Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013!

I love, love, love, Halloween! I always have and I'm pretty sure I always will. 
I still dress up, I still like to attend parties, and  I encourage my children to come up with creative ideas for costumes and have fun with it, too. Here's the Jackson Family Halloween line-up for 2013:
 Z is a Dark Wizard, O is a Fire Wizard (I sewed their cloaks from my pattern) and J is Blinkie the Super-Hero-Attack-Puppy because he doesn't actually know who Scooby-Doo is.  Micah is a dude with pink hair and moustache. Let's just call him Guido.
Celebrating Halloween is one of those traditions that holds magical memories for me as a child. I loved the parties, I loved the carnival games, I loved the haunted houses and I loved the (gasp) candy! I can still remember almost all of my costumes from the time I was a clown at age 4, to a Can-can girl at age 14, to the year I was Spongebob Squarepants at age 24!  And now here I am as a big bag of Jelly Belly's jelly beans at age 34. It never gets old!

And just in case you didn't know, bags of Jelly Bellys CAN DANCE: 




Z, O. and J heading to a community party.
Our family made caramel apples this year for the first time. They were super easy to make and super ono-licious! Although, I think I added too much water into the hot caramel mixture because after sitting for 2 hours, most of the caramel melted right off of it. Oh well, they still tasted good.
Another Halloween activity we did this year was enter this community coloring contest that came in the Iron County newspaper.  Each child received a coloring book with  22 Halloween-themed coloring pages inside, with each coloring page correlating to a different business around town. 
Once the kids finished their Halloween pictures, they could drop them off at the various businesses to be entered into a contest to win prizes! The prizes ranged from 50 dollars cash, to a new bicycle, to restaurant gift cards, to movie tickets, to small cash prizes, to candy bars!
 And I tell ya what, I've never seen my children sit so still for so long while intensely coloring those pages-- especially our 7 year old who hates coloring! Even he made himself sit down for at least an hour a day for two weeks straight to finish coloring those pages. 
We made sure our children knew they were taking a risk to enter, and that they weren't guaranteed to win anything at all, but they wanted to take the chance anyways.
Some of our best ones! The top two are Micah's and mine. There was even a coloring contest for age 19+!
When the deadline finally came to drop them off, I sat the boys down and we organized our plan of action. First we looked up all the businesses on a  map. Then we categorized each business into the direction it was located around town, such as North Cedar, South Cedar, West Cedar, and "Random Cedar." We had 70 pages to drop off, including the two that Micah and I colored. 
It took us 2 1/2 hours to drive around town and drop off all those pages. The hardest part was getting in and out of the car 22 times so the boys could hand them in. I was so exhausted when we got home that I  slept for 2 more hours!
This week the results came in and here's what they won: 
Jonah won a king-sized Hershey's Bar, Odin won some gummy candies and ten dollars cash, and  Zadok won an ice-cream cone. Micah and I won nothing.

So was it worth it? 
The kids say yes!
 Okay, I say yes, too. 
Sure the kids didn't win the big prizes and the stress of driving around was annoying, to say the least, but all in all, it was a great lesson learned for the boys. They learned about making and sticking to personal goals, meeting a deadline, working hard and completing their projects, and lastly, a lesson in taking risks and chances in life. All good life lessons, in my opinion!

Here's to another awesome Halloween. Happy Halloween 2013!
Make Halloween Stress Balls and Antenna Balls.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to Offer a Sincere Apology

 This post is in no way trying to say I'm an expert on this subject-- just ask my husband! In our almost 9 years of marriage we've had our fair share of arguments, and it is through trial and error that I have learned how to be better at sincerely apologizing. I'm still learning how to follow some basic steps to offering a sincere apology, which include:

1. Taking responsibility and owning up to the offense
2. Choosing the right time and setting to apologize
3. Offering a sincere "I'm Sorry" (without lame excuses, blame-shifting, or turning the focus onto yourself)
4. Making amends (taking action to set things right)
5. Asking for forgiveness.
6. Accepting the outcome and not repeating the offense.

