Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SAHM Struggle: the news

I like being "in the know." I picture myself as a wood chipper with newspapers going in, information filed in the neat folders of my brain, and junk going out my ear. (Stay with me).

Look at all that fun stuff to read!

I pride myself on being "current" with world, national and local events. At dinner parties and movie nights, I rely on those files of information for discussions. Now that I have Ty and Za, this personal goal is probably at the bottom of any sort of to-do-list (that doesn't exist because I don't have time to write it).

I don't watch the news. I get the Sunday paper, but never read through it. Why could this be? Well...

1. We limit television. If I have the news on, the kids will watch it and stare at it like zombies. Plus, the news is normally scary.

2. I have no idea where the paper is. It comes in the house, I try to read parts of it and I eventually just pull the coupons from little hands. In the end I am lucky if it is not an art project by noon.

3. My head hurts. It really hurts most days, but that isn't what I mean. I keep so much on my mind and track where the kids are while they are awake. Reading the White House's press releases or the local wedding announcements would only add to more to remember. My wood chipper is currently broken.

To offset this SAHM challenge, I am currently reading A Free Life which is fabulous. This is not 'news' but it covers a very different culture than mine - very educational and an easy read. I am looking for other short reads to keep me updated, but without much luck. My friend suggested smut magazines, but I have never cared for celebrity gossip which I realize is a quick read, but not interesting to me.  So here is my SAHM struggle for the week: I am out of the loop. I don't know how to counteract this either, except waiting it out until the kids are older and start studying current events in school. Then we can discuss them together.

SAHM successes are important, and their value will show in our children. 

Photo Credit

Monday, February 21, 2011


I went to a party this weekend for my husband's work. I did not know many people there, but pretty soon I fell into conversation with a group of other spouses. Many of them are currently teachers. The rest are parents.

A health teacher began speaking about football. He wants his players to take ideas from the field and apply them to real life. Then he switched to discussing grades. He told the group of us that he did not flunk students unless they were "a++holes." Hmmmmm.

Someone asked him why and he responded: "It is important that kids know how to get along. If they treat people decent, that will get them far in life." He added that he tells students of this rule and that they overall like him for it. A small debate sparked with him and one other person. Most people drifted away and I hung around, making mental notes.

I am sure you can imagine how the debate continued:

What do other teachers think of this? Are the students truly learning health? Does the grade reflect a knowledge of health, or the overall student? Do students still complete their homework? Do parents complain?

This health teacher factored in attitude (I think that is a nicer term) and nothing else, so he claims. This becomes murky water. Some teachers take points off for spelling, others do not. Some take points off for no-named paers, other do not. The list continues.

So I pose the question to you: what should teachers factor into a grade? Is this black and white, or lots of gray? Do tell. This is important!

Photo Credit

Friday, February 18, 2011

SAHM Struggle: Dressing Right

I'm sure all moms have seen what I stress about in this post: the moms who shop in the juniors' department. The short shorts. The belly showing. The just overall "I can't let go of my youth" outfits. I always wanted to avoid being that mom.

I think that as I sit in my tank from Old Navy and my pre-baby shorts. I'm showing lots of skin. True, I would not plan to wear this to the park or to pick up a kid from practice. I am just cleaning around the house. If I had to run out of the house though, I would be stuck in this.

So I go the other end of the spectrum for what I always envisioned my mom clothes to be. I didn't want to be the mom in elastic pants. Purple socks. Mickey Mouse t-shirt. The whole get-up.

I struggle. I want to feel attractive and healthy. I want to look 30-ish, not 20-ish. I normally wear jeans and a nice top. It seems that it is a uniform, but it works and is fast. Adjusting from having work clothes to just a few quick outfits is still hard, even two years later.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Project: Organizing Kitchen Drawers

I have dutifully reorganized my kitchen - almost all of it. Before I began, Ty and Za's belongings were crammed into corners. This caused two big problems:

1. I couldn't find my stuff because their stuff was in front of my nice dishes, pretty bowls, etc.

2. I couldn't get to their sippy cups and bowls without knocking it all out. Even tonight, I broke a dish. (The other cabinets will be next).

See my kitchen towels? They match my coffee-themed kitchen. The tiny cloths are in the back.
I began with a small task, which normally helps me continue working because I see fast results. I moved the kids' tiny baby washcloths into the kitchen towel drawer. Yes, this completely goes against my image of a perfect kitchen, since they are bathroom items in a kitchen drawer. It works out nicely though:

I am saving the Earth (yay) because I do not use tissues for runny noses or paper towels for messy spaghetti-sauced faces. These are also softer than paper products, making my children less likely to fight me. Finally, I don't have to buy the paper products, which probably saves me about $10 a month.

