Small Moments

Friday, July 29, 2011

In the end parenting is really all about the small moments.

Sometimes you get the moment right, and sometimes you don't.  Some moments are exasperating and exhausting.  With small kids I sometimes find myself on a downhill day filled with upsets and fights and broken glass (a brand new pitcher no less) and wet pants, and it feels like it will never end.  

But it's just a moment.  

On one of these days recently I had a moment with Esme.  We were out and her shirt got wet.  A few drops of water is all it was to me, but it was the last drop in her bucket.  A monster upset ensued because I didn't have another shirt for her to change into right away.   I was trying to offer help and feeling nearly as frustrated as she was when she burst out with, "I wish NOTHING existed."  

My first thought was, "Great, I am raising an existentialist."  But then, instead of pulling my hair out, it struck me how this moment felt as endless to her as it did to me.  In that instant I was filled with compassion for the moment at hand, compassion for both of us in our frustration.   And then I told her that I loved her.   It didn't solve the problem, it didn't end the tears over the wet shirt, but it was the best thing to do in that moment. 

In the end, every moment should be about love. 

Last night I turned the corner in the hallway and was about to walk into my bedroom when I heard Esme talking to herself.  I realized she was saying a prayer and I hovered outside the door for just a moment to avoid interrupting.  I caught the tail end of her prayer as she said, "And Heavenly Father, please help me to love my mama forever and ever and ever because she is a good good mom." 

Moments like that make it all worth it.      

The Internet is Weird

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I don't look at my blog stats very often, but I happened upon them today and I saw some strange things. 
The keyword searches that bring people to my blog are so weird.

Some of the key word searches make sense, like "some the wiser," or "single mom."   There are lot of hits from those searches and I hope the people searching those key words found something useful here.

Some of the key word searches are kind of odd, like "I hate spelt pancakes" and "fire place big lots," and "plagiarize ten things."   I have quite a few hits from these phrases and I don't really understand.   Just for the record, I do not hate spelt pancakes and I do my very best to avoid plagiarizing anything.  I can only assume the people searching these phrases found themselves in the wrong place when they clicked on my site.

Then there are the key word searches that make me laugh, like "british variety female," and "knit pants monkey," and "magical babies read."   I like all of these, a lot. 

My favorite one, however, is the weirdest of all. 

What They Really Hear

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Have you ever really stopped to think about what you are saying to your kids and what they really hear?

You might be surprised if you do. 

My daughter recently said something to me that shook me up a little bit and I've been thinking about it ever since. 

We were all getting ready to go out and she was watching me as I tried on a new shirt in front of the mirror.   I turned from side to side, examining myself and thinking that it looked pretty good.  My four year old joined me at the mirror and said, with a tone of authority, "Well, it will look better Mom when you are skinnier." 

She's four, for heaven's sake.  What does she know about skinny?  That's when it hit me.  She knows just as much as I've told her. 

Of course I've never talked about being fatter or skinnier with her.  She is not a party to my diet and exercise plans.  As for her own self image, well I've never told her she is anything other than beautiful.  But she knows what it means to be "skinnier" all the same. 

It doesn't just matter what you say to your kids, it matters what you say around your kids.  They pay so much attention to what you say, what you do, and who you are.   I know this, but I didn't realize how often I wasn't living this way. 

I have been someone who has had to work at building a positive self-image all my life.  My mom, who has certainly become some the wiser after years of child rearing, shared her own mothering experience as an accidental role model with me.

Rainy Day Manifesto

Monday, July 25, 2011

It is raining outside tonight. 

It has been hot and dry here all summer so the rain that has graced these desert skies the past few days has been glorious.  I  have been sitting here enjoying the cool air coming through the open windows and the drumming soundtrack of rain dropping and I realized something.

It's nice that it isn't always sunny.

After the week I have had, this was a welcome realization because life is like that too you know; it isn't always sunny.  It's going to rain and it's going to pour.   I know this, but I forget sometimes that it's okay.

It's okay to be sad.

Right now I am sad.  It's okay to say it aloud.  I don't have to pretend it's not there. It won't last forever.  It doesn't need to be fixed, though sometimes a hug is nice.  It's okay to acknowledge it, though it doesn't need to be explained.  It's okay.

