Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Breastfeeding: This is WAR. Or Is It?

 
Copyright 2014. Don't steal it. I'll cut you.
It's no secret that I'm a vocal supporter of breastfeeding. If someone wants to make a nasty comment about breastfeeding mothers or threaten those who nurse in public, I'm right there debating them. I have blogged about breastfeeding many times. I have discussed the issue of breastfeeding on my Facebook page constantly. I'm outspoken, supportive, and willing to educate.

But not everyone is comfortable being outspoken. Not everyone wants to post 100 memes in support of breastfeeding each day. There are many mothers who nurse in public who have zero desire to attend a nurse in. There are plenty of breastfeeders who don't want to write about it, talk about it at length, wear lactivist t-shirts, or put pro-breastfeeding bumper stickers on their car. Are they any less valuable? Is their input worthless?

There are some out there who would actually say, "yes." If you've been around long enough, you may have noticed that. There are folks out there who believe if you are not promoting and attending nurse-ins, passing around every fired up pro-breastfeeding blog post, creating and sharing memes, and wearing a pre-shrunk, nursing accessible, 100% organic cotton t-shirt declaring your lactivism, you are not doing enough. They believe we must all be in the face of opposition, beating our chests and chanting. It's as if we must always have the mindset that we are at war. Arm your tits and roar!!!

There's no doubt that the chest beating and chanting is effective. I'm one of those people, for the most part. I do not, however, blindly follow the crowd. I do not support every single nurse-in just because. I question if it's needed. Did the company show remorse? Did they show they are willing to accomodate breastfeeding mothers without harrassment? Yes? No need for a nurse-in. If you decide to do one anyway, I will not lend my support. I will not speak against it, but I will not promote it, either. That point alone caused someone to tell me that I set the entire Civil Rights Movement back. Yeah, little old me. Who knew I had so much power? I completely changed the course of history - Quantum Leap style - because I refused to promote a particular nurse-in (Applebees). That sort of hyperbole gets us nowhere. And guess what? I think comparing the plight of American mothers who nurse in public to those who marched for Civil Rights in the 1960's is pure bunk. Yeah, I said it. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to keep educating people, supporting one another, and making sure we don't get harrassed for nursing in public. I do not, however, equate our movement with the Civil Rights Movement. I have seen comparisons of mothers who nurse in public with African Americans who marched in the 1960's. While I appreciate the general sentiment, the idea doesn't sit well with me. Last I checked, none of us have been hosed down in the street, set on fire, bombed out of our churches, or murdered. No one has set a burning Hygeia pump on fire on my lawn. While I vocally and loudly support the right of a mother to nurse her baby in public, covered or uncovered, and I think it's insane that we even have to argue it in America in 2014, I do not for one moment equate myself with Rosa Parks. Does that opinion ruffle some feathers? It sure does. That's fine. Disagree with me if you must. However, don't even pretend that my opinion sets breastfeeding back or that I'm not doing anything to support breastfeeding mothers and their families because that just makes you a foolish. I was born into this. No really - my mother worked in maternity for over 30 years and was a lactation consultant. I grew up around this and have been actively supporting breastfeeding mothers and their babies since I was in high school (my first foray into breastfeeding counselling was with teen moms at my school). It would take me a long time to list all the ways I have helped families and list all the names of the mothers who had my help with breastfeeding, so there is no room to say I don't do anything for the cause. I have also breastfeed my own children...and in public.

Do you have to be overtly vocal to support breastfeeding? No. The mother who breastfeeds is doing a lot to support breastfeeding. The mother who quietly leaves the Enfamil bag filled with samples behind in her hospital room when she checks out post birth is making a statement. The person who sends a link to KellyMom or La Leche League to a pregnant friend is making a statement. The mother who quietly sits on a bench in a public location and nurses here baby publicly, covered or uncovered, is making a statement. The mother who sits in her living room after the kids have gone to bed, sipping her iced coffee and watching Real Housewives, while stuffing envelopes for her local chapter of La Leche League is making a statement. The dad who holds his wife's purse while she walks around the grocery store, nursing babe in a Moby, is making a statement. The waitress who see a mother nursing her toddler in the corner booth of the diner and asks her if she'd like a glass of water is making a statement. None of these things are overtly vocal. None of them make it onto a bloody battleground. But these folks are just as important as those who are a lot louder. Though their voices are quieter, their message is still as strong.

