Yesterday when I was mowing the lawn, dandelion fluff blowing in my face, the smell of freshly mown grass filling my nose, I was thinking to myself all smug-like, “I should really let people know how awesome this is. I used to get allergy shots. I used to have to take medicine on a regular basis. I used to be non-functional until my allergy medicine kicked in, and even then I was moderately miserable. I used to not even be able to BE in the yard when someone was mowing, let alone mow it myself.”
Passion really is better than coffee.
It’s a DRINK! Get your mind out of the gutter.
Only one out of five screaming and neck clinging when I dropped them off at Grandma’s. We’re getting better.
Hey! I’m not late!
Getting fillings isn’t so bad when you can watch The Princess Bride.
Never had a leg wax in someone’s living room. I’ll go back. And next time I’ll stop at the ATM first.
Six avocados. Five pounds of freshly sliced meats. Four cucumbers. Three cauliflower heads. Two tubs of spinach. And one healthier mama. (Hopefully).
Picked up my sister-in-law at the doctor. Slightly jealous that she always looks amazing, despite spending the weekend in the hospital, and the week flat on her back with an agonizing spinal headache. Glad she’s feeling better.
“I’m gonna go mow.” Yes, I really said that. And I really did that.
We have too much yard.
Somebody needs some sheep!
Oops! Time to leave again. Kuk Sool. Construction. Not even late. I totally rule.
“Mama! I want to climb that light pole!” This about sums up the energy level at Goodwill.
And your aisle’s entertainment will be provided by sword fights with wrapping paper. Stop laughing, fellow customers, you’re just encouraging them!
Goodwill Good Deals: For Kevin: Tommy Bahama silk shirt, Banana Republic shorts, J. Crew jeans and a couple pairs of shorts for work
For me: VS Pink capris, questionably authentic Gucci handbag, and UGGS
For Aviana: a couple of Gap swimsuits, and Iowa State tanktop and a pair of sandals For Denton: a pair of Merrells
For Elivette: a cute Carter’s outfit
For Brielle: four black tops to wear under her Kuk Sool uniform, which is the whole reason why we went there in the first place
For Cadrian: NOTHING–and he’s the one who really needs shoes ( I have a theory that five year old boys wear out all the clothes, so there are never any for me to buy)
Waving excitedly to all the people in the grocery store parking lot while 9 yo runs in for the almond milk I forgot earlier. Yes. That was us.
We love singing along to the Best of Broadway CD all the way home! (although, I question the truth of The Best)
Make your children’s day and stop by the lake a mile from your house to pee and strut about to “If I were a rich man”.
Kevin doing bedtime = priceless
Nursing runny nosed toddlers is possibly the grodiest thing ever.
Cutting husband’s hair and it’s not the day of the wedding we’re going to…again with the “I totally rule”.
Aviana, age 9, bursts into the bathroom where I’m, ahem, doing bathroom things.
“MAMA!” she bellows, “Mama!”
“What?!”alarmed, I am forced to answer, wondering why I can’t seem to remember to ALWAYS lock the door.
“Stamps are now 49 cents!”
Cadrian, age 5, to our chiropractor.
Did you buy that table put togevvewr awweady or did it come in a box and you put it togevvewr?
I bought it put together already.
*pause, thinking this over*
When you die, can I have it?
Cadrian, as we’re driving to the park:
Can we go swimming?
No, not today.
Can we go to a friend’s house?
No, not today.
Can we go to that park?
No, that’s a school, we can’t go there until the schoolchildren go home.
Can we go to that park? (indicating the one we’re heading to)
Yes! Yes we can!
UGH! NO! I don’t want to!
Denton, 3, riding his tractor around and around the lawn chair where I’m sitting outside.
“Know what I hate?”
“What?” I respond, internally exasperated to hear another thing this kid hates.
“When you’re sitting down wifout me.”
I really should not read.
It fills my head with all sorts of un-executable ideas and grandiose plans, and frankly, drives my husband nuts.
I just LOVE this book: Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots . It’s chock full of great ideas for gardening with your children. I love the watercolor illustrations, quotes and poetry. Some of the ideas make me want to go till up the front yard right now to create A Garden of Giants or A Flowery Maze.
I want to turn our old whiskey barrel into a water garden. I want to make a sweet little garden in my holey old purple rubber boots filled with parsley, chamomile, Easter Egg radishes and Thumbelina carrots.
