No Technology Weekend

Last week did not end up being the massive overwhelm I was mentally and emotionally preparing myself for. Multiple clients dropped off my schedule leaving me ample time to complete all the documentation I was working on without adding any new documentation to my load. I don’t get paid when I don’t see a client since I am not an hourly employee so I lose out in that respect, all in all I think it created a much needed balance for me though and I was definitely sending my thanks to the Universe.

Because I was expecting this hectic week to happen my husband and I made plans for the weekend that were sure to also offer balance. It was a tech free weekend in our home (with the exception of one hour of TV last night to watch Game of Thrones).

The tech free idea for the weekend actually wasn’t an intentional plan we made, it rose of out necessity more or less.

Saturday we went and picked up our niece and nephew in the morning and brought them to our house for a play date.

We got to my parent’s home where the kids had stayed the night and were greeted by my nephew charging out of the house ready to go, hold on buddy let us say Hi to Mimi before we leave. I could sense that he was in a mood. When I opened the front door I understood why, the house was awake and busy and my nephew gets easily overstimulated.

My niece, Moo, ran to the door, tablet in hand and excitedly told me to come dance with her. She was playing that dancy Justin Timberlake song, I don’t know what it’s called. We jumped around letting our arms fly free while my husband collected the sports equipment that my nephew wanted to bring with him. When we finally got to the car and got everyone strapped in the kids both immediately retreated into their tablets. I hopped in the front seats, leaned back, and took both tablets. Let’s talk.

I told the kids we were going to have 10 minutes of social time then I would give the tablets back for the remainder of the car ride.

They did well, my nephew struggling a bit more than my niece.

When we got home I put the tablets away because the second we walked in the house my nephew asked me if there was a quiet room where he could play on his tablet alone. Um No. We are going to spend time together doing activities and playing games.

This is what he does at his house and when he comes to my parent’s house. I feel like I never see him anymore because he retreats into the tablet. I don’t know if it the fact that he is on summer vacation so he doesn’t have that structure of a daily school schedule or if all the changes taking place in his life are becoming too much (he went from a child with one sibling to a child with three in less than three years plus his family is in a major transition time with getting ready to move out of state). It might also be the age, he is going on 11. It is quite possibly a combination of everything listed and many other factors I have not considered. All I knew is that I was not going to lose him on a day when the weather was beautiful and we had plenty of ways to be together.

We tie-dyed shirts together, then my husband made the kids grilled cheese with milk for lunch, after lunch my husband took my nephew to the park to play all manner of sports while Moo and I painted together in the living room. After painting and sports the kids both played with my husband and Lu in my canvas tent while I cleaned up a bit. Then my husband and my nephew played a game at the kitchen table while I took Moo to the park for a few minutes.

tech free1

On the way back to my parent’s house rather than give the kids their tablets for the car ride we played car games from my husband and I’s childhood. The kids had a blast and were both super engaged. I am not knocking tech for kids, this will probably be our last play date with these two before they move out of state though so I really wanted to have them fully, without distractions. It was a great day.

When got to my parent’s place one of the twins, the one I call Banana, was being extra clingy to me. We have never done play dates with the twins because of their age, we started with Moo when she was three and the twins are not quite there. I think Banana would have come though if we let her.

So Banana and I spent sometime together that evening. It began to rain so I picked her up and we went on the back porch where we stuck a hand out past the railing to feel the water on our fingers. Banana looked around the yard as I pointed out and named all the plants that were being watered by the rain.

I was glad to have a little time with each of them on Saturday, even the baby and I had our moment. I have a feeling that may have been my last big day with all of them like this, I am grateful for the memories.

Yesterday my husband and I took care of a few chores as per our usual Sunday routine. We allowed plenty of time for quiet as well. I took two naps which felt a bit overindulgent AND needed. The second one barely counts though because Lu horned in on my napping spot ten minutes in which woke me up.

tech free

At the end of the week my brother-in-law is flying in for a visit so today I am readying our home for company. Tonight I will attend Red Tent and am excited for the connection. It’s funny because this is my second time going, I expected my nerves to be less, that is not the case though. Half of the nervous feeling is just unbridled excitement, the other half is regular old nerves though. It is not easy being new, it is not easy to put yourself out there and show up alone to an event where you know few people well and allow yourself to be truly seen and experience real connection with other women. It is not easy AND it is worth it.