Moving forward will always require those who are willing stand in the spotlight and those who are holding the spotlight. It requires cooperation between the people who want to speak firmly and those who quietly nod in agreement from behind their computer screen. It's not a battle over who is more oppressed or who fights harder. If those who are beating their chest are unwilling to see the value in those who are quietly supportive, then they have already lost ground. You don't need to write 1,000 blog posts screaming that you'll never ever cover your baby and that you'll cut a bitch for suggesting it or attend a dozen nurse ins. Nurse your baby if you can. Support other families who breastfeed. You'll make a difference.
 

365 Feminist Selfie: Another Week of Embracing My Selfie

 At this point in time, we all know I completely suck at keeping any kind of regular blogging schedule. I'm still on the #365FeministSelfie train, but technological issues, illness, and life have gotten in the way of me coming here to slap on a few photos and write some blurbs.

I'm still having a fab time taking pictures of my beautiful self, I guess. I'm part of an online group for happy selfies and it's been a lot of fun checking out everyone's pictures and reading their stories.

To the left, we have my very old, old sneakers in a hospital room. That's been the story of the past few weeks - crappy health issues. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital a few weeks ago. I suffer from a condition that causes my esophagus to quit working while I'm eating, leaving food lodged, tons of pain, and a lot of trouble breathing. It's also a perforation risk. That day was one of the worst episodes I ever had, so they called an ambulance and I was treated in the hospital. I have to get a bunch of testing done - scopes and barium swallows - in the coming weeks. Ew.


Spring is here! Early Spring means 65 degrees one day and 30 degrees with snow the next. Plus, tons of rain. Tons of wind. Some snow. Some ice. Probably a bit of sleet. And a thunderstorm.

This was a particularly gorgeous day and I took advantage of the nice weather to walk to my son's school to pick him up. He loves days when we get to walk. Obviously, this isn't technically a selfie. My husband took the picture....probably for my butt.








Highlighting my procrastination....this pic is from March 17th. See? It's been a while.

That's me and my green for St. Paddy's Day. And those are genuine Irish Eyes. They're my Grandfather's eyes. Same shape and the same color, I believe. I know he had blue eyes, but I'm not sure of the shade. He died in 1950 and the only color pics are fake color.











My son an I took a walk to pick up my car from the mechanic. He's growing up so fast and I know he may not be so willing to hold my hand for walks in the near future. Most times, he's running ahead, exploring. This was a moment where he slowed down and talk my hand for a short while.

And those shoes. Those are totally him. H&M used to sell these - they are Converse knock-offs - in a variety of super bright and awesome colors. He loves them and we bought a bunch in various sizes to grow into over a year ago.








Another rare kid moment - my little girl curled up on my lap while napping. she hardly ever slows down to cuddle on my lap these day. Being a two year old is very busy work.

She looks like she is nursing, but she's not. She just has her face smushed into my boob.


Why, yes,  I do have a wrinkly forehead sometimes.









More rare moments. This was on my way to a belly dance performance. I rarely ever wear make up. The only time I put it on is for a belly dance performance or for Rocky Horror in October. I am NOT good at putting on make up. YouTube tutorials be damned. I do a very simple eye, with very basic eyeliner and some mascara. That's it. I don't put lipstick on until right before my performance. Otherwise, it never stays on.













That brings us to an end of the latest installment of me forcing you to look at me.

Obviously, I'm not sure that I'm going to keep up with a weekly thing or move to monthly updates. I really do like the whole #365selfiechallenge and I'm having fun with it. I'm glad it's somewhat inspired me to be a little more active on my blog. However, this isn't a selfie blog and I feel the need to light the fire under my buttocks and start writing about actual stuff.....like belly dance, having a child with OCD, storm chasers, boobs, etc.

