Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Wrap Up

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
2010--Been successful at staying home full-time (summer break). Taken a vacation as a family. Gone to couple's counseling. Weighed this much (YIKES!). Met R's sister. Renovated an entire huge living room.
2012--Quit a job without another one lined up. Became a nanny.
2013--Hmmm. . . I can't really think of anything. I feel like I've really turned back into me this year. But that happened when I first started taking anti-depressants in 2007 so. . .
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2010--1. Keep a clean house between the cleaning lady coming. Seriously this shouldn't be so hard. 2. Continue working on Maggie's education. 3. Do more activities with Maggie, like crafts and classes, etc. 4. Work out 5 times a week; 3 strength and 2 HIIT. 5. Lose weight. 6. Spend lots of time with friends.
2012--I didn't make any last year but I think I will this year. I really want to get better about not procrastinating. I want to exercise. I want to be more present with Maggie more often.
2013--I didn't really keep track at all but I would say I did alright with these. I definitely have been better about getting shit done and I have been mostly exercising this year. And I've been better with Maggie for sure.

This year I do plan on having resolutions and attempting to keep up with them. So far they are for eating better and exercising regularly. I also would really like to put more, consistent effort into finding a partner. And start project based homeschooling without being afraid it's too hard or I'm doing it wrong.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
2010--Laurie gave birth to beautiful Ella Isabel
2012--Sort of, Jake was born this year. Even though I didn't know him (or Kandice) until he was 6 weeks old, I'm very close with them now.
2013--Not really. My best friend from high school and my early 20s had her first baby.
4. Did anyone close to you die? 
2010--My GG
2012--No
2013--No
5. What countries did you visit? 
2010--None.
2012--Ha, ha, ha.
2013--:(
6. What would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
2010--More willingness to do the boring stuff with Maggie. A commitment from R.
2012--A husband, a home of my own.
2013--:( This year I would say exactly the same thing as last year and add more kids and specify a home/farm of my own that I own.
7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
2010--Maggie's birthday, mine and R's anniversary
2012--Maggie meeting Santa Claus (Kandice's friend, Jim, in an amazing costume). Christmas Eve was awesome. When Laurie called and told me she thought my Mirena was causing my horrid depression and then looking it up online. It was like being hit with a brick. Successfully performing the Heimlich on one of my students. 
2013--It's actually been a great year, especially on the being a mom front. I've had so much fun with Maggie this year and we've done so many fun things. Also, unfortunately, finding out my stepmom of almost 20 years is having an affair and will soon be leaving the state and probably our lives for good.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
2010--I've kept my daughter not only alive but doing great. She's learning a lot, she's polite and pretty good. I've done a lot of work on my home and I'm pretty proud of it. I've been extremely successful at work.
2012--Waking up from the Mirena haze. I'm not sure if it's an achievement but it's been amazing to find me again.
2013--Being a mom. I'm not perfect but I feel like I've done a decent job.
9. What was your biggest failure? 
2010--Gaining weight (a lot of weight). That's about it.
2012--Staying so long in a miserable work situation. Even worse, spending so little time with Maggie so I could work more.
2013--I'm not sure. I'm kinda sad that so many things are not different this year from last year. But I'm not sure that's a failure on my part or not.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 
2010--Stress fracture in my foot and hurt neck from car wreck.
2012-- I got my gallbladder out.
2013-- I got this horrid stomach bug in the summer. I had plantar something or other (a heel issue) from working out barefoot.
11. What was the best thing you bought? 
2010--Our vacations.
2012--Um, I had to pay to get the Mirena out.
2013--My place. Spending on activities for/with Maggie.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
2012--I thought Chris Christie giving such credit to Obama and being so willing to work with him during Sandy was great to see.
2013--Edward Snowden; he sacrificed his entire life to tell the truth.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
2012--Republicans. From the war on women to the NRA to the "entitlement" programs, jeez.
2013--Everyone. Jesus, it's been a depressing year. Egypt, Syria, Obama, Republicans, Tea Partiers.
14. Where did most of your money go?
2010--Mortgage, bills, travel, debt.
2012--Debt. :(
2013-- Debt.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
2010--Laurie's pregnancy and birth. Vacations. R getting in and succeeding in law school.
2012--Morning coffee. Losing weight.
2013-- Christmas
16. What song will always remind you of this year?
