Monday, May 28, 2018

Updates and Self-Help (Help!) Books and Chocolate Cake

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban, by JK Rowling.  (1999)

Nothing like receiving solace from a children’s book yeah?  Receiving solace is a lot like receiving chocolate cake.  It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, just that it tastes great.  And looks good on my hips.  Have you forgotten to ‘turn on the light’ lately?  I have.  


There, light is on.  I feel much better, don’t you?

Rescheduling my GRE test after I got 3/20 on all three math sections on a practice test.  I will be looking for a tutor.  And more chocolate cake.

I haven’t worked a lick on my book. I am trying to adjust to just using one space after a sentence. Hard to undo almost 20 years of habit.

I’m reading lots of self-help books again. They’re helping in that way that you know you’ve got to make some changes but you lack the courage at the current moment to implement them? Not to mention the energy. Ugh. Self improvement is a lot of work. Can’t I just rest here for awhile and binge ‘Mozart In The Jungle?’

Have I mentioned how much I hate drama? Really. I would be perfectly happy living a monastic lifestyle - high in the mountains in some sacred temple, away from the rush and current of regular river-life. Sitting still in a calm corner, just sky and earth and the occasional chocolate cake.  And my kids, of course.  And a glass of good red wine now and again.

I need more flour to make my chocolate cake.

I need more gas in the car to go buy a chocolate cake someone ELSE has made from scratch.

Mom and dad bought a puppy!  I’ll have to change my favorite quote to say. “Where there is cake (AND adorable puppies!) there is hope.  And there’s always cake.  And puppies.”  I’m sure Dean Koontz won’t mind the amendment.

Am I trying too hard?  Should I just apply at a big company and do data entry and be miserable but financially stable?  Or get another 200hr yoga certification and teach now and again?  And be happy but completely broke?  Seems clear but the problem is being financially stable makes me happy.  And I wouldn’t be totally miserable because it’s not my default.  I’ll be happy because I’ll be around people, and learning new things.  My base line for happiness is thankfully pretty low.  I know.  It is annoying.

And while I’d be happy teaching yoga I’d be annoyed at how broke I am.  Or would I?

I am incapable of making a decision right now.  I’m going to go get that chocolate cake, sit in front of my laptop and binge ‘Mozart’ and bliss out on chocolate and Bach. You’re welcome to join me. In spirit.  Don’t actually come to my house, Benji is napping.  OK? Anyway I’m not going to share my cake with you. So you might as well go get your own. Unless you’re getting your own AND bringing ice cream. Then you can come over. Quietly. And don’t stay long. Ok? Good talk. See you next week. Or in 15 minutes with ice-cream and your own cake, whatever.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Being Grateful, But Finding Time To Rant About Things I Have No Business Ranting About

Ever see that Claritin commercial where they put a filter over the camera lens to blur and mute the colors and then take it away and everything looks brighter, clearer, sharper and more colorful than real life should?

That’s how this week has felt for me.  The hugs from the babies feel more poignant, the cuddles tighter, the sweetness of our time together thick like honey.

It’s partly because of the ’shift’ at the Yoga studio that’s doing it.  I’m happier, they’re happier.  Well, or they finally know what it’s like to not have me at their beck and call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  For the first time in Benji’s entire life, I am gone from his presence for more than an hour or two.  I think I feel…appreciated.  It’s nice.  I could get used to this.

In other news I shaved Toby down to eye-brow length all over his body.  It’s too hot in Texas for fur.  I’m fighting my itch to chop off all my hair again.  It’s.  Too.  Hot.  For.  Hair.  Probably I won't cut it to eye-brow length.

Don’t get me wrong I’d much rather blink away the sweat from my eyes while watering my plants at 6am than shovel snow in my work clothes before I can even leave the driveway.

For now.  Ask me again in another 3 years.

Alright - It’s that time again, time for me to rant on about things I really have no business talking about but here’s my opinion and take it how you like.  Or not at all.

There was another shooting at a high school near Galveston, about an hour or two away from me.  Form what I read the (alleged) child-gun-man used guns his dad legally purchased.  No previous history of mental illness as far as I can tell.  I feel like prayers aren’t enough?  That God’s like…Hey.  DO SOMETHING TOO.  My babies are dying here people.

Did I google bulletproof backpacks?  Yes I did.  Why aren’t we doing this?  Why aren’t we installing bulletproof desks in the classrooms?  I would pay anything to know they’re moderately safer.  

