Life Family and the Pursuit of Sanity

or… adventures in infertility and babies and family drama!

How Much Is Too Much February 27, 2014

You remember a while back I was all “Ooh, mah parenting style is the suck. Must. Fix.” Well, I was. It was. Major changes were made. Major.


We are now an unschooling, peaceful parenting, anarchy leaning Libertarian family. For real. That means we learn, but don’t have a set curriculum. We don’t punish. At all. And, yeah, the political stuff. That’s mostly me. G is still a morality legislating right winger. We’re working on winning him over from the dark side.


Part of unschooling, at this age is exposing Lil G to a variety of experiences and subjects so that we can help direct his interests as he gets old enough to start career planning. Try as we might the boy has exactly one interest: the ocean, with several sub interests: Antarctica and the Arctic circle. Primarily, he’s interested in leopard seals. Orcas and sharks have their places. He can tell you a chromis from a tang from a parrot fish (those are all tropical fish, BTW, in case, like me, you have no clue what a chromis is). But, he loves. I mean loves leopard seals. A favorite game is pretending there are hundreds of “annoying penguins” hatching and he is the leopard seal that has to eat them all. Also, my three year old roots for the predators when watching Happy Feet (he also roots for Darth Vadar when watching Star Wars and Loki when watching the Avengers). So far, we’ve been rocking the Antarctic obsession for nearly two years. Pretty much since he first saw Happy Feet.


Recently, I was informed that he is going to get a wife when he grows up and they are going to have 3-4 children (this number changes) and he is going to move to Antarctica to “learn about leopard seals.” Daddy and I have to move with him, though, so I can help his wife “take care of all those babies.”


So, I did what any loving, unschooling mama would do. I took my kid to meet Paul Nicklen (he is a Nat Geo photog specializing in the poles with an affinity for leopard seals). During his presentation Mr. Nicklen mentioned that for $40k you too can swim with leopard seals. It was a joke. A. JOKE. A concept which my three year old does not get. The child is dead for real trying to save $40k in his piggy banks.


Obviously, we can’t take a small child to Antarctica. At least not on a swim with leopard seals expedition. Not least of all because Mommy is tropical. But also, he’s too small and would freeze to death and frankly I don’t trust the top predator of the south pole not to eat my child regardless of what “Nicklen says.” (Nicklen has been declared “cooler than Spiderman.”) But, a cruise is possible. We could probably all three do a cruise for $25k’ish. Why the hell am I even seriously considering this? I don’t have $25k for a vacation. I don’t have $25k period. If I did, we’d be a two car family.


But, if it’s his dream? If he wants to grow up to be the next highest regarded leopard seal expert in the world, I have to support that right? When is it too early to start?


Then again, he’s also pissed at polar bears for sometimes eating narwhals and wants to go to AK and “stop them from doing that.” And, AK is far more affordable.


I’m a crazy person, right? He’s three.


The Message March 20, 2013

“Even in the kindest and most loving families two year olds must be reminded a hundred times a day, perhaps by words and acts of their parents, perhaps by events, by Nature herself, that they are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly, even disgusting. They don’t like it! Neither would I. Neither would you.” John Holt


Life with a two year old is hard, friends. They are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly and even disgusting.  They wreck your house and demand unhealthy snacks. They are fiendish little tyrants. They are emotional and fearless (often the reason for being untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive and/or dirty). They soak up knowledge like sponges (even things you don’t want them to soak up). They are bold adventurers. They are… people. People who are still developing their sense of self worth. People who think YOU are the be all and end all of awesome (unless, you are denying them said unhealthy snack). People who take your opinion of them quite seriously, making it kind of important that you don’t let them know that you think they are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly and even disgusting. Even though they are.


Recently, I have been looking for more structured activities to do with the Little Twosome. Partially to help fill our days with more doing and less TV. Mostly to encourage the learning. And somewhat to help combat all of the “when are you going to send him to preschool? and get his hair cut? and good god, you’re doing it all wrong!” comments (fyi… I’m not, when he’s good and damned ready and eff you). The point… I’ve been researching different homeschooling methodologies, by accident, as I’ve been looking for more activities. The two that really seem to resonate with me (for this age group, anyway) are Unschooling and Montesorri. The main message they both present for educating this age group are: “Holy shit, they’re two, let them play!” The main message they both present for learning in general is: “If you take the fear of failure out of the equation, kids tend to learn better.” I think I would be afraid if the primary vibe I was catching from my main caregiver, and life in general, was “Wow, you’re a real pain in the ass!”


If your every effort to help around the house was met with an exasperated sigh and being told to go play somewhere else, you’d probably get tired of the rejection, right? If every activity you wanted to do was not a good one for “right now” you’d probably stop asking to do activities, huh? You’d probably start soaking up the message that you are inconvenient. I think I’d probably be scared to ask to do anything if I felt that I was viewed as an inconvenience to the people I loved most in the whole world. I think that would be a terrible feeling. So, why is it OK to make our little people feel this way? Yeah, because it’s not.


