Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Self Centered

When I walked in to the the apartment, I was surprised by the grocery bag with box stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and a roasting pan for a turkey sitting beside the door.  I thought to myself "huh - I didn't know they did turkey on Thanksgiving" and for a split second I thought that the mom had just come in from shopping and laid her things down by the door.  Then I realized that here was a care package delivered by some charitable organization to families in need during the holidays.  I also realized that all the things still in the bag were probably going right back out the door to someone else who would use them.  Not everyone cooks a turkey, likes turkey, or needs a turkey.  It was the first time I had considered all of those holiday dinner care packages in this way, and realized how much we don't know, or don't ask, about who we are helping to feed. 

I'm noticing this year that while people have their hearts in the right place, we are a very very self centered country when it comes to "our" holidays.  This morning at the grocery store, the cashier behind me asked the little boy if he was ready for Santa.  "Have you been good?"  Of course he's been good - he's barely 2!  What could he possibly do that would deem him "bad enough" for Santa to ignore him?  Then she went on about Santa not coming if he was a bad boy and such.  Good lord.  Maybe he doesn't celebrate Christmas.  Maybe his family has never talked about Santa. And maybe his family feel that all children are "good" regardless of the imminent visit from St. Nick.  I'm glad we weren't the ones in that line, since I'm not really sure how that conversation would have gone. 

Assumptions.  It's just that we assume that everyone is just like us.  And the reality is that they are not.  We live in an amazing multicultural world, and my area in particular has a huge variety of people from every country imaginable.  Each family has wonderful, varied traditions, dishes, customs, ideas, and holidays.  What if... instead of assuming, we all asked.  What if, we said "what is your family's favorite holiday?"  What if we asked what they do to celebrate?   What if we asked what they most need or want to help their celebration?  What if we cared to know?

Saturday, December 3, 2011


There are moments as a parent when you are in a weird kind of twilight zone.  You are acting and speaking, and at the same time, listening to yourself with disbelief at the things that are currently coming out of your mouth and at the actions happening, but seemingly unable to stop the train.  Recently, I was having a whole inner dialogue with myself (mostly consisting of "really? you really just said that?  seriously?") as I was getting more and more amped up about something the kids were doing.  As I extricated myself not so gracefully from the situation, I thought of this post with a much more eloquent inner dialogue than mine that reminded me that my job is to teach rather than to expect.  We are all doing our best and there is no need to be perfect.  We can always start again. 

Friday, December 2, 2011


Sitting outside today at playgroup with some moms from HMN, one commented that sometimes the hardest part is just to get out of their way.  The kids, she meant.  Once they started rolling with their imagination and creativity, there was a house and family on top of the playground collecting sticks, mulch, ice, and who knows what else for their dinner.  A lot of cake making was happening inthe sandbox.  Pushing, pulling, riding, digging, collecting, feeling, talking, directing, negotiating, assisting, all led by them.  I watched in wonder as my lately quiet and shy girl set out the scene and directed the players.  I loved my little one working hard to follow the rules laid out for him a nd trying to pull his weight.  Parenting well seems like less work.  It's allowing them to work it all out and deal with the messiness that is scary I think, so we get too involved and take too much responsibility for what is not our to take.  A lesson that gets repeated whenever we need it so it seems. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Once you decide to change one thing, life becomes a slippery slope it seems.  Wake up and get out the door by 7, only buys stress and anxiety.  Traffic adds to that feeling, and then another hour long trip home with the darkness coming earlier and earlier makes me feel like I am missing it all.  I'm trying to make time for fun activities before dinner, with some success, but the two leisurely days I have with the little one each week remind me of what I am missing with the big one. 

I'm still trying to get into the groove myself.  Deciding what fits and what doesn't, what must and what can't.  It's not even close to what I need.  Clearly the things that didn't make the cut are the things I need most for my sanity - exercise, blogging, time with friends. 

And while school is great for one kid, we are still in a wait and see holding pattern with the other, so that adds to my stress.  Did we make the right choice?  Is it worth turning it all upside down?  Can't I just be with the kids and not rush around making more money so I can spend more money so I can not have time with them, so I can have someone else play with them and teach them all day?  Even the questioning becomes a slope to slide right down. 

So I'll question and tweak, and make it all work.  But I have to tell you that right now I am just plain tired.

Monday, October 24, 2011


It's fall, which means lots of fall activities around here (and everywhere!).  We went apple picking a while back at Marker-Miller Orchard with some friends and had a great time.  They use integrated pest management which means they do use some pesticides but they make a serious attempt to use every means possible to keep from resorting to them.  

The orchard itself was beautiful, clean, and chill.  They have a market with a bakery and produce area, a wine shop with tastings :) and a big playground by the picnic pavilion.  The big draw is the apple picking, which is the way it ought to be.  We got sucked into trying the big farm carnival for strawberries and it was just not my bag.  There is plenty to do here with the apple picking, wine, market, and playground - we could have stayed longer and probably come another day and the kids would have continued to have a blast.  No need for bouncy things and petting zoos...

The kids were able to play and hang out on the floor next to the tasting bar while we tried something like 25 different fruit wines!  Some were good, some pretty sweet, and some a little odd, but it was a fun time. 

We will be back here next year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just Doing It - The Whole 30

For the past two years or so, our family has eaten some semblance of a primal/paleo/grain free diet.  Sometimes we stick to it and sometimes we don't.  Essentially, we eat what we eat at home and when we are out everyone is free to make choices.  I don't mean to say that we don't have choices at home as well - we do of course.  But I mean that when we are out, each of us is free to choose from the dizzying array of foods that can be found on any menu or at any party.  We often feel quite awful when we choose way out of the box, but still, we choose. 

