MullToo - On Our Country's Current Pain and Any Hope for Our Future.

And such a short time after the big explosions of 2016 and the #metoo movement, we're back. Feeling frustrated. Feeling triggered. And opening up our wounds to each other in the hopes that maybe it will make an impact (I've certainly sobbed my way through so many testimonials from people I love, people I hardly know, people I like on tv, and otherwise people who've suffered in an essential way). Maybe the thinking will change finally. Boy do things move slowly though.

You know what I'd like to see? Instead of women detailing their experiences and explaining why they didn't report about them, I want to hear from men. How about a #holyshitIhadnoidea hashtag for men's posts? I see that this is starting to sink through for some, and I really appreciate the men who are passionately discussing this issue. But I still feel like we could get further here.  Men who maybe realize now that they pushed boundaries and overstepped the comfortable zone of consent. Men who realize that they just assumed their daughters and sons had stayed above the fray. Men who are showing that they realize what's happening and showing that we may actually be moving past this dynamic. Every woman's got a story or several and not many of my male friends do. So there's a little dissonance there still. Not to say this hasn't happened on a smaller level. I've had some pretty intense conversations with my male friends since 2016 and I cherish the support from a handful of more vocal companions. But on a societal level, I think we need more. We need men to address toxic masculinity because it's crushing them too.

This is about human beings. Men and women are harassed and assaulted, albeit at different ratios and social pressures and systemic problems screw them both differently. This is about us respecting the essential dignity of other human beings and about defining who we are as individuals. And about recognizing there are ways our society has made that worse. Without purchase from both genders, this is gonna take a lugubrious slog through some centuries and a lot of backsliding. And when it's somebody we like it suddenly gets a lot harder. I see systemic sexism in both parties still so deeply entrenched. No hands are clean here.

I get the concern from both sides (when it's "our guys"). I think "Believe the victim" can be misunderstood. Yes, false accusations are devastating. I have worked in DV cases where false accusations allow one spouse to deeply wound and control the other. It's a lot less common than accusations having long been forestalled because DV is complicated and survivors are complicated and nothing is that clear. And usually the court system sorted it all out (we hope). But it happens and it can have lasting impacts on the families and children. SO I get it.

But, I don't think "believe the victim" ever means "wholeheartedly and undiscriminatingly believe all accusations no matter how far fetched and regardless of personal intuition." It's more about confronting our internal biases that make us disbelieve those who raise the alarm, and our reflexive inclinations to silence them. It's more about "questioning our supposed intuitions and taking a prima facie openness to their claims." That's a lot less catchy. It's also just a utilitarian choice where we weigh the impacts and numbers of survivors of assault to false accusations and make a choice. That's a harsher way to look at it but sometimes we weigh interests of one group against another.

We're in a messy period right now in which cultural norms are shifting. I've had drunken encounters that were objects of sentimental adoration for years following. I was publicly kissed at a camp award ceremony by an older counselor as a "reward" for being a good sport in water skiing, and I cherished it instead of being disgusted by it. So I hold these things even while I look at the ick and discomfort I felt when my body became not-my-own.

What was known to be wrong but still widely accepted is suddenly getting re-slotted. There is some valid retroactive panic to people I'm sure. I know that going over 65 mph on the freeway is illegal but I'd be a little nervous if I heard people were retroactively getting tickets for driving 75. I'd be a little freaked. Moving forward requires delicacy, but it inevitably means that a certain group of people are going to have it a little less easy. I get that panic. But we're human beings. We don't have to accept this shit. We don't have to perpetuate this culture.

But there's that gut-punching feeling that this isn't changing fast enough to protect my daughter. There are so many ways the world will chew up your children. This is probably going to be one of them. I was taught all the "right" things about body autonomy. It didn't change that my autonomy was taken from me sometimes, or that I responded by hiding from it, feeling guilty, and otherwise burying it. I know the same is true of so many peers..Having theoretically had the tools to avoid these things made me feel like a failure for not having done so. It made me feel like there was something wrong. Because I should have avoided those moments.

