Feb 17, 2020

We're At It Again

2/17/2020 — cori

On Valentine's Day morning, I woke up to this beautiful basketball cut-out sitting on my placemat. Basketball = love to Bennett. Of course he gave us his favorite thing. 

Shockingly, we all had the day off. I wanted to find something fun that all of us would enjoy doing. We do love squash, but the sad reality is that there are no squash courts closer than an hour away to us. So we found the next best thing, a raquetball court. I found raquetball much, much harder and failed quite spectacularly at it. Chuck is all excited in this picture because he's awesome at it and dominated all the games we played. Chloe, didn't even wear tennis shoes. I think that says everything about her interest and skill level. When it was our turn to play together, we made up our own game and called it "raquetball." 

From there, we came home and had a cookie decorating contest. As you can see form the picture, we each decorated 4 cookies (as close to similar as possible). They were all so unique and creative, we couldn't pick a winner.

Then we capped off the Day of Love with our many years old tradition of the Ghoti Diner and the same meal that Chuck has made every Valentine's Day since 2006.

The custom used to be that Chuck and I would sit at a separate table from the kids since this was supposed to be a "date." But as they've gotten older, we've allowed the kitchen help to join us at our table. Thus, the weird seating arrangement in this photo.

I will be forever thankful for this beautiful, creative, thoughtful, fun tradition that began out of necessity (no babysitters and little money), but continued out of love.

Feb 12, 2020

Parenting as a Mirror

2/12/2020 — cori

As parents we know we carry the awesome responsibility of raising our kids to be good human beings. But how do we do that? How do we define good? There are a lot of opinions on that topic. Some people feel that strict rules and hard work is the recipe. Others feel that a strong religious foundation will carry them through. And there are yet others who believe a more laisse-faire attitude towards child-rearing is the best method. How's a parent to know?

I'm not a big believer in one style of parenting. I think certain situations call for different methods. I will not allow myself to be put in a box. Children are all so unique, not even the same children in the same family will respond well to the same discipline style. All parents get quickly familiar with that upon the arrival of each new kid. So what do we do?

We listen to our kids. We learn our kids. There is not a book for that. Only you know your kid because you have a relationship with them. You know the tired cry from the hurt cry. You know the sound of backtalk from the sound of a genuine question. Most parents don't give themselves enough credit. You already know your kids. Yet, we feel the need to follow what someone else says in regards to discipline (remember discipline is not punishment, but discipling - showing them the way). Why is that?

It is much easier to speak from a retrospective standpoint. My blog attests to years and years of questioning and experimenting and failing when it comes to raising my own kids. But now that we're on the far side of parenting, I can see some things more clearly. For one, I was terrified of "messing up" my kids by my choices. Didn't happen. What a waste of time worrying. From your kids' point of view, you are the authority on every subject whether you feel like it or not. They have undying trust in everything you say.

Which is exactly why this next point is so important. You are your child's mirror! What they think of themselves is what they see reflected in you. Think on that for a moment. Our kids look to us to tell them who they are. Who do we reflect back to them? Are we constantly telling them their problems or are we encouraging them every time they attempt to (and maybe fail) at solveing them. Or are we just solving their problems for them. Do we withdraw our love to show our disappointment when they make a bad choice?

This is one of the most - if not THE most - important responsibilities of parenthood. We are not to hold our authority over them with an iron fist. We are not to demand respect because of our position. We are not there to fix our children's problems. We are not there to make life easy for them. We are there to love them, to be their mirror, and to show and tell them who they are.

For instance, for a while Chloe wasn't acting like herself and some negative behaviors were showing up in her life. Because of the heart connection we have and our mutual trust, she knows that when we need to sit down and talk about this, that she is not going to get chewed out nor are we going to yell. What we are going to say is, "Honey, I see some behaviors in your life right now that aren't consistent with who I know you to be. You are a kind, thoughtful, helpful, smart, conscientious girl who always does her best (this is the mirroring part). Yet, I'm not seeing that right now in your life. Is something going on that you'd like to share with me?"

There is usually a breakdown of tears and a deep sigh revealing the heavy burden that she has been carrying but has been scared to trust anyone with. There is no shame in this conversation, in this failure, in this situation. There is only love. She has the freedom to share her burden because she knows that the basis for all this is love, not "how bad she's been."  She was then able to confide in us. It still required discipline and helping set her back on the path, which might have caused her some discomfort. But it also caused a huge relief. It also brought joy back to her life. It re-established our heart connection. She is free to fail in a loving environment because we are here, not as her condemners, but as the ones who breathe life back into her and remind her of who she is. I think Mr. Rogers said it perfectly, "Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people."

