"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rice Experiment: Called on Account of the Smell

If we were to follow this experiment the way it was written, we would have kept and observed the rice for thirty days. Unfortunately, I hadn't factored in 1) Summer in Phoenix, and 2) the inexpensive, not-very-well-sealed, dollar store containers I put it in. We got to about Day 5 before the smell of decaying rice threatened to take over our kitchen (and by extension our entire house).

All three containers ended up molding, but in very different ways...

The hated rice was by far the worst. It had turned brown, and slimy, and stuck together. The tiny of spot of mold had rapidly grown into huge, black, ugly splotches of cancer.

The ignored rice was next.  It also got the big, black spots of mold... several of them, in fact... but the rice itself stayed relatively white and fluffy.

And our loved rice?  It had started to change colors like the hated rice, and it got some fluffy white mold on the top.  The biggest difference though, was the lack of black mold.  It had just a couple of small spots, and was not overrun with it like the other two.

It occurred to me at some point that we were unfairly influencing the experiment because we wanted the loved rice to stay clean the longest. We believed that it would make a difference. Then I realized that that was sort of the whole point... that we BELIEVE the positive energy that we're sending.

I believe in the Law of Attraction, because I see it manifest itself in my life (and in others') again and again. And I see it manifest itself because I believe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

We Have Mold!!

I was handing Everett the container with our "hated" rice this morning, so he could give it his daily dose of evil diatribe, when Paxton suddenly stopped me.  "Wait, what's that?  I think I see mold!"  I turned it around in my hands, and sure enough, a small, black spot of mold is indeed forming near the bottom of the rice.  We carefully inspected the loved rice and the ignored rice, and both are still white and fluffy, with no signs of decay.  Awesome.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Rice Experiment

Everett has been asking to do a lot of science experiments lately. We signed up for this weekly newsletter, which has given us some fun ideas,  we've been pulling out the various science books we've gotten over the years, and we've been looking around the internet.

The experiment we started today is a famous experiment by Masaru Emoto.  Emoto is an entrepreneur and doctor of alternative medicine who has done extensive research into the idea that words, thoughts, or even music directed at water before it is frozen will influence its crystallization.  He claims that positive energy will make the crystals beautiful, while negative energy (or no energy at all) will do the opposite.  He has published many books, including many volumes of a work entitled Messages From Water, that explain his viewpoints and his research.  This site has a nice explanation of his work and some very cool pictures of some of his crystals. 

This experiment is a take on the same theory, using rice instead of water. 

Take three identical containers and fill them with cooked rice.  Label one with "I love you," one with "I hate you," and leave the third unlabeled.  Now, talk to the rice!  Speak the words on the containers every day for a month (loving words to the "loved" container, and hateful words to the "hated" container) and completely ignore the unlabeled container.   Wait and watch for what happens, or doesn't happen, as the rice ferments and goes bad.

Today was Day One.  And while the kids mostly seemed to get a kick out of the whole thing, I discovered (or reaffirmed really) that I really don't like saying hateful things.   Even to rice.

Words, words, words

I love words.

Paxton's favorite word at the moment is touché. He loves that word, and works it into the conversation as much as possible (which is surprisingly often)

The words most likely to tickle Spencer are either medical terms or cooking techniques. It's not unusual for him to spout out a fact about a myocardial infarction, or instruct whoever's cooking dinner to carmelize the onions.

Everett is at the beautiful age where he of course talks with more commandment of the English language than Tegan, but still occasionally, and adorably, mispronounces something. And for her part, though she has a GIANT vocabulary for a two year old, Tegan is mostly enthralled with potty words right now.

I love big words that roll on my tongue, words like mellifluous and superfluous and cacophony. I love small words too, small words with big meanings: joy, peace, grace, love.

Yes, I love words.

I'm also highly irritated by words. Good or bad, I can't turn down my sensitivity to words. Things like Twitter and Facebook are at times akin to torture (and in fact the inspiration for this blog) to someone like me.

Though I seldom do it myself, swearing does not bother me. I'm far more likely to be offended by words like "hate" or "stupid" or racial or homophobic slurs than I am by a curse word. I find it offensive when people use the word "retarded", or any of its derivatives, for something other than its correct usage. Crude slang terms for any female - or male for that matter - body parts tend to make my skin crawl.

But the words that make me the MOST crazy, for whatever reason, are the popular internet abbreviated words. I. cannot. stand. the word "hubby." Or "peeps." Or "bestie." I don't like the word "kiddo." I hate it when people leave the g off the end of 'ing' words. (I mean really, is it too much work to say you are hanging instead of hangin???) An email address is an ADDRESS, not an "addy", and details are DETAILS, not "deets" AAAAAAAAA!!! I never in my life called the New England Patriots the Pats, or the Boston Red Sox the BoSox.

Abbreviations and altered words bring almost near the amount of irritation I feel when someone uses the word "your" when he means "you're", or when they use an apostrophe when they pluralize something.

