Thursday, March 24, 2011

One Day Without Shoes

A few weeks ago, we all bought some new shoes from TOMS. It was started by a man named Blake Mycoskie who when traveling to Argentina, found that most of the kids didn't have any shoes.  He came up with an idea to start a shoe company where for every shoe sold, he gave one away.  In 2006 he made his first drop of 10,000 shoes in Argentina and since have given away millions of shoes to kids in need. I love this idea.  The shoes are comfortable and trendy but the best part is of course that every time you wear them, you remember that because you are, a child is wearing some too.  My kids love theirs and try to imagine who that child might be.  Where could he or she live? What is their name? How old are they?  Do they get to go to school for the first time because they now have shoes?   It's just another way we are trying to teach our kids to be connected to their world.  That their choices and their lives have implications not only to the people sitting next to them in school but to people on the other side of the earth.  That they are not only citizens of our town or our state or our country but of the world.

After we got our shoes we visited the website to get more information and came across a link to an event being held on April 5, 2011, One day without shoes.  You can watch the video here.  Of course, Birdie was immediately interested and said she wanted to do it, to go an entire day without shoes to raise awareness of people around the world who don't have a choice.  I told her I'd support her but she'd have to decide whether she wanted to do it all on her own.  She was unwavering so I called the school and cleared it with the principal.  They haven't decided exactly how much foot nakedness they will let her do but they agreed to let her go barefoot in class all day and are thinking of letting her do the entire day through the school so long as I drive her to school and she skips recess.

Bear and I are doing it too.  Bubba's school won't allow him.  Howie is considering it too although he's taking much more convincing.  I hope he comes around because it would be great to do it as a family.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes and will take pictures.  Would you consider doing it too?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Consistency...Or Lack Thereof

I haven't been to church in months. Isn't it funny how time can get away from you?  A few months ago, we stepped back from our church for a couple of weeks.  It's a long drawn out story but the bottom line is we needed a couple of weeks to breathe and think and pray and get our heads straight.

We should have gone straight back after that but we got out of our Sunday routine of church and two weeks turned into a month and then two months and before we knew it, we'd fallen completely off the wagon.  Time got away from us.  The same thing happens to me with the gym.  I get into a great routine of working out and am feeling wonderful and loving it and then something happens that throws a wrench in my groove and I lose my place, get distracted and before I know it, it's been three months and my pants don't fit.

I went back to church yesterday and loved every minute.  It's like when I finally do get back to the gym and my heart pumps and I sweat out all my stress and pain, wring myself out and wonder why the heck have I been making excuses not to work out. It feels so great!  My body feels good, my mind feels good, why don't I do it more consistently?  It was the same with church because the same way that exercise reinvigorates my body, church reinvigorates my spirit and I walk out of the sanctuary feeling awoken and excited and energized.  I really should do it more consistently.

The bottom line is that I'm lazy, so much so that I forgo feeling fantastic in order to be lazy.  I skip the gym or the walk because I'm comfortable, even though I know it will make me feel amazing.  And I skip church because it's hard to get moving on a Sunday morning. Everyone sleeps in and then there is breakfast to be made and kids to dress and husbands who move at the pace of molasses in January.  It's kind of a hassle...not the being IN church, the getting there.

Boy, I'm my own worst enemy.  I'm sitting here thinking of how amazing it would feel to get some exercise everyday and eat better everyday and do everything I'm supposed to do and get to church every week.  It's almost mind boggling how fantastic that would be.  Truth is, I am better off today than I was even a year ago.  I eat better...maybe not every day all day but I make better choices overall.  And while I don't work out consistently, I'm much more active.  I also pray everyday which is a huge change.  There was a time when I couldn't remember the last time I prayed.  So, I have to recognize that I'm moving in the right direction here but man, it's such a struggle to stay on the right path.  Why is it so hard to keep doing what's good for me?  It would be a huge gift to myself, a huge display of loving myself to do these things, why is it such a struggle then to keep doing them? On the surface it seems like such an easy choice.  It's the doing it consistently that trips me up!

If you are a bible reader, check out Romans 7:15-25.  Paul so perfectly puts into words my exact sentiments!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Half Full

This morning I had a long discussion with Birdie about gratitude.  She's been in a complaining phase lately and one of her favorite phrases is "this is like the worst day ever!"  We remind her all the time that it's not okay to complain but all of our talking hasn't made a dent in that third grade head of hers because she continues to do it. 

