Thursday, January 31, 2008

Those Damn Monkey Bars

Yesterday The Kid slipped off the monkey bars while we were at the park and hurt his foot and ankle. He landed hard on one of those faux black top surfaces, the kind that, thankfully, has some cushion to it. I was watching him when he fell, and saw him hit the ground. Hard. When I saw the position of his foot and ankle, I immediately thought that we would be rushing to the doctors. I fully expected him to have a bad sprain, or worse. So I couldn't believe that after he calmed down and I looked at his foot and ankle, that, for the most part, he was okay. He was in a bit of pain, but nothing terrible, and his ankle wasn't hugely swollen as I feared. So last night I elevated his foot, iced it, and put some Arnica Gel on it.

This morning he was still a bit sore and slightly limping. I brought him in to see our pediatrician--we waited for over an hour, which was really annoying--and she said that he most likely strained his Achilles tend ion. So today became all about keeping The Kid off of his foot, which was at times not too bad, and at other times, um, not easy.

Then, even though we called our land lord three days ago to come and fix several things, he decided to show up today to fix everything. Hooray! So, I had The Kid on the couch, totally loopy, and the land lord walking around the house, talking to me. I couldn't put The Kid down for a nap, even though he desperately needed one. And my work? Yeah, not happening. Finally, I just packed The Kid and my laptop in the car in hopes of driving him into a nap, something I haven't done in years. He did fall asleep, and I parked at the local park, opened my lap top, and then realized that all the work I had to do required the Internet. And guess what? They don't have wireless Internet at the park! Just monkey bars, and such. So I packed back up and drove home. Only to come back to an unlocked door and no land lord. Then he came back again and said, "Oops! Sorry I forgot to lock your door." Okay, whatever, everything appeared to still be present and accounted for. It...happens. Then he said,"Oh, and I'll have to come back tomorrow to finish fixing xyz, if I can find the needed parts." So, I was thinking...okay, see you tomorrow then? Same thing, different day? Great!

I was able to transfer The Kid from the car to his bed without him waking up and that's when I realized that today is the last day of January! Crap. That meant I had just one more day to take care of something that I have been putting off--a preliminary talk and a task--for a long, long time. So, I made a phone call to someone, asked some questions, and said what I needed to say. It was something that I did not want to do, but rather, I knew that I had to do. I'm glad I finally did it, but this was just the first step. More will come of it, and this preliminary discussion will lead to another conversation which will probably lead to a further uncomfortable conversation with someone else. I don't like uncomfortable conversations. But, I just couldn't avoid it anymore. *yuck* But, it is, what it is.

So, pretty much, that was my day. And now I'm ready to veg out a bit!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What He Won't Do When He Grows Up

This morning we all over slept and started the day off rushed and a bit foggy. Beside the fact that it feels horrible to start the day off by jumping out of bed and running around trying to make up for lost time, it was also a bummer because I had planned to get up before every one else and sneak in an early morning visualization and yoga practice. Um, yeah, that didn't happen. The closest I've come to my yoga mat all day was when I knocked it over as I jumped out of bed this morning. And as far as "visualizing?" This consisted of me thinking, "Where the hell did I put those papers? Where is that damn bag at?" etc, etc.

So along with rushing around, grabbing clothes, getting The Kid settled with breakfast, and getting school and work bags together, we were greeted with the sounds of our Cat-who will be hence forth known as "Cat"- throwing up. Thankfully, Aqua Man found Cat's "present" before any of us stepped in it, and covered it with a paper towel. Unfortunately, The Kid sat eating breakfast in full view of Cat's throw up (oh, yummy), and also in full view of watching his dad clean up the mess.

As I walked into the other room to finish gathering things, I heard The Kid yell out, "EWWWW!!!" "Groooooossss!!!" Then the following:

The Kid: "Daddy?! Mommy?!"

Me and Aqua Man: "Yes?"

The Kid: "When I am a grown up: I will NOT clean up throw up! No way. I will NOT do that. I am NOT going to clean up throw up!"

Me and Aqua Man: "Um. Okay!"
I fully support The Kids new goal and, personally, I try to avoid this one myself when ever possible!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who Likes To Win? Raise Your Hand!

