Ramblings on Motherhood

Just picked up a few things at the store
Just picked up a few things at the store
Just hanging around
Just hanging around
It's so intense when the kids are sick.
It’s so intense when the kids are sick.
Enjoying Sukkot close to Ima's heart.
Enjoying Sukkot close to Ima’s heart.
Ella learning to take big steps on her own.
Ella learning to take big steps on her own.

I go through my day, hoping for the best, trying to be present, wondering what comes next. I follow my toddler across the playground, sometimes wishing to be standing closer to my friends, so I could actually hear their conversation, and chime in. I remember to look around at the trees in the afternoon sunlight and marvel at the pure delight that is autumn in California. The sun is so warm, the breeze so cool, the leaves fall yet we stay in shirtsleeves. I feel lucky and fortunate and grateful that my kids are roaming around on a lovely safe playground surrounded by friends and trees. I wonder what’s for dinner, and know it’s up to me. I remember what feels like a million years ago walking through the market and deciding what to make at 7pm, knowing it was just for me. Now my work day is just nearing the end at that time, and I know it’s never really over. Because these heartbreakingly sweet, heartbreakingly frustrating people still need me nearby, need help to fall asleep, return to sleep, to wake up in the morning and eat. They look to me for help, advice, and information, but mostly nourishment of body and soul. This is alternately empowering and suffocating, inspiring and intimidating. What if I don’t know how to take care of myself? What if I forget for a moment how precious they are to me and tread on their trust? They always forgive me, partly because they need me so much, but I hope also because I honor their trust most of the time. I notice so many things about each of them changing every day, and I take mental notes and pictures of a million moments as they flash by. I remember moments from the time before I had kids, which somehow seems like I was only half me, or half awake, or swimming underwater maybe. Not because kids are so magical, but because the day my son was born so was I. Everyday I wake up more to life. My kids offer me the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. All I have to do is stop trying to turn them into whatever I think they should be, stop insisting on what I’m sure I have figured out and they need to know, and just really see them. Witness and listen, and just spot them as they climb, literally and figuratively.

Working it out
Working it out

Yesterday Ben and I were talking about working toward a learning goal and after I got frustrated and tried to force something with threats and incentives he said, “Ima, just let me go at my own pace.” I dropped everything, thanked him, and started over. Today he picked up the work in question and told me he would do it by himself and just check in with me if he needed help. Then tonight in bed we were laughing about something that was nothing but it felt so wonderful to just laugh and be silly. I’ve learned that often the best way for me to connect with my kids is through humor. I tend to take myself too seriously and get bogged down by the woes of the world, so it can be both difficult and so healing to just let go and laugh at nothing. It turns out I have a very similar sense of humor to a seven year old boy, at least a seven year old boy who love potty humor and any kind of pun. I’ve found the best way to respond to gross kid humor is to out gross him, which he loves. Mo thinks we’re both ridiculous. Ella tries to get in on our jokes but she hasn’t quite gotten the nuances of potty jokes yet so she mostly just says any rude words she can think of and then commands us to laugh. Which in itself is funny, so she gets her laugh after all. Even Zeecee makes jokes without words. I’m telling you, she makes us all laugh just with her eyes. She also likes to climb all over us when we are laying in bed and there really is something funny about a one year old coming and sitting on your head when you’re trying to read a bedtime story. There is a lot of humor in life if I’m willing to look for it, and stop dreading the disaster that hasn’t happened yet. The truth is that the disasters that will inevitably come, please G-d not soon and not often, are not the ones I play out in my head. They will probably be unexpected and random and my rehearsals won’t make a bit of difference. Pain is pain is pain whoever and wherever you are. My fear of the unknown is outweighed only by my courage to take each moment as it comes. I’m only learning what that means a little every day, and I have to trust that that is okay.

Ben working on a rudimentary computer kit Mo's coworker gave him to try.
Ben working on a rudimentary computer kit Mo’s coworker gave him to try.
Ella liked the rainbow colored wires.
Ella liked the rainbow colored wires.
Being silly
Being silly
I love this kid!!!
I love this kid!!!

All photos from Mo’s phone (thanks baby!)

I hope to update more frequently to share our journey with you!

love,

c

What Should Mother’s Day Mean?

Mornings with the Kids
Real morning portrait.

Today is Mother’s Day, something which I remembered partially, and was very proud of myself for getting a small package into the mail for my own mother, although it likely won’t make it until tomorrow. However, my husband forgot. I didn’t really think to remind him a few days ago when I remembered long enough to head to the post office with the kiddos. After that I forgot again until this morning when I woke up sandwiched between my daughters, after a night of nursing my nine month old every twenty minutes, feeling groggy as if I hadn’t slept at all. I brought the girls out to the living room while my husband and son slept on, and I remembered.

