Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why?

Remember when I said I’m Not supermom? Well today I got in a screaming match with my 4 year old. And sadly it happens way more then I care to admit. As usual today’s issue was over something trivial and the only reason I even remember what it was is because no one wants to scream at their kid, and when you do you’re inclined to remember why.

After the, as much as I hate to say it let’s be honest here, after the fight I went out with a friend, got some coffee, bought some gorgeous jewelry (on sale!!) and headed home, shortly to be struck down by a horrible migraine. (I think it was sticker shock on the non-sale items)  Having a migraine gave me plenty of time to settle, think, and watch a calming thought provoking movie.

Which gave me two epiphanies. One is completely unimportant right now, but the other was:

WHY? Every time Blu and I have a battle of the wills it’s over something stupid, and trivial. Every time. We get into it over behavior at the store, clothes (rarely), and things like schedules, or doing “unacceptable” things.  But I realized, why? I don’t WANT him to be like other kids, I don’t want to force him into the same box as everyone else. Only I decide what is acceptable behavior for him. If he acts a certain way in the store (which is usually quiet, out of peoples way, and careful not to break things, but is high energy) WHO cares!?!?!? Why does it matter if people give me the stink eye over my kid’s behavior? Frankly it’s none of their business! Sure he has to learn how to act in public, but for one thing he’s 4, and for another he’s not hurting anyone or anything. (except maybe himself)

I want him to grow up to be something amazing, whether that be an artist or musician, or just a lawyer who thinks outside the box (hopefully for freedom, not for stupidity.) I want him to grow up and be different. If I think of the people who I’d like him to be like I don’t get the impression that their parents where raising them to fit in. So exactly why am I fighting with my child over it? Sure I’m already more relaxed and a lot different than most parents, why not go full fledged, be us and be happy?

Recently I had a chat with my husband about my local yarn store, about how I feel like they talk about Blu’s behavior (and therefore my parenting) after I leave. But you know what? I spend a lot of money there, and as long as they are being nice to my face, I don’t care what they think about me or say after I leave. 

And now I resolve to stop. I’m going to stop the fighting. I’m going to stop trying to cram him into that box. I’m going to be happy being us. This doesn’t mean he can act like a maniac, or getaway with anything he wants. But it means that when some stranger is giving me the stink eye I’m going to hold my head high and know I’m raising someone special. In 30 years when he’s doing something amazing, and I can look at myself in the mirror, and say “Yeah, I raised that fella.”

And now, I’d love to hear your confessions in the comments. Have you fought with your child? Have you been the parent who was giving the stink eye? Or even better, tell me a time when you were getting the stink eye. Come one folks, tell me I’m not alone in this one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What We’ve Been Reading

I know a lot of blogs do this, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I want a nice easy reference to some of our favorite books, in a method that doesn’t send me scrambling through stacks of index cards or flipping through notebooks.  I don’t intend to do it on any regular schedule, but just when I notice there are some obvious favorites.

Please note I AM an Amazon Affiliate, and will get a tiny sum of money if you purchase by following these links, but let me assure you that the money is just going to buy more books that you’ll probably see here one day. It’s a vicious bibliophile circle.  I get literally pennies on the dollar, so you’re not supplying me with a mansion or anything. :)

Here’s the books Blu has been devouring lately:

When a Good Knight encounters 3 dragons that need help at bedtime, what is he to do but read to them, sing to them, and get them water?

A very funny way to capture an elephant. Using 3 cakes, 2 raisins, a telescope and a pair of tweezers.

What happens when the Town of Left, and the Town of Right has someone fall on the dividing line, and the only ammunition to be had is marshmallows? This story has a cute basic storyline for younger kids, and a slightly older bunch will enjoy the funny comments and signs spread throughout.

A very simple story but childlike jokes are spread throughout.

A classic by Roald Dahl, George has a horrible, mean, cranky Grandma and decides to make a medicine that will do something, anything, crazy to her. And some crazy stuff DOES happen. You may need to have a talk about the dangers of mixing chemicals though, as George walks through his house putting EVERYTHING into a big pot.

Every Monday Professor Bumble takes his fish swimming in the lake, but this time something happens!

Blu has been interested in rhyming words, but has a hard time getting it. When I saw this book I HAD to try it. Each page has two flaps to lift turning one picture and word into a rhyming item. Lift the flaps on hat to change the H to a C, and the hat to a cat. Superb!

It’s not a book but, I wanted to share this. After seeing a friend’s son with one I thought this would be the perfect chewy for Blu, and it is! We have two, and will be ordering more to have them all over the house where he needs one.

 

And for the Grownups, I recently devoured this:

A true murder, retold with up to date info. It was AMAZING.  I couldn’t put it down.

