Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Overkill

We were in the car and my son said to me (again), "Why doesn't the Easter bunny bring me Lego sets and iTunes cards like my friends?"  Before I could stop my self I responded, "Because they are spoiled."  (I may have given it away.)  Luckily, he is 13, so it was not a shock (though our motto is "those who do not believe do not receive").  This is not the first time this has come up.  He doesn't focus on it but he has asked a few times through the years.

When our children awaken on Easter morning they run into the kitchen like millions of children across the United States to see what the mystical bunny has brought for them.  Last year, due to a serious deficiency on said bunny's part, there was no chocolate bunny (apparently all of the high quality chocolate was given out before he arrived at our house) but there were ample chocolate eggs and chocolate covered sunflower seeds in a carrot shaped package.  "Why do my friends get so much candy and we get sunflower seeds?"  Really?  See above response.

Each of the children's baskets last year contained a little candy, seeds to be planted in the garden and something special that the big bunny thought they would each enjoy.  The Sun received husband and wife gnomes for the garden and the moon got a new garden flag for her fairy garden.  This year looks similar.  Healthy organic gummies and chocolate eggs on a stick.  They'll  receive some wonderful thing to take them through a summer of fun.   Based on their needs (not their wants) it will most likely be gardening tools and gloves and perhaps some other small item.  You see, Easter just does not scream Legos to me.  Or iTunes for that matter.

You see, I believe we are not serving our children by gifting them with toys at every turn.  The greatest gifts we give our children are the tools to live an authentic life, humility, compassion, love and the understanding that hard work is the foundation to success.  So, do yourself a favor.  Do your kids a favor and dial it back a notch this year.

Regardless of your reason for the season, Happy Easter and may your spring be full of abundance.

Friday, February 6, 2015

I Vaccinated My Children But I Did It On My Terms

The year was 2001 and we were new parents anxious to everything right and natural for our precious new baby.  Midwife?  Check.  Birthing Plan?  Check.  Breastpump?  Well, we had to rent that one.  Some things didn't go according to plan.  After 8 months of being quite ill, I delivered 5.5 weeks early due to the onset of eclampsia and our son spent nearly two weeks in the NICU after birth by cesarean.  So, my birth didn't go as planned, but one thing we did plan on and stuck to was an alternative vaccination schedule.  I remember like it was yesterday the day we walked into the NICU to see the newly born Sun and ran into the ped who said, "We are about to give him a Hep B vaccine."  I don't think so.  Did any of you read our very instructions that clearly stated, "NO vaccinations?"  Obviously not.  In fact, it was not until our son turned seven and we were planning a trip to China that we decided to vaccinate him for Hep B.

Once home from the hospital we worked out an alternate vaccination plan with our pediatrician.  She was NOT thrilled.  In fact, after two years of being in disagreement about all of our parenting choices (extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, removal of dairy due to our son's projectile vomiting and the alternate vaccination schedule) we decided to go our separate ways.  Our son by that time was nearly fully vaccinated - on our terms - with the exception of Hep B and Varicella (chicken pox).  Upon finding a new doctor, he agreed that we did not fall into any categories to necessitate the aforementioned Hep B and he believed that the chicken pox vaccine was/is completely bunk (since that time, they have realized that the Varicella only gives 4 to 6 years of immunity and have now added a second dose).  However, we decided to give our son that vaccination as well due to our trip to China.

So, why the alternative schedule?  It was around the time our son was born that the autism - vaccination correlation began to take hold.  Since then, the science behind that has been proven as incorrect but it is difficult to undue what was once done.  Why the foothold on this idea?  Why do smart, educated, well-read folks, people like my husband and I, continue to be distrustful of vaccinations?  I suspect the evidence is mostly anecdotal.  How many times have we seen friends and relatives with a crying baby who was running a fever due to that day's round of vaccinations?  I can tell you that our first pediatrician told us in no uncertain terms that vaccinations and fevers are entirely coincidental (yes, she's still practicing) and that babies who run fevers after being vaccinated surely were already sick (every one of them).    Our own son cried and ran fevers when receiving ONE vaccination.  I cannot imagine giving him a full round in one day!

What about adults?  How many people get sick after receiving a flu shot?  How many have aches and pains after receiving their own vaccinations?  I know I did.  I remember being vaccinating with the MMR before heading to college and receiving other vaccinations, like Hep B before our last trip abroad.  Knot in arm, headache, general malaise.  If this is how WE feel, what are multiple vaccinations doing to our children, our very small children, often as young as 9 months?  Going even further, do you know that the CDC has given nearly $2 BILLION in vaccine payouts?  These were the folks who reported, fought, and had the means to go to court.  How many cases are unreported?  I have friends whose children went into febrile fevers causing seizures the day of their vaccinations.  The peds response?  Not vaccination related, coincidental, etc.  In other words...not reported to the CDC.

