We’re Back – with Bells on!

Let’s pretend that I didn’t have a three-almost four-year break in blogging. Let’s pretend that we’re continuing the conversation we had yesterday. Can we do that?

I’ll zip through the reason: deleted files in the server – it’s still a mystery how that happened. Since my blog wasn’t a paying client, it didn’t get priority. I lost momentum. I was pissed by the unnecessary interruption, so I decided to rage-quit blogging, my return to it, indefinite. It became clear to me that life was easier without the added task and responsibility. Later on, I convinced myself that I really just didn’t have time for it.

Of late, I always found myself wracked with guilt, grief, and desperation over my situation. I was constantly overwhelmed with work, chores, and motherhood. I felt like a piece of flotsam buoyed by the waves, with no control of my direction. I was constantly behind schedule, my performance in all my present roles were not up to my usual standards, and there was a distinct lack of joy and contentment. That basically means that I had once again succumbed to my negative and perfectionist nature.

Nobody’s harsher than me when it came to judging and punishing myself, so…

A mentality overhaul was in order. Yet again. Also, experimenting with different time management, life organization hacks, and whatnot. Perfectionist urge aside, I really do need to be more efficient and more intentional. I want better quality time with the people who matter most to me. I also need to take better care of myself. Blogging helped me do these in the past. Writing about my efforts and experiences allowed me to introspect and regularly check if I was being true to my ideals and living purposefully.

With the re-birth of Our Lemonade Days, I’ll continue with the old categories and add a new one. Two years ago, my second child was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum, so I’ve decided to also use this blog to reach out to other families living with ASD, sharing ideas for at-home occupational and speech therapy activities as well as other tips for helping our ASD loved ones cope with this neurotypical world. Hopefully, this blog can offer support and extend some level of comfort to others in a similar situation.

We’re also going to be experimenting with a YouTube channel. When I say we, I mean my daughter and I. She’s 10 years old now (Time just zipped by!). In any case, we plan to produce videos to accompany some (not all) of our posts here, especially ones that involve tutorials.

By the way, sometime during this blogging hiatus, we were blessed with our third child, Sawyer. He just turned two in January. He has a stunning smile, a quick temper, and no plans of getting weaned any time soon.

I’ve also updated Spinning Lovely Days, so you might want to check that out.

That’s it for the re-intro. I’m excited to get back on the horse. Here’s praying that this blog enjoy an abundance of helpful, worthwhile content and suffer no glitches and hitches this time around, technical or otherwise.

Joseph_Jefferson_as_Ripvanwinkle_by_Napoleon_SArony_(1821-1896)

Screen-free Week: Unplug Your Kids

Screen-free Week is almost halfway over, but if you haven’t been observing it, there’s still plenty of time to practice being screen-free, or at the very least, considerably unplugged. Being a writer in this age, and a blogger, at that, the most I can do without sacrificing work is to significantly lessen my time in front of the screen. Thankfully, my cell phone gave up the ghost a couple of months back and I have yet to find the motivation to replace it. We also don’t have the usual video games and we’re not getting any ever as long as I have anything to say about it. But we do have a tablet; my daughter uses it for watching movies and playing a few educational games, including taking care of that pet poop-like creature Pou… I can tell that I’m about to go off on an angry tangent about technology since I’m part-Amish and part-Greg Kinnear’s character in You’ve Got Mail, so I’m wrenching myself away from that particular train of thought. In any case, I’m definitely not one to talk since, as much as I disapprove, I do find much practical use in these digital devices, including the tablet, which I mostly use for reading those free ebooks I’ve been hoarding in my Cloud reader.

But if you are interested in the idea behind Screen-free Week, here are some helpful resources for suggestions on alternative activities to do, inspiration for being unplugged, etc.

