Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feeling Guilty Sucks!

Feeling Guilty.  No one really tells you about how you will never, ever be rid of this feeling once you have children.  I personally think everyone deals with it so often each day that they forget that they had ever lived a life without it. 

Organic foods.  Low-sugar, balanced diets.  Lots of outside time and exercise.  Limited screen time (t.v. & computer).  Great school.  Great physicians.  Solid financial plans & practices.  Tons of quality time.  Patience.  Supportive, loving words.  Time with friends.  Time to work on educational goals.  Strong religious connections.  Safe neighborhood.  Time for sports & teamwork.  Flex time to be creative and expressive. 

These are goals I have for my own kids, and for us as a family.  But I rarely feel like I do a great job with most of them.  I yell.  Sometimes a lot.  Sometimes when I'm not even angry, but because my kids have severe Mom Deafness.  I let my kids have too much time at home.  I don't work hard enough to set up peer play time for them.  I let them eat sweet things.  And $5 pizzas.  With their organic veg & milk, so that balances out, right?  Sometimes our 'quality time' is sitting in front of the t.v. watching Phineaus and Ferb.  Sometimes, it's even been Adventure Time.  (Which also brings me to the question about that show - how can they possibly write a show that makes you FEEL like you are on a weird drug trip with only a cartoon??)

In a class my daughter and I are in this fall, one mom asked if any other moms felt guilty for telling their children they needed a segment of time each day to do Mom stuff.  Lots of moms supported her need to set aside time for making calls, checking emails, or just doing something that a 30ish person would like, and NOT what a 3ish person would like.  I call it sanity time.  And I've had close and personal relationships with moms who haven't made their own mental health a priority at all, and I don't suggest following that path.  It's really difficult to find your way back without a great deal of work.  And you will spend a great deal of personal time supporting a variety of medical professionals.  I've got better things to do.  Today.

So I have been wondering why previous generations haven't shared how guilty they feel for failing their children.  I mean, my grandparents were clearly not perfect parents to my mother or father.  But every child survived, and made it to adulthood with all the skills necessary to create their own lives.  Now there are a few of those children who have done better at creating a fulfilling life for themselves than a few others, but they had big families and the percentages are still pretty good.  And they seemed very happy with how things turned out for everyone while I knew them as their grandchild.  Oh, and they all taught me a lot about family, finances and attitude.  Things I didn't necessarily learn from my parents because we were too close to each other (and I always knew so much more than my parents did, of course!)

I try to remember that when I start to feel guilty.  My kids have been provided a safe and happy home with two parents who love them dearly.  We will help them, the best we can, to pay for college.  We will give them as many opportunities as we feel drawn toward & can afford & fit into our schedule.  But I feel like I've already given up so many of my own opportunities over these past seven years.  I still make less than $10k a year.  I schedule my life around naps (or the potential need for them).  I don't feel like I can ever watch a Lord of the Rings movie again, or at least until my kids are old enough to watch it with me.  I mean, more than 2 hours for a movie?  I feel like I have to squeeze in 30 minutes to write something down on this blog.  I pay Netflix to send me 2 movies a month because I can't fit in time to watch them. 

But I love my kids, and find an immense amount of joy and fulfillment spending my life raising them.  But I refuse to feel guilty that I'm not a perfect parent.  There is no such thing.  I am only going to promise them that I will be the best parent to them that I can be at each moment.  I promise I will make mistakes and give them topics to discuss with their therapist.  I think that's also part of my job as a parent.  I will give them room to make mistakes of their own too.  And I hope they do make them.  I hope they try things and fall flat on their faces.  And I will always be there to share words of support and love to send them back into the world to try things again.  I know that I'm excited for the time when I can head back out to do my own stuff for a good chunk of the day, get paid for it, and rejoin my family to discuss their experiences of the day. 

So for all parents who might read this:  Give up feeling guilty about not being perfect.  Feel proud that you are teaching your child(ren) that the world will not adapt toward their needs, but that they will need to adapt to the world and seek out ways to meet their needs.  And by giving up the guilt, you will also teach your children to become parents who will do the same. 

'Cuz I'm good enough, Smart enough, and Gosh Darn It, My kids are Awesome!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

thinking about being a little more thankful...

So I have a pretty "cake" life.  I'm Caucasian.  I live in the U.S.  I grew up in a safe, and loving family.  I learned early on the importance of laughter, education and love.  I am well educated.  I am married to a loving man, who is a wonderful father to our children.  I have full cupboards.  A safe, affordable house.  A safe automobile.  A safe neighborhood.  Enough money to do what we need to do, with a little left over to do something fun too.  All this hasn't changed much over the span of my life.

I know that it isn't a popular or even politically correct idea, but I don't think we should, as a nation, dwell on how 'everything changed' on September eleventh.  For me, it didn't.  I never believed that anyone would send an attack into the middle of the nation.  I don't think this kind of attack would have enough of an impact on our country.  I never believed that any retaliatory attack on one country (like Afghanistan or Iraq) was an answer to what happened to all the innocent, beautiful people who died because of the fear mongers who chose the one day of the year that matches our call for help.  One nation didn't attack us.  Muslims didn't attack us.  Fear mongers all over the world wish to hurt those who offer hope to the masses.  Even those twisted, imperfect, sometimes diminishing rays of hope that are emanating from our nation today.  We were and remain a good target.

