Monday, April 28, 2014

Discomfort Zone

According to Wikipedia:
"The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk. A person's personality can be described by his or her comfort zones. A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries."

Frequently, I choose to operate outside my comfort zone. It is part of my being.  Change is viewed as a positive that provides opportunity. I maneuver in a world of highs and lows. I suppose that means my mental boundaries are conditioned to flex at will.

I am currently operating in a discomfort zone. I am juggling work challenges,  my home is being remodeled and I am mothering a tweener and a teenager. These primary spaces in which I function are shifting and they will not look the same tomorrow or next week or the week after ...

The focus is day to day while I look for the colors and textures of that future state to reveal itself. I am not terribly spiritual or patient. However, I have learned that life must have leeway to evolve and control should be sacrificed in the right moments.

My low adjectives of the day are sad, disappointed and anxious juxtaposed with my high adjectives which are hopeful, expectant and curious.

A slightly adjusted truism is fitting: in with the new and out with the old ...
Cleaning out for the remodel means that toys are being given to our neighborhood children who will love and play with them. I kept The Rat, The Knight, The Jedi and The Lizard (which was found with a sword in its belly.) I think I kept them more for me than the boys. 
These old lunch boxes are in the garbage now - ragged and stained. These matching lunch boxes were packed and carried daily by Oldest Son and Youngest Son.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Bathroom Adventures

During the remodel, our Commuter Family is sharing our one master bathroom which is only reachable by walking through the master bedroom. This situation has created a new level of relationship sharing.

For example, it has been at over nine years since I was aware of every bowel movement of Oldest Son and Youngest Son. Frequency and regularity was never a problem when they were babies. Apparently, all is still functioning well and sometimes multiple times a day. And this particular circumstance has also led one of the Sons to practice the household skill of unstopping the toilet with a plunger. "Ooh Gross!" was the reaction to that particular life lesson.

Our verbal communications have benefited as we navigate occupancy. Family members must negotiate time and space to brush teeth, take medicine, brush hair and all the usual bathroom activities. Clearly understanding the state of dress or undress is important. We cannot just pop in - believe me on that one.

Fortunately, our one available shower has two shower heads and is plenty big for two to three bodies. Tonight I listened to the easy banter between Oldest Son and Youngest Son as they went through their evening hygiene routine. They loudly and enthusiastically talked about the benign topics you would expect between a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old teen. As their mother, I appreciate these moments of brotherly sharing before each they have their own assigned bathrooms post-remodel.

This state of living takes me back to the places I called home while growing up. Almost every single house had one bathroom and it was usually quite small. As a child or teenager, I did not think anything of it. I wonder what the adults thought?

Here are some remodel pics ...
Bye bye entry way floor
And bye bye kitchen floor
Going from laundry closet to laundry room!
Fabulous new windows!!!
Why yes that IS a washing machine in my living room ...
That pretty much sums up our life at the present.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Today I Am Proudly Intolerant

Last night our Commuter Family attended the legal wedding of Commuter Husband's 1st Cousin and her same sex partner (Wife) in Minnesota. 1st Cousin and Wife have two year old twins. This sweet family of four was surrounded by a large crowd of family and friends as we all celebrated (including Senator Al Franken.)

The wedding started with the Beatle's song that represented how every person in attendance felt: All You Need Is Love. The joy in the room was obvious. The brides' smiles were contagious.

1st Cousin's sister-in-law spoke as part of the Readings. With humor and passion, the sister-in-law described their grass roots efforts to legalize marriage for all in Minnesota. Another honored reader quoted a 19th century poet and the final reading came from an aunt who read the children's book Guess How Much I Love You. Most of us know the answer is "... to the moon and back."

The love of 1st Cousin and Wife has changed people. Changed views. Changed laws. Changed the future.

As the ceremony concluded with the original happy song, Walking on Sunshine, my feelings also shifted to incomprehension. With all the real problems in the world, how can one single person waste one single breath opposing Marriage Equality? Take all that judgement and anger and time and money and put it towards solving world hunger, child abuse, illiteracy and cancer. While I work very hard to be a tolerant person each day, today I declare I am intolerant of those who do not support love between two adults regardless of gender identity and their legal rights as a family. Tomorrow I will work on being broad-minded again.

Love. Love. Love. This.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mindball at The Bakken

There are only seven Mindball tables in North America. We found one yesterday at The Bakken museum in Minneapolis, MN. Mindball is a two person game controlled by players' brain waves in which players control a ball's movement across a table by becoming more relaxed and focused.

The results for Commuter Family were not surprising. Commuter Husband and Oldest Son are by far the more relaxed and focused members of our family. Youngest Son and I are not. And, the least surprising, I am dead last; even Youngest Son easily beat me! Youngest Son and I have brains that constantly move from topic to topic contributing to our enviable multitasking skills. The price we pay is we are often "all over the place" and can be challenging personalities.

The Bakken is located on the shores of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. The web site describes a one-of-a-kind museum exploring the mysteries of our electrical world. It even has a 12 minute show on Frankenstein and Mary Shelley.

The setting is an interesting old mansion that once housed Target's founder. It is small and has electrical hands on exhibits. We had a great time there. Our Commuter Family has a tradition of visiting local unique museums. These adventures are always full of surprises and fun.

Oldest Son literally getting a shock!

Commuter Husband and Oldest Son competing at Mindball - pretty much a draw!

