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Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are?

My daughter is just starting elementary school now in Pre-K. I am again besieged by notifications and permission slips galore just like back when Eamon was in Kindergarten and there was “homework”. See my recent repost of my piece Kindergarten Homework here. All sorts of good intentions being bantered back and forth between educator and parent about how to best raise/educate our kids.

Within a hunk of papers distributed by the school this week, a subscription newsletter from a parents-institute, I read this headline:

“Parents Must Encourage their Children to Develop Self-respect”

Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are? on

( I immediately thought, Well yes, and what about those parents who already see educators as bossy jackasses thinking, “you can’t tell me what I must do with my kids because I’m not going to be bossed by smartass educational type people”. Shut that down.)

Of course I knew it was well-meant and read further. Essentially, children who are disrespectful don’t have any self-respect. Sometimes that’s what hides behind lack of respect for authorities. If we don’t value ourselves, we’re certainly not valuing others. And eventually the justice system needs to show us our worth. This is what the article said self-respect came down to being composed of.

Self-respect comes from:

Competence – Being good at things makes your kid feel good. Children need lots of opportunities to master skills and feel good about themselves while they do. New skills from sports to art to chores can give them a chance to like themselves while they master those skills. And no one standing over them telling what a bad job they did either.

Accomplishments – They need their progress seen and noted.By everyone but mostly by parents. See above.

Confidence – This can be about pointing out how all the work paid off and acceptance that sometimes we falter to succeed. Mistakes can be learned from and we need to know we can rely on ourselves to make things happen.

Freedom – Allow kids to be independent and make their own age-appropriate choices. Let them chose when things can be done and how sometimes. Showing them you trust them makes them trust them.

Support – Accept your children for who and what they are. Let them belong to the family instead of having to fit into your vision of what they should be. Ask them about their day. Listen and witness their answers and help solve their problems if they ask for it.

Imitation – Be the person you want them to model themselves after. They will do as you do. So if you have low self-esteem and anxiety issues, they will too. Be kind to yourself and stand firm for them with their demands as well so that they may see what standing firm looks like.

Does “Self-respecting” Describe the Parent and Self-parent You Are? on

Invisible sword fighting

If you paid attention to even most of these, you’d have a pretty great kid. Personally, I got lost between the family cracks and did not have most of these attentions paid me but yes, I’m paying them to my kids. And then I thought, what kind of parents are we to ourselves? I feel like I can tend to be on the side of almost abusive self-parenting if I allow me to continue to berate and judge myself for the myriad of things I seem to do “wrong”.

What if we took these steps above and applied them to ourselves, which is truly necessary if we are actually parents because our kids do as we do, not as we say. What kind of parents do we want to be to ourselves? Compassionate and kind or judgemental and punitive?  Just like these children, we go out into the society and make our own contributions based on our self-worth and respect so shouldn’t we give ourselves these gifts as well to give us an edge up on our lives? I could use with a little more self-respect in my world, couldn’t you?

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Kindergarten Homework

With our enthusiastic “Go get’em” faces on, we waved our son onto the number 14 bus bound for Kindergarten. Maybe September allergies made my husband’s eyes water or maybe it was his relief that our child survived being stuck at home with me for the past 5 years. I contained my giddiness as I snapped that fateful picture of him waving back from the bus steps. We were each about to learn what going to school and developing new systems meant to us.Kindergarten Homework

The little guy loved school. Early in the year, I paid a visit to him and his 17 pint-sized classmates in their new classroom. I wanted to meet his teacher and to gather context for my son’s random, and sometimes jarring, disclosures of daily happenings. I’d been told she ran her classroom as smoothly as a Barney episode and I agreed after seeing her in action. She was generous with her praise and commendably judicious with a spastic group of five-year-olds. I felt my heart burst for all their sweetness and hardships. I wanted to wipe the pizza sauce off their faces and tie all their dirty untied shoelaces. And then I had to leave. Better her than me.Kindergarten Homework on

Why was I surprised when the ridiculous quantity of paper began to flood our house? We got monthly activity schedules and cafeteria menus earnestly printed on green and pink papers followed by the “homework” sheets for the math and reading “clubs”. After a twenty-year hiatus, I had “homework” because it would take a herculean effort for my five-year-old son to list ten books we read in any given month plus their authors. Instead, he drew pictures for two books he liked. His reward was tattoos and bookmarks. I was rewarded with the return of these same drawings caught up in the paper river flowing from his “Dolphin” folder.

