Why we need to parent mindfully, now more than ever…

This morning, the day after the Presidential election, I was a distracted parent.  I was tired because I had been up most of the night watching the poll results.  I was on my phone, reading articles about what may come.  I was absent-minded and not fully participating in the day with my son.  I was a bystander in my own life, foolishly seeking solace in my phone and my  scattered, worried thoughts.

My turning point came as I was putting away groceries while my mind drifted to politics and the future.  I heard my son rummaging in the shopping bags as he often does, but when I looked away from the pantry I found him opening a package of panty liners and sticking them to the kitchen cabinets.  Wake up calls come in many different forms and in this case, baby powder fresh scent.

In my tired haze I realized this – fretting is useless.  It’s not going to help a single thing and it’s not going to change the outcome of the election.  However, this one thing became very clear to me: being a mindful parent is the best thing I can do for myself, my son, and for my country.  Regardless of who the President may be, that statement holds true.

In this morning’s moment of grocery chaos, I snapped out of it.  I unstuck all the damn panty liners from the kitchen cupboards and scolded myself a bit.  A lot. I scolded myself a lot for not being ‘all there’ while my son went about his day.  So, I will be there to guide my son, and to demonstrate and teach the values that are important to mindful parenting – and are key to creating a country that is inclusive of all of us. I will demonstrate kindness, integrity, emotional intelligence, patriotism, love, patience, respect, and the grace that comes with accepting the future before us, whatever that may be.

I will listen to him, and teach him to be an active listener, because I think as a nation we have not been listening to one another.  Regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or income level, we have stopped listening.  We have decided to use our intellect to find ways to further divide ourselves instead of improving all of our lives.

In a little bit, nap time will be over and I will close my laptop, put my phone away, and go live life with my son.  In time I hope the fruits of my labor will be an adult son who has grown to be a mindful parent – and a mindful American.

There is no more time for distraction – only time for growing, guiding, and learning to create a better future.

Like riding a bike…

How often have you heard someone say “Oh, it’s easy…like riding a bike!”

I will never say that phrase again and I may be forced to slap someone should they be foolish enough to say that to me.

After 20 years of not riding a bike, I’m back to pedaling.  My body has forgotten what it means to ride a bike…muscle memory be damned.  I practice daily by hesitantly riding loops around the nearby cul-de-sac on my squeaky beach cruiser. As I struggle to get going and then get up to any sort of respectable speed, the neighbor kids sprint past me on their BMX bikes.  The kids are agile and quick and compared to them I’m like a drunk person trying to complete the Tour de France.  During a mountain stage.  In the midst of a minor earthquake.

When I clumsily disembark from my chariot my arms and legs feel like pudding.  I thought I was in at least somewhat good shape but I am definitely not.  It’s been a humbling experience.

This is not an entirely voluntary adventure.  We only have one car.  Still.  While in some places that wouldn’t be an issue, on a military base, it is an issue.  It’s a considerable issue.  There are some small, well-designed military bases out there, perfect for those who need to walk or bicycle to the commissary or office.  I’m not sure where they are, but I’ve heard they exist.  Ft. Bragg, while beautiful, is not one of those compact bases.  I knew that once Little Dude turned one I would be able to go on bike rides with him and therefore expand our adventures just a bit more.  We have explored every toy in our home, every inch of backyard, every kitchen cupboard.  We need to get out more, so on the bike we go!

Little Dude has gone on a few of these test rides, and so far hasn’t panicked or expressed any ill will towards me or my cycling inabilities.  He also hasn’t vomited from the lurching and swerving.  I think this is an immense testament to his character and inner ear health.

One of our first rides out involved one of those bike trailers you see everywhere.  I’ve never been fond of them but there was a stroller/trailer hybrid for sale at the store and I thought we’d try it.  That first ride was also our last as my little Houdini figured out how to pull the safety harness fully out of the trailer.  When I stopped to turn and check on him he popped off the Velcro hood and stood up outside the trailer.  And just like that, we had a new stroller.  Little Dude – 1  Trailer – 0

So now we’re using a Wee Ride which is like a traditional child’s bike seat except the child sits between you and the handle bars.  You can see them, and they can hear you and see the same things you’re seeing.  I like this arrangement better because there are no dismantling shenanigans that I can possibly miss.

Bicycling is getting easier every day and I’m starting to enjoy it more.  My inner ten-year-old is happy and keeps reminding me that I used to be able to dismount from my bike while in motion.  My outer 36-year-old keeps reminding my inner ten-year-old that not all things are still possible, but thanks for the memories.

I have high hopes for this new mode of transportation and think it’s going to work out just fine.  I’m going to be the leader of the neighborhood biking pack in no time…just watch out BMX kids.


The garden hose of good luck and quiet time…

So I’m sitting in the backyard today in soaking wet yoga pants and a tee shirt drinking cold coffee out of a plastic cup as Little Dude plays with the garden hose. Hey, motherhood. Now that the movers have come we’ve all been a bit out of sorts.  The Sarge has seen an uptick in work as we prepare to leave leaving Little Dude and I to entertain and feed ourselves in a mostly empty house.  We’ve sent just about everything ahead except some toys, our clothes, some cookware, the coffee pot, and the garden hose.  Little Dude has become the ultimate Velcro baby, only happy on my hip or in the backyard playing with the garden hose on mist, hence my current drenched state.  I’m sure this is unnerving for him so I’m trying to oblige the best I can.  

I’ve also been busy trying to find travel versions of important baby things – a travel bottle and cup drying rack (check), a travel foldable high chair with tray (check) – because while the frugal me says I can make due for six weeks, the frazzled me is screaming ‘No frickin’ way! Spare no expense if it makes life easier!’  I’ve learned that I don’t regret listening to frazzled me and quite appreciate her honesty.  Amazon does too, I bet.

