Posts Tagged With: motherhood

Bringing Circle Time to the Homeschool

IMG_7807

I can’t believe we waited so long to do this!

Have you ever tried starting your day with circle-time? I am astounded by what has developed into a much-needed routine for my daughter and I. I always thought of “circle-time” as being something a lot of kids would do together: sitting on the floor, talking about feelings, or hearing a story. Honestly, I thought we would need, well, more people, to do one of our own. I was wrong. Our homeschool mainly consists of my daughter and I, working through projects, learning new things together, and attending wonderful enrichment classes twice each week at a lovely charter school. I was inspired to implement circle time into our routine when my friend told me about how the kids start their day at an outdoor-based enrichment program in Atascadero, CA. Wham! I realized with a powerful instinct that we needed to try this too. Thank you dear Annabell!

Last week I asked Captain if she would like to come with me to find a place to sit outside, under a tree, for circle time before we started our busy day. She grabbed my hand and said “let’s go!” We sat down and shared things that we are grateful for. It is wonderful. Not only do we talk about the good things in our lives, we are remembering to give thanks for the simple things, and that is priceless! We tell stories to each other, and it is a time for her to feel safe about addressing things with me, or talking about things that might be bothering her. For example, I found out that she would really rather do math earlier in the day, and that she doesn’t like for me to comment on her paintings until she is completely finished with a session. She expressed her concern for wild horses, and her gratefulness that kids can be adopted by new parents if the parents are unable to care for them. Wow. She wanted to hear detailed stories of her birth, about the time when the puppies were born, and tell me all about how amazing ants are. I find that after we are finished, we are both ready for our day. She is calmer and more receptive to some of the things she needs to do that aren’t her favorites. I love how it has changed the start of our days!!!!

Remembering to be thankful, expressing feelings, and getting some body-earthing in at the same time is a beautiful thing. If you homeschool, or not, do you have circle-time as a part of your morning routine? Would you be willing to give it a go? Does it seem silly or unimportant? I welcome you to write in, please! I would love to keep an open discussion going and hear any thoughts or ideas.

Luscious round thoughts to all!

Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Mother’s Day Blues & Gold

IMG_6108

My Mom’s eyes are a unique shade of brown.  There is shimmer of gold light in them that seems to disappear when you try to look for it….

The first part of this story was written for Mother’s Day in 2010.  It concludes in the present.  This is written from my heart and I thank you for reading.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…this morning Captain practiced with her Dad, and then recited to me, “Happy Mother’s Day Mom… you’re the best mom in the world” and my heart melted onto the floor…

May, 2010

Today is my 3rd Mother’s Day, and what a wonderful day to celebrate being a Mama.  I love my daughter with all of my heart and am feeling a bit sentimental as I’ve been transferring video that we took at the cabin in her first year.  Time is going by so fast already!

I think about my own Mom and wonder how she is doing today.  To say we have an “estranged relationship” still feels funny to me, but the reality is, I haven’t seen her since 2002 and have only talked to her on the phone a handful of times since then.  Why we can’t connect is complicated and very sad, and I wish I knew the right thing to do here.  I recently began writing to her again, and sending photos of Captain, but haven’t heard back from her.  According to my sister, she is shy about getting in touch and regrets not having a good relationship with any of her kids for all of these years.  “Well, then TRY DAMMIT!”, I think.

After so many hurt feelings and so many years, is it the right thing to do to just let go in this case?  To try harder to get her back into my life?  To just keep sending cards and photos and leave it at that?

I can’t just let go, she’s my MOM!  I love her and I miss her! But, I won’t torture myself about this situation either because I have done that.  It doesn’t work.

My Mom was a wonderful stay-at-home mom when we 4 kids were growing up in Spokane, Washington.  She was quiet and shy and didn’t feel comfortable in many situations that involved talking to anyone, even the checker at the supermarket.  She did not teach her daughters about asserting themselves, or that a person could do anything they wanted to do as long as they worked really hard at it.  However, she was always there rooting for us, driving us anywhere we needed to go, firing beautiful ceramics in her little kiln, all nestled in the dark basement, hungry mouth propped slightly open with an intense red glow pulsing from within.

She made all of our holidays fantastic.  Christmas’, birthdays, St. Patrick’s, Easter, Valentines Day… they were the best any kids could ask for.  When we were sick, she treated us like Queens and always brought cool magazines and ice cream to our beds on the couch.  She took me to all of my appointments for my back-brace for scoliosis and made sure I felt as good as I could about it at the end of the day.  She endlessly taped my magic wands back together (don’t you just love a good magic wand?).

She made the BEST pies, handmade ornaments, stained glass, and the cutest little chicks painted on Easter pails.  She liked chocolate, barbecue ribs, and Chanel No. 9.

My Mom was a great mom, and that very fact makes it hard to be in this situation.  She was not mean or abusive, or easy to run from.  She was beautiful, had a wonderful laugh, and loved Willie Nelson and pussy willows.

Now I don’t even know what she looks like.

I’ve decided right at this moment that I want to call her and tell her I love her.  I’m a little nervous, but it feels right.  When she asks about Captain, I will open my heart up wide and tell her about her granddaughter; she is my favorite topic of conversation!

——————————————————————————————————–

I did call my Mom’s number three times and it rang and rang.  I was disappointed, followed by feeling that things were right.  Perhaps we weren’t supposed to talk right then.  I will try again in the next instance that it feels right to me.  In the meantime, I send out big heart-shaped biscuits to my Mom, Carol, and all of the amazing and/or complicated moms out there who love their kids no matter what the circumstances surrounding their relationships.  