For anyone who pays attention to world news, the pain and loss felt in so many other nations every year, month, week, and day happen at such a rate that whole nations work within the framework of post-traumatic-stress-disorder.  Leaders all the way down to young children.  (links describing Ongoing Wars, Famine, Terrorism)  Those who wish to spread the diseases of fear and hatred cherish these areas of strength.  My point is that most people in our nation have very little to do with the stress and pain of this kind of fear.  I fear that the planet will continue to warm and my children and grandchildren will live more difficult lives because of our lives today.  I fear that my husband's job will be cut due to a lack of structural support in the education system.  I do not fear that I will shop in a store that will be bombed.  I do not often fear that bullets, intended or stray, will harm those I love.  I know that these are possibilities, but unlikely ones. 

Our nation has spent over a trillion dollars 'fighting terror' with little success other than killing Osama Bin Laden.  Our taxes haven't gone up for decades, though there are many who would argue that we all pay way too much as it is.  Our nation has been involved in two big wars, along with loads of smaller 'humanitarian efforts' world wide with little impact on our lives here at home.  How is that possible?  We are now a nation living well beyond our means.  But that is done merely by choice, or by ignorance, or more sadly, by the choice to ignore.

The almost three thousand people who died without justifiable cause on that sad September day will always be remembered and cherished by those who loved them.  Even honored forever by a nation of people who knew them only through the stories and pictures shared by their family and friends.  I didn't know any of them.  For the pain felt by those who did know them, I am thankful I was spared that pain.  I do not know the pain of losing someone in such a senseless, tragic way.  But I can't forget that there are people the world over who are afraid, with just cause, to leave their homes.  Who fear that their children will be killed by warring bands of men all fighting for power over them.  Who can name a long list of those they loved who have already died by stray bullets, by planned explosions killing random groups of innocent people, by acts of people who care only about spreading fear.

Because of September eleventh, I am thankful that our nation now has a heartfelt connection to those other peoples of the world dealing with the same senseless, tragic loss caused by terrorism.  I hope that one day we will also know the joy of helping nations where terror attacks happen so much more often.  Where our nation's 'beacon of hope' is not just a fairy tale heard in daily life lived far away, but as a daily reminder of alternate options for dealing with a nation's struggle .  By knowing that our nation, without putting ourselves in a cycle of poverty, can offer help and hope in real ways today.  But today, we aren't there.  In some ways, our soldiers offer controlled peace in small areas of the world.  There aren't enough of them: soldiers or areas of peace.

I know that there are many who will think I am a terrible person to say these things.  To be here, saying that something we do as a nation is wrong in my eyes.  That's just fine.  Because I live in a nation where I can share my thoughts without fear of political retribution.  With the knowledge that my free speech is protected and cherished.  I am thankful for my luck at being born as I was.  I did not deserve this life, but I am forever thankful for it.  I pray that many more feel as I do; this thankfulness for the life they are given.  I have an easy life to be thankful for.  I know most others are not.

{I do want to also highlight my awareness and thankfulness for those people who work in the military and world wide aide organizations who work tirelessly toward making the dangerous, and painful places on this earth more peaceful and safe.  I honor all those who do this work, and especially those who give their lives for this cause.  There is no greater gift than this.  For all those who do what I do not, thank you.  An inadequate couple of words for the feeling, but all that I have.}
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. For perfect love casts out fear" (2Tim.1:7; 1Jn.4:18).  
"Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves."- William Hazlett; 
"Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength." - Frances de Sales 
"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." - General George Washington
Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thankful for Everything

It is not enough to do your best: you must know what to do, and THEN do your best.
-- W. Edwards Deming

So lately I haven't written anything about life.  I have tried to "participate" in life instead.  I say this here because I recently finished the book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, and this goal was adopted by the main character, Charlie.  I have also focused on living in the moment - taking in the joys and sorrows of whatever life is putting before me.  I'm not always super successful at this, but I like to have goals.  

So far this summer - during which I have lived and not written - I am thankful for:
1. sassy daughter
2. waves on a beach
3. picking rocks on the shore
4. realizing that shins can sweat
5. realizing that I can think about the cold of winter and feel better during the dog days of summer
6. listening to really good new music
7. talking with my husband - especially after all these years together
8. listening to my children - especially when they aren't asking questions, but telling about their many, many, many thoughts
9. walking the dogs
10. working at a job that I love, and would still love even if I won the lottery and came to work for free.
11. understanding that I need to really, truly spell out what I want from babysitters, family members and those that I count on for help
12. good new friends
13. good "established" friends (we will never age past 29 in my mind)
14. gaining the knowledge that we're all pretty much the same - politics, religion, culture, etc. are just spices in the big potluck meal of life.
15. learning that Namaste means "I see the beauty of the true you, and I reflect the love of our Creator back to you."  (among many other meanings)  
16. discovering the amazing substance of caffeine.  
17. missing my college days less and less as each new day passes.
18. rainy days that force you to stay inside - or take the chance to go outside anyway and play in the falling water.
19. cool mornings while camping
20. health problems that are only an annoyance and not a road block in my life.
21. understanding that the basis for all actions in the world are based on Love or Fear.  And having the goal to react more often based on Love - no matter what trials life brings to me.
22. celebrating each new day with people I love, who also love me and support me (and occasionally seem to live to annoy the poo out of me :)
23. the chance to tell everyone that I can be a big idiot at times.  No really, it's true.
24. rediscovering sour cream.  How I ever took a ~10 year hiatus from eating this joyful substance is really beyond me.
25. eating all sorts of "bad for you" things all summer, then going to the doctor and learn that I've actually lost weight.  
26. laughing.  As often as possible.  About as inappropriate a thing as I can possibly find.  Like poop.  (Yes, kids, it's still funny.)
27. driving in the much disliked Minivan of Motherhood, with all the windows open and the radio cranked, car-seat dancing with my kids.  
28. taking on new projects
29. always having more to do with my day than day to do things in.
30. always having more people I want to sit down and talk with.  If you are reading this, you are likely one of those people.
31. requesting a popular new book from the library, being 271 in "line" to get it, and being too busy to even check what my number is until I realize my "Hold" on it has passed me by, and being 271 in line to get it again.
32. walking thru the library to "see if any book pops at me" and checking a few "pops" out to read.
33. getting something done off my list (like this list).
34. not ever finishing everything.  I do like to finish a couple of things - but come on!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

