Saturday, November 3, 2012

All That Candy

Last Halloween, I threw out the idea of the "Switch Witch" to my kids.  There are several version of this being.  Some say she is a Sugar Sprite who needs the sugary Halloween candy to make it through the winter and will gladly trade for a trinket.  In some versions the Switch Witch will pay you a set amount per piece of candy if you leave your stash out for her on Halloween night.  And then there are lots of other permutations of course.  Well I had proposed that the kids could either keep their trick or treat candy or they could give it to the "Halloween Fairy" and get a present instead.  You might think that no child would take that option, but up until the last minute last year, mine had.  I continued to give them the opportunity to change their mind and once they got their candy they did.  It was no big deal really because last year, both kids were interested in candy and treats, but usually forgot about them pretty quickly.  So the candy was placed on the counter and once they no longer asked for it, Honey took it to work. 

This year, I hadn't thought at all about it.  We spent more time making a map of the neighborhood and deciding which houses to go to, and practicing the etiquette of the holiday rather than deciding what the treat plan was.  After going to a parade where the people on the floats threw out candy to the kids, my thoughts changed a bit.  They began to count their candy like Midas.  They asked for a piece after breakfast lunch and dinner.  They clearly were not going to just forget about it this time around.  A friend had mentioned that they go through candy with their kid and take out all of the ones with red food coloring.  Since both kids reach to the red40 found in tons of candy, this seemed like a good place to start.  Then someone else reminded me of the Switch Witch when they asked if we had talked about it with the kids this year.  No, we hadn't, and come to think of it, we really should.

So one day, I threw out the options.  One, keep all of the candy and have a piece every day or two at mom and dad's discretion.  Two, trade all of the red candy for pieces of chocolate, and proceed as above.  Three, leave your candy in a bag on the bedroom door and the Halloween Fairy will bring something special in return.  To my surprise, they both chose option three!  Well, I'd been here before so I didn't want to celebrate yet.  But they decided then and there to give me the remainder of their parade candy so they could add it to the Halloween candy they were sure to get. 

After trick or treating, they chose one piece of candy to eat then, and one to save for the next day.  They put all the rest out for the Halloween Fairy, and were as excited as they get on Christmas about what they might find in the morning.  Pumpkin had asked (with some prompting of what might be an awesome gift) for a fireman outfit, and Peanut had asked for a baby doll (a specific one that was out of stock at several stores I might add) and a bottle with "real milk" for the baby to drink.  Each got their wish and they were happy as clams. 

Give it a try next year - you never know! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Unifying Holiday

I love Halloween.  It's really one of my favorite holidays - not because of the candy, but because of the way that wearing costumes creates a bit of oneness.  Class and society distinctions fade a bit when people look goofy.  I love that.  It's like how people say we should all fight wars naked or while wearing pink or something. 

Before I had kids, I always had a super fun Halloween party, and did lots of very colorful, loud, and sometimes scary decorations.  It was kind of my Christmas, since I didn't really "do" Christmas then.  Now that I have these two sweet little ones, I realize that my fun was potentially super scary to some of the wee ones, but I still miss doing all that decorating!  I recall some younger trick or treaters sending mom or dad to the door so they wouldn't have to step on the howling mat or get close to the scarecrow with the pumpkin head.  I can completely relate now. 

So, I was proud this year when Honey told me the kids walked right up to a well decked out house with scary music and all to knock and say trick or treat!  Actually, I'm just proud that they decided to say Trick or treat at all.  About an hour before heading out, Peanut came to me and said "I think I am ready to say "trick or treat" to people even if I do not know them.  Of course, we then practiced with me in the bathroom and she and Pumpkin knocking on the door, and then they stood on the front porch to give it a try while I pretended to be a stranger.  One step at a time right?  They ended up going to 7 houses - way more than last year - and they brought home a nice little load of candy.

Knowing our love of good food and lack of super sugary treats, you may be asking what we did with all that candy?  That, my friends, is a story for another day.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The kids have been taking gymnastics classes since the summer.  They started in the same class, and then when the school year began, Peanut moved up to the 5-7 year old class (although there was much discussion and hubub trying to work out if it was OK to have a 5 year old who was not in kindergarten, but home schooled *ahem* in Kindergarten...join the class).  They both seem to enjoy it; I get to watch most of the class through a mirrored window in the gym.  Sometimes I even go out and run an errand or walk around the block. 