I am as guilty as anyone of needing to watch my tone and loosen up a little. I have to remind myself everyday that the world will not end if the toys stay on the floor for a couple of days. Nothing bad will happen if the laundry takes a long time to fold and not all of it is done “right.” Water can be mopped up when spilled, dishes can be rewashed if necessary. At two a child’s main learning takes place through play and play is usually pretending or imitating.


Let them help with the dishes. Let them fold the towels. Let them help out. There is no higher praise to a two year old than “Wow, you’re a great helper!” except, maybe “You sure are an excellent helper.” Let them make messes. Let them help clean up after they’ve made a mess. Let them have adventures. Let them explore daily life. It may seem boring to you, but they’ve only been here a couple of years and they’ve only been big enough to help for a few months. This is still all quite new and exciting to them. Tell them that they are big, strong, learning, trustworthy, helpful and loved (even if they are stinky and dirty, and then give them a sensory bath so they’ll be clean and smell nice). That is the best way to help them learn at this age. Plus, you know, it helps with their self esteem.


So, that’s what we’re working on around here, more daily life DOING. More letting them help. More showing them how capable they are. Well, and letting them make giant messes with sensory bins, ’cause that shit is fun.



Cheap AND Crunchy March 5, 2013

Filed under: Ways in which I Crunch — arminta @ 9:11 pm

Would you use toothpaste under your pits?


How about wash your face with deodorant? No?


Brush your teeth with face wash? Nope?


I do.


OK, the truth is I use one product for all three of these tasks. But, my husband likes to tease me for brushing with my deodorant 🙂


The miracle product that does all three of these tasks (really well, might I add)? Coconut Oil. Technically, coconut oil and baking soda.


I make a paste of half coconut oil and half baking soda and keep it in a little tub in the bathroom. I wash my face with it in the shower, then brush my teeth with it when I get out, then smear a bit under my pits. Even though I know it’s the same thing and my pits are clean it grosses me out to smear it on my pits then brush my teeth. Kind of like how I can’t poop after I shower…


Why am I telling you this? Well, oversharing is “my thing.” But, also, I’m really pleased with my teeth, pits and face…


If I Had a Million Dollars June 6, 2012

We talk about this a lot around here. What would we do if we were rich. What would daily life look like?

I’m lazy enough to think it might look like Saturday morning for a few months. But, am ambitious enough to know that wouldn’t last. Eventually, I’d need a project or 80 (please see post from yesterday, about my love of starting projects). Plus, I’m the type that wants to leave a legacy for my family. A real legacy. something that my great-grand-kids will appreciate and benefit from. Like, a farm.


Yep, a farm.


If I had the money, I would totally invest in a large bit of land for my family (when G and my mom speak of this they call it “the compound” because “duh, the sky is falling”) and the tools to help us turn it into a relatively sustainable home. Meaning, renewable energy and on site water and growing the food. I’d love to have a working farm/tourist attraction concept. That is one of our favorite places to plunk down cash in the fall and would be another way to ensure we wouldn’t need day jobs. Not that I have a day job now…


Yes, given enough money I wouldn’t chose a life of less work, just a different kind of work. The kind where my boy gets to spend the days with his Daddy and learns the satisfaction of having personally had a hand in feeding his family. I would build a place where I know future generations could call home.


What would you do with a million dollars?


Screen Time and My Mushy Boy March 15, 2012

I know I’m supposed to be all crunchy and everything. I am. But, my kid… not so much. He is like the anti-crunch. Co-sleep, not for him. Nursing, he’s had enough. (Cloth) Diapers, we don’t need no stinkin’ diapers. And now, he watches TV.


Simmer down now. I know I have more control over this one than the others. Thing is… I don’t mind it so much. I suppose I should, but, I don’t. Now, he isn’t watching Spongebob and South Park and all other manner of mind killing animation. No, he’s watching Sesame Street. We might throw in a few minutes of Dinosaur Train if there is something I need to get done. Every now and then we might watch a little Cat in the Hat if Mama’s feeling really lazy (or needs to get a boobie or two crocheted). But, mostly it’s just Sesame Street. And, my 18 month old recognizes about 1/2 of the alphabet. And counts to 4. And knows several shapes. And a couple of colors. And all the animals, and their sounds. I do mean ALL the animals. And he plays memory match on the kindle, and makes matches. And holy cow he’s not even two yet, I don’t think Sesame Street is hurting his development At.All. (I’m not trying to be braggy, just trying to make the point that the TV he’s watching isn’t slowing him down or hampering his development.)