I think that sometimes we learn valuable lessons about ourselves through the actions of other people's mistakes. Recently I had someone hurt my feelings who I don't know very well. It was an elderly woman at my church who was criticizing the way I was parenting my children. She not only hurt my feelings deeply the first time, but when she came to apologize,  it was made even worse by the way she apologized. 
 I walked away from that situation  realizing  that, well, some people are just going to be difficult no matter what, but more importantly I realized that knowing how to offer a sincere apology is a valuable tool in keeping happy relationships. This is something I truly want to be better at. I don't want to be 80 years old and still struggling with the non-apology-apology that does the opposite of rectifying the problem. I also want to be more sincere and heartfelt with my husband when apologizing. I don't want "I'm sorry" to become a meaningless phrase in our home used to quickly cover up our stupid mistakes. I want our children to learn that "I'm sorry" can have a deep emotional impact on the way we feel towards and communicate with each other.

I did some google searching on the Internet this week about apologies. My search words included: "How to say I'm sorry", "offering a sincere apology", "how NOT to apologize" and "showing remorse." I've never done this before and was surprised to find that there are hundreds of etiquette websites dedicated to teaching people how to offer sincere apologies. Whether you've offended someone in business, in a personal love relationship, in a friendship, while in a volunteer position, or  someone in your own family, there is a website out there dedicated to teaching you how to apologize! I had a lot of fun reading what they had to say and would like to offer a synopsis of my findings-- (If only to teach myself  how to be a better apologize-er.)

STEP 1-Taking responsibility
First I learned that knowing what an apology is, is the first step to apologizing. According to Dictionary.com,  an a·pol·o·gy is  a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another. 
The next first step to rectifying the problem is to take responsibility for your actions and own up to the fact that you've hurt someones feelings. You have to do this regardless of what they've done wrong, or how stupid and illogical you think they are being. At this point an apology is not about you, it's about making them feel better and fixing the relationship. This is definitely the hardest part and why apologizing is very difficult for a lot of people. 

STEP 2-The right time and place
Once you've swallowed your pride and owned up to your need to apologize, you need to choose when and how to appropriately apologize. Most websites say that a written apology is okay, as long as that's how you usually interact with that person. Rarely is it good etiquette to send an email or written note to someone that you normally communicate with in person. For instance, If the person is in the other room from you, or on the other side of the office, the appropriate apology would include the kind with eye contact and body language that shows honest remorse. A hug or sincere pat on the shoulder along with loving eye contact goes a long way. Choosing to write a note can be considered a shallow way to say I'm sorry, and may cause more resentment in the long run. Also, apologizing right away is better than waiting weeks or months or years to do it..

STEP 3- or How NOT to apologize:
Saying the simple words, "I'm sorry" or "I apologize" can have a meaningful impact by themselves without piling on the lame excuses. It's okay to offer a simple excuse like, "I'm sorry I've been lashing out at you lately, my hemorrhoids have been killing me and the pain has made me grumpier than normal."  Because the focus is still on helping the other person feel better.
It's not okay to say your sorry then shift the focus onto yourself so that the person your apologizing to is forced to relinquish their own hurt feelings and then feel sorry for you. Such as" "I'm sorry I've been lashing out at you lately, my hemorrhoids have been killing me and the pain has made me grumpier than normal, and you just don't understand how hard this is. The burden I carry is enormous and I need some compassion sometimes, too. But anyways, I'm sorry." 
It's also not okay to give a sincere apology then in the next sentence tell the person all the rotten things they've done to screw up. "I'm sorry I lashed out at you, but your mere presence make my hemorrhoids flare up." Or, "I'm sorry I lashed out at you, but hey, remember when you hurt my feelings 6 years ago?"
The "but" disqualifies any apology that could have ever existed and erases any effort on your part to be sincere.
The last way to NOT apologize is to shift the blame to the other person while you are apologizing by using the word if, as in saying,"I'm sorry IF I offended you," or "I'm sorry IF you felt my words were unkind." All you are saying here is that they shouldn't really feel hurt because it's their fault for taking offense in the first place. This is not an apology.

STEP 4-Making amends
I'd say that this is a pretty easy one to understand. Offering a solution to rectify the problem and how you can avoid making the same mistake in the future is a great step to being sincerely sorry, such as  asking,"What can I do to make things better?" or "I'm so sorry my hemorrhoids have been making me grumpy! Starting tomorrow I'm going to start taking Preparation-H and will make a point to stay away if I'm feeling like a big fat grump."  (These are hypothetical examples, by the way.)

STEP 5-Asking for Forgiveness
This step is not always favored because after all, it is up to the other person if they choose to forgive you or not, and asking can sometimes come off as too aggressive. Most websites I read said that asking for forgiveness is sometimes okay, but don't expect that you'll be forgiven immediately, or at all. Also, don't be angry if the offended person chooses not to forgive you. Forgiveness is something that is earned and may time time to develop. If you ask for forgiveness, patiently and quietly wait for an answer. If one comes, good. If not, thank them for hearing you out then leave the door open if they want to come talk with you another time. Don't give them reasons why they should forgive you or why you deserve it. This is not an apology.

