Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis the Season

My girls each have three piggy banks. In an effort to teach them about the value and the power of money, Bubba and I started an allowance program about a year ago that requires them to 'feed' each of these piggy banks every week.

Although it sounds like a lot of money, each of them receives $3.00/week. One dollar goes into each of the piggy banks. There is a "spend" bank, into which they are allowed to dip any time they wish (with parental veto, of course). The second one is designated "save" and requires them to have some sort of plan for the contents. The final bank is for sharing and a few weeks ago as I walked into my eldest daughter's room I noticed it was outgrowing its boundaries. Sitting the girls down one Sunday morning, we talked to them about how they might like to distribute this money.

My oldest daughter didn't need even a moment to ruminate. She immediately asked me to donate her entire stash to a local animal rescue facility. Two years ago her class visited the sanctuary and met the animals who lived there. They saw two monkeys whose aggressive behavior had gotten them kicked out of the local zoo, a blind juvenile raccoon whose mother had abandoned it, exotic pets people had bought for their children and discarded when they discovered how difficult they were to care for (wallabies, pygmy goats, miniature potbellied pigs), and other creatures who had been found by hikers to be wounded or diseased or dying or otherwise in need of help. This place made such an impression on my daughter that she had been searching for a way to help them short of moving in.

My youngest was both astonished by the large amount of money she had collected to share and dismayed at the relatively small buying power it represented. Fortunately, the answer presented itself in Monday's mail. We received a donation form from a local homeless shelter, asking us to provide holiday dinners for families in need. The paperwork stated that $20.00 would feed 18 people a warm, filling, healthy meal and the thought of helping entire families proved incredibly attractive. We immediately filled out the form and mailed off a check. As we sat down to eat our dinner tonight, my daughter sat up a little straighter at the thought that there might be other children who were doing the same thanks to her.

As a family who is incredibly blessed with a safe, warm home and every material good we could wish for, we have always taught our children to be thankful for what they have. We routinely donate our used clothing, always give food to the food bank, and place gifts under the giving tree at Christmas every year. Asking the girls to be responsible for their own generosity this year empowered them in a much more personal way. As the thank-you notes came in today's mail from the girls' respective charities the girls' faces were glowing with pride. As I tucked my youngest in tonight, she caught sight of the other two piggy banks sitting atop her dresser, dollar bills protruding out the top.

"Mom? Is it too late to write another check to the shelter?"

She says it is so close to Christmas that she can't think of any toys or books she wants to spend her money on. She'd rather buy more dinners for homeless families. I am so filled with this loving spirit right now that I can't imagine anything better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seven Things You Didn't Know About Me...

I've been tagged by My Own Woman. It is my duty to come up with seven interesting tidbits about myself to share. Let me know if you think these fit the bill (where does that saying come from, anyway?).

  1. I spent seven years of my life training to be a ballerina. I performed onstage as Clara in The Nutcracker, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, and in multiple other roles. There was nothing I wanted more than to spend my life backstage getting made up and hairsprayed and costumed for another show. My primary teacher was an ex-Russian ballerina who stalked the studio, pounding her cane on the hardwood floor and barking orders at us. I loved every minute of it. Moving to Wyoming unfortunately ended that portion of my life.

  2. The first time I attempted to ride my bike without training wheels I was so worried about my father letting go of the back of the bike that when I turned around to make sure he was still holding on I ran into a parked car.

  3. In high school I had to go without any caffeine (chocolate included) for two years because I had such fibrocystic breast tissue that they were afraid I might be at risk for other complications. Those of you who know anything about me will find it difficult to believe that I could go for two days without chocolate, much less two years.

  4. After a decade of swearing that I would never ever get married or have children, I proposed to my boyfriend during Spring Break in my senior year of college. His response? "You can't ask me that." I was crushed. I got into my car for the 200 mile drive back to school wondering whether our relationship could survive after this. Turns out I had stolen his thunder. He'd already purchased a ring and was planning to ask me to marry him when I graduated. We stayed together despite my misgivings and he asked me on the beach in Maui. We've been married for almost fourteen years.