For now, I have my husband loving me up (he brought me a latte and a magazine this morning- lovin’ it!) And, then there is my darling little daughter who is two and creating a painting just for me, wants me to play jazz music while we dress up in necklaces and scarves and dance around with magic wands.  Life is good and I am filled with love.

———————————————————————————————————

2013

Three years have passed since I wrote that, and I am thrilled to be getting ready to celebrate my 6th (!) Mother’s Day!  The true gold of this story is that not only do I share the love, daily, with my beautiful daughter, who is five and bursting with life and love, but I also have my Mom back in my life.  She lives in Utah, and I am in California, but we talk on the phone and she even wants to come up here to the mountains for a visit- hooray!

We started talking regularly last year and have accepted the past as best we can, and look at the here-and-now together.  I admire her honesty in dealing with tough family issues, and like the fact that, if two people who love each other just TRY, the spark of connection can be fruitful.

This post is written from deep in my heart for all Moms, and their kids, in all circumstances.  May you be wrapped in the golden light of celebration, for the memories of the past, and the possibilities of NOW!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Sweet thoughts, Karen

Categories: Mom's Junk Trunk, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Babies Communicate! The Importance of the “Stop Hand”

IMG_5716

Sweet baby Captain telling me very clearly that I was being too loud.

When my husband and I discovered we were pregnant back in 2007, we were thrilled and appropriately nervous.  How could two people who had been living alone in a remote cabin in the forest, miles from town or other people, who had absolutely NO experience with kids, have a baby and raise it together in a healthy, happy and safe way? We had the most basic components: love, healthy relationships and excitement to welcome a new life into our family, but there were so many things to learn!  I would like to share one of the things that was very clear, easy to respond to, and helped us tremendously to listen to our baby, before she was able to use words, or other gestures, to tell us what was going on.  We called it the “stop hand”.

I spent a lot of my pregnancy in the mountains, without a lot of interaction with other people, while my husband was working during the days.  I was not alone however!  I was in the good company of 4 dogs, 2 cats, a load of chickens, and 2 beautiful geese named Ping and Vail.  The male goose, Ping, was my constant companion, as I sat in camp chairs outside reading.  He would honk at my big tummy and try to get my attention as I poured through birth and baby books.  Someone had given me a copy of Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child by Katie Allison Granju, Betsy Kennedy and William Sears, for which I will always be grateful.  The ideas presented really rang true for me, and just seemed like the right thing to do.  Co-sleeping, baby wearing, breastfeeding and elimination communication, among other things, were not hard practices to want to do.  Every parent makes different choices and these were just ones that struck an instant chord for us.  I plan to share our personal experience in elimination communication, and other natural parenting choices we made, at a different time.

Listening to our baby’s cues and doing our best in general helped us through a far from ideal birth experience, both mine and my husband’s postpartum depression, and endless sleepless nights.  What I want to focus on in this post is a specific cue that our daughter gave us as a baby, without words, to communicate that something was bothering her, before she started to fuss and cry.  It was the “stop hand”.  As you can see in the photo, Captain had her hand, palm out, open and nestled against her cheek. She was telling us “please stop”.  She would do this while awake, or asleep, to tell us if a noise was too loud, a movement or environment was making her uncomfortable, she didn’t want to be touched a certain way, or if she generally just wanted something to stop.  If we acknowledged this cue and stopped whatever it was that she didn’t like immediately, she was fine and would continue to sleep or go about her baby business.  If not, she would crinkle up like a piece of pink tissue paper and cry.

My husband and I started noticing the “stop hand” being used by other babies on our trips to town.  Once, we were picking up Grandma from the airport and saw a family with a tiny, brand new baby in a car seat carrier. The baby’s parents were hugging the grandparents, and we could see how hard it was for them all to say goodbye. The baby started to fuss in his sleep.  His mom suddenly reached for the straps and quickly lifted his still sleeping body from the carrier to hold him up to everyone for one last look. The stop hand immediately shot to his little cheek and stayed there for quite a while, as though trying to ward off the ooohs and ahhhs, before he crinkled up and wailed in misery.  I remember my husband whispering to me, “Oh look at the stop hand over there!”  We weren’t judging the parents at all as they were sadly saying goodby to loved ones, but we noticed how clear it was that the baby did not want to be touched while sleeping peacefully.

One other time that comes to mind was when I was in a Costco one day. Costco, with its bright lights and warehouse shopping vibe, probably isn’t very comfy for a babe anyways, but I saw a mom talking with a friend and all the while she was pushing the tiny baby back and forth rhythmically in the stroller to “soothe” him.  Each time she pushed and pulled the stroller, she would stop it with her foot and it would go bump, whooosh, bump , whoosh….  The women were admiring the baby, who had a stop hand pressed to his cheek like a little shield. He was sleeping, but starting to wake and really wasn’t ready yet.  I heard his mom say, “I wonder why he always puts his hand on his face like that?” and, 30 seconds later he was screaming.  Again, no judgement here, it is just something we noticed!

The “stop hand” baby cue seems to be fairly common and it helped us soooo much with Captain to recognize it!  It is a wonderful thing to respond to some of the things that babies are “saying”.  Reading their cues helps keep them happier and feeling secure. I would love to hear more about the cues we can experience with babies from any parents who care to share.  I am happy to say that Captain is 5 now and healthy, happy and doing great.  It is funny that still, on occasion, we see the stop hand pop out while she is sleeping.  It just happened the other night when she fell asleep in the car and I picked her up to carry her into the house.  Ohhhh little stop hand! It just fills my heart with the love and tenderness that I have felt toward her for all these years to see that little hand on her cheek!

I wish gentle love to all babies out there, and health and happiness to the children they become.

Good thoughts, Karen

Categories: Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.