Screen-free Week Online Resources:

The Slacker’s Guide to Screen-Free Week (activity suggestions divided into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening)

Get Ready for Screen-Free Week: 30 Great Activities and Printables (screen-time statistics, tips for enjoying Screen-free Week better, activity suggestions divided into Fun with Reading, Active Fun, Outdoor Fun, Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Family Time, and Dinner Time Printables)

National Screen-Free Week: A Survival Guide (11 suggestions, plus a link to a Snow Day Survival Guide, which might also apply)

75 Activities for Screen-Free Week (a family’s set of rules for observing Screen-free Week, a downloadable/printable list of suggested activities)

Family Goes Screen-Free, Stays Screen-Free (a mother’s account of how observing Screen-free Week led to generally screen-free kids)

Screen-Free Week: 2012 Recap (I love this post – please take the time to read it. We focus too much on the kids going screen-free that we fail to notice if we’re applying the same principle to ourselves.)

Take the Screen-Free Challenge (lays down research-based premise for diminishing screen-time)

 

How about some ebooks?

Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places: 200+ Activities for Young Children Using Common Household Objects

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.

Beginning Montessori With Infants and Tots Birth to 24 Months

 

Or traditional books?

Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

 

Sometime during Screen-free Week, we’ll be working on many of the items on our summer 2013 bucket list, one of which is to make lots of fairy houses. Marguerite rediscovered this old favorite going through my other blog. We also have many arts and crafts projects lined up for this week, as well as some activities Marguerite saw on Pinterest (we browse through boards together) and wants to do. Cameron is sure to be a cheerful participant in all these.

fairyhouse

What about you? Are you going to observe Screen-free Week? Do you have your own ideas for making the experience extra special? Please share.

 Our Lemonade Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Unrelenting Pursuit of an Extraordinary Life: I’m Inspired to Blog Because…

Waldorf star lanternsThe baby – he’s halfway done with his second year, but he’ll be THE baby for a long time – stirs in his sleep, restlessly pecking at my arm, indicating his intent to feed. I wait a few seconds before acquiescing, whereupon the tiny being beside me escalates his message of demand by grabbing my top in resolute search of the source of his nourishment and comfort. I look at the time. It’s half past four. I start to weigh my chances of being able to get some more sleep and end up running a mental list of all the things I need to do instead. At the top of my mind is my part-time work. I have a noon deadline and still have all 3 articles to write. Now is the time to get those out of the way. As soon as the baby unlatches, I turn on my computer from hibernate mode, and tiptoe to the bathroom for my morning ritual. Afterward, as I reacquaint myself with the various tabs I left open the night before, I whip out my devotional, have a quick read, and utter a short prayer. Most of the time, it’s a silent wail for help. In the silence of the morning, the day still so fresh and unspent, I sag at the weight of the expected demands of the day. However, assured by God’s promise of help, I buck up and get started on tasks that can be done simultaneously. Basically, I alternate between writing and nursing, and then writing and getting the baby’s and my breakfast. Later, I juggle writing with attending to the needs of two more people who have now woken up. I know I should have done my writing the night before, but the kids were bent on sabotage and didn’t go to sleep until I was so exhausted that all I could do was open a couple of references. And even then my head kept on pathetically bobbing forward in fits and spurts of persistent slumber. Time is gold, however, and there’s none available for ruing last night’s inability to get any work done. I do a desperate task edit to see if there’s any chance I can get baths done this morning, mine included preferably. I dismiss the hope and resolve to schedule baths right after lunch. In the interim, I alternate writing, entertaining the baby, and homeschooling my daughter. It’s not even 9:30am and the day is not about to let up… How dare I try to fit blogging into that crazy schedule!?!

“Why do you blog?” That’s a pretty loaded question. It comes with unspoken judgment. There’s no need for it. With all that I already have to do in a day, blogging just seems like a poor choice – nothing more than pure indulgence. However, I love to write, and since I can’t muster the energy, concentration, and commitment to regularly write fiction and poetry like I used to, blogging seems to me the next best thing; I get to choose what to write and how to write it.

But it’s not only about sating the writer’s soul. If I were to finally be blessed with my own house, I would resolve to make it a place from which goodness emanates. The same applies to my blog, even if it’s merely virtual real estate. I’ve previously mentioned my natural tendency to be negative. I may have the propensity to always regard and react as though I were perpetually having a Jonah Day (I have the possibly annoying habit of sourcing my language from the Anne of Green Gables series), but I believe I’ve attained sufficient maturity to realize that there’s a better way of living my life. For this reason, I created this blog to be a consciously positive space.