Last week was "Parents Day" for Peanut's class, and parents could come in for the last few minutes of the class to see the kids perform.  I was standing out in the hall with another mom, trying to figure out how we would know when it was time to head in - the gym is very crowded and confusing so it is hard to believe that the kids even know where to go.  So I see Peanut coming towards me with a huge smile!  She grabs my hand with both of hers and pulls me back into the gym with her, and we stand in front of her teacher.  I look in front of me, and there are several other girls in her class sitting on the floor, and I think "Huh.  Am I the only parent here?".  Then I realize that the other parents are standing just behind me and Peanut.  It's not that I am the only parent there - it's that I am the only parent whose kid wants to hold her parents hand.  And I am so blessed to be me. 

Please stay a child for as long as possible.  I always want to hold your hand, sweet Peanut. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Your Kids Eat What?

Why all the fuss about getting kids to eat better?  Salad bars in school are the "big new thing" like there is this sudden answer to all of our health issues and it is putting salad next to the low fat chocolate milk and pizza.  Why are adults incredulous that some kids eat lots of interesting and nourishing foods?  There is an easy answer.  Kids eat what the people around them eat.  They see that face you make when you take a bite of fries or broccoli and register which one they are "supposed" to like or not.  When we assume that kids will only eat "kid food", then that is what they do.  When we assume that kids will eat "real food" then that is what they do.  Expect the best of everything from your children.  So really, just take care of yourself, enjoy it, and let them see you doing so.  The rest will follow!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I had a babysitter scheduled for a few hours this afternoon.  My scheduled appointment with a client was cancelled at the last minute since she was in labor (the nerve, right?!), so I ended up having three hours to myself. 

I snuggled the kids, made a list of all of the errands and work I needed to do, gathered my things together, and headed out. Library, drug store, consignment shop, hardware store... After a few stops, feeling pretty good about how much I was accomplishing, I settled in at my local coffee shop to knock out some work.  This was the kind of stuff that either gets donw when kids are out or sleeping, requiring concentration and focus.  Perfect to do at my little table in an empty cafe. 

As I pulled things out of my backpack, I realized there was a problem.  I had no computer.  The evaluation manual I had brought to help me pull together a report was for the wrong age - preschoolers rather than infants.  And the only writing implement I had was a mini golf pencil. 

At first, I was annoyed, and then I had to assume the Universe was telling me something.  "Slow down" she said.  "Relax".   So I did. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spa Junkie

I am a spa treatment junkie.  I can easily spend hours at the Red Door, and every cruise I have taken has been peppered with almost daily spa visits.  I love that I struggle to find a "new" treatment to do on the ship.  Alas, I am not made of cash, so spa trips are usually few and far between, which leaves me always craving more. 

But all my spa experience has been very American.  Big fuzzy robes, waiting areas with fat sparkly fashion magazines, no talking between patrons, everyone is well covered most of the time, and treatments are scheduled with someone leading you around from spot to spot.  And each "station" is super expensive to boot.

How have I missed the Korean bathhouse experience?  How could it have taken me so long to discover and dive in to this idea?  I spent way less than $100, and had a solid 5 hours at the spa last night.  Holy cow - this whole thing was not only superbly relaxing and rejuvenating, but a bit cathartic as well.

So the naked factor is probably the biggest difference between American spas and gyms and this Korean spa.  I'm used to locker rooms and changing areas where most people are being fairly discreet about changing.  Not that they are always covered, but no one is really prancing around sans clothes.  When you walk into the bathhouse locker room, it is odd to see anyone with any coverage whatsoever.  OK, so it's a locker room.  Whatever.  But the pool and saunas and scrub areas are nude as well.  That took a bit of getting used to.   

As strange as this was for me, it was also really comforting to see so many real women's bodies in one space.  To see this mass nakedness highlights the absurdity of what the media leads us to expect about what we should look like in a whole different and more compelling way.  To see moms, daughters and friends, of all shapes, colors and sizes, sitting and talking while in the pool jets, or doing a scrub, or hanging out in the sauna was refreshing. 

