Follow by Email

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Truth About Anger or Angela's Been Reading Too Many Self-Help Books Again or #FREEDOM

My teapot says 'Come let us have tea about talk about happy things.'

But instead, I'd like to talk about anger. No, wait, don't go, this is worth it I promise.

Even the word is loaded with attached feelings, thoughts, and emotions isn’t it? 

There isn’t a ‘neutral’ thing about this word. Did you think of the last time you were angry? With your kids? With your spouse? The last time you argued with someone you loved? When someone cut you off in traffic?

I’ve been rolling with a lot of anger in my life lately. My own, and my four-going-on-fourteen year old as well as my almost two year old son. We’ve all been feeling really angry. But I’ll get back to that.

We’ve been happy, too, of course. We’re not stomping around in matching Yeh Family Grumps hoodies and combat boots or anything. We made it to the Hocus Pocus symphony at the Mitchell Woods Pavilion Friday night, did a candy crawl on Saturday, and enjoyed the day together today. We did the usual things this week; parks, groceries, lunch, making home-made soup from leftovers from the Colossal Canadian Thanksgiving turkey last weekend.

We managed a whole foods trip, gymnastics class, soccer, and school on Wednesday. 

We also managed multiple throw-down tantrums from Benji and multiple lashing-out episodes from Ellie too, usually around the same time.

ME: “You can’t hit your brother, go to your room. Now. Time out. 3 minutes.
Ellie: “No.”
ME: (sputtering incoherently, thinking CRAP she called my bluff! Now what do I do!?)

My solution for now is to add a minute for every time i tell her to go and she doesn’t. She got up to 10 minutes the other day and I realized I need a better solution. Anyone have any ideas let me know…

I talked about Benji’s tantrums last week. Boy does not like to be told no. And if you have him out past nap-time AND need to convince him to get into his car seat, the rage that ensues would alarm and mystify you. 

It’s hard to know what to do. It’s hard to remember anger isn’t a bad thing. For me, feeling that anger and not knowing how to deal with it is a scary thing. Scary for him, scary for me, scary for anyone within a five-mile radius of his screaming.

Anger is the hardest emotion for me to process. When someone around me is angry I freeze. I go into survival mode. What do they need? What do they want? How can I make this go away as quickly as possible? What did I do wrong? What can I do better next time? Manage, soothe, de-escalate, then expend lots of mental and emotional energy toward prevention of future anger episodes. Sounds reasonable right?

Except it isn’t.

Maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s Benji that’s forced me to realize my emotional blindspot when it comes to anger. Seeing it, experiencing it, watching someone I love rumble with it, I think there isn’t anything I CAN do. Really. There are a lot of excuses for Benji - (he’s tired, he’s hungry, he’s hot, he’s two…) and none of them have anything to do with me or my behavior. 

Calming down is up to him, too. I can turn out the lights, put him in his room away from sharp objects. I can put on lavender oil and soothing ocean sounds. I can speak in calm, low tones. I can pray. I can sing to him. I can just sit and be there with him through it. I can do lots of things that will help him calm down and center himself but ultimately, he has to manage his own anger himself. I can’t do that for him. He has to experience it, try to process it, and choose to let it go or hold onto it longer, himself.

And he does. It doesn’t last forever. And he lets me pick him up and cuddle him, and wipe away his tears and get him some cold water and off he goes.

And none of it has anything to do with me personally. I’m not the cause of the tantrum, and I’m not in control of when it stops. He is. And he’s TWO.

Because it has nothing to do with age. It is because someone else’s actions and emotions are their responsibility, and theirs alone.

What would you do if you knew that, really knew that? #Freedom?

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Loyal Beavers, Majestic Moose, and being Thankful for Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canucks!

