Friday, April 11, 2014

Let it GO

Let it go.

Before, I used to say it.

Before, when Sis was angry because Bub said the turtle was orange but it 'is REALLY GREEEENNNN momma!!!' I said 'Let it go Sis. He can think what he wants to think.'

Before, when Bubs was so angry that Sis was painting on a piece of purple paper instead of white paper like he wanted her to do I said 'Let it go Bubs. You are not in charge of Sis. You are only in charge of yourself.'

Before Disney made a song with the title 'Let it go' and not one single day passes that I don't hear one posse member or the other singing at the TOP of their lungs 'LET IT GOOOO CANT HOLD IT BACK ANYMORRRREEEEEEEE'

How much of life is really about letting it GO?

Most of it?

Everyday.

One million tiny (big) things to let go.

Let go that it is 60 degrees outside and Sis wants to wear a sleeveless dress with no jacket and sandals. Let go that there is dirt ALL OVER my clean-for-two-hours floor. Let go that two little people want to 'help' make breakfast/lunch/dinner-and by help I mean LICK EVERYTHING and also DUMP EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. Let go that I drive a freaking mom mobile. Let go that my dryer makes a 'squeak squeak squeak' or rather 'SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK' every time the cycle is ten minutes from being done. Let go that I can't wear headbands when my hair is dirty for more than an hour without a horrific headache. Let go that Bubs found something else disgusting to put in his mouth-you don't want me to mention what. Let go that the woman at work wants to give her 5 yr old a 16oz caffeinated drink. Let go that the woman at work who always complains her drink is not hot enough now complains that her drink is TOO hot.

Because it doesn't matter.

AND

the truth is…….I am not in charge.

Some days I am not even in charge of my children.

I absolutely discipline and correct and put my foot down and teach.

But I cannot say the word and suddenly have Sis stop 'feeling cranky momma' when I have a few more things I need to do at an errand.

I cannot magically make Bubs stop pooping and rubbing it into the carpet. (really really wish I could)

But I can LET IT GO.

This too shall pass.

Nothing stays forever.

I find I need this daily reminder-just maybe not screamed at the top of one's lungs. Because things are INTENSE over here. This house is full of so much drama. And I am the calm-the tree that doesn't bend to the winds. But all these emotions threaten to push me over-roots hanging out of the ground and all or haul me under the gigantic waves that come rushing at me everyday-or force me to runaway somewhere more rational and calm and clean.

But instead.

Let it go.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oatmeal and the 'tired epidemic'

There is a commercial I've seen recently.

Something to do with a 'tired epidemic' in this country. It shows middle aged women and young men and old men and even kids looking run down. Ragged. Yawning. TIRED.

The solution?

Eat oatmeal for breakfast! That's why we are all tired-we aren't eating enough oatmeal for breakfast!!

Obviously.

This is the problem and the solution.

Obviously.

I have nothing against oatmeal.
But it's not going to start giving you all kinds of energy. It's just not. Especially when you slept 5 hours the night before.

When you are juggling wife(husband)/mother(father)/sister(brother)/daughter(son)/friend/employee/stranger-on-the-street-trying-to-be-kind/stranger-on-the-street-needing-kindness…..and all that those roles entail.

It's a lot.

I am exhausted. Even if I have a whole nights uninterrupted sleep. I am still tired. We have 17 things to do every day. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, making sure the posse have social interactions, making sure the posse are in activities so that they are learning skills so that they will be productive members of society, taking care of the cars, taking care of the laundry, making sure that we have time with friends, making sure we have time by ourselves. WORK. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.

And we live in Small-mountain-town, USA. Not even in Big-city, USA where there are things to worry about like traffic and if you are dressed trendy enough. Being trendy here involves making sure you have good enough snow boots.

What are we racing around for?
Is your life better because of all the things you are doing?
Is mine?
What makes a good life?

What if instead of eating oatmeal every morning to give us energy. Or instead of drinking 5 gallons of caffeine every morning just to 'get us going'.

What if we just SLOWED DOWN??

What if?

What if your life was not run by your schedule.
What if YOU ran IT?
What if you carved out the time to do the things that are really important to you and yours and FORGET the rest.

