The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon

…sometimes getting lost in the details slows down the process in getting to what really matters.  It is good to be organized, but it not a place to dwell.

…Sometimes getting lost in the details slows down the process in getting to what really matters. It is good to be organized, but it not a place to dwell.

Today I learned:  “Step-Outside of the status quo to speed up results”

I am very organized.  I know EXACTLY what is in my pile of dirty laundry.  I know EXACTLY what is in my pile of clean laundry.  I know that I can immediately walk to the laundry room and grab my pink sweater, which is buried, below my unfolded whites.  I know that it is laying the long way, top to the left-hand side.  I know I have a pair of jeans on my closet floor that I only wore for two hours that I could wear again, and I know there is nothing spilled on them.

My children did not teach my organizational strategy to me, rather it was taught to me by my mother.   She referred to this systematic method of organization as “stack organization.”  There are many benefits to this seemingly unorganized style of organization…All of which I seemed to have started to forget as I became much more diligent in my cleaning and organizing efforts at home.

While I still have placed value in “stack organization” in many areas (such as my laundry), there are some places that I have become almost anal retentive in more traditional forms of organization.  My kitchen cupboards for example, are one area that I have become an organizational traditionalist.  Everything goes in its place, exactly.  That is to say that my Tupperware is all stacked in specific ways, my cups go in specific spots, and some spoons go in one spot while others go somewhere else.  A certain set of bowls go on one side while another set goes on the other side.  I like to consider this a sign that I am a grown up.

Until today. When I realized once again, I have so much to learn from my children about being a grown up.

Today I decided that my daughter is old enough to start helping out more.  I had some errands to run and there was no reason why she could not put away the dishes from the dishwasher while I was out.  She groaned at the idea of having to come inside from her playtime to do such a task.  I left as she rolled her eyes at me.

When I returned, I found that “stack organization” runs in the family.  Although,  “stack organization” did not mean in the way she stacked the Tupperware.  In this case, it was definitely in the manner of which my mother taught me.  I found (and will continue to find, I am sure) things in the strangest spots.  After seeing this, I am now sure she never opened a cupboard in our kitchen prior to this event.   Then I saw her outside playing.  It immediately dawned on me what had happened.

One of the greatest benefits to “stack organization” is that it speeds up the transaction to get to an outcome a lot faster.  Her outcome was not a traditionally organized kitchen.  Her outcome was to put things away so she could go outside and continue to play.

What I learned from this made me smile as plucked a bowl from the utensil drawer…sometimes getting lost in the details slows down the process in getting to what really matters.  It is good to be organized, but it not a place to dwell.  When there are more important things calling, it is ok to let go of the details and use some of my mom’s famous “stack organizational” tactics.  Additionally, it also ok to step away from the status quo of what EVERYONE else is doing and come up with a system that works for me.   (And not everything has to be practical…some of the most brilliant plans ever created had impractical beginnings)

Thank you Allie – You are so smart.

–Stupid Mom

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Looking at a Crab Half Full (and the power of positive thinking)

A healthy crab named Crabby teaches there is positivity even in the cycle of life.

A healthy crab named Crabby teaches there is positivity even in the cycle of life.

February 19, 2012

Today I learned: “Life is precious, it is best to spend it focused on the positive”

Before going to bed last night, I saw that my daughter’s hermit crab was laying lifeless out of its shell in its cage. After reading, googling, speaking to PetSmart employees, and my mother (who called the crab shop expert), I found that it is completely impossible to tell if it is dead or alive. Crabs apparently can be in a lifeless state for a long time, even out of the shell, during its molting period. I also learned that it would start to smell if it is dead and that is how I will know. In addition to telling my daughter when she came home that her pet might be dead, or might be dead, I get to look forward to possible stench coming from her room…and it could take some time.

Yes, I was not feeling the most positive energy for my day. I loaded up my son and set out to PetSmart to purchase a new tank. Guilt had set in that I had apparently put the two crabs in a much too small of living conditions for the past year, causing stress, a shell-less crab, and possibly death. The tank is $12. No big deal.

