papa or I try to talk to him.

Situation III-
Set of three Neighbor Kid brothers are kept on a tight leash. Just about every single thing they do has to be approved by Mom or Dad. They come to play and ask me to text their mom to ask- if they can drink our water, if they can eat pickles, if they can ride our scooters, if they can watch certain movies, if their youngest brother can use our restroom...

Situation IV-
Two Neighbor Kid brothers live in a house where yelling comes first and questions are asked later, if at all. There is a mix up of which water bottle belongs to whom, and World War III breaks out in my garage.

Now, I'm not saying the method of parenting is the direct cause of how these situations played out, but I think it is a contributing factor. Nor am I saying Josh never acts like this when he's at other people's houses. I'm simply asking that we all question how our parenting methods and the problem solving skills we model to our children affect how they interact with other people when we're not around, and are these affects to the benefit of our children?

Thoughts on Maternity Care

I am completely disappointed in, even disgusted by, this country's maternity care standards. I just don't even know what to say, so I'm going to dump my thoughts.

Papa is a photographer, and he took maternity photos for a woman. I met her, congratulated her, gave her my number if she ever needed anything. Pretty standard interaction. She called me Saturday, bawling that she couldn't sleep, was ha
ving trouble nursing, and other new parent woes. I headed over to see her yesterday and she told me about her delivery. She was induced unnecessarily. The baby was "too big", born at a whopping 7 pounds 10 ounces. She had to have a c-section because she did not dilate on the pitocin. Baby was taken directly to a nursery and given formula against her wishes. Nurses were rude, one telling her she would not be able to breastfeed because she had a c-section, another even telling her she was "too large" to breastfeed successfully. The hospital had no lactation consultants on staff. She left feeling degraded, a failure.

But my complaints are not only with the hospital's actions. She had come home to no support. No one bringing meals, no one offering newborn care information, no one to help around the house, no one to help her care for herself and heal from surgery. Her husband is home with her, but has to go back to work on Wednesday. Mother will be left ALONE with a week old baby. Exhaustion is real. Postpartum depression is real, and very scary.

What kind of society are we that this treatment of mothers and newborns is normal? I know that more and more women are standing up for themselves and their rights to birth how they want to, that more women are enlisting the help of doulas, that more women are building communities and caring for one another. Sadly, this is not the norm yet. Sadly, many expecting mothers don't even know these options are out there.

I beg of you, reach out to the people you meet. Spread kindness and compassion and support. The world needs it so badly. The mothers and babies need it so badly.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bug Puzzles

Playing a bug puzzle with Bug (2y)-

Bug- Is it an ant?
Me- Yeah, it's an ant. Is he going to bite you?
Bug- Nooooo.
Me- He bit me, look. (pointing to an actual ant bite on my leg)
Bug- Is he think you a chicken nugget?
Me- Hmmm, maybe he did think I was a chicken nugget, so he bit me.
Bug- Yeah, the ant find you a chicken nugget.

Let's Talk About Food

Today I want to talk about food. I know many of us are very aware of what we feed our children and how it affects them. For example, if Bug (2y) has anything with sugar in it, paired with protein or not, he has a catastrophic meltdown about an hour later. Some kids are very sensitive to gluten, etc. How often do we scrutinize our own diets like this?

I thought I was aware of my food intake and how it affected me. We usually try to eat 80/20 Primal, and I thought I felt healthy. That was until two weeks ago when I finished a Whole30 challenge. Basically, you only eat meat, eggs, fruit, veg, nuts, herbs and spices. No dairy, no sweeteners (even honey), no grains, no processed foods, no bending rules, and no slip ups for 30 consecutive days.

The first week was very hard, but then I felt amazing. The biggest change I noticed was how patient I was with the kids, and how slow I was to anger or get upset. I was sleeping great. I woke up rested, refreshed and full of energy. I was enjoying mental clarity the likes of which I'd honestly never known.

