bloom1 [bloom] noun: a flourishing, healthy condition; the time or period of greatest beauty

 

 

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BLOOMCHILD BLOG

Tuesday
Jun052012

Rock On, Sisters.

Recently I began a small business, but for the past six years I have stayed at home with my two children full time.  When I have attempted, in my writing, to define what I was doing versus what I am now doing, it has been challenging (but I did learn a new vocabulary word...see related post here).  

“Full time mom” just doesn’t make sense - when you go back to work, aren’t you still a full time mom?  On the other side of the coin, using the term “working mom” is equally ridiculous.  Duh.  Aren’t we all working?

As a "stay at home mom" I was never one to bristle when someone referred to another woman as a “working mom”.  Personally, I found it more annoying when people would ask, “Are you working outside of the home?” The person saying this would always seem so proud that they had remembered not to impugn the decision of some mothers to stay at home.  Instead it always made me feel like some sort of a mental patient or zoo animal...as in, “Do they let you out?” Although I will admit the occasional baby vomit, tumble-out-of-bed wardrobe and dark circles under the eyes in those post-baby days probably didn’t help.  I may very well have looked like a mental patient and smelled like a zoo animal.   

I have known many “stay at home moms” who would sheepishly admit they wish they  were working outside of the home (why should this evoke feelings of guilt?), and many “working moms” who wished they were at home full time.  

Being at home full time with one’s children is far from easy, even if you truly love it.  Yet I will never regret my decision to be at home these past few years.  It felt right for my family at the time, and that is the best anyone can hope for - doing something that feels right.  Going back to work now feels equally right.  I feel inspired and challenged in completely new ways. Although, now that my husband and I are both working outside of the home, I often find myself wondering when the maid, the personal shopper, the chauffeur, the social planner, the accountant, the nanny and the cook are going to show up.  Ironically, sometimes I just want my mom to swoop in and fix everything (does that feeling ever go away?). 

My point is this - as moms we are all just trying to do the best we can for ourselves and for our families.  Being a mom will always be our most challenging and our most rewarding job.  Working mom, stay at home mom, career mom, mom who works within the home...whatever. We are all part of a profound, lifelong sisterhood.  At the core we are bound by the miraculous gift of loving someone more than we ever imagined possible.  Personally, I don’t think the word “mom” needs any qualifiers.  We are all rock stars.

This post is dedicated to BettyLou, who will always be the ultimate rock star to me. 

 

Sunday
Jun032012

Nature's Ninjas

One of my fondest memories of childhood involves the large, golden field that lay beside my parents' house.  The soft, lush grass was about a foot and a half high.  I remember wandering out into that sea of grass as it rippled and danced in the wind, planting myself in the middle of it, and laying flat on my back.  There, in my own cozy nest, I would spend a lazy afternoon gazing up at the sky, searching for shapes in the clouds and being alone with my thoughts.  If I close my eyes I can bring myself back there...to the sounds, smells and even the physical sensation of laying there, shoeless in the grass.  

Today when my little one laid down in an patch of grass akin to that of my childhood memory, I was wistful and nostalgic, and {deep down} thinking about ticks.  Does this photo make you feel joyful...or nervous?

 

“Nature’s Ninjas” - I read that term last year (I cannot recall where) and its so apt.  Did you know that they sense the carbon dioxide we exhale and literally leap onto us?  Did you know they have a natural anesthetic in their saliva so we don’t feel them bite?   Recently a tick went through my washer and dryer and came out seemingly unscathed.  How is that possible?  If you live in New England, you’re crazy not to be worried about ticks.  Lyme and other tick borne illnesses are no joke, and I am afraid they are here to stay.  

But I refuse to allow this fear to cause me to de-nature my children.  I will check those kids over head to toe at night like a mama gorilla if I must, but just look at the bliss on her face.  How could I discourage her from interacting with nature in the way that children do...fully, viscerally, with all of her being? 