And oh! the many things to do to get you totally chill!  The pool has like 10 stations with jets to different muscle groups, and the water pressure is hard - like so hard that you have to hold on to a bar so you don't get flung across the pool.  There are hot tubs, cold tubs, saunas, and a scrub area.  You can do your own scrub but since I have no clue of what I am doing, I signed up for a 30 minute scrub.  It was relaxing and scary, painful and revealing, surprising and glorious all at the same time.  I thought my skin might bleed, but I left with my whole body softer than it has been in many moons.  I actually can't stop feeling it. 

Once out of the pool, I got on my spa-issued orange jumpsuit (a little strange) and checked out the rest of the place.  I laid in hot hot hot rooms that probably detoxified every pore in my body from the last 20 years of crap that they had been dealt.  To finish it all off, a few minutes in the cold room - really quite icy cold although it was only in the 50's in there - to "seal in the benefits".   There is a restaurant, fitness center, nail salon, and a few other spots that I missed on this visit. 

Will I go back?  Oh yeah.  I am hugely calm today with a healthier body image than a few short hours ago.  All for a little cash and time.  Yes, this is my big new thing. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Over the past few months, we've had a lot of discussion and decision making about school. We explored the idea of sending Peanut to public school this fall for kindergarten, and went through all of the orientation and tours, met with some of the staff, and generally obsessed about it for weeks. After much soul searching we came to a decision. Honey and I were sitting on the couch one night watching a movie, and I just said "I just can't do it." and he said "I know." and that was that. We were homeschoolers.

Although we had decided the plan for this year, I still had this nagging in the back of my head. What if she misses out on something I can't provide? What if I'm just being selfish? What if she is left out of neighborhood events? What if, what if, what if.... Now that the school year has begun though, I can safely say that I am completely cool with the decision.

Peanut just started at a farm/Montessori school two mornings a week. So she is in a group of about 10 kids, including her little brother, and I pick her up right after lunch. At the end of the morning, she comes home really needing to have some time alone. She is a little growly for 5 minutes or so and that's when I know she has to go be alone and regroup. She plays with her babies, organizes them and makes beds and houses for them. I hear her in there talking to them, and know that if she were in full day kindergarten with 25 kids in her class, her need for alone time at the end of the day would be astronomical. She would probably also be so overwhelmed with "stuff" by the time she got home that I'd be one of those moms complaining about her 5 year old who just became a teenager.

Yes, I'm over the moon that I have time with my little girl and she is not gone from me every day at school. There is no doubt that I am blessed to have that. But she needs this right now. She is not ready to jump right into a full day of sitting at a desk, listening to a teacher, and dealing with a behavior management program for her very large class. Nor should she be. She is five, and should be playing outside and with her dolls and be learning and curious about everything. I don't want anyone telling her that she can't talk in class. I want her to be exuberant and free. I'm so glad we've made this choice for our family this year. I know we are going to have a really good time. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


What the heck is up with all of this texting while driving still?  I thought we were all agreed that it is really super stupid and unsafe.  Am I misinformed?  I'm driving the other day and stop at a light.  As I look to my right, a car is rolling towards the car in front of them as the driver is looking down at her phone and texting away.  She continued to roll and text, and then I notice the kids.  Two in the back seat in car seats, one of whom is clearly screaming.  WTF?  I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that was the nanny, and she was texting the parent to say that little Johnny was super ill and they were on the way to the doctor or something.  But sadly, I think that may have been someone answering a completely non-urgent text and ignoring a screaming kid while putting all of them in peril. 

When I learned to drive, we just drove the car.  There were no cell phones or car phones - OK, maybe there were those huge old school corded car phones, but teenagers certainly did not use them.  Our parents were concerned about how loud our music was, or how many kids were riding with us, as that could be a distraction.  Who knew that at some point we would be driving a virtual office?  And really, why is that necessary?  Are you so freaking important that you have to be inconstant contact with everyone?  Those texts and emails that you are surreptitiously looking at in the car are from the president?  Really?  Come on.  It's someone saying "LOL" or "C u in a few", or something equally as not necessary to see at that very second. 

