Monday, February 28, 2011

These are the moments

This morning the girls and I were watching Fantasia, the original. This song was next and the narrator was giving some background information on the music and animation. If you listen to the narrator you hear him something about the difference between hope and life and; death and despair. Ari turned to me at that moment and said, "Death is nothing to be feared, it is a resting spot for your soul."

These are the moments I am the most appreciative of in our lives. The moments when I get to see that our kids are learning to think for themselves, learning to question, to build a framework of how they view the world. I often feel I am the one who is learning the most. For all the things I might be able to teach our kids, the things they are teaching me are more important.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Potty Training

When we first got our newest pup Panda about 4 weeks ago I went in to a local pet store to buy a kennel to keep her in when we had to leave the house for whatever reason. I have had puppies before and although it has been a long time, I knew that if we wanted her to be safe and our belongings to be chew mark free, we had to have a place to keep her. The kennels were back in the corner of the store and this particular store is pretty small. A dog obedience class had been set-up right in front of the kennels and so I stood there and looked around the participants and looked at the different sizes and at the same time was trying to figure out how I was going to get the kennel once I had made a choice. Soon the teacher of the class zeroed in on me and asked what I was doing. I explained, puppy, need kennel, and nicely pointed out YOU ARE IN MY WAY. I did not really say they were in my way but I wanted to.

She then helped me to get the kennel I needed and load it on my cart. Which was good because up until that moment I had not figured out that this was going to be a challenge. I thanked her for her help and as I went to leave she mentioned that if we needed some help, the store offered "potty training" classes. I hope my face did not give away the HUH? are you serious that I was thinking. I nodded politely and headed to the door.

Potty training is not easy but it is simple. A puppy usually will get it over time. One of our dogs was potty trained in a matter of days, one a matter of weeks, and our Yorkshire Terrier took years to be completely potty trained. I think Rice (our yorky) would have gotten it sooner if we had been more consistent. I honestly think it is odd that there is an option to take your dog to a potty training class. It seems like a whole new level of, "experts know best" and "you people cannot possibly figure this out on your own".

Of course, in my mind it brought up the idea of potty training kids, which is similar but different. I hear people talking about potty training their kids quite often as I am a mom and on FaceBook. Potty training is the first thing people feel they must push there kids in to and possibly the first thing parents feel they must "teach" their kids. Up to this point, oddly enough, the child has learned to roll over, pull up, walk, and usually talk, all without rewards or parental intervention.

I look back on my own ideas about potty training and they certainly have changed. When my oldest was around 2 I decided it was "time". I now think that is a really funny idea. How can one person decide for another person it is time to learn anything. Ari made it very clear right away that she ran the show and that any sort of bribery or reward I might offer was not going to help. Rather than fight what felt like a losing battle, I decided to give up and regroup. I left her alone for a year.

The spring of the year Ari turned 3 she potty trained herself. It looked something like this. One morning we get up and Ari refuses to wear clothes. Okay, I roll with it. When she pees she looks down and sees that she is peeing. I had no idea what she was doing at the time so I think my response was, "AAHHHHHHH, lets go to the potty." After a week of nudism and some accidents Ari was completely potty trained. Not a single M&M, no books read while sitting on the John waiting for nature to follow my timeline, and surprisingly over the coming years only 1 accident EVER. "Huh", I thought "that was interesting." But what was more interesting to me was that she was also continent at night as soon as she was potty trained during the day.

When Mina came along, I never thought about potty training at all. One day, the spring she would turn 3 she decided she was not wearing clothes anymore either. End of the week, potty trained. I certainly did not expect it but I was more than happy to see her take initiative and learn how to use the bathroom herself. Once again, continent day and night and in the 2 years since very few accidents.

In general, I think the belief that we need to teach kids much of anything is outdated. Few people understand that learning to talk is actually much more challenging than learning to read. Just as some kids will be walking at nine months or talking at one year, learning many other things has a very variable timeline. Each person also will more than likely have their own unique path to this learning as well. Some people thrive with the use of phonics and follow a common path of letter recognition, then sound recognition, then word recognition. I think Mina will follow that path. Ari however, is a learner who goes from the whole to the part. She will learn to read later and I am watching her do it backwards of convention.

