Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Who Needs Pants?

Sadly, I don't have much brian power today as I am the fourth fortunate recipient of our family cold/cough/sick thing and have already spent the little that I had on work related matters.  But.....I do have a few photos to share and some quick thoughts to accompany them.  I feel like I am cheating but I suppose I have the whole rest of the year to be thoughtful.

Below is a pic of my dear friend's son, Zeke.  His mom, Bethany, is one of the best moms I know.  She is thoughtful, intentional, faithful in her convictions and entirely committed to her role as tender nurturer of her family.  What I love about her most, is her ability to keep perspective on what really matters most in life and parenting.  For example, we took a trip out to the Folsom zoo a few weeks back (GREAT zoo, btw...) and it wasn't until I was all the way out there that I realized I forgot Elena's shoes.  She had no socks or tights either. I wouldnt have cared except that I knew she would want to walk ALL around rather than sit in the stroller.  Feeling like a total loser that my baby, despite having a super cute dress, was barefoot in the zoo, I asked a few of the moms with babes there if they happened to have any other shoes on them or in their cars.  When I asked Bethany, she very casually said "Oh no, we forgot shoes too..AND we forgot pants!!!
Clearly, Zeke did not mind and I felt a whole lot better that one, I wasn't the only one who forgets to cloth my children before leaving the house and that two, REALLY, its not a big deal to go without shoes (or pants) every once in a while.  
How cute is this little man!?

I have been reading the book Raising A Reader and have been inspired to attempt to instill in my kids a love for reading by spending more indulgent book time with them.  Here are my sweet girls enjoying some time of their own.

The Liberty of London for Target Bathing Suits were AMAZING!? Did anyone else see them? They were gone quick. I wish LOL would make a discount line of fabrics. The last time I was at Britx in SF, my mom and I feel in LOVE with some fabric and were going to make the girls dresses with it until we noticed it was Liberty of London and cost $50.00 a yard. Yikes.  Anyway, I exercised my self control and only came home with 2 suits for Halle.  This is one of them.   Love it!

Have you ever been this close to a peacock? (I only had a 50mm lens!) You will be at the Folsom zoo. :)

I wonder what it's like to have a big brother.  I am so happy that my girls will know.  Hayden is so sweet with Elena and I pray that he continues to be as kind, helpful and genuinely concerned for his sisters.  He loves to carry them both.  How sweet is this!?!

Spring has sprung! The weather is finally warming up (okay, minus this week!) and you know what that means ....(you know if you have seen my recent FB status) .....playing naked outside can sufficiently replace most regular bathing! :) 
This is all for now my friends.  I am off to my bed (okay, I might have to watch Idol first) to catch up on some much needed sleep. Goodnight. (I KNOW its only 7!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Musing - Too Many Voices

I have been reading a lot lately.  I'd like to say that the amount of time I have spent with my nose in a book over the last few weeks is a norm for me, but alas, that would be a lie.
My fervor for enduring this sort of intellectual overload was spurred on by a few things including, but not limited to:
1 - the need for updated and more effective tools in battling power struggles with the 5 year old
2 - learning the 'hows' and 'whys' of home education (YES! we decided to homeschool - let this be my official announcement to the blogosphere)
3 - needing to figure out how to manage my constantly evolving home life
4 - the hunger for meaningful thought and reflection

After processing lots of parenting advice and philosophy as well as being indoctrinated with homeschooling theory and methodology, AND the reminder of the many areas of my heart and mind that need considerable work, er, total redemption.......my brain is kind of tuckered out.
Has is ever happened to you that when you decide to work really hard at something as soon as you do it seems like that thing all the sudden got a lot harder?!  So has been my life in recent weeks (particularly with the 5 year old).  And I have felt discouraged and disheartened in all my efforts.
After mentioning to a friend at church the sense of burn out I was feeling from working so hard to correctly (but seemingly unsuccessfully) apply so much 'expert' advice, she wisely responded "yes, that is too many voices".......
And she was right.
So, for this moment in time I have silenced all voices but One.  This One spoke to me very clearly a few mornings back and this is what it said:

"For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed"  Isa. 50:7

Despite my need to silence certain voices for the moment, I would still love to hear yours.....

Until next time....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Musing - FOMO

This past weekend I learned of yet another debilitating disorder women tend to suffer from.  The symptoms include anxiety and discontentment sometimes coupled with envy, covetousness, and loneliness.  Children tend to suffer from it as well and it can, in certain kids, even lead to significant behavioral problems.......