Yesterday was the first day of soccer class for The Kid. He has been so excited for this day to finally arrive that since the first week of December, which is when we signed him up, he has literally been counting down the days. Yesterday morning, he cracked his eyes open and yelled out, "It's today! TODAY! Soccer starts today!!! Yea!! " Then he began to jump up and down on his bed, while yelling out, "I love you Mommy! I love you Daddy!" I guess he figured he better butter us up, since one of us would be driving him that day!

So, we made it through school and work and driving to the practice location. We unloaded, all "geared up," which in this case just meant that The Kid was wearing black and grey warm up pants, a long sleeved black t-shirt, a white sports shirt over that, spanking white cleats, and a too long pair of soccer socks. They were so long that they could have reached all the way up to his hips had I let him pull them up all the way. He was SO excited to be in these new soccer clothes and shoes, that I didn't want to say anything to him. But frankly, when I looked at him, it didn't work well together. In a way, he was kind of previewing what he might look like, say, when he's 80 years old, walking around the retirement community. His shirt and shoes were SO white against the black. Honestly, I was a bit relieved when he decided, on his own, to add a dark sweatshirt over the white and black shirt combo. It kind of toned it all down, bringing him out of the retirement look, back into the preschool sports arena.

So practice starts and the coach warms the kids up and they all spend some time learning a few basics of the game. All is going well. Then the coach stops the kids, calls them over, gathering them into a group around him, and begins to ask them questions:

Coach: Okay, who knows why we're here?

Soccer Kid #1: To play soccer! (Insert, cheers and claps from the rest of the kids)

Coach: That's right. To play soccer. And why do we play soccer together? What kinds of things happen when we play soccer?!

Soccer Kid #2: We work as a team!

Coach: (Obviously caught off guard by this wise insight) Ugh...that's right. We work as a team. What else? What else?

Soccer Kid#3: We have FUN! (Insert cheers and claps from the rest of the kids)

Coach: Yes, fun. That's good. But WHAT ELSE! What else happens when we play soccer?

Soccer Kid #4: We move our bodies and get EXERCISE!

Coach: [Looking a bit exasperated] Yes, yes, okay, exercise. That's good. But WHAT ELSE?

Soccer Kids: [Silence. Head scratching. Nose picking. Nothing. Notta.]

Coach: What else?! What ELSE happens when we play soccer? Someone...

Coach: Someone...

Coach: Someone WINS and someone LOSES.

Soccer Kids: Yea! Someone wins and someone loses!!

Coach: Who Likes to Win? Raise Your Hand!

Soccer Kids: [All the kids raise their hands, jump up and down, and run around]

Coach: Who likes to lose? Raise Your Hand!

Soccer Kids: [About half of the kids raise their hands, including The Kid. They all keep running around with excitement.]

Coach: Okay...well, um, yeah. I guess, it's not always about winning. But, it's better to win, right?!

Hmm...I have to say, I wasn't expecting that from the coach, especially on the first day of soccer practice for a bunch of 4 and 5 year old kids!

Well, The Kid had a great time and said that it was all that he had hoped for. And the "winning and losing" moment aside, it was truly awesome to watch him have so much fun and to feel proud of his accomplishments. I have a feeling, though, that this coach will give us all a lot of opportunities to talk about "winning" and "losing."

My first yoga teacher and mentor used to say that when others challenged my view of the world or when difficulties came up when interacting with others, I should take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. She suggested that I mentally thank the person by saying this mantra, "Thank you for giving me this life lesson." So, here's to life lessons, however, and where ever, they show up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Living In A Van Down By The River

Since relocating one year and eight months ago from the suburbs of the Big City, which was in another state, to our current digs--I'll call it "Sunny City in Sunny State"--we have very much changed the landscape of our lives, as well as our neighborhood. Where we used to live in a state that had four seasons, we now live in a state with four types of year round warm weather. In my short, almost two years here, I've experienced the seasons as follows:

1) Lovely, breezy and warm. Agh. I love it here.
2) OMG, I can barely breathe it is SO hot and humid. What were we thinking?
3) Wow, it really is sunny. All the time. I mean, I like sun as much as the next person, but my skin is aging from just driving around town. Jeez.
4) Hmm. I didn't know it could rain this much and be hot and humid. Interesting.

