Monday, April 30, 2007


Have you heard of the 10-10-10 guideline for making decisions? I just read about it in O magazine and it's stuck in my mind long enough to make me think it's worth sharing. Even while we're living in the current moment, enjoying the power of now and all that, we do need to make decisions that have longer term ramifications (or, as the folks in my yoga teacher training course would say, that generate good or bad karma). So, how do you know your making a good decision or taking a right action? Well, according to the author of the article that I read, you apply a 10-10-10 guideline and ask yourself how this action/decision is likely to play into the next 10 minutes, 10 hours and 10 years (I would add 10 weeks and 10 months, just because 10 years seems like an awfully long way away. I would also do a second round of questioning, adding on to the question "if I were to make this action/decision repeatedly"). So, for example, you may want to figure out if you should leave work on time despite a work crisis, so that you can make it to your child's ballet recital. How will each possible decision affect the next 10 minutes, hours, weeks, months and years? (Now try adding "if I were to make this action/decision repeatedly," just so you're ready to recognize a pattern if a similar decision-making process pops up again). Or, you want to figure out if you should stay home with your kids rather than work in the office at all. It's a nice reminder that at each of those slices at the 10 mark, things external to you are likely to be radically different. Some things that seem important now will have lost meaning at those milestones. Your action now can start to pitch things in one direction or another. We tend to succumb to what will serve us best in the next 10 minutes, but especially once you get into your late thirties, I think 10 minutes of self-serving gratitude tends to look pretty worthless if it is likely to compromise what happens around you in the next 10 hours or even weeks. Posture is another great example. If you slouch now, how is that likely to affect the next 10 minutes, hours, weeks, etc.? If you slouch repeatedly, how is that likely to affect the next 10 weeks, months, years? At your core, be the woman you would like to be in 10, 10, 10 and 10, and you will become that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shattered Plates

My first "career" out of college was a job sculpting at an art restoration company. Loved the job, the people and the art, but the money was hardly enough to survive, but that is besides the point (back to Jayne's theory of the demise of the creative class) One of the most interesting pieces that I remember working on was a Plaster of Paris circle with a child size hand print in the center. We all have one, or have made one in our lives, right? So why was this so interesting? It wasn't the work of art so much as the attachment the woman had to it that I just didn't understand. Why was this woman spending hundreds of dollars to get a piece of junk repaired? So often people would come in and before leaving their art they would ask if it was worth more than they were spending on the restoration. This woman didn't ask and she didn't need to, obviously she must not know what to do with her money is all I could think of while I was was gluing it all together and filling in the missing plaster with new. I was fixated on this woman. Clearly her son that made it must have died, that has got to be it. He could no longer make another hand print. But it wasn't. He was alive and in college.

A few weeks ago I realized I had become this woman. My kids and I spend hours doing art projects together, it's something that I love - explains why tonight at 10pm I was still cleaning paper mache glue off the kitchen walls and floor.

A few years ago I took the girls to a paint your own pottery studio and had them paint plates to their young specifications, which is to use as many colors available in the shop, which we were discouraged against since the people working there think brown is a tragedy. The girls finished up with a wonderful hand print in the center of each plate. The plates were so beautiful that we used them daily. But one day our little baby learned to take dishes out of the bottom rack of the dishwasher and the first one she grabbed and threw to the floor was my treasured hand print plate painted by my oldest daughter. I was devastated. It was at this moment that I finally understood the "crazy lady" that had her child's hand print restored for gobs of money. They are little for such a short time that we really need to hang onto these little treasures that they create. It took me a few hours or maybe days to realize that my memories of painting together are so much more valuable than the end product. I really have been able to get over the plate- although I can't throw away the pieces just yet. So who knows, maybe someday some new college grad is going to think the same of me, but just think how it will all change when she has her first child, or maybe not.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Birthday Parties

It's birthday season at our house. They start April 29th and continue through June 9th. When I was growing up my parents didn't do birthday parties, just a cake and presents, and I never felt deprived that I didn't have a yearly party with friends. A side note, I do remember having one party in first or second grade. It was one for both my sister, whose birthday is the day after mine, and myself and I recall we each got to invite a fair amount of friends too.

