Monday, April 29, 2013

I Met a Warrior

Are you familiar with these words?

“Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.
I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn't enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I'd wake up and the kids would be gone, and I'd be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.” –Glennon Doyle Melton,

When I read those words, back in the fall of 2011, I felt like Glennon had taken the thoughts from my brain and penned them.  Then she went and posted them to her blog (immediately going viral) and suddenly every one I knew was coming out of the woodwork, admitting that raising young kids is hard and painful and frustrating but still good.  For the first time, I felt like it was okay for me to not love every single second of parenting a baby.

From that moment on, I became slightly more obsessed with Glennon’s blog.  I went back and re-read every post that had been written prior and suddenly found myself feeling even more connected to this person, whom I had never met.  When Glennon announced that she was writing a book, “Carry On, Warrior”, I anxiously awaited its release.  I devoured her book in two afternoons and jumped online to discover that the closest book signing would be in Naperville, IL.

Though I was tempted, I ultimately decided that driving ten hours for a ten-second book signing was just a little crazy.  I justified my decision by telling myself, “It would be different if she was giving a speech, or something.” I was disappointed and maybe even a little sad about missing my opportunity to meet my new friend (who doesn’t know I exist).  But sometimes, the Universe gives you a second chance, which ends up being a zillion times better than the first opportunity. 

It turns out that my second chance was exactly what I was looking for.  She was giving a speech, or something.  And the speech was being held at a large Lutheran church in a suburb of Minneapolis—a totally do-able drive for me.  So Friday afternoon, the excited butterflies in my stomach and I headed up to Minnesota.

I arrived early (even though I totally got caught in Minneapolis rush-hour traffic, duh) and quietly found a pew in the middle of the church.  Only a handful of people had arrived as early as me, and as I glanced around the room, I decided to move a bit closer—after all, I was here to really see this person. I wanted to take it all in.  So I sheepishly stood up and quickly moved about five rows closer.  A few minutes later, a gal sat down next to me and we exchanged pleasantries.  Eventually, I whispered to her, “I’m so tempted to go sit in the front row! I can’t believe it’s still empty!” And she said, “I’ll totally move up to the front row with you!”  So my new friend and I made our way to the very front, where we began chatting about ourselves, our families, and Glennon’s blog.  (We admitted that our excitement mirrored that of a twelve year old at a Bieber concert.) 

Shortly before 7:00, Glennon and her sister entered the sanctuary and sat down in the front row, perpendicular to us.  At the moment, I was showing Vanessa (my new friend) a gift I had brought along to give to Glennon, if given the chance.  I wasn’t sure I would have the chutzpa to introduce myself, and I figured I might end up sending it in the mail. But then, this little voice inside my head said, “Go over there!  What are you waiting for?!”  So without thinking, I took the book from Vanessa and headed over to meet my friend who doesn’t know that I exist. 

The following is a little blurry.  With my heart pounding, I introduced myself to Glennon and her sister, apologized for not having anything clever or thought-provoking to say, and thanked her for all she does.  I gave her a copy of the children’s book, Good People Everywhere, which is one of my all-time favorites.  It feels like the kid-version of Glennon’s message: Show up, be a good person, do good things, Love Wins.  I think she liked it. 

New friend Vanessa was awesome enough to take a few pictures of the whole five-second blurry memory event. Amazing!!



Shortly after, I settled into my front row seat, and listened to Glennon speak for a good hour.  She talked about her life as a recovering bulimic and alcoholic.  She talked about motherhood and she talked about her faith.  She talked about how her blog, Momastery, was inspired from her obsession with monasteries—during a point in her life with 3 small children—where silent rooms sounded like Heaven.  She talked about Jesus, but in a non-preachy way that even people like me can handle.  (Before beginning, she mentioned being very nervous and how she hopes God is here with her tonight and that she’d like to have a quick prayer.  All the heads around me bowed in anticipation of a lovely, serious, prayer—and I quickly prayed “please don’t be to Jesus-ey tonight!”—and then she prayed, “Dear God, you better show up tonight Mister!”) She talked about opening up our hearts to others, loving others around us, doing the next right thing, and showing up for life, even when it’s hard.

