Chore Chart

Thanks to a gentle suggestion from my mother, which at first I took exception to, but then realized she was correct, we are attempting to formalize the sharing of housework we all do. The other four people who live in The Shoebox, who are not Ginnie, are very willing to help with chores…when asked.

The person who lives in The Shoebox who is Ginnie, gets really tired of asking.

So, Buds came up with a great way to balance this issue.

We had a family meeting where I shared my frustration, and the crew came through like the champs they are. Ideas for jobs that could be shared, and how to make the process work flowed fast and free.

Then, Buds created the beautiful wall chart for us so we would all be accountable to each other.

The pretty, pretty week of opportunities.

The pretty, pretty week of opportunities.

It’s only been three days, but I’m loving this already. The kids are super willing to do the work, and after working through some jobs together for a couple weeks, they will have them mastered.

Much like with potty-training, I think waiting until now was helpful in some ways. The kids were very open to it, and I’m realizing that for years I just did the jobs myself because I wanted them done quickly or in a certain way. It may be that I will still want them done in a certain way, but part of that is just teaching another person to do a job. There needs to be a process, then the kids can create their own options.

For those of you who have children who have been helping with tasks for years…great job. I’m grateful to be joining your ranks, but not sorry that it didn’t happen until now.

Another Weekend

We had another splendid weekend two weeks ago. I’m just so excited at how we are getting out and about in Nashville, which we always talked about doing in Reston, but never seemed to do.

My mom left town on Thursday to drive home, which left a little hole in our lives, but having her here really got me over the unpacking hump, for which I’m grateful.

On Saturday morning, Buds picked out an East Nashville restaurant for us to try out, then we stopped at a hipster coffee joint, then on to the Maker Faire at the Adventure Science Center, then home.

Then, on Sunday, we missed church due to group family melt-down, but we recovered to go on a hike with some new friends.

The specifics:

Saturday morning, we tried out The Biscuit House. It involved a 30 minute wait before we got a table, then a 20 minute wait for our food, but it was worth it for many reasons.

One of Yessa’s favorite games has been “Pass The Ugly Sweater.” You know what “Pass The Ugly Sweater” used to be named?

Old Maid.

I know it’s a little thing, and when I was a kid, I didn’t even really think about an Old Maid card being the one no one wanted, and much as I believe my children will not be permanently harmed by playing with Barbies, I really, really prefer “Pass The Ugly Sweater.”

While Monkey read a book, the other four of us passed our time waiting for our food playing the sweater card game. Such moments of peace and joy as I enjoy my family enjoying each other.

Then we went to The Barista Parlor. What an odd, odd adventure. The kids and I were just going to wait in the car while Buds ran in to get some ground coffee, but he sent us a text that we “have to come inside, because it is crazy.”

Crazy meant beautiful and a coffee-lover’s dream, but also a really long line. And unlike at Starbucks where you wait in a really long line, then when you get to the front of the line you get your drink and food shortly after, at BP, you wait in the really long line to place your order, then you wait even longer to get your drink. This is an artisanal coffee place, folks. Haughtily so. So artisanal, in fact, my coffee-snobby hubby was intimidated by all the options.

We did enjoy looking at the furniture and took some fun pictures.

Yessa and I had fun with the new phone. Kids in real life.

Yessa and I had fun with the new phone.
Kids in real life.

Vintage kids.

Vintage kids.

Normal Mom.

Normal Mom.

Zombie Mom

Zombie Mom

X-ray Yessa

X-ray Yessa

Enjoying our time being patient hipsters.

Enjoying our time being patient hipsters.

These people know how to do cold brew coffee...in bulk.

These people know how to do cold brew coffee…in bulk.

Buds felt badly that we all ended up waiting with him for so long to get his cappuccino, but it sure was pretty when it arrived. And it was okay for all of us to wait together. Sometimes that’s what families do.

Either a lovely flower, or hands holding bum cheeks...you decide.

Either a lovely flower, or hands holding bum cheeks…you decide.

In hipster neighborhoods, the stop signs are trying to float away.

