Friday, November 19, 2010

Glass Fusing

A while ago I took the girls to an art show and the thing that really caught E's eye was the jewelry and trinkets made out of glass. The artist explained to us that they are made by taking small pieces of glass and heating them in a kiln until they melt together. I love how connections are made: as soon as I mentioned it on facebook, a friend let me know that a local homeschooling group was doing a glass fusing workshop for kids!

We went to that workshop on Monday and learned a ton. The artist first had the kids all sit down and she told them about the history of glass fusing and blowing. She showed them pieces that had been made by the first process used by ancient Egyptians to pieces that had been made using more modern technology. She talked about the natural ways glass is made, like by lightening, meteor strikes and volcanoes. She showed them the difference between opaque and transparent glass. She talked about the elements of glass and how all those elements have to come together just right, with enough heat, to create glass.

Then the kids broke up into groups to look at bags full of colored glass, sort them according to whether they were opaque or transparent and see which ones had been heated at higher temperatures (as could be determined by how rounded the edges were and how blended the colors were). Then next table was where they learned how to cut glass, which was surprisingly safe. They used a knife that was a small, circular blade that would not cut their hands, but put a scrape in the glass when they pushed hard enough and rolled it across the piece. Then they took a clamp and squeezed it right on the line they had made with the knife and the glass broke cleanly along the line. Finally, they got to pick out pieces of glass in all shapes and sizes to put together to make a pendant. E made one for herself and I made one for L since she wasn't there. The artist took them home, attached a loop for the string and heated them in her kiln. We just got them in the mail today and they turned out beautifully!

E is so excited to have a necklace that she made herself!

Native American Pow Wow, traditions and dance

Wow, it's been a busy week!

Saturday we went to a Native American Pow Wow that was open to the public. There were lots of booth set up with beautiful, hand crafted items. Every thing from pottery to jewelry to clothes to salmon jerky. The best part, however, was the dance! The whole building reverberated with the sounds of the drums and chanting, and men and women were all dressed up in beautiful, intricate traditional clothing. I complimented a young women on her "costume" and was informed that they are not costumes, they are called outfits or regalia. E loved the dancing of course! Some of the dances were performances that we watched and others were open for anyone to come to the dance floor to join them. During the couple's dance, I offered to go be E's partner, but she said "no, I'll find someone else to dance with!" and left me in the bleachers. She found a little boy her age and danced with him for three dances. I wish I had a camera!

When we first got there I spent about 10 minutes just watching the dancing and fighting back tears. I was shocked at how profoundly it affected me. The drums, the chanting and the singing were so primal and expressive that I could just feel the ancient connection through my whole body. I watched an old woman hobble onto the dance floor with her cane and someone holding her hand. She slowly walked around the circle as the younger dancers did everything from a more rhythmic, on-beat walk to perfectly timed, rhythmic yet flowing and graceful spinning and jumping. I could imagine that she had been joining these dances since she was the age of the two and three year olds she was dancing beside that day.

The whole thing left me wishing that I had some kind of culture and tradition to pass on to my kids. I mean, we are beginning to form some meaningful traditions as we celebrate the Biblical holidays and learn about the Hebrew roots of our faith, but it would be nice to have something cultural to pass on as well. I am a full blooded American with the typical Heinz 57 mishmash of nationalities, but nothing to call my own. And really, what culture do Americans have? Fourth of July? How boring.

So I guess I will act in typical American fashion and just steal from other cultures what I don't have. I'm looking for more cultural events to take the kids to, but especially dance since E enjoys that so much.

The experience also reinforced my desire to have a blessing way with this baby. A blessing way is a Navajo tradition to bless the mother and baby before labor, but similar traditions are part of pregnancy in cultures around the world. I'm not interested in everything that the Navajo tradition entails and would like to incorporate a variety of things from different cultures and my own beliefs. Of course it would be important to me that the blessings were prayers to YHVH. The spiritual aspect appeals to me so much more than the materialism of a baby shower ever could.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flowing Days

Every day is full of lots of questions and answers and learning, but some days the connections just really seem to flow and the conversations are so interesting. On these days I seem to have no shortage of ideas and they seem to have no shortage of curiosity. The last few days have been those kinds of days.

E and I talked about caves, caverns and catacombs and I looked up videos of them today.

The first thing L did when she woke up was to point to each finger on one hand and count 1,2,3,4,5 and then the other hand 1,2,3,4,5,6 (she's missing one apparently! lol) I haven't done any counting with her AT ALL just for the sake of counting, but we play lots of hide and seek and we count things in real life that need counting.

We bought some new pets- two little mice- and talked about what they eat and how to take care of them.

On the way to the pet store E was saying she could read some things, like her name, but not everything. I told her that once she knew the sounds of the letters and could put them together, she could read anything (which I know totally isn't true because of the way English spelling works, but kind of). As we pulled up to the store, she pointed out the words on the front of Office Max and Winco and Petsmart. I helped her sound out Petsmart. Then she wanted to know how to spell "shirt" and wanted it written down. I didn't have a pen or paper, but I promised to show her later which I did.

I forget what brought this up, but E told me that she wanted to go to Kansas. I asked her what was in Kansas that she wanted to see and she said lions and giraffes. I told her those would be in Africa, but she still really wanted to go Kansas. She was also quite sure we could walk there. I showed her on google maps where Kansas and Africa are in relation to where we are. Then she had lots of fun playing with the markers on the map and moving them around. I named a bunch of states and countries for her and we talked about where she was born and where a lot of our family lives.

Today she was asking how cars are made and wanted to know what a cement truck was doing when we saw it driving down the road. I answered her questions as best I could, but also offered to look up a video for her. I found an episode of How It's Made that shows how cars are made, so we will probably watch that tomorrow.

There are SO MANY questions and answers and little snippets of conversations throughout the day that I wish I could remember! I know we talked about penguins, the arctic, dogs, unicorns, and so many other things I can't even keep track.

In the last few days we have also gone swimming, to a babywearing meeting, for a walk, and ran all the typical errands like the grocery store and post office. All these things can be so mundane OR they can be exciting opportunities for discovery. We like to make them the later! D also made a ginger bread house with the girls last night and I made play dough for them tonight.

Caves, Caverns and Catacombs

Yesterday E told me that she wanted to live underground with the bugs! The first thing that popped in my mind was the catacombs and I told her about them. Not the violent, scary parts, but the fact that they are underground and people lived in them and there are probably lots of bugs down there. Then the conversation turned to caves. We were in the car, so I made a mental note to look them up when we got home.

Today I found this Planet Earth video all about caves and the bugs and bats that live in them. We watched about half of it so far- fascinating and beautiful!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Connections with China

After E's recent interest in Chinese dance and boats, I saw that there was a Chinese Autumn Moon festival at the Chinese gardens. We really wanted to see the Lion Dance, but due to some car trouble, we got there just as they finished up. We were pretty bummed out, but at least the girls did get to see the lion that stuck around after the dance. It was one of those huge two person costumes, red and fuzzy and covered in rhinestones and other sparkly things. The girl inside the head did a great job with the kids! The lion would come up to them and gently nibble at the kids clothes with its mouth which was bigger than their heads. With the kids that were braver, she'd stand up, so the lion was towering over them and shake the mane. The kids who were more hesitant got to pet the wagging tail.

They had a coloring stations set up with pictures of moon cake and tea for the kids to color. We learned that moon cake is a traditional food for the Autumn Moon and E wanted to try some. We went over to their tea house and had moon cake and tea. The tea was in a pot that had all the cranberries, tea leaves and orange peel inside and then a filter, so when it was poured out, only the tea came out. So the girls got to see how the tea was made. We explored the gardens for a few hours and they were really fascinated by the fish in the pond, the architecture and the water fall.

There was also someone dressed up in a Panda costume and both girls loved that, but especially L. For days she was talking about the "Paba Beaw!"

We went home to get D so the girls could show him everything and so I could try out their free acupuncture demonstration. When I went to sign up for the acupuncture they wouldn't let me do it because I'm pregnant though. :(

I told D about the moon cakes and what the ingredients are. He said "Oh, yah I know all the ingredients in them." How did he know that?! A video game. One of his video games is from China and one of the quests is to find all the ingredients for the moon cake. That was a cool connection!

Friday, September 24, 2010


We put our YMCA membership on hold for 3 months and just started it up again. E had been pretty close to teaching herself to swim before we stopped going, so I wondered if she would remember everything. She jumped in tonight as if she had never been away from the water! She can swim underwater and doggy paddle short distances over the water. She's also learning to tread water. L LOVES the slide and jumping off the side of the pool. She goes under and when she comes up she says "I went under! Do it AGAIN!"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chinese Dance and Dragon Boats

About a week ago, we were watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and E was really fascinated by the dragon boat that they take down the chocolate river. She's seen the movie dozens of times, but this time that just jumped out at her. "Why does it look like that? Why are they drumming? Why is it a dragon?" I told her that it was similar to boats in China and that's probably where they got the idea. I was planning on looking them up on youtube for her the next day, but forgot about it.

Then the other day, she bought herself an umbrella. She had it open and was kneeling down and spinning it in front of her and it reminded me of Chinese dance. I told her about that and when we got home I looked up Chinese dance and dragon boats. That led to fan dances and ribbon dances as well.