I've been noticing lately that I am reaching for more sugar and sweetened things as well as more grains when given the opportunity.  I've also not quite yet gotten the hang of menu planning with work and the kids school schedules, and whenever planning drops off, our choices get a little crappy.  Add into that this past week of really tough bedtimes, lots of pee accidents from one little person, and lots of crabbiness from one tired mommy, and the perfect storm is brewing. 

We are embarking on a food journey - The Whole 30 - starting tomorrow.  It's really no different than any of our previous paleo adventures, but the 30 day thing gives me something to wrap my head around. It really couldn't be better timing as we attended three parties this weekend, and the intake of "all things that make me feel bad in general" was quite high. And of course we are headed into the holiday season as evidenced by the Christmas displays that are now taking over the Halloween candy aisles in all of your favorite big box stores. 

So the plan is to use this month to reset our taste buds, reset mindful eating, reset the sugar cravings, and give us a little overall reminder of how seriously food can and does affect us. I'm sure there will be some great side benefits like not feeling like I have to suck in my belly, and maybe better sleep for everyone, but really I am after the emotional side of it this round.  Come and join me!

Whole9 | The 603 PTP

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Moment - Sunrise

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

4 going on 14

There is lots of talk in the car on the way to and from school.  So much chatting sometimes that it is really quite amusing to just listen.  If I answer or get involved in the conversation, I often get "I was talking to _____!" clearly telling me to butt out.  The other day, they were discussing the paint colors they had used at school.  Pumpkin said he used "red and jello", and Peanut said she had used "blue and lello".  They began to go back and forth with lello and jello, until Peanut finally said "It's not Jello!  It's Lello!" in a completely exasperated voice.  It was really hard to keep from becoming completely hysterical.  I thought I'd have to intervene as Pumpkin began to cry, but then Peanut says, "Forget it - I'm just doing my own thing" and flips her hair to turn towards her window.  Oy. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock Star

This past weekend, Honey took the kids on some errands while I was at work.  They ended up buying a toy microphone on the fly.  So it plays music, records your voice and plays it back, and will amplify your voice as well.  No biggie right?  Peanut would absolutely not put the thing down for the first 24 hours she owned it.  She took it to the bathroom with her, talking and singing into it all the while.  She brought it outside and did shows on stumps while wearing her butterfly wings.  She walked through the house recording and listening to her own voice.  At first, she did want to be alone or at least not have to see that you were right there while she was talking.  But as the day went on, she became more and more confident, and she was just singing and talking regardless of who was in the room.  My very quiet Peanut would absolutely not shut up.  Why we had not thought of this sooner I have no idea...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why not make it better?

Somehow, we adults have decided that just because we had to deal with something as a child, it's OK for our children to deal with it too.  It's even expected, a rite of passage, or just the way things are.  So often it's "Yeah well, I had to (fill in the blank) and I turned out fine!".  Lots of people say this about spanking, which I won't go into here - there are plenty of other places to read that spanking does nothing to increase your child's ability to learn anything about right and wrong.  What I am surprised about is all the other stuff we think is fine for them to deal with - "my parents did that to/with me" or we figure "we were just like that" when we were younger.  Or "please, there are worse things!" - of course there are always worse things!  That doesn't mean we should just carry on with the OK stuff. 

Actually, I think we just don't think about it.  There are things that just *are* and we have just been so busy, tired, distracted, clueless, that we aren't paying attention to how silly or harmful these things can be.  And don't get me wrong - there are some personality, developmental, and just plain "there" traits that make up each person.  It would be sad if we were all the same, and of course, everyone should be who they are.  But sometimes, the things that come most naturally to us are things that impede our relationships.  Sometimes the things that are easier are not doing us any favors. 

I can be a perfectionist, passive aggressive, judgemental, sarcastic, and snippy.  I like to have things my way, and I like to be in control.  I'm not a bad person, but there are certainly some things I'd prefer to do differently, and I know that "letting it all hang out" is not going to win me any favors.   I know that as I have grown, and realized how my actions impact other people, I have been able to manage some of these traits better, and find that I am more satisfied with life in general when I do what is harder for me rather than go with my first impulse.  Why wouldn't I help my kids to do the same?  Why would I want them to be controlling just because "oh, that's just like me!"? 

I'm not saying our kids shouldn't have to manage and negotiate their way through life and we should pave the way completely for them. I just think we have an amazing and unique opportunity here.  Based on what we know about ourselves and what we remember from our past, we can help them deal with the world in a different way.  We can help our kids be better at conflict negotiation that we are.  We can show them that what they say and do is important to us, and that they have interesting ideas to share.

Why is this so hard?  I think it is because it forces us to take a good hard look at our own actions, faults and shortcomings.  It makes you dissect your past a bit.  Instead of just feeling crappy about our own stuff, helping your kids through things forces you to face your issues head on and deal with them.  You have to be reflective, and honest, and open, and vulnerable.  You need to identify what works and what is not working in a non-judgemental way, both for yourself and your child.  Maybe you even need to share with your kids how you screwed something up and how you could have done it differently.  No one is perfect, and we needn't expect our children to be, nor should we be stressed about our own imperfections. 

So think about your childhood and the things you wished had been different.  Think of the big things and the little ones.  How would you change them?  What could someone have done for you to make it better, easier, more fun, less scary?  Are there times or people you can remember who did make an impact in a positive way?  What did they do that was special or life changing?  What can you take away from those experiences?  What can you do for your children to make it better? 

Do one thing today.  Why wouldn't you?

