Tag Archives: parenting

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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119 Reasons Why We Homeschool (Year Five)

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This fall marks the beginning of our fifth year as homeschoolers. We could never have guessed, when we started, where this journey would take us or how awesome it would be for our family. We have seen our daughter blossom and grow and we’ve all learned far more than we expected about the world and ourselves.

I’m not going to lie. Our daughter started sixth grade last year. I think I was laboring under the delusion that, removed from the drama of school life my adolescent child would poop rainbows and cry glitter. Yeah… not so much. Puberty is hard. It makes a person crazy. Parenting a crazy person is tough. Being their parent/teacher/principal/etc is nearly enough to drive a person to drink.

Did I think maybe it was time to give us a break from each other and send her back to school?

I did. Daily.

But I didn’t do it, because we had this list.

This list came about as something to cling to when the bad days come. Before we ever started homeschooling, a friend advised us to make a list of 100 reasons. “If you don’t have 100, you probably don’t have enough,” she said. “The day will come when you’ll be asking yourself why you’re doing this and you need something to look back to.”

And, really, if I’m being honest, there was maybe one hour a day that was quite stressful. It usually revolved around math.

I can put on my big girl pants and deal with one tough hour a day. Bonus: a new reason for the list (see #__).

If last year was landmark for our daughter reaching “middle school,” this year is a big deal because our son is starting kindergarten.

We’re pretty chill when it comes to kindergarten. He has school books and we work in them every day but his days are centered a lot more around playing and exploring his world than sitting at a desk, studying. He’s starting to read and understand basic math and counting skills. As long as he keeps moving forward we’re content with that for now.

It is important to me to make it understood that this list is not meant as a criticism of those who have children in public school or of the school district in which we live. I thank God that we live in a nation with CHOICES. We can choose what is best for our own families at any given time. For us, for now, that’s homeschool.

You’ll notice that some of our reasons are very serious. Some of them are quite silly. Some of them are totally focused on our children. Some are selfish on my part. They’re all reasons. They all played a part. Would I homeschool, just because I think public schools waste paper. Of course not! Read, knowing that not all of these weigh on our hearts equally.

The list has changed a little every year. Originally, there were one hundred reasons. Over the years, some of those reasons have become invalid and other reasons we’d never guessed at became important to us.

Without further ado…

100 Reasons (+18) Why We Homeschool

1.  We love spending time with our kids and would miss them if they were gone all day each day.

2. Our daughter wants to be homeschooled. Our son doesn’t know anything else.

3. We want our children to have the opportunity to explore their passions in great depth.

4. We want to teach them to choose healthy foods and eat them SLOWLY and WITH ENJOYMENT (not gobble down processed lunch during a 20 minute break).

5. We want them to have large windows of time each day to explore their imaginations and play – not just a 20 minute recess where they’re not allowed to run too fast or swing side to side due to liability concerns.

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6. As much as possible, we want to avoid having them compare their possessions to the possessions of others.

7. We think that 7+ hours of school plus and hour on the bus is too much time for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to sit and listen (as opposed to playing, questioning, exploring, etc).

8. It seems to us that homework, after 7+ hours of school, seems excessive and unproductive.

9. We want our family to be free to travel when and where we like.

10. With Handsome Hippie Hubby’s work schedule he would never see them if they were at school until 3pm each day.

11. The one meal we can eat together, as a family, every day is lunch.

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12. We want to teach them to be responsible to the environment in practice, not just through lessons.

13. We want them to learn practical skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, etc and there is little time to teach those when they’re away at public school all day and such things are no longer a part of the curriculum in our local schools.

14. Sometimes life makes you stay up late and we want them to be able to sleep in or nap when their little growing bodies needs to.

15. They watch a lot of classic movies in music class and we want to be the ones to experience those with them.

16. They watch a lot of movies in music class and we want them to actually learn to play/sing/appreciate music.

17. J-Rex can’t sit still. He can’t. It’s physically impossible for him. He wiggles and figets and taps his feet, even when (especially when) he’s totally focused. We don’t want him to feel “naughty” because he’s a busy little boy.

18. We don’t want them to have to deal with the repercussions of being in a large class with a few “naughty” children that monopolize the teachers’ time.

19. Most of their closest friends are homeschooled.

20. We hate sending them away to school when they’re feeling sick, but not “sick enough” to stay home.

21. We hate sending them into a building full of children feeling “a little sick” but not “sick enough” to stay home.

22. J-Rex’s little body struggles with vaccines and he’s behind. Putting him in public school could create health issues for him and those around him.

23. Our daughter, who is a great reader and writer, should never have to slow down to wait for other children to catch up.

24. Our daughter, who struggles with math, sometimes needs more time and attention than her teachers can give her.

25. We were unhappy with many of the things we saw or heard about happening on the school bus when our daughter was in public school.

26. We want our children to have a broader, less politicized, view of history than they will learn in public school.

27. We don’t want our child to use anti-bacterial hand soap several times a day (though we are trying to teach both of them to embrace the use of regular soap.).

28. We think it’s unhealthy that children sit in a swelteringly hot classroom in the middle of winter.

29. We live in an awesome community surrounded by awesome communities with a near infinite amount of resources to use as teaching tools.

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30. The whole family will gets to learn and grow when we’re “doing school.”

31. We want religion, spirituality, prayer and meditation to be a regular part of our children’s education.

32. We want to foster our children’s differences that they may harness them and direct them to the greatest good of their fellow human. Not just learn to be exactly like everyone else.