2010--No clue. I listen to the same old music so nothing really.
2012--F*ck you by CeeLo
2013-- Thriftshop
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
2010--
a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter
c) richer or poorer?About the same
2012--
a) happier or sadder?
so much happier :)
b) thinner or fatter? much, much thinner
c) richer or poorer? a lot poorer
2013--
a) happier or sadder? I would say happier. I feel so comfortable with myself. Getting older has some amazing benefits.
b) thinner or fatter? A bit fatter. It's funny; once I got to my goal weight last year, I put away my scale and stopped weighing myself. When it started getting cold, I tried to put on my skinny jeans and they wouldn't fit. I kept thinking did they shrink, what's the deal? It took me a while to figure out I'd gained weight. Whoops!
c) richer or poorer? poorer :(
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
2010-- Spent time with Maggie, doing what she wanted to do.
2012--spend time with Maggie without checking email or my phone, just really being with her
2013-- project based homeschooling
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? 
2010-- Eating. Sitting around.
2012--procrastinate; d!ck around on the internet
2013-- Zoning out on the internet
20. How did you spend Christmas? 
2010--X-Mas Eve I was sick at home with stomach issues but I rallied at hosted Xmas day here at our house.
2012--We had our big Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Susie's house, then spent the night at Laurie's house. We set up presents, then watched Bad Santa. The girls got up early and opened presents. It was wonderful.
2013-- We had an amazing Christmas. I made a bucket list and got everything done. We did a carriage ride, sugar cookies, festival, Nutcracker, Polar Express, visiting Santa, and driving around looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot chocolate.
21. Did you fall in love this year? 
2012--No. :(
2013-- Nope.
22. What was your favorite TV program/podcasts? 
2010--Lost, The Office, 30 Rock
2012--Um, I watched all of How I Met Your Mother. Very cute.
2013-- Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart and Colbert, Dexter, Parks and Rec; Adam Carolla, Stuff You Missed in History Class, This American Life
24. What was the best book you read? 
2010--Twilight series
2012--I can't think of anything. That's sad. I've read so much non fiction this year. Homeschooling, parenting, etc.
2013-- I liked Gone Girl and The Baker's Wife; In Defense of Food, Raising your Spirited Child
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
2010--I listen to the same music that I have for years and years.
2012-- I don't listen to new music.
2013-- Macklemore
26. What did you want and get? 
2012--To be, essentially, a stay at home mom.
2013-- My own place
27. What did you want and not get?
2012--A husband, a home of my own.
2013-- A husband, a home/farm I own, more kids, out of debt
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
2010--The Dark Knight and The Wackness
2012--Inception, Dark Knight Rises
2013-- The Town, 21 Jump Street
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
2010--28. I had lunch with family.
2012--30. I had dinner and drinks with Laurie, Jeff, Rachel and David in downtown Fort Worth.
2013-- 31. Laurie had a big party for me and all the other summer birthdays. It was great. I rode on a motorcycle for the first time.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
2010--Committment or clarity in our relationship. Or maybe a job I didn't hate.
2012--A partner, a home of my own
2013-- A husband, a home/farm I own, more kids, out of debt
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year? 
2010--Nothing dirty or too wrinkled.
2012--Well, lately, it's been skinny jeans and boots. I love that look.
2013-- Keeping all my bits covered.
32. What kept you sane? 
2010--Exercise and Maggie.
2012--Maggie. I think I would have died had I not had Maggie to live for during the Mirena years.
2013-- Knitting, reading, podcasts.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
2012--The guy in Inception and Robin in Dark Knight Rises. Joseph something. I wanna marry him.
2013-- Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Ryan Gosling.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? 
2012--All of them.
2013-- Global warming; DOMA getting struck down; Snowden/NSA crap
35. Who did you miss? 
2012--My GG. It still hurts.
2013-- Maureen
36. Who was the best new person you met? 
2012--Jake and Kandice.
2013-- Daniel
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.
2010--Memories have to be made but they are worth the effort.
2012--I don't know. I want to have a lesson about the Mirena but I'm not sure what it should be. I feel like no one was properly informed so I'm not sure what I could have done. Don't waste time; when it's gone, it's gone.
2013-- Be willing to let go of how things "have" to be. Sometimes the thing that makes change the hardest is your own inability to see it will be ok.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Story: Sally and Thomas

So this one isn't really a memory. It's an amazing story. Sally is Laurie's mother-in-law. I've known her for years and years and we are all basically family. Thomas is her younger son.

