Archive for the ‘Changing’ Category

7 Thoughts on Raising Girls

February 10th, 2010 by Jane

I have three daughters, each as different as the next, but all can be called bold and feisty. I recently thought about the ways I parent differently than I expected. Before I had children, when I knew more than I do now, I thought I could provide them with this wonderful, edited atmosphere in which to flourish. Something very much like what Maria Montessori called a “rich environment.”

Indeed, my three lovelies are products of years of Montessori education and my husband and I are very grateful that we could provide that for them. They all attend a very fine public school now and we are glad to be part of our community in this way.

With all of our wonderful intentions to provide a holistic, gender-neutral, organic (food and clothing), television-free environment, the reality is much farther from that than I like to admit. However, our girls are happy, healthy and curious.

I thought about all of my parenting rules that I have broken and I thought about how I would condense my parenting philosophy and it is this: I try my very best to encourage their creativity. I believe that if you give your children enough room to have a creative life then this will positively impact everything: intellect, academics, social skills, and their emotional and mental well-being.

So, here is a list of things I thought I would never do/say/have/allow and a thought or two about each.

1. Pink
As a baby, we dressed my eldest daughter in every color of the rainbow except pink. When she got old enough to have an opinion, around 22months, she started insisting on pinks and purples to wear every day. When I asked her why she liked those colors, she said “Because they are fun and strong colors!” Now her favorite color is black (”It goes with everything, Mom!”) and one twin’s favorite color is orange, the other twin we call “Pinkalicious” because of her affinity for what we refer to as her signature color.

2. Barbies
I really liked Barbie when I was a child. I loved her house that folded up, I loved my Truly Scrumptious limited edition Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Barbie. I loved her clothes and I wished I had some just like them. As a grown up, before I had children, I thought Barbies were evil destroyers of healthy body image. Then various relatives gave my eldest daughter Barbies for her second birthday. Yes, second. And she loved them and I never got around to removing them while she wasn’t looking. So, I bought her some Barbies of different ethnicities, along with the doctor garb and the veterinarian set. My three girls now play super hero with Barbie and her multicultural friends and have them do some girl-on-girl kissing. I think that if I don’t make a big deal about what’s wrong with Barbie, then they will accept girl power and alternative life styles as non-issues.

3. Food
My kids love candy. They also love kale, artichokes, pears, any kind of Mexican food, mangoes and roast chicken. Seems okay to me.

4. Television
I admit that we have struggled with this. All parents of small children will find themselves wishing for an electronic babysitter on bad days. During any given week, my kids might watch Electric Company, Project Runway, The Wonder Pets, or most embarrassingly: The Biggest Loser. A stay at my sister’s got them hooked on this show and now they exercise during the commercials and cheer on their favorites. But. On any given day, they are also likely to: play Super Powers with the boys next door, ride their scooters, bake cookies, draw with chalk pastels or play Chinese Mutant Pirates with aforementioned boys. I figure it evens out.

5. Sleeping
I have one child who still gets in bed with us every night. When I tuck her in her bed each night,she tells me she knows that I miss her and that she will come and cuddle me in the night. I am too exhausted to return her to her bed after she falls asleep next to me. I tell myself that this will not last very long and I will miss it when she doesn’t like me when she is thirteen.

6. Clothing
We do not buy organic cotton clothing. We buy most of our clothes at Target, which are probably made by twelve year olds in some third world country, making pennies per day. I am sorry about that, but I am not sure how to address it. I don’t buy them anything with “Princess” on it, but their grandparents do. However, we make sure that the girls wear age-appropriate clothing. No high heels or skimpy clothes, no smart-alecky t-shirts.  If they cannot run and play in it, then it doesn’t come home with us. And with the rare exception of formal occasions, all of them are allowed to choose what they wear, as long as it is weather-appropriate. This has entertained me and my husband to no end for a decade now.  I highly recommend it. My theory is that if I let them choose what they want to wear now, then when they are fourteen, they will not embarrass me. I’ll keep you posted.

