Dino Eggs for Doggies

Egg babiesWhen the wiggles in our lives need a new puzzle, I love turning to the Egg Babies collection. We’ve tried many non-food based toys but the one that brings the same joy to my dogs as ripping the “guts” out of a live animal (ew.) is none other than the Egg Babies Dog toys.

The experience gets better when, instead of picking up the pieces of a broken squishy, you can easily stuff all the eggs back in the toy and start again. We also like to mix it up with the occasional Kong or baby carrot.

Find your Dinosaur Egg Babies Dog toys on Amazon.

Our pack’s go-to favorite?

Clearly the Dinosaur! He still survives to be stuffed another day!Egg Baby dinosaur_belly view with eggs

Photo Jan 22, 7 15 09 PM

Dino on a stick

Dinosaur Candy moldWith company in town and feeling touristy, Raul and I ventured down to Pike Place Market last week. We found ourselves wandering in Sur la Table and myself drooling over this cute dinosaur candy mold!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’d actually be the early bird catching the worm, er, dinosaur.  Um, YUM!

However yummy the dinos might be, I’ve never made candy dinosaurs before so I thought I’d find some support. The awesome gals at A Beautiful Mess outlined a step-by-step approach to crafting successful dinosaurs on sticks.

Should you feel inspired to get your own set from Sur la Table then I wish you happy molding as you bring tasty dinosaurs back from extinction.

Dino vs boy

Ever wonder who would win in a dino vs man fight? In this case, Dino vs boy? We vote the little boy wins. Make your little boy win by picking up a rex vs man tshirt from Think Geek!

Man walking Dino

Ask me about my Rex

What a clever way to conceal your inner dinosaur, only to be revealed when asked…  The Rexes at All Things Rawr LOVE this T-shirt! Need a quick Halloween costume or just another outlet for your frustrations?

Find it on Amazon!

Convertible T-Rex Shirt

Convertible T-Rex Shirt

Grandma’s got a… beer?

ID-10032444A Reader:

Within my more somewhat liberal, Catholic, northern family, all gatherings include beer and wine for the adults (even children’s birthday parties, which are more family affairs than bunches of little kids). My husband’s family are Southern, conservative, and more generically Christian, some baptist, and anti-alcohol of any type.

We live 5+ hours from both of our immediate families, in opposite directions. My husband feels more at ease with my immediate family than his own, and our local group of friends, who have become our family, are much like my family. We gather for their kids’ birthdays, and the adults have a few beers while the kids eat cake and shoot nerf or water guns.

Our son is nearing his first birthday, and my husband wants his party to be like those of our friends and my family. He doesn’t even want his parents there, because he doesn’t want them to judge our friends (no one ever gets out of hand). We never drink around his parents out of courtesy, and it took many years of us being married before DH didn’t hide any beer we had in the house when his parents came to visit. He’s honestly too hard on his parents, as annoying as they can be at times, and really tries to cut them out. Not that I particularly enjoy hanging out with them, but I smile and exchange niceties, they are our son’s grandparents. Thoughts on handling this situation?

Kayce:

I actually come from a family just like this; my mom was raised strict Roman Catholic, even attended a Catholic school with nuns who hit the kids with rulers, while my dad was raised Southern Baptist and was forbidden to dance (including prom!), drink, or even have playing cards in the house (they lead to gambling you know). Thankfully they both rebelled, first by marrying each other (via secret elopement), and then by distancing themselves from both doctrines. They still read the Bible to us as kids, but allowed a dialogue about what the teachings meant to us, and encouraged us to seek out our own interests in spirituality.

Their gatherings always included some drinking and lots of card playing & dancing. To this day I’m surprised when I find that I know parts of the Bible more than most of my Christian friends, and I make it a point to connect with my Source (or God) every single day. I’ve never had a drinking problem, or a gambling problem for that matter, and I can’t say that dancing has ever lead to sex for me (I’m not that great of a dancer haha)!

I remember a happy, healthy childhood while my parents have struggled most of their lives to forgive their parents for the expectations that were placed on them at such an early age. So, I guess the bottom line is figuring out what’s more important to you- trying to live a life based on what your church has interpreted as being upright while judging those closest to you, or connecting with your friends and family in a real way that lasts generations and affects everyone they in turn meet. Its important to be honest as adults and to lead by example for your children; the family members can choose whether or not to attend! It’ll ultimately be their loss if they distance themselves, but they might surprise you and come around – rawr!