So where are we? For me, I feel myself in a position where I am trying to find the words to teach my child that her autonomy is supreme, but that doesn't mean it will always be respected. It doesn't mean she can always protect herself. It doesn't mean that the lines will be clear. And if something happens to her, I want it drilled into her to respond and to care for herself.  Of course I want to do all that without freaking her out about the world and teaching her not to trust. Because there's so much to trust in this world.  It's tricky.

I think about all the things I want to teach my daughter and here are a few.

1. "Good people" do "bad things." We are complicated. People may do so much good in parts of their lives, but do bad in others. It's worth/necessary trusting people, but if one person isn't what they seem, that's a part of life and not a subversion of anything we assume about all human beings. Trusting the world is a calculated risk.

2. Bad things *do* happen to good people. The fact of something bad happening to somebody has no impact on their value as a person. Nor does it reveal who they are. It is a thing that happened to them. It doesn't get to decide who they are, even if it necessarily resets the course of their lives.. People may not want to accept that. That's because we're all scared and it's easier to tell ourselves stories about people who are hurt. Don't live your life so scared as to condemn the victims and celebrate the perpetrators, especially if you are the victim..

3. People are never perfect. It's rare that a story shows a 100% angelic survivor and a 100% evil perpetrator. Sometimes both people cross lines. Sometimes harm is done from good intentions. Sometimes it's messy and difficult to understand. But basic autonomy is always a person's due.

4. We are called to love everyone. Even those who are hurting us or others.The part we love is a person's basic humanity, not the perversion that causes them to tear away from that.

5. Love never means refusing to enforce our rights and the rights of others. Love never means abstaining from pursuing justice. There are always reasons a loved one hurts another. There are often ways in which you may want to protect somebody who's hurt you. It isn't necessarily easy.  You can love from a distance. Sometimes you need to love but walk away. Sometimes you need to do more.

6. Forgiveness is a way of letting go the hold somebody else has on our mental health. Forgiveness is about personal freedom. It is not reconciliation. It does not stop us from enforcing our rights or seeking justice. It is not for the sake of another person but for ourselves.

7. Our brains have lots of thoughts and feelings and they don't always agree with each other. When we're in scary or difficult situations, our brains try to make us feel better by telling us stories, giving ourselves the illusion of control or choice when we have none. Sometimes they help. Sometimes they make things worse when the situation has passed. Always have outside parties to talk to and draw from perspectives beyond your own. Never let yourself be isolated from different perspectives. If anyone ever wants to do that to you, they are not putting valuing you interests.

8. Our intentions and the impacts we have on others are not always the same thing. For most purposes the impact is the most relevant information for going forward.

9. Dating and sexuality are complicated. There are squishy lines and ambiguities. The kindest and safest thing to do is to be very very honest about your feelings. Accepting rejection makes it easier moving forward. If you are unsure whether rejection is a safe option, find friends and back up. All people are deserving of basic respect. No person is entitled to your feelings or affection nor are you entitled. .

10. Own your body. Own it physically. Own it mentally. Own it spiritually. Take agency for its love, health, and pleasure. Do not wait for somebody to introduce you to it. It's yours to share and yours to keep. 

Here Where and Everywhere I am (and am not)

Here we are. Wherever here may be.

Earth. Mount Vernon. This time and place. Everywhere.

Not so long after the last update. Still heading towards October. Desperate for Halloween inspiration. I wanted us to be the Spice Girls (only rule: Chaya can't be Baby Spice) but most of my costume searches have turned up empty. I've considered Potty Monkey, Chaya's absolute favorite Youtube clip right now.

It's still on the table, but it might be kind of cold. I mean, I don't even really have Halloween plans, but it's early yet. But damnit, I love me my Halloween costumes.

Maybe Chaya could be Hoggle?

In the meantime, I'm slogging through my various balancing acts like a be-tutu-ed brown bear riding a unicycle on a tightrope. Or like a me being vaguely aware of different desires and priorities.

And socks! Still have socks!

