Friday, July 27, 2012

As Compared To What

I'm tall (5'8"+), for those of you who don't know me in person. Historically, I have also been very thin. I'm more of an average build these days which I am not exactly thrilled about, but I'm also well aware that I'm within the healthy weight range. As a kid, I was super scrawny and hated it. I have a picture that was taken from behind while I was horseback riding and most people who see it guess my age at about 12 or 13. That picture was taken when I was 21. In college, I was this height, a size 2/4 and thought I was fat.

Too skinny. Too fat. Too tall. (turns out i was just too crazy)


Right now, our daughter is exactly where I was at her age. Super slender, taller than everyone she knows, and starting to slouch. She doesn't talk about it much, but I know what she's thinking about wanting to not be skinny, and how I wish I could open up her head and pour my knowledge and experience with this into it. But since that isn't possible, I've tried to reiterate to her that she is exactly how she needs to be right now, she comes from parents who were both very thin kids, and that one day she will be very happy that she is made this way.

Not to be left out, our son, who still has the teensy-tiniest bit of the baby belly (just enough to poke out when he's eaten, thinks that he is "chunky".  His words. Will is almost as slender as Celi - like we have to buy slim pants or the kind with the adjustable waist. He could wear some of his clothes forever because he just got taller, never wider. He also hates his amazing blond curls and wants to have "straight brown hair" instead.

I swear to all that is holy, that we have never put them down, and have never said anything other than positive things about the way they look and who they are. Personally, I am an awful self critic but I really try not to voice these criticisms around the kids. Where, then, did this issue originate? It scares me for all kinds of reasons that probably go without saying - anorexia, bulimia, insecurity, and a host of others. Why do they feel they are they not enough, even at the tender ages of 8 and 10, and despite the best efforts of their parents? I feel like a failure in this regard. We have tried so hard to ward off body image problems et al and yet here we are. It's very disheartening and scary.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start preaching on this blog, but I have always liked the verse in Psalms where David writes, "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." I believe this is true. The human animal is the most complex and amazing thing on the planet, and yet we look in the mirror with a mental red pen, marking all the things that are wrong. We tell our children that there is only one of them, ever, and that is the honest truth. Biologically, you are the only you there ever is or ever will be, and yet we are always "too" something, or not enough something else. Why is it so hard to believe this? Is this an American thing? Anxiety thing? I don't know but I don't like it.

We KNOW that comparing ourselves to others is ridiculous, yet we don't quit (well maybe some of you do - if you are one of these people, by all means, please tell me your secret). If we were all meant to be exactly alike, we would be exactly alike, right? But I still want to be thinner, wealthier, prettier, smarter, funnier, etc, and apparently my children do too.  In thinking about this post, I wandered around the Internet and found this http://tinybuddha.com/blog/stop-comparing-yourself-to-others/ and it really resonated with me. Be your best self because really, that is all you can do. Comparing with someone else is a totally fruitless exercise because we can never BE someone else, no matter how hard we try.

Does anyone else struggle with this? Do your children? Please, talk to me.

And because it makes me feel good every time I watch it, I'll leave you with this:

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Children Are In Cahoots - We Are Probably Doomed.

It's no secret that three out of the four Connellys take medicine for various mood and attention problems. Cecilia is the only one of us who is mostly sane, and even she can be a bit of a question mark sometimes. Will has been taking Strattera for quite a while and it has been extremely helpful and with basically non-existent side effects. The only problem we have is that he doesn't take a pill very well, or at all, so we've been opening the capsule to mix with applesauce in order for him to get it down. Y'all, let me tell you what. That is the nastiest tasting stuff you've ever come across. Truly awful.

A couple of months ago though, we convinced him to try to swallow the capsule whole. It isn't large at all and it would be way less disgusting. He did this the first couple of times with our supervision and we were thrilled. After a few days, we began letting him just take it on his own - every once in awhile I would watch him take it just to be sure that everything was cool. "You are doing great!", I told him. "Way to go!"

And then I noticed that he wasn't really quite himself. I chalked it up to being out of routine, summertime stuff, not enough physical activity etc. But there wasn't anything really major going on so I dismissed my passing thought and went about my business. However, about a month ago, I was refolding the beach towels that live under the sink in the powder room and lo and behold, here I find several capsules of his medication. Fantastic. So I call him to me, show him the medicine and ask him what was going on. He confessed to everything, was very sorry, was not going to do it again etc etc etc. I reiterated to him why we give him the medicine and how important it was that we know exactly what is going on with it, not to mention the dishonesty and waste of money. Case closed, or so I thought.

Recently, the children went out of town with their grandparents. Upon their return, Lawton pulled me aside and told me that my MIL gave him reason to think that the "cheeking" as I named it, was still going on. Apparently she found out that he had spit medicine into the toilet and wanted us, rightfully so, to know about it. Here is where the plot thickens: she also seemed to think that Cecilia knew about this practice, which apparently was ongoing behind their completely oblivious parent's backs. Super fantastic. We decided the only thing we could do was call them out on it, rather than trying to catch them in the act.