7. Bedrooms
I fantasize about my girls having beautiful Pottery Barn-inspired-little-girl rooms, but my children enjoy living like squirrels, padding their nests with their stuff. I can’t stand it. I was a child who enjoyed order, and while I have let go of a lot of that, the state of their rooms scrambles my brain. I keep trying to organize them and meanwhile, they will congregate in another sister’s bedroom and mess it up. I am trying to come to grips with their lack of interest in order and remember that their rooms belong to them.

7 Words

January 26th, 2010 by Jane

I mentioned last week that I was planning to do the “one little word” exercise that Brenè Brown and Ali Edwards wrote about on their respective blogs. Well, I worked on this for an hour or so the other day and I came up with a long list of words that I love. Words that have meaning and resonance for me. Words that seemed to define or illustrate my plans for the year.

I usually make a few resolutions each January, but felt overwhelmed by the idea this year. This exercise was just what I needed to put some direction and meaning into my new year.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I could not narrow it down to one word, but instead, have three little words that are my theme(s) for the year. Ali made a wonderful list of all the words that people sent in to her. Let me know if you try this, I would love to hear from you!

The above quote is from the fabulous brains over at Quotable Cards. I buy a half dozen of these at a time. Some I give to friends, and others I glue into my journals or put on my fridge. Instant wisdom and inspiration for the day!

Here are my seven favorite words from my original list of twenty-six. I have italicized my three words for the year.

1. Abundance

2. Aware

3. Blossoming

4. Becoming

5. Cherish

6. Prosperity

7. Content
I love that this word can mean “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting any more or any less” and “significance or profundity, …volume or substance contained” in a piece of work. Or a life. That’s what I’m hoping.

7 Tidbits

January 20th, 2010 by Jane

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word tidbit as:
1) a choice morsel of food and 
2) a choice or pleasing bit (of information)

Well, here at 7OF, we are all about the tidbits, tasty or informative. So, get a taste of these!

1. Stay-At-Home: Not just for moms!
One of my favorite friends has started a blog about staying home and being the primary caretaker of a baby daughter. You’ve read all about that, you say? Well, not from the dad’s perspective, I’ll bet. Take a look at DadSolo and see if you can relate! What makes this blog especially interesting is that my friend is a first-time father at the age of 45, so he brings a wonderful, witty, poignant perspective to the process.

2. New Addiction
I have another new favorite blog about personal style. I have mentioned here, my love of  the wonderfully serious fashion blog The Sartorialist, but paper artist Elsa Mora, brings some vintage quirkiness to the subject in The Hidden Seed. She is currently on hiatus for a few months, but read her back entries for some stylish fun.

3. Mulling
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have not made any resolutions for the new year, yet. For some reason, this year it seems to be a daunting task. I have not reached a state of perfection, so it is not for lack of personal material to mold and hone. I am captivated by the idea in Brenè Brown’s blog Ordinary Courage. She was inspired by Ali Edwards to choose one little word for the year, as a personal theme or inspiration for 2010. I’ll let you know what I come up with for mine!  How about all of you? What word would you choose?

4. Drinking
A friend gave us a bottle of homemade kahlua for Christmas and I have enjoyed this mixed with ice and Bailey’s Irish Cream a few nights this month. I have curtailed that for now, because it was obliterating the progress I have been making in the gym!

5. Books!
I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I liked it very much. I didn’t expect to, but I found it to be more complex and serious than I anticipated. I am now reading Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked. Anyone read either of these books?

6. Hummus
I have been making a big container of hummus each week for my family to eat with veggies. Want a cooking demonstration and some history on this yummy dip? Listen to Dede!

7. Jicama
My favorite vegetable to eat raw! It is perfect with a healthy dip, like hummus! Now that is a tasty tidbit.

7 Raw Spots

November 13th, 2009 by Jane

My dog has a raw spot on his butt. We tried some home remedies, but we are going to have to take him to the vet. Of course, he will have to get moved to the top of the list above a host of other unexpected expenses we’ve had the last few months. Children who needed Tamiflu took precedent over a dog with a red heinie.

I started thinking about the word raw. The word even sounds raw and is not one of those words that feels good to say. Not a good mouthfeel, to use a food term. Raw. One meaning is “unnaturally, or painfully exposed,” according to Webster’s. Another is uncooked. Unaged or unprocessed. Crude. Inexperienced. Harsh or unfair. Nude. Uncultivated.