I can tell you how that will go in real life. I would put dirt in my old boots. Small children would see this and fill their every day boots, and probably Dada’s with dirt. I may or may not get the seeds planted. I would set the boots on the front step to grow. I’d probably forget to water them. Something may sprout. One day some child would see the boots, filled with dirt and half alive seedlings and they would decide to put them on, and have soil filled boots up to their thighs. And then another child would decide a hose was necessary, because, really, the hose is always necessary, and fill the boots with water, in addition to the first child’s legs, and the soil, and the seedlings. Then when they tired of that, they would somehow extricate said legs from the mud boots and come into the house. Probably across the cream carpet. And the beautiful little miniature garden in process would get thrown into the yard and get run over with the mower.
Possibly. I could be wrong.
I can tell you how gardening went today.
I Square Foot Garden. Kevin thinks it’s kind of silly because we have ALL THIS SPACE, and I want to truncate my garden to fit in the sunny spot right under the windmill, next to the clothesline. I do it like this because it’s close to where I am all the time. It’s near the spigot so I can water conveniently. When I had the traditional farm wife garden, out in the middle of the side yard, I never went over there, to weed or water. Let’s just say nothing really grew. Except weeds.
I’ve been really happy with my little Square Foot Garden. I don’t grow enough to can or store for the winter, but I’m not really in a stage where I can do that anyway. If I tried to put that kind of pressure on myself, I’d be miserable, and so would my chiddlers.
Anyway. It’s the 26th of May, Memorial Day. It rained last night so Kevin took a little time off to help me with the garden. My parents took the older three to a Memorial Day service, so we thought the timing was perfect. The parent-child ratio was 1-1. It doesn’t get a lot better than that over here.
I needed to mix more of the “Mel’s Mix”–compost, vermiculite and peat moss–this is supposed to help keep the garden weed free. We had stopped and bought some seedlings yesterday, and I had saved some seeds from last year (we’ll see if they grow…). Kevin helped me find the tools I needed. One of the frustrating things about my life is I can NEVER find anything when I need tools. Kevin just doesn’t have a “spot” for stuff. And even though I DO, the chiddlers don’t, so when they can’t find their tools, they abscond with mine. I’m locking my new ones up.
We took off the lattice to mark the squares, raked off the leaves and accumulated debris, raked up the soil that was still there, mixed the “Mel’s Mix” in the wheelbarrow, and applied it to the boxes. Then he filled my new box with field soil. He had read of a way to garden where you just plant your seeds in holes in landscaping fabric, so we’re trying that. (Again with the reading 😉 ) I brought out my seeds, which had been stored in plastic Easter eggs (I read somewhere that it is an easy idea to store them this way), and planted some of them.
Sounds simple. Relaxing. Working side by side peacefully with my handsome husband.
I left out this part:
“Denton, stop! Don’t dump the nails!”
“Where dis goes?”
“Watch out Elivette! Stay back! I’m shoveling here!”
“What cuh-wer is dis pwant?”
“Here, go shovel in this box!”
“Why we do dis?”
“Don’t stand on the cilantro!”
“Why da ‘slantrwo hewre?”
“Elivette has the hammwer.”
“Here, Denton, you can pull out this nail.”
“Why we need dis?”
“Leave the fabric alone!”
|watering the seeds|
“I dist move dis.”
“Don’t put your sister in the tomato cage! You’ll poke her eyes out!”
“What dis for?”
“What you wooking fowr? Dis?”
“IN the box. Keep the dirt IN the box.”
“When it my turwn?”
“Here, you can help me dig this hole. “
“I put da wadish seeds hewre?”
“Watch out for that rake!”
“Ugh! I want to pwant dem awll!”
“We can’t dump out all the seeds, Elivette.”
“When dey gwo?”
“Let’s not open all the Easter eggs”
“Dis many carrwot seeds?”
“Ugh. I just swallowed a gnat.”
Giving children the joy and wonder of reconnecting with nature? Introducing children to the pleasures of gardening? Cultivating wonder?
|smelling the basil|
It’s now a week and a half past Mother’s Day.
Something like mothering got in between me and my Mother’s Day post.