Marie:

As it’s your party, (since you planned and are hosting it!), if you want to cry, you can. But I doubt you will because you seem like a realistic gal with her head squarely on her shoulders. It’s obvious to me you want everyone to feel welcome, drinkers and abstainers alike. Keep that feeling in your heart and all the guests will feel it.

Coming from a family with a history of alcoholism and where many members of my family have bad memories associated with alcohol, I can understand the need for a ‘dry’ event, religious beliefs aside. Alcohol can bring out the bad side and more voracious comments at the wrong time. And after attending many dry family events, I can also attest to the great social lubricant that it is. Sitting awkwardly on the couch for a few hours is hardly fun for anyone.

So looking for a happy medium, let’s separate alcohol from the obvious. Set up two beverage centers, one with non-alcoholic punches, juices and spritzers (oh my!) by the food and festivities. Set up a “grown ups only” bar somewhere off to the side (maybe in the garage or laundry or back bedroom). Get a bunch of blue Solo cups and a couple packs of fun colored Sharpies or maybe something extra fun like differing Mustache stickers and have everyone personalize their cup to drink from. (I’m sure your cool friends will “get it” and cooperate.) Then it’s a little less obvious who’s drinking and who’s not.

Lastly, designate a “quiet room” for anyone (of ANY age) who’s having a fit. Fill it with some calming music, soft blankets and pillows and keep it pretty dark. Then, if someone does get unruly, grown up or grumpy munchkin, there is somewhere for them to retreat to without causing a scene and ruining the party. (Unless it’s you crying, and then, since it’s your party, you can cry if you want to.)

Hop on board the baby train!

ID-10060524

A Reader:

“I’m 40 and pregnant with my 4th kid. Only my husband and a few friends know. My third son is just now approaching 1 year and while pregnant with him, I had family and friends commenting on how old I was. Now that I’m expecting again, how do I tell family that will be less than thrilled about baby #4 (this includes my oldest son, stepmom and other family members)?”

Marie:

First my dear reader, congratulations on your pregnancy! Children are miracles and blessings regardless of the sacrifice that comes with them or opinions of those in their lives. Before we worry about what anyone else thinks, I’m curious how YOU feel about the bun in your oven. Are you excited? Scared? Disappointed or upset? Nervous? Hopeful? I ask because how you feel will affect how everyone else reacts to your news. If your underlying emotion is tinged with anxiety, anyone you share with will pick up on that emotion. If you are bursting with excitement (maybe this is a girl?!?) then it will be easier for them to get excited with you.

As for sharing this joyful news, don’t share it any earlier than you are comfortable. A lot can happen in a pregnancy and caution at over-sharing can sometimes be for the best. However, you don’t want to keep a secret for too long because then you’ll risk alienating those closest to you by not being honest with them.

If this is going to be your last babe, you may want to have some fun with sharing this information. Maybe do a ‘reveal’ party? Although these are typically for revealing the gender, maybe you have a party a bit earlier to celebrate the baby on the way? Or you reveal the gender and pregnancy at the same time to peripheral family and friends? Maybe you reveal your secret only to those closest to you on a special family outing?

Speaking of family, I would vote for sharing with your son and closest relatives before sharing with the peripheral relatives for two reasons: trust and trust. If you’ll be relying on anyone in your immediate family for support with the young-uns, you’ll want to make sure they’re on board the baby train with you sooner rather than later.

As for your oldest, being an oldest child myself, I can empathize with how he might feel. If he’s become a ‘mommy’s helper’ for you, I would strongly encourage you and your husband to discuss some alternatives to relying on your oldest. Although it is tempting to ask him for help, you might be putting more on his shoulders than should rest there. As the oldest he’s already keenly aware of responsibility in general and what specific responsibilities are required of him. Putting too much on his shoulders may leave him growing up to feel like he always has to be the responsible one. This isn’t necessarily bad for his future (he’s more likely to focus on his education, find a good job and drive himself to achieve more), but it could be bad for his self-image and just isn’t fair to him. He also could run the other way, away from responsibility! Playing caretaker can also leave him confused about his role. If he’s reinforcing family rules, baby-sitting and caring for his younger siblings, it will be easy for him to feel like a parent. But then when dad comes home and reminds him he’s not the dad, inside it will lead to confusion (“but… I was just acting like the dad…”).

What’s the antidote to the responsible older sibling syndrome? Making sure he has time for fun and to be ‘free’ of responsibility at least once a day or a few times a week. Part of sharing the news with your oldest should include some plan you and dad have already discussed that ensures he will still have time to be a kid. If you can ensure him that, I think he’ll be happy to jump on the baby train with you.

