Mantra for Acceptance

Mantra’s are words or sounds repeated in meditation. They are an excellent tool for self-improvement and building self-confidence. Recently, I have been introducing my children to mantras to help them accept the new reality that they live with.

Today, we worked together to create some mantras to begin our day with. I have a version for kids, teens and adults. Hopefully, this will assist you with your work in accepting the changes in our world and encourage you to write your own.

Namaste’. WaterLily Nature and Nurture Homeschool and Sassy Viking Mama

Unscheduled Time … OH MY!

Most Americans are overworked with schedules that do not allow for a moment of rest, play, fun or connection. We feel a sense of obligation to keep doing and that limits our ability to connect (with others, nature, etc) and truly experience life.

Our society has undergone a significant shift due to the coronavirus. In an effort to reduce the spread and death rate of the virus activities have been cancelled, social distancing is a must, businesses are closed, schools closed and we await updates and news each day on the course of this virus and its impact on the world and way of life as we know it.

This leaves many people at home with time on their hands. Unscheduled time is not something that Americans are used to. Prior to the coronavirus people residing together often were ships in the night, passing briefly and swiftly their relationships illuminated briefly and then different obligations pulling them in different directions.

Now, most of us are faced with unlimited face time. This is a difficult adjustment. Days spent away from small children are suddenly filled with noise and non-stop activity. Adults who live together may not have spent any significant amount of time together on a daily basis; suddenly you are always together.

As such people will annoy each other. We will get on each others nerves. However, this is a beautiful opportunity to learn about each other and learn how to be with each other. Explore likes together. Practice a hobby, try something new.

The other day we watched a watercolor video on painting a spring tree and then sat as a family and painted. Each tree was different and we explained what our vision of the tree was.

Cook together. The older kids made pancakes and sausage for lunch. The younger boys made muddy buddies for the mid day snack. Afternoon family cooking has become our thing because at dinner I am too exhausted from the day to have the patience to instruct the kids on cooking. However, taking the time mid-afternoon is a wonderful mid-day break from school, work and chores to relax and be together.

I found the kids getting snippy with each other, even after getting some energy out outside. Tomorrow, we are going to let each of them do a short video on what they think Kindness is then have them all watch it together. After that we shall have a discussion on kindness and what we can do to not get on each others nerves so quickly.

Each day is an opportunity to learn and grow together. Be gentle with yourself and each other. Take a walk, meditate, journal, create … do what you can to create a new more relaxed self from this day forward.

Waterlily Nature and Nurture & Sassy Viking Mama

How to Transition from Busy to Staying Home

Each state has its own shut downs, work from home placement of non-essential personnel, school closings and social distancing mandates. Every single one of us has a list of projects, chores and so forth that we have put on the when I have time list. Now is an excellent opportunity to pull out that list and make a plan.

Today, we are going to write down a master list of task that we have been wanting to tackle. Then look at the time, cost and importance of each task. Pick one thing to do a day and focus on that.

Some of the items on our list:

laundry … how can I be so far behind on laundry?

Deep cleaning … perfect time for an old-fashioned spring cleaning. Intimidated by the thought of this? Don’t be. Break the room down as you would a work or school project.

Step one: move the furniture that can be safely moved and clean the baseboards and walls.

Step Two: vacuum, sweep or mop where the furniture was.

Step Three: Vacuum or dust the furniture (front to back, top to bottom) before putting it in place Hint this is also an excellent time to rearrange if you have been thinking of it.

Step four: pick another part of the room and repeat.

Step five: clean lamps, pictures, knick-knacks, dust books, games, cd’s, dvd’s,

Step six: add to your laundry: was throw blankets, *if* your drapes are washable do so otherwise vacuum them,

step seven: glass (do not spray electronics with any cleaners)

Closets, Cabinets, Storage Areas, Attics, Storage Totes and Lockers: Clean and organize the closet space. See what has been shoved in there. What is useful? What can be repurposed? Where the hell did that come from? OMG what is this disgusting thing …. Kids! Deal with this unintended science project! Don’t need something? Put it aside for charity or organize a community, neighborhood or friend swap. Please, do your best to not add to the trash problem.

Garages: Clean and Organize. Yard equipment: maintenance, oil, check blades for sharpening. Tools: clean off rust, oil, organize.