But, yet again, it’s not only about that deliberate effort to have a positive element in my life. Our Lemonade Days is, more than anything else, a tool. On our wedding day, I vowed to my husband to always bring beauty, poetry, wonder, etc. into our life. When each of our children was born, I made a similar promise to the newborn I held in my arms. As a matter of fact, I believe I made an extraordinary life filled with joy and creativity a personal goal long before I even got married. Definitely, the conviction to homeschool came upon me pre-marriage and pre-children as well. Somehow, the goal and the conviction are intertwined, probably stemming from the same propulsor in my genetic makeup. The thing about life is that it’s so easy to neglect such noble aspirations as one gets lost in the pursuit of mundane matters. In my case, I find that blogging induces introspection, an evaluation of my efforts, and an honest assessment of the life I’m making for myself, which certainly influences that of my family.

Many people blog to reach out and be included in a community of like-minded individuals. That’s also my intent. Mommy bloggers wish to have a concrete record of their children’s precious moments. Again, I have the same hope. Our Lemonade Days is, indeed, a chronicle of our days. To me, this is paramount. Don’t you find it sheer agony to fail at bringing to mind a face or a moment in time with perfect clarity? While a blog is an efficient documentation tool that can be browsed through with the purpose of recalling memories, capturing nuances of time, etc., it’s definitely more than that for me. It is the fuel for consistent refocusing, for making sure that I have the right perspective in place. With it, I’m able to keep within the path I should be taking if I want to make good on the promises I’d made. In a nutshell, I am inspired to blog because I and, consequently, my family greatly benefit from it.

When I find myself succumbing to my negative nature, when I find myself drowning in the mundane and inessential, my blog leads me back to the right path, reminding me, “These are the things that are truly important to you, and this is the life that you want.”

*This post is my entry to DaintyMom.com’s Blogaversary Giveaway Contest.

Today’s Free and Bargain Kindle Books (4/18 Manila Time)

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! To help you celebrate, I’m starting today’s list of Kindle bargains and freebies with a book on learning how to love poetry. Again, these are titles that appealed to me. So, yes, I’m interested in detoxifying my body, cooking, losing weight, doomsday preppers, sustainable homesteading, crocheting (I’m definitely going to make that pair of vintage of gloves although I have no idea where I can possibly use it. Also, what color other than white would you recommend for this?), and reading matter for my kids. Hope you find a title that interests you.

Remember, prices may change, so be sure to check if they still correspond with the ones stated below. You also can enjoy Kindle books even if you don’t have an actual e-reader. Simply download the free Kindle app for your particular device.

Bargain Books

How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry (Harvest Book) $4.99

Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes (Voice) $1.99

Confessions Of A Prepper: How To Secure Your Home, Protect Your Family, And Survive Any Disaster $4.99

Free Books

The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm

Cooking on a Budget: Recipes from Around the World

Delicious Detox: Cleanse to Stay Slim and Strong in All Four Seasons (Live a Delicious Life)

Crochet a Pair of Vintage Gloves – Vintage Gloves to Crochet Pattern

Frazzled Moms’ Devotions to Go

The Most Dangerous Animals on Earth (Children’s ebooks for Kindle Animal Adventures)

Jesus Loves Me This I Know (A Bible Based Children’s Picture Book)

* Our Lemonade Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Get Your Five-a-day in One Go with Smoothies

smoothiesMost of us probably grew up learning that it’s important to get your 5-a-day (5 portions of fruits and vegetables) to maintain good health. Of course, there rose arguments and claims debunking it as a myth. Some nutrition experts state that we actually need at least 8 servings, while others state that for the nutrients in the vegetables to be activated, they have to be mixed up with fat. There are those who aver that eating veggies is better, while another camp says that it’s actually better to consume the juice instead. It’s all very tiresome, so it’s really simpler for me to keep on espousing 5-a-day the same way that I continue regarding Pluto as a full-fledged planet.

