BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Category: Just stuff

blah blah blah

As I sit and watch the cursor blink, I can hear the furnace running, the microwave beeping and my husband shuffling around the kitchen, making scrambled eggs.  Any moment now, he will call out to me that “breakfast is ready”.  My window reveals a cloudy sky and dark yellow grass with the twinkling of hazy orange yard lights.  It is not quite dawn.  The mountains look black against the clouds and there is fresh and bright white snow at the top.

It is the dead of winter.  The trees are skeletal, standing with their arms open wide – waiting.  In every direction, there is mud, ice, water and the smell of old, damp grass.  There is a threat of snow and we all lie in wait as the snowline moves further and further down the mountain toward the valley floor.

Across the way, a cow is bawling.  It is calving season.  Despite the brown and gray and cold – new calves are being born.  Within minutes they are up on unsteady legs, walking and nursing.  In a few hours, they will be running and playing.  New life, among all of the dead and slumber of winter.  It brings hope for spring.

We all have breakfast; me, the cows and calves, and the magpies.  As dawn arrives, I see that there is green grass among the brown and yellow.  The skeletal trees are waving in the breeze.   The snow is coming and we continue our vigil for spring.

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Ramblings

I slept through the blue moon and lunar eclipse.  In my defense, I thought it was going to happen on Wednesday AND it was very cloudy here.  Turns out, it was on Tuesday.  I did see the full moon in the morning on Thursday and it was gorgeous — so I’m just going to be grateful for that!

It is always good for me to take a vacation away from home and my normal routine.  Otherwise, I would never notice how narrow my world has become.  I always return feeling rejuvenated, with plans for completing tasks and projects that have been too long in my queue.

There are things I would like to learn. Here’s one: how to paint my fingernails.  At almost 60 years old, I still can’t manage painting the nails on my right hand without also painting the skin around the nail.  I know it takes practice but geez – in the meantime, it looks like one of my grandsons painted them for me.  Maybe I should use that as an excuse!  I can accomplish painting my toenails but that’s because I can’t really see them from afar.  Looks great from my viewpoint!

I also would like to learn how to caulk things.  Our house is now 12 years old and there are places – inside and out – that need to be re-caulked.  It is something that I should be able to do — doesn’t look all that difficult.  But just like my nails, while I’m figuring it out and trying to perfect the skill, it will look like one of my grandsons did it!

As for projects, I have a bazillion photos in boxes.  I really need to go through them, sort them and write, at the very least, the year they were taken.  I started that project the year I retired and haven’t gotten back to it…  I am sorting them into individual boxes for my kids.  If I do this now, they won’t have to when I pass.

As for my goals — I want to stop watching so much TV.  It is a difficult habit to break, especially in the winter.   It is cold, gray and there are worlds of adventures to WATCH.  So — walk more, watch TV less.  Read more — watch TV less.  Write more — watch TV less.

I will also work on paying closer attention to my surroundings — so I don’t sleep through the next blue moon, lunar eclipse or zombie apocalypse.

 

Escaping winter

Aloha.  Just returned from my first visit to Hawai’i.  It was quite an adventure.  We stayed at a very nice resort in Waikiki.  The weather was divine.  It was around 77 to 81 degrees with 70% humidity.  My hair curled up like Shirley Temple!

We did a fair bit of sight-seeing and people watching.  There was a lot to see in both realms.

Manoa Falls

 

Walked to Manoa Falls in the drizzling rain (you get wet but you really don’t get cold!).  The falls were beautiful, the trail was muddy and there were a lot of people.  Many people who do not read signs, have you ever noticed that in your travels?  There were signs everywhere and ropes barring entry into the area of the pools but people crawled over the ropes and went swimming in the pools anyway…  Maybe they didn’t speak/read English?  Except, the bright red circle with a slash through it is pretty universal.

Also noticed that a lot of people will not make eye contact, even though you are face to face and have to side-step each other on the trail.  Being from Montana, where you speak to almost everyone you see, we would say “hello” or “good morning”.  Most people responded in kind and were very friendly – with a hint of surprise in their voices that we would address them.

 

 

Pearl Harbor – Arizona Memorial in background.

