Friday, January 26, 2007

Letters from Anne Frank's Father Found


The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research will release letters by Otto Frank detailing how he tried to get his family - including young daughter Anne Frank - out of Nazi-occupied Holland on Feb. 14 - appropriately enough, Valentine's days. The letters were found last year as part of a collection of other records from agencies that helped people emmigrate from Europe.

The letters show Otto Frank tried to emigrate from Holland to the U.S. or Cuba, via Paris or Spain.

The YIVO Institute, which is based in New York, found the letters among 100,000 other Holocaust-related documents 18 months ago.

Anne Frank, of course, is the young woman who wrote Anne Frank's Diary, an account of her family's attempts to evade Nazi capture by hiding for two years in an attic.

It's a sad reminder of how the world failed so many families during the Holocaust.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Restless Thoughts


Recently, I've been thinking that maybe, just maybe, security isn't the end all and be all of family life.

Right now, our life is secure. We live near family, Hubby's job is very secure, with a good retirement, decent salary and our town is very safe. We have friends that we see frequently and we attend a nice church, which my Little Bit likes very much.

For four years, Hubby and I lived in Oklahoma City, and it was hard. He was enlisted in the military - a reliable job, but not a good job. I couldn't find work for nearly a year. The first year, we had a crappy, flea infested apartment with a drug dealer for a neighbor. Our nearest friends and family were at least a seven hour drive away. Eventually, we did make a few friends, I found a job and we moved to a better apartment. But for two of our four years, it was hell.

When we returned, we were grateful to be in a city that offered something other than rodeo and where we knew more than five people. So, we immediately began putting down roots. Then Little Bit came into the picture and it seemed we'd settled for life.

But life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls and lately, we've been thinking maybe we've settled too soon. We're wondering if we should pull up and travel a bit, while Little Bit is still small enough to just need us.

We can't really afford to just take off for New Zealand or Italy for three months. So, Hubby would probably find a job - possibly on contract - and then we'd move somewhere and live there for a year or two before heading home.

Of course, people do this for their careers. But as itt turns out, some families do choose this lifestyle just so they can see and experience the world. In "Living Abroad with Children: It’s Easier Than You Think," one family shares their experience with relocating from Indiana to Dubai.

But I've had a bad experience. And I'm not alone: One couple I know spent a year in Germany and made no friends the entire year. They had a child and were very lonely.

So before we went overseas, I'd want to try another U.S. city first - just to make sure we could make it on our own.

It's a tempting proposition. In exchange for security, safety and seeing grandparents every week, I could give my daughter a bigger world, possibly a new language and a unique experience that would impact her - and me - all of her life. Plus, Hubby and I could realize a long suppressed dream of traveling and living in other places.

Ultimately, I think it could be a very positive, bonding experience for the three of us. The question is: Would we ever be able to truly come home again?

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Book Review: Chores Without Wars


I admit it. In previous posts, I may not have been fair to this book.

I'm not repenting of my previous comments, mind you. It does drive me crazy when parenting books suggest you turn into the parenting of the Stepord Wives.

But, nonetheless, I hadn't finished the book. And as it turned out, there's a lot of redeemable information if you can ignore the overly-pristine examples and press through the first 37 pages.

What's truly fabulous about this book is it addresses one of the most oppressive aspects of being a parent, but especially a mother: The feeling that you're ultimately responsible for everything.

And I've seen this worsen as the family grows: My friends have to harass their children to finish chores, homework and basically act as the administrative assistant for the whole family.

Micro-managing people will create stress, nagging and resentment on all sides. Plus, we're not raising our children to be functioning adults when we manage their lives, are we?

Chores Without Wars authors Lynn Lott and Riki Intner offer the only possible solution for this dilemma: Stop. Absolutely stop.

Of course, you tell them you're going to stop first. And here's the smart part - you offer to help train them, help them come up with solutions - but you don't force solutions on them. But you do stop doing it for them.

