Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is conformity a good idea?

I am personally mulling over this idea on two fronts.

My middle child, is what many people would call a "strong-willed child". I call it having a strong sense of self. She is louder than some children, has VERY definite opinions on just about everything. If I have said something questionable, I can count on her to repeat it at the worst possible moment. She is most likely to snitch a cookie or push the boundaries. If offered a candy, she will negotiate for more. Chloe tends to want to influence the situation, instead of allowing it to influence her. Her hair is usually wild because she has snatched the pretty things I put right out of her hair as soon as I turn my back. She KNOWS what she wants to wear even if it is leopard print tights with a pink flower skirt. She keeps me on my toes. I have received many opinions that imply that something is wrong with her, that I need to force her into fitting better into the box of what is the norm. But that box doesn't fit her, and I can't figure out why I should change her (short of outright disobedience, that we will force a change on). She is who she is. Who am I to force her to be something is isn't? What a huge message of rejection that would send to my child. I might as well skywrite "YOU AREN"T GOOD ENOUGH". If God creates each of us unique, who am I to try to force everyone to conform to one standard?

If there is a direct opposite to this, it's my oldest daughter. She is an introvert. She is a peacemaker and willing to sacrifice herself for others happiness. A bit more of a thinker. She is quiet, and she likes having time to herself for more introverted endeavors. She is very laid back, able to adjust and be flexible in just about any situation. I have gotten lots of opinions from other people about how I need to force her to be less shy. I need to make her more comfortable in large social groups. I need to push her out of the nest. I feel the pressure this puts on me. But again, I just can't figure out why I need to do that. She is who she is, who am I to reject who she is and try to force my mask onto her? She is beautiful just the way she is. As much as the world needs extroverted movers and shakers, it also needs quiet thinkers.

Conformity is the process by which an individual's attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are influenced by other people, usually because they want to achieve a sense of security within a group. But that is a false sense of security. That leaves the nagging doubt that if you let the mask slip, if folks get a glimpse of who you really are, they would reject you. Yuck! Why not just BE YOURSELF. We are, who we are. Whether we are an introvert, or extrovert we are who God created us to be. Look at how diverse the entirety of nature is, why do we as a society think there is only one way to be? Why can't we all be daring enough to be a little different? As someone who isn't the best at conforming, all this got me thinking.

This thinking has led me to a conclusion about our family. We are going to reject all the opinions of the well meaning people who think we need to change our children's essential natures. God forgive me for the times I have tried to force conformity on my kids. Our family is a place where you can be yourself, your authentic self, without fearing rejection. We get you, and we accept you EXACTLY as you are. As much as we can, we will help you grow to be whomever you are meant to be. Not carbon copies of us, not replicas of our ideals. But we will try to guide you and help you find your own. If you are creative, we will try to nurture that. If you are concrete and logical (God help your creative mother in this), we will try to nurture that. If you are strong willed, awesome. If you are introverted, awesome. I can't guarantee this anywhere else in the world, because most of the time nonconformity includes a big risk of rejection. But here at home with your family, we love YOU for who you really are, deep down inside when no one else is around. My job as the Mom and parent is to make sure you know that down to your toes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Coffee Talk

This is my coffee buddy. We have started a little tradition that I love. Each morning when we get up, I make some coffee for myself and some cocoa for Emma. Then we head out to the porch, or the living room to have our "coffee talk". It is usually very quiet and we chat about whatever is on our mind.

For months I tried to find a way to get some alone time with Emma each day. I tried letting her stay up late. But by that time at night, I am a little burnt out. Since Brian has a whacky schedule, I can't count on being able to take her out by herself.

This was the perfect compromise. Everyone is pretty occupied in the mornings, and we are able to have our time without interruption. I think Coffee time is my favorite time of the day for a whole new reason now.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Remember that crazy soap opera? With the dwarf and the witch, and the really really awful story lines? Aren't ya glad that isn't what I am blogging about tonight? Yeah, me too.

I haven't posted to the blog in a week or so. I have a rule that apologizing for not blogging is verboten. Less blogging = more living. Except today, it happens to be relevant to what I am writing. (PS. prepare for the blog spam influx, I plan to catch up tomorrow). I haven't been blogging because I have been crafting, knitting, sewing and painting for Christmas. I open up my own little sweatshop each year. I keep trying to introduce child labor to my little venture, but the kids run too fast and they are on to me. I heard Chloe trying to unionize yesterday.

You would think it would be such a huge pain. For the benefit of my family I do kvetch often at this time of year, but mostly that is just to induce a little appreciation in them. Honestly, I love it. I think maybe I need that creativity too. But I don't often get it.

Its as though I have two women living inside of me. A little schizophrenic, but its a metaphor. One is a Mommy and a wife. Her very heart beats in time to the needs of her family. She is totally willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of her family, including herself. The other woman seeks creativity. Writing, painting, crafting are all her life's blood; but they are also solitary pursuits usually that don't mesh well with screaming children. Over here we have screaming children in spades. They are cute, often funny, but LOUD.

