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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Focusing on the Good

So every year I make a very poor attempt at setting and achieving some kind of New Year's resolution.  Can any one relate?  Its something about loosing weight, or blogging more, or something else along those lines.  This year I wanted to go deeper.  I wanted to do something that would make a difference not only in my life, but in the lives of my family and those around me.

This is actually something I've been thinking about for a while now.  I just decided to make it official with the new year and all.  If I say it out loud and blog about it and it would have more substance to it, right?  So, what is it?  I guess first I should probably explain the opposite so you can understand a little more.

Since my husband and I have started questioning why we do things, we have uncovered a lot of, for lack of a better word, yucky things. I won't go into it too much, but if you have been a facebook friend of mine, or you have know me a long time you may already be aware of this habit of mine.  I guess you could call it spreading the bad news.  Telling people what is bad for them, or what they should stop doing, or who is lying to them, etc, etc, etc.  Now I do think lies need to be exposed, but when you hear the bad news before the good its just so depressing.

So, as you've read in the title of this blog post I am going to spread the good news!  I want to tell people how awesome you feel when you eat more living foods, or how peaceful and beautiful a home birth can be if you are low risk,  or how liberating it can be for you and your children to let go of cultural norms and do what feels right.  

This is bigger than just stuff I share on facebook and talk about to other people.  I want to focus on the good in all aspects of my life.  I'm going to focus on my good qualities and other good qualities that I want to achieve.  I'm going to focus on the good in my children rather than the things I don't like.  I'm going to focus on the good qualities in my husband rather than focus on what I wish he had or did.  I'm going to focus on the good in my friends and family, and in humanity in general.  It is my belief that if I focus on the good, after awhile that is all I will see.  I already believe in the good in humanity, and I want to help others awaken to their own good and to see the good in others as well.  I believe in a peaceful world.  Not only is it probable, but it is very possible, and it starts when we decide!

So that is my goal.  I'm not perfect, and that's okay.  I will focus on the good and the bad will just fade away, at least to me anyway. ;)(Hey, that totally rhymed!) 

Happy living!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reinventing a Blog

After my last blog entry I decided I have so much more to offer than just DIY projects.  I have so many passions that I would like to share, so I have reinvented my blog!  

I have been pondering the last couple of days what I should rename it to, since what I have to offer is so varied.  After talking with my husband about our passions and how people keep asking us for advice on health and parenting BAM! it hit me!  The theme of our life is kind of alternative.  We do a lot of things differently.  So that's how My Alternative Life was born.

From here on out you will see posts on anything my little heart desires to blog about.  Just off the top of my head it could be anything from green smoothies and their health benefits(its on my mind because I'm drinking one right now;) to radical unschooling.  There will be many more posts on parenting because, well, I have three young children.  Lets see, there will still be posts on all the DIY projects I do, and a ton more stuff I just can't think of right now.  

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I will enjoy writing!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Early Morning Ponderings on Parenthood

Here at the house of Merrill, we are what you would call attachment parents, or peaceful parents(google it).  This mostly just came naturally to us, I'd say its instinctive, even.
  The problem for us, and probably the rest of civilized society, is what is expected of us, or maybe even just habit.  We parent based on how somebody else thinks we should, or maybe that's the way our parents did it "and we turned out fine".  How many times have you heard that statement?  How many times have you said it personally?  Now, we aren't thinking this on a conscious level.  The way we live our lives has been ingrained in us since we were little.  Its almost like we are pre-programmed robots.  Anyone read The Four Agreements?  If so, you know of what I speak.  If not, read it!
  The husband and I have done a lot of soul searching and have come to enjoy questioning why we do anything really.  We question why, think about it, analyze it, weight the pros and cons, and if the proposed act has any value we keep doing it.  If not, we throw it away.   Let me take you through this process with something little.  How about, why do we brush our teeth?  Is there any value to that particular action?  Well, we eat, then food(especially refined and sugary foods) gets stuck in our teeth and eat away at the enamel causing cavities.  This we know because science has proven it.  This is not just a pre-programmed  belief.  So brushing your teeth removes the food from our teeth and prevents the cavities from growing as rapidly.  Therefore, brushing your teeth is a habit that we will continue to incorporate into our lives.  (Were you worried? :)

Alright, well, lets bring this back to where it started:attachment parenting and peaceful parenting.  This is not the norm.  Some of you may be thinking, "what is attachment parenting and peaceful parenting?"  We have come to incorporate these two philosophies into our lives because of questioning.  The main one being this, "why do we treat our children like their needs and desires aren't as important as ours?"  Does that sound harsh?  Now think about it really, because even I still implement that harsh reality sometimes.  Lets take something easy, like dressing a small child.  You are going to a play date with some friends and your little boy wants to wear a dress.  Is him wearing a dress harming anyone?  No.  Lets be honest here.  Him wearing a dress is going to embarrass you.  So you impose your need to save face over his need to express himself by wearing a dress.  This is just an example of the things we do to our kids all the time.  No wonder our cultural norm is for these kids to grow into rebellious teenagers! 

 (This cartoon illustrates perfectly societies beliefs contradicting our instincts)

This has been a long road of questioning for us, and as our children get older we are constantly evaluating the way we do things.  Our main goal is to have our children know that they are important and their needs and desires are just as important as ours.  Raising children isn't easy, but it certainly doesn't have to be as hard as we've made it.  There's a quote that I really enjoy that says "We are not managing inconveniences, we are raising human beings".  I try to keep this in mind and enjoy my children.  I've stopped resisting things that don't matter.  I am my child's guide through life, not their slave master.  When you stop resisting the things that don't matter you have a beautiful flow with your children.  They listen to you, because you listen to them.  They respond to you because you respond to them.  They trust you because you trust them. They respect you because you respect them. 
This has brought incredible value to my life, so I thought I would share.  Parenting can be as harmonious as we hope it to be when we first start our little families.  All you have to do is start questioning.  Start re-evaluating the way you do things.  Rethink the way you do things.  If it has any value it will stand up to the questions.  If it doesn't have any value then it needs to go!  

