Monday, July 17, 2017

Some Reading for Summer

The Vanishing American Adult

     Ben Sasse is a HILARIOUS and intelligent conservative senator from Nebraska, and this book is simply a look at raising kids who can solve problems and think rather that passively accept mediocrity and ultimately fail our democracy.  His look at Dewey and how modern education as we know it came to be is pretty scathing, and I found myself agreeing deeply.  He helped me see some unchallenged biases I had, and I thank him for that.
     I took extensive notes on this book--so much to chew on.  Once he outlines the problem facing our youth, he looks at six strategies to assist them.  They are to flee age segregation, embrace work pain, consume less, travel to see, build a bookshelf and make America an idea again.  I had fun in the book section dreaming up which books I would consider essential reading.  Many of his family's essential books haven't been on our shelves yet so it was a fun challenge to me.


     She starts off working from Wendell Berry's work and in conversation with him so I suppose Miller can't go wrong.  (I still need to read The Unsettling of America.)  Her book is such an interesting parallel between modern farming and modern medicine and then the innovators in both fields that are making slow headway in working with us as full, connected natural (eco)systems.
     I couldn't put this book down honestly.  The Jubilee Farm (biodynamic farming) was a favorite along with Myst Farm (hydrosols etc.).  I greatly admire the work of Rudolf Steiner in many fields so it was neat to see some of his agricultural concepts brought out in this book.  She always pairs a farm+lesson-learned with a patient/medical situation where the lesson helps solve the issue.

Secrets of Happy Families

     Can you overdo notes on a book (in Evernote)?  Oh boy!   What a terrific use of time this Summer.  Feiler put together some first-rate ideas for families here.  This is one on a short list that I would give someone on the subject of general parenting/family life.  Many of Feiler's suggestions are now on a list for me to incorporate slowly into our own family life, and some rang very true if we had experienced the terrain.  It took me a while to read this one simply because I had so much to think about in each section, and he gave such thoughtful detail and background.
     Agile development principles lead to great family meetings.  Family dinners and (even silly holiday) rituals come together to help form a solid, intergenerational self (which correlates to resilience in children).  Family mission statements clarify values and bring family conversations back to common ground.  Managing conflict was a fairly expected chapter as was the one on communication.  The Money chapter was full of fun ideas for managing kids' money with them--lots of particulars and different ideas around them.  There are even chapters on sex, talking to kids about sex, and love in marriage.  He brought in youth sports, home spaces, family vacations, and grandparent relationships--very thorough book.  All was done with examples from experts and then in his own family experiments.

Heal Your Child from the Inside Out: The 5-Element Way to Nurturing Healthy, Happy Kids

     Even if you're not a big Traditional Chinese Medicine person, you might find this book interesting and useful considering the differences in our children.  Parenting more than one child always brings to light with vigor how unique they are when they come to us.  They can come from the some home with the same parents and still be night and day (or in our family, fire and metal/earth).  She offers insights into the kids' temperaments and helpful tips for meeting certain needs.  It all rang very true with our girls.  If you don't want to invest the time in the book, here's a webinar she did that highlights fundamental parts of this approach and suggestions for each type.  (Her website also has a quiz you can do to determine which elements seem to to correspond to your children.)

The Blue Zones Solution

This book wasn't ground-breaking if you've already read the Blue Zones--if not, read it!  It has lots of neat info about aging and feeling good past 100.  It was neat to see how his info came to be full-town initiatives around the US, and he has recipes at the end of the book.

Now I have to decide what I want to read next.  So many great ideas rambling for me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Potion Kits

For Christmas 2017, we'll include Potion Kits.  The girls really enjoy imagining things, books/movies related to fantasy ideas and hands on play.  So, here we go!
Practitioner's Pixie Book Box

Thursday, April 6, 2017

a couple of books

Hillbilly Elegy

I do like a good memoir.  This one is TERRIFIC, and it explains so much culturally in our own country.  I have a few similar roots in some of the more distant family history--I can identify with a few things he says.  But mostly, as a middle class family, it's extremely foreign.  Vance is a good communicator though so you'll feel that familiar "I'm smellin' what you're steppin' in" sense as you read.  (As a sidenote, in addition to Jeff Sharlet's reporting on religion in America and his wonderful book "The Family," this book is required reading if you want to understand part of what elected Trump.)

