Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (13)

Ooh, yes . . . it's Friday! As always, check out Jennifer's post at  Conversion Diary and the other posts linked below hers. If you blog, join us! These posts are quite fun to write (and to read) each week.

1. I started this blog back in June 2010, but didn't really write consistently until I created a Facebook page for it in March 2011. Currently I try to post 2-4 times per week. In addition to the 7 Quick Takes fun, I enjoy participating in other blog hops and carnivals as well.

2. Speaking of blog carnivals, I just joined one this morning, and my post can be found here.

3. Do you have a set plan for Bible reading? Follow one of those Bible-in-a-year schedules? Stick with mostly the New Testament? Prefer a Bible study that jumps around to a variety of passages? Just go in order from Genesis to Revelation?

4. Agent E just declared it Jaguar Day. (Tomorrow, if you're curious, has been designated Tigger Day.)
This guy has a birthday coming up
5. Next week the Agents and I are all getting flu shots. We did not get them last year, and guess what? We all had the flu. Not that getting the vaccine is a foolproof way to avoid it. But, I will be totally kicking myself for not doing it in January when we're all holed up in here, feverish and coughing and nauseous. We're going on Tuesday because Hubby is off (All Saints Day is a work holiday in Italy) and I need back-up.

6. Agent A turns one next week! I know everyone always says this, but I seriously cannot believe it's been a whole year. Wow.

7. Today could potentially be a three-post day (a first) if I'm able to get my Weekly Wrap-Up together this afternoon.

Pin It!

For the Love of Moe

Welcome to the I Love Me! Carnival!

This post was written for inclusion in the I Love Me! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle. This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from the other carnival participants.

In the last six years, I gained and lost 40 pounds, and watched my midsection balloon and flatten, three separate times. I have given birth to three babies.

Two-day-old Agent J
My body changed, but it accomplished much. My tummy may be a little stretchier, my hips a little more, um, vast, but it's been a beautiful vessel three times over, and our family is now complete

What I remember the most fondly of those early, wiggly, newborn days is the time I spent feeding each of them, even when I had no idea what I was doing.

Breastfeeding, more than anything else, forever altered my perspective of my body, my abilities, my calling as a mother. I love that I fed my babies my milk. But I also love that I can reflect that sense of joy to my daughters. I know that when they hear me speak of my body, it's not to disparage or to wish for my old self, but to beam about what great things our bodies can do. 

I don't think my girls really remember breastfeeding; they stopped at 3 years and 2 years, respectively. (Something I was never going to do.) But they still have an innate affection of sorts for my breasts. When J sees me with my shirt off, she says, "Mommy's Moe! Two Moes!" (Anyone want to guess what her word for nursing was?) Sometimes E gently pats my breasts when she hugs me, and talk softly to them, like an old friend.

Agent E holding five-day-old Agent A
And of course they witness me caring for their little brother, which includes lots of nursing time. My baby boy turns one this coming week. When their little brother breastfeeds, the girls watch, and ask questions, and imitate with their dolls. When he wakes up in the morning, they greet him with enormous love. When he is sad or hurt, they comfort him (and tell me, "Mommy, he needs some love"). They do these things because they have seen me do them. And for that I am most thankful, and proud.

I love that my girls see and hear me speak of my physical self not in terms of size or shape or weight, but in respect and awe of its purpose. I love that they think Mommy is beautiful as is. I hope they carry these memories with them as they grow into the awesome women I know they will become.





Thank you for reading this post from the I Love Me! Carnival. Please take some time to read the contributions from the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the afternoon of October 28th with all the carnival links.)