Although how you tell everyone is important, I think it’s less important than how you handle their reactions and the weeks and months to follow. You may need to be thick skinned for a few months. Once the baby comes, those baby hormones will probably bring everyone else around to jumping on the baby train.

Image provided by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why I RAWR Evernote.

Evernote

I love technology. It’s only great when it works, but when it works, whew, that is some hot stuff. Computers can read your mind, see what you see and are learning to think like you think. Without delving into the depths of ethics and technology, I live the benefits of technology every day.

I took the Kolbe A test online and learned more about my modus operandi. It reaffirmed that I am a fact finder. I love information and always have. I grew up reading books to the point of obnoxious. I thank my Dad every day for getting a PC with Windows as early as he did. I watched Beyond 2000 (when it was before 2000) with awe.  I surf on the edge of technology and all that it can do for me. There are a lot of technologies and tools out there that I haven’t touched. So many that it starts a panic attack thinking about what I know I don’t know. (Sorry Twitter. Somehow 140 characters is too much or not enough.) Enough digressing. As I am learning to live in my strengths and not punish myself for perceived weaknesses, one tool I’ve come across that I wouldn’t want to live without is Evernote.

No, I didn’t write this post in Evernote but I love it none-the-less. I wasn’t the first to Evernote either. A client and friend, a fellow fact-finder, kept telling me about Evernote. She was using it and loved it. “You HAVE to try it.” “Ok. Ok.” I still didn’t. And again a few more times. Looking back, there is no day I recall deciding to try it. Once it was set up, there was no looking back.

So what is Evernote you might be asking. It is a digital notebook organizing system that syncs to all of your desired devices. It is cloud storage. It is Dropbox for your best nuggets. (Dropbox, ah, Dropbox- that’s a whole ‘nother post.) Basically Evernote is a place you can capture and store images, webpages, text or content, links and so much more. Evernote even works with keeping you organized for tax time with Shoeboxed. For the PC users, it works a bit like outlook, but instead of emails, you have notes. You can add links to other pages, tags and other information you want to keep for reference and store these various tidbits in notebooks.

Notebooks are a fabulous tool for organization as you can create some order out of a chaos of thousands of notes. I have notebooks for work projects, businesses (existing and planned!) and of course for my personal life, such as gift lists, recipes, inspirations and general categories like Technology!

The best part about Evernote is that once you enter the information into the software, it will sync your information with the Evernote website as well as every device with Evernote installed. How that looks in real life is like this: “Ooh, this recipe looks great!” while surfing the web late one night. I copy the picture, ingredients and directions into Evernote. I assign a title, copy over the URL to the webpage where I found the recipe and add some tags to make searching easier. Later when I’m at the store and need the ingredients list, there it is, nicely in my Recipes notebook.

So what does this mean for you? If you find yourself stumbling across a cool website or product or recipe that you just don’t want to forget, with Evernote you won’t have to! Happy Fact Finding!

Keep calm and Rawr

Any little girls in a rawr mood should check out this t-shirt from (gulp) Walmart. I’m not usually a big Walmart fan, but with this T, who can resist? Now if only they made a grown up size…

Girls' Rawr shirt from Walmart

Girls’ Rawr shirt from Walmart

Where’s the life button for De-friend?

 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Reader:
I need advice, how do you de-friend someone in life without hurting their feelings? Me and my neighbor became close when she moved in. Our kids would play together all the time etc., we have been friends for over 2 years BUT she tends to ask for favors a lot mostly taking her places, she complains about her husband A LOT. He is an ass but I am tired of hearing it if she isn’t gonna change the situation, and honestly after getting to really know her I don’t like the person she is won’t go into detail there.

Erin:

This is always such a hard situation, especially as women when many of us tend to carry this idea that we are obligated to care take even when it is burning us out. I think firstly you will have to decide what level of involvement you want her to have in your life. Do you want her totally out? Do you want your children to still play together and have minor contact with her that way?

Whatever you decide, you will have to be ready to draw some boundaries with her. Since your children are friends and you guys are neighbors, it seems like a gentle approach may be the best so as not to cause unnecessary tension. Maybe slowly reducing the amount of contact with her is a way to start. That said, I think you will need to be ready to answer questions when she asks if you are avoiding her.