The Mighty Missouri Battleship

We also visited Pearl Harbor.  It was a full day and very interesting.  Highly recommended — lots to see. This is a great historical sight.  I knew very little about Pearl Harbor other than movies I have seen in the past.  Plan for a whole day if you want to see everything.

 

 

 

 

Sandy Beach – lots of huge waves for body surfing (although we did none of that!).

Notice the curly hair…it was straight before we got to the beach!

Sandy beach was a place described as “large waves, perfect for body surfing – a place where the locals hang out”.  All true.  There is a lifeguard on duty who makes an announcement about the danger of the waves and advises that only “experienced” surfers can go in the water.  I can see why!  It was amazing.  My husband and brother-in-law only dipped their toes.  As advised, they watched the experienced surfers get bowled over instead.

We walked to the Diamond Head Crater on the warmest day.  Great views and LOTS of stairs.  Plenty of people as well but, for the most part, everyone is very courteous on the trails.  For $1.00 admission, it was pretty impressive!  Bring water!  (Sorry, only have one photo — none of the crater?  How vain am I?)

At the top of the Diamond Head crater. Quite a walk – lots of stairs – but well worth it!

 

We had some great meals and believe it or not our favorite place was Kelly O’Neils — an irish pub that had happy hour for most of the day.  Fun people and really good appetizers!  Our best meal was at Chuck’s Cellar – a little out-of-the-way restaurant with GREAT food.  I am not a seafood fan but the steaks were to die for!!!

Will we return to Hawaii?  Possibly – and now we know a few things that we didn’t know before: No need to rent a car – at least not in Waikiki.  We were wise to go midweek – fewer people.  Take an earlier flight home – even though leaving at night on the red eye gives you more time to play, you still have to check out of your hotel and that limits the things you CAN do on your last day.  Lesson learned.

Kelly O’Neils Irish Pub – great music!

It isn’t JUST hair…..

I have a great hairstylist. (For the sake of privacy, I shall call her Susie.)  Nine out of ten times, she is spot-on with the cut and style I ask for.  Last week, was that one out of ten times it just didn’t work out.

I am amazed at how obsessed I am with the state of my hair.  I think about it all day.  Every time I pass a reflective surface, I look and am horrified.  I have a follow-up appointment tomorrow to get it “fixed” but until then I am sick with worry.  What if I am doomed to look like Betty Rubble forever?

In one week, I will be going on vacation.  I cannot be seen in Hawaii with this hair.  I have a backup plan – a hat perhaps?  Which is another blog altogether because I don’t look good in hats either.  There are women who can wear hats — even plain old baseball hats — and look charming.  I’m not one of those.  If my hair was long, I could just pull it up or throw it into a ponytail – but no, it’s short.  Shorter than I had intended when I went in for a little trim.  I need to be able to style my hair and feel good about the resulting appearance as I go out the door and into the world.  I’m fairly certain that no one cares about my hairstyle but I DO.

I am confident that my stylist can cut it into a cute pixie — I’ve been scouring pinterest for example photos and possible styles.  Truth is, I was confident she could trim it into the style of the last photos I brought in….now, I am having doubts.  What if this wasn’t a fluke?  What if I need to find a new stylist?  Horrors!

Deciding to find a new stylist is right up there with deciding to find a new gynecologist – you have that same level of trust and loyalty.  I’ve been going to this stylist for about 10 years.  She only works part-time and has limited appointments available.  I went to someone new once and felt as though I had committed adultery.  The whole time she was cutting my hair – I felt nauseous.  Then, who should I run into on that very day at Target?  My regular stylist!  Not only that, the new stylist did a horrible bit of butchery and I had to go back to Susie to get it “fixed”.   But she took me back and my transgression was never mentioned again.

So – I will trust “Susie” to be able to make amends and somehow transform this hideousness into something a little more manageable.  Wish me luck.