We used to have something scheduled for every morning of the week. Swim lessons, story time, play group, play dates….I felt like I was never home-always rushing to get the posse to their next thing-because this is what they need right? But what if what they need is to take their time. Because they are 2 and 3. What if they need the time to get dressed so they can learn to do it themselves. What if they need to not be rushed because waking up takes time sometimes (or EVERY SINGLE MORNING). What if I need time to make breakfast and enjoy it? To see the sun rise? To take a walk without a destination. Or take a walk with a destination but not in the hurried frenzied way of 'we-have-so-much-to-get-done'

Why do we have to get things done?
Isn't it ok to just be together?

Contrary to popular belief my worth, and by extension your worth (I'm assuming you are a human) is not tied productivity. But we are trained to think that aren't we?

In a small West African country you sit under a baobab and drink 3 cups of tea or bissop or whatever you are served for three hours chatting with old women and playing with children while the person you are looking for is fetched from a field 10km away-he walked there-when he eventually shows up, he gets to drink a cup of tea too. And then you do business.

And if your business happens to be during sieste-a sacred time of day where EVERYONE goes home to eat lunch and have a little reposer before finishing their work for the day-well you are just out of luck. You will probably be offered lunch and time to rest before business continues.

Although, you will more than likely plan your day so that you can get back to your own home before sieste. Which means you leave at 8 AM and spend the whole morning on this one thing.

This is frustrating and infuriating to a Westerner who is accustomed to making a phone call/shooting an email/meeting for a quick lunch to do business. Is is not a whole morning/whole family sitting around affair.

And while we Westerners certainly know how to make money and build businesses and all of that-maybe we can take some lessons from other cultures. The ones who purposefully build time in their day to take a long break. The ones who are closed for August as everyone goes on vacation for the entire month.
Taking one day out of the week to actually REST. To stop working.

I don't think oatmeal is going to fix this 'tired epidemic'.
I think rest is.
I think slowing down is.

I know, I know. It's easier said then done. From the time we are 2-judging by what's happening in our house-we are taught to be productive. So when we sit down for just a moment to rest we feel guilty or we feel restless 'I need to be DOING something!!! I feel lazy!'  But maybe relearning how to just BE is worth our mental health. Worth our physical health. Worth the depth of our relationships.

I want to linger over dinner with friends for a little longer.
I want to walk a little more.
I want to sit quietly without a device in my hands more frequently.

(And maybe eat a little less processed food. That's not helping anyone either)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Il y a cinq ans.

Five years ago.

Already.

And only.

Two people coming from opposite ends collided. Crashed.

And nothing has been the same since.

We are two boards of equal force leaning against one another holding each other up. Equal force sometimes means equally stubborn. Equally unwilling to move an inch. Sometimes it means gentle gentle gentle urging. encouraging. loving.

He is truth and I am grace.

I had a host of secrets.
So did he.

He said 'You are ok'
I said 'You are ok'

Broken pieces put back together again make a beautiful mosaic. Sometimes, oftentimes more beautiful than the original.

We didn't make sense. Only a few got it.
Even now I'm not sure how much sense we make.

But this is home.

It is easy to forget. It is easy to remember all the opposites. All the reasons there are still a lot of collisions five years later. To only pay attention to things that are not happening. Or to the things that won't stop happening. To complain that 'THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!' Pregnant nine months in and then again and layoffs and back to school and hard times...

(but what DID I sign up for?) I signed up for life. This is life.

After all the colliding and the chaos of the day, when the posse is laid down, when the house is picked up, when PAX VINCENT is reestablished I see him again. I remember him again. The funny man with the big heart beneath the surface of entertaining obnoxiousness. The man who looked me in the eye and  said 'You are ok' when I was most broken. The man who says 'Do it' anytime I suggest anything I want to do. Nanny, stay home, breastfeed the posse back to back, natural child birth with a doula, make baby food, baby led weaning, running, run a half marathon, be a doula, be barista, be fluent en français, bike everywhere in town, walk everywhere in town…he is fiercely loyal and every hurdle I jump and every challenge I face my back is covered.

I know this even in the midst of battles over what to do with the posse or what to do with the money or how to tell family we are moving to Wyoming.

