Letting Go and Trusting Growth

Another school year has begun in Ohio. My eldest has begun third grade and my second child has begun kindergarten. Fortunately, both children are very excited to begin school. I am sad to have them out of the home and miss them terribly. Thankfully, my youngest is not yet school age so I am not completely child free during the days.

I am not someone who looks forward to them returning to school. Seven years ago, I retired to be a stay at home parent. Being with them has been a blessing and I am not ready for this phase of our lives to end.

We live in an amazing school district that works with the parents. This year I am looking to be more involved with the school as I have better opportunities to participate with the school and have the youngest cared for.

I have not had an opportunity to be a room parent or participate in the Parent-Teacher Organization. So this will be an interesting experience for mama; plus an opportunity to meet other adults in the area.

As much as I miss my children, they are growing, learning and having invaluable life experiences while they are away from us. They are becoming more dynamic, fascinating people each and every day. So, we shall continue on this journey together and see where it takes us.

Happy Schooling,

Irisa

parenting

schooldays

Origins 2019

Brick and Mortar has planned their separate routes to Origins 2019. Brick would load the wagon and caravan with comrades to our Amtgard meeting grounds. Mortar would load supplies along with Boulder, Pebbles, and BamBam in her wagon and set up their temporary homestead near the meeting grounds.

Upon arrival, Brick scooped up his offspring and allowed Mortar to settle in without BamBam destroying everything in site. The Vikings in training made their way to the meeting grounds. Mortar secured the encampment then decided to allow another persona to visit.

A short time later the Oracle of Delphi was ready to visit the meeting grounds. The purple detective was first to greet her that day. They spoke of her security investigations for the weekly meeting and the oracle has foreseen that this meeting would be blessed by the Gods in fellowship, frith, education, and the bonding of our small ones.

After greeting Brick, Brill, Feyraine and other comrades Mortar ensured that the Little Monsters Den was established for the meeting. Here the small ones found small shields, swords, dragon eggs to quest upon, and dice to roll with monster comrades.

The next day the five of us explored the den of imagination. This is a wonderous place to find comrades of dice, card, cosplay, and general fellowship. We found dice to sparkle the imagination, storytelling, meteor’s, assassins, trolls, magic, dungeons and much more. There was a man of great imagination that had munchkins playing Warhammer and munchkins who dressed in steampunk alongside blogs and smacking kittens.

Back on our meeting grounds there were travelers far and wide. I enjoyed meeting those from our kingdom at large as well as those from other kingdoms. Friendships and alliances began this week that will enjoy a lifetime of growth.

Amongst weaving friendship, a weaving skill of macrame has begun. Dragon eggs were quested for and battle skills enhanced. Many little monsters came upon us with their guardians. They enjoyed sharing tribal stories, practicing their swordplay and discussing other wide ranging creatures called Pokémon. Boulder, Pebbles, and BamBam began to forge alliances for their generation.

The meeting of Origins 2019 was a glorious time and we look forward to the next meeting.

Blessings,

Sassy Viking Mama and Family

Bravery through art

I sit down to write for the first time in months. Suddenly, all three kids need me right this second and now I cannot get my focus back. Hence the life of a writing mom.

The last few months have been very introspective. I have had a ton of time to think as I drive 8 hours between my house and my mother’s. Being away from my home and partner made this even more draining.

My focus has definitely narrowed on what is important. I am back to simplifying my life and strengthening the bonds that matter most to me. Hearth, home, family, and tribe are taking priority.

Reflection upon my relationship with my mother, father, and siblings has been heavy on my mind. The memories of being alone, not listened too, and unsupported have been difficult to sort thru.

In defense of my life at home I became the kid who was alone and tried to cultivate an image of a tough person. In reality I buried my soft sensitive nature underneath the “toughening up” my family told me to do. I smoked, cursed, and fought with the bullies. The worse of it was I projected judgement as I was expected to because when I spoke of being open minded and accepting I was punished.

However, in my private moments I wrote, read and dreamed of being free. I have done a lot of things that I am not proud of to be loved by my biological family. Eventually, I became my own person and embraced who I am regardless of my childhood teachings.

