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Archive for August, 2006

Granny Inspiration

On the way to work this morning, I looked next to me at a stop light and saw a grandma rocking out to Crazy, by Gnarls Barkley. She was in a red VW Gulf, probably stick shift, and knew every word to the song. She even did some drumming on her steering wheel (just like my high schoool boyfriend, Jim, used to do everywhere we drove, and stopped. I’m happy to say that Hubby doesn’t steering wheel drum OR air guitar).

I wanted to pull her over and ask her who she was and what her life is all about. How, I wondered, can one hold on to such positive energy after so much of LIFE. And not just sweet, old lady like positive energy, but actual jamming out energy. I am only 35, and when I jam out in my car, I feel like people are staring at ME like I’m past my jamming prime.

What an inspiration.

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You know how They say that raising children will bring up some of your own issues from childhood? Hubby had an issue experience yesterday.

Hubby is one of three boys. Middle child. If you ask him, all his issues are around being raised as a middle child. Being an only child, I don’t get it. He and his brothers used to wrestle all the time, as all good siblings will do. But their wrestling would turn into knife throwing attempts at mutual assassination. There are actual holes in their home’s walls made from their heads going through. Nice. How did their mother survive?

Sunshine and Boo have just recently began wrestling around the grass like little lion cubs, chasing each other, pushing one over and wrestling around. I find it totally adorable. Sometimes one or the other might let out a little yelp, but then they go back to playing. Well, Hubby was at home yesterday while the children were still up, which is a rare occasion, and he got to witness the transformation of our children into cubs. It was great! We were sitting outside, the kids were wrestling around, and Hubby, every three seconds was nervously hollering above their giggles, “NO PUSHING!”, “DON’T ROLL TOO CLOSE TO THE BUSHES, YOU MIGHT GET SCRATCHED!”, “STAY AWAY FROM THE CONCRETE!” Looking at me with his mouth agape, I just giggled and walked inside, leaving him to work out his issues.

Easy for me to giggle now. I’m sure I’ll have my turn(s) to view my own childhood through my children. But we must giggle, anyway, right?

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The Meaning of Summer

What is the meaning of summer? Isn’t it about play, freedom, and sun? Or is that just for the school children and the free-but-too-young-to-appreciate-it college kids?

I have mentioned before that I am thankful for the opportunity to be working and diversifying my thoughts a bit, and I AM. But I received an e-mail from my daughter’s school teachers yesterday that ended by saying “Enjoy the last days of summer.” What? I started working (out of the house) the beginning of July and now people are claiming that I have missed the summer! My children, who I expected to be at parks and beaches, dripping with BBQ sauce and popsicle juice all summer, ended up at gymnastics camps, with babysitters, and running around doing errands with me all summer. (Thank goodness for the friend who helped out and actually took the children outside to play!)

How did this happen? Is this what summer is for families where both parents work? They have to go to the beaches on the weekends, and contend with the other 5 million people who also work during the week and NEED some sandy toes and salt-crusted hair. Tricky. I need the work. I like the work. But being inside all summer bums me out– not just for me, but for Boo and Sunshine.

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Hubby and I were a thing in college. (Yes, that would put us at 15 years of knowing each other, for those who are wondering). One evening, Hubby took me for a drive up to the Flatirons weaving a story on the way. He told me all about the spotted Snowy Owl and how, to the Native Americans, it represented freedom from bad dreams. He went on to tell me that the previous morning he had seen a Snowy Owl in the Flatirons while he was training (he was and still is a pretty serious martial artist, and used to wake before dawn to go up to the foothills and do forms). He wanted me to see it. Since owls are nocturnal, we were heading up there at night to see if we could see it again.

He pulled over to the side of road, we climbed out and started over boulders and through the trees until we reached the spot where Hubby had seen the owl. We were very quiet while he got out his flashlight and screened through the trees. I spotted something in a tree branch and whispered, “Stop! Go Back.” Sure enough, there was a beautiful Snowy Owl perched in a tree branch.

“Go on,” Hubby said, nudging me, “Get closer and see how near she will let you get.” (Are Snowy Owls dangerous? Didn’t even question it as I approached the tree.) I stepped closer, and closer and, surprisingly, the owl let me get quite close to her. So close, indeed, that I finally realized, inches from her and in the dark, that she was a stuffed Snowy Owl. Sitting on a nest of real red licorice ropes (my favorite treat in the world and where, oh where, can one find them these days?). I turn back to Hubby, shining the light directly in his face and see a sweet grin (sweet, meaning: I can’t believe you thought you were approaching a real Snowy Owl). After I collected my owl and licorice, I found him sitting on a big boulder with a bottle of champagne (that he had hidden in the bushes earlier). “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

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Guilt: Part 2 of a Series

I dropped Boo, my 2 1/2 year old boy, off at gymnastics this morning with his sister, Sunshine. Now, gymnastics, what could be more fun for the kids (other than the &!$@% sprinkler park that I cannot do anymore this summer!)? Though usually seen as fun, when I have to be at work and have a meeting with a new boss candidate, Boo decided he would rather be home baking muffins with me. Of course, were I planning on going home and baking muffins (in a quite house with my music on- glorious!!), he wouldn’t want anything to do with me. So I hold him while the other children start on the trampoline. All it takes is for him to give one go on the trampoline, and he’s hooked, gives me a kiss and I’m off- late, but at least showing up to work. (What would I have done had he not let go of me, crying and begging to go home? Would I really leave him there, crying? Would I really not show up to work because of separation anxiety?