STEP 6- Never again.
I always remind my children that saying sorry means that you'll never do it again. Sorry is not only a word that can help fix feelings, it's also an action word. When you say sorry for something you try your darned hardest to learn from your mistake and not repeat the offense. This is something that my 3 year old is learning right now. He is going through a phase at the moment where he walks right up to his older brother and hits him, then immediately says sorry in a sad, pitiful tone of voice. It's obvious that he isn't really sorry and it bugs my 7 yr old to no end! Teaching him the true meaning of sorry has taught me to try and be more sincere with my own apologies to my husband when we are having a disagreement. He can tell when I am not being sincere, as well, and it bugs him to no end. (I'm sorry if you were offended by my words, but you are being too defensive and I'm sorry if you took it the wrong way but you should know that I'm hormonal right now!)
I don't want to cause contention in my relationship because I can't be big enough to offer a sincere apology to my spouse. The steps are right there, plain and simple. They are logical, sensible, and can fit most any situation where a sincere apology is warranted. I am going to refer to this post often when I need a reminder on how to apologize!

Sometimes I really  wonder what we can learn from our bad experiences with other people. In this instance I am grateful to that elderly woman who criticized my parenting because she made me become more aware of my own weaknesses and how I can fix them. Her apology was a non-apology; the kind where she offered an apology then added all sorts of buts, ifs and accusations towards why she was right and I was wrong. This is not an apology. Furthermore, I think she deserves a Thank You note for making me more aware of my faults. I'm sure there's a website out there somewhere on how to write one...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shifting my Focus to Gratitude

I had this huge list of stuff that I wanted for the house, organized and categorized by room. I'd been keeping it in my purse so I could keep adding to it when I thought of something, or cross it off when the item was had: A large piece of carpet for my cave-room, bookshelves for the school room, a vacuum with a hose attachment, a computer chair for my desk, rugs for the bathroom, and on and on..... Nothing on my list was essential to our survival, yet I've been longing to get more organized and feel more settled in our new home.

There were so many things we had to get rid of before we moved here, and many of them were sold cheaply and quickly. We didn't really make enough money at our yard sale to replace all the things we'd lost, and to be honest, there are some of those material things that I really miss. (Dear magical laminator and flat screen TV, I miss you!)
On one particular day last week I looked at my long list and just cried in exasperation because I knew there was no way we'd have enough money to replace any of those things right now. Even with shopping second-hand and through craigslist, the money starts to add up. And not only did I have a long list of wants, but I also had a long list of needs! 

The truth is that moving overseas is an expensive operation, and one that has left us in the negative digits for finances. Although we're happy to be here and don't regret moving one bit, I've had to realize that it's going to take awhile to get back on our feet financially. We're going to have to make-do without things like televisions and laminators while we focus on putting food on the table and investing in warm clothes for the winter.

So, I threw out the old list that was nagging desperately at my mind, and I made a new list. This time I only included the things that we needed the most- the things  that are most essential to our family's survival, like winter boots, warm coats, snow hats, and such. I also decided that since my list of wants was just going to have to wait, I would start a list of all the things I was grateful for, which we already had.

It's amazing what can happen when you completely shift your focus. In just one day I went from feeling overwhelmed and under-privileged to feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the immense blessings in my life. As I've been prayerfully asking God to help me to get the things we need, I feel that He has been directing me to receive those things. 
Just today I felt impressed to visit the little Catholic thrift store near our house. I rarely ever go there usually because they don't carry many children's items, yet today I knew I needed to visit. We walked over to the children's shoe section and lo and behold, there sat the perfect-sized snow boots for my 5 year old, which was on my immediate list of needs. They were in great shape, barely used, and cost me three dollars. I know it doesn't seem like much of a miracle, but I felt the Lords hand in my life in that moment. I knew that I would continue to receive the things we needed as I continued to focus on my blessings.

I wanted to take a moment to list some of the things I am grateful for, that I've been pondering on this last week:

*I am grateful for this beautiful quilt that sits in my living room. 
My dear friend back in Hilo sewed it for me and sent it here to Utah after we moved. I had sold her my sewing machine along with all these squares of Hawaiian fabric I'd been saving, and what did she do? She sewed me the most beautiful, heartwarming, and touching Hawaii-keepsake I could've ever asked for. I nearly cry tears of happiness everytime I look at it because  It not only reminds me of beautiful Hilo, but also reminds me everyday that there are wonderful, thoughtful people out there whom I call friends.

