Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mummies and musical instruments

The girls and I met my parents and sister at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Sunday. They're having a show about mummies, which currently fascinate and horrify Lily. Georgia doesn't quite get the connection between mommies, which she really likes, and mummies, which seem really wrong to her. I didn't get into too many details before the trip and luckily the girls ran so quickly through the exhibits I did not have to explain the mummified head in the dark chamber or the MRI scans of the ancient head done at Mass General that are displayed eerily on the screen at kid level. The presentation explains why they cannot tell if it is the lord or lady's head because the tell-tale jaw and face bones have been removed by the ancient embalmers to help the dead open their mouths and speak in the harrowing underworld. (shudder)

We stopped in the John Singer Sargent room and Lily proudly noticed the vases in the portrait of the girls are standing in the corners of the museum room. It was crowded on a cold Sunday and there were plenty of kids, which is always a welcome sight to me. When my children are wired and goofy, it's nice to see other kids acting out, too.
These big road trips always seem like a grand idea when we plan them months in advance but, on the actual morning, as I'm starting the cold car that has almost no gas and Rob is standing there in his robe waving goodbye; I realize it is a terrible and foolish idea and that we will all be dead-tired by the time we return to the driveway again.
But my family helped manage the girls and it was a wonderful time, really, and in retrospect, even more fun because I drove through Boston like a champ, we didn't get lost, we saw tons of art, marble staircases and painted ceilings. We survived and made it home in time for bed.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Old tapes; old stories

I was cleaning out the closet and I found these old tapes of two astrology sessions from ten years ago during my Saturn return. The ladies I worked with at Bread and Circus (now Whole Foods) had encouraged me to go. The astrologer was a lovely woman who gave thorough and compassionate readings in her woodsy home.
I didn't think the readings had done much for me at the time. What I took away from the reading then was that it wasn't really my destiny to be a writer, which was devastating because that's what I really wanted to do, and that someone I loved was going to die soon.
Listening to the tapes 10 years later was riveting, it was so compelling to hear my own younger voice talking about my concerns, hopes and dreams. Also astonishing was that the astrologer never said either of the things that I thought I had heard and held onto for all those years.
She did say that my Pluto return was coming and that it would mean a death of a certain part of me or of my life that would take me deeper into the mysteries, but she did not say someone I loved was going to die.
She also said that I had alot of teacher activist energy so when I mentioned the writing she declared that it would be a great vehicle for communication. I think I must have been disappointed she hadn't said I could be a quiet writer sequestered in the woods.
There was also alot of very interesting and accurate information about me in the hour and a half of tape that I don't remember hearing the first time at all.
In retrospect it was sort of grounding and reassuring to hear things now that I have discovered on my own, but it was a bit exasperating to hear it all laid out for me in a kind and firm way and know that I chose to ignore it and create a wall of misunderstanding where there really wasn't one.
Glad I still have a car with a tape player in it.
Rob went out to start my car the other morning and came in, puzzled, "What the hell are you listening to in your car?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cleaning up uncovers abundance of toys!

Well, I cleaned up the girls toys and gave a bunch of them to good will. First I tried to be honest about the plan and teach the girls how to throw stuff out. I put a laundry basket out in the living room and said, "Let's get rid of all the stuff we don't play with anymore. Someone else might like it!" After an hour there were one or two crappy toys in the basket. Mostly Lily would painfully decide to throw something in there and then Georgia would snatch it to her heart and save it from the basket. This went on, back and forth, until I decided I had to be sneaky.

I didn't want to throw out stuff they really liked so I stuffed a few bags of junk in the basement and waited for the wails. After a week or two there were a few things I overheard them looking for so I took those things out of the trash bags and sneaked them back into the living room.

Growing up, my mother never threw anything out. It was a good feeling knowing that something wouldn't be tossed while you weren't looking. (Except, of course, for my precious collection of stuffed animals we put in a trash bag for "just two weeks" when I had lice in 5th grade, that was never seen again. I looked for that bag for an entire decade, opening up garbage bags in the corners of the basement over the years to see if maybe my huge stuffed tiger was in there.)

