Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 30 - Never Make a Bet With Your Wife While Drinking


I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

I wasn't sure how I was going to round this out. I had originally intended to use yesterday's post idea as the finale, but yesterday, I drew a blank, and had to use it. Then, I figured I'd sum up all the other nuggets, but that seems a little daunting at this point. Luckily, opportunity struck.

Tonight, Ed and I were out drinking listening to music at one of our favorite Wednesday night hangouts. And lo' and behold, we had a disagreement. It was completely trivial, but for whatever reason, Ed doubted me. Really. I know. Hard to imagine.

And so he decided we'd settle the issue and said "what will you bet". So I responded "I'll bet anything, because I am right". But he didn't back down. So I said "laundry for a week". And he said "that's not fair" because he realized if he was right, he wouldn't actually win anything since I already do all the laundry (even though he's technically in charge of sheets and towels... Thank GAWD my mom visited last week and did all the towels or I might be using a dish cloth to dry my nether regions after a shower at this point). Anyway, I allowed him to name something else, which he did. Then I told him, "we can call the bet off, I am right". And he, thinking he had a prayer of winning, declined my very generous offer.

That was a huge mistake.

And...just so it is in writing, all of the laundry in the house is currently done. It must all be done next Wednesday night, in order for Ed to fulfill his (losing) end of the bet.

Elaine

(Just in case you were curious, a king sized bed is twice the width of a single bed.)

Thank you, Therese, for once again inspiring this march through November. As always, it's been a fun challenge.

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream
Day 24: Give Thanks
Day 25: Develop Your Own Sense of Style - and Own It!
Day 26: Always Have the Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cookies on Hand
Day 27: Take Advantage of Unseasonably Warm Days
Day 28: Don't Do Too Much When You Have a Head Cold
Day 29: Trust Yourself
Day 30: Never Make a Bet With Your Wife While Drinking or You Might End up Doing Laundry for a Week

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 29 - Trust Yourself

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

Dear Helen and Connor,
 
By the time you read this, you'll likely be heading towards adulthood. You'll have been given advice from anyone and everyone, and the really hard part is probably going to be sorting it all out. Smart people who you trust will disagree. Someone you love will be wrong. And always, circumstances are changing. And that means I could write the most detailed guidebook in the world, but in the end, it would be insufficient for more than the most basic of existences. You will, above all, have to find a way to trust yourself.
 
I could point out lots of disagreements in my own life, but I think it would serve only to bring up past wounds and the opportunity for an "I told you so" or two - from me or the other party involved. It's enough to let you know that I struggle. Everyone with a heart struggles.
 
A former boss of mine once told me, when discussing a well-known scholar "We disagree with Scholar, but I think the important thing is recognizing that Scholar wants the same thing you and I do. Scholar wants to make the world a better place. We just disagree on how to do that. And the truth is, the problems are so vast, neither one of us knows whose path will work best." I've tried to hold that in my heart as I've disagreed with people over the years. And for me, this has made life a lot easier to tolerate. I assume the best of my political opponents - and I hope you can do that, too. Having said this, I will also guarantee that you will disagree with someone, present the facts as you see them, they will not have an answer, they will lie, and they will use that lie to remain unconvinced. This will likely infuriate you, as it does me. Trust yourself, and keep moving.
 
The good news is that lots of times it will be easy to trust yourself. You'll have a room full of people surrounding you, cheering you on. If you're lucky, you'll have a loved one, friend, or advisor who will talk things through with you and be your rock. But occasionally, your back will be against the wall - and you will know, deep down, the right thing to do. I implore you, Connor and Helen, when that moment happens - trust yourself. Even if it means opposing your own mother, trust yourself and do what is right. Because in the end, you will have to live with yourself and the decisions you make, just as I live with my decisions.
 
Love,
Mommy




Monday, November 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 28 - Don't do too much when you have a head cold

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.
It's not that I have no more blathering on to do this month, it's that all the thoughts are stuck in my nose and can't get up to my brain to get out to the keyboard.

Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream
Day 24: Give Thanks
Day 25: Develop Your Own Sense of Style - and Own It!
Day 26: Always Have the Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cookies on Hand
Day 27: Take Advantage of Unseasonably Warm Days

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 27 - Take Advantage of Unseasonably Warm Days

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

It is in the 70s here at the end of November. That is ridiculously warm, particularly given that we had snow in October this year.

