Welcome to the May long weekend! Most nights before I go to bed, I read the day’s passage from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. A special aunt recommended it years ago, and my mom bought it for me for my birthday. (Great Oprah story behind it, too!) Sarah BB’s entry for today is entitled “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify” and it follows a ‘baby steps’ de-cluttering plan that is manageable and ends with serenity. In yesterday’s meditation, she advised her readers to “Carefully consider the areas of your home that are causing you the most frustration today and then prioritize them in order of annoyance” (May 17th Simple Abundance). For me, the top annoyance prize goes to our laundry room entry to the garage – Grand Central. I want all traces of winter GONE – out of sight and out of mind. I am ready for a good six months of easy-to-grab flip-flops, shin-pads and soccer shoes. There is just no space for the opposing seasons’ gear to co-exist in such a high traffic space if I am to maintain a nice mom demeanor with each trip to my taxi. Having a sense of order in the laundry room saves us from tripping on each other on our morning rush out the door and ensures that we can find what we need – the gift that just keeps on giving. And trust me, you don’t want to see Monster Mom.
by Ida Mae West-Simone • • 0 Comments
Larissa turned twelve at the end of March, and she asked for a kitten. She had done her time with the hamsters, proven herself responsible, and had the advantage of knowing her mom had a weak spot. I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t hard to cave. Wouldn’t you?
We’re guessing that Boo probably weighed about a pound when we brought her home. We could hold her in one hand, and she could barely hop up the stairs. We found it fitting that she hopped up the stairs two paws at a time – first the front, then the back – like a bunny, on Easter weekend. She meowed at the top because she was too afraid to attempt going down on her own.
We kept her in our main floor powder room or Larissa’s bedroom when we weren’t actively playing with her because we were worried that a) we’d lose her or b) we’d step on her. Boo has been lost in the house once, but did turn up after a worrisome twenty minutes, in a closet. The possibilities really are endless. We still close off rooms before we head out for the day to cut down the amount of space between Boo and her litter box. She is still a kitten, if you know what I mean. We have had a few ‘accidents’ around the house that have led her to be considered the ‘high maintenance’ one.
It’s not just the one issue. Larissa has attempted leaving her door open at night so Boo can sleep on her bed with her, but the second she moves one finger or toe, the Fierce Jungle Cat is on the attack in her nocturnal musings. All three pounds of terror behind the sharp little claws and teeth start springing across the bed at three a.m. in a spastic dance, and Larissa questions the whole birthday request.
It’s karma, really. Larissa was a very busy toddler – jumped the crib before she was two. It was just a matter of finding some way to deal with the excess energy. For our kids, it was a king-size bed sized inflatable bouncy castle in the basement.
Nicholas was having a hard time doing homework today with Boo walking all over the computer keyboard. Been there. She also loves pawing at pens, pencils and the iPad (in use) and just last night, knocked my desk lamp to the floor and shattered its light-bulb.
Well, just moments ago I found GOLD. Nope, not a bouncy castle. It wouldn’t last ten seconds with those nails. But check this out:
Thank you Friskies! Because of you, I wrote this post in peace! #gratitude
by Ida Mae West-Simone • • 7 Comments
It is Mother’s Day, and I know that I am not in a unique position to find myself looking at it from two perspectives. As a mother myself, I find myself going through photos and reflecting on the past fifteen years since I have become a mother, and asking myself if I am the mother I thought I would be. While it’s hard to remember my exact criteria from the naive days, a few photos alerted me to a slide in the standards I had planned to uphold.
For one thing, I know I planned to keep my children safe when I became a mother. I was dubbed ‘the car seat Nazi’ when I climbed, pregnant, into Nicholas’ seat to yank on the tether strap whenever we switched cars.
I guess I owe Nicholas an apology for this little slip up captured here…
(Sorry, Nicholas. I honestly only turned my head for a second!)
I also am a firm believer in not pushing kids to be something or someone they are not, or trying to live vicariously through them. Our daughter has never really been a fan of pink or dresses. Not a lot of people have seen these photos (below) of Larissa at age six, and those who have are surprised by it, because Larissa also was never into the whole princess scene, dolls, Barbies or glitter. So what was she doing at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique on our Disney trip? Making Mommy happy of course!
(I’m sorry, Larissa. Thank you so much for being a good sport! I love the pictures!)
These examples are only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. I have done plenty of things our kids have not been happy about over the years (and hopefully many that they have!) Many of my ‘momfails’ have been accidental, forgetful, clumsy moves that I do apologize for. Sometimes we have a difference of opinion. Sometimes, I just have to say that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I have been honest, which helps my conscious. But as Cherie’s list says, there is no such thing as a perfect mother.
Nor should there be. Imagine trying to live up to that!
I didn’t have to. My mother is an artist. She is creative, strong and brave. She does what is right and not what is easy or necessarily popular. But we had Sesame Street characters painted on our walls, and watercolor paintings on rotation throughout our house constantly as we grew up. We were surrounded by the colors of beautiful flower gardens.
My mom painted and drew pictures with us and with our kids when we (and they) were little.
