Growing pains

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I spent some time today looking at my baby. I don’t know how, but sometime in the last few weeks, he decided to grow. I see his chubby legs and pot belly. A healthy double chin is developing. And his cheeks! Oh, those cheeks! A little dimple on his right cheek is noticeable with his smile. He is such a smiley, content baby. And he is growing. At nearly six months he is getting better at sitting up. This makes him look even bigger. Combine this with jeans and a pair of moccasins from Happyandthehectic and we’ve got ourselves a bona fide little man!

I can say the same of my other two children. Only their baby cheeks are slowly disappearing. No more dimpled hands. Less and less chub on the cheek. More muscle definition. Bigger shoes. Longer legs. Growing pains.
Little bodies doing their thing. Growing. Learning. Changing.

When my five year old clip-clops down the hall in my strappy high heels and sun dress wadded up under her arm pits, she smiles at me and says, “Will you save these for me for when I’m a teenager?”

All I can think is, “Will you save a little piece of your five year old self for me when you’re a teenager?”

Growing pains. I wonder is it as uncomfortable for them as it is for me? My anecdote today was kissing on luscious baby cheeks and squishy thighs. But soon those will be gone and there will be other new and exciting things to find joy in. And those growing pains? I doubt they’ll ever go away.

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Montessori School

For years, I have been interested in the Montessori method of schooling my children. Even before I had children of my own, I knew that I wanted to send my kids to a private Montessori institution. After having worked in a public school setting for a school year, my heart was saddened by how many children I saw without a light in their eye. The following video may help you understand what I mean when I say that.

My 4 year old daughter is a Learner. She, like most children her age, is naturally inquisitive, probing, independent and a hard worker. I would hate to see that natural drive be thwarted by an educational system that seems to be broken. I love the Montessori philosophy. I love the innovative thinking and I love that it is a Child-led learning environment. We do our best to provide this same way of being in my home. We have held off on enrolling our 4 year old in a conventional preschool program. (You can read my reasons here) But as my daughter is maturing, I can see that she may be ready for something beyond what we are doing here at home, either that, or I need to up my game. (Which translates to Homeschooling…) And I am not talking about traditional academia. I am talking about keeping that flame of wanting to learn alive! I believe my responsibility as a parent is to cultivate that natural drive. And I believe that providing my children with the best possible education is part of that responsibility. (Whether from our home or an institution.) Speaking of “upping my game”, I think I could spend my entire life savings in this store!…then I wouldn’t need to enroll my children in a school!

There are many Montessori school in my area, however they carry an expensive price tag. It is a price I am willing to pay and the time is soon approaching that I need to take a step forward for enrollment. This reminds me of Gilmore Girls when Lorelei finally breaks down and exchanges the cost of tuition for Rory to attend a prestigious Private High School for Friday night dinners each week! (Pilot) (I don’t think it will come to that. We already have dinner with my parents a lot.)

Anyhow…if you are unfamiliar with the Montessori method, or you see your own child struggling with conventional schooling , I hope you’ll take some time to learn about the other great options for educating your children and what you can do at home to help them rekindle that fire. There are some great videos that follow the one above that you can watch.  I feel so excited about this!!! Seriously excited.

From the above link “montessori method” :

The potential of the child is not just mental, but is revealed only when the complete “Montessori method” is understood and followed. The child’s choice, practical work, care of others and the environment, and above all the high levels of concentration reached when work is respected and not interrupted, reveal a human being that is superior not only academically, but emotionally and spiritually, a child who cares deeply about other people and the world, and who works to discover a unique and individual way to contribute. This is the essence of real “Montessori” work today.


In other news, said 4 year old daughter had her very first piano lesson yesterday! She loved it!

Follow up on ROOM

I thought I would take a moment and share more of my thoughts about the book I mentioned and finished a few weeks. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably would want to skip out on reading this post, as it may spoil it for you. But maybe not.

I just need to say that it was exactly what I needed to read. I don’t usually read fiction books, so when I picked this one up, it took me by surprise. Still being in a bit of a funk from the previous weeks (of emotional hell!) reading Room took me on a journey of personal introspection. I found myself feeling very connected to the little boy, Jack. The narrative he gave using his juvenile  language, his raw thoughts and bravery felt as if he was me as a child. I identified with his major reality change and the real terrifying feelings that those changes conjured up. But in the end, he was okay. A little scared and probably needing a few years of therapy, but okay. Like me.

He was me. In the 18 years since my reality change as a youth (divorce), I never have been able to voice the pain I felt. Until Jack said it for me. He was taken out of his perfect world where he knew nothing of the outside. To him, the 11×11 room was all he knew. His entire existence had been lived in that small space! So how could he know what he was missing? How could he understand what his mother was feeling, being hidden away and held captive from her world for 7 years? To Jack’s mother that 11×11 space was her death sentence, but to Jack it was his only reality. So imagine being taken out of the only thing that has been constant- now the world becomes Jack’s death sentence, but blissful freedom to his mother.

Room gave me a different perspective of my dear mother. I don’t fully understand everything about why she left, nor do I think it is necessary to really know anymore. The fact is that she felt trapped in her “11×11” space and broke out. Which ripped me from my comfortable, happy and naive existence. It was scary and difficult to adjust without her constant company. It felt like one day she was there, and the next she was gone. She was my 11×11, my safety. Adjusting was difficult, but I made it.

I don’t mean to make this sound like a “woe is me” story- its not. I needed to record my own little “coming to Jesus” feelings as I read Room. I really do feel like it altered my thoughts in such a dramatic way. I feel like I understand myself on a whole new plane. And I am closer to understanding my mother. And that is such good news.

In addition to all of that. I came away from the book with a new compassion for my own children. I must be more respectful of their realities as they grow. Yes, children are resilient, but change is difficult and can be damaging. I am so in love with their little selves. So in love. I am committed to doing all that is in my power to provide them with the continuity they need to grow into a better adult than I am. Preserving innocence, teaching adaptability and a love for people, learning and an understanding of who they really are– these are key components that each and every child needs for living the most peaceful and glorious life. No matter what size of “room” you grow up in.

Life lessons learned from a mug

When I was 13, I received a mug as a gift from my new step-mother. On the mug are four cows with grass and a fence. The phrase “…grass is greener over there…” is printed all around the bottom circumference of the mug. Its a cute mug. But as a snotty 13 year old, I certainly had a difficult time appreciating its sentiment.

A mug? Really?

17 years later, my sentiments for that mug have changed considerably. Yes, I still have the mug, and I find myself preferring it to most of the others in my cupboard. It fits my hands just so, and like the way the little glue-filled crack at the bottom of the handle rubs on my pinky, reminding me that I took the time once to fix it after it took a tumble.

I know now why my dear step-mother gifted me the mug. Because she was smarter than I was. How many teenagers do you know who have not compared their life to someone who supposedly has it better than them? I definitely did my fair share of that! Is the grass really greener over there? Maybe…but not likely. Because in my experience, the reality of the “green-ness” of the grass doesn’t matter. It is all about your perception of the grass.

I love that mug because it reminds me that despite what the grass looks like on my side of the fence, its up to me to nourish it and make it the greenest it can be. I cannot help but reflect on William Earnest Henley’s poem:

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


I am grateful for this gentle reminder my little cow mug offers me each time I hold a steamy cup of tea between my hands.
The grass may be greener over there, but “I am the captain of my own soul.”