I'm not telling you to not vaccinate your children.  In fact, just the opposite.  Vaccinate.  Do it for me.  Do it for you.  But, know the risks.  Ask for an alternate schedule.

  And, know that right now as many cry for stricter laws on vaccinations, that you are not getting the whole story. 

Below are links to a few websites that offer more information on the issues with vaccinations, such as the newest kid on the block - the HPV (Gardasil) vaccination

Huffington Post:
Breit Bart:
Judicial Watch:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why Reading to Your Children Matters

I could list a hundred articles, books and websites right here, right now, that would tell you why reading out loud to your child matters - and not just the under five crowd.  I could show as many examples of why you reading to your child is quite different from a computer, tablet or phone reading to your child.  And, more on why reading to your child from a book made of paper is better than reading out loud from a book on a tablet.  But, I won't.  You will find some of those things here, just not a hundred of them!  You will also find my own thoughts on reading aloud from books that has some scientific basis and is supported by the articles mentioned, my experience being involved in a Waldorf school, study and implementation of home education and most importantly - mother's intuition.

Below is an infographic from Read Aloud which makes it quite clear to those learn visually (most of us) why reading to your young child is important. (Let me be clear, I am NOT saying your older children should not be reading on a tablet.)

There is this article in the New York Times that  tells us, "a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.
'There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a BOOK with your child,' Dr. High said. 'You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”

Scientific American brought even greater depth to this topic and speaks of mapping of the mind, sensory development and more.  They state, "evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way."  Again, this blog post is really about parents reading to their children, but there is an element, specifically with the young child, of the appropriateness of a reader vs. a book.  Sitting down with a child and tablet in your lap is a very different experience for all then sitting down with a child and a soft book, board book or chapter book.

The Atlantic adds, " A recent poll showed that only 13% of parents read to their kids every night. Interactive stories will never be a substitute for reading a book with a young child. Physical books offer a parent and a child a unique opportunity to bond. During a bedtime story, the only stimuli are the adult’s voice and intonation and the book’s pictures. The best stories require interpretation and stimulate discussion between parent and child."  I can tell you truthfully that I still read to my 13- year old.  You may not remember but he is the one that finished the library reading program in a week a couple of summers ago.  To say he is an avid reader is putting it mildly.  Every day he sits down with my 8-year old and I over afternoon tea and a book.  For several weeks it was Beatrix Potter stories.  Now it is Little House in the Big Woods (my 2nd grader's language arts program). 
There will be a time in our lives when I will 
wish I had someone to read to and I cherish 
these afternoons more than anything! 

To be fair, I've read several articles on how e-readers increase literacy among older children.  I can see the validity in this for many reasons.  Children who are turned off by books but who are like moths to a flame with a screen may find that they enjoy reading on or at least being read to by a tablet.  Families who do not make time to go to the library regularly but have tablets or computers in the home may allow downloads for their children.  And, knowing that not all private schools have a library and that public schools often build in very little time for the school library, that decreases access to quality books even further making books available on screens preferable simply due to access in some cases.  My own children have access to screens (with limitations).  Both have age appropriate games but there are few books read on the tablet.  Most books (about 15 per week) come from the local public library or they reread cherished favorites from our home children's library.

With all of these things said, in my opinion, the cost of using tablets for young children when books are interactive or using them for older children to teach literacy is much higher.  For many years my family was involved in Waldorf education.  We chose that path for many reasons but one of them was the classical approach to education and child development that is the hallmark of that pedagogy.  Another hallmark is the focus on IMAGINATION and that is something that matters to us.  Again, this is something I have known but it was not until this week that I was smacked in the face by how important this is as well as my own PARENTING FAIL. 

We were sitting at the kitchen table having lunch and discussing the possibilities of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer.  My 8-year old said, "I wonder if we'll see Voldemort."  A discussion followed about Voldemort's appearance.  My mind wandered at some point and I heard my 13-year old say, "That's not what he really looks like."   What?  "That's not what he looks like in the book."  8-year old responded, "Well, I haven't gotten to that part in the book."  OMG.  We let the Moon see the first Harry Potter movie without reading the book.  No big deal.  Right?  Wrong!  It couldn't be more of a big deal.  We have forever altered how she sees the characters in the books by allowing her to be influenced by the characters in the movie.  Is this earth-shattering?  No, but it served as a reminder to me the power of imagination and the importance of allowing our minds to INTERNALLY create what we see as opposed to reliance on OTHERS EXTERNAL IDEAS of what we should see.

