Wanderlust…Again

You guys, the road is calling me and if I know him as well as I think I do, I’m pretty sure it’s calling my husband, too.

While the sun is currently shining – and thank the Universe for that! – I’m so sick of the grey skies that shroud the Ohio River Valley from about November through the end of March that I feel like I might explode. The road is calling.

And we will answer that call soon, I’m sure.

It gets me thinking about traveling with children and how much more fun travels are with kids in tow. I probably wouldn’t have said that when my sons were teens and it was so easy to tell them to pack their things and they occupied themselves in the backseat with music and headphones, and word searches, or a book. Then, I’d probably have thought traveling with little ones would be difficult, tiresome, and just not worth it, because I was out of practice. I mean, teens are basically just adults with mood swings and higher energy levels.

Kids, I thought – now they take so much more energy.

Then my husband and I had our big surprise-we’re-pregnant moment and our plans to ride off on the Harley into the sunset changed….a lot.

We had all these plans to travel, maybe even to live on the road. He could guest spot in tattoo shops and I could be a substitute teacher in the various places we decided to settle in temporarily. We’d go home to visit the grown kids and our families often, and life would just be easy.

With our daughter coming, we discussed our plans and how they’d have to change, but we were set on traveling. Instead of being on the road a lot, we’d keep a place locally and just travel often.

We crossed our fingers that our daughter would be a good little traveler.


The kid screamed any time we put her in the car seat. Not just in the beginning, while getting strapped in, but the entire time she was in the car seat. From the time we buckled her in until we parked our car.

Screaming.

And screaming.

And screaming.

Let’s just say, except for well checks at the pediatrician, she and I didn’t leave the house for four months.

Then, she slowly began to do better and by the age of ten months, we planned a drive down to Miami Beach for our first family beach vacation and our little girl did beautifully. She never complained. She played happily in her seat while we played her favorite song at that time, You Could Be Queen, by a local band called The Great Depression. We literally played that song on repeat all the way to Miami Beach and home, because for whatever reason, if she happened to get fussy, it worked like a charm and made her smile instantly.

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Perhaps it was because I listened to it a lot when I was pregnant. I don’t know, but whatever. When something works, you do it. Call it Parental Desperation.

For the record, neither of us has listened to that song since. We don’t need to. It’s permanently ingrained in my brain along with other songs like The Bare Necessities, and You’ve got a Friend in Me, and Double Your Pleasure with Doublemint Gum.

Are they playing in your head now?

My apologies…..but, welcome to my world.

Since the trip to Miami Beach, our little girl has traveled the entire state of Florida and she’s also been to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, California, and Nevada.

She’s six years old and she’s almost caught up with the traveling it took me forty-three years to do.

While I cannot speak for those who have children who utterly despise travel, I can speak to those who have children who don’t mind being in the car, but after a few hours, they’re stir crazy and just need a break.

Advice for Traveling with Children

  1. Pack snacks. There is something about getting in a car for a long drive that makes even the adults want to munch. Could this be and instinctual thing from our Nomadic days? I don’t know, but my husband and I tend to snack just as much as our daughter when we’re on the road. Here are a few of our favorites. Remember, if you have young children, you may want to avoid giving them nuts while they’re in the backseat and not in eye view.
    • Trail mix
    • Jerky
    • Fresh fruit
    • Squeeze pouches of applesauce
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Protein bars
    • Nuts
  2.  Let them lead. It’s my educational philosophy and it’s the same for travel. Let them choose some of the destinations along the way. This will help them learn to use maps, plan ahead, and it’ll make them more interested in the actual time on the road and the trip itself.
  3. Make frequent stops. Encourage your children to try to use the bathroom at each and every stop. Don’t get frustrated if they need to stop while on the road, as this may make them hesitate to tell you when they need to go to the bathroom. This can lead to bladder problems and accidents. Just stop, let them do their business and get back on the road. During your planned stops, let the children exercise a little and do this with them, if you want. My daughter and I like to do cart wheels on the lawns in the picnic area, or “big steps” (lunges) up the sidewalks to the rest area buildings, and often we race up and down the sidewalks. Their little bodies aren’t meant to be sitting for hours, so this exercise really helps them be able to feel more relaxed in the car. It’ll help you too.
  4. Let them help document your travel. Give them the digital camera or a disposable camera to take pictures. Kids take pictures from a different angle and they can often get adults to be more expressive in pictures. Their photos are sure to be treasured and you may just sprout a seed for photography in one of your children.
  5. Take your time. Don’t over schedule your vacation. When you have children, less really is more. Spend more time exploring and less time trying to rush to the next thing. Have frequent rest periods. Take time to breathe and thing, and absorb the moment. There is nothing worse than being on a trip with someone who is looking down at their phone or an itinerary, planning the next thing, rather than being in the moment. Life happens in the moment. Pay attention to your children and their reaction to what they’re experiencing. See the world through their eyes. If they’re tired, please encourage them to rest. I cannot tell you how often on trips I’ve seen exhausted parents dragging their exhausted children to the next thing on the list. This is especially so at places like Disney World.

