Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Stirrings of Spring

You don't mean for it to happen. You move away from a place that doesn't fit politically to place that seems promising but turns out just fits wrong in different areas. And then you start reminiscing. It doesn't help that the little baby is growing and having different experiences than the first due simply to living conditions. It also doesn't help that i fell in love with spring while living in tulsa. Perhaps I loved spring because, during what restaurant owners know as happy hour, in the lingering afternoon sun, when everything was green for the only time of year (the rest of the year it was either sunburnt, dehydrated or covered in snow) the weather resembles Oregon (my soul home) on a late afternoon in July (my favorite time of year). So, naturally, when this seasons starts to show itself a list of things I miss from seasons past come to mind. Here is my top ten things I miss about Tulsa, Oklahoma

1: cherry street. We lived in this neighborhood. Old growth trees. A city -maintained duck pond within walking distance year round. Neighbors who stopped to chat when they were out walking their dogs. Historic homes. Booming businesses, again walking distance from my front door.

2: sidewalks. The older neighbors have sidewalks (same here). But unlike denton, we could afford to live in the noeghborhood with sidewalks and therefore could teach Emagene road safety very early. Without sidewalks, it is hard to explain that cars drive in the street and people walk on the sidewalks. We each have our own space and staying in our space can greater guarantee our safety when distracted by the butterflies, lighting bugs, and wildflowers. Granted some people in Tulsa still had trouble understanding what the purpose of a sidewalk was and would stop traffic because they were strolling down the middle of a street with sidewalks available on each side, but i'm choosing to overlook that flaw today. Besides whenever I think of them I am reminded of a conversation I had on this topic with an old timer at work. His response, as always, was "that really chaps my hide when people do that!" (I love jim!) Which moves me on to...

3: my job: I worked in live theatre with a bunch of characters that became family. As with every family, there are a handful of members you try to avoid and others you embrace with joy every time there is a reunion. But not only did the people make the job interesting and something that was looked forward to, the job itself was ever-changing yet the same. Predictable in that everyday we ran cable, plugged things in, fixed something broken, used a drill, climbed something, hammered something and made a lot of noise while suffering from drinking bad coffee. It was ever-changing in that the artists were always different, the production lay out would be unique from the gig before. And when the audience was added the ability to stay on your toes and make the magic happen on time and safely added another level of excitement that cannot be attained sitting around watching the children eat leaves.

4; my circle of spiritual women: I don't really think this one needs much explanation. Now don't get me wrong, I have met some amazing spiritual women in every place I've lived and have stayed in contact with most of them. This group is special due to the open arms that helped me battle home sicknesses and depression while reminding me to stop and let the children eat leaves. I am forever grateful!

5: the first time moms I met through yoga and a holistic support group. Nothing can compare to the deep connections made in moments of vulnerability. There is no place quite as vulnerable as the rawness of first time motherhood! Having a network of like-minded women in the same place in life was healing, helpful, comforting and watching our babies interact was nothing less than magical!

6: my proximity to things: Woodward park, coffee shops, restaurants, zoo, children's museum, Whole Foods. While DFW has all these things, many require over an hour drive and the chance of being stuck in horrendous traffic! In Tulsa, I could walk to most things, afford all of it, and make it back home before the hunger meltdowns moved in.

7: Medicare and other open minded health programs you would be surprised to find in the reddest state imaginable

8: the fire of potential that was sweeping the city. Life was just retuning to downtown. Young entrepreneurs were taking over the city and therefore the city was a buzz of possibilities to be tried, owned, and remodeled. New life was entering the downtown arts districts at an infectiously rapid pace. In the 3+ years we lived there, downtown went from dead and scary after 5 to alive and bumping.

9: my front porch. Classic, Deep South porch. Morning sun, afternoon shade. Ceiling fan. Big swing. You get the idea.

10: and lastly, the novelties and local   businesses. joe Momma's Thai chicken pizza. Jobots iced mochas. Dilly Deli's Michael Roy sandwich, the American Theatre Company, Tulsa Ballet Theatre and staff, Cainn's Ballroom, Cherry Street Farmer's Market, May Fest, I Am festival, and so many more! 

If you plan to drive across country, Tulsa should be a stop on your adventure. I plan on taking the girls on Route 66 one season when they'll get something "educational" out of it. Tulsa will be one of the longer stops on our journey.