We spent Friday at Longwood Gardens with my parents, and though we had figured we be there for a few hours and then head to Stausburg to ride the train, we never left. How could we? It was gorgeous.



Yesterday, we finally got all the leaves raked and the beds mulched for winter, and today the kids rode bikes, played in the yard, and dug for dinosaurs in this very messy game Connor received for his birthday.

Not a photo was taken these past few days but trust me, our yard needed these extra warm days, and we definitely took advantage of them! Feels like borrowed time!

Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream
Day 24: Give Thanks
Day 25: Develop Your Own Sense of Style - and Own It!
Day 26: Always Have the Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cookies on Hand

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 26 - Always Have the Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Cookies On Hand

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

Sometimes, either one or both of my children need some down-time and can't figure out how to provide it for themselves.

Sometimes, either one or both of my children need something homemade to make them feel a little bit special.

Sometimes, we've gotten into a rut with dinner, and we need to do something really different to break out of it.

And sometimes, I just want a chocolate chip cookie which always brings back lots of great memories for me.

For all of these times, I turn to my cabinets and start assembling, or having my children assemble, the needed ingredients. We then take turns mixing everything together, and then my tasters set to work to make sure the batter is delicious, or "perfecto", as Helen has taken to saying. Often, I'll bake a few at the end of a meal, if the oven is already hot.

Here's my recipe, which I got out of the Potomac Crescent Waldorf School newsletter a few years ago. It is, by far, the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever come across and I have shared it a lot, after people try the cookies.

Enjoy!

Magical Stove Top Chocolate Chip Cookies
(recipe makes about 18 large cookies or 24 medium sized cookies)

Ingredients:
  12 oz butter
  1 cup dark brown sugar
  1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1 whole egg
  1 egg yolk
  1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  2 cups plus 2 T flour
  1/2 tsp salt
  1/2 tsp baking soda
  12 oz chocolate chips (I almost always use dark chocolate Ghiradelli chips)

Mix & Chill:
1. melt butter over low hear in large saucepan or dutch oven, remove pan from heat.
2. whisk in sugars until mixed thoroughly
3. whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla
4. pour flour, salt, and baking soda on top of mixture and mix with rubber spatula
5. add chocolate chips and stir until combined (works best if chocolate chips are frozen!)
6. scrape dough into a lidded container and refrigerate for an hour or so

Bake:
1. preheat over to 325 F and adjust racks to middle position.
2. line baking sheets with parchment
3. take a scant 1/4 cup of dough and form into a ball, then break the ball in half and as much together sideways, leaving the broken faces pointing upward
4. bake 12 - 14 minutes
5. cool on a sheet as long as you can stand it

Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream
Day 24: Give Thanks
Day 25: Develop Your Own Sense of Style - and Own It!

Friday, November 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 25 - Develop Your Own Sense of Style - and Own It!

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

This piece of advice comes straight from Helen, and it's one of the things I love about her. Develop your own sense of style and own it.

When I was in college, one of my incredibly creative friends always had one piece of her outfit that did not "go". She did not care. She was among the most beautiful people I've ever known - both because she is fantastic looking AND because she's extremely thoughtful and nice.

Helen has never met her, but I feel they are soul sisters. Helen prefers to choose her own clothing, and most people would look completely ridiculous, but somehow Helen pulls it off.

Take this outfit, for example. Helen traipsed all over  Longwood Gardens today in it. And for every person that stared at her, wondering who dressed this child, she just smiled, soaking in all the attention. And then sending them some bit of cheer.

This outfit consists of the new pink pants and denim dress that my parents gave Helen, although I'm certain they did not intend for them to be worn simultaneously. She must have seen the yellow bandanna last night before bed, because she insisted Ed tie it to her head and she's had it on now for 24 hours.
As an aside, Helen has also taught a lot of people in the past few days about asking a child if they were either going to or had a big turkey dinner. "No! I'm a vegetarian. I don't eat turkey. My mom and brother are also vegetarians so they also do not eat turkey. We eat other things for Thanksgiving." And today she added "I had a chocolate turkey for Thanksgiving!" to her script. People do not know how to respond to this.

