Monday, March 29, 2010

The Annoying Blog

I admit it, I read a lot of blogs. Sometimes I stumble upon them randomly, through homeschooling sites or something, and sometimes I search them out, as in the time immediately after Sophie died when I needed, desperately needed, to find people who had also lost a child. I read the blogs of friends, family, blogs for writers, blogs for parents, blogs for easy vegetarian recipies...sometimes I even read blogs of friends of friends for no reason at all.

There is this one blog that drives me nuts (I know, I know, why read it?? I don't know! I just don't know!). It is a homeschooling mom of four kids who range in age from (I'm guessing here) 2 to 10. She is definitely very relaxed and always talking about letting her kids be and how they will learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it (this method of homeschooling is called unschooling). She says they are all developing their own personalities, with no help from her, and that they have basically no limits at home on anything--from TV to video games. She says that trusting them to make their own choices is the only way and, from what I understand, they always make the right choice. Yeah, right. But to read her blog, it sounds as if her home is always filled with love and light, laughter and joy, peace and harmony. And on days when I'm having a good day and I want affirmation that my parenting style is good, I love reading her blog. But on days when I'm on edge, the girls are fighting, the baby is whining...I find her blog annoying. Why? Because I just want to scream at the computer, "You MUST have days like this!!! You have FOUR kids!" I mean, really, there MUST be days when dinner is late, kids are arguing, it is raining, and you feel like the world is falling in on you. Because we are all--all of us--HUMAN.

Of course, mothers are generally known to be the worst when it comes to comparing ourselves and our children and I guess I just feel slighted when another mom is always raving about how perfect her life is. And if her life really is like that, I guess I need to try harder. Don't get me wrong, I'm am blessed, so blessed, to be able to be home with my kids and homeschooling and living a connected, simplified lifestyle that I deeply believe in. But I have bad days--and that is the truth. There are days when, no matter how connected I am as a parent, the kids are annoying. Not on purpose, and I totally accept that they are doing the best they can to get their needs met in a way that makes sense to them. Great. But it can be annoying. Admit it!

So I'm sorry if anyone out there reading this ever feels like less of a parent because my life seems so perfect. It is as perfect as it gets...but nothing is ever perfect and nobody should feel like they don't live up. I should probably stop reading that blog, huh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cool fieldtrip

One thing I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to go on these cool fieldtrips that are not exactly part of the unit we are working on, but definitely worth the time--like to the engineering department at UMaine. The people there are doing really neat stuff--some of which they won't even let you take pictures of because it is so cool (and top secret!). Anyway, we went with our homeschool group, and the kids were asked to make a structure out of spaghetti and marshmallows that would hold at least 10 little blocks of wood (mine held 14, the champion's held way more than that! The champion (Nick) is 7, by the way!).

Note the hanging safety goggles!

What safety goggles?

Erin built quite the elaborate design that she didn't want to test the weight on because she didn't want it broken. Go figure.

Of course, everyone had to wear a hardhat!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So today, Evan climbed up the ladder to the playhouse and then went down the slide all by himself about 10 or 12 times. Up the ladder, down the slide, up the ladder, down the slide. He was so proud--he would clap at the top and grin, then sit down, skooch himself to the top of the slide and then go down so fast that he would shoot off the bottom and flop onto the sand. He was loving it! Of course, then I decide that I really needed to capture this on video. So I went and got the camera and this is what I got:

I swear (for all the grandparents who read this), that was the first time he fell off! (And he's FINE, by the way!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Argh...this frustrates me!

Things like this bother me to no end. I am not decidedly anti-vaccine or pro-vaccine. I firmly believe that each family needs to make a decision that is right for them, taking into account all the things that make them unique (length of breastfeeding, child care situation, sibling situation...all those things that determine a child's exposure to disease). But to make a decision requires that a family has all the necessary information AND that they can trust the information they are getting. It is ridiculous that these relationships between government agencies and testing agencies and whoever else are allowed to form, much less be profited from. Millions of kids and their families have suffered because a handful of people are not willing to tell the WHOLE truth about something. "Yes, mercury can be harmful. Yes, we are injecting that into your child. Yes, there are good reasons to do that, but you also need to know the risks." Inform parents and let them decide. But INFORM them FIRST! (Yes, I know vaccines no longer contain mercury, but they DO contain aluminum--another concern I have.)