  5. From the time I was 14 years old I have had the following jobs: ice-cream schlepper at Dairy Queen, customer service at a gift shop on the beach, busser/waitress/hostess at a five-star resort, re-shelver at the university library, calculus tutor, veterinary assistant, medical assistant in a family planning clinic, scheduler/assistant for women's radiology department at teaching hospital, secretary for international shipping line, microfilm processor for regional power company, surgical assistant for plastic/reconstructive surgeons, surgical assistant for dermatologist, office manager for a physical therapy clinic, quality management assistant for longterm children's mental health authority, database administrator/consultant for children's mental health inpatient facility, freelance writer.

  6. Before I had children I swore like a sailor and, in the proper company, I've still got it.

  7. I hate anything having to do with beauty pageants in any form or fashion. I find them useless and demeaning.
Whew. That was more difficult than I expected it to be. Now comes the 'chain' portion of the post. The next seven bloggers I'm tagging are Carrie,Michelle, Deb, Holly, Ammogirl, Miss Devylish, and just because I know she's looking for something to do, the final nominee is Jerri.

Monday, November 26, 2007


There is a group of people with whom I have a dreadful time simply being. There is a group of people with whom I gather from time to time who cause me to choose to be vigilant and guarded. History has taught me that sharing my honest political and moral views, my most deeply held beliefs and spiritual musings, will result in heated arguments, uncomfortable discussions and, ultimately, judgement.

These are individuals whom I love and care for and truly wish I could find peace with. They possess the power to make me feel less. Less intelligent. Less 'cool'. Less important. When I am in their company I feel instantly transported back to the halls of my small-town high school and begin watching my every step for fear that I might make a mistake that will be noticed by someone waiting to pounce.

I am fairly certain that my guarded personality in some way contributes to the difficult dynamic in these situations, but I have been stung by hurtful comments in the past and the thought of letting go and simply disregarding their opinions of me as unimportant seems impossible. Inevitably at the end of each of these gatherings I am left examining my reactions. Why is it that I feel judged by them? Their habit as a group is to judge most other people. Why is it that I resist standing up to them? I know I won't change their minds and I can't hope to disrupt a dynamic that has been going on for decades. By stating my opinion I am painting myself with a bulls-eye and starting a chain reaction of arguments that will serve nobody's purposes. Even though it makes me uncomfortable, is it okay for me to spend these infrequent get-togethers shielding my true self from them in an effort to keep the waters around us calm?

I worry about the message my daughters will get from this. I worry that these people will never value me without truly knowing me for who I am. On the other hand, I value being able to spend a few days in a relatively calm state without fear of impending confrontation or being mocked. I know what my husband's advice would be: who cares what they think? My gut tells me it is important to stand up for who I am, but my head says it isn't worth the fighting and constant effort of justifying myself to others. The reality is, these people will be in my life in one way or another for a very long time. I chose to marry one of 'them'. Ironically, it was his love and devotion for them that was one of the reasons I found him so attractive. Also ironically, it is the fact that he is so different from them when he's not with them that gives me the most hope.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Observations From the Dentist's Chair

  • I would rather get shots or have my blood drawn than experience the singularly uncomfortable feeling that comes from having the dental hygienist scrape the metal hook across the surface of the inside of my bottom front teeth.

  • There is nothing that activates the excuse-generating portion of my brain more than lying back in this chair with my mouth wide open, knowing that my brushing and flossing habits are betraying me.

  • Being a dental hygienist is a job I cannot ever imagine enjoying even for one minute.

  • It cracks me up to feel the air being pulled through my nostrils into my mouth when I close my lips around the suction straw.

  • The mere thought of berry or bubble-gum flavored tooth polish turns my stomach and makes me wonder how old my daughters will be when they begin to have that same reaction and fervently hope the dentist hasn't run out of mint.

  • Even though it has been ten months since I last sat in this chair it feels like it hasn't been nearly that long.

  • Crossing my ankles and clasping my hands together is strangely comforting in its ability to distract me from the skin-crawling reaction I get when a huge piece of tartar is being chipped off of my teeth.

  • No matter how much I dislike sitting here the day after Thanksgiving, I'd still choose this chair over fighting the holiday crowds at the mall any day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Right Now

"The word for yesterday and the word for tomorrow are the same in the Hindi language." Anu Garg's ( voice streams out from my radio as I navigate the wet streets from school to home this morning.