Which brings me to my next point – our favorite family destinations. I’ll give you a hint, it does not include Disney World, although we did enjoy visiting.

Our Top 5 Favorite Family Vacation Destinations

  1. Clearwater Beach, Florida. There’s a reason it’s often listed as the best beach in America. From the beautiful soft sand to pirate ship cruises, this beach has something for the entire family. You can spend more and stay in one of the beachfront hotels, or you can keep it simple and more intimate by staying in one of the funky family owned motels. We love Brightwater Suites, a neon-green motel with quaint rooms and a pool and the kindest caretakers you’ll find in Clearwater. It’s across the street from the beach, but there are plenty of cross walks to make the trek easy for the family.
  2. IMG_20140823_142719Tybee Island, GA. This is a place we return to year after year. If you’re looking for a beach vacation without the hustle and bustle of the more touristy places, Tybee may be just what you’re looking for. It’s quiet, especially during the week, it’s reasonable, and oh my goodness, breakfast at The Breakfast Club is not to be missed. We like to stay in rentals run by Tybee Vacation Rentals. They are wonderful and the property choices they offer are varied based on your budget, from apartments and condominiums, to full houses. You can choose from beachfront to marsh front and everything in between. Be sure to rent a bike at Tim’s while you’re on the island, it’s the best way to see everything. They even rent bike attachments for your babies and toddlers, as well as strollers, and umbrellas. 
  3. IMG_3459-3Las Vegas, NV. Are you surprised to see this one on the list? Las Vegas is an amazing place to enjoy a family vacation, because while you can enjoy a show, like one of the famous Cirque du Soleil shows, visit the enormous Hershey store, and ride a roller coaster or play arcades at the New York New York casino, you can also drive twenty-minutes and be away from it all, hiking the trails near Mount Charleston, in Red Rock Canyon. When we were out hiking, we saw a wild ram grazing just a few feet away. It is a spectacular experience all around.
  4. Harper’s Ferry, WV. History, architecture, and nature converge in this beautiful, friendly town. If you enjoy historic places, with locally owned restaurants and unique shopping, you’ll love Harper’s Ferry. Definitely stop in True Treats Historic Candy shop and find a favorite from your childhood to share with your children. The Appalachian Trail runs right through his beautiful town too, so you can take the kids on a fun family hike through the forest as far or as close as you wish. I encourage you to cross the Potomac via the old railroad bridge and explore the other side of the river and to take in the view.
  5. IMG_8071Chicago, Il. Our daughter absolutely loved the weekend we spent in Chicago. Maybe it was the two feet of snow that fell the night we drove up there, and walking next to mounds of snow that were taller than her, or maybe it was the famous mouth-watering Nutella filled donuts from Stan’s, or the giant Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier, but our daughter loved Chicago and often asks to go back. She meandered her way down the streets like a local, sloshing through puddles in her wellies, and window shopped as well as anyone. We only stayed for the weekend, so I can’t speak for anything too far beyond walking distance from our hotel near the Navy Pier, but I can tell you our then five-year old loved every minute of or visit there. We will be going back.

If any of these seem too daunting, explore places near your home. Every state has amazing attractions and things to do. Explore like you’re a tourist. You never know what you might discover.

IMG_2262-2Traveling with children really is my most favorite way to travel.

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My oldest and youngest, on the way to Tybee.

Don’t be afraid to pack your young kids into the car for an adventure. Just keep the tips I’ve offered in mind and remember – it’s okay to let children know when you’re feeling frustrated. Communicate with them before you’re feeling exasperated.

And when all else fails, stop the car, have everyone get out, move your body, let them play, and just breathe for a moment, knowing that the memories you’re making are worth every single second.

Xx

Resa

Reading: No Rewards, Thanks

In the 1880s, children read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. If you look at the Lexile score, this book is considered to be the grade level equivalent of 11th-12th grade. However, if you consider the fact that children read this in schools in the 19th century, you must understand that children only attended school through eighth grade, often only through fifth grade, yet these children were reading this book. Today, this book is read in high school and even college.

I can tell you without a doubt that even some of my college classmates would have stumbled over Dickens’ work. Today, we must consider that even the New York Times is only written at an eight grade level.