For me, it leads to a whole lack of trust--yes, I trust my doctor...but I have to trust the information my doctor has. Who wrote that paper and who paid them to do that research? That is where I have no faith--none at all. The drug companies are just too big and too powerful and I just can't believe they have my child's best interests at heart. (For example, after reading the above article, do I trust what drug makers say about aluminum being perfectly safe??) In a perfect world, maybe, but not in our world. And that makes me sad.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hindering Progress

This morning, Erin and I read a bit about Gandhi--when he was born, what he was protesting at different times in his life, how he believed in nonviolence, things like that. She learned a few new vocabulary words (which she excitedly threw into the conversation all day today!) and then we began to get ready for our outing. My playgroup (mostly kids Evan's age) was going to a playground/beach today and we had arranged to take a friend of Erin's from our homeschool group with us so that Erin would have someone to explore with while Evan and I hung out and talked to the moms and other kids. It was definitely a win-win situation! But because we had spent so much time on Gandhi and the vocabulary stuff, we were running a bit late. I hurried to throw a lunch together, Evan was getting tired and whining, I still had to pack a diaper bag, get some extra clothes together and, of course, change a poopy diaper. So my stress level began to go up. I asked Erin to stop reading and please go get one set of extra clothes and put it in her backpack in case she got wet. She disappeared into her closet. I finished making lunch...she wasn't done yet...I got the diaper bag Erin. I got lunch, the diaper bag and extra warm clothes into the car...nothing. "Erin! We are going to be late!" "I'm COMING! Don't rush me!" I changed the poopy diaper and put Evan in his car seat. Now, I'm standing by the door, know the feeling...the blood pressure is starting to rise...I had told the other mom I'd be there at a certain time and I wasn't there...getting annoyed.... "ERIN!"

(Be sure to sound like an annoyed teenager when you read the response.)

"What?? You told me to get extra clothes and I'm getting extra clothes!!"

"That should have taken you 20 seconds! Put them in your backpack! WHAT are you DOING??"

Then she comes out...she had put her extra clothes in a sack, tied them into a small, round bundle and was attempting to tie that to a a hobo, she said, with tears in her eyes because the knot wasn't working.

Now, in a perfect world, children would do what you ask them to do, when you ask them to do it.

In a more perfect world, parents wouldn't get upset when a kid's need to do things differently appears to hinder the day's progress.

I helped her tie the knot and we were a bit late, but whatever.

Thank you, Erin, for once again reminding me that although you talk like you are 15, you really are only 7. And a very imaginative, creative, fun 7 at that. As my parent quote card said today, "Remember, your child is a child."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just my thoughts....

This article is funny and very sad at the same time.... We all have to make small choices every day. Imagine if every time we are faced with a choice like that, we actually make the right one? What a change we could make in the world we leave our children.

I get picked on a lot for some of my beliefs--the eating local, cloth diapering, homeschooling stuff.... But one thing I feel strongly about is that we "vote" with our wallets. Who you pick on election day is almost insignificant compared to where you put your money. Electing someone who promises jobs for Americans does no good if you buy plastic stuff made in China. Listening to a politician talk about the importance of good neighbors and communities is ridiculous if you aren't going to actually buy local and support local farmers and businesses. It is the stuff people talk about all the time, but so few make the right choice every time they are faced with it. Neighbor's birthday coming up? Why not spend an extra dollar and buy that gift downtown instead of some huge on-line conglomerate? Save the gas on the shipping in addition to supporting your local bookstore.

Once a month I get together with friends and do a "Mom's Night Out." We have gathered quite a list of locally owned restaurants to rotate through each month. Recently there has been question about whether or not we should expand our list to include chain restaurants like Chili's or Olive Garden or some place like that. This is an interesting question to me. Besides the fact that those places don't usually offer good choices for vegetarians, I have an issue with the fact that they aren't locally owned. The fact is that if we are going to have a group of 6-10 moms pumping money into the local area, I would prefer that $68 of every $100 stays in the community as opposed to $43 of every $100. Isn't that just logical? But it is hard, so very hard, to make the right choice every time. I'm absolutely positive I will get voted down in this discussion and MNO will happen at a national chain in the near future. I can't help that.

