Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday morning musings

Now that I've gotten all of the big boys off to work and school I'm sitting here thinking of the small steps we've already taken that we now take for granted. Just our morning routine reminds me that:
we are baking our own bread
raising our own laying hens for breakfast eggs
both older boys can cook their own breakfast
'baby girl' can make packaged oatmeal or a bowl of cereal. At the age of 5 1/2 she can operate the microwave just enough to be able to heat the oatmeal.
dh works a half day today so he will eat when he gets home - no fast food
'baby girl' spent the morning drawing pictures of the family; she also surprised me by putting a fresh diaper on her little brother... correctly! It's not loose or crooked or anything, and he sat there and let her do it! How funny! Now she's begging, not for a video game or tv but to PLEASE go outside. I love that.

None of these are huge, earth shatteringly impressive things, but put together they indicate a shift in our thinking. We look at every action with the question "Why?"

Some people question how much my 5 year old can do. Is it safe? Well, when she operates the microwave we are right with her. She has a plastic lettuce knife that she uses when we make salad but she's learning how to carry sharp knives as well. I'm not overly protective of my children. I expect them to learn by doing and I accept the occasional injury as part of the process. None have had to have stitches, only one has had a cast and that was sports related. Yes, that's partially luck but it's also a reflection of the fact that they've been raised to respect blades not fear them; fire is a tool not a toy, same with guns. Kids are naturally curious so we try to mitigate the everyday dangers with KNOWLEDGE.

We don't even think of stopping at a fast food restaurant for breakfast every day, occasionally yes, but not every day. The big boys have been on a bit of a doughnut binge lately but the store-bought ones are pricey. My middle son asked me if we could make chocolate frosted doughnuts at home... I'm sure we can, just not sure I WANT to. How many teenagers do you know who would even think of home made alternatives to convenience foods?

Both of my teens take turns cooking dinner at least once a week. My eldest son (15) can cook as well as I could as a newlywed. The younger one (14) has learned some basic dishes like pasta, sloppy joes, etc. They've both been able to make simple things like ramen and mac & cheese since they were 9 and 10. The eldest packs two water bottles for school every day during the warmer months. Sodas and energy drinks are treats for him, not part of his morning routine. He takes iced tea, water, kool aid, lemonade... whatevers around. Yes I hope someday he will just be thrilled with water, but I'm not holding my breath as I haven't made it that far myself yet!

I appreciate my families flexibility and open mindedness. They've tried lots of new things over the past few years. Most have been successful, some (just a handful) have not. DH doesn't mind trading soda for iced tea but draws the line at home-made sweet tea. I'm going to try again this spring with my grandmothers sun tea recipe which is sweeter and not as strong (astringent) as traditional sweet tea. Green salads are popular, chunks of celery are not. In the 'what they don't see won't kill them' category: I'm becoming an expert at finely chopping veggies that might offend the sensebilities of most children. I can work a whole lot of celery and carrots into a cheeseburger soup or a meatloaf!

It's not easy being different. The extended family thinks we're crazy. Our kids friends think we're weird. In the end I don't base my choices on those things. I need to put my head on the pillow each night knowing that I've prepared my children to live in the world - whatever may come and that I've given them the best choices, the best example I possibly can.

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