What has happened to American education? Is our country truly more literate, or are we “dumbing everything down” to suit a low baseline set by public schooling and thus making it seem that we are more successful in this area than we truly are? I think this is the case and to be frank, I believe without a doubt that our current reading pedagogy is to blame. Children are not learning to read as a means to an end, as in wanting to gain information for an authentic task or to take pleasure from something. They are forced to read as a job in and of itself….and this is completely unnatural.

Children need to see reading as a tool to learning how to do something, or more about something they are interested in. Then, reading makes sense.

Attaching an arbitrary grade, or an external reward to reading does nothing to create the motivation to read and for many children, it crushes their desire to read at all beyond what they are forced to read in school.

One of the worst things the public school system ever allowed within its walls is the Accelerated Reader Program and I think we would do right by our children to throw it out, along with the Lexile measurements for books. I cannot tell you how many students I met who carried around thick, “high level” books and hid the books that they could actually read, just to avoid being made fun of by their peers. These stupid and pointless programs are the culprit. Not only do they label books and readers, they limit choice, and they increase the “us verses them” mentality that is already prevalent in the schools.

You may think that the limitations are only on students who read at lower levels, but this is not true. It also limits children who are competent readers. These students may not want to read a book at a lower level, even if he or she might enjoy it, because 1. They want to get more points per book so they don’t have to read as many, or 2. They would be “embarrassed to be caught reading a lower level book.” Students also avoid longer books in favor of shorter books they can read quickly, just to get it done.

It is sad to me that schools use these programs. I remember moving to a school that had this program and it had a terrible overall reading environment, because reading wasn’t actually emphasized: points, rewards, and levels were!

As a parent and former teacher of Language Arts, my advice to parents is to avoid schools that utilize these programs. Shop around (yes, you can do that!) or homeschool. Approach the school board and ask that the program be eliminated entirely. Let them know that your child will not be forced to participate.

The key to getting kids read is not in extrinsic rewards, (read: bribes) Lexile levels, grade-dependent reading, or any other ridiculous system. It’s in READING. It’s in schools and families creating environments where everyone is reading. It’s in sharing with a class, a book that makes you laugh or cry. Picture books are GREAT for this and YES, they should be read to eighth graders and high schoolers. Children should also be allowed time with their own books. Spend at least a full class period a week simply letting them read. (No, I’m not kidding…no, this will not hurt the worthless annual test scores) You read your own book as well. Let the kids spread out on the floor, provide floor pillows for them, or cushions to sit on. Let them switch books as needed and do not question this. Team up with your librarian and use the library. If you have a child who has trouble reading, have audio books available, but be sure these are available to all of your students so that no one is singled out. Let them read magazines, flyers, comics, nonfiction, how-tos, graphic novels, novels, or whatever the heck they want to read and encourage them. Show interest in what they’re reading. Let them share what they’re reading with the class and why they like it, if they want to.

Don’t fall into the trap of forcing them to give a book report. This will kill the spirit and crush the entire point. Trust them. Tell them you trust them and don’t say it unless you mean it. Trust them to read and they will read. If you have a student who continues to show no interest, or tell you he hates reading, let him know that you will help him find a book that interests him. Tell him: “We’ve just not found the right book yet, but I promise you, we will and I’ll help you.” And mean every damn word. Ask him about his interests and find books and titles and magazines that might interest him. Give him options and let him choose what he’d like to check out.

I had a student who absolutely hated reading, but he was a brilliant farmer. He loved everything outdoorsy. In my class, I read aloud to my students every single day, even if only for five minutes. One day, I picked up the book My Side of the Mountain and after class, this student asked if he could borrow it. I was quite surprised, because he was emphatically against reading, but I happily loaned him the book, making a point not to make a big deal about it. He read the entire thing and then found another book on his own to read. That Christmas, his granddad gave him a book as a gift and he was reading that as well.

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Today, as I watch my six-year old daughter read, I have further proof that when we don’t force it and when we share stories with them, and when we read all sorts of reading material to and with them, they naturally grow more interested in reading. This year, my daughter set a goal to read fifteen chapter books on her own. She just started trying to read on her own in May, so not even a year a go and already she’s feeling confident enough to attempt to read fifteen books on her own. She’s almost through her fourth book, already.

Don’t force children to read books they aren’t interested in. It will do nothing but turn them against it. Plus, it doesn’t teach them what we do as adults. I mean, I have started plenty of crappy, boring books that I’ve not finished, because let’s be honest: there are far too many awesome books out there to waste time on a boring one! Empower them to take control of their reading. Let them discover that books can be fun, can provide valuable information, and can help them see different perspectives, and yes, sometimes they can be downright dull and that’s okay. Basically, let them play with books…the learning happens there. Then, when they need to pick up a tough read for a particular task, they have confidence that they can glean from its pages the information they need.

To encourage a love of reading, never insert yourself between a child and any book, unless they invite you to. Never try to fool a child with your gadgets and shiny stars and fancy rewards. They will be on the defensive immediately and they will turn away from even the most amazing book.