Apparently, my friend’s husband either coined this term or heard it somewhere and deemed it an appropriate description of his wife and her friends.  He was right about me. (And a few others I know of :) )

FOMO is an acronym and stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  You know what it’s like. Right?

Why are we so concerned with what goes on when we are not present?!?!

Of course, there are things in our lives that we understandably don’t want to miss out on like watching our kids grow up; their first steps, first words, other significant milestones and all the rest of their journey of discovery of the world around them.  We don’t want to miss those seldom but obvious opportunities to improve our careers, our financial situation or our health.  But I am inclined to think that we (at least, I) suffer from Fomo more often than is consistent with those sorts of experiences. I have daily Fomo.

I fear missing out on a class at the gym that happens to be really good that day.
I fear missing out on a good movie or TV episode that everyone will soon be talking about.
I fear missing a chance to speak.
I fear missing out on a connectedness with my husband.
I fear missing out on a really fun time with my kids. 
I fear missing out on the bonding experiences of friends
I fear missing out on sleep.

Sometimes it seems this fear is insatiable.  I fear missing out on so many different things that the conflict of desires is positively unavoidable and compromises constantly have to be made. Even in times when I have made a prudent decision not to participate in something despite my fear, I still have some small sense of anxiety over what is happening without me or what didn’t happen at all. 

I am also quite familiar with another phenomenon that I believe to be an underlying cause of this well known FOMO.  FOE, or, Fear of Emptiness, seems to come into play here.  All of what we desire to experience in our fear of missing out is really a desire to bring purpose and fulfillment to our lives.  Would you agree that in our present day and culture we are practically addicted to fulfillment? At least some of us?  We fear the empty space inside of us. 

A long time ago I read a fascinating and enlightening article on this topic.  It is titled Entering the Emptiness, by Gerald May.  After joking about and pondering over our FOMO with some friends last weekend, I decided to read it again.  The introduction says this of the authors work:

“May revels that in our tendency to fill up any open space in our days we are ‘addicted to fulfillment’. It is his belief, however, that the emptiness we experience when we embrace spaciousness or quiet is actually our never-completely-satisfied ‘yearning for love’.  This yearning draws us to God.”

The article goes on to reflect on spaciousness of form, time and of soul, the three primary ways we experience it in our lives.  He talks of uncluttered rooms, pauses in our activities and “the inner emptiness, the room inside our hearts, the unfulfilled quality of our consciousness.”
He argues that our aversion to all forms of spaciousness but particularly that of the soul is “because of what appears to us within it”.  Inside the emptiness, the speciousness, we see things for how they really are; we are confronted with the Truth, which can sometimes be uncomfortable for us.  Our efforts to fill our days, minds and lives are efforts to distract us from what really IS beneath all else inside of us.  When I avoid spaciousness in my life it’s because I don’t like the reality of my discontentment often manifested by my fear of what I am lacking or what is am missing out on. Since a young girl I have felt the plague of the yearning for my true home and the ultimate satisfaction that is only to be had on the other side of eternity.  May speaks of the ‘Myth of Fulfillment’ and how it can adversely effect our participation in true love, which, as stated earlier, we seem to be constantly yearning for. “ …We make several great mistakes if we think life should or even can be resolved to a point of complete serenity and fulfillment.  To believe this is to commit ourselves to fantasy that does not exist and that, if it were true, would kill our love and end in stagnation”.  I am comforted by the purpose these ideas bring to my feelings of discontentment.  Though never fully remedied, this ‘unfulfilled quality of my consciousness’ drives me into love.  Though at times I would rather, as May writes, “ have the anesthetized serenity of dullness than the liberating dis-ease of truth”, it is this often unwanted quality of my character that propels me to continue to seek God, His love, and the truly meaningful things of life. 

So my fear of missing out does highlight what, in some light, may seem a negative aspect of my humanness (or womanhood!) but actually speaks of something of real value and is essential for proper growth and maturity.  It is, however, my responsibility to curb my anxiety over all that I miss out on in life and embrace whatever emptiness it leaves.  When I do, I will experience freedom and growth that can not be known when my spaces are cluttered and overly full.  May writes “Spaciousness is always a beginning, a possibility, a potential, a capacity for birth. Space exists not in order to be fulfilled but to create.  In space, to the extent we can bear the truth of the way things are, we find the ever-beginning presence of love.  Take the time, then; make the space.  Seek it wherever you can find it, do it however you can.  The manner does not matter, and the experiences you have there is of secondary importance.  Seek the Truth, not what is comfortable. Seek the real, not the easy.”

