Friday, August 31, 2012

Experiments in Parenting

Back in February or so I noticed that I was saying "no" all the time.  I had a newly turned 3 year old and my undemanding newborn had become a more involved 6 month old.  I felt I couldn't turn around without having more demands on me than I could possibly meet.  I also felt sick of saying no, like I wasn't parenting as well as I could, so I tried a little experiment.  For one week, I endeavored to erase the word "no" from my vocabulary.  Some of the time, it was just semantic wrangling: "Mom, let's go to the park."  "We don't have time to go to the park today."  But other times, being conscious of saying "no" encouraged me to say "yes" more often: "Mom, do you want to play play-do?" "Let me pour a cup of coffee first, and then I do."

Spending a week consciously saying "yes" as often as possible made me more aware of the times I could say yes.  Maybe I'm over-thinking things, but I feel like that little one week experiment has made me a more positive parent for the last six months.  On the heals of that feeling, I have recently been challenged to undertake a new experiement.

I'm reading and enjoying Teacher Tom's blog.  I've only been doing so for a month, so I'm reserving judgment about whether I like it or not.  Often the shine will wear off a new blog in 3 or 4 months, so ask me around Thanksgiving if I'm still reading.  I disagree with a few of his basic precepts: for example, I don't think people are innately good, and while I agree that teaching children how to be citizens of a democracy is an important thing, I don't think it's the important thing.  However, he's a deep thinker and an articulate writer, so even where I disagree with him (sometimes fundamentally), I can get something our of his writing.  So this post struck me.

Teacher Tom is basically calling parents out for using commands as our go-to way of communicating with our kids.  So I started on experiment on Monday: I will not use commands when speaking to my kids.  Instead, I will make factual statements.  "Don't hit your sister" will become "It hurts The Baby when you hit her."  "Pick up your toys" will become "There are a lot of toys on the floor." 

Tell you what, it's really, really hard!  I give orders all the stinking time!  I have to stop and rephrase my sentence no less than half the time.  "Mom, will you read me a book?"  "Sure, bring a book to me.... I mean, uh... what book should we read?"  As The Munchkin dumps rice all over the floor, "Don't d.....  I mean.... it makes a really big mess when you do that."

My trump card is that I can make true statements about myself, too: "I really don't want to clean up that mess."  "If your drums wake the baby up, I will feel frustrated."  But even with that, I'm still stumbling over myself. 

A big part of the reason is that the command is often shorter than a factual statement.  "Don't complain about the food" vs. "It hurts my feelings when you say the food is gross."  "Stop!" vs. "It's not safe for you to run there!" 

I don't know how I'm going to make it until Sunday.  My brain is already too close to exploding.  Which means I should probably do another week of this.  What do you think, do you want to give it a try?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week's Plan Wednesdays

It still alliterates, but it works better with the rest of my life.  I've got the car on Wednesdays, and as reader Patience Rose suggested, I can check all of my grocery store fliers online Wednesday at breakfast if they haven't arrived in the mail by then.  So I'm meal planning and grocery shopping on Wednesdays now.  Yay, my days are full of adventure and thrills!  Are you ready for this week?

Wednesday- Pasta and roasted eggplant with homemade mushroom tomato sauce.

Thursday- Broccoli and bacon over baked potatoes.

Friday- Fried green beans and onions over rice.

Saturday- Cheesy tomato pasta for lunch.  Burgers and coleslaw for dinner.

Sunday- Next Phase (20 & 30 somethings group at church) dinner.  Bring a watermelon to share.

Monday- Peppers and eggs.  I'm trying a new bread recipe.

Tuesday- Black bean soup with cilantro lime rice.  Bread.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I'm good at timely blog posting! 

Monday- Stir fry with cabbage and green peppers.  Pan fried tofu.  Brown rice.

Tuesday- Tabouleh and salmon patties.

Wednesday- Crock pot white bean and carrot soup.  Garden tomatoes.

Thursday- Everything in strips to dip.  Chicken strips, potato wedges, raw green pepper slices.  At least dill yogurt dressing and ketchup to dip in.  Maybe something else, too, if the mood strikes me.

Friday- Homemade pizza.  Salad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Roasted red pepper risotto, broccoli salad with lemon vinaigrette.  An extra garlic clove in everything tonight.  Mama wants some garlic.