33. When REAL disaster/crisis/tragedy strikes (ie – the tornadoes that struck a nearby town a few years ago) we want them to know that it is not only OK but RIGHT and GOOD to drop EVERYTHING and rush to the aid of our neighbors.

34. It will make me feel like the years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars I spent on my own education weren’t a total waste.

35. I learned advanced math. I NEVER used it (I told you so!). And forgot every bit of it. But no one ever taught me how to balance a checkbook or calculate the interest on a mortgage  and I don’t want my children to have that same experience.

36. Public schools in our district have cut resources for art teachers, and we believe in the power of artistic expression.

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37. We want to know IMMEDIATELY if our children are struggling with a problem or social situation – not after it has reached a crisis state.

38. We think people learn more by experiencing something (ie. a visit to a farm is more memorable than a lesson about “where veggies come from.”) and it’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to schlep 35 kids all over the countryside several times a week.

39. We think intuition is a valid and valuable tool in the human mind that is suppressed by “institutionalized” learning.

40. Homeschooling forces me to be a more organized person.

41. Seeing my organizational skills, my children will learn to be organized. (It’s a great theory, isn’t it?)

42. Some days, watching the morning news together, and then having the time to discuss it, can be a more valuable education than an entire day in a classroom learning to figure the degree of angles in a triangle.

43. We believe strongly in the implied power in the sciences of noetics and quantum physics and this isn’t taught in public school.

44. We believe a child should have the opportunity to ask every question they can and public school teachers don’t have time to deal with that, so curiosity gets suppressed.

45. One of the smartest, most accomplished scientists of all time said, “imagination is more important than knowledge,” but public schools focus almost exclusively on the development of knowledge at the expense of imagination.

46. We want our daughter, who has a very entrepreneurial spirit, to have time and energy to experience the creation of business and the power of free enterprise.

47. We believe a child should be free to express themselves in all sorts of silly, crazy, creative ways through their play and dress and public school places a great many restrictions in these areas.

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48. With internet and virtual learning, they learn from a much more culturally, philosophically, educationally diverse group of teachers than they would encounter in a local public school.

49. We don’t like putting our child on a bus every day. But especially on days that are foggy, snowy, icy, etc.

50. Many of the people we respect most in the public school system have told us that, if they had young children, they would not put them in public school.

51. Public school teachers, no matter how good, smart, loving, patient, etc must conform to the state standards no matter if they agree or not.

52. Sometimes our children are “naughty” and teachers have neither the time nor authority to properly discipline then and/or the teachers’ definition of “naughty” and the accompanying discipline are different from what we teach at home.

53. Public school in America is designed to create success in an industrial age economy, but the industrial age is over.

54. EVERY study done shows homeschool children achieve higher academically.

55. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children are better socialized (fit into society more successfully).

56. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children have a greater sense of civic responsibility.

Click here for some interesting homeschool stats.

57. We want our children to learn how to use a computer to do more than play games.

58. We want our children to know how to do things without a computer.

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60. We feel it’s more important for our children to know how and where to find information than to memorize facts for a standardized test.

61. We never want our children to go through the experience of “feeling stupid” for not understanding something without a little help.

62. We are able to introduce foreign language studies at an earlier age as homeschoolers.

63. We don’t want our children exposed to sex, drugs, violence, etc any earlier than necessary.

64. Time is valuable and public school wastes time (bus rides, moving between classes, waiting in line, etc).

65. We think it’s a bad idea to “stop learning” for 3 months out of the year, but a good idea to have lots of fun experiences all year long.

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66. Some of the most mature, intelligent, respectful, strong-minded teens and young adults I know have been homeschooled since early childhood.

67. We want our children to know that being a dancer (painter, musician, house-wife) is just as valid as being a doctor (teacher, accountant, etc).

68. In the event of a crisis (tornado, fire, etc) our children would be with us and we could make sure they’re as safe as possible.

69. We want our children to be able to think for herself and know how to question authority (even us) without being disrespectful.

70. Our children are unique individuals and deserve a uniquely designed education.

71. As parents, want a greater say in what our children do and do not not learn.

72. Some teachers are burnt out and just putting in their time and we don’t want our children to be “just put up with.”

73. We want to put the money spent on school supplies, field trips, etc to go toward those items we believe will be most beneficial for our children.

74. I really hate packing lunches and snacks every day.

75. We want to be the ones to teach our children how to appropriately deal with bullying, harassment, etc.

76. Homeschooling gives the whole family the opportunity and motivation to explore nearby (and sometimes far away) museums, gardens, parks, historic buildings, etc.

77. By homeschooling we are not doing things the “normal” way but we are teaching our children that there can be more than one good way to achieve a good end.

78. There are sometimes abusive adults in positions of power and we want to protect our kids from that as much as possible for as long as possible.

79. We want our children to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the innocent, magical parts of childhood for as long as she can.

80. We want to avoid exposure to the annual outbreak of lice in the public school system.

81. The world, society, and technology are very different than they were 50 years ago but the style of teaching in public school is much the same.

82. In homeschool band, our daughter has had the opportunity to learn five different instruments so far, and she is playing music the public school doesn’t play until high school.

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83. The government has screwed up most everything they have ever touched, so why would I trust them not to screw up the education of my child?

84. Hitler said, “The State will take youth and give youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this community.” “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the State.”