Monday, March 10, 2014

the power of words

The other day at a playground a young girl, probably about 4, announced she needed to use the facilities. She said it in such a way that led me to believe she was recently toilet trained. Her face showed a mixture of shock, awe, and complete terror that had her caregiver responding in a near panic. But what struck me was the verbal response from her caregiver: "Squeeze your legs together and let's run." How confusing! Squeezing ones legs together will in no way guarantee the activation of the pelvic floor muscles that are used to stop the flow of urine. And how can this girl run while pressing her thighs together? If she tried she'd most likely end up looking like Bert from Mary Poppins doing his penguin dance (view the dance here) and hurrying would be impossible. No wonder this sweet child looked panicked!  She was sure to fail if she tried to follow those instructions! I assume she figured out how to politely disobey and focus on getting to the loo because a few minutes later they returned to the playground in the same clothing.

So why am I sharing this story? Because it reminded me of the power of words. Especially as a parent of small children, I believe how you phrase instructions or requests is important for success. My research, of exactly one child, suggests that children want to please their caregivers (this finding is reinforced by reading books on child development). If the child doesn't understand the words, how can they complete the task? If poor grammar is used, or conflicting actions are asked of them, or they don't understand what the task is, I believe they panic a little. 

Now don't get me wrong, I do not believe this little girl's caregiver was intentionally setting her up to fail. In fact, she looked a little panicked too, as most parents of newly potty-trained kids do when they take their littles out in public for the first few diapers-free weeks. The look on her face suggested she said the first helpful bit of encouragement that came to her as she scanned the area for the closest toilet - which at this park is usually behind a big tree.

So what do I want you to walk away from this blog thinking? Think before you speak. It really is as simple as your mom told you it would be. Is what you're about to say helpful? Is it clear? Loving? Necessary? Kind? Positive? Gentle guidance? What reaction am I hoping to get from my words? Is the reaction helpful? or will be it stained with negativity from the delivery of my thoughts?

And I am saying this as much to myself as I am to anyone reading this. What you say, and how you say it, will bring about results. Be sure your are communicating in a way to ensure you get the results you desire. Yelling will ensure action, but will it be the action you wish, and will it be sprinkled with love or with disdain and fear? Are your instructions clear or are they setting up your listener for confusion and failure?

Personally, I am working to remind myself to encourage positive communication in my house, hoping to foster action and cooperation based on love and mutual respect rather than fear. Doing this means double checking my words and tone when requests aren't fulfilled. Was I unclear? Was I harsh? Did I yell? If I answer yes to any of these questions, I have not acted in line with my goal of loving communication. I must acknowledge my wrongdoings, apologize, and restate my request in a loving manner.

I have noticed when I am dedicated to this practice, my family responds. Manners ooze from my 3-year old, my husband thanks me for cooking, and we all laugh more. We aren't wasting energy yelling about miscommunication. When I'm not dedicated to this personal awareness - such as when I'm sleep deprived by the nightly screaming of a seemingly colicky newborn - negativity slips in through the cracks, requests begin to get ignored and my family members stop being polite to each other.

Be the change you want to see, in this case, in your house

This is just my household. I cannot vouch for this in your household. But I can say that it never hurts anyone to speak with extra love, respect and kindness.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New dresses

It was warm last week, just for a couple of days, and this momma got a touch of Spring Fever. Naturally, I decided crafting was way more interesting than the spring cleaning that actually needed to get done.
Photo courtesy of Emagene
With a bit of help from Mr Kitty I managed to get a few things off the machine rather quickly.

Emagene's dress, which twirls nicely, is Simplicity pattern 6204 and was comfortably simple to sew. I even managed a zipper without my zipper foot!  (I have a box of extra feet and bits but they've been used to keep little hands because between the helpful moments of pushing the backstittch button and I do believe some crucial parts to fancy feet have gone missing.)
Aoife's dress was a little something I made up based on one those free patterns you can get at JoAnn's while you're waiting  your turn at the cutting counter. The original pattern consisted of sewing two bandannas together and adding shoulder ties. I just measured my child and cut fabric to fit her and then followed the pattern's sewing instructions for armhole placement and called it good.

 She seems to like it.