Think about this, "interactivity often creates more of a game experience than a reading experience. Instead of being the focus, the story becomes merely a background." (the Atlantic) The images and the interactivity should be to support the imagining of the story but frequently it has the opposite effect.

Many authors and publishers are resistant to using technology - or at least interactive aps - in regards to children's books.   Liz Thompson from BookBrunch tell us,  "There's a lot of stuff at the moment that we're doing because we can. It's a question of whether you can really add value to the story. If you can, then it's fun, and there is some really creative stuff going on, but certainly ebooks seem to me not so cosy, that there's a feeling of curling up with a book that you can't replicate, however good the technology." (The Guardian)

The Atlantic really sums it all up for me with:   "Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.” We don’t want to lose that."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

24 Days of Christmas - Day 18...I Think

Well, we are quickly approaching Christmas and things are beginning to breakdown at the Croy homestead,  home of the harmonious family.   Frustrated by the lack of 5 minutes to wrap gifts, I put the kids in front of Elf while I locked myself away to get said gifts ready for display.  In other words, we began Christmas break two days early.

The kitchen now looks like Santas elves have been creating havoc (who am I kidding...they would never leave that mess). 

Once Elf was over I realized the beans I had been cooking all morning were not ready for lunch and I didn't have enough wits about me to give the kids oatmeal for lunch, so we ran out to grab a gf lunch (not easy in our neighborhood).  On to violin, then a mad dash home to get the Sun ready for his violin concert.  These may not seem like much but there were other stressors added in which revolve around scheduling and a father with a doctor's appointment each day this week and well, the conversation with my husband sums it up. 

"When you get to the church for the concert, come down to Boca Loca where you will find me with a sangria."  He responded, "So, you are that kind of mom."  "I am today." 

I will leave you with a picture if the moon sipping a Shirley Temple.  Cheers to you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You Homeless? I'm Sorry to Hear It.

Each week after play practice and violin lessons and strings ensemble the kids and I head to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner.  Last night we had the added bonus of my husband joining us.  The Moon told him we were eating sushi and he decided to join us.  With the kids and I a sushi dinner bill would typically run about $30 with drinks and a tip.  Okay.  Maybe $40.  Add the hubby and we laid down a cool $75.00 on the table.  It was a splurge for us.  Sushi usually is and we only have it three or four times a year as a family.  I don't mean to mislead you.  We eat out.  In a normal week the kids and I find ourselves in a restaurant two to three times.  When I worked full-time it was much more.  Now that I am hope full-time again I am working on getting it down to no more than two. 

After dinner as we took the long stroll back to our car a man approached us.  He walked with purpose and made an effort to step to the right to allow our family of four to pass.  That is why I was so surprised when he asked us for money.  Living in a city with a huge economic boom and an ever-increasing homeless population, I am no stranger to being asked for money.  Normally I can spot them at fifty paces.  Suddenly we were all stopped on the street and being told by a complete stranger that he was hungry.  A veteran who served six years in the military.  Showing us his military id.  As usual, Nathan and I did not know immediately what to do.  The answer from me is typically "no."  But, something was different with this man. He wasn't mean or aggressive.  OK.  Don't get mad.  So many of the people I have been approached by in Nashville have been quite aggressive.  No, I don't think most were mentally ill.  Some are.  I can think of a couple.  But, some have been quite insistent.  Not this man.

The Moon must have felt it too.  Just after Nathan handed the man a small bit of cash, she said to the Man, "Are you homeless?  I am sorry to hear that."  "Yes", he said "thank you for caring."  And then, "I hope your life gets better soon, sir".  Then we walked away.  As she began to sing whatever Disney song popped into her head at that moment the Sun said, "That's why I want to be rich Mama.  To help all the people in the world."  

As adults, we often do not know what to say or do when faced with someone in need.  But a child always knows.  And, to have a child who has known such loss in her own life who is capable of such compassion is a true gift. 

I cried the entire way home.  I cried for my children who will be faced throughout their lives with people in need and I pray they find ways to help.  I cried for the people in the world who are lacking.  We are not rich but we can splurge on occasion for something beyond potato soup or chili which is the bounty that frequently blesses our table.  I cried for myself and my own shortcomings as I  wondered if I do enough to help my fellow man.  I am crying now as I write this and think of that sweet face asking innocently, "Are you homeless?" 

As usual I do not have the answers to life but know that my children teach me in great ways each and every day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Broke Our Number One Rule in Parenting - Find Out Why

May 26, 2014

It had to happen.  Okay, I won’t lie, it’s happened before, but this time it happened on a big scale.  I gave in to a screaming child.  Actually, screaming is putting it mildly.  Screaming, kicking, irrational, absolute hysterics.  Unless you have seen my little Moon in a full blown tantrum, you really cannot grasp what this means and very few people have actually been witness to this (and fewer folks believe she is even capable of such behavior – shows what they know).