So we’re here in our house for two more weeks.  Then we go to the Big Island for a week, then come back to an AirBnB on Oahu’s North Shore to relax, say our ‘see you again’s and prepare for our 12 hour flight and re-establishment in NC.  

I’m going to go get us dried off now, but I’ll keep you posted.

My One Hundred Houses

In the months leading up to our moves, I spend a lot of time dwelling on…dwellings.  I download rental property apps and search, and re-search, and then analyze the homes that I find.  Too big! Two small! Is that wall really chartreuse? Is the neighborhood really that nice or did Google street view just catch them on a good day?  Will our couch fit along that wall? How can there only be four cupboards in that kitchen? I edit my ‘favorites’ lists depending on my ever-changing must haves and suffer tiny heartbreaks when my dream homes disappear, the keys given to some other family.

It’s an obsession that I can’t quite stop and I know it’s futile since we won’t even contact properties until a month before we leave.  In my mind’s eye I place our belongings in these homes, organize our lives, and settle in.  We haven’t packed a single box yet but I’ve already moved in to a hundred houses.

I torture myself in this way for two reasons, I’ve realized.  The first is hope.  It’s fun to think of a different life in a different place. In my mind, in whatever home I’m looking at, I’m a better version of myself.  Magically more organized with better decorating skills and a knack for DIY.  My imagination also lets me have a new wardrobe and my email has achieved Inbox Zero.  Whether it’s all possible or not doesn’t matter, I have Pinterest boards full of possibility (and an alarming number of mason jar craft ideas).

The second thing is control.  It’s a weird feeling not knowing what my address will be in three months.  I’d like to play the cool ‘I just live the life of a nomad’ card, but I’m too high strung, let’s be real.  Every time I save a home a small part of me thinks that one is The One. Good.  I found it.  That’s over! It’s a lie I tell myself that gives me a sense of peace and eases my worry.

Having done all this before, I know it will all work out.  We’ve always had a roof over our heads upon arrival, even if it means living in a hotel for a month.  We’ll find a house and make a home. The couch will fit.  I’ll grow fond of the chartuese wall.  The neighborhood really will be nice.  In the meanwhile I’ll enjoy my hundred houses and let my imagination unpack boxes.

A meal delivery service changed the way I cook forever…

When I first heard of meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, I thought that there was no way in hell I’d need such a thing.  My thoughts veered toward food snobbery – first, I know how to cook!  I have tried-and-true recipes!  I’m a kitchen goddess! (Wishful thinking…) Secondly – I live in Hawaii – they aren’t going to ship that box here!  Thirdly – The expense – I can go to the store and buy ingredients for far less! Smug, smug, smug, smuggity smug with a side of “so there”.

Fast forward to Christmas 2014.  A very pregnant me received a subscription to Fresh Box from The Sarge.  I had pretty much stopped cooking and most of our meals came from boxes, cans, or delivery.  I couldn’t go to the grocery store because the mere sight of food made me ill.  Fresh Box meal delivery became our saving grace.

Fresh Box is based here in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, so my shipping argument went out the window.  Every week The Sarge and I would visit the Fresh Box website.  If we liked the three meals that were available that week, we’d order the box for $72.00.  The owners would deliver it to my office for me – though I could have chosen home delivery too.  Inside were all the fresh ingredients we – and by “we”, I mean The Sarge – would need to make three health dinners for two adults.

I didn’t think I’d like it…and I didn’t.  I LOVED IT.  We aren’t getting boxes right now because I’m on maternity leave and am home to cook.  But when I get back to work, we’ll be back to our Fresh Box subscription.

Here’s what we learned from our meal delivery experience:

Have higher standards for the ingredients you purchase.  
The meat and produce we recieved in our meal deliveries where always very fresh and had excellent shelf life.  Everything was organic and was of highest quality.  I had gotten used to grabbing whatever was on the shelf at the grocery.  Instead I take my time to drive to the farmer’s market or go to the grocery store that has higher quality produce or if all else fails, am just more selective when selecting produce and meat at my usual grocery store.

Time is money.  And it takes a long time to grocery shop.  I thought that $72.00 was expensive, but I was wrong.  The value we received was so high that my cost argument seemed silly.  Trying to grocery shop and then cook after a 12 hour work day was insane.  Having everything we needed to cook a healthy meal from scratch plus all the instructions to do it was worth every single dang penny.

There are more cooking techniques than boil and fry.  The recipes pushed us to learn new techniques – searing and broiling were added to our slim repertoire and we learned to appreciate how the cooking technique changes the final meal.

Herbs change a meal in ways we never understood. I was never one to shy away from trying herbs and herb blends in my cooking, but I never truly understood how much they could change a dish.  One night we forgot to add one of the herbs to our meal and half way through eating we mixed it in.  It was like a different dish!  So we got in to the habit of trying the meals we made without and then with certain ingredients and learned a lot about how herbs impact a meal.

We weren’t as adventurous as we thought we were.  The Sarge and I always thought we were pretty open minded eaters.  We aren’t picky and we like trying new things.  But that’s mostly at restaurants.  When walking through the grocery store we had blinders on to new foods and were stuck in the rut of picking up the ingredients we knew.  Meal delivery offered up new types of veggies and cuts of meat that we had never tried and we were pleasantly surprised by what we were introduced to!

Meal delivery is pretty amazing.  I guess you could say I’m eating crow but that’s actually not in the box! (Har har!  See what I did there?)