Monday, January 26, 2009

A week of life Lessons...A Letter from a Nutty Aunt

My sister birthed a beautiful baby girl last week.  I am aching to smell her, enclose her tiny toes within my palm, and insert my finger into her curling fist. Sadly, 750 miles is a long way to reach.  Until I can see her in person, I thought I could start fulfilling my role in her life by loading her up with all sorts of useless advice. 

 Last week was a busy week.  Not the good sort of busy when you are actually accomplishing something, rather the kind of busy where you feel as if you are running to stand still.  I am working on redefining and embracing accomplishment as something less tangible.  Unwrapping our experiences, bad or good, to discover the nuggets of life lesson is an accomplishment in itself.  

Corey went on a solo trip to Idaho last week and spent some 'bro' time with his brother and a good friend who previously lived in Spokane. He was also able to ski a few days at Grand Targhee. I missed him.  

People in your life will be coming and going frequently.  It is best to relish and enrich the time that you have with them. Don't struggle against the sadness that you feel being away from them.   This is all part of love.

 An overachieving thief didn't just steal our mail, but our entire mailbox. Although we are uncertain if this was a nefarious attempt at identity theft or a rambunctious prank played by bored teen-agers, it still leaves us feeling a little queasy.  We have had numerous things stolen from us, some even attempted by physical force.  I haven't become numb by these experiences and I still let them temporarily puncture my high hopes for society. 
 Those things in your life that are of most value cannot be stolen.   

 Ansel dropped a heavy weight on his foot (No, we don't allow him to play with our free weights and I don't think he will be going near them anytime soon). This resulted in an uncharacteristically long interval of crying, swelling, and an attractive eggplant purple hue to his metatarsus area. He wouldn't walk on it the first day and I carried him from room to room.  It was a nice reprieve from his newly discovered independence.  X-rays revealed no broken bones, although he is still hobbling around the house in a strangely adorable fashion.   All the pain and suffering caused by the injury didn't even come close to the amount of satisfaction it gave Ansel to visit Corey at work to discuss the results of his X-ray. 

You will most certainly, in the course of your existence, have some heavy weight dropped on you more than once. Most likely,  it will be your heart that will suffer the damage. Remember that most of us are veterans of this kind of wound and we will be prepared to succor with our First Aid kits containing open arms, Kleenex, and a pan of brownies.  It is okay to ask to be carried every so often. 

I had the flu for a few days and was bit by a spider while sleeping on Saturday night.  This is my second spider bite in bed in a year.  Being sick and bitten reminds me how great it is to feel normal and unbitten.  

I'm still working on unwrapping this one.  For now, lets just say: We waste precious time being afraid of things that are harmless. Don't be afraid of spiders.  Their bites don't hurt at all.  

 This muted minty green color (photograph does not adequately portray the grotesque nature of this green) of our bedroom was inspired by a bridesmaid dress worn in the mid 1980's. Our builder did a fabulous job in so many ways........BUT......he forced us to commit to the colors of our house based on a 1 inch by 2 inch sample. In fact, when it was first painted, I couldn't even look at it without wanting to puke. I feel strongly about having my bedroom be a non-vomit inducing environment. It was just so NOT what I had envisioned.  We finally repainted it this being my {OK, mostly Corey's} one tangible accomplishment.


You will undoubtedly make some great and not so great decisions in your lifetime. We all do.  Don't be too hard on yourself and remember that the freedom to make simple and more complex decisions is a gift and privilege too often taken for granted.  

I have had the mid-winter blahs. It has been cold and dreary and the bits and piles of snow still remaining are dirty and crusty.  It is an exhausting battle trying to keep these blahs from lulling me into a state on non-inertia. Today was freezing, but at least the sky was blue. While preparing lunch, we looked out our window and noticed two beautiful bald eagles circling right above the treetops in our yard.   

There is so much beauty in the world.  Sometimes it is right in your own back yard.  Other times you have to do a little more searching to find it.  But it is always there.  

