Waging war in the urban jungle

Friday, May 21, 2010

What is potential?

Dimitri hears a lot that he could do so much better in school, he has the potential to be great. To be honest, I truly believe he is exceptionally smart. His academic struggles are not intelligence based but more organizational issues. But, when he hears that from me or his Mom or his Dad what does that feel like?

By focusing on what how he could be doing are we somehow negating or demeaning the great person that stands before us? Does he think he is worth less for not acing a test? Does he think we value him less if he gets a D -vs- an A? Do I want to see the A's on the tests? Of course. I do. Every parent wants to see their child succeed. Do I love him less if it's a D? No, I don't.

How do we simultaneously encourage him to higher and aim for greatness while accepting, celebrating and appreciating the young man he is becoming?

It's a tight rope to walk to be honest. I want my children to reach for the stars, I want them to succeed, I also want them to love and appreciate themselves for who they are-flaws and all. It is our flaws that make us interesting. I don't want them to think that their value is based on what their GPA is or what their far off future salary is. I want them to appreciate who they are right now, in this moment, and not think....when I *insert future goal here* THEN I'll be happy. Be happy now! Enjoy this moment! Live this life for today! Go to school, embrace learning, not because you need good grades to get into college but because learning is, in an of itself, worthwhile. You are a better person for having learned something new today. Each and every day offers a new opportunity for growth. Embrace that opportunity. Today you are worthwhile. Today you are loved. Today you are appreciated. Not because of what you could do but because of who you are.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My good deed for the week

We're hiring. I posted the job on Craigslist a couple days ago and have been flooded with resumes. It's clear that the recession is far from over. Oregon has a very high unemployment rate now. Honestly, while I'm glad that my little company can help at least one more person get back to work, this process is a little depressing. There are some applicants where you can practically hear the desperation in their words. I feel bad for them. I wish I could give them all jobs....not exactly realistic, but still, I would love to be able to help on a larger scale.

But back to my good deed. There was one applicant who sent in his resume and has experience relevant to the position. However, in his duty description he stated that he drove a company and customers cars ASS needed. Seriously, ass. You know, the funny thing about spell check, if you add a single solitary letter to a word you can totally change the word to a new one that while inappropriate for the sentence is still a legit word and will therefore not be caught with spell check. This is why spell check can never replace a good proofreader. So I emailed the guy. And I told him about his unfortunate typo and recommended he fix that...ASAP, preferably before he sends out another resume. He actually called me today, got my voice mail, to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! He's sent that resume out countless times and no one has ever said a word. He used spell check he says but obviously didn't catch the extra S. Yes, ass is a real word, therefore it wouldn't be flagged with spell check. I mean, really, in this economic climate you just cannot afford little whoopsies like that. You need every single edge you can get in this job market.

The reality is, I may interview the guy, he does have legitimate experience for the position I need to fill, but if he were even a little marginal in that regard I would over look him for something like that. Poor grammar, misspelled words, lack of punctuation, all of those things result in me setting aside the resume. Maybe I'm too harsh but I just think resumes and cover letters should be scrutinized, preferably by multiple sets of eyes, before they're sent out. This is your first impression, make sure it's a good one.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

M I C... See you real soon!

We watched the plan your Disney Vacation DVD yesterday. Paulo sat there on the couch with his mouth hanging open, squealing with delight. He's literally counting down the days-always good to fit in a little math lesson where we can. He's mentally mapping out his plan of attack on the rides. Which to go first, and then where and back to the what ride next....I am so excited to see him experience all the magic of Disney.

He's such a joyful child. I want to watch him run up to Mickey, Minnie, all the Princesses and throw himself in their arms. He's never been afraid of costumed characters. On a trip to Seattle we stopped at the Children's Museum up there, he would not leave Clifford the Big Red Dog alone! He was 2 I think. Couldn't stop pestering Clifford, kept going back for one more hug, one more high five. I finally had to force him to leave the dude alone so other kids could get in there and shake Clifford's paw. He drags Chuck E Cheese over to the air hockey table every time we're there to play a quick game. Fortunately the poor kid inside the costume is agreeable to playing. Man that is not a job I want! To watch him though talk to his favorite Disney Characters though, that will be magical even for me.