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Opening My Arms

i love you moo

Something, a theme, that has been coming up for at least 6 months now in my writing, my meditation, and my personal healing work is this idea of needing to set some things down so my arms are free to receive what I am really meant to be holding.

One example that I am willing to share in regards to this coming up in my writing is this piece I wrote not too long ago. It was my first true reflection on this idea.

This came up again for me in a big way this week.

I found out that my brother’s family is moving out of state in the near future. My brother is a recent graduate as well and his post-grad job is taking him north. It is the exact job he wanted so I am elated for his good fortune AND I am heart broken.

I am not going to beat around this bush one bit. I will miss my brother’s entire family, I will miss all of my nieces and nephews, AND I know I am going to feel as though my insides are being ripped out when my oldest niece leaves. Moo is one of my all-time best buddies. She is my bosom friend, my kindred spirit. I know this little soul was put on this earth so I could be her auntie and she could be my niece. I am devastated.

I have been taking it in stride. I am holding it together because I think a piece of me is a little embarrassed to show just how heart broken I feel. I will give myself the time I need to experience my pain, I will hold this and love this piece of myself well.

For right now what I am comfortable exploring is the fact that I am happy for my family. There is an AND of course. It is both devastation AND happiness, for now I am discussing one, this does not mean I am ignoring all of the other feelings coming up – all parts are welcome and I will take my time to be with each of them.

So my happiness is this: my family has trouble with boundaries and codependency and I think this will allow everyone to stand on their own for a while and each individual family unit figure out who they are and what works for them without pressure from other members of the family to do or be anything.

My husband and I have been setting boundaries for years, this will allow my brother’s family and my parents to catch up. My brother brought this up himself as a benefit to this move.

Here is what I am sitting with right now for myself: relating back to this idea of setting somethings down so my arms are open to receive. Maybe at this moment in my life I am meant to set Moo down so my arms are open to receive my next big relationship, that with my own children. Moo and her big brother have been my babies since they were born, especially Moo. I will love Moo no less and miss her no less AND I will be open to receiving.

My husband and I are not quite ready, we will know when the time is right, and when that time comes I believe my arms will open.

The Universe has divine timing, I know this to be true. I am not trying to spiritual bypass this situation, I am open to all of the feelings that come up, AND I can see the Universe at work here.

I Am My Father’s Daughter

Me and Dad

I have his hammer toes. One, two, a toe in the middle of each foot. Crooked over, a knuckle reminiscent of possible ape ancestors. Human evolution skipped my feet. I have Dad to thank for that.

Broken skin, forgetting my phone in the refrigerator for the second time this week, forgot to lock the back door. Absent minded professor, I walk around inside my own head only half conscious of the outside world. Just like Dad I am a walking bruise of forgetfulness and day dreams.

A yes man who bends corners and break rules. He is a walking paradox of eager to please and unwilling to conform. Just like my father I ruffle feathers and attempt to smooth them down all at the same time. We do not follow blindly – we respectfully ask questions.

The only two in our family who could whistle through our gaps growing up. I have my father’s teeth. The dentist told me I had a big mouth when explaining that even with my gaps there was still room for my wisdom teeth to grow in without having to be removed; I said thanks, I get it from my Dad.

Dennis the Menace and Calamity Jill our nicknames say it all. Trouble makers, tricksters, telling a joke, plotting a scheme. I am my father’s daughter.

Today driving home from a client session I realized again just how much I am my father’s daughter. For 20 years he worked from his car, going out to client’s homes to perform his job as a public servant. He enjoyed the freedom and resisted being shackled to a desk 9-5. I am my father’s daughter, paving my own way, enjoying the freedom, bucking against the traditional 9-5.

There is no getting around it. I am the apple, he is the tree. I am my father’s daughter.