We found videos like these:

Dragon Boat Festival

Silkworm Chinese Dance

Korean Fan Dance

Chinese Umbrella Dance

The umbrellas all looked like parasols to me, so I explained the difference to her. Now she wants a parasol, a fan, and some ribbons too. This girl loves to dance!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Girls

I had said a few days ago that my next blog post was going to be on how sweet my kids are instead of the constant posts about how we are working through the difficult parts of parenting. Then I wrote the yoga post! So, here's the "my kids are so awesome and I love them so much and I am constantly amazed by them" post.

I write a lot about the challenges we have had with E, but she really is a sweet, mature, kind, thoughtful child. She's very lovey and likes to hug and snuggle all the time. She plays really well with her sister (even though they have their fair share of sibling moments too!). She loves to help show her sister how to do things and she is great at coming up with games for them to play. She is pretty understanding of the fact that he sister is little and is still learning a lot of the things that E already knows. She ties to comfort L when she is sad and will bring her toys to distract her or sing her songs. E is a great friend to her friends. She plays easily with almost every kid she meets whether they are younger or older.

L has always been pretty easy going, so I don't post much about challenges with her. The last few months she has been very.... TWO! but it is so much easier for me to see it as a developmental thing instead of defiance. She is very aware of other people's feelings, especially E's. By 18 months, she could see when E was "sad and cwying" and would try to comfort her. She also plays really well with other kids.

They both do really sweet things all the time, like bring me flowers and draw me pictures and help with whatever I am doing. E randomly asks me how I'm feeling and how the baby in my tummy is doing, and L pretty much copies everything E does. They will do things like give me a neck rub if they see me hurting.

It is amazing watching them grow, seeing their personalities develop, and watching to see who they are and who they are becoming!

Sunrise Yoga

For over a week I have been getting up early and going for a walk. Not every day, but probably 5 or 6 out of the last 9 days or so. L has been an earlier riser lately (between 6:30 and 7:30), so it started with me getting up early with her. Some days I have gone with just her and a few times E woke up and went with us. On those days we walk slow, look at bugs, pick up rocks, talk a lot and enjoy the sunshine and cool air. On the days that I have gone alone, I walk faster, go further, and pray and meditate.

This morning I woke up a little before 6 and got to go out by myself. I took my yoga mat and after walking for about half an hour, I went to the park and did yoga and meditated for another half an hour. It felt so good!

Now, I am NOT normally an early riser! My usual schedule is to be in bed by 10-12 (with about once a week 1-3) and up by no earlier than 7:30. And even if I'm up by 7:30, I'm not normally alive and functional until 9. Do not ask me to be out of the house before 10.

But I have been really craving being outdoors lately. Our car has been broken down for over 2 months and it has meant that we go outside in our back yard, go for walks and to the nearby park a lot more often. I used to try to get outside once a day, but often would get so busy that I would go a few days only going outside to walk to and from the car or maybe just to do 20 minutes of work outside. I would still try to get the kids outside daily, but sometimes that meant just playing on the porch or going outside with D while I did office work. A few times a week we'd go to the park or on a hike. With the car broken down and being home LOT more, we started playing in the back yard of our apartment complex for hours at a time. Just sitting drives me nuts, which is one reason I love to hike, but since I started crocheting I have been able to do that while the kids play. And of course, with no car, we have been doing lots of walking to run errands!

Now I am craving being outside, craving the sunshine and I know it won't be long before Oregon winter settles in and the sunshine is limited. But even on cloudy days, it just feels so good to be out. I'm not making any plans to keep doing this. Plans always seem to get in the way of listening to my body. In fact, I'm a little afraid I'm going to jinx myself just by posting this. I'm going to keep doing it as long as my body is craving it. Right now, I am actually excited about tomorrow morning!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Calming the Raging Storm Part 2

A few weeks ago, I figured it out! I knew that feeling overwhelmed and disconnected were the main triggers for her to rage that way. Other things like being tired or hungry definitely exasperated it, but were never the main cause. I have struggled so much over the last few years to work on my own feelings of anger surrounding her anger. I am finally in a place where I can usually stop taking things personally and focus on helping her, instead of using all my energy to keep my cool.

One of the things that has helped me with her the most is *seeing past her behavior and recognizing the underlying needs.* I thought I understood it, but I now get it at a whole new level. I forget what she was raging over that day (again something with her sister), but as soon as she started I thought this time don't try to DO things to calm her down. She's feeling disconnected, so CONNECT. I had noticed that she never looks at me when she's raging, so as gently as I could while stopping her from going after her sister's stuff, I put my hand on the side of her face and said in a real quite voice "Look at me, E, look at me."

I don't like restraining her, but I held her like a baby on my lap, keeping her from kicking and hitting me and starting say things like "It's ok, you're ok, you're safe, I know you're overwhelmed, just sit with me, I'll just hold you, I'll cuddle you." I spoke very softly and made shushing sounds, like she was a crying infant instead of a raging 4 year old. She screamed that she wanted to go to her room, so I immediately let her go. Of course, she went straight after her sister again, which I knew she would, but I wanted her to know that I really didn't *want* to restrain her and I would let her go if I could still keep L safe. Before she got to L, I put my arms around her again, letting her know that I wouldn't let her get to L, and started gently talking to her again. I used slow, comforting words.

She has always liked back rubs and almost every night I massage her back and arms and legs before she falls asleep. So, as much as I could while restraining her, I did that and let her know that was what I was trying to do. She screamed to go to her room or go get something to eat a few times and every time I would let her go, but then get her again when she went towards her sister.

Finally, I let her go and she didn't get off my lap. She collapsed into me and started to cry and released all the stress and tension and feelings of being overwhelmed. She cuddled into me and asked me to rub her back so I did. Then we sat on the couch and snuggled for a long time.

Typing it out seems like it lasted a long time, but really it was about 5 minutes from the time she started to the point where she stopped fighting and started crying. As much as I dislike restraining her, 5 minutes was worlds better than up to half an hour of fighting, getting hurt and eventually collapsing and crying.

In the last few weeks, this has happened a few more times and the last time, she seemed relieved as soon as I picked her up. She still fought me for a minute, but it was more like needing a physical outlet instead of desperation to get away or get what she wanted.

If you've read my other posts, you know that this is a complete 180 from the way I handled any emotional outburst from her a few years ago. It's taken that long for me to heal enough to be able to figure out how to help her. From her perspective, she is probably always unsure of how I am going to react, which exasperates her fight or flight response. My reactions have gotten better and better, but I have still made plenty of recent mistakes. I think now it's more important than ever that I respond consistently in a comforting, calm and reassuring way, so I don't lose the ground I've gained with her trusting that I'm here to be the safe place during her storm. And of course, it's better if I can help her avoid getting that overwhelmed and disconnected in the first place.

Calming the Raging Storm Part 1

In June I posted the following (though I've edited it so it's not so long) on the Always Learning unschooling group.

E and L were playing in the wagon. It has a little door and E wanted it closed and her sister wanted it open so they were fighting
over it. I intervened and tried talking about ways we could solve the problem.
Set a timer? Take turns? I asked her if she had any ideas too. But she could
hardly hear my suggestions because the whole time she is trying to push me out
of the way to get to the door to close it. I am trying to keep her away from it
so the girls aren't fighting while we find a solution. She would NOT stop for
even a second to try to figure something else out. She got more and more intent
on closing the door to the point where she is pushing me, running into me,
hitting me, just fighting with everything she has to get the door.

By that point, it knew it wasn't about the door. It's about the FIGHT. She
does this every day over random things. So I quit trying to give her ideas to
solve the door problem and instead said, "Right now I need to keep you away from
you sister until you calm down." And I tried to help her calm down. But
nothing worked!

After trying to get her some water, holding her in a bear hug, seeing if she
wanted to push on my hands (helps with frustration sometimes) or throw a stuffed
animal, tried to let her have some space in her room, I finally ended up just
sitting on the floor between her and her sister with my hands out to stop her
from getting to her sister. She kept running into me and I kept pushing her
back (not hard, just away from me) because the only other option was to hold her
and restrain her. By that point I was angry and I ended up pushing her too hard
and she fell and got hurt.

Then she stopped.

I held her and comforted her while she cried and apologized for pushing her.
When she calmed down, her sister was done with the wagon and I said, "There you
go, it's your turn now!" She said, "No, I don't want to play with it."


This type of thing was happening every day for a while and even though it is not always that frequent, it is something that she has done since she was very little. She gets stuck on something and will. not. give. up. At the moment I posted that, I was feeling very much like she just likes to fight me, because the things she fights about seem so pointless to me and by the time the fight is over, she doesn't even want whatever she was fighting over anymore.

Along with other good advice (such as not taking it personally), the thing they told me that I really needed to hear was watch, pay attention, be aware, look for patterns of when she is doing this kind of thing. I already knew that she tends to get this way when she is feeling disconnected from me, but I needed that reminder.

So, I watched more and played more and connected more. And when I do that, this issue mostly just goes away. She won't do it at all for days, maybe a week. But then suddenly, without warning (or more accurately, I didn't pay attention to the warnings), I would find myself in another physical battle with her. While she is normally pretty open to reason and working together to find solutions, when she gets in this mood, I don't think she can even hear me, let alone consider what I'm saying to her. She doesn't look at me and doesn't respond except to say NO or repeat what she wants that she's fighting for. She doesn't see anything except her goal and I'm just an obstacle in her way.