I've seen at least one couple at the last few restaurants I have been to where they are both on their phones for the entire meal.  Not even looking at each other as they speak (and the speaking is limited too).  I almost scared the pants off of some teenager when I walked by him in the dark as he was going to the bus stop and I was walking the dog.  It was 6am and he was already engrossed in his phone.  By the time he realized I was there, I was literally 3 feet from him.  Imagine if I had any bad intentions.  Seriously.  People, this love affair with technology is making you vulnerable in so many ways, and is destroying relationships to boot.  Just put the thing down, look up, and pay attention.  To the task at hand. To the moment.  To your date.  To the stars in the clear dark early morning sky.  To anything but that damned screen.   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Please don’t keep me waiting. I’m not saying my time is more important than yours, or that I’m some kind of VIP or something. I planned and organized my whole day around this appointment, Child care has been arranged, my own work appointments have been rearranged to fit. I’ve left plenty of time before and after the allotted slot to allow for delays in your schedule, as well as getting to where I need to be. I’m just saying that it costs me to wait for you.

When I arrive and fill out all of the many pages of paperwork (which, by the way, I could have done in advance if you had them online), perhaps someone can let me know you are running late. I’d know then that I’d have enough time to run home and give my boy, who did not want to let me go this morning, a quick hug while I retrieve the one paper I forgot that I will need this afternoon. I’d know then that I could be sitting in your waiting room for an hour, and then possibly in the exam room for another. I could make a choice as opposed to feeling like an inconvenience sitting in the crowded waiting room.

It costs me to wait. In dollars, in daycare, in time, and in relationships. Don’t think I don’t know how a day can get crazy. I work in health care - I travel to patient appointments, and I am usually on time. I schedule carefully and realistically. I want to feel unhurried with each client. I want them to feel like I am hearing them.

So, yes, I know you are busy, and the office fax guy is here, and the drug rep stopped by. I also know that insurance creates a situation where you feel you must over schedule in order to make any money. I get all that. All I ask is that when you look out on the crowded waiting room, you think about all of those peoples lives, and consider what it took to get them there today.  Consider what they are missing to be there for you.  Consider your reasons for entering the profession in the first place, which were hopefully in the interest of helping others, and return to serving those reasons. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I had a boss once who said "everyone is replaceable".  Yes, makes you all warm and fuzzy inside doesn't it?  He is the same person who asked me to "think outside the box but work inside the box".  Hmm.  So perhaps he was not the greatest boss, but he did have a good point.  One that I was too young and idealistic and self centered to understand.  Everyone is replaceable.  If you can separate your emotions and needs from it, it is true.  The world will not fall apart if I am not doing "that one thing".  Sometimes I forget that, and the Universe has it's way of putting me in my place. 

Friday night I woke in the middle of the night and was sicker than I have been in....maybe in forever, or at least since I went to the hospital for food poisoning back in the early 90's.  After several trips to the loo, I get back to a fitful and feverish sleep thinking "I'll be fine tomorrow".  I woke up and tried to hoist myself out of bed - no luck.  I had to call upon Honey for help, and not just my usual request for help with the morning routine and the kids.  I asked for him to take over while I worked my way to the couch.  Then to get me the phone, my calendar, my files.... so I could call all of my clients and cancel my appointments for the day. 

Once he saw the state I was in, Honey just took over.  He is usually the "on" parent on Saturdays while I work.  He changes sheets, does laundry, takes the kids out to play, pretty much takes care of everything.  But yesterday he went above - he took them grocery shopping, dealt with all the meals and snacks, kept everyone calm and occupied so I could sleep all day, and generally was TAH - The Amazing Honey.  The one time he had to leave to run a quick errand, the kids played doctor, telling me that I had fallen off my bike and hurt my nose and laying bandage upon bandage on my face.  I didn't even need to act in the play - they worked around my inert body.     

Every time I thought I was good to get up, I was quickly reminded by my own body that I was jumping the gun.  I started to think about how when we don't give ourselves a break, sometimes we are forced to do so.  Once I was able to keep my eyes open for more than a few minutes, I laid around and read a book for pleasure.  I looked at a great new magazine that had arrived in the mail.  I watched the kids and Honey play outside.  By the evening, I was able to help a little getting the kids to bed, and I relished reading books with them since I hadn't really gotten to play too much all day.