I just wanted to say how grateful I am for my life. I love being a mom. I love being able to be home with them and see the daily, DAILY cognitive development Benji is exhibiting. He’s 23 months and he is a little parrot, repeating everything we say. I love knowing that I’m the one that knows him best, and if I’m not too distracted, I can pick-up what he’s saying even if it is a little garbled. 
Yep, frog is hiding right now.
Yep, here’s your fork.
Ellie is still sleeping.
Here’s your water.
Sure, here’s a popsicle.
‘Two?’ (He says this only for treats and he holds up one finger right on his nose.)
No, you can’t have two popsicles.

He is an angel. A sweet, giving, cuddly, curious, laid-back little baby. 

Until you tell him no. 

Then he morphs into a raging whirlwind of kicks and screams and shocking baby rage. He drops to the floor, throwing punches and kicks and thrashing about as if tiny red ants were eating him alive. It is a sight to behold. I’d like to say only immediate family has witnessed this, but sadly my friends at HEB have seen it numerous times. 

Last week we broke a record, three throw-himself on the floor tantrums in the aisles of HEB within an a fifteen minute period.

People stared. Mom’s frowned. Dad’s shuffled off uncomfortably.

An employee tracked down ‘be calm’ homeopathic remedies from the hippy aisle and shoved five boxes in my hand. ‘You can’t overdose on this,’ she told me as she sent me on my way.

So what are my instincts telling me? In Benji’s case I try to pull him to a safe place, make sure there’s nothing around he can bang into, and wait it out. 

The easy answer, when you’re tired or busy, is to just give him what he wants. 

This. Is. A Recipe. For. Disaster. 

The more they kick and fight, the more resolved you need to be not to give in. If you do, you’re telling them loud and clear, next time they want something this behavior will get it for them.

We don’t want that do we?

In Benji’s case it’s developmental. His need to control something, anything, and his inability to understand and process his negative emotions leads to a tiny fire hydrant of messy, loud emotions spraying everywhere. You wait it out, clean up the mess, and stick to your guns. 

Asking politely gets him what he wants. Tantrums get him nothing but a scratchy throat from the screaming.

Ellie is four years old. She’s past this hydrant stage and is learning about delayed gratification, about controlling her reactions and how to get calm when she’s been triggered. This is an ongoing process that has involved me using every calming and centering tool in my box, and a few I’ve only read about. 

Time-in’s and the calming corner, deep breaths, thinking about the other person, and finally taking away the toy they’re fighting over or her beloved Ipad. 

I’m having a hard time getting her to stop hitting and pushing Benji. Also, pulling his hair, squeezing and pinching and throwing things at him. Right? Fun.

I know she’s going to grow out of this phase. I know if I apply consistent, reliable consequences and I deliver these consequences with firmness and love, she is going to be okay and not turn out to be the Unibomber.

I just need to pull on my big-girl panties and get through it. Having them both at these developmental stages is tricky.

I love being a stay at home mom. I wouldn’t trade these hours, days, and exhausting nights for anything.

Having said that..I can see that Ellie would be just fine with someone else during the day - her social needs are outweighing her cognitive one-on-one needs and Benji will be there soon.

So we all know I passed my GRE and I’m applying for my masters in Education. 

Turns out I also need to be a certified teacher. I don’t know what my new career path will be, but I think my steps are leading me toward the classroom, at least in the near future.

Meantime - if you see me at HEB standing watch over a flailing and screaming toddler, just pat me on the shoulder and remind me it’s all going to be okay, because it is.

Happy Turkey day my lovely Canadians - may our loyal beavers and majestic moose stand guard over your gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffed Turkey’s and warm apple pies, eh?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Solitude, Allergies, and Making It Work

“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.”

Alright, I don’t know who said that but it feels true to me.

Ugh, solitude. I both crave and abhor it. (Abhor - what a cool word. AbHOR!)

Luckily for me with two babies around I don’t have to endure solitude often. 