I am generally a bit cynical about “hallmark holidays”…days just made up to make money. I like the idea of these holidays. Days to remember your loved ones, to honor those important people in your life. And even though I’m a big believer in capitalism, I just don’t love the commercialism. Take Valentine’s Day–tell your loved ones you love them, by all means, but don’t spend $100 on roses that day. I’d rather you thought of me with a heartfelt $4.99 bouquet from Aldi than some over the top display. I hate the sense of obligation that has crept into a lot of these holidays. Even Christmas has gone way overboard. Merchandisers want me to spend my total allotment of gifts on “stocking stuffers”. Not to mention there is a sense of competition, whether people want to admit that is what they are doing or not, with everyone posting pictures of their presents and flowers on Facebook. Ridiculous.
Mother’s Day is no exception. I stay away from media for the most part, so I was really surprised when a friend wished me happy mother’s day on the preceding Friday. I responded with a blank look and a “oh, is that this weekend?”
She laughed and said, “you have five kids! If anyone should know when it is, YOU should!”
But I was kind of glad I had forgotten. I was glad to let my husband off the hook. Mother’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of planting season, with the 15th of May being some kind of magic day of “100% of the corn planted by then will grow” pressure-filled deadline looming on the horizon.
I was glad that I had forgotten too, because I remembered the heartache it was when we wanted to have a baby but weren’t pregnant yet, and didn’t know if we ever would be. Then I felt like all the Mother’s Day stuff was a slap in the face.
I know the day brings unimaginable pain for those who have lost babes.
As it is, for this stage in life, I never get the day off. I never get A day off.
I was glad I had forgotten. It was better to not have any expectations. It was freeing to wake up and know that it was just any other day. I could relax into the fact that Kevin would have to work, and getting the kids to church by myself was my reality. It went well.
I was glad to get the handmade cards filled with effervescent love from my sweet babes. I was fulfilled sending out texts to my mama friends–in the words of a wise one I’m blessed to know–my mama tribe– who are walking this path of building love legacies alongside me to encourage them, and be encouraged in return. I was warmed when we stopped by the grocery and nearly every person we saw was carrying out a bouquet or a plant for their mama.
|My amazing mother-in-law and my babiest last summer|
I was glad to do the tasks throughout the day of being a mama. I was so relieved I had gotten past the day should be all about me, and that I could just let it BE. I was happy to have my mother-in-law over for supper. I was thankful Kevin quit early and grilled out. I was glad he and she put the kids to bed so I could finish working on our closet design. I was glad I let it go. I was glad I had forgotten.
Because really, no matter what your situation was like, we can never, ever in one day be thankful enough to the mama who brought us into the world, or to the mama who raised us.
|My mama and papa
and my three littlests last summer
To quote the sentiment of the card my awesome brother sent to my mom, “Mom, I very much appreciate you giving birth to me and all the work it was bringing me up all those years…so here’s a card.”
When my kids go to bed, I am done. I clock out. I don’t do dishes, I don’t clean, I don’t pick up. I am done. I consciously set this rule when Aviana was young, and started having a regular bedtime. It was delicious to have her in bed at seven and have three or four hours all to me.
As I added more kids and the kids grew older, that time has grown to be more and more precious…and precarious. The girls are old enough now that by the time they are really settled and quiet, it can be nine or nine thirty. I try to be in bed by 11.
My kids all stop napping somewhere around two and a half, and then the training of quiet time begins. It isn’t realistic for a three year old to play by himself for the entire two hours the baby naps, so I truly don’ t get any time by myself most days.
Tonight, I was planning on painting the new play space. I’m doing a mural which I hope will be awesome.
At nine-ish, Aviana came down in tears. Brielle was being mean to her and she was feeling frustrated. I desperately wanted to send her back to bed. (JUST GO TO BED! HOW HARD CAN IT BE?)
But I didn’t. I held my great big gangling nine year old on my lap. We looked at pictures of when she was younger. I listened to her complaints and frustrations of being the oldest of five. I stroked her cheeks. I silently marveled at her sweet growing self. I petted her hair. I heard her (lengthy) descriptions of what she goes through. I didn’t offer advice. I just heard her. I was here.
I truly didn’t want to be. I was trying to not look at the clock.
I just was here. I just held her.
It was after ten, and much too late to start painting. She was still teary. But she said “It makes me feel better to talk about it.”
And she went to bed.