So here it is, birthday season and I start to stress. Why do I do this year after year? I hate to say it, but I'm so fixated over the party this year that I checked a few books out from the library to help guide me. Funny thing, they are really quite helpful. They suggest a short window of time for the party, which I opted for the suggested hour and a half. This way I will feed them kiddie unhealthy foods, play a few games then send them on their way. Oh, and I will take photos just so I can document that I had parties for my children. But why is this such a big deal to me when I never missed having them as a kid? Granted my oldest daughter is very excited for her party and has been helping with the planning every step of the way. But I am certain she would be just fine having the family together over cake and a few gifts.

The horror of planning happened when I read my soon to be five year old the invite. The last line reads, "no gifts please". She replied with "But Mom, that is the best part. Why did you add that?" I explained to her that she has too much stuff that she doesn't play with, what's the point of having more. I also said "the reality is that a party is really for friends to come together in your honor to have cake and wish you well". I also added "your parents and grandparents will be giving you gifts and we aren't skipping that, so really it's just your friends that won't be bringing gifts". With that she understood and accepted it.

A friend told me that was a harsh idea when our kids go to so many parties where kids open so many gifts. Or shall I say "tear" through them without even glancing to see what is in the box. But I explained that it is a pact that some friends and I made where we have agreed to accept an invitation that says "no gifts please" and stick to it. My sister in New York had a party for her daughter years ago that I attended and thought it so strange that her daughter didn't open her gifts from the girls that attended. She plainly stated, "that's just the way they do it around here". After that, I thought it was brilliant. What an idea. This way kids aren't crying that they don't have anything to open since it isn't their party. The books say that kids love to see their gifts opened, but I really sense they don't care when it's all said and done, they just remember having fun, playing games and eating cake. Off to make the dalmation pinata....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Indianapolis Children's Museum

I got a call from a friend's husband the other day asking if we could get the kids together for a play date since he was home with the kids for spring break. They were supposed to go away for the week but their plans were cancelled at the last minute, so they were in town with nothing planed. Unlike myself, when I called back to accept the invitation I suggested we drive to Indy for the Children's Museum. Heck, I have a minivan big enough to hold my three kids and his too, so we set off early Friday morning for the adventure.

The museum is amazing. I was a little intimidated by the huge parking garage, and the fact that we parked all of the way on the top floor of it, but the museum was large enough to absorb the crowd. Along with the four floor parking garage, the museum is also four floors. We managed to see only two of the floors since the kids really enjoyed playing in the Clifford temporary exhibit and then on to the area for kids under 5. The babies couldn't get over the fun of the great padded climbing area's that were perfect for the curious crawlers. We also spent some time in the multicultural exhibit in the basement, but by then the kids were falling over from being so tired.

Really, if you are looking for something different to do one of these days, you really should take the drive to Indy for the children's museum. We all had a great time and have talked about it for days. Oh and not to forget, the children slept for days afterwards. They were as tired as a trip to Disney, or what I imagine Disney would do to them.

What we figured out too late:
  • There is a designated brown bag lunch area with lots of highchairs. (Great that they are fine with the packers) Also there are outside picnic tables
  • They do not accept reciprocal membership programs from our Cincinnati Children's museum, but it is well worth the spend, especially if you can skip naps and really spend some time there
  • The carousel is only one dollar. We stayed away figuring this is where they might really get us financially
  • Skip the sections immediately if you think they are not age appropriate. Also, there is someone at each door to tell you the age of the children that will get the most out of the exhibit
  • Doll houses are not just for kids- there is a whole society that really gets into the crafting of miniture houses. I was skeptical, but really fell in love with some of the reproductions from the victorian era, once I was educated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is Wrong With You?