Mark my word.

It’s simple, really: trust them and read to and with them every single day.

Xx

Resa

 

Want 18 more reasons to avoid AR than what I’ve written?

Visit: “The 18 Reasons Not to Use Accelerated Reader” by Mark Pennington MA Reading Specialist here.

Homeschool: Schedule Not Required

As parents, we are constantly bombarded with what’s “right” and “wrong” when raising our children and it begins from the time they utter their first cry. Breast/bottle, co-sleeping/crib, daycare/private care, cry it out/soothe them…..and that’s just for the first three months! I swear, if I have to listen to one more person try to tell another parent how to raise their kids, I may throw up on their shoes.

I’m exaggerating.

That said, it does disgust me, but what I am doing instead if far more adult. I’m simply living my life the way my husband and I have chosen to live. It’s our life…and no one else is going to tell us how to do it. So, here’s a glimpse into how we do our thing. Maybe this will help someone out there who is questioning whether or not they’re doing it right. I’m here to tell you: there is no right or wrong way to raise and educate your child.

A day-in-the-life:

My husband generally awakens around 9am. If my daughter and I don’t awaken at that time, we are awake by 10am.

We see Kevin off to work and this always involves raising the blinds so our daughter can see him off. This means blowing kisses to him from the time he walks out the door until he is no longer seen in the distance. I swear, it’s the sweetest thing. She’s crazy for her daddy.

After that, we generally curl up in bed for a bit of reading while I have a cup of coffee, then we have breakfast. Sometimes this is reversed, depending on how hungry we feel upon waking.

After breakfast, Kat usually does math to “get it out of the way.” I find this notion funny, because she’s only six, but that’s how she views it. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy it. She actually does, but there are other things she prefers to do and so she likes to quickly get math finished up and out of the way.

After that, she usually wants to play games, Minecraft, where she’s building elaborate building and worlds, and caring for animals. It’s quite cool. Or she plays Roblox, where recently we’ve been working together to build a theme park. This includes her checking on her patrons to decide what they need, figuring out what rides to build next based on available space, funds, and potential income. She also loves to play Fortnight with her brother when he’s online and it’s a great way to connect with him since he’s moved to his own home. She usually plays for an hour or two.

We usually eat lunch around 2-3.

Then, she has free play, or we read more, usually from a magazine, or from a book she picks. This is also where I encourage her to read to me. I love when she reads to me and I tell her so. I think it makes her happy when she reads to me, because she knows how it feels to be read to.

We usually eat dinner around 6-7.

Then, we do projects and this can range from cardboard box houses for LOL dolls, to building solar powered robots, to making Barbie clothes, bird feeders, doing science experiments, growing plants from seed, playing with and learning about magnets, learning about different biomes, like the desert and ocean, or learning about and doing experiments for the water cycle, making rainbows in a test tube, trying (and failing) to grow mold on processed white bread (do you realize how scary it is that the mold never grew on that bread after a month?), or whatever she comes up with. Project time has often run into the late evening and we’ve often been found working when Kevin gets home.

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I’m hard pressed to call this a schedule, because it really does change on a daily basis, but this is the basic idea of what we do with our days. Some days though, we start on projects and work on those all day long. Other days, we read and do math and have a free day. Some days, we go out and simply have fun outside the house. Sometimes we travel as a family and explore the country, like we did last month when we decided to drive home from Las Vegas.

The thing is, what I love about homeschooling is we can make it what we want. I love that our lives are being designed by us, for us and what is best for our family. I don’t need the government involved in our lives more than is absolutely required by law. I don’t need my day dictated by a state school schedule, which would make my daughter have to be in bed so early that she’d miss time with her dad in the evenings, to get up at the crack of dawn to leave us for the day to be trained to sit down, listen, and do as she’s told.

Many will say, but in the “real world,” she’ll need to learn to get up early.

Um…we are living in the real world and my husband, who makes a great income, isn’t getting up and trudging to work at the ass-crack of dawn. He has a career many in the mainstream thought would never amount to anything. Luckily he had a very supportive mother who encouraged him and he is doing extremely well.

Many will say, but in the “real world,” she’ll need to learn other subjects besides reading and math.

First: The idea of “subjects” is a purely academic notion, meaning it was created by schools, for schools, to further compartmentalize information in order to control and assess. That’s it. That’s all. In the real world, subjects do not exist. Life is life…when we do things, we don’t think: which subject do I need to know? We just do it and we figure out what resources and information we need. If we don’t know how to do something, we find someone or a resource to help us and we go from there. This is what I am encouraging in my daughter. As long as she can read and compute and think critically, and solve problems and overcome challenges, she is well prepared for the “real world.” Perhaps more so than a lot of other children who are being trained in public schools, where they are required to ask for permission to use the bathroom until the age of eighteen.

