Summer is Summer

I suppose I should just accept the fact that it is finally summer. The temperatures keep soaring around here. So now, I begin my days sitting in the back yard with the kids. We have a fence, a pool, a sandbox and a swing set… the kids are perfect all morning for me. Aside from the obligatory fight over the red sand bucket, I don’t have to diffuse too much. I dole out snacks and add ice to their water cups. I’m actually getting time to read in the mornings now because they are so busy.

What I do not have time to do is work on my articles, blog posts and editing. I no longer own a laptop. Why? I’m a workaholic. Once I get started, I have a hard time stopping myself. I will work through the night on anything from actual work to a crosswork puzzle. So to keep myself from spending every spare moment typing, I don’t allow myself the “luxury” of a laptop.

My home is only minimally clean, the laundry barely caught up, meals haphazard, but the children are happy. You see, my philosophy on childhood summers is that they are meant to be spent playing. Outside preferably. I am now giving multiple baths a day. But they play and they run and the neighbors comment on how perfect our backyard is. And it is. My home may not be clean and phone calls left unreturned, but oh to be able to view summer again through the eyes of a child. My 2 year old pushing her baby doll in the swing while the almost 4 year old wears a hard hat and gloves pretending to be Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs.

You know what? My children will not remember if we had a clean house throughout the summer, they will remember all the laughing while we did while throwing a football. They will remember how mom sat her adult sized behind in a child sized lawn chair in their pool. They will remember the water balloon ambushes on Daddy when he gets home.

Summer is for fun. Summer is for love. Summer is for family.

Work in Progress Wednesday

I’m supposed to be writing an article this week, continuing in my triathlon training and sewing.  Um… but I started painting my kitchen.  And then, once I got started on that, the list kind of grew.  Instead of only the cabinets getting done, the woodwork and walls also got painted.  And then the window frames.

Of course, once I got started, I couldn’t stop.  This then brings us to the impromptu demo of the tiled backsplash at 830 last night.  Ahem.  But, you see, I have a fantastic idea for what to do in it’s place!  And… I think I have talked my husband into the perfect counter top solution… it’s not set in stone, so I’m not sharing about it… yet 😉

Instead of sewing today, I’m staining thin wooden planks and hoping to get them done before naptime ends (I’m typing while a coat drys).  I’m uncertain how people how have the DIY/home reno/Decor blogs manage to get anything done if they have small children.  Gosh, I haven’t even figured out how to participate in Kids Clothing Week!

Actually, I shouldn’t even be thinking about that challenge… it starts next month right before some significant deadlines, I just don’t know if I should… Oh well.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it… until then, I have a lot of painting in my near future!

The Princess Paradigm

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:

Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality

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 are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

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In the days following the ultrasound, I just kept rolling around the reality that I was having a girl in my mind. There were so many things going on in our lives that the inane worries about raising a girl were somewhat comforting. I spent the next few months theorizing about how I would raise a little girl. My plan was for a pink-free life. I wanted to expose to real life and not the fluffy, vapid life of a Disney princess.

As I type, I’m taking a break from sewing the matching Batman tank tops I’m making Liam and Sylvi to wear to Liam’s 4th birthday party. Both children are very into superheroes and love to run around “rescuing”.  So they will have grey tank tops, with matching Bat symbols stenciled on them. Cute, right? Ah but you see, while Liam’s will be the typical black and grey, however Sylvi’s will have pink and glitter.

In spite of having a very masculine older brother and limited choices as far as the books she had handed to her and movies to watch in the house, she is genuinely feminine and girly and SPARKLY.  She gasped when her Easter shoes arrived in the mail and declared them pretty.  She loves to wear her tutus and this morning asked me to put my lipstick on her “wips”.

It makes me laugh to see that although I did everything in my power to make sure she wasn’t over exposed to the glitz in life, she has taken what she was shown and absorbed every moment of it. It makes me so happy to watch her be the child I didn’t plan her to be… she is who she is without the influence of anyone else.  I love that in theory, I was going to raise a little girl who was independent of the curve; a little girl with her own mind.  In reality, that’s exactly what has happened, even though it’s not the way I thought it would.

And although I balked in the beginning and tried to steer her away from the traditional “girly” choices, I’m soaking in every moment of her life experiences. She makes me laugh and cry and think. She makes me re-evaluate who I am as a person; she is teaching me who I am instead of the other way around. It would seem that my theories on parenting have turned into realities on how to raise myself.