Brought in the abettor first and employed some serious interrogation techniques, such as follows:

"Cecilia. Do you know anything about Will not taking his medicine?" "Booohooooo hooo hooo booohooo, I'm sorry, I didn't want to tell on him! Boo hoo hoo" and so forth.

See? Torture will get you everywhere. Just call her Cecila "Stonewall" Connelly. (eye roll)

Next up - the culprit himself. "William. Have you been spitting out your medicine?" "I'm soooo sorryyy! Booo hoo hoo! I'm sooorrryyyy!!!" "Why didn't you tell us you were having a hard time with it?" "I just didn't want you to think I was a baby! Booohoohooo! I'm sooooo ssooorryyyy!"

Wow. He's just as tough a nut as she is. Be afraid. (eye roll)

Anyway, we told him that we obviously have to go back to the old way and gave the lecture about honestly, his health, medication safety etc, and sent him on his way. Then we called the girl-child back over and talked to her about the difference between being a snitch, and getting us involved because of health/safety concerns. I tried to draw a parallel between that and not getting an adult if someone was being bullied so hopefully she gets it.

Lawton and I just stared at each other for a few seconds after the kids went about their business. We were more than amazed by two things. One, we got rolled by an eight year old. Bad. Like he pulled it off in front of us, more than once. Two, his sister, who loves nothing more than for her brother to get in trouble, did not tell on him. I couldn't decide whether to be mad or proud - I guess I really was kind of both. This does not bode well for the teenage years if they keep this up...we need to step up our game apparently! Sheesh.

Anyone else's kids pull the wool over their eyes like this? Do your children go in cahoots with each other?


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Friday, July 20, 2012

Horsepower...Does Not Always Mean Strength and Speed


Holly Grace - survivor of starvation, healer of hearts

At some point in their lives, many young girls have fallen in love with horses. The beautiful flowing manes, the soft muzzles and picture of the handsome prince astride his steed on the way to rescue the fair maiden has a timeless appeal. I would bet that most outgrow this fascination but some retain it into adolescence and beyond. What's interesting about this interest is that once you spend time with horses, you will realize that what they bring to you far exceeds what you bring to them. 

Currently my family is volunteering with a local horse rescue organization, LEARN, because we wanted something we could do together and that we all enjoyed. Over the past two months, I find myself finding myself again. I was that girl - the one with the Breyer and Barbie horses, the one reading The Black Stallion series, and the one who wrangled every moment of horse time I could as a younger person. But by the time I got married and began a family, this interest became a distant memory and a far away dream. 


As a 30-something (a-HEM) year old woman, my girlhood notions have all but vanished, but my time spent volunteering with LEARN have given them a new slant. Where I used to want to gallop and jump, now I'm content to pet, groom and just talk to them. Some of this is because my body is certainly not what it used to be, but mostly I just simply enjoy being with them. Winston Churchill said it best: "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." These words have been repeated in the horse world an infinite number of times, and I have believed this statement my entire life. 

Just last night, I had my own small moment of grace. While helping take care of the horses, I severely bruised my arm, was really struggling with my stupid foot arthritis and about knocked myself unconscious when I hit my head on the oh-sh*t handle of the "mule" (a suped up gas powered golf cart for lack of a better description). None of these things were anyone's fault, but I was starting to feel a little beat up and picked on by the end of the night.

I shed a few tears over the probably dented noggin but then I slipped some treats in my pocket and scaled the fence to go visit with my favorite horse, a bottomless pit of sweetness named Holly Grace. It was totally dark and I could just make out the individual mares as they milled around trying to get into my pockets for the goodies their keen sense of smell told them were there. 

For the most part, none of the normal pecking order pushing around happened - we just hung out. My tears (yes, I cried - my head hurt so bad, I was tired, hungry and frustrated so be quiet) stopped rolling and I began to feel better. It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when a crooked legged little pony is gently pulling on your shorts pocket with her soft lips, her nosy pasture buddy is checking out your pony tail and another one is blowing sweet warm breath on your ear. I spent less than ten quiet minutes with these animals and my entire attitude changed. Just like that. 

The way I felt my spirits lift was minor in comparison to the experiences of some who have suffered far worse and yet I'm finding that the more and more time I spend in the company of the animal that changed modern human-kind, the more I find myself in touch with my own humanity.  I'm not naive about horses - I know that they aren't all super wonderful magical beings. There are a few who, given the opportunity, will hurt you. But some, like Holly Grace among many others, will heal you, will sooth your hurts and will somehow carry you through some of your darkest hours. There is indeed, something about the outside of a horse...



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Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Jack Russell Terrier Is Actually A Water Buffalo In Disguise. Or Maybe A Wildebeest.

Three years ago this July 4th, we were celebrating the holiday with our neighbors the usual way with grilling, socializing, imbibing a frosty beverage or two - fairly average behavior all in all. Our dog, who is always on my husband's heels was right up in the thick of it, having a grand time since all other dogs were contained in their houses due to her completely rude, crude and socially unacceptable behavior. Having all the humans to herself, Winnie became quite the party animal, visiting and snitching treats at every opportunity.

