Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moving on...to Wordpress :)

Hey everybody!  Just wanted to swing by and let you all know(especially my new followers;) that I moved my entire blog to wordpress!  I know, annoying for you, but it gives me a lot more customizing options than blogger, and, well...I want my blog to be prettier.  It will take me a while to figure out, for sure, but be patient and you will get to read lots more of the goodness that you've been reading here.  I will keep this blog up for a while just because I have a lot of posts that get hit often and don't want to make them inaccessible until they have all been indexed into my new blog.

Check me out at myalternativelifeblog.wordpress.com!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Its Raining Sunshine

Does anyone else feel like life just gets better as you get older?  I feel like I am ripening like a good wine.  My twenties have done WONDERS for me, or maybe I have done wonders in my twenties.  Whatever...life is good!
(I am literally listening to this song as I blog:)
Once upon a time I watched a movie called The Secret, and even though it resonated with me and seemed awesome I didn't like how the message seemed to be centered on money.  "You can make as much money as you want and live in your dream house!"  Yeah, "whatever" says the girl who grew up poor and married a boy who grew up poor.  Poor was our destiny, and this "secret" was just a rich person telling you how easy it is to make money.  Not so easy for us poor folk.  Can I get a "I hear ya" from the poor folk in the audience?  

So I lived my life, and we just focused on making our kids lives as rich as we could.  My husband got this job right before we got married because his boss found his resume online and we thought God had to be smiling on us, even though the job only paid $10 an hour and offered no insurance.  When you are 19 and don't have a college degree you think this is awesome!  We had this idea that you have to work really really hard to make lots of money, and part of that working was going to college for at least 4 years, but better if its 6-8 years.  This is why the secret seemed so hokey to us.  We didn't want to spend that much of our lives doing something that didn't bring us any happiness even though it might "someday" offer financial security.  We had 3 kids, found a program where we could build a brand new house(which seemed like a miracle at the time), and life was great!  

Life is still great, and let me tell you why.  My life has been what I have wanted it to be, and now I am wanting bigger and better things and they are HAPPENING!  The Law of Attraction is no joke, neither is the power of positive thinking.  I had this poor mentality when I watched it and couldn't believe that I could ever have the house of my dreams, or travel the world, or have Aaron work from home.  I had this idea that money was bad and wanting money was bad.  Money is simply a means to an end.  It is a resource that can bring you the things you want and need in life.  My belief about money was stopping me from ever making any!  So much of what we want out of life, experiences really, take money to achieve.
Anyone who has been following my blog is witnessing my life changing in slow motion.  I am finding resources to help me achieve what I want in life and couldn't be more excited about it!  I know that looking at my life things don't look any different, but it starts with your thoughts.  If you don't ever think differently nothing different will ever happen, so here I am, thinking bigger and better and bigger and better is happening.  It feels like its been happening for a while, because I have been having these thoughts for about a year now, but I am beginning to see differences.  I have made some awesome new friends that fit in perfectly with my ideas and that is why it is Raining Sunshine today.

I still have some work left to do, but when you are excited about it, is it really work?  

Have you, or do you still have thoughts that are holding you back?  Are your thoughts leading you to a happy life? If not, start re-evaluating what you believe.  
Its a simple as that. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Teeth in 3 days

So, those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook probably saw my post about Vaeh's tooth.  6 months ago at her check up and cleaning the dentist informed us that her bottom teeth were loose enough to come out soon, and her top teeth soon after the bottom.  At first, I was excited and encouraged her to wiggle them  so they would come out.  She showed absolutely no interest and we all but forgot she even had loose teeth.  Then, just randomly a few nights ago she was eating raw potato slices and it just popped right out!  

The look on her face was a bit shocked.  She showed me, and we all got really excited about her new milestone.  We wanted to take pictures, tell her to put her tooth in an envelope and put it under her pillow, hugging her, etc.  After about 5 minuted of excitement I finally take notice of her feelings instead of mine and see she doesn't look happy.  I ask her what's wrong and she beings to cry.  I know what's wrong. I never really explained much about loosing your baby teeth, when it happens, why it happens, and that its totally normal. Parent Fail! Anyone else feel like they are constantly failing their first born?

So I empathized with her, and then we talked about the ins and outs of loosing teeth.  We looked at pictures, watched youtube videos, and she was beginning to feel more and more comfortable with the idea of loosing more teeth, especially when she woke in the morning to find money under her pillow.

Life was good and I made myself a mental note to have a very in depth talk with her about her changing body so we didn't have another terribly anxious moment where she thinks her body is broken.  We had one glorious day where Vaeh was exploring her new look, new ways to eat around the new hole in her mouth, and new found confidence in her body.  Now you may be thinking she was so confident that she decided to wiggle the rest of those teeth out herself, right?  Oh, not even close.

So...I have two boys, and if you have boys you know they like to wrestle and play rough.  And since Vaeh is  such an awesome older sister she wrestles with them.  Vaeh and Joby were taking turns running into each other that would push one of them into the couch.  They had pillows, and though I did think it could turn ugly if they weren't careful I gave them one short disclaimer and decided to trust them to work out for themselves how to regulate the roughness of their play.  Well, after about 10 minutes Vaeh looked away and Joby ran at her.  Right as she looked at him(unrepared) his head collided with her front teeth.  I heard it and knew it wasn't good.  Vaeh's mouth was bleeding pretty bad and her teeth looked drastically different.  

We were on our way to the dentist in 15 minutes.  After a quick x-ray the prognosis was to pull the damaged teeth.  The impact of the hit was hard enough to knock her teeth down and back.  They were badly bruised and the easiest way to fix it, since they were all already loose was to pull them.  I knew she would be heart broken to hear that just  a day after loosing one she would now have to adjust to loosing 4 more.  The procedure itself was awful.  I may have cried, Vaeh for sure cried, screamed at times, even with laughing gas and being numbed.  Pretty sure we took her to Wal-Mart after and spoiled her with goodies and snuggled her all through the night.

5 teeth in three days. :(  Although she is now $25 richer, I wish I could have spared her the agony she had to go through to get it.  I'm sure she would rather have her teeth than the money.  When she woke up this morning I was brace for her being devastated, and she was smiling.  The resiliency of the human spirit is amazing!  She is chipper and happy, and it just goes to show that your life really is about your attitude and perspective. 