He's a very daring child too, so I'm looking forward to seeing him on the rides. He wants to go on the Tower of Terror that drops you straight down! He wants to go on Thunder Mountain Railroad! He wants to go on the roller coaster in California Adventure! He's my dare devil, which sort of freaks out Dimitri. When we took Dimitri at 5 and at 7 he was very cautious. He was afraid of getting hurt. (Dimitri also didn't start riding without training wheels until he was about 8, Paulo-before he started Kindergarten.) They are very different in their risk taking behavior. Dimitri takes more risks now, like trying to convince me he doesn't need his helmet (whatever!) and he does this free running stuff where he's always jumping on walls and over things, but he's not a dare devil by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm very excited though to see the two of them together on vacation. We don't get many family vacations, it's hard when you're self employed to get off for more than a day at a time. Usually Rene or I are always here. So, I'm really looking forward to watching them bond (hopefully!) more while we're away. I think time with just your little family is important and I think those two will benefit from time with just me and their Dad.

M I C...see you real soon! K E Y...why? Because we like you! I'm giddy as a school girl, we're going to Disneyland!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happiness is....

Waking up to blue sky and sunshine! We're finally getting a taste of Spring weather here in the Northwest. We've been hammered by seemingly nonstop rain for months so these few days of sunshine are so appreciated, and really needed. I was able to take Paulo outside after dinner and he ran around playing with the neighborhood boys-playing a game called Get Wet, not a good game when it's cold and yucky out!-but he ran and laughed and played while I potted a few flowers I'd bought recently and then sat down on the front steps to read a magazine. It was lovely.

Happiness is also a new blender. Yes, I said a blender. My Father delivered my belated Mother's Day present to me last night. He bought me a Vita Mix!!! I've never been so happy to see a small appliance offered as a gift before! I've wanted a turbo blender since I started making green smoothies everyday. I knew my old cheapie model wasn't going to keep up nor was it making things as smooth as I knew they could be. My Dad's had a Vita Mix for ages and we chat often about food and nutrition and raw food diets in particular. He knew I really wanted a turbo blender so he surprised me with it. Now, normally my Daddy doesn't buy presents. He gives cash-which lets face it, we all appreciate. But on Mother's Day when we got together for Brunch he told me my gift was delayed and I'd have to wait a few days. I honestly don't remember the last time he gave a gift instead of cash, but it was well before my Mother died. When we were young my Mom would do all the gift shopping. As we got older and harder to shop for they converted to cash in the card for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc. So that's what I'm used to, cash in the card. This gift though...well I'm very grateful. It would have taken me quite a while to save up for a turbo blender.

Happiness is also an I-Tunes gift card. Dimitri came home last night, he'd been at his Mom's the week before, and he gave me a little envelope that said Happy Mother's Day. He said he wanted to give it to me in person instead of giving it to his Grandma to give to me on Mother's Day. Inside was an I-Tunes gift card. So sweet! I wanted new music but just couldn't justify the expense right now. No one ever gives me I-Tunes money, although I give it to others frequently.

So, I'm a happy Momma today for many reasons. Today, happiness is new music, a turbo blender and blue sky. What new happiness will tomorrow bring??

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mean what you say and say what you mean!

Seems simple enough doesn't it? Like Horton the Elephant we should all mean what we say and say what we mean. Why then is it so difficult?

We humans seem to be programmed to avoid conflict at all costs. Sometimes that means saying what you think the other person wants to hear, otherwise known as blowing smoke up...well you know.

But what the other person wants to hear is irrelevant. The thing that matters is truth and honesty, no? Tell the truth! It makes life so much easier. Less complicated. Less drama filled. More peaceful.

