Friday, January 29, 2010

Photo catchup: Chalice Lighting


















































In our UU church, when a child turns seven, they have a chance to light the chalice for the first time. (To learn more about what the Unitarian Universalist chalice symbolizes, go here: http://www.uua.org/visitors/6901.shtml ). It was a really big deal to Tessa: it is her presentation to our church community, and a sign of her growing up. She's waited a long time to be seven!
Tessa wore a beautiful dress (hand me down from the Shogrens - thanks, Karen & KC!), and decorated the alter/chalice table with things of her choosing - of course, she chose American Girl dolls and horses and stuffed animals. Our beloved Director of Religious Education, Kari, helped to guide Tessa, and watched lovingly as Tessa wrote her name in the book of chalice lighters.
We celebrated with our friends...and with cake.
I love our UU community.





Photo catchup: BirthdayPalooza
























































Sleepovers, skating party, gifts, oh my!

Photo catchup: Christmastime Part III
























































Photo catchup: Christmastime Part II


Tessa's holiday performance. She was front and center, clutching "Panama Doll" - the doll that Zoe gave her.

video

Photo catchup: Christmastime





































These pictures are of the early Christmas season, including a trip to Seabrook to celebrate both of my parents' birthdays.

Photo catchup: Thanksgiving
















Photo catchup: Fall
















Disequilibrium: Where is my sweet child?

We have had a couple of events around here that make me wonder if Tessa has been possessed by aliens.

Yesterday, we had what I thought was a great day. In the morning I read to her in bed for a half hour before she got ready for school, and I took her to school. I made her a lunch from her "acceptable" list. I picked her up, and informed her that she would get a chance to play with her best friend for as long as she liked at the playground - they played on the monkey bars and ran around until THEY were ready to leave. After dropping off her best friend at home, we went to the library, and I read her choice of books to her (a science fiction graphic novel involving dinosaurs in space - not exactly my cup of tea but I was willing to go along with it). We came home, and I'd already prepped dinner, so I played American Girl dolls (an elaborate story involving horses and the character of Princess Ellie) with her for an hour or so.

I really was ready to nominate myself as Mother of the Day.

And then, all heck broke loose. Her bear's hat was hanging on by a thread, so I cut the thread. She screamed at me. She cried. She yelled. She slammed a door in my face. She locked herself in the bathroom. She threw things.

What the heck?

I said, "I'm sorry, I can fix the hat, and I'll sew it back on, no problem. I didn't realize how important this was to you."

More screaming, crying, stomping feet, hiding from me.

By the time I was in bed, I was completely wiped out and felt exhausted and sad. She was MEAN! I am fully aware that she loves me, and that this was just a fit, and it's what kids do sometimes...but that doesn't mean that I had to like it. I wanted to reply in kind and yell and stomp but I maintained my temper, and THAT was exhausting.

Sooooo - any advice, my cyber friends? How do I prevent, or at least lessen, future episodes? I jokingly told Ryan that if she was a teenager I'd have immediately suspected drugs (not funny, but dark humor none-the-less). Do seven year olds have a change in hormones? Is there some new cognitive leap on the horizon that her body is getting used to? Is she about to grow six inches?

Will I have to deal with this again this year?!

Tessa is capable of so much sweetness, love, wit, kindness, humor, intelligence. Last night I really missed that girl. She's mostly back today, but only after I threatened removal of privleges if she didn't shape up.

Ideas?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unplugging

I recently read "Generation A" by Douglas Coupland, and I've been thinking about it a lot in my quiet moments, finding myself mulling over various ideas in it and pondering their effects upon me.

The book is filled with dystopian visions. It's initial premise is about the demise of bees on Earth, and how that impacts humans. It's a dreadful vision (needless to say), and disturbing. It only makes me further believe that growing my own food, pesticide and herbicide free, is the way to go. Eating whole foods (not the grocery chain, the concept), treading lightly on the planet, and all that.