Lott and Intner offer you alternative tools for helping your family become functioning, autonomous adults. The tools are:
  • Family Meetings
  • Training
  • Joint Problem Solving
  • Family Routines
As I read on, I saw how their approach would free you by allowing you to detach emotionally from the issue. After all, it isn't your problem or your job as a parent to make sure children do what they've promised. It's your job to help them, to teach them, but it's not your job to do it.

Instead of the family secretary, you become the coach. You set up routines that will help the family train and learn to succeed. You bring up problems that the family needs to solve. You formulate the game plan - but you let them do the work and play the game. Brilliant!

Besides chores, the book discusses three other major issues for families today:
Allowances. The authors do not want you to use allowances as a reward for chores. Instead, they see allowances as a way to train children to manage money responsibly.
Blended families. It discusses how you can use the methods to integrate stepchildren and grandparents into your household.
Dealing with grown children who move back or refuse to leave.

So who should read this book? I'd recommend this book if you feel like:
  • No one does anything around the house except you.
  • A nag or b**ch around your family.
  • Your stepchildren aren't helping out or your spouse expects them to do too much.
  • Your mother, who just moved in, expects everyone to live their lives around her needs.
  • Your teen refuses to help or take any responsibility.
  • Your school-age child isn't expected to do any chores.
  • Your children don't understand the value of a dollar.
  • Your 24-year-old lives in your basement and won't get a real job.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Sickness

Sorry for the lag in posts. Mia famiglia has been sick. And so have I. Actually, mostly, it's just been me and Hubby sick. Little Bit seems to have supper teflon genes that keep her well. God bless her.
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cheap, Delicious, Easy Family Dinner Idea


Generally, I try to plan my meals down to the last vegetable. I need a recipe, ingredient list and plan for every dinner. Otherwise, I just have no idea what to do with food.

Google has changed that. Now, I can buy a meat with high hopes of finding an easy, online recipe, preferably one that can be made in a crockpot. So, a few weeks ago, as an act of faith, I bought a bunch of chicken wings weeks ago and stored them in the freezer.

We've been sick, so groceries were low. Time to use the chicken wings. I found a recipe for Mediterrean Chicken on the Flylady site. There are lots of great, easy, slowcooker recipe, but I had the stuff for this one.

Basically, you throw the chicken wings,(you should probably rinse them off first), in the crockpot, put a can of tomatoes - I used diced - and a can of black olives, (I had whole ones leftover from Christmas and used these), on top and cook on high for five hours. If you leave for work in the morning, you could do low for all day.

I sprinkled in some pepper, thyme and oregano. When it was done, we added noodles and topped it with grated Parmesan cheese. It was fantastic!

You could do all sorts of variations. You could brown the meat first. You could use rice. You could use a different cheese, skip the olives or use green peppers instead. I suppose you could spunk it up with crushed red peppers or green chilies.

My daughter just ate the noodles - she does that. Starch at one meal, meat at a different meal. But Hubby and I loved it, plus it made enough for us to have seconds and him to have it for lunch. If you're looking for new, easy meal ideas, we recommend it.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Scheduling Chores


I'm reading Chores without Wars: Turning Housework into Teamwork for this week's book. I'll give a more thorough review on Thursday, but this book, along with my revelation that my family needs routines, inspired me to pick one problem that could be solved with a family routine.

I decided that dinner would be our starting point. Why this? Because, this is an area where everyone can help - even the three-year-old - and it's very clear what needs to be done. It can take one person half an hour to cook, then another half hour to clean up. If everyone pitches in, the cleanup can take a mere 5-10 minutes and prep time for cooking is cut down, too.

So basically, I called everyone up when the main entree was ready and said, "Okay, dinner time. But first we need to set the table, put out a salad and get drinks. Little Bit, what can you do?"

Little Bit loves to be included and she loves to do "big" stuff - although once she knows she can do it and it's her job, she tends to drag her heels. This was new, so she volunteered to sit the table. Hubby got the salad together and we all put out the condiments and drink.