I feel like the mental health flags and safeguards are unreliable, subjective.  Gun laws clearly can be tightened.  I feel like we’re failing these kids all around.  Both the ones committing the crimes and the ones suffering from it.  It isn’t just bullying - that’s been around since Cain and Abel.

We need to look at schools who have thwarted potential attacks and see what they did that worked.  Clearly making guns less accessible to children would reduce if not the frequency at least the severity and scope of loss.  You just can’t kill as many people as quickly with a knife. 

That goes back to having laws that require you to store your guns in a locked case and the bullets in a separate, locked case.  And you don’t leave the keys in the lock, you know?  How would you feel if your kid, in a low moment, got into your guns and hurt themselves or someone else?  What is worth that risk?

I don’t know what is going on in that family, or in that community but I can guess that the parents both of the children who died and of the child-killer are in a world of pain.  Unimaginable.

It’s hard to say what could have prevented it.  It’s clear it needs to be addressed in more than one way.  Tighten gun laws.  Increase the amount of school counsellors.  Start learning about mental illness, about stress and coping and healthy ways to heal from trauma.  What else would help?  It seems like we need solutions, lots of them, just throw everything we can think of at the problem and see what sticks.  But do it now.  Document success.  Repeat.

Like everyone else I see these huge, seemingly insurmountable problems and I get discouraged. Problems don’t go away by ignoring them though, or debating the right way to handle it.  They go away when you face it, when you shut up, stand up and start banging away at it.

Alight, end of the rant here, for those who didn’t want to go down that rabbit-hole with me we’re back into safer territory.

But now I’m all ranted out and pleasantly tired and my bed seems like heaven right now.  My fellow Canadians, I hope the warm weather stays.  My fellow Texans…stay cool. And if you see a plucky little shaved head bobbing around the neighborhood, don’t be alarmed.  It’s probably just me, finally succumbing to the urge to get that icky, sticky hair off my neck.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dark Days and Eating Unicorn Cake

First, Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful momma’s out there.  And to all those who are moms to kids they didn’t give birth to.  

And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom - the most Christ-like Christian woman I have ever known, and the reason I find it necessary to turn the other cheek, and those sunglasses I forgot on my head and walked out of CVS with last week.  Honesty, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, all traits I’ve watched her embody and tried to exhibit myself.

Thanks mom.

Now, to darker matters.  

There are dark days ahead I said, in last week’s blog.  I’m foreshadowing my own life.

Something has happened to me this week, something worse than my phone dying and me losing 2 years worth of contacts and pictures.  Something that has made me a more compassionate, non-judgmental person.  Something that’s made me sad, and confused.  Something that’s making me put my ‘best to be kind’ money where my mouth is.

I’m ignoring my chattering monkey mind that’s speeding off into seventy possible futures, none of them rosy.  It’s made me re-evaluate what really matters to me.  My relationships to those I love.  My own ability to protect and care for my children.

First, my health is fine.  Everyone whom I adore and am bonded to are fine.  Jichaan is fine.

Benjji spiked a fever of a 104 last Sunday after Ellie’s birthday party and when I took him to the after hours clinic they diagnosed him with the dreaded hand and foot disease.  Highly contagious.  Very sick baby.  I kept Ellie home from school all week and nursed a cranky, sick baby back to health while striving to keep them apart.  He’s still covered in tiny red dots a week later but they’re slowly going away.  Ellie did not get it!  I did not go insane.

Swoops of joy!  

Sunday night when Bill handed me the thermometer and it said 104 my heart just dropped.  I texted mom on the way to the clinic and asked her to pray.  I didn’t even tell her what for until we got there and we were waiting to see the doctor.  He was lethargic and quiet all the way and I’ve never wanted him to start fussing about being in the car seat so bad.

Anyway, he’s fine now, Ellie’s fine, even little Toby is feeling frisky.

We also got attacked by my neighbors Rottweiler.  Just me and my two babies, watching helplessly as his dog, who he never keeps on a leash launches into a charge.  I hold Benji tightly and keep Ellie behind me as he bounds toward us, barking madly and frothing at the mouth.  I know enough not to run although I’m acting purely on instinct as I freeze and stare him down.  I think I’m yelling at him ‘no’.  He stops about 2 feet away, growling threateningly, and then reluctantly lopes back onto his own property after being called about a dozen times.