And then the 30 days was up, and I wanted some cheese on my burger. Eeek. My system was not happy about reintroducing dairy. Okay, good to know. Then I went a little crazy with cookies, and the sugar beast reawakened. I realized how addictive sugar really is. Once I had one cookie, I could not stop thinking about eating more, and more, and ice cream too! Oh, and skittles! I don't even like skittles! More importantly, I saw myself getting short with the kids. I felt tired again. The smallest things set me off. I was yelling at Josh (8y) for not closing the door the 'right way'. It was ugly.

And so I am doing another Whole30 challenge now. I want to feel the way I felt two weeks ago. I want to be the patient mom I was when I ate well. It isn't easy this first week again, but I know what's waiting for me on the other side, and it is well worth it. This has been an amazing learning experience for me.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


As an unschooling parent, I feel my role is to litter the boys' paths with as much interesting material and opportunities for learning as I can, and to facilitate the opportunities of which they choose to take advantage.

Many call this "littering of the path" strewing. For example, Bug (2y) and I went to the library yesterday, but Josh (8y) did not want to go. That's fine, I respect that. While
we were there I grabbed a few books I thought Josh may find interesting, and when we got home I laid them out on our "school stuff" table. (quite the misnomer, huh?)

Last night around 10:30pm when Josh and I were heading to bed, he noticed one of the books and decided to read it. Since we don't have bed times or any rules about being up late, that was no problem at all. I went to bed while he stayed up to read, and he quietly came to bed when he was finished.

Teach Them to Do for Themselves

I think most people here have a goal to parent peacefully; to be patient, understanding, and accommodating with our kids all the time. I'm certain that all of us lose it at one time or another though. Sometimes there is no amount of deep breathing or chanting of mantras to contend with a toddler who needs you to get up for one more thing, to have another glass of water before bed, to read the story one more time, or whatever it is in the moment that causes our temporary insanity.

The best preparation I have found for moments like these is to start teaching your children to do for themselves as early as possible. Not in a "Life's tough, kid. Suck it up and do it yourself." manner, not that at all. In a way that says "I trust your ability to do whatever you try to do, although it may take some practice." Trust them, coach them, encourage them to do things for themselves each day.

Then when you're having those moments when you just need a break, you can say things like "Mommy can't get it for you right now. Can you push a chair over so you can reach it?" or "There's a glass of water on the dresser, you may get a drink yourself whenever you'd like." or "Mommy's eyes are tired, can you read the story to me?" and know they'll be able to handle it. The glass of water saved my sanity last night with Bug (2y).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Time for Reflection

While reflecting on my earlier post and the comments this morning, I realized how much our society under values the process of stopping, reflecting, thinking, considering, and figuring things out.

To outsiders in general, and to our friends and family specifically, it looks as is we've done nothing over the past year. We heard concerns from well meaning folks about our decisions. We fielded suggestions to use this curriculum, that curriculum, Waldorf, Montessori, and every other philosophy.

To many, it seemed outrageous that we wouldn't follow a prepackaged plan. After all, there are so many from which to choose. Surely one of them would fit our needs, right?

But I say, no thank you. I find no value in simply following others' ideas. The value and the growth comes from taking the time to figure things out for ourselves. We may end up doing things very similarly to philosophies which are already established, but we will have arrived at those conclusions through our own thoughts and devices. Thinking and acting for ourselves is of the upmost importance.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This Moment in Unschooling

Right now unschooling looks like Bug (2y) walking around with kitchen tongs seeing what he can and cannot pick up, while Josh (8y) is playing on Adobe Illustrator.

Playing in the Rain

We are having torrential downpour right now. Josh (8y) and I ran outside to cover the garden, rushing from bed to bed and finally back under the porch, breathless and laughing hysterically.

Josh- Let's run out there again!
Me- To where?
Josh- Anywhere!

And he grabbed my hand and we ran around in the rain. We were splashing in puddles, giggling, squealing, and having a great time.

It was so healing for my inner child to be 'free' with him like that. It was so healing for my uptight adult side to say, "Yes, we can play in the rain. Yes, we can get dirty and soaking wet. Yes, I can enjoy this. Yes, I can connect with my son in this way."

