Tag Archives: family

How I became “The Chill Mom” (AKA: I’m A Chill Mom?!)

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In the past few weeks three different people made similar comments: “I wish I could be as chill as you about my parenting.”

tumblr_npcyrsx6kv1tq4of6o1_400My thoughts, in order of their occurrence:

  1. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs screaming so loud my throat hurt yesterday. I am so NOT chill.
  2. Did she just insinuate that I’m lazy?
  3. Oh, Lord. Someone is going to call CPS on me for not paying enough attention to my kids.
  4. You know… I really am much more relaxed than I used to be.

Let me be the first to say I do not think I have the market on awesome parenting. I have made some monumental mistakes that I truly wish I could go back in time and fix. That said, as kid #1 just turned 18 and became an official “adult” and kid #4 is a big boy in kindergarten, I think it’s fair to say I’ve learned a great deal.

Is my way the only way? The best way? The way you should do it?

Don’t be silly!

You do you. I’m just sharing a piece of my journey, because… you know… words. It’s what I do.

So, rewind to 2002. I was 24 years old and in love with a recently divorced sexy bartender. He introduced me to his two children, ages 2 and 3. One of them growled at me. The other one burst into tears.

Welcome to motherhood.

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Over the next few years, I became determined to prove to all the people around me that I was a good mom, or at least as good of a mom as my husband’s ex, who really is a fantastic mother.

I did what I knew.

I gave them food, and told them to clean their plate.

When we were in public I made it understood that they were to be calm and respectful.

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Me, trying to get my kids in bed.

At nap-time there was no getting out of bed, and when it was playtime they were to play nicely without ever fighting.

It’s the same rules my mom had for me but, somehow, while she seemed to manage it effortlessly, all those rules turned me into a bit of an ogre.

I heard myself screaming at the children, and I couldn’t seem to keep my voice under control.

I felt like I was constantly badgering them, forcing them to live up to some perfect standard of what a family should be. We fell short of that standard every single day and, as a result, I went to bed every night feeling like a total failure. 

Then God and nature threw us a happy curveball and a new baby was on the way.

How was I going to deal with another child? One that was with us 100% of the time instead of 3-5 days a week?

Lord, have mercy.

Shortly after the baby was born in 2004, my son was playing outside, making bad choices; the kind of bad choices that could result in thousands of dollars of damage to our house; the kind of bad choices that could have ended up with glass raining down on my sweet, adorable, good-natured little five year old. I threw open the door, stormed onto the porch, and called his name.

I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that a veil was lifted and I saw, before me, one of the most honestly kind-hearted little humans I’ve ever known more terrified than I had ever seen anyone in my entire life. Literally.

I was shattered into a million pieces.

Who was I, that these extraordinary people God had let into my life lived in terror of me?

My change was not overnight. It’s still happening.

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2004 was the time of Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, and The People’s Court. I didn’t work much then, so I often had the TV on as I went about my day.

Over and over, I heard the same themes:

“You are the adult. You can’t afford to lose control.”

“Trust yourself to know what your child needs. Don’t worry so much about the advice of others.”

“Your children are people, too. Give them the grace to learn how to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a safe way.”

The first conscious step I remember taking was to stop screaming. I would talk. I would be firm, if need be, but I would not scream.

If you were paying attention at the beginning, you know that I am still working on that. However, I cut it down A LOT. I would catch myself in mid-sentence and stop talking until I could get my tone under control.

I would kneel down in front of my child and ask them things like, “why are you so upset that I want you to wear this dress?”

To my surprise and delight, when I stopped screaming (or… you know… gave it my honest best shot), my kids stopped screaming, too.

Sometimes they told me things I’d never understood before. “The tag on that dress makes my back itch really bad.” A simple problem to fix. One that did not require WWIII to solve.

When I started to talk WITH my kids, instead of placing my demands on them, the most fantastic thing happened.

I got to know them a little better. I understood that some foods were OK, if presented in the right way. Some had been resisted because they were hard to eat. Cutting them into tiny bites made it easier.

Then the super extra bonus came!

When the kids and I started acting happier and more calm, my husband did, too!

Fast forward to 2016.

I love this quirky kid! I don't ever want to see her learn to conform.

I love this quirky kid! I don’t ever want to see her learn to conform.

My daughter desperately wanted to wear pajama pants to the airport last week, when we went to pick up her father. Pajama pants with an athletic shirt and a fancy scarf. It’s NOT what I would have dressed her in, but in the long term, did it matter one little bit? She was modestly covered. The clothes were appropriate to the weather. I made zero resistance.

My son dances in the grocery store. I don’t mean he wiggles a little. I’m talking about a full-on Michael Jackson Beat-it routine in the canned soup aisle. I remind him to watch for people and applaud him when he takes a bow. Who is he hurting?

My older son wanted to stay up well into the night every night all summer, practicing guitar and writing music. I let him sleep in every morning we didn’t have anywhere to be. In the afternoon he was asked to help out with chores and he never once complained about it. Why did he have to sleep and rise according to my schedule?

I often have conversations that go like this:

“Mama, can I go for a bike ride?”

“Sure.”

“How far can I go?”

“Where do you want to go?”

“How about this block and that one?”

“That’s fine. Please don’t cross the highway or go anywhere else without coming home to talk to me about it.”

“OK.”

That’s it. Done deal. If I had said, “Yes, but you can only go here and there,” there would be a huge argument because that’s not where they want to go. Of course, if they wanted to go somewhere I didn’t feel was safe (and there are certainly a few of those places around), I would draw the line, but because I give them freedom to be them – their own people, with their own thoughts, opinions, and desires – the arguments are fewer and further in-between.

