Friday, May 27, 2011

The One Thing That Caught Our Attention....

The other night my husband and I watched "America The Beautiful"
It is a documentary on the beauty industry and various pressures women feel to conform to some ideal of what is considered beautiful.
A lot of the footage was about a 12/13 yo girl who worked as a model/runway model.  This girl was finding tons of work and designers loved her. 
Overall it was an interesting watch, but the ONE thing that really stood out to us was this girl and her padded bra issue.
Here is a girl who works in the fashion industry, where theoretically tons of pressure is applied for the girls to look a certain way, right?  The girl transfers schools and all of a sudden is crying to her mother that she NEEDS a padded bra. Her mother is arguing with her about this, and commenting on the girl using more makeup and wearing tight clothes.  It turned into a big, teenage girl crying mess.
Eventually the mom decides to homeschool her daughter.  Mom and girl go to London to find more modeling work and there is a scene with the girl going through her suitcase. She holds up the padded bra and said "now that I am homeschooled I don't need this anymore"

It really stood out to my husband that the girl who works in the fashion industry and is judged on her looks constantly felt MORE pressure to be attractive when she was in school.  He thought that was very weird. 
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And now for something completely cute....

Somehow my family convinced me to keep Burrito. It is absolutely awful having to keep this snuggly, always purring, feisty, TV watching, toilet falling into, feet attacking kitten. Sheer torture I tell you.

The resident housecats are not too thrilled about this new addition. The dogs have had different reactions. Leia wants to play...or eat him (not sure which)
Burrito wants nothing to do with her and stands his ground.
I think in this one he is threatening to claw her face off if she comes any closer.

With Daisy he is completely different.  They paw at each other, and Daisy lets him chew on her ears.  I took this photo of them playing together. After I took this Burrito began licking Daisy's face. I guess her doggie hygiene was not good enough for this kitten.
I also think Daisy wins "Most Patient Dog of the Year" award.
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Car Conversations

"Hey Mom, can you be my substitute teacher? Come into the school and tell Ms. H to take the day off and then you can teach us!"
"No, Gwen. Mom can't she needs to graduate first and would need a degree in teaching"
"Well, Mom, go do that! "
"But Gwen, she isn't going to graduate in time to teach your class."
"Yeah, she might even still be in college when we go to college!"
"And then we can go to college with MOM!!"
"Hey! Mom! Remember when you were super interested in Psychology and Russian Literature? And all you read was books written by Russian people and big thick books about Psychology?"
"Yeah! And Add and I told you that you should be a Russian Psychologist!"
"What does a Psychologist DO anyway? Do they make people psycho?"
"No...the opposite"
" they help people work through irrationalities and my fear of stuffed animals in museums"

I  just drove and listened to my 3 children talk on and on......
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Building of Habit

It is said that it takes 30 days of consistent behaviour to build a new habit.  I can definitely say that waking up between 4:30 and 5am has become a habit, it happens without my alarm some mornings now.  If I don't get up till 5:30 it feels like sleeping in. 

The next habit I am working on for myself is sticking to a daily routine.  Everyday of the staying with it means that all the jobs I do during the day take less time, which is motivating.

I have been reading Charlotte Mason again. I love what she taught on education and the personhood of children. One of her many quotes about Habits
"One last word about habit--the point of training children to have good habits is so that they'll do things without being nagged or scolded. Then the mother isn't constantly chasing them down with a barrage of commands and reminders. She can leave them alone to thrive in their own way once habit has secured a boundary for them to grow in."
volume 1, page 134

With the children I have been having them work on building one new habit a week. The first one was to turn off lights when they leave the room. My family has a tendency to leave ALL the lights on.  It took a few reminders but now I am seeing consistent results.  This week it will be to put dirty clothes in the laundry bin and not all over their bedrooms.  
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

True Magic

This morning I was able to get into the garden beds and plant some seeds.  It hit me, like it does every year, how amazing and positively magical it is that from tiny seeds + dirt +water + sun, delicious, beautiful things grow. I went in search of a quote because I cannot even hope to get the words out of my head on this one..

