Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
I love the crazy things my offspring have come up with~ wishes, plans, and hare brained schemes.
A lot of them just fall into the category of "Kids Say the Funniest Things" and others are more along the lines of "I can't friggen believe you just said that."
But once in a while, even kids realize that one really should be careful what they say, let alone what they wish for.
For example, when a little boy wishes that his mom would just lighten up and let him poop in a hole in the back yard, he may years later find himself without a flushing toilet, and realize that his dream no longer sounds as fun as he had once thought it would be.
You see, we live in the woods. The back woods you might even say. My kids have grown up very familiar with nature and natural functions and life processes and all that.
When my kids were little, and would play for hours outside, they thought I was quite unreasonable for requesting that they actually come inside to use the bathroom. By their reasoning, there were acres of perfectly poopable land around them. Besides, the cats, dogs, goats, ducks and chickens all pooped out there. (Moms can be so stifling, I know)
For the record, I can completely understand exceptions when back country camping with no facilities available, but if there's an indoor bathroom around, I just think that's where humans should do their business. I have a sneaking suspicion that there were occasions when I had my head buried in a book, or was gabbing on the phone, and the ground I was attempting to hold was fertilized by humanure though. Crazy kids. (....)
OK, it occurred to me that there's a slight chance that most people reading this may already spend a good deal of time staring at random things they find on the internet. Perhaps they don't actually need more things on screens to look at, but might even be better off being encouraged to walk away from the device altogether and go enjoy their families?
But, who am I to judge? I'm staring at a screen too.
Besides, since I keep coming across so many interesting things myself, I thought it would be nice to share. Since this stuff is actually really cool and inspirational, it's not like mindlessly looking at cat pictures. And by inspirational, I don't mean like those ridiculously complex and perfect things everyone Pins but no one ever does. I mean there's educational value here, and I'm all about supporting life long learning.
In fact, some of my favorite findings this week fall into the FunSchooling category. Enough of my rambling...Grab a cuppa something good, sit down and enjoy!
Lego Man Photography
This guy, Andrew Whyte, spent a year traveling around Britain, taking pictures of his little Lego Man, who was taking pictures of landmarks.
How fun is that? And it's super cute too!
This totally reminds me of the many hours my kids and I spent photographing their toys in various scenarios and set ups, and writing stories to go along with them when they were younger. We even have a couple of hard bound books we made from those adventures.
It also reminds me of a friend who was very concerned and surprised when they realized how much of our "homeschooling" time was spent in this way. "Ummm, you did WHAT all day?" Imagine if we had spent a whole year on it! Bwahahaha! (.......)
I realize that I've been writing a lot about philosophical life lessons lately, which is fine, except I'm neglecting some really important things that I want to share~ like the day to day fun that's found in a FunSchooling lifestyle.
While life seems to be full of all of these deep things to ponder and challenges to figure out, it's also full of adventures big and small, and really good times with the people I love most~ my crazy offspring.
Last month, we had a super fun adventure to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for their generous homeschool days. I had to reserve the tickets months in advance, but they were Free~ Yes, FREE! For the 2 adults and 6 kids that were in our friendly adventure party, this would have totaled close to $300 just to get in the door. (In other words, we probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. Thank you Aquarium~ you guys ROCK!)
After having made reservations so far in advance, and getting all excited, life threw a few bumps in my plans. An unpleasant appointment and a funeral came up, and it turned out they would both land on the day we would be returning. Oh~ and we'd be getting in at 1 AM, AFTER spending a full day at the aquarium AND driving over 5 hours.
I actually considered cancelling the trip due to overwhelm, and the realization that I would be heading straight into really hard stuff already exhausted and on no sleep.
Then, I got a grip and realized that neither the appointment nor the funeral would be any happier for me if I skipped out on my fun. Those unpleasant things would still be unpleasant, and I'd rather have the good times than sleep. (.......)
Once upon a time there was a naive little girl who fell for a boy. Looking back, the girl has no idea what on earth she saw in this particular boy~ perhaps it was his fast car, or his awesome rock band t-shirts. Maybe she just thought he was cute, and her silly young heart wanted it to be something more than it was.