To see all of my previous posts in the Embracing My Selfie series, please check out this link full of posts on the subject. 

For the post that inspired this, please check out Viva La Feminista.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

365 Feminist Selfie: Week - um, I forget - of Embracing My Selfie

Yes, poor people can own nail polish
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that anytime I say I am going to write something on a regular basis, I fail. Typically, I pop on the computer to answer emails, play with job applications, upload pics of my children, do worky stuff, and post a few obnoxious memes on Facebook. Blogging typically comes last.

It's been nearly a month since I last posted in my Embracing My Selfie series. Part of that is because I suck at regularity. The other part of that is due to a technical fuckery-do with my phone. It erased a few pics, all of which were selfies from the past couple of weeks. Now and then, the gallery app freaks out and erases a few photos. I don't know why. My phone is 3 years old, not at all fancy, and I am clueless with technology. I try to upload any pics to mail asap so I don't lose them, but I primarily do this with pictures of my kids rather than my selfie shots. The other possibility is that my phone is like, "dude, I'm tired of taking pics of your silly face everyday. Quit it!"



I'm not known as a very religious person. I'm harshly critical of religion, including my own. Still, I am very faithful and spiritual and my religion means a lot to me. I just don't wear it. St. Francis said to preach the Gospel at all times, only using words when necessary. Actions speak louder.

This is my devotional. February 18th is one of those anniversaries associated with River, the baby I miscarried. It is also the anniversary of my very special kitty, Abigael's, death. This year, February 18th was a horrendous day for finances, which posed a threat to our ability to keeo our apartment.

The devotion on this page hits home for me as I have always believed in doing charitable works - it's how I was raised - and I have found myself in dire need of charity.




A happier day. I received a gift certificate for NY&Co for Christmas. I can never afford to shop there, but I love their clothes and this gift certificate was most appreciated. They had great sales in the last month. I scored this pretty little sweater for less than $10 bucks. Holla!

The "I was about to take a selfie and then my cat tried to climb my apron that hangs from the wall and I was yelling at him" selfie.

Also, a smoothie.












FREE ICED COFFEE!!!!!!

Once or twice a year, Dunkin Donuts sends out these free iced coffee/iced tea punch cards. You get free iced coffee every Monday for a couple of months. Sweet! I take mine with extra cream, no sugar, and whipped cream on top.

The sunglasses are also a score from NY&Co thanks to my gift cert. Sadly, the lens from my polka dot glasses was scratched up by a certain two year old, so they are now a spare set.







Dear God, would you look at that fug mug. I know, I know - I'm supposed to believe I'm so beautiful. I'm sure I am, but not here.

This is my pathetic face, obviously. I was not feeling good. I was having a rough day of cardiac symptoms, mind-blowing exhaustion, and trouble with both knees. I'm only 35 for Pete's sake!

I have a couple of cardiac conditions that have been pretty manageable for a long time. They are severe, just annoying. Heart troubles have been the name of the game for the last year, though, and have only gotten worse. The combination of high stress and poor eating (poor in money and quality) have really caught up with me. I also received a letter this month stating that my cardiologist, who I have been seeing for 20 years, will no longer accept my insurance. Yes, I am grateful I have insurance. I am just worried about finding a new doc. My current cardiologist is awesome and free of bullshit.


I saved the sexiest picture for last. In case ya can't tell, I'm blowing my hair dry. I don't own my own hair dryer. I borrow my mom's from time to time. My old hair dryer, which I have had since, like, the 80's finally died this year. R.I.P. Sears hair dryer. I rarely ever use one, so no sense in wasting the money. I actually borrowed it for non-hair reasons (drying shirt art for my son). I just used it here on a whim.

Bonus duck face.

P.S. Have I mentioned my hair sucks? It truly does. Frizzy and shit. Can't decide if it wants to be curly, wavy, straight. It's broken.







Tune in next week, or next month, to be assaulted by more pictures of my self-absorbed self. Winky emoticon.

If you would like to read previous posts in this #365feministselfie series, check here:
Week 6
Weeks 4 and 5
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Embracing My Selfie

I highly encourage you to read the post that inspired me to be part of this challenge, by Viva La Feminista.

