When the girls were learning to walk, I cannot remember a single time they fell on their bottoms or turned a corner too short where I shamed them. I don’t recall ever scorning “you weren’t paying attention” or expecting balance. Rather, I buffered and bumped and directed and encouraged.

I watched them learn to walk.

As I sit here with my morning coffee, I am fully aware of the butterflies in my stomach related to the parenting ahead of me today.

David has office space in our little downtown now, so today is my first day with all five kids under my jurisdiction without the protection of David working so be cool or his live and in color reinforcement for my plans.

A big butterfly is related to the inconvenience of teenage freeloading and entitlement.

Another butterfly is related to the task of waking the household in hopes for some sort of order for the day.

Another butterfly is related to the fact I need to address a late night door dash that was done without permission and whose evidence was hidden in an heirloom toybox.

Sigh.

There are other butterflies too… related to dog training and in laws coming in town, to wanting to carve out my writing time in my new main floor creative space and some other things. The butterflies aren’t helping me at all.

As I walked the dogs towards home just a minute ago, I really was permeating this idea – reminding myself over and over – that how I handle all of this is a choice. My desire for some structure is a choice. My handling of the door dash annoyance is a choice. My joy or lack there if is a choice.

Any choice that feels anxious and tense is not going to allow me to find that inner hum that consistently swings at the proverbial balls thrown to me today with some sort of grace and love.

If I don’t want my day to be ruined, I can’t ruin it.

And that’s when the relaxed but ready stance of the batters from Friday nights Cardinals game came to my mind. The game that kept me up too late and had me a tired mess all weekend had also given me a lovely 40th birthday gift reminder via two really joyful home runs: keep a good eye, a ready posture, beware of distractions and knock it out of the park.

It’s easy to think your teenager should know a lot more than they do. They are a rat in a maze looking for cheese and their shitheadness is being discovered…. though you really really really want to think they know better, they don’t until they do.

But just like I didn’t label every learning to walk tumble as unfortunate or imbalanced; I really don’t want to label every learning to live tumble as lazy or shameful.

I want to encourage and direct them to better choices, more fun and therefore have a fun and more open day myself.

Swing batter batter swing…

Wish me luck 🙃

Why Five? @ Basement Study, doing the thing

Yesterday, I wrote a little post about my morning and in it I referenced Paul writing to the Corinthians and suggesting this idea of “wonder if Paul knew I would be reading it on the first of March…” When I wrote it, it felt a little trite. Like something I would have written in a grade school autobiography.

(PS – I thought that because it is quite literally something I would have written in a grade school auto biography)

But I kept it in the post bc not only am I doing VERY little editing but it felt right. And, today, I am further convinced of something as to why it feels write. I mean right.

So, I did the same thing as yesterday – “got to work by 9” (this time with a little spare time to make an egg and toast for me and the man vs. yesterday’s plate of fruit. go me.) I did my brain dump, made my daily goals and lit some incense, thanked the divine for what felt like a massive spike of patience and kindness in my heart (I did not forcefully put a single dish in the dishwasher! Which is my petty little outlet for fatigue and self pity!) and anyway I did talk out loud to the supernatural world about some things on my heart.

Though I didn’t forcefully put a dish in the dishwasher, I was *really* tired and I got quiet. I would like to ultimately level up to like singing maybe? That might be buddha level, but we shall see. I just want to be softer and more gradual. Feels like, smells like, more patience.

Anyway. I sat with my whiteboard and blue marker and wrote the words that came to me. “fill my cup”… “patience”… “warmth sun forgiveness”… “Titus” (weird, I thought) and then the numbers 3… 6… 9… 15… 12… 13… 14… 67 (quite a jump) and then F I V E with an underline.

So why five like that. (and just like that… the Google timer for 5 minutes – the time I took to write thus far – goes off.)

Surely that was not why. I am mid thought… Plus I was feeling rushed. Not really an enjoyable writing experience although I do think I have done quite nice work on my punctuation and grammar.

<sighs>

<slows down>

I traced “fill my cup” to scripture and found this passage where Jesus basically says to a bunch of guys “you stupid idiots, you gotta wash the inside of your cup first. obvi.> The idiots had washed the outside of their cup but, missed the “greed and self indulgence” that was crusted nasty on the inside of the cup.

Convicted.

So I went on… traced “patience” to scripture.. Ah, good old Proverbs. “listen to advice and accept instruction and you will gain wisdom” + “from wisdom comes patience” = listen to advice, Erin and you’ll gain patience.

If the advice I got was to clean the inside of my cup and the promise was that in doing so, I’ll receive more patience, then how do I clean the inside of my cup?