Today is Mother’s Day! I should be in bed right now! He should have had the kids make messy but cute homemade cards! We should have plans for an idyllic family day, or I should have the day off! I didn’t really feel resentful at this point, but I was working up to it. “Haha,” I thought, “I’ll tell him it’s Mother’s Day knowing he forgot, and now he’ll feel guilty and let me go back to bed!” Then I remembered his usual statements about Hallmark holidays, “Everyday is Mother’s Day.” I used to think this was an excuse, a way to ignore a chance to make someone feel special, but today I finally get it.

Of course we should show our mothers that they are special on Mother’s Day, and I’m sure my husband will offer me some flowers or something today, but please, let’s not forget moms the rest of the time. As a homeschooling mom of three, I spend a lot of time thinking about parenting and motherhood, and as far as I can see, it is generally under-appreciated, overlooked, overwhelming, and pretty much impossible to feel like we are doing a good job in this society, at this time. Working moms are frustrated that they aren’t with their kids as much as they would like, at-home moms are frustrated that their work isn’t valued, everyone is frustrated with household tasks that there isn’t enough time to do, self-care we’re supposed to be taking time for that seems more like a burden than a luxury, a lack of maternity leave, vacation time, and support from dads who are working outside the home. And where do we find nurturing, non –competitive, deep social connections with other mothers? How do we create a fair, supportive relationship with our spouse that prioritizes our own personal time as well as our partner’s, as well as time to grow as a couple, as well as satisfying family time? How do we connect with our children deeply and authentically when they are in school for eight hours a day and have homework in the evenings and we are all exhausted?

These are not happy, friendly Mother’s Day sentiments, so I’m sorry if I’m reminding you of something negative on a day when we should be celebrating. I do want to celebrate mothers today, including myself, and I want to do it the way my husband suggests when he says, “Every day is Mother’s Day.” He may have forgotten that the calendar says to remember moms today, but yesterday he let me sleep in for three hours while he cared for and played with our three children, and managed to keep them quiet in the hallway so they didn’t disturb me. Then he took our two older kids to the park for two hours while I spent quiet one on one time with our baby. He does one or both of these things every Saturday. The day before he took the day off from work to spend the day hiking through a redwood forest in a nearby state park with our two older children. As a homeschooling mom this was a great break, even just for my mind not to have to keep track of all the kids. I appreciate the way he helps care for our family, by working outside the home, but also by genuinely witnessing and appreciating the work I do in the home, with our kids. To the best of his ability and time, he offers me time off to recharge, and listens to the details of my day, and my ideas and problems. If I need support, I know I can come to him, and that makes my life and work not just possible, but meaningful.

In the past few weeks I have had a conversation with a long time nanny who doesn’t have her own kids. Her husband passed away, then she went to culinary school to become a pastry chef, then she had breast cancer and after recovering, began to work as a nanny, and has been caring for others’ children as if they are her own for the past thirty years. I found her story moving and inspiring. I also spoke with a friend who is a mother of two who told me that she had an older child who passed away a few years ago, something I hadn’t known and almost couldn’t imagine, something that I have thought about every day since. When I think of her sunny demeanor and obvious love for her two younger children, I feel sadness but mostly a tremendous amount of hope. I had a long conversation about motherhood with a twenty-four year old mother of two who is struggling to make ends meet by working nights in a restaurant and caring for her little ones all day, giving a whole new meaning to working a double shift. These women inspired me to remember that we may see women with children today and have a sweet or sentimental thought or word for them, but we don’t know the depth of their stories, the complexity of their struggles, or the nature of what motherhood looks like for them. There are many people for whom this day is unbearably sad, whether they have lost their mothers or children, or long to be a mother. I would ask us all to be compassionate toward the daily struggles of every kind of mother, to work toward appreciating our own work and our partner’s, and to care for ourselves and each other with love.

Happy Mother’s Day.

At the beach with my Mom.
At the beach with my Mom.
Mo's forest selfie with the kids on Friday.
Mo’s forest selfie with the kids on Friday. I was busy staying in my pajamas all day. Every day is Mother’s Day folks!

Catch Up Mash Up

It has been a busy few weeks! I have some photos to share so I’m going to do what I’d like to call a “catch up mash up” – photos interspersed with stories and updates.

We went pumpkin picking a few weeks ago. Here in Florida the word “picking” is used loosely….

Pumpkin "picking" - here in Florida the pumpkins don't grow out of the ground, they come pre-picked from Indiana or somewhere on a truck and little elves distribute them into the fields where they are magically aligned as if they are growing. Then you "pick" (as in, choose) one and bring it home.
The pumpkins don’t actually grow out of the ground, they come pre-picked from Indiana or somewhere on a truck and little elves distribute them into the fields where they are magically aligned as if they are growing. Then you “pick” (as in, choose) one and bring it home.
Miss Ella at the pumpkin patch wearing my favorite outfit.
Miss Ella at the pumpkin patch wearing my favorite outfit.
Not only did this particular pumpkin patch have a bouncy castle, it had a fly wall!
Not only did this particular pumpkin patch have a bouncy castle, it had a fly wall!
Aww yeah.
Aww yeah.
Ghost pumpkins.
Ghost pumpkins.