Kids toys: These things multiply worse than the laundry and dirty dishes. Go through and get all the broken toys, happy meal toys and the ones you hate. Broken toys can usually be recycled. Teach your kids about charity gifting or selling things to put money towards something they really want. If you give to charity or decide to sell please make sure that it is clean, sanitized and in working order. Just because a kids gets a second hand toy doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be nice. Involve your kids in the process and you will have a lot less fighting and fussing.

HAVE FUN WITH THIS!

Turn it into a DANCE PARTY!

Wear silly hats while you clean.

Fun Competition: Set a timer and see who can clean out which cabinet first and give that person a reward such as picking tonight’s movie; drawing them an elaborate bubble bath; let them pick the game for tonight, etc.

Live alone? Make a plan to indulge yourself when the project is done. Dig out your favorite chocolate. Binge watch your secret favorite show. Do something fun you haven’t done in ages!

Don’t be afraid to NEGOTIATE with each other on what needs done. One of the kids hates folding laundry. I want to fold laundry so I can binge watch Criminal Minds. Hence, negotiation. I will fold the bulk of the laundry if each of the kids puts away their laundry. The child who hates folding also agrees to put away the toddler’s laundry.

HOMESCHOOLING SLANT Involve your kids in the task you are doing. Will it take longer … yes. Will it be done exactly the way you want it to be … NO. Will they learn something … Yes. BREATHE, RELAX, SHARE … Life tasks are just important to learn as the information in schoolbooks. We don’t have anywhere to be so don’t rush, enjoy and bond.

WaterLily Nature and Nurture’s plan is to empty all of the laundry from the kids bathroom by having the older children take turns bringing the laundry down to the kitchen (our laundry room is the hallway off the kitchen). Then we are going to play a sorting game to prep the loads. After that each kid will take a turn putting loads in with my supervision on the soap and settings. Next, the kids set a timer on Alexa for the laundry so they know when the next person’s turn is to help mom flip laundry.

While the laundry process is happening today the kids will divide the bathroom up to clean it. One will get the toilet and floor surrounding it. Another will get the mirror, sink and cabinet, and the third will get the tub and remaining floor. Myself or another adult will supervise and explain to them how to do this.

In between all this is a great time for music, games, binge watch a show, walk the dogs, etc. Use your imagination, relax and remember to breathe and make your own schedule. Follow the sun and moon. Rest if you are tired. Eat if you are hungry. Laugh, cry, allow emotions to flow. Do art, read a book, listen to music, watch YouTube, learn a language, FaceTime a friend, really listen to your loved ones speak, journal, find yourself.

In the time of silence and fear I walk with myself and find the beauty and strength within myself and the world around me. I remake myself and change the world by creating a new normal. This is the time of the Phoenix and out of the ashes we can birth a better world, society and community.

Irisa MacKenzie 2020

WaterLily Nature and Nurture Homeschool and Sassy Viking Mama

Creating Normal

Creating normal during these times is important to combating the anxiety and depression of the effects on society due to coronavirus. Most Americans spend their days packed with things to do. We hurry from work to school to appointments to obligations to home and reset for the next day. Quality time is hard to get due to packed schedules. Down time and relaxation can be looked upon as being lazy and unmotivated.

Americans are now faced with enormous amounts of down time, alone time and time with their families … all of which can be made into quality time. First discover yourself. Stop and take a breathe. Think if you could do anything you wanted what would it be? Learn a language? Pick up an old hobby? Cuddle with your partner? Play with your kids? Read a book? Play a video game? Now is the time to do it. Feeling guilty? Start small. Set a timer for 30 minutes and then go do a chore around the house for 15 minutes … repeat.

This is a time of huge reset for the world. All the busy has been stopped. Uninterrupted time with those we reside with is upon us. Many of us have been detached from ourself, our family, friends and the world around us for a long time. Our lives have become filled with things and obligations. Now is the time to see if that is the quality and type of life we really want. Take the time to shape your world the way you want to. Let us make the best of these times and create new normals during this change.

When is the last time you focused on yourself? Spent several hours just with you? Being alone is not a punishment, frightening or scary. You are an incredible person who deserves to be known but no one else can know you if you first do not Know Thyself.

