Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simplicity Parenting

A few months ago, I read the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and attended  a book group/discussion on it.  Since then, the ideas of that concept have been mulling around in my mind. Some of the thoughts below come for the book and some  of them are my own commentary on the concept...that is near and dear to my heart.  I have much to still do in my journey to strive to be more like this in some ways, but in others, I have done this intuitively, perhaps the outcome of some of my experiences of being parented..the best of it.

The basic premise of the philosophy is to steer towards a lifestyle that is to minimize  the over stimulation of our culture in our homes and lives for our children..such as by having just a few precious toys/ ones that they LOVE, ones that are appropriate for their ages and development, ones that are open-ended so that they can become anything, rather than already defined into characters of a movie, or who already talk or stimulate..let the kids bring the the stimulation into them, breathe their imaginations into them, rather than having it done for them.  Limit the choices..Too many choices also, creates stress..even having fewer books out. Let them read the same favorites over and over again so that those stories "mean something to them" rather than having an abundance of so so stories/books  that  can easily be dismissed.  Have a few things in our homes that we LOVE rather than having tons of things that we feel burdened by..reminders of what we don't have time to get to, take care of.  Have  only what we have time to take care of..

Also, let  kids be children for awhile..Minimize the media, news.  They do not have to be burdened by all the fear mongering in the media.  Children need filters so they can be allowed to be children and grow..

Establish rhythms in the home...traditions such as reading every night, or planting gardens in the spring.  Eating meals together when possible. Simplify meals to having a predictable menu each week. 
Simplify activities/structured time. Children need some open-ended time to create their own ideas/play/imagine..If they are always scheduled, they will not know how to deal with boredom or will not know how to create their own "story"..discover for themselves who they are, what they like...
More is not always better..We tend to over parent, and sometimes it is better for them to give them the space to find their own way. We do them a disservice by doing too much for them..plug them into so many activities, into media, television.  We feel a need to give them every benefit so they can be competitive in the world..stand out, be special..but truly, what they need the most is some space to grow and be allowed to discover for themselves. 

We are afraid of the open space that is not filled up with stuff  and noise..  thinking we need to turn on the tv so our children do not experience the pain of boredom..but truly in that painful half hour of boredom, they will find their way if given the chance. 

We think that we need to spend a lot of money on birthday parties, but sometimes the best birthday experiences are those that are quieter and spend with a couple close friends.  We have this idea of being a virtuous parent, that it means we enroll our child in every activity, dress them in name brand clothing(maybe), attend every birthday party, give them the best of what we didn't have, pay attention all the time, savor every moment, have a spotless home, go to every playdate, etc, but really we can relax a little..because what they may need is actually much simpler than that..  what is good for them does not have to cost so much money or involve our every waking hour..We do not need to watch them every moment, or attend to  their every need..Let them figure some of it out for themselves.  It  is okay, to let them be sometimes..  Let them feel some discomfort..Let them figure out how to get that glass of water on their own, solve that problem without our help.  We are not being lazy, we are letting them grow. 

Of course, there is the other extreme, not helping at all, not doing anything, not doing any activities(being uninvolved)...and I do not advocate that either..Everything in moderation..My children have waves of activity..They are learning violin and my son attends Cub Scouts.  I think it is ok to have busy waves so long as there are also waves of quiet and down-time.  The trick can be to recognize when to slow down, and when to be actively involved or out in the community..There is a chapter on Soul Fever..just like a physical fever needs to be treated with rest and TLC, so does a soul fever..when something is going on emotionally with a child (or parent)..when something is not quite right..sometimes it is time to find the medicine for it. 

Simplicity Parenting is not about stopping everything,giving up everything, but it is about moderating the effects of an culture that has too few filters for our youth, too many choices, too much stimulation, too much abundance..and in its place is space..space to "be"  and discover and relate, and have only what we LOVE in our homes, and less of what we feel burdened by.  more of time..to be together, and create..and think, and be outside, and look at the sky..We will still be "filled up"  but with a much more rewarding elixir.. 

What do you think??