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Moment - October, really

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Somehow, I get this random parenting magazine every month.  It started showing up when Peanut was born, probably tied to a purchase or maybe even the birth record.  I called and cancelled it once long ago, and it stopped coming for a while, but now it is back like a fungus.  Every now and then there is an envelope with a big screaming ad that this COULD BE MY LAST ISSUE!!!!!!   I never believe it, so I don't send a check.  Anyway, it's apparently here to stay, so I read it. 

I'm always really put off or surprised by at least one of the articles, and the advertising, product placement, and just plain nonsense is amazing.  This most recent issue has a whole article about when kids *should* do what kind of technology.  So I'm reading along and they have it broken down by age - I'm feeling good at the mention that after 9 months most if not all of your kids toys should not require batteries.  But of course, the highlight at the bottom basically encourages the opposite.  Then 1-2 years they recommend tinkering with iPhone apps, as well as watching educational TV.  They do add the caveat that the AAP has recommended no screen time for TV until after age 2, but hey, whatever.  By 2-3 years, the article says kids should be using shape sorter apps on the iPhone and electronic toys that teach letters and numbers, 3-4 years basically using your devices as their own, and 4-5 years using the Internet and playing video games. 

I did a serious double take on this one.  My 4 year old should be well versed in application on an iPhone and be able to access the Internet herself to play video games?  For real?  Why the hell would I want her to do that?  I have no question that at some point she will want and need to know how to use technology.  I also have no question that she can easily learn anything.  I didn't have a computer until junior high, and that one was at school.  No email for me until far beyond college.  (Yes, I am old)  I have been fully capable of dealing with and using technology, and if I wanted to I could expand my horizons with a bit of effort. 

My kids love to learn about real things in a real world with real interactions and real experiences.  I like it that way, they like it that way. The technology world can add to that for sure, but there is no chance they are getting their own iPhone anytime soon.  They have plenty of time to get addicted to the net. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It's been cool to see how the kids entertain themselves and each other as they get older.  Of course, it is also amazing to do a task from start to finish without anyone asking to help or asking for a snack or crying that they need to go potty or pretty much any interruption at all.  Sometimes I get a little concerned when I haven't seen the kids in a while, but more often I am so please to be completing tasks at what seems like the speed of light. 

It's funny, I've noticed that they don't really play with their toys, they use the objects around them to come up with really imaginative games and scenarios.  I guess that in part is that they don't actually have any toys that do stuff for them - they only have toys that require them to take some kind of action.  It is pretty cool to see all that simple toy stuff working to enhance their creativity.  I'm feeling rather validated :)

They have been spending literally hours lately playing on their own, and I can hear them discussing all kinds of amusing things.  One morning last week, they got dressed up in double layers of dresses (yes - both of them) and decided they were going to a wedding.  They had bags with their things and gifts packed up and created a car to drive in (part of the bed).  They had some time during the wedding to sit and take a break - mom and baby relaxing at the wedding in a comfy easy chair.  While they carried on, I was able to bake a ridiculous amount of muffins, clean up the kitchen, and remain fairly focused on a conference call.  Yeah.  It's pretty incredible. 

Another afternoon was a big dress up and then creating "beds and nests" out of the couch cushions.  The attention to detail in having the covers just right is pretty astounding.  I'm sure there was more to the story - there always seems to be some elaborate back story about why they are dressed a certain way and why the beds are just so... I'm not questioning, just enjoying the imaginations!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some fun

After all the fabulous boot camp, hot yoga, and other random workouts this summer, I've been seriously slacking as I get my act together in this new transition to work and school.  I much prefer working out in the morning, and now that we leave so early, that is nearly impossible.  If I work out at night, I'll keep myself awake too late.  During the day, I'm either working or with Pumpkin, so I need something he can do too, or that i can do while he naps, or that I can do on the fly.  I don't really want to pay for anything extra, and I'd love to use what we already have (since we do have a full gym in our basement!).  I can squeeze in some standard workouts here and there, but I need something fun and easy to fit in anywhere that I will actually do.  I have a plan.  I've found two playgrounds close to the kids school, and I plan to do some playground workouts before picking them up in the afternoons!  I like playing on the playground at home with the kids, and can get pretty winded just chasing them around, so why not do the same without them?  So what if I'll look super ridiculous trying to hoist myself up on those monkey bars or lunging along the curb?  Who cares if I attract stares with sprints across the grass?  I'm up for it.  I actually think it will be a ton of fun. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've heard from many people that 4 is the age when there is lots of curiosity and discussion about death.  We have found that to be so true here - like a switch was flipped on the topic on her 4th birthday.  It has been interesting because you never know when you will suddenly be in "that discussion". 

Today was one of those days, and coincidentally, I had been thinking about how some of our family history might be shared earlier in the day.  On the radio, there was an interview with one of the actresses who played a part in the series "roots".  She was talking about how powerful it was to share the family stories with one another and pass them down through the ages, whether good or bad, happy or sad, and regardless of how disturbing they might be.

On the way home from school, the kids began to ask about my dad. 
Who is your daddy?
His name is James. 
Where is he? 
He is not alive anymore, he died. 
Why did he die? 
He was really sick. 
How sick was he?  Was he really really really really sick?
He was so sick he did not want to live anymore. 

And then it was quiet. 
I said, "Everyone worries that their moms and dads will die."  and Peanut said "I worry about that sometimes."   So we talked a bit about how we both (mom and dad) want to be alive and are healthy and will be here as long as we can be. 

And then the conversation moved on to other things like what Pumpkin ate for lunch. 

Honey and I know that we have history to share, and while sometimes it may be worrisome or scary, it is important to us to be honest and tell our stories to our children as fully as we can.  We also try hard to talk at the right level for their ages, so I know this will be a cyclical thing as their understanding increases.  Honey has already had this discussion with Peanut before, and each time a new layer unfolds.  It seems to be therapeutic for me in a way, sharing small bits of information, thinking about how best to clearly answer before I blurt my initial thoughts out.  Their curiosity helps me sort out my own self.  Parenting takes you places you didn't realize were out there, doesn't it?