Once we got to church, Denton wouldn’t come into the church. Denton stood out by a tree, in the rain, for a very long time. Cadrian wouldn’t go into his classroom. Cadrian stood in the hallway for a very long time. Denton sat down on the stairs and held onto the banisters. Denton ate my sweet roll. Denton had to sit with me in church. Denton still wouldn’t go down to his classroom. The preaching started and then Denton wanted to go down to his classroom. I had to get up in the middle to take him downstairs. Then Denton wouldn’t go into his classroom. Then Denton hid under a table.
After church, I let the kids have a sweet roll each (even Denton) because I wanted to stop at a store to buy Cadrian some “fancy pants” to wear to church so he wouldn’t have to fret about wearing jeans to church again. I thought the trip would go better if they weren’t hungry.
I asked the kids to sit a table while I went to the restroom. They didn’t. Cadrian and Denton wanted to talk with our pastor, interrupting him from a conversation. On the way to the van, Denton climbed up the scrolled metal porch pole outside the church doors and wouldn’t come down until he was good and ready. Denton and Cadrian climbed up on the cement parts of the parking lot light poles, significantly delaying our leave taking process. Then they ran all the way down the hill towards the creek. And didn’t come back for a long time. Then Denton wouldn’t hold still so I could buckle him in.
Through all of this (and parts I left out), I’m feeling embarrassed. I’m feeling like my children are uncivilized little hooligans and we are never going to be able to be out in public. I’m feeling like I’m doing a horrible job of parenting. But through all of this, I am feeling pretty calm. I’m speaking pretty calmly. I’m not yanking on anyone’s arm. I’m gentle.
The store I wanted to buy the pants at didn’t open until noon, and we weren’t going to sit in the parking lot for an hour. Wal-mart was right down the street. I debated about whether or not we should go, but decided that I really wanted to get Cadrian some long enough black pants. Part of it was guilt, I’m sure, for not having the right size pants at home, and making him wear a “not fancy enough” outfit.
When we got to Wal-mart, Denton kept trying to bop out into the parking lot while I was putting Elivette in the wrap. I finally set him on the seat in front of me, but it was STILL like a mini-battle of him pushing me and trying to circumvent me so he could go get himself run over. I put him in a grocery cart and he stood up. I told him gently to sit down.
I put my hands on his shoulders. “Sit down”.
“Ughn! NO! I HATE YOU!”
That. Was. It.
I had put up with so much $**# from these little so-n-sos in the past couple of days and now they are telling me they hate me?!!
I tossed them back into the van. We are not even going to Wal-mart. If you don’t ever get your pants, you can blame Denton. I am DONE with “I hate you”. No one is EVER saying that again. You think it’s ok to hide behind a tree and not come into church? You think it’s ok to scream in Best Buy because you don’t want to be in a stroller?! You think it’s ok to scream in the parking lot of Best Buy because you don’t want to get out of the stroller?! You think it’s to scream all the way to church because you don’t get to wear what you want?! I don’t want people yelling at me all the time, but do I get what I want?! I don’t want people to tell me they hate me, but do I get what I want?!
I laid it on thick. I laid it on loudly. I laid it on with gritted teeth. I ranted. I raved. ALL. THE. WAY home.
At one point, I slammed on the brakes on our gravel road and skidded to a stop. “Do you think I’m not a person? Do you think I don’t have feelings? Do you think you can all just yell at me and yell at me and yell at me and it doesn’t affect me?” I pointed out instances where they had all in the past twenty-four hours been unkind to me and mean to me and undeservedly rude to me. I asked them if they liked how I was talking to them just then. I told them I don’t like it either, when they talk to me like that. I told them that I generally am gentle, I asked them if they thought so too (yes, they agreed), but this is what I get in return?! “Granted,” I said, “I don’t do it perfectly. But You Do. Not. Get. to be so unkind to me!”
I cringe reading that, knowing how I sounded. I can’t imagine what was going through their little brains hearing that.
The message was fine. The delivery needed a lot work.
I need to find a satisfactory way to tell them what I am experiencing in a way they can understand me, before I reach this point. I tell them “When you do X, I feel Y” already, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to do anything to change behaviors.
I need to find a way to do better self care. Journaling helps. Blogging helps.
I need something to change. Somehow. I’m already doing all I know to do, and feel capable of doing.
Sunday morning. It can be a little hectic. Kevin has to do chores, so I am getting the kids ready to go by myself and out the door by 8:30. I do this on non-church days with usually little to no stress, but I’m realizing that Sundays are harder.