We were no more than half way through the meal when I announced everyone would need to sit until we were all finish and then help with cleanup. Hubby and I had tea while Little Bit finished. For clean-up, I'd made a list and hung it on the fridge. Little Bit offered to wipe down the table - a job she's done to great applaud in the past. Hubby and I worked off the list. It felt great to work together and the kitchen is clean. I used the free time to clean up a bit more in another room and tomorrow, I'll be able to spend my cleaning time outside the kitchen for a change!

I've joked about parts of the book recently, but I must say, some of the recommendations are working for me. I also agree about the need for family routines. And I definitely intend to spend the rest of the month developing this new routine into a family habit!

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A New Breed of Family: The Crunchy Conservatives

Who drops off out of the dominant culture because it's too materialistic, joins an organic food co-op, and then starts a family farm without pesticides while homeschooling their children?

Apparently, it's a new breed of family called the Crunchy Conservatives.

According to this article, Crunchy Conservatives care about the environment, eat organic food and are dropping out of a culture they feel is too materialistic. Many sound like ex-yuppies who now feel called to a different life - a life that values the family.

What can I say? I agree. Our culture is too materialistic and we should stop worshipping the all-mighty dollar and care about the environment. I agree that work shouldn't be the focus of your life. And I definitely think we shouldn't enroll our children in ballet and six other kinds of activities, sending the family in 60 different directions every night, just because everybody else is.

I just hope that on their way out of the power cities, they remember to call up their power-friends and present their new outlook. I also hope they're respectful of the rural areas to which they're moving. Thanks to their previous incarnations as rich yuppies, they can afford to move to rural areas. Let's see if those farms remain whole instead of being subdivided into five-acre micro play farms.

I also hope they don't isolate themselves from the real, working people who live there - although, with all the homeschooling, it sounds like that might be a big part of the plan.

Still, all-in-all, Crunchy Conservatism, with its focus on the family, anti-materialism, and the environemtn, sounds great to me. Even if, as a liberal, I feel I beat them to the punch. ;-)

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The Flu

Boy, nothing, I mean nothing, tests your family's ability to be together like sickness. Today, I actually asked my husband if he still had a job and our daughter wondered out loud, "Why Daddy isn't going out in the world?"

Our family's had the flu. Not the so-called stomach-flu, which is actually a different virus, but the congestion, in your chest, hacking and draining, body aching Flu.

For some reason, Little Bit didn't get sick. Which meant we had to do tag-team parenting, alternating naps and Dora-watching, until my mother finally caught on to all my hints and picked up Little Bit to bring to her house. Finally, we both got the sleep we needed. I picked up Little Bit and felt better....except not completely better. Just well enough to get up and make myself sick again. And apparently, Hubby's in the same boat. He went to work yesterday only to come home mid-day, hacking up a lung. I guess they'd rather he do that at home.

After a few vacation days, Christmas, a week of mourning, a funeral and now sickness - well, we're getting a lot of family togetherness in. It's kinda nice, having everyone home, but much of it consists of us being miserable and watching too much TV. Not exactly what you picture in the days before you give birth, but then again, that's the beauty of family: Good, bad, thick, thin, that's who sees it through with you.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

More from the Chore Without Wars Book

And the laugh riot continues...Chores without Wars offers a list of jobs by age. According to this, among the tasks your two and three year olds should be able to do:
  • Empty waste baskets (great - my little thumbsucker, emptying the bathroom waste. Lovely thought)
  • Help clear the table (yeah, if you want everything broken and spilt!)
  • Scrub the sink and tub (??? Really. Because I want a two-year-old handling noxious chemicals.)
My favorite, though, is the suggestion that five year olds can help paint their rooms. In what world is this a good idea??? Kids that can barely color within the lines, painting? Brilliant! Also, they should be able to take out the garbage. These people must have little garbage bags and tiny dumpsters. Heck, I can barely haul out the garbage without making a mess!

