Wednesday, October 29, 2008

on the way to school today



Saturday, October 25, 2008

the little lady, master builder

After repeated warnings not to squish little birdie with over enthusiastic hugs, Smootch finally says one day, "I know, I know, I can't squish my brother." We thought she finally got the lesson, until she added, "because it's too hard."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the most perfect moment

I can't not for the life of me remember where I read the suggestion to stop and consider that the present moment, no matter where you are or what you are doing, could possibly be the most perfect moment of your life. Sounds a bit silly, especially when you are wiping a bum, having a headache, or cleaning up cat yuk, but I give the advice a go sometimes. It usually is when I'm feeling put upon or unappreciated. And whenever I remember to ponder that this right now may be the most perfect moment of my life I always find myself stopping to listen and watch what other are doing around me. Often I discover my children, whom I was annoyed with only moments before, are actually happy and creatively engaged or that The Man is playing with them, or that the cat is curled up in his basket all ootchy scootchie warm and that makes me happy. And, yes okay, I'm wiping a bum, but wow, what a wonderful life I lead to be warm, well fed, and even bored with something so peaceful and marvelously mundane.
That was my thought tonight doing dishes. And in my could be the most perfect moment in my life moment tonight I stopped to really look at the window sill in front of me, with its collection of doodads that have accumulated there. Some were placed with purpose, but so much is just the regular flotsam of my life that I need to stash someplace quick. And I saw how this little collection of random and purpose was absolutely perfect right then. I don't mean to get mystical here, but this view:

inspires me to appreciate the amazing people I share my home with.

It's funny how often you can find something magical in the regular grind of life.

And how beautiful people are when they are not paying attention to themselves.

So, thanks kids, thanks Man, and thank you moments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

happy half birthday birdie!




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

sleeping ON children

Now that I've done my ranting about Soule Mama, I may as well fess up about some of my other influences that are bad for my brain. The big one, as far as parenting goes anyway, is Mothering magazine. When little baby Smootch was in hospital I used to hold her for hours on end (between having a gianormous hole in her heart and being 2 weeks old, she was always sleeping) and read back issues of Mothering magazine from the library. Being ever so slightly emotional (see 'hole in heart in 2 week old baby'), and also having a serious dose of those new mommy hormones to boot, the 'natural family' meme has been imprinted on my brain. Hello babywearing. Hello family bed. Hello prolonged breast feeding. Hello organic everything. Hello unschooling.

Okay, it wasn't hard for Mothering to inflitrate my brain, having serious leanings in that direction already. Still, they put an extra spin on my disposition towards anything labelled 'natural' and it has tossed me over the edge. I would look down at that tiny little beautiful tragically ill baby and promise I would give her all I could to help her develop to her potenical. Good food, good school, good love.

Fast forward four years and another baby. Much of the natural family stuff has worked for us. I suspect I would of done much of the same things even if I had never heard of it, but Mothering has given me some good reasons to stick to my guns when other people around me weren't quite on board with some things. Instead of caving to peer pressure, I listened to my intuition, reassured that other people in the world, if not here exactly, thought the same way I did. And thus I get to make my own mistakes rather than repeating someone elses, yes?

Here's the thing though: Mothering magazine, along with anybody trying to sell a point of view, will tell you many good things about their product but neglect to mention the downside. Everything has a downside. Parenting, like life, is a series of choices and compromises.

Let's take, for example, oh the family bed. Good idea with babies. No need to wake up mom and baby for a feeding, everyone cozy and warm all night. More sleep: yay! Family bed with a toddler. Okay! Parent and child cuddled up. Still no problems, everyone has a place. Family bed with a preschooler and infant... urm, wait a minute, what happened to dad? Which child gets cuddled? Who exactly is trying to nurse at 2am? Hey, no one's doing much sleeping anymore!

We're not totally dumb, btw. Smootch was in her own room long before babe #2 showed up. And she would sleep though until about 5 am and then crawl in with us. I believe it is the same with many families with preschoolers, family bedders or not. But now she's been waking up earlier since she's entered the age of nightmares (ask her about them sometimes, they are often doozies) and she sometimes crawls in with me and babe before dad has even gone to bed.

And both children cuddle up to me, aka Heat Source. So I end up between both kids, a collective 53 pounds of pressure trying to get unhumanly close. They love me, see? But which way do I turn to cuddle? Neither one of them wants my backside, for some reason. They fight for boobside property. And I get a headache if I sleep on my back and arms up in the air, which is where they have to go if I don't want to crush a child's face with my extra wave. I end up turning back and forth all night, annoying enough, but then everytime a part of me leaves contact with the bed a child flows into the space. If my arm is lifted, a little arm snakes underneath. When I lift my torso slightly to try to roll over on the spot (tricky!), a tiny baby head wedges itself beneath my rib cage. In the darkest part of the night I now wake up to find myself a full 8 inches off the matress as my kids have wiggled themselves entirely underneath me. The only point of myself actually making contact with the bottom sheet is my feet, which are hanging off the end of my short, bumpy, whiny bed mattress cover made of children.

