Friday, October 21, 2011

Guilty Amnesia

Once again I'm up since 2 am and unable to get back to sleep.  Mostly, it's thinking about yesterday and now feeling guilty how it turned out.  This is normal for me.  I don't know about you, but somehow guilt is the engine that seems to drive me, and I'm not saying that it's in a forward motion at all, nor do I think it's healthy.  Why is this?  Why is it that as women we feel guilty about everything we do?  Why is it men don't seem to show an ounce of it, and can't comprehend why we even feel guilty about the things we do?  Well, I don't know, but I'm fed up of it.

You see, no one ever tells you how hard it is to have a family.  We all say how great it is, and how it changes your life, and the love of a child is immeasurable.  Yes, these are all true, but it's only as time goes on do you come to terms with the daily challenges that comes about as well.  The life you once knew is gone.  Not only are some of us ill fated to be scared and marked up and stretched out like dough on a pasta roller, but then we are also subjected to the emotional imbalance and turmoil of juggling our own needs with those of the family.  Yes, you see, these are things that our mothers fail to tell us.  Maybe it's intentionally, or maybe it's amnesia.  I'm not sure which one it is.  Somehow both our mothers only remember the good, and they seem to find  humor in moments that led to grey hair.

I'm guessing it's like childbirth, once you're done with it, you forget about it.  This is probably why only women can give birth.  Men, would figure out how outsource it.  No, I'm not upset with my husband for anything particular right now, just noticing the differences in attitude.

I'm not sure how your house runs, but it seems like between a 3 year old and a 8 month old, it's a daily routine of crying and shouting, and that includes me in this mix.  I try to find ways to approach this from my wonderful Montessori training, redirecting, asking why, being firm but loving, giving limited choices, allowing her the time and space to calm down, taking time for myself to calm down.  It goes on, but you see, this doesn't last past 10 am sometimes (if not in school).  Getting through the day requires high doses of caffeine, sugar, and a 30 minute "escape" into the media world while they are napping (if that happens).

So, why is this so difficult.  I have realized that 80% of it is lifestyle choices.  Yes, I will admit to this.  It's from the choice to do cloth diapers, to drying them on the line, from not having a TV to put them in front of so I can shower or cook, from 90% home cooked meals to home made baby food, from allowing the children to feed themselves followed by the giant mess that's left, from working with them to clean up and help with household chores, from not having a play pen or a bouncy chair or a crib, from not using a pacifier, and from choosing to breastfeed for 16-18 months which leaves you with interrupted sleep.  Yes, I could easily help myself by changing a few things here and there, and we have embraced disposables when traveling with the second child.  This is not a list that I ever saw myself doing.  I didn't think I'd be so granola about having kids, but somewhere along the lines, I made these choices, and now I'm having to deal with it.  Yet, I can't seem to give them up either.  I think that's where the guilt comes in.  The guilt of not doing these things seem to outweigh giving them up.  Why is that? I attest it to being an Asian catholic woman.  Yeah, that's it, a full fledged dose of all kinds of guilt with a side of extra guilt in case you forget.

Well, I suppose like any 12 step program acceptance is the first to the road of healing.  So, I accept my bullshit list of choices I have made.  I accept they bring me more grief than necessary.  I do not judge anyone for doing what they do to get through the day or life.  I wish I had time to get to the gym, or wax my legs, or shower more often.  I wish I knew how to be happy with the choices I have made and not feel as they are a burden that has been imposed on me.

There is one rule by which I stand.  I do not wish to be a supermom, I do not wish to do all the chores myself, I'm totally fine with letting my husband have his way in cleaning or whatever it is.  I have no desire to do it all myself, oh no!  I'm not one of those woman who gets to do my hair and make up and show up on time looking like a million bucks after reorganizing the entire house and making a home made meal dressed like a diva.  No way.  I'm not a gym mom.  I'm not a soccer mom.  I'm not a lot of things.

My new year's resolution for the last two years has been "do less".  Yes, that's right, I want to do less, and live more.  You may think that's a contradiction, but not for me.  I never wanted to be a crafty person, in fact the thought of it still drives me nuts.  However, I'm frugal and hate the idea of wasting.  In the above mentioned list, I have taken on crafty things as a way to escape as well.  I've found this to be relaxing and a way in which I can remain in my house, but escape my mind.  So, yes, I supposed I'm doing more than I have before, but it's not for the reasons of doing, but being instead.  

I'm not sure how to escape the guilt, and I'm not sure I ever will, but I once read an article that said we should treat ourselves well once in a while.  Yes, and for this I have allowed myself a once in a while massage to relax.  I'm still cashing in on backlogged gifts so I'm very thankful for them.  It is an hour escape every 3-6 months, but oh how glorious it is.  I like the airplane metaphor for mothering "put on your oxygen mask before helping your child".  This is undoubtedly true.  What good are we to these children if we don't take care of ourselves, and by this I mean our emotional and mental health.  Being a basket case or a bundle of tightly wound up raging emotions is not good for any of us, and the worst is if my children remember me this way as part of their childhood.

