Learning to soar above the pains and hurts this world delivers.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Parenting in a secular world

Parenting is a tough job.
Parenting when your family runs outside the cultural norm is even harder.

It's no secret that we are a secular family. We don't believe in any religions or supernatural phenomena. We are raising free-thinkers who are skeptical of claims made by others and question everything. We are raising them to think for themselves, to think critically, and to most of all respect themselves enough to not just jump off of cliffs with everyone else doing it.

In this age we have a tremendous advantage that our previous secular parents didn't have.
The internet has provided us a safe place to talk and learn, to find and commiserate with those who hold our same values and parenting styles. The internet has provided us a voice, it has shown us we aren't alone. The numerous atheist/secular/humanist/free-thinking books, groups, leaders, conferences, and more that are out and easy to find are showing us that we no longer have to be ashamed, we don't have to hide. There is safety in numbers and the secular community is growing.

When it comes to parenting as secularists, we have a whole different set of issues to face and overcome. We are raising the next generation. We have to teach our children to navigate and survive this world as a minority, as someone feared and misunderstood by the majority. We have to teach them discipline without the threat of a deity watching them who will punish them in fire forever if they are bad. That means they must learn to be good for goodness' sake, not God's or Santa's (even though some of us DO still do Santa heh.)

The point of this blog post was to share with those of you who are new or misguided or without any idea where to go to for help some resources. I'm going to share with you a list of books and websites that can help you figure out this whole secular parenting thing - because it's not an easy task! So without further verbosity, here you go!

BOOKS - General Parenting

BOOKS - Teaching Children
People (Celebrating diversity worldwide)

Interactive Tree of Life: http://www.onezoom.org/index.htm
Atheist Parenting: http://www.atheistparents.org/
Raising Freethinkers: http://raisingfreethinkers.com/
Grateful to be of This World: http://gratefultobeofthisworld.blogspot.com/
Blogging the Bible: http://www.carpescriptura.com/

I'll leave it at that for now. I may make a part two in the future, but this is a great starting point I feel! Good luck on your secular parenting journey. You can always message me as well, I'm always ready to offer advice. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality!

Congrats, America.

You're moving into the modern era. We're one step closer to total equality.

I'm so thrilled for my friends in the LGBTQ community and everyone else affected. You made it this far! You earned your rights! There is still a long road ahead, but this is a HUGE achievement for the US and I can't wait to share with my grandchildren the stories of this fight. My children cheered with me yesterday. They smiled and expressed their happiness that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls now. It made me cry, their ease at understanding this seemingly adult issue.

I'm proud to be on the right side of history. I hope you are as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Don't we ALL just want companionship and love?

I came across this post yesterday, and wanted to flesh it out a bit on my own end. So go read it, and come back. Don't worry, it opens in a new window. :)

I really want to encourage you guys to talk to your children more about special needs (Autism, ADHD, Asperger's, etc) aside from the physical needs that are more obvious. Mental SN often go untalked about. Mental health in this country is untalked about in the extreme. Our children need to understand that sometimes some kids can appear to be annoying, or overeager, or loud, or whatever but they really just don't fully understand how to be friends yet and need friends to help guide them. They don't often perceive an outside view of themselves, and so they often commit social blunders.

However, being awkward or not apologizing easily doesn't make someone unlovable. It doesn't mean they should be relegated to the corner forever, alone. They need friendship and love as much as anyone. It's our job as parents to make sure they grow up taken care of, but also that they learn empathy, and that starts young. Teach your children to care for their peers, to look out for them, to love them. Special needs children are at very high risk for bullying (we've sadly seen our share of it at our elementary school), because they are different. They stand out from the crowd and don't always fit into the puzzle well. They don't get invited to the smaller parties. They don't get invited to other kids' homes to play. They don't get asked to be partners for projects. But some of the sweetest, brightest, most good-hearted children/people I've ever met have special needs of varying type.

Before my son was diagnosed with a SN disorder, I was pretty ignorant about teaching my kids about other special needs. I just figured if I taught them to be good people and have general empathy I was doing my job, but I realized that's not enough. I needed to go into more detail, I needed to broaden their worldview much more than I had. I needed to recognize that my kids are intelligent and CAN grasp a lot more of what this world hands them. Because everyone deserves understanding and love. Everyone deserves friends.