After $45 at PetSmart, I started to feel better. Definitely less guilt. I put the clearly healthy crab into her new home and left the naked one where she was. The only thing still weighing heavy on my mind was to tell my daughter Kitty (the naked, lifeless crab) might be dead

When she came home from school I pulled her aside… I expected the worse. Tears, screaming, crying. I expected to have to convince her that there was still a chance she was alive, although I was doubtful myself. My daughter is very emotional. Despite this, I wanted to give her the “heads up” and I believe being honest is important. SO…I braced myself…

Then she said, “Its ok Mommy. That happens. I understand if Kitty dies. I am just really happy Crabby is still doing well. She likes her new home too.” Then, she went and did her homework.

All my worries. All my negative conversations. Abolished.

All because of one positive conversation from a 9 year old girl.

Once I chose positive,  I saw it all around me.  Even in the rain.

Once I chose positive, I saw it all around me. Even in the rain.

Negativity is like cancer. It spreads and can create more of the same. However, positivity can be the cure. It is the ultimate Negavity Cancer fighting antigen. A little can go a long way, but you can just never seem to get too much (like Vitamin ‘C’ I think). I am always at choice of what I give people, I hold both within me. I can share a Cure or I can share a Disease. The truth is, most of the people on this planet are surrounded by disease and have consumed enough; the world needs more of the Antigen. Not to mention, Allie made it clear that choosing that is really really easy. I think I will choose that. Yes, more positivity is my choice.

Thank you Allie – You are so smart.

Falling in Friendship with a Stranger

February 12, 2013

Today I learned: “The value of friendship”

Teddy Bear

Friendship is a Choice that is Worth the Time.

I always believed that peace begins in the home.  If there is not peace in the home, it won’t be in our communities, our society, or our world.  It must start at home.  I know this.  My children didn’t have to teach me that (although sometimes they remind me that getting really really mad won’t get me to that outcome).

But today Anthony taught me a great lesson on friendship and love.  Seeing as Valentine’s Day is just two days away (as I write this), it seems a timely lesson – A lesson that also fits with my focus of peace.

This story actually starts at the end; because it wasn’t until the end that I realized what I had already learned in the beginning.

We ended up at McDonald’s.  I was getting the food while Anthony immediately ran for the playroom.  He brought ice cream because…well, sometimes eating ice cream first is important (a lesson for another time).  When I came into the playroom, he had his ice cream stick (think “fudge pop”) wrapped in napkins to keep from dripping.  A great idea.  A brilliant idea.  However, not an idea I had thought of.  When I asked him where he got the little bundle containing the drips, he pointed to a woman and said: “she gave them to me,  Mommy.” And I thought that was nice and smiled at the other woman.

Not too long after he had pointed out the kind (and brilliant) woman who gave him the ice-cream stick swaddle, it was time for them to leave.  He waved to the boy that was leaving with her and yelled “Bye, Friend!!”

Friend.  A boy he had met 5 minutes earlier.  And he meant it, he meant “friend.”  It was authentic and pure, and he really felt friendship for this boy.  I could tell by his voice, it was not a flippant remark at all.  It was purposeful and meaningful,  this boy who had no name was indeed Anthony’s friend.

He immediately picked up a new game with a new friend until it was time to go.  Again, he played with this boy and treated the stranger as a real friend.  He showed him respect.  He treated him with kindness. And he wished him a good day when they parted ways. He didn’t do this to be polite.  He didn’t do this because it was the “right thing to do”.  He treated this stranger as a real friend because…well, he was.

As we were leaving, he picked up his teddy bear.  It was the same one that had joined us on our entire day’s journey.  It was the same teddy bear that I buckled in the seat belt next to Anthony. The same bear that I gave kisses to and promised to buy a treat to if he was well behaved.  The same bear I asked to guard the car while we went into the store.  And this bear…was Anthony’s friend.  He loved him.  Full of stuffing, unable to reciprocate…Anthony loved him anyway.  Because he chose to, and for no other reason.