Don’t know where to begin? Get a journal (notebook will do fine) and write down three things that you used to enjoy doing. Can you write three more? If so great, if not that is okay for now. Examine what you wrote down. How realistic are these activities for your current life? How does the thought of pursuing this activity make you feel?

Now make a list of three activities that you are curious about. Can you write three more? If so great, if not that is okay for now. Examine what you wrote down. How realistic are these activities for your current life? How does the thought of pursuing this activity make you feel?

Next, pick one activity to try at least three times this week. Write down your thoughts and feelings after each experience. This will help you determine if this is an activity you wish to continue doing in the future.

Along with this, speak with your family and find out what they want to do, try, learn and explore. You will learn things about yourselves and each other. Use this to bond and grow your relationships and yourselves.

Happy Exploration!

WaterLily Nature and Nurture Homeschool with Sassy Viking Mama

Bacon & Chicken Brussel Sprouts (gluten free)

Food preparation is one of my passions. I love working with individual ingredients and turning out a dish that nourish people in body, mind and spirit. Friends and family gathered around the table chatting while they eat is magic to my soul.

This is a skill that I am continually working on improving. It is also one that I understand many people have difficulty with or find intimidating. Cooking doesn’t have to be this way. Start small and simple. In an effort to encourage love of cooking and exploration I am going to be sharing recipes and reinvention of leftovers that happen amidst the chaos of a family of five.

Today, was filled with appointments that took most of the morning. By the time I was able to come home and settle down my family had eaten and settled into their own activities. I was starving and needed to put something together that was quick. Fighting the urge to dive into a bag of chips I looked into the fridge and explored … oldest vegetable: Brussel sprouts, open meats: bacon, prepared meats: chicken add in the fact I keep onions and garlic on hand a quick and easy dish came to mind: Brussel sprouts with Onion, Garlic, bacon, chicken and seasonings.

I have stainless steel pans and a glass top electric stove; with the heat on medium (approx mark 4) I warmed some olive oil as I diced one small onion.

After that, I took two slices of bacon and chopped that into bite sized pieces that were then separated and placed in the pan with the onion. Cook thoroughly stirring often.

The Brussel sprouts need the ends chopped off then cut in half. After that they may be cut into coin sized slices. When the bacon is mostly cooked through add the Brussel sprouts and garlic to taste.

Dice 1-2 ounces of pre-cooked chicken and add to the pan. Stir and continue to cook bacon until desired crispness. The Brussel sprouts should be a lovely green.

Season everything with salt and pepper. Serve Hot.

Ingredients:

One small onion

bacon, two slices chopped

Brussel Sprouts approx 12

garlic, minced 1-2 tsp

chicken 1-2 ounces pre-cooked

salt and pepper

Happy Cooking!

WaterLily Nature and Nurture Homeschool and Sassy Viking Mama

Nurture with Nature

Nature is wonderful and amazing. Aside from providing us with the resources that we need to live being in nature is wonderful for our mind, body and spirit. Being in nature is one of the best ways to soothe anxiety and depression.

My children and I have had a lot of conversation about what is going on in the world and the anxiety that is causing each of us. Open communication is what we are promoting in our household during this time of mental and emotional stress. We are also devising ways to bring our stress and anxiety under control during this time.

Children are immensely curious about the world around them. If my children were able to we would travel the world just to look at animals, oceans and mountains. However, I do not have the budget to do so.

Thankfully, there are many resources available to us via technology. One of the resources is: Explore.org has live cameras of nature, animals, puppies and kittens. My children and I made a list of animal questions to explore They also have another section of films that I have not yet explored. From their website: “explore features a wide range of topics—from animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality. Delivered in short, digestible bites, explore films appeal to view”

My three year old spent almost an hour exploring animals and various locations. We chatted about these animals and places. Also, take notes of what interests the kids and yourself. It is a basis of conversation and further exploration.

Seeing the beauty and majesty of the animals, listening to the sounds of nature was a decompression that we needed. It reminded us that there is still a wide world out there beyond our immediate concerns. A world that will be there after we pass through the trials we currently face.

Breathe. Focus on the moment. Be mindful that life is more than this moment. We will take the moments that create our life one at a time. Breathe in the hear and now.

Water Lily Nurture and Nature Homeschool by Sassy Viking Mama

Homeschool Survival

Step one: Don’t Panic

Step two: Do you know where your towel is? If not, may I recommend reading Douglas Adam’s HitchHiker’s Guide to the Universe?