Its so hard to be a parent and watch your child cry and have hard times without being able to do anything but hold them and be there for them.  As a parent I want to protect her and solve all her problems, but the best part is watching them pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on and make the best of their lives.  She doesn't need me to solve her problems, because she can solve her own problems! Sometimes she needs guidance to solve her problems, but she always does the actual fixing.  It is fantastic to realize these kids are so capable and strong and resilient!  More often than not I feel like they influence me more than I influence them.

We suffer traumas all the time, whether it be small or large, and what we decide to do from there makes all the difference.

Do you feel like your kids have taught you more than you have taught them?  Its kind of a recurrent theme for me.:)

~Have a Happy Weekend~

Monday, October 15, 2012

Everybody has a dark side...

Here it is, 3 am, and I find myself on the internet, blogging, instead of sleeping.  Why?  Ugh, I won't bore you with the details.  Let's just say a lot of anxiety.  This is not really a common thing for me. I usually feel in control of my life, like I am living it, instead of life just happening to me. When things go your way, its easy to be happy about it, but what about when things happen that are out of your control?  That is kind of what I am going through right now.  No worries people, things are fine, really, this is just me processing my thoughts so I can keep it that way.  

There is this side of me; I like to refer to her as the real me, that is confident, smart, sexy, capable, beautiful, and when I say beautiful I am talking so beautiful on the inside that it radiates on the outside, kind, compassionate, fun, basically every good thing you can think of.  She is awesome and she can do anything she puts her mind to!  Seriously, this is a girl you want to know and be friends with.  Then there is this other side... you see where I'm going with this?  Thanks to Kelly Clarkson's new song that I've been diggin' lately I will refer to her as my dark side.  This girl is insecure, ugly, not good enough, stupid, mean, selfish, etc, etc.  

This post is kind of personal, but the reason I am posting it is because I feel like this is such a common struggle with everyone.  I refer to it as real me, and dark me, but it is just the struggle of dark and light.  Who here has seen the cartoons, or movies where someone is trying to make a decision and they have an angel and a devil on each shoulder trying to influence them? 
Same thing, this is just my own personal perspective.  Instead of the devil telling you to do something bad, it is critical and harsh.  I guess it would probably be the one to tell you to do "bad" things too, but I personally feel like I have a pretty good grasp on morality so my dark side is primarily self destructive.

So the real me?  I don't call it that by accident.  I call it the real me because it is the real me.  This is who I was born as.  It is who we all were born as.  All that dark stuff is learned. Call me an optimistic, but I don't believe anyone is born dark.  We learn to second guess ourselves, that we aren't good enough, that we aren't smart, etc, etc.  I won't go into the details of how because I talk about that a lot.  Look up my posts on Peaceful Parenting and maybe that will give you a clue.  

Where do I go from here then?  How do I get rid of all the gunk and let the real me shine?  There are plenty of good books on the subject, but my favorite is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It is a very short, simple and to the point read that I highly recommend.  Reading books is only a start though.  I know a guy who reads plenty of self help books who is still a mess because he doesn't apply any of it.  For me, I nurture the real me.  I remind myself that these dark thoughts and actions are a lie and that they don't serve me.  I write a blog post to process my thoughts on the subject. ;)  Here is a really great article I just read on giving up self destructive habits to lead a happier life.  

Anyway, its a work in progress.  I feel like the real me shows up most, but everyone once in a while the dark me rears her ugly head and tries to tell me a bunch of crap.  I know, this sounds a little schizo, and really maybe it is.  I do think the dark me is just an illusion that I keep putting stock in.  Like a bad imaginary friend.  Who here has seen Drop Dead Fred?  

The point is that I am beautiful, I am smart, I am kind, compassionate, capable, and irreplaceable!  And so are you!  

  Is this something you struggle with too?  How do you see it?  Good vs evil?  The Force vs The Dark Side? I am curious to know your different perspectives.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Pursuit of Passion, or Unjobbing

My husband works a low stress job that pays decent, and we are really content with where we are at in life. You'd think we would just sit and enjoy, but....its just not enough!  Aaron wants nothing more than to be able to be with the kids and watch them grow up.  He misses so much of their lives!  He came home from work one day and told me that he figured he was missing 54% of their lives.  This is pretty typical, and even good for some fathers.  I am sure there are fathers out there that work even more hours and miss even more of their kids' lives.  We just don't want typical anymore!  Not only that, but Aaron doesn't really enjoy what he does.  He doesn't hate it, but because he is there all day he doesn't have time to do anything he wants.  When he gets home he just wants to spend time with us since he hasn't seen us all day.  Our kids are pretty cute too, so I don't blame him. ;)  

This doesn't mean in any way, shape, or form that Aaron is lazy.  He not only goes to work 8 hours a day, but he takes care of the yard (if you have a house, you know this can be a lot of work), takes care of all the mechanical problems with the cars, and a whole host of other fix it kind of things.  He is my handy man.  We like to call him a jack of all trades.  So, unjobbing isn't about sitting at home doing nothing all day.  It is about finding what you love and making a career out of it.  I even used to hear this in school.  A job is an in between before you find your career.  And, there are probably people out there that would love to make a career out of things that other people see as just jobs.  Unjobbing will look different for each individual because each individual has different interests and passions.

I am sure you have heard about pursuing your passion before, especially if you read my blog.  So, we have been trying to figure out what that is for us.  We have plenty of things that interest us.  Peaceful Parenting, Unschooling, woodworking, Aaron's new one is programming, etc.  So the question we were asking ourselves was how are we going to make money with said passions? I actually called a friend up because Aaron is wanting to learn more about the stock market, and I thought he might have some useful contacts for us.  Instead he gave me better advice.   He told me to really try to figure out our passions and don't worry about the money.  ???  Right?  At least, that's what Aaron thought.  I can see how this would be a major issue with someone who takes care of the family. You can't just quit your job to do what you want when you have people who depend on you!  This friend told me a passion is something that the more you do it the more you love it, and...this is key people, that you would still do it even if no one was paying you to.
   YES!!!  YES, YES, YES!
   I totally got it!  Here I was trying to help Aaron figure out what his passion was and not thinking at all about mine, because I couldn't separate making money from what I love to do.  My passion is, and has always been to sing.  
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a singer.  Then, somewhere along the line, I learned that this just isn't a practical pursuit.  So I chased it as a hobby, but then, once I left high school I realized I would have to get a real job.  So I went to school and tried to figure out what I wanted to major in.  I think, to date, I have changed it about 7 times.  Nothing seemed to hold my interest for long, and in the mean time I missed singing.  It wasn't until I had this conversation with my friend that I realized I wanted to sing again.  If you want something to happen, you first have to see it as an option!  If you write off the idea, you will never know if it would have worked out or not.  You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!

