Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy First Birthday to Mom

If you want to cry every day, just keep coming back to my blog and I'm sure you'll find something that will help the tears flow.  Here is another one.  Turn on the subtitles and get some kleenex.  During my time studying pregnancy as a shifting sense of self, I discovered that for many women, when you give birth, you are no longer the same person you were before.  And in that sense, when your first baby is born, you are born too.  This video is a celebration of that.  So beautiful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't forget to laugh

Many thanks to this video for reminding me to laugh at the insanity of my life-long commitment to my children.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Making Requests Specific and Doable - for kids AND adults

I get these "tips" (recommended by my sister a while back) every week that remind me to approach parenting without "violence" - that is, without harming my relationship with my child. 
Below is the tip I got this week and it is something I've been thinking about for a while - how to give my kids specific instructions, rather than the vague catch-phrases we are used to.  Things like "be nice to your sister" and "be more respectful" are less helpful to a two, three, four year old brain than, for example, "when you are playing with your baby sister, look at her face to see if she is enjoying what you're doing" or "when someone asks you a question, you need answer them, rather than ignoring them".  At least that's my understanding of this idea.

But for some reason when I read the email, it hit me in a broader way this time.  Perhaps it's the fact that I'm in the middle of some intense family time that has brought this into focus, but I just realized that I would really appreciate these types of instructions myself.  The example given, where "I want more help around the house" is reworked as "would you spend 20 minutes with me cleaning up the kitchen right now?" makes so much sense to me.  I know I do the same thing myself, and often resent the implication that it is MY responsibility to think through the request, rather than giving the other person that job (why doesn't he/she just KNOW what I want?).  But I think that even in adult relationships this is a healthier way of interacting. 

One last example - I actually experienced this today when my mom was doing a craft at the dining room table with the four grandkids.  I was sitting with the laptop on the couch and she said to me "Rose, I will need you to come and glue things on for the kids right now".  For some reason I felt much more willing/able to respond to this request than the "I will probably need some help with this" that had been uttered to the room in general a few minutes earlier...

A lot to think about...

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"Making requests in clear, positive, concrete action language reveals what we really want."

- Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Compassionate Parenting Tip -- Week 30
When you express your needs and make requests for something that is doable now, it increases the likelihood that your child will want to help you meet your need.
Can you expand with a suggested action here? If you are not getting the help you want, see if you are asking for something specific and doable.
Instead of saying only your need, "I want more help around the house," ask for something concrete and specific: "Would you spend twenty minutes with me right now cleaning up the kitchen and see how clean we can get it by working together?"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Understanding Through Lists?

Making lists is something I find very satisfying, though I don't tend to be an overly organized person.  But maybe that's why this article made some sense to me.  I really like the idea of itemizing every single thing that I do as a stay-at-home mom.  I get a lot of help and the roles in this family are definitely not typical (my husband does what a LOT of husbands don't), but a lot of what she said still rings true.  I don't think a list, or agreement, as she mentions, would really solve a lot of problems, but I think for me it might just help to clarify what I'm dealing with and help me to make sense of the life I now have and will have for the foreseeable future (with baby 3 on the way).  It's not what I expected, and I think that's a big part of what makes it hard.  Perhaps understanding just exactly what it is that I do all day would help me (and maybe my husband) understand how I feel about it...

Sunday, May 25, 2014


After seeing a cousin's ten day old baby, I was reminded again of the magic of pregnancy and birth.  You look at a woman who has just given birth and you know that there isn't an empty space inside her where the baby used to be.  Her uterus has already shrunk back to its previous size and all of the organs have moved back into their normal positions.  But really, you can't help wondering how the baby you now hold was ever inside that magical body!  A friend just sent me this fabulous video, which shows how a woman's internal geography is dramatically altered as the baby grows and takes up more and more space inside her.  All of those organs that used to be comfortably spread out between your hips and your collar bone are now squished up underneath your ribs!  Not to mention the fact that in addition to growing a baby, your body is growing an additional organ (the placenta)! It's really just unbelievable!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making the Invisible "Visible"

I think I have always had an enormous capacity for wonder - there are some things that are just so wonderful and incredible and marvelous and (best of all) impossible that my mind just explodes when I think of them.  I just love that *gasp* feeling. 

We went to the AGO this weekend, which was completely fabulous.  There I saw a series of posters, and fell in love.  The artist, Janice Kerbel, works to make visible those things that can not be seen.  In this case, it is through words, graphically displayed and mind-bogglingly vivid, that she brings into your imagination, as plain as day, characters that are, quite plainly impossible. 

This is art I would LOVE to have on my walls, although I would have a hard time choosing just one of this series. I think that someday, when my library dreams come true, that would truly be the perfect place to hang something like this - printed as big as possible, of course.  Just to remind us that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, a few well chosen words can sometimes do more than even the most talented painter ever could.

I couldn't find a decent link to the whole series, so I just made a pinterest board with the images.  Hopefully it works that way.  The artist's name is Janice Kerbel and the series is called Remarkable.  Truly.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lego as the Ideal Modern Toy

A very interesting article about the history of Lego and the role it has played in modern architecture and indeed the way we see the world as a whole.  It really does seem that Lego naturally expresses the modern philosophy really well.  The writer does a really good job of explaining this perspective in a few different ways and sort of telling the story of Lego through this lens. 

As a post-modern it seems to be my job to critique all things modern - what do I have to say about Lego?  Hm.  Perhaps that I was actually very pulled in to the argument and romanticism presented by this article - that Lego magically enables children to build without specialized tools, instructions or training.  The only limit is their imagination!  The recent photo featured in a Huff Post article (which I think I mentioned here, but here is that link) also embodies that idealized view of Lego.  Lego really is fabulous isn't it?
But I feel that I need to look through that shiny optimism to realize that that way of thinking isn't going to take us where we need to go, right?  I don't actually believe that the world is there to be recreated, made new, over and over again according to our personal and very limited ideas of progress and beauty.  I think of a certain oil-rich country, where money seems to be as plentiful as the sand in the desert surrounding it, which really does seem to allow for the realization of dreams.  There, you really can "make it new" as much as you want - when a road doesn't suit, or isn't standing up to wear, they just demolish it and build a new one.  It is very hard to see - SO much waste.  And this type of approach makes our needs, in fact, our whims, the determining factor, rather than any sense of what is actually good.   To see the world as a means to our personal ends isn't something I actually agree with.
 I DO believe in the taking apart part of the Lego process though - that we can look at what we've constructed, realize that it's something constructed and not something real (and I'm not just talking about Lego here) and let go.  It's not to say that the construction was a waste of time, or something fake and therefore useless.  I think that as long as I can see it more for what it is - as an expression of an ideal, as an expression of a way of seeing the world, I can still appreciate it as that - as something uniquely beautiful, valuable and an important part of creating meaning in the world.

And one last thought.  Here is a follow up article to the first about the Lego ad with the adorable little girl.  In this one they highlight just how much Lego has changed over the years, and it is problematic to me that the writer of the Walrus Lego article doesn't highlight this.  That Lego provides a "system of play" where, "equipped with imagination alone, the would-be builders were empowered to create, recreate, and dismantle anything", is not true of the Lego marketed towards girls today.  Instead, the pink versions of Lego involve very little building and even less creativity, where gender stereotypes are the limits, rather than the child's imagination.

Anyway, not sure I'm making any sense here, but thought I'd take a stab at it!  Probably overthinking it!  As usual...