Marie:

This is quite a pickle to be in because it will require a thoughtful response to properly extricate yourself from this situation. Most typical responses would either be a direct approach to stop the relationship all-together or a passive-aggressive approach to let it quietly die out. I’m usually a fan of being direct because there’s no games and no pussy-footing around, but you will have to tread lightly so as not to create more trouble and hurt feelings. Which route you pick will depend on your and her personalities. There’s also the option to try to change the dynamic of the relationship (all relationships are essentially contracts- an agreement between two parties for some sort of trade and benefit). However, I get the feeling from your question that modifying your relationship with her isn’t a goal- ending it is.

To passively and slowly stop the relationship, don’t reach out to her anymore. If she contacts you for a “small favor”, kindly tell her that you won’t be able to help. You don’t even need to give a reason, just say no. (It works for drugs, it can work for annoying neighbors.) If she pushes you for a reason or to help at another time, just kindly tell her that you’re really busy and won’t be able to help. After she calls for requests and is denied a few times, she’ll likely stop calling. You can still be polite and conversational if you run into her in the neighborhood, but just emphasize how busy you are. And maybe buy some good window shades.

Since she is your neighbor and not a stranger you’ll never see again- be careful if you choose the direct method to end the relationship. This will give you the cleanest break but must be handled with tact or feelings will get hurt. This should consist of sitting down with her- in-person to explain that you’re not really going to be available to help her much in the future. Be honest with her that hanging out with her is hard for you because she is clearly unhappy and yet unwilling to make changes and that is difficult for you to observe. Let her know (only if you’re willing!) that in the future if she’s made changes and needs help, that you would be there to support her, but that until she’s willing to make the hard choices, you have to make the hard choice to remove her from your life. Be clear that you’re not judging her, but rather that seeing her in pain or constantly upset and negative is too much of a burden for you to bear. Definitely also encourage her to get help from qualified professionals (a counselor or therapist) if she is willing to make changes in her life as she’ll benefit from the support of a professional.

Negative Nancys are hard people to get rid of. They’re really good at asking for help and being selfish and terrible at being present and aware of others and reciprocal. It’s good that you’ve recognized her pattern of behavior now as you’ll have the best shot at eliminating her negativity from your life by being vigilant and sticking to your decision.

Image provided by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tickle me no more!

A Reader:

“Can someone explain to me what is wrong with men? My fiance is currently not talking to me (childish) because he claims I speak to him like a child. Example: Telling him not to tickle me when I’m holding a baby. Or explaining he has to take his cough medicine as directed and not when he feels like it. Sometimes my 11 month old baby acts ten times more mature and aware of her surroundings than he does!”

Marie:

He’s either going to complain that you’re babying him or he’s going to like that you’re babying him. Men are ruled by their egos and to play along you’ll have to either play along or put an end to play time. There is certainly a time and place for scolding (um, do you want me to drop our daughter?) and a time and place for kind reminders (sweetie, it’s time to take your next dose). However if he’s responding so immaturely to perfectly reasonable requests, then there is likely something deeper going on.

First, check the tone of your voice. I am often snappier than I intend to be and it has an affect on Raul. I have to be careful that I’m very clear in what I’m asking of him and that my tone matches my intent. (Often easier said than done!)

Next, call him out on his complaint. “What about what I just said or asked makes you feel like a child?”  Hear him out, however ridiculous it may sound and then take a deep breath. Once he’s had the opportunity to say his piece, you can kindly remind him that your response was a reaction to him- by not caring for himself or being considerate of you, you get frustrated with him. You are sorry if he feels demeaned, as that wasn’t your intent, but you’re also disappointed in his behavior by acting and responding so immaturely.

At this point, as long as you both are still conversing at normal conversation levels, this would be a good opportunity to make your expectations clear. “I will never be ok with you tickling me while I’m holding our daughter.” or “I’m concerned that you’ll get more sick or stay sick longer if you aren’t following the medication guidelines properly.)

Next you’ll want to remove yourself from these ‘bad guy’ situations. Set up his phone to pop a reminder to take his meds. Make a point to hug him when you’re not holding a kiddo. And if he’s being immature again, call him out on it (nicely!). If you have him helping you with a task, you’ll just have to accept that it might not get done the way you want it to. Assign him the tasks that you don’t mind if it’s not exactly as you would do it (ie. taking out the garbage vs folding clothes).

Lastly, if he still won’t grow up and cooperate, it’s time to fight fire with fire. Flip the tables on him. As soon as he gets all pissy, start crying at him for not listening to you and making your life harder. He’ll likely freak at the tears and say whatever he can to shut you up. Sob, “I’m trying so hard to__________ (insert action he was just complaining about) and you just come in here and mess it all up! Boohooohoo!”. They hate crying worse than nagging.