Simplicity Parenting in Amazon

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything Happens for a Reason

(honeycomb given to me by neighbor from another neighbor's fallen tree)

Feeling some shifting with the  changing of the season and the entering into a new stage with my youngest as she will soon be a toddler.  Getting her to nap has become increasingly more difficult; it takes longer to get her sleep, and she sleeps for shorter  amounts of time.  What is starting to become the solution is taking her in the stroller, because she will fall asleep in less than 5 minutes usually and can stay asleep if I remain outside with her..which can be the answer to my dilemma of how I am going to be able to garden this year. 

So, this morning, I took a short walk.. a very short walk for I ran into a neighbor I had never met before as she was walking across the street with 3 of her cats.  She immediately asked me if I was new to the neighborhood.  "sheepishly I replied, that I have been here nearly 5 years"  (I guess I don't get out over on that street very often)...or really out very much at all this past year outside of the daily trips to the school. 

Anyway, we ended up talking for an ..hour?  As it turns out, she is a gold mine of information..she seems to know everyone in the neighborhood who is knowledgeable about the homesteading movement...growing food, beekeeping, natural healing, etc..  and apparently there are many people right in this neighborhood who are doing A LOT!  She seems to be quite a healer herself, for she described how she has cared for her cat who was hit by a car (this cat sounded very very badly hurt too)..  I am in awe at the serendipity of meeting her today..  It is starting to feel like I am getting some nudges to further pursue this sustainability cause and also to find how it links in with my Faith as well..  These are more than just nudges, but actual people encouraging me to do this too...  Meeting this woman, makes me think, that perhaps, this is the direction, I am supposed to go in.. 
I wonder where this will lead me.. 

I remember back as a teen, I went on a bike ride without a planned destination..I simply followed my heart, and it lead me to this AMAZING place out in West Keene..I called it a circle clearing.  There was this beautiful clearing circled by trees and a hill. I was totally alone. I got off my bike and further explored it, said prayers in my heart and aloud..Felt my soul was soo alive and happy..It was like a magical place and I had discovered it by simply following my heart.  I never would have found it otherwise.  I have never forgotten that place or that experience and I think I have also lived my life like that during critical decision making times..it is how I came to Oregon too... 
This blog is like that too..Not sure exactly how it is going to evolve, nonetheless, it is becoming something..just as this journey of learning..the knitting, the canning, the gardening, the soap making, etc..  (having 3 kids) (-;  counseling fits in there too somehow, and I am hoping all this learning is going to turn into something..a service of some kind.. 

anyway, it is time to move forward again..  I've had a year of baby fog which won't end right now, but this coming year, may see me able to do a little more again..and I feel I am getting some signals that I am supposed to have some new resolve..try again to network with neighbors, perhaps? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Other Kinds of Clutter: Money Leaks

I am not a minimalist, but I would like to have things simplified more than they are.  The last two days I have spent some time simplifying in other ways.  Looking at how we spend money.  There are many ways that we are "leaking out" money on things we don't really care about and those leaks add up  significantly.. just  like clutter is having too many things we don't care about, we can also waste a lot  of money on things we do not love. When figuring out our budget, I see this occuring for many things.  Some of the things we pay for are redundant. cell phones and a land line.  I wasn't quite ready to totally depend on our cell phones, but it  seemed ridiculous to  spend so much money  on that landline when we don't need it as much as we used to.  The cell phones, we have come to depend on, the landline is almost like a backup.  So, I looked at how much we are spending on the landline..about  $50/month which equates as $600/year!  After some research, I found that I can save most of the $50 by getting the line through our cellular company as if it is simply another family cell phone..$10 for  that extra phone with minutes included in our regular  plan.  Now, that seems more reasonable...considering it's lesser importance these days.

I have also been thinking  about our newspaper subscription..so many papers are not even read and sit in our driveway all day.  What a waste of resources!  The only day I love the paper is on Tuesdays when Food Day comes out, and my husband and kids love Sunday's paper for the  comics.  (;  I thought about giving it up entirely..save 20.50/month=over $240/year!  But, it was hard thinking about giving it up  entirely, so I thought I'd see if they would deliver it only on Tuesday and Sundays and apparently, to my surprise, it is an option.  So, now the cost is $4/month=$48/year!  (about)..  And now, we will appreciate the paper more..for we will only have 2 papers to appreciate a week..No more wasted papers that fill up our recycling bin.  We didn't have to completely give it up, but we are able to get the ones we really really like without the waste and clutter of all the days of newspaper that actually feel more like a burden..looking at what I don't have time to read..Not to mention that so often the news is filled with things that make me feel anxiety...the crime stories and drama..that I don't really even want my kids to see yet..

