Split Personality

This sounds odd, I know, and no this isn’t some weird confessional post. This title seemed so fitting given the things I’ve been ruminating on lately.

Here’s the thing. The year before I was born was the year that CD-ROM was introduced, when I was in middle school DVD’s started to replace the ole VHS. When I was 4 years old the World Wide Web was coming to fruition.

I straddle the divide of Generation X and Millennials though I am more inclined to put myself into the Generation X category. I have the unique perspective of knowing what its like to play outside til the street lights come on and also to have learned technology from the ground up.

My childhood was spent outside playing or inside reading books (to generalize) and though we had a computer in our house it was just another thing to play with, not an all encompassing machine of wonder.

I remember playing coloring games on our box shaped computer or even sliding in a floppy disk to play “Where in The World is Carmen San Diego”. It was cool, but so were a lot of other things. My friends and I would play Oregon Trail in their basement for an hour or so then go explore the neighborhood on foot for a few hours, crossing small creeks and hiking through woods. All unsupervised of course with no cell phones and knowing we had to eventually head back home or our mothers would worry.

I have always had a kinship with pen to paper, always preferred hand written notes to typing on a keyboard. Nonetheless, because of the timing of when I grew up it just so happened that typing classes were mandatory in high school, and power points were the ultimate for school presentations.

I suppose it is because I’m growing older and seeing how technology has seemingly taken over all aspects of our life that I have always had a hesitation to jump in feet first to embracing its presence in my life. I grew up with a dial channel TV for pete’s sake, I still have a collection of burned CD’s from when music was pirated on the internet before Apple had an ITunes.

My very modus operandi has always crossed into both these worlds. I embrace the technology that makes things better or more efficient, and yet I find myself longing for the slower pace of life that was my childhood. It seems as processing speeds grew on computers so as well did our pace of life. It is because of this that I understand my children must learn about technology that surrounds them and at the same time why I feel such a burden to show them how going barefoot feels in the grass, or how the forest air fills your lungs like nothing else.

My constant goal is to slow (lets face it, normalize) the pace of life, despite the pressures the world puts on us, to teach my children to stop and smell the flowers. I wonder often what they will think when they have grown up, how different the world will look with the constant barrage of technology invading our homes, our cars, our workplaces. I certainly know that I cannot go back. There is no time machine to be had, nor would I want to change what has come to be. We cannot go back in time, though some try. There are many people, quite often those in my generation, who buck the trend and shackles of technology and choose to live off grid, or make their life more green. I applaud those who choose to forge their own path this way, To control the hold that technology has in their world. It was a simpler time, our tech free childhoods, but the reality is the world we are living in now, today, tomorrow will continue to change and accelerated into a technology dominant world.

You see, change is inevitable in this life and progress is what makes us so uniquely human.

We are meant to change, to adapt, to grow, to learn. The machine of progress will not be stopped, the challenge is to realize it is in our power to slow it down.

For me, living my life at a slower pace keeps me sane. Letting my children become familiar with computers is something I try to do, albeit at the library rather than at our home (for now). Teaching them the common sense principles of safety and responsibility as my parents did for me will help them no matter the situation.

So I will take from my “old” and do my best to meld it with this “new” in such a way that myself and my children are able to use technology for our purpose rather than having it be a controlling aspect in our lives. I will try to teach them the joy of having a childhood outside in the beautiful world, or diving into a book to experience another world. I will teach them how to type but also how to pen a letter in cursive. I will teach them how to do math without a calculator, to journal and maybe even to blog some day. I will continue to draw on my split personality to benefit the next generation. They will know no other world exists unless we reveal it to them, hand it down so they may continue to make this world a better place.

So here is to progress, and to passing on that which is not found in our imaginary world of zeroes and ones.

Thanks for reading.

E

 

A Weekend with Thing 1 and Thing 2

Bug and the Husband spent the weekend meeting the new baby cousin so I was here with the boys this weekend. Its been a while since we just had mama and boys time and it was a full weekend with lots of fun.

Friday my dad (Boppa to the littles) had the day off so we headed up to hang with him for a bit and visit with Nanga (grandma). We set off Friday with adventure in our hearts and got 1 exit down the highway and immediately stopped. The highway near our house goes over a bridge and it is badly in need of replacement, just as so many bridges in our nation are. The biggest headache is when an accident happens on the 2 lane freeway and the bridge chokes off traffic because of its lack of shoulders. Nonetheless the sun was shining and the boys were happy so we listened to the police scanner and eventually got moving 20-30 minutes later. Skittle passed out in the car so Fuss and I took a walk to the store with Boppa while Nanga monitored the exhausted one.