85. US Federal Judge Melinda Harmon said, in 1996, “Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”

86. Shopping for classroom supplies is more fun when you know you get to keep them and use them.

87. Our child has a passion to be in community theater and their rehearsals run very late at night.

88. My husband and I both hated school and did the bare minimum to get through and we don’t want our child to feel the same way.

89. Public schools require “lock-down drills” due to the very real threat of gunmen and/or terrorists in the building.

90. The cheapest time of year to go to Disney (and many other places) is October.

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91. Homeschooling is “green.” There is less transportation, less utility use, less paper…. way way way way way less paper.

92. We want our children to understand that learning can be done anywhere, any time, at any age and be self led or assisted. It doesn’t only take place in a classroom with a teacher.

93. We have the feeling that our children have important things to teach us. “Unless ye be like a little child…..”

94. We believe that people absorb the energy of a place and public school, very often, does not have a positive energy.

95. We want our children to have “Bible” as a school subject.

96. We want our children to embrace failure with enthusiasm, and learn how to use it to move forward. School punishes failure.

97. Our daughter learns a little more every time she helps her brother learn something new. Our son learns every day when he hears us teaching his sister.

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98. Our family is always happiest when we are together.

99. If we know what our children are learning about, we can integrate that into life in so many ways for a more well-rounded and memorable learning experience.

100. We are pretty sure we’re doing OK with this homeschool thing.

101. Through the homeschool association they can take all kinds of lessons (music, sports, theater, etc) we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

102. Through the homeschool association they have multiple opportunities to visit with and be of service to the senior citizens in our community.

103. We travel for business often. As homeschoolers, there is much less conflict between our trips and our children’s schooling.

104. Our five year old is learning some subjects at a far younger age, because he is around when we are teaching his sister.

105. Planting season is before school lets out for summer and harvest doesn’t finish until well after the new year begins.  They would miss both if she was in public school.

106. Boys. We know we can’t shelter her forever but…

107. We’ve learned that our daughter puts up fierce resistance to certain parts of schoolwork. No one was telling us that before, but now we can work on breaking down some of those barriers and help her learn a healthier approach to dealing with the less pleasant chores in life.

108. Our daughter’s base of friends, after four years of homeschooling, includes a much wider age range of people. She is learning to interact appropriately with those much younger and much older than herself in a healthy and positive way.

109. Homeschooling has helped our whole family learn to be better stewards of our time and resources.

110. Homeschooling has given us extra opportunities to share some of our favorite books, movies, and music from our childhoods with our children.

111. Our children has had great opportunities to participate in classes with people of a wide range of ethnic, racial and regious backgrounds through homeschooling – far more so than in public school in our tiny community.

112. Our daughter loves to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November (National Novel Writer’s Month – visit Nanowrimo to participate with us!). She would struggle with the time to do that if she were in public school.

113. There are no snow days in homeschooling so we don’t need to spend half of the lovely summer making up for classes missed when it was too cold to leave the house.

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114. As homeschoolers our children get to help deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the year and we love that they have the experience of serving their elders in that way.

115. You know those statistics about, “only 1% of people with a cold get hospitalized.” That’s our son. Homeschooling gives us some (admittedly small) amount of control over what gets dragged into our house.

116. Our daughter loves playing on the homeschool volleyball team.

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117. Our children are becoming very adept at figuring out how to learn something on her own when she has an interest or need.

118. Our daughter often attends meetings and conferences with adults and interacts with them with amazing maturity. She would not be able to go to such events as often if she were in school all day.

119. Homeschooling isn’t marriage. It’s not a life-long commitment. We can opt out if/when it stops working for us.

120. Life’s too short for all work and no (or little) play. Homeschool days are always full of play!

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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 onTwitter or Facebook to get all the updates.

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

Want to REALLY know what my busy typing fingers have been working on lately? Visit my author page for oodles of short stories and all the latest info on the Heaven And Earth Series!

Five Questions That Make This Homeschooling Mama Crazy (Nablopomo Day 9)

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*This post is Day Nine of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.

5 Questions That Make This Homeschooling Mama Crazy | LazyHippieMama.comI don’t mind when non-homeschoolers ask me questions about our choices. I know that the vast majority are coming from a place of genuinely seeking understanding about a lifestyle they are unfamiliar with. I get it. It’s kind of fun to share and, often, I get ideas from the input of others.  But there are a few questions that make me want to bang my head on my non-existent teacher’s desk in our non-existent classroom. I try to be polite but… seriously…

1) What curriculum do you use?

What I think: Why do you care? Do you even know the difference? What curriculum does your public school kid use? I bet you don’t know! Do you even know what they taught your child in public school today? Who uses just one curriculum, anyway?

What I say: We use Khanacademy.org for math. In other subjects we vary our resources, according to our needs.

2) How many hours a day do you do school?

What I think: How many hours a day does a public school kid actually DO school? Maybe 3? 4? Assuming it’s not a holiday, or a snow day, or the day before a holiday when all the kids are wound up, or the day after a holiday when no one is in the rhythm, or someone’s birthday…

What I say: Some days are longer than others. We focus more on meeting goals than keeping track of hours.

3) Are you confident that your child is where they should be, academically?

What I think: Who came up with the idea that a person of a certain age should know a certain number of facts, anyway? Is every public school kid on the same page, academically? Does no one ever fall behind in one subject or excel in another?

What I say: I’ve seen my daughter really grow and flourish in exciting ways since we started homeschooling.

4) Do you worry about your kids getting into college?

