Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I got out my yoga mat. It sits out, in the living room, or the bedroom, ready for 5 minutes here or there when I have time. I used to keep it rolled up, not wanting it to get dirty or dragged into play. But in keeping it separate, it never got used at all. So now it is out and I am more open to seeing times I can use it rather than focusing on when I can't.

I made a deal with Pablo. He hasn't been listening. At all. Things have been degenerating places I didn't want my parenting to go. So no more nagging. No more repetition. In exchange, I make sure I have his full attention before I speak. I go to him rather than calling out to wherever he is in the house. I ask him to do what I want him to do, looking into his eyes. I thought there would be a need for consequences, which worried me, since threats were what I was trying to eliminate. But so far, he just does it. Or asks why, I explain, and then... he does it. Turns out maybe I was the one with the problem. Communication. It's like magic.

I started a food diary again. I track my calories and my food, not with the intention of changing anything, but with the intention of being more mindful about my choices. When I have done it before, I felt really energized and powerful about my life. More in control of the things that should, generally, be under my control. It brings me a kind of hyper-organizational peace.

And then my partner sent me this blog entry. It confirmed everything i was doing. All these changes are from within, from listening to that part of me that already knows but so often gets drowned out in all the parts of me that fear. These changes are just the infrastructure that supports my being more mindful, more peaceful, more me. Each moment is a choice. Today I choose peace.

And I choose to make veggie sushi. Go me!

Monday, May 25, 2009

For the love of NERNIE

Beebz LOVES Ernie from Sesame Street. Pablo had a little Ernie doll that Beebz now loves with a love that is more than love. Nernie, as she calls him, is her obsession. She calls out for him in her sleep. She wants to take him in the car. She is in L-O-V-E.

We aren't big TV watchers (and can't stand Elmo) so she has never seen the actual show. A few days ago I showed her some Bert and Nernie skits on Youtube and she was thrilled. But today I made a mistake. I showed her that Nernie can SING. And now she wants all Nernie to sing to her, all the time. And don't think that I could sing the songs to her. That is blaspemy, hands down.

Ah, negotiating with an almost 17 month old. My favorite part is that when I told her maybe we could watch Nernie sing again tomorrow, she asked to call her other mother on the phone. I asked if she thought that her Ima would give a better answer and she shouted, "YEAH!!" So we don't have to wait for that whole splitting the parents thing. It is here.

So in honor of beloved Nernie (and so I have a good shortcut to it...), I give you this, our favorite song.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Swimming SUCCESS!

My poor Pablo, king of being anxious about pretty much everything. His first summer, he loved the pool. He was around 6 months old and I suppose couldn't see that clearly yet.

By the next summer, his eyesight had improved. He took one look at the enormous hole filled with water and decided that his parents just possibly wanted to kill him. That summer, he didn't really swim much. By much, I mean AT ALL.

At ages 2 and 3 he was still pretty much convinced that swimming was a VERY STUPID IDEA and only got in toward the end of each summer, clinging tightly to me as if I would accidentally forget and drop him. By the very end of the summer, he was willing to jump from the side, but only if his face didn't get wet and only if he was IMMEDIATELY returned to the edge to get back out. After all, it's one thing to jump in for the thrill, but quite another to hang out in what is clearly a DEATH TRAP.

By age 4, he was a bit more chill. He was still not comfortable by any means, but he was more willing to be towed around in the water and down right excited about jumping in from the side. As I had every summer, I worked on his strokes and basic water safety etc. You know, all the stuff I thought I would ever need to teach him before he got all excited and started doing it on his own. In fantasy land.

This year we were ready. We made plans. Good ones. We got Pablo all hyped up to go to SWIM LESSONS. We talked to people and got recommendations. Then we sent him someplace we could afford. The first session of 8 classes was wonderful beyond reason. He teacher, Jamie, was the love of his life. He wanted to marry her. He listened. He TRIED. He improved by leaps and bounds.

Then she got promoted. And don't get me wrong, I am very happy for her, but I always find it kind of sad when someone is clearly talented and then stops doing what they are exceptionally good at. Pablo trusted her. Completely.

Then came Tiffany. Now, if anyone seemed like the sort who would forget and drop a kid in the water, she was the one. A vacant stare. Slightly slack jawed. And 12. Ok, maybe 18. Same thing, right? She had the least skill with children I have ever seen for anyone who actually WORKED WITH CHILDREN. At one point we watched her argue with Pablo for FIVE MINUTES with each saying "You listen!" "NO, you listen!" "No, YOU listen!" Now, it does surprise me sometimes when Pablo acts his age (of 5) but it shocks the hell out of me when a 12 (ok, 18) year old acts his age. He was scared and wanted to tell her something so he could feel safer. It was about not going underwater. She wouldn't listen.

And then it happened. The bitch dunked him. Deep. He came up screaming. If I had been there, I would have started screaming too. Fortunately, my partner was the one present, and she is known for being more even keel, even when 12 year old morons decide that it would be "good for him" to learn that trusting adults is a sham and that swimming pools are indeed horrible, scary places. He didn't go back to the class. He changed to a different teacher and finished his sessions with her. Barely willing to get in the water, unwilling to do more than get towed around.

He has gotten in the water with me only with coaxing. I had to make a lot of promises. I would NEVER let him go. I would NEVER dunk him. I would NEVER make him get in the water. It was sad since he had been so excited to try this year. The first few times we went, Pablo used a noodle and loved it. Then we switched to an innertube because it didn't have a habit of floating off almost instantaneously when his arms were raised.

