I put together a little collage that I posted on Facebook on November 29th, but forgot to post it here! For our little man:
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The other day I was putting on mascara in the bathroom and my 5 year old daughter walked in and asked what I was doing. Without thinking I said, "making myself pretty for Daddy." Oh how I wished I could swallow those words. As soon as they were out of my mouth and I heard them aloud I knew that was not at all what I wanted my daughter to hear. I immediately started to back pedal saying "but you know, Daddy always tells me I'm prettier without make up." Which is true, my husband always tells me that I don't need makeup. But it's kind of an addiction, isn't it? My daughter then says, "well then why are you doing that?" Silence. I don't know. Why was I doing it? Why do I do it? Why do I put eyeliner and mascara on before I go out in public? Why? I'd never thought about it before and now some serious thinking ensued. I guess because it's part of my routine, and part of how I've come to see myself in my mind's eye. My image of my true self is the one that is "done up." But that's not me. That's not my true self. I'm just used to seeing myself that way. Does it make me feel more confident and attractive? Yes, actually. Because I've spent decades having that positively reinforced.
What I know is this. I have a young daughter. About to turn 6. She is a very unique little girl. She largely cares nothing at all about popular culture, TV, models, pop stars or any of that silly nonsense. I dread the day when that might start to change. I relish watching her roll in fields of clover, skip through the yard to feed the chickens, play in the mud....it's not that she hasn't started receiving some of these pop-culture messages about how girls are "supposed" to behave and look. I mean we can't shelter her from life, and those messages are everywhere - from seemingly harmless television shows, to the toy aisle at Target. It's just that she chooses not to care or be influenced by it. I am scared that could change. I want her to be true to herself, and to value her intelligence, wit, humor, creativity, and uniqueness over physical beauty. I want her to be proud of being different and having unique interests, and I want her to have a positive image of herself and her body. I realize that I am her number one example of that.
I recently came across another survey, this one conducted on behalf of the Renfew Center, which is a non-profit that works to prevent, treat, and research eating disorders, in which 65% of the survey participants started wearing makeup at the tender ages of 8-13 years old. The survey found that at least one in five young girls had negative feelings associated with not wearing makeup. Many girls surveyed felt it was most acceptable to go barefaced to the pool or beach but least acceptable to show up at a friend's house or school without makeup on.
I can imagine my sweet little girl, maybe as few as 2 years in the future feeling like she can't leave the house without mascara, because mom doesn't and her peers don't. Wanting to make herself "pretty" for her dad or her first crush. My heart sinks. She is so beautiful, inside and out. I don't ever want her to feel like she needs to change herself. And so I've come to a difficult decision. Should I give up makeup for the sake of my daughter? I kind of think I have to. It seems like a silly thing, but it's actually pretty difficult. Women out there, can you imagine quitting makeup cold turkey? Completely revolutionizing your own self image? Admit it, if you wear it, it has more hold over you than you realize. It's even a little scary. I know there will be special occasions for which I may don the mascara, but for now I think I'll try going barefaced. My daughter may still wear makeup someday, I can't predict that now, but I know it won't be because she saw that I could never leave the house without it. I want her to know she can be barefaced and beautiful. I want her to understand, even though it's a cliche, that it's what's on the inside that makes her truly beautiful anyway.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
|Squash bug eggs on the underside of a leaf|
Neem oil (Azadirachta Indica) is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree, which is native to India. It has a plethora of traditional medicinal uses as well as farming applications. In traditional medicine, including Ayurvedic medicine, neem has been used to treat inflammation, fever, skin irritations, eczema, psoriasis, ring worm, head lice, leprosy, athlete's foot, and even as a spermicide. It is both antibacterial and anti fungal and has immunostimulant properties. It is generally recommended that neem NOT be taken internally. For external uses it is best to dilute neem in a carrier oil of some kind as it is quite potent (and also doesn't smell great!). I'm not going to expound on medicinal uses in this post so if you're interested in using it medicinally please do your research and make sure you are using/mixing correctly.
Onto farming applications. Neem is a wonderful companion for organic farmers. It has been proven as an organic biopesticide. While it is harmful to many "pest" bugs, such as squash bugs, mealy bugs, aphids, Japanese beetles, cockroaches, flies, thrips, mites, termites, mosquitos, and the list goes on, it is NOT HARMFUL to beneficial insects such as butterflies and honeybees!
The fatty acid composition of neem oil can vary widely depending on the method of processing. I have heard reports of leaf burn almost exclusively from people who bought neem pesticide sprays from their garden center. We have not experienced this, but formulate our homemade neem spray using neem oil intended for medicinal use in humans. We use the Now Solutions brand pure and natural neem oil. If you're concerned about leaf burn, my neighbor recommended only spraying the undersides of the leaves (this is where the bugs lay their eggs - squash bugs anyway). We've been spraying everywhere, just to cover all the bases. :)
Here's our recipe:
5-10ml neem oil (5 is probably fine as a preventative measure, 10 if you already have an infestation)
1-2ml dish soap (just a squirt, I never measure)
26 oz. warm water
Mix in a spray bottle and you're ready to go!
Sources for this post:
Esoteric Oils - Uses of Neem Oil
Wikipedia - Neem Oil
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I didn't really learn anything new from reading the above article - I already agree with most of what the author has said, and I believe that we (Americans) do many, many things backwards in our society, usually in the name of doing what is "right" or "safe" or "politically correct." I also already knew that many other cultures birth, raise, feed and educate their children in wildly different ways from us and that many of the children raised in those cultures are healthier and happier for it.