I'm going to remember this beautiful moment for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Second Inviation

Bug (2y) loved today's invitation about clouds. Josh (8y) totally did not want anything to do with it. That's cool. Instead he spent most of the day playing on

Have you heard of this? It's a website full of games. He's played Snail Bob and Garfield's Haunted House, both of which are not at all mindless. Lots of problem solving.

I'm thinking the invitations are looking too school-like for him thus far. I need to jazz it up. I'm not necessarily looking for learning right now, just trying to get them to be accepting of the invitation idea, and excited about them. We'll make some chocolate chip cookies tomorrow, which is perfect timing for our unschooler friend's birthday.

What is Your Ultimate Goal?

Complete the following statements-

My ultimate goal while raising my child/ren is for them to be (adjective), (adjective), (adjective) individuals. This goal was reflected in my interactions with my child/ren today when I (insert interactions).

Are you able to complete the second sentence honestly? I think sometimes our ultimate goals as parents take a back seat to temporary wants. We should remind ourselves often what our ultimate goals are, and reflect on how our interactions with our children express those goals.

So, We're Bald

An Explanation of Our Baldness-

You may have noticed in our pictures from yesterday that Bug (2y) is without his beautiful flowing red hair. Well, the short story is, he had lice. Apparently it's going around our area pretty badly. I had never dealt with lice before, so I get to reading about how to rid ourselves of them. I found a lot of conflicting information- some say use the shampoo, some sa...y the shampoo doesn't work, some say you have to comb them all out, etc.

I am just one Mama at home alone all week with these two boys. I do not have the time or energy to try a failing method and restart with cleaning everything. On top of that, Bug was having nothing to do with sitting still and having his hair combed out. Josh's hair is so thick and just dark enough I couldn't comb through it effectively either. So my solution- SHAVE IT OFF!

Josh was a little stressed out at this idea. He was worried his hair would never grow back and he'd be bald forever like his grandfather. I reassured him his hair would all grow back, but he was still nervous. "Aren't you going to shave your hair too?" he asked. Well, I hadn't thought about it, honestly, but he was right. Who was going to check and comb my hair? The only solution- shave it off! First, it was the most practical way to be sure I didn't have lice. Secondly, how could I tell Josh it was "no big deal" if I wasn't willing to do it as well?

And so Josh shaved my head first, which made him much more comfortable with shaving his next. He was so happy that I trusted him with a blade next to my face. He was really proud of himself, and did a great job. Very gentle around my ears. After the two of us were done, Bug was excited to have his hair cut too. Monkey see, monkey do. We had fun with it and did mohawks and other such silliness. Papa even shaved his head on the road so we're all bald together.

So there you go. That's what happened to our hair.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our First Invitation

Here's what we did yesterday for our first Play At Home Mom inspired 'Invitation'. Nothing crazy. Some glass beads for Bug to play with (2y), and a "Letter C" crossword puzzle for Josh (8y), which I made online and printed. My goal with this was to ease them into the idea of the invitations.

When Josh woke up and saw it, his immediate reaction was "I don't want to do this." And I said "Okay." No
pressure. I think he still, a year since being in public school, has an aversion to anything to looks like forced learning. I did not want to make him feel like this was anything other than fun.

When Bug woke up and saw it, he continued the pattern of placing glass beads on the dashes of the letter c. He loved it. He counted the dashes, he counted the beads. I believe the fancy term for this is "one-to-one correspondence". He made his own patterns with the beads on notebook paper, he counted those. He drew circles, and then he stirred the cup of beads with his pen, giggling at the sounds it made.

Josh wanted to play outside, and I casually asked him if he would put away his crossword puzzle items before he went out. "What?! What crossword puzzle?" He hadn't even looked at what was set out before declaring he didn't want to do it. That is a strong aversion! He was excited to do the puzzle though, even using the dictionary to look up a couple words he was unsure of how to spell. His neighborhood friend came by and they finished it together before going outside.

I'm calling it a major success.

Thoughts on Dignity

Yesterday we were walking out of the grocery store, Bug (2y) and I hand-in-hand. He doesn't walk very quickly, and so we slowly made our way out the doors and through the parking lot to the car. Then he slowly, painfully slowly for me to watch, struggled and climbed his way into his car seat, which still rear faces.