And I'm not, in anyway, suggesting I always make the right choices. I can say with conviction that I do NOT shop at a certain blue box store. However, I have ordered a book from a large internet company when my local book store didn't have it and having them order it was going to take too long. I would love to say I don't buy stuff from China, but that is a very difficult standard to have (I just found out my favorite cloth diapers are made there--now what do I do???) So yes, I completely understand the feeling of "Oh just this once..."

And, like the article on the plastic water bottles, if we only make the "wrong" choice once in a while, it isn't that bad, right??

Quote of the Day

So Megan tells me this morning that she "has to" be a Mommy when she is a grown up. I tell her that she doesn't have to be a Mommy, that she should do whatever would make her happy.

"Being a Grammy or a Memere would make me happy, Mom, so to do THAT, I have to deal with being the Mommy first. Sigh."

(Yes, she actually said "sigh"!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thinking of my friend...

Three years ago today, a mom who I didn't know at the time, was rushed to the hospital in a desperate attempt to save the baby she was laboring with. Her home.birth had gone horribly wrong with complications that nobody, nobody, could have predicted. Her beautiful little girl was born via c-section and, despite attempts to revive her, died on the same day of her birth.

I met this mom a few months later at a support group for babylost families in western MA. She is an incredible woman--beautiful, strong, compassionate. I found myself drawn to her amazing personality. We have kept in touch through email and if I ever have a babylost mom in my area who has questions that I know she could answer, I never hesitate to call her. I'm thankful that there are people with her strengh in the world.

Since her loss, she has given brith to an amazing, living, little boy and she parents him directly from her big, big heart. This little boy just turned one this past fall and he has never left his mom's side--something so many people have criticized about her parenting and something that I highly agree with and wish more people could do. She is a fantastic mama!

Birdie, your mom loves you and misses you. You have had a tremendous impact on the world and I hope your mom can find some comfort in that. But not today--that comfort will come later--today is her day to grieve and remember what it felt like to hold you in her arms.

Thinking of you today, my friend.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And Now She Is Seven

Here she is--the first baby I ever had. The first little miracle to arrive--before I really, truly knew what a miracle she was. Oh how she changed our lives! From the beginning, she was her own little person, on her own little schedule with her own way of doing things.

Here she is on her first birthday--of course eating chocolate cake! She is her own little person, yes, but she does have my genes in her after all!

Here she is at Busch Gardens when she was almost two. Yes, she was a peanut--but a truly cute and amazing peanut!

At three, we had quite the kiddo on our hands. Clearly ahead of many of her peers in the verbal department, she could weave stories and fairy tales that combined characters from so many of her favorite books (most of which were memorized word for word!) She also began to live in that pink dress--"The Dress I Like Best" it was called. Forwards, backwards, inside out, you name it, that is how she wore it. She woke up in the morning and put it on--no questions asked. I think people in our playgroup started to wonder if she owned any other clothes!

Erin has always had an incredible love of everything outside. She is truly a 4-season kiddo--skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, sledding, gardening...all of it. Here she is at age 4 on top of the Beehive at Acadia National Park.

Around this time we met Joya, her invisible friend. Here they are just after her 5th birthday, all dressed up fancy together. Joya still makes regular appearances at our house. Sometimes she is responsible for the huge mess in the closet. I wish Joya cleaned up a little more after herself!

Erin turned 6 with gusto!

And seven with the same enthusiasm!

I can't wait to see what the next stages will bring. Regardless, Erin continues to teach us a ton--the kid who is out in front, testing the parental waters and smiling through it all. I'm pretty sure we will screw her up (or have already!), but so far she seems none the worse for the wear. She is our gifted, challenging, bouncy, outdoor, hiker-princess. I wouldn't trade her for anything!