  • The Art of Being Thoughtful – Becky at Old New Legacy likes that she is mostly thoughtful but wants to become more thoughtful. She shares a story that demonstrates that giving gifts doesn't have to be expensive.
  • I love me (and running)! – Sheryl of Little Snowflakes writes about her new love of running and how it has helped her learn to love herself!
  • For the Love of Moe – Valerie at Momma in Progress shares her thoughts on a body forever changed, but forever loved.
  • Where I Find My Worth – Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how finding her worth in worldly things always falls short.
  • Oh Yeah, I'm Cool – Tree at Mom Grooves shares her very favorite gift and the thing she most wants to pass on to her daughter.
  • Loving – Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about some of the things she loves about herself - some easily, and some by choice for the sake of healing.
  • caught in a landslide – jaqbuncad of wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! shares a list of reasons why zie loves hir body.
  • I Love Me! - A Rampage of Appreciation! – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle stops waiting for anyone else to tell her she is wonderful and goes on a rampage of appreciation for herself!
  • Raising Healthy Daughters – In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Kate Wicker offers tips to pass on a healthy self-image to the young ladies in our care.
  • Unexpected Benefits of a Healthy Pregnancy – How does it feel to have a healthy pregnancy? Dionna at Code Name: Mama discovers that making positive choices can be empowering.
  • Filling Up Our Watering Cans – Nada at miniMOMist believes that practicing Sabbath is the same as being a gardener who lovingly tends to the flowers in her garden. She needs to fill up her watering can first.
  • Better Body by Baby – Jess from Mama 'Roo and Family Too! shares how having her first baby makes her feel even more beautiful and confident about her body than ever before.
  • These Breasts Were Made for Nursing – Becoming a mother helped Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children to embrace her womanhood and improve her self image.
  • Yeah, I'm Pretty Cool – Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her own self love and how she hopes to foster the same self-respect in her children.
  • Who I've Become – The future is bright with That Mama Gretchen who shares her past and present perspective on body image and how she hopes to become a change agent with her daughter.
  • Ever-Evolving Me – Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about her innate drive to continue learning, growing, and evolving.
  • I love you for your mind – Lauren at Hobo Mama turns a dubious phrase on its head with a little self-loving slam poetry.
  • Stop Think of Love with Your Body – Amy of Peace 4 Parents shares an exercise to gradually transition from hating to loving your body - stretch marks, sags, imperfections, and all.
  • I Love Me! – Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy shares the things that she loves about herself!
  • First, I'm Superwoman. Later, I'm SupperwomanPatti @ Jazzy Mama explains how she loves taking care of her amazing body. It birthed 4 children, after all!
  • Baby Strikes A Pose – Emma from Your Fonder Heart writes about her family's decision not to let their 7 month old model, and uses the opportunity to think more deeply about girls (young and old) and how they determine their self-worth.
  • Love Your Tree – How do you picture the ways your body and mind change? Amy at Anktangle writes about how trees help her have perspective about her own growth over time.
  • Pumpkin Butt – Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes about how birth and pumpkins are the way to accepting her body
  • I do love me – Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the lessons about loving herself she wants to pass along to her daughter.
  • Appreciating Who I Am – Linni at An Unschooling Adventure describes the things she likes about herself and the way she appreciates who she is as a person.
  • I love me! : A journey – Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her journey on arriving at the point where she can say: I love me!
  • My Daughter Doesn't Care So Why Should I? – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama calls herself on the carpet for the image of self love and beauty she portrays in front of her toddler.
  • Finding out who I am – Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares an exercise that helped her identify positive qualities she possesses, and how that has helped her learn to love herself.

Pin It!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hold On To Your Kids

Look closely . . . all 3 Agents are in this pile
This month I re-read Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. Every parent, whether your child is six months or sixteen, needs to read this book. Let me say that again.

If You Are a Parent, You NEED To Read This Book.

Not since my first reading of The Baby Book have I experienced such an epiphany. This particular book rave will be done in more than one post. (Yep; it's that good.)

Much of the insight in this book is based on the attachment theory of human development. Part one of the text discusses the idea of peer orientation in relation to contemporary parenting. Following are four points I found noteworthy (I've done some paraphrasing here) along with a quote.