Ah, peace. The elusive peace. I spend so much time searching for it. To be fair I have felt more peaceful lately and I'm really enjoying that. Part of that is due to my nutrition changes-I don't want to say diet cause that's such a loaded and ugly word! I'm feeding my body better and my mind is benefiting. I've also been more diligent about sleep. I might want to stay up late but I know that when my alarm sounds at 5:35 (ish) I will regret it. I've been better about going to bed regardless of Rene's night owl tendencies and I've been able to ignore the full DVR. Sleep is non negotiable! I've been spending more time with books, this is very beneficial for me. I love to read. I'm working on my peace.

To further advance my inner peace I broached a subject a couple of weeks ago with my boss...haha yeah I know-Rene, we work together, I cannot refer to him as my boss with a straight face although technically he is the President of the Corporation. Anyway, I took a few deep breaths and opened a dialogue about my hours. This was hard for me, I hate conflict as much as the next girl! But, my working hours are a source of stress for me. If I had my ideal situation I would have stayed home with my boys, now that Paulo's in school full time I would love to only work during his school hours. That would be IDEAL for me. If Rene had his ideal I'd still be working 50 hours a week with him like I did before Paulo was born. So we're on opposite sides when it comes to what would be "perfect" for either of us. As a compromise I opened with an offer of working until 5 on Monday and Friday and picking up Paulo on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which means I end my day at 2:50. He's not a big fan of this idea. We're under what I like to call heated negotiations. He begrudgingly said ok, but here we are almost two weeks later and how many times have I picked up my son? Zero. Part of the problem is the fact that he does not know how to use our repair order program, I close out all the repair orders. He's not that computer savvy and watching him type is painful, BUT, he told me if I install the program on his computer he will learn to use it which would free me up to pick up our son like I want. OK, I sent away for the discs and installed it today. Balls in your court now buddy. I think though he was hoping I wouldn't actually do it. I suspect he was telling me what he knew I wanted to hear and not what he was really willing to do. We'll see. I hope he proves me wrong.

I honestly don't think I'm asking for the moon here. I would love to have Tuesday and Thursday to go to the gym and Wednesday as my fun/errand day. If stuff at home is caught up I could take my son to the park or to OMSI. We could just hang out and play more. I miss my baby when I'm working and I know he misses me too. Plus I feel isolated from the other Moms. I see them chatting at drop off or pick up and I envy the fact that they have had extra time to get to know each other. There are a lot of stay at home Moms and they're able to be in the classroom more, go on field trips, or just chat in the courtyard at the end of the day. I'm constantly rushing. Rushing to drop him off and get to work. Rushing, if I'm lucky enough to pick up, to then get back to work or get him to the appointment that's scheduled after school. Rush! Rush! Rush! I'm tired of that. I just need a little more time. I'm not asking for too much. I am asking for a compromise, to meet in the middle. And I really hope he doesn't disappoint me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seeing through the eyes of a child

Another Mom stopped me on our way in to school today to tell me something about my sweet boy. She'd asked her daughter who she wanted to have in her class next year (the classes are going to be blended 1/2 and split up into three rooms). This little girl named Paulo as one of her top two friends that she hopes to have in her classroom next year. The Mom told me that she thinks it it because Paulo is so loyal. That's the word she used. He's a loyal friend. That while he might sometimes be...a bit "much" or in your face at times, he's a loyal and loving friend and her daughter really appreciates that about my son. This to me is a huge compliment and I'm so happy that other children see the good shine though. My boy can be hyper. He's a normal boy and gets excited about things and wants to share that excitement with everyone within a 10 mile radius. He can be loud. He can forget to respect your personal space...do I have personal space? No, I don't. But I do remind him to respect other people's right to personal space! Despite all those things that can cause conflict with his peers, they see him. The good heart. The loving soul. The kind person. They see what I see and I'm grateful.

He was the star of the week last month and part of that process is for the kids to make a friendship book for my son. I read over the book last weekend and was struck again by the recurring theme. Time and again I read that Paulo was a good friend. He plays with me. He's nice to me. He's always smiling. And, my personal favorite, that he's a good friend and plays with you, especially if you don't have any other friends. That one totally made me cry. To hear that my boy is aware enough to notice if a child is being left out at recess or is alone and will make the effort to reach out....it still makes me weepy. And it makes me proud.

