Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Simplicity: The Art of Complexity featuring Irony and Type-A Personalities

I feel like a  lot of irony has been occurring in my life lately.

Today I was asked to draft a thank you letter to someone I am most definitely NOT thankful for. Granted, the letter is not from me and it's more of a political move than genuine thankfulness, but this person does not deserve to be thanked. I won't get into the nitty-gritty except to say this person cares only about generating revenue and not about informing and educating our community and that's exactly what they are being thanked for. Do you see the irony here? (You have no idea what I'm talking about and have quit reading because I've left the realm of inclusion so I continue for catharsis.) I also may or may not have have had personal AND professional conflict with his person. It's hard to please everyone, I guess.

Last week, in an attempt to be "totally on top of things", I decided I was going to start work on my first graduate-level class the moment it was posted on Blackboard. I usually don't work on Fridays and the class was supposed to be posted that day - 5 days before the class officially starts. Win! In my mind I pictured sitting in my big, pink chair next to the fireplace with the laptop perched atop my comfy blanket. In silence and uninterrupted focus I would dive head first into academia. I even brought my new glasses home from work. 
Instead, I discovered the Internet was down that day. Which meant two things: Obviously, I couldn't access my class and less obviously, I couldn't distract the kids (who were also home with me that day) with Bob the Builder. "Can we fix it?" Not today. 

So, really, that's it. At least that's all I can remember right now. I guess I just have a general sense of irony lately. So I exaggerated when I said, "a lot". What I should have said was, "a completely normal amount."  

Self diagnosis: I'm focusing on the negative things that are bound to happen in any one's life and inserting a sense of sarcasm to protect myself from the realisation that I don't have control over every little thing. "Ha! OF COURSE I decided to quit drinking diet Coke on THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE, EVER, EVER, EVER. THAT'S SO FUNNY AND IRONIC! HA-HA-HA. HO-HUM. i have no control... i need to have control...DIDDLY, DIDDLY."    

The more I add to my life the more complicated it gets. Which is the opposite of living simply, right? And isn't that the title of this blog? And, FYI, more compartments means there are more opportunities for things to be absolutely, positively out of my control. It doesn't matter how many calendars, iPhone apps, organization tactics, and highlighters I have. If the freaking Internet is down then there's nothing I can do about it. (Except I downloaded the Blackboard app so that never happens again... wait, what? Control freak you say? Well, yes.) I know, I'm out of control with control.

It's in my control to live simply, right? I don't have to have a family of 4 (yes I do), a full-time job (yes I do), be enrolled in graduate school, run a non-profit, and various other activities that chink away at my simple life. For the short-term I could say, "Screw this! I'm spending the rest of my days in the hammock in the back yard! My kids can run around barefoot and WE WILL LIVE SIMPLY AND THE SUN WILL SHINE FOREVER!" By the way, we don't have a hammock. Yet.
For the long-term, I'm choosing to let things be a little bit crazy right now. We have goals. We (my family and I) understand we're not the only people in this world. Maybe not the little ones, but Chris and I know that. We're not trying to run a race or keep up with the Jones'. The things we do have a purpose and most of the time we have felt led and compelled to our involvements. I think THAT is simplicity: Doing things with a purpose. Prioritizing. Making sacrifices. Sometimes that means our life revolves around our calendar and sometimes it means we sit in the garden and eat pea pods off the vine for an hour.   

And sometimes it means we relinquish control of our crazy lives to the One who has all the control because simplicity is not a goal. Simplicity is now.  Simplicity is always present. Just simply live. (Double entendre intended.)

"The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple." — Doris Janzen Longacre

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lucy Lately

Picture by Flat 4 Photography

Lucy was 15 months old when we met. I'll never forget that day nor will I forget the joy she obviously brought to her daddy's life. Now I get to share in that joy and am amazed by this little girl and how much she's changed since that day.

Lately, Lucy...

