Sunday, November 16, 2014

10 things I take for granted

With Thanksgiving approaching all too fast, I've been hearing and thinking a lot about being grateful for (a, b, c,  d).   That's fine and wonderful,  and there is a ton I'm thankful for ( and so on, and so on).  But, it occurred to me, how much I am not thankful for because I take things for granted. I am so used to certain amazing things in my life, I don't even notice them.  So, I thought it would be a fantastic exercise to write a post about this.

The tricky thing with writing about taking things for granted is figuring out what these "things" are.  Since, you know, I take them for granted.  So, I decided to sit down, look around and write down ten more-or-less random things that I don't usually think about but which I can't imagine (or would rather not to) do without.

Here is my list of 10.

1.  Curly hair
2.  Loving and forgiving parents
3.  Access to healthy food and clean water.
4.  Toilet paper, paper towels, disposable plastic baggies.
5.  Ability to walk, drive and bike
6.  Convenient gadgets to baby-proof the house.
7.  Indoor plumbing!
8.  Google and PubMed (search and access to scientific literature)
9.  Public libraries!
10.  Garbage and recycling collection.

What about you - what are 10 things you take for granted?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Indulge and Pamper

I like to pamper and indulge myself.  A long luxurious shower (I like it hot!).  Drinking coffee first thing in the morning...  in peace and quiet... alone... while enjoying the beautiful view from the window. Drinking hot chocolate and reading a book.  Sitting next to the fireplace and letting my thoughts drift freely.  Going for a walk with my youngest in the stroller.  Taking a nap with one of the kids cuddled up next to me.  Thinking.  Reading.  Sleeping in.

All of these are simple things and fairly accessible... so what makes them so...  deliciously decadent?  Lets analyze the nature of an indulgence!

A few requirements have to be met.

It has to be a treat - not something to be taken for granted.
It has to carry  a special meaning.
It has to be enjoyable.
It has to be something that's not necessary for survival.
It has to be something we permit ourselves to do - even though there are 101 things that are waiting to be done.

Have you noticed my #1?  A shower...ahhh, the beauty of it.  Does it seem too mundane?  My husband teases me about the half hour long shower and the nearly scalding water.  He takes it for granted: hot water coming out of the shower head above you.   He never had to heat a pot of water on a gas range in the kitchen, then carry it to the bathroom,  then get washed (using water sparingly) in a hurry - or the water would get cold.  He never had to use one hand to rinse the soap (German shampoo, considered to be the best thing under the sun, used in tiny quantities to make it stretch), while pouring water from a pitcher.  Oh my, those memories of washing my hair in a plastic tub...  how I hated it...

I suppose, once the kids are older I might go to a spa.  I have tried it once before - and it was a thoroughly uncomfortable experience.  I felt absolutely clueless and out of place.   Like I accidentally stepped into someone else's life. So...  Maybe not.  After all, I'm not looking to splurge,  just to indulge.

So what do you like to indulge in?  And why?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gifts of in-between moments

I'm learning how to take advantage of the "in-betweens".  The little bits of time while waiting for something... the school bus, the water to boil - that sort of thing.  Those few minutes here and there that often go unnoticed and unaccounted for.  The difficult thing is, the exact length of time is usually unpredictable - the school bus might be early or late.  At the same time, the informality of these bits of time can be a powerful thing.  Last Thursday, my son and I talked a bit about mean kids and why they are like that. His bus was running late, and the subject just popped up.  I find this subject rather difficult and awkward - I never know what's the right thing to say. But during those extra minutes, I didn't stress about the perfect parenting...  we just talked, while waiting for the bus.

In these little tidbits of time I find myself scribbling on random pieces of paper, looking through the newspaper, making daily list of chores for the kids...  

Here are a few more micro-tasks that come to mind:
  • Ask kids what they think about xyz
  • Play with kids
  • Mini-cleanup
  • Send quick emails or texts
  • Take a couple of pictures
  • Look through Science or Nature headlines
  • Look around and enjoy the current season
  • Pull weeds

Maybe best of all, these in-betweens can be for daydreaming... ahh, the joys of daydreaming!  

These little moments, they are like gifts - often unexpected and can be very pleasant.