The draw to this boy certainly wasn't based on shared conversation or charm or friendship. Whatever it was, it was nothing of substance, but for some reason, she wanted it to be.
Well, the boy broke her heart, and he did it the week before Christmas. After she wailed miserably about the ordeal to her BFF, they eventually laughed that the boy was probably just wanting to get out of buying her a present.
Sure enough, a few days after the holiday, he called her, full of weak attempts at romantic compliments. In hindsight, it was probably not very convincing really, but the silly girl thought she should be looking for love, and so she fell for it. By New Years Eve, he had done some stupid thing, she isn't even sure what anymore, but she spent that night too gabbing with her BFF about the pain of love.
By Valentines Day, she knew the whole thing was a sham, but being young and unsure of herself, she still wanted desperately to feel loved. The hearts and chocolates and cards in every store just reminded her that she wasn't, or at least she didn't think so at the time.
And so, she wrote her BFF a note, because that's what school girls did in the days before texting. She wrote on paper of how glad she was that VD was over, how painful the whole VD had been, and how she would be glad to skip ever experiencing another VD for the rest of her life.
Well, BFFs mom found the note, and read it. Being a paranoid mom of a teen girl, she didn't know that VD was in this case an abbreviation for Valentine's Day. Her concerned maternal mind thought VD stood for Venereal Disease. (.......)
Can someone please explain to me what exactly is the deal with misery and company? I get that complaining is infectious and addictive, but what really surprises me is when misery is an expectation~ when people actually seem to resent others who don't appear to be as unhappy as they should be.
I first noticed this crazy concept a few years ago when my family had been going through some fairly public hard times. Aside from the rocky patch we were in, my offspring and I had been working on our Explore All 50 States Dream for a couple of years.
At one point, we had put together this Pacific Northwest Adventure~ it would take us through Big Foot territory to the Redwoods, to see friends on the Northern California coast, up the entire coast of Oregon, along the Lewis and Clark route, and to visit friends, family and cheesy tourist traps in Seattle and Portland.
We didn't have a lot of time or a huge budget, but with some crazy planning skills and flexibility, we had an amazing 9 day adventure with pouring rain, washed out roads, cheese and ice cream galore and sites that were both historical and hysterical. We slept in tents, in yurts and on couches, and ate out of an ice chest. We saw people we rarely get to, laughed until our bellies ached, got a break from our troubles, continued working toward a big dream, and all around had a wonderful time.
Then, we got home and I posted the pictures on Facebook. Oops.
But, that's what most people do when they have happy things to share, right? Thankfully, most people were happy to see us smiling and having fun, but there were a few (there always are) who felt we should not be enjoying ourselves quite so much. At least not publicly under the circumstances. (.........)
Lately, I'm finding that I really have a lot to learn about boundaries. It's not as though I'm a weak woman, or that I've been a doormat, and I don't typically let people take advantage of me. It's more like I've usually just managed to either create or work out situations that I can deal with in life. Or, I've walked away from them.
But these days, life has been showing me that there are times when you can't just tell someone to eff off and be done with it.
Of course, I've known that in my rational mind for a long time, and really, the actual saying of eff off most often only happened in my head anyway~ but still...the ability to wave and walk away has been something I've long appreciated. Whether you smile or yell when eliminating a connection, it's sure nice to have the option of severing things.
But sometimes, for whatever reason, a person has to have ongoing negotiations and interactions with people and situations they don't necessarily want to be involved with. If you're trying to do it in a way that doesn't feel toxic and cause angry eyebrow wrinkles, it requires a whole heck of a lot of skills.
I will admit that I have lacked these skills. So, in trying to work out how to deal with such things, I sought out the words of wisdom from people who have some expertise. It quickly became apparent that learning to set healthy boundaries would be an important step in avoiding feeling venomous.
One of the most valuable things that anyone has said to me in regards to boundaries and interacting with people and situations you're not terribly fond of, is to keep your boundaries firm & friendly.
I have to say this is quite a concept for me. Firm AND Friendly. Like, at the same time? (........)
The first few days of a new year always have such hope, such promise. By a week into it (or by the 3rd day) I know a lot of people are already feeling over it with the idea of anything new or different happening.