**I am also grateful for all the little fluffy animals that have come into our lives. We started off by getting the two puppies, the bird, and the abandoned cat, and have now adopted two more abandoned kitties we found down by the river. I know it seems like a lot to care for, but the joy and fulfillment that comes with nurturing these little souls more than makes up for it. I have seen my boys faces light up as they've learned how to lovingly care for and  handle these little creatures. Welcome to the family, kitties. You were meant to be ours, ya know.




***Next up I am extremely grateful for all the fresh vegetables we've received from neighbors, friends, and Micah's co-workers. It seems like every week someone is generously giving us a big bag of produce from their gardens. I live for those mouth watering tomatoes from the vine, and those giant, green zucchinis for making my favorite zucchini dish! One day we came outside to find a basket of produce with all the ingredients inside to make fresh salsa. I LOVE fresh salsa. I am so grateful to live in a town where people value the goodness of homegrown food, and then share with their neighbor.


****Lastly, (for now) I am so grateful for my job as music chorister in our children's Sunday Primary. I never imagined that I would ever get called to serve in this capacity because I'm not musically talented, but I love it so, so, so much! (I had this same calling before we left Hilo, too!) I love planning the singing time lessons, I love reviewing the songs, I love spending time with the children on Sundays, and I love that you don't need to be musically talented to enjoy all these things. I feel that God has blessed me with this calling so that I can continually focus on the things that bring me the most joy--children and serving others, because when I keep my mind pointed towards these things, instead of what material things I am missing in my life, I feel fulfilled beyond measure.

What things are you grateful for right now? Do you keep a gratitude journal? I need to do that!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Easiest DIY hooded cloak tutorial EVER

Red Wizard Cloak
Does following a pattern make your head spin? 
Do you want something quick and easy that only requires straight lines of sewing? 
Do you like making fun things for your kids that don't require too much brain power,  or make you frustrated beyond reason? 
Then I think I found the perfect cloak tutorial for you! :)
After searching several years ago for a child's cloak pattern that fit all of the above criteria (with no luck), I finally put something together that has made my life simpler. I have three little boys who wear capes and cloaks like nobodies business and it seems like they grow out of them or need new ones constantly. These hooded cloaks are easy to sew, easy to replace, and can fit a variety of costume needs. I am sharing it here because I love it so much!

Materials:
About 2 yards of fabric 
sewing machine
scissors
matching thread
button, ties, or Velcro 

Instructions:
STEP 1:
Cut two pieces of fabric.  The top rectangle (the hood) will be 24 inches by 12 inches finished, so cut extra to allow for a finished seem.
The bottom rectangle (the cape) will be the width of the fabric bolt (about 42-45 inches). The length of the cloak part will be the length of the person you're sewing it for,  measured from the back of the neck to feet. If you want the cloak shorter or longer, measure accordingly.
Sew the raw edges on the top and bottom of the cape part. You can leave the selvage edges from the fabric bolt alone (no extra sewing, yay!).



STEP 2:
Once these two pieces have finished seems, pin them together. The middle of the top rectangle is pinned to the middle of the bottom rectangle. 

STEP 3: 
Now sew them together.

STEP 4: 
Next fold the entire length of the fabric in half and pin the very top of the hood together. Finish the cloak by sewing the pinned portion together.

STEP 5:
Add a button or Velcro to clasp together your finished cloak.
All done! Have fun sewing your super easy Halloween cloak!

Here are a few of the cloaks I have made over the years, all using this basic pattern. I have added lining to some of them, and have added a few inches to the hood to allow for adult -sized heads, but have mostly stuck to the simple pattern.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Autumn Date Hike

Last week was our first date night out since we moved here two months ago. We found a lovely young girl at our church who said she'd be delighted to watch our 3 energetic boys, and made the arrangements for a Wednesday night. When the morning of our date night came, our eldest son became very worried about it. It's in his nature to stress about the unknown future, to the point of making himself ill. I almost cancelled the date altogether when I saw how disturbed he was, but reminded myself that this is normal for him: he'd spend the entire day freaking himself out and worrying himself sick, and then when the babysitter arrived, he'd be okay. And he was, although he made us promise to be back at exactly 8:01pm at the latest. "Okay," we agreed, "We'll be back by 8:01pm, no sooner, no later. Promise." It was a good compromise considering this was his first time with the new sitter, plus a nice way to instill his trust in us for the next time.