Monday, March 3, 2014

So, I Found This Picture of Bugs Humping



Copyright JSH 2012
I was looking through some pictures today and I found a set from a walk I took with my family in the Summer of 2012. We were hiking through some local woods as we typically do year round. I had gone to hug and tree and my husband was going to take a picture when I looked down and noticed two sticks stuck together and stuck that way on the bark of the tree - right under my hand. Then I realized, those aren't sticks, those are Walking Sticks - insects. And they weren't stuck together. They were making love sweet insect love. Right next to my hand! Ew! No blankets. No "Do Not Disturb" sign. Just full on insect fuckery right there out in the open. In front of my children. Won't someone please think of the children?

I did what any normal person would do when they encounter two living beings humping away on the side of a tree. I took pictures. About thirty of them. Close up. They were very open and gracious about it.



© Funky Little EarthChild 2012
Now, you'll see in these pictures that the lady Walking Stick is rather curvy and the dude is on the lean side. Walking Sticks have quite a bit of stamina - they stay..umm...attached...for quite a few hours. That's right ladies. This little dude weighs less than an angel feather, yet he has enough stamina to satisfy his lady all afternoon. Say what you want about bugs, but these little guys are no two pump chumps.

© Funky Little EarthChild 2012


In all seriousness, I love finds like this. I think bugs are fascinating and my kids love them, so we've got a lot of pics of various little critter dudes and dudettes. This was exciting as I had never seen a live Walking Stick out in it's natural environment in over thirty some years of life until that day. Had I kept on walking and not stopped to hug the tree, I would have completely missed these lovers. And that would suck. I did thank them for allowing my family to linger and stare at them and take pictures of them copulating. I mean, you have to give them respect. I know they're "just bugs," but it may have freaked them out to have their insect sex disturbed by typical American tourists getting really close and saying intelligent things like, "holy shit! Look at that little guy go!" So, thank you Walking Sticks, for allowing me to photograph you and point at you and use you as a lesson for my kids...and my husband ("he can do it for HOURS!").

At least I had a little class and didn't do anything tacky like pose for a picture next to bug lovin'. I mean, what kind of weirdo does that? Oh wait...
Weirdo © Funky Little EarthChild 2012




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pulling My Teeth: Update

Thanks for the coconut oil, Erica.
Just a little bit late here.

As I promised in my original post on oil pulling, I did it for 30 days. I typically oil pulled in the morning, though there were some days when it was so hectic that I forgot and would do it later in the afternoon or the evening. I may have skipped a day. I forget.

I surprised myself in that I was able to let the solid oil melt in my mouth, something that had gagged me during previous attempts. I would place the spoonful of solid coconut oil in my cheek and allow it to melt - took about 30 seconds - without gagging. Score!

So, did it make my teeth all fancy and clean? Are my gums healthier? Does my body feel so much better? Did it heal a bunch of ailments? Are my cavities gone?

Well, for one, oil pulling certainly left my teeth feeling very nice and smooth. That feeling would last for a little bit and was enjoyable - similar to the feeling you get after a cleaning at the dentist.


As for healing my gums, improving oral health or overall health - FAIL. There is zero noticeable change in my gums since beginning this routine. My gums bled just as much on day 30 as they did on day 1. Absolutely not a trace of improvement whatsoever. My overall health? Same. I don't feel any worse, other than massive exhaustion, and I do not feel any better.

I stopped oil pulling right on day 30. Why? I lost two fillings. Two motherfucking fillings are gone. This is sometimes noted as a "side effect" of oil pulling and you'll hear various reasons ranging from the fact that all that swishing will knock a filling out to it's your body's way of detoxing itself. Well, detox away, but I need those fillings. One was the youngest filling in my mouth, on one of my incisors and was comprised of the white filling material (I call it "bonding" which may be an incorrect term).

Since I have very crappy poor people Medicaid dental insurance that doesn't cover many fillings (if at all - and you need to ask permission for them), I cannot risk losing any more. So, I have suspended the oil pulling for the time being.

