Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guest Blogger: Koi and Momas

Today our guest blogger is my good friend Stephanie.  She is the author of the blog (which I always enjoy reading) and the mama of two precious little ones.  I'm so grateful that she'd share her thoughts here.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do:)

Last week, over a shared meal that never disappoints to bring up random conversations, the subject of labels entered the scene.  One of my friends who raised three boys through high school diplomas said, "Isn't it funny how you say you never want to give a label, but then it just happens anyway?"

We spent the next chunk of time laughing and giving examples of how true that is.  Beucase... well... people sometimes just ARE certain ways!

Koi has always been more of an introvert and keeps to himself while Momas says hi to everyone in his path whether we are going on an after dinner walk or just waiting in the chiropractor's office.

Koi is more cautious and meticulous about things.  He was perched on a stool helping me in the kitchen since he could stand with a decent amount of balance.  Momas thinks it's hilarious to do a side-step-bounce over to Koi's neat line of cars while picking his foot up and giving a raised eyebrow glance to Koi.

Koi HATES loud noises and takes a while to recover from being startled while Momas may or may not hear a noise and dismisses it as quickly as he heard it.

The question I've been asking myself lately is, "Is it nature or nurture?"  So far my answer is that it's a bit of both. 

I do think that their are certain qualities we are born with.  Koi wakes up with the sun and has more of a difficult time staying asleep at night, and I'm usually waking Momas up for the day around ten.  We didn't do anything drastically different with their sleep aside from Momas being in our bed longer.

I definitely think Koi's introvert personality is something he was born with, and we help him find his words to address people while making sure he's not too overwhelmed in crowds.  He could also be more comfortable in the kitchen because he is the first born and I had the undivided attention to teach him how to stay on his chair and pour and mix ingredients.

It's easy to feel like I'm depriving Momas because he's not getting the same one one one attention as Koi had, and the guilt can creep in when Koi's big plans for playing get interrupted by "Tomzilla", as we affectionately call Momas.

Instead of letting the guilt become paralyzing I choose to look at what they each bring to our family.  Koi teaches Momas that things have a place, and loves when he can be the one to sit down and read Momas books.  Momas leads the way in saying hi to people and, if the reaction is positive, Koi is right behind him.  Yesterday the loud revving of an engine sent Koi bolting into the house in a hysterical state that took me at least five long minutes to calm him down.  Those five minutes preceded ten minutes of Koi asking me if it was going to happen again, and not wanting to go back out to play.  He finally found Momas and sweetly asked him if he wanted to go out, too.  Momas happily followed Koi outside and Koi was happy to have his brother there as a buffer from the noise, should it happen again.
Instead of trying to steer clear of labels, I think we should embrace the way we were created and celebrate our differences!  Instead of ignoring the differences in our children we should help them put a name to things, and affirm them for who they are and the qualities they have.  In a positive way, of course.  I can give some examples of labels I was given, unintentionally, that I played into because I thought that was just me....but we don't need to go there. :-) 

How sad would it be to realize you never helped your children, or those around you, reach their fullest potential because you were afraid to put them in a box so you steered clear from calling out their strengths and helping them see and work on their weaknesses?

Let's be quick and genuine to affirm.  
Let's be even faster to apologize when our words hurt.
Let's love and build up those around us.
Let's teach our littles how to appreciate the differences in others!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A guide to Fantasy Football for Haters...and Spouses

So, tomorrow is my husband and my 9 year anniversary!  Nine years!  It’s hard to believe all the adventures we’ve had and how quickly the time has gone by. 

Tomorrow is also important because it is my husband’s fantasy football draft. Now, to all you haters out there I used to be a hater too.  And then I got pregnant with our first child.  And I got really really sick.  Sick so that I could not move from the couch without being violently ill.  I spent my days watching ESPN because even changing the channel was just too much for my feeble mind and body.  

I realized that learning about sports was like learning a new language... and ESPN is a really really good teacher.  Seriously, if we covered common core curriculum like ESPN covers sports....making shows that all discuss the same things but in slightly different forums (i.e. Sports Center, Around the Horn, and Pardon the Interruption) we’d have a lot more kids passing standardized tests.  Anyway, I started to care about this new language I was learning.  