  • Is a girlie girl. Lucy loves the dirt and being outside just as much as Jackson, but lately she has discovered the perks of being a girl. We've bonded over finger nail polish and hair bows. She loves to accessorize with bracelets and necklaces. She can name off every single Disney princess and says, without a doubt, that Cinderella is her favorite. I think Rapunzel (Tangled) comes in a close second. I, personally, love this because girls are so much fun to shop for.
  • Colors inside the lines. This girl is a pro colorer. She carefully chooses just the right color and then meticulously finishes the page. Really, she's great at anything creative and I love seeing her freestyle it on the chalk/marker/paper easel we got her for Christmas. She makes wonderful smiley faces. :)
  • Grew Up, Up, Up! We had to get Lucy new pants. One day she fit into her pants and footed pajamas just fine and then the next day she had highwaters and wedgies. I can't believe the growth spurts she can pull off! Daddy is 6'10" so she has some catching up to do, but at this rate she'll be up there in no time!
  • Sees the details. No detail goes unnoticed with Lucy. "I love your beautiful dress!" she'll say to anyone with a skirt on. She notices when I'm wearing different earings and calls them "wonderful." Her "wedding shoes" (pink, corduroy Tom's) are some of her favorites. If something has changed in the house, she notices and if someone does something nice for her, she notices.
  • Is so caring. The other day, simultaneously, I spilled my coffee AND Jackson started drawing on my light pink chair with blue pen. It was a moment of chaos and Lucy looked at me matter-of-factly and said, "It's okay mommy Carey. I love you." After that, anything can be okay. She also gives the best smooshy-face kisses and little pats on your back accompany any hug she gives. What really gets me is that she picks up on the emotion of those around her. She senses when your sad or happy, angry or sick and responds appropriately. By the way, "Papa Brad is [still] all better."
  • Has her own sense of humor. Lucy sees joy in the world and finds humor in the little things. I love watching her get tickled inside by seeing things like Christmas lights through her fingertip, daddy making silly faces, her own silly faces and farts. (Yes, farts. Trust me, it's funny.) 
  • Loves her Gramma. Lucy has a special bond with her Gramma Marlena. There's nothing better to Lucy than going to Gramma's house, baking cookies and working in the garden. More and more, Lucy looks like her Gramma and could even qualify as Gramma's minime. This is a wonderful thing because Gramma is wonderful. 
  • Stopped wearing her purple princess dress every day. This is good because we no longer have to sneak it into the laundry room, but kinda sad. She still loves "beautiful, wonderful dresses", but now it can be ANY dress.   
  • Is going to marry Jackson. Ever since the wedding, Lucy occasionally states that she is going to marry Jackson. It's the cutest thing.
  • Has an opinion. I have no doubt in my mind that Lucy will grow up to be the kind of person who stands up for what she believes in and is passionate about. She is strong and fragile- which I know are opposites, but I think of less as opposites and more as compliments.
Lucy will be 4 in May and as she morphs into a little girl, the kind that picks out her clothes and prefers not to eat meat, we see a beautiful, wonderful person emerging who is unique and can be summed up as all things Lucy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jackson Lately

Picture by Flat 4 Photography

Lately Jackson has seemed all grown up. I know I'll say that every year until he is, in fact, all grown up. When that day comes I know I'll be able to look back and see all the happiness in the process of growing up.

Lately, Jackson...

  • Found his independence. I love the look on his face when he conquers something he hadn't previously been able to do. Crawling into his car seat, going potty, putting on his pajamas, taking his plate to the sink. All by himself. He's also pretty adamant about attempting to do things on his own that he hasn't quite conquered. Practice makes perfect. He holds his hand up like he's a crossing guard and says, "You stay there. I do it." I love it. 
  • Put his smarty pants on. Not to brag, but Jackson can say his ABC's, tell us what sound each letter makes and tell us some words that start with each letter. He can also identify written letters. He'll be 3 next month. He can count to 20 (he skips 15,16,17 and when he gets to 20 he starts back at 14. It's a work in progress.) He can also count to 10 in Spanish. Thank you, Dora. Colors were so last year.
  • Asks why. Why? Why? Why? His inquisition of life is so wonderful. 
  • Sings to himself. When Jackson was just born I started singing "Skidamarink" to him. We still sing it often and lately I'll walk in a room to find him happily playing and singing that song (along with others like, 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and 'Jingle Bells') 
  • Gives the best kisses. Butterfly kisses are a favorite of his, but he also likes Eskimo kisses and Cow kisses. We do each of these every night and finish off with a big Bear hug. Including sound effects. 
  • Goes potty "in the toilette" (said, by Jackson, with an Italian accent). I know I mentioned this before, but I'm so proud of how far he's gotten with this. We started the process a year ago and we've pretty much conquered #1 and are well on our way to conquering #2. Since he's become such a master at #1 he gets "little treats" (his phrase, not mine. It's usually a small piece of candy or raisins) when that occurs. When #2 occurs in the toilette he gets "big treats" (fruit snacks) AND Mommy and Daddy Chris do funny dances and smile a lot.
  • Loves to be outside. He's always loved to be outside, but the bigger he gets, the more he can do. Yesterday he found the perfect stick in the yard. I let him bring it in the house and we're going to use it to hang a Valentine craft. 
  • Is a snuggle bug. "Mommy, can we cuddle on the couch?" Heck yes every time. Those words are like music to my ears. He is the cuddliest little boy I know.
  • Developed his inner clown. Jackson is goofy. And his comedic timing is impeccable. He likes to make the people around him laugh which is so, so sweet. "Mommy, is it funny?" he'll say (sometimes after he's done something NOT funny which makes it all funny. It's all in the timing!).
  • Tells stories. Sometimes they're true, sometimes not, but he's gotten pretty good at telling stories. He's also really fun to talk to. Lately, I've been spending a few minutes before he goes to sleep just sitting on his bed and talking to him in the dark. We go through the list of people and things we love and are thankful for. We talk about the moon and the stars. Sometimes we talk about monsters. We always talk about what's happening the next day. "What happens next?" "We wake up!" "Next..." "We go potty." "Next..." "We eat breakfast." "Next... next... next..." So far, we've made it 3 days in advance.
  • Plays well with others. Jackson went from playing next to others kids to playing with other kids. He's not afraid to make friends and can even be a little overwhelming to the other child with his initiation. "Hi! What's your name?" is usually the opener, said directly in their face while waving a stiff hand back and forth. He and Lucy are getting pretty good at make-believe and (I never thought I'd say this) sharing.
Jackson will be 3 on February 9th. Starting this year I will be asking him questions each birthday and recording his answers in a book with a birthday picture. I can't wait to see what his answers will be and, later, to see how he's grown and changed.