Through all this I was noticing the people waiting patiently behind us and the cars waiting patiently for us to cross the street, (I assume patiently, they didn't complain at least.) and it reminded me of the patience people show the elderly.

My great grandmother is in her 80's, health on the decline, struggles and gets around slowly. Although she could get around easier or more quickly at times with help from others, should would rather do things for herself. There is a sense of dignity from doing things for yourself.

I think often when we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and we just want to get things done or get going, so we sweep our kids up instead of letting them walk themselves, or we pick them up to wrestle them into their car seats instead of letting them climb in themselves, we are robbing them of the dignity of doing things for themselves. No wonder they get upset.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Josh Helps While I'm Sick- part 2

Written May 16th, 2013
I want to share a sweet moment from last night. I was feeling quite terrible, and unable to stand up without getting nauseous. Bug (2y) wasn't feeling so great either, although he was keeping his food down throughout the afternoon. It was 8pm or so, and Bug and I were in bed, Bug crying inconsolably and me feeling unable to handle the situation effectively.

Josh (8y) came in and brought Bug some water, which calmed him down. Then he read us stories while I cuddled Bug until he drifted off. It was really a very special moment. Later on I heard him talking on the phone to a friend who had called to check on us, telling her what kinds of food I would like if she brought us a meal. She even mentioned to me today how surprised she was that he was focused on what I would like, and not what he would like.

I feel so lucky to have some amazing friends, and I feel even more lucky to have such an attentive, caring, loving son. It is truly awe inspiring to watch him grow into a young man, being responsible, and really taking charge of the household the last two days.
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Doing Right By Our Kids

As I write this, it is 10pm and Josh (8y) is watching cartoons. He hasn't showered in a few days. He sat at dinner with us earlier for all of maybe 5 minutes before running off to play again.

We visit friends and I see their routines; all the kids sitting around the table, all served the same meal, all showered and in bed by 8pm. I won't lie, I doubt myself. I wonder if I am doing right by my ki
ds by giving them so much say over their schedules and activities. I fear I am doing them an injustice. I worry I've got it all wrong.

But each night, Josh cuddles with me in my bed (after changing into clean clothes and washing up at bit, albeit not a full shower) to talk about the best and worst parts of our day, as well as what we're looking forward to. We laugh together, and I know that he is happy. When I was feeling sick this last week, both the kids snuggled with me and stroked my arms and brought me crackers, and I felt their love and compassion.

We may not all sit together at dinner each night, but we spend time together in joy and love and laughter throughout each day. When I see their smiling faces, I know I am doing something right. It is so easy to doubt ourselves, especially when we're doing something against society's norm. Instead of looking outward and comparing ourselves to others to see if we're doing things "right", we need to look inward into our own hearts and our children's faces. They will tell us all we need to know.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Josh Helps While I'm Sick

Written May 16th, 2013
 Whatever Bug (2y) had ailing him yesterday has hit me this morning.

Thankfully, Josh (8y) is happy to step up, making breakfast for himself and his brother, and keeping Bug happily entertained, Letting me get some rest.

I didn't ask him to do anything extra, and I could probably muscle through if I needed, but it sure is nice for him to be home and be so helpful.

Stolen Bike

Written May 15th, 2013
If you hadn't gathered from the post below, Josh's bike was stolen from our back yard yesterday. The neighbor said he saw a 10ish year old kid riding off with it. Where we live, based on the value of the bike, if I were to report the theft the child would be charged with a class b misdemeanor, and spending time in a juvenile detention center would be a very real possibility.

I asked yesterday what you would do if you were in the same situation, and was surprised by some of the responses.

I talk here often about when our children act out, they need compassion and support. Instead of thinking of kids with negative motivations, we need to look at the underlying needs that are not being met and consider that they likely want to do well but may not have the skill set to do so. Everyone seems to accept that for truth regarding toddlers and young children, but it seems most don't hold the same truth for older children.