And it's up to us to show our children HOW to be friends, even with the unfriendly or awkward ones. Because they're human too, and have many of the same needs we do. Go have a talk tonight with your wee ones. Ask them if they have classmates that act weird, or are too hyper, or don't look them in the eye... Ask them what they think about them. Ask them if they know how some kids' brains don't function the same way and they have special ways of learning or emoting. Remind them of things they struggle with (math, football, social studies, maybe they are hard of hearing) and ask how they'd feel if they had few or no friends because of it. Explain that those SN kids really just want to play and have fun and be friends like their other friends do. Explain that sometimes those are the friendships you will truly treasure because you earned them, and they're not always easy. But sometimes... the rewards are profound. <3

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cupid Came Prepared!

I rarely get inspired creatively these days. Maybe it's permanent chemo brain, or maybe it's the ADD or Mommy Brain. Whatever the cause, it's a truth I live with. As a former artist sometimes it's hard to deal with. I used my artistry as a permanent descriptive. I WAS an artist. That's who I was.

We all change as we grow, though. I've morphed my artistry into a different like, by doing my own make-up in creative ways, and keeping my passion for photography alive. Sometimes though... sometimes I get tiny bursts of inspiration. Usually spurred on or helped by the best friend. She's good like that. :)

I signed up to send in a snack for my littlest's Kindergarten Valentine's Day party (I'm a room parent so I usually let the other parents volunteer in these areas.) We don't do birthday celebrations with treats at school anymore so we all figure it's ok to indulge on the party days, and there's always fresh fruit served, so we know they have a healthy option!

Well inspiration struck and I came up with a plan! Pinterest was giving me nothing that I wanted to do. Strawberries are always sent in, every party before this one had strawberries as the snack in some form or another. Since one of the kids doesn't like strawberries I wanted to avoid those this time since he seems to always have to turn down the treats during their parties.

So I came up with pretzels dipped in chocolate. But how to make them valentine's related? Heart sprinkles? Meh. So we (the aforementioned bestie and I) thought about it and came up with Cupid's Arrows! GENIUS, and easy - perfect! So without further ado, here's how I did them!

First, obviously you need to gather your supplies!
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • White Melting Chocolate
  • Conversation Hearts
  • Parchment Paper
  • A large cookie sheet or table space - just somewhere to let them dry
  • A measuring cup or other microwavable dish to melt the chocolate in (Make sure it's deep enough to dip the pretzels into!)
  • Optional red food dye
  • And a spoon for stirring the chocolate as it melts

The first step is to melt the chocolate! Generally, you take the pieces from their container, put them in the microwave-safe container and pop them in the micro for 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted thoroughly. Check your specific package for directions as they may be different from mine.

As the chocolate was melting, I decided to lay out a bunch of the conversation hearts along the top of the parchment-covered cookie sheet to make it easier for me. 

Once you have the chocolate melted you just start dipping pretzels! Get a generous amount of chocolate on them before laying them out. Once you cover the pretzel stick in chocolate, lay them out on the sheet and shove a conversation heart inverted into the chocolate-end of the pretzel. 

If you want to add some extra spunk you can add a little red food dye to the chocolate to make it pink, and then graduate to red after a while also! I did a mix of all three but it's not necessary - just make sure you do white then pink then red, you can't go backwards in color!

Let them all dry and package them up in a air-tight container!

I hope you enjoy the post and making these if you decide to! I did, and it was so easy my littlest (who's 5) was able to help a ton, doing most of it himself! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

You know you're a special needs mom if...

So many of us SN moms have been through the same struggles. Though we all have our own individual problems and situations, there are some near universal struggles we go through. I thought it would be fun to make a post about some of them! (I'm sure to leave off a LOT, please don't feel offended if some that are important to you aren't listed - I only have one SN child and only his specific set of struggles to go by!)

