Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bookends

We adore our “bookends”, littlest Blueberry and biggest Songbird. Yesterday we spent the whole day at Carthage College watching Songbird swim for her college team. It was great fun – but the best part of the day was watching these two totally enjoy each other. It’s magical. Look, you can see it, can’t you?

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Wrap it up and Take it off

Well, I’m wrapping up 30 days, but I’ve only taken off 2. More on 2 later. Let’s talk turkey (or tofurky for all you vegetarians) about 30 days of nothing. It was a success in our home. I can’t measure it in terms of dollars – I’m not really clear how much we actually “saved” during the month of January. I’ll probably run the numbers on our Quicken sometime in the next week. I don’t mean to be nonchalant about the savings – there were savings. And, savings are meaningful to us. But,  personally I wasn’t motivated by the idea of “saving money.”  Savings is a benefit for our family.  For me, however, it’s not the PRIZE in the whole exercise. We did make some “extra” contributions in January – for Haiti and also for AHOPE for Children. I am guessing savings were probably just redistributed for charitable giving. My goal and my hope was to engage deeper thinking about my/our relationship with stuff; what we have, how we get it, what we want, how we talk about it.

It’s true that I fell off of the wagon twice; both times were a Thursday night and both times I sexted texted my darling husband and asked him to ‘please oh pretty please bring home Chipotle!’ He delivered the goods for a mere $14 (no biggies needed to be fed and the wee one got fridge remnants). I learned that Thursday nights on working days are really hard on me. There’s a pattern to this – and this is illuminating for me. I had no idea! I could have waltzed through weeks and weeks of Thursday night meltdowns, but paying attention to the red flags of consumerism brought on by fatigue and poor planning allows us to plan better for working Thursdays. I’ll feel better at the end of those Thursdays – that’s a win.

Planning is part of the HUGE lesson of the month. Mr. Silly Pants and I made renewed effort to meal plan for the week, taking into account the busy extras in our schedule ahead of time. We didn’t run just barely putting one foot in front of the other- we first had a look down the weekly road. The planning helped us have smoother and more in synch evenings. If one of my personal goals for 30 days of nothing was to celebrate what we have instead of what we want,  deliberate meal planning and tending to our schedules actually made space available for more intimate family time. Our evenings felt easier and Mr. Silly Pants and I felt more in synch and more mutually involved and engaged in the evening routine. I liked that part of working the program. I like being in good synch with my husband.

My friend Jayme mentioned that her 30 day exercise helped her “to recalibrate my relationship with spending money (and) has had an enormous impact on how I intend to spend money in the future. It’s given me the motivation to think deeply about issues of ethics, giving, entitlement, expectation, competition, and sustainability.” I like how she put this big thought together – how the pieces of the exercise helped her “think and link.” I also really like the idea of recalibrating. I can relate to her points. I think we accomplished this also.

Personally, one interesting outcome for me is that the excercise actually “sanctioned” some pretty tough conversations about the very things Jayme links together in her big picture: giving, ethics, entitlement, expectations, sustainability, competition. Some of the conversations that Mr. Silly Pants and I had were difficult (dare I say, tense?) and involved digging into some tender spots – how I perceive him, how he perceives me, how we view our “plenty”, and our plan for how we’re going to live rich lives without allowing the riches of material goods be more important than those things we cherish that can’t be quantified; love, passion, kindness, adventure, beautiful music, laughter, gorgeous landscapes.  Choosing 30 Days of Nothing was choosing to talk about these things in really deliberate and reflective and PERSONAL ways. I liked having a quick short-cut to these discussions and that piece of permission to just jump in and get messy with the experience as it was upon us. Being on the “program” kept that awareness front and center and enabled mutual interest and responsiveness all month long. We talked about travel and planning (starting an explicit vacation fund), we talked about feeling entitled to coffee out, just because we want it. We talked about our childhood experiences with money. We asked, “Why the heck do we need satellite radio? Really, in both cars? I haven’t listened to it, not once.”  In some contexts the discussions were intense and emotional. In some contexts the questions were pretty darn contentious. But this month the questions fit the quest.

I really needed an intentional exercise to help get some clarity on issues for me that surround “having.” I made some progress. We made some progress. Mr. Silly Pants and I are extending this into February with a slightly modified approach – not eliminating all “non-essentials,” but rather taking the choas out of our spending and working on making more deliberate choices and decisions on a day by day basis with proper looks ahead into the week, month, and even the year. We are excited about striving for balance as we raise our son and launch our biggies. I’ll talk more about this as I get a clearer notion of what “deliberate and less chaos” looks like (I think it will involve a lot of winnowing of our ‘stuff’ which is pretty exciting!)

