Friday, April 30, 2010

Big fish

So I am doing a little experiment. I ordered groceries from Arganica, which has lots of local and organic foods - pretty much everything we eat. If this works out, I could be getting all of my food locally but no longer traipsing around town to make that happen. Pretty cool. I got the first order today, and while it was a pain (it was supposed to show up last night about 30 minutes away, but didn't arrive until after 10pm, which meant I couldn't get it until today) it was awesome! I opened the big wooden crate in the kitchen and the veggies and fruits were so enticing that the kids practically ate them as they helped me get everything in the fridge! Pumpkin had a bit of a cucumber, most of a pear, and tried to get into a lemon before I could stop him. Kale, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, apples, blueberries, strawberries...oh so good!

I also got some sausage, and fish. That was the one thing I didn't bargain for. I got a whole flounder. It didn't even occur to me that the fish would be anything but frozen fillets, so when I pulled out a big old whole fish, I was a little taken aback. Peanut was a little weirded out at first, but then alternated between being curious and a little grossed out by the fish. We showed it to one of her friends too, who was intrigued.

So I called Honey at work thinking maybe he had gutted a fish before. Nope. OK, so on to the Internet.
I found a tutorial for cutting and filleting flounder and when Honey came home from work I just followed the directions.
I made an awful mess, and it took a long time, but I got four nice pieces of fish out of that flounder!

Then I got a little scientific and started to enjoy checking out the organs. I always like biology and dissection...

I cooked it up, added some steamed broccoli and a salad of radicchio, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and orange peppers, and everyone gobbled it up! Success!

Doctor Doctor

We focus on preventative health in our family. We eat well, exercise, and seek out alternative care to maintain our health. We do use allopathic medicine when we need to, but we mainly rely on boosting our immunity through daily practices. Our kids are no different - their main experiences with health care are with chiropractors, osteopaths, and holistic physicians. While most kids play doctor by giving shots, checking blood pressure, and looking at eyes and ears, my little Peanut clearly has a different perception of visits to the doc.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring "Nest Baskets"

So I never wrote about our spring projects. Well, here you go.

As I have explored each holiday with new eyes, I have come to learn that most of them have some basis in seasons and pagan celebrations. I believe in seasons, and I believe in celebrating each season as it comes and goes, so we have been using that as our focus for the regular "American Commercialized Holidays". For the Passover/Easter season, Peanut and I did a little spring project that I think is worth sharing.

Spring is all about renewal. Baby birds, bunnies, new grass, flowers, eggs, all abound in Passover and Easter celebrations. We decided to make baskets for the birds with materials for them to use in their nests. We got the idea from a few places, one of which was the book "No Roses for Harry". In the book, Harry is given a sweater that he hates, and luckily a bird takes a string from it, flies away and uses it for his nest.
After reading the about Harry (again - this is a favorite book so it was not a new story!) we took some plastic clamshell containers from fruits and veggies (someday, our county will recycle these, but until them they are great for projects and for storing craft materials!) and cut the tops off.
Peanut then snipped up felt, ribbons, tulle, yarn, cotton, and paper, and stuffed our baskets full.
We chose lots of bright colors so we could see if a bird had used our materials for their nest.
We tied some yarn to the top of the basket and then tied them to a tree.
We've spent the past few weeks watching to see what has been taken and looking up at the trees to see if we see a purple ribbon or red felt in a nest.
Nothing from our Nest Baskets has been spied in a nest yet, but there have been some sightings of birds pulling out the cotton and ribbons! We hope to have some colorful homes in the trees around here soon!

Really cute!

Just photos of the kids sharing breakfasts... and just generally being cute!

All about who?

I'm realizing more and more the differences between moms and dads and their perspectives on life with kids. The other day, I was going over the plans for the weekend with Honey, which included two Earth Day events where my moms group (Holistic Moms Network) had booths. It was shaping up to be a busy weekend, with me doing set up and breakdown of the booths both days since my co leader was with her family due to a relatives illness. While it ended up that it was calmer than that by far, I was planning and getting my head around how best to spend time with my family, keep them all from melting down, and get our booths taken care of. It was all about everyone else. My mom came down to help out, so Saturday was a breeze. Honey and I could set up sans kids, he would go back home to check on them and I'd man the booth until the first volunteer arrived. Then I'd go back for clean up later that day, again leaving the kids with mom. My mom planned on leaving Sunday morning, so it was going to be a little more complicated that day. While talking through this with Honey, I posed the idea of him bringing the kids Sunday to enjoy the event while I set up/cleaned up. His look said it all. No thanks. After a bit more discussion about the event - it was for Earth Day and there would be kids activities to do, he said "I don't care about Earth Day!". Well, yeah. But these are our kids, and it would be fun for them, and I have to go anyway, and wait a second... when did it become all about him?

An a-ha moment. I paused, and it sunk in. He thinks, "What do I like, what am I interested in doing?" then he thinks, "I bet the kids would like that too." and that's how it goes. I think, "What would the kids like? What would be great for them to experience? Where can they learn new ideas and meet interesting people?" I then consider if I will enjoy it too, and even if I won't really like it, if it is of benefit to them, I'll do it. So I likened it to reading a book for the 800th time - you are bored and really don't like doing it, but your child is totally into it so you read it again. Earth Day whatever - there's a petting zoo and some cool planting projects - we're going. It is NOT all about you. Honestly, I can't remember the last time it was all about me, and frankly it annoyed the heck out of me that he even thinks that way. It is a window into the inner workings of men and dads though, and I think it is important. In my experience, moms tend to put kids first to their own detriment, so while it is not going to be all about me anytime soon, I think I can continue to learn something from Honey about keeping myself a little higher on the list.