What measures do you take to protect your family from tick borne illnesses?  Do you find yourself afraid to let your children explore nature fully?  We are trying Nix Ticks from Lily’s Garden Herbals this year, its an all natural, plant derived tick repellent spray (www.lilysgardenherbals.com).

 

 

Monday
May282012

Letting the Pot Boil

Often as parents we mistakenly think (always with the sincerest intentions) that we best serve our children by busying them or entertaining them. Peggy O’Mara recently wrote “Boredom is the very cauldron of creativity.”  This quote really struck me.  Maybe it is because the actual word “cauldron” is so...mystical...or, more accurately, witchy. Yes, I thought, boredom is indeed the very cauldron of creativity.  I was impacted.

It was a rainy Thursday morning, and both girls were home with me.  I had a lot to accomplish for BLOOM, mostly on my computer.  As a newly “working mom,” (What a silly term that is! What is the opposite of an oxymoron? *) who is still primarily working from home, I am learning to navigate the waters of balancing parenting and work, which is particularly challenging when it becomes necessary for the two to happen simultaneously.  So, I set up my “mobile office” on the kitchen counter - laptop, notebook, pens, coffee (definitely not listed in order of importance)...and just as I sat down on the stool I heard the dreaded,

“Mama, I’m bored.”  

I am not proud of this, but I will admit it...my first thought was, if I turn on the television I am virtually guaranteed the ability to work with limited disruption for as long as “George” keeps getting into trouble.  

(Side bar - Why does The Man With The Yellow Hat keep leaving him unattended?  Does he not notice a pattern?).  

Then I paused and really considered this.  Having to work from home is going to be a relatively frequent occurrence.  Did I really want to set us all up for the expectation of television every time I pull out my computer?  Then I remembered, “Boredom is the very cauldron of creativity” and I replied, “I have some work I need to do this morning.  You two will have to find something to do to entertain yourselves for a while.”  This was followed by fervent insistence that we are in desperate need of new art supplies.  “You know,” I said, in my most enticing voice, “the paper recycling under the sink is just busting with interesting stuff.  Maybe if you open it up, something might inspire you.”  And so she opened the cabinet under the sink, and out cascaded cereal boxes, junk mail, newspapers, book jackets, a shoe box, egg cartons...what bounty!

Sure enough, after adding some random bits and pieces and glue into the mix, the girls were entertained for well over an hour.  So, an hour that could have easily and mindlessly been passed with them in front of the television was instead spent being creatively engaged - and this was even accomplished (for the most part) independent of me.  Beau (nearly six) in particular set her mind to creating something, and she used imagination and determination to bring it to life.  She tried out many ideas that did not produce the results she wanted, but she persevered, and in the end she was so proud of herself and of what she had created. 

Now, as a Waldorf-inspired mom, I would love to report that Beau made a nature diorama or a paper mache cow, but as we all know children imitate what they see, and so what she made was this...

 

Her very own computer.  Later it became a cash register in her play store.  

I realize I may not be this lucky every time I try to let creativity rise from the cauldron of boredom, but on this day I was so glad that I let the pot boil.

 

 Postscript

*Of course I had to look up “opposite of oxymoron”:

TAUTOLOGY

1a : needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word

(as in "working mom")


 

 

Wednesday
May232012

Is It Time to Conquer Mt. Toy?

Those who know me well, know that I do not buy a lot of toys for my children.  The ones that I do buy are usually deliberate and well considered purchases.  Sure, we have a few plastic toys and some random little bits and pieces a good friend of mine calls “giblets”, but for the most part our toys are made of natural materials, are simple, and are open ended for imaginative play. (This, coupled with limited television viewing and no microwave has led my older brother to refer to our house as “Amish Country”).