That said, the AAP has scared my husband into monitoring screen time to the minute. Because children under two who watch ANY TV are bound to develop ADHD and autism and will likely become serial killers. (That may be an exaggeration of the actual AAP statement… Here’s a little more balanced article sans sarcasm, lest ya’ll think I’m making this shit up and not really reading up on the subject!) Once again we have a little disagreement in issues parenting…


I’m not wanting to let Baby G just watch TV all day. But… sometimes I need to do laundry and cook dinner and every now and again I do like a shower. I suppose I could just lock the littles in living room and let them battle it out while I get shit done. Or, I could turn on their little shows and know that they won’t fight, might learn something and will be much more content while I have to do something away from them. Daddy is of the opinion that I should “just do what they used to do before TVs and PBS Kids.”


That got me to thinking, what DID “they” used to do? So, I asked my mom. Turns out she used to let us watch Sesame Street! My Gran is passed and my Mamaw is not really coherent anymore, so I couldn’t ask my Grandmothers. So, I asked my great aunts (and their friends apparently, also how cool is it that my great aunts are on Facebook & e-mail!). Know what I found out? Of the 7 women that gave me answers 4 of them had a mother or mother-in-law that lived with them when their kids were little (funnily enough, for my aunts it was their hub’s mom that lived with them, not their mom). Over half had “live in help.” Of the 3 that didn’t, 2 lived within walking distance of a relative that helped with the kids. All of them felt comfortable turning their kids loose outside. All of them admitted they wouldn’t do that today. Not just because of crime either, one specifically said there were too many cars around now. You know what else they told me? The big kids watch the little kids. Like “duh.”


So, let’s see here, I have no family within walking distance on whom to pawn the children. I have no live in help. My MIL is a batshit crazy hose beast that can’t come to my house at all and my mother works 60+ hours a week. And, I have no older children to watch the little ones and probably never will. So, doing what  they used to do? No so much an option.


I now feel no guilt at all letting Elmo babysit for an hour a day so I can load the dishwasher, do some laundry, clean the breakfast mess and maybe one day manage to take a shower. If the AAP has an issue with that, they can feel free to suck it.


New Ways in Which I Crunch April 17, 2011

Filed under: Baby G,Cloth Diapers,EC,Ways in which I Crunch — arminta @ 11:49 am

So, despite my constant assertions that I “am NOT a hippie” I keeps proving that in fact I might be a hippie. Or at least am a little crunchy. First there was the whole natural birth thing (hah!) then the breastfeeding, and the cloth diapering and let’s don’t forget the co-sleeping (oh, for heaven’s sake this is not new news! stop gasping every time I say co-sleep!) and now… we are practicing diaper free baby care. I know, right?

{crunch} <- The sound of my granola taking over…

I think “diaper free” may be a BIT of a misnomer. It’s more “less” diapered time or “natural infant hygiene.” One very popular (right, because not diapering your pre-verbal infant is so popular in the developed world these days! I’m hilarious today!) term is EC or elimination communication. So, am I just letting Baby G shit all over my house and wash it away with his pee? Not exactly.

I am letting him poop in his potty though. Yes, I bought him a potty. I’m letting him pee in his potty, too. You know, when I catch it. That said, I actually have been catching some. So, we’re pretty excited about that. I’ll tell you this much, dumping/rinsing a potty chair and wiping a booty is seven shades of easier than changing/rinsing a poopy diaper. Just sayin’

What is the routine, exactly and how the hellz do I know it’s time to try to catch a potty? Well, I have been letting him go around in a prefold (coverless) or completely balls out naked (from the waist down, we live in Ohio, it’s not “naked” weather, yet). This has been letting me get to know his patterns. For instance, the boy drops a deuce half way through brekkie everyday. (Which I already knew because pooping is very obvious from outside the diaper.) But, he also pees about 10 minutes later. (Which I did not know…) Before I just knew that after breakfast his diaper was wet and dirty. He pees like 3 times in 40 minutes when he first gets up in the morning. Again, new info… So, I’m using this info along with his cues (which so far are only obvious for #2’s, he seems to pee without even knowing it himself) to come up with good times to put him on the potty. Today we sat on the potty while Daddy did his biznas (and caught a pee) and during breakfast when he started leaning over the side of his high chair (and caught a poop), so we’ve had a good day so far. Now, he has also pee’d on Daddy today and pee’d in the bed this morning. But we were able to catch those with dirty laundry, so no harm done (and they helped us learn more about his patterns).

*** Now, I feel the need to clarify… this is NOT about potty training, or getting him toilet independent any sooner than he’s ready. It’s just about not having him sitting in pee all day. I have been really grossed out by the concept of diapers for a while and found that this allows us to help him be clean and dry using tools we were going to need eventually anyway. I totally get the convenience of diapers, and am in no way trying to get rid of them completely. Just reduce our dependence on them while keeping him clean and dry and comfortable. I am not coercing him (please try to coerce a 7 month old sometime, not as easy as it sounds…), or making him do anything uncomfortable to him. ***

Have any of you tried this crazy idea of going diaper free (or partially diaper free)? Are you a crunchier or less crunchy mama than you pictured (or do you plan to be a crunchy mama)? Talk to me people!