I have so many worries as a Mom. I worry about safety. I worry about health. I worry that he won't be loved for who he is. But the truth is he is loved, not only by me, but by his peers and that makes me so very happy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Channeling my inner Garbo

I want to be left alone....
Man, sometimes I just want to look at my family and tell them....I want to be left alone! Just for a few sweet moments of peace and quiet. Please. Just a few stolen moments.
I tried to steal my moments last night after I put Paulo to bed and snuggled him til he fell asleep. I don't get that opportunity as much anymore. To actually snuggle my son as he drifts off. But after little Luke's death yesterday I just wanted to be with him. To hear his sweet sleep breathing. To curl up with him. To know he wants me there by the death grip on my arm. Every time I tried to slip away his grip tightened until he was finally fully asleep. I love those moments. They make up for some of the stress and chaos.
After he was asleep I did what most mothers do at 9 pm, folded laundry. Then I decided to hide. To indulge myself. I'd DVR'd the season of The Price of Beauty but had only been able to see one episode. So I plopped down upstairs to watch some fluff. I like the show, it's very interesting to see the lengths that some women go to in order to meet some ideal of beauty. Rene was watching a basketball game so I figured I was safe. Uh no. I got 1/2 way through the first show and up the stairs comes Rene....whatcha' doing? I didn't have the heart to tell him I was hiding...from him. That, as Garbo so eloquently said...I want to be left alone! Sigh, I suppose it is good to know that after 10 years together he still wants to spend his leisure time with me. But seriously sometimes I don't. I did however stick to my guns and said no I did not want to go down and watch Lost I'm happy watching my fluffy POB and giggling with Jessica Simpson and her buddies. (I secretly wish I could be Jessica's friend and travel to Tokyo or Rio with her, although I think I would pass on the fish pedicure and being buried alive in sand. Those do not sound like relaxing spa treatments to me!) I was quite surprised to find my 40 year old husband willing to sit there and watch the show with me. Don't get me wrong I love my boys but man sometimes a girl just needs a little time to herself.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Does God make it any easier?

There's a blog I've been reading. It's the story of a very brave young man named Luke who, sadly, lost the battle today to Leukemia. He was only a few years older than Paulo and a few younger than Dimitri. I can see my baby in him and my big man. I have very distinct memories of Dimitri at that age, he became a big brother. Luke lost his life. Same age. It is just so very, very sad.

I, along with most Mothers, cannot help but think what if? when I read the story of young Luke. What if it were Dimitri? What if it were Paulo? What would I do if it were my son who lay dying in front of me? Would I be strong enough? Would I crumble and fall? Who would pick me up? Where would my support come from? This young boy, whom I've never met, even invaded my dreams last weekend. I dreamt about his death but in my dream the child who lay dying was Paulo. I woke up and cried in my bed. I was never so happy to see him come into my room as I was that early Saturday morning.

I read this family's beautiful blog and I was struck with how secure they were in their faith. They truly with every ounce of their soul believe that they will see their son again in Heaven. They are 100% sure that God has greeted their child upon his death and he is smiling and painfree with Jesus. This faith sustained them through their son's two year battle and today, tragically, his death. I am in awe of that. I don't know that I would be able to handle it with as much grace as I saw in their postings. I would be angry, really, really angry. I wonder sometimes if a strong faith in a higher power-whichever version makes the most sense to you-is the key. I often wonder about faith. Where does it come from? Why is it here? Maybe it is here to sustain us during tragedy. What does it mean that I don't have it? I'm not secure in any faith. I was not raised "in the Church" and I have no real basis for what I believe, nor do I do any sort of regular study or spiritual growth. So what would hold me up if Paulo got sick? What would hold him up? This child was so secure in his own faith, a child of 9, he fully and faithfully believed he was headed to heaven. He knew he was dying but that didn't frighten him at the end. He knew he would go to heaven. Seriously, the whole thing just left me awestruck. People seem so cynical today but this boy, this sweet and simple boy, was not. And he wasn't angry or afraid.