Sally struggled with infertility for years. Eventually she and her husband, Bruce, decided to adopt. Right before their adoption was complete, they found out they were pregnant. Their miracle baby, Jeff.

About 5 years later, they were pregnant again. Around 5 months in to the pregnancy, Sally went to the doctor with bleeding and found out she had had a miscarriage. The doctor offered to do a D and C but Sally declined.

After several weeks, Sally felt like she was still pregnant. She went back to the doctor and sure enough. It turned out Thomas had a twin who died but he was still alive. Of course, if she'd had the D and C it would have killed Thomas.

Then after Thomas was born, Sally found a name book and looked up Thomas to see what it meant. It means twin.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Memory: Laurie giving birth

I've been thinking of a few stories, occasions, etc that I really do want to remember forever. Anyway, I realized I didn't have them written down anywhere so here seemed like a good idea.

So. . .

When Laurie was pregnant, she and Jeff took a birthing class. For Jeff's part, he was supposed to be calm and reassuring, non stop, while she labored. He was supposed to not be offended if she was mean to him but continue reassuring her.

Laurie labored fast and furious (and naturally). And the whole time Jeff kept up his reassurances in a calm, quiet, even voice. But, as we all know, when you are in pain, you say all kinds of things.

At one point, Laurie turned to Jeff and said, "Would you please just shut the fuck up? Please!" And Jeff just said, "That's it, get it out. You're doing so good."

Seriously, I do not feel I have done it justice but it was so freaking funny.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mirena Update

So, I've been meaning to write this update for a while now. It should be easy. Things are 100% better. Every physical and mental problem I had 2 years ago was completely solved by removing the Mirena. And yet. . .

It should go: things get better, you feel better. And that's true. Mostly.

I've lost over 75 pounds. But even more importantly, I no longer feel that horrible urge to binge until I feel sick and then make myself throw up. In fact I don't really think about food as a pleasurable thing at all anymore. I rarely think about wanting to go somewhere so I can get xyz. I care about making sure food is healthy but that's about it.

I have energy. Keeping my house clean, myself clean and my business in order no longer feels like pushing a boulder up a mountain. I cook and clean and take care of Maggie and myself and our pets and it feels fine. I don't want to go to sleep at night even though I know I should because I'm enjoying myself. I enjoy listening to podcasts or reading or whatever. I'm knitting again. I'm seeing friends and family on a regular basis.

I can have fun again. I don't have to sit at a party and wonder why I'm not having fun. Wonder why I can't keep up a conversation about anything.

This is the dream. All of your problem caused by one simple thing. And when that's fixed, they all vanish. And I am so grateful for that.

But I'm also angry. I'm angry I spent so long (too long) sick, depressed, tired, fat, checked out. I want to stomp my feet and scream, IT'S NOT FAIR.

Too often, I fantasize that I can go back in time, maybe to the day I'm scheduled to have my Mirena put in, with the knowledge I have now, and I don't get it. That simple. I don't do it. What would that life look like?

I try not to do this. I try to tell myself over and over, you can't change it. You can only learn from it and move on.

Even so I often have nightmares that I'm sick again. I'm fighting (usually with Laurie) and I hate myself for it. I can't figure out what's wrong with me.

And then I wake up and I sigh with relief. Just a horrible dream. A horrible dream that I lived for over 3 years.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Unschooling, part 9: How schooling/force/control affected me (and probably other parents)

When, as a parent (or a teacher), I felt like my job was to control or force (as necessary) Maggie (or my students) to comply, it made me feel and act like a freaking jerk. And it made Maggie and I adversaries. I was fighting to get her to do x and she was fighting me basically on principle. No one likes being controlled or forced. And because I had it in my head that's what a good parent does, it made me feel angry at Maggie. I didn't see Maggie as defending herself but as a bad kid trying to screw with me. What a horrible way to think about my daughter.

