Changing Our Everyday

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I am challenging myself this month to become more mindful of my environment and the way I live day to day. I know my kids and I have made a big adjustment moving to the other side of the country recently and I want to be sure there is a feeling of comfort and that we are living efficiently enough to achieve our goals. Mainly things are out of place in our lives right now. There is no continuity in anything. I’m probably exaggerating there, but I really want there to be more of a routine, more for my kids(and myself) to depend on.

Right now, we don’t really know any other kids. There are some kids in the neighborhood, but when we go outside they’re going inside or they’re just too old for my kids to play with. It would be nice to have playdates or attend some kind of play-oriented class or program at the library.
We’re also struggling with space in my mom’s house. Our closet is filled up with my mom’s things. I tried to store our thing in containers, but there’s nowhere to put them that the kids can’t reach, and when they reach them they make a mess of everything. I’m constantly changing where our things go and it is because I haven’t come up with a sustainable system.

On that same topic, we don’t really have any clothes for warm weather. My mom has a ton of clothes she is holding onto that she can’t wear and I think it would be great to try to recycle her clothing rather than buy new clothes for myself and my daughters. I have a great little sewing machine that I left here years ago, and maybe it would do me some good to express to my mom my ideas about minimalism and non-consumerist values, which are coming into play between her and my oldest daughter.

Which brings me to my next goal; entertainment for my kids really needs to change. My mom and aunt recently bought my 4 year old Barbie dolls. They come with these little sheets of paper that have pictures of several other dolls in that series and my daughter whines non-stop about the other dolls she wants.

I know that despite my goals of showing her what is really important in life and that she doesn’t need these things, her environment will have a big effect on how she really feels about it. I need to engage her in new, creative and adventurous things. I don’t want her to fasten onto the idea of buying stuff, I want her to learn to create and appreciate what she has.

I think that keeping a schedule of activities to do regularly, field trips and surprise activities, and free play will help a lot. I also think I need to organize their toys better and put them into sections. I need to limit her to playing with a few things at a time, and take toys away when they become a problem, bringing them out later after the novelty has died down.

Lastly I really want to make the most of my time. This is a temporary situation, living with my mom again. I want to get memorable and transformational moments out of this. I don’t want to be passive aggressive and upset that things aren’t going my way and my parenting philosophies aren’t being accepted. I need to set an example.

Instead of being upset that the TV is on all the time, I need to set up a fun activity, engage my mom with the things we have in common, like scrapbooking, and get us all in a space to create, support and get to know each other better. I need to allow my kids to feel comfort in their surroundings and I need to feel like this is my home too, however temporary it may be, I need to allow myself to enjoy it, I need to grow while I am here and not feel stunted due to the change in household.

I have already started on this challenge by talking to my mom and my daughter about having a more active, creative lifestyle and I’m currently setting several alarms a day to make sure we stay on track, meet our goals and have planned activities. I think I’m on a path to really transforming as a parent, not just in this situation, but for the long-term. The perceived limitations I face here are making me stronger, more appreciative and more organized.

 

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My Heelys Experiment. Wanna Watch Me Fail At Something Ridiculously Easy???

A pair of used Heelys.

Image via Wikipedia

For a business2 blogger campaign I got a pair of Heelys skate shoes. I went all out of my way to find my video camera and charge the batteries and find mija #1’s skates and go outside to try to record the action.

These are the hilariously silly results.  First you get the shoes out of the box and turn them over… attached is a metal doo-hicky and you lodge that into the heel plugs where the wheels will go.

This would be even more hilarious if there was sound.  When you get the heel plugs out you get the wheel package, use scissors to pull them out and put them into the slots, then you have to press down to make sure they stick… actually you have to punch them in.

After this we actually went for a walk(skate) around the block and eventually I got the hang of it, sort of.

Sorry this video sucks, but the point is that I did attempt to use these skate shoes, and it was pretty fun. They are cool looking shoes, though it takes some skill to use them. My husband actually picked them up and asked “why aren’t these in my size?”. I think a lot of people could have a lot of fun and get some fitness with these shoes.

And they are incognito too so they could be walked in or skated in.

