Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Tour of Our Church

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.
We fell in love with our home as soon as we walked through the doors, but before committing to the purchase, Amanda and I asked ourselves how practical it would be to live in a one room, renovated church.

We compiled a list of pros and cons to help us make our decision. One positive attribute we listed was that the space was perfect for entertaining. The open floor plan would allow plenty of flexibility to plan everything from intimate dinner parties to larger events with live music. We couldn’t wait to start having guests over.

In the negative column, we admitted that the open floor plan, lack of closets, and small square footage would be impractical if we were to have children. It was the perfect home for a couple or single person, but not a family.

We have now lived in our home for eight years, and discovered we were horribly wrong on both points. We have a five-year-old son and a five-month-old daughter, and living in a single-room, loft has meshed wonderfully with our parenting style.

We are happy that our church has turned into such a great home for our family, but have been disappointed that we entertain less than we originally planned. Though the space is perfect for parties, its location is not ideal. The tiny town we moved to is a little too far from our friends to entertain frequently.

That is why I was excited that this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting allowed us to invite people into our home for a virtual tour.

It is not as fun as a party, but at least the drive is shorter.

Welcome to our home . . .
Our front doors open into the bell tower. Though we are disappointed the bell is no longer in our tower, our neighbors are grateful to not live next door to a four-year-old with 24/7 access to a church bell.

Ezra and Fable have their own areas throughout the house including an "office."
Our bedrooms are upstairs in the choir loft. Though it is one open area, Ezra has his own space on one side of the loft.
Thanks for visiting our church. If like me you love to peek inside other people's homes, visit some of the links below.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family's home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama's most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I'm Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn't have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia's nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry's recent "home tour," That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she's thankful for around her home. Don't plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada's Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family's newly renovated home and how it's set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen's life is now host to her family's homeschool adventures and a room they couldn't imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she's created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our Week: The chase is on

Ezra loves his two infant cousins. Why wouldn’t he? Besides being adorable, they both beam at the sight of their older cousin. They giggle at his funny faces and antics, and find even his mundane actions completely fascinating. They are a captive, adoring, and fully attentive audience.

Over the last month, Ezra is beginning to realize that all good things must come to an end - or at least change. His once passive fans are becoming toddlers.

Wait they can move now?
And, take my things?

Can’t you let me read in quiet for just two minutes?

I have enjoyed watching Ezra assume this new role. Rather than the entertainer, he is learning to become a patient, giving older playmate with his cousins. With this new role, he is learning to place his little cousins’ (and eventually little sister’s) needs above his own.  He is also learning an important lesson: it is tough being the “grown-up.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Who Wore it Better?

Fable v X-men's Ororo "Storm" Munroe

Fable is pretty cute, and her most striking feature is her hair. Everyone who meets her comments on it. "She looks like a Dr. Seuss character; She looks like a dinosaur; She looks totally badass, punk rock."

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Modern 20th Century Family

“Having children changes you” is a phrase all new parents hear, but what exactly are those changes?

One side effect of parenthood is an increased susceptibility to nostalgia, especially about your own childhood. This is not surprising. Parenting is like traveling in a time machine that returns you to places and feelings you left behind long ago. Dormant memories of holidays, games played with siblings, and treasured childhood possessions suddenly reawaken. For the first time in your adult life, you suddenly want to do those things again, and recreate those special memories for your children.

Major toy companies capitalize on this desire. Now that children of the Reagan-era have their own children, toy shelves are stocked with millennial versions of My Little Pony, Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Star Wars.

I do not wish to share with Ezra the toy chest of my youth, but this does not mean I’m not guilty of romanticizing and repackaging my childhood. Rather than toys, my preoccupation with the past is focused on the households of my generation, and I am inadvertently surrounding Ezra with the cutting-edge home appliances, consumer electronics and gadgets I grew up with. My 21st century son is being raised in a 20th century home.

I came to this realization when it came time for our family to choose a new phone. iPhone, Droid RAZR, Samsung Galaxy … how do you pick which is best?  We didn’t. We ordered a vintage landline (c. 1963) to replace our cordless phone (c. 1990) whose battery could no longer last beyond a ten minutes conversation. Tired of continually hanging up on people, we decided the best solution was a technology downgrade. Perhaps a rotary dial (c. 1919) is in our future?
I then began to notice that our phone was not an anomaly. Not only is much of our home technology outdated (typewriter, record player, and even traditional non-digital books!), but we are also missing pretty standard 21st century household staples. A quick inventory revealed our lack of smartphones, tablet, flat screen or even analog television, microwave, air conditioning, cd player, dvd/blu-ray player, and gaming system.

We may sound like luddites, but we are not philosophically opposed to modern technology. So why are we so slow to embrace what the 21st century has to offer?
My personality can be partially blamed. I do not like to surround myself with miscellaneous things I will not use often. My response to most purchases is, “do we really need that?”  My reluctance is even greater when the new item is a piece of technology. I have never coveted new gadgets; I am the opposite of a tech-geek dad, and convincing me that new tech will enhance my life is not easy. For example, I rarely go a day without using our computer and Internet, but I question whether the cost and distraction of having Internet access available at my fingertips 24/7 via a smartphone would improve my life.

My answer to the smartphone question is “probably not.” Still, I suspect my aversion to new technology is less pragmatic and more sentimental. I, of course, feel less dependent and connected to current technologies than a 20-year-old. I clearly remember my life without these things, and I don't recall that time of my life being particularly difficult.

If I were asked whether advancements in household technology are continuing to improve our lives, I would respond with a non-committal, “meh.” The technology related to our basic needs have not changed much in the last thirty years. When I was a child, we had convenient and effective ways to store and prepare our food (which are pretty much the same as today); easy ways to communicate with people far away; and traveling long distances was not difficult (or slower than it is today). It seems most current advances in home technologies are outlets for entertainment. While these are fun and distracting, I think they are easy to forego. Maybe my generation had to wait and watch Star Wars according to HBO’s schedule rather than on demand, but that is a pretty insignificant complaint about life.

Did the technology that significantly improved our basic needs and comfort really peak during my childhood? That is unlikely. The more probable explanation is that I’m nostalgic for my childhood and early '80s households. Having children has exacerbated the problem.

As I observe Ezra’s childhood, I reminisce about my own, and my childhood was not filled with woeful tales like my depression era grandparents. My memories do not belong in the “walking barefoot, uphill, in snow to school, but we liked it because it made us stronger!” genre. I remember a childhood that was comfortable, simple and happy; those are the same feelings I want Ezra to associate with his childhood.

Feelings are easily projected onto inanimate objects. I suspect that is why I am subconsciously surrounding Ezra with objects from the late 20th century. I am generally not fascinated by “antiques,” and as I previously stated, I am reluctant to buy things that I do not think I will use often. Yet, several years ago I was excited to come across a mid-80’s Conair Air Popper. It reminded me of a Christmas when my grandfather used his new gift to pop corn for my cousins and me. I kept the popper for years even though I don’t really like popcorn and have only eaten it a handful of times in the last two decades. I buy used children’s record albums that are warped and scratched even though I know they will sound horrible and we could easily listen to the same music on Spotify because I love watching Ezra use our record player, and cringe whenever he is using our computer.
Nostalgia is fantasy, and the idealized past is a very seductive place to raise your child. I realize it is a place that only exists in faulty memories, and a place Ezra can never visit. Instead, he will one day be looking back, with nostalgia, at the 2010s. His memories will more closely reflect those of his friends’ childhoods than mine. . . mostly. He might be the only one in his peer group who fondly remembers the exciting day his family bought a microwave.