Well what's a girl to do?  Grow up.  Stop being a girl and become a mother.

A few pictures of what keeps us together and crazy!

 Roasting beef bones to make home-made beef broth.  A 2 day process.
 A children's apron as a gift to her school fro her birthday.
 Playing in the mud which helps their senses and wonder.
 Prepping seed trays for fall gardening.
Making a roast chicken in the crock pot and then making broth with cubes of it for baby.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Harvest

I'm not quite prepared to make a new post, but since I had an unexpected few minutes at the computer, I figured I'd at least post some pictures and get the momentum back for blogging and gardening.

I had many aspirations for this summers gardening.  Some of it worked out, some of it didn't.  A new baby and all this was quite overwhelming along with guests the entire summer.  No matter, it's all a trial experience and our lives have been filled with jams, breads, herbs, and lots and lots of tomato products.
 Introducing ladybugs into the garden
 Making cherry jam with my mom

Most of the stuff has now been pulled out with a few remaining tomatoes and butternut squash.  Our heirloom varieties provided us with some amazing soup and recently butternut squash risotto with a brown butter sage sauce over it.

The little ones have been enjoying the "veggies" of our labor and it has been comforting to know that we can eat it right out of the yard not worrying about pesticides and such.  The beauty of our front yard gardening is also that it has brought many of our neighbors over with curiosity and friendship.  Many families stop by to look at the growing crop.  Elderly comment how it reminds them of their youth back in the mid-west farms they grew up on.  And a various neighbors from different countries point and ask in broken English what we are growing, if we eat it, what kind of soil or fertilizer we use, and some others who bring their crop to share with us so we can trade from our gardens.  It's been a rewarding experience for the kids and for us as a family to bring us closer to the community in which we live.
 Love making home-made dough for pizza.
 Our favorites with arugula on top and a fall favorite of figs with caramelized red onion and Gorgonzola .

Ratatouille with all veggies fro the garden.

I have great aspirations for this upcoming fall/winter season after purchasing 20 or so packets of seeds from Baker Creek.  Rare beets and carrots of various shapes and colors, greens and lettuces dating back to Jefferson and kings in France.  I just hope it will work.

Anyway, baby is awakening so I will sign off.  I hope to resume both this and my other blog soon.  I'm excited about the new group I hope to participate in Food Swapping that seems to be a growing movement nation wide.

 The purple Inca corn

 Mammoth sunflowers over 7 feet tall.
 Butternut squash
 Amarillo de Oro melons
 typical evening harvest.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Damn Jams

It's been a ridiculous task I have taken on, but it's been delicious and partly fun.  For the past month, I've been learning the craft of jamming and canning.   I've so far made 4 jams and 1 marmalade.  I've canned them all, and most have been with organic fruit.  It's mostly been from friends, lucky finds, and super sales.  I even went to the extend of an impulse by of Blue Chair Jam  cookbook. 
 Some friends had excess apricots on their trees, so it was a perfect excuse to make apricot-lemon jam.

 Spreading it on homemade biscuits for breakfast was perfect.

 I also made a second batch of strawberry jam infused with blood orange liqueur.

 My mom helping me pit and half the cherries from the farmer's market.
 The recipe called to crack open the pits and put the small kernels in a cheese cloth to steep and release it's almond like flavor. 
 It turned out more like a topping than a true jam (I didn't cook it long enough), but with the addition of Kirsh (a cherry brandy with a hefty price tag), it made it the best of all the jams so far especially with french vanilla ice cream (based on how quickly it disappeared around here). 
 The jams so far (2 kids of strawberry, apricot, and cherry).
We also got some amazing blood oranges from my kids pediatrician's office.  So, we made marmalade with it, and it turned out delicious, but not so beautiful.  

I've also gone crazy with the "let's make it at home" notion and started making my own yogurt after a wonderful discussion on Facebook, and after a few friends urged me to try it saying it was so easy.  Well it is, but it is time consuming and possibly not as cost effective (when considering organic milk), but it is less polluting since we're not buying a container of yogurt every 10 days.  I bought some really cute glass containers from Crate and Barrel and these will do for our flavored individual ones I buy on a blue moon.
 The process of yogurt I did was a combination of stove top and then placing it in a container on a heating pad and then refrigerating it.

It was pretty good with some of the apricot jam.

In addition, we've been making pizza dough at home since it's a breeze.  I'm also looking forward to making more pasta and ravioli soon, especially with all the produce growing in the garden.  Can't wait for the tomatoes!
 The last bag of mixed frozen cherry tomatoes from last year.

 These pictures were from two weeks ago, and it's amazing how much they have grown when I went out this morning.  In the beds are the tomatoes, and out are 3 varieties of cucumbers.
 The purple Inca corn, which is double this height today.