I wish I could have come back to tell you that it worked, my gums are healed, my teeth are sparkly white, my acne is gone, my poop looks like a Faberge egg, and my nails paint themselves. I'm not going to tell you not to try it. Many people are extremely satisfied with oil pulling and I certainly believe it works for them. Like anything else, what works for one person does not always work for another (a lesson that should be applied to all aspects of life). 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Feel (too much)

This tree is the reason I am writing this little post. That was the tree in front of my home as it stood yesterday. This morning it is gone.

And I cried. A lot. I've cried now and then since they put the fucking orange ribbon of death around it. I cried this morning as the tree cutting dudes were hanging outside my front window, revving up their chainsaws and taking this tree down.

The property owners of this complex are very money-oriented. Not people-oriented. They have gone on a tree chopping spree this week, stating that trees are dangerous. This is a very wooded property, a fact that they use as a selling point in their adverts. They have removed 50% of their tree population since I moved here 5 years ago. They do not care about resident input. They don't care. They have not replanted a single tree, despite promises over the years. But, this isn't about them. It's about me.

How many of you read the words above, where I stated that I cried? Do you think I'm nuts for crying over trees? It's okay, I'm totally used to it. I have a strong connection to nature and I get upset when it's harmed. Personally, I wish I wasn't this way.

I have always been very sensitive to other people, animals, and nature. I tend to take on a lot of feelings. I think they call that being an empath....but I don't know much about that. All I know is that I have been like this since I was a tiny child. I have a boatload of compassion in my heart. I want to fix all the things. I want to save people in trouble, save animals in danger, save trees, save land. And it hurts me - HARD - when I cannot do it. I dislike feeling powerless when I cannot help.

In the case of animals and nature, I have just always loved and respected them. I grew up being taught to respect nature, especially by my dad. He always told me it is extremely important to take care of and respect the planet and all of her creatures. So, I have. When I see trees bulldozed for a development or an animal squashed on the side of the road, I feel pretty sad. Sometimes, I have an overwhelming sense of doom when I think about all the development going on, all of the habitat loss and environmental damage done on a daily basis. While I find great joy in nature, I also feel great sadness when it's harmed.

There are many times I wish I didn't care. It would be a nice weight off my shoulders.

I wish I could pump my fists in the air and yell, "YAY DEVELOPMENT!!!" I wish I could chant, "drill, baby, drill." I wish I could feel zero when I see trees plowed down. I wish I could have watched them chop down my tree, shrugging my shoulders, and going about my day like it didn't make a difference. I wish I could pass by a dead or injured animal and not even think about it for a moment. I wish I could hear stories of people suffering or living in poverty and just move along, focusing on just my own needs and not worrying about theirs. There are so many people who are disconnected, who couldn't give a shit if a tree gets cut down or a family goes without food or a herd of deer just lost their habitat. They don't care if we frack and drill the shit out of this continent. They don't care if 2,000 acres of forest becomes yet another strip mall with a nail salon, UPS store, and GameStop. It must be so nice to be disconnected from the world, unfeeling. It must be nice to keep dries eyes and a hard heart. You don't have to worry about reality being in your face and challenging your compassion. I would like to take my compassion and flush it down the toilet.

Feeling connected, feeling like we are all here for one another and should take care of each other and this planet is hard on my heart. I have so much love and that love brings great sadness when I see pain in another person or destruction in nature. Compassion means "to suffer with," and I wish I could shut that off and freeze my heart, thinking only of myself. Compassion means you can give great love, but you are also capable of feeling great sadness and pain for others. I want to disconnect. How easy it would be!

Right?

Is it truly easier to disconnect yourself from humanity and nature? As much as I wish I could simply not care, I cannot imagine NOT caring. It's a constant battle within myself. While I'm known among my friends for being like this, they do not know that I struggle with it. They don't know there are many days where I wish I could just flip a switch and not give a shit. I won't give a shit if you call me names. I won't give a shit if you judge me. I won't give a shit if you make fun of my shoes or my shirt. See? I have plenty of practice with not giving a shit about certain things. I will give a shit if you chop down my tree. I'll give a shit if you dislike poor people. I'll give a shit if you intentionally harm animals.