Later, as she was answering questions from the audience, I found myself wanting to pack her up and take her home with me; to plop her on my couch and just talk the night away.  I think we would have a lot to talk about.  Had I the nerve, I would have asked her this terrifying question: Glennon, you are a Christian. You are so sure of your beliefs.  And you send such a positive-loving-message out there into the world.  I’m not a Christian.  I’m not even sure what I believe—if I believe anything at all.  But I do believe that I’m a good person.  So my question is:  How do you, as a Christian, let other Christians know that those of us ‘non-believers’ or people of other faiths are just as saved, just as good, just as worthy as you Christians? And that it can stop there.  We don’t need to be saved or prayed for or preached to or introduced to Jesus, we’re fine the way we are.”   I’m curious about her response and someday, would love to have the nerve to ask her.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reading her posts and sharing them with my friends.  I feel so grateful for having the opportunity to hear her speak, and I will definitely be in the audience the next time she's within driving distance.  (Who's coming with me!?) I’ll take her message to heart: keep showing up and keep doing the right thing.  I’ll remind myself that life is fun and silly and beautiful. And when life is hard and ugly and confusing, or just a little frustrating, I’ll remind myself to carry on, warrior.   

**Glennon recently posted about connecting with other women, (here's the link), and although it's scary and kind of awkward, I'm really going to try to do this.  On Friday, taking this risk resulted in meeting two new sweet friends-- just wish I lived in the cities and could actually hang out with them**


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing Prompt # 8: Regrets

I'm always envious of people who claim that they have no regrets about things that have happened in their lives.  These people say things like, "I was a different person then" or "I was at a different point in my life." They say "Everything happens for a reason" and " I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't gone through that yesterday".  

But I view regrets a little differently.  Regrets teach us.  They give us that queesy, nausious feeling, that means "this is not right".  They teach us "do not do that again".  Admitting that you regret things means you acknowledge that you should have chosen or acted differently.  Owning this knowledge hopefully changes our behavior for the future.

That being said, I really don't regret too many things.  Do I wish I had made some different choices? Of course.
* I wish I had taken physics in high school
* I wish I had had enough confidence to play sports in high school
* I wish I had thought about a homecoming queen speech before walking up to the microphone
* I wish I had gone to a different college from the beginning
* I wish I had studied abroad in college
* Sometimes I regret tossing out my journals from high school & college (see below)

Shortly after M & I moved in together, I found my old journals from high school and college.  
I stayed up reading all of them in one sitting and had the overwhelming sense of nausea.  They were so raw and real and overall pretty depressing.  They were full of teenage angst and coming-of-age epiphones.  They didn't remind me of someone I remember being.  They contained memories that I mostly wanted to forget, and feelings that I never wanted to re-experience.  And the writing was terrible-- it made me cringe with self critisism as I read them.  I had the fleeting thought to toss them back in the box and re-discover them in a few years, but I chose to shred each and every page.  Sometimes, I momentarily regret having shredded them.  Perhaps, being able to read those journals would someday help me be a better parent when my own son naviates the high school and college waters.  Perhaps those journals would provide inspiration to write about some of those experiences.  But honestly, if I had those journals in my hands right now, they would probably be in the shredder by tomorrow.

Although I don't regret situations mentioned above, I regret two specific situations that stand out in my mind like a mountain in a cornfield.

The first took place in the mid 80's during the time of swing-sets and pizza parties and Saturday morning cartoons.  A group of girls had gathered at a classmate's birthday party.  I have no idea how many girls were at the party, I only remember four players: myself, the party girl, and two other classmates.  All the usual birthday party festivities were happening-- though I don't remember the specifics.  I'm sure they included pizza and balloons and games and gifts, gossiping and giggling and the board game Girl Talk.  That night, we camped out in her room, some of us snuggled into our sleeping bags on the floor, and a few of us cuddled together in her queen sized bed.  All was good-- until it wasn't.  One minute we were whispering, laughing, babbling about boys and pizza and movies and the next minute we were teaming up on the  birthday girl.  Things had gone from laughing together to laughing at.  She was being teased and tormented... at her own party.  Did I join in?  Probably. I really don't remember.  But I know for sure that I did not stand up for her.  Even if I said nothing, I played a huge part in remaining silent.  The worst came when we (I'm sure we were all responsible in some way) tossed her out of her own bedroom and into the hallway.  More mean words.  Laughing. Snickering.  Tears.  And then that very bad feeling I have always gotten when I know something is wrong and bad and yucky.  This black glob starts to creep slowly through my body-- filling up every pore with a poison-- alerting me that what's happening is not right.  I remember that feeling.  I remember wanting to say and do something, to make it all stop.  But did I do anything?  Did I move or shout or make them stop? No. I did not do a single thing.  That birthday party situation still haunts me today.  I think about it every time I hear about a child's sleepover birthday party.  I dream about it.  I talk to kids at school about it.  It's definitely a regret I will harbor the rest of my life.