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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 (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):

  • My little gastronomes — “I’ll never cook a separate meal for my children,” Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn’t turn out quite as she’d imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don’t. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn’t mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year – because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she’s not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I’ve Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin’, They Hatin’ — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with “babywearing haters.”
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting “mistakes,” and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids… — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But “doing it right” looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter’s high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children’s needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn’t do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby’s mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, “Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?”
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.

<!– END BOTTOM STRAIGHT LIST CODE –!>

Books for the Beginning

Since our local summer reading program began this week, this seems like the appropriate time to do a book series I’ve been wanting to do for a while!  Today, I’m going to introduce you to the favorite books and series my kids loved that first year of life.  I still read them now even though Liam is almost to a very grown-up four… their edges are worn and dog-eared and I have most of them memorized.  But these are the books I will save for the grandchildren and read to them with fond memories of snuggling their parents close and whispering “one berry, two berry…”

I started collecting the Sandra Boynton books while pregnant with Liam. I had the book A is for Angry as a child and still love it, so I knew we needed more in our home. I have read The Going to Bed Book on a near nightly basis for almost 4 years.  Hippos Go Beserk was Matt’s story to read, though… no one yells the big line like he does 🙂  My personal favorites then are Blue Hat, Green Hat, But Not the Hippopotamus and Moo, Baa, LA LA LA, though.

Both kids have loved the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear and therefore we have 2 copies of the book and a couple companion books. Liam loved Is Your Mama a Llama? but Sylvi won’t even let me past the first 2 pages.  Apparently she isn’t concerned about whose mama is whose.  Even though they had differing opinions on that one, they have both loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar, A Color of His Own and My First Winnie-the-Pooh.

Colors, My Nose, My Toes and Me and My Little Animal Book are three titles that even Liam still loves.  I’m a huge fan and if I attend a book shower for a baby, these are ones I usually bring.  Bright colors, great pictures and interaction make these books winners!

The Napping House, Courdroy, Curious George and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes are books that we loved as early as 6 months.  I read longer books little by little with my kiddos so they eventually learn to hold their attention for the entire book.

When Sylvi was born, I used that as an excuse to add more books and we started into the In My… Series.  We have quite a few of the titles and they are so sweet and fun to add in the finger puppet, too.  Lastly, Good Night Gorilla and Jamberry were added to our collection when Sylvi was a few months old and they continue to be nightly reads.  For some reason, she thinks the bear in Jamberry is hysterical and considering how much she loves her berries, I think this book will be around for a long time! 🙂

What about you?  Do you have any essential books for your little ones?

Warrior Dash Ohio

In December, I was feeling particularly ambitious, so I started planning my races for 2013. I’ve decided that I don’t really enjoy long distance running, so I wanted to do  few things that were varied to keep my interest up. I read a lot about the Warrior Dash, watched the videos and apparently drank a lot of coffee the day I signed up. I could barely contain my excitement.  Last week, I was not excited. I was worried. I was nervous. However, yesterday afternoon, I stood in a corral with dozens of strangers in my nastiest clothes and felt the heat from the pyrotechnics at the starting line.

My whole wave took off in a dead heat charging along the flag line until someone in the front realized that no one was kidding around when they set up the course and within 500 feet of the starting line, we were running up a steep hill into the woods. When that person realized this, the whole line came to a screeching halt as we then walked up the hill.  Every. single. last. person in my group stopped trying to be competitive and just walked. Once we got to the top, some of us returned to running, at least until we got to the part where we realized we were going to have to go back down. And to do that, we had to run down the largest hill in the Clear Fork Ski Resort. Super. Some people were rolling down the hill, but after I saw a lady throw up because she got so dizzy, I decided against it and jogged my way down.

Up next: the first three obstacles!  The first one up encouraged me because it was clean water… well, clean once you slogged through a giant mud puddle.  Easy, peasy, up and over.