What I think: I have one child who is in training pants at night and one who is still little enough to think that “fart” is the funniest word in the English language. I’m not too worried about college just yet. Are you worried about your public school kid knowing how to think for themselves when they graduate after being taught to conform for 13 years?

What I say: As they get older, there are a number of resources to help them prepare for continuing education if they choose that path.

And MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE QUESTION (directed at my child):

5) Do you know _______ insert random quiz question here ____________? (ie. Who the first 5 presidents are? What 1/3 times 1/8 is? The capitals of all 50 states? The name of the leader of Denmark? What year the cotton gin was invented? The moral of the book “Of Mice and Men?”)

What I think: Do YOU know any of those things?! Do you quiz EVERY child that comes across your path or are you specifically targeting MY child for some reason?

What I say: Baby girl, maybe you could go play with your brother while Mommy talks to this nice man.

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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A 3 Year Old’s Perspective On Holiday Traditions – A Guest Post by T-Rex

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Today's guest blogger is by my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he's not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, "Reasons My Mama Is Crying."

Today’s guest blogger is my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he’s not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, “Reasons My Mama Is Crying.”

Something screwy is going on around here. OK, let’s be honest: my family is not like other families we know. None of my friends has ever had to shoo a rabbit out of their bed or been dive-bombed by a parakeet while taking a bath. I’m starting to think it’s not “the norm” to have to clear nearly a dozen musical instruments off the dining room table in order to eat dinner. I concede the possibility that my mother spends more time moving bugs out of the house “so they can carry on with their buggy little lives” than other moms. But… seriously… something’s up.

This is M and me. He's my best friend!

This is M and me. He’s my best friend!

It all started almost a month ago. We went to my friend M’s house and ate a huge dinner. Of course, when I say, “we” I mean all of the grown ups ate a huge dinner while M and I consumed the fluffy center part of the dinner rolls while surreptitiously feeding the outer layer to the dog. Afterward, even though we hadn’t eaten a single bite of vegetables, M and I both got pie AND a cupcake. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I was too excited about going face-first into a plate full of whipped cream and bright red frosting. Looking back, though, that day was the start of the Season of Strange Stuff.

The very next day Daddy dragged a tree into our house.

That’s weird, right? I mean – this wasn’t a pretty vase of flowers or one of Mommy’s potted plants (FYI – she does NOT think it’s charming when you “pick” those and give them to her). This was a full size pine tree. It was taller than Daddy and he can ALMOST touch the moon! And that’s not even the strangest part! Daddy set this big box on the floor. I opened it up and it was full of the shiniest, sparkliest, most fabulously touchable glittery stuff I’d ever seen! Mommy called them “ornaments” and she must have told me 700 times that day to be very gentle with them. Geez! I tell you! Shatter a few glasses and plates and the woman has trust issues for life. So we’ve got the tree and we’ve got all of these lovely glass ornaments and (you may not believe this but I swear it’s true) then my parents and sister started hanging the ornaments on the tree. In our living room. I could not make this stuff up!

Just about the time I was getting used to seeing the giant tree in the living room, Mommy started telling me to repeat after her: “Today we light the candle of hope.” I would say it and then she would tell me, “great job! Let’s try one more time, nice and loud and clear. Today we light the candle of hope.” There were no candles. I had no idea what she was talking about but, you know, I love her and I aim to please so I went along with it. Then, on a Sunday morning, right in the middle of church, she took me up on stage and handed me the microphone and I stood there with my big sister. She had a lighter in her hands. If you don’t know, this is breaking just about every rule there is, regarding Sunday morning church. It has been made clear to me, repeatedly, that I am NOT to go on the stage during church. The microphones are NOT for touching. And, under no circumstances, is ANY child allowed to hold the lighter. But there we were – big sister and me. I looked out toward the pews and not a single grown up was making a move to stop us. They were all just sitting there, like they were waiting for something to happen. I glanced over at Mommy and she whispered, “today we light…”  I remembered what she had told me: loud and clear. I held the microphone to my mouth just like I’d seen other people do and, in my VERY LOUDEST most clear voice yelled, “TODAY WE LIGHT THE CANDLE OF HOPE!!!” I glanced at the people again as sister lit one of the big purple candles. I think I may have a future in preaching because, let me tell you, not one person in that church looked even a little sleepy. There were nothing but wide-awake eyes in the whole room.

I really enjoyed having a beard. I'm considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I really enjoyed having a beard. I’m considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I did so well that they let me go on stage AGAIN, the very next week. I got to wear a beard. Pastor Z has a beard. Mr. M, who leads the singing, has a beard. Maybe you have to have a beard to talk in church? But Daddy talks in church sometimes and he only sometimes has a beard. Oh! I am SO CONFUSED! Anyway, there was no fire the second time I was on stage. No microphone either, but several of my friends were there and we all sang a song we learned in Sunday school called, “Away in a Manger.” It’s about a baby, asleep in the hay. The baby wasn’t in his crib. The song clearly states that: “No crib… asleep in the hay.” I’ve seen chickens and rabbits and cats asleep in the hay but… babies?!

You may think my story ends there but, no. It gets even stranger.