Nearly every day, Helen chooses clothing that are both bright and mismatched, and it is so clearly her personal style that I almost look at her funny when I manage to wrangle her into matching clothes. I've started to think these mismatched beauties look fantastic, though I'm not certain I could pull them off. Such a bounce she has in her step. I wonder, is it because she has developed her own sense of style and truly owns it?

Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream
Day 24: Give Thanks

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 24 - Give Thanks

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

This piece of advice, like many of the others, pretty much goes without saying - give thanks! And so I give you my almost annual Thanksgiving letter.

This year, more than anything else, I'm thankful for great health, outside of my kidney stone episode at the beginning of the year. Both Connor and Helen continue to enjoy extremely good health, battling nothing more than a couple of colds and ear infections this year. Oh yeah, and the strange puking incidents that left us baffled, but ultimately resulted only in eliminating mussels from our diets. I'm very aware we're getting off super easy in the illness department, and I start every day by taking a moment to be grateful for this.

I am also thankful for long summer days spent at the swimming pool, Connor's fearlessness on the diving board and Helen's endless laughter at the pool. That pool provides more entertainment for our family than anything else in the summer - often filling both afternoon and evening hours.



Thank you, Coach Bobby, for making the diving team the most fun children's activity our family has ever been a part of. We're looking forward to many more years. Next summer, I'm confident Connor will finally complete that back flip.



I'm still thankful for the proliferation of fancy cupcake stores in the area, and for the creative concoctions that keep being produced. Look what I brought home from Sprinkles, yesterday!

2 salted caramels, 1 cranberry orange, 1 cinnamon sugar for Connor, 1 dark chocolate for Helen, and 1 chocolate peanut butter chip - my favorite.

I'm thankful for fantastic meals (our Thanksgiving consisted of a salt-encrusted red snapper, potatoes Anna, mushroom-orzo stuffing, Brussels sprouts, and flourless chocolate cakes) and family to share them with. I'm also thankful for Miriam's Kitchen and other places like it, who keep many people in my area fed and warm. I hope the economy turns around soon so that fewer people will be in such a fragile state in the near future.

Helen breaking into the fish.

Yummm....roasted brussels sprouts and potatoes Anna.
I make ill-fated cheese runs to Arrowine like frat boys make runs to the beer store at 2 in the morning. Last night was no exception. Helen and I made it into the store with 5 minutes to spare, grabbed a bottle of pink bubbly and three fantastic cheeses. Not a person eating dinner today had room for that cheese - but we all did our best.



I'm thankful for a few recent evenings spent in the pottery studio, good company when I'm there, and lectures that continue to inspire. The world is a tremendously beautiful place.

I'm thankful for grandparents who babysit so I can go out of town.


And grandparents who bail me out when my childcare falls through.


I'm thankful for my kids. They've shown me the world in a whole new light - and that light is bright, and fun, and really good.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. And that this starts a year of giving thanks daily.
Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure
Day 23: Always Have a Dream

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 23 - Always Have a Dream

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

Recently, I had new business cards printed. I had a small stack of old cards that I gifted to the kids. They were thrilled, of course. They set about to turning the cards into their own by flipping them over and drawing.

Connor started out be deciding he was a pet store owner. I was hoping this would serve as handwriting practice for the little dude, but he cheated.



As it turns out, one of my children’s dreams are a little more practical than the other one – surprising no one. And neither of my children dream of being an economist. What is wrong with them?

Connor? He's a police officer, firefighter, and pilot. Solid. I'm glad he got the little boy conformist message. (not really)



He’s also a garbage truck (driver) and a construcshin (construction worker). Bonus points to Connor for the big word, even if it isn’t spelled in a traditional manner. He's working hard at reading and writing and he's getting more adventurous of late.

Helen? Well, as it turns out, Helen would like to be a tour guide at the Washington Monument (pictured as a line below - the rest of the stuff is her name, in case you couldn't tell).


She's also a race car driver. See the four wheels?


Other plans include being a babysitter, a swim teacher, a pet store owner, and I'm really not sure what else.




After designing the cards, Connor made a business card printer.


I'm not sure I wholeheartedly endorse all of the career paths my children are laying out, but I do appreciate that it's fun to dream.

Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out
Day 22: Turn Trash Into Treasure

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 22 - Turn Trash Into Treasure

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.
For about 3 years, we've been planning to install some stumps for the kids to play on in our backyard. The idea comes from the playground at Helen's school. At our old house, we went so far as to retrieve a whole bunch of stumps from our neighbor after his tree had broken in 2 during a particularly windy storm. Those stumps ended up conveying with the house - as did the dead mouse in the shed, which the new owners called to ask me to remove. Um, no, I actually didn't want to bring that with me - but thanks for the offer!

