Mean Mom: middle school edition

In a few short months, my oldest daughter will graduate from elementary school and become a middle schooler. (Hold me.) In addition to all the perennial challenges of the junior high years—hormones, mean girls, a larger school, kids who party—we must figure out how to navigate social media and smart phones.

How I prefer she spend her time. Outside, playing badminton.

For the first time in my parenting, I cannot look to my parents’ model or that of my wise friends with older kids. Even five years ago, smart phones were far less ubiquitous than they are today. My cabinet cannot help me here because when their daughters were in middle school, flip phones were socially acceptable. Snapchat hadn’t been invented.  Today, 50% of kids have smart phones in 6th grade and 90% have them by 8th grade.

Continue reading “Mean Mom: middle school edition”

A meditation on voting

I remember going with my mom to vote. As a pre-schooler, I was particularly intrigued by the curtain she had to step behind with her ballot. Even more intriguing was the fact that my parents’ polling place was a cemetery—my mom always laughed at the irony of voting at a cemetery in the suburbs of Chicago, a city famous for voter fraud that involved dead people casting votes.

We, too, always try to bring our children when we vote. We do this not for convenience’s sake, but for vision’s sake. We want our kids to understand the great privilege and responsibility that voting is. Continue reading “A meditation on voting”

Living Local

Much has been written on the importance of buying local.  From shopping at farmers markets to joining local farm share programs to buying “a quarter” of a nearby cow, we are learning to buy our food from producers within a certain mile radius of our homes.  This is major progress for both our diets and our society.

I want to encourage us to not only buy local, but also to live local.  Imagine confining our weekly activities to within a five mile radius of our homes.  My philosophy is that the more often we do something, the closer to our homes it should be.

For instance, recreation.  Why do the traveling hockey league when you can do the local park and rec league? Continue reading “Living Local”

The complexity of choosing simplicity

IMAG0167 This photo aptly illustrates my approach to life and to parenting.  In our family, we spend a lot of time just chilling out and soaking in.  I could say that this is because I understood from the beginning that “doing too much can be debilitating for kids whose brains are still developing,” as I recently read.  

The truth, though, is that slow and steady is the pace that feels comfortable to me.  And I’m the one running this show, gang. I find packed schedules and rushing around very uncomfortable.  For me to have any patience with my kids, any emotional energy to face life’s challenges, or any ability to think deeply, I need to live at a calm pace. Some might even call our gait leisurely. I want to be available to my kids, to my friends, and to my community. That takes time and flexibility.

To maintain what feels to us like a sane pace, Rick and I have had to make dozens of difficult, even painful, choices.   Continue reading “The complexity of choosing simplicity”

Sewing My Net (or Why I’ll Probably Never Have a Mudroom)

In my experience, everyone has one dominant value that drives most of their choices.  For some, frugality is the value that guides their decision-making.  For others, it is convenience and efficiency.  For many, it is the desire to get the very best for their kids.  Yes, most of us also have secondary and tertiary values that also influence the choices we make, but I think most of us have a gut instinct that is heavily influenced by one dominant value, maybe two.

My highest value, the one that drives my decisions, is relationships.  In everything I do I want there to be a relational payoff.  Questions like Will I meet people who I will be able to see again?, Does this activity embed me further in existing relationships?, and How can I match up my friends and acquaintances with each other? drive my choices.  Most of the time, this is at a subconscious level.  I am acting according to my value of relationships without even realizing it.

For my husband, the dominant value is honoring the earth.   Continue reading “Sewing My Net (or Why I’ll Probably Never Have a Mudroom)”