My local NPR station is doing an hour on word origins and they have invited the founder of the popular Wordsmith/A Word A Day emails to join them in the discussion. My brain slowly begins to churn his words around, folding them in to the crevices in my brain and allowing them to seep in to my consciousness as the voices in the background fade away.

To me, this means that both yesterday and tomorrow are equal in Hindi. Equal in that they are NOT today. Equally unknowable and uncontrollable and perhaps not worth dwelling on. Considering that I've spent most of my life in a concerted effort to plan for tomorrow so that I don't replay the events of yesterday, I find this incredibly interesting. Considering that I am right now attempting to spend more energy realizing and enjoying the moments of my days as they happen and less energy agonizing over and anticipating future events, I find this comforting. The origins of the words 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow' in English arise from the negative - the fact that neither of these days is today. I think that somewhere over the generations many of us has lost the true meaning of these words. I'm going to do my best to remember their Hindi translation.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hmmm, Nice Try

Forgive me if I'm not rushing out to invest my savings in this new prospect:

Reversible alternative to vasectomy tested

"Chinese doctors have developed a new technique in birth control surgery for men that could be made available to the public next year, the China Daily said on Thursday.
The method involves making a small incision along the testicle into which doctors place a tiny tube.
"The tube functions as a filter that blocks sperm," Wu Weixiong, the director of Guangzhou
Family Planning Technology Center"

Honestly? The combination of the toxin-tainted toys and the fact that men will have to trust someone to place a foreign object in their testicles seems to prevent anyone with a modicum of common sense from believing that this is a viable option.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mind the Levies

What if the person that I am is the person I am supposed to be? What if some of my less attractive traits serve some important purpose that I haven't before considered? What if, instead of nagging myself to be more patient I embraced the burrs of impatience as an integral part of my individuality?

"Mom, why can't we be home schooled?"

This is one of those questions that shouldn't be asked of me when I'm in a rush to get through traffic and drop the girls off at school. This is one of those moments where I would trade my big toe for a universal remote that would stop the world from spinning so that I could formulate a kind, convincing answer that wouldn't scar my children.

"Because Mommy doesn't want to. I have so many other things I would rather do with my days than spend them designing lesson plans for you guys and making sure I'm teaching you all of the things I think it's important for you to learn," was my actual reply. Ouch.

"I wish we could be home-schooled because then I could be with you all day long and never have to leave you, Mommy," my five-year-old says softly. Ouch. Ouch.

Even though I know that this doesn't hold true for more than an hour at a time (she's also called me 'the Queen of Meantown' and 'the worst mommy ever'), I think she truly believes this at the moment she utters it. I'm feeling pretty guilty right now.

But what if? What if the mommy my girls are seeing right now is the one from whom they will take their cues as they grow older? What if they are learning that it's okay to make choices based on your own interests and desires as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else? What if my impatience leads me to believe I can do a large variety of different things and still be a good mother? What if I stop second-guessing myself and just accept that I am who I am right now and that is good? Not just 'good enough', but 'good.' So what if I don't exercise as much as the experts say I should? So what if the house is messy more often than I'd like it to be? So what if I occasionally blow off their gymnastics lessons so that we can go out for hot fudge sundaes to celebrate a personal victory?

I walk the dog nearly every day. I feed the kids mostly healthy food. They always have enough clean underwear. It's not always in the drawer - sometimes we pull our clean clothes out of the laundry basket in the morning. The car gets cleaned out every couple of weeks. The newspapers often sit on the driveway for a day or two before being picked up. We don't always brush our teeth before heading out the door to school. Isn't that okay?

We do laugh at least once every day. We do hug and kiss each other before bed every night, no matter how late it is. We respect each others' wish for privacy as much as possible. We try to understand that each of us has a slightly different value system and flexibility is important. None of these things is a hard and fast rule. They are more like the bumper guards at the bowling alley designed to keep kids' bowling balls from running amok. 'Just mind the levies,' Bubba says, 'and we'll be allright.'

All right.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Touchy, Touchy!

I was a good student. A teacher's pet, peer-counselor, student-council vice president, nearly straight-A-getting senior in high school who had proven myself an 'atypical' girl by excelling at math and science. Biology was my favorite.