The best part of helping Mommy bake cake
1. Parenting requires the context of a secure attachment relationship to be effective.

Parenting is not a task . . . one more thing for us to do well, one more aspect of our lives to become good at, another rung in our competency ladder. This one hit home for me, given my love of devouring information on raising children. I enjoy reading what experts, other parents, writers, psychologists, etc. have to say. I blog about it, and read similar blogs to see what folks are saying, to learn, to share, to advise, and to (sometimes) commiserate. I want to be a good parent (whatever that is).

However, parenting is not about learning the best technique, the right skills, or the most efficient way to "train" your child. It's about the relationship you have with your child.
The secret of parenting is not in what a parent does but rather who the parent is to a child. When a child seeks contact and closeness with us, we become empowered as a nurturer, a comforter, a guide, a model, a teacher, or a coach. For a child well attached to us, we are her home base from which to venture into the world, her retreat to fall back to, her fountainhead of inspiration. All the parenting skills in the world cannot compensate for a lack of attachment relationship. (from Chapter 1, Why Parents Matter More Than Ever, page 6)
2. Children need to be oriented to adults, not each other.

Think of orientation as your compass . . . it allows you to get your bearings, it provides guidance, and shows you where "north" is when you get off track or face uncertain paths. The authors use the term peer orientation to describe the situation in which children look to peers instead of parents for this most basic instruction and modeling. 

The problem is, you cannot have more than one "north"; the child cannot follow the values of both parents and peers simultaneously. When the natural parent-child orienting relationship is undermined, the impact of peer culture is devastating. Children end up being "raised" by themselves . . . attached to and oriented by each other rather than adults. Children are way too immature to take on this task.
Are we saying that children should have no friends their own age or form connections with other children? On the contrary, such ties are natural and can serve a healthy purpose. In adult-oriented cultures, where the guiding principles and values are those of the more mature generations, kids attach to each other without losing their bearings or rejecting the guidance of their parents. In our society that is no longer the case. Peer bonds have come to replace relationships with adults as children's primary sources of orientation. What is unnatural is not peer contact, but that children should have become the dominant influence on one another's development. (from Chapter 1, Why Parents Matter More Than Ever, page 9)
3. We spend far too much time focused on behavior, and far too little time focused on relationship.

There is a very good reason most "discipline" methods fail: They don't address the real issue. We like to feel like we have taken charge, had a plan, followed through with consequences when things go awry. The problem is, reacting to behavior by trying to do something to encourage or to change it (i.e., rewarding the positive and punishing the negative) is missing the boat. It's never just about the specific thing our child has done or not done. Why can we see this so clearly with other people in our lives but not our own children? I love the following quote more than any other in the entire book because I think it explains this concept so well. It's in response to a parent whose teenage daughter has become distant, rude, overly concerned with privacy, and uninterested in conversation; traditional methods of discipline have proved useless.
Imagine that your spouse or lover suddenly begins to act strangely: won't look you in the eye, rejects physical contact, speaks to you irritably in monosyllables, shuns your approaches, and avoids your company. Then imagine that you go to your friends for advice. Would they say to you, "Have you tried a time-out? Have you imposed limits and made clear what your expectations are?" It would be obvious to everyone that, in the context of an adult interaction, you're dealing not with a behavior problem but a relationship problem. And probably the first suspicion to arise would be that your partner was having an affair. (from Chapter 2, Skewed Attachments, Subverted Instincts, page 16)
4. Our current culture devalues attachment.

I love my sister, I really do
Adult-child attachment relationships don't receive the priority they deserve. Children, sometimes from just a few weeks old, spend a lot of time in each other's company with minimal adult contact. Parents are likely to choose a child care provider or educator based on economics and recommendations from other adults, without any consideration of how their children may or may not develop a relationship with the adult responsible for their care. No "collective consciousness" exists that keeps attachment in the forefront of such decisions.