The second situation also involves the way I treated someone.  Without going into too much detail, I'll say that I really took advantage of a person who cared about me an awful lot.  I used them, and left them feeling used and sad and confused.  The same black glob crept through my veins, but I ignored it.  After that, our friendship sort of faded... and when I finally realized the damage I had done, it was too late to repair anything.  This person and I remained friendly, but everything had changed, forever.  In the years after that incident, I made myself feel better by reminding myself that we were both young, and young people don't always take feelings into consideration.  Now, years later, we are not even in each other's lives and sometimes I wish that was different.

For me, I've come to stand up and take notice of that nasty black poison when it begins to seep through me.  I've learned to examine what I'm doing, right at that moment and then make immediate changes.  Usually, this comes in the form of biting my tongue and taking deep breaths.  I still lose my temper, I still yell and gripe and moan and say things without thinking.  But the biggest lesson these two incidents have taught me is that treating someone badly, even one time, can stick with you (and probably them) for years to come.

Monday, April 22, 2013

We Had it Glowing On

Friends, we're in a funk here in Iowa.  April has been more cloudy, rainy, cold, and windy than I ever remember.  I honestly feel like an elephant has been sitting on my chest for a month, and it's not because I have heart disease.  Although, in a way I suppose it is.  My heart is just aching for some decent weather.  My body is almost crying out loud for Vitamin D.  I've been moody and irritable and short-tempered.  Just when we think spring has possibly arrived, we're pummeled with another week of winter-like weather, complete with freezing rain and the dreaded "S" word.  It really is getting unbearable.

But months ago, one of my aunts suggested we participate in The Glow Run, an evening 5K to be held in Des Moines.  At the time, April 20th sounded like a great time to do a 5k-- but as the date drew closer, and Mother Nature forgot to change the dial to "spring", I started to doubt how fun this was actually going to be.  On Friday, as I buried my head into my winter coat with the wind whipping my hair around my face, I was less than thrilled about the upcoming Glow Run.  M was not very empathetic when I returned home, pointing out: You are going to freeze your ass off.  And You're going to be saying plenty of swear words during that run. 

So I was pleasantly surprised to wake up Saturday and notice that unfamiliar bright orb in the Eastern sky.  It was big and glow-y and seemed to give off a blindingly bright light.  I had long given up on Annie's prediction about the sun coming out tomorrow, but this time she was right-- there it was!  The day ended up being gorgeous-- not warm, exactly, but sunny will do when you haven't seen the sun in a few dog years.  And isn't it funny what the sun will do to a person's mood?  Suddenly, I felt excited, even a little energetic about getting our glow on.

We all met for a healthy pre-race meal of nachos, pizza, and beer before donning our glow-gear and venturing to the race.  Downtown was packed, with parking ramps full and random spaces few and far between.  But my uncle Mark was calm & collected, never once getting frazzled-- even while driving six women in glow gear around in a minivan.  We happened to snag a lonely parking place right across from the festivities-- thanks to our awesome chauffeur-- and headed over to the start line.

First a few pre-race photos:

The whole kit 'n kaboodle:
(Yes, Lisa and I wore winter coats under t-shirts, and yes she's wearing Ugg boots.)

Aren't my relatives the cutest? (Next time I have got to find some pink tights and make a tutu)



I've been involved in a good share of 5K races, and this was by far the coolest and most fun.  I love that these races are gaining popularity-- more people are realizing that 5Ks are not limited to elite runners and speed walkers.  And any time you get a few thousand people on the streets in crazy outfits with loud music and glow sticks, you know it's going to be a good time.  Some may poo-poo little ol' Des Moines, Iowa, but seeing the city at  night, alive with the sights and sounds of downtown and the color of thousands of participants was pretty amazing.

And what other 5K are you encouraged to stop along the way and take pictures!?

I love this one of Sister with the bridge and all the runners behind her~


And at the end of all that fun, we received these sweet medals!  They are huge and chunky and of course, they glow in the dark!