I can't imagine myself any other way. What would I be like? Would it truly be easier to not care? Would I like myself as a person....would that even matter?

In the end, as much as it hurts me to give a shit, I still choose to give a shit about these things that are important to me and the world. I wish it didn't hurt as much, but I wouldn't wish to be anyone else, no matter how simple being aloof seems to be.

For now, all I can do to ease the pain is to be the good....be the change I want to see in the world. I have no choice, but to be the good, spread that goodness, and hopefully have others follow.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Frozen Toes, Warm Hearts. Or Something Like That

Copyright 2014 JSH
The frozen white stuff that falls from the sky, oh we have so much of it. So much fucking snow.

I live in Pennsylvania. It's Winter. Winter in Pennsylvania brings cold temperatures, gloomy skies, frozen white stuff, winds, cold rain. It's expected. Every few years, sometimes several in a row, we get hammered in the Winter. We get storm after storm bringing us snow, sleet, freezing rain, and any other type of frozen precipitation. And brutal cold. This is one of those years. Mama Nature has gone all dramatic with the Winter weather. We've had a constant stream of storms dumping this frozen white shit all over our lawns and streets. We even had an ice storm, which brought down many trees and power lines in this area - the worst natural disaster here since Hurricane Sandy. There are many reasons for this extreme active weather pattern, which also included the Polar Vortex drooping down over half the country like a big saggy frozen boob - there are pressure systems off the East Coast that keep other pressure systems close to the coast, allowing cold air to travel down to us and naughty storms to keep following the same pattern. There's the Jet Stream, which is pretty much just on "lather, rinse, repeat" this year. We've got Climate Change. It's really a thing. Generally, there is a typical interplay of all these systems and atmospheric streams on this planet that control which way storms go, how low temps go, and how fucking batshit crazy we'll go after we've been locked in our frozen homes for the 5th consecutive week. Also, because Obama. Just kidding.

We've had so much damn snow that I, a lover of my gentle Mother Earth, am about to shake my fist at the heavens and scream, "bitch, we ain't the cast of Frozen! Knock this shit off." My son has missed a ton of school. I have lost count of all of the snow days they've had, not to mention the early dismissals and late openings. They have a lot of days to make up. Our last storm, just a few days ago, dumped a foot of snow on us and resulted in two days off from school. Even my 7 year old son rolled his eyes at the forecast, stating that he is sick and tired of snow days. You know it's bad when the kids are complaining. There are only so many crafts, baking activities, and snowman building outings that you can do. Worse, this snow has resulted in about two months worth of rent lost in income. That is bad for a family like mine. While I respect the forces of nature, I'm also ready to get this frozen shit show on the road and get on with some Spring...at which point I'll be hiding under my bed because of thunderstorms.

My kids have gone out and built so many snowmen and little igloos. We've sledded down the hill hundreds of times. We've thrown snowballs. We've run inside for hot chocolate and tea to warm up our frozen fingers. With the first few snowfalls, you bundle up merrily and run outside with your kids, snapping a billion pictures of every sled trip down the hill and every stage of building a snowman. By the 17th snow storm, complete with 18 inches of snow and ice layered on the ground, you drag yourself out in your pajama pants and boots, and tell your husband to grab a pic from the window with his phone. Snow is so love/hate for me. It's pretty to look at. I love the fact that my kids have such a blast in it. I'm just over it this year. I also believe that I suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have noticed it for the past few Winters. My mood and my energy level can get quite low during the Winter. I need sun. I am solar powered. Even on the coldest day, if that sunshine comes out, I'm running outside of my front door and spinning around in those golden rays of warmth - until I realize I'm only wearing a sports bra and my yoga pants with the hole in the crotch and that my nipples are indeed frozen solid.

I want to tell you that I spend every snow day curled up with a cozy blanket by the fire, book in one hand and piping hot cup of coffee in the other, warm fuzzy socks peeking out from under the blanket, and a cat on my lap. Such an Instagram moment. I want to tell you that my kids and I spend hours on those days creating all different kinds of crafts out of ecru cardstock, neon sharpies, and organic rose petals, while the aroma of various baked goods filled our home with warmth and sugary love. It's just not the reality. We've got cabin fever, yo, and we all out for blood.