Welcome to the world Simmone Haven!  I look forward to meeting you.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Steps in a Decent Direction of Sorts

I wanted today to be more than a day off. I wanted the kids to know why they had a day off. I wanted them to FEEL the reason they had the day off. I want them to know that they can make a difference. I want them to want to make a difference. I want them to make a difference.

We started our day by watching the "I have a dream" speech on CNN. Examining their blank stares, I arrived at the conclusion that kids these days(I can't believe I just wrote 'kids these days') cannot actually register television in 'black and white'. I don't think they heard a word.

Next, we went downtown and participated in the annual Unity March and Community Program. It was crowded and we couldn't find a place to park. We missed the march, but made it in time to hear excerpts from Dr. King's speech read by a charismatic local pastor named Happy. A microphone was passed around to members of the group who wanted to share what this day meant to them. It was inspiring. I believe the kids were inspired. It was live and in color, so I am satisfied that they actually digested some of it this time.

A wide variety of nonprofit agencies set up display booths/tables at the downtown mall to provide information about community resources and volunteer opportunities. After being moved by the speeches, we strolled by the booths, hoping to find our calling in community/global participation.

Many stories and myths have been circulated about the irrational and ridiculous fear that some people have of clowns. I am somehow similarly paralyzed by booths...any kind of booths....booths at art fairs, food booths, carnival booths, phone booths...SIDE NOTE:booth is a really weird word. I have rummaged through buried childhood experiences trying to resuscitate a particular childhood trauma that may have resulted in this aversion.

When I was 8 years old, I was hit by a car on my bike. Luckily, I only suffered torn pants and buttockal road burn. The driver of the car made sure I was still alive and drove away. I was too afraid to tell my mother what had happened and slipped in the house and hid my disfigured jeans. Okay, so maybe this experience has absolutely no correlation to the plague of the booths except to confirm that I have some whacked out fears. Attempting to get close to these booths is like walking against a river current....or like trying to get similar poles on a magnet together....I am instantly repelled. My heart starts pumping audibly, my hands get cold and clammy, and my tongue enlarges.

How can I expect my children to understand self-empowerment if I allow myself to be disempowered by my fears? How can I change the world if I can't overcome a ludicrous insecurity? Robotically, I took a gulp of "unboothinated" air, held my breath, and stomped to the booths, snatching up flyers and newsletters. I actually spoke to one of the booth attendants and signed a petition for making the city more bicycle friendly. I made progress today.

During lunch, we discussed things that we would like to change in the world. Savanna mentioned animal rights and hunger. Emmy wants to help with pollution. It was a good day.

The sun actually made an appearance in Spokane yesterday for the first time in a while. I hope that the ability to affect change isn't in direct correlation with amount of sunlight exposure during the winter months. If so, we are doomed to failure.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

School Shmool..Thinking outside the classbox

Due to the havoc wreaked by 'my friend' the snow(see previous post), the kids missed a week of school in addition to the two weeks off for Christmas vacation. Suffering from post-holiday self-loathing brought on my gluttonous over-indulgence of fudge, movies, and general laziness, I knew that do-nothing-no-school days would bring out my inner Mr. Hyde. I devised a home-schooling plan in order to save us all. It didn't all go according to plan, but I believe that we learned the most when it didn't. Just like Ansel denies that he has ever learned anything on Sesame Street, the girls will most likely deny that they acquired any education while being home-schooled. HA! HA! HA! HA! I now have documented proof, dear children.

Savanna learned that homemade volcanoes smell and taste quite disgusting.

Ansel finally formed his first bubblegum bubble. You won't learn that at school

Emmy learned that shoveling snow, Wii boxing and Jumping on a play structure is excellent Physical Education.

One morning we discussed the history of Origami. Savanna completed some extra credit by folding 125 paper cranes.....she plans to test the legend of 1000 paper cranes. Supposedly, if you fold 1000 of this birds, your greatest wish will be granted.

If the legend is true, I am fully expecting to find a puppy wearing a red ribbon, wagging it's tail, and sitting on our doorstep.