We brought a lovely pumpkin home, where it sat on the table for a week while Ben asked me every day if we could eat it or carve it or paint it or SOMETHING already. I wasn’t sure what to do with it exactly, since we don’t really do Halloween. In the end I went with the classic route from my childhood and we carved a face into it.

Scooping the goo out of the first pumpkin we've ever carved.
Scooping the goo out of the first pumpkin we’ve ever carved while Ella looks on. I tipped it over so she could see the inside of the pumpkin. She responded with an awed “Oooohhh…”

 

Mo thought Ben carved this. Thanks a lot Mo, my artistic skillz get no respect! (Vampire teeth as per Ben's request)
Shabbat Shalom! Mo thought Ben carved this. Thanks a lot Mo, my artistic skillz get no respect! (Vampire teeth as per Ben’s request, although today he reminded me that he wanted it to have a scary looking mouth, NOT a smile.)
What!? We don't celebrate Halloween, but who doesn't love a good Jackolantern??
We don’t celebrate Halloween, but who doesn’t love a good Jackolantern??

Up next, a weekday visit to a local park I had never been to before. It was both stunningly beautiful and stunningly weird. I felt like I was walking through a David Lynch movie the whole time we were there. We drove through the winding wooded entrance road and marvelled at the fairy tale forest feeling of the place. When we arrived at the eerily empty playground the only other person there was an elderly man in a stained white tshirt doing pull ups on the monkey bars. He didn’t leave within about two minutes, so we did. We walked up a hill, past a cool sculpture, and up some sort of spiral castle made out of coral. At the top of the staircase there was a young man sitting off to the side and a man and his female friend standing with him. The older man started praying loudly, asking Jesus to make the young man the person he was meant to be and to free him from his troubles. His words were much more elaborate but that seemed to be the main idea. I wasn’t sure whether to keep walking up or to turn back, I didn’t want to interrupt them, and frankly the whole scene was pretty strange. Ben loves any kind of drama so he was very curious about what was going on and stood off to the side watching. To add to the David Lynch feel, the whole time a random woman was repeatedly walking up and down the stairs of the castle, silently, wearing flip flops.

Climbing the castle. Ben found many snails clinging to the rocks at the top. One came home with us, lived in a ball jar with some grass and rocks for about 24 hours, then made an escape. I can only assume that he is now living in one of the plants on our balcony.
Climbing the castle. Ben found many snails clinging to the rocks at the top. One came home with us, lived in a ball jar with some grass and rocks for about 24 hours, then made an escape. I can only assume that he is now living in one of the plants on our balcony.
Super cool weird tree.
Super cool tree.
Photo by Ben
Ben wanted to take a picture of us.

 

Ben’s uncle generously offered to have Ben come to the lab where he works in Key Biscayne to learn some things around marine science. While Ben and Uncle Yoni were learning about ghost crabs, oceans, and maps, Ella and I explored a nearby beach.

Busy baby at the beach.
Busy baby at the beach.

Then, because we hadn’t had enough science for the day, we went to the science museum to visit our favorite exhibits. They have a beautiful coral reef constructed inside a huge tank, starfish you can touch, and other micro habitats to marvel at.

Want to touch the fishies!
Want to touch the fishies!

Another day we went to Young at Art, a great interactive museum about half an hour away.

Ben showing off the awesome aboriginal mask he made at our new favorite museum.
Ben showing off the awesome aboriginal mask he made at our new favorite museum.
Flower child.
Flower child.

 

We are on a tight budget this month so we are trying to mostly do activities that are free or inexpensive and avoid take out and careless spending. We made an exception for a coffee at our favorite spot downtown on Sunday.

Start your day with LOVE
Start your day with LOVE

 

My city kid monkeying around.
My city kid monkeying around.
HIPSTER
I’m secretly a total hipster.
This kid wears a hoodie in the 90 degree heat. So serious! This morning he told me, "I look like I'm from New York." I said, "You look like you're IN New York, where it is cold!"
My deep thinker. This kid wears a hoodie in the 90 degree heat. He told me, “I look like I’m from New York.” I said, “You look like you’re IN New York!”
Zoning out.
Zoning out.
Silly girl rock climbing.
Silly girl rock climbing.
Beautiful.
Beautiful.
Movement.
Movement.

Last but not least…

My original lovie.
My original lovie.

I’m working on a homeschooling post for this week and a piece in a real live print magazine! Stay tuned for good things.

Have a great week!

love,

c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Loving life, loving you.”

I have no new photos to share so this is a throwback that captures the happy feelings we are having this week!
I have no new photos to share so this is a throwback that captures the happy feelings we are having this week!