I have figured out her triggers and can mostly help her avoid feeling this way. But I was still stuck on what to do when it happens. I felt like the only thing I could do was be a physical barrier until she inevitably got hurt and would calm down. (Oh and if you're reading thinking "just spank her or give her a time out," I am literally rolling on the floor laughing. She is one of those kids that if you spanked, you would have to keep doing it until you beat her unconscious, and a time out would likely result in a broken down door.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Official Announcement!

I announced it on facebook a few weeks ago, but here is the official blog announcement. I'm pregnant! 15 weeks along with my fourth pregnancy.

We are planning another homebirth. Before I got pregnant, I thought if I ever had another one I'd do a UC. But I'm just not feeling it.... I definitely like to be alone most of the time during labor and I don't like a lot of interventions or checks and I feel confident with the birth process and trust my body. My last labor was so long, 42 hours, and my midwives were there for the last 12. They spend most of the time in the other room, but I liked being able to have them there for moral support when things got tough. My midwife is very hands off and even amazingly supportive of UC, which is the reason I chose her in the first place. I hope this labor is shorter, though really I could do that again. Less back labor would be nice. But ultimately, after having a c-section the first time, I will take any natural labor I can get, no matter how long or grueling, over another c-section. As long as I'm not getting sliced open and I am in control of what happens to me (well, ya know, as much as you can be in control in labor, really it's more about surrender to your own body's process) I'm not complaining!

Of course, I am still nursing L and was a bit concerned that I would be driven to the brink of insanity with being touched out like I did when I was pregnant with her and E was nursing. But the first trimester was amazingly easy! I hardly got touched out at all. She doesn't try to grab me with her other hand like E always did, so that helps! And she doesn't nurse 24/7 But now that I'm in the second trimester, I'm feeling less comfortable with her nursing. We're going to keep going, but I'm glad that now I have more coping skills to be able to handle nursing her even when I feel touched out, and the boundaries to know when to say "nursies are tired" and have her stop.

I had some morning sickness for a few weeks, but that is mostly over. The worst thing is that I haven't really wanted fruit since I got pregnant. I was feeling so good when I did a month of very high raw, mostly fruit, but now anything that is the slightest bit over ripe, turns my stomach. I was also drinking lots of smoothies during that month and now just the thought of a smoothie.... all the stuff mixed and blended together...... *shudder* Yuck! I'm still eating fruit, but I just can't stomach it in those quantities right now. It's too bad because I have been suffering the side effects of eating more cooked foods (tiredness, crankiness, foggy brain etc.) I don't know what to eat!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ok, I quit!

No, I'm not quitting saying yes! I'm just quitting blogging about it. Well, not permanently, I'm quite sure it will come up often. But I am not going to continue to try to blog about it every day for this 30 day challenge. I have too many other things to do..... like spend time with my kids. lol

I will just jot down a few things that have happened the last few days, not necessarily yes related, though kind of.

E got stung 8 times by wasps, L got stung once and I got stung 3 times. The ironic thing is that we had just watched A Bee Movie the night before and talked all about honey bees and them protecting their hives. So, then E wanted to know what the difference is between honey bees and wasps. The best we could come up with is that honey bees are useful and we like honey and we understand why they sometimes sting to protect their hives. Wasps on the other hand are useless and evil and attack unprovoked. Ok, I know that's not entirely true (except it really was unprovoked, but I'm sure not from their perspective), but that's the best I could come up with in my post-sting, still itchy state.

We were watching Sponge Bob last night and I just love how such a silly, sometimes outright ridiculous show can spark neat conversations. Sponge Bob and Patrick were protesting the building of a highway that was going to destroy Jellyfish Fields. That led to conversations about the environment and how decisions are made to do necessary things like build highways, but that there is a cost to nature in the trees that are destroyed, the landscape and sometimes the homes of wildlife. She was really sad that all the grass was killed by the highway, but then at the end they tore the highway out and the grass came back and the jellyfish got their home back. During one part, they were dressed up like hippies and she asked why they were dressed like that. I told her about the war protests during that era and the ones that still go on today. Yep, conversations about environmentalism, ethics, construction, history, war and civics, with a 4 year old, sparked by Sponge Bob. So cool!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 7-9

Good thing daily blogging isn't my job- I'd so be fired!

Day 7-9

I've been surprised to find by doing this challenge how much I actually do say Yes to. So much of it is just default now! Where I still struggle is when my kids want me to do something *with* them, to connect with them, play with them etc. DOING things is easy for me. Saying yes to a mess and then cleaning it up isn't such a big deal. Arbitrary restrictions are pretty much gone and yes is the default answer.

Taking a bath for the 3rd time today which means water all over the floor I will need to clean up and an extra load of laundry? Sure!

"Mom come watch me in the bath." Not so easy.

Connecting is always the struggle.

A few things we have been doing the last few days....

I bought the girls binoculars and magnifying glasses at the dollar store. Of course one of the binoculars broke 2 minutes after we walked out the door! The magnifying glasses have been fun though. They have been looking for little bugs and solving mysteries.

We saw a craft on Sprout where they painted rocks like ladybugs, so we did that. Then the girls wanted to paint crab apples. I tried to get them to stick with the rocks since they will last and the apples are going to go bad, but the apples are so much fun for them to gather that they didn't think much of my suggestion. Oh well! They are having blast painting something almost every day.

I picked up a couple of books at the library that have stories, but all the pictures are made out of photographs of fruits and vegetables. One of them is a story about a seahorse. The seahorse is made from chioggia beets, the ocean plant life is different kinds of kale, lettuce and mushrooms, the crab is a shitake mushroom and tamarinds. This got us talking about all these different kinds of foods, most of which we have never tried. So next time I am at the store I'm going to try to find a few of these things. E said she wanted asian eggplant, celery root and horned melon.

A few weeks ago E got a book at the library about cobras. She looked at it a few times and then it has just been sitting around since then. She watched an episode of the Aladin tv show and Jasmine turns into a snake. I brought her the book, thinking that Jasmine was a cobra. She pointed out the differences and that Jasmine was not in fact a cobra, but some other snake that we are pretty sure is not a real one just something they invented for the cartoon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Playing Catch Up: Day 3-6

Yes, I love to write. No, that doesn't always mean I feel like blogging. Yep, it's only Day 6 (well 7 now, it's past midnight) and I am way behind on blogging every day. I won't do a recap of everything in the last few days, but I'll highlight some Yeses!

Yes at the grocery store....

We have been in the habit of saying yes at the grocery store for a pretty long time now. That doesn't mean that any of us always get everything we want, but that everyone's desires are taken into consideration along with the practicalities of the budget. Usually E gets one type of candy or other sweet thing for the week. This isn't a rule "one thing per shopping trip." It depends on the week's budget and how much what she wants costs. It depends what we already have at home. We try to go shopping once a week, but sometimes it's more or less. Usually if she asks for something I can make cheaper at home it will end up being something like "we can buy X and I can make Y at home or we can just buy Y because it's more expensive." It depends.

I can't even remember the last time she got upset about this arrangement. People hear "no restrictions on food" and imagine her running through the store grabbing up every bit of candy she can get her hands on. Nope, not at all. This week's shopping trip was more confirmation that when you live by principles of abundance rather than rules, the drive to Get, Get, Get just falls away. Abundance is about so much more than physical means.

Of all the things in the grocery store here's what E picked out for herself and her requests for the family. Organic, low sugar, no additives cereal. Organic yogurt. Organic cheese. Cantaloupe. Grapes.

Yes at 4 in the morning....

L woke up at 4 yesterday morning. She didn't know that I was lying there already awake and she sat up, announced "I'm hungry," got out of bed, went to the fridge and got herself an orange. She brought it back to bed and then asked me to peel it for her, but quickly changed her mind and decided she'd "do it the self!"

4 in the morning is not my prime time of day. Especially after getting to bed at midnight. But she was just too cute to resist. We sat up together for a while and I got her a few more oranges and some cucumber. She chatted away about all the things on a 2 year old's mind before dawn and I listened and laughed and tried to keep her from climbing on her sleeping sister and daddy.

She laid back down after about half an hour and finally fell back asleep about half an hour after that. I don't have the foggiest idea why her body needed that much food at 4 in the morning. But I trust that she needed it and I am glad that I was the one who got to spend those special moments with her.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Say Yes More- Day 2

Yesterday was Day 2 of the challenge. Saying yes lead to something pretty fun for the girls! First we made rain sticks with paper towel tubes and rice and aluminum foil on the inside. Then they wanted to play with just the rice.... YES! So, I let them do it in the kitchen where it was easy to sweep up. I gave them both a bowl full of rice and they had a blast. It ended up all over the kitchen floor, but they had at least a half an hour of fun together playing all kinds of pretend play like saying the rice was food for their chickens and dogs and chasing their animals back in the pen. And I got to do the dishes while they played! Well worth a few minutes of sweeping that needed to be done anyway.

We also read some books. E is really into princesses lately, so she enjoyed a fairy tale book we have with stories like Beauty and the Beast and Aladin. I don't think this version is the original stories, but they aren't the same as the Disney versions either.

An hour long appointment took a 4 hour trip, as our car is broken down so we had to ride the bus. The girls think the bus is a pretty fun novelty though and we had lots of good conversations. At the appointment, they got finger pricks to check their iron levels, so E and I talked about iron and blood. Because her blood was a bit thick, we talked about drinking enough water in this heat. She also was pretending to breath a flower all the way up her nose and into her body, and that led to a conversation about oxygen going into our lungs and then into our blood stream. So many things came up yesterday I can't even remember them all! Bus etiquette, lots of pretend play, and all kinds of questions and answers about where we were going and what we were doing.

