Still Shining

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It seems like yesterday I woke up for the first time to the sound of a singing baby… No really… My sweet Miss Rayne was born with her Daddy singing her a song and she began to sing right back and didn’t ever really stop. She sang in her sleep, she sang her first words. She was and is the most beautiful thing in my world. She will be 5 years old in October. I really cannot believe it. As quick as it all seems, I have had so many different emotions as a mother because she is in my world. She will sing you a song if you’re sad, try to make you giggle if you’re mad, dance and put on a show if you’re bored. She is both an old soul and a wild child, all in one very petite little body.

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I’ve said it before in this space and most anyone who knows me well has heard it… But she really does shine. She shines light and happiness into everything and everyone she sees. It’s been such a sweet privilege to be in her world. 20120613-230458.jpg

With all of that said, I am quite the opposite of her personality…unchecked I can be cynical, untrusting, and negative. It has been such a huge learning curve having her in my world. There have been phases of this four and a half year dance that I have tried to parent with those -uncomfortable kid words- “authority” and with “control.” And it always ends in a heap of tears and heart break for both of us. I am the type that NEEDS to know what is going to happen and NEEDS to have a plan for everything. I used to feel like it was my job to teach her how to do, say, and be everything. 20120613-230531.jpg

In all of that, we both ended up a mess. It felt very unnatural and that i was overstepping a boundary that every human naturally has because I had the “I am your mother” title. I recently came across this blog post. It helped me tremendously! I also began to really dig deep into what it means to parent with grace.

The truth is that there ARE things that she needs from me, but they are very different than what I had prepared for as a parent. When she was first born and I brought her home, there was this natural connection, a natural rhythm I found by following her. We adjusted that rhythm any time we needed to and kept moving until she hit 3 years old. Three came, and I found myself not knowing whether to follow or drag. It really is true, even with a child, you can only be a leader if they’re following. In my experience, if you’re dragging, it’s most likely not a healthy relationship. 20120613-230548.jpg

I am sinking back into that sweet rhythm with her. We sing and dance like crazy. We hold hands and talk “like friends do.” We work together on cooking and house projects. She helps me. She feels beautiful and needed.

My favorite thing that I am witnessing is her making mistakes loudly and confidently. She used to hide, cry, or pretend it didn’t happen. Now, she says, “Whoops!!” and asks me if I can help her fix it. Something so small to the adult eye but so huge to a four year old.20120613-230701.jpg
She shines!

Who We Are :: Fully Present

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For some reason it is so easy to have a conversation with a two year old that sounds like this,

“Mama, Bird!!”

“Yep.”

“Do you see?!”

“I see”

“Bird, Mama. You see!? Bird!”

“Yep. I see.”

I have to really stop myself many times throughout our day and put myself in her shoes. Birds are fascinating to her right now! She is discovering what they are, how they sound, what they do. It is very important to her. It is so easy for my to forget that. I’ve seen many parents who very rarely engage their children in real conversation because it’s boring to the parent. Most of them don’t realize how important that is for their children’s development, not to mention what it does for the parent/child relationship. No matter what stage of life a person is in, they want to feel like they’re heard, like you are fully present, interested in them.

As a family we work very hard to always be present when we are around each other. When kids are little, they don’t just assume your listening and then get mad when they find out you weren’t (like us adults do). Instead, they keep saying your name over and over until you give them total attention and then they proceed to tell you something very important to them. Joseph and I nudge each other if we realize Scarlet has said our name 10 times and no one has answered yet.

For us and our little family, we’ve tried to move all distractions from each other out of our home. I don’t want our kids growing up watching TV in separate rooms or playing with their own toys in their own rooms. I want us all to be able to play together, work together, rest together. I believe it will create a tight-knit family.

Some of these things we’ve just begun to eliminate. Others, we have never really known any different. But here are some of the things we’ve chosen to do so that we can spend more time with each other:

:: Shows, Movies, and video games. Our TV lives on a rolling cart in our closet. On it is a PS2 that we use to play video games and DVDs. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time that either of us actually played video games on the PS2, just because we’re so busy that when we are home that’s not one of the first things we run to. Scarlet really doesn’t watch much TV at all. We pull out the TV maybe every other day. She LOVES her Baby Einstein movies! And I like them too because we can interact together while they play. Joseph and I will sometimes get a Redbox movie and play it on the laptop at night after the babes are in bed. But even here, we are very careful that this doesn’t end up being the only thing we do during our little time of peace at the end of the day.