I’ve had a weird last few months with them. They’ve been sick since June with what the doctor is now saying is allergies. So I’ve got them full of allergy medicine and they are slowly getting back on track. We’ve been having these endless cycles of what I thought were colds, I’d give them allergy meds (because you can’t give cold meds to kids for some reason) and they’d start to bounce back and I’d stop (because I hate taking drugs or giving them to the kids long term) and they’d get ‘sick’ again followed by steadily worsening symptoms until one or both would get an ear infection and we’d be back on antibiotics and the allergy meds again.

Exhausting much? Anyone who’s ever stayed at home to take care of babies knows the unique strain caring for sick kids gives. Toddlers aren’t the happiest little dudes in the base case. Add a head full of gunk and a sore throat and cough and they are chucking their cheerios at your face (while screaming like a maniac) and throwing the dog around the living room by the tail. 

It ain’t pretty.

So. Allergies. 

Claritin until November, apparently. As a pretty crunchy (hippy) chickie-poo this does not sit well with me at all.

After a poll on facebook I’ve been basically told to keep doing what I’m doing with the Vicks, Eucalyptus and Camphor oils, and to add Elderberry gummies. I knew about Elderberry, taken during a cold to help shorten the duration and lessen the severity but I didn’t know it was good for allergies.

I am willing to give it a try. Anything is better than being on allergy meds for two months.

The whole time I’m like BUT I BREASTFED! Argggg. I breastfed those little buggers for almost a year for Ellie and a year and a half for Benji. They’re not supposed to get allergies or skin issues. They’re not supposed to have mood swings and tummy issues.

They’re supposed to be shiny and golden with good health oozing from their pores and…and…just glowey with the awesomeness of my sacrifice.

I digress. The only thing shiny and golden these days are the McDonalds french fries we eat in the van on the way to or from one thing or the other.

So if you’ve got solitude…get in touch with your soul. Or binge-watch Ozark I don’t know, whatever makes you happy.

If you’re like me and you don’t even have solitude to potty, well, hang in there. Or don’t. Carve out some time ala Kiki in the ‘Bad Mom’s’ movie:

“And I said I’m going to the PTA meeting with my friends so stop being such a (blank, blank) and make it work!”

And have an Elderberry gummy while you’re at it. It may not help your mood but the sugar and the chewing will make you feel better.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Know What's Best For Me.

 “I don’t just want to live the length of my life. I want to live the depth and breadth of it as well.” Diane Ackerman

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.” John D. Rockefeller

These two quotes are often running around in my head. Yes I realize they are contradictory. At least, I think they are. 

What I want more than almost anything is to be financially independent and secure. Boom. I said it. Whew. Why was that so hard to admit? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m trying to be a ‘nice’ girl and nice girls don’t want that kind of personal freedom and independence?

What I want above everything is a life where I can feel joy and peace and feel safe and where my children, all of them, feel that too. Where I seek knowledge and happiness wherever I find it and I ask questions until I find the origins.
In my mind the two ultimate goals, the two goals underlying everything I do, the two goals I feel are seeking different experiences and are fighting each other for dominance.

One goal, if fulfilled, is a life where I chase every curiosity, where I find every smallest thread of happy and peace and I follow them wildly, joyfully to their source, no matter the cost, no matter the impracticality of what I will learn or experience, and no matter the risk. 

No matter what other people think of me.

Worst end result scenario? Rich in wisdom and knowledge but poor. Sitting in a dark room in a sparse place devoid of beauty and with only the memory of beauty in my mind to sustain me in the cold final days of my life. Bleak much?

Another is where I narrow down my passions and focus on one. I am practical and reserved. I am disciplined and wise. I seek to be excellent at this one thing. 

I pick one. Yoga. Writing. Career in Corporate America.

So excellent money will follow. Not millions, but enough to know I will feel ‘safe’. And that I can extend that safety to my children. My end days are spent in warmth and comfort physically, but my heart is snagged on ‘what-if’s and the kind of soul-insecurity that only comes to you at the end, when you know it’s you and death alone. What might have made this life fuller? More magical and sacred? Did I exchange spiritual solace for fleeting physical security?