It is a delicate balance.
But, since we (I) have done some rudimentary cleaning and tossing, there has been great excitement about all the toys we discovered and alot of sweet sisterly play with the critters we found scattered and ignored all around the house.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shower clock

I re-read this Martha Beck article the other day and decided much of my lateness issue has to do with transitions. She has some practical suggestions for moving things along. I decided to get a clock for the shower and learn how to set my watch alarm so I can stay on track.

I am really excited.

My fixed watch and my shower clock came in the mail today! I have been suffering as I waited for both of them to arrive.

I completely lose track of time in the shower. Because I am free from nagging and whining, enjoying the dizzyingly warm cocoon of no-responsibility; it can go on forever. Then, suddenly, it is way too late! I have to rush out! It is cold! Moisturizer and deodorant become too time consuming to apply. Lily is late for school and I am frazzled, rushing and trying not to yell, "Hurry Up!!" because I know I just took a 25 minute shower.

Every time something has been "off" this last week: somebody's got a cold, I can't find my wallet, babysitting falls through. I tell Rob, "It will all be different when my shower clock gets here." It makes him laugh. I asked him to buy one for me at Home Depot and he was too embarrassed, like I was asking him to buy me cloth menstrual pads or something.
Here's the link in case you want one, too.

Also can't wait to sit down with the huge piece of gray tissue paper, that are the directions for my digital watch, so I can figure how to beep annoyingly when I need to go somewhere. I also want to chime every hour to remind me to take a deep breath. Very excited to become one of those annoying timer-people who make noises every hour.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Possom day

On Friday I saw a POSSOM !
No coat Mamas hat.
love being cold.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Three Questions

I finally sat down with Rob and we went over George Kinder's three questions. Kindle is a financial planner who asks these questions of his clients and then tries to build a life and goals based on their answers.

Here they are from Get Rich slowly website :

"To help clients discover the deeper values in their lives, Kinder poses three questions:
  1. Imagine you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is complete and richly yours.
  2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have only 5-10 years to live. You won’t ever feel sick, but you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life and how will you do it? (Note that this question does not assume unlimited funds.)
  3. Finally, imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do?"

Well, there we were at the Wagon Wheel enjoying our burger and salad while my parents watched the girls. I was surprised by our answers....

The first question with unlimited time and money was fun. Neither of us would work regular jobs. Rob would start some company based on food or bikes and work half time. He'd go to the gym more.

He quoted Johnny Cash's song "Oh bury me not", saying, "I'd be no slave to whistle, clock or bell" He would to support enterprise, cool business opportunities and "have money to lose"

We both wanted to garden and have enough time time and money to travel a couple times a year and we both wanted to be around the house, picking the kids up from school.

I'd like to write, take walks, and, secretly I'd like to become a wizard (whatever that might mean) I'd do yoga and I'd probably be a doula or a hospice volunteer or both. I'd get better on the violin and sing songs. I'd have chickens, goats and dogs running around a bigger yard and house that we designed. I'd meditate 30 minutes a day and be home in the evenings. Ahhhh

The second question was trickier

Rob wanted to work less and have me carry the insurance. He wanted to pick the kids up from school; but pretty much maintain the life we've got.

I wanted to have a family trip to Europe and one to a warm Spanish speaking country. I wanted to be caught up on my photo albums; clean up my mess and backlog (this really shocked me, but I wanted to leave the girls a clear history, including pulling together all of the really old family history stuff I've got in my bedroom closet!)

I wanted to decrease chatter and rushing, become frugal with time and money - spending the bulk of my waning time with family, animals and nature. I wanted to work less.

Third question

Rob would stay with the family those 24 hours. He had no regrets other than missing out on the stuff that would go on without him.

I felt sad, like I wished I'd done more singing, music playing, painting and meditating..and of course that I had more time with family.