I got both kids to sleep, snuck out of the bedroom, and wandered around the apartment. I enjoyed the quiet, contemplated putting in some laundry, surveyed the messy zones and mentally prioritized what needed to be addressed. Within five minutes both kids were up again, most likely a side effect of the rainy day spent mostly indoors and the limitless kinetic energy still swirling in their tiny bodies. I was crestfallen. Sweet freedom, snatched from my fingertips! I went back in and Ella wanted to nurse, Ben wanted me to snuggle. I whispered to Ben furiously, “You were both just asleep! What happened!?” He said, “Ella woke me up. Hug me.” I was still mad but I felt the edges soften a little. It is amazing how often seemingly important immediate demands conflict with the things that offer long term satisfaction and linger in sweet memories. I took a deep breath of Ella’s freshly washed hair on one side and wrapped my arm around Ben on the other and I felt free in that moment, suspended in the sensation of being aware that these times of long bedtimes and short personal time won’t last forever. Ben is already five, he is not going to want me to hold him while he falls asleep for too many more years. Already when I look at his wiry body jumping and running around and hear more logic in his thoughts, I can see that he is about to make the switch from little kid to big kid. I’m pretty sure when his baby teeth start falling out he’ll have crossed over. Ella is already moving out of the realm of babyhood, she recently started answering questions with “ken” or “lo” (yes or no in Hebrew) or by shaking her head. Just like that, she’s a tiny person with a clear opinion. Ben is thrilled that she is seeking out his attention and playing with him more and more.

I’m really enjoying watching my kids this week! Sometimes I find it so hard to balance the necessities of caretaking with actually enjoying my kids, other times it’s easy. Overall, this week feels like the most successful so far in terms of homeschooling. The kids are generally familiar with the schedule and the places we are going. They are also becoming more of a team so I find them much easier to deal with. I notice much less rivalry and I hear “It’s not fair!” far fewer times each day. Ben and Ella are both making friends in the homeschool community, which is awesome to watch. I absolutely love the groups of people we have met so far, and I feel very relieved that we made this decision. I have seen beautiful changes in Ben in just a few months of being at home and taking individual classes rather than being at school all day every day. He does complain sometimes about going to the classes and says that he just wants to stay home all day, but it is entirely obvious that he needs the physical exercise and the mental and social stimulation.

I am ready to call it quits for the night but I hope to be back soon with a more specific homeschooling update and some photos of our adventures!

Love,

c

 

Homeschooling Diary 10: Ups and Downs

These characters!
These characters!

I’m finding with having both kids together all the time that the highs are really high and the lows are really low. The sweetness between the kids is growing as they bond and spend more time playing. There is also a lot of frustration between us all because we are kind of on an island right now. Our formal activities are getting started in the next few weeks, so in the meantime, we are playing it by ear a bit more than I would like to be. We have been getting together with friends and going to different parks, playgrounds and museums. These casual plans are allowing me to develop a rhythm to the days themselves, which is helpful. However, the lack of consistent structure and direct engagement with activities and peers to play with have been hard for Ben and therefore for all of us.

Scoping out a caterpillar who was on a papaya at our friends' urban farm.
Scoping out a caterpillar who was on a papaya at our friends’ urban farm.
Close up! He was kind of intense.
Close up! He was kind of intense.

There are about a zillion different ways to parent effectively, eat healthfully, and just plain live life. What I’m trying to find is what works for me, for my husband, for our kids, and for all of us as a family. Four people with different needs and personalities are kind of a lot to consider, especially when we are spending so much time together. Realistically we can’t be everything that each other needs, so we need to discover when to outsource as well. I would be tempted to call this process trial and error, but let’s go with discovery because it sounds nicer and is closer to the way I am trying to see it as we move through this stretching time. I really do feel like I’m stretching right now, emotionally and mentally especially. I feel like I am burning out a little in this introductory phase, which I guess is fine because Mo is on vacation for Rosh Hashana starting Friday afternoon. We will have to readjust our routine, if you can call it that after just a few weeks.

Mo and Ella reading together. Totally snuck this shot without them noticing.
Mo and Ella reading together. Totally snuck this shot without them noticing.

Truly, all this living is really good practice for life, which to me is the point of homeschooling. As a kid in school I always felt like I was waiting for something to happen, learning a skill to use in a more practical application later, being prepared for something that never seemed to come. My hope with homeschooling is to turn childhood into life (if that makes sense), and spend as much time as possible with the people who are most important to me. One of the good/bad side effects of the new set up is that I am spending SO much time with them, that I am finally forcing myself to get out and spend time alone, simply because if I don’t I will lose my mind. I am also more excited to write, because it is even more satisfying than usual to spend time alone in my own head.

A quiet visit with some friends.
A quiet visit with some friends.

I would like to take the space at the end of my homeschooling diary posts to acknowledge some of the ups and downs that we go through each day.

Highlight: At bedtime tonight Ben and Ella were laying in bed, gently patting each other’s faces. Ben said, “I love you forever and ever and ever.” Ella said, “La la la,” which I think is her way of saying “I love you.”

Lowlight: Every argument, refusal, and moment of anger. Example: Discovering that Ben had inexplicably bitten through the rubber part of my new stroller’s handle.