Step three: The only answer that matters is 42

For those individuals hit by the homeschool panic, I thought I would share some resources, ideas and sanity savers. Homeschooling sounds very intimidating and many people cannot picture what it realistically looks like due to going to a brick and mortar school.

The biggest obstacle is socialization. Thankfully, we live in a world of technology. FaceTime, Kids Messenger and Google Hangouts are just some of the resources available to enable kids to chat with friends and family that they normally hang out with. Things to do while they video chat with a friend: Stream the same movie or TV show, make the same art project, perform a science experiment, play dress up or put on shows for each other.

Screen Time. My kids love their tablets and the balancing act between technology and life can be a real struggle. Pro Tip: use screen time to explore their interests TOGETHER. Love Science? Google YouTube videos on science experiments. Space is Cool? Explore NASA or the ESA. ART? look into a museum, watch Artie’s Creative Galaxy on Amazon Prime and do the art project, pull out art supplies and have them use their imagination. Language Arts. Education.com, NanoMano kids, WordWorld on Netflix.

Family Time! This is critical at any stage of life but now is the perfect time to go for some good old fashioned bonding. Play games together, do art, take a walk, sit in the backyard, play with the pets. TALK. Get to know each other again. LISTEN without judgement. Really HEAR each other.

Education. This goes so much further than the textbooks and worksheets. Take the time to teach them real life skills: Laundry, Dishes, Cooking, Baking, Cleaning, Gardening. You don’t know how to do something? You want to learn something? Show your kids you are human and research it together! Library (electronic), YouTube, Web search … all are valid ways to find resources and explore interests. I recommend being with your kids as they search online and explore online, especially if they are small.

ABCs and 123s. There are many resources available for traditional subjects. Look to your school district for online learning links. I will also list some at the end of this article.

Homeschool doesn’t have to be narrow or ridge. It is about nurture and nature. We began our homeschooling adventure as a way to reduce our children’s anxiety and allow them to explore their personal interests. Our kids are not concerned whether they learn at home or at school as long as they still get to have friends which is normally easily managed. If you want your kids to have fun with education allow it to be real. Learning is fluid and all around us if we simply know to seize the opportunities before us.

Khan Kids … great for Preschool and kindergarten

Khan Academy … Perfect for elementary and older

Education.com … Preschool through Fifth. Videos, games, worksheets and lesson plans

Night Zookeeper … Interactive Language Arts

4H … A list of resources to keep your kids engaged

PBS Kids … Activities

Sesame Street … Games, Videos, Art

Duck Duck Moose … Learning Apps

Met Museum … Art Museum

Project Gutenberg … Free Books

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers … Writing Exercises

Science Friday … PodCasts, Stories, Education

Scholastic …Books and Games

How Stuff Works … Curiosity Explored!

PBS Media …. Resources on many subjects

NASA Kids Club Who doesn’t want to be an astronaut?

These are just some of the resources available to us. Have Fun, Bond with your Family and make the best of the situation before us.

WaterLily Nature & Nurture Homeschool by Sassy Viking Mama

Life Lived Between Light & Dark

The years ebb and flow as the tides dance to the moon. Our personal phases cycle as does the moon. We have moments in our life that are so bright we forget we ever knew the darkness. Other phases are the darkest night. These are the phases that lay us bare; open and vulnerable in ways we are never comfortable experiencing. These are the moments where we have our greatest growth and potential laid before us. Opportunities to grow and heal. However, most of our life is lived between the light and darkness. The light and dark illuminating each other for our fullest growth.

I have had many roles throughout my life. There are periods of time that I feel more like a role than the individual behind that role. I feel as though to keep with the forward momentum that I must succumb to certain tasks and behaviors. Is this a bad thing, no. Am I tired of certain routines and duties, yes. After two years of dealing with illness and injury, the legal system, the school system, constant restructuring of a household I feel as if I have been caught in a tidal storm, constantly buffeted on rough waters.

Slowly the storm has been receding and I begin to evaluate what is life, what needs to change and where to proceed forward. This evaluation began before the Winter holiday season. As I came to conclusions I had deep conversations with my partner, myself and family. Together we have been revamping certain things in our life and communicating better on our needs.