Here's a list that seems more appropriate to me.

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Passive Agressive Parenting Books - ARGH!

I'm reading "Chores without Wars," a book that purports to turn 'housework into teamwork.' And something's been bugging me about this book but I couldn't put my finger on it. Until now.

After all, the book promises to do away with nagging and shouting and the usual arguments that go along with household work. Sounds great. Who wants to be that person anyway? I mean, I'm pretty sure that's core to the "mom" job description, but if these ladies have a better way, great! I'm all for it. I hate being that way.

First, the book starts by telling me I need to change my behavior and my way of thinking. Right off, that's annoying, because I've spent years trying to be a better me and I've had just about enough of it. It's a lot of work and frankly, the dividends just never came. Instead, people take more advantage of me and I'm a seething teapot of anger half the time because I never say what I really think because I'm trying to be a better person.

And since I've had my daughter, I realize that's all a load of crap. It may make you look nicer, but it makes you much less nice in actuality. It also makes you something of a patsy. And I don't want that for my daughter.

So, right off, I'm on my guard, but I still haven't pinpointed why. All of the above I figured out later.

Then I come to this scene, wherein mother Margie decides to give up reminding her seven year old of his promise to pick up his toys everyday. So here's what she does: She tells him their plan wasn't working, because he's not picking up his toys. He promises to remember - this time for sure.

Margie responds thusly:
'That's great. I'm glad to hear that, but I want to tell you want I've decided to do if you don't keep your agreement.'
You can almost feel the Grinch-like smile.

Lance asks what she means and the books says, I kid you not:
In a friendly tone Margie said, "I'm not going to remind you or nag you anymore. I expect that you'll do what you say. If you haven't picked up your toys by 5:30 each evening, I'll figure you want me to do it. If I do it, I'll put the toys in a box called the Sunday Box and you can get them the following Sunday."
Okay, on the surface, there's nothing wrong there. But after a few tries at this kind of logic, I realized I was turning into that mean girl who smiles at you so kindly just as she slips the knife between your shoulder blades. It's just so...cold and sterile. Like Margie's just waiting for the chance to take those toys.

And the whole book has been like that. You can almost feel how angry Mom is - and rightly so - but the 'better way' touted by the books is to set aside your emotions, smile and come up with consequences, which you then put in like a cold piece of steel. Not a good way to build a team, in my humble opinion.

Oh sure, there are caveats: Let them know in advance. Work it out together. Yadda, yadda. But in the end, every situation boils down to a passive aggressive move by mom. Teen not taking out the garbage? Change the night. Still doesn't do it? Set the garbage bags by the door and refuse to cook the next meal until he's moved it. It reminds me of first grade, where one dude would do something bad and the teacher would punish everyone. It's so institutional.

I'd much rather do it like this:
You know, it makes me really mad that you said you'd do this and you haven't. So I want you to pick up those tosy right now. Fom now on, if you don't pick up those toys when I ask you to, I'm taking them and you'll have to work to get them back. And if you don't miss them, well, I'm going to assume you have too many toys and we can talk about what we need to get rid of.
See the difference? One is emotionally honest and forthright. The other is just...passive aggressive and really mean. One is the person I really am. The other is...the mean girls who picked on everybody in high school.

Plus the book is all about how you're the coach. Have you ever in your life heard a coach talk like Margie? No. Coaches are no-bs kinda people. I think Mom's should be, too. Otherwise, you're just a bit Joan Crawford, aren't you? Yes, my sweetie, you are.

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Weekly Family Prayer: The Prayer for Protection

I used to be a member of a Unity Christianity church, which many people confuse with Unitarians, even though they're very different. This prayer was written by Unity poet James Dillet Freeman and was supposedly left on the moon by one of the shuttles.

I prayed this prayer over my Little Bit every night when she was a Wee Bit and it remains one of my favorites.

The Prayer of Protection
The Light of God surrounds us.
The Love of God enfolds us.
The Power of God protects us.
The Presence of God watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is.
And all is well!