I may be a little late to the party but personally, I'm feeling like my 2014 scheme fest has just begun, and I'm super excited about all the possibilities.
I've been spending a good deal of time playing with ideas and dreams~ looking back and releasing, looking forward and brainstorming. It's been a bit yo yo-ish, but in a pleasant and rhythmic way rather than a spastic one.
Since I really like crazily scribbling my schemes onto paper, preferably in rainbow colors, and often accompanied by pictures, I've been having a fantastic time playing in my 2014 Amazing Life Planner. I also did a wall spread of 2014 calendar pages, and am starting to sticky note in dates and details.
There's just something about writing stuff down that seems to make things more likely to happen. It's crazy. For example, one thing I put on the list of things I'd like to do in 2014 was to get a disco ball. They're shiny and fun, and I've wanted one to spruce up my chicken coop for years.
Well, a day or so after I wrote it down, not one, but two came into my life. They weren't anything that had graced the ceiling of a swanky night club, but rather 2 small Christmas tree ornaments that I knew needed to be liberated from a future of being attacked by a friend's cat. (I left a note explaining that I took them, and was pretty sure the friend would be OK with it. They were. Plus, they had like 20 more, so it's not like there was a shortage.)
Neither disco ball is going to go in to the hen house because I decided I really would rather demolish that coop and get a new one, and for now, I'd rather they spread the shiny light around my bedroom and my car. Or, I may wear them as earrings at some point, I'm not sure.
Yes, my disco balls are little and silly, but the point for me, was that it happened~ not in the way I might have envisioned, but nevertheless, I got what I hoped for, and more even! And I'm noticing that this kind of thing seems to happen in lots of ways, and in things much bigger than tiny sparkly decorations.
Setting intentions, then being open to the way things unfold without getting hung up on an exact details can lead to some amazing positive results.
It's almost a New Year, and like many people, I'm dreaming and scheming for my next chapter. I’m a big dreamer and schemer year round, but this season, it all feels so shiny and full of potential.
In the past couple of years, I've been realizing that while I like to dive into new stuff, it really helps to look back before I move forward. Hence the annual review. I can come up with hare brained schemes all day, but it's worth figuring out what’s worked well in the past, and what hasn't if I ever want them to become a reality.
So, that's what I'm doing. Reflecting. Looking forward. And trying to find a healthy place that doesn't cross into over analyzing the whole thing.
Some years, I look back with a sense of nostalgia. Not so much with 2013.
Not to make it sound like it was an awful year. It actually had all kinds of good stuff, fun and love, but it also had all kinds of big friggen hard stuff.
2013 gave me some major opportunities for huge growth. In fact, I'd say that it's been my biggest year of personal growth ever. And growth, by it's very nature can be painful, especially the personal kind.
Especially when you're trying to learn to be a nicer person, to avoid scalding people with your words, or frightening them with your evil glare and to generally avoid the fate of becoming brittle.
As I've mentioned before, this is hard stuff.
There are a bazillion tools to help and lots of ways to go about the process of New Year planning, but I like to look first at what people who get things done are doing, and incorporate some of their approaches in my process.
Chris Guillebeau just asks two questions. What went well this year, and what did not go well?
So, what went well is that I had lots of fun adventures with my kids, camping, beaches, mountains, lakes, zip lining and river rafting, concerts and fun on wheels. I met some fabulous people, had lots of fun and felt very loved. Oh, and I started showing my self some love too.
We painted our house "luscious mango" (all by ourselves) and did a whole lotta work to improve our living space (with a bunch of help from awesome people.) I balanced several jobs fairly well and managed to keep a stable funschooling lifestyle for my kids. I helped a number of people, volunteered, had some successful writing gigs and made a good deal of art.
What didn't work so well? Well.....I still have a good deal to learn about juggling and time management and business type skills. I sometimes lost sight of priorities, got sidetracked and distracted along the way, felt overwhelmed at times, and sort of flipped out on occasion. Those are all things I'm working on, and I'd say that I'm a bit better in most of them than I used to be. I'm calling that progress, and hope.
Danielle LaPorte simply asks you to think about how you want to feel. Not what you want to get or do, but how you want to feel about it.