Two significant steps, I think towards simplifying our money outage..  so we have money for the things we truly prioritize/love..  I am sure there are so many other things we can do..  Just like cleaning up clutter in our home, we need to clean up those leaks and clutter of money leakage.  Letting go of the burden of having things that we don't love and spending money on things we don't love..  Taking Charge.  (if only I could find the courage to find a better home for our dog) for this same reason..She is a huge burden to us, because she needs so much more  than we can give to her right now.  :(  Torn, because my daughter does love her...  Seems, though we should find a home she where she is truly LOVED and treated as the princess she wants to be treated as..   

Monday, February 13, 2012


We have recently been hit with the stomach flu, which has afflicted my two oldest children. There is nothing like a good dose of flu to send my anxiety flying.  I've been in hypervigilent mode for three days.  My son had it the worst and I was hoping no one else would  get it, but then my daughter got it, then the worry the baby would  get it. So far, she has not. Yesterday, was a day of cleaning out the bug from our home as best as we could and taking a little reprieve, getting the kids out of the sick house and out in the sun for a bit.  I had only been out of the house myself for one trip to  the  grocery store in 3 days. It did a world of  good, getting out in the sun and getting a little exercise. My son forgot during that outing that he was sick.
When we got  home, the momentum was started  and my husband and I  did  some yard work while the baby napped in the van.  I  have not worked in the  dirt for  months and it felt sooo good!  My spirit had been so weighted before that..like it was locked up in a basement without any windows, but the sun and the dirt, and the air, and the  life around me, was like an elixir..
I need to garden this summer. I have to find some ways to  be  able  to do  this with a baby.  When Keilani woke up from her nap, we put her in the playpen for awhile and she tolerated it so  Mike could continue to pull out old roots outside.  It may be  a way to make this work..I could get  her  to  nap in the stroller, then have her continue naps outside with me while I garden, and then use the playpen to extend the gardening time, perhaps.  It will be  my  main summer project, and I'll have to  put the knitting aside  for a bit, because at this stage I  can only focus on one project at a time.
I t makes sense to have  seasonal  foucuses, rhythms..

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comfort Zone

We  are having a beautiful day today..clear skies and I am feeling stuck..in a rut.  My youngest is  finally napping, but I don't know for  how long. I am really hoping that today will be a good one, because the last week or so,there  have only been 30 minutes.  I need a solid amount of time..getting buggy...looking out at my garden..sorry shape..  Soon, it'll be time to put the knitting aside and start gardening again..I hope.  This nice weather  is  calling to me and beckoning me to work outside.  but  right now the task seems so daunting..as the beds are  so neglected since baby #3.

Feel a new stage emerging..  as  the weather changes and my youngest has crossed over  into being ONE..  Time to challenge myself, because I am feeling stagnant.  bored. How can I work in the garden and get out more?  We've been so tied to our routine: school and baby care/naps.  making meals, supporting playdates, Cub Scouts, violin, homework.  Tempering the angst of my kids afterschool when they are  tired or had challenging days.. Watching my baby explore closeby in areas that I am trying to keep safe for her..as  the chokeables keep creeping into those spaces, trying to widen her  safe areas so I can be in other parts of the house too.  

Feel a little lost in the daily needs that take up most of my time. Need to have a day to work intensely on something that makes me feel less "blah"..and more like a productive human. I  need a challenge.  How  do I find a way to garden with baby?  Cook a little more?  When she hates the playpen and cries if she does not have me right next to her.  and when the  kitchen does not stay safe for more than a couple of hours due to all that ends up on the floor on a continual basis..(glasses breaking, pencils, food, etc..)  

I do not say this to complain.  My intention is to figure  out a way to be more productive..and meet her needs.  Perhaps I need to "work harder".baby is awake..  :(

  later:    I went to knit/book club tonight and that helped..met some really nice  ladies, good tohave some social time..adult social time. (;  and I did get out int the sun for  a bit too.  nothing like some sun in beginning of February to bring about a little restlessness for Spring to come. 


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