The Secret Life of Fat

So interesting--did you know fat is actually an organ?!  She really makes a case about all the ways fat helps/protects us, and then she works with how to keep it in balance.  She also uses the science and then personal journey experiences to get to the nitty gritty of actually losing it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

When the Body Says No

Gabor Mate's book When the Body Says No was an eye-opener.
It looks at cases and studies around how some people are more vulnerable to being stricken by life-threatening diseases due to the repression of emotion among other things. It's through self-denial and self-betrayal that we get into problems.  So much of what brings about the series of problems that contribute to immune system weakness stems from what we lack attachment-wise in our childhoods.  It made me all the more passionate about Dr. Neufeld's material and about providing emotionally for our girls.

The idea of stress is developed in the book too.  It's not the external factors we often associate with it--those daily vexations.  Surely they matter and add to our difficulties.  Still, it's the internal lack of support that attachment and being freely individuated that really makes us vulnerable.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good for 2017

What seems good for 2017?  Resolutions abound in many areas.  I find it frustrating to attempt to do all I know to help my kids grow to their potential while balancing my needs (which fill me up to help them grow to their potential, ahhhh).  I'm sure we could make lists around so much of what I usually read.  I'm a self-help glutton for sure!  We can make lists around diet, exercise, simplicity, religion/philosophy, family connection, nature connection and preservation.

I think I'm going to work with this word "connection," regardless of how cliche it might seem.  The above vicious cycle around mothering and healthy being is tied up in it, for sure.  Simplicity is too.  If I can connect with myself (in this esoteric balance), I can move consciously (exercise), I can eat consciously (diet), I can do other right actions that help my health and general well-being.  In connecting with my people, I constantly do the good work of marriage and family.  In connection with nature, there goes millions of possible right actions for our only home, our common mother no matter race or creed.

So maybe the point is to be conscious of connection in every moment?  Maybe presence can be a connection experiment for me?

I already do this at school (and check it with healthy boundaries).  With all the data-obsessed nonsense that has become the business of education, a lot of teachers truly have to focus on why we are actually in the classroom.  (It has nothing to do with a spreadsheet, to be sure.)

I notice that my day at school flies by happily and that I face the afternoon so grateful for us all to reunite and to have some "time."  When I get home, this concept of time quickly evaporates around chores, feeding, sibling fights, quick hugs and movements and hope of sleep.

To find the presence, the conscious connection, meditation will be much more important than I have made it in its different forms (TM, yoga, dishes?).  How many times do I need to write that in my journal or type something here to render it done?

In TCM, Winter is the time of silent dreaming.  It's when the seed is beneath the earth sleeping, and we have no idea what will Spring forth later!  Winter is time to dream and to feed this year to come in a way.  What will our contribution be?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Season of Giving

The girls save 20% of their allowance for charity/giving.  Each year, we decide what they care about in terms of possible recipients.  This year was super easy!

Z decided she wanted to help orphans.  We've read books and seen movies that have them, and their need really touches her.  She tells me how grateful she is to have a family etc.  She also loves Harry Potter, wants to be a writer and credits JK Rowling as her inspiration.  So, Lumos (her charity for orphans) was the obvious choice!  She has a terrific program there.

E wants to help the animals via our local Humane Society Shelter.  We've had doggies come to our yard the last couple of weekends, and we've worked with the shelter to find their owners etc.  Now that she understands what the shelter does, she wants to volunteer there (Summer maybe?) and do whatever she can to help.  She does want to adopt the animals too, but she'll have to do that once she has her own place.

As an aside, I have favorite charities our family gives to during the year.  We love St. Jude's, Sierra Club, ACLU and Conservation International.  In the past, we've also worked with Sustainable International, United Plant Savers and ASPCA.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Eat Right for Your Type

I read this one pretty quickly--very interesting ideas.  I did the reading around the types and then focused on my own blood type.  I have to admit that the basic line up of what "I should be eating" is close to my cravings or lack of cravings, personality, exercise types (what I gravitate towards).  The book helped to explain/frame all of this.  I'm wondering if I should give this way of eating a strict go or just go back to vegan eating (no sugar, oil, salt).  There's definitely some crossover, but there are fundamental differences (like nightshades, vinegar, certain grains, certain legumes, certain fruits).