What I want to feel is abundant. I'm done with lack and scarcity thinking and the fear based mindset they breed. I have plenty of everything, and if I unclench my claws, I'll probably enjoy all that I have even more and maybe even attract further abundance. Life seems to work that way.
As for planning for 2014, I'm using Leonie Dawson's "2014 Create Your Amazing Year" book because I'm a big fan of trying to make life more colorful and fun, and that woman combines rainbows and fairy wings with some mad business and productivity skills.
My goal is to have my workbook filled out by January 5th, and I'll be sharing some of my goals after that.
All in all, 2013 gave me some awesome adventures and huge blessings. I have lots and lots of stuff to be grateful for. I hope it gave you many blessings as well, and that you'll take a minute to count them before looking ahead.
I know I'm glad for the lessons I learned, and all the fun I had, but I'm ready to bring on 2014! Happy New Year!
Ahhh, the madness of Christmas has passed, and it’s time to exhale. Oh, and celebrate if you made it through the season without punching anyone!
For me, the week between Christmas and New Years Eve typically features a couple of traditions. And by traditions, I mean variations on a similar theme~ I’ve never actually managed to do the same thing twice exactly.
The first thing I like to get going is a big old clean out in the form of Boxing Day. I once looked up the actual meaning of the holiday, but unfortunately, I have since sort of forgotten.
Back when I wasn’t working as many jobs and could focus more efforts on being a homeschooling mamacita extraordinaire, I would have looked up the history of the day again, maybe even had a nice little family lesson about it.
These days, I'm just acknowledging that I'll likely forget again by next year anyway, so what really matters for me personally is my own version of the day that has evolved. That’s kind of my stance on holidays in general. Everyone does it a little differently, and that’s OK.
In theory, Boxing Day happens the day after Christmas. In reality, for me at least, it happens over the course of a few days~ like Boxing Week.
The deal for us is that my family and I go on a crazy rampage through the house, gutting cabinets and drawers and finding all sorts of stuff that we no longer want or need, and box (or bag) it up to go away. The main thing is that lots of "stuff" leaves our lives, and that makes us feel lighter and more free. And that’s a good thing. A really good thing.
The process isn't always easy (OK, it probably never is easy because it involves actual work in addition to letting go, and is mixed in with house cleaning~ this is hard stuff, but it's worth it, I swear.)
As I head into Boxing Weekend here in the Zesty household, I'm doing what I can in an attempt to make it through without tears. Here's my Game Plan.
1) I'm Trying to be Prepared.
That means plenty of caffeine for me and plenty of snacks for everyone.
It also helps to have supplies like separate bags or boxes because not all the stuff we're getting rid of goes in the same category, and I don't want to re-sort. Some stuff we give away, some we throw away, and some we recycle. Sometimes I'm amazed at the perfectly good things people throw away. On the other hand, no matter how much I hate contributing to the landfill, I'm aware that nobody wants stuff like ratty old socks and undies. I still occasionally have to remind my Boy Child that these items go in the trash, not the donation box.
2) I'm Trying to Set Limits
Sometimes I set a mental time limit~ like a 20 minute boogie in my room, or sometimes I aim for a particular space~ like one kitchen cabinet. Other times, I get all crazy and want to keep going until the trash and recycling cans are packed to the rim and my car is full of donations.
Speaking of crazy, sometimes (OK, maybe many times) I turn into a highly caffeinated she-banshee with some sort of attention deficit / anger management disorder when tackling large projects. I'm hoping that this new self awareness of the fact that I lean towards craziness when in the midst of such things will help keep my scary parts at bay.
I'm also thinking of pulling out my Sacred Space Clearing Kit to get me in the right frame of mind.
That brings me to #3.
3) I'm Trying to be Understanding
Some years my kids are more on board with the process than others, and one kid is a bit of a pack rat. I have to work around and respect that. It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and can require strategic timing and phrasing.
It can also require some serious attempts at understanding, especially with things like “collectible” cereal box or gum wrapper collections that might be accidentally mistaken as garbage or recycling.
In any case, my own stuff and the general accumulation of bits and pieces in communal areas usually give me plenty to work on and get rid of. When the kids see clarity happening elsewhere, they often jump in.