It began last year.  We moved her from a small private school where Goodwill grunge is all the rage, status symbols are hybrids, and parents try to keep their children as young and innocent as possible to public school where maturity among 7-year olds is king (or queen if you prefer).  She noticed immediately that there were some differences between herself and her new peers.  The two that stood out the most were the lack of earrings and the inability to sleepover with friends.  Despite the differences, the year progressed, she made many friends and we made it to first grade without too much stress.

First grade  came and was even better than the first with two exceptions – the pesky issues of not being allowed to sleepover and being as of yet unpierced.  We stood firm on both.  I had great experiences sleeping over once I was in middle school, but due to the differences in parenting and what available for kids to see on both the internet and the television, we are just not budging in this issue.  In regards to the piercing, however, I continued to wonder if we should let her go for it.  She didn’t know this, of course, but I did.  And then my resolve crumbled.  No, that’s not true.  I changed my mind.  Back to the tantrum.

I picked her up from school on Friday and we headed to the other side of town to collect The Sun from school, meet a friend for dinner, grocery shop and run other random errands.   Arwyn was tired and hungry and refused my offer of a Vitamin Water, which I keep in the car for children in just such a state.  She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and requested to go home and change, which I denied for several reasons.  I was taking a chance and well, I lost. The tantrum set in which quickly devolved into every wrong doing that I have ever committed against her, namely not letting her spend the night with friends and not letting her get her ears pierced.  Here we go again.  After 45 minutes of sheer hysterics she finally managed to convey a few things to me which is where my mind was changed.
I want to preface the following with letting you know that this child can make her own breakfast (she makes a healthy blueberry smoothie for herself each morning), make her bed, help with the laundry and do many more things that most kids simply cannot or will not do.  Here is what she said, “Mommy I know you think I am a little girl, but I’m not.  I’m a big girl.  I promise to take care of my ears so they won’t get infected.  I don’t like being sad or mad.  This makes me sad and mad that I cannot get my ears pierced.  Mommy, I don’t like being different from the other girls and I just want to be pretty.”  Sigh.

I can remember being the youngest child of older parents and often feeling and being different from the other girls.  In fact, like The Moon, who was born with a cleft lip and palate with the results being quite visable, I was born with a facial defect and never quite fit in.  Life is different now for kids in both good and bad ways and the other children welcomed our girl with open arms, but peer pressure is still and always will be part of growing up.  If I can give her any small opportunities to feel special and pretty and the same as the other girls so that her differences are not always emphasized, well, I’m going to.

There are times as parents when we have to stand our ground and there are times when we owe it to our kids to be open to changing our minds.  This was one of those times.  After a quick consultation with my wonderful hubby who was in full agreement and a lovely dinner of  Greek food, we headed to the nearest Clare’s.  I now give you The Moon, complete with pierced ears.

“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. “~Josh Billings

Media Free in Today's World

March 28, 2014

When the Sun was born, the hubby and I were normal folks.  Though deeply emmersed in a spiritual practice, I was a news junky and when home if we were not listening to jazz, I had CNN going full blast.  There were the occiasional nights when we relaxed on the couch and watched Monster Trucks or some DIY show, but something was always on.  Not long after we had our bundle of joy, we recognized the need to protect him from the greater world.  As parents, we were already on the fringe compared to those living around us in our neighborhood (though we were surrounded with friends who parented in much the same way we did), so turning off the cable seemed like a normal progression.  There was no Dora, no Blue’s Clues.  Sometimes, even with our “fringe” friends, we felt a little odd or a little bit like we were depriving our son of something great.  Truthfully, we may have disconnected from the cable as much for our own well-being as for his.  We were addicted to the screen and knew we would all too easily find ways and excuses to sit him in front of it instead of interacting with him.  I am not going to say that never happened, because, well, it would be a lie.

As he grew and we entered the Waldorf world, it was a breathe of fresh air to find others who limited screen time for themselves and their little ones and that is a path that we have more or less stayed on these last 10 years.  Eventually, though we did not turn on the cable, we did succumb to Netflix – a necessary evil with the disappearance of the video store.  Now, we are embarking on a new stage in our life as a family.  As of April 11, Netflix will also be gone and we will be spending the summer without the fall back screen.  Not to say we are totally eliminating it.  We can still receive videos and we’ll be using the computer for news.  But, the streaming, the round the clock availability that makes it all too easy for someone like me to say “yes, you can watch ______” will be gone.