I think my biggest problem is I’ve faced death at a really young age. I was 16 when I finally came to terms with the weird fact that my life would someday end. And as things were going at the time, sooner rather than later. 

It kind of crunched me, burned me up inside until all that was left was curiosity, and a serious annoyance for superficial. I don’t got time for BS. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a total pushover. I’d rather shove a toothpick in my eyeball than hurt someone’s feelings even accidentally. But my tolerance for BS is decidedly low. Hopefully especially low for my own BS.

This blog today has done what I was hoping against hope it would do. It has clarified what I really want from the chaff of what I should want.

I want to live my life widely, deeply. I want to be curious about what I’m curious about, I want to know me, I want to connect with the divine honestly.

No one knows what the end will be or when. All we know is here, now. And here, now, I want to live as if I’m the only one who knows what’s best for me. Because I am.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Facing Your Fears In Your Neighborhood

The secret to a long, happy life.

Here it is. Are you ready? 

Face your fears.

In every situation I have ever encountered in my entire almost 40 years on this planet - I have ALWAYS felt better when I faced my fears. And I always felt worse when I didn’t.

What brought on this life-lesson buried deep in my subconscious?

GRE math and a new Daniel Tiger show.

We’ll get back to the GRE.

First, Daniel Tiger. A NEW Daniel tiger came on today. A new neighbor moving into Daniel’s neighborhood. 

Cue hysterics from my four year old, Ellie. Tears. Screaming in terror. Hiding of eyes. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. You get the picture. ‘I don’t want to watch the new one! I don’t like it I don’t like it!’

I don’t pretend to be all wise and all knowing. But in this case, it was clear she was terrified of her favorite show changing. Changing in a way she might not like, or will be afraid of. New neighbors were scary things when it happens to your favorite warm, cozy, unchanging TV show. It would be like finding out Scrooge had a wife. It’s like…no, that’s not right. Who’s messing around with my favorite Christmas movie?

Except magnified times a hundred. So I have two choices as a mom. Cave to the fear, turn it off, and continue on our day, or endure the hysterics trying to make room for her natural resiliency to shine through.

Maybe it was the whole wheat Wheaties I had for breakfast. Maybe it was the Kombucha in my Green tea this morning. For whatever reason, I decided not to take the easy way out. I decided this random Tuesday morning in the middle of September was a good time to instill some of my hard earned wisdom into her tiny heart.

I left the show on.

Ba ba baaaaaa.

I held her, I rocked her, I brought her to her room when I had to deal with Benji. But i left the show on. And at some point I went into her room and gave her a big hug and told her the secret to a happy life. 

I didn’t pressure her, or force her to watch, but I didn’t turn it off either. I let her come out on her own. And she did. And the next time that show comes on, it won’t be a melt-down of fear and anxiety, because she’s already dealt with it.

Face your fears. 

You’ll feel better. Every time. I promise. 

And if it doesn’t feel better immediately, (I’m thinking finally going in for that test you’d been dreading and it’s bad news) or the niggling feeling your partner hasn’t been faithful that you finally confront. These kinds of adult fears may take a little longer to feel better after you face them but you will. And you’ll be stronger.

I’m not a perfect parent. I am not a saint. I’ve got my own issues for sure. But Ellie will know that fear is an enemy to confront and beat down, and that results in a life any one would be proud to live, no matter what happens.

Oh, and I passed the GRE yesterday, with points to spare. Sure glad I faced my fear of math. Just sayin’. We don’t know what we’re capable of unless we just put our heads down and do it already.

“One of the greatest discoveries a man (or woman!) makes, one of our greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid to do.” Henry Ford.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Blog In Point Form, Hemingway Shemingway and a Poem About Babies In Your House

For the first time ever: I bring you…

The Blog In Point Form. 

Why? I will tell you why.

* I’m finally admitting the Hemingway philosophy of writing is correct. Less is more. Words are punchy when they’re sparingly, ruthlessly pared down to the essence of the thought. No frills. No flowery sentiment. Just the facts.