Why does something so admittedly ridiculous bother me? I have no idea. Sometimes it's rather exhausting being me. And sadly, I seem to be passing this on to my children. None of the boys use any sort of abbreviations when they chat online (with the exception of the requisite LOL), and Spencer just told me that one of his Facebook friends frequently uses the word "kewl" instead of "cool" when he chats with her, and it drives him so crazy he almost can't be friends with her. Ha.

I understand, Spencer. I understand.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Instinct, and Keeping My Kids Close

The past two weeks have been fun ones for the kids, and odd ones for me.  Spencer spent six days up at Mom and Dad's, where he helped around the house, ran errands, went off roading, helped change a flat tire, and just generally enjoyed himself.  He came home on Saturday, and Everett and Paxton went up in his place.  The highlight of their trip, I believe, was the awesome summer storm (and resulting rainbow) that they got to experience while they were there.  We have yet to have any rain in Phoenix this season, and they were thrilled to get the opportunity to play in it in Camp Verde.

They're all home now, and everything is once again right in my world.

I love that they have such a good time there, and I'm so thankful that they have grandparents who are involved in their lives, but I feel so... "off", for lack of a better word, when any of the kids aren't around. It's not so much that I miss them (and of course I DO miss them, terribly) as it is that I feel unsettled, on edge, confused even. I just don't feel right.

As they grow and gain more and more independence, some of those feelings shift and change in response to their own comfort levels. Spencer, I'm pretty sure, could quite happily move in with my parents for good, and as long as he had plenty of food and a comfortable couch to nap on, his thoughts of home would be few and far between. I know that, so it was easier to reconcile his being away to that of Everett, who's only six and still really looks to me for help, comfort, and reassurance.

Still, a mama bear likes to know that all her cubs are nearby.

I count that instinct, that primal gut feeling, as the single most influential key to the way that I parent, and indeed to the way I life my life. We were given instincts for a reason! I will forever fail to understand why anyone would follow the advice of a book, or a friend, or an "expert", even if it goes against their own natural sense of what feels right. Something I hear all the time from new mothers is how much they hate to hear their babies cry it out alone in their cribs, but that they knew they need to do it.

Why? Why do they need to do it? And no, no they don't need to do it so their babies can learn to self-soothe and sleep on their own. I have three boys who were never left alone to cry a day in their lives; boys who are happy and adjusted and have no sleep issues whatsoever. And they slept beside me as infants and toddlers, not because anyone told me they needed to, and not because it was the accepted thing to do (God knows my choices are not popular ones) but because it felt right. They needed to be close to their mom.

And spanking and other forms of punishment, done for the child's "own good?" Does it really, at the end of the day, feel right? For me it does not.

I don't pretend to know what other people feel in their heart of hearts. But I know that for me, any time I have ever regretted a parental decision it's because I listened to something other than my own inner voice. I have never, in thirteen and a half years of being a parent, have had so much as a second thought when I trusted my God-given instinct.. that internal gut feeling that tells us when something is right or wrong.

My hope for my kids, for all my kids, is that they learn to listen to that inner voice as well. Not just in parenting, but in all things.... and that they know - and respond accordingly - that if something just doesn't feel right for them, it's probably not.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Land of the Free

I was in a mood on the fourth of July. For 364 days of the year, I don't think about New Hampshire... it never enters my consciousness at all. But on the fourth of the July, I miss our tiny NH town and its holiday festivities. I don't even know if it's the actual town I miss, so much as it is the idea of it... the whole All-American, baseball-and-apple-pie, small town goodness of it all. We'd watch the parade (and the kids would happily scramble to catch us much candy as they could, tossed from the passing floats), walk through the vendors eating our hot dogs and cotton candy, and return later in the evening to claim our spot on the hill to watch the fireworks overhead.

There were of course lots of various places to watch fireworks around the valley, as well as celebrations, parades, and concerts... but we've never been before, they were sure to be crowded, a lot of them cost money, and many were far away.

So we spent the greater part of the morning of the 4th sitting - and occasionally moping - around, trying to decide what to do. As exciting as that was, we really didn't want to spend the entire long weekend doing it. So at the last minute, we called Mom and Dad and invited ourselves up north. They can watch fireworks right from their driveway, and because they're far away, the noise is not an issue (an important consideration for a 2 year old's first fireworks experience). We watched the fireworks, spent the night, and ended up having a beautiful day driving and geocaching in the Mogollon Rim, the likes of which we couldn't have experienced in Andover, New Hampshire.

All in all, an unexpectedly nice weekend, and a really lovely holiday.

Dressed for bed and ready for the fireworks:

Camping on Maba's floor:

I was about to write that this had nothing to do with Independence Day... then realized it had everything to do with Independence Day.  Paxton and Everett trying on their great grandfather's custom-made Navy dress blues from World War II.  I miss him, and wish the kids could have known him.