In hipster neighborhoods, the stop signs are trying to float away.

Then on to the Maker Faire! It was the first time we encountered much of a crowd at a Nashville event, but it was still such a joy and a treat, and not really a crowd by our previous home’s standards. It never felt like we were going to lose any of the kids, and the line I expected to take over an hour actually took 15 minutes.

The beautiful Yessa-bug.

The beautiful Yessa-bug.

Everyone who was anyone was there.

Everyone who was anyone was there.

Buster looking at the sun. Not sure why Yessa has a death-grip on his face.

Buster looking at the sun. Not sure why Yessa has a death-grip on his face.

Monkey finally had the chance to ride the roller coaster in the simulator with both Buds and me, and Yessa had the chance to fly an airplane. Roller coaster was supposed to go upside down, airplane was not supposed to, but we did it, The Yessa and me. We have special talents as pilots.

We are ready!

We are ready!

The Buster continued to be sure he did not want to go back into the simulator. Love it that he knows his own boundaries.

Saw lots of cool things made by people sharing their passions and interests. Maker Faire was a great way to spend some of our Saturday.

Then on Sunday, we went on a “first date,” with some new friends. As first dates go, it was closer to my first one with Buds, than my blind date with that other guy I went out with the weekend after I met Buds.

We’ve already got a plan to hang out with this family again in a couple weeks. I suspected things would go well when I asked what else they had done that day, and S said, “We tried out this new church…I know I won’t say it correctly, ‘Univers, unity, something.'”

“Unitarian Universalist, ” I said…

That’s a good sign.

Photos by S.D.

Happy new friends.

Happy new friends.

Horses at the park.

Horses at the park.

Good times for all.

Good times for all.

Still weeks behind on posts, but glad to have this one in the record books to look back on in years to come.

Grand Ole’ Opry

For Mom’s birthday, she and I went on a tour of the Grand Ole’ Opry. We tried to go to a show, but that will have to wait until her next visit.

We loved touring around at The Opry. Watching Hee Haw was a common family event for us, and the “heritage” country music stars bring back good memories for both of us.

The current list of Grand Ole' Opry Members.

The current list of Grand Ole’ Opry Members.

Unlike Hall of Fame membership, being a member of the Grand Ole’ Opry is a grand honor that requires active participation. One of my favorite parts of the tour was watching videos of people learning they were invited to join the Opry. Seeing grown men and women cry out of joy is a cool thing.

Minnie Pearl’s husband gave her this fountain as a 25th wedding anniversary present, and she wanted it to go somewhere special after her death. It now graces the artist entrance into the backstage area of the Opry.

Minnie's Fountain

Minnie’s Fountain

The lockers artists use for their personal items.

The lockers artists use for their personal items.

The Opry, and country music in general, likes to see itself as free of pretense. As such, the dressing rooms were lovely, but not opulent, and certainly not large.

A typical dressing room.

A typical dressing room.

Each dressing room had a different theme:

An artist's debut night as a member of the Opry is spent using this dressing room.

An artist’s debut night as a member of the Opry is spent using this dressing room.

Duets share a dressing room that is the same size as all the singleton ones.

Duets share a dressing room that is the same size as all the singleton ones.

Our happy little tour had people from Ireland, England, and around the U.S.

Our happy little tour had people from Ireland, England, and around the U.S.

Minnie at the Opry.

Minnie at the Opry.

Roy Acuff's house on the grounds of The Opry.

Roy Acuff’s house on the grounds of The Opry.

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The Circle

The Circle

A circle of the floor was cut out of the stage at Ryman Auditorium when The Grand Ole’ Opry made its move to its own theater. It’s lovely and humbling for artists to know they are standing on the same spot as their idols from the long history of The Opry.

The view back into the dressing room as an artist waits behind the curtain to be announced.

The view back into the dressing room as an artist waits behind the curtain to be announced.

An artist's first view of the theater as you come from behind the curtain. It gave me chills.

An artist’s first view of the theater as you come from behind the curtain. It gave me chills.

