Well, I've done it! After months and months of hard work, Zen Mama Wannabe has a new look! You must check it out - see what you think - and above all else, give me your comments! I'd love to hear what you think.
Well, I've done it! After months and months of hard work, Zen Mama Wannabe has a new look! You must check it out - see what you think - and above all else, give me your comments! I'd love to hear what you think.
My older child is quick to point out my younger one’s mistakes. Any time. Every time. All the time. Needless to say it only adds fuel to the bickering fire and my fire extinguisher has been working overtime this summer. I have had enough. So in the calmest, non-yelling voice this Zen Mama Wannabe has when I feel my buttons being pushed, I announce:
You know, Wayne Dyer talks about when you have a choice to be right or be kind, choose being kind.
My son actually stops talking to listen. He’s interested in Dr. Dyer. I would have never thought to bring him up because, well, my son is 8. It just never occurred to me. But his 2nd grade teacher last year showed me a world of possibilities when she introduced the class to The Four Agreements.
Talking to 7 and 8 year olds about The Four Agreements? I know adults who have never heard of it – and certainly never practiced it. I naturally assumed it was far too over the heads of these young elementary school students. Au contraire. (But then we know what happens when we assume).
You know the background about The Four Agreements, right? How Ellen Degeneres happened to go on and on about it to Oprah while on her show and it just took off from there.
My son took to it like a fish to water. And he shows signs he’s ready for more. Perhaps some Anthony Robbins. Marianne Williamson. Deepak Chopra. And yes, one of my all time favorites, Dr. Wayne Dyer. Can you imagine the world if we taught our children from THOSE teachers?
My son’s teacher had each student write down his or her intention for the week. They learned not to take things personally. To be impeccable with their word. To not make assumptions. And to always do their best. Pretty cool stuff, eh? Is my son an enlightened master? Of course not. He’s 8. (I wish I had that same excuse). But what great material to be exposing them to.
And so I talk about Wayne Dyer almost as if he is a relative of ours (albeit a special one, yet family nonetheless). But I have read all his books and heard him speak (in person, on PBS, on tape) so many times that it does feel as though I know him. I can share some of his stories just as if I was speaking about dear Uncle Joe and the family stories one grows up hearing over and over until they become a part of you as well.
Right now the lesson for us is about being kind. Yes, he may have the right answer and yes, his sister may not be accurate in how she is saying it. But does it REALLY matter? She’s 5. She’s excited just to contribute to the conversation. Can’t we let her – without pointing out (and oh – how he is quick to point out) how she is saying it wrong, or doing it wrong, or mixing it up – and the point of it all (and this is the part that REALLY gets me) is that it was never that important to begin with!
I don’t know how else to get the point across. So right now I am going with this. And hopefully when if my husband flubs up a fact at the dinner table, or my mother mixes things up in a story I have heard one too many times, I too can chose to be kind – instead of making sure they get it right. It’s good stuff for ALL of us to practice.
Ok, I’m a little late to the party. How could one not notice all the Twilight hoopla – because it’s EVERYWHERE. The books, the movie, the stars….it’s been everywhere I’ve turned. But, up until now, I have simply just turned away. I dismissed the Twilight series movement as a teen thing (would someone ever be so blithe about Harry Potter?? I now see the errors of my way). But last week I broke down did it – I picked up the book at Barnes & Noble and said those 8 little words, “I wonder what all the fuss is about.” Then, I went one step further: I bought it and brought it home to read. May I just say my life hasn’t been the same since!
I had no idea what to expect, other than something about vampires. I know vampires are hip – the “in” thing – but I am so not a vampire type person. Probably why I have been able to stay away for so long. Even Anne Rice didn’t get me. (Saw her movie – no interest in reading the books). But here it was the first day of summer vacation and I needed a good book to read. So with no expectations, I gave it a try. Gotta stay up on the teen stuff, I told myself, as if that was all it was. Don’t want to be a Mom that is out of touch.