Working Mama

One of the really suprising things with this new transition back into the world of work is how much fun I am having.  I really love my job.  I truly enjoy figuring out each family and child.  It's a little like a puzzle.  What works best, what does everyone really need, how will this child learn best, how can we help them, and how can we clarify what we are doing?  It's refreshing to focus on one child and one family in an objective and constructive way for an hour.  And then shift gears to the next family for an hour.  I get the chance to solve problems and bring up issues, and reflect with people all day.  And of course, I get to play with babies!  And, I'll pat myself on the back and say that I'm good at what I do. I feel competent at work, so on days when I feel like I am clueless at home, I can be good at something in the world and feel better about it all.

The bonus of all of this problem solving, reflecting, planning, and creativitiy is that I can relax at home and just have fun.  Of course, I also drive around the county all day, so I have a chance to just listen to the radio or stop and log into the free wifi at the coffee shop too.  So all my needs get met during the day and I recharge my engine.  Filling my cup makes it possible for me to be a better parent.  By the time I pick up ther kids in the afternoon, I am just ready to hear all about their day and do whatever they want to do since I've had all day "to myself".  It's so funny how that works - that having fufilling work makes the rest of the week better and easier.  So often, we assume work will be awful and boring, and for some people it really is.  I wish everyone was able to do what they love all day long.  I am so lucky really. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What to do with bottle caps...

Why do we even get sucked into buying toys?  Toy manufacturers jobs are to make us parents feel as though our kids need to have this or that so they will be smarter, do more, get ahead...etc.  It's mind boggling.  This time of year, I start to get questions from clients about the best toys for their child for the holidays.  There is inevitably some relative who thinks that the child must have the latest talking robot alphabet learning signing fine motor classical music development toy. 

Day after day, we find that less is more in our house.  Magda Gerber espoused the idea that an active toy makes a passive learner and a passive toy makes an active learner.  So true.  We are a home of non-battery operated things, we have few toys out at once, all the art supplies are accessible to small hands at anytime, and the kids find ways to make complicated games out of the darnedest things.  This morning and last night the big hits were a bunch of bottle caps and sweepers.  Kept them occupied for a looooooong time.  And they were cleaning up!  Of course, dumping the caps back out again to clean them up, but still...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Those Crazy Kids

I love my kids.  Of course I am biased, but I think they have the funniest personalities, and I love to see them let it all out. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


At the kids new school, we have community work days where some of the teachers and parents get together to work on whatever needs doing.  It seems that these days are inspiring us to finish projects at home as well!  Yesterday we worked all morning at both school sites, and got back here with energy to spare.  I cleaned up the tomato beds and finished a little planting that had been abandoned.  The garden is now somewhat ready for the onions, kale, lettuce, and whatever else I can get in before it is REALLY too late to plant.  Honey came back from the workday and completly cleaned up the utility and tool room.  Then, he put Peanut's name on her bed in wooden letters that I painted like two years ago with the intention of putting them on her door.  We felt like we had a super accomplished weekend and it was only Saturday! 

Honey went to the first work day last month, and build a bird feeder garden there that I just loved.  Of course, I wanted to build one here, and so a couple of weeks ago, we all set out to gather the supplies and build our own.  The kids worked along with us, and got so black with dirt and mulch that we had to dip them in the tub and then drain and refill it before actually giving them baths.  The garden turned out great, and we have lots of birds coming to visit.  I think we have mostly thwarted the squirrels as well since we used only seeds they don't like or feeders that shut down wne they pounce!  It's hard to see, but there is a tiny Japanese maple in the garden as well as a few herbs that needed dividing from our herb garden. 

I wonder what next months work day will inspire us to do?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


For a while, I've had the idea of blue hair.  In high school, I did the whole sun-in thing.  I sat outside with beer, or lemon, or tea, or whatever was the "thing" that would make my hair super shiny and blonder.  I used color foam with red sparkles.  I did some random highlights and even later some actual hair dyes just for something different.  I never went too far beyond my actual hair color though, which has changed naturally from strawberry blond, to blond, to red, to brown.  So I had been thinking about doing something new, and blue streaks in my hair seemed just the thing.  Months and months have gone by, and my hair dresser said no way, Honey just raises his eyebrows.  I've done nothing really to satisfy this little rebellion in my head.  Well, I did paint my nails blue and green but really.

So this week, when Pumpkin met me at the driveway of school with this fabulous blue head of hair, I was once again thrown into a spin.   He seemed pleased with it, and checked himself out in the mirror when we got home with a big smile on his face. 

I think it was the exuberance that went with the hair that I most envy.  Maybe it is not the color at all, but the excitement and boldness of just running blue paint all over his head that I need to imitate.  I was even a little reluctant to wash it out.  He told me he "painted a lot with blue!"  Yeah buddy, you sure did. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


From the back seat of the car, in a very sure voice I hear: "I'm going to be a mommy, doctor, mermaid, princess, dinosaur project, climber, team."  Wow.  Do you remember thinking things like that?  I want to and can be anything at all.  And even all of those things at one time.  Why couldn't you be a rock climbing paleontologist mermaid?  Or a doctor princess?  I love it.    

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Well, after last week of being a sad boy at preschool, Pumpkin made a concious decision to enjoy himself this week.  He told me he was going to have fun and he wasn't going to be sad.  Not in the kind of conversation where I feed him lines and he agrees, but the kind of conversation that he starts completely on his own and I just listen and interject some "oh's, uh huh's, and mmm's". 