If you have connections, or are family of a performer, you can get tickets right on stage!

If you have connections, or are family of a performer, you can get tickets right on stage!

The green room where artists wait to go on. The wooden border on the left shows the height of the water in the horrible flooding of 2010. Many Opry treasures were lost.

The green room where artists wait to go on. The wooden border on the left shows the height of the water in the horrible flooding of 2010. Many Opry treasures were lost.

Alcohol is strictly forbidden backstage at The Opry, due to some unfortunate incidents.

Alcohol is strictly forbidden backstage at The Opry, due to some unfortunate incidents.

One of Buddie's favorites.

One of Buddie’s favorites.

Copious benches abound outside, another example of the kindness and folksiness.

Copious benches abound outside, another example of the kindness and folksiness.

Mom and I had the chance to sing in The Circle when were on the tour. Neither of us chose to do it, nor did anyone else in our tour, and as predicted by our tour guide, I regret it.

Next time…

King Hong Kongians

One of the major events which was missed by the blog due to the move was our precious day of visiting with J, B, L, and A. We got to spend one whole day with Jenny and the kids, and I got a delightful hour with Brendan before he left for an appointment, taking on the task for the whole family so Jenny and I could get as much time together as possible.

These are all pictures taken by Jenny.

The day wasn’t in itself anything unusual. It was rainy at first. By the end, when it was sunnier, we chose not to go to the pool, staying cocooned inside, focused on time together, laughter and stories. It was another reminder to me how grateful I am for the people we have in our life.

Hanging out, doing not much of anything, just being together, sharing, giggling, teasing Brendan. What more could be asked of a day?

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Schoolers

If you know me well, you know I am generally pretty even-handed when talking with my crew about school. We love many people who attend public school, Buds and I both did well in school, I taught for a couple years and learned the deepest respect for anyone who chooses to be a teacher. I am also ever-mindful that any of our children might choose to attend public school one day.

Keep that in mind when I tell you that Yessa forms her own opinions about everything!

I had to laugh when she got dressed for our time out of the house today and said to me, “I’m afraid people will think I’m a schooler.”

Yessa's vision of a "schooler."

Yessa’s vision of a “schooler.”

It had something to do with the socks. She thought that would lead people to ask her if she was a schooler.

Her brain fascinates me.

Saturday Outing

A quick post about some fun items from two Saturdays ago. Adrian was due to arrive in the evening. We had lots of errands to run, plus getting ready for our two visitors: Adrian and Grandma.

We set off for Crema (our favorite coffee shop), the Main Nashville library (so we could show Buds its awesomeness), the downtown farmer’s market, Target, World Market, and Costco.

After Crema, we ditched the library because we were already feeling so rushed. Then we couldn’t get to the farmer’s market due to some race. So, off we went to Target. We dropped Buds off at World Market so he could check to see if our new dining room table had arrived, and the kids and I headed up to Target so they could spend the many, many weeks of allowance they had been saving.

As we were getting out of the car, The Buster made a funny little bleating sound and said, “Mom, I forgot my shoes at home.” Apparently forgetting your shoes is genetic.

My response was, “Well, you picked the perfect place for us to be if you were going to forget your shoes.”

The cart on the way into Target.

The cart on the way into Target.

Looking longingly at Monkey's shoes.

Looking longingly at Monkey’s shoes.

The snazzy new shoes.

The snazzy new shoes.

After Target and World Market, where our new table WAS in, we popped over to a steakhouse for lunch because time was quickly slipping away from us. The waitress complimented us on the children, which always strikes me as so interesting. We just happen to have pretty quiet kids who like to read. And Monkey is really good about saying “please” and “thank you.” To people on the outside that sometimes looks like something amazing, apparently. It was very kind of her to take time to tell us her thoughts, but I really did want to ask her what was it she saw sometimes. Going out to eat can be so stressful for kids, I expect she sees some meltdowns.

Once we were back home, we saw our friend the skink again. He has since also been back inside the house. I’m choosing to believe it is just one skink that likes to visit. Please let it be just one skink.

The skink is back.