It didn’t take much convincing on my moms part and she had us staying for dinner. With full bellies and tired eyes we went home at bed time. I had a friend come up to visit and we had a good chat and went to bed.

At 6am the twin alarm clock went off and I grudgingly kept them company as I slowly woke. We all got ready and packed in the car to stop for coffee and head up north so my friend could visit her godmother and the boys could throw rocks in the “ocean” as I had promised them. We picked up my mom and had our first stop at the chocolate/gelato shop I have been frequenting since I was 7. The boys had cocoa and I had a delicious mocha. After too much deliciousness we headed out in the grey day with a light drizzle and went to throw rocks in the water. We walked, we played at the playground, then once the rain picked up we went to grab lunch.

Keeping two 4yr old boys occupied for 30 minutes at lunch is always fun. Thankfully afterwards we wandered into the bookstore and novelty shop and Giddy picked out a Lego book and Fuss found a retractable pirate dagger. Happy and content we had a quick visit to say hello to Boppa then headed back down south for home.

My friend and I headed out, leaving the boys with their favorite sitter, to meet another friend for dinner at a local farm to table restaurant. 4 hours later, full of amazing food, good wine and wonderful company, we parted ways to head home for bed.

Another 6am wake up on Sunday and my friend did the coffee run while I got the boys ready for the day. We needed some fresh air so the boys and I walked downtown and took the first bus at the bus station. The bus is basically a carnival ride for children. It was quiet and relaxing and I found myself just staring at both of them and realizing just how much I love them. The moments of slow and still are so rare in our house, especially adding sissy in the mix. It was a wonderful moment. We hopped off at the park and played in a very wet playground where Giddy managed to mop up all the water from the slide onto his pants. With wet bums we started the walk back home.

It was slow going because of all the glorious puddles and it seemed everyone was hiding inside from the rain so we had the neighborhood to ourselves. We arrived home and made hot pizza for lunch just as the rain picked up again.

Queue the 2 hour struggle to get the boys to nap/have quiet time. Skittle finally fell asleep 20 minutes before we needed to leave for my little sisters birthday party.

A quick grocery stop and we headed to my parents to celebrate my little sister turning 26. The boys ran wild, ate dessert and Fuss hilariously insisted on playing waiter and loading up all the tiny appetizer plates with Chinese pork and mustard and handing them out to all the guests.

When the boys had reached peak rowdiness we headed out to walk to the store (the walk I’ve followed since I was in a stroller) and Auntie and Uncle came with. We managed to get back before more rain again and we packed everyone up to head home. The boys ate pb&j in the car and happily watched a movie while my friend and I talked in the front seat. Shortly after arriving home she headed back to her house and the boys went to sleep. I watched a movie I hadn’t seen in a while and promised myself to be in bed before 10pm.

Today has been lazy, its cold and wet outside and we are watching Curious George in peace. Skittle is dressed, Fuss in pajamas still and I have been wishfully looking up short hikes for the day in case the weather clears. We are ready to have Daddy and Sissy back, although the peace and quiet hasn’t been terrible.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with these little Buggers and I’m looking forward to future weekends before they grow up and stop thinking I’m the most fun!

Hope all of you had a relaxing and enjoyable long weekend!

 