Around 10PM, it was decided that the time was right for the fireworks. Personally, I was anticipating some bottle rockets, roman candles, sparklers etc. What I was not expecting was a reenactment of the Battle of Fort Sumter to happen in front of my driveway. Truth be told, it was a miracle no one was hurt but I came to realize long ago that God protects the morons, and so we all walked away unscathed.

As we came in to get the kids ready for bed, I realized our dog was missing. So for the next three hours, Lawton and I took turns cruising the neighborhood looking for her. At 2AM we were about to call off the search for the night, both dreading telling the kids she was missing when they woke up. Lawton took one more lap around the hood and lo and behold here came Winnie running down the road towards his truck. Brought her home and realized that she had been given a bath. Uh. Okay. Anyway, dog was home and crisis was averted. For then.

Ever since that night, Winnie has been terrified of thunder, fireworks, gunfire and the like, which has made our lives very exciting on more than one occasion. Not only is it amazing to wake to a huge clap of thunder in the middle of the night, now we also have a vibrating twelve pound animal in our bed, whose "coping strategies" include tunneling around under the covers, panting wildly in our faces and wanting me to carry her around. I've tried all manner of medication, and for whatever reason, she is completely immune. Benadryl doesn't even slow her down. Neither does Xanax or Valium. Dog is an ox in Jack Russell clothing.

This past 4th, I secured a secret weapon. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I came home with some Ace, which is commonly used to sedate horses. Oh yes, you read that right. HORSES. So there! Giddy with anticipation, I call for the dog - no answer. Check around the house - nothing.  Um. Go back to the garage and ask my menfolk where she is and am assured she was inside. Which she wasn't. Apparently Lawton and Will had been doing some minor firework prep and Winnie was not secured inside as she should have been, so she left. We began the search around the neighborhood and eventually located her, thank goodness, because I probably would have been on the news for the world's largest hissy fit if we hadn't.

We gave her a few minutes to calm down and I gave her the medicine tout de suite. About half an hour passed, and I began to think that she was some kind of animatronic dog because nothing seemed to be happening. Then, about ten minutes later, the synapses pulled away from each other or something and my puppy dog was high as a kite. Eyes half closed, walking a little sideways, needing to lie down while crossing the room...it was amazing. I laughed, Lawton fretted over her, and fireworks went off all over the place and she did not give a damn. It was an awesome 4th - Winnie slept all night with no panting or tunneling and so did we. And so, I would say the lesson to be learned here is this is why you make friends with people who have better meds than you do. The end.



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Monday, July 2, 2012

Benevolent Dictatorship. It Has A Nice Ring To It, Don't You Think?

So I have recently come to the conclusion that I would be an exceptional dictator. While I do possess a weee bit of a temper, I'm pretty reasonable and decent overall. This being said, I think my ruling style would be more like how you parent a toddler, rather than with an iron fist. It would be a kind of "I'm doing this because I love you" thing rather than "I'm doing this because I'm bat shit crazy and want to create a police city state of marauding housecats".

Here are some of the things I would be in charge of:

Television. Reality TV as we know it would cease to exist. Sponge Bob would quietly pass over into the great beyond, complete with state funeral broadcast to the masses. There would be no housewives of anywhere other than the ones who actually live like normal people and who haven't pulled anyone's hair since they were in pre-school. The cable companies would actually have to show different shows and good movies, rather than three hundred channels of repeats and movies that no one went to see in the movie theater. Oh, and cable news networks and their yelling shows would be gone in entirety.

Walmart. No longer the bain of the human existence, Walmart would be forced to change their style to more like Target, and actually have enough cashiers and registers to support the hordes of people shopping in their stores. They would also have a dress code so that this horrendous people of Walmart trend would end. The rule would be that they can only be a certain size and cannot leave a ginormous empty box store and parking lot when they decide to upgrade their facility - renovation instead of new construction. Lastly, there would be parameters about how many there can be in one area so that making the trip over there for savings would have to be worth it, therefore encouraging people to buy their daily necessities from local vendors. Oh yes, and sparkling clean restrooms, complete with working hand dryers.

Soap With Suncreen In It: everyone I know who knows anything about science says this will not work. I say to them that if someone somewhere can grow a human ear on the back of a mouse, surely someone can bypass the laws of nature and make this happen. I mean lipids and whatnot pale in comparison to smashing atoms apart in order to find the "God particle"! Think about how much easier it would be to not have to reapply sunscreen to a sandy, sweaty and whining six year old. This can happen people, I have declared it therefore it must be so!

And last, but most certainly not least, I'd be in charge of Facebook, Twitter etc. No, you cannot be hateful to people who have different opinion. No, we don't need to see pictures of your every meal. Yes, your constant bragging is annoying. Self taken duck face pics in your car's rear view mirror? Absolutely not! Yes, you will do some at least basic fact checking before creating pandemonium amongst your 3579 friends and beyond. No, life isn't nearly as perfect as you'd like for us all to believe. ETCETERA!

I have many, many more of these, as I'm sure do you. What would you do in your "benevolent dictatorship"? Tell me so I know what to expect!






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