My mom bakes. Usually cookies (dozens every few days in the 80s and 90s). Cakes, squares and other treats too. She’s famous for her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and could really be selling them.
So Happy Mother’s Day Mom / Grandma! This post is dedicated to you! Thank you for being real, honest and present, and for all that you do.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothering-types out there. Don’t get too caught up on the word. If you’re walking the walk, today is your day, too.
What are you doing to celebrate Mother’s Day? Whose day is it really in your family?
by Ida Mae West-Simone • • 5 Comments
Author Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D., perhaps best known for her NY Times #1 bestselling book If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, has written a book called The Gift of Motherhood: Ten Truths for Every Mother.
Just reading the first paragraph of the introduction of this book put me immediately at ease:
It’s difficult to put into words the experience of ushering a child into this world and being ultimately responsible for her care, well-being, and development. It is an incredibly overwhelming, astounding, and miraculous experience that almost defies description.
Cherie (can I call her Cherie? Or do I call her Dr. Scott?) provides ten universal truths for every mother to reference in times of need. While I wish she had written this book fifteen years ago, I am so very grateful that I have discovered it now.
I am nowhere near being ‘out of the woods’ parenting a twelve and fifteen year old. While my ‘woods’ are so very special, and I do consider them to be a gift every day, some of the uphill parts of the hike wear me down from time to time (particularly those hills that I feel have been tackled enough times already!) What helps with these hills is the knowledge that I am not alone. I am surrounded by mothers.
I am so fortunate to have many close friends who are also mothers. I am grateful for them everyday. I have my mother and aunts as a terrific support system, and I know how lucky I am. Through teaching, running our camp and volunteer work, I have met many brave women who do not have such systems in place. Some of us who do can still find ourselves feeling alone in this journey when life just gets too crazy to connect with each other. That is why I love this book, and others like it, for nurturing a mother’s soul when she can steal a few moments for herself. As it says in truth number eight, we must care for ourselves. There’s that oxygen mask analogy again.
Exactly one year ago today, I launched this blog. I didn’t have a clear focus for it except my belief of the importance of having a ‘vision’ for our children, a ‘big picture’, future goal of wanting the best for them. Health and happiness, the knowledge that they are loved and can be themselves and rely on themselves to navigate their way through the world we live in, with others. I knew I wanted to add in some lessons I’ve learned about life with kids and some education and literacy stuff, since that’s my thing. I have since learned another lesson. It didn’t all fit into one tidy tag line.
I have probably revised the ‘About’ page about ten times over the year, and I’ll be doing it again. It’s getting more clear now. A Vision for our Kids is about gratitude, life lessons, humor, motherhood, parenting, education, mentors and stories. And you have helped to make it what it is through your hundreds of comments comments here and on Facebook, through the Yummy Mummy Club, SavvyStories and in our tweet conversations. Thank you for over 17,500 views from the bottom of my heart!
So how does this one year anniversary tie in to The Gift of Motherhood? Our kids are naturally the greatest gifts we will ever experience. I have been writing all of my life, and value friendship deeply. This past year, I have made connections with more mothers and new friends than would have ever been possible before social media. I have also being teaching special education. In the last three years, I have become an aunt for the first time. Communities of friends and mentors supporting each other mean so much. At every turn, I see how being able to read, write and socially connect with others has such an impact on the quality of one’s life.
A Vision For our Kids has so many things going on, that to address literacy, I have decided to leave the really heavy lifting to That Fun Reading Teacher. She seems to really have her platform set up to focus on pre-kindergarten to grade three reading, writing and early literacy skills. Please drop by and say hello. Rumor has it, she’s got a fantastic set-up and she is looking for new subscribers.
You’ll find the two of us remarkably similar in our beliefs and personalities, and I can attest to her credentials. Consider us partners in wishing the best for families and children.
And thank you again, for a life-changing year.
by Ida Mae West-Simone • • 0 Comments
Richard Scrimger, author of numerous children’s books including the Mr. Christie Book award-winning, best-seller Nose from Jupiter, and most recently Ink Me of the Seven Series, stood before a group of middle-grade students at the Newmarket Public Library and let them in on a little secret.
“I get paid to lie.” Continued here…
by Ida Mae West-Simone • • 1 Comment
Surviving my first year of blogging and still managing to write about what I love
In May 2012, I decided to start a blog. I have always known I wanted to write. I was reading The Happiness Project and knew I had to get this writing thing off the ground. Its author, Gretchen Rubin left a law career to start her Happiness Project and become a writer, and she started with a blog. I loved the idea and got obsessed with reading other blogs. I knew I wanted to write about the vision I have for my own children, but also for children on a global level. I also knew that my strength was in telling stories.
But where would I start? My tech expertise was limited at best and our business did not have money for tech support.
This year, I’ve been jumping around between these three activities in blogging:
Following the Leaders
I am a teacher, and a lesson I learned early in my career was the importance of mentors and learning from their experiences. My new neighbour knew a lot about computers and had told me that Tumblr was a really easy platform to start with, so armed with YouTube how-to videos, I started there.