 

 

 

Playing Pretend

Last night at my parents house my husband and I were playing pretend with my 7 year old niece, Moo. We were all superheros and we were working on a plan to hoodwink Robin (of Batman and Robin) because he had pranked Batman (played by Moo) by painting the Batcar Pink. Moo made me Wonder Woman and my husband Beer Man. When we asked who Beer Man was she said the guy who gets everyone beer. I almost cried laughing. Neither of us could figure out where she came up with this as my husband rarely drinks and her parents do not drink AT ALL, beer should not really be on her radar. Then when she started coming up with more villains we figured it out..

She named one villain The Evil Mimosa. What?!

We saw her with one of my mom’s Home and Garden magazines. She was flipping through the magazine and whatever page she landed on that is how she was coming up with names. She had landed on a page with recipes for craft cocktails and home brewed beer. Suddenly everything made sense, my husband and I thought it was pretty funny.

We all dressed up to get into character. I took the cotton scarf I was wearing off and tied it over my shoulders as a cape and then put on a pink fuzzy hat I found in the dress up box. Moo found a black magicians cape that was perfect for batman, then my husband tied a scarf as a cape as well along with a pink fuzzy winter scarf thrown over his shoulders.

So Batman, Wonder Woman, Beer Man, and Bat Dog (played by Lucy) were hatching a plan to bamboozle The Evil Mimosa and Robin at their secret hideout AKA the dog bed next to the fire place in the living room.

The big plan was that we were going to adopt all the animals at the zoo/pound and out them on Robin and The Evil Mimosa’s doorstep so when they try to leave their hideout they can’t.

Moo and I rounded up all the stuffed animals in the kid’s playroom at my parents house, snuck into the living room on our hands and knees James Bond Style – Lu trotting behind us trying to figure out our game-, and stacked them up in the dog’s bed. Their dog was befuddled.

A few minutes later I saw my husband, Moo, and Lucy dashing across the house, my husband swinging the ends of his pink scarf like nunchucks. They must have been in a battle with Robin or The Evil Mimosa. In that moment I was so freaking in love with him I could have popped.

Playing pretend never stopped being fun; my husband is grounded and realistic AND he totally gets it. I love him so hard.

pretend1

We’re Teaching Her, She’s Teaching Us

lulu

A few weeks ago I felt the first inclining of being shamed for the way I parent. The way I parent my fur baby specifically. It was awful. I soooo do not look forward to all the shamey feelings that will undoubtedly come when we are raising children You always hear the horror stories from first time parents who have been shamed because EVERYONE thinks they know better than you on how to raise your kids.

My first little taste was bitter and no surprise, it came from my mother; because mothers always know best.

Now I can admit that Lu does not have the best manners. I can also admit that up to this point neither myself or my husband gave a single shit about that fact. When we adopted Lu she was under weight and it was quite clear that she had a story, a story we would never know. She was timid, did not use her voice, and was very wary of men. To this day if my husband and I start talking too loud because we are excited she gets anxious like she is afraid something is going to happen. So from the beginning we have tried our best to make her feel safe and secure and we have allowed her to be the dog that she is.

For the most part this has been a nonissue. One of her nicknames is Katie Nana because of she nanas all the babies in the family. If a baby starts to cry she immediately goes over and wants to help soothe. She is a happy girl with the sweet disposition boxers are known for, we regularly discuss our gratitude for our baby.

Like I admitted before though, Lu does not have great manners. She jumps, she slobbers, she begs for food (my dad taught her that one), she pulls on the leash, now that she has found her voice she loves to run and bark at anyone and everyone when she is in the back yard. We have been okay with all of this because she has gone from completely timid and afraid to all personality and happy as can be. Maybe we have been a little overindulgent though? At least that is how I ended up feeling after my Mom had to set a boundary with me about her behaviors a few weeks ago.

When Lu greets people she gets super excited and jumps. No one in my family (because that is who we are talking about for the most part) has ever complained about it and we are all dog people so my husband and I didn’t consider it an issue. The thing is, Lu has ripped three of my mother’s nice blouses from jumping and recently busted the lid of another family member’s Tervis cup due to her excitement and jumping at the front door.