In addition, we separate people into age categories all the time, and have come to see this as normal. Schools group students by age into separate classrooms. Churches usher folks off to toddler rooms, teen centers, and senior groups. Most social gatherings, even those designed as family functions, divide activities into those for adults and those for children. We view multigenerational events at best as quaint, at worst as just plain odd.
In our society, that natural order has been subverted. From a early age, we thrust our children into many situations and interactions that encourage peer orientation. Unwittingly, we promote the very phenomenon that, in the long term, erodes the only sound basis of healthy development: children's attachment to the adults responsible for their nurturing. Placing our young in a position where their attachment and orienting instincts are directed toward peers is an aberration. We are not prepared for it; our brains are not organized to adapt successfully to the natural agenda being so distorted. (from Chapter 3, Why We've Come Undone, page 32)

Pin It!

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (12)

This week is so lame that I had to make the parts of this post I usually just add in the way of an introduction without "counting" (i.e., #1 and #2) a part of the list instead. How's that for pathetic?

1. One dozen Quick Takes and counting. Woo!

2. Be sure to check out Jennifer's post over at Conversion Diary, as well as the other great bloggers who have linked their posts.

3. How do fellow bloggers plan in terms of a blogging calendar, scheduling writing time, limiting online time, etc? I think I need to be more deliberate with when I write, for how long, and the amount of time I spend staring at my laptop. What kind of routine works for you? Do share.

4. Discovered this week that the Halloween costumes we bought for the girls a few weeks ago, thinking we were oh so on top of things this year instead of waiting until 30 October . . . don't fit. They are waaaaay too big. Now I'm trying to decide if I pin/tie them up in some fashion or come up with a new idea. (No; sewing is not an option.) Of course, it will probably be a good thing if they can be fully dressed in jeans and sweatshirts under their dresses, as it will likely be necessary.

Agent C, looking for an escape route
5. Today is library day. It always cracks me up to see the book choices the girls come up with. I select a few based on our homeschooling notes for the upcoming week, and then they each pick 2 or 3 as well. It's always so random . . . I could probably do a whole Quick Takes post on the eclectic pile of books we come home with later today.

6. Thoughts on this article about the direction/focus of ministries for women? Personally, I agree with most of what she has to say, and have not felt comfortable in these situations since . . . well . . . ever.

7. Okay, so I'm all about questions today, but . . . for those of you who homeschool young children, do you do foreign language? We are studying Italian right now (duh) but I intend to expand to other languages in the coming years. I want my children to be interested in other languages, although right now it's mostly singing songs and learning vocabulary for things around the house. I try to learn a little bit of the language of countries we travel  to. (At least enough to exchange basic pleasantries like hello, good morning, please, thank you, excuse me, and the ever popular, "I'm sorry. I don't know much _____. Do you speak any English?") I want the Agents to be exposed to languages at a young age so they can chose later on which one(s) they would like to study more in depth. Any great resources you could pass on?

Pin It!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Playground Chatter

Agent E is very much like her Momma. She is a planner. She makes lists. (Yes; at five. Obviously my influence.) She is somewhat (okay, a lot) introverted. Some would probably label her as shy. (Don't get me started on that one.) She is generally quiet in social gatherings until she has a chance to get to know people. Sometimes she cautiously moves behind me when overwhelmed by unfamiliar surroundings.

But when she is at the playground, she is like a dancing butterfly.

Agent E, striking a pose
Eva will walk up to anyone at the playground—adult or child—and start a conversation. Usually it involves introducing her sister and pointing out me and her baby brother sitting nearby. She is clearly comfortable in this environment . . . more than any other. I don't want to stifle this with my own fears and worry so I sit back and watch.

But what about danger? What about predators? What about strangers? 

How many "strangers" (a retail clerk, the bus driver, a new neighbor, etc.) do you exchange words with each day? Are these situations dangerous? Are uneasiness around new people and uncertainty in new situations really qualities you wish to instill in your children?