I know.  You will say I am weak.  I should be able to tell the kids “no” when they ask.  Then why even have it in our home?  I broke the news to the Sun, new age 12 and he was devastated.  The Moon doesn’t know and it may be quite unpleasant when she finds out.   But, I know as we move into the next stage as a family (I know, it’s torture, right?) this is the right decision.
Peace Out.

It's A Snow Day - Make It Count

January 7, 2014

Two nights ago it snowed.  It didn’t snow a lot – one to two inches – but it did snow.  We knew before going to bed on Sunday night that every school in town – public and private – would be closed on Monday.  Not only did it snow, but prior to the snow, rain set in.  And, as the rain set in, the temperatures dropped.  When we went to bed we were looking at temps around eight degrees and knew that the wind chill factor on Monday would be around -11.  What?  On Monday morning we kept all of the curtains closed to keep out the drafts in our 60 plus year old house.  The central ran on auxiliary and the space heater downstairs never shut off.  Not only was it C-O-L-D, but the Moon (a girl who could give Tigger a run for his money), laid on the  couch with a low-grade fever from the time she woke up until around 5PM.  So, here we were, Mom and kids, in a dark house for the entire day never once venturing outside to enjoy this gift of a sunny snow day.  Sigh.

But, each day is an opportunity to begin anew.  The Moon was still out of school today but the Sun reported bright and early for the Spring semester.   After school today, when we were all here once again, dinner was cooking on the stove, the Sun’s homework was completed and he said, “I think I’ll go sledding.”  As has happened far too frequently in my career as a Mother, I said “okay” and watched him for a few minutes out of the back window.  And then, I remembered that my promise to myself in this new year is to be fully engaged with my kids each and every day and with myself and with life and I quickly grabbed my coat and boots, yelled for the Moon to grab hers and we spend the next half hour dragging the sled up and down our little hill until our fingers were too cold to continue gripping the sled.

Make every moment count.

“In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” ~William Blake

Don't Judge Me

January 1, 2014

Don’t judge me.  You know it has to be bad when that’s how it begins.  Don’t judge me.  Let me start by saying that I made a delicious breakfast for both of the children – a three egg omelet and a bowl of cereal for the growing 12 year old and cereal alone for the seven year old.  I prepared a crock pot full of potato soup that simmered all day to provide a hot nourishing meal for the family.  The kitchen was cleaned – not once, but twice.   Oh!  I almost forgot.  I made a tasty snack for the kids during the afternoon.  So far, so good.  Right?

The Thursday before Christmas I was lying on the couch contemplating the trek upstairs to the bed and feeling like it was much too far to travel.  I thought that it was just the exhaustion of the week and doing too much to prepare for the holidays.  By Friday afternoon I knew I was in trouble and headed over to the walk-in clinic that promptly prescribed me with an antibiotic.  Here is where the first “don’t judge me” comes in (the dreaded use of anti-biotics). 

On Saturday I hosted my entire family for a full holiday meal and the festivities continued from there.  Next came Sunday and a four hour round-trip to Chattanooga for our annual trip to the North Pole via the Polar Express; days of hosting my husband’s family; the Sun’s twelfth birthday, the list goes on.  Yesterday I made returns and exchanges and began the slow packing away of the holiday decorations after church.

It was last night when my body began the protest.  Still fighting an infection, though it is not nearly as bad as it would have been without the antibiotics, I picked up Pei Wei for the family and we spent the evening eating and playing a marathon game of Monopoly.  Today I heard the protests even more.  Exhausted, trying to kick the last remnants of a cough and cold, I took a stand.  I would spend the day at my desk, on the couch or in the bed – or maybe in all three places.  I turned the children loose with the remote control and allowed them unlimited viewing – let’s be real as they are exhausted too!  This is where the second “don’t judge me” comes in.

Living in a home that until this Christmas only had one laptop, one television and one tablet – I can safely say that we typically have healthy boundaries when it comes to media use.  But today, I could no longer fight the good fight and gave in.  If anyone had visited us today they would have found mom and the kids vegged out on the couch watching back to back Disney movies and loving every minute of it.  So, moms (and dads), take a day, just one day, and rest and rejuvenate in whatever way suits you best.  Let the kids have some freedom. Don’t feel the need to entertain them.  Make sure they are safe and fed and diapers changed (if you have young ones) and put your feet up.  Go ahead.  I give you permission.  No judgement.  (written 12-30-13)

“The mark of a successful man (or woman) is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”  ~Author Unknown

I Wasn't Prepared for This

November 13, 2013


As a mom I feel I have  been prepared for most things that have come my way.  Premature baby.  Okay.  Emergency surgery for the Sun at age 2.5, stressful but we got it.  International adoption, multiple hospital stays for the Moon, school, last minute homework assignments.  Done, done and done.  Deep breathe.  First middle school dance.  Okay, got it, right?  Nooooooooooo.
I thought I had it.   We had two events last night.  Noah had his first ever dance while Arwyn had her big fall festival at school.  We all dressed appropriately.  Nathan and I dressed casually as we also were on the dance clean up crew.  Arwyn dressed in her Halloween kitty outfit and Noah, as you can see, was dressed to impress.  After the fall festival we dropped Noah at the dance and then hung out in the parking lot with another mom before heading over to Slow and Low for a shared plate of barbecue.  Of course, we didn’t leave the parking lot before peeking in at the dance (helicopter, anyone?)