Small accomplishment, but an important one in the kitchen organizing project!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shame On: Rachel Ray

 We are behind the days of thinking breastfeeding needs "hidden."

The breastfeeding debate drives me nuts, it really does. Not because I hear different information or new points of view, but because I sit in disbelief that the argument still exists. Breast vs. Bottle? Really? They are different - formula is well, a plan, a blueprint (a 'formula' if you will) by scientists, that tries to copy breastmilk. But it can't - and it doesn't.

Every time I see a new formula commercial that says new and improved! now more like breastmilk! I think, huh. So all those babies that drank the old formula had an ingredient missing. That's sad. I wonder if other people watching the same commercials think, great! Now formula has more stuff in it! I am not being silly when I say the whole argument baffles me. I cannot wrap the idea that formula is better than breastmilk around my brain, so I never really engage in such arguments. I sit there dumbfounded.

Plus, instead of debating breast vs. bottle I think moms' time would be better served working to battle the trials and misconceptions moms face when trying to breastfeed. I think we should stop unethical practices by formula companies. I think we should work to get milk banks opened. I also think that the Nursing In Public (NIP) movement is important and comes at the right time. When others see breastfeeding as the norm and as something done everywhere, it becomes the norm. The secrecy surrounding it is gone.

I know some mothers cannot breastfeed. The public needs educated, and it angers me when I see a person with a large pulpit making thoughtless statements. 

The biggest argument against NIP is normally that NIP makes other people uncomfortable, which is where this post is headed. When I opened my Facebook today, I saw a Best for Babes post about a Rachel Ray show. An audience member asked 'Bethenny' (the show's guest) a question. That question and the conversation follows:

 Shea:  “I’m expecting my second child and strongly thinking of breastfeeding.   What are your rules for public breastfeeding, like where is it appropriate?”
Bethenny:  “I think, unless you are Pamela Anderson, you shouldn’t be showing anyone your breasts besides your husband and your baby.”
Rachael Ray:  “Exactly.”
Bethenny:  “I really do. I think you should find a corner, or there is always a back room, I just think it makes other people uncomfortable.   When you are a mother you think everyone is ‘in on’ what you’re ‘in on’, [. . .] but they’re not.  Because I didn’t know anything about [breastfeeding] until I was pregnant and I was sensitive to the fact that it would have flipped me out.  So I think, just keep it private.  But definitely breastfeed and do things your own way,  but in that one way, I would keep it a little bit private. Whipping out your boob at the dinner table is a good diet tip for everyone else. 

The idea that two women -Bethenny and Rachel Ray - use a television show to encourage hiding while breastfeeding astounds me. It is incredibly outdated and hypocritical of a television show host who discusses healthy eating and overall life styles to say "exactly" when discussing why women should cover up while breastfeeding.

I was mad when I read the article today. I don't watch Rachel Ray regularly and now that I have a low opinion of her show's content, I probably won't again. I still emailed the show's producers, and encourage you to do the same: showcomments@rachaelrayshow.com. Here is part of my letter, and you may use all or portions of it:

Breastfeeding is recommended by the WHO to continue for two years into the child's life. Naturally, women will be out in public for those two years, and even more naturally, she should not have to hide in a corner.

I expect Rachel Ray (and other public figures who regularly give health advice) to promote breastfeeding, not shun it. She should apologize, at the very least. I would prefer that she host a show on breastfeeding, and bring in experts to explain the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, tips to successful breastfeeding, and more importantly, why it is absolutely legal to breastfeed in public.

Please consider making amends with a large audience group which this thoughtless comment offended.

I truly believe, loyal blog readers, that we must tell those in the public we do not appreciate such narrow-minded comments. Shame on you, Rachel Ray for telling that large audience that your reach daily to cover up while nursing their babies.

Now go write that email.

Photo Credit: Every Stock Photo

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Project: Organizing Kitchen Shelves

I am organizing my kitchen. The need has been present for a long, long time - like since Ty started eating solid food years ago. Before I had kids, I wanted to keep my kitchen and just add kids and their stuff to the mixture. This is not working so I am adjusting, at least while they are little. I will have a time to display pretty wedding gifts and special plates that coordinate with holidays for many, many decades. My kids will be little once, and the kitchen needs to reflect that.

This is how I started: with a really worn empty shelf that the kids constantly pulled food off.