There's a whole new generation of chronic complainers out there.  I have personally experienced many young people ages 18-30 out there, complaining constantly about how terrible and awful and horrible their lives are even while they are surrounded by blessings.  They may have twenty things going right in their life but if one thing goes wrong, they lose control and focus only on the bad.  I don't want this for my kids.  There are so many things in life that can set you back, I don't want them to stifle themselves with a bad attitude on top of it. 

I admit that I can be this way too sometimes, I think we all can.  It's easy to forget everything that's going right when something goes wrong.  But living like that is like focusing solely on the pain of a paper cut and ignoring the fact that the rest of your body is miraculously working the way it should!  There are worse things than a paper cut! Your heart could stop, your brain could malfunction, your life could truly be in jeopardy.  You'll survive a paper cut!

So this morning I explained all of this to Birdie.  That living life without gratitude is living life in the dark.  That complaining is a sure way to a miserably life.  Focusing on the negative cheats you of all the wonderful things around you.  We had fun trying to find the silver lining in things.  She was surprised at how there is good in everything.  That if you really focus and stop and think, you will find a blessing in not just some things but everything in your life! 

This will be a hard lesson for her to learn.  I know this because I'm 35 and I still have problems with it.  I'm thinking that the success doesn't come from never being negative, the success comes from going negative and fighting your way back, from standing in the darkness and choosing to turn away from it to try to find the bright side.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Person At A Time

A couple of weeks ago we had an emergency (sort of) here at the house.  I say emergency only because there was lots of blood and it involved a trip to the E.R. and stitches, er a stitch.

I suppose since I haven't updated this blog in a while I should tell you that we got a puppy back in December.  Her name is Cocoa and she is such a love.  I never imagined to fall so madly in love with a dog but she is just such a sweetheart.  She's spoiled and cute and fun and silly and loving...everything you could ever want in a dog.  It took some adjustment for us though.  Hal and I had never had a puppy so we weren't used to waking up five times a night for potty breaks or having our ankles gnawed to bits.  For a while there we considered having her DNA tested because clearly this creature was less puppy and more carnivorous crocodile beast.  But the most adjustment came for the kids because they weren't used to having a puppy around either and were so inappropriate with her, encouraging all sorts of bad behaviors and being rough but we laid out the rules.  There is to be no rough play, they've been told what to do if she nips, jumps, barks, breaths into a southwest wind, EVERYTHING.  The girls are awesome, they picked it up right away but the boy? Well, that's a different story.  He chases the dog, tries to ride her even though she's only a few inches off the ground, pulls her tail, pokes her, teases her, well, you get the picture.  Cocoa thinks that Bubba is her plaything, a real-life, moving, running jumping plaything and she loves it!  The only problem is that Bubs get carried away and inevitably so does Cocoa and then someone gets stepped on (Cocoa) or nipped at (Bubba) or driven to drink (Me).  And so it's a crazy dance where we try to keep boy and dog away from each other as they try desperately to find ways to annoy each other. 

So on this day, Bubba had been harassing the dog.  Not just harassing her but poking at her, teasing her, being totally obnoxious to her.  He'd been repeatedly warned stop but of course he didn't listen and he bugged her one too many times and she nipped at him.  Now this would normally not be a problem because while she nips (only him by the way), she doesn't actually bite down but on this day he put his face in her face and she caught him right  on the space below the nose and above the lip.

A lot happened in between but I'll cut to the chase and say there was a lot of blood and while it didn't look bad and normally a cut like that would only warrant an ice boo boo patch and lots of hugs and kisses, this was his face after all, we should probably take him to the E.R.  We went and they gave him a stitch.  I want desperately to tell you the story about how much work and effort it took an E.R. team and myself for the boy to get that singular stitch but I don't have the time or finger stamina for that story right now.  Anyway, while they're sewing him up they gave him a talking to about his inappropriate behavior with puppies and how he should be more responsible as I stood there and nodded my head up and down in agreement and sporadically made eye contact with Bubba and raised my eyebrows as if to say, "SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!"

But then they asked the question.  An innocent question at first because they didn't really care they were just making small talk.  "What kind of dog do you have?"  Um.  Conundrum.  Should I tell the truth because that's the right thing to do even though I know it will open a Pandora's box?  Or do I lie in front of my child and teach him a horrible, awful, terrible lesson?