Other than the weather, another big difference in the landscape of our lives is that we now live by a river. And with the river, in this particular neighborhood, comes...cats. LOTS AND LOTS OF CATS! Let me explain.

Although we don't actually live in a van, we really do live "down by the river." Our current neighborhood is only one block away from the cities winding river that stretches and snakes it way through several neighborhoods. I've never lived by a river before, and although I can give you some intelligent guesses, I can't tell you the exact reasons why this particular neighborhood has so many cats. But it does. They are everywhere. You see them when you walk. When you bike. When you drive. And now they are TAKING OVER our home. Our backyard. And our driveway. And our front porch. And our fence. And our shed. And now, our cars.

This morning as we were all getting into the car, heading out for our day of carpooling, work and school, we were all struck by an unbelievably strong, foul smell. The Kid yelled out, "Ugh! Mommy, what is that smell?" And Aqua Man yelled out, "Ugh? What the hell is that smell?" I had to be something with the cats. I looked around to find the evidence and that's when I saw sizeable "water" stains right in front of the tires on one car, and the front tire of our other car, and a smell that, well, I won't describe for you. I realized that now the cats are SPRAYING the tires of our cars, trying to mark out "their" territories. GRRRROOOOSSSS!!!!!!!!

After months of seeing up to 5 different cats a day "visit" and lay all over our back deck, and fence, and front porch, and sometimes under our parked cars, and occasionally hearing late night cat fights, they've graduated to marking our cars. I do have to say, that over the months, we haven't done much to try and keep the cats off our property. Up until this point, I've just personally felt like, hey, we all live here together in this neighborhood, so let's just share the space and make it work. But marking our cars? That's a deal breaker for me. I don't want anything bad to happen to the cats, but I do want them to back off!

So, on an already busy day filled with many things to do, today I add the following:

1) Find a holistic/alternative way to get cats to stay off our property and, for the love of all that's good in the universe, to stop, well, frankly, pissing on our cars.

I've heard that pure, essential Peppermint Oil is a natural determent. But it's expensive, and with this much marking, how much will I have to buy to stop this madness?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Who could have known that what started out as a harmless, half hour home yoga practice session this morning at 11:30 a.m. would leave me painfully sore only 10 hours later? All I can say right now is "OW!!" Wanting to shake things up a bit today, I decided to try a power yoga class which airs on a local public television channel and, wouldn't you know it, it was all about increasing arm strength, specifically, the top of the shoulders. Oh, yea! Arms. *Insert sarcasm here.* I also took The Kid to the park for about 2 1/2 hours today where he practiced skate boarding, which entails him pulling on my right arm/side most of the time. I must say though, he really is getting the hang of it!

But here's what I really learned today from my half-hour power-yoga-public-television-access-home-practice: laying off my regular yoga practice program for the past four and a half weeks--holiday schedule changes, traveling and my general inability to stay balanced through the holiday onslaught--led me to lose about 50% off my arm strength in about 31 days. This was a sad reality to face, as I had been really focusing on building arm strength lately. (Note: It took about 3 months, or about 90 days to build it up.) Bummer. I'm not judging, I'm just saying.

Well, here's hoping I can find my Tiger Balm and, hey, maybe I'll get a back rub, too. Throw in a couple of cups of hot tea and an extra long hot shower, and I just might be able to stand up-right tomorrow without frowning. Oh, sweet balance. Come back to me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Very Busy Day

This past weekend we met up with some friends and took The Kid and his friend to an event sponsored by the city. This event is highly anticipated in this city and celebrated with people dressing themselves and their kids, dogs, strollers, wagons, and bikes in costumes (and no, just for the record, we don't dress up. Just the kids. Although, if it was possible, I would enjoy dressing my cat up in a little outfit. But alas, he doesn't like to go to crowded city events). There is a parade, air show, and fireworks with lots of food and booths. It's a big to do for this area so we took it all in and stayed out pretty late, especially because we had to wait out a big storm before we could all drive home.