On Monday, Honey drove Peanut to school, and Pumpkin was incensed that he was not going.  He stood outside in his Bike helmet and underpants and cried and yelled that he wanted to go too.  I wish I had thought to take a photo, but alas, you will have to image it.  It was as amusing as it sounds. 

So by Wednesday, he was pumped up.  He had a great day playing, and today, he barely looked back to say goodbye.  I had to ask for a hug and he reluctantly turned back for one.  I need to plan on all my hugs and kisses as we get out of the car it seems as I am certainly not going to get them once we are inside!  He told me all about his day and the other kids, and is excited for next week already.  Whew. 

Here's my boy as we killed time between Peanut's drop off and his - he can get really dirty in about a nanosecond...


It was overwhelming.  There were hundreds of people, standing room only.  He was 59, and running a triathlon when he felt ill.  Within a very short time, he went into cardiac arrest.  It was totally unexpected.  During the service, people laughed and cried, smiled and winced.  This man had touched so many people's lives - there were huge groups of people there from every connection, all stunned and sad.  Over and over he was lauded as a man who made other people comfortable.  A man who smiled and talked and spent time with and for other people.  As I sat there, experiencing the rituals that comfort so many of us, and looked upon this sea of people, I couldn't help but think about my dad.  Another man who touched many.  Whose funeral was standing room only.  Who worked hard to make other people comfortable.  Who loved his children.  Life is short people.  Enjoy it. Embrace it.  Smile.  Listen.  Be. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The detachment of the present day human is amazing.  Our family went together on some errands this afternoon.  We went out to lunch, to the pet store, shoe store, and grocery store.  We spoke with one another, via actual vocalizations, eye contact, gestural communication, and body language the entire time.  I'm quite proud of that considering what was going on all around us. 

There was a little girl, maybe 2 1/2 who was standing by the fish tanks in the pet store.  She looked to be by herself, but Honey told me that he had seen her mom just a second ago texting while the girl tried to tell her something about the fish.  Peanut and Pumpkin were enamored by the fish too, so we all stood there for a while and the girl started talking with us.  We had a nice discussion about the orange fish and how they were like Andrew's (She seemed to feel we would understand that) and the minutes ticked by.  No sign of mom or dad.  I looked at Honey wide eyed.  "Really?"  Finally, her parents came around the corned and we laughed about the conversation I was having with their child.  Ha Ha Ha.  It's super amusing when your toddler talks to total strangers because you won't listen to them and you have left them alone in a store while you text. 

So on to the shoe store.  I used to think the little benches with the mirrors were for sitting on while you tried on shoes, but alas, I was mistaken.  Those are the spaces for people who want to cut themselves off from the folks they are shopping with to text or post on facebook.  I have never seen so many people sitting down and just typing on their phones in one store before.  It seemed really weird to me.  I guess you can still try on shoes while you text... As I rolled Pumpkin's stroller through the aisles, people were completely oblivious that they were taking up the whole aisle and we could not get by.  More than once I turned back and headed around another way to get through the store. Seriously, do we need to be so focused on the little tiny boxes?    

I'm sure there are sometimes when you really feel that you need to pull the phone out and text, post, email, whatever.  But please, consider how your children perceive that.  Consider how necessary it really is.  Consider how you may be using it to avoid others.  Consider how you may be neglecting what someone else needs.  Consider how you may be seen as rude, or self absorbed.  Consider the lost opportunities to be a social being.  Pay attention to the people around you.  Please. 


The rain last week was unreal - flash flooding, nonstop pouring rain for several days, roads closed, cars underwater.  I kept singing songs from camp in my head - "It rained and poured for forty days-y days-y, drove those counselors_ nearly crazy crazy....."  Well, it is drying out now and we have had no ill effects here, so we are very lucky.  I went out today to get on the garden clean up, and decided to pull some of the seed heads off the marigold to save for next year.  I've never seen anything like this - the seed heads got so much rain that the seeds in them started to sprout!  Beware of what may grow in the next few weeks!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sad sad boy

Pumpkin and I have not had very much time apart in his two years.  Yes, he spends part of a day each week with a nanny while I work, he's been to lots and lots of playgroups, has been in coop preschool with me while I taught or assisted, and has been (rarely) with other coop moms while I taught or assisted.  He has not ever been dropped off with adults and children that he does not know for any length of time. 

Peanut, as you know by now, is going to an amazing school that matches her personality really well and has already drawn her out of her shell.  My thinking is that 1) I'm going to work to help pay for this, so I'd like to work at least some of the days she is at school.  2) It seems awfully silly to have the kids at two different schools or to have one home and the other in school.  3) He'll love it! 

So my plan is that he'll go two days and she will go four.  I'll work the two days they are both at school as well as the two other days I currently work.  We'll continue with our nanny, and I'll have time with the kids in the weekday afternoons as well as Sundays, and I'll have time with just Pumpkin on Monday and Tuesdays.  This all seems doable, except that he is super sad at school so far.  I know I know, it's only day two, but his little sad face in the pictures from today is just killing me!  He separated easily and I could leave without issue, but it looked like he was on the verge of a breakdown in all the pictures, and when I picked him up he was so very sad.  I mentioned that our nanny would be here tomorrow and he even said "mommy I need you here with me!" which is unheard of as he loves when the nanny comes. 

