Sunday, February 27, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

My apologies for the hiatus. Wowzers, life definitely got away from me over the past many days.

Lots of good, lots of stressful happening over here.

This morning my dear, sweet, amazing sister left to go back to WI.
(Her being here? Good.)
The weather was uncharacteristically freezing cold while she was here.
(Is writing "freezing cold" redundant? Oh, well.)
Matt and I battled our own forms of the stomach flu that had already hit the girls in succession last weekend when we were visiting my in-laws.
(That was stressful.)
I rallied, though, and really enjoyed spending time with my big sis. Saturday was definitely my favorite part of her visit because she and I spent the day alone together. We went on a long walk along the Puget Sound (in the freezing cold) and then decadentally browsed through many boutiques all afternoon long before joining a good friend for dinner. Oh, so much fun. This morning my throat hurt so much I could barely speak. I think that's probably a sign of a sweet conversation-filled evening!

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and I dropped my sister off at the airport this morning. I am crossing my fingers we didn't send her home with any of our germs.

I think our dog misses her most of all. Seriously, Heidi is, like, depressed today. Those two had a bond.

The girls had off all last week from school for mid-winter break.
(Anyone else have this? I find it so bizarre.)
Of course, if they hadn't had the week scheduled off they would have been home anyways from all of the illness and everything. I am looking forward to life getting closer to "normal" next week.

And then, of course, Matt is going to SXSW for, like, an eternity. I am choosing not to think about that, though.

The other day Matt joked that I needed a sister-wife. And OHMYGOD I DO! I would even take two.

Okay, lots more to update on, but that is enough for now.

Oops, P.S. My mom and I are writing a blog about getting ourselves bikini ready for Hawaii. I know, that sounds fascinating, right? (actually, it's kind of fun) Anyways, if you're interested in reading it, and I already know you, let me know via comments, an email, or something and I'll tell you the link. It's not private (you don't need to log in to see it), but I'm not shouting the link from the rooftops because it contains some personal information about us both.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Family Meetings

I have decided to implement family meetings for the four of us. This is an idea I had planted in my head by the positive discipline classes I took last winter-- I can't believe it's been over a year since I did them! But I digress. I haven't really tried that many of the more "gimmicky" things (like family meetings) that were suggested to the group. Mostly because, you know, they felt really gimmicky and I just wasn't interested in trying it until now.

Not that meetings wouldn't have worked last year, but I think now that the girls are a little older I can see them really taking an interest in meetings now. They will have an easier time with an active role in leading meetings and taking notes for meetings as well as coming up with ideas to share.

I didn't want to follow a set script for how these should work, but I googled a little bit and found a site that outlined pretty much everything I learned about in the positive discipline classes.

Have you ever had family meetings? Any tips to share or valuable lessons you've learned along the way?

I look forward to returning with an update.

Oh, and as a follow up to my last post-- about eighty bajillion things have happened since then to solidify my feelings, completely obliterate what I thought was the right thing to do, change my opinion on the matter back and forth so much my head spins, you name it. I'm kind of a parenting basket case right now as I navigate the waters of my complicated six year old. It's rough out here, man.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Keeping her close



Confession time: Dealing with Iris's difficult behavior and attitude has more difficult then ever. And that's saying a lot. It's been a struggle for all of us for a while but it's been getting worse-- approaching what feels like a pit of hopelessness. In the interest of protecting a shred of her privacy, I won't get in to the gory details here, but here's what I'm doing about it.

I started with what I usually do when I have a stubborn parenting issue, I turned to my mama friends for advice and support. And advise and support they did (and still are!)

One of my friends came across a blog post on The Parenting Passageway that reminded her of our situation. Well, she completely hit the nail on the head. I highly, highly suggest you check out that blog, but if you aren't interested in clicking through just now (which will take you to the blog and not a specific blog post) here is what resonated with me about it:

The post is called "Collecting And Connecting To A Challenging Child" and it outlines ways to connect with your child, especially after separations. One of the key points the blogger makes is: If you are going through a rough patch with a child, actually spending more time together and not less is often a key to drawing closer and communicating. Some mothers I know have even brought their most difficult child home to homeschool with excellent results.

I'm not even kidding, if you were sitting in my living room watching me read that post, and that line in particular, you would have seen me completely light up. Inside of my heart, this is what I've felt is right for Iris. Outside of my heart, well, Iris is extremely challenging and some days I want absolutely nothing to do with her. Drawing her in feels like the last thing I want to do when she's screaming at me and hurting people and breaking things for eighty-millionth time that day-- but bringing her in is exactly what she needs.