I started reading as soon as the kids were in bed that night. Unknowingly, I didn’t set the book down again until I finished it (it’s a thick book!) at 2am! That’s practically pulling an all-nighter for me! I can’t be staying up until 2am – I’ve got kids that are up at 6am without fail! What was I thinking?
That just shows how much the story drew me in. How Stephenie Meyer’s writing kept me turning pages until I was lost in the world of Bella and Edward and Forks, WA. As I wannabe novelist (someday, I hope) I am in AWE of a writer that can do that. As an avid reader, I know how rare that gift really is – and wow – has she got it.
The very next day I was back at Barnes & Noble for Book 2 in the series: New Moon. That one I read in 2 nights ONLY because I had to be practical – I couldn’t function as a mom if I stayed up until 2am TWO nights in a row.
I Facebooked my friends: I get it now, I said. They wrote back, telling me the WHOLE series is like that. They represented all ages (married, single, younger, older) – and it sounded like they had similar reactions to mine. No wonder why it is this media phenomenon of sorts.
I haven’t seen the movie yet. Movies are never as good as the book (can you think of one – besides perhaps Chocolat with Johnny Depp – that was?) and this book was SO good I want to savor it a bit longer. But I’ll watch it soon enough. After all, gotta see what all the fuss is about. It’s a Zen Mama Wannabe tradition.
Summer is just about here and I’m a little nervous. I always start off with good intentions. I say it will be a time to relax, to ease up on schedules, to just BE for a while. But about halfway through, this Zen Mama Wannabe starts LOSING MY MIND. The bickering, the begging for more screen time, the moaning about having to run errands, the longing for just a hour or so of time for ME – just to be able to think and have some quiet. (This is why other parents sign their kids up for camps all summer – I get it. I do). So, here I sit – wondering how the heck it will go and if it can live up to my initial expectations? (I wonder, does anything ever?)
Last summer, in response to my calls of desperation, I got a tip from my best friend that was a lifesaver. Yep, truly brilliant. She suggested I make up BINGO charts. The kids work to get BINGOS and earn prizes (either across or down – just not both or you’d be giving out prizes right and left). You can make a BINGO square be anything you want your kids to do, so you can adjust it for their ages (even works with the older kids). Just mix them up (some easy, some a bit harder) so they don’t get burned out.
My prize bag was one THEY helped me fill. Things they would always bug me for when we went to the store (ANY store). So as long as the things were relatively inexpensive, I started getting them “for the BINGO bag.” They knew I had them – but that to get them, they had to earn them. It actually incentivized them even more! Ooh how they loved picking from the BINGO bag. This year we are adding in coupons my son can earn for additional screen time. He cannot wait.
Things we put on our charts last year:
My charts had 5 rows of 5, so some of those things were duplicated. Once they got a blackout, I made up a new chart, adjusting what was in the BINGO squares if necessary (funny the ones they struggled with and the ones they zipped through without blinking an eye). I didn't give a Free Space (I know, I'm a tough guy).
Gotta tell you: the whole system worked so well for all of us! They had things to work toward, as well as something to keep them busy when they needed something to do. I didn’t get hounded for things because they knew if they wanted that new pack of baseball cards or set of Princess markers, they had to earn them. They could get a BINGO every day if they wanted. They could fill up their whole chart as quickly as they wanted. They were in control.
Currently I’m in the process of making up this summer’s BINGO cards...which mostly involves thinking about what I want the kids to work on this summer. (They are already thinking about some of the cool stuff they want to earn from the BINGO bag.) Yeah, it’s definitely a win-win. And it sure helps my summer intentions stay (somewhat) on track!
It wasn’t just written for Aries – it is a powerful message to all of us, I think. And it really made me think.
There are the freedoms to be able to speak out, to cast a vote, to not have to have your head covered, to be able to go out in public alone. Those seem obvious to us (although having just read and discussed Three Cups of Tea with my kids, I am reminded that those conditions do exist in the world more often than I realize).