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Many Thoughts

~ My 9yo was grumbling about having to come inside soon to do homework. I see his point- it is a beautiful day outside.

~ The developers came back. My windows are open and all day I have been doing my work to the sound of big machine engines, and the scent of exhaust.  When my children came home from school they stood and watched the felled trees being loaded onto a truck. My 7yo daughter yelled at the men "STOP! STOP! STOP! You are ruining nature!!" I was worried for a moment that she was going to run into the field and form a tiny human blockade in her distress.

~ Sometimes, because I spend so much time alone I find that I have forgotten social niceties.

~ 21 days left till the kids are done with this school year.

~ 21 days to research some science options for this summer to help my 9yo regain his love of science- which school has sucked out of him.

~That modern plumbing, heat, and a/c are marvelous things

~Never turn your back on a rooster and then push one of the hens out of the way. The rooster will take great offense and attack you...which will be surprisingly painful and feel like a hammer hitting your leg. .

~ Wondering what areas of my life I need to adjust further in my attempt to get rid of unnecessary excess so I have more resources and time to give.

~Unnecessary excess also pertaining to pride, impatience, and a multitude of other things. 

~ This article by Fr. George Morelli called The Hidden Devastation of Greed, mostly these bits:

"As I have noted in previous articles, care for those who cannot help themselves is not just a Judeo-Christian teaching. The Bhagavad-Gita notes: “Hell has three gates: lust, anger, and greed.” This echoes Buddha's saying: “There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.”

Our Eastern Church Spiritual Father Evagrios the Solitary warns us of the complexity of this passion. For example, it is possible that someone " pretends to be steward and a lover of the poor," but in their heart entertains "avaricious thoughts" and inflated "self-esteem." (Philokalia I). This spiritual perception underscores the need for all to be aware of the deep motives of their actions, even of those that appear to be under the guise of the virtue of generosity. As St. Isaac the Syrian (Wensinck, 1923) informs us, "...without the prudence of the heart...the godly man cannot refrain from showing his love, in the performance of manifest deed"

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Inner Tranquility

Our goal should be to take all that comes our way and make the best out of it for the sake of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  We must strive to acquire the inner tranquility, and to this end even noise can become a good thing if it is met with the right thought.  What matters the most is handling a problem in the right way. We must face up to everything using good thoughts.  
When, in very midst of noise, you manage to reach inner tranquility, you have achieved something of great value.  If you cannot find tranquility in the midst of disturbance, you will not be able to be tranquil even in the midst of tranquility.  When inner tranquility comes to a man, everything inside him will be tranquil, and he will not be disturbed by anything.  But if he requires external tranquility in order to find inner tranquility, then, when he does find himself in such a place, he will want a cane to chase away cicadas by day and jackal by night, so they will not bother him!  In other words, he will be chasing away what in fact the devil is gathering.  What do you think the devil's job is after all?  His job is to create difficulties and to obstruct our efforts, until he has completely turned us upside down.

~Elder Paisios
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dinner Time Standoff

*Please understand I have never made food a battle and am pretty accommodating with my children's food preferences.*

That said.
My 9 yo has a thing lately about complaining about every.single.dinner that I make...unless it is pizza, chicken tenders or corn dogs. This is not run of the mill complaining, and no he does not have any underlying issues, sensory or otherwise that would cause him to behave this way or refuse the foods I make.

Last night I made honey mustard chicken tenders served with a rice pilaf with red peppers and kale (from Clean Eating magazine, recipe here). My 10 and 7 yr olds LOVED it. My 9yo took one look and said "Im not eating this. I want honey nut cheerios" He refused to taste it and went straight into whining.
(he loves honey mustard with chicken, he likes rice and red peppers and has eaten kale happily before)

This mama, who has a husband that is gone from 7:30 am till 10pm, and has dealt with many many many many many dinnertime issues, had had enough.

I calmly told him that this was his dinner, and Im not giving him anything else. In fact, we sat there, while I read a book, at the table for an hour and a half.

An hour and a half.