Try to continue: Getting kitchen cleaned and prepped for the next day before bed.

Try to change: I am really working hard to follow through with what I say to Ben.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend, sending love!

c

Homeschooling Diary, day 1

My little party animal wearing the hat and glasses from his cousins party yesterday (he wore them like this all day) while helping me  make almond milk.
My little party animal wearing the hat and glasses from his cousin’s party yesterday (he wore them like this all day) while helping me make almond milk.

Today was our first “official” day of homeschooling with Ben, the date I’m writing on the forms I have to submit to the county declaring that I am “beginning a course of home instruction.” I want to try to post almost daily for the next month, to force myself to sit down and sort through the day, see what’s working and what I want to change. Today had some high points, and some real lows. The main difference between today and any other day of being home with both kids in the past few months is that I felt that I had an obligation to be productive or educational in some way. I didn’t actually do anything different but I saw certain things differently.

To clarify I will explain some of the main objectives I have for the next several months:

1. Household tasks- This mostly includes simple things like putting shoes in the closet, dirty laundry in the hamper, and clean clothes back in the drawers.  Sitting at the table while eating is big as well. Thankfully this has been on the agenda for a while now so Ben willingly pulls up a chair while he’s eating. The weak link in this department is me! I want to sit and eat with the kids for every meal, but it is a huge challenge to get food prepared for them and for me and on the table. Most meals are a look-through-the-fridge, who-wants-what mish mash. It is going to take some serious discipline on my part to meal plan, and save time by shopping and cooking for the week. I have literally been paid to do this for other people but for some reason doing it for my own family seems like an insurmountable task!

2. Reading- We read aloud to Ben often and he recognizes letters and certain words. I hope that as we continue to read he will continue to develop his recognition. He also plays phonics word games on Mo’s phone (my phone is strictly off limits to avoid negotiations) which are actually really cool. I bought a book of Mad-Libs and we’ve been working through it slowly, Ben thinks it is HILARIOUS! It has been cool to watch him discover that different words have different “jobs.”

3. Physical activity- Ben is a five year old boy so spending the day in the apartment (as he says he wants to do) is really not helpful for anyone. He’s like one of those big dogs that live in the city, he thinks he likes it but he is a much happier person when he runs free. There is a park about fifteen minutes away with big trees, open fields, and a playground, and I plan to be there several mornings a week. The heat in South Florida during August is a bit prohibitive, so we have to get going early.

4. Field trips- There are a ton of awesome museums around here! We are members at the science museum, but we haven’t even checked out the art museum, children’s museum, etc. I am planning to save these excursions for rainy days.

These are my basic, personal goals for right now, and Mo is in the process of picking out a more well rounded curriculum for us to work from. We are ordering some supplies like a huge roll of butcher paper for art projects, and hopefully setting up a real desk in our “new office” aka Ben’s room.

Here is the story of today: we woke up, had breakfast, went for a walk with Ben’s Uncle Yoni who was home with his daughter today, then continued on to a nearby outdoor shopping center where they have coin operated rides and the standard wall of gumball-type machines where you can get worthless plastic thingies for 25 cents. The last time we were there Ben was disappointed with the value of the 50 cent/30 second ride so I told him that the next time we went there, he could get a toy from a machine instead. Uncle Yoni even gave him a quarter. Lo and behold, they were all broken! Thinking about it now, I can see where he was coming from. That is TOTALLY DISAPPOINTING. At age five it seems like the secrets of the universe are locked up in those red bottomed jars. Who knows what could come tumbling out? Well, this morning I was not feeling so sympathetic. Mostly I was feeling hot in Miami at noon, and full of regret for taking the extra walk that had only ended in disappointment. Ben and Ella climbed on and off the stationary rides, I listened to a group of moms talking about how they yell at their kids all day because the kids just won’t listen and their husbands are always travelling, etc. I thought, wow, we’ve all been there, but I can’t believe they’re talking about it like it’s just a matter of course. Then an hour later I was at home, yelling at Ben who had been pushing my buttons ever since the empty toy machines had glared at us. That was the low point of the day. Then, for a pick me up, I took the kids to the doctor! They warned me there would be a wait when I called this morning for the appointment. When I got there they hadn’t included Ella on the appointment for some reason, so the wait was longer.

Post disappointment, pre meltdown.
Post disappointment, pre meltdown.

We finally made it home, the kids greeted Mo like a long lost saving grace, and he took Ben swimming. Things were starting to look up. Then bedtime somehow stretched from 7:30-9:15 and I just wanted to get in the car and drive and never come back. When I say that I really mean I wanted to drive to the nearest place that sells Haagen-Dazs and come home immediately to eat it. Instead I washed the day’s dishes, prepped for tomorrow, made some almond milk and smoothies for the morning, and looked at Instagram over and over. There are some beautiful places in the world! Whenever someone posts an insanely gorgeous sunset with the caption “my backyard” I’m like, “For real? Can I come live with you?” Then I remember we live in Miami, where many people come on vacation, and I just have to figure out how to get a little closer to the natural beauty here.