I absolutely loved my son’s drawings of primitive smiling suns and the stick people who suddenly had on pants because one of his bossy girlfriends proclaimed them necessary, although his stick figures soon returned to their original nakedness. And, of course, I liked the pictures where I was a part of the action. Sadly, only five percent of the rest of the book bag busyness consisted of these. Instead, I got glued, cut, colored, and constructed things of all sorts randomly based on holidays or nursery rhymes. Paper dolls tenuously perched on Popsicle sticks, sticker books, cereal cemented to construction paper, and drawings from his classmates. These barged into our home and tumbled out of his green backpack onto the kitchen table, sofa, and floor. And each and every loving one of these papers was suddenly and forever my responsibility.  

If I had kept every one of these suckers, in twenty years I’d have ended up on one of those hoarding shows, walking between mountains of papers and being buried alive under them. And, left up to my son, each little scrap of paper he’d ever put pen, crayon, scissors, or marker to was precious enough to keep forever. So, I smiled and nodded as I placed everything in the basket on top of the refrigerator, the paper avalanche repository. I had a secret stealth plan called The Purge, the goal of which was to land all the papers worth keeping into an out-of-sight place in an orderly fashion because the opposite of an overwhelming landslide is doable chunks.Kindergarten Homework on

The three-step Purge system started with the placement of the papers in the basket atop the fridge. I then stealthily moved them to a drawer upstairs and, after being sorted essential from non, they would go into a portfolio in a closet. My theory was that if you were to mark the start and end of the monthly paper ocean with a ribbon marker in the basket, after a week I feel pretty sure the child would have forgotten about that hunk of stuff between the markers. There’s an official month of paper stuff to sort then. But out of sight means out of mind; I couldn’t let the child become an obstacle to The Purge.

Only when I was alone in the house, did I attempt to ruthlessly sort and cull this mess for the essence of my child. Parental wisdom must fight that guilty voice. One drawing of trees and kitties and a page of E’s are great but twenty of them are not. Into a paper recycle bag went the extras plus that which does not at all show the talents and charms of my child. I felt guilt-free when I pitched the gigantic paper penny, nothing against my man Abraham. And while I may have been kind and offered my in-laws the opportunity to take from the bag any art they may have liked, then Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the grey recycling container it went.

The final step was to create the holder for everything I’d culled. For his daycare artwork, I’d made a giant cardboard pita pocket portfolio and taped up the edges. It worked out nicely. Poster-board would work with packing tape seams. Certain well-known crafty people have made these attractive with fabric covered foam core and ribbon ties. I saved the pretty for later after I’ve mastered the simple de-clutter. This was the trench-work for the kindergarten homework clutter attack and it was all about biting off only as much as I could chew.Kindergarten Homework on

I visited his classroom again that year. His lovely teacher and I spoke about educational mandates. All the busy work is still proof to the parents and legislators that the children are learning. And conversely, the clubs’ homework proves the parents are working with and reading to their children. She said if she had her way, there would be two recesses for her kindergartners (and 7 years later she would finally get that when she taught my daughter in Pre-K). Maybe there are too many cooks in the educational kitchen substantiating the price of their ingredients, but they’ll never pay this magnificent teacher enough. In fact, she’d been saving his “special” work from his year in a scrapbook she gave us parents at the end of the year. Why was I doing any of this when she’d had it covered? 

None the wiser for his mother’s devious deeds, my busy-brained boy continued to be overly stimulated as he dumped out his paper laden book bag. One day in March, he came home excitedly talking about Rosa Parks and Harriet “Tubb-s-man”. Apparently, he’d learned a lot about civil unrest and the Underground Railroad for black history month. They sang freedom songs, made paper buses, and discussed the mistreatment of the slaves. I was a little thrown by the sudden candidness of the subject and I commenced with a serious “discussion” about the ramifications of slavery and the inherent rights of all human beings to their freedom. After a long thoughtful silence, he said “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play slaves!” Nothing new there.

(This piece of creative non-fiction was one of the very first as I began to write on-line and Published on Divine Caroline, a writing site that gave me reason to write. I then began this blog a year later but never republished it here. This Kindergarten Homework’s grand edited revival.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.


My Remodeled Pink Dining Room

It was recently brought to my attention that I had never posted the “redecorate the dining room” post. This was a May ’17 project I set myself to completing before hosting a dinner party, taking our green dining room and transforming it into a pink dining room. And I was truly pleased with myself and the results. This room reno cost a little over $200 including awesome rug, paint, and curtains. And is a monument to decorating minimalism and intuition.My remodeled pink dining room on


At least five years ago, I decided to paint my dining room Chartreuse green. I thought that Spring green shade would be happy. It was but for some unknown reason I chose to do it in a glossy finish which only made the bumpy walls more visible. This renovation was well overdue. I had visions of pink in my head. It was so design forward it frightened me.

