Sunday, August 29, 2010

Help Me Be the Person My Daughter Thinks I Am

At the end of today, I'm pooped.  It's been a busy week.  Last week, we started some scheduled homeschooling time and had harvesting to do in the garden.  After playing at church early this morning, making Sunday lunch, freezing green beans and corn, and cleaning up that unholy mess, I let my parenting go on auto-pilot this evening.  We let CB watch a movie and I vegged out online for a while and finished a fiction book. Little H just hung out with me for most of the day, blessing me with his sweetness.

I got up early this morning to get ready to go to church.  As I finished getting dressed and putting on some dressy shoes, CB walked in and stared at my shoes.  Right away she asked me, "Why are you wearing those shoes?"  (Now, it must be noted that CB is very intrigued by high heels, jewelry, perfume, and all things accessory.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure how such a fancy girl came to be in this family.)  I explained that I was going to church while she and H stayed home with Dad.

She turned and ran into her room, inspired to start the day with style.  Out she came, in a tank top (her "bra"), skirt, high heels, and necklace.  She asked me to give her the play earrings and to spray her with some perfume.  She was looking pretty good for 7:00 a.m on a Sunday, five minutes out of bed.

On our way up the stairs, CB asked me: "Mom, do you know why I got so dressed up? Because I want to be just like you."  Oh boy...

I've seen the shirts and bumper stickers that say Help Me Be the Person My Dog Thinks I Am.   My mantra is similar.  I've got a tall order to live up to each day.  And apparently, she wants me to do it in heels. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Perfect Day

Last spring, a few weeks into being a two-child parent, I made a list.  I'm really big on making lists to feel like I have some semblance of control over my day, or really over anything at all.  After several days of being frazzled and spinning, spinning, spinning, I got up early in the morning to have a moment to myself.  Sitting at the kitchen table with pen and paper, I boldly wrote the title of my list: "Ingredients for a Satisfying Day."  It didn't take long to think of the things that I wanted to include in my daily experience.  Here is the list: special time with CB, a walk, time in the garden, one load of laundry, time at the piano, and healthy, yummy home-cooked meals.  After starting this blog, I added writing to the list.  Since then, I have at least known what I was aiming for each day as CB, H, and I have been learning to navigate these days together. 

This past weekend, I read Steady Days by the blogger Steady Mom.  It's a book about making motherhood an intentional profession, a career that can be approached with the same sorts of tools and attitudes that one would integrate into regular worklife.  I found myself very inspired to really get going on some of the organizational inklings that I've had over the past few months.  I had developed a daily flow for us but hadn't managed to get the darn thing printed out yet.  We've been using weekly meal plans for ages, but they hadn't beem integrated into our family calendar.  In addition to just regular organization for figuring out what the heck is going on (which is hard enough to for my brain to focus on amidst baby noises and a stream of incessant narration of a three year old), I am challenged to come up with a coherent plan for Clara's homeschool world.

So, I got it all pulled together - the daily/weekly plan for the kids and for me, Clara's Montessori work and B4FIAR time, and our meal plan. Wrote down the recipe.  Mixed it together.  Printed it out.  Hell, yeah.

All of which brings us to today and this post.  If the universe is trying to reward me for all of my intention setting and planning, it's working.

We had a fantastic day today.  It started with a fruitful harvest in the garden, where I again was amazed at the way that the garden always provides for our CSA deliveries.  Then I spent an hour with CB, while H slept, working on some Montessori activities: using the dropper, practicing C,D,P,T, working on the color tablets, and practicing "May I please?" and "Thank You" with a little game.  It was so energizing for me.  Next, it was on to the garden to pick raspberries to make fruit & yogurt popsicles. We went on to make broccoli and spinach quiche.  We hung some laundry out on the line, after modifying the clothesline to include a low line for CB to hang her own clothes up.  Lunch with Grandpa and Dad followed by quiet time, when I got to go through a pile of paperwork that had begun to take on a life of its own.  Clara requested time on the swingset, followed by a very HOT walk/bike ride to the little general store down the road.  Next, yes, there is a next, we went to the pool and ate dinner at the playground with my sis-in-law and her little girl. Wow.

It's great to live it and then to write it. One of the true blessings of the day comes in the reflection and with the flood of gratitude it brings.

I actually feel a wave of good ol' Lutheran guilt after writing all of that out.  It seems almost too good to have enjoyed a day like today.  I'll revel in it anyway.  I think that joy and gratitude are the point, right?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Sunday Reflection

I love when my internal life coincides with an outside event in a way that is reaffirming or inspiring.  Some people call it serendipity, some people call it the Spirit.  I just call it awesome.  I heard words of inspiration today during today's message at church.  To paraphrase: "Helping others free themselves from the things that oppress them is our work as Christians.  When we help lift the burdens of others, we find that we have been equally or more healed of the the particular burdens that oppress us."

One beauty I've found in being headquartered at home much of the time is the ability to look around to see who might need some of what I've got.  I'm not spinning quite as much, which really does wonders for the possibility of being connected with others.  Not that I'm free of spinning, it's just not quite as frequent.  I feel like I can listen a little better and have felt inspired to find ways that I can be a part of lifting the burden.

The pastor's reflection really is true. Looking farther outward and listening more closely to find ways that I can be a piece of the healing puzzle (without trying to figure out how it might be a reflection on myself), has really helped lift my burden.  I am spending less time investing in icky feelings of judgment and self-absorption.  It's liberating.

I want to be a mom that can model that behavior for my kids.  If I want to take the moral and character development part of my parenting job seriously, I better get a head start.

