An Ordinary Day in a Privileged Life, When the World Is Falling Apart

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“When the world is running down

You make the best of what’s still around” —Sting

As we heard the news of the final massacre in Aleppo on Tuesday, I felt things that are becoming all too familiar. There was, first and foremost, horror, heartbreak, and confusion about how such atrocities can keep happening, and incomprehension about what is wrong with human beings? In addition, it felt utterly perverse that my family and I were about to spend the evening decorating our Christmas tree in our safe (for now, anyway), warm house while this human catastrophe was happening simultaneously.

I woke up the next morning full of heartache and foreboding for Aleppo, and for everything that’s weighed heavily on my heart most prominently since the summer, beginning with the latest spate of police killings of unarmed black people, and intensifying with, of course, the election.

So I began another day with the question: How do I approach my relatively cushy (for now, anyway) life on the days when it seems like evil forces are taking over the whole world?

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How Homeschooling Changed Me As a Parent and a Person

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With excitement for the summer and some bittersweet feelings, we wrapped up our second year of homeschooling our two boys—the last (for now) for our 9-year-old son. We’ll straddle the two lifestyles in the coming year—our 6-year-old will homeschool for another year before joining his brother in brick-and-mortar school. As we prepare to reenter the world of alarm clocks and lunch boxes, I’m reflecting on how this experience has grown us as individuals and as a family, and how it has changed my worldview.

An increasing number of families are taking advantage of the myriad tangible benefits homeschooling offers. Some of these include more time together as a family, education tailored to children’s learning styles, time for kids to develop individual interests without overscheduling, freedom from the school calendar, unhurried mornings, and limitless opportunities for field trips and hands-on, experiential learning.

We started homeschooling because of the benefits for our kids. What I didn’t expect at the outset was how much it would enrich my life as well. If you’re a would-be homeschooler sitting on the fence due to fear, I hope my family’s experience can help encourage you to take the leap of faith.

Here are some of the more intangible gifts we will take away from our homeschooling experience: Continue reading

KonMari Kitchen Decluttering: Lose It or Use It

I started my KonMari Method decluttering adventure 14 months ago. This method is based on the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Kondo advises doing a ruthless, massive purge only once, by category instead of area, and keeping only those things which “spark joy.” The promised result is an organized, clutter-free home containing only things you love and use, and nothing extra to weigh you down.

You can read my first post here. I started with clothes, then moved on to books, then papers and files. The changes I made in those areas have stuck (yes, even the anal retentive folding and storage methods!), but my progress stalled from there because life happens.

According to Kondo, the whole process is supposed to take six months. However, she writes as if children don’t exist in the world, except for herself as a child, when she was already enthralled by decluttering, which my children are not. Kids, of course, mean a lot more stuff and a lot less time to spend decluttering it. So I figure I get an additional six months per kid, and if I’m done by Halloween, I’m good. Continue reading

Self Care is Lifeblood, Not Luxury

 

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Self care is not a luxury. It took a while, but I finally get it. It’s a necessity, like food and water and breathing.

I’m a midwife and a homeschooling mom of two boys. It’s a life I love, and it takes a lot of juice to keep it up and running. More still to keep it flowing and vibrant.

I no longer expect to be able to pull the energy and peaceful frame of mind I need—for myself and my family—out of thin air. It has to be consciously generated. I’m learning how often, in what ways, and for how long I need to make time for self care and renewal. Continue reading

A New Ritual for the New Year

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I’m loving my new magnetic poetry set from Coyoteloon. I gave them as gifts to some special ladies in my life and got one for myself while I was at it. I figured it would be a fun little thing to have and didn’t give it much thought beyond that. But it has quickly become a loved morning ritual. Continue reading

Managing the Stress and Feeling the Joy of the Holidays: 5 Things That Worked, and 1 That Didn’t

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I used to hate Christmas—so much so that I often bypassed it altogether. When I worked as a staff nurse, I did switches with people so I could work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and be off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Christmas held no religious meaning for me, and as a single person with no kids and a very small gift budget, I didn’t have much use for the rest of it, either.

Now that I’m married with kids, it’s a whole new holiday, and I love making it fun and magical for them. But as we all know, it can be stressful. I’m not interested in “getting through” the holidays. I want to actually enjoy the season, so I look for ways to make it less stressful. Every year I learn a little more about what works for us, and what doesn’t.

So, here’s what worked this year: Continue reading

Monster Mom Meltdowns: Forgiving Ourselves and Making Amends

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Photo credit: Luc Latulippe

I’m a believer in peaceful, gentle parenting. And I’m a yeller. Not from the beginning, though.   As challenged as some parents are by toddler behavior, I rarely felt angry with my children until age around age 4. Apparently, I view toddlers as cute and impulsive little wild animals, and thus have few behavioral expectations at that age.  For my first 3+ years of motherhood, I was so proud of myself for my infinite patience and obvious knack for this parenting thing.

That was short-lived, because boy, can they trigger me now! Continue reading