I'm proud to say that I've munched my way through 30 of my 40 required CLE credits! I need all 40 completed before December 31st in order to stay an active member of the Washington State Bar. It's enough of a pain getting re-activated that even if I'm not really practicing law at the moment, I'd rather just stay "active." The long-term plan is to complete an April training to become a Title 11 Guardian ad Litem. Being a Title 11 GAL is basically speaking on behalf of adults deemed incompetent to represent themselves in legal issues - rife for abuse according to a recent John Oliver expose, but I like to think I'd do good stuff instead of evil. Then next year, I'd like to do the training for Title 26 GALs, which would make me the voice of children in family law cases. This is something I've wanted to do for a long while. It's also a something where good GALs are sorely lacking  and overbooked in Whatcom and Skagit County. Both of these require presence at various hearings so it would require some more movement with childcare if I get started before kindergarten, but would be far more doable than a 9-5.

Physically I just indulged in a massaged, which loosened up some of that granite that comprises most of my body these days. I'm still a bit tight. I've got the usual radiculopathy, shin splints, busted discs and arthritis. But I'm being dogged about my morning yoga and evening stretching. And my whenever strength training. Things are better.

Internally, I gave up on trying to wean form the omeprazole for a while. After a little over a week at full dose again, I seem to just be re-reaching equilibrium. Still have to watch what I eat and still have discomfort, but a very tolerable discomfort. I know I can't stay on these forever but, I want help the next time I try. Figures my body would be that sensitive and experience atypical rebound. I'm a delicate acid-spewing flower!

Psychologically, I'm reapproaching the situation of being highly sensitive (hyper-acute nervous system for the whee!). I think in a lot of ways, I talk myself through a small book's worth of thoughts and issues every day. I know myself fairly well. I call myself out a lot. I recognize my tendencies. I am intimately familiar with my own navel and have been peeking at all the navels of those around me. I don't desperately need a safe space and guidance to talk MORE (though I'll take that too) as much as something more structured and more practical. How do I handle what happens when I get overstimulated? What can I do to re-center myself? How do I set healthy boundaries understanding my own limitations without letting fear of hitting those overwhelm me either. How do I nurture my inner sensitive side? How do I surround myself with the beautiful and meaning that I'm wired to crave.How do I accept myself when sometimes my sensitivities make me a drag. So I'm working with that. Meditation. Yoga. Mindfulness. I'm a walking stereotype in my very white upper-middle class female thirties.

Spiritually, I'm kind of unsure where I am. Well that's not entirely accurate. I am in the here. I am part of an interconnected universe of being.

I may be a little woo, but what of that? The Divine to me is the connection, totality and love of all things, which transcends time and finite boundaries of consciousness. Honoring that in others. Finding that in myself. I can't say that'll lead me to some kind of horrible stand-off with law enforcement, denial of necessary healthcare for me or my loved ones, use of my woo to justify oppressing others, or purchase of dubious products to align my inner child's chakras. And it brings me great depth of joy to connect with that love in the world around me. Practically speaking, it also seems to activate my parasympathetic nervous system and help me navigate the world in a calmer more open fashion. Plus, I'm an HSP. We need a little woo. We wilt a bit without it.

I connect with the Episcopal Church in a few ways: (1) it's a welcoming and open human language to connect with the greater truth that transcends any single doctrine; (2) it's a dialectical approach that connects with my liberal arts/Great Books/Over-educated/overthinking-loving doubting kind of approach to life; (3) it's a story about who I am and who my family is, because those were my roots and every ritual has deeply entrenched meaning.

I found St. Paul's MV through Helen, who perfectly embodied the messages I needed to hear when we met. She has grace in chaos, hilarity in solemnity, and a full embrace of the darkness that is part of the light. Like me on a good day, she dabbles with the messiness of being human that is in itself divine. Her sermons cut right to my soul and she could stop in the middle of a conversation to say "should we pray" and make it sound less stilted than natural and fantastic. So I started attending services. That they lacked childcare was irrelevant because Sunday mornings are daddy-daughter time anyways.

