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Sunday, 15 April 2012 22:35

Helicopter Town in Florida?

I just ran across this article about a town in Florida that has banned children under the age of 18 from leaving their homes without adult supervision.  This seems like insanity to me, anyone else?

I had a friend once who commented on how she couldn't let her 9-year-old daughter walk to the park alone because she didn't feel it was safe.  So, she was worried about her daughter getting the amount of exercise she needed based on the fact that my friend didn't have time to take her every day.  I thought this was crazy.  Has our world changed so much since I was a child that a few blocks' walk to the park is considered unsafe? 

Please let me never become that sort of parent...

I may struggle someday with letting my children out of my sight - I am an extremely paranoid person, after all - but I believe in the importance of independence, and my children will never learn how to survive on their own if they are not increasingly 'on their own' as they grow up.  Not that I'll leave them to fend for themselves, but at 9 years old, isn't a walk to the park a good place to start?

Published in Blog
Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:42

Thursday Interview - With My Dad

Last Thursday I interviewed my Grandmother, and after some deliberation I decided that although my goal is to interview 'Moms', the series wouldn't be complete without including all of the 'Moms' in my life - which, for me, happens to include my Father. 

My Dad is in his 50's, and has been involved with raising two children - myself, and my step-brother who is 4 years younger than I and was 4 years old when Dad became his step-dad.

Interview:

1. Do you remember what was going through your head when you first saw me?

There's my little girl... there's my daughter.

2. In what ways do you think I'm like you?

Lots of ways - musical talent, artistic talent - lots of ways.

3. Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me?

Yes, I remember one song - I used to sing you to sleep all the time...

*Dad was unable to recall the name of this particular song, but I remember him singing 'You are my Sunshine' to me as a child.

4. What are (or were) your dreams for me?

I wanted you to be successful always.

5. What were the hardest moments you had when I was growing up?

I don't know... I don't know if I had any hard moments...

6. Do you think it's easier or harder now to be a parent than when I was a child?

No, I think it's the same.

7. What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?

Let them grow up on their own, without telling them who they're supposed to be. 

I won't go into great detail about my relationship with my Dad - you can find more details on my 'About' page, as well as some past blog posts, like 'June 1, 2010' and 'Update'.   His answers here are short, but they mean a lot to me.

Suffice it to say that for the first seven years of my life, it was just 'Dad and me' and so we are extremely close.  In 2010, my Dad began to suffer through a series of spontaneous bleeds in his brain that doctors seemed at a loss to explain.  Since that time, my Dad has struggled to communicate as he once did.  Lately, he finds himself emotionally moved to tears quite easily, and an interview like this brought up many emotional memories for him.  

I am so grateful that he took the time to do this interview with me, and I appreciate that he tried to remember things at a time in his life when remembering is physically not an easy thing for him to do. 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 02 February 2012 09:22

Emergency Room

We played the over-paranoid first-time-parents last night and took our daughter in to emergency.

She was having trouble breathing (mostly because she refuses to sleep without a soother and her nose was plugged) and started puking up phlegm.  The scary part was after she threw up when she started moaning inconsolably and her eyes seemed to be 'fading' - if that makes any sense at all.  She was probably just tired from puking, and desperately wanting to go back to sleep, but I had fears of her passing out from pain or something like that...

Anyway, we realized that we were acting out a 'better safe than sorry' scenario by taking her in to Emergency but there were no other clinics open at that time of night so it was really our only option. 

She calmed down (and her eyes looked normal again) on the drive to the hospital, so it seemed even more unfounded that we were bringing her in when she started smiling and flirting with the doctors and nurses.  We recognized that being upright definitely helped to clear her airways.  Everyone was very understanding, though, and I'm glad we took her in - otherwise I would have been up all night watching her, I'm sure.

We had a funny little moment while we were waiting for the ER doctor to come around.  She had fallen asleep on the bed in the room we were waiting in (babies seem to get the royal treatment - immediate care, and our own room!), and every time there was a sudden noise like someone coughing in the other room she jumped and all of her limbs spasmed. It occurred to me that because we had trained her so well to sleep alone, I hadn't watched her sleep in a long time... the limb spasming was something she did in utero already, and I felt an odd sort of nostalgia watching her do it now...

Published in Blog
Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:17

The Moment I Got it...

I don't remember the exact moment that I finally figured this out, but I do remember that it hit me like a train.

I have a baby girl who isn't overly fond of 'snuggle time' and would much prefer to be independent and exploring - but I snuggle her anyway, and more often than not it annoys her.  Oh well.  I will always do this.  I will never stop getting in her face to let her know how much I love her. 