Now of course I am second guessing it all.  Alternatives are flying around my head.  Should I move all my Friday clients to Wednesday so I can be free to hang with the kids Fridays?  Should I just keep him home for longer and not worry about working more?  Should I just have him home and have a nanny two days while Peanut is at school?  Should I carry on and hope that he will feel more comfortable next week?  I feel like we should go on trying since it's so new, but still, my heart is in knots for the boy.  Oh my sad little man.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


If there is one thing each of us can do each day to help the world it is to "be where they are".  Whoever "they" are - your spouse, kids, the guy on the train, the checker at Trader Joe's, your best friend, your nemesis.  We are constantly looking to make people do what we want, understand what we are saying, follow our lead or direction, be faster or slower, more or less accurate, friendly, whatever.  It's all about us.  What if we made it all about them?  What if we went through the day, or even through a very small part of the day, with them in the front of our minds?  What if we strive to understand, to listen, to really hear, to validate, to acknowledge, to smile with open eyes and hearts?  What if we try to be where they are instead of make them get to where we are?  What would it hurt?  What would it help?  Really how long would it take?  I think we might all be surprised at how much slowing down, accepting and waiting might do to improve relationships, and really, your whole day.  Try it now - try it tomorrow.  When you find yourself becoming frustrated or anxious, or your breathing starts to speed up, or you find you are holding your breath, rolling your eyes, tapping your fingers, or heavily sighing, take a deep breath and change your perspective from how much this is all annoying you to what the other person may be feeling or thinking.  Maybe that guy tailgating you has a kid at the hospital he is trying to get to.  Maybe the checker is slow because she was up all night with her best friend who is getting divorced.  Maybe the child kicking the back of your seat on the airplane just left his best friend in California.  Maybe the waiter who got you meal all wrong is preoccupied waiting for test results from his biopsy.  Maybe we can all cut each other some slack, and try to imagine that we are all doing the best we possibly can.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The First Day

The first day, and I know I was more frazzled and wary than she was.  I had been working all weekend on a million forms to fill out, snacks to bake, errands to run, breakfast and lunches to pack... Since this first week is all 1/2 days, Pumpkin and I are finding activities close by school, but that means I'm packing for a full morning for all of us. 

With Peanut, we took it really low key - no photo ops, just some easy conversation about school starting.  We talked about the kids who would be there and some who would not.  We talked about how the teacher she had connected with this summer would be a mentor to the other teachers and she wouldn't see her as much.  We talked driving there, and when I would be picking her up. All was well, and everyone was calm but anticipating the day. 

She slept fine, got up snuggly, and as she got dressed, she got a little apprehensive.  Suddenly, those pants were too small or too big, and she didn't want to wear them, and she didn't want this or that... I could have been annoyed, but I know she was concerned about it all.  So I sat down and held her and talked about how most kids are worried on the first day of school.  Most kids don't know everyone in their class or their teachers.  I reminded her that she knew and liked some of the children, and she knew and really liked some of the teachers.  I reminded her of the farm animals, the dragon tree, the space where all of her extra clothes will be, how she really enjoyed all of the outdoor time, and how she would surely get to use her new raincoat today.  We found a new pair of pants, and she was ready to go. 

She was slow to smile when we walked in, but the text I got in an hour or so said she was happily talking about her new bunk beds at breakfast.  She was happy when I came to pick her up, and had drawn a picture of our playground at home for me.  I heard about the rain, playing outside and getting her crocs all muddy.  Not much, but I know I will hear more tomorrow morning on the way back to school. 

We all crashed hard this afternoon - I even turned on the tube for the kids to veg since everything else seemed to be such hard work.  Remember the last party you went to where you didn't know anyone?  Remember how much work it was to make smalltalk and remember who was who?  It drains you.  Imagine how hard that must be for a little kid.  We forget how much energy it takes to do this school thing, especially for someone who likes to be in comfortable, known situations like Peanut. 

On to the next tomorrow - Pumpkin has his first day too.  I'll stay for a bit, and he will have a shortened day to start getting used to the idea.  I'll have to keep in mind that although I expect he will be fine and jump right in, I'll need to be patient and support him as well.  Having two kids with such different personalities can throw you for a loop sometimes.  We shall see what the morning holds!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lots and Lots

So it turns out that a side effect of eating really good food - and by that I mean real actual food that is unadulterated - is that what passes for many as a good meal out is rather disgusting.  Since we are on vacation, and have been running about as tourists in our own backyard, we have been having lunch and dinner out.  Our tummies were in an uproar the first two days especially (coincidence that we were in the land of biscuits, gravy, and fried, fried and more fried?), but these last two I've been really focusing on my menu choices and have been feeling much better.  Less is more on the menu I think, and it is shocking how much restaurants seem to feel that more is more.   My first chicken salad was gross - the dressing was super sugary and the lettuce was limp.  My first night of shrimp was also gross - tasted like a whole packet of Lipton soup mix was on them.  The next day was better, but still too much food, and a weak too light salad with "veggies" such as cucumber and tomato.  Hmmmm - that's a regular salad.  When you advertise veggies, I think you mean more.  It's amazing what a difference the food makes. Today, we ate at the Museum of Natural History and it was the best chicken I've had so far (and I may have had chicken at most of my meals).  They use real food, and make an attempt to use local and organic when possible.  I am feeling better already with a day's worth of real food in my body. 

I've also noticed that the kids menu choices are all things that I'm OK with the kids eating every once in a while, but certainly not every day.  When deciding what to order, we've been editing our discussion of the menus a bit, seeking good kids options in the appetizers, and finding meals we can eat that they can have some of too.  I'm generally pretending that there is no grilled cheese or pizza anywhere.  Our waiters are getting used to me asking to "replace the F-R-I-E-S with some kind of veggie or fruit please".   I've found it interesting that since our kids usually eat so well, we are able    to use food as a drug.  Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I have used sugar in the last few days to pump up their energy and get a bit more exploring out of them.  But honestly, if they usually ate that kind of thing it wouldn't work!  Using a sugar high to hike up a big hill - I think it's a valid choice. 