Turns out we only had to set up Saturday and clean up Sunday, so in the end, it was a non-issue. I wish we had spent more time at the Sunday event - it was really nicely done and there were a lot of kid activities. Alas, our day was a little full, Peanut had no nap, and all she wanted to do was look at the animals in the petting zoo anyway, so maybe it was good we only spent a short time before we had to break down the booth...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Silver and gold

I woke up early this morning to nurse my little guy and then although he went back down to sleep with ease, I was up with the wheels spinning. I've got a bunch of projects going on and my head is in a little bit of a tizzy, but that's not all. I'm thinking a lot about my childhood, school and friend experiences, and upbringing and how it relates to my values in parenting.

I've realized that as I watch Peanut navigate the social life of an almost 3 year old, the things that pain me are reminders of friendships past. Lately, she has been really clingy and very withdrawn when there is a new element or a change to her regular social routines. We had some new kids at playgroup and it was as though she couldn't speak. The switch of homes for our preschool coop was harder these last two times as well - she's tending to hang back in circle and be really quiet. She's always a quiet kid in groups - she likes to watch and wait before she makes a move, she's the last to emerge from ballet every week, and the last to get her hand stamped because she just doesn't crowd up front at all. That part is not new, but the really shy, needy girl when she's with her best most familiar friends is a new thing. I know she needs reassurance in these times, and I'd give it to her if I could. She seems to pick times to really need me when Pumpkin is latched it has been tough.

All this drama so early makes me think about the later drama to come and how I want to handle it. I can remember in late elementary school, my best friend left playing with me while I was at her house to take a phone call from another girl that I was not friendly with at all. I was so upset and slighted that I left her house and went back to mine. I can't really imagine I had any idea of what I was feeling, and I know at the time I certainly couldn't articulate it. I think my whole life I've been sort of a serial monogamist with girlfriends (and boyfriends - but that's a whole other story!) and I learned pretty late how to maintain solid deep friendships with several of people at the same time. Honestly, I still can't say that this is a strong point for me. I see this need for Peanut to have one on one relationships without interference, and I wonder how to help her navigate them better than I do.

I think about my best friends through the years, and realize that many times when something has "gone wrong" I've just let the friendship go. I don't know that I had the tools to work things out, or if I did but it just seemed too hard. I do know that I am really good at compartmentalizing my life and my head, and I have an extraordinary ability to just shut the door on difficult issues, locking them up and swallowing the key. I do know there have been times that I decided the loss of a friendship was needed for me to grow, but not that often. I wondered this morning at 4am when all kinds of random pieces of life swirl around in my head whether I've shut people out on purpose after my dad died, or maybe I started doing it as early as elementary school, after that first hurt. I had to learn to ask for help from my closest friends after my divorce and that was excruciating. I wondered if I just learned early to be so independent that I never expressed a need for a friendship to continue or grow, or if sometimes I just think women friendships are hard to maintain because we are always over analyzing everything. I also wonder if this is just my own perception and all of us feel like this...

Anyway, it's Peanut that I worry about - otherwise I'm thinking all this stuff might take a heck of lot longer for me to consider unearthing. I'm hopeful that by diving into my past and present social skills and experiences, I can help figure out how to best support my little one in her path. Like every mom, I want to shield her from hurt, but I know she will have to learn by experience. I want to validate her hurts and happiness, give her the words and ideas to make decisions about how to negotiate her relationships. I want it to be easier for her to share with her friends, work things out with them, and ask them to help her when she needs it. I want her to love making new friends and keeping the old - like that old girl scout song "one is silver and the other gold."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Continuing to let go

What is it about being a stay at home mom that is so stressful? Today, I was ready for a break before 8am, and my patience was wearing WAY thin by noon. There is really nothing I HAVE to do in a day aside from keeping kids safe and fed, so I can only assume that the stressful part is my own doing. Although I have lowered my standards for what gets done in a day and what kind of mess I am willing to deal with, either the standards still need to get lowered or I need to put my kids to work - or maybe both.

Having only fairly recently been working in a scheduled world with deadlines and responsibilities and paperwork, the switch to full time parenthood has been really daunting. On one hand, we could hang out all day and watch TV. On the other hand, we could explore and do anything we want! I think the hard part is that the parameters are not handed to you as a mom. When you go to work at a job, the rules are set, the expectations are already laid out, there's usually a position description somewhere that spells it all out for you. As a parent, you have to figure it all out yourself. So after some trial and error, you might learn out that unless the kids eat lunch by 11:30, you are in for some serious tantrums the rest of the day. Or if you don't eat any protein for breakfast, you are an irritable weepy mess. Or if nap time goes more than 2 hours, going to bed at a reasonable hour is a pipe dream. The time spent in deciding what your expectations are of your kids and of each other are as well as what the rules are that help you meet those expectations is what makes it a 24/7 gig. With any other job, at the end of the day you can just walk away, which is clearly the biggest difference.

The crazy thing about me being worked up about all this is that we are "slow parenting". We don't have tons of scheduled activities, I am totally unconcerned with "school readiness", we like to go with the flow a bit, and I really like to have at least one day a week that we don't go anywhere at all. I do have pretty high expectations though - I expect that we will eat a home cooked meal as a family almost every night. I expect that we will be social at least a little with friends and other kids. I expect that my kids will be able to run errands with me without melting down, and perhaps actually enjoying themselves. I expect that we will all have clean clothes to wear, unspoiled food to eat, and relatively clean floors to play on. I do like to have a consistent daily routine awake at the same general time, naps around the same time, meals around the same time... So maybe I am not really remotely go with the flow. Maybe I'm just not into structured class activities for the kids, but I am all for structured days. Maybe if I can let some (more) of that go, the days where it seems like we have no plan will get easier...