Writing again to share…

Hello sisters,

This blog has been on a long hiatus. I don’t know how much I’ll be writing here in the future, now that I’m expecting another baby, but I know I enjoy looking back at these posts. A lot of big moments have been written about here (and little ones too, which is just as nice), but I thought I’d add another big one.

Kevin and I are moving again, to Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, some of you may be wondering, wait…Colorado is farther away from family and friends, and you’d be right! Kevin and I had been hoping to get back to the East Coast eventually. Being within driving distance of many of our loved ones would be lovely, but at the same time, permanent jobs in the field of ecology are also lovely!

Winter in Fort Collins
I think I may have to learn how to ski…

As Kevin’s post doc started winding down (and federal funding became less of a certainty…), he started applying to permanent jobs. There were lots of fish in the water, but the one that took his bait was Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service in Fort Collins, CO where he will be a spatial ecologist! It’s another big move, farther west. Kevin joked that in 10 years we’ll be in Japan at this rate. Continue reading “Writing again to share…”

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raising kids, Buckwalter style

Hi sisters.

I have been thinking about parenting styles a lot recently. It’s only in the past few months that I have felt like the chaos has subsided since adding Eve to our family. Parenthood for me has mostly been about survival. There hasn’t been a lot of time to stop and think about my parenting style, or contemplate the kind of life experiences I want my kids to have. Mostly the thoughts in my head tend towards the manic “laundry/bills/dishes/work/bedtime/someone is sick” in a never ending loop. Turns out, spending years of my life sleep deprived while working a full time job while parenting small children and moving multiple times doesn’t really help me have mental clarity to think about ideas, and worldviews, and how I want to be shaping my kids’ lives.

Mostly this doesn’t bother me too much. I think there is a tendency to over analyze parenting, and obsess about kids. I think back to our childhood, and I remember that Mom and Dad didn’t seem to worry too much about us (or maybe they did, and I didn’t know about it?). They simply provided lots of love and a good healthy environment for us to grow up in, and we flourished.

As my little family has been settling into our new home, we have taken a few steps towards the Buckwalter style of raising kids. I bet they are familiar ideas to all of you.

  1. Don’t have a TV. I mean, have something you can watch movies/shows on, but don’t make it the centerpiece of your living room. It’s interesting to me how many houses have their living rooms centered around a giant flat screen TV. As kids, we were always the strange family without a TV. Turns out, you become more creative when you don’t have a source of constant entertainment.  A TV makes you just turn off your brain. Granted, there’s times when that is needed. I definitely enjoy watching a little Netflix after the kids are in bed, but I don’t want them to be constantly staring at a screen. Here’s what we fill our living room with: books. A few creative toys, like a set of blocks. A piano. We recently got a piano and I’m so glad to have a musical instrument in the house that the kids can play. Create your own entertainment!
playing the piano together
playing the piano together
One of their favorite toys--a jump rope. Simple pleasures.
One of their favorite toys–a jump rope. Simple pleasures.

2. Make your kids work. We all remember the chores we had to do growing up. I resented them somewhat, but then I got used to them, and the time always passed quickly when we cleaned together. I think the lesson really got drilled into me to work before having fun. We just started a chore chart with Miriam and it is hard work, making kids get used to the idea of working. It takes much longer to teach her to do a task than to just do it myself. My time is so precious–I get a few hours a day at home with my kids, and it’s hard to spend a half hour of that time nagging Miriam to finish her chores. But I know it’s important. We keep reminding her that everyone in the house has to help with the work. It takes so much work to keep a household going! She’s starting to grasp the idea of contributing.

3. Teach your kids about money. Mom and Dad weren’t the kind of parents who just gave us whatever we wanted. We learned from a young age that money doesn’t grow on trees! I do remember getting an allowance and learning the value of money.  When we started the chore chart with Miriam, we also started giving her an allowance. But we are not paying her to do chores. We have told her that she has to do chores to contribute to the work that needs done everyday. After all, no one pays me to do the dishes or laundry! We are trying to convey to her that as she grows, she gains responsibility and is expected to help out more. Along with growing up, we are giving her a small amount of money weekly so she can start to learn how much things cost, and budget, and spend the money on things she wants. So far she has been really excited to buy books and a few small toys. We are going to start a savings jar and a giving jar too. So far I think it’s going well. Last week she wanted to buy a brand new book for $22 and only had $18. So we talked about what she would need to do to save up for it.