All the while I have used literature, writing, and art to find myself as well as a means of self expression. The next step is to be brave about my art and share it. I am sure it will be rocky as I find my public voice but I look forward to sharing thoughts, stories, and poems.

To the next phase of life, I welcome you.

Irisa aka Sassy Viking Mama

Cycle of Life, Death, and Grief

Lately my writing has been private. This is due to my mother dying on January 30th. I have had a lot to process as I travel between Ohio and Pennsylvania. The stress of losing a loved one, aiding three wildlings under 7 in their grief and understanding of death, managing an estate, cleaning out a house, and dealing with my personal cycle of grief.

One of the things that has made this most difficult is that she chose to not have a memorial service. The lack of a closing ritual and space to celebrate her life has been extraordinarily difficult for me. Now that I am done with the bulk of travel I am going to perform my own ceremony, but it will not be the same. I am used to the concept of an old-fashioned Irish wake where you get together and share stories, memories, food and drink.

For a variety of reasons I am estranged from the remainder of my biological family. Contact has gone very well, but obviously awkward for not having spoken for years. Plus without a history and foundation of trust and support I find it difficult to take assistance from them because I do not know if there is a hidden motive or if they are altruistic.

This reinforces the bonds I want to have with my children and for them to have with each other. It has also enabled me to reach out to other family members about connecting more frequently and consistently once I am done with this part of the travel.

This life cycle experience has also reinforced where my spiritual and devotional practice falls in my life; as well as my writing. Priorities always come to light when major life events occur. It is a good time to take stock and evaluate/re-evaluate what is and is not important.

I have asked for more help in the last few weeks than I have in a very long time. I will continue asking for help as well. Without this help, there is just no way I could keep up on managing two houses in two different states, plus keep family life as stable as possible.

Blessings,

Sassy Viking Mama

Wildlings, Errands, and Parental Judgement

The snow is calming my spirit. I am drained from school prep and two errands with my wildlings. This morning was an inability to focus and by the time I had one kid dressed another was undressed, sigh. However, we made it to school in time.

Off to the grocery store. Only one trip running off and chasing the youngest while telling the middle child to stay put. Only one unknown item in the cart at checkout;caught before paying thank you!

Library. Dear gods I am exhausted from the library. Teaching the youngest to not run off ; not remove all the books, and not climb the shelves. Reminding the middle boy to stay off the computers … books please! Keeping them both within eyesight. The men’s room there is nice. I know this from having to fish the two year old out of there.

Then we rode the elevator upstairs so I could check out two books. We’re fine, we’re fine. Elevator stopped. Alarm sounded. Okay, I got this. Running off once I got where I needed to be. Fine. Fine. Some illusion of control maintained. Long enough to get two books and go back downstairs.

Mad toddler because I wouldn’t let him set off the alarm. He laid on the floor crying while I checked out. It’s fine. The library staff was nice to me. Okay. Coats on, trying to leave and toddler meltdown commence.

And there it is. A screaming, kicking, tantruming toddler. Refuse to walk, fine. I tried to pick him up; now the kicking, thrashing, and sliding out of my hands. We make it outside; oh yeah my coat isn’t zipped and it is 18 degrees out. I can’t keep ahold of him and don’t want to drop him on the sidewalk. I attempt to put him on his feet.

Down and on the ground screaming tantrum. A mom and her kid walk by me, muttering comments and giving me dirty looks. Thanks for the judgement lady. I didn’t need that. What i needed was a moment of kindness. Would it have been too much to pick up the bag of spilled books and help me out? No, instead taking a shot when I was already feeling defeated is exactly what I needed.

Why is it so hard to be kind and supportive? Maybe you are lucky and have never had a child so strong willed that cooperation takes longer to learn. Maybe you have forgotten or never had kids.

I love my wildlings but teaching them how to best communicate, act in public, and getting them to listen can take longer. In the meantime be patient with the parents as we navigate our children and take the time to teach them without breaking their spirits. Have kindness for us because that can be what we need to survive the hard moments. The moments our kids are arguing and we are digging deep for strength and patience, that is when we need kindness because self-doubt about our skills might already be the loud voice in our heads.

