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Ask Away Friday!

 MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter

I’m participating in a new (to me!) linkup today:  #AskAwayFriday was created by Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County and Amber from Bold Fit Mom, as a way to connect with other bloggers.  Two bloggers pair up to ask each other ten questions, any questions!

These days the linkup is hosted by:

Tamara from Tamara (Like) Camera

Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter

Christy from Uplifting Families

Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings

Echo from Domain of The Mad Mommy

I am pairing up with Mrs.Tee today and answering the challenging questions she came up with for me!

  • Because most issues are life issues, if you think about it.”  This is your site’s tag line. What does it mean to you?

Before I was a blogger, I was a columnist for the local Catholic newspaper.  Because I was the chair of the Diocesan Respect Life Committee at the time, the topic of my column was life issues.  So I wrote about abortion, the death penalty, birth control, assisted reproductive technology, war–basically anything that could fit under the umbrella of respecting life “from the womb to the tomb.”  When I started blogging, I took the name of my column for my blog, and I was excited to have a platform to write about basically everything.  I figure if it’s in my life, it’s pretty much a life issue, right?  I like the title because I think it reflects the broad and eclectic nature of my blog.  I’m not a niche blogger.  You are never going to know what to expect when you come here.  Maybe one day I will be writing about politics and the next I’m reviewing my latest nature hike.  One day I’m sharing pictures and history of a local graveyard and the next I’m explaining my parenting philosophy.  You might even spot a recipe or two.

  •  What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have many happy memories of my childhood.  As the weather gets warmer I like to remember my daddy grilling out on the deck, after rigging the speakers from the stereo to play out of the open windows so we could listen to Rod Stewart and Carly Simon while we ate in the backyard.  A lot of my happiest memories have to do with being outside, and a certain aroma or song or breath of fresh air will bring those feelings flooding back.

  •  If you could take a trip anywhere without care to cost where would you go?

Europe, absolutely, and specifically Rome.  I was fortunate to have traveled in France with my grandmother as a teenager, but that was my only trip abroad.  It makes me sad sometimes to think of all the wonderful sights all over the world that I will probably never see.

  •  If you had to present yourself as a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree, dessert) what would the dishes be?

This is the hardest question!  I don’t even know how I am supposed to answer that?  By presenting character qualities as the dishes?  Or by thinking of foods that I am like somehow?  I’m going to go with a sort of combination of those ideas.  So for an appetizer, I would serve something fairly conventional and non-threatening, like wine and cheese.  And then the main course would be a familiar and filling item like a good steak, perhaps, but with some kind of completely unexpected seasoning and side dishes you have probably never heard of before.  Then dessert would be something sweet and filling, like a homemade pie with real whipped cream.  Make of that whatever you will. :-)

  •  What’s your favorite season of the year?

Spring!  I cannot stop smiling at this time of year.  I love everything about it–the weather, the flowering trees and bulbs bursting through the earth, the longer days, the sweet-smelling breezes, the chirping frogs.  I always forget, though, that it isn’t REALLY Spring until mid-April, no matter how many warm days we have.  It’s going back into the 20s this weekend!

  •  What is the last thing you watched on TV?

Star Trek “Shore Leave.” We are about halfway through the first season, watching one or two episodes every night.  Before that, we watched the entire seven years of The Next Generation, and prior to that we watched nine years of The X-Files plus both movies.  I don’t watch broadcast t.v. but I am having a great time introducing these shows to William and sharing this time with whichever big kids are around and want to join us each evening.

  •  If you could recommend a Must Read book what would it be?

I recommend books on this blog quite often as I have always been a voracious reader.  It’s hard to recommend just one book, though, because it depends on the person you are offering it to.  My favorite book is Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline.

  •  What’s your favorite color?

Yellow.  I love it because it is bright and sunny and happy.  When I was a little girl my bedroom had three yellow walls, one wall papered with yellow roses, and spring-green carpet.  I thought it looked like springtime in there and it made me happy.

  •  Do you prefer outdoor or indoor activities? What are a few of your favorites?

Outdoor.  I love hiking and blog about that a lot!  I also love gardening, and walking around old graveyards, and going on picnics in the mountains.  Having said all that, I spend 95% of my life in the house in front of the computer, it seems.

  •  Are you a coffee tea or other drinker?

Coffee, no contest at all!  I love my sweet tea like any Southern girl, but I drink three cups (big ones) of coffee most days.  The caffeine doesn’t even register with me.  I can drink it right before bed.  One of my greatest accomplishments (not even kidding a little bit) was weaning myself away from sugar in my coffee last year.  Maybe this year I can get rid of the cream so I can achieve my goal of drinking it ALL DAY LONG with no added calories!

That was fun!  Check out the rest of the linkup to meet some new and interesting bloggers!

LeslieAskAway

Free Range Is Not the Opposite of

You know, there’s an awful lot of sneering about “Attachment Parenting” on the Web. (Actually, there’s a lot of sneering about all kinds of parenting, for that matter–and I’ve done my share!)  But most of the snark seems to stem from a misunderstanding of what AP even is.  So let’s talk about it–and how a self-proclaimed slacker mom such as myself, who openly advocates for Free Range parenting and benign neglect, can also embrace (as an ideal, mind you) Attachment Parenting.

So here is what AP is, from the actual website of Attachment Parenting International, and with a link to click if you want to know more:

Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Feed with Love and Respect
Respond with Sensitivity
Use Nurturing Touch
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Practice Positive Discipline
Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life

Doesn’t sound as crunchy and weird and extreme as you thought, maybe? It doesn’t mean that you have to breastfeed your six-year-old and have a family bed until middle school.  It does mean that you don’t leave your baby propped up with a bottle in a crib alone in his own room as soon as you possibly can.  It doesn’t mean you have to give birth unassisted at home.  It might mean that you do a little research and preparation for birth instead of just believing every word that falls from the lips of your doctor.  It doesn’t mean that you are a failure as a parent if you ever raise your voice.  It does mean that screaming and smacking aren’t the preferred choices in your parenting toolbox.

