(now) uncommon magic

This morning, my sixth grader, my first grader, my husband, our dog, and I all gathered together on our futon. This uncommon magic lasted for almost ten whole minutes.

To capture a fragment of the moment, I took pictures of my first grader and our fourteen-year-old dog together. The picture captured only a small part of that heart-filled moment, from the outside.

From inside the moment, though? It captured everything–most important of all, what might be some of the very, very last moments my older son is willing to snuggle.

You don’t need to see those moments for me to be able to see and feel in them all their heartbreak, and wonder,

and joy.

 

 

safer

On Monday morning, I spent three hours writing about cultivating empathy in the face of COVID-19.

By Monday evening, I was ranting to my husband about a particular group of people,

a divergence that didn’t amuse me until Tuesday morning.

For months now, I’ve half-heartedly worked on making a habit of morning “RPMs”: Read, Pray, Meditate. The days I begin thusly are often the most manageable of all, a fact that isn’t always persuasive to my 4 a.m. self: “Do I really want to RPM, or do I want to just stay here in bed and half-doze until the kids wake up? I mean, both of these things are good for me, right?”

Until this week, half-dozing has tended to win this morning battle within myself. Fortunately, I chose wisely this Tuesday morning, grumbling as I climbed out of bed and went to find my healing books. Continue reading “safer”

no better place

On Monday, I wrote about re-finding the joy and beauty in right now.

Yesterday morning, I really saw how much time my kids are spending on-screen between classes and fun. I saw, too, how this is leading them to lose touch with the physical world. now; even when screen time ends, their minds often linger on their online adventures straight through to bedtime.

I wondered whether there were some little ways I could help keep them more grounded in the very physical now, and less lost in online spaces around the clock. I landed on a few simple ones.

First, I had them help me with a load of laundry. Astonishingly, they’d never participated in a whole cycle, beginning to end!

For me, though, the real magic was in the kitchen. Continue reading “no better place”

A bandana the right direction

On February 28, I was delighted to vote in person for the first time ever. I wrote about that here.

By then, I already had enough information to know this was Not A Good Idea.

The signal just wasn’t on my mind.

About a week before I voted, I was talking with a fellow fan of author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I asked if she followed him on Twitter. I explained I’d stopped scrolling through his tweets several weeks back, but that he remained my favorite author and tweep. Continue reading “A bandana the right direction”

This new-shaped today

On Saturday,
I ordered something special
for my younger son’s mid-week birthday.

(Since he can’t be with his friends
bodily
this year,
this was one way to
make the day
merrier.)

The special package
was scheduled to reach us
yesterday.

Yesterday came;
the package didn’t;
seems it hasn’t
even
shipped
yet.

My sons,
disappointed,
threw around the word “liars.”

I acknowledged their disappointment,
but explained it’s
(probably)
not really lying.

A month ago,
the shape of
yesterday tended
to give us a good idea
how tomorrow
would be shaped.

We could reasonably say,
“Yesterday, and for thousands
of yesterdays before,
we knew it would take
two days to pull an item,
package it, send it,
and have it reach
its recipient.”

“Today, 
yesterday’s estimates
will often no longer work.
But we haven’t lived long enough
in this new-shaped today
to yet accurately estimate
how long it will actually
take to do this or that,
in this world.

“They’ll learn.
We’ll learn.

“So, are they lying?
I don’t think so.
They just haven’t had
enough time yet to
learn the ropes in
this new-shaped today.

“And, besides:
We’ll still have
cupcakes, and ice
cream.”

Ground rules for our new normal

Late last Friday morning, my husband and I received notice that our kids’ school would be closed for “at least” the next two weeks. We’d known it was coming and prepared for we figured would probably end up being more than two weeks at home.

One of our key preparations had to do with laying down hoe ground rules. As best as we could imagine it, what rules could we set to make these weeks less stressful and more bearable for us all?

The conversation itself made me grateful for a recommendation my primary care provider made middle of last year. She told me to check out Brené Brown’s Netflix special. I won’t say much about that here, having already written several posts describing how the special and then Brown’s books transformed me. What I will say is that one takeaway from all my Brown-reading was this:

Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.

Before reading Brown, I’d misunderstood Boundaries as Really Big Things to be set in Really Big Situations. Thanks to read Brown, I understood that boundaries are best set small and early, which inspired this ground-rules discussion. Continue reading “Ground rules for our new normal”

Our Son

My kids do not enjoy bedtime. This is putting it lightly.

My husband and I have a handful of tools we use on our kids at bedtime only. One of the  bedtime-only tools I use after especially exhausting days is Reading My Books: “Oh, you’re not ready for your own stories? Cool! I’ll read to you from mine!”

Over the last couple of years, my kids have heard Neil Postman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and a handful of other non-kidlit authors. Typically, my kids don’t have to listen to any author too long before hollering, “Stop! Stop! Please read one of our books!”

Something funny happened a couple nights ago, though. Continue reading “Our Son”

In The Forecast: Lots of Reading

Last month, I wrote about my kids and I getting Los Angeles Public Library cards. We were all enthusiastic then, but we’re even more enthusiastic now. 

The kids’ school and our favorite physical world destinations–including, as of the day before yesterday, the LAPL!–will be closed for at least the next two weeks. While there will be chores and some schoolwork to do here, we’ll also have a lot more time to read. 

Many of the books we’ll read here will come off of our own shelves. Others will come from the library via Overdrive, an app that grants LAPL patrons access to a couple million electronic resources–books and magazines and videos, oh my!*

A smaller handful of books will be paper books my kids and I checked out from our LAPL branch library.

On our last trip to the library, my five-year-old checked out books 2-4 of Kallie George’s Heartwood Hotel series. After ignoring the first book, half-finished, for months, he recently fell head over heels for the tiny critters who fill this tree-forest hotel in the woods. 

This morning, I snuggled up with him and read him the last chapter ofThe Greatest Gift (Heartwood Hotel #2). I said a quiet thanks that, due to the library closure, we’ll have this book on hand to read and reread for an extra few weeks.

Even as my littler one and I read that book, my older son was off reading My Hero Academia Vol. 22. Having never heard of this manga just two or three weeks ago, he’s since plowed through almost all of them the way he’d eat pizza: with gusto, not to mention the keenest of focus! 

I’d recently contemplated checking out some new manga for him. I wish I had! And yet, there’s plenty of manga available on Overdrive. If my son has a will to find more, there’s certainly a way!

* Residents of the City of L.A. can check out LAPL electronic resources even without a physical card. You can find more info here. If you’re outside the City of L.A. and have an LAPL library card, you can use your physical card to register for access. 

Outside that zone, please check your own local library for their electronic resources! Alternatively, you can search Overdrive for your library, or libraries; I’ve added more than one via the app.

As I pointed out to a family member in rural Oregon a few weeks back, even their library has tons of online resources available to check out. Yours might, too!