At breakfast the next morning, I sipped my coffee and looked up at The Kid who sat across from us eating a donut, a leftover from our requested snack contribution to his preschool earlier in the week. His mouth was happily filled with donut, crumbs falling out. He was really digging in (probably thinking, 'I better eat this thing before her caffeine kicks in and she realizes she's given me pure sugar before 9:00 a.m. Donuts twice in one week! This is like a Christmas miracle!') with his head down, all focus on that donut.

When he finally lifted his head, and came up for both air and soy milk, I realized that his eyes still looked so sleepy. So I asked, "You look a little tired this morning. Are you still tired?" With a mouthful of donut, he quickly replied, "Well, it's because yesterday I had such a garble-garble day." I swear it sounded like he had said "such an amazing" day, and that choice of words would be, well, amazing. So I asked, "Did you just say you had 'such an amazing day' yesterday?" He paused to take a drink, washing down his donut. It was a clear sacrifice for him to converse with me while a donut was present, but he pushed on.

"No." he corrected, "I said I had a BUSY day yesterday. You know, sitting, then standing, then sitting, then standing. Sitting. Standing...BUSY!"

Yeah, I understand. Busy. Jeez!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Parenting Zen

Almost everyday, I find myself saying things to The Kid that are utterly ridiculous, and make me want to fall out laughing. During most of these moments, I am usually correcting a strange behavior or surreal statement from The Kid. (And believe you me, at almost 5 years old, there seems to be no shortage of these moments lately!) While I realize that I am supposed to be teaching him about right and wrong in these moments, all I really want to do is laugh. Sometimes I want to yell out, "Why, why, why do I have to be the parent right now? I mean, this is funny. Funny, I tell you! "

So, I present you with tonight's moment of "Parenting Zen" which occurred during dinner. (Note: Tonight we had "Breakfast for dinner." This meant Dad's Famous Cinnamon French Toast or DFCFT with fresh strawberries for dinner. Woo-hoo!)

The Scene: We are all sitting at the table eating, all is going well, and The Kid is just about to begin eating his third piece of DFCFT, which is no small thing these days, since he's suddenly reverted to being a very fussy eater. All is going well, good manners are being exhibited, and then...

The Kid: Picks up the syrup bottle, and slowly pours some onto his third piece of DFCFT. He begins to put the bottle back on the table, but instead abruptly lifts the bottle towards his mouth. I see him stick his tongue out and LICK the syrup bottle, right on the cap. Before I can say anything, he sticks his tongue out again, and goes in for a second lick.

Me: "No!! Don't lick the syrup bottle!"

The Kid: Freezing with total surprise at my outburst, quickly regroups and calmly replies, "But mommy. The syrup was dripping!"

"Okay, honey (stifling extreme laughter). Then you can use your napkin to wipe it.

Oh, the wisdom of it all:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What I've Learned From Watching Reality TV

I know this title may sound like an oxymoron, but I truly have learned something from watching my two favorite reality shows: Top Chef and Project Runway. I know, I know its sounds really cheesy, but it's true! I have to say that over the last ten years I've gone from not having a TV in my home (by choice) to being a regular watcher of certain Reality TV shows. I know that Reality TV isn't the smartest, or most quality of programs available, but, dammit, I love my Top Chef and Project Runway! I can honestly say that I have, in fact, learned something from watching these shows, and what I've learned from watching is this: In the overall picture of trying to meet one's goals, winning doesn't really mean that much. What matters, rather, is that one keep moving forward in order to make and sustain real progress.

The reason I really like Top Chef and Project Runway is because we get to see the process of, well, the creative process. Week after week we get to see contestants create, cook, and design. One week we get to see someone win a challenge. The following week, that same person may rank in the bottom, and come very close to being eliminated. I love this-not people almost getting eliminated, but the look inside the processional nature of how things unfold when you are moving towards your goals.

