Monday, March 29, 2010

March Birthday!

A family birthday for the *familiest* man we know! Bob turned a low-key 40 and we feasted... Happy Birthday to the best husband and father in our Universe!
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Spring March!

Oh Spring! And to think I insisted March was still Winter! Flowers in the garden! At least one lovely one...
View from our "no kids, no pets" weekend getaway to Canoe Bay...
Homemade soaked whole wheat gingerbread and applesauce with star anise....
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More March...

Grayce and Owen share their favorite baby toys with Birkeley... Exploring the Heart and Lungs

Owen feeds Birkeley (we've been babysitting every Tuesday). Sweet potato and mushroom gratin...comfort food!
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Marches on...until one morning when you wake up and realize it's nearly April!

March was on odd month for us...we've been back from India now for one whole year. Last January we lived in Bangalore and traveled to Rajasthan. Last February we traveled to Oman and started saying our goodbyes to India. Last March we visited London, moved back to Minneapolis, lived in a hotel and my Dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. Dad died this past October. So, yep. It's been quite a year since that time. Feels like 10. In all honesty, I can say that I do not recall a good part of the past year with any clarity. And so it is. Some parts of life require more of us. Some days are all about breathing and not asking more of ourselves than that. Life is sometimes about, deeply felt, letting go and that is harder than it might look on the outside. But we're all okay. Growing. Breathing. Attuned to small joys. Grief and love and breath woven into the larger pattern we are constantly creating as a family and as individual human beings. I'm glad for the grace of my children...who don't allow me to lock myself into a hermitage on some mountain top...who require us to live openly with intention and no small amount of humor. Sometimes when I am sad or angry (whether from grief or the general state of the planet) I only have to look at them to feel such profound happiness and hope and to *know* that the Universe knows exactly what it's doing even when I don't!

Peace out...

Chandra Fischer

Here's what we've been up to this past month:

Grayce and Owen with their sweet cousin, Birkeley... Our Dog, Coltrane, puts up with alot.
The kids learn to ski (Spirit Mountain, Duluth, MN)...a gorgeous, gorgeous day!

Looks like Blogger won't let me post more than four photos directly from Picasa... I'll put some others up in a new posting...
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Forgot...

What it's like to be up in the middle of the night with my child.  Courtesy of their growing years and generally wonderful health status, it's been some time since I was forced to stumble around in the dark, tending to one of my "babies''.  They don't stay in their beds (Owen joins us nightly and Grayce periodically), but they don't WAKE US UP.  It's more of a silent slither into place.  At this point, they don't want us to awaken, because then we'd do something make them go back to their own beds! 

So last night when Owen appeared coughing and sneezing, blowing his nose all over the place (when DO they learn to blow their snaut responsibly?  Without sharing?)  I was unprepared for sleepless thrashing and the silent wimper (if you're a mom, or a night parenting dad, then you know what I one else can hear it...but it's clearly apparent, a sign of distress, and if unattended to, generally lends itself to much louder pursuits.) 

Our dialogue went something like this:

Owen:  "Mama (hack, blow) I wanna be in da midda." (Um, no...the middle is no place for a boy who kicks the covers off of everyone in his sleep).

Me:  "Huh?"

Owen:  Da Midda (L, R, and T or Th disappear from his pronunciation capabilities along with the arrival of a virus or when he's upset).  I wanna sweep UP!

Me: "Huh?"  (Did he break something?  Did I miss it? What the hell is going on, anyway?)

Owen:  "I wan the piwwows so I can sit UP and sweep!  My eaw huwts."

Me: "Oh.  OHHHH...You can't sleep?  You want to sit up and SLEEP and your ear hurts?  NOW I get it. (we are awake, that's what we are!)

We tried it...the sitting up sleeping thing.  No such luck.  So up we crept.  Down the basement steps.  Pillows, blankets... Mommy made tea and rubbed his back. Kleenex in the dark.  Super hero dvd.  Snauty cuddles...and some quiet words from my baby..."Mama, I wish I stiw had nummies, wight now. I might wike wawm miwk again"  He lay his head against my chest.  "Mama, I wuv you vewy much." 

And I love you.  Yes, I do. 

How could I forget the pain and pleasure of middle of the night mommy?  I was her for so many years and it was brutal but also, so very often, sweet. 

I wonder if I'll feel that way when he stops asking me to wipe his butt? 

Oh, probably...

Hmm.  Maybe I should have another baby? 

Chandra Fischer
mama to Owen
the boy who went back to bed from 6 am to 10 am...while I poured coffee down my throat and hoped for the best!

*This post is part of Steady Mom's 30 Minute Blog Challenge

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Family Traditions Sundays

I am a reader.  Raising readers.  Bob probably wouldn't call himself that, but he does read, especially if I put books I think he'd like next to his bed. 