But what really hit me was all the smaller “liberties” I have that go unappreciated day in and day out. Being able to be a stay-at-home mom for starters. That privilege means I don’t have to report to a job at a certain time every day. Ooh, how I hated that! I hated HAVING to be somewhere at 8:00am every morning. Sure, some jobs provided more flexibility, but for the most part, I was expected to show up at a certain time every day, stay for X amount of hours, and then “allowed” to go home. That arrangement never felt FREE to me. Success, I always told myself, would be creating my own hours, working when I wanted to – not when I was told ordered to do so.
I don’t usually think of it this way, but being a stay-at-home mom means I get to make my schedule. It would never occur to me to sit around all day and watch TV (for example) but I suppose I COULD do that if I really wanted to. Other things wouldn’t get done, but I wouldn’t get FIRED for my actions. Of course I have obligations (kids have to be at this activity or that place, groceries need to be purchased, things need to be done around the house, etc); many days it feels like I am running non-stop all day long, with NO time to (or for) myself at all.
Yet even with days filled up with commitments and a never-ending To Do list, I have freedoms I don’t even consider. I can wear what I want each day. No HAVING to put on a suit, or special work clothes, or even nice clothes for that matter. I can wear sweats all day if I want. Make-up is optional (although I don't want to frighten the children)! How lucky am I??
You don’t really appreciate all these things until or unless you don’t have them. How many other freedoms can you think of that you enjoy? Ones you may not even notice or value as “freedoms?”
You are so accustomed to certain liberties you don’t even know you are free. It is an interesting premise – for ALL of us to think about. Perhaps you’ll find (as this Zen Mama Wannabe did) that there is much more in your life to be thankful for than you had actually noticed.
About a year ago I made a threat promise to my children. I said it out loud. Many times. In 2009, when my daughter turned 5 and my son turned 8, that was it…we would all be eating the SAME thing for dinner. Every night. No more “kids meals.” No more different menus for children and grown-ups. Ah yes, what do they say about good intentions? It’s only been a week and already what I want to eat most are my words!
This all ties into the big aha moment I had – that started me us on this journey. Why did I think it was necessary for my kids to LIKE what was being served for dinner?? They were as shocked to hear my discovery as I was to make it. But once I did, it was like DUH!! Talk about a moment of parental clarity.
In my defense (of which there is none really) it has less to do with overprotective parenting and more with just being a People Pleaser by nature. I WANTED dinner to be a pleasurable experience. One to be enjoyed and savored by ALL of us. As such, I let things slide.
Both my kids had texture issues as toddlers that caused extra focus and attention to be placed on food and what they could and couldn’t eat. There were struggles with some foods above and beyond typical kid taste bud patterns. I was perhaps too sympathetic. My son quickly moved up the ranks to reigning President of Picky Eaters of America. Being a member myself, I vowed my second-born child would never join.
At age 2, my daughter’s repertoire was fairly wide: salmon, steak, scrambled eggs, etc, (all things my son would not let near his lips). At 2½, coinciding perfectly with what many child rearing books warn you about, my pride in all I had done went out the window. The wide variety narrowed considerably. We quickly had another member of the club.
I confess: at times I gave up in. The path of least resistance meant food wouldn’t go to waste – and that I wouldn’t have to deal with cranky, hungry children. Somewhere along the way, I bought into the notion that they should LIKE at least some most of what was put in front of them.
But when my son boasted how he was a vegetarian who didn’t like vegetables, I finally saw the light. So what if he didn’t like vegetables – few kids do. Just because he didn’t like them shouldn’t mean we should be avoiding them at all costs. Was I really expecting that he would just wake up one day and say he wanted to try zucchini, or a piece of chicken, or anything really besides cheese pizza or a similar combination of melted cheese and bread?
I put them on notice so there would be no arguments or misunderstandings. Once they had their birthdays this year, things at our house were going to change. God help us all.
We reached the jumping off point at the end of May and now there is no going back. I am as much locked into this as they are. No more endless questions being asked of “What are the kids having for dinner tonight?” Now we are all in the same boat together.