Do you have FOMO?
Do you fear emptiness?
Are you (even a little) afraid of the empty spaces inside yourself?
Do you know why or care to share? 
Can you think of a time in your life when you embraced emptiness and, as a result, 'birthed' something of great value?

Until next time........

P.S. If you want to read this article from the book Simpler Living, Compassionate Life, I found it online here:
View the html version as it is much easier to read

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tuesday Musing - Killing Monsters

Again, I have to say thank you to those of you who have responded to my posts.  I really love hearing from you.  I must say, I am impressed by your grocery budgets and am inspired to keep working hard to stick to mine! Kara, I cant believe that without a budget you only spent an average of $500.  I could seriously spend $1,000 easily, if not held by the constraint of a budget! :) Bethany, impressive.  Our budget was the same when we had 2 little ones but I found it difficult to afford much organic with in those means.  Loved your cost cutting suggestions.  Julie, don't fret, I am convinced that all of are less frugal and efficient in some areas of our lives. For one it might be groceries, for another, late fee's on bills, a gym membership they rarely use, or a gas guzzling car.......

Once again, I am inclined to write about a topic that seems to consume my life these days :), children.  Sorry if you read this and you don't have any, I hate to alienate any one of my precious few readers but I find that the kiddos are really my only source of inspiration right now.  I have recently been thinking of how desperately I am in need of a little rendezvous with some of my old 'food for thought' friends. I have Kierkegaard waiting for me at the library as soon as I finish the 9 books I have out right now.  Until then, this is the best I can do......

I saw this book at the library the other day and was immediately intrigued.  In case you cant read the sub-title, it says, "Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heros and Make Believe Violence".  That pretty much sums up the basis of the book for you.  The author brings up some very interesting points including the fact that while there is an abundance of literature on the negative effects of violence in the media on children, there really isn't ANY on the possible benefits of it.  As is likely in this case, naivety can sometimes cause us to (unintentionally even) discredit something as untrue simply because there isn't much discussion about it.  Knowing our hearts even better than we, the Bible reflects:
"The first one to plead his cause seems right. Until his neighbor comes and examines him." Pro 18:17
I don't know about you, but I have certainly heard a mouthful about how horrible and destructive Power Rangers, Pokemon, war-related video games and the like are to our children's minds and society.  Yet, could this kind of make believe violence have an appropriate place in our children's lives?  This author sets out to prove it does. He sites examples of clinical situations where a child who has dealt with great tragedy uses violet play as a means of coping.  Similarly, and more relevant to the masses is the idea that all children use violent play as a means of attributing power to themselves giving them better ability to cope with life as a very powerless being.  This is about as much as I have gotten out of the few chapters I have read so far.  Much of the introductory chapters simply begin to broach the topic (I suppose he feels a strong need to ease into it with careful justification given the critics he may be up against) and ignite a contagious curiosity into this strange phenomenon - Why do children (especially boys) seem intrigued by, drawn to and fascinated with violent interaction between fictitious characters??

On a personal level, I am well aware of the reality that no matter how hard you try to keep guns and all other weapons from your son's hands AND mind, you will, at least once, find him using a finger, stick or any other accessible material in some type of combative way.  At this moment in time, Hayden (5 yo) is obsessed (and I DO mean OBSESSED) with Star Wars. (He almost pitched a down right fit in the aisle at Target the other day when i would not buy him a star wars bedding set despite the fact that he knows full well our firm policy in our home about not decorating with licensed characters.)  He spends practically every moment of his waking day enacting full force, light saber combat between Osaka, Anniken, Grevious and Obi-Won (okay, I KNOW I spelled all those names wrong...sorry).  Even Halle likes to join in on occasion and although she would rather just discuss the matter, she often seems equally as interested in the details of how Anniken slayed Grevious.  While I try to keep things from ever getting too gruesome, I do not often intervene in any of the sword fighting, slaying, shooting, attacking or wrestling that goes on in my home despite my immediate urge to yell "calm down".
We do have 2 rules.  1) when someone says to stop or is clearly indicating they are uncomfortable with the situation, you must stop.  (Indeed different kids have differing levels of tolerance to this stuff) and 2) you must NEVER point a gun, real or pretend (meaning actual toy gun or finger/stick gun), at a REAL person.  The latter has been called into question on a few occasions recently.  It may seem a double standard that I will allow other weapons to utilized to (play) harm, even kill, other REAL (playing) persons, but I just cant seem to back down. It just doesn't seem right. (hows that for good justification).