This run came at the perfect time for me.  I needed a boost of color-- definitely got that.  I needed to get out and move and breathe-- definitely got that too.  And as always, it was fun to hang out with my family that I don't see nearly often enough. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Hymn

I haven't written much about religion lately, but the thoughts I have on this subject continue to rattle around my brain like a Bingo roller.  Someday, when I'm able to organize my thoughts and draw some conclusions, I'll begin posting them here.

For now, I'll just mention that I've been attending the Unitarian Universalist church a bit more this winter.  Sister asked me what UUs "believe" and the answer is kind of a non-answer (just my style).  Most UU's will tell you that they don't share a particular creed, only a search for spiritual growth.  To me, this take on spirituality is so warm and welcoming and honest and refreshing.  I have been waiting my entire church life to hear someone tell me that things are not absolutes, that it is okay to wonder and question and kind of but not really believe.  I've waited forever to hear that one book (especially one that is thousands of years old, has been through many translations, and can be interpreted in a million different ways) really does not hold all the answers.  When I have gone to the UU church, I have felt no judgement.  There's no guilt.  The focus is on connecting with other people and our communities and our Earth.  It feels like really good people trying to continue being really good people, despite the hardships of this thing called life.  

Last Sunday, we sang this hymn.  I feel like this is one of the truest things I've ever heard in church.  And I've been waiting since 2nd grade (my first communion) to hear someone say that last line:
And in our search for peace, maybe we'll finally see, even to question truly is an answer.  

We Laugh, We Cry

We laugh, we cry, we live, we  die, we dance, we sing our song.
We need to feel there's something here to which we can belong.
We need to feel the freedom just to have some time alone.
But most of all we need close friends we can call our very own.

And we believe in life, and in the strength of love, and we have found a need to be together.
We have our hearts to give, we have our thoughts to receive, and we believe that sharing is an answer.

A child is born among us and we feel a special glow.
We see a time's endless journey as we watch the baby grow.
We thrill to hear imagination freely running wild.
We dedicate our minds and hearts to the spirit of this child.

And we believe in life and in the strength of love, and we have found a time to be together.
And with the grace of age, we share the wonder of youth, and we believe that growing is an answer.

Our lives are full of wonder and our time is very brief.
The death of one among us fills us all with pain and grief.
But as we live, so shall we die, and when our lives are done, the memories we shared with friends, they will linger on and on.

And we believe in life, and in the strength of love, and we have found a place to be together.
We have the right to grow, we have the gift to believe that peace within our living is an answer.

We seek elusive answers to the questions of this life.
We seek to put an end to all the waste of human strife.
We search for truth, equality, and blessed peace of mind.
And then we come together here, to make sense of what we find.

And we believe in life and in the strength of love, and we have found a joy being together.
And in our search for peace, maybe we'll finally see, even to question truly is an answer.

Friday, April 19, 2013

You Won't Know if You Don't Try

Aaaah.... children's books.

We've been reading them in Spahnville since Charlie was born.

When I think back, we've definitely evolved in our literature.  Early favorites included
authors like Sandra Boyton and Karen Katz and the board versions of Are You My Mother?, Goodnight Moon, and The Big Red Barn.

When we were knee-deep (literally) in board books, I thought the day of real-paper picture books would never come.  But it did happen; somewhere along our journey, we seamlessly transitioned from reading "baby books" to reading everything.  Charlie has always had an incredible attention span for books-- many times exceeding that of most elementary students.  Every book is his favorite book and he seems to remember all of them.  Just the other week he piped up at suppertime, "Remember when that ant was on the railroad track? And he ate the big man's sandwich?  That was so funny!" (We had checked out I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track while we were at the cottage in August.)

While Charlie and I are snuggled up on his bed reading, I often daydream about writing children's books.  My mind wanders to the conflict of the story and gets stumped with delivering a clever resolution.  During Guidance lessons, I find myself dreaming about better examples to utilize with students--stories about kids living in poverty, kids with deployed parents, kids with loved ones battling diseases, kids with school problems, friend problems, parent problems.  Or maybe could we please just have a few more books about good friendships and good families and good people in this world?   Sister wants to see more children's books with the main character wearing glasses, without the book being about the glasses.  I'd love to see more books with little girls in hiking boots and little boys who are afraid of spiders.  Sometimes in the evenings, Charlie and I will create an elaborate story (usually with Binga's help) to have it re-told the remainder of the week.

