Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happymiss broccoli

No matter how many times I've tried to grow broccoli in my vegetable garden, the most I've grown was a tiny little barely edible bite.  Of course, I still tried to eat it, but, alas, it didn't even taste good.  Humph! 

This week (broccoli growing attempt #27), all I got from the broccoli plant was a tall shoot that goes straight up that into little white and yellow flowers.  However, the more I stare at it, the more I see it's beauty.  I notice a bee whizzing around from flower to flower enjoying the nectar.  The plant that went so "wrong", is actually serving a purpose and is a beautifully unique. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A cat named Gizmo

It's a chilly New Year's Eve, and me and my family are all sitting around the outdoor fire pit.  We are each clutching a piece of notebook paper, waiting for the fire to roar.  Our papers are handwritten lists of what we want to release and say goodbye to that were trouble for us in 2012.  My "buh-bye" list was extensive, filing both the front and the back of the lined paper.  My daughter easily wrote a full page, my husband a few items, and my son, well, he was the only one that claimed he had a great year and had just one item written down and that was only because I made him at least come up with something. 

When the time finally comes to throw my paper in the fire, I am positively giddy and beyond ready.  As I watch my words burn and the ashes and smoke rise up, a sense of relief and joy washes over me.  Buh-bye 2012, hello 2013!
It wasn't like anything tragic or horrible happened to me personally; there certainly was plenty of that going on in the world.  The year was one of those big shifting years, like the Universe was all slappitty-slap slap slap shouting "girrrrrrl, wake up and get the message 'cause it's time to become a better you!!" and, yep, like all good growth it was emotionally very painful and uncomfortable.  

It was not until the very end of December that it all finally clicked and I was able to change my perspective about the events that led up to all of this growth spurt.  It was like the stubborn lingering clouds parted and the sun finally came out, followed by a beautiful sunrise.

I am grateful for the painful lessons because it was like someone or something was looking out for me and was giving me a tremendous gift.  The gift was being able to let go of what wasn't working because of fear while gaining insight and clarity and a new determination out of love.  I know it's cheesy and it sounds like I've watched/read/talked too much self help spiritual stuff (which I'll admit I did a lot of), but it's just so true.  I had so many "ah ha" moments it's ridiculous! 
One of those gifts came unexpectedly in the form of a cat named Gizmo.  You see, my 93 year old grandpa Jack fell and broke his hip in August last year.  His loyal cat Gizmo was by his side while he laid on the floor in agony until he was found two days later.  My grandpa was operated on, but the ensuing bouts with pneumonia and lack of movement would sadly be his final undoing.  He lived for two more months until he peacefully passed away in October.  

While he was in the hospital, one of the biggest gifts I could give to him was to adopt his beloved Gizmo.  The nurses and therapists told me how he talked about the joy and happiness it brought him knowing Gizmo would be well taken care of and would stay within the family.  He delighted in seeing pictures of my kids holding Gizmo and hearing funny stories from us about him adjusting to his new home.  It certainly doesn't get much better than that.

So now, "The Giz", "Gizzy", "GizNO!!!", otherwise known as Gizmo the catdog is a special member of our family.  He is loyal and mischievous like a dog, following me around wherever I go (I'm always tripping over him), sits at my feet, eating/licking whatever food you leave out (flour, loves of bread, potstickers, salt, yogurt, and so on), and greets visitors at the front door.  He is everything quirky and cool you'd want in a cat.  He steals my daughter's hairbands and leaves them in his food bowl, he cries this funny excited birdwatching noise when he sees birds out the window, he give hugs (seriously!), and he licks the hair on your head and my daughter's doll hair.  
Hairband. In the bowl. Why??

Not exactly helping with homework.
Yet another watering hole.
Not exactly comfortable, but the side heater helps.
Bird watching on his heated seat.
He sucks on this one particularly soft blanket of mine while he kneads and purrs (leaving a big wet spot behind), he climbs up the ladder to my son's tall loft bed, he attacks toes, and he goes into and waits in each room when I kiss my children goodnight like it's his routine, too.
THE blanket
There he is NOT on the table.
I watch how fearless he is, like not being afraid to meet new people, other cats, and dogs, leaping to new heights (and sometimes missing), and never hesitates to ask for what he wants.  He is persistent and stubborn, but knows when it's time to back down and compromise (like when we shoo him off the table over and over when we are eating, he'll give in and just sit on the chair and stare at us instead).  He is adventurous and playful, leaving no open box unexplored, no ladder is too high, or new food that isn't worth trying at least once (much to my dismay).  He makes us laugh without even trying (like when he runs around the house at full speed and crashes into the walls) and he loves us (especially me because I fed him) unconditionally.
Making a few new friends
The strange thing is, I've never had a cat that I admire so much.  And, under the saddest of circumstances, he happened to come into my life when I needed him the most but didn't know it.  I want to be more like him - more fearless, expand my relationships, be more adventurous and playful, and laugh more (and make other people laugh more, too).  I'm already a bit stubborn (that's the Taurus in me), but I'm reminded how when I believe in something I need to keep pushing even when it gets hard.