Is it all running through the tulips, holding hands, and laughing.

Ha!

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No!

Yesterday I spent five minutes stomping around the house telling them all what a bunch of slobs they are.

Every day I kick myself a little for the times when I am not the mom I aspire to be.

No one is perfect.

But in the past 14 years I have come to realize something important.

Kids are people, too.

Yes. I’m slow. I probably should have figured that out a little faster, but… seriously… we expect kids to go where we tell them to go, eat what we put in front of them, wear what we choose for them to wear, hang out with the people we decide they can hang out with, listen to the lessons we think they need to learn, go to bed when we think they should sleep, and Heaven forbid they ever have a day when they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. They should be polite and respectful toward us 100% of the time, no matter what.

Now treat an adult that exact same way.

That’s not a life. That’s prison.

Kids need a framework. They need someone to explain in no uncertain terms that biting is not an acceptable solution to an argument and that it is NEVER a good idea to cross the road without looking. They need rules… AND they need freedom to figure out who they are and what their place is, in this big, often scary world.

When I learned to accept the personhood of my children, it became a great deal easier to just chill out. And if someone thinks I’m lazy because I don’t parent like they do, I’d happily let them step into my shoes for a day and see that giving 100% of your heart every day is NEVER easy, no matter what label you slap on your style.

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Zombies

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Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Disaster | LazyHippieMama.com

It’s easy to joke about “the zombie apocalypse” but did you realize that, just last year alone, there were more than 85 national emergencies declared? These situations can range from wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to snow storms.  As much as we hate to think about it, disaster can strike in any place, at any time and it comes in all too many forms.

We live in Michigan and two out of the last three winters have seen people trapped in their homes with no way out and no power for days.  Just a few weeks ago our neighbors down the road in Toledo found themselves suddenly without access to clean water.

Children aren’t oblivious. They see smoke rising from the mountains or hear hail pounding against their windows and they know that Mother Nature is not always gentle.  It can be really scary for them!

A huge part of keeping your family safe is being prepared ahead of time. Letting your children see that you have taken steps to ensure everyone’s safety will help them feel safer in these frightening situations.  Even better, let them help you create an emergency kit.

Don’t let the idea of putting a kit together become overwhelming. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Keep in mind, an emergency kit doesn’t have to be a two year stockpile of food and medical equipment!  Having enough food and water to take care of your family for a few days and a few flashlights (with good batteries!) can mean the difference between riding out a storm in relative safety or finding yourself in a  life-threatening situation.

If you do want to make your kit a little more elaborate, other things to consider keeping may be a first aid kit, a crank or battery-powered radio, a whistle (to signal for help), a dust mask and plastic sheeting, wet wipes and trash bags, a few simple tools like a wrench, pliers, screwdrivers and duct tape. Consider what you might really NEED if you couldn’t get to the store. Diapers? Maxi pads? TP? Medications? Dog food?

A tip that my family learned the hard way during a nasty ice storm: Have a manual can opener on hand if your emergency food is stored in cans!  Yes, you can get cans open without one, but using one is A LOT easier!

If your child struggles with anxiety about these situations, involving them in this process can be huge. Ask them what they would like to include. Would it make them feel better to have a certain toy or book tucked in the box with the food? It might not make sense to you but if it makes them feel better it’s totally worth the little bit of space.

Also, for your child’s safety, be sure that they know their full name and yours as well and also their home address. If you get separated and they are looking for “mommy and daddy” you’re going to be hard to find!

I am so excited to be exploring ways that LazyHippieMama.com and America’s Morning Headquarters on The Weather Channel can partner up to bring families helpful and important tips like these.  This week, AMHQ’s host, Sam Champion, had a super cute interview with Elmo. They talked about all of this information and I’ve included the clip, below. Coming from an adorable fuzzy monster, emergency preparedness tips aren’t quite so intimidating.  And, really, even for children, being able to keep calm and think clearly in tough situations is just as important as all these other things!  I’d encourage you to watch the little video clip with your children and share it as well. This is such super-important information!  Being ready for disaster before it strikes can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling & A New Give-Away!

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10 Awkward Moments in HomeschoolingAccording to the most recent census about 3% of American children are homeschooled. It’s a growing movement, to be certain, but still far from “the norm.”  Many, if not most, people in this country live their whole lives without even ever meeting a homeschool family. Therefore their perceptions are based on those folks “on the fringe” who end up on the evening news or Dr. Phil talking about how they are proud that their 15 year old has never read any book other than the Bible and they don’t believe in girls learning math.

The reality is that homeschooling families are pretty much everyone else. There are good days and bad. There are success stories and failures. There are some people who are just fabulously cool and some who are truly odd.

Still, when you are approaching such a major part of life in a way that is different than the way 97% of those around you are doing it, there are bound to be some awkward moments.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling

1. The moment when someone knocks on the door, unexpectedly, at 1pm and you realize no one can answer it because the entire family is still in their PJs and/or underwear.

We’ve been learning, I swear! In fact, we were so busy learning we forgot to put on pants.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling | LazyHippieMama.com

2. The moment when your child is asked where they go to school and they just stand there, staring at the person like a deer caught in the headlights.

I’m never sure why they don’t just say, “I’m homeschooled.” This, of course, does little to dispel the “weird unsocialized homeschooler” myth.

3. The moment when you’re asked what grade your child is in and you can picture all of their books and lists – 3rd grade math, 9th grade reading, 5th grade science, and a coloring book from 2009 they just won’t give up on until every corner is fabulous – and you realize you have no idea what grade they’re actually in without consulting your records.