By the time I was a senior, I had taken all of the biology classes offered in our teeny rural school and had a free period that I wasn't sure what to do with. By biology teacher asked me if I'd be willing to act as a tutor to a student who was blind. He had ordered special materials for her and she would attend all of his lectures, but when it came to truly understanding all of the concepts he thought it would be great if she had some one-on-one help. Always eager to ingratiate myself to the adults in my life, I agreed without hesitation.

Opening the box that arrived the first week of school was better than Christmas. There were all sorts of amazing tools inside - models of cells made out of plastic that showed each phase of cell division and reproduction, a rubber frog we could 'dissect' and remove each of the authentic-feeling parts inside, squishy stomach, spongy lungs, etc.

The two of us spent at least half an hour together every day, reviewing the lectures and tracing our fingertips over the plastic materials we'd been so lucky to get. Even though I had aced this same class two years before, the simple act of integrating the information in a different way gave me such an enhanced understanding. Feeling the DNA of a cell as it split and copied itself for replication, I felt the lessons hitching a ride on my nerve endings and traveling up into my brain for storage. Knowing what the organs of a frog felt like without the blunting touch of latex gloves was exquisite.

For most of my formal education, the power of touch was not emphasized at all. We were expected to use our eyes and ears to gather information and recall it from scribbled notes we took. Montessori school teachers know the importance of touch when it comes to tracing pathways in the brain and firmly rooting understanding versus memorization. Their classrooms are wonderlands of sensory information. They teach children letters by showing them and having them trace the letter itself with their fingertips, reinforcing it in at least two ways at once. Math is taught with the use of golden beads that help imprint the feeling of one, two, three into their memories. There are projects that experiment with the sense of smell and taste and lectures are not given in groups. Instead, lessons are provided to one or two children at a time when they are mentally and physically ready for them so as not to overwhelm their senses with extraneous information (the sound of a classmate fidgeting in their seat, the frantic need to copy down verbatim what the teacher is saying).

Wouldn't it be great if we were all taught from a young age to include all of our senses in our quest to understand the world around us? Instead, we are so often encouraged to block other things out and learn in a way that is one-dimensional and limiting. We cannot fully understand anything by looking at it or hearing it. To think otherwise is to discount potentially important information and give ourselves the false impression that we understand it.

Something to think about....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Food (or Drink) for Thought

The best man is like water.Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them.It dwells in lowly places that all disdain.This is why it is so near to Tao.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

Maybe this is why I love the rain. Being able to sit in a warm spot with a cup of tea and just listen to the sound of the raindrops falling on the roof is one of my favorite things. The only thing that trumps it is sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean and letting the sound of the rushing waves fill my ears. Lying in a deep bathtub, standing underneath the soft spray of a showerhead, swimming in a clear pool that's being replenished by a powerful waterfall, holding an icicle in my fingertips and marveling at its clear magic - all of those things inspire in me a golden warmth and a peacefulness I cannot otherwise achieve.

What is it about water? Is it that it does exist everywhere? That it sustains all of life? Is it the way it holds things - some of them floating on top, some of them suspended in the middle, others sinking to the bottom? Is it the way it is capable of transforming itself into other substances - its flexibility? The fact that it can be under incredibly hot temperatures and turn to steam, waiting for the ideal conditions that will turn it back into its normal state is astonishing. It can also exist under extremely low temperatures as ice and simply wait.

It flows downhill without resisting. If it finds a rock in its path it simply splits itself and continues around it. If it comes up against an impassable barrier, it pools. Water is patient and flexible. Water nourishes. Water changes things subtly and slowly over time, consistently wearing away objects that seem impossibly firm and resolute simply by being consistent. It is not in a hurry. It is different things to different beings without changing its nature in any way.