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

How to Pray as a Family

Prayer doesn't always come easily, especially in front of others. In fact, I'd rather give a speech before 100 than pray before 10, I find it that intimidating. What do you say to your creator that speaks for yourself and those present without sounding like you're trying to impress everyone?

That's one of the reasons we shy away from family prayers, and it's something I'd like to change. I do not come from a tradition that allows for formal, written prayers - but at this point, I figure it's a starting point for us. What does it matter who wrote the prayer if it conveys what's in our hearts?

If you're also struggling with the idea of family prayer, Beliefnet has a Family Prayer FAQ you might want to read. It covers when to start prayer, when to pray and what to do when your kids "act up" during prayer.

I should note that these tips seemed "bi-partisan" to me in that they could apply across religions.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

This Month's Family Mission

You may recall that I'm committed to doing some sort of charitable work as a family each month. It's surprisingly hard to come up with ongoing solutions with a preschooler, so I'm opting for random acts of giving.

Parent Hacks posted about a Corp of Engineers worker who wants gently used toys and school supplies to give to Iraqi children - especially stuffed toys. I think this might be a good option for us this month. Little Bit is too young to want to give many away, but even a few would be good.

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Stop Reinfection after Illness

Hubby and I have some sort of cold, which reminded me of a favorite tip that will keep your family from catching the same bugs over and over.

Whenever you're sick, as soon as you start to feel better, replace your toothbrush. You can buy toothbrushes for around $1 each - so why not?

If you want to save the money or you really like your toothbrush, you can also microwave it for 10 seconds or, especially if it's electric, let it soak in mouthwash. Either of these options will kill the germs and stop reinfection.

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The Pope on Family

Sunday, the Pope spoke about families and what he sees as the biggest threat to the family unit: Cultural pressure.

I'm not sure he and I would agree on what cultural pressures are dangerous, but I agree in principle that modern culture is chipping away at the family unit. For me, the contemporary hazards faced by the family are materialism, overdemanding work schedules, and the pressures to do and have it all, which leads to overscheduled children and parents. It also seems to be that parents are having to work harder just to hold ground. Who has time for family anymore?

Of course, the Pope defines family a bit differently than I do, so he sees threats where I do not.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Quick Trick for Building Family

Much of what's written about building family focuses on rituals, such as family game nights or family meetings. While these are important for building family unity, most family bonding happens in the seemingly insignificant, simple moments of the day.

How simple? Maybe as simple as making eye contact.

In How to Build Family Unity, the author suggests making eye contact for a mere five minutes a day could bond you with your family and even change how your children act.

According to this piece, researchers studied depressed mothers and children while they waited to see the psychiatrists. The women were distant and didn't interact much with the children, who were rowdy and, frankly, horrible. Then, the women were asked to give each child five minutes of eye contact each day. They saw a huge difference in how the children behaved. They started to play quietly in the waiting rooms, and the mothers quit complaining of feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. Here's why this worked:
The explanation for these rewards was that the children were looking to their mothers for a sense of leadership as well as a sense of safety. Prior to eye gazing, the children were lacking cues that would tell them that focused play was safe to do. Their loud tones and frantic bounces were a sign of their distress and a desire on their part to force confrontation in order to be acknowledged.

Similarly, each person in a family desires to be seen and heard by the rest of his/her tribe. Eye gazing for as little as 5 minutes each day is one way to demonstrate a family member's importance.
It also talks about other acts of bonding, such as practical jokes and playing games together. I'd never thought of it, but according to this, the games teach families how to function as a team.

The design is a bit confusing. There's a headline, then you'll have to scroll past some ads to read the actual article. Unfortunately, it doesn't include a citation for the study. I'd love to confirm this research.

For the next seven days, I'm going to experiment with a family bonding tip I recently stumbled across. I'll report back on my efforts.