We went to the mall. I dearly love the mall; Those long, wide corridors, just perfect for running, moving stairs, colorful objects to be examined everywhere you look, and there is a tiny inside park where you never get your bottom wet from rain water puddled at the bottom of the slide. The MOST IMPORTANT RULE at the mall is, “stay with Mommy.” I know this, because Mommy says it at least 900 times every time we’re there. She also tells me, “NO! Get down from the edge of that fountain!” But that doesn’t come up as often. Come to think of it, she hasn’t gone down the fountain hall the last few times we were there. I’ll have to remind her about that. She must have forgotten what a great fountain it is, just begging to be jumped in. But I digress…  the rule is to stay with Mommy, yet she took me to this guy in a giant, fuzzy, green chair and told me his name was Santa Claus. She put me on his lap and walked away. Uhm… Mommy? Mommy! MOMMY!!! Of course, she came back pretty quickly. But still. It’s weird, right?

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

Later, she told me Santa Claus is coming to our house and he’s bringing candy. There’s nothing so strange in that. People come over to the house all the time and they bring all sorts of stuff. But Santa, apparently, is going to put his candy… wait for it… this is really just too much… I swear I’m not making it up… IN OUR SOCKS. I thought maybe I’d misunderstood at first but she’s told me repeatedly now. “Santa is coming! He’s going to put some candy in your sock!”  I asked her, “Why is the candy going to be in my socks?” She said, “because we’re having a party! It’s Jesus’ birthday!”

I had a birthday a while back. Sister and Mommy both had one not long ago, too. I clearly remember cake and singing and a pretty gift-wrapped box. There was no sock candy. I’m certain of it.

I’m baffled, I tell you. I can sense that all of this is connected, somehow but I just can’t quite wrap my mind around it. If there can be a tree in the living room and candy in my socks, if kids can hold the lighter and say VERY IMPORTANT THINGS in the microphone at church… well… I think maybe anything could happen in this crazy topsy-turvy world. Next thing you know they’ll be telling me furry four-legged animals can fly or something.

I’ll keep thinking about all this. Maybe I’ll figure it out. If I do, I promise to let you know.In the meantime, may your days be full of fun and may your socks runneth over with candy.

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

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The Empathy Way – A Review

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I believe that humans, from an extremely young age, have an extraordinary capacity to be empathetic. I can remember my own children, as tiny infants, being upset when I was upset or calm when I was calm. Of course, the other side of that coin is that we can be very selfish creatures. My preschooler will snatch a toy he has never seen before out of the hands of another person and simply declare, “this is mine!” Having spent more than a few Sunday mornings with him and his peers in the church nursery I’ve seen that that’s pretty much a common trait among the preschool set. So, when I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of The Empathy Way books by Anne Wessels Paris and Marian Brickner I happily agreed to take a look. I love the idea of introducing this powerful word and concept at a young age and incorporating ways to encourage little ones to examine the situations they find themselves in from the point of view of the others involved.

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

 

The Empathy Way books tell stories of the every day interactions of the bonobo apes at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The full page photographs are gorgeous! They show the apes in every day situations that any child would be able to relate to: They are playing, dealing with illness, frightened or meeting new friends.

What do you do when you encounter someone who seems scary because they look different? How can understanding a bully help you deal with the way the treat you? How can empathy help us make our friends feel better in hard times?

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.comThose are lessons that anyone, of any age can benefit from learning!

The book series comes with a teacher’s guide and would be a great addition to any classroom or homeschool program. There are discussion questions and some simple crafts to help children remember to follow “The Empathy Way.”

The material says that it’s appropriate for grades k-3. I thought it was great but I would suggest that it’s more appropriate for the younger end of that spectrum.  T-Rex, at age 3 1/2 thought these books were wonderful. He caught on right away and, pointing at the pictures asking, “is she scared? Is he sick? Are they laughing? They think it’s funny?” The comments he made as we read showed that he understood the concept of empathy, even though he had never heard the word before being reading these books. The language is simple, but never simplistic.

If you have a young child at home or if you are a teacher who works with this age group I would strongly encourage you to visit The Empathy Way website. The books are available there as are some really great videos and resources.

In a society where too many news stories are about children and adults who have been hurt lashing out at the world that hurt them we could all use a little more empathy!

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Believe In Magic – Or At Least In Possibility

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I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comEvery year, about this time, I always see several articles talking about all the reasons why parents choose not to embrace “the whole Santa thing.” The reasons usually boil down to one of two things: either these parents are rejecting Santa because they want to focus their family’s attention on the religious importance of the holiday or they feel that embracing the Santa myth is a form of lying to their kids.

I get it. I really do. I think both of those are valid points and, if that’s the way you feel then fine. I’ve got no issue with you. Kudos for raising your kids with strong values. Keep up the awesome job!

I just thought I would take this opportunity to chime in on the other side.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Yesterday the Wise Men were wandering across the desk, looking for baby Jesus, when they got sidetracked by A Charlie Brown Christmas.

We embrace Santa. We are full-on believers in this house. Bring on the flying reindeer! We also have three Magi wandering about during Advent looking for the baby jesus. Our house is full of magical things all year long. We’ve found green foot prints on St. Patrick’s Day morning and the occasional trail of tooth fairy dust.

Not once have I ever felt like I was lying to my children or taking our focus off God.

Follow me, here…

In Dean Koontz’s book, The Taking, he quotes something known as Clarke’s Third Law which states, “Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.”

Send me back in time with a backpack full of common, every-day items from my home and I will convince those people that I’m the most powerful magician who ever lived. I have a device that can play thousands of songs, each with it’s own unique instrumentation, and the whole thing fits in my pocket. There is medicine in my bathroom cabinet that will instantly open the airways of a person struggling to breathe. I can make fire by pushing a button.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Magic, I tell you!