The next point the blogger makes is: Meditate and pray about this child and carry this into your sleep and see what new insights come to you in the morning. You have the keys to help this child within yourself. You really do!

How much do I love this? A trillion, billion, gazillion is how much. As much as to infinity and back.

So, nothing is changed with Iris (yet!) but my attitude has done a 180 over the past few days. I've gotten a few books to assist me on the journey, because there is nothing more I like to do than read about kids who are OHMYGOD-- JUST LIKE MINE!

Last night I started reading Explosive Child . I haven't gotten far, but already I was practically crying. The book gets it. And a HUGE thank you to my friend who recommended this book.

Next up is The Five Love Languages of Children. I started to realize I need to maximize the love I'm giving to Iris by getting a better sense of how she best feels loved. Challenging kids, as much as or maybe even more than the regular ol' kind, need incredible amounts of love from their parents.

Last up is Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers . I wouldn't have chosen this book based on the title, but it is the book referenced in the blog post that knocked my socks off, so I figured it would be well worth my time to read it.

Matt is also going to be attending the same positive discipline seminar I went to last Spring (luckily he won't have the same horrible teacher I did) so it will be nice for our family to get a refresher on all of that.

Wish me luck. Wish ALL of us luck!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What I cannot live without



Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials



This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



***




This month we were asked to complete this statement:

I cannot imagine parenting without __________.


This was something I mulled over for a while during the past week. How about my kids? Ha ha.


My list of ways to complete that statement runs from the grossly obvious:


  • my husband

  • my home

  • my husband's paycheck

To the more obscure:

  • the television

  • my daughters' school

  • my medication

But! In all seriousness, I landed on one big one that has been there for me since Iris's birth and continues to be a daily presence in my life:

I cannot imagine parenting without my computer and the internet.

The computer has been my lifeline to the world in any and every parenting situation I could imagine. The message boards on Babycenter.com and Mothering.com put me in touch immediately with other mothers who were going through exactly what I was at any given moment. I made real-life friends through those boards, some that I am still in daily contact with after meeting them five years ago.

These days I don't use message boards much-- and haven't been on BBC or MDC in a few years, but I do frequent one small message board of close friends who all have kids Eloise's age. I consider those women some of my closest and most beloved friends and I get to access them any time, day or night, through my laptop.

I started this blog when Iris was a bit over a year old. Blogging has opened up an amazing amount of doors for me. It has allowed me not only to share every single minutia of my daily life but to connect with others who are blogging, as well.

The advent of Facebook has made parenting even that much more rich for me. I get to share stories and pictures in real time. My friends and family, some of whom live on the other end of the country, can see what I've posted and comment immediately. I get a real joy out of involving those I love in the lives of my family.

My computer has allowed me to form a bit of a virtual village where a strong one in real life doesn't really exist. Maybe this is the village of the future?

This was the only picture I could find that involved me and a computer (see it on the right there?). Eloise was about 12 hours old in this photo and I was holding her and checking in online at the same time.





***


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!


Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:




  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.


  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.


  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?


  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)


  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.


  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.


  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.


  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.


  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.


  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.


  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.


  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.


  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.


  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.


  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.


  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.


  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.


  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.


  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.


  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).


  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.


  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.


  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.


  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.


  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.


  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.


  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.


  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.


  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.


  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.


  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.


  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.


  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.


  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.


  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.


  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.


  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.


  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!


  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.


  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.


  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.


  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.


  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.


  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.


  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.


  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.


  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.


  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.


  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...


  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.


  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!


  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Another yummy recipe

One of our favorites around here is Curried Lentils and Cauliflower from the Feeding the Whole Family Cookbook by Cynthia Lair (my favorite teacher at Bastyr!)

You can click on that link or read the recipe below:

This flavorful dish is packed with potassium and vitamin C. Serve over brown basmati rice for an extra-healthy main entrée.

1 cup dried lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cups water

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 small head cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
½ - 1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
¾ - 1 cup water

Optional garnishes:
¼ cup roasted cashews
¼ cup plain yogurt

Wash and drain the lentils. Place in pot with bay leaf and water. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic and salt. Saute until onion is soft. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. Add cauliflower, tomato sauce, ginger root, and water. Stir well. Cover and let simmer until the cauliflower is tender (10-15 minutes). Stir cooked lentils into cauliflower tomato mixture, discarding the bay leaf. Serve over whole grains and garnish if desired.

