Saturday, February 28, 2009

life lessons

My kids had some hard life lessons this week. Everything seems to be working out in the end, but there were some emotional roller coasters, and disappointment along the way. As a mom, it's hard to witness your little one's go through legitimate disappointment, because there isn't a lot you can do about it. Sometimes other people flake and even if you are working hard, one person can spoil a group project if they don't follow through. After a whole lot of hurt and angry feelings, it was good to see that most folks can actually be counted on, and that some will go through a whole lot of extra work to make things happen. I was feeling a little nervous for a bit though, and like the world is in big trouble if I am one of the most responsible ones in it.

I should also note that I was going to try to give up being negative for Lent, but I am not having much success at this point. In fact, the first day, I was put to the test, and failed miserably. In my defense, it is hard to remain positive when your kids are getting hurt by other people's actions. It brings out the angry mama bear in me, and anyone who knows my temper knows that it can be a bit fiery to say the least.

On top of it all, I am getting sick- sore throat, no voice, headache, nausea etc. The blessing is that I have a cozy bed, and a laptop computer, as well as plenty of hot tea, a stack of good books, and even some Seinfeld reruns to watch later. Laughter really is very good medicine, and cute kids who provide room service ROCK!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cozy Mornings

The weather outside is frightful. We are finally getting the rain we so needed, and with it plenty of wind and cold. At least it is warm and cozy inside.

I am sitting under my comfortable covers slowly drinking a hot coffee, and being thankful for this life. While I do need to motivate myself for the day, I am pretty darn lucky to be able to lounge late, read books for hours in front of the fire, and play board games late into the night. Someone was just telling me how hard they thought it would be to homeschool, and have that responsibility. Yes, it can be a challenge at times, and is certainly a responsibility, but the thing that most people don't realize is how incredibly freeing it is for a family to march to the beat of their own drummer. Lately, our schedule has been a little fuller than I would like, but it is full of good things. They are activities we have chosen, and it's amazing how kids and adults alike are motivated when it is something they actually want to do. And, most of the time, we are all having fun and learning a ton. The kids just finished their cereal, and on today's agenda is writing a letter to the new president before we go to bowling later.

I for one am optimistic about our new president. It should be interesting to see what the kids come up with to say to him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Doors and Windows

They say when a door shuts in your life, a window opens. Well, it seems like a door has just slammed in my face, and knocked me upside the head in the process. I guess I should not have jokingly complained about the inconvenience of working one night a week because it's come back to bite me on the rear. The childbirth classes I taught those nights are actually my favorite part of my job. They started out of a program I created to help empower women and families in the childbirth year. Many people don't realize how many choices they have in regards to their births, or their children. They don't know they can ask questions, make decisions, or trust themselves and their instincts. Originally, the project was funded through a grant, and then picked up by the public health department. Over the last five years, we've helped hundreds of families with education, encouragement and support. Last week, I learned we will be part of the budget cuts everyone is suffering from these days.

Times are hard, and lots of programs are being cut. It's hard to say that our program is more important than other programs, but I will say for sure that we do make a difference. People are more likely to make changes in their lives around the time of a babies birth. Women are more likely to quit smoking, drinking, and start eating well and getting healthy when they are having a baby. Why? Because it's not just about them anymore. It's about the baby. Even fathers and grandparents are more likely to improve their lifestyle when a new baby comes- for the baby. And when that baby starts their life in a healthier home, they are going to be a healthier person in the long run. Preventing problems is cheaper than treating them, and it starts in the home. First 5 has put out plenty of research on early brain development that backs up my maternal instinct which says bonding with babies is important.

I know I have seen the difference our program has made first hand. No, we didn't change the world, or the system, but we did support a lot of people in doing their best with their families. We've seen mothers as young as 14 decide to breastfeed even when it wasn't easy, and to continue their education. We've seen young father's make a commitment to support their child financially and emotionally. We've seen grandmother's decide they would help their grandchildren have a better life than they were able to give their children. And each one of these people matter.

I think the thing that set our program apart has been the personal touch. We connect with people and support them, not as experts talking down to them, but as peers who happen to have some expertise in the area of childbirth and breastfeeding. I am pretty confident that some of the positive changes we have seen happen have been because of a personal connection with the families. A brochure or poster or even human contact in a clinical setting just isn't the same.

So, while I'm bummed for myself, and the fact that my hours have been cut, therefore my pay will go down, and my favorite part of my job is gone, I am more concerned for the people who are having babies who are not going to make any personal connections because they are lost in a big system of impersonal agencies.

So, that's the door in my face. I am looking for the window. Perhaps it is in freeing up time to put into my children and other pursuits like writing, art, dance and music. Hopefully, the breeze will start blowing through the window soon, letting me know what direction to look into.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I wrote this and meant to post it almost two weeks ago, but somehow I got sidetracked and completely spaced it. Oh well, better late than never I suppose...

January 22, 2009
It's good to be home
Our vacation was just the right length of time. We were still having fun, not getting sick of anyone we were visiting yet, hopefully not driving our hosts crazy yet, and just starting to miss our animals when we started home.

And it is good to be home. We've been on a bit of a whirlwind since we got back, without much actual time at home though. So to spend a day off at home today, and pretty much throw out expectations of accomplishment was nice. We really are blessed with a wonderful home- not the house itself- it's a mobile home almost as old as I am- ugly as can be on the outside, but with plenty of room inside. Actually, the outside is improving. I decided the kids and I would cover up the ugly prison gray corrugated metal siding on the back with a mural. The front of the house has a big covered porch, and the two sides have roses or other big bushes to cover up the ugly. I have tried to grow plants up that back wall, but it is full Southern exposure, and so blasted hot in the summer that everything just burns to death before it grows more than a foot tall. So, we are painting a big, eclectic mural with aliens, a bear, chickens, trees and flowers. We have no plan really. We're just painting whatever strikes our fancy as we go along. I figured that this is the perfect time in our lives to do this. Someday, if we build a new house, it probably won't be mural with kids material, but what we have now was just calling out to be beautified. What I really think makes our home wonderful is certainly not the building itself though. It's the quiet and space of being on 6 acres, the goats and chickens doing their things in the pasture, the dogs and cats who want to play or be pet, the creek flowing, the warm wood stove and all the games and musical instruments and arts and crafts and books to keep us busy.

It's finally raining, thank God. It's been unseasonably warm here, but I'd rather see the rain. 70+ degrees in January is lovely and all, especially when you think if the ice storms and 20 degree days back east, but we need this rain. The grass in my poor overgrazed pasture needs it. The creeks, rivers, and the lakes really, really, really need it. I for one, am so very, very glad to have it here.