I showed E how to play Solitaire yesterday and we also played Go Fish. Then D showed her how to play Poker.

Looking forward to seeing what today brings!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Say Yes More

I am doing a 30 day Say Yes More Challenge. Read here and here if you're wondering what I'm talking about.

I notice that when I say yes more to the kids it means we connect more. If I say yes, then I have to get up off my butt and go help them do whatever I just said yes to. While I'm helping them, we get all those wonderful moments of exploration and questions and discussions that always lead to them and often to me, learning something new. It also helps our days go smoother. When they are feeling more connected to me there is less fighting, less whining, less issues in general.

I haven't been blogging much lately, so during this challenge I'm going to try to blog every day about our days.

Today is Day 1:

Saying yes more didn't lead to any really amazing moments today, but it was a good day nonetheless. We spent about 2 hours outside and the girls played soccer and tag and drew with chalk and picked blackberries. They also dug in the dirt for a long time making "crystals to wish on to make our dreams come true" out of mud balls.

I cleaned up their play room and got all the game organized. I also rearranged, because they got a new craft table a few days ago. I didn't like the way their tv was set up before. It was in a corner and required the chair to be sitting in a way that their backs were to the door and all the other toys. It felt closed off to me. So I arranged it so that now they have a cozy little nook with their tv and books and the chair facing so they can see all their toys, see out the window and see the door.

E and D watched a show about sharks on Discovery for a long time, and then I watched it with her while we played tic-tac-toe. I also showed her how to play hangman and did real short words like Cat and Dog.

On thing I noticed today is how many things I say yes to by default that I used to really struggle with. Food and tv used to be things that I really had to make a conscious effort to say yes to and remind myself why I was doing so. Now saying yes is automatic and I can focus my energy on being aware of what they are watching and eating and offering lots of options, fixing yummy food or connecting with them over a tv show. They energy is so much more positive than it used to be, and there is so much more joy and peace in these areas that used to be full of strife.

Now the kids are ready to snuggle up with a movie and go to bed. I need to say yes to watching it with them!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Asking Permission

L does something so cute, sweet and surprising. She asks me permission to do things all the time! Odd things, that I would never say no to. Like "can I play with sister?" Well, yes, of course. Or things that I would never think a 2 year old would think to ask permission to do. A few days ago, she reached for something off my plate and then stopped her hand mid air and said "Go ahead?" If she see that I am busy or talking, she will even whisper it in my ear!

It makes me laugh, because her personality is just so different from E's. Then again, their experiences being 2 years old are quite different as well.

I posted a while back (I think I blogged about it, I know I talked to people about it) how L would say "yes!" all the time. I didn't expect it to last forever, in fact it wouldn't be healthy if it did, but having a 18 month old who would say yes to every request and question was quite adorable. I liked to think that it was because I try to say yes often to her. I don't succeed as much as I'd like, but I sure say YES now more often than I did when E was this age.

The last 2 months or so, L suddenly got the toddler NO down, just before her 2nd birthday this month. My experience with it was so different than with E. I now know not to be concerned about defiance and it's not a battle to win. It's a healthy sign of emotional growth and independence. She's figuring out who she is, that she has different preferences than I do, and stating that in one simple word. So, this time around I can just smile and distract her or work out some agreeable solution.

I was not expecting her to start asking for permission and I have to wonder where it comes from. It's not like she sees her sister asking all the time. I mean, E does ask sometimes, but often she just states what she wants to do or just does it. She's far more assertive. And it's not like L is concerned about punishment if she does something of which I don't approve. I'm glad to say that unlike E at this age, L has no concept of punishment. I was actually vaguely concerned about it being a people-pleasing tendency. Her strong NO at times is actually a relief of that concern. Yes, I am really relieved that my child is not perfectly compliant! But the asking permission remains really sweet and quite baffling.

Writing her Name

E was writing quite a few letters for a while and then the last few months pretty much stopped. She still did lots of "writing" in her notebooks, but it was mostly I, O, and U over and over. I wondered why she had stopped practicing other letters, but didn't say anything. Sometimes we write together and I would write words down for her to see. She likes to make lists- grocery lists or to pretend that we are at a restaurant and will write down our order. So we would take turns writing words, her writing combinations of I, O and U and me writing actual words.

This week she went to Vacation Bible School for the first time. On the first day when I picked her up, she showed me where she had written her name on the back of a picture she drew. I asked the teacher if it was done by herself and she said yes. One letter was backwards and one was missing, but for an 8 letter name, pretty good!

The next day she wrote her name again at home and it was missing several letters. She looked at it for a minute and said, "Wait! That's not right." And sounded out what it *actually* said. Then she asked me to write it for her so she could copy it and I did. She copied it perfectly.

The funny thing about all this is that the last few weeks she has been watching more tv than usual. D has been out of town for work, and I have been juggling the kids, my part of the apartment complex work and his maintenance work. On top of that, my car broke down, so we have been walking everywhere. All this has meant that I have less time to be as engaged with her.

I'm not proud of being less engaged, but at the same time I do see an interesting trend. When she has more periods of tv watching it seems to be that her mind is churning something over and she comes out of it with a new skill. I am becoming less and less concerned about the ebbs and flows of our lives and learning to just ride the waves. We have periods of time where we are constantly looking things up on the internet, doing science experiments, getting lots of books at the library, having wonderful, engaging discussions. Then we have times where there is a lot of watching tv, she plays by herself more yet at the same time is more emotionally needy. Lately she's been saying "I'm feeling shy," which if you know her is kind of funny. She is extremely outgoing! But she means that she is kind of DONE with people right then.

I am looking forward to D coming home so I have more time to be engaged with her. Even though she seems to be in a cacoon phase, I would like for it to be one where I am readily available if needed rather than too busy for her. But I am not stressing about this season. It will pass and come again, because life is full of those ebbs and flows.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I have been thinking about shame the last few days. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject and I am just going to get them all out sort of randomly, but hopefully coherently.

Shame is so prevalent in Christianity. I was thinking about the origins and it really comes down to the belief that people need to feel bad enough about themselves that they realize they need a Savior. The belief goes that once they realize that they are inherently evil, the vile scum of the earth, then they will fall down and confess their sins and get saved. Which, under the same belief system, supposedly "washes all your sins away," which would logically follow that it would wash away the shame for the sins too, and yet Christians are probably the most shame filled group of people I have ever met. Why is that?

I should clarify what I mean by "shame" and how that is different from guilt. Guilt is our natural reaction to doing something wrong. And by wrong, I don't mean developmentally appropriate childish behavior, mistakes or having a different opinion than your parents. I mean, in it`s simplest terms, "hurting someone." It is totally natural and healthy to feel guilt if we hurt someone. That feeling is like a guide, showing us the way towards making amends. I would even say it's an extension of love, because if we love someone, we care if they are hurt. If we caused it, we feel guilt. Guilt is an internal process, between us and the Holy Spirit.

Shame on the other hand is externally imposed and is used to control another person`s behavior. It is yet another chapter of the Bible of Behaviorism: Christian Child Rearing Practices by B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov. When a parent shames a child they are essentially saying, "If I can make you feel bad enough, you will stop that behavior, thereby making parenting you more convenient for me and making me look better to those around us." Things like "don't act like a baby," "how could you do something so stupid," and "can't you do better than that?" cut to a child's heart, but do work in the short run for changing or stopping behavior.

For Christians, it is too often one of the primary tools for making kids (and adults) realize that they are sinful and need a savior. I was just told a story about a mom who went trick or treating with her kids and her six year old was given a tract. The tract went into great detail about how Jesus suffered and died for her sins, and the mom was concerned that some kids would believe that doing normal childish things were deserving of not only a man's death, but the death of God himself. I don't know exactly what the tract she saw said, but I remember handing out those tracts myself at Halloween when I was around 10-12. Some of them were pretty intense and scary!

Those tracts and the shaming parenting methods are designed to show kids just how bad they are, out of the belief that we are all inherently bad, in order to get them saved. And it works! Lots of people are saved out of fear of hell. Fear is a great motivator, but not a good relationship builder. I know people who have "gotten saved" multiple times out of fear that they somehow messed up the first time. I did that a few times myself as a kid, but never had a real relationship with Yeshua until I started dropping the shame.

I am not saying not to tell kids about sin, but I think the definition of sin needs to be challenged as well. Torah is God's directions for how to live and love and serve. It is "the way" and to deviate from that way is to be like an arrow missing it's mark. We all miss the mark every day, and therefore all feel some level of natural guilt. Even those who know nothing intellectually about how God wants us to live, have Torah (love) written on their hearts, and feel guilt when they have missed the mark and not acted as loving as they could have.

Shame does nothing but cloud up those natural feelings. It turns something very loving, into something very self centered. Shame makes a person feel worthless, hopeless and scared. Fear drives people to be people pleasers, always trying to prove that they can be good and that they are worth something. Shame makes people feel like if only they can follow a certain set of rules well enough, *then* God will love them.

YHVH wants a relationship with us based in love, not fearful groveling. Yeshua provides a way for us to have that relationship and *then* out of love, we can strive live out loving actions.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Handling Emotions

In my last post I said:
"However, I was still not being very open to allowing her to express those emotions, sending her to her room or getting angry about "temper tantrums." (That is another whole post in itself!)"
So here's that post!