You would think, this being the case, that life would suddenly be easier. Oh no-o-o! Let’s see, so far for dinner we have had pizza, pasta, soy hot dogs and my new Taco Nite (which was kind of a bust – he ended up turning his taco shell and cheese into a quesadilla – again it is all about the melted cheese and bread; she (true to form) choose not to eat it at all.
I was chickening out. You can’t just serve kid food to the whole family every night, my husband reminded me. But I became terrified of anything beyond the basics. Again, the wasted food, the hungry kids (you can see a whole lot of issues being brought up for me – so interesting what we put on food).
Tonight I am giving it another try. We are having my homemade Potato Leek Soup, with some hearty whole wheat bread I just bought today at the local Farmer’s Market. The soup is delicious, if I do say so myself – but they don’t eat potatoes in any form (we all know French Fries don’t count as potatoes) and they won’t go near soup - period. Groovy – two strikes already and we haven’t even gotten up to the plate.
I know, try to make sure they are really hungry when they sit down to eat. Make sure there are a couple things being served that they like – so they at least have SOMETHING to eat. If all else fails, bribe them with dessert. The tricks up my sleeve sure do feel old these days.
What are YOU making for dinner tonight? Any family pleasing menus you can share? Let’s face it: this Zen Mama Wannabe needs all the help I can get!
Does hearing about these tragedies make you feel uneasy to fly??
I don’t get to fly that often, and I admit I am usually 50 percent excited to be going (anywhere!), 50 percent nervous that something might go wrong.
I know all the arguments about how airplanes are safer than cars, blah blah blah….and I get it; but I can’t help but also get those little butterflies in my stomach when the plane engines fire up for take-off.
I remember taking a trip only weeks after JFK Jr.’s horribly sad plane accident back in 1999. My flight happened to be out over the Pacific Ocean when we hit turbulence and I can still remember that feeling of sheer terror I felt as I gripped the armrest and wondered my fate. We bumped around for probably 30 seconds or so – then everything was fine – the high drama was over. But yikes!
I was actually flying back and forth across the country on a regular basis in 2000 and part of 2001 – and managing okay I must toot my own horn say, when one of the greatest tragedies of all happened: 9-11. Those events changed air travel forever and certainly added a new level to my increasing nervousness: airplanes now being transformed into weapons of mass destruction. Terrific.
Some argue we are SAFER in the air since the events of 9-11 – and I certainly hope that is the case. For me, it only added another dimension to my mixed feelings on flying. Of course tragedies happen all around us, and we don’t let them affect our normal activities and lives. Still, there is something EXTRA scary about an accident involving a plane. Is it due to the actually sheer size of it? Or the fact there are usually hundreds of people on board a plane – thus putting the risk to others at a much greater number?
I know people that fly across the country all the time. I wonder if plane crashes and malfunctions are something they think about at all – or if they just go about their regular business of getting from here to there? After all, what can you do? Face it, you are pretty powerless from the time you board to the time you step off again. I guess if you’re on board praying, it ought to be for the PILOT – because he (or she) is the one in control (and the one that needs all the good thoughts and grace).
My husband once said in a half-joking kind of way that if we ever took a trip to Europe without the kids (which I can’t imagine would ever happen) that we should fly on separate planes. It sounds silly, but I think I would totally do it. Would most people say we are crazy – that if the plane goes down, we should go down together? (I wonder, does it make it a more noble death that way – or perhaps easier to stomach the thought of because you’ve got someone’s hand to hold)?
Or is the crazy part the fact we even think about it? Does anyone else?? Hard to know because it’s really not your typical dinner party conversation. Maybe this Zen Mama Wannabe is just a little more nervous up in the air than I’d like to admit.
Either way, my heart goes out to all the victims of Air Paris’ Flight #447 and their families. It’s one thing to occasionally think about these types of things. It is quite another to actually have to go through it. My thoughts are with you.