It takes time for a new-ish guy to learn how you like things done and it takes time for you to learn his strengths and weaknesses in supporting household chores. Patience and planning ahead will go a long way to keeping the peace.

Mother’s Day Rawr…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day & were able to spend time with your Littles or your Mamas or BOTH.

I had a very nice day with my 3 Dudes.  We took the Boys to get their pictures taken for Mother’s Day & for Ryan’s 3 Month Birthday.  The pictures turned out way too cute & both of the Smalls did great!!!  We did a little shopping @ Target, had lunch @ home & the Boys took naps.  Hub’s mom came over in the evening & Hubs made us chicken, corn on the cob & roasted potatoes for us.  My 4 year old made the salad & he was so proud.  Dinner was great & then Hubs & I gorged ourselves on ice cream after James went to bed.  Although he did come out & caught us red-handed!!!  He goes “Heyyyy……. What’s THAT?!”  So busted.

I was in bed last night thinking about my nice day & thought about my most interesting Mother’s Day so far.  2 Years ago Hubs, James & I went to New Orleans for my Birthday (May 6th) & Mother’s Day (May 9th, 2010).  The day before Mother’s Day we spent all day running around New Orleans.  We walked down Bourbon Street (in the day time before it gets TOO weird), went to the Aquarium, walked around & shopped @ the RiverWalk, walked all around the French Quarter & ended up @ the Hard Rock for dinner.  Everything was going great; we were laughing & having a good time & James was just happy as could be.  Until the SECOND the food came & the poor Kid puked his little guts up!!!  Our Waiter was AMAZING though & totally didn’t even skip a beat & started cleaning up the table & asked if we wanted him to box up our food so we could get James home to rest & if he needed some water in a to-go cup.  We got all cleaned up, put the Dude in his stroller & hoofed it back to our hotel.  James still wasn’t feeling well & puked well into the wee hours of the morning on Mother’s Day.  There I sat @ midnight on Mother’s Day, on the bathroom floor of our hotel, propped up with the cushions & pillows from the couch with a pukey Kid.  Happy Mother’s Day to me.  LOL!!!  I guess that’s what I get for procreating.

*KODI*

Puzzle Pieces

A year ago today a Friend of mine took his own Life.  I wrote this a few days after he died & just wanted to share it with you.  ❤

“I’ve been thinking about Friends & Family a lot the last couple days after learning about the death of a good Friend of mine from my Childhood.

The people in our lives are like Puzzle Pieces.  Most of the people we encounter are like the Middle Pieces & help connect our Lives together.  May it be a Friend or just an Acquaintance or a Family Member you speak to occasionally.   There are some people though that are more like the Edge Pieces.  They are more important in the shaping of our lives.  People who we have confided in & shared our Lives with.  People who we love.  Even fewer still are the People I think of as Corner Pieces.  People who truly shaped us & really did help us become who we ARE.  Most of these people are our Parents & Siblings.  Some of these few Corner Pieces are Friends.  The People that were a major influence in what we became & who we turned into.  People that if it weren’t for them & something they did, we would not be able to say “I am Me.”

I can honestly say that Dustan Wilson was one of my Corner Pieces.  There is so much of who I am today that stems from the Friendship I had with him in Middle & High School.  I’m lucky to have had him as a Corner Piece as he helped me grasp the idea of being ME & not conforming to what “They” think I should be.  He helped me become an Individual.  Thank you Dustan.  You were an amazing Friend.  ♥

Most of you are my Middle Pieces, several are my Edge Pieces & a handful of you are my Corner Pieces.  Regardless of what Piece of my Puzzle of Life you are, without You, I am not Me.

*KODI*”

Mother’s Day

I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I was the little girl who pretended to breast feed her dolls and change their diapers, and I grew up to be the teenager who spent most weekends babysitting. In my mind there was no scenario in which I wouldn’t be a mom. After my husband and I graduated college and started our careers, we decided we wanted to get pregnant. I was so excited and ready. Dreams of my big belly, baby showers, and days spent raising tiny people had me giddy.

And so we tried. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Every single month there was another negative test. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t get pregnant. We did everything we could think of to make sure we weren’t hurting our chances. Every now and then thoughts of infertility would creep into my head, and I would push them away. “Not me,” I thought. I was supposed to be a mom. I watched people around me get pregnant and become moms, and I so desperately wanted to join them.