This is the parent version of #2.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why the kids can’t answer that question. Maybe they’re thinking, “I go to school in the dining room, the car, my mom’s office at work, the park, the local grange building…”

4. The moment when someone asks your child, “How long did you do school this morning?”

SHHHH! I’m trying to be sneaky over here! We ARE doing school! We’re grocery shopping and she’s keeping track of how much we’re spending. This is math class. She HATES math and doesn’t realize she’s studying right now so please don’t judge me when she tells you, “we didn’t do any school today.”

5. The moment you overhear your child say to a public school student, “What do you mean you’ve never had a single lesson on the science of Star Wars? Isn’t that a required subject?”

We’re nerds and we’re proud.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling | LazyHippieMama.com

6. The moment when someone at the grocery store sees you and your two children and says, “Oh, you homeschool? That’s nice. Are the rest of the children at home then?”

OK, first of all – making assumptions about the number of children any family has is always a fast train to Awkwardland. Just don’t go there.  If you are close enough to me to ask about my choices regarding child-bearing you already know how many kids I have and why. If you don’t already know, you really have no business inquiring about anything having to do with my uterus and/or sexual choices.

Second, contrary to what some people think, there are actually families that homeschool who have only one child. And some that have 3. And some that have 7. If you ask around at public school you’ll find a similar situation.

7. The moment when a public school child says, “This week we studied the feudal system.” And your child responds with, “We just watched movies this week.

They weren’t movies. They were DOCUMENTARIES. Totally different thing.

8. The moment when a friend who is a public school teacher says, “What textbook are you using?” And your child responds with, “We don’t use textbooks. We just look stuff up on the internet.”

We do a lot of learning online. I often direct my child to very reputable sites – everyone from NASA to PBS offers amazing free resources. We’re not just doing random Google searches, I swear. Er… well… not when it comes to the really important stuff anyway. But does my child say, “I’m learning science from NASA right now,”?  Of course not. She just implies that her main source of information is YouTube.

9. The moment when you are trying to assure your family that, as homeschoolers, your children are still getting plenty of opportunity to develop great social skills and you child enters the room walking backwards with a bag over their head loudly singing Elvis’ Greatest Hits.

What can I say? They come from a long line of strange people and big Elvis fans. They get plenty of interaction with other children and adults as well but, really, the poor kids never stood a chance.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling | LazyHippieMama.com

10. The moment you look out the window and see a group of kids all wrapped up in their winter gear, waiting in the dark to get on the bus and go to school for the day, while you are lying on the sofa under a pile of giggling kids and fuzzy, tail-wagging dogs as the 3rd episode in a row of The Magic School Bus begins.

Oh, wait. Wrong list. That one goes on 1,001 reasons why I love being one of the 3%.

Share your awkward story in the comments. Life’s too short for us not to laugh together!

But before you go, don’t miss out on this great give-a-way!

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to share a truly amazing book with you.

Tom Rogers’, “Eleven” is a wonderful story about a little boy who turns 11 on 9/11/2001. The book is totally age-appropriate for an older elementary student and engaging enough for any adult.

As the anniversary of that world-changing event approaches, I am having my 5th grader read “Eleven” in the hopes that she will come to understand that people just like her had their lives directly, irrevocably changed in a moment.  If you’d like to read the review, you can do so by clicking here or you can visit www.ElevenTheBook.com.

I’m so excited that Tom Rogers has agreed to give a copy of his book to one lucky reader! It’s a read you don’t want to miss.

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Is Being a Parent Frowned Upon?

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Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comThere are times in history and places in the world where being childless was just about the worst thing a woman could be.  It was (and still is, in some cultures) thought to be so awful that it was considered to be a curse and all manner of laws and customs developed to allow barren women to claim a child as her own that she might not have to face the shame of not being a mother.

Here in modern day America, I wonder if we’ve gone to the other extreme.

“She’s having another baby?”

“They have how many children?”

“She’s pregnant? But her career was just taking off.”

“A baby? Well, I guess her life is over now.”

I’d be willing to bet that, even if no one said these things to you, you’ve heard them said (or said them yourself) about someone else.

When I met my husband he already had two children from his first marriage. When we found out we were expecting our first baby together the reaction was mixed, at best. For the most part we heard, “How are you going to afford a baby?”  One especially supportive relative (sarcasm intended) said, “Oh, great. That’s just what you need.”

The truth is it was a hard time. We were broke. Not “we have to cancel the extended cable movie package,” kind of broke. More like, “I wonder if we’ll be able to buy noodles AND butter tomorrow,” kind of broke. It wasn’t the way we’d planned things (and, yes, we had a plan and had taken “precautions” along those lines) but it was the way things were and we managed. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Fast forward five years. Sweet Hippie Daughter is in school. Hubby and I are both working. We decided we wanted one more little person in our family because… well… just because. We love our children. We remember how that love grew and multiplied with the birth of our daughter and we want to allow that love to grow again.

We had two miscarriages and, early on, were told that the third pregnancy wouldn’t last either, but he was a determined little bean and he hung in there. Finally, very near the end of my first trimester, we saw a powerful heartbeat on the ultrasound, the bleeding stopped and we were told that, yes, a new Hippie was on the way.

I suppose, as a writer, I should have the words to describe that moment in the ultrasound room but I’m at a total loss. After so much sadness and grief and worry, after weeks of wondering and praying and crying, our tiny baby was right there in a grainy black and white image.  It was pure joy!

I wanted to shout to the world!

And so I did.

And the world rolled it’s eyes at us.