So here I am, looking up talent agencies in Utah, trying to find a good vocal coach, and teaching myself how to play the guitar.  In high school I was somewhat shy and wasn't really sure if I was a good singer, and now, I don't hold back!  Even I am surprised at what comes out my mouth when I sing these days.  I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good. (toot, toot)

  I can't tell you how excited I am about all this!!  I don't know what is going to happen, and I have no idea if I will make any money doing this, but it feels so good to be singing again and thinking of the possibilities of my future.  

My hope now is that we can figure the same thing out for Aaron as well!

What about you?  What are your passions?  Did you ever want to do something that you wrote off because you didn't think it was practical?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Have a happy weekend, and good luck with your unjobbing pursuits!! ;)  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I Unschool

So, I wanted to touch on why I unschool our kids.  I have three kids, ages 6, 3, and 1.  Since my oldest was about 1, I knew I wanted to unschool.  I picked up a book at my local library called The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith and that was it for me.  Unschooling was the way for us. (Never heard of unschooling check here.)  You may be thinking, isn't that a little naive to make such a drastic decision after reading just one book?  Maybe for some, but for my husband and I it made perfect sense.

 Why I unschool is kind of a hard question to answer for me because what do you say to someone who asks you why you want to live?  There is every reason in the world for us to unschool! The easier question would be why don't I send them to school?  I could give you some concretes there.   Unschooling for me and my family is a natural extension of living our lives in harmony with our desires for ourselves as well as the desires of our children.  It is our children being driven to learn by their own curiosity, creativity and imagination.  Their curriculums are tailor made to them, by them and in effect, makes each of them so beautifully unique.

After reading The Unschooling Handbook, I read all the books I could get my hands on about unschooling, which lead me to peaceful parenting, non-violent communication, the non aggression principle, and so much more that has added such meaning to my life.  It was like a brilliant sun shining in a dark room.  All of these principles help guide our lives.  One of the main reasons we don't prescribe, pressure, or force what our children do for the day is because it goes against all of these principles.  You may be thinking, "Well, Lyndsey, you are the parent.  It is your job to push them in the right direction."  And this is a very common thought.  This is kind of a harsh way of putting it, but is obvious in the way most people treat their children. Most people don't trust their kids.  We don't believe they will be kind, share, be compassionate, learn and a whole host of other things unless we motivate them, coerce them, reward or punish them into it.  A lot of this pressure we put on our kids comes from our own inadequacies(and believe me, I deal with it too!)  We have to raise them right, or we will be societal pariahs.  You see it at the supermarket when a mother is trying to check out with her children and one is crying, the other is punching his sister, and the third is no where to be found.  Most people around her are thinking, "Get it in control lady!  You are the mom, show them who's boss!"  I myself am guilty of thinking the same thing long ago when I was single and knew everything.

Imagine an alien has come to you from another world and is asking you to guide him in the customs and ways of your planet.  Would you bribe him to motivate him to learn faster?  Would you punish him when he wasn't learning fast enough?  Would you be angry with him when he has found something amazing and wants to investigate further when you are trying to show him something you feel is important?  Now replace the alien with a child and ask the same questions.

My point is that children are whole, loving, kind, compassionate and brilliant in their own right!  I wish that this was commonly taught and believed.  There is no need to push children to learn, for they already do it on their own.  There is no need to push them to be kind, for they already are.  It is when we start pushing our children to do these things that they start loosing their passion to do them on their own. It reminds me of a quote from Master Uguay from Kung Fu Panda:

 "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

 I believe it is my job as a parent to help facilitate my children's lives.  I want to guide them on the path to finding their own passions and study the things that they love.  

Unschooling gives our family the freedom to do what we want, when we want.  We don't have to schedule our activities around school.

When you live your life doing what you love, learning is just a happy side effect.  It naturally occurs.  I have had worries in the past about my kids learning to read and write.  Now, I think, maybe they wont do it at age 5 or 6, but I have no doubt that reading and writing will be a natural extension of the life of a child who loves to learn.  Isn't that the case with babies?  They learn to walk with no help from us, they learn to talk with no help from us, so why do we think they would just stop advancing there?

A hope that I have for my kids through unschooling is that if they live their lives chasing their passions they will never separate living from learning.  They will be able to find a way to monetize their passions instead of working a job they are apathetic about.  This is something my husband and I are trying to do, but find it hard to think outside the box.  I hope if my kids are never put into the box mentality they will never struggle with box-like thinking.  If they want to work a nine to five job, cool, if they want to travel the planet while writing for national geographic, also cool.  The world will be their oyster.

If someone doesn't have the ability to unschool for whatever reason, these are still principles you can live with your children when they are home with you!

This is just a small excerpt of why we unschool.  Since this is my life right now, I'm sure you will read more in some future blog posts.  If anyone has any questions, comments, or curiosities, feel free to contact me.  I have lots of good resources on this topic. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Zest of Life vs The Experience of Life

A few days ago, my husband and I were watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy(one of my guilty pleasures when I have extra time) and there was a really interesting interaction between two of the doctors.  Two attending dr.s were talking about how they keep the residents around because they bring a fresh perspective to the hospital which helps keep the attendings from getting too set in their ways.(Apologies if you don't understand the lingo, here's a link if you are curious.)  Leave it to my husband to make the connection from that to kids.  We like to talk about how children have the zest for life that adults usually lack, and adults have the experience of life that children lack.  What a perfect team!  