Of course the major thing about eating out is the portion sizes.  Who the hell eats all that?  I've had two dinners where I ordered an appetizer as my meal, and one was way too big for dinner and the other was just about right.  The meals themselves are enough for several people.  The 1/4 chicken and two sides I had for lunch today got split between me and the kids and there were leftovers.   Last night, we had the kids split a kids meal, and split a serving of yogurt and fruit between them.  They ate a lot, but still didn't finish it all.  I'm finding that when I order a salad with chicken on/in it, there is more chicken than a portion size - way more.  Maybe you all already knew all this, but we eat out so rarely that this is all hitting me at once.  I can't imagine that I could avoid putting on pound after pound if we continued on this way.  It's clear to me where much of our obesity problem is being created. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

That's a touching good story

We tell a lot of stories here.  I discovered the power of stories when Pumpkin was still very new and Peanut was struggling with all kinds of fears. We had the fear that animals would crawl into the mitten that Pumpkin lost while we were walking at the lake one day.  We had the fear of a fox at the front door and a wolf at the back door.  We had the complete and total non-participation at soccer and ballet class, which I assumed was some kind of fear at the time.  With each of these, I became better and better at the stories. 

Each night at bedtime, Peanut would ask for a story, and I'd make one up for her.  Usually we would make the main character an animal or a little girl, dealing with the same kinds of things she had been having trouble with that day.  We had a story about a fox who came to our garden to eat lettuce, and so we taught him how to grow his own garden in the woods.  We had an alligator who was really worried about playing soccer, and didn't like the gym because he couldn't hear with all the echoing in the room.  We had a nice family of bunnies who used a mitten as their home.  We had some general stories about fun stuff too - a girl named Simone who played in the snow and then came in to have cocoa with her mom.  Lots of stories about preschool...

At some point, she began to ask for particular stories, and then she began to develop the story with me. "Mama, tell me the Simone story." "Mama, tell me a story about Samantha going to school and Max's mommy picks us up."  "Tell me a story about a fox." "Mama, tell me a story about Samantha playing in the sandbox all day."  She'd pick things that she had either struggled with or wanted to do, and I'd start the story asking her clarifying questions along the way - "Did Samantha's mom and brother drive to school too?"  "Did she play in the sandbox and the pool?". 

Often, these stories have shed some light on what was a confusing mash of feelings and behaviors. You know, sometimes kids have all kinds of turmoil about stuff we just don't think twice about.  Last night, Peanut was done with her diner (some food still on the plate) and went to ask her brother if she could have some of his chicken.  She politely asked, he said no, and she asked again.  He said no again, this time not so sweetly.  I chimed in with something about him having already said no, and that she still had some food on her plate if she was hungry.  She turned and with this very angry face started telling me that "You don't say anything!  You don't get to read me books!  I'm going to bed!" and stomped off.  A few minutes later, I went into her room and she was tucked into bed with a sullen look on her face.  I started to tell a story.  "Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a little brother.  She mostly liked him, but sometimes he really got on her nerves.   One night..."  When I got to the part about her being so frustrated that her mom and dad always took his side, her eyes grew big.  When I got to the part about her mom coming into her room after she had stomped out of the kitchen, I got a little smile.  When I got to the part about the little girl being the light of her mom's life, and that her mom was working really hard to make sure that everyone in the family gets what they need and knows they are loved, I got a hug.  

A few minutes of very powerful stuff.  Try it - you might be really surprised at where it leads. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another chapter

Honey has been doing his masters degree at night, and I have filled up my evenings with lots of tasks in order to keep myself busy and not constantly bother him.  Well, he is finally done with school, and I haven't yet wrapped my head around the fact that I will have a husband once again!  I am so used to my routine, that I am not even sure how it should change or what I can let go in order to create more "us" time.  I do some work at night that I could move to a bit earlier, and of course the time spent on random computer tasks can be cut pretty easily.  Some other stuff needs to be thought through - food prep can maybe be done during the day with the kids... But clearly, I will need to streamline my evening to take advantage.  It seems a bit crazy that I'm even thinking about this, but really, I'm worried we will continue to sit back to back at our computers and I'll not want to bother him since he's "working".

To help make the transition, we are taking a whole week for just our family.  We'll be doing some day trips and touristy things around the area - things that we have been talking about for a long time and never gotten to do.  It should be great fun and very exciting, but since we have never really done this, I'm a little apprehensive about all of this togetherness.  It's too early in our children's lives to have gotten so wrapped up in their stuff that we completely forget about ours - like empty nesters who no longer have anything to talk about when their kids move out.  On the other hand, we have had a project of some sort (together or individually) for most of our marriage, and this will be the first time that we are project free and are just living.  I wonder if we will get back to those deep conversations like those late nights early in our relationship.  I think I'd like that.

So this week, we have crazy plans - all kinds of dinosaur related outings, zoos, hiking, butterflies... we are trying to cram it all in, have fun doing it, and continue our potty learning journey (day 5 I think of underpants!) with Pumpkin all at the same time.  We even have a night out just for us planned mid week.  I think we are asking for a lot, but as long as we can all relax and remember that this is a vacation and if we just don't make it to all of the planned stops, it's totally OK.  We've already decided that if we miss some stuff we really want to do, that we will actually plan it for another time.  I think it just seems like we have to get everything done in this week since we never have had any other time to do these kinds of touristy stuff.  I need to remember that we will not have the issue of Honey having to get home and write a paper or whatever.  It seems crazy to be stressed about all of this - OK, it doesn't seem crazy - it actually is crazy.  I'm going to go lie down and breathe and relax about our vacation!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This morning during Bikram yoga class, I had a little revelation.  I was in Savasana or corpse pose, and the instructor started talking about how in the pose the urge is to scratch the itch, wipe the sweat, fix your hair or clothes or mat, and tuck and pull and reorganize, but that you are supposed to just be and rest and allow all of the urges to go unchecked.  For whatever reason, at that moment I understood that unconditional love is just that.  Accepting all of the things you have an urge to fix, and loving what is instead of what could be with one more little nudge.  Cognitively, I knew this already, but today it hit me at a deeper level, and I've been thinking about it all day.