And no, this is not me, but this is what I feel like……Image result for bad hair day hairstyles for short hair

 

Type A

Type A personality.  If you knew me in high school or college, you would never have guessed.  I wonder, is it possible to grow into a Type A personality?  According to most of the articles I’ve read, the personality type is inborn and does not change.  Perhaps it was just lying dormant until I hit my late 20’s, early 30’s?  Up until that point, I was quite laidback (bordering on lazy) and flitted between different dreams and goals — hoping that someone would make all my decisions for me, tell me what to do.  Basically, hiding.

I had some successes during my early years but gave up fairly quickly if things didn’t look like they were going to end perfectly.  “Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.”  For example, in high school I loved playing basketball and had true potential.  I went to college specifically so I could continue playing.  I also enjoyed college and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, initially.  Then, after a few small “failures”, I began to lose desire, fear disapproval, and eventually became ineligible and flunked out of school.  The sad truth is not that I couldn’t do the work, but that I wouldn’t.  (If I could have one “do-over”, that would be it; to go back to school and finish.)

After that, I flailed like a fish on dry land for several years.  In my mid-twenties, I got a job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and “bing”; it hit with full force – Type A transformation.  Over the years, I have become more and more controlling, rigid and impatient with inefficiency!

The theory describes Type A individuals as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics”. They push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

I could easily have become a workaholic except that I had four kids and I just didn’t have the time or energy.  I left the job at 911 because I needed a “day job”; one that would provide more time for my children.  The jobs I’ve had since being a 911 dispatcher were often simple jobs that I made more complicated by trying to achieve something greater than just answering the phone and taking notes at meetings.  I struggled with the inefficiencies of typical office politics and idiocy.  “They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like a moron?” 

Those jobs were just a means of earning an income — certainly not a “career” and by no means anything with status or potential for greatness.  Working beneath your ability is difficult when you are Type A — so you perform your duties to the extreme, above and beyond what is necessary.  You feel abused and belittled; unfulfilled.

Fast forward to retirement.

“If you have a Type A personality, transitioning to retirement may be especially difficult. After you retire, you will no longer have an impressive job title or management responsibilities. Job status will no longer matter. You will be on the same level as any other retiree. You are more likely to feel lost or adrift due to a lack of purpose, structure, and responsibility.” How to Successfully Retire If You Have a Type A Personality – Dave Hughes

The good news?  Because I didn’t have an “impressive job title”, my job status hasn’t changed much since retirement.  Yes, I do feel adrift sometimes but I also feel free from the drudgery, the frustration and the anger.  There is freedom to choose my direction.  Retirement isn’t just rolling with the flow – although there is an awful lot of that!  Type A’s need a plan, a list, a goal – no matter how small.   The difficulty comes in letting go of the time management structure.  There is so much time and every moment of the day does NOT need to be plotted out.

When I first retired, I was so thrilled to have all of this time to write to my hearts’ content.  I could write another play, a memoir, a novel!!!  However, writing as a type A can be difficult.  I will spend hours searching for topics.  I will spend two thirds of that time in an internal battle over whether or not I should be writing at all.  If it isn’t done perfectly, it isn’t worth doing.  Blah, blah, blah.  Can type A personalities also have OCD and ADD?  I wonder…

Quotes in italics are from the article: The 25 Things That People With Type A Do – Paul Hudson

Tips and tricks – part two

***Part two of lessons I’ve learned…I’m not a professional but I have learned some stuff.

Lesson 5 – Labor and Delivery is also different for everyone and different with each child.  All four of my kids were born on Saturday.  The first three started in the early morning with my water “seeping” and they were born in the afternoon.  The fourth, started in the early evening and he was born just 5 hours later. The doctor had to break my water.  Some people have very LONG labors with lots of pushing.  Some have short labors and barely make it to the hospital.  Some women describe their labors as “excruciatingly painful”.  Others forget most of the pain and only remember having the baby placed on their stomach.  For me, I had pain but it was tolerable and I was lucky not to have any complications – none that I remember anyway.  If you’re lucky, your body/mind helps to minimize pain in those memories – until you have your next child, then you remember.