And I can’t put down these two fun books:

and

If you’ve read any of these books I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Please share book suggestions as well!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I’m not Supermom

With my Abnormal Series, I got a lot of comments. (Thanks for those by the way) all of them said supportive things, but some had a self-loathing bent behind it. “I’m way to tired to do that stuff.” “I’m to busy to make our own bread.” etc etc. So I wanted to say:

I’m NOT supermom!

In fact it took me so long to write this post as reply because I had food poisoning then was completely lazy long after it was medically necessary. Sure I bake bread, sometimes, this year I canned our own pickles, I make awesome cupcakes (sorry but I just can’t be humble on that one) and I do a lot of other stuff, homeschooling, making crafts, cloth diapered Blu, made all of our own baby food, etc etc. But you know what, I’m exhausted most of the time. My biggest weakness is coffee, and without it I probably couldn’t pull through most days.

And I don’t do everything! Sometimes Blu’s hair washing bath gets put off so long he’s getting dreadlocks. Our home is a disaster area. My husband vacuums, and does the dishes. I’m NOT supermom. I let a LOT of things slide. Some times I need some peace and quiet so badly that I realize I spent all day saying “in a minute” or “maybe later” and now it’s bedtime.

When I do have time to actually do non-mom things, I’m far more likely to read a book then to organize my closet (which REALLY needs it.)

My theory is to do the things I care about most, and try to overlook the ones I don’t. Surely you’ve heard the “it won’t matter a hundred years from” quote, about the house not mattering, the possessions not mattering, but “I was important in the life of a child.” And I live by that, maybe to much, who knows.

But I know one thing, I’m not supermom. I don’t think anyone is.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Abnormal Part 3

 

So I’ve told you my kid is odd, we eat healthy, and don’t watch watch TV, but if you need more reasons to know we’re abnormal then here’s a few more.

When Nick and I had been married around a year, maybe a bit less, I realized I knew nothing about raising kids. I had barely ever changed a diaper. Being the natural learner that I am I began to research, and I read a LOT.  Until then I never knew about attached parenting, though I did now about cloth diapers and intend to use them, even if that meant making them myself. At that point I already used cloth maxi pads (maybe TMI, but it’s true) and I figured if I could make those then a cloth diaper wouldn’t be to hard. I knew I’d breastfeed.  I was just in it for the environment. But when I learned about the chemicals in disposables, the creepy stuff in formula, and the expense I knew I’d use no other route. Then I learned all about Attached Parenting and it made a LOT of sense, stating things I already considered but had never seen anyone do. I’d been saying for years I’d have a “natural birth” meaning unmedicated but the term has sadly come to mean vaginal delivery. Women had been doing it for thousands of years, and surely more women bit a washcloth over the years than had an epidural.

So by the time Blu was born we knew we’d cloth diaper, co-sleep, wear him instead of using a stroller, breastfeed, and more.  I called a midwife as soon as I got a positive test (though I later switched to a different midwife before I ever had even my first appointment.)  Blu was born after 2 weeks of labor, a few hours of pushing (he had a very large head, and did NOT want the water birth I was trying for.) It was completely unmedicated, and no washcloth biting was necessary.

Honestly, it was a good thing we already planned to co-sleep and baby wear, because we would have lost our minds trying to adjust to Blu otherwise. Even as  newborn he never slept, and couldn’t be more than inches away from us.  If we had tried to have him in a crib down the hall we could have gone insane from sleep deprivation. I wore Blu pretty constantly, and even nursing him in the sling while grocery shopping.  I swear that boy was always attached, and I mean literally, he was a nursing champ!

Attached Parenting did amazing things for us. Adjusting to Blu was enough, without trying to pump and give him a bottle, or trying to have him in a stroller. I can’t imagine grocery shopping any other way. The funny thing was that Blu was so anxious, even as a baby, that he’d barely cry in public. When I couldn’t hear him cry another minute without losing it I’d take him to the store. If he hadn’t napped in four days and I couldn’t take another minute I’d walk the store nursing him in the sling until he took a good nap.

We could not have survived without it, and I mean that.

Nowadays Blu usually goes to sleep in his own bed. Then during the night usually he comes in our bed, sometimes I sleep in his bed, and rarely he sleeps through the night. We’re in a queen size, and he’s in a twin, and it’s not working out so well. Our plan is to get us a king size, and give him our queen. Then I can sleep with him comfortably, or he can sleep with us and all of us be comfy. Right now he sleeps sideways, and since he weighs nearly 1/2 of me he usually forces me out of bed. Also him having a big bed will open up options for us if we have more kids for naptime and bedtime. A baby and I can still sleep with him if everyone and the bed is carefully placed, and that will make for good naptimes, or bedtimes.