motherhood and all that jazz

So you may know that my mom and I don't usually see eye to eye.  She's an interesting person, filled with lots of good blessings.  Maybe we are just a little too much like two sides of the same coin?  I don't know.  I spent years in college psych classes having teachers inform me that I needed to figure this "core relationship" out.  At that point, I was more interested in keeping some good distance between us - to avoid conflict, hurt and a huge amount of annoyance. 

But now, I'm older and I've got my own two little slices of me.  And hanging out with lots of other moms, I feel myself sliding into intermittent fits of jealousy at hearing how one mom or another can call up her mother, rely on her to help out, or just hang out with her on a routine basis.  I can't.  And that's okay too.  My mother is busy with working, and politics (not my flavor, but very involved), and church (ditto previous sentiment) and whatever else fits her fancy.  I can't be part of those groups she's in.  And I want to give her that space.  She chooses to have more distance between us.  Okay.  I can intellectualize all this for myself, and what it means for my life.  But I do mourn over the sweet relationship between Grandmother and grandchild that my own kids are missing out on.  That part sucks.  Royally.  And I don't know that I'll ever get over that. 

But the part of all this that I can be absolutely thankful for (and amazed by) is the presence of my mother-in-law in our lives.  She lives all the way down in Arizona, and we have more contact with her during the year (and even week to week) than with my own parents who live twenty-five minutes from our house.  She is an amazing woman, who I thought I had appreciated during the years we spent getting to know each other before my husband and I had kids.  But now, I feel like she is a mentor mom to me.  Someone who has this amazing ability to make anyone who she's around feel comfortable and loved.  I hope that someday, I can be half the mom and grandmother she is.  I'll live a lot closer as a grandma, unless my own kids move down south (heat and I don't mix well).  But that's far from the point.

So this mother's day, while I'm celebrating how much I have changed through motherhood, and the life I share with my husband, I'll be pulled in two other directions as well.  I'll be thinking of all my sister-friends who have difficult or lost relationships with their own mothers - those who have mothers like mine with miles of emotional distance between them and those with mothers who have passed from this world with light years between what was and what is today, and everyone in between.  And I will be thankful down to my soul that I can spend so much of my life with the mother who nurtured and guided my husband to be the wonderful man (and father) he is.  And I hope she understands at least a little bit of how amazing and important a person she is to us, and especially to me.  Thanks D!  Here's your cyber hug!  Can't wait to hug you in person this summer!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a short list of amazing places in MN

i've lived in Minnesota my entire life.  my paternal ancestors, from which i gained my maiden name, traveled to this basic area in Minnesota way back when, and most of my relations from that small landing crew have pretty much stayed put.  this is a beautiful place.  lush grasslands (okay, so there's not so much prairie around these days), green forests, creeks, rivers, lakes, cities, towns, fine arts and farming.  it's nothing like New York (though my travels there were amazing) or other big city destinations, but i take that as a compliment.  Minnesota has everything... almost.

and i have to say that i feel a strong sense of safety here.  we do have murders, accidents and crime.  but we rarely have natural disasters that are unpredictable, devastating and massive.  we can predict tornadoes, for the most part.  and floods are generally apparent before they spill over river banks during spring thaws.  i don't know that i'll ever be able to wrap my mind around how areas of Japan, Haiti, New Zealand and smaller lands that have been obliterated by the earthquakes and tsunami waves.  my heart goes out to everyone who knows the beauty of these people and these areas that have been destroyed.  my prayers are ongoing, and i look to God to guide this scrappy bunch of humans here on Earth to come together to bring healing to their hearts and lands.

on that note, i look out my window here in middle Minnesota, in the calm of the fresh spring air.  i want to appreciate this place, as it is during my life - so i now think toward summer vacations.  from my livingroom windows, i see no more snow.  the grass is drying out, and starting it's slow progress towards green.  I'M READY TO GO OUTSIDE!!

for anyone looking for some interesting and enjoyable places to visit in Minnesota, the following are the few that have popped into my head this afternoon.

1. Duluth/Grand Marais/Lake Superior Shore Towns:

In the city of Duluth, there are many amazing places to visit.

With small children in mind, everyone HAS to go to the Duluth Children's Museum/Union Depot 
It is so much fun to see full sized trains - engines and train cars - walk through most with places to sit and imagine life during a different time, see model trains set up with great detail, and even stop in an ice cream and gift shop that fit in with the era of steam trains.
THEN, head over to the Children's Museum for some MORE fun!!  Our last trip included an indoor fishing trip, complete with a row boat and fabric fish; and what I sort of remember as being a frontier military fort, child-sized, with different buildings and costumes to fit each career.