That doesn’t sound like me does it?

Let me try again. 

*I. Am. Exhausted.*

*Ellie’s got a mystery illness that began with me following her around with a puke bucket and a cold washcloth for her raging fever on Friday. Two clinic visits totaling 5 hours. Advil and Tylenol around the clock. The sour smell of fever and sweat and germ overload. An ear infection to boot. Pharmacy’s closed on Sunday nights.

*My own lingering cough burning a hole in my chest. But I’m still standing. I’m in a hardboiled detective novel for moms. Except my mysterious enemy is a virus and exhaustion and my tragic flaw is my inability to take care of myself when I need it.

*Truth. I’m falling asleep writing this. Two nights of sleeping on the floor in Ellie’s room because her bed is too small to accommodate us both.

*The drooping eyes. The fuzzy thought process. The heavy, uncoordinated limbs that drop plates and food and teddy’s and pacey’s and all the balls i’m trying to juggle.

*AND YET. I submitted my application for a masters in M.ED yesterday. I’ve officially set myself up for failure. Or success. So hard to tell in the beginning, yeah?

*I’m officially done listening to all the negative stuff my deep brain throws and I’ve said…’Meh. I’m going to try.’ Worst case scenario I get denied to U of Houston and I turn my attention to juggling school. I hear clowns make a lot of money and they’re not creepy at all. Red. Balloons. (Shiver, shudder, shiver.)

Then a life of crime. Non-violent crime, of course. Just good, clean, thieving, ex-clown-school-fun.

*No school this week for the babies. No breaks. Only the churning belly full of Ellie’s germs, flailing around in my acidic tummy. Ha. Serves them right, You can’t survive in such a caustic atmosphere. Silly germs.

*I'm sorry I just fell asleep sitting up. I’m ornery today. Invidious, even. (GRE word of the day!) Means, Hateful, offensive, and injurious.

*Have you ever felt so tired and sick you literally day-dream about your nice, soft, warm bed with cool, fluffy pillows? Ahhhhh, sleep I crave you. Bed, I need you.

*Namaste everyone and thank you for tuning in. Stay tuned, video clips to the blog are in the works. Once i figure out how to do it.

*For now, good night Moncton! And the Woodlands. And, weirdly, some place in the new Czech Republic. (Why are you reading this? Who ARE you!? I love you.)

*I leave you with a tiny, sleepy, baby poem.


You get to know a house
when you have a baby

Every creak your retreating footsteps trigger
every shaft of light and where it falls
through on her tiny face while you walk - light, shadow, light, shadow.

Her lashes catching the glistening moon-glow as they lay like delicate black sighs on her soft pink cheeks.

The ceiling in her room where the moonlight and streetlight
conspire together to paste shadow-trees on the wall behind you.

If you’d lived a million lives alone and stayed here for centuries you still would
never have noticed this play of light and shadow.

But she did. Before she fell asleep in your arms, snuggled like a baby should.

You get to know a house
when you have a baby

Joy, pain, joy, pain, flickers by and she watches it all with wonder

She pushes wide your beginnings balloon of love and pierces it with shadows of endings

You get to know your house,
when you have a baby.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Cruising Home from Vacation

My blog entry is a little late this week because I’ve spent the last four days traveling on a gigantic ship from Galveston to Mexico. With Bill and my babies.

Alright let’s review the low lights. The cruise wasn’t really set up for kids under 2. He couldn’t go into the pools on the ship at all, and yep they were watching closely. They had a ‘camp’ for kids but would only watch kids under 2 for two hours in the morning (but they wouldn’t watch Ellie the same time). And then again from 10pm-1am. Who drops their under 2 year old at a crazy, noisy, smelly day care center after their bedtime? After my bedtime!

Someone who doesn’t have a sweet little guy who is usually out by 7:30pm that’s who. 

So basically we managed one hour the whole trip where they agreed to watch both of them at the same time. They didn’t communicate that properly at any of the FOUR times we talked to them. They kept giving us a little index cards with the under 2 times but not with the over 2, anyway.