4. Spend a lot of time outside. We were lucky to have grown up at the Buckwalter homestead with so much room to roam! I remember spending so much time in the creek, in the treehouse, wandering in the woods, playing in the gravel pit “castle” up the road. Free time outside is so essential to childhood. I’ve started taking my kids outside when I get home from work now that the weather is nice. We play in the yard, kick a soccer ball around, maybe go for a walk in the nearby cemetery. When we have more time, we head out for a long walk on the nearby trails in the state forest.

On a recent hike by our house. She brings a notebook so she can take notes about what she sees in the woods.
On a recent hike by our house. She brings a notebook so she can take notes about what she sees in the woods.

 

5. Prioritize family dinners. We always ate a good home-cooked meal for dinner every night growing up, and it’s something I try pretty hard to continue for our kids now. Spending that time together is important. Right now, I spend a lot of family dinner time running around wiping up spills, getting napkins, watching Eve throw food on the floor and telling the kids that yes, they have to eat their vegetables, but I know that family meal time will get a bit less hectic as the kids get older.

6. Spend time with extended family. I also remember so many trips as a kid to see family and lots time spent with family. I’m so glad to be connected to extended family. I want my kids to know their grandparents and cousins! We try to make this happen as much as we can, but the distances involved make things hard. This is why you all need to move to upstate NY, ahem!

This is just a start to what could be a long list! What have I missed? Maybe I’ll get more brain space soon (will I ever get enough sleep? Will life ever slow down?) and I can think of more.

Sending love to you all and looking forward to some sister time soon with Martha! Next week! We’ll be hitting a lot of things on this list together.

Rachel

 

the state of our household

Hi sisters.

Life continues at its hectic pace around here. So much happens at home with my little family and I miss taking the time to sit down and write to you all about it. So, I thought I’d try and summarize a bit.

Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together
Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together

Continue reading “the state of our household”

The Rollercoaster of Sleep

Hi sisters,

I’ve been ruminating awhile about how to talk about something that you get asked a lot when you have a baby.The first question is usually, “What’s his name?” and then “Is he sleeping?” or “Are you getting sleep?” My answer is usually, he sleeps really well but he wakes up every 3-4 hours to nurse. People look at me like I’m crazy to say he sleeps well when he wakes up so often, but he’s never fought sleep that much, and he goes back to sleep really quickly after nursing. Still it feels like he hasn’t “made it.” Most baby books say things like: by six months your baby doesn’t need to eat at night and should be able to go 8-10 hours without waking up. Calvin’s pediatrician reiterated this sentiment, telling me I could let him cry it out a bit, that he just prefers to nurse himself back to sleep. This bit of advice caused Kevin and I to react very differently.

Kevin heard that and thought, “Great, we can start letting him cry it out right away, after about a week he’ll be all sleep trained and will sleep through the night and life will be wonderful.”

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Not exactly relevant to this post, but so so true. Can’t count the number of times where I think, wait, he’s sleeping so quietly and for longer than I expected, should I go check on him??

Continue reading “The Rollercoaster of Sleep”

Tough Decisions

Hi sisters,

From my wonderful world of motherhood and part time work and singing a bit at church and in choir I am faced with a few tough decisions. I thought I’d let you hear that “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!”

Should I take a nap while my baby naps, or should I….insert anything else that you might do. Every morning when Calvin goes down for his first nap I have this back and forth in my head. “It might be nice to nap with him, I am fairly sleep deprived. BUT, he only naps for 45 minutes at a time. Is that enough time for me to fall asleep? Maybe I should get started on some food/meal prep. Or maaaaybe I should take a bath and read one of the 28 books I have out of the library (no joke) while anxiously listening to the baby monitor. Or maybe this indecision has gone on so long that I’ve just been sitting on the computer frittering away my 45 minutes of independence and he’s awake again.” I really love that he naps. I don’t love how many things I could do while he naps. Sometimes the best thing is some self-care time. One morning this week I just lay down and napped with him for 40 minutes, it was what I needed to get through the day. Another morning I made Asian Cabbage Slaw and it was delicious.

kidimage

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I’ll make this decision easy on you Mom, don’t take pictures of me in the bathtub.

Continue reading “Tough Decisions”