In a perfect world children would keep adults young, and adults would help guide children through life.  Are you thinking, "well, that's what I do!"  Good for you!  Even I have to admit that what usually happens is the adults feel like children are sucking the life out of them and children feel like adults are too bossy and wont let them make any of their own decisions because they(adults) know better.  Come on, admit it, you have probably felt that way at least once in your life, whether it was with your own kids, or your parents, right?

Who here has felt like these parents?

So this whole exchange between adults and children is really something I like to think about a lot.  Not only just in a family dynamic, but in a cultural, or societal dynamic too.  One thing that really gets my blood boiling is when older adults talk about how "kids these days are so selfish and disrespectful."  This reminds me of when I was a teenager and I knew I was right, but because I wasn't the adult it didn't matter.  I was subject to whatever the adults decided.  It has become a power struggle, and lets face it, adults have more power and can subject us to their will much easier than children can.  But really, there should be no power struggles, just cooperation, and hopefully some kind of compromise between the zest and experience.  

Living this unschooling life has been really eye opening for me.  One blog that I really love is Play at Home Mom.  Her son, who I'm not exactly how old he is, but he can't be anymore than 3 or 4, has his own drill, hammer, and other real life tools, where most children have play tools.  Some parents might be shocked by this, but what I love about it is that the mother is always with him when he is using them, guiding him when needed, but mostly just being with him and enjoying watching him learn how to navigate his world.  This is a perfect example of a parent helping a child navigate his world, not by suppressing him into safe choices that she thinks he can handle, but by letting him handle some real life choices and being with him to make sure he stays safe.  Now, I'm not telling anyone to go out and buy your toddler a drill, but to start critically thinking about the decisions your child wants to make and if you can help him/her navigate that choice.

And, for those of you with out children who think that kids these days have no respect, think about when you were a child and you wanted your opinions and views to matter.  Sometimes experience clouds your ability to be open minded.  I only hope when I am the face of the older generation that I can remember the zest of life and try to keep an open mind for what the new generation wants to bring in.  I hope to teach my kids correct principles, but I also hope to teach them to think for themselves and consciously choose for themselves what they believe.

As far as our life goes, the perception that we get from people who don't know us very well but know we unschool seems to be that our kids just walk all over us and get whatever they want.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  I believe that children are born good and learn the junk, rather than are born evil and need to be trained to be good.  So far, this has been our experience with our kids.  We have found that if they are respected, they give respect, if they are responded to, they respond to us, etc, etc.  At our house, honestly, it is still balanced in the parents direction.  We try to let the kids have as much say as we feel comfortable, but we are still adjusting the balance.  We want to be our child's guide through this life, not their dictators.  We want them to feel free to make the choices they feel are right for them, as we like the freedom to do the same.  And as far as zest goes, we try to get off our high horses and let the kids remind us how to have fun.  Its been a learning process for us, but I am happy to adjust.  It is my belief that how we raise our children ultimately shapes the future.

Raising my children with freedom and autonomy and love is the best way I know of changing the world.  Sure hope it works!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Embracing the Change

So, have you ever had one of those times in your life where you just felt like things either were changing, or they desperately needed to?  Yeah, I'm going through one of those times right now.  I just went through my list of blogs that I followed and deleted at least half.  Most of what I was reading was home decor and remodeling things.  I am still interested in sprucing up my home, but that is not my main area of interest.  Its not my passion, it isn't what keeps me awake at night.  I need more inspiration, more food for my soul, more...transformational reading!!  I need enlightenment, and reading about how to brighten up my living room isn't going to give me that.  I can't speak for anyone else, because it really seems to do the trick for some of the writers of the blogs that I unfollowed, but it just isn't enough for me anymore.  

I have a desire to inspire as I have been inspired.  Someone once told me to be the kind of person that I would like to meet, and I have spent a lot of time pondering that.  I don't want to be ordinary anymore.  I don't want to pretend that I fit in, because I so don't fit in.  This is kind of an uncomfortable place for me to be though.  If you know me, you know I'm friendly and social and I like to be liked.  Who doesn't?  Lets be honest. 

 I was telling my husband last night that, right now, I feel like I am in between a rock and a hard place.  The rock is that most of what is inspirational to me is a little offensive to many of my friends and family, and the hard place is I can't just stop seeking it out because others don't like it.

  So, I think I just figured out my problem.  That's right, writing things helps me sort out my thoughts.  This is so difficult because I let what people think of me matter more than what I want and what I think of me.  Huh...so what's the answer?  I don't know.  I'm figuring my life out one step at a time, just like all of you.  Its hard to go through life without support.  Luckily I have my husband and kids and some extended family who love me regardless.  Its just that when I was growing up, my friends were my family, and its weird that that is suddenly turning around.  I don't know what to do with myself without a girl friend to cry to.  My husband will just have to get in touch with his feminine side. ;)

So what is it that inspires me?  Anything that would make life better.  Better for me, better for my kids, better for you!  In order for that to happen I have to let go of a lot of things that just aren't working to do that for me.  The world is a changing, and I am embracing the change.  People sometimes like to tell me that they think the world is getting worse, well, I don't believe it.  I see some amazing good happening, and its growing, and I want to be a part of that growth.  It feels good to be in charge of my life.  A friend of mine just sent me an email that said something to the effect of, "if you aren't consciously choosing what you believe you are living your life unconsciously." So this is me, living my life consciously!

So...could this post have been any more vague?  Ha!  I know!  This post was probably more for me than for anyone who reads it.  Not even sure if anyone will read it, but if you do, I hope you were inspired to live your life in a conscious way, if you aren't already. ;)

Oh, and one of my goals is to become a better writer, so I am going to go at it by blogging.  If anyone would like to critique my writing your comments are welcome.  Thanks for reading!!

I think I will sign off with a quote from Will Smith, because he is awesome...and this quote totally resonates with how I have been feeling lately.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Living Room Makeover

So, I always have quite a few projects swirling around in my head.  I don't necessarily do all of them, but its fun to think of the possibilities.  The main one on my brain(or maybe the easiest one to change:) was the color of my living room.  A couple of years ago we painted it a dark brown.  
(Sorry for the Christmas stuff, but I'm still really bad at this whole "before" picture thing when I start a project)

We have a very large open area with vaulted ceilings, so before the brown, the space look cavernous and cold.  At first, I loved the brown.  It made the space cozy and warm, but after a while the brown was getting to feel too dark.  I played around with putting some wainscoting up, but couldn't figure out how to blend the living room and dining room walls together because I didn't want to wainscot the dining room. In the end, we decided to just paint.  Its the cheapest, easiest option!