A walk along Canal Street is great in warmer weather, with a multitude of shops to satisfy everyone's shopping needs.  The Maritime/Marine Museum next to the lift bridge is always a treat.  The ore "boat" (ship) permanently docked closeby is an interesting stop.  The Aquarium is a good one, especially if you can take in the view of the lake on a clear day.  There are loads of places to stay and so many other places to visit and things to do, that i'd rather you looked through their site on your own.  i've gone to Duluth countless times during these nearly four decades and have never been disappointed.

If you'd like to continue on passed the "big city", follow along the North Shore Drive (Old Hwy. 61) to enjoy Lake Superior on your right and many tourist stops along the road.  i would STRONGLY suggest stopping for the pie.  And Grand Marais isn't too far away.  A lovely little-ish place.  Light house, cool town, great history & hiking.  wonderful shopping.  WONDERFUL SHOPPING.  i wish they were closer.

You could continue on up to Canada, which i also think is a lovely place to visit, but passports weren't part of this post today.

2. Minnesota State Parks
They can be found all over this state, and each offers their own take on fun, family, natural experiences.  We haven't stayed in every park, but one's we REALLY enjoyed were - Bemidji State Park, William O'Brien (just outside of Stillwater), Gooseberry Falls St. Pk., and Itasca.  We try to visit at least one new park each year, so we've got years to go with all the choices there are.  You can rent a cabin, pop a tent, drive or pull in an RV, or in select parks, even rent a room.  (And you can set up your reservations online, and in some parks, even enjoy free wi-fi).  Then, you just pack snacks and lunch and go for a hike!  Play in the dirt!  Go for a swim!  A bike ride!  A nap!  And your summer memories will be so much better when they include campfire marshmallows and a soft cricket lullaby.  (did i fail to mention how exhausted little people get on these trips?  or how EASY it is to put them to bed after a full day in fresh air, having fun?)

3.  Wabasha

If you've seen the movies, "Grumpy Old Men" and "Grumpier Old Men" you've had a small taste of life in Wabasha, MN.  Set next to Lake Pepin, Wabasha is the quintessential small, sort-of-tourist town you'd like to visit.  It's a short trip South of the Twin Cities, which conveniently avoids most of the "cabin traffic" of summer weekends.  There are loads of campgrounds in the area, as well as hotels/motels, and i'm sure a few B&B's.  For anyone who enjoys toys, the Lark Toy Store is next door in Kellogg.  We spent a good part of the day there last summer, riding the gorgeous Carousel, eating fudge, shopping, playing with toys (there are 1000's) and learning how Lark Toys got it's start.  There's more to see around Wabasha too, but i'll let you look around their website so i can move on.

4.  Small resort towns

Now I've never actually stayed at the big resorts like Craguns but i've bunked many times in the cozy beds of small, mom &  pop resorts.  i know they are still out there, fewer than i remember, but great places to spend a great week or weekend of summer fun.  These little gems are found all over the state, but one that remains close to my heart is Hackensack, MN. 

After meeting my best friend, and essentially being adopted by her crazy but loving family, i spent many happy summer days soaking in sun and fun in this small, quirky town.  Painted turtle races, sandy swimming beaches, good enough fishing (i was a teenage girl on my last stay there), fun tourist shops, and enough fun to keep a family of five kids, each with a friend along, busy for the duration.  It was always at the Pleasant Pines Resort, which couldn't have changed much, unless they've added more to it (and it was great already).

So i hope you all have a wonderful Spring to look forward to an amazing Summer, which should really include some great vacations around this gorgeous (and safe) state.  Fill your hearts and minds with the greens and blues; the calls of the loon, the song of the cricket, the crackle of the campfire; and do all you can before all that goes quiet again in the cool months that send us inside, yet again.  But then, we'll have our photos, fading sun tans and memories to keep us sane.  Or at least, sort of sane.

Monday, April 4, 2011

a poem for this monday...

whenever i have the chance, i do a random "next blog" search for writers i would otherwise miss.  today, i found a cool one here on  it's called The Fearless Blog, and the latest or last post was a great poem about Obama.  I voted for President Obama, an experience I haven't enjoyed in what felt like WAY TOO LONG (i mean, voting for the winning candidate). 

Even with my joy at his accomplishment, and support along the way, I am not a blind fanatic.  I don't love everything Obama has done during his presidency, but I understand that, especially in these times, political gains are won in small increments. 

So, here I share the poem found on The Fearless Blog.  And I too hope that there are more, and bigger changes to be had - for the better, of course.  But always, in shear joy of poetry and politics, please read on:

Guest Post: Viva Obama By Bert Lorenzo

Obama beat McCain handsomely
so those who criticize my president should let him be
and show more respect for democracy.
The people voted for change
and change they should see
but it takes time to make new policy.

June 2009 he improved the economy.
Now everywhere I go I see people spending money.
He reduced unemployment.
Now concert halls, movie houses and sport stadia
sell-out for people’s enjoyment.
Things are fine
but people continue to whine.

They say he’s a Muslim
who secretly practices Islam.
And that he cares more for the lower classes
because he wants to raise the rich’s taxes.
And that he goes too far
when he supports building a mosque near that 9/11 scar.

I say he hasn’t gone far enough.
Obamacare should give us more stuff.
Rumor has it many doctors want to retire or quit.
They say Obama’s healthcare plan’s unfit.
But he should do everything he promised during his campaign
or those who voted for him
did so in vain.

Some who voted for him now feel remorse.
They fear things will get worse.
They elected the Messiah
but now turn their backs on a pariah.
They’ve abandoned hope so easily.
It says more about them
than about my president’s ability.

Constant criticism might make my president weary.
It can be such a bore.
But the critics should remember
in a democracy people should get what they ask for.