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Some Previous Projects

As promised I will document a few of the projects I've been up to.  Luckily for you, if you are interested in repeating anything I've done on this post, most of what I've done I got from Pinterest.  So I will post the links for you too.

In October my little Joby turned three.  For his birthday I decided, of course, to make him a cake.  Right now he is obsessed with The Backyardigans, and his favorite episode is Tale of the Mighty Knights.  At the end of that episode there is a Dragon, which is what I decided to recreate for him.

Here's the picture of the cartoon dragon:
Cute, right?  Joby has GREAT taste. ;)

So here's the awesome tutorial I found on Pinterest:

And here's my attempt at recreating it:
Not great, at least compared with the tutorial, but Joby and Vaeh were impressed.  That's all I care about.

Also, for Joby's birthday I thought I'd make him a super hero cape.  Sewing is one particular skill that I am lacking talent in (as you will soon see), but I wanted one made especially for him with his favorite colors and initials.

Here's the tutorial(also from pinterest):

I used satin, which as a warning, is very difficult to sew with, but nothing flows through the wind like satin. :)
Here's Joby's cape:

Once again, not perfect, but it sure is a favorite toy at this house, and with all my kids friends too!  Every little boy (and some girls too) wants to be a super hero. :)

My next project has to do with some pants my husband bought me last year for my birthday.  Now, last year  on my birthday, I was 9 months pregnant.  My husband bought me a size nine skinny jeans and some awesome boots to rock them with!  I tried on the jeans(while pregnant) and couldn't even get them past my thigh, so I figured they would be perfect when I lost all my baby weight.  I lost about 50 pounds and am now a size 3, or 5 depending on the pants.  As awesome as that felt, my cute skinny jeans were too big!  They looked more like baggy jeans. :( They were so cute that I was determined to make them work!  So I began googling, and I found a tutorial to turn flare jeans into skinny jeans.  Close enough!  I don't have a before, but here's the after:

Sorry, not a great picture, but in my defense its hard to take a picture of your own pants.  Don't believe me?  Try it!  Anyway, those pants had about an extra two inches at least on each leg that I cut off.  I'm pretty proud that I saved them.

 The next project is the one I've been promising for a while.  We finally added the back splash to our kitchen!  It had been sitting in our laundry room for about 6 months while my husband decided how we were going to do it, what tools we needed, blah, blah, blah.  He's the "get it done right" guy, and I'm the "get it done fast" girl.  We make a good team. :)  Finally one day I decided I was sick of it sitting there, so without my husbands permission I started throwing it up.  If I hit any hurdles I would jump them when they came.  Surprisingly it was super easy!!  My husband was very pleased.  I highly recommend the meshed backed squares to do your back splash.  The only tools we needed were a glass cutter, and a trowel.

Here's the before:

And here's the after:
What a difference, right?
I'll give you a super quick tutorial.

  1. Watch youtube videos to get a feel for it.  I know it sounds silly, but youtube is great for DIYing!
  2. We bought mastic so we didn't have to mix anything and I highly recommend it
  3. Lay your mastic thick enough to have the tile stick, but not so thick that you have to clean out extra mastic that comes out through the tile.  Maybe 1/8 inch thick.  Only lay as much as you are going to put your tile on.  I had to work slow because I also have three kids.  I only did one to two tiles at a time. 
  4. Plan it so that you only have to cut the tiles where you won't see it.  This for us meant we started at the edges of our kitchen.  We ended up cutting them in the corner behind the microwave.
  5. Lay as many full tiles as you can, then come back and cut the ones that need to be cut at the end.
  6. When you do the grout do it with a partner.  It was surprisingly the hardest part of the whole project.  It just takes muscle, and dries fast.
We also redid our guest bathroom.  No before of this either.  Here's what it looks like now;
We framed the mirror with baseboard, added bead board and chair rail, painted it a bright a festive color, and added a new shower curtain and towels.  Its so fun now, nobody uses the other bathroom.  Maybe its time to give the master bath a makeover. :)

Oh, and before I go, my awesome wall!
I got this idea from my favorite decorating blog All Things Thrifty.  Check her out!  You will love her site! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Years!

So...I am a project-a-holic.  If I don't have a project going I get restless.  This works out perfectly, because I own a home, so there's always something to do. 

   My problem?  I am terrible with taking before, and during pictures!  After isn't usually a problem.  So, my New Year's resolution is to actually document my before pictures, how to tutorial, and after pictures. 

   On the list of things to do this year in no particular order: 

  • Grow a bigger garden!       
  • Paint our kids room, and tv room.  They are the only rooms in the house that don't have paint.     
  • Organize the pantry.  Its not a pretty picture.  I don't even like going in there its so bad.     
  • Overhaul the laundry room.  This will include building pedestals, shelving, maybe a tile floor, and painting.  Its going to be awesome...when I actually plan it out. :)     
  • Build closet shelving and organization units for all closets.  I am accumulating clothes faster than I have room to accommodate them.  This must be remedied so none of my clothes get buried or lost!     
  • And finally we are going to start framing the basement!!  I am most excited for this one! 

These are just the big ones.  I am always coming up with random things on the fly to do, plus all my other passions that I'm sure you're dying to know about.  Its going to be a fun year!  

Stay tuned for my quickie post of after pictures of all the projects I haven't blogged about this year!