You know you're a special needs mom if...
  • ...you keep snacks EVERYWHERE. Cars, purses, kitchen, living room, gym bags...
  • ...one of the most dreaded things on your calendar is an IEP meeting.
  • ...you silently analyze other kids you see hoping to spot another mom you can bond with.
  • ...you're lucky to get three actual meals in a day.
  • ..."being social" for yourself is no longer something you think about daily.
  • ...you've found showers to be a luxury. 
  • ...meal planning is akin to gouging out your own eyeballs.
  • ...you keep toys in all the same places you keep snacks. 
  • ...you are always on heightened anticipation mode.
  • ...you have revamped all of your furniture to be sensory-easing.
  • ...there are stretchy bands and rings and water filled balls EVERYWHERE.
  • ...you sometimes have to get creative to keep your marriage a priority.
  • ..."fidgeting" is a completely different term to you as a parent than when you weren't one.
  • ...you feel you have a 6th sense where your child is concerned.
  • ...you've spent more time at the doctor for your kids than you have for yourself your whole life.
  • ...you wonder if there just aren't that many school birthday parties or if your kid is being singled out.
  • ...you have a plethora of acronyms most people don't understand, that you use in every day conversation.
  • ...you swear you'll lose your top if ONE MORE PERSON offers you unasked for advice.
  • ..."Oh my kid does that too" usually is NOT comforting.

Yeah, I could go on for DAYS. What would you add to this list?

Sunday, October 19, 2014



We all do it. We all (usually) feel bad about it.
But what about those of us who grew up in homes with constant yelling/screaming? How do we cope with yelling as adults?
Often, not so well.

I, for example, am highly stressed by yelling. It scares me, and I instantly go into shut-down/self-preservation mode. My husband is a yeller. He's Italian, and typically so. His normal speaking voice is about 3x as loud as mine. When he thinks he's speaking quietly he's speaking in a voice that for me would be fervent speech.

We have a difference here though. He was raised by an Italian family, all loud, all expressive. I was raised by angry parents who fought all the time. For him, it's just part of who you are, you're loud, because everyone else is loud. I, however, view it as anger and shy away from those who are having those types of conversations. I shut down. I stop interacting and go inside myself to hide.

I'll be honest and say I've been going to therapy for a while. And it's helped enormously. A lot of what I've figured out has come simply by my therapist's prodding questions and my bringing things to light I'd never thought to put together. In fact, she recently told me I didn't need to see her anymore, as she's seem drastic improvement with me and how I'm living and coping in this world.

One thing she helped me with: yelling. Both listening to it and doing it. I *hated* the fact that I yelled at my kids or my husband. I felt, as someone who knows how damaging that can be, that I was being a hypocrite and my self-worth was gradually washing away with each shriek. My therapist made me realize that EVERYONE yells, everyone gets mad, it's actually healthy to be upset and yell. But... only sometimes. I've learned some tricks on stopping the yell before it happens, or even how to recover after I've slipped and let it out with a vengeance.

Yelling, for me, is something that happens now. Not just something to put me immediately into shut-down mode. If it's a huge fight and there is a LOT of yelling... yes I'll break and shut down. It's my coping mechanism. It's what works for me. It's not ideal, at all, but it's biological and sometimes impossible to stop. But I'm doing better. I've gained perspective. I've gained strength. I've gained self-respect and the ability to take a stand for myself, to myself. And it's been wonderful.

Are you a yeller? How do you deal with others yelling?
I came across this site a while back, before therapy: http://theorangerhino.com/
It's an anti-yelling-at-your-kids challenge, and I love the idea! It's a great resource if you want to stop your yelling. Let me know how you do!

Monday, April 28, 2014

I have a problem. I don't let things go. I get sucked right back into drama from years ago far too easily.
I know it's torturous. I know it's negative. I know NOTHING GOOD will come out of it... but I do it anyway.

Why? I don't know. Maybe I like to be a little self-loathing. Maybe I like to feel better about myself because I can see how stupid some people can be. Maybe I LIKE being pissed off at people and holding grudges.

Whatever the reason, I need to learn to LET SHIT GO. Seriously. It's beyond stupid for me to keep doing this to myself. I know it is, but I continue to do it. I continue to live in What If land and wallow in the memory of fights lost.

Some day... some day I hope to finally figure out how to stop doing this.