Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Babygazing has got to be located somewhere in the realm of the divine. An evening spent burying our feet in the sandbox, playing "fish" in the bathtub, and lap-reading for an extended time felt so great it was almost spiritual. Peering in at the little boy asleep in stillness topped the experience with pure bliss. Could it be that the free 'Yoga in the Gardens" session that I went to last night carried over into my parenting?

Could be.

At this very time, I've also been reading a soulful book titled "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule. The book is filled with gentle reminders about the intricacy and delicacy of childhood. How it's important to engage your children in meaningful activities, especially natural and artistic pursuits. How you should appreciate the sensitivities of a child. The passage that I remember the most was about how it's essential to appreciate when your child goes jumping in puddles and playing in the mud because of the crucial learning opportunities they provide. These are natural, tactile adventures. It's all about exploration and spontaneity and experimentation. You could get mad, or you could get mindful.

Soule points to mindful parenting in the resources section of the book. Interested in learning more about where Soule may have learned some of her own unique parenting skills, I did a little research about it. Bingo! Just what I needed.

When I was a brand-new first-time mother of a newborn, the most grounding habit I took up was my yoga hour on Saturday mornings. Afterwords, I approached my son much more gently and the intimidation of new motherhood seemed a little more surmountable. But I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Now I see that the connection between yoga and mindful parenting is phenomenal. Last night, while I was slowing down my breath and thoughts on that beautiful manicured lawn, moving my body gently on all different planes, and being reminded to feel the earth beneath my feet, my patience was restored and "hurry up" was eliminated from my routine. My relationship with my son last night was all the better for it as I was being mindful of the sand shoes on my feet and being sensitive to my son's whims and curiosities.

I can feel what nurturing myself and slowing down does for my own body, and now I clearly and firmly recognize what it does for my child.

We're Painting the Roses Red

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

With inspiration from articles like this from Apartment Therapy, my husband and I decided to paint the ugly wood paneling in our upstairs hallway. Failing to take "before" pictures, I have an "after" shot and a shot of the paneling by the stairs that we have yet to finish (we're still trying to figure out how to paint that high up).

This gives you an idea of what the wood paneling looked like before:


And the finished hallway after:


Yeah, that's how dramatic it was! Our wood paneling was as ugly as is imaginable. It was old, cheap, thin and smudged. There were random nail holes probably from the previous owner's picture montage or something. We weren't sure whether painting wood paneling would look rather grungy-hotel cheap or not. We talked in passing about drywalling over it, but that seemed even more daunting.

So, we went for it. All we did was prime the walls with two coats and paint it. We used about two coats of low VOC white gloss paint straight from the can, since white is the furthest thing from dark deathlike wood. (Gloss is also easier to clean, and should we need to touch anything up, we obviously won't have to worry about getting the exact shade right.) The amount of light that now penetrates the hallway is about 50-fold. I'm not even exaggerating. It was so dark and stagnant up there before. We use the same single hall light as before. Previously, you could barely see what was on the floor. Now, the timid hall light actually seems super bright.

Before, we had to open several doors so light from the windows would lighten the dark. In fact, I was sure that nothing short of carving a skylight in the ceiling would cure the darkness. Now, we can have all the doors closed and still see the sun on the walls. And it looks rather tasteful. No dingy motel vibe whatsoever.

This has got to be my favorite home project yet. And I have to say, painting is one of my least favorite things to do in life. Actually I hate it almost as much as going to the dentist. But this project likened me to it again in a big way. If feng shui has any merit, the chi is totally flowing in a tangible way through this hallway now. It looks bigger, I can breathe stronger in it, and the light of the sun is penetrating in such a healing way.

Yes, you CAN paint over wood paneling!

Writing Announcement

Monday, June 6, 2011

I have an announcement to make concerning an essay I entered into the New American Dream essay contest: I am in the top 25! Round one consisted of a "popularity contest" where you had to get your friends to vote for your essay. They had to sign up for the site in order to do so, so I'm sure I missed some votes just because of that. I was sure that I wouldn't make it through just based on the "vote for me" criteria. But, out of 488 entries, I indeed made it past the first stage!

Now, I'm in the top 25 for a chance at $10,000, a Caribbean trip, or a Visa gift card. There are 7 prizes total, giving me a 28% chance of winning at least something. Yes, I totally did the math. This round will be judged by a panel of expert judges based on creativity, clarity, and such. And not to sound conceited in any form of the word, but I read some of the other entries and I'm not sure others took the "essay" part of the contest very seriously. I've got a good shot here!

My biggest hope is to win, not so much for the prizes involved (although I'll probably faint with excitement and gladly take a trip to the ocean or mortgage lender's office), but for the accolades winning would give me for my writing career. Sweet!

I'll keep you posted.