My remodeled pink dining room on

But I dreaded taking off that grass cloth I’d glued to the dado (beneath the chair rail) some 15 years ago, I’d left it. And eventually, it had become the scratching post for certain naughty kitties. As with so many tasks we dread, it turned out to be easy. It took me one hour to remove and scrub off the remaining glue from the walls. I was again astonished at how we dread and put off things for no reason.My remodeled pink dining room on


I decided I didn’t need to repaint the ceiling or the insides of the corner cabinets from their original colors. So, I brought home color swatches until I’d chosen the right color to match.

My remodeled pink dining room on

I knew that this now all warm-toned room would need a color cool down in the new rug I chose and as soon as I saw this turquoise beauty, I knew it was right. This sucker was a mere $150 bought at on a special sale day. Free shipping always. This is the same site I purchased my kilim rug for the hallway. This rug looks fancier than it is. Stuff can get spilled on it (Resolve has been go-to magic in a bottle for 25 years), cats can claw at it, and it still looks good.

My remodeled pink dining room on

The curtains were another hurdle I finally overcame. I had literally never put curtains up because I didn’t know how to cost effectively handle the bay window rigging. But I’d done some prior research on Pinterest and had pinned some ideas to my secret “redecorate the dining room” board. I revisited those and found the solution.

My remodeled pink dining room on

My remodeled pink dining room on

I used metal electrical conduit pipe setting around in the garage. We covered it with gaff tape to make it white. Same tape technique I used on Fiona’s bedroom curtain rods. And I attached them together between the windows with rubber tubing! I was exasperated to have to pay $5 a piece for the 4 brackets to hold all this up. The only ones I could find were black too! And lastly, leveling the whole curtain rig was tough as the windows are visibly wonky. But again, only took me an hour. And them my husband offered up some extra cream-colored wedding organza and just looped maybe 17 foot runs over the rods and I tied them back with jute string. Voila, the windows and the views are framed out.

My remodeled pink dining room on

The major time I took was for the painting. I blocked off the week to do it and just resigned myself to doing no other chores and to plugging my daughter into the TV for chunks of time. And as usual, the worst part was painting the woodwork. I had chosen to go back to white woodwork while leaving the corner cabinets cream. Lovely concept but that crown molding was tedious going and darned if I wasn’t “almost finished” …”almost finished” …”almost finished” when the kids started to act up.

My remodeled pink dining room on

The one last decision (besides going from green to pink) that seemed avante garde was the painting of the chair rail. I have always detested the way that chair rail visually chopped up the space. I’ve seen people painting their woodwork out in the same color as the walls. And so, I went for it hoping the chair rail would disappear. It was a success and I encourage everyone to do whatever their whim tells them. It’s only paint after all.

My remodeled pink dining room on

I should have been more nervous about the rug but somehow, I knew it’d be perfect and I was right. The items I hung on the walls were what I already had and went very well with an evolving color palette of pink, mustard, and aqua. And the two pieces of grass cloth that were perfectly intact when I pulled them from the wall under the windows? Turned them on their sides and mounted these fabulous sconces that I have never been able to hang until now!

My remodeled pink dining room on

So how did the dinner party go you ask? It was a smash success and I was a confident hostess because I felt like my dining room was finally the exact place that I wanted to entertain in. It was the new me. The color palate is fresh and the windows are frames in that lush wedding organza. Crazy cool.

And PS, Since I’ve taken these pictures, I recovered those dining room chairs too! Had the fabric for over 20 years!

My remodeled pink dining room on


And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.



Tunisian Stew

I was first introduced to Tunisian Stew, aka Seven Vegetable Stew, when a friend hosting an annual dinner party served it. I was dubious about the meatless stew but was surprised at the substantial texture and the exotic and Middle Eastern flavors including Tumeric and Cinnamon. This vegetable stew is a good go-to when I’ve got my vegetarian family members coming over as it boasts lots of flavor as the fennel and raisins are a sweet component.Tunisian Stew on

Although I feel the addition of the feta and toasted almonds on top are necessary for salty bite and the crunchy texture, vegans may need to find a vegan feta option. The suggestion is to also serve this over couscous. Although a whole wheat couscous can be found at Trader Joe’s, I think rice would be just as nice if you want to go gluten free.