“Really?  FOUR kids?”

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.com

Yes, some folks were happy for us and celebrated with us but far more reacted with skepticism and doubt that such a “large” family could ever possibly be a good idea. Many said, in one way or another, that they thought it was irresponsible because we “couldn’t afford it.” A few thought it was “so sad” that just as I was getting back to work I ruined things with another baby.

It’s true. We were still poor. Our spaghetti had honest to goodness sauce every day, though! And… how much should that matter? Obviously, being able to support your family is important but when do you have “enough” money to have children? According to some estimates no one except the “one percent” would ever be able to raise a kid in this country!  Yet, somehow, hundreds of millions of us manage to keep our children fed and clothed.

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comIt’s true. Four kids are a lot of work. Honestly, though, I swear four is easier than three. They love each other (mostly). They entertain each other. And, yes, sometimes I ask the older ones to care for the younger. To the critics I say: No, I do not feel this is unfair. It’s not every day and that’s what families do – they help each other out.  I have never felt like one of our children was missing out on some portion of our love because they had siblings. If anything, I feel the exact opposite. Instead two people living with them and loving each of them they each have five people loving them (well… more than that when you count grandparents, etc, but you get the gist).

This isn’t just about me and my family and our circumstances, though. The age of social media gives us a weirdly intimate glimpse into the lives of our friends and acquaintances. I see it all the time:

Person A: We’re having a baby!

Person B: Bummer!

The idea seems to be that now you are saddled with all this responsibility. You’ll never have a great career. You’ll never get to be spontaneous again. There won’t be any more late night parties or long weekends, lounging lazily in the sun. Now you’ll have to trade your cool car for a minivan. You won’t be able to afford designer shoes and every meal for the rest of your life will be chicken nuggets and macaroni. Your uterus has suddenly turned into a black hole that will suck all of the money and fun from your existence.

Most of all, the mother (the rules are different for fathers, of course) has lost all chance of being a productive citizen. After all, you can’t possibly be successful at parenting AND anything else at the same time.

Where did this idea that parenting is a terrible burden come from?

Do we feed the monster by complaining about how HARD parenting is all the time?

When did we lose the notion that children are a blessing and that more children are a bigger blessing?

When did “parent” become a second-rate status?

Is it just me? Are my views skewed? I would love to hear from you!

What do you think? Is parenthood looked down upon in our society?

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

 

 

10 Reasons To Get Kids Into The Garden

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10 Reasons To Get Kids Into The Garden | LazyHippieMama.comThere is a rumor going around that it may touch 60 degrees in this part of Michigan today. If it does, it will be the warmest day we’ve had in four months. It has been a long, cold winter and everyone is more than ready for spring!  I’d be willing to bet garden centers all around the area will be bustling, even though it’s really too early to trust the warmth. As that last frost date draws closer, though, I’d like to give you 10 great reasons to toss your kids out the door and into the garden.

1) Planting a garden is a great expression of creativity.

I believe when the Bible says that man is created “in the image of God” that refers, at least in part, to the creative spirit.  It is sheer joy to allow your garden be a living canvass upon which you bring your ideas  to literal fruition!  It’s true that kids might mess up the plan. They trample things and dig in the wrong spots. They put too many seeds in one hole and none in the next. Frankly, I do the same things. But if you have the type of personality that just gets really irritated by that perhaps you could share a corner or a pot or a pallet with the little people.  The creative spark in children runs bright and hot and you just might be amazed at what they can do when left to figure things out for themselves!

2) Being in nature has a calming effect.

It’s not just an old wives tale. Science backs up the theory that people who spend time out doors are calmer, more peaceful and better focused.  (Source)  If your children are driving you nuts with their wild antics hand them a bucket and boot them outside to pull weeds.  You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. Everybody wins!

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.com

3) Children who spend time outside do better in school.

There’s all that, above, but there’s this, too. Studies show that kids who spend time outside perform better in academic settings. (Source)

4) Helping to grow vegetables encourages eating vegetables.

Hand me a can of grayish-green peas and tell me it’s a side dish and I’ll turn my nose up at it every time, but I’ll happily munch fresh peas from the vine all afternoon!  Kids have taste buds, too!  Food, fresh from the garden, is flavorful and nourishing. Plus, it’s indescribably satisfying it is to see a plant that you’ve nurtured from a seed bear good fruit.  Even the pickiest veggie hater will find something they love to nibble if you give them enough time in the garden.

5) Gardening is a great way to teach children about how every part of our world is valuable and deserves respect.

A good garden needs worms and insects, dirt and old leaves and clean water and sunshine. I have never experienced a more tangible way of seeing, first-hand how every single thing on this earth is intricately and irrevocably woven together.  When we respect and care for all of the parts of our world and, in return, our world nourishes us. That’s a lesson every child needs to learn.

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.com6) Getting dirty helps build the immune system.

Did you know that keeping your child too clean will make them sick? Kids raised in very sterile environments have a much higher tendency to asthma, allergies and immune problems.  (Source) Encourage your child to play in the dirt!

7) Being together in the garden presents great opportunities for conversation.

You know how “they” say you should limit screen time to 2.7 minutes a day (or something like that) for children under 17? Yeah… we don’t do that. We are a plugged in family. It is not unusual, at any given moment for me to be pecking away on my MacBook while Handsome Hippie Hubby is doing research on his laptop, Sweet Hippie Daughter is reading on her tablet and Toddler-saurus Rex is sorting colored shapes into baskets on the Kindle Fire.  We get in the car and we’re singing to the radio. We’re at the store and we’re focused on crossing items off the list.  But in the garden…  in the garden it’s just us. There is all the time in the world to talk about anything and everything while we putter along doing whatever needs to be done.