Standing back and letting my girls potty train themselves was my first lesson in child led learning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"Invest fearlessly in your joy." Spotted Eagle

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Put On Your Big Girl Panties

Yesterday was a Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It, sort of day. Oh and this one applies quite readily too. I put on my hazmat gear too and went in to the shed and cleaned that baby. You see, the only thing really keeping me from getting in there and cleaning it was my fear of what I might find. I was doing what my mentor calls, "letting my fearful mind drag me off." And whoa Nelly was I being dragged.

I had a vision in my mind of moving a few things in the shed and having mice start to stream out by the hundreds. Yes, I have a wonderful imagination, imagine what I will do when I take its control back from my fear based head. Guess what I found instead? Not a single mouse. Not one. Not a live one, no dead ones. Just a whole lot of bird seed, mouse poo, and pee smell. No exterminator necessary and $10.00 for ventilation masks. (The girls wanted one too so I picked up a few.)

Item number two on my list was the water damaged bed. The smell from having water damage was not going away and in my gut I was pretty sure it was making us sick. I could not even sleep in the room it was in. I did some research on mattresses because we paid a lot for that bed not even 6 months ago and I really was not interested in dropping that kind of money again. I found a reasonably priced bed and honestly on some level I think a bed is a bed. I ordered it and it will be here today. We all slept in the livingroom, a sort of slumber party.

During the day while cleaning up after mice and ordering beds, I played with the girls. We danced in the kitchen and I also dragged them across the kitchen floor while they held on to my ankles, much to their delight. We had tea parties, we did laundry, we played with pets, and we just enjoyed each other.

I found my flow again basically by doing what had to be done. And although I cannot say "it will never happen again" maybe over time it just becomes easier and easier to catch ones self and your own head and see what you are up to. I will take progress, progress is good.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh Entrails

So in all honesty, it became obvious that the events of the last week or so were in some ways affecting my overall mood. I was mostly myself but not entirely myself. I have had many conversations with John about the difference between mice and birds. Apparently, dear husband actually thinks birds have more potential to cause disease. Hmm, that's a new perspective. Of course, John is likely to pull stuff out of his lower sphincter when he wants us to move on (usually Ari and I) but in this instance I am going with it. I asked John if he would take care of the invaders in the shed as I really was not sure I could deal and he was all for it. Only over the weekend, it did not happen. Probably because I am freaked out about them and he kind of thinks they are like flightless birds who do not spread avian flu.

Today, I was out in the yard with the pups. The 3 year old Yorkshire Terrier Riceburgh and his more than willing accomplice these days Panda the 4 month old mutt. This time of year John and I have long reffered to the backyard as poop soup. Not delicate but pretty honest. When you have a steep set of stairs in to a backyard and dogs and you rarely go out in winter- it gets messy. This year it is mostly soup. Our big dog Freeway passed on around this time last year and Panda and Rice together barely make as much poop as Freeway did on his own. That and I have had some opportunities to clean up the yard off and on as we have had temperatures as high as 60 in the past 2 weeks.

Our girls were jumping on the trampoline, I was cleaning up after the pooches, and Panda and Rice were running around and chasing balls when we threw them. Suddenly I noticed that the dogs were fighting over one particular spot on the lawn. They are rolling over on their backs and pushing each other off of the spot and then taking their turn rolling over on the spot. "Hmmm, I wonder what this is about", thinks me. Curiosity kills more than cats, it kills bliss induced by utter denial too.

I walk over and find what at first looks like a very small dead mouse. Nice, our dogs have been outside rolling on dead mice, from our lovely shed infestation. I am stuck. Can't leave mouse or dogs are going to keep rolling on it and I do not have any way to pick it up. I call for reinforcements and my oldest daughter brings me a used produce bag, laughing the entire time. She has to look at the dead critter for some reason and that is when I realize that I only have the back part of a mouse in my bag covered hand. Shortly thereafter, I realize that the dogs have moved to a new spot on the lawn and when I get to where they are I find they have been rolling on the head portion of the deceased mouse.

That was it. Over the edge, done for. Our first plan was to open the shed and let the neighbor cats and migratory hunting birds take them down, but I can't do it anymore. I am one more mouse entrail or squeaking mouse in the night when I take the dogs out to go potty from insanity. So, I do something I don't feel great about but something I am not sure I have a choice in at this point, I call an exterminator.

Then I give 2 dogs a bath.

Going With It

Sometime ago I heard a comedian who worked in the art of improv explain what he called, "the first rule of improv". The first rule of improv is to go with whatever comes your way. You don't resist or argue, you use whatever your partner adds to the skit to your comedic advantage and you go with it.