Preparation time: 30-35 minutes
Makes 4 servings


When I plugged the recipe in to a calculator I came up with a nice surprise! It's super healthy and fairly low in calories: (This is without garnish)

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

4 Servings



Amount Per Serving


Calories 266.5

Total Fat 3.6 g

Saturated Fat 0.5 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g

Monounsaturated Fat 1.9 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Sodium 950.9 mg

Potassium 1,267.5 mg

Total Carbohydrate 45.8 g

Dietary Fiber 17.2 g

Sugars 2.7 g

Protein 17.7 g


Vitamin A 5.2 %

Vitamin B-12 0.0 %

Vitamin B-6 35.3 %

Vitamin C 126.3 %

Vitamin D 0.0 %

Vitamin E 7.0 %

Calcium 8.8 %

Copper 27.0 %

Folate 90.5 %

Iron 39.0 %

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My wants/needs vs. my daughters' wants/needs

It is so interesting.

Last night I went on my first school tour in the crazy mess of picking a school for Eloise. It was a lovely school. I think I would be very happy to have Eloise there except for a couple of major things: 28 kids to a classroom and ONE teacher (in contrast, Iris's class has 13 kids and two teachers!) and there is art class offered once per week. So, boo on that.

The crazy thing? I really think Eloise would thrive in the program. She is so little, so young, I want her to be timid and quiet and nervous and want to stay glued to me but she so is NOT any of those things. Every single thing about the giant school (it's a K-8 school) makes her eyes grow as big as saucers.

Once I decided I would let my little one go off in to the big, scary world of public school I put my foot down: it would only be half days. I think this is going to be a battle I will lose quickly. I told Eloise I would pick her up and she would come home for lunch, to which she immediately replied "I want to eat lunch at school!" I guarantee the first time I try to get her to leave after half a day it would be a spectacle of kicking and screaming. Apparently half day kids are a true rarity in public schools with full day classrooms, anyways. Sigh. How could she be gone five full days per week? Excuse me while I grab a tissue.

Then there is the matter of Iris. She will be in second grade next year and I am planning on homeschooling her. I am in a really, really tough space with Iris right now. The sort of space where my dreams revolve around dropping her off in the front of the big, scary public school and waving goodbye as I peel away from the curb. The problem here? You know the kicking and screaming scenario I described in getting Eloise to leave school? That would also be me trying to get Iris in to school.

It's hard, though. I see Iris as a more mature kid. Someone who shouldn't need as much coddling. Someone who should have outgrown crying at school drop-off, oh, about 16 months ago.

Iris cries, kisses me a million times, hugs me, the whole nine yards. Eloise often runs away from me at top speed towards the activity happening in her classroom. I usually only get kisses if I snatch her around the waist and force them out of her.

I guess I don't know exactly where I am going with all of this, except to say, it's a struggle to meet the needs our kids actually have. I suppose it could be just as much of a struggle, if not more, to force them to have the needs we want them to! ha ha.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Walking my butt off (literally) and a recipe

Today I walked a total of almost FOUR AND A HALF MILES! I only half did it out of desire-- all of this walking was done because our car was in the shop today and, well, I had things to do!

I took the dog on my big walk, the 3.1 mile walk from my house to the car repair shop. During our walk we went from an elevation of 0 feet to 492 feet. This was over the course of about eight blocks, but still.

I was ravenous when I got home, though I've been trying very carefully to count my calories right now. I already had a latte today that was very high in fat and calories (I got sucked in to the book store still having eggnog lattes this time of year!) so I didn't have many to spare. I figured walking that far gives me a little caloric leeway, however, so I had a bowl of cereal with yogurt and strawberries.


Here is a great recipe to take the place of sour cream when you make anything Mexican flavored, it would sub in any other place raita is eaten, as well. I got the idea to make raita from my mom and I love the way this recipe turned out! I'm looking forward to eating it over curried lentils and cauliflower later this week, too.

Raita

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
2 cups plain yogurt (I used Mountain High low-fat plain)
handful of chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
pinch of paprika, salt and pepper
(you could make this spicy by adding cayenne!)

Mix everything together in a bowl and voila! 1/4 cup of this has 44 calories and one gram of fat. In contrast, 1/4 cup of regular sour cream has 120 calories and 10 grams of fat! What a difference.