A lot of “un-ness” to the word. Seems like there has been a great amount of that going around of late. Raw.

1. Ft. Hood
I live in the Central Texas area and the impact of last week’s shootings will be felt around here for generations to come. Words fail. If you or anyone you know have been directly affected, please know that there are many people hoping that you soon can find comfort and peace.

2. Economic Survival
By most reports, Texas is managing the economic downturn better than other states. However, many people have had a hard year. I personally know several families who have had to close their businesses, change careers or the stay-at-home spouse returned to work before the family had planned. It seems there is pervasive weariness. Everyone I have talked to is optimistic that things will improve, but feel that the trick is to hold onto what they’ve got until that happens.

3. Raw Minerals
It seems that some celebrities are surviving the sour economy by hawking raw mineral make-up.

4. Raw Food
I know someone who is following a raw food eating program. This is a way of eating in which nothing is consumed that has been heated above 116ºF in order to preserve the natural enzymes in the food.  I like  cruditè any time, but I really, really like hot soup. My friend just completed a marathon in Spain, so maybe I should reconsider!

5. Raw Milk
There is a movement among natural food enthusiasts to drink unpasteurized, or “raw” milk. I need to do more research on this, because in general, I like to have as few germs as possible in my food. Does anyone out there drink only raw milk?

6. Growing Pains
My sweet nine-year old daughter is about to be a 10 year old. I took her to get her ears pierced a few weeks ago so that they would be healed in time for her birthday in December. She has waited a long time for this and I am glad that I stuck to my guns on this one because the minute the little gold studs punctured her ears, she looked like a twenty year old. Ugh. Need I say whose growing pains to which I am referring?

7. Stretch Marks
After delivering twins who weighed a sum total of 13 pounds, I have reached dètente with the web of silver lines which cover a lot of my torso. Now that the girls are kindergardeners, I find I am developing some stretch marks on my psyche and intellect.

I am no longer the person I was before I had three girls and my life is opening back up after the semi-claustrophobia of mothering tiny children. They are no longer so small and neither is my life apart from them. Now, the work is to find what to expand, what to explore and what to leave behind as I move into this new phase.

On some days, the choices seem endless and exciting. Others, it seem scary and overwhelming. On yucky days, I swing from one to the other with frustration and anxiety. I know I will find my path and all will be revealed in time.  My job now is to listen, work, think  and be open. If only someone made cocoa butter to rub on the psyche.

7 Things to Know When You Have a Baby

October 15th, 2009 by Jane

I have been reminiscing about early parenthood because an old friend just had his first child and my neighbor is due with a little girl any day now. My eldest daughter is nine, the twins are five and I don’t know how we got here so fast. People warned me of the speed with which the universe propels you through parenthood. I guess, in the early days when it seemed that the days were an endless loop of diapers, sleepless nights and breast milk-stained clothing, it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t always be infants. Or that I would barely have time to enjoy it.

I think it takes an incredible amount of grace to be a baby born into this world. Think about it, what if we, as adults, were dropped somewhere that we didn’t know the language, we were forced to live with people we didn’t know and we depended on them for our every need. I believe this is why we do not remember our infant hood; it would just be too painful. And yet, each baby looks at her parent with utter trust and eventually unconditional love.

I certainly don’t have many answers, but I’ve learned a few things. I have assembled the seven best pieces of advice, in my opinion, for new parents.

1. Lower Your Standards
I ‘m not kidding. Do not expect to have a clean house, clean clothes on your body or your teeth brushed, for at least the first three months. Your life will be much more enjoyable if you consider these things to be more like delightful hobbies you will resume when the baby is older, say around fifteen.

2. Follow Your Instincts
Everyone has some sort of parenting instinct, even those who say they don’t. If it seems wrong to take your newborn to that family reunion-listen to that voice. Then do not apologize for it.