I think about this rule quite often. I try to apply it to real life. What does "going with it" look like in real life? Well, it looks like letting go of your assumptions about everything, letting go of what you want to happen, and letting go of being in control. It looks a lot like flow, the flow of taking whatever comes your way and using it for your growth and to promote your happiness.

Said differently, "Willingness implies that we are present and open. We are willing for the present moment to be exactly what it is. We are open and facing all of the uncertainties, disappointment, pain, and fears that what we find in the now prompts us to feel. Willingness is really the flexibility to come to the moment willing to let go of anything that is not true for you in this now. It is the ability to recognize where you are attached to a belief, habit, circumstance, or relationship that no longer serves you. Willingness is really the ability to be present with whatever is placed before you on your path without trying to control what happens to you out of fear." Spotted Eagle

Being willing to live like everything is an improv, because life is an improv with the universe and everything in it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yoga Knee and Loofahs

Yesterday while doing my morning yoga I noticed some nasty, scaly skin on my knees. It seems bare kneed yoga can have some side affects, this particular one I am calling yoga knee. I looked it up, no one else has used this particular term so if it becomes a common part of the vernacular, I want credit. My brain set about pondering ways to get rid of yoga knee. The first thing that came to mind was using a loofah.

As if the word loofah is not funny enough, the pure funniness about the loofah lies in the fact that my husband is obsessed with them. For a long while we had a nice bright purple loofah. It hung in the shower and I think was mostly lonely and solitary except when John used it. Then one day it disappeared. I noticed it was gone but really did not think about it twice. We have two daughters and things get re-purposed all of the time. But while I barely noticed the missing loofah, it soon became a real issue for John. He asked me to find a new loofah for him one day while I was out.

I found a new kind of loofah I thought would be really cool. It had a handle on both ends and the loofah in the middle. I thought it could make solo loofahing a little easier so I brought it home. Upon opening the package I discovered it also had a little battery operated massager in it. Nice bonus, I guess.

The battery operated massager disappeared as soon as the girls discovered it could be removed. Soon it was showing up all over the house. It had various uses that the girls found undeniably attractive. It made a great and annoying noise. It could be placed on unsuspecting people much to the victims surprise and the girls' delight. But, it could also be used to give parents a massage, one use of which John and I both approved wildly. Okay, so no massager but we still had a loofah...or did we?

Soon after purchase of the new- fangled loofah and the massager relocation program, John came in to the kitchen with a deflated look on his face and asked if I would buy him a new, REAL loofah. I suggested this was really a job for him as he seemed to be the loofah conissouer in our home.

The next evening John came home with not 1 not 2 but 3 loofahs. 2 for him and one of my very own. Of course my loofah was just the average, ordinary loofah John knows and loves. His was something called "The Detailer" and he had 2 of them. Apparently, if you are a man who likes to loofah a name like "The Detailer" is more supportive of your manliness than an ordinary loofah.

Oh so where was I going with this, oh yah yoga knee(tm) (That means trademark) Apparently, yoga knee is impervious to loofahs magic powers of exfoliation. I am not sure how I will cure it actually. I think my next attempt will be to use the foot scrubber and maybe a whole bunch of lotiony goodness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Knew?

Sometimes a change in life is forced on you. Just the fact that it is forced often makes most of us resistant. But, the resistance always come from an assumption that what we are changing is forcing us to give something up. If we were capable of being neutral, it would be fairly obvious that to each change, a chosen one or a forced one, there are a vast number of potential outcomes.

Earlier this week we were forced to move around our living arrangements. This is something we do often by choice, but this time it was by force. Because of the way our house is set-up we asked our youngest daughter if we might move the "sleeping room" to her room until we could figure things out. This room is much smaller than the one we previously used. Our family was previously sharing one room but two beds, one a king and the other a twin. There was no way we were going to fit both beds in to this smaller room.

We were able to move the king bed and set-up its frame. We thought we would attempt to have all of us sleep in this one bed. The first night did not go well. Often the first little while after any change is unsettled. Our oldest daughter was really upset that we had to move the bed. She would really like it if nothing ever changed.

Then yesterday, I had an idea. If I cleared the closet and placed my daughters pillow sac in it one of the girls might be willing to sleep in there. The doors were already off of the closet so it would not be separate from the room but might feel like a nice cozy little nook for one of the girls. This little nook became really comfy really quick. Filled with the pillow sac and some down comforters and more pillows than probably belonged in the space, even I wanted to sit in there.

