February 2011

Just when I think think I’ve got everything under control and our vacation week well planned out (but not too planned out) a text message like this pops up on my phone…

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any chance you want a bottle lamb?

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And before I know it I’m typing back something like…

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yes! yes! yes! absolutely yes!!!! :-)

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And a few hours later I’m sitting in my living room with my family and sweet baby Martha..

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Then two days later Martha. And Brownie. And Lukie.

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And then Martha, Brownie, Lukie… 

…and Michael. And Max

And suddenly I’m spending an awful lot of time standing at my kitchen sink making bottles for FIVE beautiful, bouncing, bleating babies who are living in our living room.

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And it is absolutely wacky

…and absolutely. incredibly. awesome.

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Come on over to the Pat’s Pastured Facebook page to check out a little Lamb-Cam video (that took me about 10 tries to shoot because I kept giggling so much).

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I am not able to fully unplug from work or from the Web this week.

For the farm there are Summer CSA members to welcome, daily e-mail inquiries to respond to, and newly-forming Buying Clubs to coordinate.

For my yoga classes, there are lesson plans to finish and supplies to gather. (Things are taking off so quickly and I am having so much fun with my new kids’ yoga program!! More about this soon!).

For spring and summer weddings, there are e-mails to send and meetings to coordinate.

There are events to plan and advertise – a March workshop, a May Retreat, and a (soon-to-be announced!!!) collaboration with the lovely Hannah Marcotti.

I will — as I often do — bookend my days with quiet blocks of work time by getting up early and forgoing evening sitcoms in favor of office time.

And I will make a daily To-Do list (one list in one notebook not 20 sticky notes, 10 index cards, and too many scraps of paper to count all over the house like I used to do!) so that when the kids are engaged in an activity and I have a few minutes to work, I can jump right in and accomplish something. 

(I’m totally re-energized about creating and sticking to a work schedule that works for our family after reading Heather Allard’s article “9 Essential Steps for a Home Business that Works“ over on Simple Mom this past week!!!)

I’ll also likely do some childcare swaps with my friend so that each of us can have a little quiet time while the other parties with a pack of kids.

And I will relax the rules a bit.

If you were to peek into my living room this week, there is a pretty good chance you will find my kids on the couch “plugged in” to a tv show or playing with a beeping, battery-operated toy computer. (Maybe even both.)

But what you won’t see is me hovering over my laptop reading or writing blog posts. Or obsessively checking e-mail. Or editing photos. Or monitoring blog stats.

Or grabbing my phone every three minutes to tweet or text or upload photos to Facebook. 

How and when I use social media is fully in my control.

This is a place where I can choose to unplug so that I can slow down, make space and enjoy some “vacation time” with my family.

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How about you? Is there anything you can unplug from this week to make space for something else?

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I was completely caught off guard by the amount of candy that came home from school with my daughter on Monday.

I expect to be bombarded at Halloween.

I brace for it and lay out the rules well in advance.

Two or three pieces of candy are enjoyed after trick-or-treating. A half-dozen or so pieces get set aside to be enjoyed (or traded) later. The rest is left in a bowl for the Candy Fairy in exchange for a little trinket or toy. Done. Thank-you-very-much. See ya next year, Halloween.

I expect December to challenge us.

Giant cookie platters crowd out veggie trays at our church coffee hour. Sweet breads filled with chocolate chips and wrapped in ribbon are hand-delivered by kind-hearted neighbors and friends. Plates of fudge are sent home by thoughtful and well-intentioned co-workers. Candy canes are handed out on every corner.

I know going into December that there is going to be a sugar explosion around us.

I talk to the kids a lot about healthy eating throughout the holiday season.

I remind them (and myself) what sugar does to our bodies. How it tricks us into thinking that we have energy, sending us rocketing into the sky only to come crashing back down (often loudly and painfully) a short time later. And how it disturbs our natural sleep cycle. And compromises our immune system making it harder for us to stay healthy.

We talk about short and long-term gratification (in words that little ones can understand like “fire-cracker” versus “slow-cooker” gifts and foods).

We seek out concentrated proteins (meat, cheese, hummus, nuts/nut-butter) at holiday gatherings and eat these first to ground ourselves and stabalize blood sugar levels before enjoying a treat (or two). And make (sometimes difficult) choices. Either hot chocolate or cookies. But, I’m sorry, not both.

I am often less than popular with the children I seek to nurture and protect for my insistence that we not blindly ride the sugar train from October straight on through New Year’s.

I’m okay with that.

We make plans. We have discussions. We make compromises.

But this weekend as I was cheering for Marriage Equality, helping to plan a wedding ceremony, painting our living room (oh yes…we finally finished the painting project I started almost three years ago!!!) and watching my children create sweet homemade expressions of love, I totally missed the major sugar storm looming on the horizon.

Judging by my Facebook feed Monday evening I was not alone in my Valentine goodie-bag shock and overwhelment (no, not really a word – I think it should be though).

Tuesday morning I woke up to a blog post in my in-box from Lisa Flynn of Childlight Yoga (where I am currently completing my Children’s Yoga Certification and will soon begin the Yoga4Classrooms training program) that I think nicely sums up what many of us are feeling.  