He knows my secrets. And I know his.
We've crawled through the mud together. Even  dragging the other behind.
And in the midst of it all we have built something. It's not big or flashy. It's quiet and unassuming. We are still working on it-working on each other. Helping heal the broken places. Building a beautiful mosaic out of the give and take of our lives that crashed together so mysteriously five years ago.

Already.

And only.

And I think I'm learning that this journey is not just about being happy during it or at the end of it-but more about the person I am becoming because of it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I TOOK AWAY THE TOYS.

The past several weeks have brought with it an experiment.

Some of you might balk at the idea…but hear me out.

If you know us-and by us I really mean ME- you know that I lean heavily towards minimalism. I left the country seven years ago and gave away 75% of my belongings. Including my winter coat. I didn't think I'd be coming home in the middle of February to a snow storm.

Since then I've not really replaced much of my stuff. I got married, so that stuff came to inhabit my space and we had to buy some furniture, but mostly its the basics and one carry-on size suitcase filled with mementos. The ones that mean the most, the ones I want my posse to show their posses.

And since I worked in an orphanage in rural Burkina Faso I came home with a different idea about what kids NEED in order to learn and grow and love and be loved. (And it's not loads and loads of toys. And then more toys. And maybe a few more).

My posse has the least amount of toys of any kids I know save for maybe one. And it sometimes still feels like too much. They don't play with what they have and whine and beg for something else. And the mess. Don't even talk to me about the mess. I have such a hard time with THE MESS. I'm sometimes afraid I'm going to give my children a complex with all the cleaning up (before we leave to go somewhere, before lunch, before naps, before dinner, before bed…) and then I relax and tell myself I'm going to give them a complex about something, might as well be cleaning up. It's part of the job of being an imperfect teacher to young impressionable souls.

SO.

We I took away the toys.

Not all of them.

But we've got a system now. The toys live in the closet. Every week each posse member can choose 3 toys for the week. The rest go back. (Toys are grouped in piles-so all the plastic animals counts as one toy) Even the big ones like the kitchen and the workbench. In the closet. Off limits for the week.

It felt a little extreme as I was doing it. Honestly. I was doing it out of frustration and at-the-end-of-my-rope feelings. I didn't know what else to do. I was screaming (in my head of course) "WHY ARE YOU NOT PLAYING WITH YOUR TOYS!!" So I just decided spur of the moment in the middle of the afternoon while Partner in Parenting and Life was watching a Bears game. (That's sacred time you know. DO. NOT. INTERRUPT.) I find that most of my best decisions are made spur of the moment. I just decide to do it. And then do it. And then I'm so glad I did. And the same can be said for this one.

I have nothing negative to say about this experience.

They play with their toys more. There is less to clean up. They are excited to get 'new' toys every week. There is a sense of ownership and pride I see in them when they make a choice for the week. Sis is playing with 'boy' toys and Bubs is playing with 'girl' toys…

I will not go back.

And just for the record, Partner in Parenting and Life is totally on board.

Anyone else want to try it out and see how it goes?


Thursday, February 13, 2014

tired.

The moon is full.

And chocolate chips are 'hiding' in the freezer.

This equals disaster for dreams.

They can't imagine and dance and, well, dream. There is no sleep happening.

Apparently a full moon makes people crazy and werewolf like. This is true for the posse. And  me.

And chocolate-my demise-is 'full' of this stuff called 'caffeine'. If you have too much, or in some cases, just a handful at 9pm, it causes sleep to be elusive.

So it's been a long week.

Not in the 'It's been such a LOONNNGGG week-I'm-ready-to-start-over' kind of way. Just in the 'I've hardly slept at all it feels like one loonnggg day' kind of way.

Two 'caffeinated' (let's use that term lightly) nights that followed a day of skiing and a day of working. And today was another day of working. At 6am. Careful NOT to eat ANY chocolate last night, sleep was still elusive as the anxiety about waking up on time forces my eyelids open every hour.

It was also elusive because of this sweet girl.