We want to promote a view that the world is a mostly pleasant, safe place. Of course we talk to them about safety. However, we prefer to err on the side of assuming the good in people. (And, yes, I am always Right There With Her to intervene in the rare case that might be necessary.)

What is your child's playground personality?

Pin It!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weeks Five and Six: What the Heck Happened?

Six weeks into this homeschooling journey and I have come to a conclusion: I need to be more organized. (I know, shocking revelation, right?) I couldn't even get it together last Friday to post a Week Five . . . I had to combine it with Week Six. And I'm posting this Friday Weekly Wrap-Up on, um, Sunday morning. Sigh.

What happens when Agents J and A are left unattended
A while back I got on a roll about getting all my ducks lined up but only a few of my grandiose ideas ever came to fruition. If I am going to make this home education thing work long term, though, I'm going to have to come up with a routine that I can follow and stick with it

Some days I wish I could fast forward out of the growing pains of learning how to make this new lifestyle flow seamlessly for every family member, but alas, my magic wand seems to be missing. (I think Agent J threw it over the balcony.)

The last two weeks  we've done a lot of interesting "school" work, of course, but it's beginning to morph into simply our new normal everyday life. It's not about imitating school, or replacing school, or improving upon school, or even about the specific tasks and schedules and goals (oh, my!) at all. It's a whole new way of looking at life and how I (We) teach our children, interact with our children, and fundamentally parent them. I know if any veteran home educators read this they may be thinking, well, yes (duh). But, for me it was (is) truly an epiphany that has the potential to take our lives in a whole new direction. 

As usual, this post will be linked at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Pin It!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If I Knew Then . . .

I found this post in my draft file . . . I originally wrote it for a blog hop that never came to be. The question posed: What are five things you wish you had known before you became a mother?

Agent E's first birthday . . . quite a year.
1. I would completely change my views on parenting. I previously wrote about things I would never do as a parent. When Eva was a few weeks/months old (I can't really remember) I read The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears. This book changed the game for me. It became clear that the reason I thought parenting was so freaking complicated was because I was fighting my instincts on how to take care of my baby. Once I let go of what I thought I was "supposed" to be doing it was a whole new experience. This led me to investigate attachment parenting further, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Breastfeeding is about more than just food. This was perhaps my biggest "conversion" when it comes to parenting. I knew very few people who breastfed. I only saw someone (my sister) breastfeeding maybe once in my life. I thought anyone who would nurse a child past one year was weird. Then I had my own children and I finally got it.

3. Life will be—oh, wait, did you say something?—interrupted. This is one of my favorite chapters in Naomi Standlen's book What Mothers Do (Especially When It Looks Like Nothing). I think I got the whole "your priorities will change and it's not just about you anymore" thing before my first baby arrived, but the everyday ability to stop what you are doing, or thinking, at a nano-second notice came later.

Senior Agents having some "bonding" time.
4. Everything seems worse at night. I still struggle with this one. Every time one of my Agents gets a fever, or gets an ear infection, or pukes, it seems 1000 times worse if it happens between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. I don't consider myself a huge worrier but night time illnesses still freak me out just a bit. I'm better about it now that Hubby is home most nights, but when he goes back to sea duty my crazy level will increase.

5. Pediatricians are not always a good source of parenting advice. My first pediatrician told me I had to stop breastfeeding Eva and give her formula because she didn't get back up to birth weight at precisely two weeks. (Not once was getting breastfeeding assistance suggested, nor were any questions about our nursing experience asked.) Another pediatrician I saw when Agent E was about 9 months old tried to convince me that "letting" her sleep in our room would contribute to her future juvenile record and ultimate demise. (Well, those weren't his exact words.) Even pediatricians I have genuinely liked have said some things to me that made my Mommy Radar twinge. As a general rule, I do not ask my doctor for parenting advice, and when it is offered without being requesting, I tune it out.