Also, I realized that sports are a great outlet for people who, like me, love to argue.  Sports debates can go on endlessly.  So, I am eager for my husband to go pick a killer fantasy football team because it will be a subject of great conversation all fall long.  

So, just in case you want to join in that lively debate this fall, I’ve written this post covering the basics of Fantasy Football (because let’s be honest...half the hate comes from feeling left out)... Ok 

Step 1: A person must pick a team name for their Fantasy Team (a team they dream up as all the perfect players from various real teams coming together to play as one for them an imaginary owner/ manager) The naming of teams may be the last bastion of literary wit among sports fans (besides sports writers/bloggers).  Puns, word play and allusion are all welcome.  My personal favorite comes from a NY Giants fan we know.  His team gave a clever nod to the Giant’s coach Tom Coughlin and to prostate health. It was called “Turn your head and Coughlin.”  

Step 2: You must have a draft.  All of this is done online and like the real NFL draft you have to wait your turn to pick the player you want.  You get to pick between 15-18 players.  The usual combination (according to Fantasy Football for Dummies) is as follows:
~2 quarterbacks (who throw the ball or hand it off or run with it if they are athletic enough) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully pass or run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they throw or run in)
~4 running backs (who take a handoff and run the ball) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they run in)
~4 wide receivers (who catch the ball) They receive points according to the number of yards they successfully catch and/or run the ball AND get points for every touchdown they catch and/or run in)
~2 tight ends (who...I had to look this one according to wikipedia.....“is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver.” Basically a blocker and a runner.) They get points the same way a running back would.  
~2 kickers (who kick the ball in between the “uprights” to earn 1 or 3 points depending on the situation) They get points for how many points they score kicking the ball between the two yellow poles.  
~2 defenses/ special teams (Now, this is a little confusing because you can’t pick defensive players you have to pick a whole teams’ defense...I don’t know why , that’s just the way it is.  I suppose there must be a limit to the amount a person can dream even in Fantasy Football.) They get points based on how many interceptions they get, sacks they make (in other words how many times they bring the quarterback down while he has the ball), and points they score running the ball in for a touch down.  

Step 3: Research.  Really this is step 1 or 2 and should be done first but it wouldn’t have made sense before all the other stuff. I tried to keep this very brief because it c
~Names to Know: 
Aaron Rodgers
-Quarterbacks: While Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) and Tom Brady (New England Patriots) will undoubtedly make their way into the Hall of Fame as the best players of our time they may not be the optimum fantasy pick.  (Tom Brady because he will be suspended for the first four games). Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) has actually held the number one spot for fantasy football the past few years.  
Adrian Peterson
-Running Backs: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) is freak of nature when it comes to running.  Although he has made some very bad moral choices that got him suspended last season he has a heartbreaking back story that makes me want him to be the best version of himself.  
-Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson (goes by Megatron and plays for the Detroit Lions)
-Rodger Goodell- The NFL Commissioner (in other words, the boss who decides all things pertaining to professional football.)
~Terms to know:
-Touchdown- When the ball crosses over the plane of the end of the field (i.e. over the painted white line or the orange pylons at the edges) a team scores 6 points.   The team can then choose to try to score another touchdown which is only worth 2 points or kick a field goal which is only worth one point.  Note: If a team doesn’t even try to make the first touchdown but goes straight to kicking a field goal they earn 3 points for a successful kick.
-Sleepers- Players who no one expects to do well but end up earning a ton of points.

So, to bring things full circle, tomorrow along with a mushy card, my husband will be receiving my strong suggestions on who he should draft.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: Lydia Smith

I apologize for the delay this week in presenting my guest blogger.  She is one of my favorite people in this wide world.  Talking with her has always been like drinking from deep streams of water.  She is one of those people who dances in the rain and writes beautiful poetry.  She has a fantastic blog that you can request an invite to.
   So without further ado...Lydia Smith



meander along the labyrinthine routine

of this night day clock

it's a bit confusing
but i see you there



what do you see?

that i don't

my head feels fuzzy

until i find myself embraced by this night's


i want to be cozy

but i must step out onto the gnarly rocks

that push me towards the waves

of tomorrow's change

Monday, August 17, 2015

Speak of the Devil

There is a scene in the movie (and book) Emma where she is at a picnic.  Someone at the party begins poking fun at a dodgy old lady in their company.  Emma, being the witty heroine she is, joins in with gusto and brings the poor elderly woman to tears.  Emma’s best friend (who she is in love with) chastises her, “It was badly done Emma, badly done indeed.”  And I feel the most miserable second hand embarrassment in that moment every time because I have been there. 