Many will say, but in the “real world,” she’ll need a diploma….and what if she wants to go to college?

I don’t have a high school diploma. I was so incredibly bored in high school that I finally just walked out and didn’t return until I went to take the General Education exam. On that test, I scored the fifth highest score in the state. I am not bragging. I’m just trying to make a point. After that, I became a single mom to two amazing sons and worked in a shitty factory for a while until I decided I wanted more. I went to a community college and graduated with a scholarship to attend the University of Kentucky, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education (grades 5-9). While I ended up certified in English and Communications and Social Studies, I was very close to also being eligible to get my certification in Math and Science. So….tell me again about that high school diploma.

Was the path I took the best one? I don’t know. It was for me. Many of my friends who went to college did basically the same thing, whether they went to college first or had kids first. We basically ended up with the same credentials and a similar life. Others of my friends went to college straight out of high school and flunked out and still work in shitty factories and look forward to their one vacation each year.

What’s right for one is not necessarily right or even necessary for another. If my daughter does go to college, she’s already learning how to manage her own time at the young age of six, which is more than I can say about most eighteen year olds who leave high school. As for getting the credentials to get in…I’m not worried about that. She’s extremely bright and knows she can work toward anything she wants to do and I and her father will support and encourage her the whole way.

Public school is very necessary for so many children and families. My sons attended public school and while if I had it to do over again, I’d have chosen to try to homeschool, I am eternally grateful to the teachers who taught them. I don’t know how I’d have done it as a single working mom, but I know other women who are single, working, and still homeschooling. I appreciate public school, but it’s not the only way to be successful.

The beauty of homeschool is creating a life you want for your family. I have a degree and I have skills. If I wanted to and if it was best for our family, I could get a job. I could find a job I like, even. However, for my family, that would not be a good thing. If I had a job, I’d forfeit the freedom we have to travel when we want and to spend time together as we want, because I’d be dictated by someone else’s schedule and so would our daughter. At night, she’d be unable to see her dad, because she’d have to go to bed before he got home, in order to get up early. Our travel would be limited to school breaks, if our adult schedules allowed. We’d end up living for that one vacation each year.

To me, this doesn’t sound like living.

For me, I’d rather have the freedom. I’d rather provide my daughter with experiences and memories and as much time with us as we possibly can, while she’s a child. I’d rather keep my car that’s paid off and live more modestly, than to have what others call “success.” I’d rather go somewhere new than buy a big, fancy home, or a new car.

Yea, I think I’ll keep our unconventional homeschool “schedule,” and our freedom, thank you very much.

 

Navigating the Riptide

I’ve got some jazz playing, a steaming cup of coffee sits next to my keyboard, and the white light reflecting off the snow outside fills this space. Inside, my body feels calm, content, and strangely light, as I type.

It’s a relief from what I’ve been experiencing this week after quitting my nightly wine habit. If you’ve just joined me here, let me explain: I quit drinking my 2-2/12 glasses of wine each night. Half a bottle, in all honesty. My husband and I shared a bottle of wine almost every night and well, nine days ago, we quit.

While the last couple of days have been really good, my mood was unpredictable up until that point. I also went from feeling like I was freezing to feeling overheated. I’ve had the strangest dreams the last few days, but I’ve slept better than I have in years. The worst part to me, was the bloated feeling. I swear, I felt like the biggest person in the room and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve berated myself for “being so fat.” I’m not fat, but I felt so bloated and sluggish and just….terrible. “Fat” was the easy go-to word to describe that. I know physical appearance isn’t everything, but to say it doesn’t matter is an untruth. Even monkeys, dogs, cats, and birds groom themselves and take pride in their appearance. The only time they don’t is when they’ve gone through trauma of some sort. It’s perfectly okay to care about how we look. It’s just a danger to think that’s the rent we pay to exist in this world.

Today, I feel some relief from that. Thank goodness. Last night, as I was about to cry for the crappy bloated feeling, I switched the narrative and thought, “You know what? My body is going through a lot right now because of the choices I’ve made in the past. It’s working really hard to find its balance and for that, I’m grateful. Thank you, body. I love you, body.” And I went to sleep.

I’m on day nine of healthier living and I have to tell you, I’m feeling really good today. It’s funny how a habit can really mess with us mentally. The changes have been interesting to observe, for sure. I have intermittent cravings for wine, but so far they aren’t as bad as I expected. when I get grumpy, I remind myself that it’s not the outside “stressor,” but my cravings talking, and I let it go.