The skink is back.

A delightful, relaxed weekend before we slid into our busy, wonderful week filled with visiting Juicers.

Mom Sandwich

I often start my mornings as a mom sandwich.
Youngest on one side, middle on the other.
It’s hot.
It’s uncomfortable.
My children turn into octopi in the night.
Mutant octopi.
Eight arms, and
eight legs each.

Some mornings, I’m desperate to arise.
Work calls,
or breakfast.
The bathroom beckons, too.

But instead, I rest there.

Soon enough, someone will stick an elbow in my back.
A leg will be thrown over me,
kicking a sibling.
Then a foot-pushing battle will ensue.
The youngest eventually yowling while the middle…
simply smiles.

Soon enough, they won’t seek me out in the night.
Like the eldest, whom I must seek for nighttime contact,
and wishes for good rest.

When that time comes, I’ll be so thankful.
Thankful we only had
a queen-sized bed,
which is
not
quite enough room.

Thankful I had this time to be the jelly to their sandwich.

I’ll sleep undisturbed, and cool, with only Buds by my side.

(Where does Buds end up in this time of the sandwich?
At the end of the bed, or in whatever sleeping spot is open.
He is a kind soul and an easy sleeper.)

Those will be good days, when my sandwich days are over.

But, oh, I am thankful I have gotten to be the jelly.

Fun photos

I still have posts about specific North Conway activities, but wanted to get out a few general shots of our wonderful time there. We’re thinking of a trip closer to home next year, so this may have been our last stay at Eagle’s View. That makes me sad, but grateful we’ll “always have North Conway.”

Taken by Gina

Taken by Gina

Taken by Gina

Taken by Gina

Taken by Gina

Taken by Gina

Boy on a porch

Boy on a porch

Archeologists and a troll

Archeologists and a troll

Mountain Man

Mountain Man

Wisdom Via Schmilly: Comfort In, Dump Out

A wonderful college friend posted this article on her blog today, and it is so fantastic, I’m reposting it.

I learned about it from Schmilly, but it originally came from here: LA Times.

I probably realized this for the obvious issues, like death or cancer, but I will now be sure to consider it when talking with friends dealing with infertility or job loss…other areas where we think that advice might help.

(Note to self, learned at my dad’s funeral, NEVER tell the family how good the person in the coffin looks. Tell the outer rings that thought, or possibly the Funeral Director, who will view it as a job critique and compliment. I can assure you from experience, the family will NOT be comforted by this insight.)

Here is the article, copied from Schmill’s blog:

Comfort In, Dump Out

Op-Ed
It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

April 07, 2013|Susan Silk and Barry Goldman

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When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

“It’s not?” Susan wondered. “My breast cancer is not about me? It’s about you?”

The same theme came up again when our friend Katie had a brain aneurysm. She was in intensive care for a long time and finally got out and into a step-down unit. She was no longer covered with tubes and lines and monitors, but she was still in rough shape. A friend came and saw her and then stepped into the hall with Katie’s husband, Pat. “I wasn’t prepared for this,” she told him. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan’s colleague’s remark was wrong.

Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.

Here are the rules.

The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.

There was nothing wrong with Katie’s friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn’t think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.

Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn’t do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.

Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don’t just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.

Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.

And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.

Susan Silk is a clinical psychologist. Barry Goldman is an arbitrator and mediator and the author of “The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators.”

North Conway Mini Golf

The Buster discovered his love of mini-golf on our two weeks of vacation in August, so we played several different times.

One of the last days in New Hampshire, a group of us were going, but since he wasn’t feeling well, the Buster didn’t get to go.

Buster down for the count.

Buster down for the count.

It ended up being the Chandler Crew, minus Gina, and Yessa and me. Monkey is not a fan of mini-golf, and Buds was working and hanging with Buster. Can’t remember what Gina was doing…Gina?

Yessa was thrilled to be with the big girls.

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We spent a little time in the arcade after golfing, and Yessa asked Hero and Monet to win tickets for her by playing skee ball. Everyone was happy with this arrangement.

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