“Warmth… Sun… Forgiveness”

I sat with it. I searched my photos for “sun” and got these wonderful pictures:

the sun beyond dolphins at Bonita Beach, FL…. the sun behind Lucy playing cornhole in Lake Tahoe… the sun breaking through trees on a Christmas Day hike, on a hike in Oregon, on a walk in my neighborhood… then there was the sun up between buildings in Washington DC, out in the country where I was walking my dog (RIP Ranger) off leash, ohhhhhh the sun aligned perfectly on Cannon Beach, above mountains in North Carolina… and then, my favorite sun of all – in the gardens in Ojai (pictured below).

I sat in my basement study feeling the warmth of the sun in a space with no window. I remembered that scripture about the faithfulness of the rising sun. You can bet it will happen… time and time again. And with that, came a wash of forgiveness that comes when you are acutely self aware of where you want just a little knick of support; a little tweak in the mental game.

And though I still don’t know “why five”, I do feel certain that I am headed into the rest of my day with my head screwed on mostly straight.

Going back to Ojai will be for sure one of the first three post pandemic trips I make. I absolutely cannot wait to show David.

Reality Check One Two, One Two @ Waiting on the Coffee, Sitting on the Couch – Webster

I was so excited to sit and write a post that started with something like “everybody agrees how bad I am at Mario Kart makes zero sense given how good (actually I would say stellar) I was driving through Idaho’s curves”.

But the reality is this post is coming by way of early morning time to write due to household cat management. It’s not really an inspired moment of reflection on our road trip home. (Trust me when I say, I have a lot to share on the days in between now and the post I wrote sitting on the couch on the front deck of our house in Bellingham.)

As I am writing this, I am interrupted by our resident cat coming *out of nowhere* and screeching as she pounced on new comer cat’s paw curiously poking out from the bottom of the basement door. Cat. Management.

We have this circus cycle of cats to litter box, cats to outside, cats to basement rotation going on as we (please dear God make this work) acquaint and blend our combined three cats.

Kids are blending fine. So fine that they apparently do not sleep and I hear both sets of new sisters rounding out their “all nighters” upstairs. Good. Grief.

Personally, I am recognizing this cat wake up call this morning as an introduction to being in front of a computer screen at 5:30a as I plan to work early once the kids are back in school so I can break mid day for a couple of hours to do the whole lunch, “what are you learning”, “let’s do science” thing.

The lunch part of that equation is especially important as the teens “free feed” which, you know, makes everything harder (per a cat article on how to introduce new cats…) The weeks we did an established lunch time during quarantine seemed to work out well.

….Except now I am not sure what meal you call what they eat at noon… per some quarantine inspired song lyrics I wrote, “dinner is breakfast, and breakfast is dinner, and lunch is all the time….”

All of this to say – The reality checks will happen. All nighters will meet all day zoom school starting Monday. The cats will eventually cross actual paths. My work schedule is going to have to get serious.

And with those upcoming cruxes (life is really just a climbing route), there are plenty of other new, less challenging, realities: that I am deeply charged by when all 5 kids are together, the humor David and I find in our combined calico of cats and kids, and the confidence we have in our current phase… being in the same bed every night. These are rich, live-giving things.

I, of course, have a short list of observations and sentimentalities to explore and share. I, of course, have things I am learning and leaning into. Specifically, this notion of “being the generous and just queen” and handling blips a little better… like when my stepdaughter assumed my chimichanga was hers and asked me to remove the toppings. Rather than being a generous and just queen “oh! I thought you had your dinner, here, let’s split it”, I forfeited my longed for Mexican, nearly cried and let that moment mean more than necessary.

I had the hardest time falling asleep that night processing how I wished I had assumed my power as the woman who will be showing this young girl how to be kind and fair and generous. Then feeling the relief that I get to try again the next day. Then the wash of “man, why did I act like one of the kids”, with then the relief of “now you know”.

Ah, the cycle of process and growth…

I do need to acknowledge the role of fatigue and hunger in those moments; causing me to not handle things as well as I did the winding roads in Idaho. It’s just plain science that I will have moments where reactions are human reactions and not the strategies of well rested royalty. It’s just, I suppose, a reality check to self care and to fold in and to communicate gently.

Anyway. It’s been a couple of days so I have a lot starting to bubble up and work itself out in words and phrasing. But it’s time to wrap it up and have a little coffee time with the husband.

…It is such a neat season to be paying attention. //

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According to Ellen (who did not sleep and is walking to Starbucks as we speak with Aria), I am waiting to knock out some cats with my Captain America shield.

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Scene from last night while three pizzas, 30 toasted raviolis, 1/4 watermelon, a quart of strawberries and salad were put out on the buffet. :)