I actually think skating is a pretty awesome activity for all ages.  I remember distinctly learning to skate at age 4, having birthday parties at skating rinks, all-nighters when I was a high schooler and taking my roller blades along the boardwalks for beach vacations.  As physical activities go, I really think they should be mult-functional and fun.  Skating is one of those activities and Heely’s makes it easy because you don’t have to lug around heavy skates to change into and out of.  Apparently, these would make a good gift for a dad or two(there’s gotta be at least one other like my DH!).  I noticed that I used my whole body trying to skate in these things and my daughter was more excited to see me in them than I was to get in them…and I was pretty excited, its nice to renew some childhood past times…(yes the neighbors got in on my “ooh” and “woahing” as well).

I wonder if these would be easier if there were toe wheels too, but if you find yourself on a skating-unfriendly surface you can just walk.  I think these might make some of my walks with the kids a lot faster…so long as they don’t have to walk.  I’m really happy to have these Heelys as a new member of my shoe family.

By the way if you buy Heelys between Nov 25-Nov 28, you’ll get the second pair for $25.

Would  you get around in Heelys?

Here’s what some other moms thought about Heelys:

(I was given a free pair of Heelys to review for this post)

Must Love Shoes –Book Review

A woman wears Vibram "Five Fingers" ...

Image via Wikipedia

This week instead of writing about finances and consumerism, I’m going to review a book.  I took on this challenge from the Business2Blogger program.  The book is called Must Love Shoes by Julie Gaver.

It was a quick read, very funny and full of some heartfelt ideas.  The book features several very short chapters that each tells an anecdotal story from the author’s life.  These are stories of a woman, mother, wife and motivational speaker.

The writer has a great sense of humor, a breezy positive air and a penchant for the sentimental.

I really enjoyed reading the book and mostly read it in brief one or two “chapters” at a time.  I could easily imagine this being the kind of book you’d keep in the bathroom or on the coffee table and pick up when you need a little pick me up.

This book also really encouraged the idea of having friendships with women.  The author invites the reader to be a part of her sisterhood, in the first section called “The Truth About Shoes”.  She lists the criteria as a love of life,  love of laughter, not taking yourself to seriously, “And…you must love shoes!”

Well, as a wannabe barefooter, who wants to be barefoot mostly because I loathe shoes, except one great pair of rope sandals I have…I hope I am still accepted.  This is a quick read, with large print, but like I said, the stories are either very funny or sentimental in a really feel-good sense.

I re-read many of the stories, just because.  I saved some of the stories for later, because I could tell what kind of book it was…its the kind you want to cozy up with, read a little and then contemplate your own experiences.  I savored my time to read this book and admit some things about myself, similar to the author’s crises, uproarious mishaps and hang-ups.  She unabashadley admits her faults, her quirks and makes you feel very much like you know her, you are a part of her sisterhood, and like you have walked a mile in her shoes, whether you like shoes or not.

I think this would make a great gift for women of any age, and a great light read for a new mother.  Topics included in the book are related to self-employment, parenting, marriage, pets, health and great activities like pampering oneself and playing The Happy Game.  I found myself wanting to spend some time getting into some of the activities she suggested.  I definitely felt in many of the passages as if she’d been motivating me.

I wouldn’t normally pick a book like this from the bookstore, but I am so glad I decided to apply to review this book.  This is a light read, it doesn’t offer in depth analysis or ideas, but it does offer real stories, practical responses and a positive view that you can’t help be affected by.  If you’re having a hard time feeling motivated or appreciative, I would suggest walking a mile in Julie’s “Must Love Shoes”.

I have not been paid to provide this review.  I was given a free copy of the book and all views expressed are my own personal opinion. 

A Super Duper Buzz Kill

The interior of a Loblaws supermarket in Toronto

Image via Wikipedia

9/25/11  We were swimming almost everyday this summer.  My oldest daughter went from only wanting to sit on the stairs or on “boats”(actually rafts) to swimming all over the pool with water wings.  That evolved over several phases of interest, intrigue, insecurity and hesitancy.  Things went back and forth, but in those last two weeks, she jumped into the pool, swam with floaties and swam into the “deep end”, only 5 feet, but hey, I’m only 5 feet.

We took a 3 day break during Labor Day weekend and when we went back on a Tuesday, intending to refresh our swimming routine, it was closed.  How could it have happened?  Nothing had changed.   It was still super hot, there was still water and life and children needing to tire themselves out, but the pool was closed.  It was hard to imagine that this meant the end of summer.  Until today.