For that one hour I had a glass of white wine and read my book and sat on the deck in the sun and it was lovely.

I digress. Let’s just say I won’t go on another cruise with babies unless it is DISNEY related, okay dokay?

Benji’s nap schedule was totally messed up and so he was a raging toddler mess most of the time.

No WIFI. (This is also in the plus column)

The ship was huge and I was still getting antsy and restless. (The walls are closing innnn, ahhhhh, let me OFF!!) Wait - free fro-yo!

The highlights! 

I saw dolphins in Mexico. Swimming with Ellie in the pool while dad stayed with Benji in the room while he napped. While they both napped.

Swimming with the kids in the ocean, hanging around on hammocks on the beach.

Watching Peter Rabbit with the kids - outside on deck on a big drive-in type movie screen.

Towel animals, am I right!?

Eating dinner at a ‘fancy’ restaurant every night. 

The ocean at night.

Fro. Yo. FRO YO!

Art work lining the hallways.

Violin concerts in the American Lobby.

No Wifi.

Matching manicures with Ellie. (Purple. Of course.)

Dancing waiters on the tables.

Dancing waiters period.

Coming home again!

                   “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best - an Unfitting Tribute to Dr Rubin

Loads of other people have had a much harder summer than I have had. Loads of other people have had a much BETTER summer I’m sure. Of course, for Aretha Franklin, John MCCain, and my Oncologist from when I was a kid, Dr Rubin, this was their last summer. 

Certainly their summers were worse. 

Dr Rubin. He passed away a few days ago and it feels like a chunk of my life has dropped away. He once told my parents to brace for my death. That it was coming, sooner, rather than later. I cannot believe I am still here and he is not. He taught me a lot. He taught me not to judge a book by it’s cover. (I hope that man isn’t my doctor, he looks pretty scary). 

He taught me its okay to dream but you have to face facts too. He once sat me down and told me, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”

It has been my guiding principle since that day. In every situation where I am unsure, those words have never failed to prepare me for a way out. I learned so much from him, and I’m sure he had no idea. I learned decisions have real-world consequences. I learned sometimes the right thing is not the easy or nice thing to do. I learned you can disagree with someone and still like them. I learned giving up is for losers. I learned everyone gives up sometimes and you just have to shake off that ‘I’m a loser’ stank and get back up again.

I don’t remember much from the day shortly after my 16th birthday when he told me the Leukemia came back but I do remember he cried. He thought he was telling me I was going to die. I did too. I think we all did.

I never got a chance to introduce him to Ellie and Ben and now I never will and for that I am sorry. He would have gotten a kick out of them. It would have made him smile for a minute, a second out of a day devoted to people in some of the worse situations of their lives. The kind of emotional stamina it takes for a compassionate heart to stay in an oncology wing day after day, week after week, I can’t even imagine. He was always on call. Nosebleeds on a Sunday? He’s there. Extra blood work needs looked at on a Saturday morning? He was there.

This is an unfitting tribute to Dr Rubin, who deserves trumpets and angels choirs (although he would have hated it) and loads of fan-fare for just showing up at work each day. Who deserves so much more than the gratitude and appreciation of one former ‘chemo-kid’ whose life he has impacted so much.

Thank you Dr R - I literally would not be here if it wasn’t for your dedication to my well being, usually at the expense of your own. And I know I’m only one of hundreds, thousands of people you have struggled to pull back into health. Into life. What else is there to say? Thank you.

A special thank you to all the nurses and doctors who are still striving to keep your heart and spirit while coping with the scariest stuff out there for us humans, disease. Like the police you see people at their worst. Sometimes that scours away pretense and reveals heroic, amazing individuals. I’m sure just as often it exposes the fear and smallness we manage to hide when things are all going well. Maybe sometimes all of that from the same person, on the same day.

