We’ve been trying to keep things light and simple around here lately. Life and schedules can quickly get complicated. I am guilty of being seduced by exiting plans/activities that make our days as thick as the very best peanut butter. Like the very best peanut butter, which is delicious, if you eat too much, too rich. Days become so tight, we lose free flow time. When this happens, we all get restless. There has to be a balance, and right now, for us, that means picking our most important activities and keeping time for chilling as a family.
One way we’ve been keeping it simple is by choosing basic, open-ended activities, where there is no specific outcome, the activity unfolds as we go…a hike, a snowy hill, some dirt, paint etc. We like finger paint. We put out all the pots of color. The kids empty them with their fingers one by one, and smear the colors on paper, blending, scraping and filling the space.
The pots are empty now. We hope to mix up a batch of homemade finger paint.
Little J goes to Kindergarden full time this year, and we miss him terribly. We had him signed up for karate that met 2-3 times a week and swim lessons. This didn’t seem like much compared to my friends and their families, but it was too much for us. We sometimes, take care of other kids, I work 3 evenings a week and some Saturdays. We also try to fit in exercise, date nights and managing the house…laundry, cooking, cleaning. All this combined made us feel like we were in fast forward and increasingly estranged from one another. So, we dropped karate, I’m being careful to not over schedule us with extra kids and unfortunately, the blog has taken a hit. Stepping away from the computer during family time has been a great thing for us.
When I started blogging, I had 2 small children all day. They napped, I blogged. It was a creative outlet, a way to socialize, but now, I need to carve time out of my day to make it happen. I can’t always afford the time, especially when it involves keeping up with and learning a technology, managing its quirks. Sometimes, instead, I choose to run or take a yoga class or have a sit on the couch with my hubby, or joining my kids in their play without a camera or a bloggy agenda.
For now, my posts will be sporadic.
We’re still having lots of fun making messes and will share when it’s a good one.
Comment if you can relate.
Jena @ HappyLittleMesses
Little K and I team up to construct his very first set of Valentines for his classmates.
We use a photo from his hammerin’ heartsies experience and mount them on a piece of red construction paper.
I write “hammerin heartsies” on top.
He writes his name on the bottom.
He hasn’t ever really been asked to write his name, and he wasn’t so interested in doing it.
But a mom’s job sometimes, is to give a gentle nudge.
I gave him the schpeel…
“This a way to show your friends that you care, to put your special letters on this paper.”
He wrote his name 20 times.
“This is taking 100 years!”
These are some gentle ways to encourage this activity:
-Demonstrate how to hold the writing tool and how to write out the letters.
-Display the name. I folded a piece of paper that stood at the center of the table. We referred to it many times.
-Keep the project and supplies out so he can return to it at will.
-Add some other supplies that might act as comic relief, like stickers, cool markers and whole punchers.
-Spread the project out over a long period of time, working a little at a time to reach your goal.
-Be supportive by sitting with him/her while he/she works, so you can lend help when needed.
-Respond positively. Little K made a long line across the whole piece of paper as one of “K” parts. He started to look discouraged. I said, “Wow, that letter is so cool. It looked like a Rapunzel letter, it’s so long.”
The 100th Day of Kindergarden in upon us, and Little J is asked to “take 100 of anything that you can find around the house and arrange them together.”
Some examples that were given were:
-draw the number 100 on a piece of paper with 100 buttons or pennies
-an aquarium with 100 gold fish crackers
-build something with 100 popsicle sticks
-igloo created with 100 sugar cubes.
After reading the instructions with Little J, I hold back my million ideas running around my head like kids on a spinning swing ride at a carnival. And on his own, he comes up with a simple, elegant and charming idea.
I find it difficult not to direct his projects and not to provide a solution to a problem that he hasn’t noticed for himself.
It was both challenging and freeing to give him the space and freedom to do this on his own steam.
We’ve been working with Perle beads to create Valentines.
Naturally, he thought to use them for the 100 day project.
“We should count out 100 beads, and put them in a box. When you shake it, it will be like an instrument.”
We make a number chart with 100 boxes and begin counting out beads.
We put the beads in the box and he shakes it almost spilling the box of beads.
He finds the Washi tape and closes the seam of the box.
He writes the number 100 on the top.
As Little J steps out of the house this morning on the way to school, he expresses concern that others will not like his project and that they might laugh. I told him that it matters more that he loves his project. It’s the sound of 100 beads, how cool is that!
I lovingly pin, plan and prepare my family’s every meal and snack every day.