We still liked brown, just a lighter shade, so we decided to go with Behr's Garden Wall.
Nice, right?  We thought so!  We liked it so much we decided to paint the entryway and stair walls the same color.  All these spaces really just blend into the main living room and had previously been white.  We still liked the dark brown enough to keep one wall as an accent. (Less painting too.)

After some rearranging of furniture, painting some furniture and a new color in the living room, the space is finally complete!  I love how it turned out!
(Apologies for the poor picture.  I am not a photographer.)

I especially love the new color of the entertainment stand against the dark wall!   If you look in the first picture you will see it used to be a dark cherry stain.  Also, the decal over the window used to just blend into the wall, and now it really pops!
(Isn't my little model cute?)

The entry way and stair walls.

Here's a before of the entry way.

And the after
LOVE it!

The living area finally feels complete!  Its amazing what a difference a can of paint can make!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Leaving the Rat Race

From the time I was young, I have been primed and prepped to enter the rat race.  When I was a little girl, I had these dreams of being a singer, or a zoologist, or oceanographer.  I'm not sure what happened.  I don't think anyone ever told me my dreams were stupid, or that I couldn't be whatever I wanted, but they don't teach classes in school on how to live your dream, or how to pursue you passions.  What I learned in school was to do what I was told, and do it well enough that I could get good grades to go to college.  There's a really great valedictorian speech  on this very subject. I was actually pretty good at this.  I don't want to say I was smart, because getting good grades has very little to do with intelligence and lot to do with obedience and memory.  So, lucky for me, I had a good memory and I was pretty obedient.  

I went to college a little lost.  I still had these faint dreams of music, zoology, and oceanography.  Somewhere in my quest for my dreams, I learned practicality.  If I got a degree in music I would most likely be a teacher, and I didn't want to teach.  To be a zoologist or oceanographer I would have had to move and pay a butt load of money for out of state tuition.  So, instead I decided I liked Psychology and Sociology.  I was never ecstatic about it.  In fact, it was a little disappointing.  I had so many interests that I couldn't picture myself doing one thing the rest of my life that only held a flicker of interest for me.  So, I finished almost all my generals, and then, before I had to make any final decisions, I had some major financial strains that kept me from continuing my education to join the rat race.  

I got married, and had some kids while my husband went out and joined the rat race.  We bought a house, and a golden retriever, and it seemed as if we were living the American dream.  Life in the suburbs with three kids and a dog.  We are actually very happy, but there are a few things that are lacking that we are really starting to be aware of.  First, apparently, we are considered very poor.  When I found this out I was a little shocked!  We budget really well, and are still able to get what we need and have fun too.  Second, even though my husband likes his job, there really isn't anywhere for it to take him and it isn't something he's passionate about.   

At first it seemed ungrateful for me to even think of wanting more, when our lives are pretty happy.  Then I started thinking that we can have whatever we want out of life, and there's nothing wrong with wanting more!  My husband and I don't want to help someone else live their dream(working a 9-5 job pushing paper).  We want to make that happen for ourselves.  

What are we going to do?  I don't know yet.  All I know is that, between the two of us, there is enough passionate interest on enough subjects that I have faith this is going to take us somewhere.  Not only that, but I want to show my kids that there is more to life than suffering through 16+ years of school only to then suffer through a job that is lackluster.  Aaron(my husband) went to a class on how to start up a business, and they said that most entrepreneurs had entrepreneur parents.  Its not that they are smarter, work harder, or have better ideas than your average Joe.  Its that they have been modeled this way of life.  It is a natural way for them to do things, rather than an insurmountable feat like most of us think!

I want that for my family.  I want to pursue my passions and help my kids pursue theirs! 
How about you?  What's are the dreams in your life that you want to pursue?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Our Family Bed

Some times I censor myself because I'm afraid to make waves.  I know, some of you may be thinking I should censor myself more, but you know what, this is my blog, and it is called My Alternative Life.  So you really shouldn't be shocked by anything I post here. (This was just me chastising myself for being silly.)

My blog post today was inspired by my sweet 1 year old boy, Sage.  He woke me up this morning by repeatedly kissing me on the lips.  (Thankfully he closes his mouth now, so there is no ick factor involved anymore.)  Obviously, this totally brightened my day, and made me grateful for incorporating a family bed into our lives.  I mean, who wouldn't want to wake up to this face in the morning?

I've been hesitant to share our family bed story because I was worried people will think we're weird.  Well, today, I'm embracing my weirdness and sharing my story anyway.  After all, life isn't about what other people think of you, its about finding what makes you happy.

I'll start this story with bed time.  Now, in our house, as I'm sure in some of yours, bed time was a bad word.  The kids would hear it and immediately start protesting.  On average it took at least an hour, usually more to get our kids to actually fall asleep.  This was, by far, the worst part of my day.  I dreaded it almost as much as my kids did.  And even after they fell asleep my kids would wake with nightmares or a wet bed and come and sleep with us anyway.  

We tried LOTS of things to help.  At first, my daughter and son were in separate rooms, so I put them in the same room thinking if they were together it would be easier.  We got them bunkbeds, night lights(the awesome ones from Ikea), cool bed sets, anything that we thought would make them think their bedroom was cooler than ours.  None of it worked.  When you think about it, its flattering that nothing in the world can compete with how much they love you, right?  I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.

After searching for a better way for years, I finally came across an article in Rethinking Everything Magazine  on The Family Bed by Dayna Martin.  

If you know me, you know I am a big Dayna Martin fan.  She is an Unschoolling, Peaceful Parenting advocate, and has been a big influence in my life.

As I was reading this article I knew that this was our answer.  It just felt right!  That night we brought the kids in bed with us and bedtime went so peacefully.  They were asleep with in 30 minutes!  No fighting, just loving and cuddling.  No more nightmares, no more bed wetting.  I only wish I could go back and have done this from the start with my kids. 