The communication has led to several changes in our life. Homeschooling our oldest child has happened. She couldn’t be happier! The adjustment has been a challenge for all of us but we are moving along, learning and growing. A combination of online school quality, homeschool flexibility and local homeschool resources are beginning to blend together into a world that is fostering natural exploration and love of learning.

After a length of illness, surgery and recovery our family is coming into its new normal. Two individuals with chronic pain conditions that manage a home and family with three kids, dogs and assorted pets are learning how to support each other in this new normal. We haven’t given up hope of improving our conditions but we do know that we must live in this current reality while we explore alternatives to improving our health.

For myself, that means committing to the gym for a combination of weight training, flexibility training (I love yoga) and cardio health to stave off the progression of arthritis and fibromyalgia. Routines and training are so very difficult for me to establish let alone maintain with the ever evolving needs of three children under eight.

Plus, I am spending time working on taking some of my passions from hobbies to a freelance career. Adding me time in to focus on that is important to me but a challenge. Due to the age of my children and the schedule my partner has worked for most of their small years I have had to put my needs on the back burner to have enough spoons to be there for my kids. Now, I can begin to shift my focus from solely their needs to a more balanced approach between their needs and mine.

Putting myself first has never been easy for me. Neither has drawing boundaries. Now, I am in a place where I need to do so for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, my children and partner give me strength; as do members of my tribe.

Everything in life has cycles and patterns. People are no different. Embrace who you are, go with or define your flow but no matter what KNOW THYSELF.

Sassy Viking Mama

Ebb and Flow of Rainbows

Our family may not have gender-nonconforming children but ALL children should feel safe, loved and honored for who they are not the gender of their body or their emotional and physical likes or dislikes. We encourage our children to be individuals and not worry about boy things vs. girl things.

This should never have been a big deal or a reason for conversation with anyone regardless of relationship with our family and children. However, the amount of times our children have been teased and bullied due to their choice of clothing, accessories, nail polish, etc is unacceptable. No individual belongs in a box. Everyone is free to explore their own personality and interests without tying it to gender. ~ Sassy Viking Mama

Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron – Discover

We chat with Lori Duron, author and blogger of Raising My Rainbow, about her blog-to-book experience, parenting her gender-creative son, and being a positive resource in the community.

Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron — Discover

Communication Achievement

Communication is an on-going life skill. I have been told that it takes a lifetime to develop. As someone in their fourth decade of life, I have come to the conclusion that communication is the most necessary life skill that we can ever have or develop. Furthermore, I further believe that communication is never a fully developed skill, but one we work on from the moment we understand communication until we no longer have the mental, physical and emotional triad of abilities available to us for communication.

It would be fantastic if we studied and practiced communication for a particular length of time and then achieved a trophy with our ranking …. however, life is not a video game and that does not happen. An individual may be an expert in one area and able to communicate clearly and effectively there. This does not mean that in all additional areas of their life they are equally developed and eloquent in their communication abilities. Every situation presents a unique opportunity for learning and developing communication.

It has become apparent to me that communication skills are something that I desire in relationships. The degree, depth, frequency and capability fluctuate based on the situation and capability of the individual with which I am attempting to communication. Obviously, I would not expect the same level of interaction from my 8 year old child that I would expect from her father. He is a grown adult in his 30’s with experience in communication, a career and post-secondary education. She is a child just beginning to comprehend the nuances of communication, as well as the English language and is still early in her formal education.

What I do expect in communication from every individual that I interact with is honesty. Your education, language and personal skills do not make a difference in honesty in communication. That honesty must begin with yourself. If you cannot be honest in your inner dialogue and realizations then you can never be honest with external dialogue and relationships. Lack of honesty kills healthy relationships.

Having manners and being polite is important in relationships. However, if we feel encumbered by rules and unable to speak freely then we have gone too far. It is okay to disagree with someone you care about. Disagreeing with another individual can happen in a respectful manner. Expecting that there will never be a disagreement in a relationship is unrealistic. Acting badly, bullying and manipulation because someone disagrees with you is childish and there is no place for that in a healthy relationship.

Treating individuals you communicate to with openness, honesty and respect will never go badly for you. Even if the other individual acts badly you do not need to respond in kind. Having integrity is vital to establishing a community that can sustain and support you in your life.

Viking Mama