Mogollon Rim, another beautiful corner of the world:

Happy Fourth of July to all.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Every religion on the planet, and there are so many more than you are even aware of, has the potential of absolute thriving. But when you think that you must prove that you have the only one that is right—and you use your condemnation to push against the others—your condemnation separates you from your own connection that, before your condemnation, you were finding in your own religion.

Several years ago, sometime during that mired haze between having one child and having four, we stopped attending church. Though there was plenty of turmoil in the church we went to at the time, we didn't leave because of the drama, hadn't engaged in any fight. We didn't leave in a huff, and we didn't leave to prove a point to anyone. We left quietly... simply stopped going, as much to move toward a better relationship with God, as to move away from a unhealthy environment. No one asked us why we left (they seemed to prefer to come to their own conclusions) and we never really offered up an explanation.

Though there were a few reasons, this quote reminds me of perhaps the strongest one.

Mike and I both grew up in churches that were very... set in their ways, to put it kindly. Intolerant, to be a little more blunt. This was a church that believed its way was the only way, that any deviation large or small would not only be incorrect, but be sinful. I'm not proud to admit it, but I was one of the worst ones! I remember when one family left to attend a different church. It was the family of a good friend of mine, and while I of course missed my friend, I was also terribly curious as to where they landed once they left. When they were inevitably gossiped about - in that hushed, whispered, let's pray for their souls kind of way - I found out. They were attending a Methodist church. ! Oh the scandal! As ludicrous as seems now, I was flabbergasted. How could they do that, when they knew the truth? What were they thinking? Didn't I know them at all?

Yes, all that judgment over another Christian denomination. Though most of the church treated them as though they'd “fallen away,” they hadn't changed religions, didn't start worshiping some other God, hadn't given up their faith. Back then, it didn't matter. Methodist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist... I knew nothing about any of them, and I wasn't allowed to ask questions. They were all lumped together. They were all WRONG.

It wasn't until I left the church as an adult that I could look back on my teenage self and truly see how egregiously wrong I'd been. It made me feel sad that I'd joined my congregation in being so judgmental, and angry that I'd been taught to look at others through such a narrow, narrow view. It made me feel small.

It was then that I decided to learn, for the first time in my life, about other religions. So I did.... by myself, and for myself. It wasn't so much that I wanted to change my religion (I never really liked the word “religion” anyway), as it was that I wanted to understand others. I wanted so badly to learn, appreciate, and yes, even EMBRACE different religions, and I knew I couldn't do that while I was continuing to be taught at the school of “This is right, everyone else is wrong.” My quest turned out to be one of the most rewarding and liberating things I'd ever done. Even now, years later, I still site that break we took from church as one of the most influential periods in both my own personal faith, and in my acceptance of others.

I'd been going nowhere in my own spiritual walk, so focused I was on getting it “right” and condemning others who'd gotten it “wrong”. I needed to break free of that limitation, and leaving that church was the catalyst that did it.

A couple of years ago, we started attending church again. It was a huge, non-denominational Christian church, with a beautiful campus, a rocking band, and a joy-filled atmosphere. It was a lovely church. I still think it's a lovely church, and a welcoming church, even though it's been awhile since we've been there. We'd been attending for just a short time when we had the opportunity to take some friends and family as our guests on a few different occasions. While a few seemed to enjoy themselves, others were compelled to critique it.

~It was too big.

~It was not reverent enough.

~It was not personal enough.

~It was more like a concert than a church service

~It was wrong that people were sitting back and enjoying themselves rather than worshiping (which was the most ridiculous to me, because 1) you can't open people up and see where their hearts are at, and what they're getting out of a particular experience, and 2) whatever else a spiritual experience may be, shouldn't it at least be enjoyable?)

The frustration I felt from these comments, and the attitude of judgment that came with them, was immense. “This judgment is why we stopped going to your church!,” I wanted to yell, but I didn't. I let them say what they needed to say. And in time, we stopped going to the new church too... partly because we had a toddler who couldn't sit through the service, and partly because the most recent of the negative comments had struck an (immensely irrational) fear in me. The ones with the strongest opinions were Christians. Is that what going to church does to you? If we got really immersed in a church again, would it happen to me too? Would I become judgmental and condemning as I once was?

What I realize now – finally – is that my negative feelings towards the church I grew up in (and my frustrations with some of the people who still go there) are no different than the judgments that I'd so carefully tried to avoid. Besides being entirely wasted and non-productive emotions, it is wrong. Their beliefs, their feelings, and their attitudes, are just that – THEIRS. And while I do fully believe that anyone who holds condemnation towards others is hindering his own journey, it does not have to hinder mine. In church or out of church, I can hold firm to my beliefs, which include loving and accepting people from ALL religions, or lack thereof, and recognizing and embracing the freedom that makes it all possible.


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