I remember one time very vividly, when E was right around 2 years old, that she was screaming and crying over something. I don't remember what started it, but I was convinced that allowing that kind of temper tantrum would turn her into a complete brat for the rest of her life. It was completely unacceptable to me for her to scream when she was angry or really for her to be angry at all. I would say "she can do it, but not around me. If she wants to scream, she can go in her room." I played that parenting card called "consistency" and every time she would scream about something I would put her in her room and tell her she could come out when she was done. Well, this time that I remember so well, she was far from being "done." In fact, she just kept getting more and more upset and the screaming turned to hysterical crying. She kept trying to come out of her room and I kept putting her back in. Finally at some point I realized that she was not going to be able to stop on her own. It was no longer about whatever had made her angry in the first place. Now she was so hysterical that she couldn't stop even though she wanted to.

I don't know if I realized it right then or soon after, but it dawned on me that her own anger and sadness were scary for her. They were SO BIG and taking over her whole body and she didn't know what they were or what they were called or what to do with them. And I was telling her that I didn't know either! Her feelings were too big for me to handle! Me, the grownup, the person in her life who was supposed to protect her and help her was just as scared of her feelings as she was. On top of that, I was basically saying that I only wanted to be around her if she was happy. That my love and acceptance was contingent on her behavior and emotions.

Right around that time I joined the Gentle Christian Mothers message board, and started learning about age appropriate behavior and normal childhood development and what might be going on in her 2 year old mind. I realized then and it has become more and more clear to me since then that my desire, my NEED to push her away when she was upset was more about my feelings than hers. Watching someone else's emotions is extremely uncomfortable for someone who doesn't know how to handle their own. I had all these messages that I had told myself "suck it up," "don't be weak," "only girly girls cry" running around in my head and I projected them onto her. I masked it with some vague discipline philosophy about not letting kids get their way or they would be disobedient brats. But really, it was about my own comfort levels, fear and insecurity. And I had set up such an adversarial relationship that once I had made a decision I had to "win." It was a battleground and I could not accept defeat.

After doing a lot of reading, learning and praying, I started changing how I view her emotions. I slowly started dealing with her tantrums better and better and started learning to deal with my own as well. I remember another time not long after L was born, when E was 2 1/2. I was at DMV with both girls and we had been waiting a long time. Again, I don't remember exactly what started it (besides being tired, bored and maybe hungry), but E started melting down. I had L in the wrap, sleeping on my chest and I was trying to calm down a kicking, screaming toddler. For the first time ever, I didn't feel that flash of rage (which of course is really just fear) wash over me. Even though everyone in the place was looking at me, probably thinking what a brat my kid was or what a bad mom I was, I didn't care. My priority was my child.

She kept trying to get out of my arms and I couldn't hold her with L on my chest, so I took us all to the bathroom. I sat down on the floor and let her go. She raged and raged. She screamed that she wanted out, that she wanted daddy. She kept hitting the door and trying to hit me. For the first time, I was just present with her, feeling her pain with her. Not trying to fight her or win a battle or keep up appearances. I offered to hold her and nurse her when she was ready. I let her know I understood how she felt, I *heard* what she was saying. I was bigger than her fear and anger and sadness. We were in there for 10 or 15 minutes before she finally let me nurse her and calmed down. When we came out of the bathroom, I knew that everyone in the room had heard her screaming and of course they had all seen me take her to the bathroom. I don't know if they thought I was spanking her in there or what, but I got plenty of dirty looks. I didn't care, because it was my first success at not letting my own fear dictate my response to her.

E has always been a very emotional, intense child. She was colicky as a newborn, fussy as a baby, and threw frequent temper tantrums as a toddler. Now at 4, she still feels everything to the extreme. When she's happy, she's overjoyed, blissful, on cloud 9 over the slightest things. When she's sad or angry, she plummets to the depths of this dark, deep pit and looks like she's fighting dragons trying finding her way out. I didn't realize just how intense she is until L was born. In a lot of ways they are similar, but L is the much more laid back version. Part of it is personality, but part of it is that L has not had to go through the things E went through as a baby, like the nursing issues I talked about in the last post or having an emotionally unavailable and often angry mother like I was for E's first 2 years. Or the stress of moving several times and other situations.

Since that day at DMV I have had complete successes, complete failures and everything in between with how I have handled E's emotions. I'm getting better and better every day at learning how to just BE with her and see *her* not the behavior. I'm learning how help her identify her emotions and find healthy ways to work through them. I'm learning to balance that with helping her learn what is socially acceptable and not letting her emotional expression cross other people's boundaries. I am giving her tools (usually right as I learn them myself!) to work through emotions. Deep breathing, prayer, meditation, throwing stuffed animals since they won't break like toys, screaming into a pillow, identifying and acknowledging feelings, accepting them and holding them with care until they inevitably pass.

This evening, D took her to play outside. After they came in, she was very upset and started screaming and crying. I held her on my lap and she screamed at the top of her lungs. I knew it wasn't at me and I knew it wasn't all about going outside. After a few good stress releasing screams, she relaxed into me and sobbed and sobbed on my chest. She gulped out how she was having fun outside with a friend and she missed that friend and didn't want to stop playing. I didn't try to change her mind or convince her that it was all ok. I just reflected back to her what she was saying. She let out all the stress of the past few busy days and missing her daddy who has been away from home more lately. Then she asked me to rock her, so I stood up, cradled her in my arms, turned out the lights and rocked her back and forth. Then we laid down in bed and she laid on my chest. I told her she used to sleep on my chest like that all the time when she was a baby. We snuggled for a long time.

The myth is that if parents let their kids scream and cry and be dramatic that they will *always* act that way and *never* learn that it's not socially acceptable in public. I don't believe that anymore. She is 4, practically still a baby, and still needs me to be her anchor in the middle of her storm. In fact, who doesn't need someone else to be an anchor now and then?! I am so glad that when I need a good cry, D doesn't tell me to take it somewhere else, he doesn't push me away or scold me or tell me to suck it up. He just holds me and lets me get it all out and lets me know he understands.

I don't want my kids to be in their 20's before they learn that it's ok to cry in front of the people who love you and care about you. I don't want them to have 20 years worth of tears to cry at that point either. In order for something to heal, it has to be acknowledged and accepted and then dealt with. I want them to be able to work through that process on a daily basis over things small and large. I want them to reach for healing as naturally and quickly as they would reach for a salve for a burn. And when they have kids of their own, they won't feel uncomfortable or afraid in the face of their children's fear.

E's Emotional Eating/ Nature vs. Nurture

I have said before that I am often pleased and surprised with the food choices E makes. She does not always eat what I would choose for her if I were choosing for her. But on a daily basis, she chooses fruits and veges over sweets, she does not binge on food, and she can easily put food (including sweets) down when she is in the middle of it just as soon she's had the last satisfying bite. (I struggle hard with this, and will just keep going until it's gone, then go back for seconds, even if I am no longer enjoying it, though it is getting easier.) I have also said before that I see her choosing food because of taste, texture, excitement to try something new, fun, experimentation and most importantly hunger. It seemed like she was not choosing because of emotional reasons, such as feelings of restriction/deprivation, out of rebellion or as a way to deal with sadness, fear, loneliness, etc.

I still see that she is not choosing food because of feelings of restriction or rebellion, because we do not restrict her food therefore there is nothing against which to rebel. However, I am noticing some emotional eating in the sense that she is sometimes turning to food when she is sad, lonely or tired.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my mom about food and emotional eating and she commented that she remembered that E used to ALWAYS be hungry. I have been thinking about that and it is true, she has been saying "I'm hungry!" 183,909 times a day since the day she was born. She's usually not hungry when she says that though, and it has been a source of frustration in our house in the past. We often have food out on the table or easy snacks to grab in the fridge so that when she utters those words for the 3 millionth time that day we can simply answer "There's food on the table" without having to get up and get her something AGAIN that she doesn't eat.

And that's the thing... She usually doesn't eat it. For the first couple of years of her life, being a new parent, not very in tuned or aware, and completely emotionally clueless myself, I thought that it was just one of those kid things she would outgrow. Then as I began to learn how to identify my own emotions and realize how often I stuff them down, I noticed that she says she is hungry when she doesn't know how to express what she is really feeling. So, I started giving her the words tired, sad, angry. However, I was still not being very open to allowing her to express those emotions, sending her to her room or getting angry about "temper tantrums." (That is another whole post in itself!)

Over the last couple of years, as I have worked on a lot of my own emotional issues, learned to express my emotions in healthier ways and learned to accept hers (usually!), her constant requests for food have definitely lessened. However, I still see that she does it. In fact, just today I was on the phone with my mom and E and I had a tiff over the office light. She melted down crying and I offered to let her talk to my mom. She calmed down and talked to her, but also went straight for the watermelon on the table and told my mom "Only food makes me feel better." Now, I know that "only" was just 4 year old exaggeration, because she has also told me that snuggles or playing or other things help her feel better. But it reminded me that she still has some healing to do.

I say "healing" because I believe that damage has been done and it started when she was only 3 months old. I went back to work, 40 hours a week and a few months after that I started working 60 hours a week until she was a year old. She nursed on demand whenever I was home, and was held in her daddy's arms all day, but she would not take a bottle of expressed milk. She would not take a finger feeder, sippy cup, eye dropper, regular cup or anything else we tried to get milk into her. We ended up starting her on solids at 4 months. I was quickly able to change my schedule to be able to come home on lunch breaks, but she still went 5 hours in the morning and then 5 hours after lunch every day without eating and she cried all the time. She was always hungry! While I do believe it is biologically normal and perfectly healthy for nursing to be for both food and comfort, she must have been physically and emotionally on over drive, swapping between extreme hunger and sadness for hours to suddenly having food and comfort on demand for hours, then back to hunger and sadness.