It felt good to walk away from the house knowing my boys were being taken care of by someone nurturing and caring, who wasn't me at the moment. It also felt good to walk away from the house having my husband all to myself. I really needed this.

We decided to go hiking up in the hills behind our neighborhood. A friend had told us about a secret cave hidden in the hills called "Squaw Cave." She described it as being mystical and beautiful, nestled up near a flowing river, a cascading waterfall, and a breathtaking view of the entire valley.  I had excitedly told my husband about it and how finding this cave would make the perfect date night! (After all,  cave dates are one of our favorite kinds!)
He  laughed, skeptically,  reasoning that such a place can't exist in our shrub-laden desert of Cedar City! However, I felt determined we'd find it and set us off in the direction of the hills. We hiked for a good 25 minutes, up, up, up towards the location of "Squaw Cave." We followed several steep, rocky  trails going upward, then traversed several small deer trails going downward. We stepped briskly through forests of juniper and cottonwood trees, ravines full of manzanita shrubs and prickly pear cactus, and washes lined with yellow, willow trees. When we finally climbed to the tippy top of a dry, rocky mountain, I caved in, out of breath, "Okay, okay, we can stop! I see that there's no magical, mystical Squaw Cave up here!"
We laughed a little bit as we talked about how people's perceptions of things can be so vastly different from each other. We reasoned that the elusive cave could very well exist, yet we might be seeing it with different eyes. Perhaps the "cave" was actually a small overhanging of rocks, the "river" was a tiny creek, and the "waterfall," a trickle of spring water coming down the side of the hill. People see and remember things with different lenses, according to their experiences, and it's possible we might have even passed it by minutes ago!
When we realized we weren't going to find our Squaw Cave, we decided instead to keep hiking until we reached a farther off landmark---a giant Cottonwood tree changing color in a distant ravine. We started hiking towards our new destination, determined to make it there and back home again before 8:01pm.
As we hiked further, I happily looked around at the breathtaking desert colors surrounding me and inahled the potent smells of the dry, dusty wind in my face. The landscape was filled with Autumn hues; browns, reds, dark greens, golden oranges, yellows, and the pink clouds of a setting sun in the distance. We hiked up a long, spacious ravine that led us over smooth river rocks and sandy trails, and finally to our giant Cottonwood tree. I thought about how when I first came here in 2004 to work with my husband (then-fiancee) at a wilderness therapy program and how the land seemed barren and brown to me. The colors of the desert all seemed to blurr together into two shades of dull and duller. The thorns and burrs on my clothes irritated me, and the smell of the dry earth bothered my nose. 
I started to wonder what changed this landscape for me over the years: How did I fall in love with this place? How did this place become so beautiful to me?
When people ask us where we just moved from and I answer, from Hawaii, a typical and cynical response is,"What possessed you to leave beautiful Hawaii for Cedar City Utah?"

 Well,  I tell them, people see and remember things with different lenses, according to their experiences. We all see things with different eyes, and well, my eyes must have fallen in love with this place all those many years ago. I fell in love with the red-rock mountains, I fell in love with the dusty valleys, I fell in love with the vibrant, desert colors, and I fell in love with the earthy smells of cactus and sandstone growing along the humble rivers.  Through my eyes, Cedar City, Utah is a magical, mystical place full of beauty and wonder. That's one reason we moved back here, and that's one reason why my husband and I had one of the best dates we've had in years.
As we started to leave the ravine, I stopped my husband so I could look him in the eyes. I wanted him to know with all the truth in my heart that I am happy we moved back here. It's true that I fell in love with this place all those many years ago, but it was him that I fell in love with here the most. 
(He's the reason why we are here right now and why I love my life!)
Micah and Sally, pre-marriage, 2004
We embraced under the cottonwood tree and felt the peace of our decision surround us. It was a tender moment I will never forget.
Then we quickly turned on our heels and hurried back to our home,  knowing full well that if we didn't get back by 8:01pm it might be a looooooooong time before we could go out again.
_________________________________________________________________

I didn't get any photos of our date night, yet I wanted to share some photos from a recent family hike up one of our favorite canyons, Kolob Canyon:


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughts on Family Room-Sharing