When my husband and I were getting married we befriended a couple that I met in my running group, that was also getting married and it was the second time for her. I thought they were a couple that we could learn from since she was "trying again". They were going through the Catholic pre-marriage classes (although they were not catholic) and so did the couple that introduced me to my husband. It sounded like a brilliant idea. I think I wanted someone of authority to tell me my marriage was going to work, or to tell me to get out before getting in. I tried to convince Michael that we too should go to the classes, but he would have nothing to do with them. He was so convinced that we would be fine without a marriage "specialist" telling us to "go ahead, you will last a lifetime together". So instead of the classes, we settled on a book- recommended by the priest that was counseling the first couple. It was something along the lines of Seven Signs of Marriage Success, or you know what I mean, right? The book was fine, we made it through all of step one, maybe the first half of the second question when we came along our favorite quote of what never to say to anyone, especially your spouse, our favorite "what is wrong with you?" question. It has become such a funny thing that we say all of the time to each other, knowing how terrible it could seem to someone, especially someone that might have read the book seriously.

So what is wrong with you? I hate to say it, since it sounds like I might be missing all self confidence, but I ask myself this so many times throughout the day. I ask it with a bit of a joking tone, but today these are the times I asked it to myself:

1. Why did I have so much fear when telling my insurance agent of 15 years that I was leaving them for a cheaper rate. My "good neighbor" totally understood, and when I told him what a hard call this was to make and it felt like I was breaking up with him, he felt bad for me rather than trying to ask me to stay. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

2. I promised my two year old a dinner of ice cream for pooping on the potty. Not that this was reason to ask myself the question, but when in the same two hour window of time I had a contractor over for an estimate - I had to ask him to step over a pile of human poop in the middle of her bedroom doorway. And here is the clincher, we still rode our bikes into town for an ice cream dinner. Afterwards when I was carrying the bike home when the training wheels fell off, I had to ask myself the question again. What is wrong with me? Why didn't I cancel the ice cream dinner since really she only started pooping on the potty and finished up during nap time.

3. Why did I carry the bike home? It was a $5 bike from the salvation army. It was cheaper than getting my back fixed from lugging the cumbersom bike. But no, my daughter was convinced that we would never see the bike again if we left it while we walked home to get the car. What is wrong with me? Why can't I be incharge of the kids? I know I'm older, I have more life experiences, but sometimes I just trust that they know what they are talking about, and yes, I would feel terrible if the bike was stolen since she has only had it for a few weeks with the training wheels. This one gets the big What is wrong...

4. I went grocery shopping with a list and I still left the store without formula for the baby....

5. My neighbor had her cat put down today. This cat was her baby- seriously. But rather than letting her have the story, I had to say, but at least it wasn't your husband. I have a friend whose husband died last week.... blah blah blah. What is wrong with me???? I'm not certain why I couldn't just let her grieve for her cat. I just had to have a better story, or a story to try to distract her. I'm such an ass sometimes.

It's been one of those days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Are we raising a nation of little egomaniacs?

I can't tell you how many kids I see these days that seem too overly confident that they often don't feel they need to listen to adults. Thoughts on this article from Newsweek?

While experts debate just how much praise is appropriate to lavish on children, there are some parenting points they all agree on:
— Give accurate feedback. Nobody can master a skill or even get better if they don't have genuine feedback. Of course, be kind. But also be truthful.
— Don't overpraise. Kids can't be great at absolutely everything. If you tell them they are, they'll soon find out the truth and not trust you. Be encouraging but don't overdo it.
— Promote new activities. The more kids try, the better the odds they'll find something they're great at. Also, the experience of not being good at something is valuable.
— Let them suffer consequences. Kids who aren't allowed to take responsibility for their actions don't develop responsible characters, a linchpin of solid self-esteem. So if they don't study for a test or do the homework, don't call the teacher for special treatment.