:: Meals together. We have tried to eliminate eating separately. It happens when Joseph is at work. But every other meal we try to make special and sit us all together and talk. I really believe that it helps Scarlet reconnect with Joseph after he’s been gone all day.

:: We play together. Most of the toys we have are not for different ages or stages. Most of them anyone can play with. Scarlet makes Adi her very special baby food from her kitchen and pretend feeds it to him while he laughs. She LOVES to make puppets out of socks (Joseph did it once and she never forgot). She puts them on her hand and talks to Adi with them. She sings to him a lot. She builds with blocks and knocks them over… he laughs. Pretty much that is what goes on in our house right now. For her, the goal is to make him laugh. While he’s sleeping, is usually when we are cooking, sewing, or having girl time. Some of our toys are: wood blocks (we have three different kinds), stacking cups, shape sorter, a cloth Noah’s Ark with cloth animals, puppets, dress up clothes, and books. Adelai has about three toys that he likes to chew on. But that is all we have. It is really amazing to see her find different ways to entertain him.

:: We work together. About 3 months ago we were so frustrated with trying to make dinner, or shower, or clean because we were trying our best to keep her entertained while we got “work” done. I saw this video and realized that it didn’t have to be that way. And that most likely, she was frustrated because she wants to help. So we started teaching her what we do. It changed her attitude completely. We could tell she felt like she was a part of what was going on around the house. She was “working” too. This, I believe, has been one of those things that has made her feel like she is contributing. She understands that she is a part of something great.

:: We rest together. Yes, our sleeping quarters are very close. It started when Joseph was working a lot and she started not wanting to talk to him when he got home and acting very mopey during the day. I had read that pretty much everywhere else in the world families sleep close and that it helps children feel secure. And really, Joseph would miss her so much during the day that he would get her out of bed when he got home anyway. So we tried it. We made her her very own little place beside our bed. I promise you, her whole countenance changed the very next day. She started accepting love from Joseph like she used too and it worked out great. I know that many people wouldn’t ever want to do this. But for us, this is one of the most significant ways we stay close to each other.

:: We read together. Without having TV or any other distractions we have lots of time to read. I really like the idea of having a Family Bible. Right now our Family Bible is a preschool Bible. But has she and Adi get a little older, I’m sure we’ll find one that fits perfectly.

::We pray together. In the past few weeks we have started teaching Scarlet scripture and how to pray. She’s always prayed the same bedtime prayer. But we would really like to save “learning how to tell God your thoughts” for when she gets a little older. Instead, I want to teach her to pray straight from the Bible. So we’ve been in search of how to simplify scripture to something she can learn. Soon, we’ll all be learning it together.

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I did want to say, we also have alone time. We have set up corners of our home that are exactly for that purpose. We also know that not everyone has the same heart or ideas that we do. But for Joseph and I, this is important because it creates security. We’ve realized the different things that create security for us as a couple and for us as a family. Security coupled together with commitment creates a very strong seal, a bond that is impossible to break. We chose to throw out the autopilot button and be fully present with each other.

This is who we are: Fully Present to Listen, Love, and Enjoy each other.

My belly + two girls… phew.

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Between my massive belly, a child who can’t sit still, and another who is going through more “new sibling on the way” symptoms than the baby’s actual sibling… my goal is to stay calm, breathe, find some sort of beauty to focus on. Some days it really does work out that way and others I just lose it and have to lay everyone down and have some “cool off” time. Today is one of those days and this blog is many times where I turn to for “cool off time.” 

We have been actively changing many of the ways we do things to include Macky and Scarlet. It is a process that forces us (the adults) to learn patience. It’s not always the most convenient thing to have little hands in the dinner making process or “helping” with the dishes. But the immediate change in their attitude and their motor skills has been so amazing to see. In just a few days they have both become more independent, but happily so. Nobody has forced them to do anything, we always help when they ask, but they have literally begged us to move to a different level. 

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This is one of the scenes of our day since the weather has decided to be nice. It’s been a whole lot of drawing, creating, and exploring. Scarlet’s Gran and Granddad blessed us with the coolest little table for the girls. We have spent quite a bit of time at that little table making, playing, and learning how to drink out of real cups. 🙂 

Even in the midst of the tougher days like today, it is such a blessing to have these beautiful little feet pitter-pattering through the house with so much anticipation and excitement that this day will hold something new. They are like little sponges, soaking up everything we dare to throw their way.