We arrived in the parking lot at school (did I mention he’s in Catholic school) promptly at 9PM.  The dance was still going and we stood with the other parents watching our kiddos in their own environment.  I can’t help but think I wasn’t the only one staring wistfully and wondering how on earth we got to this point….parents of a infant one day and parents of a middle schooler the next.
I guess you are wondering what the heck the problem is.  This is all okay.  It was…and then…..the lights came on and he came and found us.  I casually said, “Did you have fun?”  “Yes.”  “Did you dance with anyone?”  “Yes.  We slow danced.”  GULP.  In that moment, I knew we had crossed a line.  “Who did you dance with?”  “I’ll tell you in the car.”  Don’t panic.  Take slow – deep – breathes.  Just – keep – breathing.  I turned to Nathan who did not hear the exchange.  “I’m not ready for this.”  It was all I could to to not burst into tears right then and there.

We found out in the car that three girls asked him to dance, which he happily obliged and a group asked him to dance with one of their friends who was too shy to ask.  By that time, the strobe lights and heat had nearly overwhelmed him and he had to sit that one out.  Luckily, they found another cute boy to dance with her.

Now that I am over the shock of having a kid going to a dance, I can look back at last night with joy that I have a smart, handsome kid that was confident enough to go alone to his first dance and is respected enough among his peers to have a gaggle of girls want to dance with him.  There are many moments in my day when the words “Mom fail” come to mind.  Last night was not one of those moments.  I looked over at Nathan as we were driving home, the car quiet with tired children and said, “We did okay.”

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.”  ~William D. Tammeus

Death and Parenting

October 27, 2013

I spent the better part of my teenage years as well as my twenties trying to separate myself from much of my upbringing and am spending my parenting years trying hard to reconnect with it.  It has been since becoming a parent that I have realized the values that were instilled in me and I try to pass much of it on to my children.  Though I am reminded of this regularly, it is in the way we handle chores around the homestead and how we present death that I am perhaps most aware.  Maybe I grew up differently than most or maybe it is just that I am very connected to my Southern roots and look at death through that lens.  I grew up in a small Tennessee town and was born in an even more rural area.  Our neighbors in the area where I was born have names like “Buttermilk” and “Happy” and there is, even today, nothing  but farmland as far as the eye can see.   Folks that grow up on a farm have a different view of the circle of life than those who do not.  And, though my parents moved us away from a life in the country at a young age, they did not leave behind their values and taught us how to celebrate death as well as life.

I guess I am reminded of this as we draw near Halloween, also known as Samhain, as well as All Saints Day.  Not only  that, but the 3rd anniversary of my Mother’s death was last week and each year at this time I am reminded of the day of her passing.  I’m also reminded of how we approach death in our family and in probably many other Southern families as a friend of mine recently lost the family dog after 14 blissful years.  She said the most difficult part was how to explain death to her elementary school age girls.  Like many of the folks in  my life, “she ain’t from around here.”  Sitting with her during a moment of grief reminds me that even in the United States, our cultural values vary and are what brings us together and what distinguishes us as groups.

I can remember going to funerals from a young age, starting with my Grandfather who was “laid out” in the living room in the late 1970′s.  And, like my parents, I took the Sun to his first funeral when he was around the age 3 and we’ve never looked back.  In fact, when we lost our beloved dog two years ago, he put on gloves and boots and assisted Nathan in digging the grave in the backyard before the memorial service.  It is perhaps one of my proudest memories of him and proudest moments as a parent (which I can assure you are usually wanting).

I think I am glad to be reminded of these things and am making a point of truly celebrating the Day of the Dead or All Saints Day.  We will be making preparations to honor on that day all that have gone on before us.  Perhaps you will, too.

