Posts tagged ‘seasons’

November 1, 2011

natural parenting if it kills me, aided by THE RHYTHM OF THE FAMILY

“Look, look at that one!” my son screams from the back seat. “And that one. It’s Very, Very, Very beautiful!” There is nothing my son loves more than the fall colors on the trees, and nothing could make me smile more than to hear him wax on about their beauty. Introducing my children to the world they live in is something truly important to me, and it’s something that can be too often overlooked.

In addition to instilling an appreciation for nature in my children, it’s also important for me to bring nature into the home. Right now, I’m on somewhat of a crusade to buy natural items. I consider it an important part of creating a healthy home. Alway in the back of my mind are two things: a responsibility for the planet that seems to have been ingrained in me since growing up in the 90s (when people cared about such things) and the memory of my mother dying way too young from a disease about which we know way too little. I remember the oncologist telling her she couldn’t have conventional strawberries anymore and she should try to eat organic as much as possible. I think about that conversation almost every time I’m at the grocery store, wondering if the $3/pound apples are really worth spending the entire paycheck on. These two thoughts are always with me and since having kids they’ve been percolating, growing, until my desire to buy natural has become somewhat of an obsession.

For example, my kids don’t have a lunch box without at least an hour on the internet trying to find the safest material to transport food. Those plastic cups he used to like to drink from? Sorry, they had BPA; they are gone. And the other ones, without BPA? I’m just going to stay a step ahead of the research this time and get rid of them, too…what are the odds that there is a kind of plastic that is actually healthy for us?

No new purchase is safe from scrutiny: I recently spent probably no less than five hours researching puppet houses and puppets as a present for the kids from their great grandmother. It’s frustrating to me that I can’t find out exactly what things are made of. I finally chose one theatre because I saw a reference to “environmentally-friendly wood” and “non-toxic” paint, although I have no idea what either of those things mean. I found some wool and felt puppets to go with it.

As I take my role of nurturer more and more seriously, I find myself going further and further back to nature. Today, it’s a stainless steel lunch container. Tomorrow, it’s chicken-farming in the backyard. (My husband is really excited about that one.)

Which is why I loved finding this book at a country store in Mazama, Washington. I grabbed it immediately and flipped through it, but I knew I was going to buy it before I even opened the pages. I’ve already read it more than once. I’ve made the strawberry muffin recipe and purchased the ingredients to make my own lotion. The book is a great reminder that you don’t need to buy all the stuff you think you need. There are so many alternatives for making better, simpler, and cheaper options at home.

Chemicals, be damned. I will be a natural mom if it kills all of us.

And my husband thinks it might.

Title: The Rhythm of Family
Author: Amanda Blake Soule with Stephen Soule
Genre: Parenting
Age: Adults

Summary and Review: This book is part how-to guide, part story of a family, part annotated calendar of a wonderful year. Co-written by the mother and father of a family with four (now five if you read their blog) children, they talk about the beautifully natural ways in which they celebrate the seasons, living outdoors and in concert with nature as much as they can. The book itself is a wonderful celebration of the importance of family and the world in which we raise our families. While there are specific recipes and craft ideas, I found it to be more inspiration than resource.

Follow up with your family:

After reading this book, I’ve been inspired to cook more with alternative ingredients–coconut oil instead of butter, brown rice syrup instead of sugar. I bought BPA-free canning jars and am about to start canning my own food. I now make my own face wash and shampoo, and even though those recipes aren’t in this book, it’s the beauty and persuasion of this book that started me on that path. (And the face wash, let me tell you, is amazing! Here’s a link to another blog that describes a make-at-home oil wash if you are interested.)

I have no doubt that if you read this book you may get something entirely different out of it. Maybe it will inspire you to sew or knit. Or maybe it will just make you smile and appreciate how good the simplicity of life with children can be.

August 22, 2011

right now I’m all about homemade soup, but I remember the workplace and BOSSYPANTS

I have a confession to make: I love being a mom. I love being a wife, even (in whispered tones) a housewife. I love staying at home. I love making dinner for my family. I love being in charge of my children’s day. I love showing my husband what they’ve learned.

I love the look in my husband’s eyes when he sees my 3-year-old zoom down the street on his bike–only a few days before that he had been so tentative, but I worked with him, I challenged him to let up on the brakes–pedal three times in a row, I said, then four, then five. My husband is impressed and looks at me, raising his eyebrows and questioning to see if I, too was seeing this for the first time or if I had something to do with it. I smile and he knows: I worked hard for that. Every time, every new thing, he gives me that eyebrow raise. Every time, I give him that smile. “Our boy is growing up,” I say. That was only a couple of weeks ago and today I had to take the bike away for going too fast, for not listening when I yelled “stop.” They go so fast–cycling and life.

I love family dinners, every night. Asking my son to tell his dad what he learned today. Not on a school day, but on a mom day.

I love it when I cook something good and my husband loves it. I love it when I cook something bad and he tells me the truth. I love paying at the grocery store, watching the fresh food slide by, knowing that our stomachs will be filled it it, knowing that I am taking care of the people that I love.

Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself. Writing a book, being a mom; neither are exactly financial success stories. Was my liberal arts degree really necessary to teach beginning bike-riding and supervise violin practices?) People who choose one job over another may think on their choice (sometimes my husband will wonder out loud why he’s a doctor and not a pianist), but this is more a mental exercise, a momentary imagining. It isn’t the emotionally, politically, and socially laden debate of the working versus not-working mother.

But working moms or not-anymore-working moms or moms who never worked or moms just starting to work–we have to think about our decision every day. (Or maybe we don’t? This would be news to me.) But I would argue (I am arguing actually) that society expects that we voice our decision out loud. Often. (And preferably with regret–regret at missed time with the kids if we work or regret at a wasted dream if we don’t.) If we work, we are supposed to justify it by saying “it keeps me sane” or “I’m setting a good example for my kids” or my personal favorite “a happy mom makes a happy family”. If we don’t work, we are supposed to say that it’s our “favorite job” as if it’s a job and not just who we are.

My husband works.  He works a lot. Way more than 40 hours a week. And he has two kids. And he loves them very much. And yet I’ve never heard him say that he does it to keep sane, to set an example, or to be happy for the sake of the family. He does it because he chose to be a doctor. And I’ve never heard anyone question that.

It really pisses me off.

Oh sure, I have professional goals. But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. Right now? If I’m being totally honest? I just want to go to the zoo, take car trips to the space museum and the aquarium, listen to really horrible-sounding violin lessons, teach someone how to draw the letter “A” or how to say “red” in Spanish, and make lots of really good, homemade meals. I want to feed my family, to keep them healthy and to support them. I don’t care if it’s cheesy or out-dated, I want to be the “wind beneath” everybody’s wings.

It’s important to note that I am using “I” statements.  By no means am I saying this is what everyone should do. (It’s stupid that I even have to say that, but I do. Read the news–any of it.) I, like most women who are tired of thinking of themselves as an issue to be debated, can get worked up about this. Which is why I like to have a good laugh about it all. And for this I highly recommend Tina Fey’s memoir about being a girl, a woman, and a working mom, Bossypants.

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Age: Old

Review and Summary: Disclaimer. This is not a parenting book. The chapter on how she was running from working with Oprah on 30 Rock to a Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live to picking out her daughter’s Peter Pan birthday cake was my favorite. Because yes, all three of those things are equally important.