After about a week of sharing a king size bed with 5 people we knew we needed more room.  We went and bought a queen to add to our space and now we almost have wall to wall bedding.  

As far as alone time with my husband goes, we have 3 bedrooms and only use one for sleeping, so we brought a queen size into the room that nobody uses, just for us.  Not to mention, we have the rest of the house. ;)

 It isn't always a walk in the park, but it is always better than it was.  Raising our kids will only be about a quarter of our lives, and they will probably only want to sleep with us for about half of that.  I love being able to honor their requests to sleep with us.  I remember how vulnerable I felt at night as a child and how alone and scary it can be.  I will honor this request for them as long as they need it.

So, that's our family bed story.  Weird?  Maybe, but it is definitely what is right for us, and we are happy to incorporate it into our lives.  I couldn't get wake up kisses from my baby if he was in a crib, and I can't imagine a better way to start my day. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Breast Milk Awesomeness

I have been a mother for a little over 5 years now.  I have a 5 year old daughter, and two boys ages 3 and 1.  Since I have been a mother I have taken my kids to the doctor maybe 7 times between all of them, and have never had antibiotics.  Maybe I just haven't found a doctor I like, but all of my experiences taking my kids to the doctor haven't benefited us AT ALL! 

Here's a preview of one of my visits.  I took my 3 month old baby to the pediatrician that I had seen a handful of times because he was having acid reflux.  Usually I go to the Doctor as a last resort, when I have utilized all other resources.  This time I was reading a favorite blog of mine about another woman and her baby's acid reflux and how he gave her a list of foods to cut out to help.  So I figured I would go to get the same list and some other ideas.  I went, and he gave me a...prescription?!  I asked him about diet and he said there was no correlation.  That was it.  You can imagine my disappointment!  And this is usually about the norm of what happens when I seek some kind of western medical intervention.  I then went home, threw the prescription away, and did my own research on my diet.  I cut out a bunch of foods that I thought were contributing and I also remembered about an oil that I had called Digestzen from Doterra.  Between the diet and the oil, his acid reflux was just a memory.  And that's just one example of what usually happens when I take my kids in.

Don't get me wrong, if my kids break a bone, or slice their hand open, I will definitely take them in.  They know what they are doing when it comes to accidents.  Western Medicine is really good at putting people back together again. If we're talking infectious disease, they just don't have what it takes.  

Now, this doesn't mean I let my kids wallow in misery and sickness.  I have many great resources from my oils, to herbs, some great books on Natural Health, the internet and my midwife/medicine woman.  

This brings us to my current awesome healing story!  My 3 year old son wakes up about an hour after falling asleep and he's crying.  My husband and I just thought he needs to pee, because that's usually why they wake up crying.  I took him to the bathroom, but he is still squirming around in bed and crying every 5 or ten minutes.  I knew something was wrong, and would ask him where he was hurting, but all he could do was cry.  Finally, at about 1:30 in the morning he is screaming at me telling me his ear hurts!  So there it was, an ear infection.  So I run to get my Basil essential oil and garlic oil to put in and around his ears.  I begin rubbing the oil around his ear and ask him if I can put some garlic oil in his ear.  He, of course, says no.  He doesn't want anything in there  probably thinking it would just add to the pain.  The Basil soothed him enough to put him to sleep for maybe 2 minutes, then he wakes screaming even louder.  It was then that I randomly remembered how amazing breast milk is for any kind of infection!  So I ask him if I can put some mommy milk in and he tells me yes.  I fill his ear with my milk and he IMMEDIATELY calms down and falls asleep.  I let the milk sit there for about 10 minutes and then turned him over to drain his ear.  He slept the rest of the night and a good part of the morning without any pain.  This even surprised me how quickly it soothed and healed his ear.  With this success rate I was thinking they should prescribe breast milk for ear infections instead of antibiotics! 

Moral of the story?  I don't really know.  Breastfeeding is awesome, maybe? Take from it what you will.  I just had to share how quickly it took his pain away.  I have found that I usually know what to do for my kids if I just listen to my instincts.  Fever?  Lots of fluids.  Infection?  There are some amazing products out there that have no side affects like antibiotics do.  Look into it.  Seriously.  The Health Food store is one of many good resources for my family's health.  Doterra is another, and researching the internet on over health has also been a great asset.  I don't claim to know more than a doctor, by any means, but I do know my kids more than anyone.  In terms of mild illnesses I think anyone can take matters into their own hands without seeking medical attention and prescriptions.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food

So last night, as I told you in my last post, I took my family to this AWESOME raw foods class  by my even AWESOMER(Oh, yes, I did just write that) friends Rachel, and Chris Talley. 
It was super inspiring, and we will for sure be making some changes to our diet.  In the mean time, my wonderful husband was inspired to write a post on health.  So this is a guest post by none other than Aaron Merrill! 
 Take it away babe!

Just read an article called "$1.1 Trillion: What the 10 Leading Causes of Death Cost the U.S. Economy"
Link: http://247wallst.com/2012/01/18/1-1-trillion-what-the-10-leading-causes-of-death-cost-the-u-s-economy/2/

Here are the first three:
1. Heart Disease> No. of deaths: 595,444> Change since 2000: 25% decrease in death rate> Total cost: $190 billion
2. Cancer> No. of deaths: 573,855> Change since 2000: 7.5% decrease in death rate> Total cost: $227 billion
3. Chronic Lung Disease (Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases)> No. of deaths: 137,789> Change since 2000: Total cost: $65 billion

What are we to do? Take a pill? radiate ourselves? then take more pills? Well, you could take that route. But what if there was another way? A way that may seem bizarre only because it seems too simple. It is to make nutrition your medicine. Better put: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates
Why would is this so hard to believe? Maybe because the majority of our food today is so far removed from its natural, whole form.  We process all the life giving, healing qualities out of it!

Maybe it's hard to believe because we can't imagine that the modern processed foods doing anything more than just fill our bellies. 

