Life With Nine Kids

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Moon Magazine for girls ...homebirth!

Yesterday afternoon Charlotte headed to her room to gobble up the latest issue of New Moon Magazine. New moon is a magazine for girls that is safe, educational and ad free. It's content is always carefully chosen to build self esteem and positive body image. After a bit Charlotte ran downstairs hollering, "Mom! Mom, look!" She flung open the pages and shoved in my face an article about a homebirth family and their experience with the close family bond of birth at home. She was so excited. I'm such a proud mama to that young lady that she understands the impact that article has on our society. The challenge to normalize birth in a culture of birth fear does not go unrecognized by her and that makes me proud. As New Moon strives to never exclude anyone they included a side bar explaining that hospital birth is a choice many families make and that is ok, homebirth is just a different option. Bravo to New Moon for being an amazing influence on girls and for treating birth as a normal family experience.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sexy pushed on kids... and remembering why I give my kids toy weapons

I wasn't very happy when my little girls were picking out a generic Barbie from the dollar store… one clearly lacked appropriate clothing. I was pretty shocked at the doll staring back at me and wondered how anyone thought this was ok. Layla laughed and said something was wrong with her clothes. Penelope (4) happily exclaimed, "Mom, look! It’s nursing Barbie with a nursing shirt for nursing babies."

This made me smile.

Perspective is everything. I'm glad I didn't say anything ---and I generally don't because I do not like to point out what I deem is wrong to an impressionable child unless I’m sure something needs to be corrected or taught. Six and four are not ages that I worry about my girls getting the wrong message because they are given the right message everyday all day at home. To make a big deal out of something is usually the worst thing to do. In this situation Penelope showed a gleaming example that sometimes it's what you are raised around that really makes the biggest impression on the mind.

This actually reminded me of a great article called "Bang! Bang! You're Dead!" Like a lot of parents I once struggled with the rough play that accompanies swords and guns ...and boys. I was one of those parents who thought it was too violent. For a time was constantly concerned about the gun play with my first two boys. I thought I could curb the behavior at a young age, switch their interests to more peaceful themed play. I took weapons away, or wouldn’t buy them; to my dismay they made them out of things anyway: sticks, carrots, pencils, Legos, a finger…all can be used as weapons of mass destruction to the right imagination.

I complained that it's not good to shoot people or stab people. I dramatically worried for their future. Thinking back now it's laughable. A funny thing happened when Penelope was two and a half. She was playing guns with her brothers and as she was saying, “BANG, BANG!” I said in a tender voice, “Penelope I don’t really like that kind of play because guns can hurt people.” Penelope looked up at me with her deep blue eyes, blinked and replied, “Silly mom, this is a p'tend gun, not a real gun!” I laughed gingerly and agreed that was silly of me. I couldn’t cope with the difference between real and fake? But my bright, happy girly-girl of a daughter could? This gave me some food for thought.

What I realized many years ago was that *I* was putting my fears and knowledge of the big scary world on my very young children. It wasn't right and it wasn't fair. Not only was I smothering their natural instincts of play I was also shaming them. I was often times accidentally making my boys feel bad or awkward for wanting to play with things that is very much part of who boys are. Stereotype it all you want –and my girls do like weapon play too- but it's nothing like my boys.

Good guy vs. bad guy is as old as time and I soon realized I was taking all the fun away...and learning. Now you’ll hear me saying things like: "When you’re done playing put your weapons in the weapon box!" "Don’t leave your wood swords in the rain." “Please let your little brother play with that sword.” “Where is the gun Sebastian likes?”

We have two weapon toy boxes, one upstairs and one on the back porch. My girls and boys have lots of fun and their dad joins in too: potato guns, marshmallow guns, squirt guns, Nerf guns, swords, sticks, daggers, plastic grenades. I enjoy seeing my kids being kids.

From the link I shared above:
There is a gap between how adults see weapons play and how children experience it. As one psychiatrist put it, "We are so afraid of aggression in this society that we haven't been able to talk intelligently about it." While adults disapprove, children are often doing the child's work of play: experimenting with power and excitement, action and reaction, in a safe, make-believe world.

While I have no interest in changing my mindset about our ‘too sexy too soon’ society when it comes to young impressionable girls (and boys!) the situation at hand with the dolls breasts exposed was a cute and memorable reminder that how I see things vs. how my child experiences them just might be two very different things.

Monday, June 6, 2011

recap of things that make me happy

This morning we had a very productive homeschool morning and now we've just returned from dropping Charlotte (14) off at a teen leadership program. It's a overnight youth group training that is full of fun but also serves as a training program for the teens to help lead this summers vacation bible camp (which our boys are signed up for). I was SO impressed when dropping her off. The people were just great. The teens were very enthusiastic and polite. I felt really comfortable leaving her! The pastor speaking was really being fun with the kids and had a look about him that you could tell how much he enjoys what he does. Loved the vibe. I'm really excited for her! This will be our first year participating in a church summer (day) camp.