3. Honor Your Baby’s Birth Story
In current pregnancy books, women are encouraged to write a birth plan to give to their doctor or midwife. This is a fine idea, but save yourself some grief and be flexible. Babies do not take anyone’s plans seriously. Especially their parents. Babies get here however they can and I will pretty much guarantee you that there is not one on the planet that has arrived according to plan. The birth story of your baby is the first of many wonderful stories your child will give to you and should be honored, not lamented.

4. Pay Attention
Isn’t it interesting that the phrase we use is “pay” attention? You give something to get something. Paying attention costs you some time and probably some patience, but here is what you might get: noticing the exact moment the eyelashes on your baby become lush, learning what makes  your child’s eyes light up, watching your child discover her toes. In other words, the good stuff.

5. Find Friends Who Keep It Real
If all of your friends with children arrive at a play date with perfect hair and clothes on their person, as well as their children-keep an eye on them. It is entirely possible that they cannot be trusted to have a real relationship. If their homes are in the same state of constant perfection-run! These are not people with whom you can build a nurturing, supportive friendship and they will wear you out in the interim.

Instead, seek out the moms who have other interests outside of motherhood, the moms who tell you when things aren’t going perfectly, the ones who feel no shame in taking store-bought cupcakes to school. They will become your support system.

6. Make No Plans
After the twins were born, I was commenting to someone that every time I made a plan to go somewhere, someone in my house started throwing up. This woman, who happened to have a set of 30 year old twins, very gently put her hand upon my arm and said “Jane, stop making plans. You will get back to that one day, but not right now. You will feel better if you just take it one day at a time.” Her words were like an elixir for my battered being.

7. It Doesn’t Last Long
Each stage your child goes through seems like it might be endless. Colic. Teething. Potty-training. Learning to drive.  One of my favorite quotes about parenthood is “The days are long, but the years are short.” When I was able to step back and view my children’s stages in six month increments, I could look at all of those frustrating moments with perspective and grace.

My favorite aunt (also a mother of grown twins) once said to me after I recounted a terrible day with toddler twins,  ”Sweetie, I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but you will never again expend this much energy.” That gives me hope, how about you?

7 Scraps Of Praise For Messiness

October 8th, 2009 by Amy

Ever notice the fact that Jane and I have over a hundred entries in “Appreciating” and barely a dozen in “Organizing?”


That’s just the kind of gals we are.


Today I came across the book A Perfect Mess online and while I haven’t read it yet, I’m already in love.


Mostly because it seems like it will be validating.


Suddenly all this messiness on my desk and in my home has the potential to be recast as functional.




Here’s an unorganized collection of seven catchwords and sentences I found insanely uplifting from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place:



1.  “Chemist Stephen Berry, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant award, works among a landscape of 18-inch-high piles which have harbored individual documents for as long as two decades.”


2.  “beneficial mess”


3.  “In general, a messy desk tends to end up so that the more important, more urgent work stays close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff tends to get buried near the back–which makes perfect sense.”


4.  “A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.”


5.  “Actually, messy homes can provide a far more inviting and nurturing environment than highly ordered ones.”


6.  “pointless home neatening”


7.  “A Perfect Mess shatters the myths and misunderstandings about messiness and disorder that have led to an often pointless, counterproductive and demoralizing bias toward neatness and organization in our society.”

7 Features Of Friendship

October 1st, 2009 by Amy

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sitting around with some gal pals laughing and trying to keep from peeing my pants.


To the untrained eye it didn’t look like much – a little gaggle of 40-something moms lettin’ it all hang out – but if you looked closely, it was the of picture of friendship.


Seven Features of Friendship:


1.  Understanding

Appreciating complementary skill sets, realizing you have much to learn from one another, and brainstorming together are all hallmarks of a flourishing friendship.


2.  Self-disclosure

Give some, get some. Not necessarily secrets, but hopes, dreams, and opinions. Even if they differ, you’ve traded something important.


3.  Reciprocity

This give and take allows both friends to wear all the hats in the friendship. Sometimes you get to be the one scraping a friend off the ceiling and sometimes you are stuck there yourself. A good friend makes sure the mess-to-cleanup ratio doesn’t get skewed.


4.  Trust

The exchange of sympathy and empathy create trust … as does honesty.