And when it's cloudy and grey, you can always hold out for rainbows.  That's my plan.
 

The Things I Don't Want Anyone To Know

Friday, July 22, 2011

I don't have dirty relationship details to dish out. The five years we were married weren't terrible. There were difficult times, of course. We had a life together and there were parts that we made work, there were parts that just worked, and there were parts we left alone most of the time. No, it wasn't terrible at all. But now, finding myself at the frayed end of a string unraveled, I can see the worst part of it all. I knew I shouldn't marry him, felt it like a brick in my stomach, and I did it anyway.

I was twenty years old, attending a small school in a small town, when we met. It wasn't love at first sight, but he swept me off my feet all the same. I mentioned J.D. Salinger; he said he had just been to the Library of Congress looking for Salinger's last published book. I mentioned Bright Eyes; it was his favorite band. I talked about obscure artsy films (I was in college you know) and he had seen them all. He was funny, he was witty, he was thoughtful. He washed my roommates' dishes. He brought me beautiful old copies of books with perfect inscriptions. Everyone liked him. I fell head over heels. He proposed to me in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and I said yes.

Two weeks later he broke up with me. Over the phone. I didn't see it coming at all and it brought me to my knees. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk. I couldn't sleep. I didn't even know what had happened. There were some muttered words about lies, infidelities - over the phone, through a friend. It was just over and then he disappeared. Even now it is difficult remembering the weight of that crushing anguish. In my grief, I took a semester off and flew home. But instead of moving on, I made my first huge mistake: I made it mean something about me.

Maybe I was just young. Maybe my self-confidence wasn't fully developed. Maybe it just happened. I'd like to stick a pin in a reason for everything that happened next, for all the bad decisions I made, but maybe it's enough just to own it no matter why it happened. These days I have Byron Katie on repeat in my head most of the time and I can hear her saying, "What other people think of you is none of your business." Back then I decided it was all my fault. He didn't love me. He didn't tell me the truth. He didn't want to be with me. And I thought it must have something to do with me. If I had been more accepting, less opinionated, more, less, more, less . . . I felt like I had failed, miserably. I got a job, started dating again, did yoga, took a kick boxing class. But I carried the weight of his rejection everywhere I went.

I didn't have any contact with him for eight months. Then he called me.

One of Those Days

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yesterday sent me bad news.

I couldn't go more than 10 minutes at a time without crying and I had to keep running to the garage to do it so I didn't freak my kids out.  It was bleak.

And now here I am, still awake at 4 A.M. letting my mind wander away in fear and worry, feeling all the heartbreak and concern.  I pulled up a blank page and a blinking cursor thinking that maybe I could put words to the ache and make some sense of it all. 

I was looking for peace.

But as my fingers put words to the mess of emotions, I realized that I wasn't going to make sense of anything. It's too big, too messy, and I'm still right in the middle of it all.  I felt the tears, the anxiety coming again, and then it hit me:

I am still here.

The Negativity Rule

Monday, July 18, 2011

I have a friend who grew up in a split home. Her father abandoned their family, moved to a town several hours away, and left his ex-wife to raise their five children alone. She was angry, of course. She was hurt, deeply. She struggled as a single-working-mother. I think she probably really tried to do her best for her kids given her circumstances.

But she did it all wrong. She was bitter and she let her kids know it. She was angry and she expressed that to her children regularly. She told her kids the terrible things their father had done and she took every opportunity she could to tear him down. She made it very clear that he was a bad person, and a bad father.

And while she was working hard to support her children all by herself and probably loving them the best way she knew how, the seeds of disrespect and anger and confusion had been planted in her children's minds. They could have grown up to understand the difficult situation their mother was in. They could have grown up to understand how many sacrifices their mother had made and the love that was probably behind all of them.

But every time she spoke harshly about their father, those kids put another brick in the wall they were building to protect themselves from the negativity. Their wall grew to be so tall and so thick that by the time they reached adolescence they were already having a difficult time seeing reality. After a few years of experiencing their mother's invective and negativity, their father had become the hero.

Their father had abandoned them. He provided little in the way of support. He had minimal involvement in their lives. But he became the hero. Nevermind that their mother was working long hours to give them a home, to feed them, to clothe them. Nevermind that their welfare was probably the only thing on her mind most days. Nevermind that she proably loved those five children far more than they could ever possibly know.