With the AP lifestyle comes discipline without spanking. Because spanking and discipline do in fact mean two different things. I remember once when Blu was quite young and I was at my wits end I smacked his hand, he immediately smacked mine back. Children have no idea what spanking and physical punishment is for. Honestly as a grown up I don’t understand it myself.  We do time-out, and our system does NOT use a minute per year of age like many people. We’ve had time outs last for hours.

When sent to time out Blu first screams, rants, and used to even throw furniture. The nearest table used to go flying every time I put him in time out. Now we do time out on the stairs, there’s nothing there he can throw.  Our time outs last as long as Blu makes them last. First he has to settle down, stop screaming, stop flailing himself about, then he has to be ready to do whatever the consequence is. He has to be ready to hug and say he’s sorry, or to clean up a mess, or to share. And he sits there until he says that time has come. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes he takes over half a hour to calm down, then another half an hour to be ready to say he’s sorry.

We also sometimes do “Time In,” which is snuggle time instead. If he is acting out because he is tired, or not getting enough of our attention (but being an attention hog doesn’t count) then we snuggle instead. I really and truly try to step in before it gets to this. If I see it coming then I try to create a snuggly moment before it continues on it’s course.

some reading

I always knew I’d homeschool my kids, and convinced my husband the same. so now we “unschool.” Although I’m more inclined to call it something else unschool in a term you may know already. Essentially we don’t do school at home, we don’t use textbooks, we don’t have plans and curriculums, but a workbook is okay if he requests it.  Blu isn’t officially in school yet, but works on a kindergarten level. We are not “radical unschoolers” people who usually (but not always) go as far as having no bedtimes, no limits on junk food, etc. Not because I necessarily think something is wrong with that lifestyle, but because I know it’s not going to work with Blu. Blu would never ever go to bed if it was up to him. He’d never say “Oh I’m sleepy it’s bedtime,” because he has sleep issues, and night anxiety. As his parent it’s my job to make sure he gets to sleep, getting past his issues, and being his best the next day. If your kid can set their own bedtime then by all means, go for it. I also don’t believe that kids will learn everything they need to know without help. Blu couldn’t learn to speak without help. I’ve seen kids in his special needs class who can’t move their mouth or drink water without help. Sure some kids can, some kids can teach themselves to read, write, do math, eat healthy, and more. My kid can’t. In fact even with help he seems to be able to remember only 5 letters of the alphabet at a time. Each time he learns a new one he seems to forget one he knew already. Learning disabilities are real, they happen, though they may be over diagnosed, and I’m not going to let Blu slip through the cracks while I wait for him to figure it out on his own.

  1. So how do we learn? We read a lot, Blu plays, we do experiments. When Blu has a question we try to figure it out, we may read, or watch a video online, or go somewhere and see. We once watched a live feed of baby Bald Eagles and Blu learned exactly how a baby eagle shoots his poop out of the nest. Which is amazing, if you’ve never seen it you should. Right now Blu is VERY into knights, and so we are reading tons of books about knights. Some silly, some rhyming, some true. Blu learned about jousting from “Donkey X,” on family movie day, and then tried it out by using a toy sword and a bike. He’s learning the parts of a castle, the names of various medieval weapons, the pieces of armor, and even different periods of history based on toy knights clothes.

Science Experiment

We do math using a purchased curriculum. This year it’s Saxon Math for Kindergarten, my intention being to take two years to do the program. I only ask him to do one lesson a week, and he decides when we do it. He usually waits until the last minute, then he says he loved it and can’t wait to do it again. Usually I call it doing his math, which I think may overwhelm him (“Oh school!?!?”) so I’m thinking of just calling it his purple book. Or something similar.  I also bought a “curriculum” for letters, phonics, spelling, and writing, but they are all taught mostly through play and it’s very easy going. Each level builds on the last level, and it’s all based on a series of characters for each letter. And we buy science kits or do experiments from books. (In the picture above we’re working on a color changing volcano.)

I do some “strewing” which is placing items where he will see them and do it. It works pretty well, but I don’t do it often. For example one day I put a dry erase letters workbook, a dry erase marker, and a wiping cloth on the table near where he eats. As soon as he finished lunch he announced “I’ll just do this for awhile” and he spent about 10-15 minutes practicing his letters.

Blu manages to teach himself more just by being interested than I do by trying to teach him. Last year he was interested in knights so I put together a unit study (an easy going pre-school one, I wasn’t working the boy to death,) and he wouldn’t do anything. He barely learned anything, if he actually did learn anything at all. This year he got interested in knights so I bought him one book, and he used it a lot, so I got him some library books, then eventually knights figures.  Blu learned fish need fins to swim by watching our fish. He learned a little about moth metamorphosis by keeping a caterpillar. (Sometime I intend to do again in more detail one day.) I just give him time to learn, to be, to watch.

