Thursday, September 6, 2012


I'm back, but goodness! It has been hard to get back into the routine of my real life!

For instance today is supposed to be "Thoughtful Thursday" but I forgot completely that it was Thursday until about 20 minutes ago... I spent the day running errands and trying to keep my kids happy and didn't give anyone else a second thought. Total fail.

In honesty, I haven't given anyone else a second thought much at all in the past 3 years. I have been consumed with trying to survive each day.

We ran to the library today and picked out some new books. The kids also played a bit on the computers for the first time. The Squeak discovered Oregon Trail and loved it instantly (I knew he would); I was weirdly shocked at how much it has changed since I was a 5th grader looking forward to "Oregon Trail Days" at school.

Before I proceed with this very intriguing story ;) , some background: For the past 3 years (since becoming a parent to two children) I have not handled errands well. No matter how smoothly an outing goes, there is inevitably that moment, usually in the checkout line but sometimes in the produce aisle or while waiting for the bathroom or during some other transition, when everything falls apart. One kid won't stop kicking the other. The other kid starts bouncing and running and jumping and playing loudly and screeching and just generally annoying everyone. Someone gets hurt and won't stop wailing. There is a major meltdown when it is time to go. Whatever. It always ends the same way, with me feeling stressed to the max and needing to hole up and recover for the rest of the day (usually after having yelled at one or both of the kids). I have avoided outings as much as possible.

As we waited to check out at the library, I sent the kids on an alphabet scavenger hunt to find something for each letter of the alphabet. They found something for A through E and I avoided the usual craziness of checking out. There was no climbing on counters or running out the door or spinning around and crashing into other patrons or fighting or crying or screaming. It dawned on me that with a little effort I can really minimize my stress when we are out and about, and I finally, finally, FINALLY feel like I have at least some of the energy needed to give that little bit of effort.

In the past month, I have felt some fog lifting. Everyday tasks don't seem quite so insurmountable. The kids' big emotions and reactions don't seem quite so scary. Getting up off the couch, or sitting down on the floor to play with my kids, or even getting us out of the house, doesn't seem quite so impossible or purposeless. I am beginning to finally feel like myself again, and to finally like myself as a parent again.

And here is an admission.

(my Pixie, just one week old, wearing in her expression how I would feel, looking back, 3 years later...)

It has been a long road. Postpartum depression sneaked up on me, wearing a disguise so good I didn't recognize it until two years had passed. I listened to its voice in my head telling me that *I* was the problem, that for most people, adjusting to having two children wasn't this hard, but it was hard for me because I wasn't enough. It filled me with doubt and fear. It sucked me dry. I was immobilized by fatigue, by anxiety, and by apathy.

I wish I could have recognized it sooner. I have attempted to heal, but I still fight with the words I hear in my head: "You are not enough." "You should be able to do this. Why can't you do this?" "You are pathetic." "You have damaged your kids beyond repair."

I have attempted to keep it under wraps, haven't acknowledged the issue much. I don't want sympathy, or affirmation, or reassurance. I know I'm a good mom, I am enough, I can do hard things, life is hard, mothering is hard, my kids will be fine (well, that one, I do admit, I don't know quite so much...), and when I am told these things in reassurance, while intentions are good and hearts mean well, I am left feeling silly and stupid and pathetic for believing the lies of depression. So no, I don't write this to garner a response of any kind.

I write this because I have felt silenced by depression long enough. I write this because postpartum depression (and depression in general) wears many masks, and it can fool even the least-likely candidates (not that I am necessarily a least-likely candidate, but I did feel like I was well-versed in the symptoms of postpartum depression and would have recognized it, felt prepared, even, to recognize it, in myself. And I also have never before in my life felt depression of any kind, anything more than the ordinary temporary "blues" that I could always shake myself out of easily...). I write this because for the first time in 3+ years, I am actually feeling like I am more than my depression.

And that deserves mention.

While I can't know what tomorrow will hold, I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time. I feel like slowly, ever so slowly and delicately, I am rising.

And I want to celebrate!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Time to get away!

I'll be taking a break from Learn at Home Parenting this weekend as I travel to do some learning (and relaxing) of my own with my cousins in southern California. Catch ya' on the flipside!

Friday, August 31, 2012

All the world's a stage!

One of my favorite things to do with my sisters growing up was to put on performances for our family. Sometimes we put on plays, sometimes we sang, sometimes we danced, oftentimes we sang and danced (this was in the early days of MTV, afterall!). It's something that I have been suggesting to my kids for years when they are wanting something to do, but they have only recently actually liked the idea.

We've spent every day this week filming performances. The best was when the kids decided to perform "Little Red Riding Hood." They decided on roles, gathered up their costumes, and created multiple sets. The kids set up a seating area in the living room and I rigged up a stage with a curtain in the entryway (the one advantage to having a step-down/sunken living room!). We didn't rehearse at all, and I didn't tell the kids what to say when we performed. It was so satisfying to see them act out the familiar story, assigning voices to their characters. My Squeak is definitely a performer. Pixie enjoys performing but gets a little shy in the limelight (when speaking, anyway). I love to see them and wonder what they will be like as teenagers and adults. I have hopes for them based on their personalities (I would love to see my Pixie a ballerina, and hope Squeak will be a musical theater guy), but I am excited to see if they will turn out how I think they might, or if they will go in a totally different direction. Anyway, I've loved seeing their creativity in this totally new realm. They have the best ideas and we've been having so much with this!