And, oh ya, the love part.  That's the most important of all.  Love is the main reason why we have house pets, because they love us so unconditionally and it feels good to love them right back.  There is no doubt or fear or insecurities.  They even seem to love and comfort us more when we are crying or sick or feeling down.  I can be in the foulest of moods and despite that, Gizmo is right there, grateful for my warm lap and company.
That's my arm, eh hum, a pillow.
I'm happy to be back to feeling like my old self, only now with a few new and improved upgrades.  I'm especially grateful to have a little bit of help and a lot of love from my new found furry friend along the way. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friendly fire

I sure do feel for my third grade daughter this year.  Academically she's totally fine, but the subject of friends is another story.  Her best friend of several years is now best friends with someone else after being in separate classrooms last year.  Plus, the two new friends that she liked the most in her second grade class ended up leaving the school.  So, now in third grade, she's at a bit of a loss.  While her class is full of nice girls that she's friendly with, none of them come close to being that really special friend(s) that she dearly wishes she had.  She's not a regular part of any particular group, and ends up playing with different girls here and there, never feeling totally alone, but not really feeling the comfort of being in a regular group that looks out for her and has sleepovers with every weekend like it seems like everyone else is doing. 

I know that these early school years are very transitory and always changing, but it's all a bit rough for my sweet and sensitive and rather serious eight year old girl.  Luckily, she's not a social reject, but more like a confident self-aware single girl who is in transition and finding her on way.  She's out of her comfort zone.  Sadly, these school years wield the necessary growing pains that are important to experience in order to better understand the gray and complex arena of close relationships.  We've had lots of discussions about how she's feeling and viewing all of this friendship stuff, like the type of friend she wants to be, why people do what they do, standing up for yourself, and other sticky yucky stuff.  She gets it.  It could be much worse.  I know she'll be fine.  But, well, it's still hard.  It's definitely not kindergarten any more.

Her twin brother?  He doesn't have a best friend either, but he's not stressing.  He has his nice group of boy friends school (I call it "his posse"), his cub scout buddies, and his Star Wars characters.  He's content and cool about it.
That's me and my favorite friends when I was my daughter's age (I'm on the far right).
It's crazy this whole parenting thing.  Watching my daughter go through this brings up sooooooooooo many long forgotten uncomfortable memories and emotions from my own childhood.  Her pain and struggles remind me of my pain and struggles.  I wish I had all of the answers, but hey, I'm still learning about this stuff in my forties.  It will only get more complicated!  I can't fix it for her.  I can only hold her hand and comfort her and wipe her tears.

However, it's hard when we live in a world where my kids don't have neighborhood friends to casually play with on a whim.

We live in a world where often the burden is on me as a parent to arrange and implement playdates for my kids in order to cultivate close friendships.

We live in a world where social media says we can be "friends" with someone we barely know and can be instantly "un-friended" and don't even know it, yet we are often judged on the number of "friends" on our profile when it really doesn't mean anything.  

We live in a world where social media makes it look like everyone else is having way more fun, has way more friends, and where you honestly have no idea what is really going on with people because they only post what they want you to know (have you ever seen a sad profile picture?).

We live in a world with a false sense of being connected, but in reality can go a long time without being remotely social or let friends know what's really happening.

We live in a world where tv shows and movies make it seems like everyone else is part of an extremely close knit beautiful looking group of friends that barely work and are always there for each other. Or the opposite where manufactured groups of reality show "friends" are encouraged to fight with each other, are catty, superficial, judgmental, and narcissistic.

We live in a world where kids are growing up way to fast.

Wait, geez, I'm sounding rather sad and cynical, aren't I?   I just want the best of the world for her.  I wish I could download all of my relationship knowledge into her mind and save her all the grief and heartache.  I wish I could find her that best friend that I know is waiting for her and that they'll be best of friends their whole lives. Darnit!

I tell her things will get better.  That's she's just having a hard couple of months.  Without dark there is no light.  Tomorrow is a new day.  That best friend or friends are out there, and you just haven't met her yet or maybe you already have but haven't bonded yet.  Lighten up, girl, and just have fun - you are only eight!  Deep down I know it's true, but in the back of my mind I know the whole friendship thing will only get more complicated and wonderful and hurtful and happy and confusing and easy and sad and joyful.  And then there's puberty and hormones, The Ultimate Game Changer.  Yikes!

Good friends are definitely worth it, there is no doubt about that.  I know, because I went a few years without them in my early twenties and it was awful.  A.W.F.U.L.  But, now that I have a handful of really really wonderful friends, I'm extremely grateful.  Hopefully, when my little girl, uh hum, big girl, gets to that better place with friends after suffering through these growing pains, she'll feel the same way, too. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Favorite finds

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite personal finds that I discovered in 2011.  Oh, and no, I didn't get paid for any of these...I only wish!

1. Goodbelly - In the last several weeks of December, my household suffered from bronchitis, strep, and some other unknown cold/fever nasty thing that went undiagnosed.  Me, who usually gets it worst and last because I'm so exhausted and run down taking care of everyone else, did not get sick at all.  This has never ever happened in the my personal history of parenthood.  I kept waiting for it and it never came.

Was it a miracle?  Was it because I've been working out every day and eating a meticulously healthy diet with zero stress?  Ha ha ha...that's so funny.  Not!  It was holiday season, remember? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My "small" holiday gratitude list

Now, of course I’m thankful for my family and friends and sooooooooooooooooo much more this holiday season, but since this is my “small stuff” blog, this Top 10 list is all about the smaller things that might not be so obvious.   

1. My messy home - I've recently had a profound epiphany that a messy home with children is directly relational to their well-being.  If they are sick or sad or overly scheduled, then the rooms are tidy and barely disheveled.  When they are healthy and happy and free of too many obligations, they are more creative, silly, exuberant, and playful.  Translation = messy.