8) Gardening is great physical exercise.

We are a nation that asks our children to  sit  a LOT.  Sit on the bus. Sit in the car. Sit at your desk. Sit for your music lesson. Sit in church. Sit at the table. Sit down and do your homework. Ok, time to relax. Feel free to go sit on the couch and watch TV.

Gardening is motion. It is bending and lifting and digging and crawling.  If you make the mistake I did last year and put your plants too close together it’s like a yoga class trying to get to the fruit without squishing anything!  If you doubt that gardening is exercise, give it a go, just for a day or two and tell me how your back feels when you are done!

9) Problem solving, building, engineering and chemistry are all part of gardening.

10 Reasons To Get Kids In The Garden | LazyHippieMama.comYou’ve got a 12 foot long tomato vine crushing the 3 foot wire cage that is supposed to be supporting it.  How can you use the long stakes you have to get the plant up off the ground before it rots?

How do you get the water to spray on something that’s just out of reach of the hose?

How do you re-route the rain run-off so it doesn’t drown your beets?

Is the soil acidic or base? Is that good or bad? Why? How can it be adjusted?

Gardeners need to be constantly figuring and calculating, building and experimenting to see what works.  Gardening is science.

10) Because no child needs to watch another episode of…. anything.

Have you seen EVERY episode of SpongeBob Squarepants 782 times? Is one more day of Thomas the Train going to derail your brain?  Take your child out to the garden. Show them how to turn the sod. Let them plant seeds, mound up potatoes, pick beans or hand-pollinate squash blossoms.  You’ll both feel better for it.

Do you have a special memory of being in the garden with kids, or of being a kid in the garden with an adult you loved? 

I’d love it if you would share it in the comments!

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Road Schooling – The Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

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One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling, and one of the more compelling reasons we wanted to choose this path is the flexibility.  Our work schedules don’t fit into the Monday-Friday 9-5 mold.  Handsome Hippy Hubby is off on Monday and Tuesday and he works most holidays.  I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday at my church job and the time leading up to holidays is often extra busy. As far as writing… that comes in the very early mornings, very late at night and all the spare quiet moments in between I can find.

With a schedule like ours, we often struggled to plan trips when Sweet Hippie Daughter was in public school.  Either we would have to take time off from work, which we really can’t afford to do too often, or she would have to miss school.

Homeschool = problem solved.  We just take our school on the road when the opportunity presents itself.

Most recently, we headed off to Cleveland to visit the grandparents and do a review for US Family Guide.  That gave us about 2 1/2 hours in each direction for reading and discussion, which was lovely and passed so quickly I almost wished it was a longer drive.  When we got there grandpa talked a lot about aliens – it’s one of his favorite subjects – and Sweet Hippie Daughter had some really interesting input based on an article she’d read in last month’s National Geographic Magazine about black holes.  When she mentioned “the intense gravity in the singularity at the center of a black hole,” I felt like, just maybe, we were doing this thing right!

While we were in the Cleveland area we had some free time and decided to use it to visit the Lake Erie  Nature and Science Center in Bay Village.  I have written about my love affair with the Ohio Metroparks before.  They are an extraordinary FREE resource for anyone who loves nature, history, gardening, and beautiful places.  (I’m thinking that must be nearly everyone.)

"I didn't know there were rattlesnakes in Ohio, Mama!"  I didn't know either. Yeesh.

“I didn’t know there were rattlesnakes in Ohio, Mama!” I didn’t know either. Yeesh.

The Science Center isn’t a huge place, but there are fabulous things to explore and teach and provoke new thoughts around every corner.  There are several animal displays and aquariums inside the building including turtles, snakes, lizards, fish and more.  There is a gorgeous “tide pool” that drains and fills again, just like the ocean waves are washing over it.  Sweet Hippie Daughter and Grandma must have spent 20 minutes sitting on the edge of it trying to find all of the wild-looking ocean critters that lived in there.

While they were busy with that, Toddler-saurus Rex enjoyed looking at the fish tanks and playing with giant floor puzzles and coloring sheets that were laid out for younger children.

science center vultureWe got to meet a turkey vulture that was at the center recovering from a gunshot wound.  The animals there are all being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild or they are being cared for there because they are, for one reason or another, unable to survive on their own in the wild.

Sweet Hippie Daughter spent a few minutes checking out the gigantic globe of Mars.  She has said before that she wants to be in the first manned mission to Mars.  If that actually happens I will be unbearably proud and totally, completely terrified.  I will also, with no reservation, release this picture to the media and giggle every time I see it on TV.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

Since it was the first warm sunny day since we’ve had since Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden (OK, not really, but, at a balmy 45 degrees and sunny, it sure felt like it!) we couldn’t resist visiting the outdoor exhibits, too.  We got to see different species of owls, hawks, eagles, ducks and other birds as well as rabbits, the cutest racoon in the universe (because he wasn’t strewing garbage on my lawn or eating my cookies at a campsite), a fox, a woodchuck and a mink.  The girl had a whole conversation with this deer who, I swear, understood every word she was saying.

science center deer

While she was bonding with Bambi T-Rex and Grandpa rested their feet on the little deck overlooking the duck pond.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

I found inspiration for a spring-time upcycling project in this butterfly house.

Science Center Butterfly House

And then we had to take a few moments to investigate the massive hollow log in the center’s entryway.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

We had so much fun and we learned all manner of things about earth, space and the creatures we share our space with.  We got to play and laugh and stretch our legs and feel the sun on our faces.  I can’t think of many better ways to spend a day!