Which brings me back to the first stop of the day – before McDonald’s, before ice cream, and before a teddy bear guard.  I had to go to the Girl Scout store for my daughter.  It was a quite a drive, but I knew exactly what I needed for her uniform and I could be in and out within 5 minutes, so I didn’t mind having to make the trek out to the store.  After being guided back into a room that served as a store, I instantly found what I was looking for.  Little did I know that I would spend and hour at the register of the store getting to know the 75 year old man operating it.  He has a Grandson named Anthony, like my son.  He has coached baseball, among other sports. Although his “ticker” prevents him from doing that now, he happily occupies the bleachers to cheer on his grandchildren in all their sporting events.  He has been working with children for 48 years.  His wife ran an in-home daycare, certified by the State of Texas.  They fostered children in addition to raising their own. He was never a Boy Scout himself, but he volunteered to help them and was commended by the troop for his service to the scouts when he graduated from high school (it was many years ago he told me with a smile).  I know a lot about him.  Incidentally, he knows a lot about me too as I opened up and shared my own stories.  But despite seeing his name badge, and despite him seeing my credit card…we left each other not really even knowing each other’s name.  Just the same, for that hour we were nothing short of…friends.

So…

As we were leaving McDonald’s and I watched Anthony hug his bear after saying goodbye to his friend… I reflected back at the man at the Girl Scout store. Imagine if I keep that lesson long enough to treat all strangers with the same kind of love that Anthony taught me is possible?  I would be a lot closer to that outcome of peace… and there would be a lot more love in my world.  That’s worth making time for.

Thank you, Pepperoni – You are so smart.

–Stupid Mom

Life’s Lightweight Champion

AJ Rock Climbing

Physical Strength is Just One of Many of Tony’s Characteristics

Today I learned:Big things come in small packages.

Without further ado, it is my great honor to introduce the newest and youngest member of my core learning team: Anthony 

  • Current Age: 4
  • Aliases: AJ, Tony, Tony Bologna, Tony Bologna Pepperoni, Bologna, Pepperoni, My Bologna has a First Name, Nerd Bucket
  • Favorite Superheroes: Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man
  • Future Career: Spiderman

Anthony has a really tough-guy exterior.  If you saw his bulging biceps (almost as big as a spaghetti noodle…a wet one), you would understand.  But behind his rough and tumble shell, is this soft and gentle boy.  He will give up his candy, his favorite toy, or even his lunch for the people he loves.  I have never seen someone so young be so full of a sharing spirit.  He shows me everyday how to be more loving and teaches me that giving of myself doesn’t mean I lose myself.  I too can share and be kind.

And it takes a tough guy to be able to so easily  give.  He is never afraid of being considered weak or small because he knows it’s just not true.  When Anthony walks he is 6 feet tall and 275.  That is whom he sees, and because he believes in himself it’s what others see too.  Emotional strength and confidence is something I can learn a lot about from him.

Because he is so strong inside and out, he is comfortable teaching lessons on love too.  When someone needs comforting, a friend, a hug, or a kiss he is always there.  In fact, he is so loving that he is also not afraid to ask for those things when he needs them for himself.  It’s this love that can snap me from anger and frustration back to the basics…love.

Anthony equals EXCITEMENT.  He greets everyone with enthusiasm and happiness every time he sees them.  Coming home to Anthony (even after a quick trip to the store) is like seeing a dear friend after many years apart.  This excitement is all around him, and he is quick to share in the excitement of others too.  Sometimes he has more enthusiasm for others than they even have for themselves.  It’s such a great lesson on how to be a positive force in the lives of others – some people need that “permission” to get excited.  He teaches me how to be that “permission” for others in my life.

Tony with Chocolate Milk

Anthony is down to only 1-2 Chocolate Milks a Day

But even the most loving, exciting, strong, giving people have vices; it’s what makes us human.  Anthony has shown me that perfection is found in imperfections and flaws…because that is a part of who we (I) be, and who we really are… IS perfect (there is nothing wrong or broken).  His chocolate milk addiction began early…I blame myself for driving him to drink; although I know its not fair because I didn’t know he would become so dependent.  I have fostered and cared for him, and with his own strength combined with my firmness, I am happy to say he is now down to one or two cups most days.   We aren’t perfect, I have my flaws too…but Anthony has taught me that whether it a weight struggle, messiness, or temporary bad attitude – I am still worthy of being loved.  And sometimes even I need someone to show me my blind spots and push me to make healthy changes for myself.