I’m trying to show myself some grace, while also trying really hard to be patient, especially with my sweet little daughter. It seems she’s been especially rambunctious this week, but really, I’m sure she’s behaving the same as usual, I’m just not seeing life through the velvet wine haze. Overall, I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

I’m aware, however, that there will likely come a time around the 4 month mark, when I’ll really start craving wine and a little voice in my head will tell me I’m “okay, look how easily you got to this point. You’re fine. Have a glass…or two. You can always quit again.”

Addiction is a strange animal.

photo on 1-17-19 at 11.14 am

One thing I’m really stoked about is that the dark circles under my eyes are diminishing and my skin is less dry. Even my wrinkles are less visible. Dehydration can really make us look older and tired. This is one change I’m really enjoying. The thing that kinda bugs me is that I’m breaking out, (I’m 42! Can’t I finally have nice skin?!) but I know that this is likely toxins leaving my body. My poor liver must have been working so hard trying to eliminate the alcohol from my system and lacking the enzyme to break it down (as all women do), my body really suffered. This picture of me, without makeup and boasting a few blemishes is kind of a picture of success. I feel proud of myself and I’m eager to see where this leads.

I do have to say….being sober has really increased my desire to work on another writing project I’ve put aside. Maybe I’ll get back to it.

Best wishes, mamas. Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading and for hanging with me as I navigate this new bit of my life. As I stated before, I promise not to make this blog about that, but it IS a blog for women, for moms…and our personal struggles and successes are a big part of who we are, right? I felt it would be dishonest not to include this. I thought maybe there might be another mom out there struggling too and maybe she’s afraid of how it might look to share that with other moms, especially the homeschool moms. But I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to be who you are, where you are right at this moment.

xoxo

Resa

No-mo Wine-o

Have you ever noticed how society tends to glorify things that are bad for us? I mean, you don’t see ads for produce or walking in the woods. Why? Because they are good for us and we don’t really need to be convinced. But candy bars? Smoking? Drinking? Shopping for therapy? Those things are absolutely glorified.

This brings me to a topic that has been on my mind for the last year: The mom/wine culture.

Just check Instagram and you’ll find all sorts of posts from glamorous looking mothers (clearly filtered, but whatever) who are bragging about their wine habit and how their beautiful children (often clearly posed and more like props than kids) basically cause them to drink each night. This is alternated with a coffee addiction and funny images of coffee mugs with messages that say: This may be wine.

I remember making one that said, This may be vodka.

winetime

Hey, it’s kinda funny, until you realize you actually are drinking every single night, or more nights per week than you aren’t. (guilty!) It’s also not funny when you realize that your $12 a night wine habit adds up to a whopping: $4368 a year. My brain is on fire calculating the amazing shoes I could buy on our next trip to Vegas with that…even if I split it with my husband! Seriously, shoes have taken me further in life than a glass of wine has – ever.

When I have wine, I’m sitting on my ass in front of the television. As a matter of fact, I never watch television until my husband comes home. Then, he eats his dinner and we have a bottle of wine together, on the couch, in front of whatever we are binge watching on Netflix at the time. We don’t get a buzz. We don’t even care to try to get a buzz. It’s purely habit. Having wine is part of our winding down time.

When I think about it, over the course of fourteen years (minus the three years when I was pregnant and nursing), my wine habit has cost: $48048. Holy shit.

Super glamorous, right?

What a waste of money.

Further, I’ve been doing my research and did you know that a woman’s body lacks the enzyme required to effectively break down alcohol and therefore that makes women more susceptible to the dangers of alcohol? I had no idea of this. No one ever mentions things like this in the glamorous advertisements on television. Of course they warn about drinking while pregnant and nursing or operating a motor vehicle, but to let women know that they might be especially at risk of the dangers. Not a peep. thanks, media.

What are the risks of chronic heavy drinking?

It’s the fourth leading cause of preventable death in America. It damages the brain and may even shrink the brain. It can cause memory loss. It can lead to some cancers and immune system dysfunction. Read more here.

I consider myself a pretty healthy person. I eat organic, I exercise, I limit processed foods and sugars. I didn’t think I was a heavy drinker. I just had two glasses of wine a night and that was my limit, except for the very rare night out with my husband when I’d have several drinks with our friends. “It’s just two glasses of wine.” I’d tell myself, but when I did the research and realized that “heavy drinking” for women is more than 8 drinks per week. If you’re drinking wine, that’s a 5 ounce glass, not the typical pour, which is usually more. If you keep it right at 5 ounces a night, per week, you’re a moderate drinker. Anymore and you’re a heavy drinker like me.

Based on that, I came to the realization that I was a heavy drinker and was at risk for too many health problems for me to justify it anymore.

I had to really figure it out. Was my wine habit worth it?

I decided it wasn’t.