I don't want to fight with Maggie and when I stop trying to force, manipulate, and control her, she makes better choices. She chooses to help me clean up or to do something nice for me.

When I first heard about unschooling and not forcing or controlling kids, I thought it couldn't possibly work because of course kids won't eat their vegetables or choose books over TV or whatever. But the truth is they will. Or not, that's not even the point. It's this negative opinion of your kids as someone who must be controlled because they aren't capable of thinking or deciding anything. If you have equal access to candy, cookies, veggies and fruit, what does it matter which you pick? If you only see candy twice a year, hell yes, you will binge on the candy.

In the end, for me, I will not be the obstacle my daughter must get around (usually, at any cost) to get what she wants. The more I restrict, the more she will want whatever is restricted.

So what if instead, I model making (what I consider) good choices. I talk about why I make the choices I make. And then I let her make her own choices. If I notice she's complaining about a stomach ache after eating a ton of junk, I could talk to her about how that food tastes yummy but often leaves us feeling like crud. Or if I eat junk, talking about it makes me feel like crud. How much better I feel when I eat good, whole foods.

Unschooling, Part 8: Discipline

When I think of discipline, I definitely think of punitive measures: spanking, time out, losing privileges/toys. I spanked Maggie one time. She was almost two and I hadn't decided yet what I thought about spanking. One night Maggie and I were laying in bed in the dark, she reached over and hit me in the face. I don't remember why she was upset (nor did I particularly care at the time) but it hurt like hell (because it was dark, I didn't realize it was coming and didn't flinch or move or anything). So I reached over and spanked her twice hard. She immediately started crying and saying she wanted someone to protect her. That was a bad moment. I apologized to her and I decided then and there I would never spank again. As they say on the unschooling boards, I took it out of my toolbox.

Then I primarily used time out. At first it seemed successful but eventually she didn't care. I've tried various counting and revoking privileges and taking away toys.

When I think about all of this, I see the same problem with every one of these tactics. None of them deal with the problem. Why was Maggie hitting me in face? Why was acting up or out? What did she need that I wasn't providing? Attention, food, drink, sleep, affection, understanding? And how much more distance was I putting between us by punishing her for trying to get her needs met?

What I do now is try to remove her from the situation (if possible or necessary) and talk to her or hug/hold her or just sit with her. I try to tell her I love her.

My main observation of needing discipline is this: when I'm engaged with whatever Maggie is doing, she rarely acts up. When I've got my head stuck in my lap top, she tends to act up. That's definitely something I can change.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Unschooling, Part 7: Respect

I saw an acronym on one of the unschooling pages. It is RATS: Respect, Acceptance, Trust, Support.

I love that. The respect thing is huge. When I step back and really look at it, I realize how often I was/am so disrespectful to Maggie. I say things that I would never say to another adult. I drag her all over with no explanation and tell her she's not allowed to touch anything or wander off. I control her entire day with no input for what she wants. Wow. I never really thought about it before because that's just parenting, right? But I don't think so anymore. Just making small changed I am already seeing a huge difference in her behavior. She is so much more affectionate with her words and actions.

I am trying to be very respectful in my words. If/when I mess up, I apologize without a but (ie, I'm sorry but. . . ). I talk to her about what she wants to do, while offering her a wide range of choices. When we go to a store, I tell her she can buy one thing and I explain why I need her to stay in my line of vision, although I am trying to let her wander a little more. I'm planning on having her work on lists with me when we go to stores.

I am trying to let her lead. I lay out several options and let her pick. I talk about what scheduled things we have but I don't force her to even go to those. I'm not sure where I'm eventually going to stand on this. If we are signing up for classes she picks, should I insist on her going? I feel like no but I'm not really sure. She might be too young to make that decision and I just go unless she seems resistant to the actual class (like she was with ballet).