Anyway, I know that if you have boys of your own at home or grew up with brothers, you know full well what this is like.  I am curious to hear from you about a few things:

Do you have violent play in your home? If not, is it because you don't allow it?
Where do you stand on your children's exposure and participation in violence in or inspired by media?
What sorts of rules to you have in your home regarding violent play? (if you don't have kids, what sorts or rules were present in your home growing up, if any)
Do you ever notice girls engaging in violent play? If so, to what extent and did they initiate it?
Anything else you want to mention about this particular topic.

I have been back and forth from this post to other business for sometime now so hopefully this will all flow (only to the extent my writing ever does!).

Until next time......

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday Musing - Groceries Galore!

Well, here I am again....off to a good start.

I want to start by saying a big thank you to all who responded to my last post about household chores. It has been really neat to hear from people about how they do things and what works for them. I have taken many of the things others mentioned and incorporated them into the 'system' I am presently implementing. In just one short week I have been very encouraged by my children's participation around the house. It is amazing how much it lightens my load just to have them do a few simple things like dust-bust the floor, put away laundry and make their beds. Having a daily/weekly routine really helps me to know that eventually things WILL get done rather than constantly living with the anxiety that comes with wondering 'when in the world I will get to that!?'
So, again, thank you. And please feel free to continue to share with me more on that matter.

Another topic I have been craving to hear from others about is groceries and everything that has to do with them. I am quite the grocery nazi, if you will. I am super picky about what I buy and how much I pay for it. Sometimes my incessant need to get what I want for the price I want to pay causes great anxiety but in the end, I think it pays off.
I work with (what I consider) a very tight budget of $480 a month (family of 5). $62 of it goes to CSA produce delivered every other week. I buy organic versions of the 'dirty dozen' (12 most highly contaminated produce items) and conventional of the 'clean 15' (least contaminated). Until recently, I have bought conventional meats from California - some 'range free' or humanely raised but not always due to cost. I am beginning to rethink my meat purchases as I know that the highest amounts of pesticide residues are found in meats (some 10x's higher than produce as I recall). I am always interested in more good info on these topics (most contaminated foods) as I seek to be very intentional and informed about what I am willing to pay premium price for. I feel that that organic food industry is slightly bourgeois (though Wal Mart seems to be working to change that) and while I am a fan of local, sustainable agriculture, I reject the snobbish disdain for conventional agricultural I often see in others. I am a big fan of being informed when it comes to food selection - knowing where our food comes from, why we buy what we do, how our previous experiences in life, school, and career affect the way we shop/eat. Everyone has the right to choose what they want but they also have the right (and should exercise it) to KNOW about their food. Enough about that.
I shop at a very wide range of places including Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Bel Air, Nugget Market, Walmart, CSA, Food 4 Less and my all time fav...............Grocery Store Outlet. (Dont knock it cuz its the MOST ghetto place EVER.) If it weren't for my beloved GSO, my kid would not get a super cool Fruit-a bu (organic, whole fruit, no sugar added version of 'fruit-by-the-foot') in his lunch everyday and thus would not be the coolest kid in his class. :) I shop for the highest quality foods at the lowest prices. GSO has a great variety of natural and organic foods for very inexpensive i.e - I buy flat of 20 extra large cage free organic brown eggs for $2.99! Again, I could tell you all about the deals at GSO, but I will stop.
Last but not least, I always pay in CASH! I am so much more frugal when I am spending money I can actually see. In fact, I can become somewhat of a hoarder. I never fail to annoy the heck out of checkers when i ask to have 3 things taken off the bill so I don't have to break another 20! Anyway, I could go on and on about the neurotic details of my shopping routines but I will spare you. I really want to know how YOU shop. Specifically, I would like to know:
What is your budget? (I told u mine!!!!)
How to you track your spending/stick to your budget (or do you!?)
Where do you shop and more importantly, why?
Do you buy organic or conventional or a mix of both. If you mix it up like I do, what things do you buy organic and why?
If you don't buy organic, why not? (I'm not saying that I think you should, I just want to know why -totally neutral. I realize some people don't feel it is important and want to hear that angle too)
Anything else interesting about your grocery/food acquisition process you would like to share.

I realize this may not be a very interesting topic for some but I would still love your thoughts!

Until next time. (I feel something a bit more thought provoking might be in order).