Lesson 6 – Nursing your baby.  This is such a complicated process that they actually have lactation specialists who help you figure it out.  There is some science behind it and it helps to have a little instruction. BUT always remember, this is a natural process that women have been doing for centuries.  Trust your instincts.  As labor is different for everyone – so is nursing.  Some moms are lucky, their milk comes in within a day or so and baby latches on with no problem.  (Latching is when the baby gets the full nipple in their mouth and squeeze on the milk ducts with their suckling/chewing motion.  If they get just the tip of the nipple, they don’t press the ducts and get the milk flowing properly.  It causes mom pain in the nipple and baby can’t get any milk!)   Some babies don’t latch correctly and get discouraged (as do moms).  Lots of crying ensues, on both parts.  With time and practice, baby/mom can figure it out.   Other moms (like me) baby latches on fine but the milk doesn’t come in for a week!  Baby gets colostrum – low in fat but high in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies – until the milk flow begins.  It is not very filling and baby is always hungry.  The only way to incite milk production is by stimulating the breast through nursing.  Some mothers don’t have good milk production, through no choice (or fault) of their own.  Some babies never learn to latch. At some point in the process, baby needs nourishment and will be given formula. This means nothing in terms of womanhood or mother status.   It is disappointing but there are many facets at play, most of which are beyond your control.  And if you simply prefer not to nurse, that’s okay too.  Truly a mom’s prerogative.

Lesson 7 – Raising children is hard.  Oh sure, they are cute and cuddly, they say funny things, you love them beyond measure – but raising them is a lot of work and responsibility.  Most of us don’t have an example to draw from OR the example we have is something we use so as NOT to repeat the same mistakes.  The ONE lesson that I’ve learned – take it or leave it – kids need parents to be parents.  They don’t need any more friends.  They don’t need you to carry them through life, do their homework, make excuses for them, or to make their life as easy as possible.  They have a lot of lessons to learn – self-reliance, kindness, strength, empathy, love.  They learn two ways: A) by your example; and B) by living their lessons.  Don’t give them everything they want.  Give them the tools they need to get what they want OR to deal with not getting everything they desire.  Teach them the difference between want and need, earned and given, confidence and arrogance, strong and dominant, humble and docile.  BUT raising children is hard.  As you are trying to impart these lessons, you are learning lessons of your own.  The most difficult part of parenting is maintaining focus. There are so damn many balls in the air at the same time. Frankly, it is exhausting.   Best tip?  Do the best you can, as often as you can.

Lesson 8 – Choosing a partner.  Often, we don’t necessarily CHOOSE a partner.  If we are lucky, things will fall into place naturally, organically (the new buzz word).  Truth is – you just don’t know.  You have to pay attention.  The problems arise when we KNOW all the red flags, we SEE the red flags, but we IGNORE the red flags because of all the outside influences circling the drain in our head.

Things like:

  • Said subject is cute; a good kisser; funny; good in bed
  • “        “        is nice; has a job/makes good money.
  • “        “       says they loves kids and can’t wait to have one of their own.
  • “        “       is pretty good with their dog.
  • “        “       says they REALLY LOVE ME (more than they’ve ever loved anyone)
  • Everyone keeps asking if you’re married or have kids yet.
  • You are getting close to 30 and are ready to settle down.
  • You are ready to have kids and you are not getting any younger…
  • You want to have a partner to share holidays and special occasions with (a.k.a. you’re tired of being alone).

BUT if you think that those red flags aren’t a big deal…if you think you can either change him/her OR that you can tolerate those red flags – you really need to take a reality check.  It doesn’t work that way.  What happens is that YOU have to change.  YOU have to revise your thinking and forfeit your sense of self.  You may think you can – I know I did.  Eventually, your soul rebels and you realize it isn’t worth sacrificing yourself.  Even for your kids.  They deserve the BEST you, always.

So, here are red flags.  You know them, you’ve seen them – but just for posterity, I’ll list them anyway:

If that special someone:

  • Tries to tell you what to wear, eat, drink or buy.
  • Tries to tell you how to be “more”: skinny, healthy, fit, smart, friendly, professional, etc. etc.
  • Wants to go shopping with you to “help” you or just to “be together” (groceries, clothes or anything) – once in a while is great but ALL THE TIME?
  • When shopping, contends that you buy what they want/choose because it is “better”.
  • Wants to control the money/finances.
  • Starts criticizing your friends and wants to make NEW friends as a couple.
  • Wants to do everything together.
  • Talks about raising kids a little too exuberantly with plans of what kind of parent they will be, wanting to share ALL duties (even though other household duties are not currently “shared”).
  • Conveniently has an explanation as to why duties are not shared (maybe they work longer hours, bring home more income, or something equally lame).
  • Describes all previous partners as “crazy”, “possessive” or some other manifestation of lunacy.