We just take it slow, take it as it comes, and take it one day at a time, and I think we’ll be just fine. As always I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me about your birth stories, homeschool, or even disagree with me in the comments below.

And while I could talk about how I dress funny, or do a LARP, I think I’ll conclude the Abnormal series, I have a whole blog about being weird, and time to tell you about all of it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Abnormal Part 2

So in Part 1 I talked about Blu and his issues, (which just FYI we have scheduled his ADHD, SPD, etc etc Pediatrician visit for next week) today I’m going to talk about food, lifestyle, and maybe Attached Parenting, if the post isn’t to long by then. Let me say in advance, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. I’ve deleted multiple paragraphs because I thought they sounded judgmental, or just didn’t blend together well.  I’m finding that it’s hard to describe our life without sounding as though I disagree with others. To be frank, your life is yours, and I don’t care a bit what you do. I care about what I do for my family, and for me.

We live in a townhouse, easily a “pre-fab box development” in the suburbs. Now it just so happened then when we bought our house it turned out to be quite the uppity area. We had no idea, we had just looked at over a 100 houses and decided to finally put in an offer on the next one that had the features we wanted (a separate space for an art studio, and 3 bedrooms.) We didn’t notice it much until Blu was born, and then we discovered the other Moms, and things like bragging about buying a single KIDS outfit for $80 because the amazing sale! I kid you not, we once went to a play group to discover the family had a movie theater in the basement. One local moms club seemed to have a running thing of buying a new outfit and toy for each meeting. Anytime a snack was required pre-packed items showed up by the barrel full, although some people did in fact bring prepackaged fruit or veggie trays.  We tried multiple groups and had some issues being accepted. I’ve tried to join the local Holistic Moms group, but it seems to be very exclusive.

Blu played Tee-Ball this year.  Each day a different mom brought snack. EVERY time the other moms brought individual packs of  cookies or such. Teddy Grahams appeared a few times, as did a variety of Chips Ahoy. Oh the comments I got when on my turn I made vegan cupcakes, decorated to look like baseballs, and entirely homemade. One day I said “I’m going to sign up for snack just to bring veggies!” I thought the other kids might barf, Blu cheered and gave me a high-five!

Why is all of that an issue? Well we don’t watch much TV, we live on a tight budget, we eat healthy foods, and apparently live a very abnormal life. At least by the standards of most locals.

On Food:

We don’t eat high fructose corn syrup, excessive preservatives, sugar where it need not be, or weird chemicals. Blu and I don’t eat dairy, and I don’t eat meat (including not eat fish, seafood, etc.) Nick doesn’t eat a lot of meat, most of our meals are vegetarian, but he’s known to heat up a few chicken strips or grill something. I make almost everything we eat, for two reasons, health and price. When there is HFCS in things as simple as bread, I’d rather take the time to let my mixer whip up some dough. Plus it’s expensive to live here, and I can’t afford that prepackaged junk!

Blu loves his veggies and fruits. His favorite food is salad, though it may be tied with bread and vegan butter. He’s also not spoiled. Once Blu had a real dollar and decided to very best thing in the world to buy would be his own personal cantaloupe.

On TV:

Blu watches an hour of TV a day if he’s lucky. Occasionally on weekends we will watch a family movie, sometimes he gets the rare treat of watching a movie at bedtime, and usually in the afternoon he gets some time to decompress and watch tv while he works out with Nick. Blu has no idea what Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Diego, or any other mainstream show is. In fact he was calling some Diego stuff he got as a gift “Mondo” and we had quite the talk in the grocery store about who the Sesame Street characters on the juice were. He knows Cars characters, and some of the Toy Story people, and he LOVES Busy Town. We also scrounged up old episodes of the Berenstain Bears show, because those are his favorite books.  The only reason Blu gets TV in the afternoon is because it’s tough being him, and he needs the down time.  I sometimes go days on end without any TV at all. Often Nick and I watch TV at bedtime, shows we like to watch together, but I don’t miss it if we don’t. I probably wouldn’t care if we just didn’t have a TV at all, or had just a small one for the occasional movie.

I often wonder how it got to a point that eating real food is strange, and reading instead of TV is abnormal.

Have I mentioned that on top of everything else we are attached parents? Or that we unschool? Stay tuned for Part 3, where I discuss what this means for us. I talk about the size of our beds, how we learn, not spanking (and what we do instead) and maybe even Blu’s birth center unmedicated birth!

In the meantime I’d love your input on today’s thoughts. Have you ever had a problem fitting in with a group of moms? I hear it’s nearly an epidemic!