What do you do while waiting for the bus?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Late night thoughts of an exhausted parent

I have 3 children. Sometimes, it seems... unbelievable. A cognitive dissonance: I know I'm a mom and I know these three are mine, and yet, this parenting thing feels so surreal. Sometimes, I feel like it's not really my life.  I have no clue about what to do with the kids.  I feel disconnected.

No, I am not depressed. Actually, I feel quite happy (most of the time).

It's just that parenting is hard. And the older the kids get, the more difficult it is to be a good parent (whatever that may be).

My youngest is nearly 9 months. I love this stage and have done my best to treasure every moment of her baby-hood. In fact, I find it the easiest to be a mom to a baby. A baby is so small, incredibly cute, oh-so-easy to make happy: cuddling and nursing does the trick.

Babies don't throw temper tantrums.
Babies don't refuse to wear outfit A..and B... and C.
Babies don't whine or demand STUFF
Babies don't make faces or use annoying voices
Babies never, ever test your authority

Babies are cute and cuddly.
They are quick to laugh
Mommy (aka, food supply) is all they need to be happy
Things are simple: babies eat, sleep, poop, play... and repeat.
When they fuss - there is a reason; it is not some attempt at control and manipulation

I admit, I've been very, very lucky: all three kids were/are mellow babies. I've been spared from dealing with the grumpy/colicky/inconsolable types.

No, there is no sleeping through the night - I am not THAT lucky - at least one, and usually two kids do wake up at random times, but I can live with that. However, there is a chance that the sleep deprivation may have something to do with the feelings of surrealism... maybe.

What is your favorite age group to parent?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Amazing things to do - Fall

Apple picking.

I find it to be incredibly therapeutic. Just being outside on a beautiful fall day - that's amazing enough. Plus, the kids are busy and having fun. Plus, you get a full box of apples. And not just any old apples: you get to choose your favorite variety (we love Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp) and you get to pick the best of the best.

There is something magical about apple picking. Some trees are laden with apples, their branches weighed down, so you feel it a relief to pick at least a few apples. With other trees, it is like a game. At first, you can't see a single fruit and it takes some squinting and some side to side movement to spy a perfect apple. Then, all of a sudden, you see another...and another. It is so hard to stop. There is always another tree, another apple, one that looks even better, redder, rounder. And the kids, gently pulling apples, crunching on apples, putting apples in the box, pulling the old-fashioned wagon, "Mom, I found the biggest one... Look at me, I'm pulling the wagon with all the apples... We are going to make applesauce, and apple cake, and apple crisp, and..."

And then, there is the challenge of getting the apples to the car. With the three kids. One strapped to me, the other two, while somewhat obedient, are still young enough to require constant supervision. There is that box of apples - heavy and awkward - but "no wagon beyond this point". Almost always, there is a kind soul that helps me. Just receiving help from total strangers without asking - that's worth a lot, and makes me happy and hopeful about the world around me.

Do you go to "pick your own" orchards? What do you like picking the best?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happiness of a memory

It is fall. Leaves are turning and falling. We have the heat on. The other day, the kids were wild, jumping into a pile of leaves. They raked some, their hands tiny on the grown-up rakes. Then jumped, smashing the dry leaves, screaming, laughing. I joined them, bringing C along - just for a bit. Fixed up a nice big pile. Then ran and jumped. There was a satisfying "whoosh" and "crunch". We showered leaves on each other. C was fascinated by the dry leaves. She kept grabbing them, opening and closing her fingers, her face - sometimes in a frown- showing the concentration, the intensity... She laughed when we tickled her with the leaves or sprinkled them over her. The TV was forgotten. The dinner was forgotten.

Raking leaves is a thankless job-in half an hour, more leaves are on the ground, completely obliterating your work. And yet, here are the piles, showing I was here today, working hard, fighting entropy and winning, at least for a few hours.

Being in the leaves with the kids reminded me - this is what I want. Little things, little moments. Forget about the mess, the particles stuck in everyone's hair. This is what the kids wanted, their mom being wild with them. This is what I want to remember. And yet... it does not make me happy ... but it is something that I will remember and think fondly about. Strange, isn't it. Some things that make me happy right now, I will not remember or think much about beyond tomorrow (a mystery novel... a piece of chocolate). Other things, I have to make an effort to enjoy, and that will be the stuff that I will be happy to remember.

What do you want to do this fall?