All those kids could hear were the hurtful words. And because dad wasn't there, dad wasn't speaking harshly, dad wasn't spilling over with anger, dad became the hero. Those kids grew up and left mom to go find dad. Those few birthday cards he sent over the years, those few fun visits to the ice cream shop were what they knew of their father and they were positive things. In the wake of their mother's negativity and hurt, the kids conjured up an imaginary father that didn't exist in reality, but it made them feel good.

Growing Up

Friday, July 15, 2011

It is so weird when your littlest brother grows up and wants to get married.  This is the little brother that used to sleep in my bed every night (when he was three and I was ten) because he was afraid of the dark, and so was I.  This is the guy who was once thoroughly convinced he had an invisible pet dragon.  This is the guy who I once convinced that his blonde hair was going to turn black if he didn't let me pull all the dark ones out with a pair of tweezers.  

And he's getting married now. 

I feel a little bit old.  I feel a lot excited.   And to my soon to be sister-in-law, I hope you have room for a dragon too! 

Summer Kitchen

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I love a summer kitchen!  The heat transforms appetites and suddenly things like peaches and watermelon and strawberries are all anyone needs to be perfectly satisfied.  Some variation using any of these three ingredients has been our table for nearly every meal this past week. 

One of my new favorites breakfast recipes evolved from this Peach Tart recipe I found.  The original recipe looked perfectly delicious but I was missing some of the ingredients and I don't have a tart pan.  But I did have a bowl full of fresh, ripe peaches so I figured out how to make it work. 













Peachy Breakfast Cakes  
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1  1/2 cups Spelt (freshly ground is best)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 large ripe Peaches
8 Medjool Dates

Preheat oven to 350

Grind Oats in blender until they make a coarse flour mixture
Mix Oats with Spelt, Baking Soda, and Salt in a medium mixing bowl
Blend 3 of the Peaches and the 8 Dates in blender until smooth
Stir blended Peaches-Dates into the flour mixture until just blended - don't over stir.
Spread the batter into Four 4.5 inch souffle dishes.
Slice the remaining Peach and top each dish with Peach slices.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Eat warm and top with freshly whipped, very lightly sweetened Cream!

Not Quite Picture Perfect

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sometimes things don't go as planned.  This could be my family's everyday mantra.

This weekend all the stars aligned, as they so rarely do, and all of my siblings, their families, and my parents ended up in the same place at the same time, which could only mean one thing:  Family Picture Time!  And since I am by profession a photographer, the task of capturing this large and unruly bunch fell to me. 

To say that it didn't go as planned is a serious understatement.  It was more of a Murphy kind of day: anything that can go wrong will go wrong - and everything did.



















I knew it wasn't going to be easy taking pictures of my own family, especially when I was supposed to be in the photos too, so I planned carefully.  I picked one of my favorite locations and we planned to be there during the best shooting hours - those two golden hours before sunset.  I had my good tripod, a wireless shutter remote, and a plan for wrangling the whole group into some nice looking arrangements.  We spent the entire day getting everyone ready and dressed.

It was at this point that I started muttering things about the best laid plans of mice and . . .

We made the 40 minute drive around the mountains only to find that the road into the area we planned to go was closed.  And it wasn't just closed, it was being guarded.  My favorite location wasn't happening. 

Take a deep breath.  Improvise. 



















As we were standing around wondering what would happen next, we met a nice lady walking her dog who stopped to chat.  During our friendly chat I realized that there were some nice looking rocks at the roadblock and maybe I could make it work.  It wasn't ideal, and there was a fireman staring at us the whole time, but darn'it we really wanted some family photos. 

We got set up - which, with 9 adults and four small children, was a formidable task I might add.  I started to shoot.   And then . . .

The Bad Guy Complex

Monday, July 11, 2011

I hate being the bad guy.  Lately I've been wearing that uniform a lot though.  I agonize over decisions to be made, knowing that there is a right decision but that the right decision will make me unpopular with some and despised by others.  I'm doing the right thing I say, but I feel like I'm growing a new nose wart as I hop onto my broom.