We spent two afternoons at the Museum and Arts and Culture. Emmy learned that Owls have 14 vertebrae compared to our 7. That explains their 270 degree neck rotation.

Savanna opted out of the kids activities and sketched a red-tailed hawk. I learned that Savanna is close to not being a kid much longer.

Ansel learned to become solemn and statuesque while he held the owl . He also wishes that he had frayed feathers like the owl so that he could move soundlessly around the house scaring us.

Savanna realized that folding 125 paper cranes gave her some extra strength for balancing the perching predator

Ansel discovered that great things can come from a few twist ties and newspaper bindings.

Emmy and Savanna both practiced writing and editing documents on their new laptops. They whined and complained while working on the book reports I made them compose.

They seemed to enjoy "photo booth" a little more and spent hours laughing hysterically at their creations and mini-videos. I must admit that I got sucked into the photo booth craze. Yeah, this is me. This is what my Dr. Hyde looks like on a bad day.
Emmy got a new camera for her birthday and has spent hours taking candid shots of every member of the family and every deer in the vicinity. She has quickly learned how to find a victim, snap a picture, download, sort, and blog within minutes.

Ansel insisted on buttoning his pajamas Thursday night. His independence grew 4 sizes last week. I was secretly hoping he wouldn't be able to do it and that the list of things he still needs me for wouldn't be shrinking as quickly as our piles of snow. He buttoned those buttons better than I could. Soon he will be buttoning my buttons.

Corey learned patience while allowing Ansel to help build his office shelves.

Ansel tested his theory that his fake frog would be able to ride up the escalator unharmed. I thought he would slide and fall off the edge into escalator oblivion. I was wrong.....again.

The National Guard finally came to the rescue and shoveled off the compromised roofs and chipped away at the treacherous sheets of ice covering the sidewalks at the elementary schools. It also helped that SUPER WARM WEATHER HERO swooped down and melted much of the snow. Now we may have to summon SUPER STOP THE FLOODING HERO.

School resumed on Friday. Homeschooling was fun while it lasted, but I was anxious to get back to our routines and "personal mothering recharging" time. The girls rolled their eyes at my 'teacher voice' and called me weird a few times too many. Corey made fun of me and told me that I needed to start wearing my hair in a bun. I don't we could survive this on a long term basis.

Ansel spent Friday vomiting and moaning through feverish naps. So much for my routine and personal time.

The school nurse called in the afternoon to inform me that Emmy had cut herself quite badly ON HER FOLDER!? (Did I here that correctly? Surely she said, "On a Sharp Boulder") and may have to go to the hospital. I scooped up the feverishly moaning Ansel, wrapped him in a blanket, and raced (speed-limit style, of course) to the school. The nurse had recovered from her shock of seeing so much blood and reduced her diagnosis to "just needing a band-aid". I checked both girls out of school. They are safer at home. Maybe they will cancel school on Monday because of "dangerous folders".

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Dr. Blog:  So What brings you Here Today?
ME:  Friend trouble

Dr. Blog:  What sort of friend trouble.  Please elaborate. 

ME:  Well, I had been anticipating the visit of one of my best friends for a long time.  I had prepared and been giddy with excitement for her arrival. I know I have mentioned her before.  I LOVE this friend.  

Dr. Blog:  So what is the problem?

ME:   The problem is that once this friend arrived, she has pretty much taken residence here.  She refuses to leave and has basically taken over our lives. She brought 6 feet of stuff and just keeps bringing more.  I think she is planning on moving in for while.

Dr. Blog:  And how does this make you feel?

ME.  I feel like as if my life is suspended in mid a pine cone on a fishing line. 

Dr. Blog:  Yes?

ME:  I feel a little trapped...boxed there is no where to go

Dr. Blog:  So you haven't enjoyed this friend's visit at all?

ME:  Oh, YES!  That is what makes this so hard.  Most of the time it has been great and I wish she would stay forever.  I have had so much fun with her.  

ME: She makes the world such a beautiful place.  One of those friends that just lights up a room wherever she goes.  