Tuesday- Pan roasted beets and potatoes.  Fried eggs.  Celery and onion salad.  Muskmelon.  Big slices of cheap, huge muskmelon.

Wednesday- Pasta with red sauce. Carrots, possibly a carrot salad, but more likely just carrot sticks.

Thursday- Red lentil soup with sauteed onions and peppers.

Friday- Tacos.  Yay tacos!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meal Plan Monday and Not St. Louis

I'm on vacation this week, sort of.  I got an invitation to go to St. Louis for a couple of days with a friend of mine.  It would have been the two of us ladies and four children between us.  I wasn't sure if it was a good idea: her youngest is 2 years older than The Munchkin, and they are both high energy boys.  I was worried that my kids would be tired and cranky before the end of day 1, that they wouldn't sleep at night because of said crankyness, and I would end up sitting in the hotel with them for most of day 2.  But a zoo!  And a museum!  And hanging out with a girlfriend!  It sounded like such fun! 

And then I remembered that I had volunteered to lead Bible study one night in the middle of the trip.  And then my friend's mother said she really wanted to go.  So the decision was made: I stayed home.

But after that conversation, I really wanted to do something fun.  So on Monday I planned a trip to the city.  And today we executed it!  I drove down to the near north-side, just me and the littles with a doublewide stroller and a couple bags of necessities.  We visited a farmer's market (including impromptu lesson on fiddle anatomy),  the Museum of Contemporary Art, a playground, and Millennium Park.

The Munchkin enjoyed the interactive art exhibits- which made me wish more of them were interactive- the Crown Fountain, and the big foam blocks at the Family Fun Fest.  The Baby enjoyed the Crown Fountain and the pigeons.  I was exhausted by the end of the day, and The Baby had a hard time going to bed after such excitement.  But I'm SO glad we did it.  And I hope my friend is having fun in St. Louis with her mom.

Monday- Eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, salad.

Tuesday- Hot dogs.  And nothing else.  I know, right? 

Wednesday- Soba noodles, steamed carrots, and raw cucumbers with peanut sauce.

Thursday- Broccoli and potatoes with bacon.

Friday- Green and red bell pepper stir fry.  Over brown rice.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Today I Bought a Bikini

This is totally not a joke post.  I seriously bought a bikini today.  For myself.  To wear.  At the pool. 

I went to the splash park with the littles today.  And getting dressed for the excursion, I put on my one and only swimsuit.  The one I purchased 6 months after the birth of The Munchkin.  It's an old lady suit.  Not going to lie.  A big, ugly, full coverage, with a skirt, tankini. 
Fashion No-No.  Unless you're 80.  Then, by all means.
When I was pregnant the first time, I gained 60 pounds.  And somewhere in my head, I decided that whatever my body was like 6 months after giving birth, it was never going back.  Nobody told me 9 months on, 9 months off, which is what happened.  And, being a North American woman, I have always been insecure about my body anyway.  So shopping for a swimsuit that summer, I bought "coverage." 

Today, putting on all that coverage for a trip to the splash park with my adorable littles, I felt old.  I turned 29 this year, and that's made me feel old to start with.  But dressing up in what essentially amounts to a Lycra burqa, I felt old and frumpy. 
Totally hot.
 So I decided, I'm never going to be younger than I am now, and I'm never going to be thinner than I am now, and I'm never going to be prettier than I am now.  So NOW is the time to wear a bikini.  Ok, 10 years ago is the time to wear a bikini.  But I'm going to make up for lost time.

As per the genius suggestion of Modg and the fabulous ladies at Ain't No Mom Jeans, I'm going to rock my bikini with a white tank top.  It's so I look like the sporty, cool girl at the pool, and also so I don't cook like a lobster.  Or blind people with my white, white skin. Sorry, sorry.  This was supposed to be a "go me!" post, not a "pity my poor self-image" post.  I like my pasty white, post-childbearing, almost 30-year-old body.  Yes I do.  Or at least I'm going to fake it.

Also, The Hubby thinks this is the world's greatest idea.  Listening to 100 versions of the "Guy/Girl Talk"  notwithstanding, he's been cheering for the bikini since we got married.  So I've got that going for me.  Now all I need is the perfect pair of sandals and a breastfeeding friendly maxidress, and I'll be all set for this summer.  Go me.