That was a long rambling post, but I’m doing this as sort of a homeschooling diary, so humor me please.

See you at the beach! 😉

Vancouver Island Photo Journal

In the woods, lost in thought, one of my favorite ways to spend my time.
In the woods, lost in thought, one of my favorite ways to spend my time.

 

I’m at the Holiday Inn airport hotel enjoying the peace and quiet because Mo took Ben to his very first movie theater movie! We were given some free passes that had to be used tonight so I guess it’s a good way to end our vacation. We fly out tomorrow morning and arrive home around midnight, so I’m sure there will be a few days of adjustment. I feel incredibly sad to leave our great friends and the beautiful surroundings out here! I don’t think that living here is in the cards for us, at least not very soon, so for now I’ll have to savor these two weeks. I am excited to get home to my sweet friends and family in Miami, but I feel the pressure of home life enveloping me already. I have so many things I want to focus on and I’m not sure where to find the time! Thankfully this step out of routine gives me the chance to reevaluate my priorities and timing. I look forward to seeing things in a new light and having the perspective to make different choices. In the mean time, in this in between, neither here nor there time, I wanted to share some more photos from the trip. These are mostly from camping, with a few from Victoria at the end. More to come, sending love! xo – c

 

The kids, rocking the camping lifestyle.
The kids, rocking the camping lifestyle.
Chilly morning walk in the greenery with my little elf.
Chilly morning walk in the greenery with my little elf.
Ella and her friend.
Ella and her friend.
Tic tac toe at a seaside coffee shop near our campground.
Tic tac toe at a seaside coffee shop near our campground.
Selfie!
Selfie!
Through the car window. The light out there was amazing.
Through the car window. The light out there was amazing.
Treehuggers.
Treehuggers.
EPIC tree
EPIC tree
Oh Mo.
Oh Mo.
Forest Ella.
Forest Ella.
Ben scoping out a little pool of water near Elk Falls.
Ben scoping out a little pool of water near Elk Falls.
Ben and his friend's toy, Skippy Jon Jones, who took a tour of the Pacific Northwest with us.
Ben and his friend’s toy, Skippy Jon Jones, who took a tour of the Pacific Northwest with us.
Little hikers.
Little hikers.
Super dark, off center family shot by a fellow hiker who had very long blonde hair and was wearing a bikini top and hot pants. I thought I was back in Miami for a minute!
Super dark, off center family shot by a fellow hiker who had very long blonde hair and was wearing a bikini top and hot pants. I thought I was back in Miami for a minute!
Yes, we bought some. It is chia and hemp seeds mixed with buckwheat, raisins, dried apples, cranberries and cinnamon. Mixed with fresh Island Vanilla yogurt...heavenly!
Yes, we bought some. It is chia and hemp seeds mixed with buckwheat, raisins, dried apples, cranberries and cinnamon. Stirred into fresh Island vanilla yogurt…heavenly!
Common Ground restaurant, where they tried to enlist us into their hippie cult. I like the hippie community part, but we're happy with our own religious path!
Common Ground restaurant, where they tried to enlist us into their hippie cult. I like the hippie community part, but we’re happy with our own religious path!
I don't know why, but Ella made friends with this wooden post marking the number of our campsite. She walked out and hugged it every morning, I guess because it was just her size she decided it was a friend.
I don’t know why, but Ella loved this wooden post marking the number of our campsite. She walked out and hugged it every morning. I guess because it was just her size she decided it was a friend.
I have been telling Mo that I like camping since we met, and he kept saying "Okay, but I've never actually SEEN you camp." I may have gone into the trip with a little something to prove, so I really wanted to impress him with my marshmallow roasting skills. I represented, but Mo had much more patience than me for getting the perfectly gooey center with crispy, golden, but not burnt exterior.
I have been telling Mo that I like camping since we met, and he kept saying “Okay, but I’ve never actually SEEN you camp.” I may have gone into the trip with a little something to prove, so I really wanted to impress him with my marshmallow roasting skills. I represented, but Mo had much more patience than me for getting the perfectly gooey center with crispy, golden, but not burnt exterior.
UGH it's so gorgeous I can't stand it!
UGH it’s so gorgeous I can’t stand it!
Ben at a super hipster coffee/surf/clothing shop in downtown Victoria.
Ben looking appropriately emo at a super hipster coffee/surf/clothing shop in downtown Victoria.
I love it when they do stuff together. Compulsory fun time anyone?
I love it when they do stuff together. Compulsory fun time anyone? PS she was terrified.
I love deze guyz.
I love deze guyz.
SO BIG! Look at that wingspan.
SO BIG! Look at that wingspan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s only Wednesday!?