For the most part I try to save toy purchases for special occasions - birthdays, Christmas, Easter.  Since I have a mild aversion to toys that light up, make (battery assisted) noise and “do” things (as in "what does it do" as opposed to "what can I do with it?"), I am left with very few actual, physical stores where the kind of toys I value can be found.  Let’s face it, real toy stores (which I will define as places wherein you cannot pick up cat litter, bras and/or hunting rifles with your toy purchase) are sadly a dying breed. Therefore, I plan ahead (okay way ahead, because the truth is I love toys) and I shop online.  My point is I consider myself to be a very mindful, selective purchaser of toys.  Do I sound smug about my simple, uncluttered Waldorf-inspired playroom full of carefully selected toys?  Well, here is what it looked like yesterday -

 

Keep in mind this angle does not catch the actual toy shelves.  As I looked around at the toy carnage in front of me I thought to myself, “Where did all this stuff come from anyway?  Do they need this much stuff?  Would they miss it if it were gone, or at least pared down?”  Before I answer those questions let me veer off a bit and flash back to a time when I decided to donate some of my then two and a half year old’s toys to The Salvation Army.  One item was a stuffed octopus.  She barely ever paid attention to this thing, I promise you.  Well, a few months passed and one day she asked me if I knew where her octopus was.  At first, I feigned ignorance.  “Hmm, I’m not sure,” I would say (don’t judge me, it was sort of true).  After she asked me about it every day for a week, I finally relented and told her the whole truth.  I had given it away.  Well let me tell you, she still brings it up three years later.  My husband has joked that he can imagine her giving a speech as the high school valedictorian and saying, “If only my octopus were here with me to share this moment.”  

Back to present - I surveyed this mess of toys, grabbed some bags and began to collect toys that I thought might not be immediately missed. How many pieces of play food do they need? How many different outfits for dolls? How many wooden animals?  I filled three bags with toys.  Three bags of superfluous toys from our simple (so I thought), uncluttered (uh-huh), Waldorf inspired playroom.  I put them upstairs, on hold, waiting to see if anything would be missed (I felt this toy purgatory was a necessary precaution so as not to repeat the “octopus incident”).  Once I had cleared out the clutter,  I rearranged the remaining toys to add some interest (ever notice how moving a toy from one location to another often makes it interesting again?) and to make the omissions less obvious, and voila -  I held my breath waiting for the alarmed cries of children who have been robbed.  Guess what?  The children didn’t even seem to notice. They played contentedly in their newly simplified space, and there was far less to clean up!  How long should I keep the toys in Purgatory?  I think this time around I will let my daughters know that the toys are being given away, and let them each reclaim one toy from the bunch before they go.  I think its important for them to take part in the spirit of sharing our good fortune (or stuffed octopuses) with others.

In the spirit of “less is more” I invite you to pare down your child(ren)’s “Toy Mount Everest.”  Let us know how it turns out.  Here’s a gem for you if you are wondering what to keep (all in good fun!):  

“The Five Best Toys of All Time”

 

 

Tuesday
May152012

Mud slinging

Yesterday was a day of fearlessness and adventure! No, we did not go to the carnival (which has been parked in town), though there were squeals and shrieks of the I’m a little scared but also having fun variety. Though we did not leave our yard, there were numerous discoveries, which, judging by the awe and delight of my three and five year old daughters, seemed akin in awesomeness to those of Magellan or Newton. Oh, and my children also learned a little math, a little science, and some life skills. Can you guess what we did?

We gardened.

We cringed and giggled as we held out our palms, worms and grubs wriggling about on them.

They squealed.
We laughed.
We got dirty.

They got really dirty. The get rinsed off in the shower before you can even take a bath kind of dirty. The oh dear, our lovely, tidy neighbor has to back away from the fence because he can’t bear to see the shoeless feet with mud oozing between the toes kind of dirty.

It was fantastic.

Perhaps the best part? Today we got to feed all of those lovely grubs to our friends Alice, Nutmeg, Petunia, Daffodil, and Henrietta Toddlesworth Roche. I call that “win-win”. 

What is your favorite part of gardening with children?