My life is worth more to me than a habit that includes sitting on my ass for a few hours a night, waking in the middle of the night for a few hours, and waking up feeling exhausted from lack of sleep. Not to mention the heart palpitations, night sweats, and the ridiculous notion that I needed to have wine at night. It irritates me to have a crutch and this one was one I brought on myself.

That said, my decision to stop isn’t meant to be a reflection of anyone else. I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t drink. I’m doing my thing for myself. It’s what I want. If you drink, cool. There are no rules to life. We can live as we please. That’s the beauty of it.

We can live our lives and flip the script and live it completely different later if we want.

The thing is to live intentionally. When I drink wine, I’m living by default and that’s not living at all, in my opinion. This is my way of living more intentionally and being more present, and hopefully getting more out of my amazing life each day.

How can you live more intentionally? How can you get the most out of your life? What’s the script of your life reading like today? If it were a book, would you keep reading, or would you want to change the story?

You’re the author of your life. Write a damn good story you’re excited to sit down and read. That’s my new motto.

xoxo

Resa

 

 

Kneading Dough & Needing Family

Over Christmas I talked with my oldest child, Mager (pronounced with a soft G, like Major, but think more French than military), who asked me if I still had my bread machine. “You used to always bake bread; banana bread, pumpkin bread, all kinds of breads,” he said, as he smiled over at his pretty wife.

I had no idea he even really cared about my bread making. It’s funny what our children remember and what matters to them that we have no clue about until years later. When he and his brother were little, I baked a lot. I was never one to buy cookies or cakes from the store, I always baked them. I know it seems silly to some, but to me, as a twenty-something mom, there was a joy in baking or cooking any food for my kids. I used to go all out for their birthdays, making the icing and everything from scratch!

This was all before Pinterest and so I had cookbooks out the wazoo.

I made quiches often, and I loved baking pies and cutting out pretty shapes to place around the edges. It wasn’t to impress anyone else. It wasn’t to post on Instagram or Facebook: look what I did and here’s the recipe and blah, blah, blah.

It was for my family. Simple as that.

One of my goals for this year is to get back a little of that….that living simply for the sake of living, and leaving the phone on the charger pad. To be honest, I fell into a big hole of self-centeredness and stirred myself around in a vat of “hey, look at me,” for a bit too long.

It happens and it’s okay.

It was a lesson.

I love sharing on social media and I love hearing from my friends on social media. In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to let time get in the way of getting together, so it’s lovely to see how others are doing.

That said, I am moving past the need to post every day. While I’m quick to embrace the idea of change, I’m rather slow to implement it, so this will not be an overnight change for me, nor will it be a steady change, but I feel the change happening. It’s time.

The conversation with my son, coupled with discussions I’ve had with my husband about my craving to cook and bake and create again lends itself to this change, really. It’s as though everything is coming to pass as it’s supposed to. And isn’t it always that way?

There’s a season for everything. We need not bloom all year long, nor do we need to lay fallow all year long, but rather, we are here to ebb and flow. We gather information, we give in our experiences, and then we rest in our knowing and one day, it all comes together and we can only smile at the magic of it all….and realize we have always been exactly where we were meant to be, doing exactly what we were meant to be doing.

I’m sitting here finishing off a bowl of vegetable soup. It’s delicious and comforting as soups tend to be and I’d share the recipe, if I could write one for you, but to be honest, my best dishes happen when I just trust myself and add whatever comes to mind. I don’t measure. When my daughter asked to add salt, she knew to hold her palms open to me and I poured the salt into her little hands. I never measure unless I’m following someone else’s recipe. What I suggest for the best veggie soup ever is this:

  1. Grab a little helper with chubby hands and a sweet smile. If your little helper is prone to singing off-key, all the better!
  2. Grab an old pot…stock pot (I suppose some would call it, but to me, it’s the chili or soup pot).
  3. Start loading your counter with veggies you personally love. Don’t be afraid, just have fun and think COLOR. Today we used: fresh carrots, russet potatoes, and celery. Canned “chili ready” tomatoes (gives a little kick), dark red kidney beans, and whole kernel corn. Frozen peas and carrots, green beans.
  4. Prep and dice your veggies. Toss them in the pot with all other ingredients. The trick here is to let your little helper do some of the work. My helper placed all of the diced veggies in the pot.
  5. Have your helper pour chicken stock over all of it. Add your choice of seasonings. I can’t remember exactly, but we used a bay leaf, lots of garlic, salt and pepper, coriander, chili powder….Season it to your taste.
  6. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for several hours.
  7. Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich and your loved ones. Maybe even have a read aloud afterward.

To me, food and family go together and my husband and I bought a big farmhouse table because of this fact. I love having all of my family around that table. Those really are my happiest days. Food brings us together and helps us create memories, but love is what holds us together.