 We got to talking with several parenting friends the other day and realized that we all shared bedrooms with our children. It wasn't something we planned, or specifically pushed for, however it just happened naturally as the course of the child-bearing years unfolded. We each reasoned that after having one kid, two kids, three kids, (and on and on for some,) all with varying nighttime needs, it is so much easier to manage them when they're all in one room! One mom friend disclosed that she never tells anyone because they think she's crazy, especially her mother-in-law, yet she can't imagine sleeping any other way! "Having my children close to me at night makes me feel happier," she said. "I like knowing where they all are, and if they need me, I'm right here."
 A dad friend  claimed that his sleep has improved significantly since he moved their 5 year old and three year old's beds into their bedroom. "I was getting up all night long to get drinks of water and calm nightmares, and fetch blankies to the point of exhaustion!"he said. "Now that I'm at arm's length away, I barely have to wake up! My kids are sleeping better, they are more secure, and everyone's needs are being met through the night. I love it!"
I agree wholeheartedly. We've always shared a bed with our babies as soon a they were born. In fact, we've never owned a crib or felt that one was necessary for us. It just didn't make sense for me to put my warm, snuggly baby far away from it's source of comfort and food. Of course this naturally evolved into snuggling our toddlers til they were ready to have their own beds, as well. Then once they got their own beds we gave them the option of sleeping in another room, if they were ready. 
As we recently moved into this house, our 7 year old decided he was done sharing a room with his 5 year old little brother, and ready for his own space. So we gave him his own room down the hallway from us, and then also gave his little bother his own space in the room next to our room. However, for the first week of this new arrangement our 7yo didn't sleep well. In fact, he climbed into bed with us every night at about 2:30am, claiming that there was a zombie arm hanging out of his closet. After two weeks of the frightening night-waking we finally realized that this arrangement wasn't going to work and moved his bed into our bedroom. Awwwww, sleep again. Except not really, because our 5 year old was still waking up every other night either having wet his bed or needing someone to cover him up with warm blankies (that he kicked off) or desperately needing a drink of water.  Our toddler was and is the only one sleeping through the night, now that he's recently been night-weaned from his yummy milk-milk! 
Now we've moved our 7yo's bed into our bedroom, then thought what the hey-and moved our 5yo's bed into our bedroom, and our 3yo is still sharing a bed with us because he's not ready to be on his own, yet. 
This is the new arrangement and I love it: (Yes, the new master bed-room is very small)
Everyone is sleeping better, everyone feels more secure and comfortable, and nighttime needs are being taken care of without much chaos. Sure it's not the most conventional method of parenting, and sure most people might say we're crazy, but it works for us! And isn't that the whole point? 
We're not going to spend these chaotic, young, parenting years living under the expectations of others--we're going to follow our instincts and do what works! Someday very soon these boys will be ready again to have their own space, and we will miss these years. Just like I miss these years:
And just like I miss this arrangement from 4 years ago:
Cedar City, circa 2009
But what about sex and privacy you might ask? And what about feeling a personal sense of space for yourself?
Easy Peasy: The bedroom is for sleeping at night, and the rest of the house is used for whatever we want after the kids are asleep. Finding creative places to "recreate" can be romantic and exciting, we've found. Once you stop thinking of the bed as the only place to have fun, the world is your canvas....or whatever.
As far as privacy goes, it's true that sometimes I see pictures like this and feel a hint of jealousy for what I am missing out on:
I mean, look at all that space! Look at the beautiful, personal touch that has gone into decorating this room! I start to think, "I want a pretty turquoise room with nice dressers, fancy pillows. and clean floors, all to ourselves!" But then I think about my children, and how their little needs don't fit into this picture. Where is the space for my sleeping toddler? Where is the pile of extra blankies and water bottles, and nighttime diapers that I'll need through the night? Where's the huge stack of library books waiting to be read while snuggling in bed with my 3 darling children? Where is my 5 year olds cute bundle of cards he leaves on the floor everyday?
This room is not my reality right now. 
My reality is the untidy, often messy, somewhat chaotic business of parenthood, with all the wonderful, warm, room-sharing-snuggling that goes with it. 

As I was searching through my picture files I discovered that over 100 of my photos have the words sleeping, bed, and snuggle titled in them. I realized that room-sharing with our children has been more than an unconventional idea-it's been a way of life worth remembering and cherishing forever. 
I sure love these kids of ours:
My favorite boys, 2010
Please tell me, friends, about your unconventional parenting ideas! Do you do anything considered out of the norm, but that totally works for you? Have you ever felt that you couldn't tell anyone because they might think your crazy? I want to know your parenting tricks!