Acceptance. So this means a few things to me. One is to stop projecting what I want Maggie to be/do/etc. I want her to be interested in the same things I'm interested in but that's silly and it's not fair to her. She likes things I don't like and I need to accept and respect that. Beyond that I'm not sure. I feel like I'm very accepting of her.

Trust. This one is huge and has changed so, so much for me. One, trust that Maggie is a good person and is doing her best and wants to make good choices and be helpful. Don't assume she'd never help out/watch TV 24/7/eat only junk if I didn't force her to do otherwise.

Another is to trust that learning WILL happen without my interference or trying to teach her. This is so freeing. I have a huge list of things I want to do with her and show her and take her to. I don't have to constantly look for the educational moment in everything. She gets what she gets and she's learning every second of every day. I don't have to force reading lessons on her or math or writing. She'll learn those things when she needs them. There is so much more to be said about this but honestly this was one of the easier things to accept. I've seen this in my life as a student, a teacher and a mom. I didn't teach Maggie to talk or crawl or walk. She did those things because they were useful to her.

Support. This one's easy and really hard. Just support what she's interested in. Support her when she's sad or angry. Don't be punitive or mean. Don't control. Don't LEAD. Support.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unschooling, Part 6: Judgement from others

I don't get much sh!t for homeschooling but when I start talking about loosening the reins and letting Maggie lead her own learning, oh my goodness. I worry a lot about how much crap I will get in the future. Most of it I don't really care about. I know my daughter and I've done my research. I believe this is best for her and she is happy and smart and curious and engaged. What more is there?

I am no longer with her Dad and I worry about that. Will he be pissed and try to fight me? I don't know and I can't worry about that right now. All I can do is what's best for her.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Unschooling, Part 5: Academics

This is actually getting much easier for me. I have long thought there was so much ridiculousness in the things compulsory schooling requires. What's radius? What are the major exports of Kenya? What's the capital of South Dakota? Maybe you can answer all these. I can't. But I can look every one of them up, with or without the internet. So why did I (probably) takes tests about each of these. I probably at one time could answer each of these questions and yet, I can't now. Did I really learn anything?

I then felt like, well there are things everyone NEEDS to know. I still think that. I think that everyone needs to know how to read, how to write and basic math. But won't everyone learn these things if they are needed? As long as they are in an environment where these things are coming up and they are exposed to them, I believe they will learn them.

I am still teaching Maggie how to read. But I have tried to make it as painless as possible. I ask her if she would like to do her reading lesson and if she says no, I leave it. Still I don't think it's necessary.

Mainly we're having lots of fun, going lots of places and doing lots of things. We are digging into her interest in bugs and it's been awesome.

Unschooling, Part 4: Food

This was also a hard one for me. Actually I feel very similar about food as I do about TV. Processed food is addictive. It's very hard for me to make good choices about food and I'm a grown ass woman.

I think my plan for this will be to stock the house with only things I am ok with Maggie eating. My sister did this and I think it's great. I do want to have some things prepared at all times (ie, fruit cut up or in places she can get it, cheeses, etc) so that she can just go get what she needs. I just wonder if it isn't annoying to be hungry and have to depend on another person to get that food (no matter how quick or kind they are about it).

But I also want Maggie to have some control in our decisions. To that end, I decided to let her buy one thing whenever we go to the grocery store (maybe any store). I did it at our most recent trip and I noticed it had an added bonus, she was very good about staying with me and not grabbing everything in sight. She knew she could get one thing and she was careful about choosing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Unschooling, Part 3: Chores

This was one I reacted to before I read any information. I felt like kids SHOULD absolutely help around the house (the amount should increase as they get older). The suggestion that they shouldn't have to do anything and their parents should be the maids that cleans up behind them is crazy. But. . .

After actually reading the thinking behind this, I've had a major change of heart. First, there's no saying kids won't clean; it's just that parents shouldn't force them to clean. The recommendation being you ask the kids to help and they do or don't. If they do, thank them sincerely for any help and if they don't, let it go.