And it if those things don’t knock your socks off, consider this: what are you made of? Flesh and bones? Water? Carbon? Ok… but look closer. Cells? Atoms? Protons, neutrons and electrons? OK, but look even closer. You’re mostly just… well… nothing. Look closely enough and there is nothing there other than energy. Scientists are only just beginning to touch on what that means but, when you look at things that closely something amazing happens. All of our rules about “the way things have to be” just fall apart. Things can exist in two places at once or move forward and backward through time. Energy of one thing can decide to become something else. Literally anything becomes possible.

It’s magic!

At the end of The Taking, one of the characters flips the observation around to note that the converse would be true as well. If a people became sufficiently immersed in developing ever greater technology they would completely misunderstand when something truly magical happened.

A baby, born to a virgin, come to reconcile the entire human race to their Loving Creator-God?  THAT is some POWERFUL magic.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

What does all of that have to do with Santa?

When my child asks me, “Mama, is Santa real?” my answer is an unequivocal, “I believe he is.” I’m telling the truth. We have friends that don’t believe and she knows that. She understands that many people pretend the whole Santa thing by putting presents under the tree with his name on them, even though they came from a person who bought them at the store. She’s neither oblivious nor ignorant. She also understands that, a few years ago, we had no money to “do Christmas.” None. Not even enough to fill the stockings. Yet, on Christmas morning we woke up to a whole living room full of new furniture including an entertainment center with a flat screen TV and a Wii. She got a gorgeous high-powered telescope that year and new skies. There were even presents for mom and dad. She had told Santa that her baby brother needed some bottles and bibs and he got a whole box full. I honestly don’t know where some of those things came from. I do know that neither my husband nor I purchased any of them. Were they made by elves at the North Pole? Probably not. But I can’t prove it. I choose to believe in magic. Or, at least in the possibility of it.

And for the record, I think that love and the generosity it fosters in our hearts is absolutely as magical as a chubby guy dropping gifts down a chimney. I’ve had that discussion with my children as well.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Christian, I believe that God created this universe as a big, beautiful, wondrous place. There are planets made out of vapor and animals living in our oceans that are, in every way, just like a rock until you cut it open and see that it’s actually a living creature. We’re constantly spinning and traveling at unfathomable speeds yet, as I sit and type this I feel still and have no fear of being flung off the planet into deep space. If our planet were just the tiniest smidge closer or further from the sun it would be completely uninhabitable. There’s a whole ecosystem in each of our belly buttons. It’s true! Google it.

All that and you’re telling me that it’s TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE that there’s a guy whose life-mission is to deliver presents to children around the world in a flying sleigh. Phfffbbbttt, compared to the Ted talk I saw the other day about what happens inside the human brain when a musician makes physical contact with his instrument a flying sleigh doesn’t even seem impressive.

I embrace Santa and I teach my children to do the same not because I want Christmas to be all about gifts, but because I want their lives to be all about wonder. I want them to grow up 100% convinced that NOTHING is outside the realm of possibility because, if the past generation is any gauge, by the time they are grown, they will be living in a world that would seem utterly magical to those of us existing here in 2014.

Plus… you know… stockings full of candy. I really enjoy candy.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Don’t Want My Children To Be Independent

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I Don't Want My Child To Be Independent | LazyHippieMama.com

I keep seeing things pop up on social media about how to make sure your child is independent and, after a great deal of thought on the subject, I realize that I don’t really want my children to be independent.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for my babies growing up. Let them tie their own shoes and wipe their own bottoms. I thrill at them taking the initiative to learn something new, all on their own and I sincerely pray that sooner rather than later, once they reach an appropriate age, they feel equipped to go out into the world, find a way to earn a living, contribute to society and generally be productive citizen’s (refer to the tagline, above).

That said, I’m wondering if we Americans aren’t placing way too much emphasis on that word, “independent.”

People will tell you that they “did it on their own.” We are proud to say we’re “standing on our own two feet.” And then there’s the be all and end all of American achievements: “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.”

But is that reality? And if it is reality, is it a good one? Is that the life I want my kids to live?

I look to the people I see and they fall largely into two categories.

There is the group that feel like they’ve done it all on their own, “with no help from anyone.” Many of those people are quick to judge anyone who hasn’t achieved a level of material success at least as high as their own.

“They should just get a job.”

“They need to stop looking for a handout.”

“They’re too lazy to do better.”

“They need to budget more wisely.”

No doubt those things are often true, but if life has taught me anything it’s that, “but by the Grace of God go I.”  Women left without husbands, children born to parents who never show them a good example, people who struggle with prolonged physical and mental illnesses, and so many others may be pushed to the fringe and hanging on by a thread by circumstances they never asked for.

I don’t want my children to grow up so “independent” that they have no place in their hearts to foster compassion for those less fortunate than themselves.

And is it really true that anyone “does it all on their own?” I don’t know a single person who has been successful in any sense of the word without significant help and mentorship. Where would they be if those who helped along the way would have turned their back and said, “just get a job! Try harder! Find a way.”

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they forget to be grateful for the multitude of people who have helped them along the way.

Then there is the other group – those who are scraping by just to exist. They are lying awake at night wondering how they’re going to keep the water on for another month and crying every morning as they drop their kids off at day care because they have to go to work which provides just about enough money to pay for daycare.

Those are the people who weep with shame when they have to go to the food pantry or the diaper bank. They glance around nervously when they pull out their food stamps card, hoping no one will judge them and say something harsh. They wither a little every time they notice the kids have grown out of their clothes again.

