Living naturally, most of the time.

A no-travel, just-us Thanksgiving

This is the second year we haven’t traveled or hosted anyone for Thanksgiving. I’ve been offline all day and want to avoid getting too sucked into a screen, so I’ll just recap in brief, and in photos. Despite designs on waking at 4:30, I ignored my alarm and didn’t get up until my son woke at almost 7. Being so used to watching the sun rise while doing yoga in the family room, it was odd to see our bedroom brighten while I was still in bed! I was hoping we would all get outside as a family, so rather than exercise, I bounced for a bit and did a short yoga practice before we ate. That didn’t end until 9:00! Then we set to work cleaning out my daughter’s “desk” and some other purging. And vacuuming. I had wanted to got to a family yoga class at 11:00, but once we knew the weather was going to be super nice, we figured we’d want to get on bikes or take a hike. And we’d still need some time to cook dinner, even if it was just for us. We decided around 11:30 that we’d do a snack and bike ride. It was a beautiful warm day with no breeze. We rode to a park near the kids’ school, right where we’d been for Bike and Walk to School Day on October 7, one of my favorite memories of 2015. I used to run along this bike trail all the time before baby #2 messed up my structural mojo. I hope I can eventually get to a place where I can run again safely. The better my gut does, the better that progress will go. I asked my husband to stay with the kids so I could walk down the path closer to the nature center, one of my favorite places to feel the grandeur of nature, with the creek and the tall trees. I took my camera and snagged a few shots to remember the day by, including a few with my long shadow.   We got home at 2:30, snacked, and started in on dinner. I picked herbs from the garden for the turrkey. The kids played outside with some neighborhood kids for a while. The weather was fantastic! Once the pies and turkey were in the oven, my husband was happy to say yes to our son’s request to play frisbee at the park down the street with his friend. Little sister went too, so I...

Holiday at home

Since I was planning to travel to visit my mom in early November and we are planning to spend time with family in Indiana over Christmas, it seemed like a good idea to just hang out at home for Thanksgiving this year. And mostly it was. But it was also kind of long and sometimes hard. For one thing, anyone off schedule has some recalibrating to do, and that especially includes children. It’s not like they slept in; on the contrary, they go up earlier than usual and went to bed on time. But without the structure of school, or let’s be real, even getting dressed, they just didn’t have their nice predictable boundaries to bounce off of. So instead they bounced off the walls. And one another. It’s not like we did nothing. The vacation really started on Monday because my husband was going to be working from home so we planned to do some purging and organizing. And we did. But he had to go into a meeting and so miss part of the time I’d scheduled an organizer to come over and help us talk through things and ensure that we didn’t yet at each other. So what happened later, after she’d left. Yelling. And sulking. But we did manage to get a ton of stuff out to Goodwill. (If only my son hadn’t seen the photo of it my husband took on his phone for later itemizing. D’oh!) And we started to figure out how we might shift some things around. So by the time the kids were off school on Wednesday, the house was many pounds lighter. (Good thing, since I think I became about four pounds heavier over the next few days, not one ounce due to sugar.) Wednesday morning was a little too lolling. The weather was cold and with rain that spent some time as snow, making us wary of driving. But after the white cleared up, we finally decided at about 11 that we would make an attempt to get to the 12:25 IMAX movie on lemurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This meant we rushed to make and eat some food, pack some more food, put on non-pajamas and get out the door. Which we did at 12:00. Good thing it took us only 11 minutes to drive and just a few more for my husband to park. The movie was fun, I’m told that the best part was when they explained how the female lemurs reigned...

Mindful holiday prep

Hop on over to TheDCMoms.com to see my Green post today on making thoughtful plans as you head into holiday hosting. Let’s see if I can take my own advice this time. Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on Facebookshare via RedditShare with StumblersTweet about itSubscribe to the comments on this...

We’ll always have Halloween: Creating costumes for kids

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. *** I’m not the mom who knits during parent meetings or makes her children little felt figurines all the time. The latter I’ve done twice, practically under duress. Knitting makes me cry. Someday it won’t, but I can’t predict when that will stop. Likewise, I stand in awe of people who actually make clothing their children wear in regular life, like this mom from my son’s preschool. Getting my children dressed in relatively clean clothes is enough of a victory for me; I doubt I will ever celebrate much in the way of self-styled schoolwear. But Halloween costumes? Those are a project I will not outsource. Mine were almost always homemade, and while my mom was a superb seamstress the likes of which my kids will never see from me, I am proud to throw off my perfectionism when it comes to forcing a needle and thread into a costume. My son’s first getup at age seven months was inspired by a friend’s adorable gift of a knitted acorn hat. I found him some brown pants at Old Navy and a green onesie at a consignment store onto which I sewed felt leaves. Volia, a tree! Daddy and I got craft store fake leaves glued onto craft store green tees, so we were a whole family tree, a bi-arboreal Maple-Oak mix. My son’s second year I let him lead with his hair, an orange mullet perfect for a Bozo look, and his third year he got to wear the homemade leopard costume I’d worn as a child. So those were quiet years for craftiness. But when he said he wanted to be a frog at age three, I took up the challenge. I found green pants he could wear again and paired them with a green shirt onto which I glued and then sewed brown swatches in a froggy design. Styrofoam eyes got sewn into green felt that got sewn onto a green hat, and the look was topped off with green gloves that got worn by yours truly later in the winter. Decidedly homemade, clearly not fancy or perfect, but thoroughly fun for him and full...

On the bunny slope of tradition-making – Carnival of Natural Parenting

At age 37, I still haven’t learned to ski, and almost five years and two children into parenthood, I can’t quite believe in myself as a real mom of a real family with real traditions of its own. Although a few years of experience in Waldorf education tells me that children thrive on daily rhythms as well as meaningful rituals of celebration, truthfully, I suck at both. But I’m working on it. If I’ve learned anything from studying positive discipline, it’s that the first step to thinking forward about parenting is usually looking backward at your own history. So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my childhood — about the traditions of my family and my role in them. It was an awkward position to be youngest child of five, almost nine years after the fourth. When I was young, I was the only one still really getting a kick out of kid things. And from a fairly early age, I was a little too conscious of the fact that everyone else was ready to move on. I struggled between wanting everyone to be excited the way I was and just wanting myself to grow up already so I could be like them. The traditions we had — of storytelling on Christmas Eve, of finding the bounty of red pistachios left by the “Valentine Pig,” of hunting for Easter eggs from clever clues — they were all around well before my time and seemed to have a fast-approaching expiration date. By the time we moved to a new town when I was ten, my siblings were all in college. It was like starting over. Couple that with the fact that on the verge of an already-going-to-be-rocky adolescence, my brother died a week before my fourteenth birthday. Cynicism and sadness crowded out joy and expectation when it came to celebrations. I grew up before my time. I got a bit of my groove back as in my 20s, but, as I developed into a more holistic-minded person, I lost the lust for many of the trappings of traditions. They seemed tacky at best, toxic at worst. Once you give up the candy, the glitzy plastic, and the TV, things can look at little, well, dull. I’m all for eschewing consumerism and going green, but being a full-on Debbie Downer is not exactly inspired parenting. My children deserve a model of joyfulness. My wider family has rekindled a secret Santa tradition with all the cousins and spouses included; we write...

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