Thank You, Anthony – You are so smart.

–Stupid Mom

A Bag of Jokes (and other Tricks)

Today I learned: “Smiles are contagious, and are meant to be spread”

Simon XMAS

Smiles aren’t just reserved for Christmas!

A man that hardly needs an introduction, he has been a key person in my learning development over the last 5 years: Simon.

  • Alter Ego: Jack (from Mexico, but who often visits our home… and India. He is sometimes good, and sometimes naughty, but never boring.)
  • Best Friend: Anthony, Allie, Pablo, Jeremy, Ethan…and every other person he meets…but mostly the SPOTLIGHT is his best friend – he is always under it!
  • Future Career: Cowboy

Simon commanded attention from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Nothing would ever be “ordinary” with him. He was my first home-birth, and my only water birth. Everything about his coming into the world was remarkable and beautiful. He instantly put a smile on my face and has not stopped teaching me how to smile since.

In fact, his smile is radiant. Simon has the biggest cheek-to-cheek grin I have ever seen in my life, and it is almost permanently on his face; its not too surprising given his natural talent for humor. I knew he had a lot to teach me about humor when he was around 6 months old and he turned to his big sister on the couch and gave her a grin and made a funny sound to make her laugh.

His laughter is what makes him so great at getting in touch with that “inner child.” He always has time to play, be silly, and brighten a room. His comedic talent ranges from fart and poop jokes to a plethora of funny faces. There is just no telling what he will pull out of his bag of tricks. He certainly has shown me the importance of carrying that bag and making sure it is always full.

He also has an incredible sense of wonder, making him a CEO (Chief Exploring Officer). He is enamored with nature; any living thing he finds is a part of his heart. He is also curious and never without a question, so his mind is continually working (and so is his mouth). A great reminder that if you don’t know the answer, its ok to go find it.

And he never gives up on finding the answers either. His determination is remarkable. He has taught me many times over that pushing myself and picking myself up when I stumble are the only ways to succeed. He never fails, and he never gives up. He changes his approach until he “gets it”. This determination makes him very smart and open to learning new things.

While he is determined beyond belief, he is also not afraid of letting go. He never holds on to the things he does not need. He lets go of emotional garbage and grudges. He is quick to forgive, and fast to share. He loves whole-heartedly and never allows sadness or stress to consume him. His spirit is strong and yet innocent. I take full advantage of these strengths he possesses, because I have much to learn, especially in these areas

Good Morning with Simon

Contagious Grin

Simon is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. It’s impossible to meet him and not fall instantly in love and have this overwhelming sense of… goodness. I am forever grateful for his presence in my life.

Thank you, Simon – You are so smart.

-Stupid Mom

Her Best Friends are Strangers

February 7, 2013

Today I learned: “Wisdom begins at birth, or sooner”

IMG_0118Introducing one of my very own “A-Team” players- a huge asset to my learning team: Alexandra. 

  • Aliases: Allie *(Previously also referred to as “Missy Moo, Moo, Sweet Pea, and Pea, although now she prefers to keep more professional)
  • Favorite Color: Green
  • Future Career: Teacher, 4th grade reading (because she likes reading and she knows the 4th grade stuff)

I remember the moment I fell in love with my Alexandra.  It was after everyone had left the hospital and I was holding her in the rocking chair.  When our eyes met, I fell in love in a way I had never experienced before.  Everything my mom ever told me finally made sense.

It was not long after that, or maybe even before – probably when I was still pregnant in fact, that I realized how brilliant Allie is and how much she could teach me about life, not just love.   I was thrilled she would be forever a part of my team – I had a lot to learn.