I felt strangely cleared and peaceful after, even though we were running back home and I was rushing off to work. I felt clean, like I'd had a good cry. It was such a relief to realize I have everything I want, that it's simple and close by. Suddenly being frugal seemed peaceful and appealing. Playing boardgames in the evening with my family - my beautiful family - seemed like a huge gift.

Here's my horoscope from last week...

from Free Will Astrology


"You can have it all," says fashion designer Luella Bartley. "It's just really hard work." That's my oracle for you, Sagittarius -- not just for this week, but for the next three months as well. According to my reading of the astrological omens, the cosmos will indeed permit you to have your cake and eat it, too, as long as you're willing to manage your life with more discipline, master the crucial little details everyone else neglects, and always give back at least as much as you're given.

Hmmm, I like the idea of having three months to organize.
The house is cleanish
The lice has been murdered by mouthwash (we hope)
Monday (my day with childcare) is not a holiday from school for the girls.

I am feeling inspired to make a pronouncement.
I overdrafted my account for the very last time yesterday.
In the past (until this morning) I have been lackadaisical about balancing my checking account.
So when the babysitter cashed her $200 worth of checks from this summer on January 20th (Yes, that's 8 months later! Akkkkkkk!!!!) my bookkeeping was not up for the challenge.

I wish I could take Ritalin to do my bills, but I'm not up for hunting that down, so instead I am going to work on a system.

Yodlee is up and running with all of our accounts and debts, which is thrilling. I can open it up and get everything on one page.
Now I just have to keep track of checks I write (I do that) and then monitor if they have been cashed (I don't do that).
Then the next step is learning how to pay bills out of Yodlee and then, eventually, getting enough of a money cushion I can sign all my bills up to be automatically withdrawn.

What a relief that would be!
Monday I'll clean out my file cabinet and toss old useless junk making it easy to file new stuff.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cleaning house and heads!

So the cleaning lady has come twice! She came for over 3 hours the first time and just cleaned the floors and bathrooms. Everything had been neglected so long that I was scared I overworked her. (When I came home after the agree-upon three hours she was still here, finishing up the bathrooms.) But, thankfully, she came back two weeks later and was here for 2.5 hours. My goal is to get to 2 hours every other week, so we'll have to tidy up well before she comes, so she can motor through the house.
She cleans the bathrooms and the floors. Oh my lord, everything feels shiny and new, the air smells of Murphy's oil soap. Luckily, I got a raise at work (Go nurse's union!) and for now I'm going to use that to pay her. I know I should put it towards debt-pay-off, but having her come this past month has really helped us feel less slovenly and overwhelmed

Well, actually we do feel pretty slovenly about the lice re-infestation. Yuck! Just one week after the initial discovery and treatment, the girls and I all had it. Apparently these lice are hard to kill (What? You don't want me to come over for a playdate?) and the pesticides don't work. Uggh. I had been pretty mellow about the whole thing the first time, but this time I was really disgusted by the grown louse I found in Lily's hair. Nasty!

After much on-line research I compiled our treatment program.
First spray hair with full strength Listerine (original for blondies; the mint will turn their hair blue.)

Let dry 2 hours with shower cap on while children complain of stinging scalp (I did it too, it just felt cool. No mercy. Keep it on for 2 hours and then comb out hair with a nit comb.)

(I know no one really wants to hear this, but one becomes rather obsessed reading all the weird on-line suggestions and endless stories of lives almost being destoyed by lice infestations that were cured with mouthwash and prayer or some such combination.)

Then shower and use Denorex - extra strength, which is thick and irridescent, and brown - which is strange. It tingles the scalp and smells medicinal. Leave on three minutes.

We keep running out of hot water with all three of us rinsing out this odd junk from our hair.

Rob is avoiding treatment because he has almost no hair and I didn't see anything living in his scalp, but he liked the smell of Denorex so maybe he can use up the rest.

Then use Suave Coconut conditioner. The girls liked this, it was slippery, smelled good and didn't hurt their heads.

Rinse, then another run-through with the nit comb.

I tried to make this part quaint, sitting in front of the woodstove and drying off.

Then we all had shiny fluffy hair that smelled of mouthwash, coconuts and pine tar.