After 3 years of not getting pregnant, I finally decided to see an OB/GYN. They ran some blood tests, and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The doctor told me that I would not get pregnant on my own and that I would need interventions such as fertility drugs and IVF if I wanted to start a family. His suggestion was that I go on contraceptives until I was ready to accept fertility treatments. I asked him if there was anything I could do to treat my PCOS. He said that there wasn’t.

I went home that day and cried until my eyes swelled shut. How was this possible? I was supposed to be a mom! I was angry at my body, angry at the doctor… angry at everything. I went on birth control, and resigned myself to being “broken.” I felt like a piece of my womanhood was gone. My husband gingerly explained to family what had happened, and it became the elephant in the room. Well-intentioned people gave me advice like “Just don’t try so hard, don’t stress about it, and it will happen.” At a friend’s baby shower I was discussing our newly adopted dog and was told “I’ve always noticed that women who can’t have children have a lot of dogs!” by another oblivious friend.

At some point my heart began to change. The bitterness and anger started to give way to a sort of peace. I was going to be a mom, and perhaps the universe just intended that my children wouldn’t be ones I birthed. My husband and I started to talk adoption, but part of me wanted to give it one last try. I decided that maybe that first doctor wasn’t entirely correct. And so I researched, read, and dug for any bit of info I could find on PCOS. At first all the information I found agreed with the doctor’s information. But then I started to find a community of women who were using natural means to heal their PCOS. I figured it was a long stretch, but I dove in.

I got rid of every chemical cleaner we owned and replaced them with things like vinegar, tea tree oil, and castile soap. I detoxified my personal products- deodorant, soap, shampoo, makeup; all of it replaced with less toxic options. Finally I detoxified my diet. I did a cleanse followed by 6 weeks of eating a raw food diet. I felt amazing. I was happier and healthier, and I lost 15 pounds.

One morning 3 months after I started my mission, I woke up with an instinct prodding me. I took a pregnancy test, and for the first time in 5 years, it was positive. I stared at it. I read the entire insert from the package 3 times looking for all the false positive scenarios. I didn’t say anything to my husband because I couldn’t stand the thought of getting his hopes up if I was wrong. I went to the store and bought 3 more tests of all different brands, and they all came out positive. That evening I asked Randy to come into our room, and I showed him the positive test. He stared at it, stared at me, and then started to cry.

 
What followed was a healthy pregnancy resulting in the birth of my son, Dylan, under the care of the beautiful women at Mat-Su Midwifery. I was finally a mom. Even saying that now, my eyes well up with tears. Our youngest son, Everett, joined our family 2 ½ years later… a “surprise” pregnancy, which still causes me to smile. And now I have my 2 crazy, beautiful, amazing children to keep my days full of adventures.
On Mother’s Day I count my blessings and appreciate the journey that brought me my boys. I am grateful for the warrior spirit that emerged and made me fight harder and dig deeper when I was told not to bother. It also reminds of the spark in my heart to adopt a child, because somewhere out there is a child who is meant to be part of our family even though they weren’t born into it.

Whether you be pregnant, holding your baby, adopting into your family, or remembering a sweet angel baby, Happy Mother’s Day.

#Erin

rowing meditation

photography Aaron Ostrowsky (c)

You see your breath puff in clouds out in front of you with each surge in and out of your lungs as you feel the heavy weight of the boat resting on your right shoulder, your oars dangling from your left hand. Walking down to the dock in step with your boat-mate, all four footsteps echoing off the trees lining the path. Reaching the dock, it’s time to set the oars down with a short squat to reach the ground. In synchronicity you lift the boat off all shoulders and roll it over, upright and ready for the water. Stepping lightly to the edge of the dock, with a light plunk, the boat is in the water, ready to move. Gingerly climbing into the boat is done once, then twice. The oar locks click and wobble as oars are locked into them, the locks twisted and tightened down. Feet in place, oars in place, it’s time to shove off. A few half strokes to pull away from the dock and then it’s just the rower, the boat and the water.

