Sunday, May 20, 2012

Volunteering at the Special Olympics

My husband's boat (PCU North Dakota) was asked for volunteers for the Special Olympics here. We decided we would volunteer as a family so that the kids could be volunteers too. It was such a good experience. I would love to do it again.

The initial thought behind us volunteering as a family was for the kids to volunteer and have the experience working with special needs people. We want to start them volunteering with different things right from young. This turned out to be more of a touching mushy thing for me, than anything else. I am so incredibly proud of my children today. We volunteered in "Olympic Town" which is an area they have set up for the athletes to do fun activities between events. The boys mostly helped children and adults with legos and sand art. They were so patient and sweet to each of the people they worked with. They were congratulating them on their medals, encouraging them as they built with the legos or doing the sand art, telling them how great they were doing etc. I am just so proud of them. They have the biggest hearts. My husband and I worked right along with them helping, of course, and both of us were just amazed at how awesome the kids all were. Even the two little ones were perfectly content the whole time! It was nice to watch some of the events as well.

I know we are not perfect, but we must be doing something right. These kids are amazing.

If we had any chance of getting there on time I had to have the kids clothes set out and everything packed to leave for the morning! lol

This was the sand art station right after it was slammed before lunch!

The area we volunteered in.

Volunteering is HARD WORK when you're 10 months old!

We took the kids for ice cream after!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

There is something I'd like to address

Let me preface this by saying that I believe there is no "right way" to parent. The only right way, is whatever way enables your family to produce healthy, happy, well adjusted children.

Now that I have that out of the way....

Today, after I finished school with the kids, I decided to turn on The View, to listen to while I did some picking up downstairs. They brought up the new controversial TIME Magazine cover.

Note: This toddler is 3. Not 8 or whatever other age people are saying he is.
I view this differently than most people. I see this is a portrayal of defiance and strength against those who shun it. I think it's a powerful image. As for the title, it was to get your attention. I can't speak to the article itself. I have not read it.

The ladies of The View discussed Attachment Parenting and Extended Breastfeeding. It was all negative, of course. Driven by ignorance, I imagine. Elisabeth Hasselbeck went as far as to say that it can have a negative impact on a marriage. I have a few problems with the way this subject was approached on their show today. My first, smaller issue, is the fact that the photo had a black circle over the toddler breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not dirty, inappropriate or sexual, so there is no need for censorship. My second issue is seeing such negativity and misinformation spoken about a style of parenting that has so many proven benefits. My final issue is it being said that it can negatively impact a marriage.

Attachment parenting isn't a label that is strictly reserved for stay at home mothers. There are working mothers, who practice many aspects of attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is many things. You don't have to practice every single thing that falls under the AP umbrella to consider yourself an "attachment parent". This was part of the misinformation when discussing it on The View.

Extended Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting in general, are practiced all over the world. They are  not something new. They might be gaining popularity in the US, but it is far from a "new" style of parenting. Extended Breastfeeding has many nutritional and emotional benefits. Attachment Parenting has many proven physical, emotional and developmental benefits. I think it's a shame that they put such a negative light on a style of parenting that isn't harmful and has been proven to be beneficial in many ways. It might not be the more common choice, but why try to make the parents who choose to parent this way feel they are doing something wrong? It's not for everyone, but it's great for the families that it works for. 

As far as the comments about it harming a marriage or relationship. It's about balance but furthermore,  if a couple is blaming attachment parenting itself for relationship issues, there are other issues beyond that. When a couple is a "team" and on the same page in regards to parenting... their parenting choices, regardless of what they may be, should not be an issue. 
Attachment Parenting doesn't negatively impact my marriage in any way. We have 6 children, I homeschool, I breastfeed the youngest and he also sleeps with us at night (he will until he's ready for his own bed). Our marriage is excellent. We're happy, loving toward each other and our sex life does not suffer whatsoever. This is on top of my husband being in the Navy, which is a demanding career with long hours (when he's here). This style of parenting works for us in all aspects.

I practice Baby Led Weening and none of mine have nursed passed 14 months, but that doesn't mean I will shame the mother who is still breastfeeding her 2.5 year old or the mother who formula feeds. We co-sleep/bed-share until the baby shows us signs that he/she is ready to sleep alone, that has not usually been more than a year, but I will not shame the families who have a family bed or those who do not co-sleep at all. 

It's all about what works for your family. Attachment parenting may not be the right choice for your family, but it is for mine. We are all just doing what is best for our families.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reflecting: I'm tougher than they thought

A blog post I read today, made me think about what it was like when my husband and I were first married. I was immediately swept away, hundreds of miles from family, friends and everything I knew. Set down in a new place, that I didn't know and my husband almost immediately had to leave. It was a little bit of a shock for a 19 year old with a baby. However, it was all so quick, I didn't even have time to be sad or scared. I just did what I had to do.

That command he reported to back then, not too long down the road, had commented that I wasn't cut out to be a military wife and we eventually wouldn't work out. Maybe I appeared fragile to them? I imagine I was. I grew, though. In the years we've been married, we have PCS'd 5 times (some with as little as 12 days notice), we've had a herd of children, endured miscarriages, made it through a rocky start to our relationship, weathered a very bad command and my husband was in a nearly fatal (not an exaggeration) pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accident, in which he was the pedestrian (an SUV hit him going about 45 MPH)... Just to name a few...

That accident was what showed me what I was really made of. I suddenly had a husband in the ICU and we had a baby and a toddler. I had to find people to watch the kids so I could see him in the hospital, deal with the police, deal with the Navy side of it because he wasn't conscious to talk to anyone and did it all with no family, no friends and no help from his command. I felt completely alone, but instead of breaking, I found strength within myself to pull it all together. When he came home from the hospital, he had several broken bones/casts, so he couldn't go to the bathroom without help, he couldn't shower without help... he couldn't do anything without my help. I did it... We did it. We made it through that, which was an incredibly difficult time for many reasons. We have made it through many difficult military related things as well. When things get thrown at us, whether it being by the Navy or just life in general, we take it head on and find our way through it. Together.

I definitely think there are women far better at this whole lifestyle than I am. I'm not social enough, I'm a little too shy at first and I'm a little more dependent than I should be when he's around. However, when I am faced with something difficult, I buck up and deal. I have proven to myself that I am tougher than that command gave me credit for. I'm a decent Navy wife. I'm supportive, loyal and I listen when he needs it. The kids and I have packed up and followed him everywhere the Navy has needed us to go. I might not be as graceful as some, but I do it with a smile on my face.

I'm a Proud Navy Wife.