It occurred to me that in any other relationship I would eventually give up.  When your friends never call you - when you are always the one extending your hand or phone call, it becomes tiresome and you eventually give up.  Even in my marriage, when I feel like I have been the exclusive 'giver' for too long, I get cranky and lecture my husband on doing his part - I have my limits. 

With my daughter, however, it will never matter.  She can push me away her entire life, always act annoyed with my affection, and almost never reciprocate, but I won't even think about giving up.  She is the one person in the world (so far) who I will let take and take from me, and i will never stop giving. 

Then it occurred to me - did MY parents think this way? Did I take THEM for granted? (yes) Did I act annoyed by their very existence as a teenager? (yes) Did it occur to me how insanely much they loved me and that they would do almost ANYTHING for me? (not once).

I don't think I could have gotten it.  Not until I was on the other side of that fence.  I don't think a person can ever FULLY appreciate their parents and how much your children consume you until you are a parent and your own children consume you.

 

Published in Blog

Babyproofing is a real thing that should be done - even by extremely unorganized people like myself.

Proud moment today when my 10 month old daughter picked up a toothbrush and started scrubbing her teeth... where did she find the toothbrush? In the corner of the bathroom where I keep a small tub of cleaning supplies... WHAT??? BAD MOMMY!!!

Yuck, yuck, yuck...

Not that this really makes it any better, but that particular toothbrush was used to scrub the goobers off of her toys.  At least it hadn't been used on the toilet. Ew.  Anyway, I guess I will learn how to babyproof one tiny step at a time...

Published in Blog
Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:35

This is How I Roll...

As a new Mom, I have limited to zero experience with many parenting problems that can and will come up as a child grows up.   I have learned, however, that this is how all Mom's begin, and we all embark upon a journey to learn how to parent our children and continue to learn as we go.

One comment that I heard repeatedly (annoyingly) was that I was reading too much in reference to parenting my infant daughter.  I did notice the excessive use of the words 'I was reading about...' or 'I just read that...' escaping my lips, which had me considering whether or not I was capable of forming my own opinions.   The comments regarding my superfluous reading were suggesting that by reading about potential health problems and growth delays, I was worrying myself about things I might have been better off not knowing about.  I respectfully disagree.  Although this may be the case in some instances, I can look at countless times throughout my pregnancy when I experienced some sort of pain or symptom that panicked me - only to look it up online to find that many other women had experienced the same, perfectly normal, phenomenon.  I have also come to realize that I read by nature - it is my primary learning style.  I am unlikely to ask my mother or grandmother, or even my best friends what they think I should do in a specific situation because I recognize that my parenting (and life) priorities may differ greatly from theirs and might feel uncomfortable obligations by asking for their opinions.  What I do appreciate, however, are factual and unbiased accounts of how they did things and how that turned out.

That being said, I think there are many different learning styles that depend on our personalities, as well as our communities.  It is much easier to ask the advice of a close living relative or friend, than to ask the advice of parents still living in their country of origin when you have moved halfway across the world and now reside in a much different environment.

As I have already said, I am a reader, and a researcher.  I will read different accounts written by different people and accept the method that makes sense to me and my world view.   Some people learn by observation - in the case of parenting - they may see how children around them behave and respond in certain circumstances and take mental notes about what their parents are doing.  Some people ask for the opinion of a trusted friend, family member or medical professional, and follow the advice they are given.  Some parents may even trust their own instincts completely.  If I were to give my completely unqualified advice, I would suggest some sort of balance of all of these methods.

I would like this site to branch all of these while assuming the position that although there are certainly 'wrong' ways to parent, most choices in regards to parent come down to parenting styles and learning methods - as well as personality types and world views.  I will seek to encourage and support all legitimate styles of parenting, only questioning methods if some form of abuse is suspected.  I encourage any and all readers to do the same - if you disagree with another parents views or methods, choose not to criticize or argue and to understand that there are many different accepted ways to do things - yours are not the only correct options.

Published in Blog
Saturday, 01 October 2011 22:25

The Mommy Mafia Dilemma

While reading a blog entry recently, I came across the term 'Mommy Mafia', which was a term I had yet to encounter considering the fact that my daughter is only 8 months old and I have only begun to try building bridges with other families for the purpose of play-dating.

So I searched this new term - 'Mommy Mafia' - and came across a comical but honest article on the CNN website.  The article mentions that we have all (as Moms) judged other Moms on the way they parent and therefore have a little bit of the 'Mafia' in us, but that there is no way of truly knowing for sure if we are doing things 'right'.