The parents were so strong too, again, I'm not sure I would be as strong. I'm sure a big part of that comes from their shared faith. There was never a negative tone to anything they wrote. They seemed to really be able to support each other well. When I think of them and I think of my own marriage I wonder, would we fair as well? When my Mother died Rene didn't really know what to do or to say, so he chose to do and say nothing. This, while understandable since grief is so uncomfortable to watch, did nothing to help me through a very painful time in my life. I would hope that if it were our son who was sick he would dig a little deeper and make the effort to stay connected to me, to give me support both verbal and physical, to comfort me when I cried, and I would hope that he would be strong enough to receive all those things from me. There is strength in grief. Expressing grief should never be seen as sign of weakness, but I think sadly it is to many. Sometimes all that is needed is a simple, I'm so sorry you're hurting, and a touch of the hand, but you have to reach out, you have to take the time to make the connection. And first you have to be aware. Aware of the impact. Aware of the pain. Aware of the need. See a need, fill a need. It's such a simple concept but when it comes to emotional support so rarely practiced.

I'm very sad today for the Jensen family. They've lost a part of themselves today. A child. A boy. Luke. A child I never met, and a family I will never meet, but just the same he impacted me. Perhaps that is his legacy, the impact he had on countless people who never met him. The lessons learned in his short, and painful, life. I hear them in my heart. Don't sweat the small stuff Krista. Never forget to be grateful that your children are healthy. Be grateful for every smile, every hug and, yes, even every tear, because it means your boys are with you. Show your love every chance you get. Take time and give time. Time is a precious gift.

Rest in peace Luke and to the Jensen Family, thank you for sharing your son with us. Thank you for sharing his story. And you have my deepest condolences for your loss.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The cats out!

I did it! I kept the secret!! Rene and I have been planning a family vacation. We're taking the boys to Disneyland to celebrate Paulo's 6th birthday. We wanted to do this last year when he turned 5, but Rene busted his knee and needed surgery so there went the Disney moolah. The grand master plan was to take him when he turned 5 just like we took Dimitri on his 5th birthday so many moons ago, alas life does not always happen according to plan.

So, we postponed and started planning for this year. I bought our package back in January...and waited. Waited for his birthday. Waited actually for his family birthday party since we wanted all of our loved ones to see him receive his gift. Waited for that moment that he realizes he finally gets to go to Disneyland.

The family party was last Saturday. I printed out maps of Disneyland and Legoland and wrote him a little letter. I wrapped that all up in a box and let him open all his other gifts then gave him our final present. He was a bit confused when he opened it and saw only paper, green tissue paper as well as the printed maps and letter. I told him he needed to read the letter out loud, which he did. He stumbled a little on the word celebrate when he got to the end where he reads we'll celebrate his birthday at Disneyland....you can almost see the wheels turning and then he shrieks DISNEYLAND!!! It was a moment of pure joy. He was so happy and so shocked at the same time. He's wanted to go to Disneyland forever. I've always told him I would take him someday and now that someday is 25 days away.

So, Disneyland here we come! We're also taking a day trip down to San Diego to go to Legoland, which looks enormous. We took Dimitri there too when he was little and it was so small then. I looked at the map and was just amazed at how big it is. They've really expanded! I cannot wait to watch him experience all the wonder of Disneyland. He's a dare devil too so I know I'm going to be going on a lot of rides that I might have been able to avoid with Dimitri at his age. He's already talking about roller coasters and that freaky dropping tower! I think I may be as excited as he is, because I've seen in and I know him so well, I know he's going to love every single moment there. He's such a joyful child and I get so much joy of my own just watching him experience life. Being his mother fills up my soul.

Here is a video of him opening his gift from us, hope you enjoy it as much as I did watching him open it, and every time I've watched the video since!