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. “ ~John Muir


October 26, 2013

Well, after a frantic 30 minutes of packing, my guys are off to the fall Boy Scouts Camporee. I realized yesterday that we are woefully unprepared for the cold that has descended upon Middle Tennessee. I won’t say this is early as many are saying. Those that are saying that are largely “not from around here” and don’t realize that we have this early cold snap every few years. Based on the cool summer temps and the amount of rain that has fallen, I was predicting months ago a rough winter and my prediction was confirmed by the recent release of the Farmer’s Almanac. Even more reason to get us ready. Today as I clean the house and prepare for another week, I’ll be making my winter clothing lists and checking them twice. Judging by the inability to find any matching gloves in the Sun or the Moon’s drawers I am guessing I’ll be stocking up on all new cold weather gear this weekend. As I sit here and stare out the front window on what is surely going to soon be a barren landscape devoid of green or even bright fall colors I wonder if it is too early in the morning to add Bailey’s Irish Cream to my coffee. What do you think?


“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.” ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

Fidgeting and The Washington Post

July 10, 2014

So all of my friends in alternative education are floating this article around. I see these regularly, articles that allow folks to feel good about their choices in life. We all do it, so no judgment there.   The article was written to highlight the reasons that ADHD/ADD diagnoses are on the rise and only addresses only one of the possible reasons.  The Washington Post was basing their blog posting on the blog post from Timber Nook, a developmental outdoor camp located in New Hampshire.  Timber Nook is a great resource and has a wonderful blog that is a great reminder for folks to do what is natural for each and every one of us – going outdoors - and they summed up the issue in one succinct sentence.

So, what does Timber Nook say?  “The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.” True dat.

But, what are the other contributors and how do we as parents come into this equation?  Have you recently handed your toddler or preschooler your iphone or an ipad?  If so, you might want to read this article the dangers of putting technology into those small precious hands.    Or this article, listing 10 reasons to keep handheld devices out the hands of the 0-12 year old crowd.  Check out this article about technology decreasing our ability to focus.  I know, you can argue that your child has great focus.  She can sit for three hours while playing first person shooter games (don’t even get me started).

But, that’s not the same is it?  It’s not the same as sitting down with a new book and being so enthralled that you read it from start to finish (this is a regular occurrence in my home).  It’s not the same as handing them a model set and watching them build for two hours before coming up for air (yep, my son does this).  It’s not the same as sending them out into the backyard with nothing but a blanket, a bow and arrow and their imagination and telling them they cannot come in until dinner time (yes, we do this at our house).

I don’t mean to mislead you.  There is no perfection here.  My husband and I do things wrong – on a daily basis.  And, we have a television, a subscription to the Netflix DVD service and a handful of favorite movies that we watch again and again.  We have a Wii, but only have two types of games – Lego games and games that make you move like Wii Sports Resort.  There is no TV in our car and our daughter (age 8), instead of staring at a DS, listens to books on tape when we are in the car.  James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is among her favorites.  Our son is now 12 and we stepped a little more into the world of technology with him this year.  He is now playing Minecraft and Age of Empires on the computer and now has his own iPod which he most often uses to listen to music – preferably soundtracks from favorite movies – and occasionally plays games.

There is a part of me that truly regrets having introduced the television or any gaming components to our kids.  But, I can tell you, that they are healthy and balanced and find as much joy in a five-mile hike at a local park as they do sitting on the couch staring numbly at a screen.    I’ll leave you today with a couple of things.  The first is a blog post from Mollie Hemmingway over at Mommyish.  Mollie reminds us that sticking a screen in front of our kids takes away from teaching them the basics in life.  “But the fact is that we think our job as parents is to teach our children how to dine appropriately. That means that we teach them to converse with us, ask and answer questions, eat appropriately (as in, no, you should not stick the eggplant in your ear, thank you very much) and for the love of all that’s holy, learn how to drink with a straw.”

The second thing I’ll leave you with is an image of my 12 year old son training for the Appalachian Trail.
Noah Beaman Park

“And I leave the children the long, long days to be merry in in a thousand ways, and the Night, and the trail of the Milky Way to wonder at….”  ~Williston Fish, “A Last Will,” 1898

On Raising A Patriot

So, it seems I’m raising a patriot.  I’m a little a surprised, I don’t mind telling you, though honestly, it should not be a surprise.  As we grow older we often  revert to our roots and find comfort in the things that we were surrounded by in our youth – even if we rebelled against it.  For those who have known me for a while, you know that the dining room of my childhood home was filled with framed images of Ronald Reagan and a few of George H. Bush.  Despite my obvious liberal leanings in the eyes of my parents, I attended Young Republican rallies and was even selected to go with my hometown’s Republican leaders to attend a rally for Bush in the late 80′s in West Tennessee. As I matured and became even more liberal, the conservative ideals I had been exposed to seemed foreign and unfair in my youthful eyes.   Patriotism seemed like an old-fashioned idea to which my father and his generation clung to while the rest of the world moved on.   I believed that we should be embracing the larger ideas of tolerance and diversity which seemed to not leave room at the table for patriotism.