Hmmmm. No wonder I love the rain.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

This is what a car looks like after a 600 pound cow lands on it. On. It. Not hit by it as the cow crosses the road, but hurtles downward, having fallen off a cliff, and lands squarely on the hood of a minivan. I'm betting these tourists are wishing they'd purchased the extra insurance on their rental car. I'm also betting that this particular trip to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate their anniversary might cause them to reconsider next year's destination. Perhaps they ought to find a place where meerkats roam. Or cockroaches. Stay away from cattle ranches. They narrowly escaped injury this time, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Legacy of Shame

Do I wish I had escaped the legacy of shame that started with the sexual molestation I suffered when I was eight years old? Sure. I suppose. It seems a little absurd to me to even think that way, though, because it did happen. If I'm going there, though, I have to say that I wish it in a pretty global way. I wish the person who taught that 17 year old boy that it was important to wield power over little girls by ravaging their bodies hadn't taught him that. It is hard for me to separate my experience from his. As angry as I was with him for choosing to act in that way, I can't help but wonder how he was broken. I doubt he truly understood why he was doing what he was. I know in my soul that he will someday, if he hasn't already, suffer some torment either by spending time in prison or by coming to terms with what he did. That doesn't make me feel better.

This morning the question that came to me was not one of punishment or revenge. The thoughts that bubbled up to the surface of my psyche had to do with the origin of my reactions to the way he treated me. For the first twenty years after I suffered the abuse my brain walled it off like some foreign body inside of me. I was not allowed to remember or process it. As grateful as I am to the inner workings of my brain for trying to protect me from this, I am dismayed that it didn't quite work. While the actual scenario was hidden from me my reaction to it was not. My primary response was to feel shame. Hot, vile-smelling, acid-producing shame. Shame that roiled in my belly for decades and sometimes still does. That shame prompted me to work extraordinarily hard every day to craft a shell of perfection around myself. That shame told me that I was not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough. That shame convinced me that I would never be loved unless I fooled everyone around me and made them believe I was something I was not. Something better.

As I begin to peel away the layers of shame and humiliation I sit and envision the real me as one of the tiniest in the set of Russian nesting dolls. Year after year I made good grades, did everything that was asked of me, plastered a smile on my face and ingratiated my way into the heart of every teacher I ever had in order to make people believe that I wasn't the white trash scum I knew I was. Every mistake I made added fuel to the small fire of shame that perpetually sat in my gut and threatened to burn outward and destroy the full body mask I presented to my friends and family.

I am curious about the origin of shame. Why, as an eight year old who trusted her babysitter, did I feel shame at being violated by her son? Why did I automatically assume I was the one at fault? Was it because I didn't cry for help? Was it because I had already been taught that I was unworthy unless I worked hard to prove otherwise? Did I somehow feel as though I had done something to deserve this? Was it the loss of power? Lying in the dark smelly bedroom of this greasy-haired 17 year old boy being sexually traumatized over and over again I certainly felt powerless. As an eight year old girl did I already understand the importance of power enough to lament losing it? Why did that shame continue to impact my every decision for the next two and a half decades, even after I was able to recall the abuse?

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. While I mourn for the loss of innocence of that eight year old girl, she somehow accepted her fate in a way that made her stronger. I am who I am today because of my struggle to become better. I did not physically harm myself in any way that left lasting scars, nor did I aspire to integrate the lessons I learned about sexual power in an effort to victimize others. At this point, I am only seeking understanding of the aftermath of sexual abuse for myself and others and I have nothing but compassion. Don't get me wrong, I am sickened and angered by the prevalence of sexual abuse. I have my moments of pure hot red rage for pedophiles and rapists. I just don't happen to have any for the one who victimized me anymore. I'm not thanking him, but I don't want to kill him, either. I just want to understand why I expected so much from that little eight year old girl that I made her feel ashamed of something she had no control over.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bear With Me

I am all about balance. I'm the middle kid - the peacemaker in my family. Chocolate is one of my dearest friends, but I adore broccoli and brussel sprouts and tomatoes and grapes, too. Whole grains? Bring 'em on. Full-fat cheeses? Mmmm, yummy. Finding balance is an obsession for me. Normally. Call me a Libra.
However, I'm at the tail end of the Libra calendar - close to Scorpio-ness. Which means I'm also passionate and idealistic. And when it comes to injustices I throw the balance out with the bathwater and the whole damn tub. Give me justice or listen to me lecture. And cry. And scream. And follow you around until you see the world from my point of view.

All of this means that I wish I had a vaccine that would rid the world of certain horrid things. Topping my list of abhorrent vices is sexual abuse. As I struggled to keep up with my dog on our walk yesterday I began to acknowledge that in all reality, I need to sprinkle all of this with a dash of Libra to temper the Scorpio. Sexual trauma is perpetuated exponentially in cycles. The vast majority of people who victimize others by molesting or raping them were victims themselves. They learned that the way to maintain power was to become the abuser. They were taught that power was the objective. They embraced this lesson in a desperate act of self-preservation.