Yesterday, I felt such resistance to my home yoga practice. I could think of so many other things to do, and so many reasons why it wasn't that big of a deal if I skipped my practice. I mean, I really DID. NOT. WANT. TO. PRACTICE. But I know that there are certain intentions and goals that I have come to understand are right for me, and in order to move into realizing these I need to allow myself to practice, to let go of resistance. Usually, when I begin my yoga practice, my mind almost instantly settles, and I become calm from within. Not yesterday. Nope! It was all chitta, chitta, chitta. So, instead of resisting, as I've done before, I just accepted where I was. I found my mat, rolled it out, and began my home practice with all that chitta going on. I slowly began to breath, to practice asanas, and to gently bring my mind back to my mat when it wandered, which it did almost the entirety of my practice. But, it was just one of those days!

I often struggle against resistance, and by doing so, I can make things much harder than they need to be. Lately, I've been slowly learning to acknowledge resistance, and to continue on anyways, just accepting it, rather than fighting it. Resistance is a pattern of mine but through my yoga practice and other inspiration (sometimes found in strange places) I'm learning that meeting one's intentions is a creative and sometimes winding process that requires regular movement forward. Practicing in the face of resistance, whether it is a "winning" practice or a "barely got through it" practice, is still, well, practice!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just Let Go

"It's okay, Mommy. Just let go." That's how my day began early this morning. I was greeted with these words of wisdom from our 4 1/2 year old son, as he and I snuggled together under his covers before we began the morning routine of getting out the door for the day.

"It's okay, Mommy. Just let go," The Kid had said with an easy smile. He was referring to the blanket that we both clutched. We were hiding underneath it while continuously having to hold it up with our elbows in an attempt to keep it from falling on our faces. We were "hiding" from his dad, my life partner, who was getting ready for work. When we first started hiding under the cover, The Kid had really wanted to keep the blanket up above our heads so that our shapes weren't as easily detected (You know, a "fun" shock for dad at 7:30 in the morning when he would inevitably stumble into this morning "surprise". Nothing says "Good Morning!" like an ambush attack from one of the rooms of your own home! ). After many, many attempts to keep the blanket off of our faces, The Kid had finally just accepted the blanket falling onto him as part of the reality of hiding underneath it for so long. Still half asleep, I hadn't even noticed that I was the only one still putting my elbow up, trying to keep it from falling on us.

"It's okay, Mommy. Just let go," The Kid had said with an easy smile, looking right into my eyes. He gave a bit of a shrug and then moved my arm from above the covers letting the blanket fall onto both our faces. We both laughed; him at the blanket that fell on my face, and I at the realization that I hadn't even noticed that I had still had my elbow in the air. I also knew, on a deeper level, that I had been putting this behavior into practice in other areas of my life, carrying on as usual, not really noticing that I have been acting without much awareness. To a certain extent I had been avoiding and continuing on with what I've already done, yet still expecting different results.


When I can, I practice at a local yoga studio, and over the past few months, thanks to a schedule change, I've had the amazing opportunity to take classes with a variety of instructors. Each instructor has a distinct and beautiful way of teaching and sharing their yoga knowledge. Despite the differences in teaching styles, I've noticed that the same questions have been asked over and over again. While we are holding poses for a length of time, they ask: "Can you turn your awareness to your body and find any place or places where you are gripping?" "Can you find a way to soften that grip?" "Can you find a way to be gentle with yourself even in the face of hard work?" Always a kinesthetic learner these questions have had huge impacts on me, on and off the mat.


There are a lot of uncertainties and changes going on in my life right now. Sometimes I go onto auto pilot and just keep doing what I've been doing when things are like this. Other times, I grip onto a behavior or way of being, especially in the face of the unknown. When my son spoke those words of wisdom, he provided me with a moment of awareness, and a chance to revisit my yoga logic. It all suddenly seemed so ridiculous-my worries, my "trying" to make things work, my avoiding and gripping. In that moment, I realized that I have been unnecessarily creating suffering in my life. It is said that learning to let go is a process that we go through over and over again. In this silly moment with The Kid, the awareness gave way to clarity which provided me with an instant moment of relief. A reminder that with awareness comes the ability to make better choices and to access the answers that already lie within.


This blog is another act of letting go. I've wanted to start a blog for the past year or more. I've been reading many blogs (and lurking!) for a long time, but I haven't taken the leap to write my own. I hope I am able to loosen my grip, to soften in the face of sharing my writing, and to just let go.