So, family bed. Yes and no. I'm hoping to just survive the next 6 months or so until babe number 2 is able to hold his own with his sister and just pop the two of them down on the bed and they can work it out while I go sleep in the kids' room. (Which has a lovely princess theme to it now, so I can feel royal.)

Oh, yes, and I'm totally a person of my word. Sometimes. I'm scared of what's going to happen now that I've gone on about the family bed since I actually went out and bought Amanda Soule's book after I declared my hiatus from Soule Mama. Maybe I'll have to start letting the cats into the room at night? Is there a king size bed in my future? Or single parenthood 80

'K, gotta go check Soule Mama. Hope y'all had a good thankgiving!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Soule Mama is bad for my brain

First off, I have to tell you how much I love Amanda Soule's work. Her book is fantastic, a new classic for us natural family meets the crafty sorta people. And I look forward to her blog everyday. It's a feast for the eyes and an inspiration to do better with my family, my home, and my ambitions.

But, damnit, I can't help comparing my life and myself up against her. And I come out the serious lo-ser. She's like a hippie Martha Stewart. I am drawn into her circle of order and creativity, but I will never, ever be like her. It's heartbreaking. She grows things and cans them. She homeschools. She helps her kids do amazing creative things. She writes books about doing amazing creative things with her kids. She's a prolific eye candy photographer. She knits. She blogs five days a week. She makes these little fabric/embroidery collages with themes and sells them for outrageous amounts. She's full of gratitude and wonder and kindness. I find myself checking her blog everyday, wondering at how picturesque her life is. How perfect. How utterly unlike my own life.

For instance. Soule Mama's pregnancies are lovely rocking in chair love affairs with her rounding body. All earthy, wholesome mommy stuff. My pregnancies were sorta of nine month long puke fests, while I complained bitterly when my ass no longer fit through doorways. She revels in the work of making a home, food, and providing for the the basics like firewood. I hate having to do housework, gardening, and cooking. I'd rather read a book on how to do it than actually do it. My fabrics aren't as nice as her fabrics. She makes these cute little skirts with her 3 yr old while making dinner. I lock myself in the basement to sew and when my 3 yr old knocks on the door I turn up my gwar-esque rock louder to drown out her knocking.

Mama can't talk now, sweetie, she's avoiding you.

Sometimes I try to get comfortable with my limitations as a mother and try to cozy up to my anti-domestic nature. I read Erma Bombeck and tell myself that kid's are resilent, canned tomato sauce looks just as yummy as sauce made tomatoes from my own garden and that germs from unwashed floors actually help immune systems develop. I chant 'good enough' all day long. But then I open up Soule Mama's blog the next day and I can see how far I am away from where I want to be. How I just don't measure up.

As it turns out I was actually paying attention at least some of the time those years at university. I know that we judge our own situations as relative to others. We feel rich or poor compared to our neighbors. We feel ourselves as good or bad parents compared to those around. It's not hard to figure out why I feel bad about myself when I have the whole of the internet in which to find the shiniest examples of everything. I am not the best mom, the slimmest, the healthiest, the most domestic, the most natural, the most creative, the most feminist, the most ambitious, the most crafty, the best anything. In this climate of the new domesticity, with type A housewives creating mult-million dollar brands out of their lives, I am not even in the race. Heck, my position as a spectator is so far away that I need binoculars to see the starting line. Though I can still see it's not real. Still, from far away over here, it's still beautiful.

Self-preservation instinct is kicking in. In order to help pick my self worth up from below magot droppings, I'm going to take a wee hiatus from Soule Mama. And from my many lofty tombs of betterness from the library, the self help, the how to de clutter my home, feng shi my insides, or deep cleanse my colon or whatever the hell it is that catches my fancy week to week that makes me feel completely inadequate. I think I'll limit my reading to areas that have nothing to do with me. Life and times of Mozart. The breeding of dogs. Romantic medieval poetry. Perhaps if I ignore all information that I am even vaguely interested in right now I may get back a measure of confidence in my parenting and running this household. When I only have reality to compare myself to.

Perfection will be banished from my to do list and my bookmarks. This will be me doing my own thing, not comparing myself to you.

This'll be me accepting my limitations.

(oh, darn, I think I've once again accepted mission impossible. I never learn.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

weekend at the farm





Friday, October 3, 2008

the best things in life






Wednesday, October 1, 2008

independence

'I can do it myself' is Smootch's theme lately.
I've gotten her a number of small pitchers and cups so that she can pour her own milk and water. Now she's asked for a small jar of peanut butter and foodstuffs on her shelf so she can get her own snacks. This house is so much more peaceful if she can move around and do her own thing, just like you and I, without having to ask or get us to do it for her.
Birdie is making his own bid for freedom too. Lately his mood's been so ratty. But yesterday, in desperation, I took him outside and plunked him down in the leaves. Ah, silence.
And his big eyes got even bigger.

It's hard to judge when the kids are ready for the next step or more independence. Often I misunderstand, and they seem to me to be acting bratty rather than trying to satisfy their curosity and natural desire to learn. We are all learning here.