Sure, we've done some crafts. I've got plenty of $1.00 sticky foam craft packs from A.C. Moore to entertain two kids for at least 6 minutes. My son is super artistic and can spend hours at a time working on a drawing or creating something out of things he found in the recycling bin. However, there is a two year old involved and, though she fancies herself an artist, crayons, paper, and stickers will only hold her attention for so long before someone melts down. While I have picked up a book this season, I only read for 5 minute spurts before someone is screaming, "mmmmaaaaaaaaaammmmmaaaaaaaa!!!!" or my two year old  runs in without her pants to inform me that her poop missed the bowl and she stepped in it. We've definitely baked a bit this Winter, so I guess that gets me a nod from Pinterest.

I won't lie - my kids have watched more T.V. than any self-respecting member of Mothering would approve of. I could probably act out quite a few episodes of Curious George or Barney in my sleep. And I sit there, feeling guilty, because nothing that we are doing would be worthy of a white-washed and over saturated Instagram photo or a Pin to someone's "Comfy, Cozy, Family Snow Day" board. I worry that I'm not doing enough for my kids while they're stuck home for another snow day. We're not doing enough crafts. We're not baking enough muffins. I'm not making enough soup in my crock pot (because I don't own one). My house isn't as clean as everyone says it should be when you're spending so much time indoors. In fact, it's trashed....because my kids are wild savages. The guilt seeps in. Dear God, I'm not a good enough mom because I didn't do an ice particle home study with my kids and we didn't create snowman crafts out of organic cotton balls picked by sparkle fairies. Fuck that shit. My cure for mom guilt - getting the hell outside, getting into nature, even if it's a vast gloomy frozen fuckhole at the moment.

Being outside always heals me. To be completely cliché, nature is my Church. I find so much spiritual fulfillment outside in nature. Even in the Winter, when everything is frozen over, half-dead, and gray, I still find beauty. There are birds and other critters who only visit in Winter. Some are here year round, but are more active in the Winter. Winter brings owl humping season, and we occasionally hear the love calls of Great Horned owls. The foxes around here are very active in Winter and their ...ummm.... unique calls are frequent this time of year. Getting outdoors allows me to calm my brain a little bit, focus on simple things such as the color of the sky, clouds, little signs of Spring in the scenery around me. It just helps to ground me.

This Winter, when I have those crappy guilt feelings and I'm out of craft ideas and tolerance for Barney tunes, I grab the winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and boots and pack the kids up in the car and drive to one of our favorite parks. We're typically among very few at the park during this time of year, especially when there in snow on the ground. We walk on some paved trails, which are never plowed or shoveled after snow, and then we veer off onto the regular dirt trails. My kids love being out there. They love he change of snow scenery. Instead of snowmen, forts, snowballs and all of the things you do when playing in your yard, they just walk through the snow, taking in all the sites, noticing how the snow changes the landscape and the shape of trees and bushes. They are fascinated by frozen streams, ponds, and lakes. A bonus with snow is animal tracks - it's so much easier to see them, even on a frozen lake. They enjoy trying to figure out which critter made which tracks. I make it a learning experience, but not forcefully so. I let them wander and walk ahead of me (always safely in sight), exploring, and I occasionally remark about something - a sign of spring, a bird we only see in Winter (Junco), vegetation that stays green all year, different berries, etc. They learn, but with ease and without pressure. The wintertime scene in the woods is different than Summer - obviously - as it's quieter, sometimes more serene, not as full of people. You can listen to the sounds of the various birds, or of water cracking the icy surface of a stream, without trying to filter through tons of human voices. It's nice. Peaceful.

So even though it's the same frozen white shit that we have at home, my kids get a change of scenery, I get to refresh myself and clear my brain, and we all get some exercise. Bonus, the 2 year old usually passes out for a good nap on the car ride home.

Outside: You should go there.

Copyright 2014 JSH I will cut you

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