How are you treated?  What happens when you are sick?  What happens when they are sick?  Is there an adequate and equitable measure of care and concern?  Is there a pattern of obliviousness to your feelings, goals and desires – almost to the point where you are being told how you SHOULD feel?  How do they treat other people?  Your friends?  Your family?  Are they friendly in their presence but then hyper-critical in private?  Do they avoid activities with your family/friends?  What do your family and friends think of them?  BonusTip: if more than 2 friends or family members express concern don’t pass it off as jealousy or cynicism – step back and take a good hard look.

In every relationship, there is give and take.  That is as it should be.  Sometimes – often times – things are not 50/50.  BUT it is a dance the partners share.  Being together is a lifelong negotiation with many outside influences: difficult jobs, illness, children issues, extended family issues, money difficulties, a house full of waxing and waning emotions.  Keeping it together requires awareness, flexibility, humor and strength.  If we’re lucky, we find someone with the capacity for those things and together we build a relationship.  Side tip: it won’t be perfect and it won’t always be enjoyable – that’s how love works.  Despite moments of anger, annoyance or intolerance; things will circle back around.  Over and over again.

More later…

New year?

2018.  What will happen in the coming year?  I will turn 60.  Yikes.  My husband will turn 70.  Yikes, again.  With the passing of another year, it is inevitable to think of how time passes, yes?   New Year has a different meaning as you age…

I remember when I was in high school and we read the book, “1984” in Freshman English.  It seemed so far into the future, I found myself hoping I was still alive by then.  Of course, I was alive.  I had my second child that year.   I was 26 years old.

I remember hearing my dad talk about all the changes he had witnessed in his lifetime; the incorporation of televisions, cars, tractors, running water, indoor plumbing; the “modernization” of his world.  I find myself ticking off a list of my own.

Remember the microwave oven?  I don’t remember the year, or the first one I owned but I remember thinking how remarkable it was…like magic.  You were really lucky to own one and they were huge.  Now, you can get them in all sizes and colors – with lots of additional features.  Every home has one.

I remember in the early 80’s when VCR’s were the big thing – you rented a VCR and videos!  You had to haul that big thing home, connect all the appropriate wires.  Of course, people began buying their own VCR’s and just renting the videos.  Every Friday night involved a trip to the video store to rent movies for the weekends entertainment.  Then came satellite television (for those of us “country dwellers” who couldn’t get cable).  Now, you can get a multitude of movie channels, sports channels, kids TV, Nature channels, history channels – all from the comfort of your own couch.  Of course, you pay for it but it seems like it is free…..  In addition to that, there are “smart” TV’s that practically turn themselves on!  I happen to know that my TV is much smarter than I am!

My first cell phone was a big heavy thing, with a huge battery and an antenna.  It was only used in an emergency.  Now?  Phones are a mainstay for most people.  A lifeline — for music, movies, the internet, texting, stapchatting, instagramming…we are CONSTANTLY on the hook to our phones.  What would we do without them? We have blue tooth, speaker, hands free in the car….we can talk at any point and with unlimited restrictions (other than a signal and enough battery).

The actual use of a phone has changed tremendously.  Back in the day,  most households had a phone.  It was usually centrally located in the house and if you were lucky, it had a long enough cord so you could move around a bit while talking.  When I was younger, we still had party lines — multiple houses on a single phone line —  so if someone was using the phone you could pick up the receiver and hear their conversation.  It must have been in the late 60’s early 70’s when our valley finally got private lines for everyone.   Amazing.

Billing for the phone was a base rate plus additional charges for every long distance call.  Long distance calls were frivolous ventures and only to be used as necessary; long distance charges were carefully monitored.  While people may have chatted extensively on the phone with local calls, long distance calls were carefully scrutinized.  You stated your business then were done.