For me, it meant extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and staying home with my kids, but you can practice attachment without doing any of those things.  One thing AP theory stresses is following the cues of your child.  Some kids don’t sleep well in bed with someone else.  Some babies self-wean early and never look back.  It’s not AP to force your children to conform to some ideal that that has nothing to do with the people they are.

Which brings me to the Free Range part of this post.

Free Range parenting also gets mocked online by parents who call it neglect, who would never leave their kids alone for one second, who hover over their big kids because they are so scared of the big bad dangerous world.  But Free Range doesn’t mean leaving your baby in the car in the Kmart parking lot for an hour, or abandoning your six-year-old to fend for herself for the day.  Simply put, according the website:

The short Free-Range Kids and Parent Bill of Rights is this:

Children have the right to some unsupervised time, and parents have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.

Now, how does that go along with AP?  It’s all about listening to your child’s cues.  That means when your kid WANTS to stay alone at home, you let him.  You don’t go off for the day.  You make sure he has a phone, and knows what to do in an emergency, and you go to the grocery store five minutes away for half an hour to begin with.  When he wants to stay in the car and listen to the radio while you pick up some milk at the convenience store, you leave him there.  When he asks to walk down the street to play with his friend, you teach him about watching out for cars and you wave good-bye.

A securely attached child, in my experience, is very likely to want to do all those things, because she has learned from experience that you are there when she needs you.  She hasn’t been raised to be fearful, because her needs have been met, she has been listened to, she knows the world is a good place, and she is confident.

Our society is seriously messed up.  We put babies in cribs alone and expect them to sleep through the night and do our best to put them on schedules and make them conform to our needs, and then when they are teenagers we won’t let them out of our sight.  Think about the animal kingdom.  Mammals keep their babies close at the beginning, then start teaching them independence a little at a time, and eventually actively push them away.  That’s the way it is supposed to be for us too, and if you DON’T give your kids a little freedom at the right time, just watch how they will push YOU away.

Free Range v. Attached

Like most people, I routinely share pictures I consider to be cute or profound on my Facebook wall.  Sometimes I’m surprised by the lack of attention paid to something I found particularly noteworthy; other times one picture gets more likes than I expected.  And who knows how much any of this has to do with the value of the pictures themselves versus those mysterious and ever-changing Facebook algorithms?

Still, the picture above resonated with more people than the usual random post.  I shared it almost off-handedly–I can’t even remember whose wall I found it on–and it had been shared so many times before it got to me that I can’t find an original creator to credit it to.

I related to this picture because it conveys a powerful message about what love IS and what it ISN’T.  Love is ACTION, not FEELING.

Those romantic and mushy feelings we all enjoy at the beginning of a relationship are wonderful.  And I promise you that after 25 years I still have those feelings for my husband.  But not all the time.

The strength of your love for someone shows in how you care for them when you are not feeling mushy or romantic AT ALL.  When I’m feeling angry and resentful towards my husband and yet I still get his medicines together for him in the morning (and don’t add arsenic), that’s love.  When I wash the clothes he needs in the morning which he put in the hamper at bedtime, that’s love.  When I go outside in the rain to roll up the windows of his car, even though we just had a fight, that’s love.

If you have been married any length of time, you know these things.  If you haven’t gotten married yet, you had better learn them now.  Romance can only take you so far.  Flowers and candlelight are great and I still like them, but having the capacity and the will to ACT loving when you just aren’t feeling it is what will enable a relationship to endure.

downtown 3Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee . . . taken looking southwest from the roof of a parking garage right before an afternoon storm.

#CheckOutThatView

This week was Spring Break, and on Tuesday Lorelei and I went on an adventure with some friends, visiting Seven Islands Birding Park for the first time (but I am sure not the last).  It was a beautiful almost-Spring day, perfect for taking pictures.  We saw a Cooper’s Hawk, so the park lived up to its name!  We will be going back to explore and to hike more, and I will share more pictures in a future post.

OneDad3Girls

Sunday Snippets

Sunday SnippetsIt’s time again for Sunday Snippets, that weekly linkup of Catholic Bloggers from across the web hosted by RAnn of This, That, and the Other Thing.  Sadly, this is the last week for Sunday Snippets but I hope to find some new linkups to join.

Things were pretty busy on the block this week!  I started off the week with a new graveyard post.

I shared some old but still popular posts this week too, of particular interest to Catholic readers. This one was for St. Patrick’s Day.

This one was in honor of St. Joseph.

Do you think fear might be ruining childhood?  I do, and I wrote a post about that.

I participated in the #1000Speak campaign, writing about bullying.

Finally, I shared the exciting news that my daughter had a story published in an online literary journal!

Thanks for visiting!  Please check out the other participants in the linkup.  You might find a new blog to enjoy!

My daughter Emily, who graduated from Spring Hill College in 2013 with a major in Creative Writing, is an amazing writer of fiction and poetry.  I’ve shared her prize-winning poetry with you here before, and she had her first short story published last year.

Yesterday, her short story Sincerely, Persephone was published in the online journal Rose Red Review.  Writing is her career choice, and she has been working hard.

I would love for my readers to head over there to read and come back to tell me what you think, if you are so inclined.  I think you will see this isn’t just parental pride talking.

Emily embarking upon her writing career

Emily embarking upon her writing career

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