Next Squeak tells me he wants to perform "Peter Pan," but I'm trying to think of some good, familiar stories/fairy tales that could be acted out by just the two of them - it's hard! Got any suggestions?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: introduction

One of the (many!) things that I haven't been very good at and really, really want to do better is teaching my kids how to serve others. I admit that often in my life since having kids I have felt really overwhelmed and stretched to my limits (emotionally, physically, and even financially), feeling like I don't have anything left of myself to give beyond the walls of my home. Because of that I haven't really been looking for opportunities to serve others, and I haven't helped my kids do so, either. I want to change that.

I truly believe that those who have been blessed with more in this life, whether it is more money, more happiness, more time, more support, more family, more friends, more health, or more anything, have a responsibility to help those who have not. I have been blessed with a lot in my life and I want to share my blessings. I want to teach my kids to share their blessings, and to realize that they are very blessed. I also want to teach my kids that serving others will help you love others, and that even when you feel like you have nothing to give there is always something you can do. I want to be a more compassionate and thoughtful person, and I want my children to learn how to be compassionate and thoughtful as well.

Last week we were able to have an awesome opportunity to help our community. We have this amazing non-profit organization here that works with farmers to provide fresh produce to the local food bank. Every so often a farmer will donate a portion of his crops to this organization, and volunteers from the community help harvest the produce. Half of what is harvested is donated to the local food bank, and volunteers get to take home the other half. It is a wonderful way to help those who can't afford the delicious offerings of our area, and it doesn't even really feel like helping since we get a portion of said delicious food! We've been involved with the organization since we moved here last summer, and it's been a great introduction to service for our kids. It is a very real way for them to see how they are helping people, since they physically collect the fruit themselves and then personally divide up half of what they pick and donate it. Last week we were able to pick blueberries to donate, and I was surprised to see how eager my kids were to share what they picked. I was worried they might be upset when they saw half of our efforts given away, but they were so happy to be able to help people who couldn't afford to buy fresh blueberries. It was watching this that made me realize they are eager to help and I need to do a better job at giving them opportunities to serve.

And so I am instituting "Thoughtful Thursday" here in the Learn at Home home. I want us all to be more attuned to ways we can help others. Even though my kids are small, and I am stretched thin, and we don't have a lot of money to spare, we can still make a difference.

Since this is something that I admittedly am not that great at, I need your help! What are some of the ways you teach your children to serve? What are some simple ways small children can help others in their family, their school, and their community? And I need LOTS of ideas, since my goal is to do something once a week!!!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On schooling

Hello, hello! I've been meaning to write all about the fun we've been having, but I've been too busy having fun! ;)  I've had this post started and have kept coming back to it for days, but then it just gets abandoned all over again...

(not my picture or our tree frog. Image source:

Today we found two tree frogs in our hot tub (what the heck?!). We caught one and made a cozy little terrarium for it. The kids learned all about what frogs need (moisture, hiding places, greenery, and food).and what they eat (bugs of all kinds: ants, spiders, beetles, crickets, even slugs!), and then helped collect the needed items. They were so adorable and excited and spent the evening watching the cute little frog. We'll let it go tomorrow but until then we're all having fun with it. :)

My kids get so excited about science and life, and it reminds me of myself as a child...but then I get sad because I think about how formal schooling totally ruined that for me. As a child, science was my favorite thing ever. I loved learning about life, biology, ecology, geology... As I got older, my science classes in school took all the fun out of science. By college I absolutely hated it, so much that I went to class as little as necessary to still get a  B-C. I hate science now. I still love living creatures but anything else "science-y" just makes me tune out completely.

As I prepare to send my first baby off to Kindergarten in 2 short weeks, I can't help but wonder (and fear for) how his school career will be. I am scared of school squelching his desire and excitement to learn. I fear for how his self-esteem will someday be tied into how well he performs on a test. I am terrified of the influence other children will have on him, and how he will be at the mercy of the kindness of a bunch of still-learning and growing immature peers.

In short, I am freaking out.

Even with all of that, for now, I know that public schooling is the right thing for him. As much as I would love to keep him away from a school setting with kids who might be mean, I know that he wouldn't thrive here with me, at least not at this time in his life. He needs that structured setting, with a teacher who expects him to sit quietly and listen for some of the day, and with other kids with whom to socialize and from whom to learn social cues.

He is beyond excited about going to school. And so I am excited for him. I will cry after I drop him off on the first day (and likely beyond the first day), but I will try to be hopeful for his future: I hope that he will love school. I hope that he will feel confident and brave and secure in who he is and what he believes. I hope he will have good teachers who will help nurture his love and zeal for life and learning. I hope he will blossom.

What tips do any of you experienced parents have for me about sending my baby off to school for the first time? Do you have any fun traditions at the start of a new school year? How do you stay connected with your child as slowly you loosen your grasp on him?