There is nothing I like better than a good book.  Or sometimes even a bad book, if that's the only choice I've got.  I've been known to desperately read things like aged "Popular Mechanics" or the fine print on the back of a medicine bottle just to have *something* to read while waiting.  One of my proudest parenting moments was the time that Grayce told me she "needed" to read and could not go to sleep without it.  Some people might call that a sleep disorder.  Me, I'm convinced it's a sign of creative genius ;-)  Owen doesn't read on his own yet but he loves to listen.

Now that we've got that established, it stands to reason that some of our favorite family traditions surround books.  It is a rare day that we don't find ourselves cuddled up together in the Big Bed starting the day with a story.  These days it's usually a chapter book (We're reading "Peter and the Starcatchers" at the moment).  On our best days, there is herbal tea for the kids and coffee for mom and we end up eating breakfast at 10 am because we just couldn't stop. On the worst, the kids have to hit me over the head with the book and Owen can be counted on to turn on all the lights and helpfully prop my eyelids open with his fingers.  Once in a while we tell made up stories.  The dog usually makes repeated attempts toward easing himself unnoticed on the end of the bed until I give up.  At which point he promptly jumps into my lap. 

Since we're homeschooling, we get the added benefit of calling all this "school." 

It's a fine tradition :-)

The Fischers
at one with words
in Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Your Kids Are Right...

For some reason, this has been a trying week. I am sure it has nothing to do with my monthly cycle. Maybe.

Either way, there has been a lot of turmoil. Crabby Mom. Crabby Kids. Crabby Husband. Even the dog is getting in on the action. And the wine. That's getting in on the action, too. (No, not for the kids, of course...)

But the 5 year old. Well he is just beside him self. So far this week there have been emotional outbursts, slammed doors, kicked toys, frustrated yells. "You just don't like listening to me!" on Monday. "You are hating me!" on Tuesday. "I'm not listening and you can't stop me!" on Wednesday. "I think you are just trying to be the Ruler of Me, Mama! Grrrr!" today.  I've chuckled a bit at some of those...but maybe it's not funny.

And the 8 year old. The girl child who inches ever closer to adolescence with each passing day. The shy child who is suddenly practicing her own version of independent thought. Independent thought that doesn't conveniently coincide with mine. And emotional"Maybe you wish you didn't have any kids!" followed by bursting into tears and stomping violently off to her room.

Gulp. Not pretty around here.

So, I sat down to think about it. What in the world is going on? We are a basically peaceful family. We attachment parent. We embrace non-violence. We're child-led, unschoolish, holistic, eclectic homeschoolers (I know, it's not short...but it does describe us and it's what we've settled on.) I have a tendency to yell at my kids when I'm frustrated but that's a conscious work-in-progress that we've talked about alot. If you asked me, I'd say that I respect my kids as unique individuals.

It would be so easy to blame this week on all the processed, sugary crap they ate on Valentine's day. Or not enough sleep. Or the basic (and warranted) neediness of children. And all of those things do have an impact.

But if I'm trying hard to live with intention and if I'm openly honest, here...than I have to admit that my kids are picking up on something true. I haven't been listening well and there has been a growing authoritarian ring to both my parenting and our homeschooling. And this week isn't an isolated week but a week we've built up to. The truth is that this has been one of the hardest years I can remember. And when things are hard we all do the best we can to get through...even when that means living less up to our ideals than we'd like. I forget sometimes that my kid's lives have been as bumpy as mine this year and they've soldiered on bravely and with great kindness and love.

And I forget that they are older now. That the parenting we do needs to grow along with that. Which is a place I'm finding I need to grow into, as well. I've been well equipped to parent my babies, toddlers, preschoolers but I struggle with where to take the attachment parenting philosophy after that. (Somehow, "suddenly" the sling and the boob are over!) All along I've been raising my kids to ask questions, to form opinions, to stand up for themselves, to live with flexibility and compassion. And recently, when they've been doing just those things...well, I've been utterly resistant and not very nice.

Despite that, I so do NOT aspire to being the Ruler of My Kids. I stand behind the beliefs of peace and compassion we've embraced in child rearing. Even when I've fallen a bit away from them. Part of being a Conscious Parent...a conscious person is seeing where we truly are and noticing any mismatch between our values and our actions. And then changing or letting go of that which does not serve us.

So, instead of being mad at my kids for acting out I'm going to be thankful for the wake up call. And attentive to the message being sent...

What parenting moments have you had that redirected your focus back on to your kids? How has your parenting changed as your children have left the baby and kindergarten years? What resources have helped you parent in a way that is true to your values?

Chandra Fischer
Attila the Mom