I hope you will take a few minutes to read Lisa’s Valentine’s Day Rant of Love.

I think she is spot on and I love the gentle way she writes, not pointing fingers or excluding herself from sometimes less-than-ideal parenting choices, but encouraging all of us to step back and look at the path we are on.

Too much of a “good” thing is not good for any of us, most especially our children.

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Hello! Happy Valentine’s Day! This post originally appeared here on February 15, 2010. I have added a few notes from today at the bottom.

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I have never fully embraced Valentine’s Day.

When I was single, the day and everything leading up to it, seemed to focus on what I lacked, and I found myself resenting the Hallmark-fueled mandatory expressions of romance.

When John and I met, he was equally ambivalent about Valentine’s Day, preferring to focus his attention on what he felt was a sorely-underrated holiday: Groundhog’s Day.

And so as our relationship unfolded we happily exchanged cards and small gifts on Groundhog’s Day, and then privately snickered as everyone else paid ridiculously inflated prices for flowers and chocolates two weeks later.

But then something happened.

Two beautiful little people came into our world, seemingly on a mission to teach us to see love and beauty everywhere.

Last week as my children made simple, handmade Valentines for their classmates and teachers, I felt my heart soften and embrace the sweetness of what this holiday was — long before it was Mylar balloons, and singing cards, and chocolates wrapped in plastic.

And then yesterday, at our UU church, as if the service was designed just for me, our minister invited us to re-image Valentine’s day while speaking of the power of love to heal our world.

While I was upstairs singing (I recently re-joined the choir after a 4+ year break  — yay!) and enjoying this inspiring service, John and the kids were downstairs in the RE classrooms making signs to express what love and peace and equality mean to them.

At the end of our service they paraded into the sanctuary carrying their signs and invited us all to join them by marching about a mile from our church to the center of town for a Standing on the Side of Love rally.

While we marched I asked Lily what the rally was all about.

“It’s about spreading love, Mama. And brightening people’s days. And being kind to each other. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.”

And this is how on a cold, February day, as I stood on the side of the road with my children and more than 80 members of our beautiful spiritual community, smiling and waving our signs as passerbys honked and cheered for equal rights and equal marriage and peace, I came to know and love and joyfully celebrate the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.

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February 14, 2011: What a shift it has been to redefine Valentine’s day in this much more expansive and inclusive way! John and I continue to forgo Hallmark cards, gifts, flowers, or fancy dinners. (Phew. Total relief all around.) The kids continue to inspire us with their sweet homemade (glitter-glue covered) expressions of love. And our spiritual community continues to hold space (quite exuberantly so!) for Equal Rights and Equal Marriage on this love-filled holiday!

This weekend I sat at a coffee shop and listened as a beautiful young couple shared their vision for their upcoming wedding ceremony with me and told tag-team stories of how they met and came together as a couple. After they left I sat there for a few minutes soaking it all in. What a joy it is to share my gifts in this way and to be a part of two people intentionally interweaving their lives, their friends and their families.

How wonderful it will be when marriage is fully accessible to all loving couples everywhere!

 

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love is love

by eringoodman on February 11, 2011

in holidays + celebrations, living + learning, waldorf-inspired

At my son’s Waldorf-inspired nursery school Valentine’s Day is a treasured celebration.

Sweet and simple preparations begin in the weeks leading up to the holiday. The children create envelopes to hold their Valentines by hand-stitching beautiful watercolor paintings together with yarn they braid or twist themselves.

A few days later they use rubber stamps in the shape of each child’s symbol to decorate a special card for each person.

On Monday they will exchange these special “love notes” with each other. (And the butcher paper that covers the table – and allows for plenty of practice stamping – will be recycled into wrapping paper.)

Meanwhile in my daughter’s kindergarten class preparations are also well underway.

The creation of Valentines (homemade or store-bought) was assigned as homework last week. The children practiced forming their letters by carefully writing out each classmate’s name.

Moving on from Waldorf nursery school and into public school kindergarten has been smooth and easy for my six-year-old. Yesterday at dinner when asked to list three things that make her smile she responded: Love, peace and my school.

For me it has been a bit more of a challenge. (More about this here.)

I have attachments, many attachments, to the Waldorf way.

I love the soft pastel colors. The intentionally-rounded edges of everything from papers to tables. The gentle flowing watercolor paintings. The beeswax. The wool. The handwork. The baking. The rhythm. The deep connection to nature.

Public school classrooms are jarring to my senses.

Florescent lights. Primary colors. Plastic toys. Computer centers. Bells. Buzzers. Announcements over the loud speaker. Yikes!

And yet after nearly half a year of volunteering weekly in my daughter’s kindergarten class, I continue to be overwhelmed in the most wonderful of ways by the love that permeates the room.

Yes, the classroom and the materials look different…

Valentine pins are made out of foam and stickers at one center while brightly-colored tempera paint flows at another.

…but love is love. Regardless of the form it takes.

And there is no shortage of love at my daughter’s school.

This Valentine’s Day weekend I am leaning into some of my previous (and current) limiting beliefs and attachments to the way things “should” be and opening my heart to the love that is.

.Wishing you a beautiful, love-filled weekend.


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