To everyone out there who’s ever been sick, or cared for someone who was. Who has ever given up and felt bad about it, who’s ever reacted to bad news with less grace and stoicism as they’d have liked…like Taylor says, just shake it off, shake it off. 

You can do this. 

Just remember to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Then chill. There's nothing else a human can do.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Getting Lost on Hope Road

So I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. A school counsellor! With a side of yoga teacher with a side of stay at home mom with a side of writer/poet and a teensy dessert of gardener.

The GRE I have been studying for all summer is next Saturday. On Friday, I found out I may need my teaching certification before I can go into the masters program. #Stymied. #Shouldn’tlifebeeasier. 

I’m still waiting to clarify things but for now, I’m in a holding pattern again. 

Meantime I’ve applied to volunteer or substitute teach for this school year. Either way it’s clear I need to spend some time in schools to make sure this is a path I will be happy with long term. 

It’s like the other day when I took a wrong turn and the GPS had me on some funky back roads and I was feeling stressed and confused and then I looked up and I saw it had brought me to ‘Hope road’, and I had to laugh. If you have to be lost, it’s nice to see a road out called hope.

I know I want to spend one more year at home. There are two reasons for this. Ellie. Benji.

Alright seriously, there are two reasons for this. One is this is Ellie’s last year before she goes to Kindergarten full time. And oh yes, I did NOT sign her up for pre-kindergarten. I am choosing not to stress over her falling behind academically when she’s four years old. She’s going to be fine. We’re going to spend one last year together and then she’s in school for the next hundred years. This time is precious to me.

Benji is going to end up getting the ‘that’s-rough-kid’ end of the stick because this will probably be my last year with him too, at least full-time devoted to them. He’ll be almost three when I go back to school next fall. Or work. Or maybe the time will come and I’ll say; ‘Maybe one more year?’

I don’t know. I hope not. The benefits of staying home for him are too numerous to count. Up to a point. Then his little brain slows down it’s crazy growth and he will need some social exposure as well as learning to be independent from me. Hopefully when that times comes I will bite the bullet and just do it. Some days I don’t know how I’m going to make it another year and stay sane. Some days I can’t believe how fast the time is flying and I just want to hug them and hold them and keep them babies forever.

And that’s life right? The bitter and the sweet side by side. Every decision we make holds consequences that are lovely and right, are terrible and unexpected, and everything in between.

For now I’m gathering more information, including how I feel about school vs work and I’m putting one foot in front of the other. And when I get lost, I'm looking for hope and it usually finds me.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hugs, High Fevers, and Holy Octopus Batman!

I’m eating ice cream right now. Lots of ice cream.

Benji has had three high fevers since May. He just kicked a dosey, but right before he did his temperature soared to 105 at midnight Wednesday night. I try not to let it seep out but the panic was there in my chest, like an Octopus on crack. When he got better he broke out in a rash. Now he’s stuffy again. Is he getting a cold? Another one?

The doctor asked us to get a CBC on Thursday and right away let me say that the counts came back normal. But the nurse was awful. Clearly her first time? 

I was sitting on the cot, Benji straddling me so I could wrap both arms around him and hold him steady. She had that needle in and couldn’t ‘get the vein’ and keep pulling it in and out and in and out and finally called for help while he screamed. And I tried to stay calm and not panic the girl with the needle in my baby’s arm. 

After it was done and he was taped up I realized Ellie had climbed up onto the cot with me and had her arms and legs wrapped around us both. That made me cry right there. A small circle of love braced against the pain the smallest of us was feeling right then. There is no end or beginning to the love I feel for those two.

Needless to say, we had ice cream that day too. Bigger than their heads ice cream that ended up melted all over their faces, chins, shirts, and car seats. Ask me how much I cared about that.

As anyone who knows me knows, that’s how my Leukemia-drama began. A high fever that wouldn’t come down. One CBC later and I was admitted to the hospital and although I didn’t know it then, I was at the height of the roller coaster called ‘kid w cancer’. 