Whole foods have been time tested, and have proven themselves to be the best nutrition for both humans and animals. This is a mere fact and if it weren't, so I wouldn't be here writing this. By this mere fact, I have trust in the above quote by Hippocrates. Highly processed foods and even genetically modified foods obviouly have not yet proven themselves as a benefit to our health. In fact, just looking at the current state of our country's health status (reference above) and what the majority of our diet and lifstyles are, tells us these foods are not passing the test and should tell us to stay away.  We are still free to choose what goes into our bodies. :-)

Whole raw foods have been for the first time in history been accessable very easliy, yet we have not taken advantage of it. I don't intend to judge one bit. Life is to be enjoyed, and a part of that is eating. Even eating tasty foods. I will not lie. So, this is for those who want a certain result in their physical health. On the other hand the stories and experiences are piling up about the awesome benefits of whole raw foods and I think it's time we give it a try. 

Whole raw foods are delicious, but they also give us that extra energy to truly be able to live our lives!   I don't want to barely live because I love eating processed, dead foods.  Rather, I want to live, feeding my body what it needs for optimal health and vitality!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Post On Health

I was introduced to the concept of raw food long long ago when I met my amazing midwife Rachel Talley.  She was apprenticing at the time for my midwife with my first birth and we just instantly connected.  After my daughter was born I remember her talking to my aunt about raw food and how it saved her life, or something to that matter.  I was a little woozy, so it I'm sure I didn't pick it all up.  

 So, basically, if you ever meet a raw foodist, or are wondering what the heck that means, it is a vegan diet of whole uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and anything else deemed as basically grown from the earth. 
It is also referred to as a living diet because this diet is rich in living enzymes.  Once you cook a food over 120 degrees(I think this is accurate, if not, its close) you are killing the enzymes that are in it.  Why are enzymes so important you ask?  Well, enzymes are responsible for digesting our food.  Our body does make enzymes, but when we eat too much cooked foods we deplete our bodies supply of enzymes.  A diet rich in living foods is also going to have all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs and doesn't get from the traditional diet.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more that I just don't want to type. :)  Bottom line is it is super healthy.  Google it, and read all the amazing stories of how people changed their health around by eating raw. I think I may even have a few blog links to the right if anyone is interested.  Some really good documentaries to watch on the health subject are Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, and Forks Over Knives.  Those are all on Netflix!
So this brings us to me.  I have had health problems for a while now.  Nothing too serious, (yet anyway) but enough for it to make life uncomfortable.  I have been revamping my diet for about 5 years now to attempt to make things better, and I have!  I took out the white bread and added wheat, I added more fruits and vegetables to my diet, I doubled my water intake, cut out processed boxed foods, substituted milk for almond milk, I try to cook whole foods and use all natural products without fillers and toxic stuff. You name it, I probably did it! 

So, the thing that I noticed that made the most difference was eating more raw foods, so that's what I'm going to attempt even further.  My lovely friend Rachel is having a raw foods class tonight at her house and I am getting pretty excited!  She is the queen of making raw foods delicious and some even taste like healthy versions of the things you eat every day.  I actually made a raw cheesecake(yes, you read that right) last week that was delicious!

My goal is health, pure and simple.  I'd also like to pass that message on to my kids, and anyone else who is listening.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Control Doesn't Work...for me anyway

Between my parents, my husband's parents, and being a parent myself, I have parenting on the brain a lot.  I think about why my relationship with my parents is the way it is, how it could get better, and most importantly how my relationship is with my kids and how I can make it as strong as I can. 

 I also think of some of my vices and why I do and think the ways that I do.  I certainly don't want to go around blaming my parents for how I was raised, because they did the best they could with what they had, and blaming them is only going to put me in victim mode.  When you're in victim mode you can't solve your own problems because they aren't yours, they are the work of someone else, right?  I only like to understand some of my vices so that I can fix them and not pass them on to my children.

I couldn't sleep last night, so of course, I turn on Netflix.  My husband and I have been watching this show Parenthood, (it was only a matter of time before I watched a show with a name like that.:)and the episode I watched last night had this awesome seen in it that sparked this blog post, among other things.  The episode is called Rubberband Ball and is episode 8 from season 1 if you want to watch it.  There is a scene in there with a mother and her rebellious daughter where the mother says "I' done trying to control you.  From now on I'm going to try trusting you and just get along with you."  I loved it!  I wish I could find the clip so you could watch it.  If you have Netflix you should check this show out.  Its a good one.

I remember being a teenager, and I was pretty tame, at least in comparison with some of my friends, but I was probably considered rebellious.  I think the rebelliousness came, or I guess I should say comes, from control.  I can't tell you how many times I wanted to do something just because I wasn't supposed to.  I think its just natural.  We crave freedom, and the ability to make our own choices.  You see it in the youngest of children, or at least, I see it in mine. :)  I don't want to push my children away by forcing them into choices they don't want to choose.  Especially if its a good choice that they just don't want to make because they aren't free to make it for themselves!  I want to be my child's guide through this world.  I'm not raising a robot that I want to do my will.  I am raising a human being that I want to be able to find happiness, whatever that means to them.  I think the way to do that is to let go of the control button. You can't have a rebellious child if they have nothing to rebel against. ;)

I don't claim to know what I'm doing.  I want to know who actually knows the recipe for raising a good human being?  All I can speak from is my personal experience with my kids, and when I let go of trying to control my little ones they respond to me so much better.  Our relationship can flow easily when it becomes more of a dialogue than a monologue.  

I have joined the Peaceful Parenting Revolution, and maybe you should too. ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Baby Sage's Humble Beginnings

Today is my little baby Sage's first birthday!  I can't believe how quickly this last year flew by.  I can vividly remember his birth and those first few weeks, but everything else is a blur.

This picture is just a small example of how curious and into everything this little guy is!

Happy Birthday Baby Sage!  Our lives wouldn't be nearly as exciting without you.  In honor of this sweet baby's big day I thought I would re-post his birth story.  I hope you enjoy!

~I'm not exactly sure when to say my labor actually started.  I had been having mild contractions sporadically for a while now, maybe a few weeks.  Nothing really uncomfortable, just notable.  So when I woke up at about 3 that morning with some stronger contractions I wasn't sure what to make of it.  They weren't uncomfortable enough to make me get out of bed, just enough to keep me up.  So for about 3 hours they were about 15 minutes apart.  Then they stopped.  Then around 8:30 in the morning they started up again, but still pretty weak and 10-20 minutes apart.  I sent my hubby off to work, and called my midwife Rachel just to give her a heads up that I might be having a baby.  So that's how it went all day.  Weak contractions that were 10-20 minutes apart.   I called Rachel again to ask her what I could do to get things moving because I just wanted to get on with it.  We just decided that I should nap and maybe take a bath and if things were still slow I would start taking black and blue cohosh.

