Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Wisdom of Six Year Olds

On Tuesday I told Alana I felt a heavy blog coming on. We discussed the first noble truth: life is suffering. Some days it's hard to move on from there. Alana has a lot of reasons to dwell on the first noble truth. She has two people very important to her who are losing their battles with cancer. I have no specific reason to be depressed. Maybe it's because the days are getting shorter and I am Vitamin D deficient. I just have the uncanny ability to tap into the collective sadness of the universe at times. I understand in theory the purpose of life. But some days there is a big disconnect between the intellectual and the emotional.

My nine year old son is a worrier. He lies in bed at night worrying about things like getting lost in Seattle and being stung by a scorpion in Arizona (both were potential family vacation sites). I felt a strange inability to reassure him. I am usually able to focus on the good and see the beauty in life, but not at the moment. Having dabbled in several religions, I have created an explanatory model for the way things are and it works for me most of the time. The thing that saves me along with other believers is the unwaivering faith in a Benevolent Creator greater than myself, that things happen for a reason, and that love and kindness will ultimately triumph over fear and hatred. I try to be in the moment but sometimes the moment sucks.

I went to the stationery store to get a new organizer. I go through phases of trying to be more organized. But this time I felt so defeated as I browsed through the racks of Daytimers, appointment calendars and Uncalendars. In the past I fooled myself into thinking that if I had just the right tool, I would be more organized, stay on top of things, not forget stuff, pay my bills on time, etc. This time I knew that no tool was going to change me into a better person. That what I really wanted at the moment, I could not get from an organizer: happiness. I even found an appointment book full of beautiful pictures and quotes from famous people on the art of Simplicity, something I constantly crave and strive towards but fail miserably at. There was a quote from the Dalai Lama: "The purpose of life is to be useful and to be happy." I have no trouble with the first part, it's the second part that often eludes me.

As I went through the rest of the week, looking for the magic and beauty in ordinary things, I was fortunate enough to find them. My six year old comes home and tells me: "Mom, we're studying astronomy in school right now. So if there's anything you want to know about the universe, just ask me." So I asked him why Pluto was no longer considered a planet and he told me that it's because it is too small. I'm still mad about that. How can they decide after all these years that Pluto doesn't get to be a planet anymore just because it's too small?

Last night on our way to the theater to see the Maori dancers and singers from New Zealand, Riley says: "I see the first star!". I say "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight..." And Chris says emphatically, "The first star we see every night is not a star! It's Venus!" I think I knew that at some time in my life, but I had forgotten. I am humbled by the wisdom of a six year old. And that makes me happy.

So when Riley began to worry about acid rain and the state of the environment, I was able to say: Yes there are lots of things wrong with the world. We can choose to worry about them, or we can choose to learn what each one of us can do to make things a little bit better.

Go Phillies!

Giving the kitty a check-up.

Playing with trains.

Maya's obsession of the month: the kitchen sink.

All kids love my nephew Michael. He is so good with young children.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Missing Vietnam

Matt and I got homesick for Vietnam today while looking at blogs of families picking up their children at long last! I made sour soup with halibut the other day but it just isn't the same. Someday we are going to have to find a way to live in Vietnam in the winter and Alaska in the summer. I just added the third family that is in Vietnam right now, the Piotrowski Family, to my list of links to my favorite blogs.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winter comes too early

We went from picking apples to building snowmen in one week. No pumpkin patches, no hay rides, no harvest fairs. Life is hard here. I had to teach my kids about the seasons: "I know what the calendar says. But here in Alaska, spring is May. Summer is June, July and August. Fall is September. Winter is October through April."

What does Maya think of the snow? Well, she loves to eat ice, but she hates to wear mittens. She takes it all in stride, doesn't miss a beat. These kids are amazing! This week her occupational therapist at Birth 2 Three and I are going to meet with the Special Needs Preschool teacher at our local elementary school to discuss her transfer in January when she turns three and ages out of B-2-3.

Hockey started up last week. I am now managing Riley's team. I thought all I had to do was show up and send an occasional email. Turns out they expect me to be the liason between the coaches and parents, calculate ice bills, and balance the team check book. I can't even balance my own check book. Communication skills? My husband has to read my best friend's blog to find out what I'm up to. Alana thinks this could be a real opportunity for me. She thinks if I can balance the team checkbook and manage the hockey team, maybe I'll eventually be motivated to balance my own budget and get control of my own children. Right....Speaking of which, Matt has threatended to start his own blog so you can hear the rest of the stories. I think he should call it "OtherWise".

Okay, I did not tell Chris to say this: It was completely spontaneous!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Autumn Rituals

I love fall. I don't know if it's the crisp sunny days, the harvest moons or the colors. Is the sky really more intensely blue? Or does it just look that way against the yellow leaves? Today while leaving the beach, I saw a blog-worthy photo but did not have my camara battery charged. Picture a dozen black birds in a yellow birch tree against that brilliant blue sky.

Yesterday I took the kids to Dr. Alvarez' house to pick apples. His wife, the lovely and gracious Suzanne, loaned me her camara and emailed me these photos. When we arrived she said the apples were small and sour due to the cold wet summer we had. I told her it was the process that's important to me. It's all about being out in the sun and getting a good photo for the blog.
Thank you Rene and Suzanne!
PS. The apples are delicious!