Living Peacefully with Children Has Moved!

It’s official!. Living Peacefully with Children has finally made the move. After much consideration, some badgering from my fellow bloggers, and a push from my husband, Living peacefully with Children now has a new web address: http://livingpeacefullywithchildren.com I’m very happy about it, after some initial bemoaning, and look forward to some changes on this blog. I hope you will like them, too. For now, check out the new location. Feel free to read at the new site (if you are reading this at the old WP site). Facebook is still the same. If you feel so inclined, I would love it if you told someone about the blog. You can even grab your very own, updated with the new web address, Living Peacefully with Children badge (psst…the code is at the new site)!

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

Fall calls to me to make aromatic food. Nothing says September quite like apples and cinnamon. Cinnamon applesauce made in the slow cooker not only tastes delicious and is free from preservatives, it makes our house smell wonderful. This recipe makes a nice chunky (or process for smooth) applesauce with a pleasant sweat tarness.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

  • 24 medium sized apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 – 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 4 TB. light brown sugar

Set crock pot on low and place the peeled and chopped apples into it. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar and two cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Whisk to give the applesauce a nice chunky consistency and remove the cinnamon sticks.

Two dozen apples fills my large oval slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker or want to make a smaller batch, you can cut the recipe in half. Keeps well in the fridge or can by normal canning methods.

 

Fall is in the Air – Finding Balance

apple picking 3 Temperatures are beginning to drop. Breezes wisp through leaves that will soon be falling. Apples are plopping on the ground. This is my favorite time of year.

While the rest of the world is gearing up for more activities, I find myself wanting to sit back and enjoy the season. It’s an inner struggle for me. I’m ready to go – apple picking, pumpkin picking, leaf observing. And yet, I want to savor and enjoy the experiences.

The slight winds caress my face as I watch my children play on a lovely afternoon. They revel in the day, dressed in their mismatched combinations of short sleeves and long sleeves, shorts and pants. We sip apple cider after playing and spend hours in the kitchen making applesauce, baked apples, and apple pies. The house smells like cinnamon apples and welcomes us to stay rather than going out. Soon it will switch to pumpkin.

Our regular activities are picking up in frequency again and we pull the reins before we join an out of control schedule. We apologetically say no to play dates or programs that we would enjoy. We can’t do everything and we must choose.  There is always a choice to be made. Luckily, we are in the position to choose what we want to do. So we make certain there are free days and home days for us to enjoy the weather, the season, the life that exists whether or not we choose to pay attention to it.  We make memories and traditions which my children will remember. We find our balance, walking down a wooden fence, licking drops of apple juice from our lips when we bite into a crisp apple on a cool day, and kissing soft cheeks of children whose arms sneaking around us, hugging us tightly, as we hold onto them for the time we are given.

Conflict as Opportunity

I’m happy to share a guest post with you today. Kassandra Brown of Parent Coaching speaks of how conflict can be an opportunity. In addition to sharing her thoughts here concerning how we can turn conflict into a way to both connect and better understand our children and ourselves, Kassandra has a special coaching offer for readers. She is willing to offer three free coaching sessions to the first person who asks. Consultations are always free. If you are looking for a way to change how you communicate and interact with your children, she is willing to help.

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When children disobey parents, parents are often told – by experts and other parents – that a Time Out is the solution. We’re told that our children need consequences. We’re told it’s a good idea, and it will give them time to think about what they’ve done. We’re told if we’re not firm, then we’re permissive and our children will never know discipline.

togetherYet here at Parent Coaching, we have a different opinion. Abandonment is one of the biggest punishments known through human history. To be kicked out of the tribe and made to be away from the protection of the rest of the group is an awful, sometimes fatal, punishment. This is the premise that Time Out is based on. If the fear of being isolated, alone, and ostracized is great enough, then a child will learn whatever rules parents or society say are ‘right’.

Leaving baby alone to cry in a crib, or sending a toddler or older child away in disgrace for a time-out can seem like you’re not doing anything much and it may be better than spanking or hitting. But it is not harmless. It is psychological warfare and adults are much better at it than children. We use the power of more words, longer sentences, and more complex arrangements of our thoughts and feelings into ideas that manipulate better and make isolation sound just. No wonder our children stop listening and pull out big hammers like “I hate you” when they don’t get their way.

I believe most parents want their children to be happy and safe. I believe most parents want to be happy and safe themselves. And I believe the biggest obstacle to being more effective and compassionate with our children is our own unfelt pain. For me, this happens when the unmet needs, the old hurts, and the developmental sequencing that never happened get stimulated by my child’s needs. I don’t like these old hurts being stimulated and I want to make the stimulation stop. My child’s crying, whining, and wailing pleas are the stimulation. If I send my child away the stimulation will stop. Making the parent’s pain stop is another part of the foundation on which Time Out rests.

What can we do instead? Try a Time In. When conflict happens, welcome your own feelings and your child’s feelings by gathering together. Our family often sits on the couch for a Time In. We sit together. Often my children don’t want to come and sit. They still want whatever it is they want – the game, food, or activity that stimulated their longing and that they think will satisfy them. But if I sit quietly, or my husband and I sit together quietly, eventually the girls come over and sit with us.