I was feeling fine, just wanted a break so I could take a nap and a bath, so I called my husband to come home at about 4:30.   I didn't want to wait for him to come home to take a bath, so I asked Vaeh if she could come play in our room with Joby while I bathed alone.  Around 4:45 in the bath I thought maybe baby is scared to come, so I talked to him and told him that I loved him and wanted to meet him very much and that he would be okay if he decided to come.  About two minutes later the contractions picked up in intensity and speed.  Thankfully Aaron got home at 5:10 and took the kids.  It was a little crazy there for a while trying to mother my children while having contractions that I couldn't talk through.  

Now, if you knew me well, I hate inconveniencing people.  At my last birth my midwife Rachel got there about 15 minutes before my son Joby was born.  I'm just never sure if the contractions I'm having are going to pan out or not, and I hate to have anybody drive out just to turn around and go home.  So that's where I was at in the bathtub.  I told Aaron that I needed to get out and maybe we should fill up the birthing pool, but first I wanted to check myself to see how far I was.  For those of you who think that is weird or gross, in my defense I wold rather check myself than have anyone else do it.  Who can argue with that logic, right?  Anywho, before my bath I was at a 4, and after I was probably around 6 or 7 and my water was bulging out.  So that's when I decided I probably needed to have Rachel come.  I think it was about 5:40 at this point. Once I was out of the bath I thought to myself I probably should have called her sooner because the labor all of a sudden got super intense.  I knew from my last labor that once the back labor is that intense baby is soon to follow, and Rachel lives 40 minutes away.

So I'm just hoping that I'm wrong, and trying as best I can to hold things off, but as much as I would like, I don't have that kind of super control over my body.  In the mean time, my daughter Vaeh is a pro.  She is helping push on my back while Aaron is moving as fast as he can to blow up and fill the pool.  She is soooo excited that baby Sage is finally going to come, and Joby is just content to be watching How to Train Your Dragon in Vaeh's room coming in every few minutes to see what mommy is moaning about.  No big deal.  I was so concerned that they both were going to be a problem or that they might freak out to see me that way, but I was wrong.  It was awesome to have them there!  

Once the pool has enough water for me to get in (it wasn't full all the way, but there was probably about a foot, which was enough for me) I decide to move from the living room to the kitchen.  As soon as I get into the kitchen I have a really strong contraction that breaks my water.  That couldn't have been more perfect because I would have really hated to have to clean that up!  After my water broke I had a brief relief of pressure which was very much welcomed.  Aaron called Rachel to tell her my water had broken and see where she was.  I was really wanting her their for support.  Aaron is great, but he stresses, so I really love me some woman support.  She was still 10 minutes away.  So Aaron decides to change his clothes so he can get in the pool with me.  And that's when I knew Rachel wasn't going to make it.  I screamed for Aaron to come back, in a voice that must have sounded like I was possessed, telling him the baby was coming NOW!  For a brief second I freaked and thought I couldn't do it alone, but then I calmed down, and womaned up.  I KNEW that I was going to do it, and that I COULD do it.  So I reached down and sure enough his head is right there crowning.  I provided perineal support so as not to tear and his head was out!  Whew, I did it!  Well, partly.  I reached down and felt his head while waiting for the next contraction to free me.  I knew he was big, because I did the same for my last birth and his head was definitely chunkier than Joby's.  For another brief second I was worried that his shoulders would get stuck, so as much as I wanted to catch him, I told Aaron to get behind me so that I could get on my hands and knees to push harder.  Sure enough he came out after that contraction welcomed into the hands of his daddy.

Aaron handed him to me, and I freaked a little.  He was a blueish purple color and wasn't breathing.  I had eyes and ears only for him at this point, but Aaron told me later that the kids were right there watching as Sage came out and were laughing and giggling that he was finally here.  I wish I had video of all of this.  Anywho, so I began to do everything that I can think of to help my son start breathing.  Rachel had taught me how to do a rescue breath, so I did that as well as talked to him and told him that I loved him and rubbed him.  After what felt like an eternity, but was probably more like 5 or 10 seconds he looks up at me and takes a big breath and begins to cry!  The world is at peace again.  and then after all is rosy Rachel and her apprentice walk through the door.  They probably missed his birth by 5 minutes! 

Baby Sage, looking very wise :)

Rachel helped me deliver his afterbirth and then we cleaned up and went to snuggle up in our bed while Rachel weighed, measured, and checked on baby.  

So that's it.  Aaron is so proud and loves telling everyone that we did it ourselves.  I think he was pretty freaked out, but he knew I needed him and he did AWESOME!  For me, it was awesome to know that I could do it myself.  Very empowering!  Don't get me wrong, I don't EVER plan to do that again, because it was scary.  I think next time I'll just have her camp out while I have contractions all day.  But it was really cool to just have our family there, and my kids giggling, with my husband catching the baby.  It was very intimate, and I wouldn't take it back for anything.~

Proud new mommy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Building Memories

We had a little fort building episode last night that was super fun for all of us.  I remember building forts when I was little, but my parents were never involved. I wanted to post this because I think all too often we, as parents, tend to want to do our own thing and hope that the kids will just entertain themselves.  Right?  I know I feel that way sometimes.  We forget that our children think we are the coolest people in the world want to hang out with us!  What a compliment!  I am pretty excited that when our kids look back on their childhood they will include us in their fun memories! 

Just a little rearranging of the furniture and you have a fort complete with tunnels and two chambers.

Sage had a good time crawling through.

The entrance to the big chamber.

After all the fort fun we pushed the couches together to make a tented sleeping area and everyone conked out while watching tv together.

We had so much fun!  All this took was a few sheets, some imagination, and a little furniture rearranging.  I think Aaron and I had just as much fun as the kids. These are the kind of nights that I will think about when they are all grown up and moved out.