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Schedules and Family

Shortly after setting my New Year's Resolutions, I realized if I wanted to achieve any of them, I need to be a bit less random in how I go about my life. So, this month, I'm focusing on creating schedules and routines, both for myself and my family.

The problem is, I don't like a regimented life. I tend to rebel against any imposed schedule after the first week. But sometimes, we need schedules to bring order to our lives. My challenge will be to create routines that aren't overly rigid, but short and manageable.

So, even though I'm coming down with a cold and felt horrible today, I drug myself out of bed at 7 to write this morning. I didn't get a ton done, but I did get something done. That's one thing less I'll have to do while Little Bit is up and about or after my husband comes home.

Then, when my Little Bit awoke an hour later - after our standard cuddle time - I made her breakfast and coaxed her into eating. She wants to wait to eat breakfast - most of us do - but it's important to jump start your metabolism to eat as soon as you're up, according to my weight loss doctor. Plus, if we eat together, I can make sure we eat within 2-4 hours. By timing our food, I can make sure we don't get so hungry we will eat anything we can grab.

Now for the laundry...

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Decision: Bring Daughter to Visitation

Sometimes, you need to do what's right for you, even if it means going against the grain of tradition and ceremony.

But what we forget in our culture is that "sometimes" doesn't mean always. Many times, the situation isn't about you at all. It's about what's appropriate if you love or respect another person.

Funerals are a prime example.

I grew up in small towns, and everybody went to the funeral home. You could count on at least one person from every family in your church, most of your school mates and all of your neighbors for two square miles to be at the funeral of your family members. Generally, couples came and left the kids at home, but sometimes, everyone came. Occasionally, people slipped in, signed the registry and left. But you could generally count on a large showing.

Extended family and close friends brought food and people ate at the funeral home, which contributed to a bit of a carnival atmosphere. When my grandfather died abruptly of a heart attack, this was hard on the immediate family, who were in shock and deep grieving. But, they took comfort for years in knowing he'd attracted one of the bigger showings in the county's history, because people respected and liked him so much. When my other grandfather died, it was after a long illness. Then, the food and crowds seemed more appropriate. And we were still glad that so many came.

My point is this: Funerals aren't about your individual grief or even the immediate family's grief. This is an important part, certainly, but the real reason for funerals is for everyone who knew the deceased to honor, celebrate and mourn their life. That's why we respect their wishes in terms of how the funeral is arranged - otherwise, you'd hear more about what the spouse or children wanted.

Obviously, if you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown, you should do what you need to stay functional. But if you're just uncomfortable with visitations or funerals, if you just don't like being sad, if you "just didn't know the person," but are good friends with someone in the family - well, then, suck it up and go to the funeral. It's the right thing to do.

That's why I decided to bring my daughter to the visitation. I wanted her to be there, with and for her father. I wanted her to know that death is part of life. I want her to know that it's important to show up when there's joy or pain. And, I wanted her to come because I knew she'd be a comfort to her father.

As it turned out, she was a ray of sunshine for many family members and visitors. She wore a crown to the night visitation that sparkled and gave everyone reason to smile. Her youthful happiness couldn't be contained. She was life in the face of death.

My decision was also based upon the fact that everything I read said she was old enough.

She asked to see "great grandma" - the body - several times, but wasn't sad or frightened. We just told her that she was gone from her body because her body wasn't working anymore. This seemed to make sense to her. We did tell her she was with God and that had made her feel better, but we wouldn't be able to see her because she was with God. She seemed to accept this, although there were questions and we had to go over the whole body-not-working question several times.

We also weren't confined to the funeral parlor. Thankfully, this funeral home had a children's lounge with toys, puzzles, videos and even video games. We spent a great deal of time there and it was truly a blessing for us to be on site without having to sit quietly near the casket the whole time. I hope more funeral homes offer children's lounges.

I did not bring her to the funeral. Why? There were several reasons. First, I knew it would be a ceremony and she's not old enough to sit still for long without disrupting the service. I also knew it would be more emotional and potentially confusing for her. Finally, I felt after several days of being around adults non-stop, she deserved the normalcy of returning to her Mom's Day Out program.