    …

It is so early, the birds are just waking up. Just the early birds are chattering and tweeting their good mornings. Listening to the oars move through the water provides a symphony of synchronized sounds. First the oar raises from the water leaving behind a wet towel of dripping water to be wrung out as the oar moves forward. Simultaneously the seat glides and  creaks its way back, providing the pathway that moves the boat forward. With legs crouched, ready to pounce, the oar suddenly drops. Hold still for a moment and you can see the micro-ripples run from the oar like an atomic cloud overtaking area 51. Within an instant your legs rip into action, pushing your body back up the slide until there’s no more slide to go. Your arms lock into place on the oar, pulling it with you as your upper body leans back, eking out every last inch of length. Leaning back as far as you can, it’s time to end the stroke. Your arms go down, the oar goes up and as you drift forward, the ripples become wings to your ride. To keep moving forward, the rhythm must be repeated. Repeated into monotony. Repeated into meditation. Splash. Click. Slide. Splash. Pull!. Lift. Slide. Repeat. and repeat. Until you find serenity.

There is something magical about sitting just inches above the water, gliding across a glassy lake when most of the world is quiet. That anxious, rat race energy which invades your body and mind by the end of the day is still hovering over another economy. There is only your energy, and that of your boat-mates to contend with- still a fight on its own. It’s after the warm-up that you find the peace. Just like music, you need a good rhythm. A steady rhythm to keep the forward momentum without conscious effort. In those moments where your brain is off, your body is on and the water is glassy, that is where I find my serenity.

photography Aaron Ostrowsky (c)

In my serenity, I take comfort in the ripples. Those small waves that result from even just a drop of water hitting the early morning surface. The ripples resonate across the lake. They move farther than you thought they would or could, for being caused by such a small drop. Yet there is power in the subtlety. There is rawr in that potential. So much change effected in that little ripple from that little drop falling on the glassy water.

-Marie

May the Fourth be with you!

What RAWR means to me, Aurora

If I had to put a label on it right now, RAWR would be a toothy, spitty roar of frustration. For a variety of reasons that seem the pinnacle of importance right this minute, but probably aren’t, when it comes to the grand scheme of life. But that isn’t always the case. Every once in a while it’s pure joy. Sometimes it’s pain that fills you up to the point that your head jerks involuntarily backward as your esophagus straightens to release the pressure building in your head and heart. Sometimes it’s a noise you let out when the elements descend upon your town and the electrical current from the sky catches your fingertips and begins coursing like adrenalin through your bloodstream, when you momentarily revert from human, back to creature and take off on a mad dash through the rain.

Mostly, I associate it with times like that. When I shrug off the restrictions placed upon me by the culture we live in, and let loose whatever is in my heart. I used to be embarrassed when that happened. It is, after all, frowned upon, almost always. We’re supposed to be composed. Quiet. Respectful of other people’s space, feelings, beliefs, etc. We’re supposed to be cheerful, and look on the bright side. Responsible. Sensible. Mature. Politically correct. Culturally sensitive. The adjectives alone make me want to unleash the raptor claws. The labels that come with really letting go, in almost any fashion, are not ones that you want associated with your name in this day and age. Emotional. Unstable. Weird. When I was young, I really didn’t want anymore of those connotations floating around me, as I walked through senior hall in high school.

But then, when I was 19 years old, my Grandfather died. The man who, besides my mom and dad, had been more to me than anyone else on the planet. Not just a pillar, but a compass, a shelter, an anchor, and a guide. A good strong back that helped to build the neighbors houses. A shrewdness and intelligence that saw through false fronts and all attempts to mislead. A smile that drew everyone. A presence that demanded respect. A powerful, voice that carried each and every impossible note of his beloved operas through the house and out the windows. An artistic precision as a draftsman that earned him a career that far outweighed what his education should have allowed. A temper that frightened away men twice his size, and laughter that brought them all back. He’d quit school at 16 to help feed his family in the Depression, seen the ugliest part of World War II, raised 3 strong-willed daughters, loved my grandmother with unabashed adoration for almost 60 years, and loved me damn near as much. I was the only one of his empire of grandchildren that he called for when he was dying.

The funeral took place in the big church near my grandparent’s house outside of Fort Worth, Texas. They had dressed my grandfather up in a suit and arranged his face in an expression of peace that somehow made me feel revolted. He hadn’t gone quietly. He’d never done much of anything quietly. There were photos of him from his time in the service, as a young man that I didn’t recognize, there were near a hundred people walking through and expressing their sorrow for my loss, some of them I vaguely remembered, but most I didn’t. Everyone was calm, everyone was talking about how… much happier we should be for him now that he was with God. I kept looking around and wondering why no one looked like I felt, which was on the edge of screaming. My mother, who was more of her father’s spirit than either of her sisters, but who was trapped here in the binds of tradition and trying not to embarrass my grandmother, was thanking people for their prayers, when she has never believed in God. I had to read some Bible verse at the podium that I neither understood nor accepted. I was so angry at all of these people for their sterile, composed and precisely planned execution of this ritual. Obviously none of them had known him like I had. Obviously I was alone. Obviously I was wired wrong, that I couldn’t find any comfort in what was going on around me.