Oldest Son making music with electricity.

Boys exploring.

Oldest Son's heartbeat is captured.

Playing in Benjamin Franklin's room - making out hair stand on end - really!

Youngest Son getting his heartbeat to slow down - good luck with that!

These lovely windows are looking over a quaint courtyard.

We recommend!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Exquisitely Imperfect Day

The Week - Background

Tough week all around ... coming into Friday mentally exhausted.

Friday Morning - Starts Well

Youngest Son's 12th birthday started with a family tradition: breakfast in bed. Commuter Husband rolled out Beignets, fried them up and served them with powdered sugar and lemon wedges. Commuter Husband is also the card giver in our foursome. A recently emerging trend for male family members is the selection of greeting cards that fall into the gross or raunchy or bathroom humor categories which brings great amusement to the boys.
Youngest Son awakes to goodies and gifts. Look closely at card ... oh my.
Friday Evening - Goes a Wire

6:20 pm: Commuter Husband realizes he forgot to purchase items needed for birthday celebration.

6:40 pm: I arrive home to bake a Cola Cake for Youngest Son's birthday which needs to be ready by 8:30 pm.

6:45 pm: Commuter Husband arrives home with Cola Cake ingredients along with ice cream.

6:47 pm: Dang. I realize we are missing margarine and buttermilk which are not two household staples. Commuter Husband rushes back to the grocery store.

7:05 pm: Commuter Husband arrives home.

7:14 pm: I put Cola Cake in oven and get frosting ready to cook. We did it. I should have just enough time to cook and frost. Whew.

7:44 pm: DING! Cola Cake is ready to pull from oven. I walk into kitchen filled with the aroma of ... burning marshmallows! We know our oven is going out and new ovens are on the remodel list. I pull out the ruined Cola Cake. New ovens just moved up the priority list. #%%$$!!@@#

The top is burned and the middle is swishy and not cooked!
7:45 pm: I head to Sprouts for some edible item in which to put candles. Commuter Husband heads out to pick up Youngest Son and three buddies from LAX practice which finishes at 8:00 pm.

7:59 pm: Commuter Husband texts me "thank god for ev mode no gas n ur car" ... even a Prius runs out of gas eventually! He ran out of gas on the way to pick up kids and managed to get to gas station in electric mode. Oh my gosh.

8:05 pm: I have returned home with the makings for ice cream brownie fudge sundaes.
Not the original plan but it is festive and yummy!
8:14 pm: Commuter Husband arrives home with four boisterous tweener boys of which two need dinner.

8:16 pm: While cutting up an apple for the hungry boys, I slice two fingers and blood starts pouring out. I wrap my hand in a dish towel. I briefly sit down with my head between my legs to keep from fainting.

8:19 pm: We get food on the table and Commuter Husband bandages two fingers on my left hand. Commuter Husband and I look at each other and completely crack up. We have reached the point where laughter is the only recourse.

8:25 pm: Neighbors start arriving to share birthday goodies with Youngest Son. We add three more adults, a six year old girl, a tweener girl, a female teenager and male teenager into our crazy house. Let's not forget to mention we are in the middle of a remodel so there is no furniture in place in which to properly house these guests.

8:35 pm: We sing Happy Birthday, pop open the old-fashioned coke bottles for kids, pour wine for the ladies and grab beers for the men.

9:00 pm: Kids are literally running the neighborhood between yards playing some kind of game with various Nerf weapons. Adults are sitting in the front yard with a Spring breeze whispering around us.

9:30 pm: Commuter Husband breaks out the first aid kit again to doctor an eleven year old's knee gash injured while scaling a fence.

The night air is filled with noise, chaos, giggles, chatter, hugs, stories, screams and surprises.

10:00 pm: The informal party winds down.

What a great day. This day was not perfectly orchestrated and definitely not efficiently executed. This day was filled with a range of emotions that we shared with old and new friends. An exquisitely imperfect day.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Exchanges

Sometimes our loved ones say things that makes us stop to capture the moment. We might react with a smile or we may think more about what they said or perhaps we write it down.

I had three of those occasions today. I am not sure if today was special or if I was listening better.

Verbal Exchange #1

I showed Commuter Husband this quote from Word Porn:

"It's easy to to take off your clothes and have sex. People do it all the time. But opening up your soul to someone, letting them into your spirit, thoughts, fears, future, hopes, dreams ... that is being naked."

I said to him that the "opening up my soul" was hard for me. I am not good at vulnerability.

Commuter Husband said "At a certain point, you are not going to change. I love you and it does not matter to me."

I had no verbal response, just an over-whelming sense of comfort. Words would lay open my nakedness.

Verbal Exchange #2

Commuter Husband and I asked Youngest Son what he learned in Religious School today. He told us they discussed Torah in twelve words or less. I tentatively asked him what those twelve words were; hoping Youngest Son remembered.

Youngest Son quickly replied "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." 

Commuter Husband added "And all the rest is commentary."

Youngest Son said with surprise "You know that part too?"

Commuter Husband and I both chuckled that our offspring was astonished that we would know the associated ancient Jewish story. We discussed with Youngest Son how we have been saying these words to Oldest Son and him their entire lives. However, connecting it to the Jewish sage and martyr, Rabbi Akiba, appeared to add another level credence in Youngest Son's mind.

Verbal Exchange #3

Youngest Son joyfully said "I love rainy Sundays."

My response with a thankful grin "Me too."