The Life and Times of Monkey, Buster, and Yessa

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Great ideas… June 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 9:38 pm

I had a fantastic idea for a post.  It was so good, I stopped getting ready to make the carrot salad for the cluster picnic tonight.  I stopped cleaning and thinking of getting the clothes off the clothesline…and then I couldn’t remember what I wanted to write about.

But, NOW I REMEMBER!  The simple act of sitting here and writing about nothing made me remember.

I read a great blog post here yesterday.  I love this blog for many reasons, and this particular post hit on a personal connection in many ways.

Chris and I were lucky enough to travel to Guinea, West Africa many years ago.  We went with his parents to visit his youngest brother, Tony.  Tony was in the Peace Corp, living in a village outside of Kankan, and he lived in a mud hut.  Buds and I slept in the mud hut with Tony.  The parental units slept in another mud hut across the compound, the owners of which were away on a visit to some of their family.  The latrine was a tiny little mud hut out back, with a hole in the ground.  At least once during the several days we stayed there, Tony’s next door neighbor, who cooked and took care of him, brought us a couple buckets of hot water.  Buds and I shared one to bathe in out in the back yard.

That bucket of hot water was amazing.

And then, when we returned to Kankan, to stay in the Peace Corp respite house there, we had a shower.  The electricity was sketchy, so no hot water, and you used a candle to shower by, but I can still remember that feeling of luxury to have water falling from the sky(ceiling) onto my head.  That lovely little shower influenced us later when we built our dream home in Iowa–that is how amazing that shower felt.

(In addition to showing my two favorite boys on the planet, please note the shower with candle shelves in the background.  This was Kankan inspired.)

(By baby #3, the shelves had become catchalls for more than candles, but Buds is still just as cute in the shower holding his baby.)

To this day, candlelight showers are one of my very favorite things, because of that feeling in Kankan.  That feeling of knowing how just a little bit extra can make an amazing difference.

The bucket of hot water was a blessing.  The cold shower by candlelight–heaven.

Now, the point of this post:  How do you help children understand that feeling, that opportunity, that blessing of the universe?  How do we help our children understand that one toy is great, 100 toys–not 100 times better?  Enough money to care for our needs, we are very thankful for.  Enough money to waste it on eating out every day?  Not a blessing.

When I was growing up, my mom would sometimes use her left hand to do everyday tasks.  She’s right-handed, and she said it was just a way to prepare if she would ever have to use her left hand for everything.  I thought that was a clever idea, so I took it to the next level, which was crawling around the house, pulling myself by my arms.  Just in case I ever lost the use of my legs.  Not sure how much I learned, but the spirit of the experiment stayed with me.

Is there a way to instill appreciation for that which we have, without also instilling guilt?  Isn’t it true that something must be lost in order to know how much it will be missed?

Even before I read the blog post about living on lake water at the vacation house in Maine, I’d been thinking about having the children take bucket showers.  We each get a bucket of water, you can bathe however you choose, but that’s all the water you get.  Would that work?  Would that help?  Would that be worth it?

I should be clear–I wasn’t always happy on the West African adventure.  Buds might even suggest there were even times I was downright unpleasant.  (A particular episode where I wanted a drink as we drove across the country on an 18 hour car ride, and we had no money, so no drink for Jennie, comes to mind.)  But, and this is a huge but–I would not trade that trip for a $100,000.  It impacted our life in ways we could never have expected.  And that is what I want for our children.  That view of the world that expands your concept of right and fair and necessary–forever.

Because “A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.



Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 8:01 pm

I remember the very first play I ever attended at the Civic Center in Des Moines.  I have no idea how we got the tickets, but Mom and I went to see Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing.  It was amazing and aweing and great fun.  I was at least 13 years old.

My first concert was Kenny Rogers, courtesy of George and Kathy.  That was at Vet’s Auditorium, also in Des Moines.  Again, I was awed and amazed and had great fun.  I was probably 12 or 13.

Our crew attended their first performance at the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts on May 7th.  It was a Family Theater production of Knuffle Bunny.  When we walked in the doors at the Kennedy Center, the children all had that same reaction I remember from my first major performance viewings:  Wooooooowwwwwww!

It really is an inspiring place to see a show.  The kids literally walked in the door of this huge entry hallway, and stopped to look up and say, “Wow!”

The show was great, some fun songs, several laughs from Zoe.  It was a little tougher for Zachary and Noa to take it all in, but they enjoyed themselves, too.  For them, it was as much a comfort issue.  Their little bodies weren’t quite enough weight to counteract the stadium seating with the flip-up chairs, so, Noa, especially, spent much of the show bent in half like a fold-up Murphy bed, watching with her knees by her ears.  She didn’t seem to mind, and it did look cute.

Our friends, Marjorie, Suzanne, and Gabrielle, also attended.  They’ve gone before, and told us that they go upstairs for lunch, then go downstairs to the docent “station” and have had great tours, getting to see inside each of the different theaters at the Center.  We’ll give that a shot the next time.

The only feeling of unrest I had about the whole day, was wondering if I was taking something away from the children by giving them this exposure too young.  That sense of awe is still so strong for me because I didn’t have it until I was old enough to really remember the feelings washing over me.  Will I inadvertently bring about a sense of ennui in the children when they are older because they will have been exposed to too much, as wonderful as it is?

Now I sound like a crazy Mommy, so, I think I’ll just stick with the memory of the fantastic day.


Locks of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 7:52 pm

Zoe’s hair has gotten so long, but she doesn’t much enjoy the hair-care process.  Today, when we were working to tame it into a ponytail, she said, “I don’t really care for long hair anymore, so I’d like to get a haircut.”

I mentioned the Locks of Love program, which gives hair prosthetics to children under 21 who have need of one.  I explained to her that hair had to be a certain length to be donated, but I wasn’t sure how long it needed to be, but would she be interested in donating her hair.  She wanted to understand more about why kids would need a wig (not the politically correct word, but easiest to type and understand.), I explained some of the reasons, and she was immediately taken with the idea.

After we talked for a little longer she asked, “Mom, can I keep a fringe of hair?”

I quickly explained that she wouldn’t have to cut off all her hair, but I was so touched that she had been so excited about the idea, despite thinking she needed to give it all up.


More guilt… June 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 6:18 pm

It has been so long since I’ve posted anything, and I’m feeling guilty about that.  It isn’t because of a lack of amazing things that the children have done, it’s because of an overwhelming amount of other opportunities.

I’ve chosen to give up my work with Juice Analytics, which was a very, very difficult decision to make.  It was made much easier by my friend Liz accepting the position.  She’s been amazing, and with about one more week of training, I’ll be ready to close out that phase of my life with no regrets and tons of fond memories.

Until then, the other pieces of my life take a bit of a back seat.

So, stayed tuned, there are so many fun bits of information for me to get into written form:  The trip to San Francisco, A New Summer of Swimming, The end of the Girl Scout Year, The Last Sunday of Teaching Sunday School, etc., etc., etc.

Yeah, Summer!