We have a rotation of easy, healthy, familiar favorites like black beans and rice and pesto.
Sometimes, I want to branch out and try something different, adventurous,
a meal Big K and I might like better than fruit salad, string cheese or sunflower butter and jam sandwiches.
I’m discouraged lately, to be hearing an increase in complaints and whining over every plate.
Raise your hand if you sometimes feel bummed about your culinary efforts going under-appreciated.
It’s a common problem for the cook of a growing family.
One day, I made a beautiful home made salsa with no hot spices and no chunks, per Little J’s tastes. I shopped for the ingredients, peeled and chopped with Little K, put everything in the food processor. I made a lovely display of salsa on a plate with everyone’s favorite tortilla chips for an after school snack. Little J took one taste and proclaimed it “Disgusting!” Oh, my heart was broken.
Looking for a way to make the situation better, I googled, “how to reduce the complaints at meal time.” I found this post by Sellabit Mum. We decided to create our own list of meal rules that would minimize the negative comments, help me around the kitchen, and hand over some accountability when it comes to food and family, without meal time becoming a battle every day. We shared these rules and agreed on them; the rules aren’t meant to be militant. I’d love to keep meal time playful and enjoyable.
1. Mama is not a restaurant cook. One meal is made for the family. If you choose not to eat your meal, there will not be another meal prepared for you. If you’re hungry, eat more of your meal next time. Mommy wouldn’t be a good parent if she allowed you to have more dessert than healthy food, so you must eat a good meal to have a dessert.
2. Sometimes, you’re not going to like it, but you must try everything.
3. Negative comments are not welcome, keep comments positive or you will be asked to leave the table.
4. You say thank you when you are served and when the meal is over.
5. You should ask to be excused to leave the table.
6. Clear your place when you’re done.
7. Be polite at the table: Use utensils when appropriate
Use a napkin to wipe messy fingers and mouth
Eat over your plate so food doesn’t end up in your lap or on the floor
Don’t spit food out if you don’t like it.
8. Food and drinks stay in the kitchen so we don’t have spills and plates and old food all over the house.
The MOMS Club has set up their outdoor tree for the Annual Scavenger Tree Hunt, organized by the Conservation Committee in town.
When we are finished hanging all the sticks and rocks, we step back, admire our work, and venture off to find the rest of the hidden trees.
We hike about 2 miles and find 13 trees.
It is a long and tiring hike for a 3 and 5 year old. It was cold, but we kept moving, saying, “never give up.”
We’re going on a tree hunt, we’re gonna find a beauty, what a beautiful day, we’re not tired.
What if you decorated a tree on local trail for people to find? That’s be fun, right?
We will be sending the pics of the boys and trees to the conservation committee, and entering to win a grand prize of movie tickets.
I woke up on the “poopy” side of the bed this morning. I was busy being mad at myself for not getting up early to fit in a run, busy preparing my tea, getting little bodies dressed and bathroomed and brushed, busy with the dishes, making breakfast, packing lunch, in the mood to worry and over-intellectualizing my behavior, my kids’ behavior and overwhelming myself entirely, all while still in my pjs.
What’s best for me in these overwhelming moments? to center myself, breath and “be in the moment.” Find joy, laugh at myself.
I tend to get tired of this phrase, “be in the moment,” because staying in a given moment can seem like so much work.
These are the instructions in my brain for being in the moment:
find a quiet place
close my eyes
sit up straight
quiet the mind
find my inner self
get distracted by thoughts
let them go
sit up straight
quiet the mind
swipe a piece of hair out of my face
think about what to have for dinner
remind myself to clear thoughts
sit up straight
Kind of sounds unpleasant and labor intensive, kind of like beating myself up…I’m trying not to do that.
Sometimes, I can find that quiet place.
Most of the time, the house if full of kids and I have a full sink of dishes and a washing machine full of clothes and I’m due to some other place in 5 minutes.
Every time I really think about what it means to be “in the moment,” I understand the concept a little better…maybe. The huge effort I think it takes to “be in the moment” is really the opposite.
It takes almost no effort.
In times of feeling overwhelmed, I tend to try to find a mood booster, usually just keeping myself really busy.
When I think of what really makes me happy, I come back to no adgenda time outside.
The outdoors provides for my family, a natural tranquilizer.
I forget that sometimes.
We forget, so we can remember.
So Little K and I go out to the playground / beach in town, with a bucket, shovel, dump truck. We fill the pail and tip it over to make sandy mountains. We collect pine needles and decorate the sandy mountains. We read some books in the sand. We spend 2 hours in the sun and fresh air, hearing each other. We gather sticks and decorate some more sandy mountains.