When I went to college, because of the concern about the cost of long distance calls,  a call home was a rarity – once a week at most.  We wrote letters instead.  We even had a code when we needed to let our parents know we arrived somewhere safely, we would call home “collect” and our parents would refuse to accept the charges and they would know that we arrived at our destination without costing a cent!  In this day and age, collect calls are a rarity, unless it is from someone in jail!

 

If you needed to tell someone something, you had to wait until you got to a phone.  If you wanted to see your grandchild in the next state, you had to wait for a photo in the mail.  Now, you can have moment to moment contact with Skype or Facetime.  Job interviews, banking, scheduling are done over the phone.  You don’t hustle door to door to get a job, you go on line and submit an electronic application.  An APP sorts through the applications and eliminates those who are unqualified.  You get a text or email thanking you for your interest, but no thanks.  What a world, what a world.

Most young people probably don’t even remember pay phones.  Its hard to find one these days!  They used to be on every corner and we all used to carry a dime, just in case.  Of course, the last time I used a payphone (in the 80’s?), it was up to a quarter per call.  I don’t even know how much the charge is now!  You probably have to use a credit card.

The first home I remember living in was an old granary that my dad and grandpa converted into living space.  It was a three room shed with no insulation other than tar paper wrapping to block the wind.  There was a small bedroom, a kitchen and a living room.  I think there was a pump for water in the kitchen, but no water heater. Water was heated on the stove.  Mom and dad slept in the bedroom and had a curtain for a door.  My two siblings and I slept in the living room on the couch and an old twin bed.  We had a wood stove for heat and another for cooking.  Our bathroom was an old outhouse just up the path from the house.  I don’t remember a lot about that house other than from photos I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard — I’m not even sure how long we lived there.  What I do know, is that we’ve come a long way from there!  What changes will 2018 hold?

Tips and tricks – part one

I have been alive for 59 years and 4 months.  Hard to believe.  It has been a long road of learning, changing and updating.  Here is a golden review:

Lesson 1 – life is transition.  Nothing remains the same, no matter how hard you try to squeeze it into the little plastic box.  People enter and exit your life on their own timetable and at their whim.  Not much you can control about that – other than how you deal with your gain and loss.  There’s always a chance they will cycle back through at some later point, but there is also the chance that they won’t.  Be open for both possibilities.

Lesson 2 – Motherhood is not easy.  Babies are adorable, cuddly, soft and warm.  They will love you forever.  That is not in dispute.  BUT they are also a lifelong commitment of pooping, puking, crying, keeping you up at night, making you worry from dawn till dusk.  There will be illnesses, trips to the principal’s office, fighting, injuries with trips to the ER, an endless array of financial needs (shoes, clothes, costumes, science fair projects, sports uniforms, dancing shoes, pianos, band instruments, braces, winter coats, summer gear, vacations, school trips), as a mom you are “on” 24/7.  It’s easier with a partner who can (and will) tag in when you are spent.  Someone who is there for the long haul and will learn how to anticipate the needs of said infant/child as well as you do or a close facsimile.  **See lesson 3 part 2

Lesson 3 – Partnership in a relationship is never 50/50.  Each person brings their own skillset to the relationship.  In the household, there will be a division of labor that works for each couple.  This division is constantly under revision, depending on the situation, and both partners must be flexible, vigilant and mindful.  Small examples:  If you make a mess, clean up after yourself.  Simple lesson for children AND adults.  This includes dribbles on the toilet seat.  Dads, teach your little boys (by example) to look before they flush and wipe up after themselves.  Hair in the sink or the shower drain?  Clean it out BEFORE you leave the bathroom.  Cooking meals – what works?  Who comes home first?  If one cooks, the other cleans up.  Cooking together can be fun too.  Yard work – what works?   Every “job” requires effort and elbow-grease BUT also provides opportunity for togetherness.  The key point is that both parties are fully aware that this is a partnership – the desire to play an active role is important.