One of these days it’s going to be just me and him, and we’re going to see who’s boss at the end of that little tete-a-tete.  Grrrrrr.  I’m a dog lover people. But you threaten my babies and we’re gonna have words.

I start my Karma shift at a yoga studio near me tomorrow.  Basically I clean the studio for a few hours every week and I get free yoga.  Win.  Win.  There’s nothing I like better than getting out of my head and focusing on physical tasks.  I’m pretty excited to start - it’s been a long, hard week.  I feel a little like Rocky in that one where the Russian guy just totally smashes him down.  Rocky V?  Anyway.  This week chewed me up and spit me out.

But I’m still here.  How’s that song go?  I’m stilll standing…ya ya yaaa.

I’ll repeat a quote I had a couple weeks ago from Princess Diana.  “Family is everything.”

And don’t worry about me folks, there’s still Unicorn birthday cake after all.  And where there’s cake…there’s hope.  And there’s always cake.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Birthday Unicorns, Probabilities and the certainty of Professor Google

I can see changes in Benji daily - a stronger grasp of language, a steadier gait.  He seems to grow taller and more solid almost overnight.  He engages in new behavior daily and his new (terrible home-job) first haircut makes him seem less babyish, more toddler.

But Ellie?  Ellie is turning four years old today and suddenly she is a young girl.  

I blinked and my baby morphed into this young girl-toddler creature that’s half girl (Are you happy Mommy?) and half toddler (I want my milk NOW!).  She’s all tall and curious and wicked smart.  Perceptive, initiative, careful.  

She’s the best parts of me and Bill.  We’re having a Unicorn themed birthday party for her tomorrow because she’s my little unicorn.  Magical, rare, beautiful, shy.  Full of love and light.  There will be lots of food (Thank you Lorna D for the Unicorn cake, and Jessica of Hodge Podge Bakery for the unicorn cookie-cake!)

Alright enough of the smooshy clap-trap.  Can you tell me what is the probability of flipping 4 heads or more if you flipped a coin 6 times?  I’ll give you hint.  There are 64 chances to flip a head or a tail.  (Only two outcomes; heads, or tails, six times.  2x2x2x2x2x2=64.)

You’ve got about 120 seconds to figure this out.



Nope, me either.  (She said glumly).

GRE test coming up in one month.  30 days away.   If I fail I will re-schedule a test for September and spend the summer wondering why math and I never got along well.  Where did I go wrong?  Did I offend him at our first meeting?  Was his negative first impression of me too much to overcome?

If nothing else this GRE test has taught me that I actually like math.  (I know, it’s kind of a life theme for me to like things that will never like me back).  I like the certainty of formulas.  No subjective conjecture or ambiguity.  No interpretation required.  Just plug in the right numbers in the right slots and presto!  Amazing answers will follow.

My biggest problem has been trying to overcome a lifetime of ‘I’m not a math person’ and my own attitude that I only needed basic math to survive in the world.

I wish someone had stopped me when I was six or seven and said, math is fun!  And you need it, it won’t matter if you’re a famous artist or a Nobel prize winning writer.  You will need this.  So soak it in.

Ellie and Benji will have this lesson learned for them.  They won’t make my mistakes.  They’ll make their own.  But they’ll make them with a head full of math and science I’ll tell you that.

On the bright side my phone died last night.  Kaput.  So, you know, I’m missing about half my brain right now.  We have to send it away and I won’t get it back for days.  DAYS PEOPLE!

I’m breathing into a paper bag right now.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.

I’ll have to use the geriatric GPS in the van.  

‘Go left here missy, never you mind about those new-fangled stores now.  Hey where are you going?  I don’t see a road here.  That’s a ‘new’ road.  Springing up all over the place acting like they have a right to be there.  What gives them right to spring up out of nowhere!?’

I’m mentally preparing myself for a life without my portable contact to everyone I know and everyplace I’ve ever been and to the classroom of professor Google.  Phew.

There are dark days ahead guys.  

But like my ancestors before me, I will struggle on and engage the world alone, without selfies and instagram updates of what we’re eating today.  And pray no one needs to know the odds of flipping heads 4 times in a row.   Or calculate how much yummy Unicorn cake is just enough for a four year old to eat, and how much will send her to bed early with a tummy ache.

Maybe I can look that up now while I have access to the internet…

The Gift Of Nowhere To Go

Hiya my friends – look – I don’t know if anyone other than mom and some uncles and aunts back home read this but, in case you’re out ther...