Maybe cooking isn’t your thing and that’s okay. What do you enjoy doing? Share that love with those you hold dear to your heart. There’s no right way to love or to mother. Share yourself with others and let them know you appreciate having them in your life. That’s what matters most.

xoxo

Resa

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PS. My daughter and I dug out the bread machine and made fresh bread. Here’s the pic I sent to my son. He was stoked.

 

He and his wife just bought their first home a couple of days ago and were setting up the kitchen table we gave them.

 

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Mamas.

I hope you find yourself well and happy today and looking forward to all of the potential this new year holds. Every day does, actually. It’s funny how we put often put all our chips into the first few weeks of a new year and we fail to realize that every single day is a new opportunity, with as much potential as New Year’s Day.

Every day can be and is, really, the first day of a new year and all we have to do is recognize that and embrace it.

I sit here at the desk in what my daughter and I have dubbed “the learning room,” as if learning only occurs here…but really, the kitchen table might better embrace that term, or perhaps the master bedroom, where my daughter and I often cuddle up to read…or maybe our yard. Really, this room acts more as a storage room, where we neatly house all that we need to create. On our desk at the moment, sits an in-progress quilt, the digital camera, a science activities book, the sewing machine, a solar system model, and a math book, along with other miscellaneous items. It’s a smorgasbord of needed materials for projects we typically carry off to another more comfortable spot to actually do our work.

I’m up here today because I’ve been watching videos about laying tile and hanging drywall. I want to learn more about home remodel so we don’t always have to call someone else to do the work for us. Besides, I really love getting my hands dirty and I love that type of work. Last week, I tore out the bar in the kitchen to make more space for our family. I removed it with only a hammer and a flathead screwdriver. Sure, there are easier ways to do it, but if I had thought that way, it would still be sitting there, because I didn’t have the “appropriate” tools on hand. Instead, I believed in my ability, and I held on to the notion that by removing it slowly, piece by piece, I was showing respect for the man who built it.

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You see?

We can see the potential of where we are right this second, or we can sit back and wait for something “better,” or we can sit back and settle into the lie that where we are right now, is somehow not enough.

Every day we have this choice.

Every day is like New Year’s Day and we can take the opportunity to start afresh, or we can hold on to our limiting beliefs. it’s our choice.

I choose to see potential.

In myself and in others.

I can be so hard on myself….my “broken record” monologue includes things like:

You’re too opinionated and you know opinions are the lowest form of intelligence, so you must be pretty stupid. You’re just a stay-at-home mom. No one takes you seriously. Who do you think you are to think you can do THAT (insert whatever idea I had)? You’re not pretty enough to have an attitude (I think someone actually said this to me once, when I was mouthing back to them and it just became part of my “truth”). You have too many ideas and it makes you look like you have attention problems. How can anyone keep up with what you’re doing when you change your mind so much? No one cares. The ones who care only pretend to care because they’re trying to sell you something. You’re not strong enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not consistent enough. Maybe you should stick with what you know….home-work….and shut up. You sucked as a mother to your sons. They thrived in spite of you. Remember when you spanked them? You should have hugged them more. You’re too critical of everyone. You aren’t a good person, really, that’s why it’s so much work for you to try to be.

I could go on and on and on.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, because this was basically replaying over and over and over in my head. It wasn’t this exact thing, but basically. It’s always the same things over and over and over. Last night, after several hours of this, coupled with me constantly checking that my daughter was still breathing (she was sick, so I was worried), I finally told myself to stop it. I said, “You know what? I’m not perfect. No mother is. I did my best with what I had at my disposal. My kids are amazing. I may not have done everything right, but we have so many awesome memories and I loved them more than anything on this earth.”

And with that, I went to sleep.

Most often, the broken record starts when I consider trying something new, especially if it means a lot to me. I think it’s the Evil that resides in all of us. The Evil that seeks to keep us down. Some call that Satan. Some call that our dark side. Whatever you want to call it, it sneaks up on us and can tear us apart from the inside and it seeps out into all areas of our lives, if we let it roam free.

The best part is we don’t have to listen to those lies. Every day we awaken with the opportunity to start anew, to rewrite our stories, and to move forward with love.

It’s not going to be easy.

Some days we’ll feel like we’ve fallen backward. Other days it’ll seem we’re on cloud nine.

It’s a journey and all journeys have challenges, but I think it’s worth it. I think it’s worth it to love ourselves, even in our darkest times. I think it’s worth it to see each day as a new beginning. I think it’s worth it to focus less on what we can’t do and focus on what we can do and are doing.

Today, I’m on day three of no wine. Today I’m on day three of giving myself a lot of TLC before I go to bed. Today I’m on day one of the rest of my life.

Today is a good day.

xoxo

Resa