At any rate, I’m also of the belief that it wouldn’t hurt to get more. The important thing is to make sure that the 5 servings are taken care of. An easy way to achieve this is through smoothies. Juicing seems to be the rage these days, but I’ll stick with smoothies… primarily because I don’t have a juicer. Also, juicing may be better when it comes to vegetables, but with regard to fruits, blending/pureeing them is healthier mainly because you get to retain the fiber, which is great for BM and important for keeping your blood sugar from spiking.

The thing is, I can’t seem to find a fruit-veggie combination that works for my kids. One time, I got carried away with the vegetables and put a carrot, a cucumber, and a celery stalk with an apple. Even with a generous dollop of honey, the concoction was absolutely putrid. Mark, my mom, and I were able to finish our glasses while holding our noses (the thing smelled like the produce section of the supermarket), but the kids wouldn’t touch theirs with a ten-foot pole. Another time, I almost succeeded. Almost. It was supposed to be an apple, 2 pears, a cucumber, a handful of mint leaves, and a lemon. But then I allowed my daughter to convince me to let her squeeze another lemon into the mix. Even with added water and some more honey, the blend made our faces pucker at the sourness. Again, the kids wouldn’t have anything to do with the drink, even the lemon fiasco culprit. Side note: I truly wonder how a toddler who wouldn’t think twice about putting dust bunnies in his mouth, given the chance, could refuse a semi-acceptable fruit drink. Anyway, going back to our smoothie conundrum… we can do straight banana shakes or mango smoothies or even a two-fruit combo; what we have trouble with is the vegetable factor. Do you have a good recipe you can share here?

In the meantime, if you want to teach your kids about the 5-a-day rule, a fun way to do so is to through singing (and signing!) the “5 a Day” song from Signing Time. My kids and I are super into sign language and we find the Signing Time DVDs a very entertaining resource for learning ASL. This particular song is super catchy and my little Cameron can be expected to get up and dance a jig anytime he hears it. You can get the 5 A Day MP3 or go for the entire DVD of Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 6 – My Favorite Things.

If you want to have an idea of how the song goes, here are the lyrics:

5 a Day by Rachel Coleman

We can count them up
And we can count them down
Every day we count around
It’s 1-2-3-4-5 a day
Eating in a healthy way
1-2-3-4-5 a day
Five every day
Today’s a VEGGIE VEGGIE FRUIT FRUIT VEGGIE day
That means a CARROT BEAN BANANA APPLE LETTUCE day
Or maybe FRUIT FRUIT FRUIT FRUIT VEGGIE day
That could be APPLE PEAR BANANA MELON CARROT day
Any way you slice it or dice it or peel it
It’s gotta add up to 5 a day
Any way you slice it or dice it or peel it
It’s gotta add up to 5 a day
We can count them up
And we can count them down
Every day we count around
It’s 1-2-3-4-5 a day
Eating in a healthy way
1-2-3-4-5 a day
Five every day
Tomorrow’s FRUIT VEGGIE FRUIT VEGGIE VEGGIE day
That means a PEACH CORN TOMATO BEAN POTATO day
Or maybe VEGGIE VEGGIE VEGGIE FRUIT VEGGIE day
That could be CORN POTATO LETTUCE GRAPE and CARROT day
Any way you slice it or dice it or peel it
It’s gotta add up to 5 a day
Any way you slice it or dice it or peel it
It’s gotta add up to 5 a day

The song is so fast that it’s a real trip to sing it. I really recommend getting the entire DVD though. Just imagine learning the signs for all those words. 🙂

* Our Lemonade Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Today’s Free and Bargain Kindle Books (4/16 Manila Time)

Are you one to proudly wear a shirt that says “I’d rather be reading.”? Join the club. To feed your voracious but cheap (kidding!) reader’s soul, I’m sharing a few of the free and bargain Kindle books available today. These are some of the ones that appeal to me, so you’ll get a pretty good idea of where my personal interests lie. If Mark were to do this post, the books would probably be about cars, photography, music, etc. Let me know if you’re into those things and I’ll have him do one of these free and bargain posts soon.