My pantry needed organized. I took this shelf out and scrubbed it with Ty. I really wanted to get around painting it, but there was no way around it. My kitchen is two shades of brown and I luckily had some leftover. I feared having brown shelves with white pantry walls, but I actually like the results.

Organized kitchen shelf.
The biggest problem was my kids pulled food off. They would bring me glass jars or industrial sized containers of ketchup. The bottom shelf is now food that they most commonly eat - cereal, bread and on. Now when they bring it to me, I just fix them their choice. All 'my food' (read: boring bread crumbs and pasta sauce) is up high, out of their little hands.

I am still organizing, but this is my first finished kitchen project and it has helped immensely in my everyday life!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Free Snow, and lots of it

Sorry for the chopped head look! I forgot to take a "blog picture" while Ty was coloring the snow.   
I live in the Midwest and we have tons of snow. Tons. A few inches no longer phase me like when I was new to this area. Now I just layer on my clothes and take the kids outside to play.

The kids build snow-people and snow-castles, but a mom at a mothering group gave me a really neat idea: colored water. I took the three water bottles and added a few drops of food dye. I only gave the primary colors so we could experiment mixing and making different colors.

This was a huge, successful, and very free activity for me and the kids. Next time, I think I am going to use my laundry spray bottle so they can spray the colors, which might give the snow a neat effect.

I do not care for cold weather, but I see the potential snow provides for kid friendly activities. What do you do in the snow with little ones?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teaching Every Day

For Christmas (yep, I am still catching up on my blog) I went to my husband's office and printed some worksheets for Ty and Za. They were simple activities, like the letter 'C' and a cookie. Then I went to an office store and bought two folders and sticker books on clearance. These folders went over huge with the kids and we work on the pictures and alphabet letters together throughout our days.

Note the doggie paws and ears - not part of the present.

I don't have a printer at my house, so I cannot print worksheets and lesson plans for what so many think of as standard teaching. I teach my kids every day, intentionally or just through example. I try to share my successes and failures with my blog world. I think when parents reflect together it is much like when teachers do, and that can create wonderful results. Printing off worksheets as Christmas presents got me thinking (ok, reflecting) about my reasoning behind my approach.

I look for everyday, simple, run-of-the-mill, natural parts of life to be teaching moments. I understand formal lesson plans that are out there for parents to do with their kids. The plans are well developed, creative, detailed, and educational. I sometimes do them with my kids. I see their purpose and I am grateful for them.

This blog does not focus on formal plans for parents to do with their children. Instead, this blog focuses on every room being a classroom because I believe that teaching kids from your environment is possible and important, for several reasons:

1. I dislike the idea that learning and teaching stops when a bell rings. In the same way, I don't like the idea that when I finish a lesson plan with my child, he gets up from the table and thinks learning is done. Learning is everywhere, and I try to point that out with my children.

2.   When concepts (language, math, science, history) are part of every day life, children are less likely to see them as subjects. For instance, if a parent is a doctor and a child grows up hearing the proper anatomical, surgical, and pharmaceutical terms, he will be less intimidated in fifteen years when he takes advanced science courses, like anatomy. In the same way, I hope that when my child hears the literary term 'protagonist' for the first time, he is comfortable with the word, as I have mentioned it in our reading together.

3. Not all aspects of learning are fun, but children need a desire for learning. Memorizing and knowing basic facts play an important role in education. (I disliked studying the multiplication tables, but I am very happy that I memorized them). Education needs a balance - it cannot be fun all the time, but learning overall is interesting. I don't feel the need to complete formal lessons with my children yet (they are four and two) but realize the time will come when I sit down with them to memorize from flashcards. I hope to create an energy in them that stays with them for life.

Basically, I think formal and informal lesson plans have a place while working with your children. What do you think about formal vs. informal lessons? Is it possible to have a balance?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chopping Fruit

Chopped fruit in a pretty dish. Who knew?
I am not a big fruit eater. I really prefer vegetables. I want my kids to like both, so I am always trying to incorporate fruits into their lives, sometimes without much luck. I cool hot oatmeal with frozen fruit, which does cool the cereal and probably leaks some goodness into their cereal. Both my kids push the fruit to the side though. They also pick it out of yogurt and off crackers.

I've kept trying though, and the chopped fruit works the best. In part, I think they like that the fruit is in this pretty glass dish. I also think they like that I just leave it out and they can grab a piece as they play or as I cook.

Such a simple idea that really works. Can you get fruit into your kids' diets? Any other simple solutions?