I have started occasionally asking her "are you hungry or lonely" when she expresses hunger, and she often answers lonely. Or I will say "do you want that (item of food) or would you like to play together?)" She knows she is free to say both, but often she will say that she would just like to play together. This is one more reason I am SO GLAD we have chosen to parent this way. With my emotional eating issues, the feelings of restriction (even the ones in my own mind about what I "should" eat) have a huge effect on the amounts I over eat and the unhealthy foods I choose.

I do believe there are nature issues at work here as well. In the nature vs. nurture debate, I tend to fall on the side of nurture usually being the main influence, but nature causing genetic tendencies that nurture can potentially expound upon in either healthy or unhealthy ways. D and I both have family histories of addiction, so I believe that there is a genetic component to her addictive tendency toward food. I think that addictive tendency could have played out in other ways had the circumstances been different, but the particular set of circumstances that has influenced her life so far led toward food.

I am glad that we can provide her an environment, support and awareness that is mostly free of the types of things that can cause food addiction, overeating, binging, and emotional eating. She does not have to deal with factors such as restriction, deprivation, extreme stress or fear, lack of emotional support or empathy, and comments about weight or body image. Instead, we can raise her with an awareness of this tendency (offering observations, not telling her how she feels) and support as she explores how her own body feels emotionally and physically in different circumstances and with different foods. We can partner with her to help her meet her needs, physically and emotionally, as she learns exactly what those are and how to express them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mostly Raw Chocolate Chip Or Chocolate Swirl Cookies

I think these would be considered raw. Or mostly raw. The olive oil isn't, but coconut oil can be. Honey can be, but I don't know about agave nectar. So, whatever! Either way, they are a heck of a lot better than regular old chocolate chip cookies. I love my yummy, vegan cooked chocolate chip cookies, but I made those and these at the same time, and these are way better.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

2 ½ cups raw cashews, ground into flour
¼ cup honey (agave nectar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup olive oil (coconut oil)

Raw Chocolate Chips
2 Tablespoons olive oil (coconut oil)
1 cup cocoa powder ( ½ cocoa, ½ carob)
4 Tablespoons honey (agave nectar)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Grind raw cashews in food processor or blender until it's flour (or leave a few bigger chunks if you want the cookies to be a little crunchy). Mix cashew flour, honey or agave, vanilla extract and oil in a bowl.

Mix all ingredients for chocolate chips in a bowl. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and spread chocolate evenly. Place in the freezer until hard (1 hour approx.). Take it out and chop frozen chocolate into chip size pieces. Mix with the dough.

Place tablespoon sized drops of cookie dough on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge until firm. Or just eat them now, even though they are squishy!

Variations: Don't bother with putting the chocolate in the freezer to make chips. Just mix the chocolate into the dough until it's swirled. Now you have Chocolate Swirl Cookies.

These is a combination of two recipes and my own variations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More on unschooling, food, health

This was a response I started to a comment in on my last post. It got so long, I decided to turn it into it's own post. I have to admit answering someone's question like this feels awkward. My kids are still so little, I'm just figuring this stuff out, and there are so many more experienced unschoolers out there. I recommend the Always Learning yahoo group as a great place to ask questions. It is a very *idea* oriented discussion group, not about support or being personal (though they share many real stories of their real unschooling lives!). It's good to read for a while and get the feel for the group before jumping in.

Hi Erin! You said:
"how would a 3 year old know what is healthy if I don't teach it?"

I would ask, what would a 3 year old be expected to do with the information that candy is unhealthy? I wouldn't expect a 3 year old to understand all the complexities of what "unhealthy" means, remember which foods are unhealthy, and make a decision based on that (especially if a beloved family member is pushing it on them).

Besides, what is the definition of "unhealthy?" Someone can say "chocolate is unhealthy." Well, are they talking about a Hershey's bar or my homemade chocolate chips with just cocoa, raw honey and olive oil? Is it the chocolate that's unhealthy or all the additives in the candy bars? What about all the vitamins and antioxidants in cocoa? How about the recent controversy over agave? Some nutritionists claim it's very healthy and a great alternative to sugar, others say it's bad for us. Some people feel great on raw vegan, others feel great on a traditional foods diet.

My point is that while some things are pretty universally agreed upon as unhealthy, like MSG for instance, many, many more things are gray areas. If adults with degrees can't figure it out, I won't expect my kids to.

I also find it ironic that many times parents *do* allow a lot of unhealthy food, but only up to their own comfort level, which many times doesn't make sense. Some people would never let their kid have candy for breakfast, but will allow sugary, processed cereal. Or they won't allow a donut for lunch, but will give them a sandwhich with sugary peanut butter and jelly (same ingredients! processed wheat and sugar, just a different form).

I don't "teach" my kids about healthy vs. unhealthy food. We live life and eat and notice how food makes our bodies feel and learn about how our bodies work and talk about how certain foods work in our bodies.

If I over eat or have too much sugar, I will mention that my stomach hurts or I have a headache or I'm tired or whatever I'm feeling, because of what I ate. I'm sharing my experience, and that may or may not be the experience they have when they eat those foods. If it is, hearing my experience will help them make the connection. If that is not their experience, then I haven't told them any lies by saying "if you eat that, you won't feel good!" and then having them not trust me because it didn't come true.

My 4 year old is very interested in how our bodies work to the point that we have looked at every kid's body book at the library and have moved on to the adult anatomy and physiology books. Part of that has been discussions about our digestive systems and what our bodies need to thrive. I have told her that fruits and veges have vitamins and minerals that we need. We've talked about water cleansing our bodies. We've talked about how sugar can give a person a burst of energy, but then a crash and *maybe* a headache or fatigue.

If we are at Winco and she wants candy, I say that we'll get it at Trader Joes. When she asks why, I tell her about the ingredients in the stuff at Winco vs. Trader Joes.

If she has candy or something and offers it to me, I decline. When she asks why, I tell her why *I* choose not to eat that food.

All of this comes up in the course of every day conversations and interactions.

As far as family members goes, can you just let them know that you're trying to eat healthier and you wold appreciate if they didn't push that stuff on him? If he asks, fine, but please don't offer it. Or buy some better alternatives, like Hansens soda or organic, agave sweetened candy, and either give it to them to give him or just have it with you as one of his options. Or find something truly healthy and sweet that he likes, like dates or figs or raw chocolate bars (Pure, Lara and Raw Revolution are good brands), and break those out when the family starts offering other things. Don't make a big deal out of it to him, just give him more, better options. Expand his possibilities so that he knows what choices are out there.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Radical Unschooling and Raw Foods

Or substitute "raw foods" for whatever your version of a healthy diet is.

Sound like an oxymoron? It was to me a few years ago.

I easily understood unschooling from an academic perspective, and it didn't take long for me to get it from a discipline perspective. But food and tv were hard to rethink and let go of the control!

Right around E's 3rd birthday, I made the jump and decided that I would not restrict food anymore. Up until then, I was a stressed out food-nazi, manically checking every label of everything that went into her mouth, ripping into my husband for giving her organic crackers or baby food instead of fruit, feeling like a horrible mother if we ate at a restaurant and she had the dreaded evil of evils- french fries!

I let that go (not over night, of course, it was a process that is still on going in some ways) and it felt so freeing. I realized that food was not something I needed to or should *control.* And that's really what it was all about. I had an ideal in my head that I wanted to live out, and the only way I saw to do that was to control the whole situation, my daughter and even other people who came in contact with her. It was under the guise of what was best for her, and I really did think I was doing it because I wanted her to be healthy. But I was over thinking physical health and entirely missing spiritual and emotional health for both of us. As with most things, the key is balance and being her partner, not her prison guard.

The last year has been so interesting watching the choices that E makes about her food. She does eat what some would consider "junk," but when I watch how she makes those choices, it's not about rebellion, fear that she'll never see it again, desperation, feeling deprived, emotional eating.... all the things that are symptoms of restriction. Instead, her choices are based on taste, smell, texture, hunger, experimentation, camaraderie, and enjoyment. She doesn't always make the choices that I would make if I were choosing for her, but every day I see her make healthy choices. In fact, I'm often surprised at how healthy her choices are, because I'm used to seeing kids who are "jonesing for their next fix" and will binge on things or sneak foods out of desperation, and she doesn't need to do that.

Two days ago, E asked for a cookie which she never ate because she decided to have the cucumber I gave her instead. The same day L literally spit out a cookie on the floor when I offered her an orange. Two weeks ago E's special requests at the grocery store were blueberries and Fruit Loops. The blueberries lasted about an hour. I still have some fruit loops in the cupboard. This week she has had some cookies, ice cream, chips, spaghetti (with organic sauce and raw tomatoes), and oatmeal (with nothing but rice milk). She's had FAR more apples, bananas, grapes, berries, melon, cabbage, carrots, pears, oranges, cashews, raw bars, tomatoes, avocados, cucumber, plum, nectarine......