If you are looking for some fun summer reading (Chick Lit type stuff – sorry guys) I have two recommendations for you right off the bat. Both have been out for a couple years – the good news being they are in paperback now (that’s right - no excuse for you not to get a copy if by chance you haven’t read them). So if you haven’t yet had the pleasure and you like this genre of books (and I do hate how some people turn up their noses at the mere thought, as if the term “Chick Lit” is so offensive – call it Light Summer Reading if it makes you feel better) then these are a couple you don’t want to miss.
They are easy-to-read, entertaining stories that pull you along all the way through – perfect for an afternoon stretched out in the sun (does anyone with kids do that anymore??) or for one of those times when you want to curl up with a good book. In fact, I liked them so much I have actually re-read them (a couple times). And coming from this Zen Mama Wannabe, who feels so stretched on time that I barely have enough of it (or energy for that matter) to read as it is, you should know I wouldn’t waste my time reading something twice unless it was worth it. These are.
I have more serious summer reading on my nightstand, just waiting for me to delve into, but somehow these are the ones that call out to me -- even just recently when I wanted to read a quick chapter of something fun before I crawled under the covers and went to sleep. Of course, a few pages always turns into many chapters (when you are reading books that keep you drawn into the story and plot) and last night it was well after midnight (nearly 2 hours later) before I realized what had happen. If you too love it when that happens, I don’t think these will disappoint.
This is the first of several books Emily Giffin has written and by far her best. What makes Something Borrowed exceptionally good is that it takes an interesting premise (the main character has done something really bad – ok, I’ll be blunt – it is one of the cardinal sins a friend can do to another) and yet makes her likeable, to the point you are rooting for her from the very beginning. Think about it: from a writing stand point, that is really hard to do. The story flows seamlessly – and what is fun for those of us who lived it, there are 80’s references (like Forenza sweaters – remember those???) that make you nod your head right along with them.
Sophie Kinsella has written SO many good books (you must check out the Shopaholic series, because that is what she became known for – and please go in order) and yes, I have them all, but this one is especially delightful and a particular favorite of mine. Heard a while back they were making it into a movie. Not sure if that is still in the works, although it could easily be great on the big screen if done right, but the book is A+. With snappy dialogue and some laugh out loud funny parts, you will see why this author is top of her game right now -- and why Can You Keep a Secret? is one you can read over and over again. (I have).
Lastly, I’ll throw in one I just heard about: Mating Rituals of the North American WASP. It JUST came out, and sounds like it could be cute. I've only just started it, but am finding I don't want to put it down - a good sign, and one by which I judge all my books. The story seems predictable, but cute – and sometimes a little lighthearted “cuteness” is what you need, especially when the weatherman predicts overcast days of "June Gloom" as they call it here in California, with no end in sight.
And if you have any light, fun recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them. This Zen Mama Wannabe is always on the lookout for a good read -- and a little sunshine!
Preliminary test results from the doctor visits yesterday showed good news. The lump on our beloved dog appears to be a harmless fatty tumor (the best case scenario). The Doppler study on my mom’s carotid artery revealed no blockage and made the technician exclaim, “I only hope MY arteries look as good and plague-free when I am 89!” Whew! A good ending to a long day.
We dodged some bullets, avoided being struck down, and for that this Zen Mama Wannabe is truly thankful. I don’t kid myself however; the fight is hardly over. When you reach Old Age, as both my mother and our 4-legged companion have done, once you engage in battle, you are in it for the duration. This round may have gone to us, but the war is hardly over. We will get fired upon again. I just hope we have a reprieve for a while…to savor this victory and enjoy daily living, and build up our energy for the next round.
My mom and I next have a neurologist appointment on our calendars. The hospital technician thought they might order an MRI of her brain, so they could see if she has had any TIAs (or mini strokes – which is what they think she had that caused her original problem). New information will be gathered and we will take it all one-step at a time.
A quick Goggle search on TIAs provided some eye-opening info from the American Heart Association: over a third of the people that had have one or more TIA go on to later have a stroke. In fact, half the people have the stroke within one year of having the TIA. Her father and brother had strokes – significant ones. This is definitely something to keep on our radar screens.