It’s traumatic because they’ve been told it’s shameful to need help. If you can’t do it on your own you’re a moocher, a drain on the system, something less than those who get a bigger pay check.

Never mind if you’re facing huge obstacles and need a temporary reprieve. Forget it if you’re an awesome parent or a gifted artist or an inventor with ideas that could change life as we know it. Society shouldn’t have to support you while you chase castles in the sky. Go flip a burger and be thankful to live in the land of opportunity.

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they feel it’s shameful to ask for help.

I pray that my children are strong, that they never take unfair advantage of a person or situation, that they are brave, clever, innovative, hard working, forward-thinking and open-minded. And I pray that my children grow up very conscious of the fact that we, as a species, are, by our very nature, extremely dependent on one another.

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

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Confession Of An Introverted Mother

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When I was growing up there was a conversation that happened repeatedly between my mother and me.

“Why don’t you go talk to so-and-so (call them, go to a certain place, do a certain thing)?” She would ask.

I would shrug, “I don’t want to.” I would tell her.

“But WHY?”

“Because I’m shy,” I would say and go back to reading my book.

“You’re not shy!” She would declare, and she was right. I’m really not. I’m not timid. I was always happy enough to raise my hand in class or take a part in the church Christmas program.

I was probably 35 years old when I finally found the word I was looking for.  Not “shy,” but “introverted.”

Thank you Facebook with all your silly little quizzes and pop culture therapy for explaining this word to me!

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.comIntroverted people are not necessarily timid or frightened in social situations, but they do find social interaction to be work. For an introvert, to be around people is to be constantly giving of your own mental and emotional energy. An introvert doesn’t get charged up in a night club full of people. They get sucked dry. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the great music or good food or stimulating conversation. It just means that there is a limit to how much of that type of situation they can take before something inside starts to feel withered and weary.

The same is true if you’re with just one person, it just happens more slowly.

The only way to “recharge” is to be alone. Totally alone. I’m talking solitary confinement: locked in a room with no phones or social media kind of alone. After a while the internal balance is restored and we introverts can crawl back out of our cave and rejoin polite society once again.

Spend 5 minutes on social media and you’ll find links like this one, this one and half a dozen others that will explain exactly how all this works.

So, finally, I had a word to explain the way I felt and I came to understand that being an introvert is not better or worse than being an extrovert any more than having blue eyes is better or worse than having brown eyes. It just is. Some people are one way, some people are another way. It takes all types to make this big beautiful world go ’round.

I understood that when it came to interacting with the world at large, but it actually took another couple of years to figure out that it applied at home as well.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

Somehow, the great cosmic soup ladle stirred the ingredients of Handsome Hippie Hubby and my children and, from two fairly extreme introverts, produced two obvious extroverts.

You know those kids who will sit happily coloring in a corner for hours, serving tea to their teddy bears and humming a little tune? Yeah… my children are pretty much the opposite of that. They want to have someone over to visit or they want to go to someone’s house. “Let’s go to the mall, the store, the park, the library!” they beg. We are often busy every single day and evening of the week. We’ll get to Friday night and the only two things I want in the whole entire world are space and silence. Do I get space and silence? Not so much. What I get are two children literally climbing all over me, physically in my space and peppering me with: “Let’s play a board game, read a story, go for a walk, ask someone over for dinner…”

I have, at times, done what any rational person would do: Locked myself in the bathroom. Of course, then they just stand outside the door and continue the litany but at least there’s a buffer zone.

I share all that to get to this:  being an introverted mother can be a really guilt-ridden experience.

I have had moments where I think, “I just want them to go away and LEAVE. ME. ALONE.” Instantly, I’m repentant. Please, God, don’t take my kids away and leave me alone! I don’t really want that.

Except I do. Just for a little while. Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

 

A friend of mine recently said, “I can’t imagine sending my kids away for the weekend. I just love them so much I don’t want to miss a single moment.”

Oh, the guilt!

I WANT someone to take my children for the weekend! Someone I know and trust and love, of course. I want to know they are safe. I know that I would miss them. I’m sure that I would, every few minutes, all weekend long, have that, “Gosh, I hope they’re OK,” feeling in the pit of my stomach. I love those little people so much it hurts my heart! But… 2 days and a whole night without anyone climbing onto my shoulders or pulling off my glasses or asking me what the meaning of life is?

Ahhhhh……  just the thought of it makes the knotty muscles in my shoulders relax.

Another friend recently confessed that she’s thrilled that her 20-something kids still live at home. “I can’t imagine them ever leaving. What will I do?”

I just smiled and nodded politely while my brain painted a picture of me, stretched out on the sofa – the whole sofa, one end to the other – reading an entire novel, cover to cover without being interrupted. That’s what I would do. And when I was done I would stretch and smile and send a text (introverts will avoid the phone as much as possible. I can’t exactly explain why but every introvert I know feels the same about the dreadful things.) to my grown children and tell them, I miss you and I love you with all of me and I hope we can get together for dinner tonight. And I will mean it. Because after the whole day alone I’ll be ready to exist in community again.

A third friend said to me, “After a whole morning of homeschooling and then going to the grocery store I’ll come home and go straight to my room and lock my door and not come out for half an hour.” I looked at this woman who loves her family with an obvious, tangible, fierce passion and I was so relieved to know that I was not alone. You know… philosophically speaking.