"She's a pitbull"  That's when the alarm system went off and the siren started to blare and hospital workers came running from every corner of the building to stare and point at the terrible mother who let a pitbull maul her child's face.  There were reports to file and questions to answer and judgments to be made.  By the time we made it home we had a police officer at our front door asking where he could find the "vicious pitbull".  I looked at the officer and then pointed to the ground to show him this...

...he laughed.  I didn't blame him.  Cocoa is about as "vicious" as a bowl of jello...if the jello had tiny little puppy teeth.  But even if that jello had puppy teeth it would seem ridiculous to make the leap and call it "vicious". Thankfully, the officer understood all too well the completely incorrect and undeserved reputation of pitbulls.  These dogs were actually originally bred to be completely docile with humans. They make terrible guard dogs because most of them would lick an intruder to death before they'd attack him  They make amazing pets and when we asked our vet about them when we were considering adoption, she assured us that there is nothing dangerous, vicious or wrong with the pitbull breed.  They've simply got a bad rap because some bad owners bred them for fighting or trained them to be vicious and the vet said you can train any animal to be that way, it has nothing to do with the animal and everything to do with the owner.  You should not be any more fearful of a pitbull than you would be of a Pomeranian.

We're determined to inform people that pitbulls are not bad animals.  They are constantly passed over at shelters because people think they are dangerous and that couldn't be further from the truth.  Cocoa just finished puppy kindergarten and is getting ready to start her intermediate training and then on to her Canine Good Citizen certification.  She is going to be the best behaved, most amazing dog because we love her and are doing right by her and her breed by teaching her to be a well-behaved and obedient dog. 

Just this evening a couple came to our house to pick up a washer and dryer and Cocoa raced outside to greet them because she's so incredibly friendly.  They were so happy so see her because she was wagging her tail and being her sunny little self and when Howie told her to "sit" she sat and when he told her to "stay" she stayed and they were totally enamored by her.  Naturally they asked us what kind of dog she is and we proudly told them.  "She's a pitbull."  They couldn't believe it, they were shocked that a pitbull could be so friendly, so sweet, so obedient, so well behaved.  I know that they left here with a different opinion about pitbulls. And so begins Cocoa's career to change the world's perception about pitbulls...one person at a time :-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Is In The Air

I sneezed six times in a row and peed my pants while I was in the supermarket this morning.  There is no doubt that spring is around the corner.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Disconnect

Have you ever noticed that during this time when we are supposedly so "connected" with email and texts and facebook and twitter, that there seems to be more disconnect than ever?  I find this to be the truth all the time.  It's like there are so many means of communication and we know we can reach anyone so easily that we don't even bother!  Not only that, but I usually feel left out of everything so instead of feeling more included, more connected, more together, I feel even lonelier than before!  It's just one more opportunity for people to be forgotten and rejected.  Think about it, in the olden times if you didn't hear from someone you simply didn't hear from them.  Perhaps they didn't come to visit or didn't write.  But now they don't visit, they don't write, they don't call or text or write on your wall or tweet.  So now instead of feeling slightly forgotten, you feel completely rejected!

Take Facebook for example.  I often miss conversations on wall posts or status updates and then later when people are talking about it, I feel even more left out!  Or I see pictures of people going out to parties or doing things I wasn't invited to attend and the perception is that I'm left out.  I know that's not true, it's just that it looks that way and I sometimes have to calm my feelings.  It's one thing not to know anything about it, it's another thing to see your rejection in jpeg form!  It's just created a whole new complicated social dynamic.  I understand it yet am hurt by it all at the same time. Ick!

I also often find that the more I talk to someone online, the less I see of them in person which for me totally defeats the purpose because I want to keep in contact so that we can hopefully get together more!  It's almost like communication has become too easy in a sense.   And what about couples who Facebook each other?  That just strikes me as weird.  From time to time I'll write something on Howie's wall but it's usually a playful flirtation.  But I'll see couples having actual conversations online and I'm like, "dude, isn't he sitting next to you in bed?"

People also say and do things online that they would never do in person and to make things worse, it get to be where people don't even know to be communicate face to face anymore.  It's not easy to be vulnerable face to face.  It's a lot harder to hide anger or frustration.  It's not as easy to think on your feet and say the right think without pondering it over for a while.  The lines of communication are wide open yet somehow the message gets all scrambled up by the time you get it and makes for even more confusion and less understanding.

I go back and forth between wanting to use Facebook to stay connected and hating it because I'm too connected and now feel all dirty for seeing things that make me feel terrible. Sometimes I wonder if I should just go off the grid!