I think I made the right decision, but only time will tell. I'll keep you posted.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

When You Don't Feel Like Being Family

Writing a blog on family causes you to spend a lot more time thinking about, reading about, and being involved with family.

But sometimes, I just don't feel like being with family. Or even in a family. I want to bury my head in YouTube and forget my obligations. I'm all out of care and just want to be left alone.

I get burned out - and not just from being a mom. I get tired of being a wife, tired of being a sibling, a friend, an in-law - tired of being anything. I just want to be my selfish self.

Most people feel this way and push through it. But I'm horribly self-indulgent when I get in these moods. I really do need to be selfish for at least a day - sometimes more. I need people to understand I'm out of give. Sometimes, relationships don't even seem worth the effort.

When it's really bad, I feel like I'm out of love and I can't see how I'll ever find it again. There's too much heartbreak and too little benefit. I think, "This is just unhealthy and messed up. What am I doing wasting my time here?"

And I start looking for the nearest exit.

It's not always a bad idea. Just because saber tooth tigers don't exist any more doesn't mean our flight or fight response is useless. I'd do better in life to listen to mine more often rather than second-guessing it with my over-developed sense of obligation.

But more often than not, I'm wrong. The truth is, my best memories are of time with family and the deepest happiness I've felt have been because of family.

I need to remember that I'm dealing with real humans, not actors playing roles they've been assigned in my life story.

Just because someone should act a certain way doesn't mean they will or even that they can. And maybe, just maybe, my expectations are too high.

Then I remember love isn't just a feeling. Love is a commitment, a promise. We may not always feel the love, but we have a commitment to love. Eventually, the feeling returns. But in the meantime, the commitment is what pulls us through the rough patches.

During these times, I need to be patient with myself and those I love. I don't have to do extra ordinary shows of affection or go that extra mile - I just have to be there and be committed to staying there.

Eventually, the love always returns.

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Death and Young Children

Tomorrow will not be a good day for my family. Tomorrow is the first day of visitation for my husband's grandmother, my daughter's great-grandmother and a truly wonderful, gentle soul.

Even though she died last Wednesday, we haven't seen the body yet. Apparently, the holiday got in the way.

As a mother, my first question is should I bring Little Bit, who's not quite four. Currently, my plan is to bring her for some of the visitation and then take her home. She will not go to the funeral because, frankly, she can't even sit through a church service yet.

I suspect we'll get a lot of questions, so I've sent a bit of time researching how to handle preschooler questions.

My favorite article on the topic thus far comes from Preschooler Today. Grievance counsellors suggest you expose children to the grieving process so they can learn about it and because when you hide your emotions from them, they sense it.

Here are some other articles that were helpful, should any other parents of preschoolers face this issue:
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Celebrating Family in the Middle East

We're in the third day of Eid Al Adha, a Islamic holiday celebrating Ibrahim's (Abraham) willingess to sacrifice his son, Ismael, for God. Yes, for you Christians and Jews out there, that's a different version of the story. In the Jewish tradition, Abraham is spared from sacrificing Isaac.

Anyway, the first day of the holiday is spent with family and children are honored. Everybody eats too much food and catches up with each other. It seems the whole world over, very few people have time to see family anymore. And this year, the holiday was marked by Saddam's execution, which distracted many in Dubai.

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Next Year at New Year's

We rung in the New Year with friends - but without our Little Bit. When the clock struck, I realized that what I really wanted was to be with her.

The superstition of ringing in the New Year is that you spend the year with whomever you ring it in with. So, symbolically, I made a choice that put friends over family. And I felt pretty sad about it.

Of course, I'll spend most of my year with Little Bit. But for some reason, it made me very sad not to be able to peak in on her, sleeping peacefully, after midnight.

So next year, we'll make a choice that includes her, even if it means just staying home.

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