Solidarity!

Irisa

We were finally able to stop yelling

Over the last few years I became the parent I never wanted to be. I became a yeller . The more frustrated I became with repeating myself, the more frequently I yelled, the more frustrated I was, the more I yelled. I despised looking in the mirror. I was evaluating myself and my mental and emotional state. Researching postpartum depression, parenting techniques, anxiety and anger connection, etc, etc. I was convinced there was something terribly wrong with me or that I was just a horrid parent. Turns out the main underlying cause was much simpler.

At age 2 my daughter had her first ear infection. We took her to the doctor, put her on antibiotics and situation resolved. Not really, however we did not know that. She is a lovely little girl with an amazing imagination and love of art. Getting her attention has always been difficult. We figured she was wither day dreaming or hyper focused on her tasks as all her wellness checks had always been fine.

As she got older and started school she frequently told us that she didn’t hear us. After rounds of hearing tests and wellness checks with no negative results we simply thought she wasn’t paying attention. Meanwhile, we became louder and louder to get her attention. Frustration was building on all sides and this pattern continued.

During her fifth year ear infections came back with regular frequency picking up into her 6th year. They were not frequent enough to warrant discussing tubes (2-3 times a year) but we were tracking. Her wellness checks still came back fine but we were concerned over lack of focus, difficulty paying attention, constantly saying she cannot hear, continued. Thankfully, we have a fantastic doctor who doesn’t dismiss us and make us fight to be heard. We kept the lines of communication open and were exploring options as to potential causes because these childhood symptoms can be anything from maturity to mental health to physical. Meanwhile, during one of our frustration sessions she had a breakdown and cried asking why she couldn’t hear like other kids. Insert heartbreak here.

Finally she failed a hearing test! Off to the ENT. With our doctor as an advocate we were in within two weeks. Turns out that her growth spurts were the problem. Our daughter’s adenoids needed removed and tubes in her ears. Within three weeks she was able to get her surgery. The center was amazing and the tour had her excited for this surgery. She was excited to resolve the issue and be able to hear.

We are two weeks post-surgery and I have a different child. Within hours of her surgery we noticed she wasn’t whispering and saying what all the time. Her dad hid his mouth and whispered “can you hear me?”. Her response was “what did you say?”, slightly louder he repeated himself and she was like “yes”. We explained to her that daddy was whispering, not yelling and she heard him!

Over the last two weeks the frustration has been disappearing from all of us. She can hear us, we don’t have to yell. I don’t constantly have to research, study and evaluate trying to figure out what is going on with my frustrated, upset child and my parenting. The lack of yelling has changed all of us, including her two small siblings. We are still working on the overall loud, as that has become a habit, but the frustration is gone. There is joy again and we look forward to the continued changes that will come from her being able to hear.

I am glad that I kept searching to understand. That I kept advocating for my family. I knew something wasn’t right. I knew this wasn’t who I was or who my family was. It didn’t feel right. Trust yourself, advocate, fight, research, don’t give up on your kids or yourself ever.

Blessings,

Irisa MacKenzie

Serenity of the Heart

The beauty of Land, Sea and Sky can be found during any season. The following was written after shoveling in 17 degree weather; huddled around a cup of tea.

The snow is absolutely beautiful. It is a bright white fluffy snow unbroken by footprints. The creek covered by a thin layer of ice looks like a dark onyx surrounded by glistening moonstone.

Ice encases the trees in a serenity that protects their hearts until the warmth of spring penetrates their branches, illuminating their soul until their joy bursts forth as blossoms. Spring breezes carrying their songs of joy as scents in the air.

Blessings,

Irisa MacKenzie

Passionate Commitment

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. ~ Ray Bradbury

Bradbury once told me that the way to let the good stuff out was to write every day. Allow the words to pour out of yourself onto the paper. Some will be rubbish, some will be good. So I committed to writing each day. Eventually, well-meaning advice, life, and non-believers beat me down until I stepped back from my passion.

Now, I am re-committed to my passion. I will write each day. I will share writings. Some will be good, some will be bad. I won’t worry about formulas, themes etc. I will develop my passion and see where it’s love takes me.