Last week I had a wonderful time doing yard work and mowing with my grandma. I love when she comes over to visit. It's always fun and productive since Grandma doesn't sit still for a second! I get my love for working outdoors from her. What a great inheritance. Aunt Sharon came over too to play with the kids and brought us two casseroles for dinners. My grandma and I enjoyed watering my plants, weeding, and cleaning up outside. I adore family time. The kids and I are doing more yard work today and I'm going to try and get the belt on my tiller back on. I 'd like to plant some sunflowers this year (I always plant sunflowers!) Overall I'm not planting many veggies. I figured this year I should care and tend for all the thins we've planted over the last few years. It's fun to see how many berries we have growing (raspberries/blackberries). We've been busy this spring making lots of mulch for the everything with yard clippings and tons of chicken manure mixed with old straw. Everything is looking nice. The freshly mowed yard makes me feel so refreshed. What a beautiful place we have. I thank my husband all the time for our beautiful home. I'm really quite charmed by where we live.

I finally feel like life is back to "normal" in regards to our household flow and rhythm. For a long while I was trying to get back to that feeling of normalcy and routine and finally we have it back. It always comes back --it just takes me a long time! We've dealt with lots of bills lately and crazy kids. But it all passes. Sebastian has been a handful but seems to be settling down. We finally have the evenings down to a science which makes life SO much easier.

Generally we do this : 5:30pm dinner, 6pm clean up, 6:30pm story and/or craft and game time, 7-ish bath and snack if needed, 8pm brush teeth and closing conversations, 8:30pm get in bed, 8:45 shhhh kids if they are still awake. 9pm free time for mom and dad!

During the week we don't generally eat dinner with dad so he eats late. We found it was MUCH less crazy and way more relaxing to have the kids fed and dinner and dishes 100% cleaned up by the time he gets home from work -he often gets home at 6:30 or 7. He then eats with me or while we visit/play games with the kids and there are no clean up woes. Actually now that I think of it I think we eat early mainly because it takes so long to clean up.

In the last 10 days I've taken 7 children to the children's museum, science center and the zoo. I couldn't fathom doing all that in a row the last few months but I feel more energized lately! Just leaving the house doesn't feel like a chore anymore. It could be the new thyroid medicine I'm on... we recently discovered I have an under active thyroid. I found a holistic Dr. I really like and the whole family is going to start going there for yearly visits. I was the first guinea pig. lol. Some women have thyroid issues post postpartum so I wonder if that's why it tends to take me a while to get back into the swing of things after having a baby. Often times after I have a baby I feel like I don't care if I ever leave the house again LOL. At least I'm content at home! That isn't so great for the kids here that do like to leave so it's been a struggle making it to library and playgroup the last few months. I knew it would pass though, it always does.

Things have been busy but positively wonderful overall. My husband and I are so very happy. :)

I had a huge surprise a couple days ago when my sister Heather drove 4 1/2 hours out of her way to come see me and the fam --and meet Everett for the first time! She just showed up on my back door! It was amazing! I was making 2 roasted chickens, mashed taters and gravy, veggies, rolls and a chocolate cake for dinner that night! How perfect is that!? Her Birthday was in a few days so we sang to her and lit 2 candles for her 20th birthday. :)

She could only stay about 10 hours and that included sleep time! She's crazy! And wonderful! How much she must love me to make that trip. She is going to Africa for three weeks this summer and I'm very thankful I got to hug her before she left!

Last weekend was our yearly trip to the Renaissance faire in Wentzville. Ricky and I got horribly lost on the way --you'd think the third year in a row of a family tradition we would not get lost. We felt kinda dumb but oh well. We were stressed and frustrated but laughing at the absurdity of it all. We got wrong directions from 3 different people along the route we thought we were suppose to take! LOL! To top it off it was blistering hot and humid. It was pretty much agony but the kids always love it and we enjoy taking them.

After we got home we were utterly exhausted but after we settled in, fed the kids and turned on a move for them Charlotte babysat for us and Ricky and I snuck off to a Mexican Restaurant we hadn't tried yet. It was sooooooo good and we got to enjoy loud music on the patio and drink huge margaritas. We ordered these ice cold frozen margaritas that were supposed to be medium sized... they were HUGE! We ate amazing food and watched Everett play and people gawk at how cute he was being. When we were finished eating and talking we were STILL sucking on our drinks AND we were getting tipsy. LOL. We finished our drinks and walked around some stores and giggled until we were comfortable driving. It was a lot of fun. Everett was in his Ergo carrier singing, "Blah blah ha bababablahhhahahabah" most of the time. He is so cute and talkative! I want to go back to that restaurant NOW...the food WAS SO GOOD.