I am mortified to admit that it took my mother saying something for me to get that it was a problem. Total shame response here. I mean I just love her so much and she is such a sweet girl and everyone else loves her too. I just wasn’t seeing it.

I think a piece of my blindness was because until she damaged something that belonged to an extended family member it had only been my mother who was having an issue in terms of possessions getting ruined. My mom is grandma and I guess in my head grandma didn’t count? Ugh. So much shame admitting that.

A few weeks ago my mother delicately started setting boundaries which led me to have a conversation with my husband about it.

My parents don’t set boundaries. My family in general has a hard time with boundaries, in that they do not exist. My entire family felt it when my husband and I got married and started setting clear boundaries, then I started therapy and there were even more boundaries. They have all gotten used to my husband and I have not seen or heard anyone else in the family assert any with us or each other. To each their own, as long as our boundaries are being respected I am not going to concern myself with how the rest of the family handles boundaries.

So my Mom setting a boundary, even in the way she did which was incredibly passive, is a big deal and I absolutely want to respect it. It was time for my husband and I to have a talk and make a plan.

The first part of our talk was all about us looking at the situation objectively, stepping outside of our role as her puppy parents and the overwhelming adoration we feel for her. Next step was determining what our truth was about the situation. Then finally we made a plan.

Our talk led us to realize, yes this is not ideal, there is absolutely room for improvement; we have not failed as puppy parents (even though I was sitting in some major shame), AND we will teach our old dog a new trick – how to greet people gently.

She is a quick learner and is totally disproving what they say about older dogs not being able to learn new tricks, although five is not that old I guess.

Working with her on something is not a big deal. The issue for me was the shame I felt. I felt immense shame that I had not registered that as a result of her behavior my family’s possessions were being damaged, I mean my mom has three ruined blouses she cannot wear now. How many broken cups and ripped blouses was it going to take for me to wake up.
I felt shame that I was feeling like she was bad, even though no one directly said that to me and I don’t actually believe that. I wanted her to be able to be who she is and now I am having to go back and say, but wait don’t do that. I am someone who believes that all parts are welcome but now I am going to tell my dog all parts EXCEPT for the part of you that jumps is welcome. That doesn’t feel good.
I felt shame that I was a bad puppy parent. I let all of this happen, I didn’t teach her better. I failed her.

I am grateful for Lucy. I am grateful for the lessons she brings me. I know the shame I felt through this situation will pale in comparison to the shame I will experience when my husband and I are navigating our roles as someday parents. She have given me a taste to prepare me for what comes next. I got to start my work with self-compassion and gentleness in my role as mother early thanks to Lu.

I am reminded of this post I wrote around Mother’s Day and I am able to take a deep breath. I am going to fail. Failing is inevitable and necessary. I can fail AND love my babies with all my heart. I can fail AND be a good mother. I can fail. It is okay to fail. I am okay.

Summer Sleepover

Moo Sleepover

We do summer sleepovers with my niece and nephew every summer. It gives them something to look forward to in their final weeks of school and it gives us an opportunity for meaningful one on one time with each of them.

This year my 6 year old niece, Moo, decided she wanted to ride the train. Her brother did this with us when he was about her age and loved it. Friday we picked Moo up at her house and, by way of a café for some lunch, we headed for the train station near our home. The train station is on the hospital property which she found very impressive as this hospital campus has many large interesting looking buildings.

The train ride was a huge success. Her eyes were wide with wonder throughout and I was completely tickled by her questions and our train conversations. She and my husband spent the entire time talking about math and science in the form of how the earth turns on its axis while following its path around the sun. They then calculated together how long it would take Moo to run around the entire earth if she were running 5 miles per hour without ever stopping. Then it was Moo saying how what if everyone who lived on earth could fit on a train together and what that would look like.  It was all very cute to listen to and I always love watching my husband teach, the man is natural born Bill Nye the Science Guy when it comes to breaking down big topics for children.