5.  Social Identity Support

Sounds heady, but basically the best of friends are those who understand and support each other not just as individuals, but also understand and support each other’s role in society. Otherwise known as being a mom … to another mom.


6.  Interaction

Good friends write, call, email. No matter physical proximity, good friends take the time to catch up. Turns out that the content’s not important, it’s the act of communicating itself that creates the closeness.


7.  Pleasure

Sharing the ups and downs of life is what friends are for and In my book, keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily being negative. That said, the net gain from a relationship needs to be pleasure. While there may be little storms along the way, good friends ride it out together, trusting the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again.

7 Proverbs For Health

September 25th, 2009 by Amy

I’m taking my children for flu shots today.


The day after I got the news that a dear, dear friend’s father has colon cancer, another dear, dear friend’s baby broke out in hives after eating a grape covered with pesticide, and another dear, dear friend’s three little girls have finally recovered from a week of fevers and flu.


It goes without saying that health is priceless.


But, why not count your blessings out loud. They’ve been doing it the world over for centuries.


Seven Proverbs for Health:


1.  The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow; its disappearance slow, like a thread.  ~Chinese Proverb

2.  An imaginary ailment is worse than a disease.  ~Yiddish Proverb


3.  When the head aches, all the body is the worse.  ~English Proverb

4.  A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb

5.  Fresh air impoverishes the doctor.  ~Danish Proverb

6.  From the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health.  ~Catalan Proverb

7.  He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.  ~Arabic Proverb

7 Quotes In Praise Of Autumn

September 22nd, 2009 by Amy

I grew up in the Northeast, where Autumn is spectacular – the season that makes the entire year worth the wait. It starts with a little nip in the air and blows away a few blurry orange, red, and yellow weeks later. These days I can feel it coming ’round again.


Happy Autumnal Equinox.


1.  Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.  ~Albert Camus

2.  It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James

3.  Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps


4.  Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.
~Emily Dickinson


5.  The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


6.  For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.  ~Edwin Way Teale

7.  Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.  ~George Eliot


7 Appropriate Tween Movies

September 21st, 2009 by Jane

Are you having trouble finding appropriate shows for your tween girls? Trying to find movies to watch that send a message of independence, intelligence and compassion for my girls is extremely challenging. I have slowly removed almost all of the Disney Channel series from their watchable list due to any of the following reasons:

a) girls in inappropriate attire

b) boys talking about girls in a derogatory or sexual way

c) characters being mean to each other without learning a lesson of compassion

I am not a prude and I think that we do not give children enough credit for being able to figure out how the world works. I am just trying to keep their childhoods progressing at a moderate pace. I recently told a friend in the film industry that if he wanted to rake in the dough, develop a show for tween girls that is shiny, fun, and smart that parents will like. He said that was a huge project and why didn’t I do it. Well, I might. Call me if you are interested.

In the meantime, check out these alternatives that we have been watching together as a family. I guarantee you everyone will be happy! All are available from Netflix-my favorite movie rental company.

1. Anne of Green Gables
I do not know how I missed these books as a child, but I regret it. This movie series is wonderful. Every movie in the trilogy is wonderful and my girls loved it.

2. A Little Princess
This 1995 version of the children’s classic is colorful and exciting. I read this book as a child and loved it, but this movie version goes further than my 9 year old imagination.

3. The Secret Garden
The 1993 version is my favorite. It might even inspire you to create a garden with your children.

4. Little Women
Susan Sarandon as Marmie-wonderful.

5. The Princess Bride
This is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. You haven’t seen this one? That’s inconceivable!

6. Ella Enchanted
This movie is proof that Hollywood film studios have made at least one movie in the last five  years that is smart, girl-as-her-own-hero, funny and entertaining. But I don’t know of any others, do you?

7. My Neighbor Totoro
This Japanese anime’ movie was a big hit at our neighborhood al fresco viewing last spring. Our neighbors hang a sail in the trees and project a movie onto it. We all bring popcorn, candy and blankets. I highly recommend this as a party idea. Even the boys liked it. In the fall, you could have hot cider, popcorn balls and s’mores. Invite me over!

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