Category Archives: kids

School starts soon….

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11 days to be precise.

It’s a big year here.

Sunny begins middle school.
Broder begins high school.
Kjell begins his Senior year.

It’s tempting to focus on how fast it has gone, since that first day of kindergarten for Kjell, walking him to school with Broder toddling alongside me, and Sunny kicking from inside my womb, determined to make sure she was a part of things, even then.

I could wax about the days when they were sweet and little and they really had no choice but to adore me, as I was their whole world. (Those were good days, days that validated my choice to be home with them and stroked my ego).

But I would be missing so much of these days.

I see Sunny, strong and confident, entering into 6th grade after a rude awakening to the world of mean girls during her final year of elementary school. She could have let the cruelty of unhappy, petty people crush her. Instead, she faced them. Told them they were wrong, and not nice and removed herself from their talons. There were wounds, that is for sure. And she will carry those scars forever. But, just as the physical scars she sports on her face (car accident at 2.5), she is not ashamed, she is proud to have survived.

Broder has been waiting for high school since he was born, I am convinced. He worked hard in middle school, he learned to study. He found out what it was like to be afraid and learned that his dreams may take more work to come true than he could have ever expected. It would have been easy to give up. To be a victim. Instead, he is marching into this next phase with fierce determination. And he will make his mark.

Kjell, after so many years my sweet one, he is now(though still sweet) firmly on the path to manhood. He makes good decisions, not always the ones I would make, but the right ones for who he is and who he wants to become. His growing independence both thrills and terrifies me. My heart breaks knowing this is the last year he is my baby at home. My heart soars seeing him walk into his future.

Over the last week, I have said a couple times, to a couple different people, the following:

I love this time of my life, my kids lives. I am look at them and I get excited about the adventures that lie before them. The unbelievable potential each child holds, and how that will blossom as they move away from the tethers of my mother-love, my sometimes smothering mother-fear. I know I can’t protect them forever, I know too, that I can’t dream big enough for them.

That is theirs.

And I can’t wait to see where those dreams take them.

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My day began…

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With a cup of coffee, a marathon laundry folding session and a very compelling podcast.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcast teams, the witty ladies at Stuff Mom Never Told You, and they were interviewing Emily Matchar, the author of “Homeward Bound” and about what she deems the Cult of New Domesticity. This resurgence of crafting, cooking, canning, home birthing, all things natural, which she contends is both fueled by and in backlash to, our ultra-wired world.

Etsy, Pintrest, Instagram, food blogs, parenting blogs, all these venues are so fun. And exert so much pressure.

When I started staying home with my kids, almost 17 years ago, I was a bit of an oddity among my lifelong friends. Those women were finishing advanced degrees, climbing the career ladder. However, I was safely cocooned in the conservative, evangelical world that (still) is Wasilla, AK. Staying home with the babes was exactly right in my part of the world. I was free to proudly fly my hippy flag(as long as I also participated in MOPS).

I sewed my nursing clothes, ground my own grain, baked my own bread, roasted my own coffee beans, had an out of hospital birth, made my own baby wipes, hung my clothes out to dry (because we didn’t have a dryer, but still), canned and baked, even went down that freaky road all the way to drinking raw milk and making butter with the cream I skimmed off the top.

I did all this, I still do a lot of this, because it was/is me.

I have been sewing since I was a little girl, i made doll clothes and prom dresses and my wedding dress. I have always loved to cook and bake. My goal, since a young young age, was to have a pile of kids and be home.

(so, perhaps my measly 3 kids doesn’t quite qualify as a pile of kids, and since I send them to public school, I do lose A LOT of credibility)

And now I am in my 40’s. Quite comfortable with who I am as a woman, as a parent, and I look around at the moms I see in their 20’s and 30’s, and often my heart hurts for them.

It’s all such a contest.

Is your fridge filled with organic produce? Or better yet, produce you grew yourself, using poop from your backyard chickens as fertilizer? Are you going to use that fresh home grown, chicken poop fertilized produce to create an authentic Ethopian dinner from scratch in your spotless and perfectly decorated, cleaned only using non toxic cleaning supplies you made from lemons and vinegar, kitchen? And when you present this dinner to your perfectly groomed children (not to mention your impossibly handsome, cross-fit loving husband who never leaves his sweaty workout gear on the floor) who are wearing impossibly cute/hip hats you knit for them while they were studying their Latin during the quiet time of your homeschool day, will your plates sit on delightful and charming placemats that are your beautiful children’s reproductions of famous pieces of art? have you made sure the lighting from your mason jar chandelier is just right, so when you go to take a picture and post it for the world to see, your friends/family/instragam followers will be struck dumb with awe at this representation of your perfect life?

No?

Well, you fail.

I suspect this is nothing new, this pressure. No, I know it is not. I have felt it, still feel it from time to time. Maybe not to have the perfect house, or perfect kids (I got over that a loooong time ago). Oddly, unexpectedly, the pressure for me now comes in the form of fitness and body. A different rant for a different day.

And although I know that some pressure within society is not only normal, but needed to move us forward and keep from imploding, the pressure I see on the 1/2 generation younger women is heartbreaking.

Now I recognize that for some women, these home pursuits are truly a heart’s desire. It was/is mine.

But not everyone’s. And that is ok.

If a woman wants to work and hire someone to clean her house (with or without homemade cleaning supplies). I say yay! I would love to have the number of her cleaner.

If a woman chooses to homeschool. yay! Public school. Yay!

Grind your own grain. Yay! Eat out at local restaurants 4x a week. Yay!

Make all your furniture from salvaged pallets. Yay! Hire a designer and claim the credit for your fabulous home. Yay!

I think it’s long past time where we, as women, stop trying to outdo one another and start helping each other to do our very best. At what ever OUR very best may be.

And with that, I am going hop off my soapbox and bake some cookies.

From scratch.

The art of discipline…

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as a person, I like to think I am a bit of a free spirit.

As a parent, it has been said that I am a bit of a disciplinarian.  (no, not by my children, of course they think I am out to make their lives miserable, but by actual responsible adults who have children that are now successful functioning adults).

The first time I heard this, I was very taken aback.  How could I, the one who lets my kids stay up too late, and rarely forces the making of their beds (because I would have to lead by example), how could I be one of  “those” parents?

Then I stepped back and watched myself with my kids  and yep, I might be a bit free personally, but those children of mine operate within strict parameters.

I have been asked to describe my discipline philosophy, and it took me a while to come up with something I was able to articulate.

People talk about walking a line, but that is not the way it works around here.  I like to think that my kids have a big wide circle of acceptable behavior, and within that circle pretty much anything goes!

But step outside of the circle…

the rules are pretty simple:

Be kind to those around you

Work hard

Don’t be snotty to your parents

yep, that is pretty much it.  Those are the rules that form the circle.

truly, it is because I am terribly lazy and I lack the basic organizational skills that would be necessary to implement a more complex system.

So, that is my secret.

Pretty exciting, huh?

Tonight, while eating dinner…

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Broder looked across the table and said:

“Mom, when I think about the things I like most, the memories that are the best in my life, it is the little stuff I like best.  You know, like when we are having meals together and laughing, or when we are driving somewhere and we all start singing in the car.  That stuff  is the best.  Not the big things.  Not the big events”.

As a mom, I can’t imagine anything I would have rather heard.

I have talked  quite a bit about my desire to create memories for my kids, (as I don’t take pictures, and we don’t have a forever home that they are growing up in) and I have prayed that my shortcomings as a mother are not what sticks out in their minds as they grow up.  That what they look back on and see is a lifetime of love and joy.  Everyday joy.

And it seems to be working out ok.