I think about my wish list and our evening storytelling and I have a fleeting thought of: "I should just write a book......"

Of course, there are a few problems stemming from this thought.
1.  I know nothing about writing children's books.
2.  To be a children's author, I think you need to know something about writing children's books.
3.  See #1.

But lately, I've been realizing that I'll never know if I don't try and maybe I can't keep putting things off.  Does everybody feel as lost about what their life is supposed to be as me?  Do we all just flounder around, treading water, getting by little by little each day?  Because, that's kind of how I feel in my professional life.

So, I signed up for another online class.  (Maybe I''m subtly achieving my dream of being a permanent student after all.) Here's the description:

Writing for Children:
Join a former executive editor of Scholastic children’s publishing and discover what you need to know to write for children.   If you're a beginning writer, this course will help you transform your book idea into a finished product that could potentially land in the hands of an editor or agent. And if you're already a successful writer, this course will help you explore new opportunities and markets for your work.

In this highly interactive, hands-on course, you'll take pen to paper and begin work on your first fiction or nonfiction manuscript. In the process, you'll explore the changing world of children's literature and understand the various formats, whether it’s early readers, picture books, chapter books, middle grade or young adult novels. You'll get insights from publishing professionals to gain a better understanding of the needs of today's market.  By the time you finish this course, you'll have all the tools and resources you'll need to begin navigating the world of children’s publishing and to continue growing as a writer for children.

About The Instructor

Eileen Robinson
This course includes a knowledgeable and caring instructor who will guide you through your lessons, facilitate discussions, and answer your questions. The instructor for this course will be Eileen Robinson.
Eileen Robinson is a former executive editor for Scholastic publishing. She graduated with a B.A. in English and has more than 13 years of experience in publishing children’s books for the educational, school, and library markets, as well as helping writers revise and polish their work for the trade market. She has worked with both new and published fiction and nonfiction authors, and has helped beginners improve their writing and navigate their way through the publishing industry.  She has taught many writing workshops at conferences devoted to publishing for children, and she is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Yesterday I took the course pre-test and scored 30%, which confirms my initial suspicion that I have a lot to learn.  And though I may not ever write a story that lands on bookshelves across the country, at least I'll have a better idea of writing for children-- which may come in handy the next time Charlie, Binga, and I put our creative heads together.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Crocodile's Toothache

    The Crocodile's Toothache, by Shel Silverstein
    The Crocodile
    Went to the dentist
    And sat down in the chair,
    And the dentist said, "Now tell me, sir,
    Why does it hurt and where?"
    And the Crocodile said, "I'll tell you the truth,
    I have a terrible ache in my tooth,"
    And he opened his jaws so wide, so wide,
    The the dentist, he climbed right inside,
    And the dentist laughed, "Oh isn't this fun?"
    As he pulled the teeth out, one by one.
    And the Crocodile cried, "You're hurting me so!
    Please put down your pliers and let me go."
    But the dentist laughed with a Ho Ho Ho,
    And he said, "I still have twelve to go-
    Oops, that's the wrong one, I confess,
    But what's one crocodile's tooth more or less?"
    Then suddenly, the jaws went SNAP,
    And the dentist was gone, right off the map,
    And where he went one could only guess...
    To North or South or East or West...
    He left no forwarding address.
    But what's one dentist, more or less?

    Guess who else went to the dentist? Hmmmm....

    We've been reading books about the dentist, and poems like the one above, and we've been "playing dentist", but he was still a little hesitant at first...

    But he quickly opened up...just like a crocodile.  According to Charlie, this is what happened next: 

    "And then, he put on dis blue thingy over his whole mouf and face and eyes and he was peeking out wif his eyes.  Probably he wanted to have his eyes closed but he was just peeking out a little bit and peeking right into my big mouf like a crocodile." 

    He didn't seem thrilled with the three minute experience, but he didn't complain either.  Of course, maybe I wouldn't mind going to the dentist if my dentist had a tv in the ceiling.   (And maybe I wouldn't mind going to the dentist if I flossed more and didn't have exposed roots.) 

    To celebrate a cavity-free/ 50 dollar/ three-minute/ 1st dental visit, we went over to Barnes & Noble to pick out a book.  Actually we really went there to have a snack. Definitely not an ADA approved snack.  Shhh.  