I found that this article summarized how I have been feeling lately about parenting in general.  I have made the comparison that parenting is kind of like driving.  The number of accidents there are on the roads these days (and honestly - at least 90% of accidents were caused because SOMEONE wasn't paying enough attention) would indicate that there are not as many 'good' drivers out there as there are people who claim to be 'good' drivers... but almost no one admits to being a bad driver.  Parenting is similar, but the stakes are much higher.  We are vehemently defensive of our parenting choices, because the result of choosing the 'wrong' style might indicate that we are in some way failing our children.  As desperately as I try to convince myself that all parenting styles are good in their own way, and that different children and different families require different types of parenting methods, of COURSE I believe that any methods I have currently chosen are the 'best', otherwise I would not have chosen them.  However, like driving, when I look at the number of people out there who are rude, unmotivated, difficult, socially awkward, or worse, I realize the stakes are against me there too.  The odds of me raising a child who does not fit the 'ideal' in my mind's eye is all too likely.

Does that mean the 'Mommy Mafia' problem is unchangeable? Not entirely.  Although we all may feel defensive about our own parenting ideals, we do have to consider the fact that we all have different priorities when it comes to our children.  We all want to encourage different things.  Where my first priority might be to raise kind and respectful children, another parent's priority might be to raise intelligent and motivated children.  The differing layout of our priorities will ultimately change the way we parent them.  This is obviously one area where there are many 'right' answers.

Don't even get me started on the cliched statement that all children are different, but this is also a huge factor that will affect the outcome.

So with all of these things in mind (and the best way to combat this is probably to assume that we are all part of the problem), even though we will probably internally criticize another Mom's methods, we must choose to not let this affect how we treat them, or their children.  On the other side of this, we should probably make an extra effort to really understand our own methods so that we can get behind them 100% and feel confident in them even in the face of differing opinions.

Step 1 in getting along with other parents?

Published in Blog
Sunday, 28 August 2011 21:58

Homeschooling

After a recent Facebook post by a friend and homeschooling mom about a comment she had heard recently stating that home-schooled children are ‘weird’, I felt the need to voice my own uneducated opinion.

Although I’ll admit that I have had my share of experiences with ‘weird’ home-schooled kids, particularly in rural areas where it is easier for children to remain isolated from other people, I have also had an abundance of contact with ‘weird’ public schooled kids, and just as many home-schooled kids who had no defining characteristics that set them apart from their public schooled peers.   From my observations, it was less the method of schooling that affected the child’s ability to socialize and more the amount of time each child spends cooped up in their rooms or basements away from other people aside from the time they spend schooling.

In response to my friend’s post, another friend suggested that home-schooled kids are ‘weird’ because they do not have the same pressure to conform that publicly schooled children have (in the ways of social behaviors this may be considered a necessary skill, while in the area of a child’s talents and interests it creates the possibility of repression).   As a girl who was publicly schooled as a child, I recognize that my views and interests were shaped a lot by my peers in school.  There were things that were considered ‘cool’ when it came to clothing, activities and even who you were friends with, and there were things that were ‘uncool’.  To allow yourself to be labelled with something ‘uncool’ is opening yourself up to be ostracized and ridiculed, and maybe even to lose your friends.  This is a scary thing for a child, and most will bend to this pressure to fit in.  I admit that in a lot of ways, I altered who I was and what I might rather be doing out of fear.  I wonder to this day what sort of person I might be, what I might be interested in and even what type of clothing I might buy, if I had not been brainwashed to care about what the general public would think of me.   This is a curse that many home-schooled kids seem to be able to avoid.

I recently read the Wikipedia article on Homeschooling, and skimmed through some of the comments made in reference to research that has been done on home-schooled children recently.  It basically stated that recently, home-schooled students had been found to perform better on standardized tests than their public-schooled peers.  Another interesting point made was that the gaps between minorities and genders were much less prevalent in home-schooled students.

Might I suggest that a child’s ‘strangeness’ has nothing to do with how they are schooled, but rather how they are parented? These studies might also suggest that academic achievement also is not affected by the method of learning, but rather more to do with how invested a parent is in their child’s learning.  For example, a parent who is wanting to teach their child at home is likely going to be more involved in their child’s learning and development.  It stands to reason that a child who has invested parents is more likely to succeed than a child who is left alone.  Any child who spends the majority of their days in their bedroom in front of a computer monitor is more likely to be socially awkward than a child who spends much of their free time outdoors playing with other children – regardless of whether their ‘at school’ time is spent in or out of the home.

One advantage of home-schooling is that it typically takes less time in a day than public-schooled children spend in school, and so they have more time available for ‘playing’, which seems to be something we are sadly getting increasingly too busy for.

Published in Blog
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