If you want to visit or find out more about the parts of the center/park we didn’t get to see (including a planetarium), visit their website for all the details.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

Our Day at Disney Live! – Mickey’s Music Festival

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*** This is a sponsored post on behalf of US Family Guide and Disney Live! My family received tickets in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. ***

Almost time for the sow to start!  The waiting is the hardest part.

Almost time for the sow to start! The waiting is the hardest part.

My family was all super excited to see our first ever Disney Live! show.  We’ve always had great experiences with Disney and we were sure that this would be no exception.

We arrived at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland about half an hour before the show started, parked, and followed the signs to the nearest entrance. Unfortunately, it was a door for ticket-holders only and our tickets were still at the will-call window.  Thankfully, the incredibly kind folks running security didn’t make us walk all the way back out into the cold and around the building to the will-call window. Instead, they arranged an escort for us and another family in the same situation to cut through the arena.  It was such a nice gesture!

We got our tickets and went off in search of our seats.

Our one complaint about previous Disney events we’ve attended was that the merchandising was quite overwhelming. Everywhere you looked someone was trying to sell you something at a breathtakingly inflated price.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that, at Disney Live! the souvenir stands were as colorful and festive as ever but scaled back quite a bit and the prices, while not exactly clearance-bin bargain, were slightly more reasonable.

Once we were all situated we had a few minutes to wait. I was totally charmed by the old-fashioned sounding sponsor announcement from Schwebel’s Bread Company that played before the show.

Finally, it was time. The lights dimmed, the countdown began and suddenly Donald Duck was playing the guitar on stage and Toddler-saurus Rex’s head was exploding with joy.

Disney Live Mickey's Music Festival Review

The show was delightful – funny and fast paced with some truly amazing special effects.  Several of our favorite Disney characters made an appearance throughout, singing and dancing to a great mix of Disney favorites, pop music and original songs.  We all laughed at the opening number and we all loved seeing Aladdin’s tricks and the super cool under-the-sea action with Ariel but, hands-down, our favorite scene was when the Toy Story characters came on stage. I don’t want to give it all away so I’ll just say there was some very fancy cowboy (and girl!) roping involved.

The finale was a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, jump-up-and-down blast.

Whether you are 2 or 82 you’ll enjoy this show.  It was all of the fun and wonder you’d expect from Disney.

Disney Live Mickey's Music Festival Review

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

 

7 Places To Sneaky-Teach Your Child (in SE Michigan & NW Ohio)

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#7 - Cabela's

#7 – Cabela’s

My daughter is stubborn and resists “school work” at every turn. (I don’t know where she gets it. Must be from her father. *wink*)  She loves to learn and explore, but she wants to do it on her own terms.  If she’s got a burning curiosity about space, trying to get her to complete a lapbook on history is nearly as grueling as wintering over at Valley Forge.  

Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we have the flexibility to follow her lead, which eliminates a lot of those types of arguments. Honestly, if she turns out to be a 30 year old astronaut with the ability to successfully research topics of interest who doesn’t understand the “Valley Forge” reference, above, I’m OK with that.

On the other hand…

Sometimes I have to pitt my stubborn Mama will against her stubborn kid will and insist. There are two reasons:

First, I only insist when I feel it’s something she needs to know to be a contributing member of society.  She has to be able to do basic math, write out a thought with clarity, understand the basics of how our nation’s government works, etc.

Second, I believe that learning to do things that you don’t like while keeping a cheerful heart is one of the great keys to a happy life.  I don’t like to wash dishes or mop floors. I find no joy in changing poppy diapers. I’m not especially fond of balancing the checkbook. Every day we, as adults, are required to face countless tasks that don’t spark our passion but that really just aren’t optional.  We deal with it. We put on great music or work together with a friend or use a particular tool that makes the job more enjoyable for us or we motivate ourselves with the reward of time spent doing what we love once we get our “chores” out of the way.  I think that learning to buckle down and practice her trombone when she’d rather be playing video games is a super important part of her education.

So some days are led by our children’s interest.  Some days are busy with to-do lists. But the BEST days are the sneaky-teaching days!

Sneaky-teaching is when you tell your child, “we’re going to do something SO FUN today!” And you do something that they think is a fabulous, grand adventure and at the end of the day your child says, “Wow! That was really cool!” and, inside, you do your best mad-scientist laugh because you know they just learned all sorts of new information and they don’t even realize it.

Muhwa-ha-ha-ha!

Muhwa-ha-ha-ha!

Here are 7 great locations in the Southeast Michigan/Northwest Ohio area for sneaky-teaching outside of the home.

1. Imagination Station, Toledo, OH 

Imagination StationThis is actually the place that inspired this post.  We just went for the first time this past weekend. I’d resisted for a long time because I’ve been to other places that were similar (so I thought) and I’d looked at their prices and thought it seemed a little expensive.  Within 10 minutes of walking through the front door I was ready to buy a family membership so that we could go back again and again!

Imagination Station is huge. No matter what your child is interested in, there is something there for them.  If they are quiet sit-and-figure-it-out types they will find tons of work spaces filled with challenging experiments. If they are the kinds of kids that never stop moving there is everything from a high-wire bike to a giant hamster wheel to burn up energy.  There is a large area just for little ones to climb and splash and explore.  There is a piano that plays “music” made entirely from bodily noises.  Your child will love this place!

As the mother of a very active 2 1/2-year-old and a very inquisitive 9-year-old I was concerned that everything would be too advanced for the little one or too babyish for the big one.  No such worries!  There was never any place we visited where there wasn’t something for both of them.