As my stomach twisted around itself my mind slowly and methodically began working at the knots. Believing in some utopian reality where sexual abuse no longer exists is useless. Turning my back on it because of this is equally as useless. Is it possible for me to find some balance here? Can I work to help create a place where there is less sexual powerlust and have that be enough for me? Can I accept that I will not change the world in some dramatic fashion but be satisfied knowing that I have changed one person's experience for the better?

As the day and night wore on and I continued to wedge my fingertips through the twists and turns of this knot I found myself picking up Lin Jensen's book "Pavement." Here is his take on my struggle:
"The world has a place for each of us that no one else can fill. I try to remember that when I find myself in some place where I'd rather not be. Maybe I don't want to be standing in line with my bag of groceries waiting to be checked out, or turning the compost heap on a hot afternoon with sweat soaking my shirt and trickling into my eyes....But if this is where I am, then this is where my life is taking place at this moment. It's not that I couldn't do something different....It's just that whenever I resist present circumstances, I'm resisting my own life. ... It doesn't really matter much whether I like being here or not. What matters is that I be faithful to the life I'm given and not forfeit myself in its rejection. ... To be truly and wholly present even for the present moment is to be vulnerable, without defenses of any sort. It is here that the boundary that fear constructs between myself and others dissolves. The heart is drawn out of hiding and the inherent sympathetic response called compassion arises. I cease seeking my own personal happiness at the expense of others because I see that the suffering of others is my suffering was well...In my actual life, the nation is at war and people are dying because of that. I wish with all my heart that it were otherwise. I wish my country and its people were known for their qualities of mercy and kindness rather than for their reliance on the use of force. I might rather remain in the seclusion of my own house and read comforting novels by Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy....But I've chosen instead to show up for life as it is, to bring whatever gentleness I can manage to the streets of my town, where anyone and everyone can see that I'm here."

'Nuff said.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Would it be Wrong to Say, "I Told You So?"

It's been pretty quiet around here for the past two days. Unusually quiet. The crud that's making its way through each set of lungs and nostrils and throats in my daughters' school finally settled here and we've been burning through the Tylenol and Motrin trying to keep fevers down. My oldest daughter woke up Thursday morning with no voice and an incredibly sore throat and my youngest coughed her way through to lunchtime.

Now that we're on day two of staying home sick I'm realizing what a blessing this is. While I hate it when my kids are sick, the mantra I've been chanting to them for the past six months, "It takes two people to argue" is only just becoming clear to them. On a typical day I act as the repository for tattletaling of all kinds - 'she hit me,' 'she's making mean faces at me,' 'she won't leave me alone,' etc. I encourage kind words, enhanced communication in an effort to avoid misunderstandings, and when all else fails, ignoring your sister. If I have told them once, I've told them a million times - walking away will always end the argument. When there is nobody to react to you, it's not fun anymore. My youngest daughter is the instigator most of the time and she is often quite open about the jolt she gets from provoking her older sibling. Her older sister, the principled one, just can't resist fighting back and trying to 'educate' her sister about why what she is doing is wrong.

For the past two days, she's had no choice but to resist fighting back. The first day was rough, but by now she is so used to not being able to utter a word, the impulse is not even there any more. On the way to the doctor's office this morning, my youngest made some of her most annoying faces at her sister. Nothing.

"You're faking it! You aren't sick - you just want more attention!" she screamed.


"Hmph!" she crossed her arms and looked out the window.

It's the most peaceful morning drive I've had since four years ago when my youngest began talking in complete sentences. This afternoon they have watched TV without arguing about who gets to choose the show. They have sat at the kitchen table and painted pictures side-by-side without offering any mean-spirited critique of each other's art work. I have watched the comments roll right off of my eldest daughter's back without even an eye roll. My youngest has struggled with the frustration that comes from not having her thrown gauntlet retrieved and flung back at her. It took a day and a half, but she has finally turned her attentions to bugging me. Well, I'm not biting. The peace and quiet around here have been too glorious for words.
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