I stayed calm, I stayed rational. He wanted cookies for dessert. I nicely told him he would not be eating anything aside from his dinner.
He was NOT happy with me, and there was some growling and grumbling from him)
Eventually, when there was 5 minutes left till he needed to take his shower, and he saw that I would not budge. He tasted the chicken, and the pilaf and said "This is really good!" and scarfed it down.

There was no yelling from me, just a firm resolve that I am tired of this kids dinnertime shenanigans which I have allowed for too long.

Then after his shower he banned me from his room because he was making presents for mother's day.

Yes, he is my strong willed child...a gift in many ways to him...but not always so much for me.:grin:
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


~cracking still warm eggs that I just collected from the nesting boxes into a bowl for the cookies I am baking for my children

~ a husband who may not fully understand my aversion to talking on the phone, but accepts it

~ a small dog that causes me to smile often

~ a card from a little girl declaring "Dear Mom, you are the greatest mom in the unavers and have a happy birthday" that she adorned with flowers and sunshine and a "Happy Sping" (yes Sping)

~ this memory that I discovered on an old blog of mine...

This morning the kids tumbled out of bed, ran downstairs, and said "Can WE go OUTSIDE!?" at the top of their lungs. It was about 7:30, I was just starting on my coffee...and I said yes..please. They ran outside to play basketball. Few minutes later my 7yo came in to tell me that my 5yo daughter made her first basket EVER and he was pretty proud of her. I was too.

I settled in on the couch with a book I have been reading by the Monks of New Skete called In the Spirit of Happiness. It is a book that I read a bit, pause, think, then go back to. During one of the pauses I glanced up and looked out my living room window. In front of that window is where our little apple orchard is. The kids had grabbed an encyclopedia, and climbed up into the largest tree to look through it together. It was one of those perfect moments....that my camera battery is never charged for. The sun was peeking out...the apple trees are in full flower, the grass is such a lush green, and carpeted with white petals. It was gorgeous, and sweet, and hit home for me just how amazing being a mother is.
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For the past few days I have had this lingering sadness that stays just enough under the surface of my awareness that I have been able to disregard it. I had a few people ask me what was wrong on Sunday while at Church. I was confused by the question and didn't think anything was wrong, aside from having broken my big toe. Today, when the kids left for school and the house was quiet I fully grasped the fact that I am feeling very sad.

I had to think on this for a bit because sadness is not something I experience on a regular basis.
Was it the weather? This cold, rainy, grey spring?
Slowly it occurred fully to me that Mother's Day is affecting me.  My kids have been talking non-stop about Mother's Day and daily my daughter has been giving me pre-mother's day cards that she has drawn and written.
I knew last year it would be a hard day, which is  why we actively avoided any place where I would have to watch mothers and daughters...we went on a chilly picnic and then I went by myself to see Clash of the Titans.

I thought this year would be easier, but I feel like I've lost direction a bit. Mother's Day and there is no Mother. My kids are looking forward to celebrating it, and my oldest son wanted to know the history behind it...which we looked up together and read about Greeks and Romans celebrating Rhea and Sybill, and then the devotion turning to Mary, and then to all mothers.

I think this year, after spending time with my kids, I am going to go see Thor and perhaps make a tradition for myself of seeing corny myth based movies because the odds of finding mothers and daughters at a movie like that on mother's day is not very high.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Menu for the week

Last night (Sunday) I made a Frittata with grated zucchini, goat cheese and dill and with it we had a salad with homemade ranch dressing made from greek yogurt, buttermilk, and assorted herbs. (looking forward to making it again in the summer when I have zucchini and dill from my garden, with eggs from my chickens. All I need next is a dairy goat)
Monday- Sauteed chicken cutlets with mushrooms and an edamame chickpea cabbage salad
Tuesday- Burgers with goat cheese, arugula, and other things with homemade buns, sweet potatoes and left over salad
Wednesday- (fasting day) burritos with rice, beans and guacamole from the Vegan Fusion cookbook and some vegetables
Thursday- honey mustard chicken and pilaf, and a salad
Friday- (fasting day) stir fry with chickpeas
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