So you can imagine the actual terror I felt. Am still feeling honestly. Stupid Octopus on crack there in my chest ready to start flailing around again at any second.

There are a lot of different ways people cope with pain. Food, alcohol, exercise, prayer, music, meditation, talking it out, not talking it out. Everyone has their own unique way of dealing with spikes of anxiety, fear, and pain. Everyone has had to figure out how to self-soothe.

I know I preach a lot about meditation and yoga and prayer but beyond clearly healthy and not healthy ways of coping I don’t think there’s any right way. Everyone needs to find it for themselves, and not judge anyone else how they find their own peace.

That’s all for today folks. Go hug your kids okay? And if they’re healthy, take a second to soak up that awesomeness. If not, pull them close because hugs are to pain like water is to oil. It’s hard to feel one when you’re overwhelmed by the other.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Following My Bliss or, Don't Eat the Sand, Eh?

So I am in the ocean at Galveston yesterday and Bill had to run to the facilities for a minute leaving me alone with both kids. 

The water was warm. The sand was soft and sucking on our toes as the water pushed and retreated. There were birds wheeling overhead or diving into the surf to catch a snack. 

Benji was toddling around and pointing to the ocean and saying ‘Pooo!’ which means, pool. Because everything is a pool. Creeks, rivers, lakes, puddles. Everything is a pool. At least, I hope so. Poo also means, well, poo.

In any case, Ellie was laughing and throwing mud into the ocean. I don’t know why. But try it. It is kind of fun. Just don't get any in your mouth. Yuck.

And then something crazy happened. I looked around, lots of people around but no one is paying attention to us because they have their own crazy kids to watch carefully.

I dropped in the shallow water and did a Vinyasa flow. I started in Cobra which is backwards but who cares. Pushed back into Down Dog. Benji laughed at me, my head upside down and he bent down and put his head in the wet sand. A toddler down dog. He has never done that before. I think he sensed my joy, my playful heart.

Then I shifted to mountain, scooping my arms up and wide, my heart open to the sun and the surf and the sand. Then down to touch my toes, half bend, then back down to plank and cobra, (spit out sand) finish up in Up-Dog. 

Then I did a few of my favorite poses, Wild Thing, sitting back bend and then I came up and just sat in Rock Pose, watching my kids. I know what you’re thinking. But people might be WATCHING you. And JUDGING you. Maybe they think you’re a crazy yoga lady!

And I have to say, yeah, maybe. But in that moment there was such profound contentment and peace that I’d rather have that, then the good opinion of people I will never see again and to whom I may not like even if I did meet them again.

I’ve been reading ‘Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield about how to be successful and how to figure out how to make money doing things you love to do. I think the theory is, you were made with a purpose and each time your heart leaps with joy, or bliss, that’s because that’s the way you were made. And you were made to follow that wherever it goes. And trust that because that’s how you were made, that’s how you are going to be taken care of. Somehow, in some form, you will find success.

Wow, right? 

So, I am going to trust that God put these desires in my heart; to write, to uplift my heart and steady my body in a yoga flow, to teach that joy to others, to fill my heart with everything that makes me happy. Loving on my kids, tending to my garden, and to follow every spark and event that arouses my curiosity. 

I am going to trust that I am who I am for a reason, and that alignment will happen at some time frame that is not my own.

I don’t know if I will ever be a full time yoga teacher, or make any money from my writing or if loving to grow things could be lucrative. No one is paying me to love every kid I come across whether I spend three minutes with them or a few years.

But I have to trust that in following these desires I will find both a way to make a living and a way to stay in my ‘happy’ place. Maybe I will find my place as an admin assistant in a yoga studio, or as an editor instead of a writer, or a school counselor or a million other ways and jobs I won’t even know exist until I start following those paths.

I will follow bliss, I will let go, and I will be grateful for what I have right now. My totally chaotic and imperfect life is filled with millions of small, perfect moments and I won't stop searching for more. Life's too short, eh?

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” 
--Joseph Campbell