As we walk to the car to go home, we gather more sticks in our bucket. “Maybe, we can use these in our sandbox at home,” we say. Little K says, “what’s this?” holding up a small ball of wet dog poop. I freak out…”OMG! If you don’t know what it is, you don’t pick up! That is so gross! What are we going to do?” There is no bathroom, there are no wipes or napkins in the car. After he wipes the poo on his pants, ugh!, we wipe his hands and pants on the grass as best we can and put his mittens on until we can disinfect his poopy fingers with very warm water and lots and lots of soap.
So my day makes a full circle from poop to poop. But, I am in a much better place at the end, poop and all.
(And no wonder kids love potty talk, dude, we’re surrounded.)
We learned all this info at the local library!
Flight of the Bats, to the tune of Saints Go Marching In
Oh when the bats, fly in the night
Oh when the bats fly in the night.
The mosquitoes better scatter,
when the bats fly in the night.
They use their screech, to search the dark
They use their screech to search the dark
they find their way, using sonar,
when they use their screech at night.
Oh when the sun, is on the rise,
Oh when the sun is on the rise,
The bats head back to the the rafters
when the sun is on the rise.
And when those bats, call it a night,
oh when those bats call it a night,
They hang upside down and hold on tight
When those bats call it a night. SHHHHHH!
Little J loves bats. He forgoes the Iron Man costume this Halloween for his handmade piecemeal bat costume from last Halloween.
I think the idea of Halloween can be even more fun after it happens. The kids’ love of dress up is rekindled, there is candy to enjoy and to remember the holiday with every sweet treat.
We decide to pull out a simple, hand tracing, bat craft the day after Halloween.
The kids trace their little hands on black or brown paper.
Cut them out, with or without adult help.
Draw and cut out a bat head.
Glue the wings onto the head.
Draw a face with white colored pencil.
A quick little craft like this one is a great excuse to archive the size of our little peoples’ hands and to practice and build up those small motor skills.
If you’re studying a unit about night creatures or if your child just really likes bats, you might want to check out these bat books.
This is the last IQI post, promise.
“You are fully equipped.” Aruna Nan says this to us as her last words.
This is my list of goals, as I step out of the yoga retreat, and I only remember these goals, cause I wrote them in my journal.
breath through big feelings, ride the wave
meditate, make a space and time for meditation
be a better listener, look in the eye, don’t interrupt with my opinion
green tea instead of coffee
designate a time for technology
meal affirmations, taste my food
make healthier food choices for family and myself
This is how these goals have panned out in real life.
1. I drink green tea in the morning, instead of the IV of coffee my body and mind was used to. I’ve had a couple cups of coffee since the retreat, 3 weeks ago, only to realize that it tastes too strong now, and it makes me feel a little out of control, energy wise. I have trouble falling asleep at night, even when the coffee is consumed before noon.
2. I am making an effort to breath through big feelings, where before, I actually hold my breath when I’m upset.
3. When I wake in the morning, I meditate or make my tea and sit quietly for about 10 minutes, instead of jumping right out of bed and onto the computer or into rushing about the morning routine of getting kids ready for school. I also try not to eat my breakfast over the sink or while on the computer. I sit at the dining room table and taste my food.
4. I try to minimize the drinking of wine and other adult beverages by saving it for the weekend and then, trying to have only 1 or 2 glasses.
5. Big K and I have tried the co-listening thing, but the intensity of staring and listening so intently scares him a little, so I try to look someone in the eye when they share a story and I don’t interrupt with my feelings and opinions.
6. The biggest change has been getting off a medication that I didn’t want to be on in the first place. This medication was supposed to help me have more control over big feelings, but instead the medication numbed my feelings. I’d like to own my feelings and not temper them because society says I’m not allowed to be mad or sad. I think watching and realizing and not judging myself is the way to go.
This off the yoga mat experience has not created perfection in me. I still check my phone obsessively at every red light and lull in life. I still sit at the computer when I’m avoiding household chores.
The IQI has inspired a subtle change in my life that I will carry with me and around me…watching, realizing without judgement, and in seeing myself where I am, I can create positive change if that’s the road I’m ready for.
…And if I say ride the wave to Big K one more time, he just might strangle me.
I’ve been inspired by 2 great ideas, combined them and created a communal, “Good Deed Jug”. It’s great for this time of the year, when children are expected to be accountable for their behaviors more often because of the impending holidays.