So viva Obama!
I still have hope he won’t abandon the fight
and make all that’s wrong in America right.

Copyright Bert Lorenzo, 2010

Sunday, April 3, 2011

feeling a little Job-ish today

as a kid, i attended school at the same Catholic church my family worshiped at each week.  i loved the cocoon of close-knit families i grew up with there, even though i failed to learn much about making new friends (who needs to?) or welcoming those who differ from you. 

spending so much time in what is basically church with a little reading, writing and arithmetic gave me a great deal of time with the big book of God.  and being a Catholic sanctuary of learning meant that a great deal of focus was placed on "offering pain up to God."  now i haven't studied all kinds of Catholics, but that is a strong message passed on to me.  instead of the secular message of "suck it up" i had it turned into a path towards martyrdom. 

the great, high holy saint (sarcastic font used here) of martyrs is by far Job.  (pronounced Jobe for anyone unfamiliar with my spiritual patron saint)  the book of Job is really a good read if you'd like to try it out, but to sum up Job's life: he had it all.  a great family, wealth, power, a strong faith, did all he could to honor God and all that.  bad stuff happened to him.  his family members died.  his wealth disappeared.  he was covered in sores.  people turned away from him.  he still praised God. 

now i've had a few trying times in my life, but never in any great magnitude.  mostly just times i've had a bad case of "feeling bad for myself-itis".  health problems that require moderate treatments.  irritating but not evil family issues.  loss of people i've loved, but had a lifetime of loving memories to carry me along after their passing.

this past month or so feels like a long laundry list of Job-ness. 

the winter here in Minnesota has dragged on so long, i sometimes wonder if i'm not actually trapped in the movie "Groundhog Day" and instead of reliving one day over and over, maybe i'm just reliving a month or two - again and again. 

we've saved up/ paid off bills just in time to realize we need to spend a good chunk on a newly discovered repair on our minivan (if i haven't described my love/hate relationship with this vehicle, i should say i love to drive it fast and hate when it blends into the 10 other gold minivans in a parking lot). 

i've had a minor health issue, that doesn't require surgery but has dragged on since the fall.  it's not something i talk about because it is "indelicate" and is slowly driving me insane.  quite literally. 

and little things that i've planned out have inconveniently been cancelled or rescheduled because of colds, coughs, and all around not funness.  (again and again and again...)

now i've gotta point out that none of the above listed events or issues has caused me to be shunned from society (though rescheduling the daughter's birthday party for illness put a serious damper on the chaos we had anticipated) or otherwise caused me to re-evaluate my life goals.

i try my best to be patient.  outwardly, i think i do a decent job not showing it too blatantly that i want things to go faster or more my way.  as an adult (in most ways), i understand that life is filled with moments when deep breathing and supreme self-control are required.  but this last week is surely a test to my spirit.

my darling daughter is 3 years old.  she has always been, in utero and hence forth, a firecracker.  she acts shy when it garners her added attention, and talks ears off to keep a good situation going - especially with grandparents.  she is very much NOT like me, which causes me some concern as to how i should parent her since i really have little to no idea what the poo is going on in her little, curly head.  but in ONE way, she is very much like me.  she doesn't sleep well.  or i should say, very long.

to those who are parents of children who fall asleep at 7pm and remain in that state until 8am, go screw yourselves.  you have hit the genetic jackpot and i don't want to hear anything about how it was all found in a parenting book requiring hours of infant-crying-to-sleep nights.  no amount of training will cause a child to sleep that long if it wasn't in their makeup.  my kids and i, and in some ways my husband, have a different sleep style.  right now, my daughter falls asleep pretty well, and only on occasion, wakes during the night for a good cry and then goes back to sleep.  she does wake up right about the same time my husband's alarm clock goes off (her room is a slight bit down the hall from our's, with both doors closed and her fan running).  this usually means she's up by 5:45ish. 

i have been staying up late, as of late.  ha ha.  truly.  it's not too strange to see my bedside lamp still on and me still reading at 12:30 or so.  so i didn't stress out monday night when i sat in the little lady's room as she was falling asleep, and knew i'd fall asleep for a bit too.  i woke up about 45 minutes later, to the sound of sweet husband walking in the door after a music rehearsal.  i was excited to talk to an actual grown up, so i started to get myself up off the floor.  my left leg was TOTALLY asleep.  leg, foot, the whole shabang.  there was a 2second pause when i thought, i should let it "wake up" a bit.  naw.  i wanna get out of here! 

i stood up, heard a gross Pop!/Snap! sound from my numb foot and then fell straight back on the floor.  i took out daughter's dolly umbrella stroller (i guess i weigh a bit more than a plastic doll) and then tried to crawl out of her room.  as soon as i made it to her doorway, the pain arrived.  i thought for sure i must have a bone sticking out of my skin because it felt like i had a burning hot dagger jabbing into my foot.  i made it to the couch somehow, and totally freaked out my husband by sobbing uncontrollably.  (thanks, sweetie, for trying to calmly assess my condition :) )

after a wait for my sister to arrive to guard the solidly sleeping kiddos, we trecked to the E.R. and had that date night we've been shooting for.  free child care, cable comedy shows, an attentive staff, and strong pain killers.

the Job part of this complaint-fest is that i am now, because of my impatience, bound to using crutches and hobbling around with a now disgustingly bruised and swollen foot.  if they had given me a crash helmet and pads, i would've felt better about using the crutches (i'm pretty graceless).  i am missing out on some beautiful walking - hiking weather that has FINALLY graced our landscape.  i am trapped in a land of inconvenience and irritation.  nothing deadly (thankfully). 