A lot of things struck me about this. One, the immediate reaction I had speaks to a sort of prejudice I think the vast majority of parents have about kids: that they are inherently bad. I don't think anyone really thinks it outright but people say kids will take advantage/run wild if you don't control them. When they make bad choices, we see it as what they want to do (as in they make a thought out choice to hit or call a name). I feel like I'm not explaining this well but my point is just that I have that prejudice too. And I had mostly let go of it for babies (ie, babies will manipulate you to get you pick them up/you'll spoil kids by picking them up too much) but not kids.

Maggie WANTS to be good and helpful and kind. If I give her the chance, she will do those things. I can't think of a single time I've asked her (nicely) to help me and she hasn't (not saying it hasn't happened). I can think of a million times when I've asked her to help me with something and she runs to help. Or when I start and ask her to join in and she does without a thought.

Part of it too is not making arbitrary chores. When I was still planning on giving her chores, I WAS having to kind of make up things so she'd have chores. Like making her bed. Who cares? I make my bed sometimes but just because I like it.

A really good point that I read on this site is that you are damaging your relationship every time you force/nag/yell at your kids to clean something. They might do it but at what cost. And who wants to help when they're being treated like that. Again, Maggie almost always helps IF I ask her nicely and thank her.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Unschooling, Part 2: TV/Video Games/Computer

This is a tough one for me. I do see where unschoolers are coming from in this. Video games are amazing for learning. You need to use reading, math, critical thinking, eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, etc. But there are disturbingly violent video games. I'm not ok with that.

You can learn a ton from TV or just enjoy it. But there are shows with extreme, horrific, graphic violence. There are shows that glorify violence. There are shows that show lots of nudity and sex but in a degrading, unrealistic way. None of those things are ok with me.

The Internet is an absolutely amazing source of information. But there are also sites with violence, sex, violent scenes of death, rape, etc and other things I don't think kids should be exposed to.

So for me I feel like letting Maggie partake in as much media as she wants with certain limits (on WHAT she can watch) is fine. I will not let her watch some things.

A lot of people say that if they let their child have unlimited access to media, they would never do anything else. But I know that isn't true for Maggie. There have been times (when I was in a bad place) that I let her watch unlimited TV and she always got to a point where she was done. Where she wanted to do something, anything else.

Is it unschooling if I put parameters on what my daughter has access to? I don't know but it's definitely what I'll do. I do think this is something we've already done. If Maggie asks to watch TV, which doesn't happen all that often (we go days without her requesting it (she doesn't play any video games yet and, while she does have a Kindle Fire, she doesn't use it often, although she always (usually, I leave it places a lot) has access to it)). Um, wow, that was a lot of parentheses.

For further reading on the unschooling opinions of this, go here.

Unschooling, Part 1: What is it?

When Maggie was very young, I remember reading an article in a mommy magazine about all the different homeschooling philosophies. Curriculum-based (basically school at home), unit studies, Charlotte Mason, Thomas Jefferson, eclectic, classical, etc. They also mentioned unschooling. Looking back I can see whomever wrote the piece clearly thought it was crazy and stupid. The questions they asked and the way it was written were definitely biased. However, either way, I thought the whole idea was insane.

How could you not teach your child anything? There are things they have to know, right? And kids won't learn them on their own, will they?

Unschooling is more of a lifestyle philosophy than a homeschooling method. The idea being you respect your child's ability to become who they are. Learning is just living. Unless they specifically request to be taught something or need to learn something to do something else they want to do. For example, if they want to learn how to play some video game, they will probably need to know how to read, how to do some math (there are usually point systems) and maybe other things (not really sure, I don't play video games).

But it also applies to food and TV/video games and chores and rules and pretty much everything else you can think of. Now I feel like I am already living a lot of this. I let Maggie dress herself. . . all the time. If it's cold outside, I encourage her to put on warm clothes but I don't force her. I bring warmer clothes so I can offer if she wants it but I don't force her.

When she decided she hated toothpaste I let her stop using it for a while until it wasn't a big deal anymore.

I let her dye her hair. I let her choose whether or not she gets a haircut. I let her pick out what classes she wanted to take at the community center.

HOWEVER, I have been making her do school work: reading, writing and math. I don't let her eat whatever she wants. I wouldn't let her watch adult movies.

Basically, I want to write out my thoughts on all this. I have been reading a ton on the subject and I have a million thoughts that I want to sort out.