Once we’re fairly quiet, we take turns talking about how we’re feeling, what we want, and what we just did. I often use reflective listening to let my children and spouse know they are heard and to get clear on what they really wanted me to hear. A Time In is a time to come together and acknowledge the pain we’re feeling when one of us cries or yells. It is a time to share what each of us needs and wants. It is a time that often leads to more feelings of trust and safety in our family. It is not a magic cure-all, but sometimes it feels like one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Kassandra Brown is a mother, parenting coach, yoga teacher, and friend. She recently moved with her family to a rural ecovillage in Missouri where they are creating a life of radical sustainability and emotional honesty. Three free teleconferencing calls introducing parent coaching will be happening with her this September. You’re invited! Read more of her writing at Parent Coaching’s Blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Tree Identification

Last week I headed out into the woods with kids in tow. This isn’t a singular occurrence. My children and I are often in the woods. We know all of our local nature centers very well. However, this day, I was leading a co-op class on tree identification. I have to admit that identifying trees is something I have been interested in since I was a kid. There is something very satisfying about being able to identify what type of tree you are looking at. It’s kind of like calling the tree by name. So, back when the kids and I were discussing possible class ideas to offer for our various co-ops, I was just a bit thrilled when I tossed out the idea of tree identification and heard a resounding “Yes!”

When I first came up with the topic, I wasn’t certain how exactly we would lead a tree identification class. I’m not one to lecture to kids, which probably has something to do with our consensual living/unschooling lifestyle. I wanted to find something cool and fun that they could use to start identifying trees. I found it.

Trees

James Kavanagh’s Trees: An Introduction to Familiar North American Species (North American Nature Guides) was just what I was looking for. The fold out pamphlet is laminated, perfect for those mucky trips out in the woods. You can find them online at various places for about $5.95. If you look around locally, you can probably find them at nature centers for the same price. You’ll have to pay tax, but you will be supporting your local nature center at the same time you purchase a cool field resource for your family.

While the pamphlet is not all inclusive and you won’t find every single species of tree in here, it has quite a bit. You’ll find drawings of leaves and any berries or nuts. There are a few sentences for each tree to help in identifying certain characteristics and a small section that addresses those trees with identifying bark. We’ve been out with the guide since the class and the kids really enjoy using it. I’ve had requests for similar field guides on different topics.

We can learn so much about ourselves when we head out in nature and learn about it. By getting to know the world around us, we also learn about ourselves. I have a feeling my children will always search out the connection to the world they have now.

An Appreciation for Hot Tea

Tea Leaves Steeping
I have to admit that I have never understood coffee drinkers. The bitter taste and stomach aches after trying a sip are definitely a turn off for me. It turns out that I’m actually allergic to coffee, from which my original aversion may stem. Married to a coffee drinker for almost 14 years now, I’ve come to at least appreciate the smell of some coffees. However, my husband’s ultimate satisfaction from drinking coffee has alluded me. Until this year I could say the same about hot tea. Certainly, tea in an iced form was pleasant to the taste buds, but hot tea seemed like such a foreign idea.

That changed last winter when I tasted my first cup of good hot tea. I won’t say that first cup was  a spiritual experience, but it was life changing. Not only had I tried something new, but I began to appreciate and understand something that had once boggled my mind.

Since that time, I’ve become a tea drinker. My husbands chortles at the numerous tins of tea in the cabinet, as he reaches to make his own tea, I might add. Over the summer, when it was too hot for me to drink hot tea, I would make it and let it sit on the counter until it cooled. Now that temperatures are finally, and very thankfully, beginning to drop, I find myself reaching for a cup of hot tea in the mornings. Certainly it warms my body, but I also find it warms my soul. Tea drinking is an experience, one which I can use to center myself, prepare for the day, or chill out with on a stressful afternoon of deadlines. It’s introspective and timeless: an appreciation for life itself.

Remember Compassion

Compassion Earlier this year, I received a summons for jury duty. Now, while I respect that it is my duty and responsibility to serve as a juror, I was worried. I have a young nursling who nurses frequently and being away from her for a long period of time really wasn’t conducive to nursing. While I was thinking of how to write a letter, respectfully requesting I be excused from jury duty at this time, my husband, in his ever reassuring tone, vacillated between reassuring me that we would do what we needed to make it work and saying that I would never be picked for jury duty. In his words, “[I] am way too analtyical to ever be picked for jury duty.” Now, I would argue that you want analytical individuals to be on juries duties, but I took what he said as a compliment. I am analytical. It is part of what makes me such a great researcher. I love looking at data, breaking it down, looking at it from an analtyical perspective. This is great for science, for important decisions, for looking at facts.

Life isn’t just about facts, though. Life is also about people and people do not fall nearly as easily into the same categories as facts. It’s easy to forget. I, myself, forgot this last week. I was so focused on my task, matching up numbers, playing with the spreadsheet, and being efficient at the job at hand, in between taking kids to co-op classes, helping them with projects, and every day busyness, that I forgot that there was another person on the other end of those numbers – a person who needed and deserved compassion. I was so focused on doing what I needed to do and fitting it in with everything else, that I left my compassion behind. Without compassion, we are little more than robots. Without compassion, we lose our connection with others.

In one brief instant, as I lay in bed nursing and reading to my children, it hit me. I realized how I could have better handled the situation – with compassion. I found myself back at the computer, writing an apology to someone. It’s easy to become so focused in our tasks and our goals, and our busyness, that we forget about compassion for others. It’s something we need to remember. Whether we are a person dealing with a friend, an employer dealing with an employee, a politician dealing with people, or even a tired parent interacting with tired children, we can’t afford to forget our compassion. When we do, we lose so much. We lose our humanity.