The Edge

The edge, the advantage, the upper hand. No matter what you call it, there is always a win to be gained. A play to be made, an unseen element which can elevate you to a victory.
We are all born as babies, correct? Naked into the world we come. Some of us are born to riches some to poverty. We are born to broken families and to those who seem as if nothing could tear them apart. It is our distinct difference and individuality that make us such interesting people, people who have unique gifts and talents to bring to the world.
I was born into a stable family. A family in which once I could speak and talk and generally think for myself. Being the middle sister and having an older sibling I learned quickly about good old competition. Who was faster, who could understand better, who could negotiate better (always my older sister, who at times I’m sure thoroughly exasperated my parents).
In the world in which I am raising my children there has been a vast scaling back of the idea of winning or competition to be the best. These days’ children are given ribbons or trophies simply for participating or taking part in something. Now I’m not against participation, I think it’s fabulous when a child can try something new and be encouraged to figure out where their strength lies, however, I am absolutely against treating all children exactly the same and rewarding such behavior.
I participated in various sports and learned the concept of losing and winning. I felt the sting of a loss, the anger and sadness when things didn’t turn out how I’d hoped. This losing made me try harder, look at what needed improving and tested my resilience. Perseverance was learned often and early. Winning was a great feeling, to know that a battle had been fought and until the last second you had given 110%, well there isn’t anything like it.
My competitive spirit has certainly not faded with age. The other night I went to bed laughing (albeit painfully) because of an incident with the Husband and I. We had finished watching Sherlock on BBC and I mentioned I was so glad it was over as I was bursting to go to the bathroom (we’ve forgotten about the pause button huh?). All he had to say was “well I think I may have to get there first” (keep in mind that our family of 5 shares 1 bathroom upstairs) and I promptly leapt from the couch, shoved him back into the couch and raced to the stairs taking them 2 at a time to reach the bathroom before he could. This hasty exit meant that in my hurried and crazed state I smacked a flailing hand into the plaster wall of the stairwell and had two knuckles swollen up like a prizefighter about 2 minutes later. My competitive streak has not retreated much.
Today my knuckles are turning that lovely yellow and purple color of bruise and each time I look at my hand I cannot help but giggle. This is who I am. It is preposterous, but there is something in my very DNA that springs to compete and win, even in something so ridiculous as a race to the bathroom.
You see, God made us each with unique and wonderful capabilities. We are so amazing at being us and we can feel so fulfilled when we use our gifts to the fullest that it can feel a little like winning, even if there is no one to compete with. Comparison is the thief of joy (or so the saying goes I believe). When we compare ourselves to others we do not see what God sees, we see what the world sees. How successful someone may be, how much money they make, etc. My favorite competition in life is with myself. How can I get better, how can I improve upon the gifts that God has given me? Striving to elevate myself in all areas, without comparing myself to others and in doing so pushing them down the heap it what I aim for. There was a time when I had 3 kids under 3 that I timed how long it took me car door to car door to do a Costco run. It seems ridiculous but at the time I was out for a personal record (against yours truly) and it was such fun to see if I could get the whole list done, loaded and kids back in car seats in the shortest time. I finally shaved it down to 27 minutes or something crazy and then it was over. Like I said, my competitive streak is a bit ridiculous.
I am grateful for God given talents and the ability to compete. I am so thankful I married someone who loves competition as much as I do. After all its much more fun when you are fully vested in the game, be it Scrabble or the game of LIFE. Our children will no doubt inherit some competitive streak as it is strong in both of us. I can only hope this yearning to win will motivate them to work harder, learn more and be the kind of people who can be proud of their accomplishments without having to stand on someone else’s shoulders.
We all have an edge: being ourselves and embracing our talents.
To learn in the face of defeat and come back stronger to the challenge and win is one of life’s gifts. Not to be taken lightly, not to just “participate” but to want to be the best you can be of who you are. This is the edge. What’s yours?

The Three Blessings of the Season

They are all on the couch, munching fishy crackers and entranced by my little pony. We’ve finished school for the day, Bug and I.

For a few minutes here it will be peaceful, serene and lovely. A chance for me to gaze at these faces in their perfect slightly chubby childhood wonder.

Oh its been a season.

This season of Autumn has included 3 birthdays, a Christmas tree hunt (the first year they understood the concept of hanging up the ornaments and actually helped) and many other fun family moments. Obviously its been a busy season, I have thought many times of opening up my notebook or tablet to write and the intentions were good but things always seemed to deter me.

These three. These three keep me on my toes. Amidst the constant requests for help or snacks or breaking up arguments I’ve tried to take a step back and really see the brains churning. I’m enjoying Bug learning in school, finding her eyes light up when we talk about things that interest her. In truth it is an education for me as well, a chance to cast off my self doubt about where I rate on the “making good choices as a mother” scale and realize that they all go to bed each night with full bellies and knowing they are loved. This. This is the most important.

In this season of so much STUFF especially with the birthdays thrown in too, I’ve enjoyed doing things like making cookies with them or the nightly Bible reading and advent calendars, watching the delight on the faces of the boys as they woke before dawn to their first real chance to make a snowman.

This is a season of giving, of realizing how fortunate we are as the world struggles, mothers who can’t feed babies, fathers who have no work to support families, those who are simply struggling to live. What a privilege it has been to give money away to help those who just need a leg up or even just a warm meal.

Next week when the Christmas shine has dulled we will begin the process of giving away old toys or those that are not played with. I have made it a habit over the years to clean house literally and metaphorically in January. I love teaching my children that their things can bring joy to new children, that things can be recycled, that all the toys in the world can’t replace the love of our family and everyone who cares for them. We come into this world with nothing and yes, leave with nothing too. I am completely guilty of getting way too excited at Christmas and buying gifts for everyone way too early. This year I have attempted to be more practical but the consumerism still seems to push in at times.