130am 'HACK HACK HACK'
132am 'COUGH COUGH COUGH'
135 'HACK HACK HACK'
….continues
200 'HACK HACK HACK'

At this point it's obviously not going to stop by itself. The realization should have come sooner-but it was only 3 hours before the alarm went off!! Staying in bed to try and sleep seemed rational (it wasn't). Also, there is no cough syrup in the house. Sickness rarely visits this house in a way that calls for medicine.

LIGHT BULB.

Honey works well for sore little throats and coughs.

(Sis did NOT mind this)

Still coughing.

LIGHT BULB.

We have Vick's. The menthol-ly greasy rub. When put on the bottoms of feet covered in socks coughs disappear. Lesson learned three years ago. Never used again-still have the Vicks.

Squinting in flashlight light (It's incomprehensible when people turn the light on at 2am) I look for an expiration date. There was none.
Sweet, patient talking is not my forté at 2am-did the best I could and talked the Princess into letting me rub her feet and put socks on 'But my feet are not cold!' (vigorously shaking head) and let me rub a little bit on her chest. 15 minutes later we heard

235 'cough cough'
240 'hack'
250 'cough'

300 zzzzzzzzzzz

Until the 430 alarm for the RN and the 530 alarm for the barisata.

The day is almost over. The weather is beautiful and my body is aching for a run outside but that pillow is looking D E L I G H T F U L.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seasons

January is the longest month ever.

And also the shortest.

The darkness drags on and on.

The cold lingers inside my bones.

It's always been this way. It probably will always be this way.

Death is a good reminder of life. After the death comes the life. Comes the warmth. Comes the flowers and the green and the being outside without coatshatsglovesboots.

But it gets old.

It's why this place has been empty for so long. What is there to write about when its all so still, so quiet, so dark. But also so loud and chaotic and the posse is basically breaking down the walls to get outside?

It's felt like something to endure. Something to 'hold your breath and close your eyes and just get through it'

BUT what if instead it was celebrated for what it is?

Celebrate Wyoming winters? I hardly recognize the girl who got along famously in a sub-Saharan country.

We are going to start by getting coatshatsglovesboots on and going outside.

I cross country skied today, for the second time ever. It was SNOWING. Coming down. The whole 2 hours we were out. Never let up. And it was beautiful. Mostly quiet. Trees, clouds, snow, friend, dog, me. No screaming. No attitude.

The peace that is found in the stillness, in the laughter, in long answers to short questions, in the working hard to get up that hill only to turn around and come gliding down it…that is what I am determined to make of my winters. Memories.

Memories that include the cold, the snow, the grayness.

Every season has its merit and ALL THINGS PASS. It will not stay this way forever.

(which means you will be hearing more from me!)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas time

There was a tree, with lights and ornaments.
There were stockings hung and filled.
There were delicious treats and delicious drinks.
There were presents wrapped under the tree.
There was snow.

But it was no ordinary Christmas. The same things that we do every year were different. There was magic in our house this Christmas.

Until this year-love for the holiday was diminishing fast. It feels rushed. It feels too commercial. There is not as much family around. There is more traveling-to further distances. The magic and excitement just isn't there. Much like birthdays don't feel as special as they once did. (Although we still celebrate like they do feel just as special)

But when Christmas morning came this year it felt twinkly. Time was suspended.   As we sat in front of the tree with our stockings taking turns opening our gifts-the magic was back. As we ate our delicious food and drank our drinks-the magic was back. As we watching Christmas movies-the magic was back. All the way until is time for bed and 'I don't want Christmas to be over' -the magic was back.

It's the posse.

It's not Santa. Or his reindeer. Or the holiness of celebrating the Divine come to BE with us in our mess. Or the songs. Or the decorations.

It's the posse.

Not fully understanding what Santa is or isn't or what he does or doesn't do…and not really understanding why someone being born who we can't see is important. Or what any of the decorations and parties and food and songs really mean.

All they know is something is happening….something exciting is happening. Their wonder at the mystery is what brought the magic back.

What a gift to see the holidays through their eyes. Eyes that wonder over the decorations and what is going to happen next. And senses that have never tasted a candy cane or smelled an evergreen (inside their house) or heard Christmas songs (in a way they could remember). MERRY CHRISTMAS! (a few days late)