At this time of year the creative part of my whines a bit. "Why can't we take a class here? or join that new writer's group?". I have to break the news to her: Brian is an awesome, supportive husband, with an ungodly random schedule. And unfortunately, the babysitters down here are crack addicts who need to support an expensive habit. It really is the only explanation I can find for the rates they charge.

So we have eeked out an uneasy truce between all of us. Now is the season for growing children, the time passes like sand through my hands. I can't put this on hold, because I would never be able to recapture it. Now I am equipping them to live their dreams, helping them discover themselves (I hope). So creative chick goes on the back burner for now, and she has to take her outlets where she can get them: the blog, sewing, dying parts of her hair purple, evenings of crafting once the hooligans are in bed. And that is good enough for now. She isn't forgotten. Sometime in the future there will be plenty of time for locking myself in the craft room and pulling all nighters.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Craft fail: A for appearance, F for clean up

I saw this adorable tutorial online for how to make these "cupcake" ornaments, and I thought to myself, "I could totally do that!" and "this would totally be great to do with the kids!". So I promptly conned my friend Terra into doing it with me and the kids. I am sure that right now she is thinking of me as she picks concrete off the pads of her fingers. Don't you love gifts that keep on giving? If you have the same desire to make these, I have one question: "How attached are you to the skin on your fingers, or your kid's fingers?"

The project seemed easy enough as outlined on the website. You spray expandable foam into cupcake liners, cover with glitter, put a bell on top and wahlaa! Cute cupcake ornament. Riiiiigghhhtttt. The crazy tutorial lady left a few things out.

Problem number one, I had never worked with this foam before. Someone should have mentioned gloves. In its liquid state, it resembles liquid marshmallows, once its dries its much more like concrete mixed with super glue. It. will. not. come. off. As I type this, four hours later, I still can't completely bend my index finger. The only chemical that even touches it is pure acetone. Public service announcement: once the foam has taken off your skin, the acetone is really going to burn. Gloves would totally have solved this problem.

Someone also should mention that when you squirt the foam into your cupcake liner, it will not look all puffy and wonderful. As a matter of fact, its going to look like an albino cat used your carefully chosen cupcake liner for a litter box. If you don't know this in advance you will try to "fix" it (and so will your darling children), only exacerbating problem 1.

Poor Chloe, my sensory sensitive child just could not stand to have it on her fingers. We did the best we could to clean it up, but ack!!!! We are going to be picking this stuff off our fingers forever.

Now, just so you know.. the end result is super cute, and the glitter is very fun. Hindsight being 20/20, I am glad to have the cute craft to hang on the tree. However, we will never, ever, do this craft again. But, if I ever run into someone in the witness protection program who needs to get new fingerprints... well, I may have just the craft for them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A trip to the aquarium... very image heavy

We went with our homeschool group on a field trip to the aquarium restaurant. It was such a blast! We started with a class on animal training. For me, it was all about the sloth. I love the sloths, ever since I was little and had an animal book with a sloth in it. Apparently that was the start of my OCD because I kept turning the page upside down to make the sloth stand up, I didn't like him hanging from the tree.

The exhibit areas have lots of photo ops. We clearly took advantage of that. Grandma and Grandpa came with us and thankfully decided not to bring the tiger hats (pimp hats) home.

The tigers are HUGE in person. When they are sitting down I was thinking "oh look at the pretty tigers, so majestic and docile". But when one of them paces by the glass some kind of evolutionary warning bell goes off in my head and I start trying to check the thickness of the glass and insure that its secure.

The train ride and carousel rounded out our day. We had a blast and I can only say thank you. We are so grateful that we are a part of a group that plans so much neato stuff!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Festival... Boo!

I am late with the photos. But better late than never! The kids and I went to a local Halloween festival. They were so excited to get to wear their costumes early! It felt like cheating. As most of you probably know we can't eat artificial colorings with the asthma in our family, so we used the unacceptable candy for science experiments! I blogged about it here if you want to check it out. We will be doing experiments through the week to try and unload the buckets of candy.

Emma LOVED her costume. At the last minute she switched and wanted to be Padme from Star Wars. Unfortunately, no one was really manufacturing Padme. Stores were thick with Obi Wans, and storm troopers. Heck, they even had BoBo Fet (I might be misspelling that). Emma never really throws fits, but it broke my heart to watch tears stream down her face each time we struck out. We finially found one. We all gave a cheer and she couldn't have been happier!

P.S. I love the pic of john and his friend as vampires. His friend was pretending to "bite" him... You know, just in case you were wondering.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Family Blessings

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

We were blessed to have my brother and his wife in town last week. We will be so glad when they live closer. Our niece really brought out the maternal side of Chloe.

It was so nice to see all the cousins playing together, and to get to visit with family we don't see often enough.

The Christmas sweatshop is officially open... run elves, RUN!!!

So it happens every year, I find 3,000 cute things I definitely want to make for Christmas. So this year I started early, and roped a friend into helping. So here is the crafty goodness I have managed tonight....

A really cool marker roll. Before this I had them in a cup on the desk, which is not NEARLY as cute as this. I have also made four more to hold crayons, but those are a secret, shhhh.

We also managed to make a mess of hair bows. I actually felt kinda guilty, cause I made like fifty, and Terra made like two... I think I have bow issues. These bottom two are my very favorites.