I don't know the boy who stole the bike, but I assume any child who would do such a thing is troubled. I assume he's not been taught property rights. I assume his property rights are not respected. A lack of adult connection and guidance is not his fault. 10 years old is very young. I can't imagine the devastation to a family, and to the child, for a boy that age to spend any amount of time in a detention center. What would he learn from being sent there, anyway? Not to get caught. Really, they're not teaching self-worth, self-respect, respect for others, and property rights in there. He'd be branded a criminal and treated as such.

So, what did we do about it? We walked around the neighborhood and talked to everyone we saw, asking if they'd seen the bike. We're printing up fliers to post at the parks nearby. We will not be filing a police report. If we find the boy who stole the bike, we'll talk with him and his parents respectfully and compassionately to hopefully come to an agreement of a way for him to right his wrong against Josh. If we don't find the bike, well, bad things happen sometimes, and this has been a good opportunity to talk about other people's motivations for their actions with Josh. And also to talk about what we can do to prevent such things from happening to us in the future.

I'd like to have written more coherently on the subject, but Bug (2y) has been vomiting since 2am, so forgive me for lacking clarity and thoroughness.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chasing Fireflies

Chased some fireflies around the backyard with the boys tonight. Josh (8y) asked "How do they glow?", naturally. We came inside and found a couple of short sweet videos on luciferin and luciferase, which are partly responsible for the firefly's bioluminescence.

Then we found this one with models of the enzyme's skeleton and everything. I watched it thinking "YAWN!" but Josh found it very interes...ting. He then asked, "So an enzyme is a protein?" Why yes, it is. It is a special kind of protein which acts as a catalyst in chemical reactions, meaning it speeds them up.

Science lesson- check. Amount of this information I knew before he asked these questions- absolutely zero.

You don't need to be a genius to facilitate your child's learning, you just need to be willing to learn alongside them.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Adventures in Potty Learning

Adventures in Potty Learning-

Bug (2y) has been flirting with using the potty for over 6 months.

It started with him using the potty immediately after waking. This was my doing. I sat him there and "caught" the pee. Then he wanted nothing to do with that. Alright.

Then he started getting irate if his diaper was wet. He'd let us know immediately if he was wet. For a while we let him go diaperless and kept a potty seat in the room with him. For maybe a week he used it without any accidents. Then he suddenly no longer cared and just went on the floor. We couldn't have that, so back in diapers it was.

Currently he is on day three of using the potty exclusively again, this time staying in the bathroom. Without any prompting from us he'll stop what he's doing and run in there to go. Maybe he'll continue for a week, maybe he's got it fully figured out. Either way is totally fine. I know he'll get it in his own time without any pressure from us

Geography Over Breakfast

Geography over breakfast-

Josh (8y)- What city are you going to eat first?
 Me- I don't know. Which are you going to eat first?
Josh- El Paso!
Me- Oooh, we can make the syrup into rivers.
 Josh- Which river are you going to make first?
Me- The Rio Grande.
Josh- I'm going to make the Grand River.
Me- Hey! Are you just switching up languages on me?
 Josh- Yes! Hahaha! Now I'm going to make the STINKY Trinity River. Ewwwwww!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Learning to be a Better Mom on the Road

The last couple of weeks have been crazy around here. It started with an impromptu trip to Houston.

Papa got an unexpected day off from work in the middle of the week. He would be sitting around with nothing really to do, and we would be at home missing him. At 6:45pm Tuesday night I decided we would make the 4 hour drive down to spend the next day with him. We left the house at 7:00pm. I literally just stuffed a bag with a change of clothes for each of us, threw some snacks in the front seat and put the entire laundry basket of clean diapers in the trunk.

Bug (2y) was unable to fall asleep in the car until just before we arrived at the hotel, so the drive down was rough. We arrived just after 11pm, dumped our stuff into the room, and crashed. I woke up to this adorable sight of Josh (8y) and Papa sleeping in exactly the same position.

We spent Papa's day off at the NASA Space Center. It was a fabulous day, until I dropped my beloved wrap in the toilet.

Okay, okay, so I'm being melodramatic about my wrap. Really, it was an amazing day. We saw pieces of the moon, the Saturn V, Mission Control, Felix Baumgartner's Stratos Jump capsule and suit (which was a huge hit with Josh and I, since we watched the entire thing live), rode a simulated flight to the ISS, and tons more.