Lesson 3, part 2 – Partnership in a relationship changes drastically when offspring are born.  It is unavoidable.  Mom becomes a guernsey cow (or it can feel that way) feeding and in total focus on the new family member.  Dad may feel neglected.  It’s up to both of you to modify how you view your relationship, and how you contribute to maintaining your relationship.  The partnership is now a UNIT.  There will be diapers to change, books to read, extra laundry and cleanup.  If you thought your life was in constant motion before, welcome to the hurricane.   The dance has changed but it is possible to continue building your relationship/family.  Again, flexibility is paramount.  Dad’s need to participate in the care of the child – a father’s bond is as important as the mother’s.  The best bonding mechanism is when dads have an active role; feeding, changing, bathing, rocking, reading.  Moms need to let dad “in” – he will do things differently than you do.  That’s the way it works, and works best.   Child-rearing is difficult.  Work hard to find the middle road, always.  And it doesn’t stop with infancy and toddlerhood – dads need to continue feeding, reading, transporting (pickup or drop-off at daycare, school, sport/dance practices, etc. etc.), cooking, shopping, cutting hair, learning to braid hair, etc. etc.  Remember: The division of labor is constantly under revision.

Lesson 4 – Pregnancy is a crapshoot.  Some people can get pregnant on a wink and a smile.  Others require IVF or other fertility assistance.   Every pregnancy is different.  Some women claim they never felt better than when they were pregnant.  Some women have just the cutest little basketball belly and from the back, you can’t even tell they are pregnant.  That was not me.  I felt like shit for the first trimester and into the second.  Constantly nauseated and looking for something to eat that would settle my stomach and make me feel better.  I gained far too much weight!  The last thing I ever felt like eating was salad or vegetables.  Bread, pasta and potatoes were my only saving grace.  I was a huge pregnant woman – big everywhere.  Toward the end, I had a huge round face and swollen ankles.  From the back, I looked like Sasquatch.   In regards to my heavy weight gain, my obstetrician (a man) said, “Well, you’re the one who has to lose it”.   And he was right…

To be continued….more lessons ahead.

Breaking the circle of idiocy

As a society, we complain far too much. As a person, I complain far too much. Why do we expect perfection out of an ordinary day?

It’s always something (as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say). If it snows, it is either too much or too little. If it’s cold, its too cold. We take a trip and complain that we have to wait too long for our flight, or cab, or train. We stay in a hotel and it isn’t clean enough, the staff isn’t friendly enough, the room isn’t big enough. Our own house is never clean enough, big enough or pretty enough. Our car isn’t new enough, clean enough or big enough. (Notice how many times things are never BIG enough? We aim for BIG, better, BEST – that is the end goal; having the biggest and best of everything – and if we don’t…well, we complain about it.)

Complaining is a habit. One that we can break but it takes an effort. I’ve become aware of my complaining habit a number of times and have thought of ways to change it but it is so easy to revert back to complaining. Old habits die hard, right? This is what I call the circle of idiocy. We know we should change, we make a plan for change but through our oblivious nature, we slip right back into our comfort zone, what we know best.

THIS time around, I am trying to look at things the way my grandsons do. If you want to know how to stop complaining, look at how a toddler views the world. A car is just a car – it can go fast or slow. A house is warm and cozy. Christmas trees are beautiful because of the lights. The snow is fantastic! Mud is even better! It is fun to get wet in the rain.

Of course, the difference is that toddlers don’t have to worry about driving in inclement weather, or shoveling snow, or getting sopping wet before work, or buying Christmas gifts. They have all of their needs met by someone else. Still, the innocence, joy and nonjudgmental way of a toddler’s life view can be emulated, at least in part – there can be a happy medium. While we all have obligations and daily drudgery, we can try to avoid allowing the discontent to rule the day.

Here’s a mantra: “What Would A Toddler Say?”

Adult: Oh, I’m so fat, I can’t fit anything. Uhhhhh.
Toddler: I love blue, I’ll wear blue.

Adult: Shit, it snowed AGAIN!
Toddler: Oh, it’s so pretty. Can I play?

Adult: I have so much to do today, I just want to sleep in.
Toddler: I love breakfast. I think I’ll have eggs.