I was watching my aunt escort my grandmother slowly away from the coffin at the front of the church, this vicious torrent of anger and dismay chasing around in my head, when Grammy suddenly jerked her arm free of my aunt’s, spun 180 degrees, collapsed into a pew, dropped her face into her frail old hands and essentially burst wide open. She sobbed into her dress and slapped away the hands of anyone who approached to try and soothe away her grief. She threw off the responsibilities of a respectable widow hosting a gathering for the benefit of everyone who needed comfort less than she did, and reverted back into a creature who’d lost her mate, her partner, her protector, her lover, the father of her babies, and the other half to her wizened old heart. Everyone around her looked flustered and worried, not knowing what they should do, and I was secretly glad. There it was. That was what I felt, and I was so grateful to her for feeling it, and showing it, onlookers be damned. It did scare me, because I was of course, still just a kid, to see one of the ‘grown ups’ in my life fall apart like that, but that didn’t last very long, because it didn’t take much to see that it was primal and beautiful and the most real tribute to the loss of such a great man’s love as she could ever express. That short moment, when I watched her curl into a ball and roar ferociously against the pain she felt… I will never forget that. I knew then that our spirits were the same, and my pride could not have been contained in all the oceans.

When I am too full of something to keep it inside me, I let it come pouring out, just like she did, and I know that it’s ok, because that kind of passion runs in my family. We aren’t quiet. We aren’t composed. We’re a throwback to a lost tribe of true humans, who felt what they were supposed to feel, and had no concept that there should be shame attached to it. I take it to mean I am linked through my bloodline to the people I am most proud to call my family.

When the hairs on my neck stand up under a thick cover of lightning storm clouds, I let my eyes grow wide, throw the door open and charge like a savage out into the downpour.

When I am in the middle of a crowd of thousands, and music courses into all of us like a higher plane of collective consciousness, I let the tears bounce off my face to the rhythm of whatever hedonistic beat I feel.

When someone around me expresses an “opinion” that feels to me like an affront to our entire species, and the will I possess to hold us together where we belong, I admonish him or her with sharp whips of the truth, because the “right to your opinion” can kiss my skinny white ass, if you’re using it to spread hate or fear or ignorance.

When someone means or causes harm to a person that I love, my rage defies my slight stature, and my little fists ball up ready to fight back.

When a demon (for lack of a better word) posing as a person commits atrocities that wound us as a community, I am not embarrassed to join my grief with that of my people, in hopes that it crushes the perpetrators of evil back down into whatever cracks of hell they emerged from, and simultaneously spreads the roots of healing into those most robbed of happiness by the crime.

When my sweetheart is gone and I feel like one more appearance alone in public, one more polite refusal of the passes of a man who doesn’t know my heart belongs elsewhere, one more morning waking up in an empty bed, will drive me into loneliness that I will never return from, I scream into my mattress with a rush of adrenalin alike to that of one I’d feel running for my life from hungry wolves, and I hope that somewhere in the universe, he picks up this channel of raw emotion that means I love him so desperately that his absence drives me mad.

And when I lose someone, regardless of the fact that I believe our energies will in time be combined again in the cosmos, from whence we came, I will howl like a rabid animal and scare the living shit out of every single person in a ten mile radius, rather than stuff all that pain down inside, for it to poison my blood, until a more appropriate time arrives for me to deal with it.

I inherited my RAWR from a long line of men and women who refused to accept the rules they found to be unworthy of following. It is a part of me, even when that is inconvenient. Those around me who might momentarily be pushed backward by the force of it erupting from my lungs/mind/heart/soul, are quickly drawn back toward me, in curiosity at what force this little body could contain to create such power.

Be proud of what comes from within you. Share it with the world. Lord knows, our people are asleep at the wheel and in desperate need of some LOUD noise to wake them. Maybe if we could synchronize it, the force of it could change our course. Maybe it is healthier for us not to sanitize the less than perfect aspects of what being a human means. Maybe, in the pursuit of being my truest self, and encouraging others to do the same, I will earn the pride of my ancestors and I will deserve the love I was raised with. Maybe if I RAWR loud enough, my grandparents will hear me and know that they left something powerful in me, back here on Earth. I remain ever wide-eyed and hopeful. And loud.

*Aurora

Blog at WordPress.com.