The next day Papa had to go back to work, so the boys and I were left to hang out in Houston. We started by taking my wrap to a laundromat to wash the toilet yuck out, then we wandered wherever caught our eye.  The boys wanted to look at the animals in Petsmart. Sure, sounds great. Afterward we stopped at a paint class and observed (sadly we got there too late to participate). We had lunch and the kids played for a while. On the way back to the hotel we happened across this great little produce stand run out of a woman's garage and picked up the juiciest, most delicious peaches for snack. Then they swam the afternoon away until dinner.
It was amazing how relaxed I was with nowhere to be and no chores to be done, no errands to run. I was so patient with the kids. I wasn't hustling them from one activity to the next. They found the laundromat fascinating? That's cool, we can hang out and watch clothes spin. We have no where else to be. They want to stare at ferrets for 20 minutes? That's cool too.

I had no distractions from my kids and their happiness, and it was fabulous.

The other revelation I had was in regards to our things. You may think that having packed so little and rushed off so quickly, we would be left wanting for something we had forgotten at home, but we weren't. The kids weren't bored without their rooms full of toys because we were engaged with each other making up games to play with the things we had available. I wasn't missing my computer with access to all my social media sites. We had each other and everything we needed. The only thing I missed was having a book to read in my down time. Of all the things at home, just my books.

Friday we set off for home again and took our sweet time. Anytime the boys were getting antsy or saw something interesting, I stopped and we got out. There was no fighting or crying, no "Are we there yet?!" We had no reason to rush home, so we didn't, and again, it was great. We stopped at this great rest stop to eat and then the boys had fun feeding the giant ants.

We had such a good time, we decided to do it again the next week. We spent the weekend in a flurry of laundry and food preparations. You know what I found? We totally over packed. With all the time to think the second trip through, we brought too many clothes, and WAY too much food.

We had all this, plus another cooler. Way too much food.

Our first day back in Houston the boys wanted to spend the day at the library. Be still my heart. Bug still talks about these giant checkers. I need to find a set for him.

The next day we went to the Aquarium, which was a little expensive, but I'm so glad we did it. The boys had a blast, despite the heat, and Bug talks about the rides all.the.time. He absolutely loved it.

The next day we'd planned to go the The Children's Museum, which was free that evening from 5-8pm. We hadn't planned on Houston traffic though, and sat stuck on the highway for nearly an hour. Surprisingly, we all made the best of it. We chatted and laughed, and Josh got a huge kick out of this giant "Do Not Enter" sign.

Sadly, by the time we got there Bug had fallen asleep and stayed asleep in the wrap the entire time. Josh became enthralled with the machines at the entrance and we spent all our time here instead of going to see the rest of the museum. That was just as well, because it was too crowded to really enjoy any of the exhibits anyway.

Over the two weeks, not only did we make fun memories from all the places we visited, we grew closer together and strengthened our relationships. It's a little saddening to realize the kids weren't doing anything differently than they usually do. All the change came from my end. I'm hoping to hold on to this mentality and bring it home with me. I want to simplify life at home so I can be the attentive, patient mom I was on the road at home as well. The kids deserve it, and so do I.

Serious Conversations

The other night Josh (8y) walks up to me and says- "Mom, can I talk to you about something serious? And you listen very carefully?"

Whoa. I'm mentally preparing myself for whatever serious business is about to go down.
"Yes, I'm listening," I respond.

"So on Wii Super Mario Bros there are different worlds....."

And he went on for quite a while explaining in great detail this game he plays on the neighbor's Wii. He even drew me diagrams.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No More Excuses

It is an invalid argument to say you treat your children harshly to "prepare them for the real world". Childhood is not a holding pattern waiting for "real life" to begin. Your children are living in the real world now. Punishments and coercion don't teach them to toughen up in case some stranger down the road treats them thusly, it teaches them that punishment and coercion can be expected from the people who love them most.