For one, I have this old ingrained expectation that Sunday is “a day of rest”, so I tend to want to lounge more, to take my time, instead of getting up and at ’em like I do on the rest of the days when we have to leave the house by 8:30. I also think (and I currently am adjusting this expectation) that Kevin should be helping me more because we’re going to church together as a family.
For another, I have an expectation that we need to look “put together”. I don’t care what the kids wear when we go to our homeschool co-op and I have to leave at 8:30. I don’t care fret about whether I’ve combed their hair or what kind of shoes they have on when we leave the house to go to an early dentist or chiro appointment. Why do I feel I have to impress “church people” more? I honestly don’t think my church people are any less loving or any more judgmental than my homeschool friends, so why do I stress?
For a third, Sundays growing up were a HUGE point of stress. I can’t remember a lot of specifics, but I do know it is very ingrained in my being that going to church was a huge yelling fest; Dad was always angry, and you could never never be late and we were always running late.
This particular Sunday, Kevin wasn’t even going to go with us.
Cadrian had picked out his outfit and I buttoned him up where he couldn’t. Next kid.
Suddenly I look up and Cadrian is trying to UNbutton himself to change clothes. I internally freak out. I don’t know if I was scared we would be late. I don’t know if I just didn’t want to have to deal with whatever he wanted to change into. Maybe I was scared he would change into five different outfits and we’d have clothes up to our knees in the family closet. Whatever it was that this innocent action triggered, I felt I had to lay down the law.
Calmly and gently, I explained that he had chosen the outfit he had on. The outfit was fine. The outfit was fancy. He was wearing it. Period.
Fit commenced. I wouldn’t budge. He wouldn’t stop screaming and threatening. He screamed for the remaining half hour it took to get Elivette and Denton ready. He screamed almost all the way to church.
In hindsight, what would it have harmed to let him change clothes? We really did have plenty of time. Even if we were late, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. If clothes were all over the floor, it would certainly not have been the first time. As it was, I had to go back in the house for some deep breathing and prayer, to calm myself down. He could have changed clothes twice over in that amount of time. And I wouldn’t have been stressed. And HE wouldn’t have been stressed.
When we talked about it calmly afterwords, I told him I was wrong. I apologized. We hugged and loved and all was well. (for the moment).
Gentle parenting is a skill I’m still learning. A mentality I’m still growing into. I used to equate “discipline” with spanking, along with other kinds of punishment and rewards. I also used to be a lot angrier of a parent. I’ve been on a gentle journey for almost a year.
I missed an opportunity the other day. An opportunity for kindness and empathy. Brielle and Aviana were going to ride their bikes. Brielle suddenly realizes the chain has come off her bike. She screams at me to fix it. I immediately feel defensive, as if she is accusing me of breaking it or something. I calmly tell her she should try to fix it herself. She screams back at me, with all the anger and power her small seven year old self can muster. It is quite fierce (and I’m not be facetious). I start to get up telling her we can work on it together, when she rushes off, saying “Never mind, I can ride Aviana’s old bike” even though it’s too big fors her.
Not long after, she comes walking the bike up the lane, accusing me of making her fall and hurt her knee because she tried to turn around on too big of a bike and fell and skinned her knee. This is clearly all my fault. (sarcasm)
She really feels like it is my fault and wants me to apologize and fix her knee. I’m feeling angry and hurt that is being so harsh to me. She has a very accusatory, awful tone. I tell her I don’t feel much like fixing up her knee when she has been so mean to me plus I am trying to round up the boys for Saturday night baths.
She doesn’t want to wait for me to take some deep breaths so fixes up her knee herself.
As I’m giving the boys baths and trying to prevent bathroom flooding, Aviana hands me this note:
Dear Mama, I think you are being unreasonable. Dr. Sears says you have to empathize. Put yourself in Brielle’s place. This is what she probably thought: OK you get your bike, the chain’s off. Mama make no attempt to help you. So you ride a bike that’s too big. You decide you don’t want to go. You turn around and hit a bump. Your sandals are all tangled in the bracks. Your knee is bleeding. Your hands are scratched. When your hurt, your often mad. You blame people. You blame Mama. No one thinks like you but you. Mama may be mad because you blame her but your bleeding! Mama won’t even let you wash your cut. Then she makes you do laundry. The End. .
Think about it. When your hurt, you want empathy. Unconditional Parenting says to love Unconditionaly.
Brielle and I made up, of course. Hugs and love all around. The End.