A few weeks ago, a neighbor about a block away had an enormous tree removed from his yard. I asked if we could have the stumps from the large pile in front of his house and he told me I could take anything I wanted - but that others were interested and the waste removal company was coming on Wednesday. We rounded the corner, got our gardening gloves, and then started pilfering his stumps.

We also took a bunch of logs that are skinny enough the kids can move and build with. I'm looking forward to seeing what they make of all this. My neighbor's trash - my treasure!



Elaine

Building a worldview:
Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Day 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans
Day 21: Let Your Friends Bail You Out

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaBloPoMo Advice Column - Day 21 - Let Your Friends Bail You Out

I'm writing 30 thoughts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo. In no particular order, I'm giving you my worldview - as it comes up.

Friend and fellow blogger over at Thrift Store Mama is bailing me out today. We've spent many hours bouncing ideas off each other. She's writing today about balance, and how to find it. I could easily title her post "Find Balance In Your Life". And, just as my friend states below, balance is not her initial reaction to new information. Instead, she's one of these people who try and learn as much as possible about something, breathing the new thing in daily. This, for the record, can be very inspiring.

So...enjoy! And check out my friend's blog when you get a chance. She's a hoot - I promise! In the post below, Beezus refers to her older daughter and Mr. Q. refers to her husband. As background, we met when our children were infants so she's one of my friends who truly holds those early days of Connor's. I watched her oldest daughter take her first steps - and I remember it being so crazy like "did she just do that?" and then looking at my friend with tears in her eyes. It was possibly more moving that watching my own children's first steps.

Thank you, Thrift Store Mama! I've enjoyed our ride together and look forward to the next 6 or more years! You've been a walking advice column for me many times over.


Achieving Balance Between a Waldorf Lifestyle and the Demands/Influences of the Rest of the World

I was exposed to the concepts of the Waldorf pedagogy when Beezus was around 3. I stumbled across a non-profit organization called the Alliance for Childhood and their writings REALLY jived with me. As I tend to do with new things, I over-did it at first. My sisters and husband can attest to this idiosyncrasy of mine! For a while, I read anything I could get my hands on about Waldorf, visited a local Waldorf school, and purchased Waldorf toys and books. I plotted reorganizing my work schedule and our family budget so that Beezus could attend a Waldorf school. During a visit to a Waldorf school with Mr. Q, I won him over to my side and he agreed to move forward with getting Beezus into this Waldorf School.

After a few months the time came to either apply or not. We just couldn't seem to make it happen - between the logistics required to make it work with my part-time job, the tuition, and the stress that both of those previous considerations would have on our family life, it just wasn't meant to be.

But I found that I could implement some of the Waldorf teachings into our home and yet at the same time, I also admitted to myself that there were some aspects of a Waldorf education that I didn't see as completely necessary. What we wound up with was a lovely balance of some of the aspects of the Waldorf education that I could wholeheartedly support, along with the ease of family life that came with having Beezus enrolled in a pre-school that is 3/4 of a mile from our house.

Some of these teachings we had already implemented in our home - our children already watched very limited TV and through exposure to a Montessori parent-child class and my sister's Reggio-Emilia classroom, we had organized, uncluttered spaces for the girls’ toys.  But as for the rest, here is how we implemented an approach to have the Waldorf pedagogy incorporated into our family life:

·         Rhythm.  It looks like a schedule and parts of the rhythm are derived from a schedule, but the difference between a rhythm and a schedule (at least in my words) is that a schedule comes from external forces and a rhythm comes from internal forces. (But don't get me wrong, I also have lots and lots of schedules to help me run our home.) This family rhythm encompasses following the same routine as we greet each day, every day, whether a weekday or a weekend. It encompasses predictability among what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (this makes cooking at home and meal planning SO easy). It encompasses a schedule for what types of clothes are worn on which days, depending on the activities at school or after school.

·         Little TV.  Our children watch an average of 20-30 minutes of TV per day. Some days they watch a little more, some days they watch none. Waldorf encourages no TV for young children.