 Just because someone somewhere down the road will treat your child harshly is no reason to treat them harshly yourself. Instead, build them up. Show them how to peacefully interact so they will reject violence, so they will not accept coercion or mistreatment from others in their lives.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hold Them

Holding a child who wants to be held is healthy and normal, no matter their age. Children learn security in themselves by knowing security in their relationships.

Imagine how it would feel to be overwhelmed with an emotion and seeking comfort from the person you most trust, only to be denied. Children learn how to work through their emotions in a healthy way through our empathy and compassion; by our being ever present and patient. Hold them. Show them love and respect. Take them seriously, for in their world it is serious. You are not spoiling them by meeting their needs. Holding them will not cause them to need you forever. On the contrary, they will become more secure and independent, in a healthy natural way.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bug Does Laundry

Our kids aren't asked to do chores, but they are very helpful. I believe it is because we don't discourage them from doing or helping when they are young. Sure, it took us a while to get laundry done today, and I could have finished much faster by myself, but the lesson is not speediness. The lesson is taking care of our things, taking pride in our work, learning new skills, and spending time together in enjoyment. Here is a quick video of Bug (2y) helping me put his laundry away. I was sorting laundry in another room when he picked up his pile of clothes and carried them to his room, opened his closet, and then the video begins.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Tools are in Your Tool Box?

Many of us know we want to parent our children differently than we were parented. I personally never wanted to spank or yell at my children, because I remembered how it affected me when my parents used those tactics. Unfortunately I didn't arm myself with other tools before I had children. In the midst of a conflict, when I was left with no new tools for diffusing the situation peacefully, I fell back on what I knew, which was spanking and yelling. We have since found more peaceful ways to interact with our children. Our tool of choice is clear and effective communication, which takes practice, especially learning to communicate our feelings and frustrations before they escalate. What tools have you used and what sources have inspired you to find new ways to resolve conflict in your family? We can never have too many options.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Josh Explains Unschooling

Last night we took an impromptu trip to Houston. Crazy, but fun. Tonight we were all down at the hotel pool and another boy was swimming and playing with Josh (8y). After a while their conversation took this turn-
Josh- What grade are you in?
Kid- I'm going into 7th grade. What about you?
Josh- Third. Well, I would be in third but I'm homeschooled.
Kid- You're homeschooled? Lucky!
Josh- Yeah!
Kid- I wish I was homeschooled. Because then you wouldn't have to go to school. You could just stay home.
Josh- Yep, well I mean, I go to lots of places, but yeah.
Kid- Do you get to sleep later?
Josh- I get to sleep as long as I want.
Kid- That's so cool. So you just do all your school work at home?
Josh- I just learn by nature. Or I'll ask myself these questions and find the answers.
Kid- I wish I was homeschooled.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Drop in the Ocean

Just about everything we do as a family is a little "weird". We don't send our kids to school. We don't even do school at home. We don't have rules. We don't punish our kids, and many other things I won't get into here that others may consider "weird".

 Living a life based on philosophies of love and respect and acceptance isn't exactly the norm, sadly, particularly when it comes to the treatment of children. Many times it feels like we are swimming against the current. Sometimes we get down and wonder how we will ever make a difference in the world. We want a better world for our children than the one we grew up in, but our efforts can feel like a single drop in a vast ocean, having little effect. Then I remember, every act of love, kindness and respect is meaningful. Every drop creates a ripple and forever changes its surroundings. Every interaction we have changes the world. We choose to change it for the better.

"What is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?"- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Thursday, August 1, 2013

This Moment...

A moment I want to remember forever, so I'm writing it down...

It's raining. Bug (2y) is outside running merrily and yelling, "Momma, come run with me!" So, naturally, I run around in the rain with him. This continued for a while until we decided to come in and warm up in the shower (strangely it is 70 degrees in July).

 I should mention here that we don't shampoo our hair. Instead we have peri-bottles of baking soda and apple cider vinegar solutions.

 So I'm holding Bug on my hip, washing his hair in the shower when he grabs the ACV bottle and squirts it in my hair. He proceeds to rub it into my head and says, "Momma, I washing you hair." So much love, tenderness, and caring wrapped up in that moment.