Oh, it's also important to remind myself that during this process, things often look much worse before they look better. I have to have faith.
Hopefully, my home will feel a little more like a Haven when I'm done with this madness. I'm sure it will at least feel a little less cluttered going into the New Year. Now if only I knew how to accomplish that with my mind.
In any case, wish me luck~ I'm going in!!!!
I know that it's the most wonderful time of the year and all, but somehow, this holiday season has been a bit of weird one. And I know I'm not the only one feeling that way.
Friends who always have family professional looking photo cards made or do holiday letters just didn't get it together. Those that did seemed to squeak in last minute.
Family members who normally finish their gift shopping by October 31st are calling me three days before Christmas to ask what my kids would like.
And I really knew something was up when even kids (who are most likely about to be bombarded with more gifts than a third world village will see in 3 years, and are probably well aware of this fact) are lamenting throughFacebook about their inability to find the Christmas Spirit. It's a sad, sad situation.
I don't know exactly what's up with the world at large this holiday season, but I know that for me, it's a different one. It's the first time I'll juggle post divorce logistics with kids. It's the first Christmas without my sweet Grandma, who really was the glue that held together a whole section of my family. And just to keep me on my toes, there's a massive pile of BIG LIFE STUFF that all needs to be negotiated and dealt with right friggen now.
These things are cumulatively not very conducive to a Happy Holiday Spirit. My tendencies first lean towards the urge to punch someone in the throat, but when the extreme fatigue sets in, I'd rather curl up in a ball and cry. Notice that I said urge. I know, I know...Actually punching people is wrong. And since it's Christmas Eve tonight, there's just too much to be done and no time for crying about it.
So, what on earth is one to do in order to make sure they don't become that woman who flipped out at the mall and started throwing things and screaming at everyone? (For most of us, I'm guessing that this is probably not the bit of fame we are seeking.)
Here's what helps me stay semi sane during the holiday season (and keeps me from any punching of throats or other body parts)
It only takes a minute, and in all honesty, many of us spend more time frantically complaining about how hectic life is than it would take to just calm ourselves down and make a game plan. So stop. For just a minute. And breathe. Shut your pie hole, close your eyes and breathe. (I tell myself this all the time. I'm not just being rude to you all..)
Seriously, a wee bit of time invested in getting centered pays off in huge dividends with the prevention of angry eyebrow wrinkles.
I can't even tell you how much the gift of laughter means to me. Seriously, there are a lotta times when you have to either laugh or cry, and if you followed step 1 above and took a minute to breathe, you might just realize that some situations are pretty darn funny.
For example, many people are stressing right about now over the upcoming holiday gatherings, and they do it every year~ not about the food or decorations or gifts~ but because they know they will have to deal with relatives that they feel are crazy, weird or just plain unpleasant.
I could tell you that your relatives really aren't that really bad, or I could tell you the alternative truth. We all have crazy relatives. There is no perfect family.
Whenever possible, I just try to laugh about it. I mean, think about the Griswold's or the Costanza's. If your holiday festivities don't include a metal pole, an official airing of grievances or wrestling feats of strength, well, then...your laughter may evolve into gratitude, which is really kind of deep stuff, don't you think?
3) Let Go
It's not gonna be perfect. That's just the way it is. But, it probably can be pretty darn nice. If you let go that is.
I'm super guilty of NOT following my own advice on this one, and doing a mental freak out about all the things that aren't the way they used to be, should be, or could be. *** But when I'm giving myself (and other people) all sorts of grief about what isn't perfect, I'm missing out on all of the ways things are awesome.
It's ridiculous really, and it never ever helps. What does help is figuring out what really matters and putting the energy I have into making those things happen in the best way I can.
My kids probably won't remember if every gift wasn't right or we forgot rolls, or have to skip crafts because I have to work. But they will remember if we were happy or not.
So, what matters to me this year is loving up the people around me, including myself. I'm still going to hustle and do what I can to pull off some holiday magic, because that's just what I do. But, I'm also going to give myself and everyone else a break, and know that whatever it is, is good enough, imperfections and all.
In the words of the ever wise Dr. Suess:
"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!!!!!! Breathe, Laugh, Let Go and Enjoy!!!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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