Am I ruining my little Boo? Sunshine never had so much independence (not even a babysitter!) when she was 2. When she started school at 3.5, it was two mornings a week and I sat by the window waving and blowing kisses until pick up time. Now, I drop Boo off almost every day with friends or gymnastics with a swift kiss and hair russle. What does #3 have in store for him?

It is not like I have had a five-year break between children and I’m so excited to stay home and oogle all over Baby. I’m on the edge of SAHM burn-out. Working part-time in an office with other adults is FABULOUS. So, will I regain some of my original SAHM love with Baby comes? Please, say yes, because the guilt is already building, and he isn’t even born yet.

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If you are a fellow mother or father of young children, I would like to know how you are dealing with the state of the world. Not the world of playdatets, diapers, and tea parties, but the world beyond. This is something I have been struggling with since my first was born. (Well, okay, maybe a year after my first was born, when I remembered that a world did exists outside my door.)

In days of yore, I worked at Oxfam America, and at the International Rescue Committee, helping refugees resettle in San Diego. (That’s right, can you imagine moving your family from war-torn Sudan to plastic and palm-treed San Diego? It definitely took some assistance.) I was also a Peace Corps Volunteer and did my share of traveling. I was plugged into international politics and felt like I was doing something to help. In college, I volunteered at the local homeless shelter. I voted. I vote.

But voting is about all I do now, and I can’t even say it is with much knowledge about the issues or the candidates. I usually ask my friends who don’t have children who they are voting for, think about how much I like them and/or agree with their values, then choose to either vote for the same person or the other candidate. Smart, eh?

But really, the mothers of this country are large in number, large in personal interests that policy affects every day, and large in voice (at least at the playground). But where is our collective voice- the one that can make changes that affect our lives and, possibly more importantly, our children’s lives? There are some great blogs out there with important information, but even if I have time to read them, they only excite me, then I’m left wondering what (and how?!) to do next. There are also some go-getters who are trying to rally our troops, and I have signed up, read a few e-mails, gotten excited about helping with a campaign, and then been 100% usurped by the other powers that be. I actually made it one time to the phone to call my senator about an issue that really mattered at the moment (please don’t ask me to remember what it is now.) By the time I got someone on the line- someone from my SENATOR’S office, Boo had landed on his head and was screaming into my shoulder. “Um, yes, hello. Um… (shit!) I would like to let the Senator to know, um, that I don’t support, um– Sunshine, get OFF the table!,” I try, try, try to communicate, “Sorry, I’ll have to call back.” Sweet success.

So I am wondering how anyone else does it? Is it just about making priorities and carving out time (???) to do something to help, whether it is making an (articulate) phone call to the senator’s office, writing a letter to a POW, or volunteering at an orphanage? My yoga teacher has told me several times that I need to just wake up an hour before my children so that I have time to have a daily practice. Excuse me? I feel just fine saying there’s no way I’m waking up at 5:00 AM for yoga- I need more sleep, not more yoga. But it starts making me feel selfish when I use the same excuse for doing something about SOMETHING.

Please, tell me, do you have a voice, and if so, where and how?

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Warning: I plan on memorializing some recipes on this blog. Not that I’m any chef, mind you, but in my early years of parenting, I did obsess over healthy food a bit. Boo gets Sunshine’s dregs, and Baby is in for frozen foods all the way, I’m certain. At least one child got it good.

But really, some of the recipes are so good (and, yes, healthy) that you may even want to test them out on your little ones. So, since both my memory and curiosity about spending time in the kitchen is waning, I need to get these down now.. in case Baby inspires me to bust out the nuts and seeds down the road.

The thing about pancakes is this: you can do whatever you want to them and your children will eat them as long they are round, not a funny color (don’t try adding kale, no matter how tempting), and are served with plenty of maple syrup (do splurge on the real stuff, it’s just as sweet and actually has some good nutrients in it.) Here is one of my pancake recipes. Don’t laugh (or gag), my kids gobble them up.

3/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C. Garbanzo Bean Flour
1/4 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 C. Cream of Wheat
1/4 C. Finely ground walnuts (the champion of nuts. Sometimes I use ground pumpkin seeds instead)
1/4 C Sugar (I don’t belong to the sugar is bad for you camp- as long as it isn’t too much. I’m more interested in the nutrients)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder (aluminum-free)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 & 1/2 C. Milk
1/4 C. Molasses (black strap has the most nutrients, including plenty of iron)
1 egg
1/4 C. applesauce (natural, unsweetened)
(optional) Fold blueberries or any other fruit your kiddies like into batter, or serve on top.

(You could make your own fancy berry, pineapple, or pumpkin syrup, but you will have to find that recipe somewhere else.)

Mix together all the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix together all the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry. The mix should be slightly runny; if it’s not, add a little more milk. And fry ’em up just like grandma used to. Let me know if you and your kiddies try them, and what ya’ll think. Don’t forget the syrup!

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