·         Childhood is protected.  Our children are protected from the harsher realities of the adult (and teen/tween) world. They only watch age appropriate TV - no Disney/Nick tween shoes and nothing that has any scary parts. If they come out of their bedroom while I’m watching GLEE or the Real Housewives of Wherever, I quickly pause and mute!

·         Live theater & storytelling.  Yet, they see a tremendous amount of live children's theater - I would guess between 5 and 8 shows per year. They are able to switch in and out of make believe when it is live theater, but trying to watch a movie is dreadful. Case in point, they totally handled the stage production of Charlotte's Web, but absolutely cannot watch the movie. We've tried. We try to always attend the festivals at local Waldorf schools, so that they can see the puppet/marionette shows, and they've attended over local puppet/marionette shows as well.

·         Childhood is safe.  Our children do not learn or hear about adult topics that don't directly concern them. They do not see the newspaper or hear/see the news, whether on the radio or on the TV. I don't want them to hear that people die in car accidents or in airplanes. But when the neighbor's pets die, or when our own pets died, yes, then we talked about death. A lot. When the priest who married us was sick and dying, and then when he died, they knew about that. But we only answered their questions and tried not to provide additional information. We are completely inflexible and unyielding on this.

·        Imaginary play. We let our children play, and play, and play. We try not to interfere when they are immersed in play and if they are really involved in play and I need to go to the grocery store or something and there's no way around it, I try to work it in to their play.

My friend's younger daughter puts on a drum show, similar to one she saw at a folk festival.


Found objects provide the perfect opportunity for a classroom.
Beware! Children partaking in uninterrupted play outside.

·       Order.  All of the girls toys and materials are organized. ALL of them. This is really more of a Montessori and Reggio-Emilia approach, but I think the order helps keep the rhythm of the Waldorf day.

·       Rhythm of nature. As the seasons change, we talk a lot about them. When Beezus says she is cold, I answer that yes, she is cold because it is fall.

·       Light. We are a religious family so the presence of light (and of THE LIGHT) is part of our family rhythm. Although I dread the shortening days for my own mental health (self diagnosed seasonal affective disorder) I love that it gives the opportunity to discuss the coming light of the winter solstice and/or the light of Jesus.

In other areas, we don't stick to the letter of the Waldorf teachings.

·         We have plastic toys and materials in our home.

·         Although the girls do a LOT of coloring, they don't do a lot of painting or other art.

·         As they have gotten older, we have sometimes been less mindful of the rhythm of the middle of our day, rushing from one activity to another without the opportunity to have some downtime in-between.

·         Our children watch TV.

·         We let the girls listen to pop/rock music from the 60s and 70s and they also occasionally hear music from the radio.

I’m sure there are lots of other things we do that aren’t necessarily part of the Waldorf teachings. I offer that up as an all-encompassing disclaimer.

When people are passionate about something, it’s often hard to find a balance.  Some of the questions I ask myself when considering something in order to achieve a balance is:

·         Is it necessary?

·         Is it a one-time thing?

·         Will it have a profound and or long lasting impact?

Overall, I’m pleased with the balance we have achieved in this area.  There are a couple areas for improvement, but I think we’re able to walk a good line.

So - from me you have "Let Your Friends Bail You Out" - thank you, friend. It wasn't until I had almost finished posting this that I came up with an idea for today. It was nice to use yours instead. And from my friend you have "Find Balance In Your Life".

Elaine

Day 1: Surround Yourself With Brilliant People (though my friend Susan makes a good point that clever is pretty good, too).
Day 2: Whatever, it works.
Day 3: Surround Yourself With Beauty
Day 4: When You Go Through Something New - Drag Someone With You
Day 5: No sweatpants.
Day 6: Embrace the Crazy
Day 7: Listen to Your Friends or Fight Old Fogey-dom. Get out there. Keep experiencing fun, new things.
Day 8: Don't Let Anyone Sell You Short
Day 9: Take a Lesson From Your Child
Day 10: Consume the best chocolate you can
Day 11: Help your neighbor.
Day 12: Take Breaks
Day 13: Establish a Realistic Rhythm
Day 14: Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Day 15: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Day 16: Stop Things from Going from Bad to Worse
Day 17: Understand the Price of Success
Day 18: Question Everything
Day 19: Drink Great Wine with Old Friends
Da7 20: Never Be a Volunteer at a Street Show in New Orleans