And for meat eating fans, if you want to serve a few slices of a pork or beef roast with it, I’ve done that too.


Tunisian Stew
aka Seven Vegetable Stew

To be Served with Whole Wheat couscous, sliced toasted almonds, and feta

3 Garlic cloves smashed
(2 small turnips but I omit because not a fan)
Yellow onion quartered, root end in tact
Large carrot (or two) cut into 2” chunks
Fennel bulb thickly sliced and root end in tact
½ cup Golden raisins
1 TB Ginger peeled and chopped (or try grating and the peel gets out of the way)
1 TB Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cumin
2 Tsp  Paprika
2 Tsp Sugar
1 ½ Tsp ground Turmeric
1/8 Tsp Cloves (or dash of ground)
1 Cinnamon stick (or couple dashes ground)
2 Cups Water
1 lb Butternut squash peeled and 1 inch wedged
1 Small Zucchini (or two)
(Half head of cauliflower florets)
 15 ½ oz can chickpeas, drained
( 4 sprigs of flat leaf parsley tied together)
1 Cup canned Whole Tomatoes with juices (plus more if wanted)

– Put garlic,(turnips),onion, carrot, fennel, raisins, ginger, salt, cumin, paprika,
sugar, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon in pot with lid and add 2 cups Water
and bring to a boil and then simmer to soften the veggies for 10 minutes.

– Halve and seed and wedge the butternut squash. Add into pot :
(parsley) chickpeas, tear the tomatoes, cauliflower and the carrots,
 stirring and simmering another 15 minutes and then add zucchini squash in the
last 5 minutes as it will cook to mush fast.

– Remove cinnamon sticks and parsley if used and serve over couscous with
almonds and feta.

Expect to have a lots leftover so this stew makes a great option for a supper with a lot of guests. And it lasts for a while in the refrigerator. Enjoy!


And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.


Let Me Tell You Where I am Now

Let me tell you where I am now.

I’m sitting in my craft room. My laptop is in front of me and I’m perusing my journal trying to grab on to something of interest to write about. I’m good with the writing as long as I’m interested in the subject.

In an hour, Fiona will descend the yellow school bus stairs for only the second time. Her Pre-K year has begun. Let me tell you where I am now on

Let me tell you what Pre-K means to me

I was a new blogger when I got pregnant with her. So the blog and my writing talents have been worked on and developed parallel with her growing up. Like the blog is her sister. Except, were you to ask me if the she or the blog comes first, it would probably always be her. The trick was to not use raising her as an excuse to not continue my writing the blog if just to keep up the practice.

Let me tell you what that means

Now in the light of having time rolling out in front of me to get down to some deeper and more intensive writing. I’m freaking out. In a good way and a bad way.

Of course, I’m ecstatic because having time to myself is the one thing I crave beyond really good food and entertainment. I’m giddy and gearing up to find out what I really do think about hope and healing and good change in my soul. Conversely, I’m terrified that I’ll squander this time I’m being gifted by laying down and letting my fear keep me from showing up. Paralysis in the face of progress and vulnerability has been an MO before.Let me tell you where I am now on

Let me tell you what I’m doing differently

I got a book out of the library that had been recommended to me titled Deep Work by Cal Newport. The idea is that the world is on this awful slide to promote the shallow. This means that people who do deeper more thoughtful work are going to be needed more than ever as people’s brains start to shortcut and short-circuit for lack of proper usage. I am betting that I have some pretty cool stuff inside me that I need time and flow to find out. And all the methods and techniques I gleaned from this book will be put into use to guarantee that I hedge my bets on success. You kinda need a game plan to keep yourself engaged. Our brains are feeble as well as untapped.

Let me tell you, I’m scared

When we attempt to be our truest selves, there may be shrieking harpie voices that tell us we’ll die if we continue. That’s just the primitive part of our brain kicking in to keep ourselves safe from tigers and social ridicule. In that moment when we accept or don’t accept the emotions as fact, we could get to move on and gain confidence in the fact that we were vulnerable and did it anyway. That’s the story I want to be telling.

My daughter faced her first day at Pre-K. That’s some pretty scary stuff. Each of us and the fears that we face are specific to where we are. First day of Middle school, high school, college, and getting married all include scary unknown factors that seem insurmountable to us at that point in our lives. But it’s all relative. We just need to acknowledge our inner compass and keep moving.

Hope this give you perspective. On me or you, doesn’t matter. We all need a little perspective every once in a while.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.


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