She has so much courage! When she was really small, she would hide behind my legs and people would comment on her shyness.  So, I would always step-aside or put her in front of me and tell them how mistaken they were, so she could really shine.   Alexandra was brave, like a lion, not shy.  And her favorite animal was soon declared, and never faltered to this day, as a lion.   I am convinced this is her “totem animal” or soul animal of sorts.  She is always open to taking a new risk and pushing me to do the same.  Like last year when she took on the “big” water slide – right from the start.  No warm-ups, no easing into it or discovering what it would feel like to be on a waterslide first, she just climbed to the top of this big ol’ thing and took it on, just like that.

She is always teaching me about creativity and imagination too. She plays make-believe all the time, still at 9 years old. People in the grocery store often smile fondly and comment on her vivid imagination.  She is a singer, dancer, teacher, cheerleader, and just about anything she can think up. Her dance moves are tops, she teaches me her moves often (but I am a very slow and uncoordinated learner and just overall not as cool).  She also speaks Spanish and Hindi fluently – self-taught nonetheless. Her dramatics overall are fantastic.  One time in a parking lot I actually indicated that I did NOT LIKE her drama and then we talked about what that meant.  I think since then she has really embraced it and owned it as a big part of herself. Some may call this stubborn, but it is just part of her tenacious spirit.

And tenacity is definitely one of her strengths. She is not one that is ever held back by circumstances.  When she wants something, she goes for it with all her heart.  No holding back.  Sometimes this looks like a tantrum, but its really about a girl who knows what she wants from life and won’t take no for answer.  As she has grown, she has fine-tuned this skill and utilizes it more purposefully and skillfully.  Which is beautiful, most of the time.

Her eye for beauty is unparalleled too.  She is a fashionista for sure and gives me tips and pointers on staying beautiful.  She also sees the beauty in the things around her, rocks, trees, toads, beetles, colors, a piece of string, even a bead found on the ground.  She never misses an opportunity to find the beauty in the things around her.  She is great at pointing out that beauty is all around us. And it keeps me on my toes on laundry day as I clean out pockets…or don’t clean out pockets.

Being the oldest member of my core team members, she is also excellent at exemplifying her maturity.  She is great at showing me how to be mature, and  equally important – when to be immature.  She seems to have a great balance of knowing when to laugh at farts and when to keep others in line.

And Friendship is one of her strongest areas.  She has lots of friends.  In fact,  when she goes somewhere she always makes a new bestie.   Sometimes she is not very good at names, but what’s in a name anyway – as Shakespeare said “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  She is a great role model for friendship, and how to care for every stranger as if they really were a “best friend”.

Thanks Allie – You are so smart.

–Stupid Mom

Introductions First, Please

February 6, 2013

 

Today I learned:  “I am equipped with an amazing team.”

For my next few entries, I have decided to introduce my learning team.  While each member of my team is extremely talented and offers exceptional wisdom in all areas of personal development and life lessons, they each have their niche areas where they truly excel.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by an extensive learning team, including my best friend and companion, and two 4-legged furry experts. I may introduce these team members later.   For now, I will focus on my three core team members, with whom I give credit for most of the smarts I have managed to miraculously achieve. To appreciate their expertise, it is helpful to understand their background, experience, and education in their field(s).   Please read over the next few days to learn more about the uniqueness of these amazing individuals.  I will be highlighting one of the core learning team members per day.

Not a day goes by that this incredible team of individuals does not inspire me:

IMG_0118Alexandra:

Title: Daughter

Current Age: 9

Expertise:  Beauty, Courage, Diva-ness, Drama (and all things relating
to the dramatic arts such as dancing, acting, singing),  Tenacity, Maturity, Friendship

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0634

Simon:

Title: Son

Current Age: 5

Expertise:  Humor, Letting Go, Positivity, Getting in Touch
with your Inner Child, Wonder/Exploration,Determination

4-up on 2-4-13 at 11.16 AM (compiled)

Anthony:       

Title: Son

Current Age: 4

Expertise: Sharing, Forgiveness, Strength (mental & physical),
Super-Heroes, Excitement, Love/Romance,  Chocolate Milk
(and addictions), Finances

 

 

Thank you Alexandra, Simon, and Anthony – You are so smart.

–Stupid Mom