Now I am firmly planted in my youthful 40′s (the new 30′s, right?) and have taken on the sometimes daunting task of raising two children.  It seems I am constantly thinking of what I want to pass on to them.  What will impact their lives and make them happy and successful adults?  What are the values I (we) want instilled in them that will ground them as they grow older and seek to navigate this ever-changing world? Tolerance?  Yes.  Diversity?  Yes.  A strong faith in something larger them themselves (get ready for it,  G-O-D)?  Yes.  Patriotism?  Patriotism?  Yes.  I admit it took me a while to get back to this place.  It took years of being a news junky and being overly frustrated with my own government, years of world travel and seeing what my life could look like if I were not in the greatest nation on Earth, years of seeing oppression and violence including the recent kidnapping by extremists in Nigeria for be me to come full circle to patriotism.

fabric-flag2 It is true.  We have our faults.  We interfere in disputes that would be better left alone.  We have injustices of our own in the US and frequently falter and fall.  We are two-faced and lie and remove leaders of other countries that no longer serve us in favor of those that serve us for the moment.  We favor big corporations at the expense of the people and the environment.  We preach intolerance of lifestyle choice and still struggle with hate and racism.  These are our faults and we have many more.  And, unfortunately, those faults sell.
But, we are so much more.  We are much more tolerant than not.  We lend hands in crisis. We live in a nation where we can affect change and see it in the states that have adopted policies and laws of tolerance and love.  We feed the hungry and clean the rivers.  We flock to the aid of helpless children.  We support those with disabilities.  Though often misguided, we aid those outside of our borders who have no control over what happens to them. Unfortunately, these stories do not sell as well, so we are left to stew over our faults and the things that make us seem less than we are and negatively impact our patriotism, our love of our country.

DDayToday, the Sun was able to attend a ceremony at a local senior center recognizing those who fought in the Invasion of Normandy, also known as D-Day.  When I asked him if he wanted to be part of this he responded, “you bet I do.”  He did not have to think twice.  There were even three D-Day veterans in attendance who live in the home and though I am not entirely sure of their age, they must be at least 88 years old to have been part of that operation.  The men and women who fought or took care of wounded on that day in France did so because they were patriots.  They believed in something greater than themselves.  If you are unsure if patriotism still lives and has importance in our lives, look across the pond to today’s celebrations in France of their liberation from German occupation.

I am choked up thinking about my son and his patriotism which sits firmly alongside his own liberal tendencies.  You see, I believe there is room at the table for liberalism and patriotism.  One does not exclude the other.

 “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” -Khalil Gibran

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Live Every Day (3-11-13)

This morning I received a call from a friend and parent volunteer that is working with me on our big spring event. She decided to postpone a meeting we had schedule for Wednesday. Well...decided isn't really the best word. She told me about a dear friend who had passed beyond the veil this morning from cancer. Not only did he have cancer but so does his wife. The couple has two small children. Sigh.

I had spent most of the morning wrapped up in what has become the chaos of my job and to myself lamenting that I wanted to have lunch with my daughter but did not have time. Once that call came in I can tell you, friends, that time opened up for me. I sat down at that moment, typed an email to the rest of the team letting them know I was stepping out and headed to Arwyn's school for a special lunch. On the way the hubby called to say he was en route as well. How could I pass up the opportunity to spend a few precious moments with her (and him) when we get so little as it is?

If you are reading this, thank you Sara for making that call for me this morning. The perspective it gave me shifted my entire day.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Mom Win or Mom Fail - You Decide

After a night of fun at Urban Grub and over sleeping this morning, I realized there was no way to get everyone ready, lunches packed, kids to camp and me to my hair appointment in a timely manner.  Whats a mom to do?  Did I mention the two peach bellinis I had last night or the fact that I got home at 12:30 am?  Thank goodness there is a Subway on the way to camp.  Mom fail or mom of the year?   You  decide. Luckily the kids are voting me mom of the year and that is all that matters.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mommy Daughter Time

What's a mom to do who has a hubby working late and a son staying with a friend?  Add a little mommy guilt for being too focused on work and a clean house plus the need to have my nails done and you have mommy daughter date night. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thank Goodness I'm Not Alone

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Great Article - Less Than Perfect

If you are not signed up for the Huffington Post parenting articles, run, don't walk, to the nearest computer to do so. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kim John Payne

Recently Kim John Payne was a guest for a few days at the kid's school.  KJP shared so many things that I have said for years but it often takes someone like him to drive the point home.  He had a profound impact on so many of our families and I'm sharing his blog with you here!