 The Long of Naples Squash that is supposed to produce 25 pound squash.  I didn't estimate for this when planting.
 Over a year old Swiss chard that I trimmed back to the stem and is once again producing a heavy crop. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Attachement Parenting vs. Montessori

About a month ago there was a post on the Montessori blog which really struck home to me.  It was about Montessori and Attachment Parenting and if you could do both.  See article here

It has been an issue I have struggled with for the past 2 1/2 years.  As a Montessorian I was to follow the the Montessori way, but as a parent, I wanted to follow my instincts.  Well, why should that be exclusive to what is almost a basic premise of the Montessori philosophy? "Follow the Child" is the motto.  We observe and follow the inner desires of the child (there needs to be a HUGE note here, as this does not mean give into all their whims and demands).  You observe their development and aid them so they can reach their full potential.  We don't create obstacles, and we don't hinder them.  These are basic tenants of the "Montessori Way" if you will.  However, they also seemed to contradict some of the AP tenants.

When I started with my first child, I had not read what AP was and it was not that I chose to do that.  I did what my mom had, and what I felt I was comfortable with.  I wanted to have her in our bed, or next to us in the co-sleeper, I wanted to carry her close, mostly so she could be with me, and I could have my hands free.  I wanted to respond to her cries when appropriate and go off her cues.  I refused to be a human pacifier or nurse her as the only solution to the cry.  She did learn to self-soothe by sucking her thumb, and this I wonder if I could have prevented.  I also stayed mostly at home with her for the first 6-8 weeks with very few outings.  It was important that she and I build a strong connection for many reasons.  Well these also fit with what I read in Dr. Montanaro's book as well.

So, why the conflict?  Well it's mostly on minor details. Regardless, I choose not to change much once I had our second.  I had her at home, and from that moment she has been in our bed.  She is now almost 4 months and I am starting to see signs when she could be transitioned to a mattress on the floor, as we did with our first (who was almost 9 months). 

Even with our second, I questioned if I was being true to Montessori, but yet, I felt that I was being true to me and my family and that was more important.  I knew I was guiding my children with a heavy influence of the M. philosophy and that was good enough for me.  I doubt I will change much as I feel I have allowed our daughter to be independent and guided her in a way to become so, and am continually questioning the method in which I do so.  I do question if sometime she has had too much freedom and independence and this is why we have struggles and end up exhausted and frustrated by 8 p.m.  Or then again, it could just be that she is being who she is, and is being a 2 year old who is exercising her will- which is a very strong one!

I took the time to respond on the blog, so you can see what I have said there.  Please feel free to share your feelings about this. I'm still figuring this out, so I guess I won't know if I did the "right thing" until I'm a grandmother.  Oh my, now I feel old.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Watching them Grow.

The last two weeks have been spent planting the rest of our purchased potted plants, and starting some of our own seeds.  The best part about starting from seed is to watch them grow- obsessively.  I know, a watched pot doesn't boil, etc, etc, but watching seeds grow into plants is just amazing!

We started some seeds of corn, sunflowers, yellow beans, and scalloped squash.  The tomatoes and padron peppers along with the Marconi, and Purple Beauty peppers have been started indoors in the Jiffy "green house" with my heating pad under it.  So far only the Padrons have been sprouting.

 This year we dug up about 2 feet from the fence and all along it. 
 The cabbage that Paul had put in back in January and my little tomato plants.  I'm keeping room for a few more that are still inside.
 This bed is ready and as of yesterday, growing rapidly.
 I transplanted my heirloom melon and squash plants and used homemade hot caps to help them out and prevent them from the raccoon and skunk that have taken into our garden.
 The two varieties of cucumbers, with space for the Persian. I started the lemon cucumber in the back.
 Here are the melon or squash plants, not sure anymore.
 Zucchini on the left and yellow squash on the right. 
 The beans sprouting up next to the corn.  I'm trying out the "three sisters" method.

 I caged the eggplant hoping that they won't vanish in the middle of the night as they did last year. 

 Bean sprouts emerging.  It was neat to see them sprout up from morning to evening.

Our never ending rainbow swiss chard.  It made me chuckle when Richard Louv talked about the summer of the chard at his talk.  I was all too familiar with this one.

Giving away some tomato seedlings to the neighbors and taking some over to a friend's house for our "guerrilla gardening". 

Here's a list of what's growing:  (this is mostly for myself as well)
Swiss chard
Hero of Lockinge - heirloom melon
Amarillo de Oro - heirloom melon
Butternut squash- heirloom and regular 
Naples squash - heirloom
Yellow crooked neck squash
yellow sweet corn
purple inca corn
yellow butter beans
scalloped squash
purple beauty- egplant
2 other heirloom egplats
3 cucumbers
A variety of peppers 
 herbs-rosemary, parsley, sage, cilanto, dill, lemon balm, catnip, thyme
chocolate mint, mojito mint, and spearmint

Tomatoes: All heirloom seeds from tomato fest
Amana orange
Golden Grape 
Belii Naliv
Cherokee Purple
Black Ethiopian

Still in seedling
Peche Jaune
Big Rainbow
Great White

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