    My child is not aware that Barnes & Noble sells books.  He only knows they have trains.  Damn B&N marketing geniuses.  

    The marketing genius people also place these trains in a little nook, tucked away in the back of the store.  I'm guessing this makes sense-- then the rest of the world does not need to hear choo-chooing sounds while trying to catch up on their free reading.  However, when a tantrum ensues from being forced to leave these beloved toys, the walk to the front of the store (THE EXIT) is 100 miles away.  People raise their eyebrows at the mother and give a little tight-lipped frowny smile in a judgy sort of way.  And the mother sheepishly sighs and wisks her child toward the store exit, silently admitting that maybe this wasn't the best plan for a celebration, but she's still chalking it up to a successful day. Hypothetically speaking, of course.   

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sayonara, Facebook

Well, today's the day.  I've been contemplating this for some time and I think I'm really going to do it.  The idea has been tumbling through my brain for months, but I’ve not been able to pull the trigger.  Something keeps me enticed. Something keeps me hooked.  Something keeps me coming back for more.  And like other addicts, every time I come back for more, I experience a bit more anxiety and leave feeling a bit empty.  That is not a good sign.  That is a bad sign.  So, I must do what I need to do: deactivate my facebook account.


Seriously friends, I have debated this longer than I debated which college to attend (although that’s not really saying much).  It's facebook, not the world.  I'm pretty sure that I won't fall off the face of the Earth if I deactivate my account…but it kind of feels like I might.  It feels like I might lose something, and not know where to go to find it. 

Panic rises in my chest when I think about deactivating my account because I’m afraid of losing you.  I’m worried about missing the photos of your incredibly adorable kids and watching videos of your incredibly adorable puppies.  I’m might miss that one article or that one video that was ‘going around facebook’.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that I’m going to miss wishing you ‘happy birthday’. (Okay, who am I kidding—I’m terrible at acknowledging birthdays on facebook.)  But I do like lurking in the facebook shadows of your beautiful homes and peeking in on the creative projects and gorgeous birthday cakes and amazing party favors that you create. 

But, all this watching and looking and noticing makes me a little agitated and less okay with my own home and our own projects and our cakes and parties.  Which is weird to me because for the majority of my life, I always took pride in being a little different. And while rationally, I know that all of our stuff is perfectly fine I don’t feel particularly fine.  For me to feel fine, I need to notice things with my own eyes and think of things with my own brain and create things with my own hands.  Copying yours and pasting to mine is not really working for me.  

If you’re familiar with The Five Love Languages you’ve heard that five main love languages exist (Positive Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Kindness, Gift Giving, and Quality Time) and all people tend to speak one primary language.  For me, I’m a “Postive Affirmation” kind of girl.  I’m a “praises work better than raises” person.  I’m still the little girl in kindergarten, trying so hard to earn that gold star, trying to be friends with everyone.

In a sad way, facebook gives me this.  I have lots of “friends” (400+!).  I can’t remember a time in real life when I had 400 friends.  People “like” my posts (and sometimes they even comment when I make them witty) and sometimes people “like” my photos.  This is connecting with my love language—I’m getting that positive affirmation.  But then, just as quickly as I received it, it’s gone.  Poof.  All that’s left is a heartless computer screen staring back at me; no eyes, no thoughts, no connection.  Just endless links and ads and articles that entice me and drag me around the internet like a parent tugging their toddler through the aisles of Target.
This spring, I want to let go of the hand that’s dragging me around. I want to get out.  I don't want to log in.  I want to take more deep breaths and read more Anne Lamott and BrenĂ© Brown and get the hell off the internet. I want to notice and think and create.

Maybe I'll notice more about my own adorable child, think more about the deep stuff.  And maybe I’ll allow myself to think about the not-so-deep-stuff too, (like why the hell they can’t figure out how to make Elmer’s glue caps that actually work).  Maybe I’ll create conversation and connect with my husband in the evenings, instead of pulling out our separate laptops and sinking into our own little cyber-worlds; worlds apart in the same living room.

The real life connections, those are the ones I’m looking to strengthen again.  I’m looking to connect with my creative and thinking side, and also with my real-life-friends.  I want to have more face-to-face connections, interactions, and conversations.  I want to have a real life discussion, volleying live conversation and thoughts and feelings back and forth like a tennis ball.  Giving and receiving, giving and receiving.  Not just posting and ‘liking’ and posting and ‘liking’, asserting my presence via cyber world.  My hope is to reconnect by disconnecting.