Why do we try to be perfect?  Where does the idea come from that it is at all possible?  I know I am a perfectionist in some (OK, many) ways, but is it just inherently who I am?  Did I learn it somehow?  Can I change it?  Can I accept myself and love "what is" perfectionism and all?  I'm struggling a lot with this lately not just for myself, but for Peanut.  She has a tendency to want to "do right" and becomes pretty tiger like when something goes wrong.  I wonder if I am helping her become that way.  I wonder if she will be 40 before she understands that it is not necessary to be perfect or right all the time.  I'm hoping both of my children know unconditional love, and can move beyond perfect to be themselves. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We do an awful lot of eating around here.  For two pretty small kids, Pumpkin and Peanut can really pack it away.  So it's no surprise that their favorite games are all food related.  We usually have a few baby dolls joining us at the table for real and pretend meals.  Very often, there is something being brewed in the kitchen downstairs that we all must try. We now have a restaurant called "Restaurant Peach".  I had a lovely meal and the service was excellent, although some of the meal preparation practices are questionable.  Do try it if you are in the area. 

Proof that it gets better

A friend with a 4 year old and one on the way recently asked me if it was really hard at the beginning.  As I began to answer, I realized that I was really downplaying the troubles, and when I first started talking, I even said that it wasn't too hard.  Mid sentence, I had waves of memories washing over me, and had to start my answer all over.  It was hard.  So hard that I am just now coming out of the fog, and feeling like I am begining to have some fun again.  So hard that I still cry over the things I said and did in those early days.  So hard that I am amazed we are all intact and loving one another.  So hard that I still have trouble forgiving myself for not having enough love to go around, or enough patience, or enough time, or enough energy, or enough...anything. 
The thing is though, that while I wanted to tell her it would be fine, because it will, I didn't want to gloss over it all.  So I did say what was hard for me that I hadn't expected, and what I think I would have done differently if I could go back.  I wish I'd had more of that, and I wished I'd listened and understood.  I just don't think you can though until you are there.  I had a pretty easy time with just one child - really - it was all roses and rainbows.  Yeah there were hard moments, but overall, I was a competent mom with a great kid, a fun flexible job, some time for myself, and time with my Honey.  Who knew that once we added another bundle in, I'd become so stressed, un-fun, overly emotional, overly protective, and just generally blah?  Some people seamlessly glide into having multiple kids.  Maybe my friend will be one of them - I sure hope so. 

The silver lining here though is that my first response to her was that having a second child was not that hard.  I never thought I'd be in a place where all of the difficulty faded enough to allow me to remember the positives first.  Well, here I am and thank goodness for that.   

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Our sun room will be awesome someday.  Right now, it is a very hot, not at all insect proof mess.  We have all kinds of animals show up in there.  We've had several sparrows, some hummingbirds, lots of bees and wasps, moths of course, a butterfly or two, and plenty of interesting spiders. 
Recently, we have been noticing (how can you miss the really?) cicada killer wasps flying around in there.  I haven't yet found their nest, but there is at least one by our windows every day.  I think they are getting stuck or else they are already on their last legs since it seems that they drop dead within 24-48 hours of being in there. 

This week, there were two or three in the sunroom at once, and it seemed that they were attacking a butterfly that had gotten waylaid as well.  The drama outdoors makes for interesting viewing - thank goodness it has given us something to do when it is super hot in the afternoons! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Big Decision

being the "Princess and The Pea"
I'd do anything for this little person. 

So when after a few days of camp at the fabulous nature immersion Reggio Emilia based school I have been lusting after, we realized that she was happy, more excited, more creative and direct at home.  During camp, she was talking more with the people there in four days or so than with some folks she has known for years.  We had to lay it on the table.  This was an excellent match, and soon other things dropped into place to make this an unavoidable truth. 

The kids at camp did a lego project when it was boiling hot outside, and she talked about her creation for a full 4 minutes (it was recorded) while there were a lot of other conversations going on in the room.  There are lots of people who have never heard Peanut talk for this long.  Maybe not even more than one or two words at a time.  This is a big deal.  Then, after Honey dropped her off at camp on Friday, he told me it was "a really cool school!  I'd like to get a tour next time!".  Ummmm.....I have gone twice for an open house and waxed poetic about it.  When I mentioned this and asked him if he thought I was just getting excited about a regular school he said yup.  So - note to self - next time be more forceful with things that are awesome. 

We signed her up for another week of camp, and then sat down to discuss the future.  We talked with Peanut about her playgroup and homeschool preschool group, and how she felt about missing those things if she went to school.  She was fine with it all, and adamant that Pumpkin could do all of those things while she was a school and it would be just fine with her.  Wow.  After lots of pros and cons and questions and answers emailed back and forth from the school, we couldn't deny it.  We needed to send her. 

So life, it is shifting.  With a big change in our daily routine, lots of help and support from Peanut's grandma and goose (great grandma) as well as me adding some more hours at work, we are going to make this work.  How could we not?


What happens when zucchini hide...

Our first melon of the season. We've been waiting and hoping to get to it before the squirrels...

It was really good too!
Black eye peas - labor intensive but easy to grow.

My solution to the squirrels that are eating all of our tomatoes before I can pick them.  I'd prefer vine ripened but I will take whatever I can get right now.