and i have to say, that i am, for the most part, thankful (even while irritated) that i have this happening right now.  my kids are pretty self-sufficient, i can order groceries (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, i can still drive (what freedom!), and i have a new appreciation for how difficult getting around must be for those who are resigned to this situation for longer than the 2 weeks or a bit more that i have stuck myself in.  and i know that it is completely MY FAULT.  humbling.  shameful.  irritating.  and thankful that i have the luxury to stay home and recover.  my life isn't dependent on me making it somehow to a job.  my home is safe for me to hang out in.  i can sit on the front step and keep an eye on my kids so they can still drink in the spring air, soaking in some good, cold puddle water along the way.  my land won't rumble, my air is safe to breathe, no bullets will fly, all i know are safe and are healthy - and if not healthy, under the care of good doctors with great integrity.

so today and every day, i offer my irritations/pain/annoyances up to God as a gift of thankfulness for being present here in this life.  there needs to be some repayment for all these blessings i enjoy.  and if this is it for now, i have received the best deal in the world. 

thankful for today! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

been awhile, but still thankful

my computer is super old, and takes a v-e-r-y long time to allow me to publish anything.  so today, in it's honor, i am thankful that my husband has a bad case of the Sunday blues and doesn't want his super fast laptop back for a bit. 

i'm not thankful he's feeling blue, but i do love to see a letter pop right up on the screen as soon as i type it.  technology is great. 

and i am thankful for enjoying some of the 300+ days of sunshine Arizona gets each year. 

i am thankful for generous in-laws.

i am thankful for patient and well-mannered children.

i am thankful for new underclothes (cotton and boring, but oh so nice to buy without children tagging along).

i am thankful to be back home again.

and i am thankful that i can still find new music that i love, even when i am the 'old woman/ ma'am' age that i am.

vampire weekend : horchata is that for me right now.  all about sunshine and having fun.  and spring will really get going one of these days so that all this snow, mud and cloudy weather will end.  won't it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

into the wild

it is a feeling that surely resonates with many of us right now.  a call to the wild warmth and joy of spring.  but right now, a snowstorm heads our way and the already many months of a world of white march on.  (pun unintended but celebrated)

i am raging inside.  i need to run and play and feel the freedom of spring.  i need to be with my girlfriends of twenty years.  i need to go more crazy than buying a new scented candle at target. 

but i am a mother.  one who knows the noble quest of a child's good nap and a balanced checkbook.  one who takes momentary joy in a tidy and somewhat disinfected home.  one whose spirit dances when her children reach out for a hug. 

so along with so many others who surround me, i wait.  i see a date on the calendar for having fun with friends.  i know that the real spring (with all the mud and melt that entails) will someday arrive.  but i wonder, like the blogger, Amanda, who creates amazing works of art on "Kind Over Matter" wonders... where are you my wild women ?  i know i am not the only one raging, not with anger, but with a feeling of anticipation for a renewal of self.  a renewal of spirit.  a fresh path to follow.  a more clear version of today.

read and be reinspired!  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

top 5 wednesday

today i am thankful for

1. tweezers

2. children who love books

3. this ridiculously slow computer

4. the freedom to slow down on our activities while we are sick

5. the ability to print priority mail postage from my house (LOVE the USPS!!)

looking forward to tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

top 5 today

to honor my mission to do more (though the meaning behind that has somewhat changed) I am writing a 'top 5' of things I am thankful for today (and each day I write in, I'll add my top 5). 

1. health care

2.  sunshine

3.  fresh snow

4.  promise of spring

5.  a day filled with ill but happy children

it's really hard for me to hold back from adding more details; explaining exactly what is behind each one, but i have a ton more to do today.  Stuff that really deserves to be finished.  So that I can move on tomorrow with more things i can finish.  because i am worth it.  and it feels so much better to finish all that i can...

Monday, February 14, 2011

honoring the push to do more

Creator of Everything,
Ultimate Being,
Earth Mother,
Dude who Abides,

Help Me out (again.)

I fell into step with this life a little too easily.

Forgotten were the steps needed to maintain a positive trajectory;
to keep up, not with the "Joneses," but with our own dreams.
I got lazy.  (yes, again)

I swung out of balance.

Help me get there again,
to meet the challenges I've put myself behind.

You've given me a great endurance for stress,
and a slow but steady pace to meet up with all those challenges I meet up with
(so many that I have placed in my own way.)

Thank you for being that so small; sometimes loud voice rising from the deepest part of me -
pushing me toward the life that will make me happiest.
never first, never best, never the most of anyone else, just the happiest I can be.

You are really pushing me right now. 
Timed perfectly with the warm air and melting snow of this false spring time.
I thank you for putting the trust in me that I am capable of taking on these incredible tasks -
especially the trust that I will do better this time around with keeping all these things in balance.

You rock. 

Always a big fan,

Friday, February 11, 2011

a moment or two of humor...

Today I am thankful for humor.  Aside from chocolate and caffeine, it's really what gets me through each day.  The first photo was taken from a blog titled :   So true.  It's one ad in a well designed ad campaign for a job search website.  Who knew  Germans could be so witty?  As you look through the post about the ad campaign, know there is one picture of a man's "somewhat" naked butt.  So take care around those who you'd rather not talk to about what the ad might be about...

All these were found online, and I would like to share great thanks for everyone who notices, documents and shares these items that add a touch of light and laughter to everyone who sees them.  Each of these people makes life on this planet so much better! 