ME: I have been on walks with her and found myself brimming with tears at her beauty and delicate nature.

DR. BLOG:  Hmmm. And how do the kids feel about her being around all the time? 

ME:  They have a love/hate relationship with her as well.  The first week, they loved playing with her and would go outside with her as much as possible.  

ME: We had several family outings with her.

ME:  Emmy has snuggled with her many times.  They seem to be really close.  

ME: Ansel was a little shy with her during her stay last year.  This year, his fear has melted and he acts as if they have been best friends forever.  

ME: Savanna appreciates her beauty as well and noticed that she has so many intricacies.  Her personality can be flaky and deep at the same time.  She cushions you when you fall.  She is accommodating and will pretty much let you mold her into what you want.  She isn't one of those stubborn stuck in their ways friends.  

Dr. Blog:  And what about Corey?  How has he been dealing with her extended stay?  You have mentioned several times that he doesn't do well with company.

ME: Oh, he is the one that invited her in the first place.  She used to be the one friend that he said could move in with us.  That is saying a lot.  I think he has been confused by his feelings as well.  I should sign him up for a session.  I believe that he loves her more than I do.  But her stay and her stuff is really wearing him out.  He has to get up early every morning and move her stuff out of the way just to get to work.  This is has been back breaking for him.  She accidentally broke our snow-blower and Corey has tried to be patient with this.  We bought a home warranty with Sears, so they were supposed to come to our house to fix it.  Unfortunately, they are not capable of coming up our hill.  They say they will come when the snow is gone, but then why would we need a snow blower if the snow is gone? 

Dr. Blog:  You are going off on a tangent.  Let's redirect back to the issue at hand. 

Me: I'm sorry.  It has just been a weird few weeks for all of us.  

ME:  I think Corey just feels dumped on right now.  He can't seem to get ahead of all the work that this friend is creating enough to enjoy her presence.  Does that make sense? For example, we went to Boise last week and were delayed getting home because of the snow.  When we returned, she had made such a mess that it took hours in the dark for him to clean it up.  And then he took a few days off of work to go skiing with her.  But, again, he had to clean up the mess she had made during the night before we could go.

Dr. Blog:  And how did the ski trip go? 

ME:  We had so much fun skiing.  Ansel loved being with her and really took off.  Emmy had a great time as well.  The sunset on the way home was incredible.  We wouldn't have seen it without her. 

Dr. Blog:  So far, you have mostly mentioned the many redeeming and positive qualities of your friend.  It seems as if you have had some unforgettable experiences with her.  I understand that she is messy and may have overextended her stay, but you are still being a bit vague about why your emotions are so conflicting.  I know it is hard to bag on friends, but I think it is important that you vocalize these emotions.  

ME.  Ok.  Here goes.  First of all, I had to cancel Emmy's birthday party because of her.  The kids have missed 3 days of school so far and who knows how many more they will miss if she continues to stay. I can see their brain cells slipping out of their ears and poor Emmy is bored when she isn't learning.  Her boredom has been driving me crazy.  And Some days my friend  is just so icy and cold.  She is incredibly unpredictable. Just this morning, I had to pull our trash can up our driveway and then maneuver it down our .25 mile icy street.  She was no help at all and kept getting under my feel and laughing about it. The worst part is that I am filled with terror every time I go in the car with her.  I feel so guilty for being so angry with her sometimes.  

Dr. Blog:  Your feelings are perfectly natural and I am sure that many people have had similar issues.  You obviously have learned that you cannot control your friends behavior. This inability to change an external locus of control is making you frustrated. What you can do, of course, is control your response to her behavior...your internal locus of control.  You need to make the conscious choice each day that you wake up and see that she is still there, to cherish her friendship and to overlook her weaknesses. And make sure you wear your seatbelt. 
ME: Thanks for your help Dr. Blog.  I'll do my best. I know our session isn't quite over yet, but I see now that she has made another 4-8 inch mess.  It is easier if I stay on top of it.