Finally, I didn’t take much off – 2 lbs. Ugh. I really fell apart on that one. Basically I didn’t follow through on journaling. February is a new month. Tomorrow is a new day. I will spend February journaling my ‘Lose It’ meals with an eye towards health and more energy. It’s a hard one to talk about – so I’m not going to talk about it tonight.

Thanks to all the women who did 30 Days together – it was an inspiration to share the process and to learn along the way both with you and from you!

Why big brother is so cool

Remote control helicopters!

3 Amigos

It’s not exactly what you’re thinking – these 3 really ARE 3 Amigos. It started many years ago, when an inspired Songbird came home from school and announced she wanted to volunteer her summer in Central America for Amigos. I was thrilled, and terrified. My amazing daughter was following her compassionate heart and wanted to leave at the age of 16 to work and live FAR FAR AWAY for a whole summer. What’s more, she wanted to live independently in a local host community and work on a community sponsored initiative for 10 weeks! This is what Amigos does: they train youth locally to serve rural C&S American communities who have initiatives with Pan American partner agencies . I asked, “sweetie, can’t we just find a nice church group and you can go and do work with them in Appalachia or something like that?” She answered, “Mom, you raised me to be this person and now you have to let me.”  GULP. I nodded, knowing I had acted like an elitist, a racist, and a hypocrite (really, I was – sometimes these stupid reactions are like the air we breath!). It took me some time  to ‘get it’ – to let go and let her go. Indeed, the world needs her just as she needs the world. And so, the family affair with Amigos began. Songbird flew off to Mexico with Amigos. Then Twinkletoes set off with the same program, but on her own totally unique community service adventure to Nicaragua. After 2 amazing Amigos experiences, it became clear that our family had found a great program in which our kids can serve – and who is going to argue with great? (Hey, I’m a teacher, we always steal other people’s best ideas!) Waffles thought about arguing with ‘great’, but he didn’t get too far holding the line that he wasn’t a ‘follower’ and therefore wasn’t going to South America or Central America. He’s right – he’s not a follower. Waffles, joining as a veteran family member, is making the experience totally his own. He’s a sib, yes, but he’s totally his own guy. He’s going, and he CHOSE it.  He came home one day and said Amigos visited his Spanish class and he’d been swayed. (He had even started the online application without telling me). Waffles will get his assignment in February. After 2 kids and 2 experiences that were truly transformative, I’m darn excited to watch my ‘littlest biggie’ go off on his own for an adventure in service. And, to put a little exclamation on the whole Amigos “thang”, Songbird is returning as a program supervisor this summer….in…..(bated breath)…..Ecuador. Mmmm-hmm.
Put this program on your family radar – IT ROCKS!  But even more, my 3 Amigos are my heroes.They are. I’m in awe of their spirits, their hearts, their intellects, and the ways each of them expresses all of this in unique and amazing ways.

Momedal

It’s been a heck of a long week. Blueberry surprised his daddy on Monday with a double ear infection (happy birthday Daddy), spent a few days not sleeping well, infected both of his parents with cumbersome colds, and slowed the pace around her to a crawl. Don’t, and I mean DON’T look at our kitchen floors. The high chair has an entire lick off meal waiting for a taker, and our paperwork pile looks more like a paper mountain. Our Christmas cards are still sitting on the kitchen counter (I am so not kidding), my lesson plans are off the cuff, the oven is smokin’ from accumulating spills, and the car smells like funk. Not good.

But today, after lotsa days of intensive parenting and some yucky gray weather, I went at it with Blueberry with finesse. Mr. Silly Pants is on call today. He was up and out at daybreak and not due home until after well into the afternoon. After our ususal morning routine of books, trains, a little magic marker “coloring” and some tickling games (with some laundry thrown in the midst), Blueberry was treated to a bucket full of snow. We collected scoops of snow, brought it inside, spread out a towel, and had some indoor snow play. We pulled out picnic dishes, spoons and scoops and just had a blast.

I get my own little mommy medal today for doin’ a good job. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling a little dull all week, and this was just a good morning because I really showed up, depsite the odds.

Oh, and this week I didn’t spend any non-essential funds, even though the tempation for convenience food, diet coke from the $1 machine in school, any little monied pick me up was screamin’ my name all week long.

Wordless Wednesday

Ruined and Restored

Head over to Party of 5 to read Heather’s tender and intense reflection “in the wake of the earthquake.” 

I have thought about 2 recent heart wrenching life changing moments in my life; the moment my mom died in my arms, the moment I laid eyes on Blueberry…all I can say is this: I hope most of us are ruined by what we witness in Haiti for the rest of our lives – in the most profound and restorative ways!

And like Heather, now I must tend to my classroom full of nervous freshmen, who have finals this week, and who I need to help prepare today so they can be successful tomorrow.