And my favorite thing to laugh about is the surprising lack of manners and common sense that so many display.  I think we also saw these posted in the state parks in Michigan, but maybe not.  I'd love to display these around our property & adjoining neighborhood park.  Or find where some of these people live and 'regift' their doggy presents.  oops, staying on topic...

I love to read other blogs - and my favorite funny blogs, those kind that your pulse races and you quietly click on whenever you see they have a new post.  NOT blogs where you see videos or photos of people doing stupid things.   No one getting punched, smacked or nailed in the balls.  I'm not 13 anymore.  That stuff just isn't funny, or at least not most of the time.  These blogs take the cerebral function up a notch, and leave you laughing till it hurts.

Cakewrecks is amazingly funny!!!  "When Professional Cakes go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong!" Some are appropriate to share, some you'll need to check your surroundings for.

For anyone living the pregnant life, check out Frankly Pregnant.  I found it during my second pregnancy, AFTER spending some 'up close and personal' time with my very straight forward, no humor OB.  This blog made me laugh, understand more and feel slightly less freaked out.  (That is truly high praise!)  And I then stopped flashing my nether regions to my OB quite so often.  {After compiling a book of her work, and giving birth to her final child, the author stopped adding to this site, but maintains it as a beacon of hope to all pregnant women.  So thankful for this woman!}

A new treasure is How Not to Act Old; which I loved even more when she commented on not being able to "act 38 anymore".

She used to live here in the Twin Cities, but she moved with her family to Ohio recently.  Still keeping us up to date with all that's going on in her world, Sheletta , through her blog, still must be the funniest woman in the Twin Cities!

For those who want to understand just how good their own life is, check out FMyLife.

And I've gotta share Attack of the Redneck Mommy.  Often hilarious, occasionally teary, a Canadian mom shares a glimpse into her life.  Always worth a read.

 A couple of funny (or at least humorous) blogs that compliment each other- Stuff White People Like  and  Stuff Parisians Like .

And a love letter/knee slap to motherhood brings us to a close today at Dooce.  She is first an amazing writer, second a loving mom and third finds humor and joy in so many moments (big and small).

You are here right now; today.  Find the joy in that gift.  Celebrate yourself, and LAUGH!! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Identity in Balance

The identity of one changes with how one perceives reality. 
                                                                      ~Vithu Jeyaloganathan

Being a stay-at-home parent in general equates to a new identity (both as someone who works within their own walls, and as the parent of someone small).  Now I've had a lot of identity changes in my life... adolescence, dating, marriage, college, religion, friendships, travel, the list goes on and on.  A person's identity is always based on who and what they are involved in.

With parenting, I think the identity of the stay-at-home parent can get enmeshed in the identity of the child(ren) so much so that the parent loses part of who they really are.  This is beginning to sound too clinical.

I used to occasionally hear part of 'Dr.' Laura's radio show.  (The Dr. is in quotes 'cuz she's not a doctor of what she talks about - she's a doctor of physiology or anatomy, not therapy or mental health).  She used to tell women to identify themselves as their child's mother.  Though I understood that she was essentially pushing back from the selfishness of some parents who put their own happiness/wants/interests above their parenting duties, I really hated that idea.  Staying home to care for and raise your children is isolating, with years of "waiting" to reconnect with what you used to do in your "free" time.  So many days, I feel I've lost myself within this daily list of tasks and the rather rigid schedules of a young child's life, there seems little room left for Me.

But I've always struggled to maintain my Me-ness.

My own last name is hyphenated.  I love my husband, and his family, and added his last name to my own as a sign of honoring my new membership into their family.  But I am not ever going to be OF my husband's family.  Let me put that a second way.  I am always going to be from my family.  No matter how long I am a part of my husband's family, I will still feel like an 'ex-pat' - like Craig Ferguson is now a citizen of the United States, but will always feel different because he is from Scotland.  He sounds different when he talks, he is passionate about being an American in a different way than I could ever be - because he chooses to be here.  I will always interrupt, speak too loudly, lose my train of thought as I listen to others; all because that is how my own family communicates.  This stuff is normal to my family, but not to my husband's.

Now, another voice has added to the fray of what identity a parent can take on.  Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" brings up many great ideas.  Though I still have her book on my "to read" list, I have discussed the book with many who have read it, and have read countless articles responding to her work.

 I love her idea of not letting a young child decide when it's time to quit an activity (if I would agree to that, I'd be shelling out buckets of cash all over town for sign up fees with the attendance to one or two actual sessions of things my son would then say is boring, makes him too anxious, or whatever).  My own parents allowed me to quit both gymnastics and tap dance when I was very young.  I remember hearing the teachers talking about an upcoming recital or performance for parents, and feeling anxious and self-conscious; and then telling my mom & dad that I was "not going to go anymore".  They let me quit!  What a powerful day for me!  But then, I missed going to those classes, and wished I could go again.  Even then, I secretly wished I would've continued on.  Even if I had missed the big show, I would've loved to learn more about how to confidently move my body, and build it's strength. 

I applaud her for expecting her children to do their best - extra credit, high quality craft/art projects, and well-practiced musical performances.  (How could I ever keep all the drawings, designs, crafts and writing my own children create?  I'd need to rent storage space, and they're only six and three!)  I love that she has set her children up to understand how important hard work, perseverance, and focus are in every aspect of life. 

And I enjoy how she opens her own life up for discussion by those she doesn't know.  She shares her stories with wit and humor - and sometimes shocking honesty.  Kudos. 