What passionate journey do you embark upon?

Blessings,

Irisa

Why my 7 year old does her own laundry …

One of the many battles I had this summer was with my two older kids regarding laundry. I wash and fold, they are supposed to put away. A day later no one has clothing. How??

I have come to find they would either put it right back in with the dirty clothing, shove it under furniture or hide it in toy boxes. It was a mess of explaining, punishing, yelling, frustration and blech all summer. Last week mom snapped.

I explained to my children that me doing their laundry is a privilege. We have front load machines and they are old enough to do this chore. If they cannot respect the work I am doing for them, they can do their own work.

My 7 year old is now entirely responsible for her own laundry and the 4 year old is on warning. She has a laundry basked in her closet. When it gets full she must bring it down and ask mom or dad to show her how to run the washer.

Here are the rules:

  • You cannot go to school in dirty clothing
  • You cannot be late for anything because you waited to wash your clothes
  • No whining to me that your favorite whatever is dirty
  • No getting your brother or anyone else to do this

This weekend she received the full experience. I reminded her to check her basket. It was full so she brought it downstairs and asked for help. We got everything in the wash, then dryer. She brought her clothing int to he living room to fold. I went back to cleaning the kitchen.

A short time later she came to me in frustration, near tears, because her 2 year old brother was unfolding her clothing and throwing it around the living room. Her 4 year old brother was refusing to help her and playing with the 2 year old.

I calmly looked at her and let her know that this is exactly what I have to deal with every time I fold a load of laundry for the last 6 years. She needs to take a breathe and figure out how she wants to handle this situation, but this is her situation to handle. A few minutes later I poked my head in the living room and reminded the 4 year old to not give his sister a hard time because his laundry privileges were also on the line.

By the time I was done my chores things were progressing peacefully. I asked her if she had a better understanding of why I was getting so upset this summer about the laundry. My daughter proceeded to tell me that doing this work with the boys was really hard.

Sometimes, experience really is the best teacher. She is still responsible for her own laundry. Honestly, I do not see any reason to take this chore back from her at this time. As her school responsibilities increase she may get extra help from me, but for now we will continue with her laundry being her sole responsibility.

Sassy Viking Mama

Irisa

Goodbye Judgement and Toxicity

As your family grows you need to grow. This includes your parenting style and how you relate to your children. I am constantly re-evaluating our families needs and interactions and adjusting as best I can. This was a hard summer for me. There were a lot of adjustments and things to be dealt with.

Due to my husbands work schedule I did a lot of solo parenting which left me pretty exhausted and stretched thin. I started to hate who I had become, which was a short tempered and burnt out mom. This isn’t what I wanted for myself or my family.

The additional pressure of information overload and judgement on parenting did not help. I have found there to be very little to no support for parents but miles of judgement. I am tired of being made to feel constantly shamed and criticized for my choices. There are lots of voices for that but miles of empty fields when you reach out for help and support.

This became abundantly clear to me when I moved to this city. Suddenly, I lived near and developed new support. I have more support now than I ever have before. People willing to give their time and lend a hand. Something as simple as the neighbor popping in for coffee and to sit with the youngest while he naps and I run over to the school for my oldest has made a world of difference.

I am done with the judgements and focusing on what we want and need as a family. I am done with toxic parenting. For me that means those who judge parents but never offer help. Who offer no empathy and support only criticism. I have cut other toxic relationships out of my life, now it is time to dispose of the toxic parent judges.

I am an unusual mix of strict and lenient with my kids. I want my children to have manners and be respectful. However, they can do that without cutting their personal boundaries. We love video games, board games, tabletop games, movies and YouTube. I encourage questions, self expression and emotions.

Do you need to throw a temper tantrum? Go ahead, in your room scream, yell and cry. Then come back down and we can work thru this together. Need to get out aggression? We have foam swords and shields, gardening and yard work. Emotions but no ideas? We have art, cooking and a million other creative things. Express yourself, then we come come around and work through it.

I am working with what works for the 5 of us and I am done apologizing for it.

Finding Strength every day.

Your Sassy Viking Mama

Irisa