I hate being the bad guy so much that I would probably make the wrong but easily likeable decision more often if it weren't for my kids.  When it comes to my kids, the only option is to do the right thing, no matter how difficult or unpopular it may be.  But because it is so important to me to do right by my kids, I also put a lot more thought and prayer and feeling into all decisions involving their wellbeing.  By the time I come to a decision, I am normally quite certain that I have done the right thing.

So why the bad guy complex?

I think it is that I hate to be unliked.  It feels terrible to know that there are people out there hating me, despising me, cursing my name.  Even if it is my ex and his clan and it is, perhaps, normal to draw that line in the sand.  I get that not everyone is going to like my particular brand of human, but it still hurts to be the bad guy. 

Last week I had to make some unpopular decisions.

It is okay

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I got stuck this week.  I hate to admit it, but I fell into the trap of wondering what the point is, followed by dwelling on the pointlessness of most things. 

Why do I blog?  Am I really going to become a better writer?  Does anything I have to say actually matter?  Am I wasting my time?

Followed by:

It's pointless to blog.  There are so many better blogs out there.  I am not very interesting and I don't have anything very interesting to say.  I am wasting my time.

And it wasn't just blogging that fell under my critical eye.  It was a week of feeling discouraged about nearly everything I do.  It was a week of wanting things I don't have.  It was a week of frustration and upset and questions without answers.

Today, however, marked the end of the not-so-good week.  I remembered that most of the time it is enough just to love what I do and do what I love.  It is okay to live the questions without waiting for the answers. 

It is okay to be me, to do what I do, right where I am.  Thank you for being here with me.  I look forward to the new week ahead.  

The Giant Stuffed Fish Trip

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When I was a kid taking a roadtrip was serious business.  We were on a mission: reach final destination as fast as possible.  This mission meant that the only stops were for refilling gas. 

You're going to pee your pants?  Hold it.

You're hungry? Check the cooler for the last soggy peanut butter sandwich.

You're going to be sick?  Grab a pillowcase.  (Seriously, this happened once and it wasn't good).

Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Arches National Monument, Four Corners.  Through the car window at 80 miles per hour. 

Do you even know how many times I begged to stop and see Hole 'n' the RockIt is a big freaking hole in a big freaking rock.  Never happened.  I'm still totally intrigued - especially after checking their website just now and seeing that the Hole features zebras as well.   

Now I am all grown up and roadtripping again with my parents. 

So what did we do? 

Convinced them that it was utterly and completely important to everyone's survival that we stop at every roadside attraction, including, but not limited to, cool rocks. 

The fish was the clincher.  That crazy giant stuffed fish that my Dad bought for my kids a few years ago totally sealed the deal.  We still had to hold our pee, but the fish NEEDED its picture taken.
Look at some of the other places fish got to stop: 

Party Time Redux

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

 We ate.  We partied.  We had a great time!  We weren't about to let a little flu virus get in our way.

See yesterday's post for the links to all the yummy recipes and craft projects.

What are some of your favorite fourth of July traditions / celebration ideas?

I Refuse to Miss This!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Photo: Jennifer Davick
The Fourth of July is perhaps my most favorite holiday. I love that we normally spend the day out doors. I love the food - because holidays are primarily about the food, right? And I adore fireworks!

Unfortunately everyone here has been struck by some mysterious illness and we all have our heads hanging over the toliet.  Flu, again?  Hmmm. 

I am not going to let it stop me though!  The party is still on.  The barbecue is still happening, and dessert too - even if no one can eat it.  I refuse to miss my favorite holiday. 

The kids are decked out in their handmade Fourth of July outfits.  I've got the craft supplies.  I'm finishing the decorations.  And if nothing else, there's always the fireworks, even if we're watching them from the bathroom.   Happy Holiday my American friends!  

P.S.  Check out the links in the post above to see our party plans!  I also made a Pinterest page of inspiration.

Money Time!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Not that I am superstitious or anything . . . but . . .

Every now and then something really interesting makes its way into my email inbox via a forward.  I like this one. 

Want to see if this works?  Post it on Facebook and then tell me (you have to tell me!) if money comes your way. 


THIS IS THE ONLY TIME WE WILL SEE AND LIVE THIS EVENT

Calendar for July 2011  
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This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
Once every 823 years. This is called the money bag year. 


This year we're going to experience four unusual dates.

1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that's not all...
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