Not a nit to be found among us.

Then to sleep on our pristine pillows.

Now we're doing coconut oil and a combing through every couple days.

The chunky hard oil doesn't rinse out well, so they look like greasy headed kids, but I'm hoping we're done with this fiasco.

So sweet when they're not fighting!

Here they are watching TV on Saturday morning. Lily has been using a sleep mask to block out the light from Georgia's night light at night. I thought she was just complaining, but she does fall asleep faster with it on...

Health in the New Year

So I canceled my Weight Watchers membership this month. I wasn't using any of the services and it was costing me 39.95 a month. It worked well the first 6 months but then once I started trying to eat more wholesome foods, the sneaky trick Weight Watcher's foods weren't as appealing anymore. I'm still trying to eat primal and to track what I eat I'm going to use Fitday instead.

I pulled this card from the Goddess Oracle and I loved it.
I've been trying to think of health as aging well - with balance and grace. I need to be spunky for my grandkids and, because I had my children when I did; I could be pushing 70 when they come along. Yikes! Makes me want to lift weights!

(All contents © Kris Waldherr 2008. All rights reserved.

Kris Waldherr, the artist who makes these cards said I could put them on my blog as long as I included this link to her facebook page:;
. )

I have to bribe Georgia to go on walks with me. Here she is in the stroller happily eating fruit snacks. I'm going to try and walk 2-3 times a week, do some yoga and lift weights twice a week at my 9.95 a month gym near work.

For primal fitness
the only other thing I need to do are sprints which are extremely unappealing to me, but I better just suck it up. They take about 20 minutes once a week, in the spring I'll play tag with the girls.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh Haiti

So much destruction in the news.
Kellie recited this Rumi poem in yoga class today.
It keeps coming back to me.

The way of love is not

a subtle argument.
The door there

is devastation.
Birds make great sky-circles

of their freedom.

How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling,

they're given wings.

Amherst College Museum of Natural History

We actually went here a couple of weeks ago, but I just downloaded the photos. The museum was elegant, educational and free. I wondered why I hadn't been before but then Georgia got squirmy and bored and LOUD and I realized why.

I love the photo of Lily; the hot cocoa on her face, her sweet hands up against her chest. We were having a difficult morning, everyone stir crazy and sick of winter. The girls had been loud and unruly in the coffee shop. Thank goodness we gave the museum a try because it saved us from a tedious cold afternoon at home.

Rob thinks his faces are funny; he doesn't pose compliantly when I ask him to smile. I liked this one, though, with the marble bust in the background.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chickens coming soon...

Georgia has been OBSESSED with one friend's adorable black kitten and another's sweet pug puppy. She wakes up demanding to go visit them and when we tell her that people have gone off to work or school and we can't make a visit; she wails.

I was starting to waver and get confused. Maybe she needs a puppy or a kitten? Maybe we could find a hypoallergenic new furry family member? Maybe it's time to get another dog? Lily would love another pet, too. We do love the rats but they are so contained and small. Hmmm

Rob then reminded me that we're getting chickens this spring. I had sort of forgotten. Hmmm. Chickens. We went to a friends house this weekend and saw their five friendly birds and were inspired, especially Georgia and me. Georgia held Nutmeg here for about twenty minutes, until I got too cold to stand outside anymore.

Chicken fever has started!
We are thinking about names for the fuzzy chicks we'll get in a few months.
My chicken-owning friends let me borrow their book and I have it in the upstairs bathroom where I sometimes escape for 5 minutes at a time.
Here's to spring, fuzzy chicks and new amusing pets!

Monday, January 11, 2010

OK instead of organizing...

Why don't you answer the phone at 10am after running the kids to school and hear that Lily has finally succumbed to the winter-long 2nd grade lice outbreak?

I had thought we had some strange immunity.
Apparently not!
The bedding and bodies are clean but everything else is a disaster.
There is plenty of time for bills, budgets and clean-up...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Georgia's concoction!