After that one, I felt refreshed from the previous run, I could see the next two obstacles and then the water station so I knew I was a third of the distance done. Whoo!  The next obstacle was called the Mud MoundS. Plural. This is important to note because I didn’t. Once I got to the top of the first mound, I followed everyone in front of me and slid down. I splashed into the muddy pit of water (?) at the bottom and almost went under. I then looked up to realize I had to do it again… twice. Ick. I was completely covered in thick, milk chocolately mud by the time I escaped. 🙂  The next obstacle involved climbing over walls and then scooting under barbed wire. I found the easiest way to do this one was to stay at the edge and use the braces as extra footing to get up the walls. 

Up next: WATER!!!  Bless those people standing out in the mud while hundreds of nasty, sweaty, muddy people stood in front of them huffing and puffing and chugging as much water as they could. I turned from the water station to realize we were going back up another steep hill. Argh!!! I took this one at a run and found I could hop up the rocks that were sticking out randomly… I pictured myself leaping like a gazelle, but let’s face it… I probably looked a lot less graceful.

At the top of that hill and after a thankfully smooth run, we arrived at an obstacle that required one to army crawl until barbed wire to the end and then shimmy out from under a net. Piece of cake. Until a pin from my race bib got caught in the netting and I was stuck.  It took two kind souls (probably ones who didn’t want to look at my rear any longer than they had to) to unhook my bib before I escaped. More running.  Next obstacle: The Trenches.

Honestly, this one was really easy too except for the part that my quads were killing me from all the hill climbing at this point so I was really wobbly. Under normal circumstances, I would have laughed at them calling this a “challenge”.  Up and out of that, we were faced with the “Cliffhanger”.  I almost walked around this one. These are the only photos I could find of the obstacle on the Warrior site, but it is not quite accurate as the one we were faced with was straight up and not on an angle.  I have no idea how on Earth I got to the top… but as I shifted my body to being the climb down I started to cry.  I am deathly afraid of heights and yet, there I was on top of a very flimsy wall and I got there by pulling my entire body weight up with a rope.  To tell you the truth… making it through that obstacle was all I needed. I conquered it and I was proud of myself regardless of the outcome.

After that, we happened on the second water station so I knew we were now 2 miles in. Whew!  At that water station I took an extra cup of water to try and get some of the dried and cakes on mud off my hands. After that, the obstacles was a strange wooden, climbing up and over that was relatively easy, but I was really getting tired and I could see the horrible cargo climb coming next. I was NOT excited to do that one and could see people throwing up their hands and walking around it.  I did not.  I was scared to death as I wobbled around, but up and over I went.  I also knew that I was finally nearing the end!!!

More running. 🙂  At this point, though, there was no more running for me.  I was tired and my legs were shaking from the hills, the adrenaline and with four more obstacles to go, I wasn’t going to waste energy running when I could just walk. I was glad for my decision as the next obstacle was a cargo net-like ladder made out of chains. It was a real challenge for me as I kept losing my footing.  Worst moment? Looking up from this to realize there was someone from Sport Photo there snapping away… Ergh.  After this, we went down another large hill to the 10 obstacle which was a vertical cargo net that we had to crawl across.  It did not work out well for me as I didn’t have a great hold on the ropes and when this giant man jumped onto it, I was sent flying off it and landed hard on my left hip. I was kind of stunned 🙂

Last water station!  3 miles down 0.2 to go!!!  Annnnddd… back up a hill, through the woods, down another hill through the woods and at the bottom we were greeted by the Warrior Roast: two rows of Duraflame fires we were expected to “leap” over.  Groups that come together were clumped at the bottom waiting to jump together but I just wanted to get it over it.  I didn’t get very high on my first jump and felt the flames singe my legs. Yikes.  Needless to say, I got more air the second time!

And then… the last obstacle.  I was almost there and I charged my way to the 50-foot long muddy trench.  There were rows of barbed wire criss-crossing the top, so we had to swim.  I was just so relieved, because really… after all that, what else could stand in my way of rising victorious from the mud and marching over to claim my medal?  Oh, right.  Super slick mud, wobbly legs and wet shoes.  Um, yes.  There is proof that I wiped out at as I came out of the trench… on video.  Also witnessed by all the people at the finish line, news cameras and the dude handing out medals who them dumped three cups of water on me because my face was full of mud 🙂

In the end, I am incredibly proud of myself for doing this race.  It certainly isn’t the right event to try and PR, but it was fun.  It was HARD, but it was so fun.  A few people have asked me why anyone would willingly sign up to do something like this… I did it because it scared me. I did it because I needed to show myself how strong I really am.  I did it because I could.