This year I have had to work to mentally train myself to slow down, to take the kids for cocoa instead of buying things they point at in the store. This year was also fun because for the first time Bug got $ from her savings account and we went shopping for Dad and the boys. What fun to watch her decide on what to give and to understand that though she saw a lot of neat things for herself, that it was not the point.

Of all the gifts in the whole world, this time of year reminds me of just how wonderful each of my babies are. What a blessing and a miracle their very existence is. So I will continue to try, to carry on through the season, knowing that all I really need is the ones I love. Watching new things learned, listening to my children play together and learn to love. What a wonderful life it truly is.

Slow down, savor the ability to breathe, eat and sleep, the chance to laugh with friends and see family far flung and near.

May your Christmas be merry and your blessings abundant.

Here’s to a wonderful new year to come.

Cheers and blessings to all.

Striving for Perfection

It is pervasive. Across all social media platforms, in our conversations, all over television. Perfection is “normal” as far as anyone can see.

This, this is not the world I grew up in. I never even thought negative thoughts about myself until at least middle school. Now I have conversations with friends about their 6 year olds saying no to certain clothes because they aren’t “cool” or coming home from school uncertain of who to trust or what their place is. The amount of self doubt seeping into our subconscious is frightening.

Here’s the thing. It isn’t perfect. Its a whole lot of Instagram filters (totally guilty of that) and that gorgeous photo you see probably was the best of 10. We don’t truly just capture one moment. No, the finger doesn’t just point out. I have to fight to resist the urge to only document the good moments. We all have bad moments, but for the last decade our social media and print, television and entertainment has gotten better at editing out the bad. Those perfect bodies you see on fitness stars? That is their JOB. Those super stylish social media icons? They probably have a team and spend hours each day focusing on the image they cultivate.

Life is so much more beautiful with the good and the bad mixed in. Sure its not perfect, but its normal. I couldn’t truly enjoy the best moments of my life without thinking about those tough times that got me there.

Having a daughter makes me look at the world through a different lens, not that my boys won’t also struggle with self esteem and peer pressure, its just that I’ve been through the struggle that I know is ahead of her.

Its funny to me that as moms, as women, we put so much pressure on ourselves. To be fair, this is a tough job that is intense, but I feel like we put pressure on the wrong points. Can I fit in my pre-baby jeans? Nope. Do my kids have manners? Most of the time, yes. In my mind these cancel out. You see? In our digital age we can be so consumed by all that we “need” or “must do” to be a “perfect” parent or adult. The truth is, in the end I’m going to have the body that I carried my children in. I’m going to be a bad parent some days. On occasion I’m going to have a day that knocks it out of the park. Life is about the journey, the mornings my boys dump an entire box of cheerios on the floor and also the days they play nicely or think of others before themselves. For my daughter I want to look back at these precious years and not have missed a moment because I was trying to get my body “back” or I was stressing about what I should be doing when they go back to school.

I’ll take presence over perfection any day.

So this season, with all the wonderful family traditions, I’m still going to take pictures and post things, but my goal is to be more present. To enjoy moments of crazy and imperfections galore. I am so thankful for all I have been given and the huge responsibility I have of raising children. If they see me in all my messy mom glory, all the better, I want to be consistent, to be always the version they know, the true me. I never thought of peer pressure extending beyond high school but I have realized the last few years its just come back at another level. The expectations we place on ourselves, each other, especially fellow mothers, are ridiculous. Lets get back to the days when the expectations were reasonable. Did you get dressed today? Nice job! Brush your teeth? Feed your kids? Give them a hug? Did you strive to encourage others and be an honest version of yourself? Use your manners? Aim for 8 hours of sleep?

Forget the perfection, forget the filters, look around where you are and choose to see the good, the basic needs being met, the children who wake up each day and love you, just as you are, no expectations but enthusiasm for the reality they live in.

Surround yourself with those who love you just as you are, no matter what and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.

Sending you all a big hug and going to kiss my sweet girl goodnight.

Bonne nuit!