See, I have this thing about flotation devices for children. I think they are generally really dangerous because they give the child a false sense of security and a false sense of their own ability in the water. Way too many kids drown because they think they can swim. I wanted Pablo to feel his body in the water in a totally accurate way.

But after all this time and all this hardship with fearing swimming (not to mention now taking 2 children to the pool almost every day by myself), Iwanted him to find a way to feel confident in the water. He natually has an unhealthy dose of the DANGERS. He needed the space to find the FUN. So I remembered this thing I had seen (and dismissed).

Now the cool thing is that it allows his arms and legs to have a completely free range of motion so he can actually do swimming strokes. It also keeps him from being scared to death of drowning. In an hour at the pool today, he swam more happily and more effectively than 8 weeks of swim classes and 5 years of previous trying. It doesn't keep him high in the water like a life preserver and he certainly can't lounge in it like an innertube. It just gives a little boost. The coolest thing is that it actually has 9 flotation pads in it, and as he gets more comfortable, we can remove them, one at a time, until he doesn't need it anymore. I am beside myself with excitement. He didn't want to leave the pool today. His water obsessed sister gave out before he did.

It is just possible that this boyo will not only swim one day, but that he will LOVE it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

And speaking of crafting...

Every summer, I want THE PERFECT HAT. You know, the one that is cute, stays on, not too floppy, not too heavy, etc.

And every summer, I make do, not ever having THE PERFECT HAT.

Recently, we were out shopping and I saw a potentially awesome crochet hat. I also saw the price tag. Then I said to myself, "Self, you could make a hat just as awesome as that!"

You know what? I was right. I made this hat in time for the beach and it was almost perfect. It needs a tiny bit of work on being less floppy now that it has been soaked in the ocean, but I have some tricky ideas for a solution involving wire or maybe plastic? I am not sure yet.

And Beebz likes it too!

Mindful Mama, now on ETSY!

I finally did it. I put some stuff on Etsy. Two handmade crochet toddler dresses. I am really excited! And also a little nervous. I mean, I don't have a physical space to pace around in, wondering if anyone will come in. There is nothing to mindlessly rearrange. I can't see if people are looking in the window.

All I can do is let it go. And what fun is that?

Oh yeah.

The peaceful kind of fun.

(inhaling.... exhaling....)

But come on in and look around, OK? Just scroll down and click on that button on the left!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Accentuate the positive....

We are at the beach this week. I would love to say that it has been the perfect vacation, but I live in the real world, so there is no such thing. First off, Pablo is terrified of the ocean this time. Understand, on previous visits, it was hard to keep him OUT of the water. He didn't want to swim, but he loved chasing waves and all that shallow water stuff. This time, one foot on the soft sand and he was freaked. Completely. The earth moved, and that was seriously uncool. So much for practically living at the beach. We went anyway, and I tried to show him what was happening (ie tiny amounts of sand were moving, not huge amounts that would suck him into the earth). No dice.

Now add to the horror of being forced to go somewhere scary to the huge changes in our daily schedule, change of space, etc. and we were prime for melt downs. Oh yeah. Add to that a mama who was seriously obsessed with all of us having a good time, dammit. At the beach. You see it coming, don't you?

Well one day of that and I let it go. I didn't let go of us going to the beach, but I let go of what going to the beach would look like. My little girl loves the water. Can't get enough. My little boy wants to be far from it. We mamas alternate between.

Today we did some serious sand play. I took my shovel and dug a hole deep enough that Beebz could stand in it with only her head and neck peeking out. She loved it. We made a Chutes and Ladders board in the sand and played with shells (no problem since Pablo has the chutes and ladders memorized). It evolved into some game involving the board and traveling to different countries. I am not really sure about the details because I was busy building a sand dragon. It was seriously fun. More importantly, is was seriously fun FOR ALL OF US.

This week has taught me several things. First and foremost, I am not the parent I want to be. There is a gulf between what I believe in and what I do that I want to close. It is easy to see this week because almost every day I have gotten time to myself, I am not lonely, and I am relaxed.

This is vastly different from normal life. And it shouldn't be.

I need to be taking time for daily self reflection rather than wasting all of what little time I get on escapist activities. I need to try harder to find a network of moms who have kids who like my own (and who I get along with). This is probably an impossible dream, but hey, I can try. Sitting at home doesn't get it done. I am not sure where to go and what to do... maybe I will meet parents at Pablo's camp this summer?

I see how I have gotten less and less mindful. More and more checked out. More and more stressed out. And less and less who I want to be. This vacation is like a breath of air after drowning. I didn't even know what it felt like to feel good anymore. Sadly enough, it will end. I wish it didn't have to. But I can take the lessons learned home with me. I can take better care of myself even though there is no ocean to help me feel alive again (fyi, if I believed in church, which I seriously don't, the beach would be mine. It is the place that comforts me and makes me feel connected to the universe like nothing else can. I cry every time I think of having to leave it. Literally. I am tearing up right now. My partner can attest.) I can find ways to feel connected to the universe even though I am miles away from the shore. At least, I can try.

Mostly, I see how negative I had become. How jaded. How hopeless. I had given up. On everything. Including the universe. But the tides showed me that things come and go, nothing stays the same. Nothing should. We can choose how we focus on the change. We could fixate on some arbitrary RIGHT way and try to force ourselves (and our poor children) into that. Or we can take each new thing, cherish the good (there is ALWAYS good), and let it go when it is time. And find the next good thing. And the next. And the next. And we can know with utter certainty, that is happening in it's own time, just as is should. Every moment there is something to cherish. Something to learn. Something to release. Something.

And after all that, how hypocritical would it be of me to say I don't want to leave? Yeah, yeah, I know.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day from the BEACH!

Yes, we are at the beach. I may not come home.