A little pricey?  Perhaps. It’s the only thing on this list that you have to pay for but, in my opinion, it’s totally worth the splurge.

2. Pearson Metropark, Oregon, OH

Pearson Metropark is one of the first places we went on a homeschool field trip.  It is the last remaining stretch of the Great Black Swamp.  It is vast and beautiful.  It is a great opportunity to be out in nature and learning the history of the area at the same time.  Throughout the park there are signs and stations that tell the story of what’s there and what once was.  You can read more about our first visit here.

3. Blissfield Model Train Exhibit, Blissfield, MI 

Tiny little Blissfield has some really amazing railroad history. There is the old depot and the train that still carries passengers through town but the thing I really love is the Model Train Exhibit.  This is a massive scale model railroad with a focus on the Chesapeake & Ohio and Clinchfield railroads in northeastern Kentucky and western West Virginia.  I can’t imagine anyone, of any age, being less than totally delighted by this display.  The detail is extraordinary and the builders strive very hard for total authenticity.

Whenever we have visited, members of the club that built the model are there and eager to point out new or special parts of the exhibit.  They’ve spoken with us about the various types of trains and their functions, the electrical circuitry involved in making the models work, the communications systems used by the real railways, the history depicted by certain pieces of the model and the crafting process for creating the models.  They are invariably patient and kind and knowledgable.

Recently, they had to relocate and they are still in the re-construction process but their website says they hope to be open to the public once again this spring.  The old building was a little cramped and only accessible via a rather horrifying ancient staircase. I have a feeling the new space will be a great improvement.

Extra bonus points – the second best pizza in the universe is available at the restaurant (Lena’s) across the street and a half a block east so after your family has soaked up the maximum amount of history, building and engineering knowledge for one day you can dig into some fabulously cheesy goodness!

4. Robinson Planetarium and Observatory at Adrian College, Adrian, MI 

This planetarium seems to be hosting one special event or another practically every other day.  There are shows based on the ancient folklore of various cultures, shows that focus on the times of dinosaurs, shows that discuss the future of space exploration and opportunities to see what’s happening in space right now and it’s all free and open to the public.

They’ve recently undergone a major re-model and I haven’t visited since it was completed but we are looking forward to a trip very soon.  Their website notes that the new handicap accessibility features will not be fully completed for a few more months so, a phone call may be in order if you have special needs.

5. River Raisin National Battlefield Park, Monroe, MI 

I’ve only recently learned about this US park in Monroe, MI and I’m excited about visiting soon.  The Monroe area and the River Raisin were a big part of what was going on in the Midwest during the war of 1812 and the entire first half of the 19th century.  This park offers several programs teaching the history and nature of the area.  They also have a wonderful website with curriculum materials, background information and stories that will keep anyone enthralled.

6. Fossil Park, Sylvania, OH

“Park” is a bit of a grand term for this slab of concrete.  There is a lovely walkway around the perimeter but that’s about it.  Still, it is one of the most fascinating places we’ve found in the area.  Big loads of rocks and dirt from the nearby quarry are dumped in piles on the concrete and visitors are encouraged to bring buckets and brushes and dig through the dirt looking for fossils.  You will find them.  They are there by the thousands.  The area was once a vast lake bed and so the dirt, taken from such a great depth in the quarry, is full of ancient shells, trilobites and other sea-life.  There are some great informative signs that help you identify your findings and understand which part of our planet’s history they came from.  It’s dirty work.  There’s little shade to be found on hot days, so wear a hat and bring your own water.  For all that (maybe because of all that if you’re a kid who loves to get dirty and find treasure – which, let’s face it, is most kids), it’s worth going back to over and over again.

7. Cabela’s 

Cabela’s is a sporting goods store but it’s so much more.  From the enormous statues in front, that offer great climbing fun, to the extraordinary 2-story displays of taxidermy inside, to the river that runs through the middle of the store and the huge aquariums full of local species your family could spend hours exploring.  My daughter loves to try out the various bows in the archery range and love to look at the stunning hand-crafted coo-coo clocks.  There are nature-related toys and books and video games.  This is a place that will inspire any child to wonder about nature and our relationship with the world around us.  Sit inside the ice shanties and try to figure out why they’re designed like they are.  Climb aboard the boats and give some thought to why a boat built for skiers is a totally different shape than a boat built for fishermen.

Technically, it’s free to visit but I find it’s very difficult to leave without a box of their fabulous chocolate fudge!

Have you discovered a sneaky-teaching gem?  Share it in the comments!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Reasons My Mama Is Crying – A Guest Post By A 2-Year-Old

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***I have had guest bloggers before. They were brilliant and insightful but, as fabulous as they were, this writer is hands-down my favorite guest poster of all time.  He is charming and witty and talented and an obvious genius. He is one of those people who, as soon as you meet them, you know he is destined for greatness.  Unless you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones who encounter him during a temper-tantrum in the Meijer produce department.  Have you guessed it? Today’s guest blogger is Toddler-saurus Rex.  I hope you enjoy his first-ever blog post.***

T-RexHi! I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, if that’s OK. My mommy calls me T-Rex on her blog so I guess we’ll just go with that. I’m 2 1/2-years-old. I enjoy listening to the same song over and over until the grown-ups in my house start to tremble and show signs of a nervous breakdown, turning on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and ignoring it completely until someone else tries to change the channel, and exploring the flavors of random items I pick up from the floor.

I asked Mama if I could have some space on her blog to share something with you.

You see, there’s this website called, “Reasons My Son Is Crying.”  Mama thinks it’s hilarious.  Every time she sees one of those pictures she starts laughing.

