Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On My Library Card: Modern Parenting

Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet B. Schor
Eye-opening. Truly. I never realized how deeply marketed every facet of children's lives are today until reading this book. It has definitely made me want to be even more intentional about monitoring O's exposure to television, the internet, processed foods, branding, etc. It helps that we don't have a TV, but that doesn't mean I can't still spend plenty of time watching stuff on the internet. Right now, since O is still a very young baby, I think what I'm taking away from reading this book is to monitor my own consumption of these things, because the habits that Andy and I make will ultimately determine the environment that our kids grow up in.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Branson and Ashley Merryman
Despite the fact that I'm usually not that into books about the new perfect way to parent your child, the concept of this one intrigued me, so I thought I'd at least skim it. I was fascinated. It's less of a parenting manual and more of a collection of articles on the latest research on child development. My big take-aways were to compliment my kids for their hard work rather than their intelligence and to make sure our kids see our conflicts resolved. I also learned some interesting things about the importance of sleep, the effect of early friendships on sibling dynamics, and when to talk to your kids about race. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the book just presented the information and let you draw your own conclusions about how your parenting might be affected. It was definitely an educational read if nothing else.

Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes
The one word I would use to describe this book is inspiring. Shannon Hayes has suddenly gotten me beyond excited to try tons of things I've never done before: canning, gardening, soap making, etc. etc. etc! Though, I'll admit, I was probably pretty ripe for the picking beforehand. Another thing I loved about this book is how it reminded me that my choice to be a stay-at-home mom is less 50's housewife and more 60's activist. It also helped me to see more clearly how this thing called motherhood can be a real career choice for me, filled with legit professional development opportunities. It also encouraged me to see our home not as place to be kept pretty and clean, but as a living organism whose primary duty is to nurture and create.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Some Hopes for Twenty Thirteen

I wasn't planning on doing a New Year's post, but my mind is so busy will all of the new things I want to try this year that I can't resist writing them down. Being able to stay home has really expanded my horizons in that sense. I've always been the type of person that thinks, "O, it's too late, I'm too old to start [insert activity here] when there are already so many talented people in the world who have been doing that for forever." But for some reason (maybe it has something to do with becoming a mom or birthing a child?), this year is different. This year, I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to. It's only a matter of teaching myself. I've already signed up for my very first (running) 5k, though I've never run more than a very slow mile at a time in all my life. I've also been thinking a lot about nutrition and am trying to slowly rid our home of overly processed foods and replacing them with more fruits, veggies, and other (closer to) real foods. This of course means doing a lot more baking and cooking than I am normally accustomed to, but I am so ready for the challenge. Today I even used masa to make my own tortillas instead of buying them, which is at least a little closer to real, right? The whole idea of making instead of purchasing our foods has gotten me thinking about all the other things I buy. What else could I just as well make, now that I have the time? We've already started doing some homemade natural cleaning products, and I would love to add soap making and canning to my currently very short list of homesteading skills this year. I'm trying to keep it small so I don't overwhelm myself (or my husband), but lately I can't resist the urge to try to make all the little things we normally purchase. And speaking of homesteading, I can't wait for us to get a house in the next year or two so we can really start gardening and maybe we could have a hen or a goat!? But for now, I'm looking forward to the CSA starting up again in the spring so I can really start experimenting with some yummy produce-ful recipes.

Image from Etsy.

Also on my list for this year: going through and ridding our home of needless clutter on a bigger scale than we've ever done before (a la William Morris). I'd also like to start doing some of my usual hobbies more regularly, like crocheting and mosaics. For the latter I am finally going to get to work on an unfinished piece of antique furniture that has been sitting in our dining room for years and for the former, I have my eye on these cute little boy booties. I'd also love to get some lavender and peppermint oils to add to my tea tree so I can try out other toiletries and medicines as well. Maybe I could even make a second attempt at keeping some indoor herbs alive, now that I have a little more time at home. 
Whew. I think that's enough to keep me plenty busy for this year. We'll see what I've actually accomplished once January rolls around again.