When you move away from what is considered mainstream in your parenting decisions it's hard (especially in public) to not sometimes feel judged (as in "do you see what she is letting her child do??"). Other observers might even try to step in and fill the parenting role that they perceive you being inadequate at filling! Just recently my children were playing on a staircase. My husband and I were standing at the bottom and this woman swooped in and said "No, no, no, you three get down from there! You are going to hurt yourselves! Do you see what they are doing?" My kids all stopped playing abruptly and gave my husband and me bewildered looks as just moments before they had asked if they could play on the stairs and we said "sure, why not?" I look at the well-meaning intruder and say "Wow, you're a little intense. We do see them. We gave them permission to play on the stairs." "Well, as long as you're watching them...." They are our children, we take care of them without your assistance every day of their lives, and we are perfectly capable of making decisions regarding their safety and supervision, thanks. For that matter, the children need to be able to learn to decide what their own limits are and they are generally quite astute at assessing what they are capable of doing safely and what is unsafe or risky. Sometimes they take the risk, and that's part of learning and living.
So here's my confession: Our children are allowed to ride their bikes around the neighborhood unsupervised, play in the yard and care for our animals unsupervised, complete households tasks and chores without their hands being held, choose what they want to learn about and take charge of their own educations, play in the dirt, play in the water, make messes, make mistakes, play outside all day long on a "school day" if they want and not do a lick of "book work," climb fences, climb trees, skateboard, take risks, decide what to spend their money on, decide what they want to read, make new friends, fall down, wash dishes, make their own meals, experiment, ask questions, get frustrated, get bored, and at the end of the day, despite their independence from us in so many ways, we still have a family bed.
They don't always do these things on their own...but they can if they choose to. They can also ask for help. When they become interested in a certain subject or have a specific question for us, we listen and we facilitate. We provide them with resources, inspiration, and encouragement. When they want to tell us something or ask us something we don't brush them off, we listen. It is the foundation of our home (un)school philosophy. We have to be available all day, every day, to listen. To answer questions, to look things up, to engage with them and be honest with them.
Even though our 5 year old daughter still shares our bed and needs plenty of time to be loved and treated like a child (because she is one), she is also the most independent child I have ever met. Every day she waters all the plants in our large garden, harvests ripe vegetables, reports back to us on the state of the plants, what bugs she saw, what looks healthy and what doesn't, collects the chicken eggs, feeds and waters the chickens, goats, and her indoor rabbit, and the list goes on. She adores helping to cook, bake, and clean with us. She helps care for her baby brother and never gives me a hard time when I ask for her help or a for a favor. She is always eager to help, has an amazing work ethic, and boundless curiosity!
Our 7 year old son likes to play video games and we don't stand in the way of this. He also loves to ride his bike and play baseball. He has amazing hand-eye coordination and a mind-boggling memory. He is incredibly intuitive and is always reading peoples' emotions and body language with uncanny accuracy. Despite his love for gaming, computers, and all things electronic he is still a social butterfly! He makes new friends all the time and easily adapts to new social situations regardless of the age of his counterparts. He is fascinated by weather, science, and math. He hesitates to try new things, but once he gets a little taste of confidence he takes off. We know this about him, so we know the right way to provide positive reinforcement when introducing new concepts to him.
Our 19 month old in no way lives in the shadows of his brother and sister. He has a huge personality! He is also extremely independent and we let him be independent! He plays in the yard, with the animals, gets dirty, gets wet, problem solves, and has a blast. Feeds himself with utensils and has for ages, but also still breastfeeds. He drinks from a cup, builds things, communicates with us extremely well despite having very little vocabulary, and is the most cuddly, loving, and affectionate baby. He is allowed to explore, secure in the knowledge that he has our unwavering love and support.
We are trying to raise children who are free-thinkers, independent, down-to-earth, self sufficient, passionate, curious, caring, grounded in reality, but wildly imaginative.
I still haven't figured out how to accomplish all of this, but I know that we have to move far, far away from what is mainstream and forge our own path for our family. It's the only way (for us) to survive and thrive in this backwards world we live in. If giving birth to my children in my living room, owning dairy goats, learning to hunt so our family can have wild harvested animal protein, growing vegetables, taking charge of our family's health by practicing herbalism and alternative medicine, not vaccinating our children or animals, unschooling, practicing extended breastfeeding, sharing a bed with our kids, and striving for complete self-sufficiency for our family makes my husband and me "strange", then so be it. It is what it is and we are who we are. Every day we learn new things, every day we get closer to our goals, and every day we open new doors to understanding the world and the universe and our place in it. It's a fun, frustrating, awe-inspiring journey. Sometimes I feel hesitant to share with people some of the more "unique" aspects of our family and then I wonder, what am I ashamed of? The things that might make others think we are crazy are the same things that I think make us who we are! I love our family and I love our unconventional life.
"People can save the world by the way they think and by the way they behave and what they hold to be important." ~ Cindy Lauper
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
For our Fathers' Day breakfast I made blueberry muffins with fresh berries from our Farmers' Market. I completely forgot how amazing these are! Here is the original post with the recipe. Still my favorite!
Blueberry Pecan Streusel Muffins