Some things to take note of, however:

*Prices may change, so be sure to check if they still correspond with the ones stated below. You also can enjoy Kindle books even if you don’t have an actual e-reader. Simply download the free Kindle app for your particular device.

NON-FICTION

Saying Yes to Change: 10 Timeless Life Lessons for Creating Positive Change

Organic Food: Eating Organic on a Budget

CHILDREN’S DINNERTIME MANNERS: Discover The 16 Basic Table Manners Maxims And How To Teach Them Your Children Simply And Effectively (The Easy Parenting Series)

36 Home Organizing Ideas for Your Family Around the Year $0.99

FICTION

A Simple Amish Christmas $0.99

The Anne Stories: 12 Books, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles of Avonlea, Audiobook Links $0.99

* Our Lemonade Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

A Pocket Full of Poetry

Emily Dickinson coverHello! Did you know that April is Poetry Month? As a homeschooler and poetry lover, I’m excited to observe it. If a whole month is too much of a commitment for you, you can concentrate your celebration on the 18th which is Poem in Your Pocket Day. As it is, I’ve introduced Emily Dickinson, my favorite poet from girlhood to my daughter. I voraciously read Dickinson in my early teens, thanks to her “I Am Nobody? Who Are You?”, which really resonated with me back then. Here’s a candid confession… High brow literature elitists wouldn’t approve, but I discovered Dickinson via those ubiquitous (back in the ’80s and ’90s anyway) Sweet Dreams teen romance novels. I vividly remember those two influential  books. I still know their titles and their plot. I could probably even detail some of the scenes. Here’s some more candid confession – I’m also trying to locate copies. As expected, my own copies were borrowed by loathsome creatures who didn’t have a nodding acquaintance with the word “return”. So, if you find copies of “The Right Combination” by Jahnna Beecham and “Love Lines” by Frances Hurley Grimes, please send them over this way; I promise to reimburse you. In any case, I haven’t exactly outgrown Dickinson, but my horizons have broadened some. These days, I tend to prefer reading Isabella Gardner; I love her use of language and the imagery she paints with her words.

Hope page
Going back to Poetry Month, I’m saving “I Am Nobody…” for later and starting Marguerite on “Hope (is the thing with feathers)”. Also, instead of regular stories, we’re reading children’s poems at bedtime. Marguerite really enjoys the Dr. Seuss ones. She’s a big one for silliness, that girl. Incidentally, lots of famous bedtime prayers rhyme, so if you want your kids to memorize something, going with a prayer will be much like hitting two birds with one stone. I personally love this one and have taught it to Marguerite –

Father, We Thank Thee

Father, we thank thee for the night,
And for the pleasant morning light;
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the day so fair.

Help us to do the things we should,
To be to others kind and good;
In all we do, in work or play,
To grow more loving every day.

Rebecca Weston – 1890

There are so many ways to celebrate Poetry Month. If you’re a homeschooler who wishes to instill the love of poetry in your kids, a parent whose child won’t be celebrating Poetry Month at his or her school, or somebody who simply enjoys poetry, the following are some suggestions on how you can make the most of this month:

  • If you have a business, offer discounts or a freebie to those carrying poems in their pockets on the 18th.
  • Post short verses on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Handwrite verses on Post-its and stick them all over the house. Or the neighborhood.
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite verses.
  • Post a poem on your blog.
  • Text a poem to friends (but not while driving).
  • Revisit your favorite poet from childhood with your kids.
  • Include a poem in your kid’s lunch bag.
  • Organize a poetry reading.
  • Assign poems for copywork.
  • Using chalk, write poems on sidewalks.
  • Watch a movie that involves poetry. Take care to make sure that all content is suitable for kids. Even “Dead Poets Society” is PG. Perhaps “A Child’s Garden of Poetry” if you can find a copy?
  • Write poems for your kids, with your kids… just write. You can even take a single sheet of paper and pass it around (if you have more than one child) or back and forth, putting in a word or two during your turn. Once the paper is filled, you’ll have something akin to Dadaist poetry.

For sure there are more ideas out there. You can check out these Pinterest pages for other possible activities. Happy Poetry Month!

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