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Ella with a wall of mangrove seedlings at the Miami Science Museum

It’s only Wednesday and I feel like this has been such a long week! Tonight I’m feeling a bit down, tired and a little overwhelmed. Ben’s fifth birthday is next Monday, so the festivities begin this Friday with a little party on the last day of school. This is really Ben’s first day of school in a while, because we decided to stop sending him a few weeks ago. Things have been complicated with his behavior in and out of school and his new dietary restrictions. His teachers have always assured us that he is an exemplary student, kind to the other kids, helpful, and a great listener. What had been happening at home after a day at school was the exact opposite. We knew he was eating white bread and ketchup sandwiches for lunch every day, in addition to candy and other snacks. As we began to send him to school fewer and fewer days each week, it became clear that it took him about three days to detox from the food and whatever else was causing his behavior. I’m most specifically referring to things like teeth grinding, aggression, and nonsense talk (seemingly uncontrollable). Our last effort to keep him in school involved asking his teachers to adopt the dietary guidelines we had begun at home: no grains, sugars, even fruits. It was obviously difficult for them to ensure that he didn’t get these things, and after one last bout of ketchup for lunch we decided that we’d had enough of the up and down and stopped sending him. Our party Friday is a way to have some closure with the school year, say thank you to his teachers, and goodbye to his friends.

Now that Ben is home he is doing really well with the dietary changes! I notice major shifts in certain aspects of his behavior, and without the impact of whatever was going on with his reaction to sugars and starches, his overall picture is becoming much clearer. Underneath the food reactions, some things are normal and age appropriate, some are just his personality, and some are based in our parenting (for better or worse!). I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that we are also planning to homeschool Ben next year, so this feels like sort of an experimental prelude to that. I will share more details about this decision and the process of discovering what works and doesn’t work as time goes along. For now I’m just trying to get through the day with both kids, lots of preparation heavy cooking, and upcoming birthday festivities!

We actually had a special day today, after a morning filled with a lot of frustration and hurt feelings. We finally got out of the house around two and headed down to the science museum where Ben will be going to summer camp. It is all the way downtown so the drive can be tough with my little car-phobe Ella, but we really needed to get out of the house and we were all glad we went. We recently explored the museum for the first time, so Ben was really excited to return to some of his favorite exhibits and check out a few he hadn’t seen yet.

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Baby scientist

The highlight was the marine exploration lab in an annex outside. There was a huge coral reef inside a tank! We could see all the anemones, fish, coral, everything. It was amazing. There were also several mini reefs with local animals including seahorses! I love seahorses, especially since I watched some BBC nature documentaries where I saw them in action. Their delicate features and almost silly bobbing motions make me smile. Something about them inspires a feeling of gentle happiness for me.

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Hello gentle friend!

We also got to see and pet a bearded dragon and an albino boa constrictor! It was awesome to see them up close in a relaxed atmosphere, with caring staff members who patiently let the kids spend as much time with the animals as they wanted, and thoughtfully answered all of their questions.

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I’m pretty sure the boa thought Ella would make a tasty morsel!
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Beardy

I think Ben’s favorite part was the coral reef where he was able to hold the sea stars. He was so brave about picking them up and letting them bend around his hand. Ben seemed to feel very in his element as he chatted with the attendant who was kind and knowledgeable about the reef animals. Ella stared into the tanks looking like she would really like to get ahold of some of those busy bright blue fish darting around.

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SO COOL! Ben visited with the stars for about fifteen minutes.

By the time we left we were tired out and our imaginations were swimming with all the cool animals we had interacted with. We took the scenic route to avoid traffic, because I always prefer to move, especially if there is a chance of my girl having a melt down. Ella made it home without freaking out so I took it as a gift at the end of a long day.

I hope to be more present on the blog in the coming months, recording our journey with dietary changes and toward homeschooling. If any of you homeschool or have any resources you can recommend, I would really appreciate it if you could share in the comments! I need some moral support 🙂

love,

c

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Lilah Tov on this rainy night

Today

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Today was a good day. Ben stayed home from school and we went to our weekly playdate at the urban farm. We are all always so happy there! Ella has space to explore and a few sweet babies around her age to play with. Ben has some kids his age to roam around and get into mischief with. It is truly an oasis of nature in the middle of the city and when I leave I feel so refreshed. I owe it all to Blair who lives there with her husband Nando and their two cutie kids. They do all the work to make it beautiful and we get to just show up and sit in the shade of the mango tree, watching our kids get dirty and play like kids should, talking with other moms about life and food and of course the kids. I try to always bring a yummy healthy homemade snack to share, something kid friendly and wholesome. Today I came across this recipe for vegan banana bread and changed it up a little to make muffins.

Here is my version:

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 cups mashed banana
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl. (I pureed the banana with a hand blender in a large measuring cup first, you could easily just mash it with a fork.)

Pile dry ingredients on top, then stir to combine.

Spoon batter into oiled muffin tins. (Use only a little in each cup because if they are too big, they will be mushy in the center.)

Sprinkle sliced almonds on top and bake until browned around the edges.

Check to see if a fork or knife comes out clean so you know they are cooked in the middle.