Almost 10 years ago now, I was working at a bakery and there was a very sweet girl there.  She was kind of a hippy, most of us were.  But she had this way of talking, slow and like she was stoned but she totally wasn’t.   She also had a way of phrasing things that made what would have been a normal conversation a little strange and awkward.  These things combined made her very fun to imitate.  

So one night, I was working late with two of my
 closest friends and this girl.  (Let’s call her Kelly).  Kelly and I are cleaning up behind the counter after the store closes and she is talking my ear off in the slowest most awkwardly phrased way possible and I’m soaking it up because I am just ready to relay all of this to my friends.  They are clearing out the bagel bins so I go over to work there on the pretense of helping or asking a question.  I immediately launch into my imitation, mocking Kelly and laughing at my own  wit. When their faces go white and I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  And I know she is behind me but I’m begging my friends with my eyes to tell me it’s not true.  But she’s there and I turn around and I have nothing to say.  I have absolutely no excuse for my behavior. All I could think to say was, “Well, speak of the devil I was just telling the girls about our conversation.”  And I felt the deepest sense of shame.  

You would think that this would have cured me of all gossip.  After that how could I not have learned my lesson.  But if you have known me for any length of time you probably know that I have not learned my lesson.  In fact you may have shared this horrid experience with me. And when I see someone I have just been talking about standing behind me, listening to what seem to be my “true thoughts” about them, all I can think is how untrue everything I just said is. I might not have been saying anything slanderous but I’m certainly not saying anything loving.   And my one wish in that moment is that I could take it all back and instead say what a truly great person they are and how glad I am they are in my life.  

Like Emma I set out to be the life of the party.  To prove my wit and worth.  But inevitably every word that I utter to make myself feel like a better more socially acceptable person robs me of the spice, brilliance, and joy that person brings to my life.  So, this is an invitation, to stop me if I start to make a fool of myself again.  Maybe it’s a little bit of warning too so you don’t have to go through it.  If you hear me start to mock anyone, just whisper “Speak of the devil” and maybe I’ll remember that they could be standing right there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Lay Awakes

I love that the guest blogger of the week is THE LAY AWAKES!   They are "an acoustic pop duo based in Brooklyn, NY, with roots in the Canadian prairies and small town Ontario.

ANNA PADDOCK (piano, vocals) grew up in various states and provinces, but her family ties reach back to rural Manitoba.  Her musical roots trace back to classical piano studies and the inspiration of dance and theatre, which led her to study music at Trinity Western University and composition at New York University. During this time, Anna began writing songs, released her first solo album in 2013, toured in Canada and the US, and most notably opened for Paul Simon at New York’s Beacon Theater.

PATRICK ANDERSON (guitar, vocals) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up in Fergus, Ontario. His music lineage goes back to the family campfire and songbook. He studied music at Vancouver Community College and at Hunter College in Manhattan. Patrick spent many years representing Canada in wheelchair basketball and is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist. 

Anna and Patrick formed The Lay Awakes in the fall of 2014, and immediately began working on an EP with producer Jeremy McDonald (Kevin Garrett). The independent self-titled debut was released in July, 2015."    

I posted "Hush" by Anna Paddock on this blog almost 2 years ago and today I'm posting Hush Revisited because I still love it, perhaps even more as performed by The Lay Awakes.   So without further ado...
(Anna Paddock)
Hush, I've heard enough
You're like a disease and I don't need this
Hush, say no more
You come like a thief and I don't need you
People say we'll fix your head
Just swallow this pill
It'll get easier
I tell myself, get out of bed
You cannot be ill
But all I hear is
Voices, voices
I hear voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
Hush, don't rear your head
You're like a disease beginning to spread
Hush, you've made your point
You come like a thief to kill and destroy
And people say we'll fix your head
Just swallow this pill
Statistics say, you're one in ten
But all I hear is
Voices, voices
Voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
God I can't think when I hear
Voices, voices, voices
Closing me in
Hush, it's time you go
You're like a disease killing my soul
Hush, you've said too much
You come like a thief and you've taken enough