So, back to raw foods. I have been eating a diet much higher in raw foods for the last 6-8 weeks. I tried "going raw" before, and it never lasted long, but I would try to drag my family into it with me. I'd guilt trip my husband into committing to 2 weeks with me or committing to 80% or whatever. I'd be extra vigilant about what the kids were eating (well, really just E since L was not born yet or a little baby at that time). Keep in mind that "extra vigilant" means in *addition* to the food-nazi normal. I always fell off the band wagon, so on top of feeling guilty about my own failure, I felt guilty about letting my kids down.

Now that I see radical unschooling at work in relation to food, I can't imagine going back to controlling and restricting my daughter's diet. At the same time, I am eating a very high raw diet, and trying to provide the same for my family. So, how does that work?

1. I keep my diet ideals as *my* ideals. I quit projecting them onto other people as what they "should" be doing. I'm much gentler on myself too. I haven't made any commitments, I'm just eating what I know will help me feel good- physically, spiritually, mentally- in that moment. This is what helps *me* feel good, but I recognize that it is not the same for everyone. Some people feel great on a Traditional Foods diet or some other whole foods diet, and those people could end up being people in my family.

2. I put relationships before anything else. Eating food is too common of an event to be a stressful one. I would rather see my daughters eating a candy bar, laughing, enjoying themselves and enjoying my company, than eating cabbage leaves, crying, with our relationship stressed and strained, resentment filling the air. Now, I'm not posing those as the only two options! In fact, just yesterday my kids were happily munching away on cabbage leaves freshly picked with their own hands from a community garden. But IF *in that moment* I have a choice between letting my kids eat unhealthy food in peace and joy, or creating a memory full of anger and resentment, I will choose the the peace and joy.

3. Options, options, options! Not restricting food is not the same as an apathetic "eat whatever you want, I don't care." I trust that with a childhood full of options, experiences and information my children will have the ability to make healthy choices, unhindered by feelings of guilt, resentment, or other emotional baggage. I try to keep my kitchen full of quick, easy fruits or raw goodies to grab, and offer those along side other things my kids might choose. For example, today E asked for an ice cream which we have because D has an ice cream truck business. I gave her the ice cream, and spooned a little of it into a bowl for L. Then I put half an avocado in a bowl and cut up some oranges and set those on the table without a word. Both kids ditched the ice cream. L ate a few slices of orange and E ate the avocado and then both got down to play. I didn't even notice until about half an hour later when I saw the ice cream that they had barely touched, melting. I asked E if she was done with it, which she was, so I threw it away.

4. Alternatives. I am lucky to live right down the street from both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so it makes this pretty easy. If E wants chips, cookies, ice cream, etc. I will usually get it at Trader Joe's. I am well aware that it's still not whole foods, but it is often organic and almost always free of preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, msg, hfcs, etc. Another option is homemade. E's favorite cookies are my homemade chocolate chip cookies which are vegan and made with whole wheat flour and honey instead of sugar. Last week, I learned how to make raw chocolate chip cookies, including raw chips and she liked those as well. Tonight I made raw banana cream pie and strawberry cream pie.

5. Accepting what IS. It's a fact of life that whether we're talking about food or anything else, things will not always be our ideal, go as planned or meet our preferences. I'm learning, though this is a hard one for me, to accept was IS rather than spend time worrying about the future, regretting the past, or resisting reality. It is a reality for me that my husband owns his own business driving an ice cream truck. Yep, I pay my bills with money from the sales of hfcs to innocent children. In some circles, I feel like I'd admitting to being married to a drug dealer! ;) It's also a reality that my paycheck is not enough to eat as much organic as I'd like. Also, my husband does not eat the same way I do, which means that food I would prefer my kids not to have, that they don't even ask to buy, ends up being one of their options in the house because he brings it in.

There was a time not too long ago, when all of this would have had me in a food-nazi frenzy Not anymore. It is not my *preference* for things to be this way, but the only thing that I *really* have control over is my own attitude, my own actions, and my own responses. I choose to model healthy eating to my kids. I choose to take the time to learn how to make alternatives that they will like. I choose to keep my kitchen clean so it's easy to prepare healthy foods. I choose to take the time to offer them healthy foods, and present those in an appealing way. I choose to support my husband's business, and our mutual desire to be financially independent some day. I choose to be kind to my husband no matter what he is eating, to try to find healthier alternatives that he enjoys, and to support his journey.

Ultimately, I have no control over the choices my kids will make when they are adults or even teenagers or pre-teens for that matter. As soon as they are old enough to have their own money, stay at friend's houses, go to the store by themselves, the WILL eat whatever they want. What I can do now, is be someone they trust to give them good advice, not just control them. I can let them make lots of little choices now, and give them lots of opportunities for experimenting with how different foods make their bodies feel now. When they are making those choices on their own, I want them to be basing their decisions on what makes their own bodies function the best and weighing that against science or finances or expectations at social gatherings or all the dozens of other factors that come into play when making choices. I don't want that decision making process to be muddied by resentment and "shoulds" and "this would make mom disappointed" and "I'm going to do it just because she said I can't." A temporarily perfectly healthy diet is not worth the potential emotional baggage.

So, that's how I'm living life as both a radical unschooling mom and a woman who's eating a high raw foods diet.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raw Foods and Emotional Eating

I recently realized that I do a lot of emotional eating. Usually heavy, dense cooked foods and sugary things and also large portions of whatever I'm eating. I often eat until I'm stuffed, but keep going because my brain wants to. I just figured out that I eat to suppress happy emotions as much as I do sad ones. I would be very protective of my food and snap at D or the girls if they asked for a bite, but I would steal food off their plates and finish their leftovers.

I eat a LOT. People have a hard time believing that because I'm 5 foot 9 and weigh 130 lbs. I have never struggled with my weight, so its hard for people to imagine that I have a problem with overeating, but I do.

So, I have been eating a diet much higher in raw foods for the last month. I am not saying that I'm "going raw" or making any commitments to the percentage raw that I eat. I have tried that before and what ends up happening is that I mess up, then feel guilty, then binge on junk because I'm feeling guilty. Now I'm just focused on eating what helps my body feel good, not any particular diet. And if I eat something that doesn't feel good, I make note of that and try to use that info next time.

A few things happened recently that changed my perspective:

I read a book called Willpower is Not Enough and it talked about focusing on your hearts desires rather than your willpower as your motivation. I made a list of my hearts desires, which included having more energy, releasing pent up emotions, feeling good in my body etc.

I realized that I am an emotional eater.

I realized that I can eat a LOT of fruit and still feel great. In fact I *need* to eat a lot of fruit and that's one reason eating raw didn't work for me before. I didn't get enough calories, and when I was still hungry I thought needed protein so I'd go for dairy or peanut butter. Now, if I am still hungry after the first 3 bananas, I have 3 more!

Right now I'm reading a book called Raw Emotions, and I have a friend who does 80/10/10 diet who is on a similar journey. I am realizing just how wrapped up my emotions are in my food. I use food to suppress emotions, but the food just causes more negative emotions like guilt which I then don't know how to deal with so I eat.

This last month I have been feeling really good! Most days my diet looks something like this:

Breakfast: Smoothie and solid fruit (5 oranges or an entire melon for example)
Lunch: Wrap or salad with greens, tomato, avocado, carrots, cucumber, apple (not always all of those things at once, I mix it up)
Snacks: more fruit or sometimes yogurt (other dairy bothers my galbladder, but yogurt has always been fine)
Dinner: This is where I might have cooked food (which I try to keep plant based, like a lightly cooked stir fry) or sometimes I have had 8-10 oranges or another salad or a fruit salad.

I never expected that raw foods would help my emotional journey so much! Releasing the toxins from my body has also cleared my mind. I think so much clearer when I have only had raw foods that day. I'm not as irritable (or I just handle it better when I am) and I don't try to avoid people so much by going on the computer or sleeping. I'm finally releasing a lot of emotions that I've buried, and learning how to identify emotions and deal with them in the moment. That's something that I have been working on for at least a year now, but its much easier when I eat raw.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


E has been able to count to 10 for a long time now, but getting 10-20 down has been harder. She knows all the numbers, but getting the order is hard. Counting to 20 or 100 comes up occasionally like when she wants me to count all her cards or some games that have little pieces.

She has a poster on the wall of numbers 1-100 and she asks me to read off the numbers to her sometimes, and there is the occasional opportunity to see the numbers in real life like exit signs or apartment numbers. I have vaguely wondered how she will learn the higher numbers without me "teaching" them. I was pretty sure it would come up, but it just didn't seem like it would come up often enough. I knew that she can recognize numbers 1-9, but not two digit numbers..... or so I thought.

Yesterday we were looking at an anatomy book and she pointed out that we were on "page 68." I was surprised! How did she know that was 68? Then she did it a few more times, getting it right or almost right. Like "Fivety-six" instead of fifty six. Then today were were looking at a book about whales and she said we were on "page 83." It was 38, so she's still figuring out the left to right thing. Then she said the numbers of a few other pages correctly.

I just thought it was so cool that she has picked that information up along the way! I knew it would happen, but I didn't know how, so it's fun to see all the ways she learns things that I never would have thought of to use if I was trying to teach.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Here's another example.....

Tonight I made some cookies with my kids, gave them a bath, and played under a fort we made with the table and a blanket. Then I said, "let's lay down, watch a tv show and go to sleep." We all snuggled up under the blankets for a cartoon on Sprout and I said "after this show is over we'll go to sleep."

This is how we often get to bed. We pull E's twin sized mattress into the living room, snuggle up together, put on a tv show or movie and they are out in half an hour. Then D and I can stay up for a few hours if we want to. E used to stay up a lot later, but now that she's dropped her naps, she goes to bed earlier.

