Friday, November 7, 2014

The Dreaded "Should"s - AKA don't beat yourself up, Mom

I think that parents - and moms in particular- tend to be very, very hard on ourselves. It's a trap that you set for yourself and then can't seem to escape from.

We feel like we should be keeping the house spotless, the food prepped and cooked and presented in a loving manner. The children should never outgrow anything while we aren't looking and we should always have a supply of the the next size up ready and waiting (and of course washed, pressed, folded and neatly stored). The laundry should always be up to date and we should never have to navigate over an overflowing basket of clean-but-not-folded-or-put-away clothing, right? The dining room table should never be so covered in books that we eat off our laps in front of the tv (and while we're on that, we should only provide the most educational and carefully researched shows out there!).

We should be immaculately pulled together. Our clothing should be coordinated even when we aren't leaving the house, we should be showered, made up and our hair should be coiffed and we should never fall 6 months behind on haircuts.

Our children should be above grade level because of our patient nurturing (I can hear my own mom laughing in my head right now) and even tempered tutoring, which we should divide evenly between each child. Sick children and spouses should be tended with loving care, no matter how many times they grumble, whine, or vomit on the carpet instead of turning their head and aiming for the bowl we so carefully brought them.

Do you see what I mean? There's no room for us to be anything less than perfect. No slack for when we aren't feeling good ourselves. No forgiveness for losing our cool right alongside a tantruming child and for shouting the place down the seventeenth time that all the laundry we so carefully finally folded is found stuffed, in crumpled heaps, under a child's bed. None of the same slack that we automatically assume is the right of others in the same situation.

In the last year, for example, we moved 12 hours away from our previous home to an entirely different and labour-intensive lifestyle, have lost two furry members of the family in horrible, painful ways, have renovated the house and various outbuildings pretty much non-stop, almost lost a child who spent most of his summer on IV medication that caused him terrible side effects and pain, I had a reaction to some medication that put me in hospital myself for the better part of a month......and yet I found myself in full self-criticism mode today because I did not have a freezer full of meals prepped and ready, and full of guilt that we ate bagels for supper last night. And don't even get me started about my lack of Christmas shopping. Can you say harsh? I would never judge a friend so unsympathetically.....heck, I'd even be sympathetic to a person I didn't like after a year like that.

All this rambling has a point: we are imperfect beings. We struggle, we fall, we get up, and we try again. Life interferes in ways we can't forsee. But Mom - and this is what we all need to remember-You are doing just fine. Your kids are loved and they know it.  Ditto your spouse. Anything else you can do on any given day is just gravy.

So I am cutting myself some slack, and you might want to consider it as well. When I find the shoulds creeping in, I will repeat my new mantra as many times as it takes to sink in: It's all good.

What aspect of the beat-yourself-up syndrome do you struggle with the most?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Night Nature Study: A Walk in the Dark

Fall has suddenly splashed out again in all its glory and we have been outside more than in. Last night it was incredibly blustery and D,7 thought it seemed a little spooky, so we grabbed a lantern and went for a night walk.

Picture this: The silence of the countryside, broken only by the gusts of wind, the rustle of falling leaves, the howl of coyotes and loons down by the lake. It was cloudy, almost pitch black until our eyes adjusted, and quite magical.

night nature walk
 Quick, spot the family of X-Files fans below.
night nature walk
night nature walk
We walked along, leaves crunching underfoot and gravel scraping on the alvars, until we reached our path home. What a great experience in the crisp fall night air!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How To Make Natural Dye With Kids

 It's Saturday Science day! Along with Suzy Homeschooler, Little Bins For Little Hands, Lemon Lime Adventures, Stir the Wonder, and The Joys of Boys, we host this link-up every Saturday and are happy to share and pin your posts when you join in the fun.

This week, we had the "perfect storm" of science and crafting: I uncovered a whack of thick white cotton sheets from a previously unpacked box, and our Concorde grape vines suddenly produced a massive amount of fruit during some unexpectedly warm weather. Naturally, we decided to make a huge mess try making some natural dye.
how to make natural dyes with your kids

This is so simple that you could do it with your preschooler if you wanted too, although you'd have to keep a close eye on their proximity to the hot stuff. WEAR OLD CLOTHING!!!! Or let the kid run around in their undies if it's warm enough. If you are going somewhere respectable later, smear a light coating of petroleum jelly on their hands, ears, neck and face before starting.
how to make natural dyes with your kids

Fill a large pot with water and grapes (we did about 2 cups of grapes for every 4 cups of water). Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 5-15 minutes depending on the intensity you want. Then take it outside, (no way was I letting people loose with indelible purple in the kitchen!), let it cool a bit and dunk your fabric in. D wanted to tye-dye his piece; M tried to make a graduated effect by dunking different sections for longer or shorter periods of time.

how to make natural dyes with your kids

how to make natural dyes with your kids

how to make natural dyes with your kids

Once you have the colour you want, remove it from the pot and let it cool. Wring it out and hang to dry. Stand well away from the flapping fabric and admire, then head indoors to attempt to scrub your children until they look less like the kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who ate the gum.
how to make natural dyes with your kids
This is after several good washes. Excuse the newly added dirt; you can't keep the child away from it.

Variations: use a wax resist image, or try this with marigolds or onions or cranberries or red cabbage or goldenrod instead.

Check out the great posts by my co-hosts this week:
Child-Guided Research from Suzy Homeschooler
Pumpkin Sensory Science Activities For Kids from Little Bins For Little Hands


Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Awesome Pumpkin Science Experiments For Kids

I am thrilled to be back hosting Saturday Science after a whole summer away from blogging! My co-hosts are Stir The Wonder, Lemon Lime Adventures, Little Bins For Little Hands, P Is For Preschooler, and Suzy Homemaker.

It coincides with our garden's gourd explosion - seriously, if you planted even one pumpkin or zucchini seed this year you know exactly what I mean. We are shredding, pureeing, cooking and still we have more pumpkins than we know what to do with.....until now.
pumpkin science experiments for kids

Here are the 5 most fantastic, disgusting, or spectacular pumpkin science experiments for kids that I could dig up on the internet. D, 6, wants to do them all...preferably several times over!

1. Exploding Pumpkins. So incredibly entertaining! Not for the unsupervised or faint of heart!

2. Glowing Pumpkins. A harvest moon and a bunch of kids running around in the dark? Yes please.

3. Oozing pumpkins.  Yet another reason I love Steve Spangler's site.

4. Rotting Pumpkins on Kids' Activities Blog. Definitely an "outside project". Great for practice recording observations. If you also have a scavenger dog, put it out of reach!

5. Erupting Pumpkins from Growing a Jeweled Rose. A classic with a twist. We tried this and also Diet Coke and Mentos. The dogs got so excited that they had to be banned from the entertainment.

Someone may have been sampling the revolting carbonated drink during the experiment. What you don't see is him off camera spitting it out dramatically.
If you do this, try to straighten up and jump back BEFORE it sprays up your nose. I'm just saying.

Make sure you check out this week's posts by my co-hosts, too (Little Bins For Little Hands looked at pumpkin sensory science, if you want to extend your activity while using up lots of pumpkin):

Exploring Motors from Suzy Homeschooler
How Temperature Affects Solids Science Experiment from Little Bins For Little Hands
Building Structures with Candy Pumpkins from Lemon Lime Adventures

Saturday Science Blog Hop 2

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