I certainly don't want to be replaced, but it is a good feeling to know that the world would turn without me. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Simple Things

I make lists.  I have notebooks with various lists all over the house.  When I feel overwhelmed, I begin a new list.  I love checking stuff off, and love the feeling of accomplishment that gives me.  So why am I feeling lately so overwhelmed when I look at my list?  So much is getting crossed off, but the list keeps on growing and growing so it seems endless.  I've stumbled upon a blog (that I am now addicted to), and while much of it is stellar information and ideas, one basic simple thing has popped out at me that helps answer why my to-do lists are killing me.  Each day, define your three most important tasks.  That's it.  Out of your list, make three things the MIT's and do them.  Seems like a no-brainer right?  But here's the thing.  In her examples, she has things like "spend quality time with family - picnic?" and "tell Sue funny joke" and all kinds of other relationship related things.  Woah.  You mean I can (and should) put those things on my list?  And that they can (and should) be on the MIT's?  Hallelujah!  It's only been two days of trying this and I am already feeling a difference.  It really is the simple things that make all of the difference. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Digging out

My whole life it seems I've been working so hard.  Moving so fast.  And sometimes getting it all done.  How on earth have I survived so long at this speed?  I think my time for chaotic squeaking by is up, and as difficult as it is to let the madness go, it has to stop.  Clearly, I have been creating things to keep myself occupied - even creating "work" so I can avoid other things on the to-do list. 

I was at the home of a client the other day, and I walked by the moms desk.  It was a small, neat, simple wooden desk, with a notebook on top of a clear space.  She had a love note from her husband pinned to the wall, and a small flower in a vase.  It was a picture out of a magazine,  but this woman lives like this.  Now, I have had public spaces that look like house beautiful, but my desk has always been organized chaos.  Seeing this lovely scene with one planning book made me furiously jealous.  I want that life.  The one where I can be methodical and neat and orderly.  Where I can walk to my desk and not get sick to my stomach looking at the piles of crap that I "have" to go through. 

That was a few weeks ago, and that combined with a few other "aha'" moments, I'm finally doing it.  One step at a time.  I have a small notebook that I now carry everywhere I go, and I jot my "to-do's" in there as I think of them.  I've even delegated a few to Honey.  My menu and grocery list are in there, as well as project ideas for the house and kids.  I've been shredding papers, reorganizing files, and creating a yard sale/freecycle pile.  I've done a bit of yoga and some meditation.  I've even begun thinking about what life would be like with just one focus.  That's a whole complicated thought process, and my hang ups about being productive, busy, important, and "using my degrees" are messing with my head.   But I'm thinking about it, which a big deal. 

I'd like to live a more purposeful life.  Right now it feels a bit like a waiting game, but I can feel the sands shifting.  Here's to a calmer more peaceful me.       

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fresh Start

I've written resolutions almost every New Year as long as I can remember.  They are often things that I want to change about myself or my lifestyle, and they are often set aside by mid February or so.  Setting a goal to change an inherent part of me, while admirable, seems like a backhanded way of saying "work harder, be better, try to be perfect", which of course is not possible. 

When I worked at gyms for years in college and afterwards, the staff always used to brace themselves for the onslaught in January, knowing that by March they'd all be gone.  We had contests and specials, trying to keep people there and focused on the big picture, but we always lost a bunch after a good solid run.  They just petered out.  So many resolutions, health related or not, are like that.  We approach them with focus and gusto and then wear ourselves out on the idea and give up. 

I'm all for a clean slate and starting fresh in the New Year, but it 's the way that we (or maybe just I) tend to write goals that is sticking in my craw.  I feel like my goals have always reflected my need to climb and scramble to be somehow worthy all these years.  That I and my life are never *enough* and there is always something more to be coveted.  This year, life is different, and the resolutions reflect that.  There is nothing I want or need.  There is nothing I wish to be that is different from right now.  I am grateful and present, and that I will remain that way is my one wish. 

Happy and Healthy New Year to all of us.