So yes, I am so grateful my mom is doing well and no blockages were found. But do I feel we are through with this whole episode? Unfortunately no. Bullets were dodged but chances are this is far from over.
But Life and all its busyness goes on. School projects and homework assignments continue. Garages need to be organized; miscellaneous boxes still need to be unpacked. Playdates and birthday parties continue to occupy our time. It’s easy to forget that we didn’t take a hit. Previous worries have dissipated – at least temporarily – and sometimes it is like it all never happened.
I try to remind myself to take a deep breath. To take a moment to give my thanks. No hits, no casualties. Yes, it was a good day.
Have you ever woken up in morning filled with nervous anticipation – wondering what the day ahead would bring? Ever had doctor appointments scheduled in the hopes of providing answers – possibly answers you may not want to hear? You wonder how to brace yourself for potentially bad news. And you try to think positive, because of course you believe in the power of positive thoughts and all that. But you wonder, when you crawl back into your bed at the end of the day, will your life have been changed? Will you have shed tears? Will you get to continue on down the path you were on? Or, will you find that you are being forced led down a different one (a path no one chooses to explore)?
I have a vet appointment this morning and a Doppler study to go to this afternoon. The former is to examine the lump I found over the weekend on my 13+ year-old dog. The latter is to do an ultrasound of the carotid artery on my 89-year old mother to determine if there is a blockage there. Both appointments should provide useful information. Yet each has the potential of taking me down a road this Zen Mama Wannabe really does not want to go down…ever yet.
Dog owner or not, you probably know that 13 is considered old for a big dog - even one like mine who is in great shape. People are shocked every time they find out how old she is. She really looks great. But…she doesn’t hear very well anymore. She has arthritis in her hips, and moves slower these days (more regally I like to think). She doesn’t run or play anymore, and the bulk of her days are spent sleeping away on her dog bed. Yet, she still likes to be where I am, will still make her way up the stairs if I am upstairs and lay down near me in whatever room I am in. She still pops up immediately when she sees her leash, eager to go on a walk (which are definitely more like leisurely strolls these days). She is still a big sweetie pie and has truly been the best dog you could ever ask for.
That being said, I know 13 and a half is old. Some big dogs live to be 16 (because I seem to meet dog owners who, after being so surprised mine is so old, proceed to tell me all about their big dog and how long he or she lived – and we all stand around and marvel at their good fortune). But chances are we won’t make it to 16. At least I think that every time I walk in the house and no longer get greeted at the door. For about 30 seconds I am convinced she is lying there “stone cold dead” and my heart drops to the pit of my stomach until she FINALLY hears me, picks up her head and then slowly staggers to a stand.
Of course, one day, whenever it is, she is going to die. I know that. I’m just not sure I’m ready for that. I’ve had her ever since she was a 8-week old puppy that fit in my hands. She was with me BEFORE I had kids, before I even knew my husband….SHE was my baby, my one and only. And even though I have demoted her to a much lower spot on the family totem pole than where she used to be or deserves to be, she is still my sweetheart -- which is why finding the lump on her filled me with dread.
Ditto all of that with my mom – but add to it because she is MY MOM. Mama. My last living parent. Even though I feel I haven’t had enough years with her, she has lived a long time. If she died tomorrow, everyone would tell me that she lived a good, long life. Thankfully she is, relatively speaking, in very good health. She could have many more years on this Earth. And yes I know, every day people die -- young AND old. It can happen to any of us. But when you get to be 89, death becomes a little more prevalent in your life. It is something you think more about. It is the white elephant in the room that gets too big to ignore.
Her appointment today up in the Radiology department of a nearby hospital could go just fine. Or, they could discover something – which would propel us down a different path entirely. One I am hoping we are not meant to go down.
I feel like all I can do this morning is wait. Wait for each appointment. Wait as I hold each one’s hand (paw) for the testing to be done, for the results to be given. Wait and see what door we are going to open, what path we are going to walk down. Sometimes the NOT knowing is the hardest part of all. But only sometimes.