1. In Little J’s Kindergarden classroom, every good deed earns a child a cotton ball in a pouch hung on the wall. If you fill your pouch, you can choose a prize from a box. Little J has filled his pouch once and earned himself a giant bubble wand and plate for the bubble solution.
2. On Pinterest, I find an idea to, “Scribble your thanks on scraps of paper and store them in a mason jar or small box.”
The boys’ behavior has hit a snag lately, and it’s driving me to the brink of craziness…the sole to sole chats and time outs aren’t having a huge impact.
I need to see some attitude changes here people…
I’d love to create a situation where their good behavior is rewarded in a healthy way.
*I shy away from sugary or colorful, plastic rewards.
*If I write down their “good deeds,” and represent it with a now familiar cotton ball. The jug will become full.
*We can celebrate by reading back all of their good deeds and reinforcing those positive actions.
The actions we celebrate are, helping a friend, communicating successfully, saying something nice, doing something that’s expected without having to be told or reminded, choosing a non violent, non screaming, non abusive avenue when having strong feelings.
Our jug is 1/8 full.
This is the sanctuary, where all the magic happens. Yoga on and “off the mat.”
In a nutshell, IQI is like a year’s worth of therapy in three days. (I thought this description of the IQI was so brilliant, and then, I googled IQI and got the same words to explain the experience from other bloggers…at least it’s accurate.)
We dance and move, we are read to: poems, prayers, funny stories, we connect with others in the workshop, dialogue with the whole group, in dyads and triads, we discuss intensions, ride the wave, center ourselves, meditate, breath…we do a lot of ommmmmmm-ing, a lot of sharing, a lot of crying, and we experience an abundance of acceptance, joy and laughter.
There is so much substance to the weekend, that I couldn’t possibly begin to describe it all without changing the whole concept of this blog and going on for a quite some time. I’d like to get back to the fun artsy fartsy kid stuff at some point, so I’ll share a few of the most meaningful aspects of our IQI work.
Co-Listening is a huge part of the inner quest. There are guidelines and specific questions / ideas that we are asked to explore with partner dialogue.
At first, choose one person to be the listener and one to be the speaker.
The speaker begins to share, not filtering any thoughts or feelings, merely allowing a stream of consciousness to flow from the mind out of their mouth. The words do not have to make sense or follow any order. The speaker has about 10 minutes: you can choose to time it if you wish. There can be spaces of silence during the course of the share.
There is no processing, interpreting, problem-solving, analyzing, helping or judging during or after the co-listening process. The listener allows the speaker to have their clearing experience.
Then, the listener becomes the speaker.
Every dialogue begins with the same clearing question:
What do you need to say to help you be present in this moment?
Then the question / idea to explore:
What do you wish to get out of IQI? Why are you here?
Do you hide?
Talk to your partner as if they are a person with which you have unfinished business.
Talk to your partner as if they are you at a young age.
Talk to your partner as your adult self as if they are your inner child.
What did you need as a child?
What do you wish to take home from the IQI?
Write a letter to yourself from your “angels.” Read it to your partner.
And, every dialogue ends with the same closure:
Share anything that might help you to feel concluded with topic.
Another very important part of the workshop is music and dance and movement. There is a fabulous soundtrack that is exquisitely paired with the activities through the whole weekend. We stomp our feet, move to the music through the space of the sanctuary with our eyes softly closed, we hold hands with strangers and connect with our inner selves using our bodies and music.
Here are some of my favorite songs played that weekend:
Help!, Howie Day
Look At Me, John Lennon
Calling All Angels (with Jane Siberry), k.d. lang
The House That Built Me, Miranda Lambert
Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
At length, we discuss an IQI concept called, “Riding the Waves of Sensation.” It’s a practice. The basic idea of “Riding a Wave” is this:
*An Incident, Life Occurs, could be road rage, could be an argument with a spouse, could be nerves or worry: any big feeling.
*Sensations build. When these feelings become uncomfortable, we use behaviors (addictions, food, sleep, technology, cleaning, running away, suppression, etc.) that get us off the wave. Instead of getting off the wave, hang in there with the experience.
*Practice Being Present: Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow.
*The wave crests, a timeless moment. Transformation is happening.
*Integration, the learning moves from the unconscious to the conscious level. Ah Ha!
*Commitment and Practice.
We spend a great deal of time meditating. This was my favorite meditation, the one that resonated with me the most, the one I can remember with ease and take home with me when the retreat is ended.
The Inner Quest Metta Prayer
May I Be Healthy
May I Be Happy
May I Ride the Waves of My Life
May I Live in Peace
No Matter What I am Given