A Day in the Life of Edison

Edison’s Day

I couldn’t get the video to come over to my place so you’ll have to go there to see it. 🙂 Sorry.

I have recently put much effort into finding out what exactly our alternative parenting style looks like. Joseph and I have had many conversations about the age of 12 being “the age of accountability” and what exactly our children will need from us in order to get them ready for that age. We have researched and seen the amazing affects of many of the different styles of schooling floating around out there. I haven’t found anything that we completely agree with, but Montessori has come the closest to the direction we believe we should head in.

I watched this video in total shock. This little guy is only two months older than Scarlet. One thing that caught my eye is how involved this daily process is, not just for the child but for the parents as well. Scarlet gets a lot of attention I am realizing how much time we spend trying to occupy her time while we are cooking or cleaning. She always gets frustrated with not being involved in the process of everyday life.

This week I am going to experiment with putting her dishes and her art supplies down on a shelf where she can get to them. This is the only place I have found on the web to give any good amount of information. Most of my information has been from books and other bloggers. So, I am also on a hunt to find some good resources for teaching toddlers. Sew Liberated has also started a Meet Up for Alternative Parents and their kiddos. I would like to see Scarlet consistently be around other children who are learning at an early age. I feel like we might be stifling her a little by being here in the house all day with no interaction but Macky and I. She seems to be quite the social butterfly.

Hopefully I’ll get my camera back into the swing of things and snap some pictures of our progress this week. Today, we’re off to the Birth Center to here this sweet baby’s heartbeat. 🙂 Have a wonderful Thursday!

Up and Running!

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Yes, here I am and here is the story:

I love keeping this little space to share my heart, mind, thoughts with… well… whoever reads. But I have recently realized how uncomfortable I have been with who I am. I have always been one of those square pegs that never quit fit into the round hole I was given. I am so very understanding of the fact that I may live my life one way and others another and that is okay. But I never felt like I would be looked at the same by others. Having a blog that talks of alternative ways of living, parenting, and thinking has been very intimidating for me. 

I was sitting at a table of women this past weekend and someone brought up that I make my own laundry detergent. My first thought was, “Great. How in the world am I going to explain to them that I’m not a hippy.” But then they started asking my questions and writing down the recipe, they were genuinely interested. They would ask me how I thought to research the idea and the only thing I could think to say was, “well, because I’m a weirdo.”  I found myself pouring out all the information that I’ve learned and then apologizing. I realized after leaving that table that I am completely uncomfortable with me and my own interests. I have decided that I am going to be okay with me and the way that God has asked me to raise my family. I know that there are certain ways that we want to live that not everyone thinks is right or is for them. But I have come to the conclusion that there are two reasons you are reading this right now. You either are interested in who I am or interested in how I live. Otherwise you would not be reading.I want to be sure that this blog has a purpose, not just “Tabitha’s Crazy Ideas of Living.” I do apologize if anyone has felt like one idea is the absolute only way. That is not at all how I think. I am very aware that what is right for my family may be completely different for you and yours. This space will mostly be filled with alternative or creative parenting and living – through my eyes. My glimpse of the world. I do hope that you come and find inspiration, new ideas, and maybe a look at the world through different lenses. Because like I said, my look on life and this world is most likely very different from yours. 

We came across this video from another blog and Scarlet’s eyes were glued the entire time. It’s so much fun to watch and see what interests her, how she thinks, creates, and imagines.

There is a huge part of this motherhood journey that I never anticipated. I never realized how many parenting decisions I would make based upon what I believe is right for us as an individual family and how many of those decisions would not be the norm. Looking back at my life and who I am, I should have guessed it. But it has been a very uncomfortable journey. I have constantly felt the need to apologize for my “weird take on things.” Recently, especially after watching many alternative parenting views become the trend, I have become more comfortable. I’m not really sure if it’s just because of timing or if I feel more comfortable with knowing that other parents are thinking the same way, or if I am just coming to another level of being cozy in my own skin. 

So, as our little family greets spring with much excitement, this little part of my world will also start a new and refreshing season. As you can see, I have my pictures back up and running and I also have some other surprises in the works! 

Yay! for new beginnings!