After the train Moo had a long list of things she wanted to do. We started with her glitter sensory bottle. I learned how to make these because they can be a good expressive arts therapeutic tool. My sample is blue and when shaken up it reminds me of a galaxy full of stars, and as intended I feel calm watching all the beautiful glitter dissipate back to the bottom of the bottle. Here is a link that will walk you through how to make different kinds of sensory bottles if you are interested: DIY Sensory Bottle . I do mine a little different but the way it is explained in that tutorial absolutely works as well.

Moo loved this art project. She made a rainbow glitter bottle.

Once we finished we made naan pizzas for dinner and all sat down to eat together. After dinner we started on Moo’s big project. Moo told us over lunch that she wanted to make a book so that is what we did. I had told her over lunch to be thinking about what story she will tell in the book, and the girl delivered HUGE. I was so impressed. Moo has been writing stories for a while now. It started with her having me draw her a picture and then based on the picture she would make up a story. Then she graduated to making her own illustrations and stories. She has never been given the time, attention, or supplies to make her own book though so when she brought this up over lunch I wanted to make sure to empower her to follow through.

She told the story of Coral the Invisible Mermaid. Coral is a mermaid who lives in Coral Bay and is friends with all of the fish. One day Coral finds a magic necklace and makes a wish to be invisible. The wish comes true and every time Coral puts the necklace on she becomes invisible. Coral is then able to use this magic power to save her fishy friends when coral bay is under attack by a crocodile. Coral uses her power of invisibility to sneak up on the crocodile with a net and capture him. The book closes with Coral and her fish friends celebrating.

On the back cover of the book we did an About the Author, wherein Maddie wrote that she chose to write this story because mermaids are fun and it would be fun to have a super power and help people.

I was just so impressed with her and I know she was super proud of herself which is such an important feeling for a kid to have. Yes, it is nice when they make Mommy and Daddy proud but for a child to feel pride for themselves, separate from anyone else, that does so much for them.

The  next day we picnicked at a near by park we like and fed ducks before heading home. I think this was our best sleepover with Moo to date.

Moo art

Bowl Full of Cherries

cherries

When I was 9(ish) I was sitting on the loveseat after school eating cherries. My brother was sitting on the floor of the family room playing Nintendo. I was watching, bored. I wanted him to play with me and I knew he wouldn’t so I devised a plan for a game of cat and mouse.

I leapt off the couch, dove in front of him and turned off his Nintendo. Holy hell was he pissed! He yelled at me, leaned forward onto his knees, turned it back on and continued playing.

A few minutes later I once again set my cherry bowl aside, jumped from the couch to the TV and switched off the Nintendo in the middle of his game. He was furious as he once again leaned forward onto his knees and reached to turn it back on. This time while he was leaning forward on his knees I took one of the cherries from my bowl and placed it where he had been sitting on the floor. A moment later, squish! My brother’s very favorite bright yellow denim shorts (it was the early 90’s) were covered in cherry juice the color of blood. My brother’s very favorite shorts now had a bloody butt.

With that the room exploded!

First with my gut twisting roarous laughter followed immediately by a mad scramble as I catapulted myself off the couch and down the hall to hide in safety behind my locked bedroom door; visions of my brother’s hot breath on my neck as I sprinted away.

I do not have a proper ending for the story because I do not actually remember the ending. What I can tell you is the fact that I do not remember means it more than likely ended badly for me as I have always been quite skilled at blocking the unpleasant stuff out.

I got my game of cat and mouse though, even if it was maybe more than I had bargained for.

I have never lived this story down in my family. And while yes, now it is told as a funny anecdote from time to time, I still have shameful feelings about it. My brother was just trying to relax after what was more than likely a difficult day at school- he had a lot of those. Then here comes little sister starved for connection and willing to take extreme measures to be seen. I feel bad for the times I made things harder, I wish I hadn’t. I never wanted to be just another bully in his life, quite the opposite actually.

Sometimes I wonder if I forced him into the role he played in my life when we were growing up. If I had been less of a pest, less needy, less like myself, would he have laid off? Or was I always meant to be his punching bag?