So proud of fluff (two kinds! Thanks to Rob's shopping) and strawberry sandwich.
She wouldn't eat it, but she loved making it and she is quite a proud chef!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Here goes organizing!

I'm reading through the book It's hard to make a difference when you can't find your keys by Marilyn Paul.
I found it in the piles of books my mother had left in my childhood bedroom when we visited on New Years.
I think it is the perfect book to help me tackle the chaos of our home and financial lives.
I am so excited I am actually doing the exercises!

One is:
Look at what your disorganization is costing you....
("an essential ingredient of change is to associate enormous pain with the way you are living now and enormous pleasure with the way you want to live" p.30)
Well, to start with, my hands are freezing because the oil ran out last night. The wood stove is doing the best it can but he house is really cold. Thank goodness the oil delivery truck just backed in the driveway (with a nifty 90$ fee to deliver oil today and restart the furnace)
I would blame the oil tank gauge which said 1/4 tank a few days ago, but last year when this happened I blogged about it, so if anyone is paying attention they might notice a pattern.
When Rob got out of the shower he asked me, quoting the movie Away we go, which we saw and enjoyed last month, "Are we fuck-ups?"
Hmmmm, not a good time to answer.

I do feel my most stressed when I am running late. Even though I know it isn't an emergency or a tragedy I feel really uncomfortable, chest tight, breathing fast, starting to say mean things to myself. I try to calm myself by telling myself it's not a big deal but I'm sure it does send a parade of stress hormones out every time I screech into work with a minute to spare.
It also takes away the sweetness of the time I might have enjoyed listening to music and reveling in some alone time.
I'm sad about all the time I spend running around trying to clean up or put things where there is no room when I ache to be sitting on the floor reading with the girls, taking a walk with Rob, meditating or reading.

Then there is the disappointing the children. Uggh.

Lily said to me Monday after vacation, "Mama why are we always late when you drive me? Not when I take the bus or Papa drives me?"
I was torn between, "Hey, that's 'cause your Mama is a cool mellow cat"( said with a wink) and a "I do the best I can! You were the one who couldn't find her damn boots!"
I cringed at both of them and tried to just hear her.
I said with all the integrity I could muster. "That's something I'm going to work on honey. I know you don't like to walk into class late and I'm sorry."
I took a breath and vowed to be different.
Then the next morning
I slept in. (They had both got up in the middle of the night, Lily had a nightmare and Georgia wanted a drink. I had worked until midnight. I was tired.) Ugggh the excuses! I woke up with 35 minutes to be at school and we got there in 37. I thought that was amazing, but Lily was disappointed.
Holy crap; I felt like a heel.
I immediately thought to myself.
"Hey at least you're nice! Also, your not drunk or yelling at her!"

I need to raise my standards, which does involve feeling the genuine pain of those small repetitive failures. Sigh.

I have Monday AND Tuesday off this week. So thrilling I cannot stand it! Am hoping to have a budget blueprint started and everything on Yodlee maybe this week!

A crow lady label link!

Here Heidi tells the story of the label making contest!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Organizing in the New Year

I have VERY high hopes of organizing my finances, my home and life in general this year.
Now that the fall semester is done; I'm done with teaching nursing school for the year. We are continuing with having Georgia in daycare even thought I'm home. This is so damn exciting. I will have Mondays off with no children (except for holidays, snow days and possible pick-up-some-work days) until summer. I can't even believe it. With all the quiet today I finally paid bills in an organized and thought-out fashion. Usually when I finish bills, I feel like spitting, I have a headache and it's 2am, but today I have 45 minutes before Lily gets off the bus.

The first month or so of Mondays will be getting our study and finances in order.

I've been enjoying the blog "Get Rich Slowly"

It's about finances and has a relaxed and hopeful tone that I really like.

I just opened a Yodlee account from there I am going to consolidate everything; keep track and pay all my bills.

Now I am going to go meditate!
I want to pinch myself!! I can't believe it! Time to spare.
(Don't tell Rob. Paying for childcare while not earning money makes him break out in hives. Tell him I'm fixing the annoying doorknob that's broken.)