When I turned the tv off, it was clear after 5 minutes that neither of them were as tired as I thought. E said that she wanted to stay up, so I let her. Most people would probably think that is permissive, but I counter that it's only permissive if bedtime is a "rule." Or if the household even has a "bedtime." We don't. My job is to help my children fall asleep when they are ready, make the environment conducive to sleep, help them learn to recognize the signs that their body is tired, and trust that they are learning about their *own* bodies and their *own* needs as separate people from me.

So, I told her that yes, she could stay up. She wanted to use the mattress as a slide off the couch and I said that was fine as long as it was fairly quiet. I left the lights off, except one low one and the tv to keep the atmosphere. I reminded her that it was late at night and our upstairs neighbors were sleeping, because that is being respectful of their boundaries. I said that she could do it as long as she wasn't banging on the floor or yelling. The girls played quietly for half an hour or so, and then settled back in to watch tv. L came and snuggled with me to nurse, and is asleep on my lap right now. E fell asleep watching Brother Bear..... quietly, peacefully, when their bodies were ready.

Yes, we are radical unschoolers. No, we are not permissive.

Also titled: Kids need boundaries and adults need boundaries too.

People who have only heard of radical unschooling or who know "that one family with the bratty kids," often think that radical unschooling is permissive. They say "but kid's need boundaries!"

I agree! But I don't think most people understand what "boundaries" are.

They hear boundaries and think rules or limits. Like a fence that corrals the kids in, and if they hop the fence then they get punished or manipulated into coming back. Or maybe it's an electric fence and they get shocked for even touching it. They see kids as always "testing the boundaries" and they believe it's their job to keep the fence strong. They put some thorny bushes or a swamp outside the fence and if they believe in using rewards, they might stick a candy dish or their love in the middle of the corral to entice the kids to stay inside.

Rules are not the same as boundaries though. Boundaries are about a person putting up protection around themselves, that allows healthy things in and keeps the unhealthy things out. That's why I agree that yes, kids need boundaries. They need our help learning what those boundaries are and how to kindly, but firmly enforce them. Kids also need our help learning what other people's boundaries are and how to respect when people are enforcing their boundaries. None of it is about putting rules, restrictions and restraints on either kids or adults, and it's not about anyone doing "whatever they want" if it means trampling someone else's boundaries.

Permissiveness is having a boundary and not enforcing it or allowing those in your care (namely your children) to break through someone else's boundary.

For example, I have a boundary about my personal body space that I will not allow someone to jump on me. This is for my personal protection so I don't get hurt. On the other hand, my husband is ok with the kids jumping on him (literally from the couch to his back) when they play. So, we don't have a "rule" that says "no jumping on people." Yet, my kids understand that most people don't like being jumped on and they don't do it to anyone but my husband. It would be permissive if I said that I don't want to be jumped on and then if my kids did it anyway, I let them, all the while getting angrier and angrier until I finally exploded and yelled "Get off me!" or worse, punished them for it. It is much more respectful to all of us for me to state that I do not like being jumped on and then help my children *understand* and respect that boundary. It would also be permissive if my children tried jumping on a guest in my home and I stood there and and let them violate that person's boundary. On the other hand, it is not permissive for them to jump on my husband when he allows it. Though it may seem like chaos, wild children and "doing whatever they want" (especially since they are often naked and loud, lol), they are not violating his boundaries, because he is ok with it.

The other piece to this is the radical unschooling. Part of radical unschooling (and really this should just be part of all parenting) is helping our children find acceptable alternatives. "Acceptable" is a word that needs to be challenged as well. It doesn't just mean whatever the parent is comfortable with, because that can be pretty limiting! There are a lot of variables to take into account when figuring out what's acceptable- first and foremost is boundaries, but also money, time, space, etc. As a parent, I feel that it's my job to stretch my ideas of what is acceptable and comfortable for me, and be willing to look at the bigger picture. This world is so amazing, and learning happens in so many unexpected ways both large and small. If I can be willing to say YES, even if something is odd or unconventional or uncomfortable for me, it will open up a larger world with more opportunities for learning for my children. In addition, finding alternatives is a chance to be with my child in a meaningful way that builds our relationship and that is the most important part.

So, when I have told my children that they can't jump on me because it violates my personal boundaries (not in so many big words!), I don't just leave it at that. I find somewhere they CAN jump and a way that we CAN play together. They can jump on the couch, the bed, the mattress on the floor, at the indoor playground, off the picnic table at the park, off the retaining wall, on our friend's trampoline. Maybe we can buy a trampoline- not right now, because of real world financial restraints- but how can we make that happen? Save up some money each week? See if we can find one used? Craigslist, freecycle, ask around..... the possibilities go on and on.

It seems like when people say that some kids get to "do whatever they want," they are implying that whatever they want is destructive, mean, and self-centered and we have to train that out of them. I think we need to look at the underlying needs. Sure, I could jump to the conclusion that my child is jumping on me because they have a desire to be cruel and hurt me. Or I could see what is obvious to an in tuned parent- she wants to get out her energy and play with me. So how can we make that happen in a way that is safe and respectful? This means that I spend a lot more time with them than I would if I just made a "rule" and then set up "consequences." This requires that I connect with my kids hundreds of times a day over all kinds of situations. It's hard work! But the relationship we have and the way they treat other people, lets me know that it's all worth it.

The other side of this is that kids need boundaries for themselves and need help learning how to enforce them. This is a really big deal right now in my house with a 4 year old and a 20 month old! Radical unschooling doesn't mean that I let my children beat up on each other because "that's what they want to do." It means I spend a LOT of time helping them navigate situations. Today, E was drawing at the table and L kept trying to push E off the chair and get her stuff. I moved L and tried to get her engaged with her own drawing at her chair, but she didn't want to. So, I talked to E about the options. I suggested taking her stuff in her room so L wouldn't bother her and she agreed that would work. I helped her enforce her boundary around her personal space and her stuff.

So, yes kids need boundaries and so do adults! And yes we are radical unschoolers. No we are not permissive!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Last Three Days

After my raw foods "Aha!" moment, I've eaten lots of raw, almost all produce the last few days, and I've been feeling great! I've been eating lots of bananas and oranges, but I've also had:

a stir fry (green beans, spinach, broccoli, carrots)
a baked potato and broccoli
a smoothie with banana, pineapple, and strawberries
a smoothie with banana, pineapple, strawberries, spinach, dates and apple
homemade, mostly raw food chocolate balls with cocoa, oatmeal (next time I'm going to use raw, ground buckwheat), raw honey, and dates. I flavored some of them with pureed strawberries, some with chopped almonds, and some with coconut. The strawberry are the best!
a small bowl of spaghetti
a peanut butter bar

Tonight we went to a party for Purim. I knew they were serving chicken and they had asked everyone to bring a side. D wanted to bring bread, cheese and dip, so I just hoped that someone else would bring a salad or something. I wasn't too worried about it though. Since I haven't made any commitment to "go raw" I didn't feel like I was going to fail or fall off the bandwagon. I decided to just enjoy myself, eat whatever was there that I wanted and try to keep in mind which things would help me meet my heart's desires of more energy and feeling good.

I was surprised how much produce was there! Someone brought a huge salad and there was also carrots, celery, cucumbers, and olives. I ate a banana and some raw chocolate balls in the car so I wouldn't be too hungry when we got there. Then for dinner, I loaded up on the salad and other veges. The chicken smelled delicious, so I went ahead and had a little piece.

Then the cookies were served..... I ate a bunch of them, I don't even know how many because I didn't bother to count. And you know what, I don't feel guilty! This is a new thing for me. I'm not glad I ate them, because I got a stomach ache and headache, but for once I'm not beating myself up. I don't feel as well tonight as I have the last few days. So this is simply a reminder to me of why I want to eat more living foods. Just a reminder. I can take it in stride and enjoy my fruit breakfast tomorrow.

I also took some time to think about why I ate those cookies. They were tasty, but not THAT amazing. So why did I have one after the other after the other? Once again, I think it came down to emotional eating. We did a Purim play where we all got dressed up like the characters, and read the parts. When the costumes came out, most of the people had a blast getting dressed up and playing around. I enjoyed watching them, while I sat and ate a cookie. When it was time for the play, some people playfully vied over the fun, silly parts. I laughed at the craziness, while I ate a cookie. During the play, a few of the people really hammed it up. I read my parts without really getting into it...... and after the play, I had another cookie.

So, what emotion was I trying to avoid? I think I was avoiding REALLY enjoying myself and having fun! How asinine is that?! I don't want to be someone I'm not and I totally get that some people just aren't the outgoing, ham it up, silly type and that's ok. But when I was in high school I took a drama class and I LOVED it. It was the thing that finally brought me out of my super shy shell and helped me to be comfortable around crowds. The best part was improv! I can be really silly and goofy, but it takes a lot to get that out of me. I enjoy being that way, but the only people who usually see that side is my kids and sometimes my husband. I'm comfortable around people in the sense that I don't feel UNcomfortable. In other words, I don't get nervous or worried about what they will think or shy. But it's rare that I'm comfortable enough around someone to be silly and goofy. In my mind, I was right there with them being a dork. In reality, I was sitting on the sidelines. Eating cookies.

So, once again, beauty from ashes. I'm glad that I was able to figure that out about myself tonight. One more thing to see, examine, and let go.