Okay…that’s over-simplified but in reality most of the negative things that we ruminate over are brought on by ourselves so we have the power to minimize their hold over us. I’m going to try…

Side-bar: if you don’t know a toddler to use as an example, think of your dog or cat. What would they do? Do they complain about anything?

Rituals

It is just two weeks until Christmas.  The month of December is always filled with parties and gatherings.  It seems as though every day is booked.  As a retiree, it is much less so but there are still Christmas-y things to do and attend.  There are gifts to buy, cookies to bake, friends to greet and grandkids to play with – it is a very FULL season!  It is a season filled with rituals.

I remember the days of Christmas programs, “Santa” parties Iwhere Santa arrives and hands out gifts!) and family parties.  Christmas shopping was daunting, always trying to find great and desired gifts (in equal numbers) and trying to get that dollar to stretch…  Nowadays, my immediate family draws names for our gift exchange and I am so grateful.  It is so much easier! You can buy one NICE gift for just ONE person.  There isn’t the usual pressure of finding multiple gifts, for multiple people and staying within your budget.  Of course, as a mom, I can’t bear not to get my kids SOMETHING but it is usually something small; socks, a serving bowl, a gift card, a screwdriver.  And the main staple for the stocking – a new toothbrush!  The gift shopping ritual and the toothbrush in the stocking ritual…

In my larger, extended family, we have a white elephant gift exchange.  Some people make gifts, some buy real gifts, some buy gag gifts and during the exchange, you can steal a gift.  It is a fun way to give and receive and there is no pressure to find the perfect gift for that difficult person who has everything!  The gift giving ritual…

When we first started gathering for this annual Christmas party, the rule was that your gift MUST be hand-made.  This was difficult for those who don’t build, sew, knit/crochet, or have some special artistic talent.  (Most of us do, but we just don’t feel that confident in our skills or have the time to come up with an idea and then throw it together on time!)  Eventually, the party evolved to being able to BUY something that was hand-made.  Currently, it is free-flowing: build it or buy it, whatever works for you!  The roll with the flow ritual…

There are those in the family who are extremely creative and talented.  Each year, those are the coveted gifts and you can easily identify them because they are wrapped in newspaper and bailing twine and they are LARGE and an odd shape.  My cousin, Charlie, builds something new and different every year.  Could be a bench, or a hall tree, or a basket made of rope and antlers.  Beautiful.  My uncle, Dib, is a welder and he will make some brave, new creation also.  Both usually incorporate horseshoes – a family trademark.  The creative artists’ ritual…

According to the rules of stealing, each gift can only be stolen twice so everyone has to strategically plan how they will steal a gift and actually be able to win possession of it.  There is some serious plotting between couples or in families.  We draw numbers to determine the order of opening gifts so that is an added obstacle in tactics and maneuvering as everyone gets into position to snag the gifts on the final steal.  The thief’s ritual… 

Each year, I make an afghan.  I start it in the spring and work on it throughout the year.  I am usually crocheting the last few rows the week of the party.  In a normal year, I will also crochet other afghans depending on how many babies are born into our family that year.  Crocheting is the one thing I can do. The crocheting ritual…

An afghan is a silly little thing.  It can be used on chilly nights – a lap blanket while watching TV or an extra cover on a bed.  With the advent of soft, furry, warm throw blankets, the crocheted afghan is becoming an “old” thing, fast approaching extinction. As I crochet each blanket, I am aware that it is something that will likely be tossed aside, used for a dog bed, put away in a storage box, or given to goodwill at some future time.  I will never know one way or the other.  However, I do take pleasure choosing the yarn and trying new patterns.  Of course, when I see the finished product, I see all of the little mistakes that no one else would notice.  I don’t view it as something beautiful or wonderful – but as something I “finished”.  Aren’t we always hypercritical of our own work?  The worrying ritual…

I’ve lost track of the number of afghans I’ve made but I’m proud of them just the same.  I suppose it is the same for any hand-made gift.  People don’t save things as they used to – myself included.  But I do have the afghans that my grandmother made for me.  Perhaps it isn’t so silly after all.  Years from now, I will be gone and someone will be saying, “oh yes, Bobaloo made that back in the day…”  The memory ritual…