But more than that, it is about the disconnectedness of our society and how society is so plugged in to our videophones and iPods and computers and PDAs and video games and television and every other screen that we've become disconnected from each other, communicating in fragments and blips instead of in meaning or depth. It's about how we've become "Craigs" - people who shop and look a certain way but are lacking in depth as they pursue more, more, more. It's about how we prefer drugs to make us feel safe and secure, instead of making life changes. (Disclaimer: I take Lexapro, and as my attempts to wean have proven, I need it. I think that this is more about recreational drugs, not prescriptions for medical conditions. Thin line? You decide.)

Of all of this, the idea I keep coming back to is screen time. I have spent a lot of time on Facebook lately, reading little snippets of my friends' lives. On Facebook I have something like 260 friends, and yet many of my real life friends aren't on Facebook. As a matter of fact, if I ran into some of these Facebook friends on the street, I wouldn't recognize them. Do I even know 260 people?

Facebook isn't the culprit here - it's an interesting social tool, and it's been fun to reconnect with some people. I have an online breast cancer community, and I've learned more about them. It works for a lot of people.

But it doesn't work for me, I think.

I don't want to stay on top of 260 people's daily lives. I find it completely overwhelming, and it makes me want to shut down. Or, worse, it makes me feel like I've had social interactions, and then I don't have real interactions because I'm socialized-out. People have real tragedies, and reading about them draws me in, when I am helpless to do anything or I will become consumed by them. People have small complaints, people have minutia, people have silly joys. Me, too, by the way - I was updating regularly, so don't think that I'm excluding myself from any of this.

So, in my attempts to be mindful, and in my attempts to live consciously, I've dropped Facebook. My plan is to stay away from it for a month, and see where life takes me.

Today, life took me on a walk with Shep down to Lincoln Park. The weather is gray, but dry, and very pleasant. Shep and I both needed the exercise, so off we went.

And I left my iPod at home.

I love to listen to music, and I really enjoy podcasts. But when I'm outdoors, what would I have missed if I was plugged in? Lots of little visits with others and their dogs. More birdsongs than I can identify. The little lap, lap of the waves against the shore at high tide. The squishy sound of mud underfoot. And even my observances - instead of merely watching to make sure I didn't trip, I was really looking today - after all, what else did I have to do? I saw cormorants diving, a crow carrying something that looked too large for it to carry, crocuses (in January?!), and a sculpture of a heron about to take flight that I had never noticed before. Such small, small, small things. Nothing profound. It did not change my life, and I did not reach any brilliant conclusions about anything. I just know that it felt good, and it felt right, and I'd like more of it.

I'm unplugging more and more. I don't want to talk on my phone in the car - learning more about those dangers has me convinced. I don't want to spend my life staring at a little screen. (Irony: I'm typing on a little screen. Yes, I realize that. But it isn't that I don't EVER want to use a computer, just that I want to do it more judiciously.) I want to be outdoors more. I want more nature in my life. I want to think my own thoughts, instead of plugging in to someone elses. I want to read things that I have been carefully thought out instead of posted in a moment of "what the heck."

All this from a book. Aren't books dangerous? Ahhhh - that is my kind of danger.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mindful

My lack of blogging has gone on for a long time; I hope to break the non-blogging streak.

I'm trying very hard to be mindful. More mindful, that is. I'm trying to make positive changes in my life. I'm attempting to spend much less time online, and more time reading books. I'm attempting to be more mindful of how I eat, what I do, how I live.

The usual, only more focused.

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Tessa:
Tessa is changing before my very eyes. We had "the snaggletooth" pulled at the dentist to reveal the pretty tooth behind it, and received further confirmation of future orthodontia. Like mother and father, like daughter! Her crowded teeth also have a cavity - drat.

Tessa turned seven this weekend, and also lit the chalice at church for the first time. More on that when I have a moment to download pics to show off our pretty girl.