Can I keep it going?  Let's hope so.  I'll look forward to a little divine intervention too :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Goodbye to School, Hello to Time

CB only has two more days left at her Montessori school. It will be a sad week for us as a family as she leaves her friends and teachers. Last month, after we finally made the decision to have CB stay home with me this fall to do Montessori-style homeschooling, I was really in a turmoil of guilt, excitement, and possibility.  I was feeling so guilty about taking her out of such a wonderful school and feeling uncertain that she would receive the same great experience with me at home.  After being inspired by reading some great online homeschooling blogs (Simple Homeschool, Steady Mom, FIMBY), reading some Montessori homeschooling books, and feeling energized by my recent at-home experience with my kids, I think that I have replaced most of the guilt with excitement and gratitude for the opportunity.  

At this time in our family life, I feel blessed by the option to give CB and H time: my time, time to work at their own pace, time to spend together, time to be at home, time to be loved.  When I consider what I truly value in my own life, time rises to the top of the list.  I am grateful to be able to share that precious gift with my kids.

I ordered the guidebook for Before Five in a Row. B4FIAR is a pre-school homeschooling curriculum based on using young children's literature as a touchstone. The premise is that you read a selected book for a week, five days in a row. The repetition of the story allows the parent and child to explore different topics or themes in the book. There are suggested activities that go along with the selected book directed at exploration in math, science, culture, and language. 

I can't wait for the guidebook to arrive and to continue making our Montessori work materials.  I have much reading to do and many things to plan.  A trip to Michael's is in the works (yeah, with my mom!) and a few evenings of some light woodworking and painting. 

This experience is going to require much presence from me in our daily lives.  I am excited by the challenge of it all.  There's nothing like setting something bold and fabulous in motion to make one rise to the occasion.  I think I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

God's Hands

A snippet of a conversation that I had with CB a few days ago as we watched my dad leave to go to a funeral wake for his friend:

CB: "Mom, where's Grandpa going?"

Me: "He's going to see a friend of his who died.  After people die, sometimes people visit the body to say good-bye, even though they aren't in the body anymore."

CB: "If his friend isn't in his body anymore, where is he?"

Me: "Well, he's in heaven with God.  He's with other people who have already died and they are all with God."

CB: (Thinking) "....Well, how are God's hands big enough to carry him?"

Me: "God is very big."

CB: "Is God as big as this?" (Stretches her arms as wide as she can.)

Me: "Even bigger.  More like as big as the sky."

CB: "Oh, like the Genie in Aladdin!"

Me: "Yeah, something like that."

CB: "Mom, when will I die?"

Me: (OMG!) "...We don't really know when we'll die but maybe when you are an old lady."

CB: "But if I die, who will be your kid?"

Me: "Even when we die, you and Henry will always be my kids."

(Big hug.)

These conversations about death have become somewhat of a staple in my interactions with CB in the past months.   Often, when presented with the mortality of a creature, she will bring up death.  I'm amazed at how often she distills a nugget of something meaningful or beautiful from these talks.  Her mind is so incisive and her words are sweetly honest. 

I am blessed with her reflections.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Morning in a Fort

"Hey Mom, let's build a fort!"

These are the six words that directed the activities of the morning.  Gathering blankets and pillows, moving furniture, and building walls from blocks and duplos.  Then onto choosing books and our stuffed animal "snuggly" friends to share our tiny, very warm, living room fort.  (It was very hot and humid in the house - no A/C.)

It isn't every morning that I make the conscious choice to just play.  Most mornings I try to create a blend of my have-to's, my want-to's, and CB's play plans.  And usually I get the carpet vacuumed, or half a load of laundry done accompanied by a twinge of something uncomfortable.
This morning, laying in the fort, listening to CB read books to me, pretending to be the mommy, and hearing H's baby coos, I was able to put a word to that nasty twinge: regret.

Regret for not just enjoying my kids, too distracted by the mundane.  Regret for not always following down the path where childhood whimsy leads.  Regret for not being as connected to my kids as I could be.

We stuffed more into that fort than it seemed there was room for - stuffed animals, juice boxes, books, blankets, a boppy, a baby, and a little table.  But....there was no regret in that fort.

Thanks to Steady Mom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge for the inspiration on this post.

Diary of a mom's daily invention

As I begin this project, I feel the need to explain why I am writing this blog.  It's a strange and wonderful feeling to know that I am both writing to myself and to some unknown audience.  The possibilities are endless and are bringing me a nice little buzz of excitement.  But with that excitement, I'm a little bewildered and naive about what this blogging experience will bring.

So, it seems fitting to start with an explanation. 

For the past several years, I've been feeling myself evolve as the highs and lows of motherhood have had their way with me.  I want to be more present with this metamorphosis, aware of the details and alive to the meaning within the blurr that is family life with young children.  To record experiences in writing is to re-live them.  Writing helps squeeze out the real, the sweetness.  Sometimes when I write or talk about my day, I find myself more aware of the amazing, breathtaking moments.  These are the moments that I imagined for ourselves before we had children.

To write about something is to explore it and to value the experience.  The ephemeral nature of any given moment in family life requires one to stop, look, and listen.   Otherwise, the moment has passed and someone's begging for a snack and a poopy diaper needs to be changed.

Going beyond myself, figuring out how to be the mom that I want to be is a gift and a challenge.  I invent myself daily, for my family and for myself, piecing together what it takes to make our worlds go round each day. 

This blog is a piece of that invention.