Today, there was an actual breeze.  Today, I had a chill outside.  I started wondering where my jackets and packets and non-sandal footwear was stashed.

Cut to today, 10/6/11 .  The Sacramento Sun continued to shine down on us up until these past few days.  The first day it rained I woke up with a sore throat.  I stayed in bed almost continuously this past week.  It is officially cold, and I’m bummed.  I started thinking about the fact that I still haven’t gone through our warmer clothes.  The fact that we left our space heater in the desert two years ago.   I started thinking about ways to enjoy the autumn weather.

I remembered that last year I went for runs.  I made frozen banana smoothies(which my daughter named ice cream smoothies) and I ate dates and persimmons.  I can’t wait for persimmon season, but in the meantime, I can definitely do frozen bananas, so long as I get a space heater.  I might also need a new kitchen ceiling but more on that later.

Cut to today, 10/7/11  Okay…I’m feeling it now.  I’m still recovering, but I actually got out of bed today, got some sunshine and went grocery shopping.  Last night I listened to a Chelsea Wolfe station on last.fm and I’m really feeling in the gritty mood for fall.  I hurried out the door while my husband and daughter numero dos were napping.  Daughter numero uno and I went to the well-loathed supermarket and I wore the wrong shoes.  I wore the old bcbg flip flops that were taped on the edges and needed to be taped on the bottom as well, but I forgot that.

On the way back I absolutely had to take my shoes off.  I kicked them off like a rebel and walked that supermarket sidewalk runway like a barefoot pro!  How I missed walking barefoot!  Dear readers, I am NOT a shoe girl.  But living in a hot climate I absolutely had to wear them all summer long.  I realized, I really do like the cooler weather, cause I can be naked from the ankle down!  I’ve been reading Malidoma Some these past few days and connecting to some of the ways I express my style, mostly I’m all about comfort.

I wear dreadlocks and clothes that may or may not vaguely match.  I usually wear shoes made out of rope or a good pair of Vibram hiking shoes.  I don’t wear make-up unless my daughter and I have a berry day (www.meganelizabeth.com).  In general I really prefer to look like I’ve lived a busy life.  I’m a mom, and I intend to look like I have a lot of things to do.  I carry a huge hobo bag so I can bring things with me if I need them.  I don’t carry a diaper bag or a clutch purse.  Although I can go much more into this topic, and I will later, I really brought this up because the cashier at the supermarket asked me if I was African.  I get this question a lot.  If people are not asking me if I’m African, they’re asking me if I’m from the Caribbean or if I’m from Mexico!  Oftentimes I just get “where are you from?”

No one ever believes I’m from the U.S.  For a time I would lie and tell them I’m from wherever or somewhere near where they thought I was from.  It was a fun game, while I was traveling.  But now that I’m stationary, I have to actually tell the truth, “I’m from the U.S., I’m from here, or I’m from Georgia.”  Like I said no one ever believes me.  They find a way to somehow make sense of it, “where are you originally from?”, “where are your parents from?”, “did you grow up here?”

Yep, unfortunately, I only look exotic.  Today the cashier had to back step, or at least she thought she did.  She thought she had offended me with her assumption.  She wanted to let me know that she meant no disrespect by thinking I was African, in fact her husband is Nigerian and she really thought based on him and his family, probably that I fit into that culture, more so, than that of the Californian supermarket spread.  She was right.  I have had to go through quite a lot of mental reconditioning to put myself into mainstream society melting pots, like supermarkets, they scare me, I stick out, and I avoid them whenever necessary.

A lot of “African-Americans” would be offended by that assumption she made.  Personally, I love it.  Usually the people who ask me where I’m from are people who are not from this country.  They’re usually from Central America, Africa, The Caribbean, or South American.  Sometimes they’re travelers or people who are married to someone from these areas.  I envy the people who ask me where I’m from.

I love that they are cultured enough to have extended experience with these cultures they think I am a part of.  I wish I was a part of them.  The buzz is killed.  The person who asks me where I’m from, and get the unexpected “right here” answer is perplexed, deflated, disappointed and so am I.  It reminds me that here I am, so enthused about cultural expansion, and yet my environment makes me the most culturally exotic person in view.  I wear my differences proud, but I wish I wasn’t the only one.