And when I feel better connected (maybe after three days or maybe after three months) I’ll log back in and cyber connect again.  If you want to cyber-connect with me, keep peeking in on Sphanville via this blog or on Instagram, because for now, I’m saying toodle-oo to facebook. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Wheels, They Were a Turnin'

You may have noticed that I tend to avoid posting anything relating to potty training online.  This is intentional, mostly because I really hate reading about other people's cherubs who are successfully (or not) learning how to use the toilet.  I've come to the conclusion that nobody really cares whether or not your child poops in the potty-- except maybe your mom and mother-in-law.  In which case, you can text them.

So while I'd like to avoid discussing C's toilet habits, I need to mention them briefly here.  (That's my disclaimer)

C has been pretty successfully "potty trained" since he was about 2 1/2.  Honestly, I have no idea what we did or how it happened so I'm of absolutely zero help if asked about our "method" for daytime training.  There wasn't one.  And the same is true for the nighttime training as well.  We put him in Pull-Ups forever and eventually, put him in undies at night when he had been dry for so many mornings in a row.  When we traveled, we just crossed our fingers that he wouldn't have an accident, and we ended up lucking out.  Of course he had an accident here and there, but nothing really bothersome or to cause us concern.

Until two weeks ago.

Nothing had changed in our patterns or home life, except that C had accident after accident at night.  His weary parents swiftly changed sheets, undies, and pj's and tucked him back into bed within a matter of minutes, but the jig was getting old.  It was getting old fast.  After four nights of accidents, one night with a double-accident, M & I threw up our arms in exasperation.  What are we going to DO?!  (I'd like to point out that M was freaking out about this much more than me.  The fact that I was sort of the calm one still makes me happy.) 

We decided that we'd dig out the unused Pull-Ups and training pants (remember those rubber things that pull on over undies?) and start using those at night.

The next day, I brought the box of Pull-Ups into C's room and sat down on his floor.

"Do you know what these are?"  I asked C.

"Pull-Ups!" he said.

"Yep.  And do you know why I brought them up here?"

C looked at me skeptically and shook his head.

"Well, it seems like you're doing such a good job sleeping that your brain is having a hard time remembering to wake up when you have to go potty.  And we've had a lot of nights where you peed in your jammies, right?"

"Yeah.  But just a little pee," he held his thumb and index finger together to signal how tiny of amount of pee had likely escaped his body.

"Well, actually it was kinda a lot of pee.  Enough to make your sheets all wet and yucky."

"And my blanket," he corrected.

"And blanket," I acknowledged. "But it has happened a lot of times so Daddy and I think that maybe you should wear a Pull-Up when it's bedtime."

His face clouded over and he furrowed his brows.  "But Pull-Ups are for babies.  I'm not a baby."

I explained that sometimes even big boys wear Pull-Ups at night time.  M mentioned that he also had accidents when he was a little boy.  Charlie seemed to think about this.   He was silent for a moment.

"If I pee in the Pull-Up then my sheets won't get wet?" he asked.

"That's right.  It'll help keep your jammies and sheets dry."

Again, he was silent.  He appeared to be thinking.  Shit.  Oh shit.  I saw it.  The wheels.  The wheels in his head were turning.  But before I could back-pedal, it was too late.

"I can wear a Pull-Up all night long and pee in it and it's okay," he said slowly.  Then he continued, "I can wear a Pull-Up tomorrow.  I want to wear a Pull-Up to Nicole's house.  Then I can play in my Pull-Up and then I can pee when I'm playing!  I don't want to wear underwear! I like Pull-Ups!"

Crap. Crap. Crap. (no pun intended)

I tried to undo this thought as fast as I could.

"Well, Pull-Ups only hold a tiny dribble of pee.  They don't hold a whole bunch of pee..." I stammered.  I looked up at Mason for reinforcement of any kind.  His face seemed to be stuck in the "oh crap" expression.

I'm honestly not sure how we muddled our way out of that conversation, stressing that Pull-Ups aren't diapers and only hold a little tiny amount of pee and aren't supposed to be worn during for daytime peeing.  I'm pretty sure our ramblings and "logic" made zero sense to anyone, let alone a 3 year old boy who would rather pee in a Pull-Up than quit playing.  And though he resisted, we got him into undies the next morning and the idea of wearing a Pull-Up all day has been momentarily abandoned.  I'm a little worried that the idea is still lingering in his brain.  I'm even more worried with what ideas he's going to come up with next.