I honestly don’t get it.  I mean, did you see the one where the mom had planted a flower in the pot her son had given her? What was she thinking?! Of course the boy was crying! Who puts a flower in a big clay pot? Poor kid. I feel his pain.

And it’s not like Mamas don’t cry.  I have proof.  I stole Mama’s phone to take some pictures (Oh! I forgot to add, “stealing Mama’s phone to take pictures” to my list of interests). Let me show you what I’m talking about…

Reasons My Mama Is Crying:

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

She’s always raving about my big sister’s fabulous artwork. I thought I’d try my hand at expressing my creativity.  She was overcome by the beauty of it.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama says we are always late for everything. She gives us all plenty of time to get ready but we think it’s sort of funny to wait until she’s got her coat on and then tell her that we have to use the potty or change clothes or grab one more toy.  I’m not so sure she understands the humor.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama says she loves to watch the Olympics but every time we turn it on she starts crying: especially when they show the Moms and Dads in the stands.  I don’t get it.  Maybe she’s sad that they get to watch their kids do sports and she doesn’t.  I think I’ll try bobsledding down the staircase this afternoon. That will probably make her feel better.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama has a weird fondness for Mexican food. Last week she told us we were going to “Taco Tuesday” at her favorite Mexican restaurant and, when we got there, they were closed and the building was empty. I told her we could just have cookies instead but she didn’t seem interested in that idea. Mamas have weird ideas about the appropriate times for eating cookies.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

I tell you the truth, the woman is obsessed with where it is and is not OK to poop. She kept asking if I had to poop. I said no. It was the truth. I was done by the time she’d asked. I really don’t see the problem. Everybody poops. I know it’s true. I read a book all about it.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

You know those little rubber things that they put on the bottoms of metal chair legs to keep them from being dangerously sharp?  Those come off.  And then, if you put the chair right in front of the door and everything works out perfectly, Daddy will come bursting through the door just as Mama is starting to push the chair in and the metal edge will rip her toes off and she does this great hopping on one foot move.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

She told me to put the Kindle down and go play with my toys, so I did. I played with every single one of them. I even took the flash cards and dominoes out of their boxes! You think she’d be happier. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand women.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via lazy Hippie Mama

Yup. My Mama sure does cry a lot (although, now that I really think about it, I’m not sure that all of the tears in these pictures were 100% genuine), but the very best thing about my Mama is that, even though she’s quick to cry she’s even quicker to laugh.  We don’t always understand each other but no matter what we’ll love each other forever.

Wait!

Before you go, there’s something else I wanted to mention..

Mama’s blog has a great sponsor – Dolphy Games.  I seriously LOVE these games!  They are so cool!  When I click on the little dolphin to start it up it says, “Hello, T-Rex!”  And then there are all these great animals and colorful pictures of things I really like – like beach balls and watermelons.

Dolphy Games via Lazy Hippie Mama

Some of the games are just a little tricky… they really make me think.  I have to count or remember my shapes and colors but I’m getting really good at them and when I get a right answer the pretty voice says, “Well done, T-Rex!”  I can’t help it.  That voice makes me so happy that I just have to jump up and down and clap.

My big sister has a version for older kids and she loves it, too.

Dolphy Games via Lazy Hippie MamaIf you have some kids in your house, or if you need a special present for a child you love, you should go visit Dolphy Games and pick out something awesome for them.  I bet they’ll love it as much as I do!

If you liked this post, leave a comment and let my Mama know.  Maybe she’ll let me do another one day.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

 

Win, Lose or Nice Try?

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Image via sportsunbiased.com

Image via sportsunbiased.com

I’ve been watching and I’ve noticed that, in the Olympics, only the top 3 competitors in any given event get a medal.  They all get to have the title of, “Olympic athlete.” They all get cool jackets and other bling from their nations but only the very best get the big prize.  And, for every “losing” Olympian going home with nothing but a great new coat there are countless more who dreamed and worked and gave their all but never got to set foot in Sochi.

In recent years we reached a point in our society where we became so afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings that, in many cases, we stopped awarding prizes for winning and replaced them with lovely “participant” awards.  No winners means no losers and that means that no one ever feels bad about themselves.  Currently it seems like, perhaps, the pendulum is swinging back.  People are speaking out and saying that it’s ridiculous to give an award for showing up.  Winners win. Losers lose. If you were a loser this time… well… better luck next time, but no big trophy today.

Isn’t it true, though, that there really is something to be said for “just trying?”  It often takes courage and strength and determination. You can’t learn or grow if you don’t try.  Sometimes we have to “just try” for a very long time before we are even within view of excellence. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never get there.

Maybe we will never “get there.”  I will never cook like Mario Batali or dance like Martha Graham. Still, there is joy in those activities.  My mechanic will never be Henry Ford but I’m thankful that his knowledge and skill are great enough to keep my old clunker on the road.

On the other hand, excellence should be rewarded, should it not?  Some among us are faster, stronger, smarter, funnier, more talented. Isn’t it logical that we acknowledge their gifts?  Others were, perhaps, not born “champions” but their sheer determination is so far above and beyond the average person that they turn whatever seeds of talent they do have into something extraordinary.

Of course, I’m not talking about telling a pee-wee soccer player he will never play in the world cup because he can’t run and kick at the same time.  But as children get older, as they mature into teens and on into adulthood…

What Do You Think?

Does rewarding those who are trying steal motivation from those who are doing?

Does a failure to be rewarded for effort steal the hope of those who will never “win the gold?”

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!