And that was a good thing.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

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Winter “Life Hacks”

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Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Michigander, born and raised, I’ve learned a thing or two about winter. Lenawee County is no Fargo, ND or anything but in an average winter our temps hover in the mid twenties during the day and we’ll get about 3 feet of snow before the spring thaw, which any gardener will tell you is just before Mother’s Day.

Then there are years like last year. The average temperature last winter was slightly below, “OMG, Hell itself must be frozen solid by now,” Hell is a city in Michigan, by the way. True story. Google it. Our snowfall was extraordinary too. We were careful to constantly dress our toddler in bright colors just in case he fell in. At one point we had to dig the car out. I don’t mean we had to clear the driveway behind the car. We actually, literally had to assess the lumps in the snow, determine where the car was, swim across the snow to get to it, and dig it out.

And now the Farmer’s almanac is saying this year will be similar. Hmmm… guess we’ll find out.

On top of the "mountain" the snow plow created.

On top of the “mountain” the snow plow created.

Did I ever tell you I lived in Arizona for eight years? True story. I came back to Michigan, in part, because I was homesick for seasonal weather. I just thought I’d share that glimpse into my insanity.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up and ask you if you have any of your own.  If so, by all means, please leave them in the comments!

#1 – Improvise an ice scraper.

If you have a lovely modern vehicle with a satellite radio and a sound system custom designed to make the best use of your MP3 player, I salute you. You probably also have a remote starter and a defrosting system that is actually warm enough to melt frost.

 If you, like me, are driving a 15 year old van that can barely muster up enough warm air to blow the fog off the windshield when it’s 50 degrees and raining then you, like me, may still be able to enjoy the Madonna: The Immaculate Collection cassette you bought (explicitly disobeying your parents’ forbidding of such music) in 1991. Cassette cases make perfect frost scrapers! CD cases and credit cards will do as well, in a pinch, but they just don’t fit in your hand like a good old tape box. See? There’s a silver lining to every cloud!

#2 – Dress warm!

If you keep a heating pad by your bed to soothe those winter time aches and pains turn it on and lay it on top of your clean clothes in the morning before you put them on. When you get dressed they’ll be fabulously toasty!

#3 – Stop the draft.

Doors that have a drafty gap at the bottom can be sealed up easily for pennies using a piece of foam pipe insulation, cut open along one side.

#4 – Invest in some litter.

Keep a large bag of cheap, non-clumping kitty litter in your trunk all winter long. The extra weight will be useful on slippery roads and if you get stuck in the snow or ice sprinkling a generous amount of the litter around your tires may be enough to give you the traction to get back on the road.  Your car’s floor mats will also serve as traction in desperate times, but driving on them with snow/ice/mud/salt/yuck covered tires really isn’t good for them so try the kitty litter first.  Make sure it’s not the clumping stuff, which may react weirdly to the wet environment.

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com#5 – Rescue your dry skin.

I get extraordinarily dry skin in winter. Places like the space in between my fingers and the corners of my mouth will actually crack and bleed. Believe me when I tell you I have tried just about every “extra moisturizing” product on the market over the years. Then I started breastfeeding and found the best product in the universe for people with this issue – lanolin. Not lotion WITH lanolin. Pure lanolin: the kind they sell as nipple cream in the baby department.  On hands and feet, slathering it on and covering your skin in loose fitting cotton socks or gloves…. ahhhh…. a bit of bliss, I tell you!

#6 – Make the most of your baking.

Cook in the oven frequently. Leave it open to cool when you are done. The heat from the oven will help warm the house.

#7 – Light ’em up!

Likewise you can add heat and improve the ambiance by burning candles. Of course, keep an eye on them and make sure they’re in safe places, but you’d be surprised how much heat a few tiny candles can generate in a small room!

#8 – Save water.

While we’re on the subject of heating tricks, consider plugging the bathtub drain while you shower and leaving the fan off and the door open. Humid air is more conducive to heat than dry air so your whole house will benefit from the steam and the hot water in the tub will continue to release heat and steam for some time after you are done.  Putting a pie tin with a bit of water in it on your heat vent will increase the humidity in the air as well.

#9 – The right shoes for the occasion.

For staying warm outdoors, choose shoes with rubber soles over other types. Rubber is a fabulous insulator!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

#10 – Double up your mittens.

If you just can’t get your hands warm, try a pair of those really cheap stretchy gloves from the dollar store under a pair of bulky mittens. The combination of tight fitting and loose fitting will more than double the warmth factor. In cold weather, layers are priceless.

#11 – Let the sun shine!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comIf it’s not the cold, but the dark that gets you down open the blinds and face the sunlight as early as possible each morning.  If you wake up in the dark and you’re under fluorescent lights by the time day breaks your body gets very confused and stressed.  Even just standing in a sunny window for a few minutes each morning can help reduce winter time blues.

#12 – Quick dry.

If your shoes get really wet, stuff them with those super-absorbent micro-fiber towels they sell in the automotive department. They will suck the moisture right out of the fabric of your shoes, leaving them only the tiniest bit damp. Don’t forget and leave them in there, though, or you’ll end up with a wet, stinky, moldy mess. Ew.  30 minutes or so should be more than sufficient.

#13 – Have a lot of sex.

Hey, any survivalist will tell you that skin-to-skin is the fastest way to warm a cold person. And, it’s dark by 5pm. And you’re not safe out driving around on those slippery roads so… you know… let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

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!

Top Mommy Blog

If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the link. Thanks!