Friends, Family, Love, and a Bunny

This past weekend was such a busy one in Spahnville.  I'm pretty sure Charlie is going to be recovering all week long.  Eventually, I hope to write a meaningful post about our weekend events, and how they really made me thankful for the people and resources in my life, but today I'm just going jot down the notes and fill this page up with photos.

Aaaaand.....let's begin:

C has wanted to invite his daycare friend over to play for ages.  She is only about 45 days older than C, and the two of them have spent all but a few months together.  They play beautifully with each other, and really seem to have a special little friendship.  To say that Charlie was thrilled to have her over would be an understatement.  He was over-the-moon excited about her visit, and it did not disappoint.


Later that afternoon, Sister and family arrived for the weekend.  Mother Nature teased us with gorgeous weather and we played outside all afternoon/ evening.  Our neighbor across the street came down with three of his kids and they all played, ran, jumped, scootered, biked, cozy-couped, and bubble-lawn mowed, in our street.  Under the watchful eye of all the grown-ups of course.



We began the morning by taking care of some Easter rituals.  Mainly, egg "dyering".  C & Miss N had fun dyering the eggs and overall, it was a success.  Of course, C only wanted to dyer his eggs the color orange and this had to be the color that he ended up spilling all over the table, chair, and carpet.  (lovely.)  I think I only said the "dammit" word once though and I will consider that a success as well.

Midway through our egg dyering, we made the decision to attend an egg hunt.  GC has an Easter egg hunt that is infamous for being lame.  This year, we heard it was "super lame".  I'm pretty sure people think it's lame because it doesn't involve any eggs, only bags of candy dumped out on the lawn (or in this year's case, the parking lot).  However, one of the perks of living in Spahnville is our proximity to other tiny towns with other lame egg hunts.  We opted for the tiniest option:  Holland, IA.


We abandoned our eggs in their colorful baths and bolted over to Holland.  Not only do they dump candy all over the grass (or inside the run-down community building for the little kids), but they also hide plastic eggs.  Each egg contained a little slip of paper with a "prize" written on it.  C found two eggs and went home with a green ball and an orange frisbee.  I was impressed with his "prizes".  He was more impressed with the m&m's.

That afternoon, we celebrated my dad's 60th birthday.  We surprised him with an adorable cake complete with a Hawkeye and golf cart (Charlie helped order the cake). Fire code didn't allow us to put 60 candles on his cake, so we opted for a candle per decade.  We sang, we ate cake and ice cream, and C helped open presents.  (The favorite had to be the singing Lightning McQueen card picked out my one certain three year-old.) Birthdays are fun, aren't they?


In typical Bomgarsian-Sphanville fashion, we couldn't let the remainder of the evening be relaxing.  We packed in a few more activities.  Dad treated us to birthday dinner in Cedar Falls and then we all went to the UNI basketball game.  C & Miss N had a blast, and were really well behaved.  I thought C was actually going to make it to the end of the game, but he was losing interest and we left with a few minutes remaining.  It was an awesome game and in hindsight, I wish I would have just stayed 'till the end.  It's a totally different story when you're in the moment with a toddler who is ready to go though, isn't it?  


On Easter Sunday, we woke up to hidden eggs and filled Easter baskets.  C & Miss N were incredibly spoiled by that bunny, who may have had a little help from Aunties San & Stace. (Thanks Ladies!)  Both kids tore into their loot and set about playing the morning away.



Eventually, the church-going crew headed out the door to their respected places (I took my mom to the UU church & the others attended the world's longest Easter Catholic mass).  M & C stayed home, playing with the new Hot Wheels track and preparing for Easter Brunch.  We have been attending the same Easter Brunch at our local golf course for so long that it has come to be called a "tradition".  This tradition makes me warm and fuzzy inside.  Mason's mom and his brother's family joined us-- for a grand total of fourteen brunchers.  As always, the food was delicious, the air was cool, the golf cart ride was fun, and the private putting practice was somewhat beneficial. 

After brunch, we headed back to Spahnville to take a few photos and say our goodbyes.  Easter weekend left me feeling like my "family cup" was filled to the brim, and that my friends, is what it's all about.