What do you wish you had known before entering the world of parenthood? 

Pin It!

Friday, October 7, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (10)

Welcome once again to Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes Friday. Please be sure to visit Jennifer's blog and check out her post and then scroll down to see the ones fellow bloggers have linked. 

1. I finally reached the point where when people ask how old Agent A is I say "he'll be one on the first" instead of "he's 11 months." I'll say "he's one" for November, but then I'll go back to months. Not remembering when I switched from weeks to months, but it seems the younger the baby the more specific people are with age. Although I have to admit I find it kind of irksome when folks say things like, "she's 27.5 days old" or "he'll be 38 weeks tomorrow." There just comes a point when days/weeks sounds silly.

2. Speaking of my littlest Agent .  . . he is crawling and cruising all about the house, but not yet standing independently or attempting steps. Agent E never crawled, really, and started walking just before turning 15 months. Agent J took her first steps a week after turning one. (Cute side note: She was walking toward Daddy on the TV. He was deployed and we were watching a DVD of him reading stories to the girls.)

3. This week Agent E really seemed to ask a lot of "vocabulary" questions . . . among the terms she asked me to define/clarify: eternal, complete, toward, widow, arrested . . . I wish I could remember more. (Note to self: Write these things down.)

4. Finished up my read of Genesis this week. Heading back into the NT, but not sure what to read next  . . . I'm thinking 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Agent E has been reading her children's Bible every day. Which is likely directly responsible for the word list in #3.

My two Cinderellas getting ready to head out last year
5. Halloween costumes . . . last year the girls were princesses. This year they want to be . . . princesses. Eva will be The Purple Princess (aka, Rapunzel) and Julia will be The Pink Princess (aka, Sleeping Beauty). I wanted Andrew to be something in the same motif, but I figured even if I could find a "prince" costume no one would know what he's supposed to be anyhow. So instead he's going to be . . . the dragon. Still fits the theme, and the costume is pretty freaking adorable.

6. Sleep craziness continues to abound. Thing 1 started giving up naps at 2, and was completely finished (more or less) by 2.5. Thing 2 started the process at 18 months, and was done by 2-ish. Thing 3 is almost 12 months . . . and starting to nap less frequently and for shorter amounts of time. If he follows the pattern, he should be staying awake all day by 18 months. I could do without this trend.

7. Hoping to get the "likes" on my Facebook page to over 100 soon. So if you can help (hint, hint) I'd really appreciate it. I like a nice round number. Plus it's been in 90s forever. This week it dropped a few (Oh, no! Someone decided they didn't like me after all! Sniff!) but now it's back up to 97. Actually, that's happened a lot since I started the page . . . it will go up/down by one or two here and there. Still a little disappointing to log in and see, though.

Pin It!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week Four: One Month Down and We're All Still Alive

Well, we just finished off week four of this homeschooling experiment and everyone survived. I guess we'll be doing this again next month :-)

If you are interested, you can read here about our Week OneWeek Two, and Week Three.

That inquisitive little monkey sure is captivating
Our big "new" thing this week was introducing computer games. Agent E loves them . . . her faves so far are Curious George, Word World, and Super Why (all from PBS Kids Go!). I don't know why, but I really thought it would take her longer to get comfortable with the computer and learning to navigate. In reality it took about 14 seconds, give or take, and most of that was me talking. Agent J is fascinated as well, but she just watches while E controls the mouse. 

I have a fall break planned, but honestly I don't think Agent E is going to go for it. She has asked to do school every weekend and I think if I tell her we're going to skip an entire week she will look at me like I'm nuts. 

How do you handle "time off" in your homeschooling calendar? Regular intervals or only when necessitated by going out of town, illness, etc.? Planned or spontaneous? Something special (e.g., family vacation) or just *not* the daily grind? Do your kids look forward to it?

As usual, this post will be linked at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Pin It!