Let cool and enjoy! My kids and everyone at the playdate loved them 🙂

Last but not least, today’s Liebster goes to…(drumroll please) Nancy Cavillones aka The Real Nani! I met Nancy about four years ago in the Bronx when our first kiddos were just babies. We had some friends in common but never ended up really getting to know each other. Then Nancy moved to Greenfield Massachusetts and we hung out when I went to visit my mom in nearby Brattleboro Vermont. I loved Nancy right away and I regretted not spending more time with her when we were actually neighbors! Fast forward a few years, and Nancy moved back to the Bronx, then to Connecticut. I moved back to Israel, then to New Jersey, then to Miami. Believe it or not, in the midst of all that, we kept in touch and even got our families together a few times! Nancy and her husband Henry are some of our favorite couple friends and I really wish we lived nearby.

Nancy is one of those friends who you can count on to tell it like it is, but also sympathize with your struggle. She is hilarious, honest, and inspiring, and so is her blog! I remember a few years ago Nancy posted something on Facebook about how everyone kept telling her she was a perfect mom because she sewed and cooked, etc. She said something like listen guys, I sneak spoons of Nutella when my kids aren’t looking and I clean my house with baby wipes, so chill out! I am seriously paraphrasing, but my point is that it was the first time I realized that the way we see each other can be so different from the way we see ourselves, and the bottom line is that we need to give ourselves and each other a break. That being said, Nancy is incredible and she even mailed me her Ergo baby carrier when we were working at a summer camp last summer. Because she is so legit like that. Today’s Liebster goes to an awesome friend, mama, and woman. I hope you enjoy getting to know her through her blog!

Nancy, if you choose to accept the Liebster, here are the rules:

  • 1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  • 2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
  • 3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • 4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • 5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • 6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
  • 7. No tag backs.

Even if you don’t want to accept the “award” please answer my 11 questions here in the comments or on your blog!

1. Where on earth do you feel the most yourself?

2. What is your favorite quality in a friend?

3. Best sandwich you ever ate.

4. Window or aisle?

5. Favorite mistake.

6. What is your dream date night?

7. What did you want to be when you grew up?

8. What do you want to be when you grow up?

9. Best advice ever given to you.

10. Worst advice ever given to you.

11. Best advice you can give.

See you tomorrow with my next nomination!

Top 5 Pieces of Advice I Give My Kids But Don’t Take Myself

"I'm too cool for your rules Mom!"
“I’m too cool for your rules Mom!”

I have a lot of good advice to give, especially to my kids. Unfortunately, when I take a look in the mirror, I see that I don’t always follow my own best ideas.

1. I can often be heard telling Ben to “Sit down and eat like a human being, you are not a wild animal” while standing up eating something in the kitchen.

2. “You need sunscreen.” I tell my kids that they need it, but it has been an uphill battle to train myself to wear sunscreen every day now that we live in the sunshine state. I literally feel like a squirmy little kid inside when I have to slather it all over myself.

3. “You need lots of rest to stay healthy.” That’s what they say, so that’s what I say. Really I would like to stay up all night eating ice cream and watching movies. I manage to convince myself to get in bed by 11, most nights…

4. “Sugar makes you crazy.” My son happens to be very sensitive to sugar, and when he gets some, his eyes get all wild, he starts speaking gibberish, and usually his sister gets hurt somehow. I however am not sensitive to sugar…in that way. I just get totally irritable and grouchy after eating it. Which is clearly much more fun to be around!

5. “Take a deep breath.” When my almost five year old son is starting to freak out I sometimes ask him to pause and take a deep breath. Bless his heart, he almost always does. It doesn’t actually stop him from freaking out but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to pause and get a little oxygen working. I wish I would stop and take a deep breath before I get upset. That would be really helpful. I think I’ll start now…

 

Back to the Liebster Nominees! Someone whose advice I am always willing to take is my friend Justine of Full Belly Sisters. She is a Certified Health Coach with a wealth of knowledge about nutrition and wellness, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. When Ben was almost three I felt like I was stuck in a food rut. I felt a lack of confidence in my food choices and I was feeling kind of discouraged. I booked a session with Justine and she talked it through with me, helping me feel more confident with the choices I was already making, and inspired to try some new ideas. She is a great resource for mamas and really anyone looking to work on their health. Check out her blog for great recipes!

Justine, if you would like to accept the Liebster Award, here are the rules:

The Rules

  • 1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  • 2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
  • 3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • 4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
  • 5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
  • 6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
  • 7. No tag backs.

Even if you don’t want to accept the “award” please answer my 11 questions because I am super curious to discover a little more about you!

1. Where on earth do you feel the most yourself?

2. What is your favorite quality in a friend?

3. Best sandwich you ever ate.

4. Window or aisle?

5. Favorite mistake.

6. What is your dream date night?

7. What did you want to be when you grew up?

8. What do you want to be when you grow up?

9. Best advice ever given to you.

10. Worst advice ever given to you.

11. Best advice you can give.

See you tomorrow with my next nomination!