Ari took to it immediately. I laid on the bed while she laid in the nook and we chatted. She even slept in there most of the night. Everyone slept well. And, there was at least one surprising bonus to the move. Ari likes to stay up late while the rest of us turn in earlier. Because the room she was hanging out in was across the hall from where we all were, she was more than happy to stay up on her own.

I am not sure what the house set-up will look like when we clean up the mess that prompted the move in the first place. Honestly, I am not even going in to the room we evacuated right now. But, hopefully, I will see what ever comes next with much more neutrality knowing that every change has an infinite number of possibilities and in those possibilities is potential for good things you did not expect.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Of Mice and Mold

It has been an interesting couple of days around here. On Monday night I mentioned to my friend that because we were having a few people over it would be nice to have the trampoline out. My husband overheard my conversation and I found him in the backyard putting it up. He mentioned in passing that there were some mice in the shed. He suggested washing the pads that go around the outside of the trampoline in the morning.

The next morning I went out to wash the pads and found them well past saveable. The smell was awful and the rodents had chewed holes in the pads as well. Soon after the cat started catching mice and even attempted to bring one in the house. Now, I am all for furries. We have 2 cats, 2 dogs, a guinea pig, and a fish. But, for some reason mice just set off my "OH MY GOD HANTAVIRUS" alarm. I was dealing with this fairly well. Sure when I saw the cat with a mouse in its jaws I was more than a little creeped out, but I resisted the urge to light a match and throw it in the shed.

Friends came, we had a splendid time. Friends left, we had dinner and settled in for the evening.

Wednesday was the day of Ari's first ever filling. She had a cavity and the dentist also wanted to seal some of her teeth. Now, Ari is a lot like her mom. Which means we are both incredibly resistant to new and unknown. I have had 37 years to work on this particular quality and I still find it rearing its head and having to remind myself that life is mostly about the new and unknown. She headed to the dentist with her dad and although I had planned to keep the day low-key, I felt there was some cleaning that was hollering to be done.

Mina and I armed ourselves with a bucket of soapy water, rubber gloves, spray cleaner (because spraying borders on obsession for the little one) and various rags. Our goal? Wash the walls in the "sleeping room", clean the light fixtures in the same room, and vacuum the carpets. Okay, so we all sleep in the same room. We all like it, it works for us, and I am sure soon at least one of the girls will outgrow it but for now, we have a sleeping room.

With one wall down, I moved to my next task, moving the king size bed. The bed has been on the floor. With us all in the same bed and with Mina still on the young side, falling out becomes impossible if there is nowhere to fall to. So, I lifted the edge of the mattress, then had to stop and prepare myself to lift it the rest of the way. I have only been able to lift it a couple times without help so I realized I might be in a losing struggle. As I pushed the wall up against the bed, I smelt something really nasty. It was like a mixture of musty old towels and pee. Mina described the smell simply as "smelling like butt". There on the mattress was a substance, I have yet to figure out what, and it came from the floor beneath it. I am fairly certain it is not mold but the title was too attractive. :)

The rest of the day was consumed with making new sleeping arrangements. I did this with no enthusiasm- meh- would describe the feeling well. John attempted to cheer me up- which really I found annoying because seriously is anyone going to be bouncy happy under the circumstances. I mean I was not overly dramatic or despairing, just meh.

Then a thought occurred to me. This was not anywhere near the worst day of my life. Nowhere near. This was a minor nuisance compared with the events of the worst days in my life. No one died, no one had an incurable disease, we had a place to sleep, food, hot damn my life was GOOD.

Then another thought occurred to me. I once saw a tv show where the family was remodeling their whole house, while living in it. That sucked way worse than my day. I have a friend who has been building a house for I think the past two years, that was much more work, took much more perseverance, and I bet there are days she feels like meh. In the words of my mentor, "It is a big universe and shit happens"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ari has to have a cavity filled today. The doctor requested we give her a Valium before her visit. It took a little convincing but we wanted her to be as relaxed as possible and even though drugs in general are something we try to avoid, we felt this could make the difference between a kid who could get her dental work done and one who would fight the whole thing.

John gave her the pill and then came down the hall of our home just minutes later and said, "I would not want the kid we would get if Ari were medicated. Go look at her." She was a shell of herself. Sure she was calm and docile. But she was also so obviously numb and unengaged. I think both John and I are more appreciative than ever of who are kids are and the spirit they have.