My trouble with her parenting style is that she focuses so much of her own time into her children's activities.  I mean, I understand attending a piano lesson here and there, and paying attention to how the child practices at home.  But there is no way I would ever feel comfortable or valuable sitting in on every lesson and then working as the "stand-in teacher" for practicing at home.  It seems to me to be a short side step from home schooling*.  Why bother paying someone else if I need to work so hard to be their equal? 

*I understand that many adults who chose homeschooling for their children do so with only the best interests of their specific children in mind.  These exemplary adults act as champion-advocates for the needs of their children - who would otherwise find failure and frustration in the public and private school options available to them.  I live in an area with high quality public schools, which provide me with the opportunity to work for pay outside my home, and for my children to experience a variety of teaching styles in their community of peer learners. 

I have always fought with myself on what my own identity really is.  And I guess that's why this new book, and the older topics from above, have touched a nerve with me.  I know how much I LOVE being a mom, a wife, a woman.  But I don't want to lose more of myself in the interests and activities of my children.  I don't think I would be doing my children any good by modeling how to be a door mat mom.  And no, I don't think anyone would ever consider Amy Chua one of those.  But I think it's such a fine balance.  A child's interests vs. a parent's.  There are only so many hours in a day - and I don't have any hired help to make my own valuable time any easier to come by.

I don't want to find myself sitting on the sidelines of every practice, rehearsal, scrimmage, run-through, whatever for my children.  I'd need to find something to numb my obvious disinterest, and that would only cause me more troubles (and doctors surely don't hand out Valium like they used to!)

So today, I am thankful that I am aware that I need to continue to place my own interests into the jumble of daily life; along with the interests of everyone else in my family.  I am thankful that Dr. Laura, and Amy Chua are honest enough to put a good part of their identity out there for the world to pick at.  And I am also, thankful to be a Western mom.  I have the freedom to make choices - both as a parent and as a woman - for what my family will do with our time.  And I am thankful that I don't have everything (with myself or the world) totally figured out just yet. 

If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?  ~Chuck Palahniuk

Saturday, February 5, 2011

like mindedness...

I'm a woman who is filled with both passionate opinions and the forceful attitude that those opinions often need to be shared.  Though this trait has caused me to damage relationships, at times, it has also brought me to the place that I celebrate it.  I can only do so much with this personality I've been given, and that's a great thing.  Someone wanted me to be here on this Earth, noticing, critiquing, empathizing, sharing, loving and disliking.  And I don't think it was solely to be a giant pain in the tuchas to those I come into contact with.

On that note, this post found on "Kind Over Matter" was so lovely, and joyful, and truthful that I had to share it here.  Know that all that makes you the person you are; the body you inhabit, the personality you possess, the relationships you develop, all are there to be thankful for.  For all those pieces make up your life.  And your life is a gift to celebrate each day.  So go!  Celebrate!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January of my Soul

I was ready this year.  I bought gifts early.  I had wrappings ready to go.  I planned out time to make a homemade gift or six.  I budgeted monies so as not to need to clear our pantry bare as funds ran low.  I was ready for the chaos of the holidays in Minnesota.

I just didn't plan for recovery time.  I'm an introvert.  For some, being an introvert means they would be just fine living alone or far away from other people.  Honestly, I could live that life for awhile, but it's not me.  For me, being an introvert means that, while I love spending time with people, especially during times of celebration, I expend amazing amounts of energy doing so.  Then I need to tuck myself away again and recharge.  Oops.  While I planned out everything else, I forgot about how short a "morning with no plans" can actually feel after a full day of running.  I didn't think through the need to have a few kind and thoughtful comments to share with those who were gracious enough to invite me and my family into their homes.  I overlooked how important it is to not only plan for things that I want to or must do, but to plan for time and flexibility to meet the needs of others I love.

So now, I'm in January.  I am feeling guilty for all I forgot about.  For all I did and said, and didn't do and didn't say, because I wasn't prepared for the work of the holidays.  I am having a 'January of my Soul' time. 

In Minnesota, January is a month of cold air, cloudy days and snow.  This January has been about a LOT of snow, which in theory is wonderful, but also tough to handle.  This funk is tough to handle.  Yuck.  It's work, and I want to be done with this work.  But that isn't my reality right now.  Not sure that I'll ever be, and I'm okay with that (if I have to be.  It beats the alternative.) 

I am now planning time and activities to recharge.  I am working to reorient my focus to really being thankful again.  And meaning it.

I am not there yet, though I understand that being aware of a problem is a big part of overcoming it.

Right now, my mantra; my recurring statement to my psyche; my awareness of my inner curmudgeon is: Life is a balance - you are on the far side of joy now, work to get back. 

I listened to experts discuss a variety of studies on how meditation and self-awareness can positively impact depression.  (To anyone reading this, I do NOT have depression.  January funk isn't a medical condition just a time to work through).  

I just returned the book, "Happiness," by Thich Nhat Hahn, to the library.  I've focused my meditation and prayer (same thing) on my breaths and my walking steps.  I am aware of all those negative thoughts that come into my head; those emotions that bubble up and make me feel less in control.  I acknowledge them and I let them pass, as best I can.  I know this helps.  I will do more now and tomorrow.  I will sit in the sunshine pouring in through the windows.  I will watch funny shows and movies.  I will run and play with my children.  I will snuggle and laugh with my husband.  I will be thankful each moment for that moment.

No moments are guaranteed in life.  Happiness is a choice I make with each breath.  Gratitude is a force that continually screams from my soul.  I'm ready to listen to it again, even though it is sometimes drowned out by the sound of my self whining.

I am thankful.  For everything, I am thankful.