 

The One Where I LOVE Fall

Autumn, Fall, Harvest. The best time of the year. You might think it gets old but the truth is, my heart swells each year when the leaves start to change, the sunrise pierces through the chill of the morning. So many of the best things happen when the weather changes. I’ll never stop annually gushing about my favorite season. Here are some of the highlights for me:

My brother’s birthday ushers in the Autumn, just as mine ushers in the Spring. It is a shared privilege and I can’t help think of him and the way he would throw his head back in giddy laughter. It brings school, learning, fresh paper and school supplies, “bouquets of sharpened pencils” ( from my favorite Fall movie “You’ve Got Mail”) and an opportunity to appreciate all the beautiful artwork God has painted on the hills we live in.

Fall means exploring the local farms, corn mazes, crispy apples and the PIES, oh the pies. Naturally, my favorite is pumpkin. Another pumpkin thing that brings a smile to my face is when our local coffee shop starts putting out the gluten-free pumpkin scones. They are amazing and I’m not ashamed to say I save a few for the freezer every year when they aren’t in season. We habitually mail packages to California Auntie and stuff them as full as we can with pumpkin scones.

Football season gets into full swing. Who could hate an excuse to hang out with friends and family, basking in the pleasant company while yelling at the TV or wearing a lucky shirt you are convinced is the sole reason the team keeps winning. All the hot soup and warm cornbread you can eat. Soup is my favorite because it’s so easy and it warms the belly on the chilliest of days, not to mention the ability to freeze and reheat at will. Soup also seems to be a crowd pleaser for the football crew.

All the outside. Seriously, the leaves are falling and the hiking is ripe. All one needs is a thermos of hot chocolate/cider and some layers and off you go into the woods or to the seaside, marveling at the changing colors and the crisp, refreshing air. I’ve already done a few little outings with the kids and I love that they are learning to hike longer distances now. I do miss our walks to preschool but they will commence again next fall so we just have to keep ourselves busy this season with getting outside for other reasons. I have the glorious joy of running a 10K on the trail tomorrow with a friend and I cannot wait (my motivation centers around the smoked salmon omelet to follow the run).

The cozy. Nothing brings out the Anglophile in me like the beginning of fall and trips to the library to load up on books I never have time to read. I daydream about the reading room at the British Museum or traveling back in time to learn to play piano and frolic about with the sisters Bennet. I drink more tea, I have aspirations of having a writers retreat on the islands. Alas real life intrudes when Skittle or Fuss holler from the front room and I am reminded of my current state. I will always love the surge of reading energy that comes in the fall and can only hope my children feel the same some day.

For those who share in Autumn’s warmth with me, enjoy the reveling.

For those who don’t, I suppose you will have to make the best of it.

Here are a few titles of my favorite heart warming fall poems for you to enjoy:

“Fall” Edward Hirsch, 1950

“When the Frost is on the Punkin” James Whitcomb Riley

“Immortal Autumn” Archibald MacLeish

“The Pumpkin” John Greenleaf Whittier

*my own creation at the bottom of the post

Enjoy!

 

*Brilliance of the rainbow exposed in all the green,

the hues of red and orange the finest you’ve seen,

a chill in the air and a frosty sunrise

a time of new wisdom and natures surprise

Each season is different, each one has its place

Fall, like a champion, wins every race

The thrill of fresh paper, of pencils fresh sharpened

Of wool coats and scarves, hats tucked over cold ears

the pleasant warmth of a hot drink bringing cheer

Each year my heart swells at the change in the air

it means all the things I love, those I hold dear

are another year older, wiser perhaps,

the shedding of leaves has now come to pass.

 

A Thankful Heart

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”  Henry David Thoreau (from Walden, pub. 1854)

I have been writing this blog since 2011. It started as a way to journal in a sense, what was happening in my busy life. I had been keeping a journal since age 10 and always enjoyed writing in many forms of poetry, essays and such. I was emphatic that I would not “publish” on my social media or attempt to attract people other than those who stumbled upon it. My first followers were my family. I still want this to be a place of personal reflection, and as such have not marketed what I write or done much other than put pen to page and thus out into the universe.

I realized today that I have 50 follows on Married to the Law. I wanted to thank those who liked it in the first place, those who are just stopping by and those who have enjoyed my writing although it can be sparse at times.

My intention is still to document my life as it stands in an honest way, as if I were sitting with a friend over a cup of coffee, also in a way that hopefully in a decade or so my children won’t detest. I am still married to the law as it were, though our lives are less law school and more preschool these days. I found this excerpt from Thoreau (above) that sums up how I feel about my writing. I hope to effect the quality of my day, of your day, to uplift and encourage, to make people laugh at the normalcy of it all.

So thank you, dear readers, thank you for taking the time to read and enjoy this little slice of life and thoughts that I share. My heart is grateful.

Ta ta