Ten things to be happy about, as in 10 things I should focus on so I don't pull out my hair over the fact that our country is already in the worst debt of its history and about to bail out the greedy boys on Wall Street who made poor decisions. This may be necessary to keep the rest of our economy going, but it is made all the more bitter by these being the same individuals that constantly call for less regulation and worry that "liberals" are going to tax them and give away all their money to those in need. Don't worry boys, we're just going to tax the people who actually work for a living and give it away to your bad debts.
A-hem. Sorry about that.
Truth is, that is only one of many things annoying me at the moment. I'll spare you those other rants. And thanks to school starting, all my boys have colds. Poor Nolan is reduced to choosing between milk and oxygen since he can't breathe out his nose. But I'm trying to keep in mind one of my favorite quotes:
"Abundance is not something that we acquire. It is something we tune into. " -Wayne Dryer
Here's my attempt to tune out of what Anne Lamott so eloquently refers to as Radio Station KFKD and into gratitude.
1. Despite the colds, we are still mainly healthy. And for that I am always immeasurably grateful. And I haven't had a migraine or facial pain in weeks.
2. This little boy. Or "man" as he insists, when he isn't insisting that we play "baby" (which he does insist on daily). I'll be honest, he is a real challenge for me. I sometimes feel I can never give him enough. He can be so delightful, so funny, so affectionate, so joyful, and also so stubborn, so frustrating. But he is also a huge blessing to me. I love the way he talks, I love just watching him put on his shoes, and I love that today I overheard him singing, "Fly Me to the Moon" while playing:-)
3. Then there is his grown-up twin, Brian. Who can also be incredibly stubborn and frustrating, but is equally patient and kind and somehow able to make me smile when I least want to.
Tonight the two older boys didn't immediately come when called to the table, so I suggested we just eat without them, especially since they were going to complain about the meal anyway. Nolan was content, and we got to have an actual conversation by ourselves.
Then Brian made the comment, "So you've made a full switch to fall, huh?" I didn't know what he meant and then he pointed out that so far this week I've made soup, chili, and tonight's Harvest Pie. Totally cracked me up because, even if this week marked the official start of fall, it's still in the 80s here every day:-)
4. This boy. Today his buddy David was "Star of the Day" and Aidan was SO happy for him.
He gets homework now. Being the geek that I am, I was excited at that prospect, and so was he. When Bri's staff was over for a BBQ last week, I overheard him proudly announce to all of them that he got his first homework assignment. Then we realized it was just a packet of busywork to complete each week. Urr. I don't know what I was expecting--something slightly more creative. But he's gotten into the groove of it, and at least this afternoon there were no complaints or whining.
He opened his first savings account last week, and received his first allowance too. He immediately spent it on Heat Blast from the Dollar Store. "Ben-10" was recently banned from our house. We don't get Cartoon Network anyway, so it was pretty easy. He still loves playing it (pretending he has the power to turn into different aliens), which he's always done more of than actually watching it. A friend mentioned that it might be more violent than I thought, so I watched a clip with Aidan and was taken back, not by any action, but by the attitude. The kid was totally rude to his grandfather! Every child is different, but Aidan has always been one who absorbs the stories he hears or sees. He has the O'Malley gift for remembering dialogue, even unintentionally. So nix on that for now, though he is still campaigning to see the live-action movie version. Anyone out there who has seen it and can give a recommendation?
5. This baby. I'm going to refer to him as my baby for the rest of his life, so he might as well get used to it. Today my little sister reminded me of the bliss that is a toothbrush when a baby is teething. Elizabeth, your nephew thanks you! We also discovered that making "Mork from Ork" noises (na noo na noo) totally cracks him up. Can't wait till he is over this cold.
6. This photo makes me so happy:
and so does this one:
7. Learning. I'm taking an online photo class by Candice Stringham at Jessica Sprague's website. It is extremely basic, just six lessons, but I've accepted the fact that I might never read my manual and I already understand more than I did a week ago. So it is good. Here's our first homework assignment (Aidan was more than willing to jump off the deck 101 times for me so I had a lot of shots from which to choose. He also had to wear his Star of the Day crown for the experiment):
There are a lot of very kind people who read this site, and I'm grateful for all the kind words about various photos of mine. I've actually received a few questions about photography, to which my main reply is ---you have me confused with someone who knows something! I am still so in the infant stage and am learning by making mistakes. I imagine someone who knows a lot about photography probably cringes when looking at my photos (seeing how the metering was off or how it could have been better).
I have a long list of photography websites that inspire me but which I rarely have time to visit. The two I have learned the most from are nonprofessionals who therefore write in layman's terms, The Pioneer Woman and Karen Russell. What I do know, I learned at their sites, and from kind mommas who have answered my questions (like Amy helping me discover the WB button on my camera, and Susan Weinroth who directed me to AV mode).
8. Honey Crisp apples
should soon be are available again.
9. A new pair of jeans. I think it has been at least 3 years since I bought a new pair. Now I just wish I had bought two.
10. Good friends. The one good thing about being overwhelmed is that you learn to say yes when people offer help. I am so much better at that than I was just a few years ago. Maybe that is one of the gifts of parenthood.
When Brian was away, a friend had us over to play and for lunch. Ah, the respite from making and cleaning up a meal, with some adult conversation on top. It was just what I needed to refuel for a few more days of solo parenting. Another friend dropped off a bag full of peaches from her backyard tree. We are still enjoying the ones we froze in our smoothies.
This week a good friend called from a store to see if we'd be interested in this:
Why, YES, we would! So she grabbed us one of the last ones, and now Aidan won't have to wear the magican's cape and paper Vader mask we were planning on. Can you tell how much he likes it?
I'm never a fan of waking up a baby, and with his current cold, I find it even harder to pull Nolan out of a hard-won nap to go pick up one of his brothers. So I am grateful to Brian for taking an earlier lunch so he can pick up Sean, and for friends who offer to drop Aidan or Sean when heading the same way---as so many have done, and for my neighbor Carol, who more than once has come over so I can leave Nolan sleeping while I run to pick up Aidan.
A good friend and I have recently agreed to exchange some writing every month (thanks to Ira Glass, this post from Finslippy, and the permission that the writing be really bad). I've been trading weekly progress reports with another new mom on our post-pregnancy fitness goals. And Angie recently brought to my attention that there were exactly 100 days left of 2008 and wouldn't I like to participate in a challenge. So I'm recommitting to some old goals I'd let go of recently. Luckily I didn't choose getting to bed at a reasonable time or I would have already blown it. This post is much longer than I intended. Sorry.
What inspires me most is also the thing that scares me the most: change. And while all my efforts described in the last paragraph might not result in much change, I am already so proud of a huge change for me in just acknowledging my goals out loud (yikes! Least I fail, I usually prefer to keep them to myself) and in asking for help in achieving them.
When I listen to news or read the paper, the misanthrope in me comes out. But when I look around, I see how good most people really are, and how most of us all want the same thing. To be of use, to contribute to the world and feel connected in it. So that is my wish for all of you reading this. Thanks for helping me in my retuning.