I'll leave you with a portion of a poem written by Richard Rohr entitled: The Divine Mirror. It is written as our response to God, but can just as easily be substituted for human/parental love. Isn't God, afterall, the best example of love for us to model ourselves by whether as parents or human beings?

When we learn to love anyone or anything,
It is because they have somehow, if just for a moment, 
Mirrored us truthfully yet compassionately to ourselves.

If that mirror is withdrawn for any reason,
It causes sadness, emptiness, or even anger.
We are normally disoriented, even heartbroken for a while.
We die in some way. But why?
Because we only know ourselves in another's eyes,
We receive our identity - all of it - good and bad,
From another.

Feb 11, 2020

Yerba Buena

2/11/2020 — cori

How lucky are we?! We were given the opportunity to go to San Francisco for the weekend by Chuck's old boss, Pete. Chuck had done some pro-bono work for him and as payment, Pete flew us out to Frisco to join him for an event. It was incredible! Sadly, a delayed flight precluded us from enjoying the event with Pete. But we were able to meet him and his wife, Kristine, later that evening for the most delightful dinner. I just love conversations that go on for hours and you learn so much. The intellectual curiosity at that table filled me to the brim. They are the kind of people that make everyone and the world around them better.

This was the incredible view from our hotel room. That's the Bay Bridge in the background.

This is the front of our hotel that faced The Embarcado. It used to be an old Army/Navy YMCA hotel back in the 1930s.

We sure do love our fireplaces. This one was great for playing cards on.

The first night we were there, we dined with Pete and Kristine and called it a night. We woke up and had brunch with them the next morning before we each headed off on our own adventures. Chuck and I decided to walk up to Coit Tower from our hotel - a 2.3 mile hike straight up-hill. It couldn't have been a more beautiful day, high 50s and sunny. 

I'm always so delighted with the flora in California. Everything, even in winter, is so lush and colorful and bright. This particular one smelled like kool-aid, sweet and aromatic.

And this beauty looked like it came right out of a Dr. Seuss book!

This is only one of the many murals that lined the inside walls of Coit Tower. They are stunning and so detailed. It's a beautiful history of the city. Speaking of history, did you know that San Francisco's original name was Yerba Buena meaning, Good Herbs? Precisely for the same reason I'm enthralled with their flora, so were the original occupants. The area grew flowers and herbs and bushes so well and always smelled good. 

From the Tower we had an incredible view of Alcatraz Island.

We also got a spectacular view of Golden Gate Bridge.

Do you see that tall tower in the far upper right hand corner, that's Coit Tower. It's looks farther away than it is (only 1.5 miles). That's where we walked from to get to the famed curvy road on Lombard Street. I've driven down it several times, but this was our first time to walk up it. From there we walked down to the Bay to grab some ice cream at Ghirardelli Square (delish, btw). Then back through Chinatown to grab a late lunch. As we were leaving, we realized that it was close to the time for the parade to start, so we hung around for the opening of it.

We just happened to be there on the day of the Chinese New Year's Day Parade. What luck! And we had a front row seat to witness the festivities.

The dragon dancers were my favorite.

As we were leaving, we came across this group of people lining up and getting ready for their part in the parade. It was so cool to see the entire community take part in this event.

The evening sunset played off this signage beautifully.

This is the Ferry Plaza. Just beautiful inside and out.

And this is the view we were treated to once we got back to our room. 

The sunrise on the morning we left. *Happy Sigh*. Until next time San Fran....



Feb 6, 2020

New iPhone Feature

2/06/2020 — cori

My sweet girl was sick the other day. I woke up to several texts saying: "Mooooooom." When I didn't reply because I was sleeping, and Chloe didn't want to get out of bed to come get me, she reverted to using the new "echo" feature in the messaging app. This allows one to type in a word and for that word to reappear over and over again while cascading up the screen. That is what you see in this picture. 

This is the modern day equivalent of what we used to do as kids. We would either call our mom over and over again, with our voices, until she came into the room to see what we needed or ring the little bell she set by our bed for such an occasion. In our house, we have no little bell. But we do have personal cell phones with the echo feature and Chloe is very adept at using it. Can't you just hear her desperate, sick, voice with all those little "mooooom" texts floating up to heaven? I can. And I come running....when I can hear my phone, that is.

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