Then Helen left and I was a bit in an empty space. That's good and bad. When I'm sitting I often think of myself as a rock hovering in mid-air. Neither going up anymore, but not yet going down. Just there. In my best places, I embrace that as the essence of being alive. But sometimes I want to peek around and guess at future trajectories.Will I land in a beautiful splash in the pond? Or will I clash down on some little brother's head?

The MV community is just lovely and I've come to have a strong fondness for so many of the members. I love that I can feel genuinely and warmly greeted and appreciated every week, despite little outside engagement. I can run up and hug these people and they genuinely expresslove for that moment. I don't really feel that in other social venues at this point.If I go to a preschool meetup, it's fun, but I'm not running up and yelling "PEACE" to another parent while grabbing them in a bear hug. Maybe back in my blues days, that was pretty common, but it's still a rarity to find oneself immersed in such an immediately open culture when you're kind of a reserved person.

 But it isn't what it was when Helen was there. And there is no greater community for families.That becomes more apparent in Helen's absence.

I was ready to throw my hands up and just go to church with my dad, but there were some inklings that I might  be able to help. Andrew, in a whirlwind of supportiveness, even seemed to be encouraging me to take more of a place in setting up childcare in order to make the community more open to young families. Maybe we got caught up in problem solving mode, after a meeting or two where it seemed like maybe the community was missing things that were vital for longterm survival. Somehow I felt like I was there for a reason and should be more involved. And I think if they want to continue on for more than a few years, they need to make room for families. They need youth programs. They need ways to incorporate children into the services. They need all of this.

So I signed up for a few committees and started researching. There are some really cool, very liberal programs. There are some fun and amazing options for making kids feel more included and welcome in services. I mean, zoocharist! I love it!

But the more excited I got and the more I started talking about what I was learning, the more I realized how uncomfortable it was making Andrew (the agnostic secular Jew who hasn't an ounce of woo in his body and doesn't meditate so much as pass out in a sitting position). And ultimately, I understood I was planning all these things for a demographic that didn't include us. I mean, Andrew didn't start screaming "don't brainwash my kid" every time I mentioned something the slightest bit scriptural, but there were suggestions for different approaches, perhaps, that belied such sentiment. I don't think that Christian parents are really looking for an overwhelmingly secular childcare program necessarily. I mean not that we shouldn't all dress in black and sing Philip Glass (South Park? Anyone?) during the winter pageant or just throw on Daniel Tiger and give the kids some oranges. But I think that a church has an existential investment in at least passing on the traditions of their faith to children.

I honestly, think that stories are symbols and greater truths. Whether that be bible stories or Dr. Seuss, I don't see the difference. But some people do.

Which gave me pause. It reawakened some sadness about not having a future of spiritual presence with my family. A little defensiveness that something so dear to my heart is viewed with a little suspicion by somebody so close to my heart. But it also made me wonder why I might work extremely hard trying to set up a program that will never cater to my own family. I want to be giving and paying it forward, but surely there's something I can find where my investment will go towards our own famly as well.

Perhaps not. This isn't me saying "I want to go back to work now!!" by the way.

I want to hear sermons that touch me so deeply I feel like I've had a psychic cleansing. I want to embrace community members. I want to sing together. Close my eyes and be vulnerable together. I want to be somewhere with a shared purpose and value. And I want to share that with my daughter and husband somehow. But we don't always get what we want. So reintroducing the balancing act.

I guess ultimately this probably just means status quo. I won't push any major changes at MV and I'll let the glacial pace of vestry affairs slowly let me off the hook in terms of commitments. I'll go when I go and Andrew and Chaya will continue to have their time as always. He'll offer sometimes to drop by a church party or whatever and I'll be grateful but reserved and maybe put him off and maybe not. I'll go to Bellingham with my dad. I'll remain open and eager to go to Jewish services if Andrew ever wants to. I'll try gently to introduce some of my family traditions to Chaya and continue discussing mindfullnes, compassion, and whatever else with her. I'll tell her people believe many things and then I'll tell her what I believe.  And I'll feel unsure what else beyond that. I'll be unsatisfied. But the human condition is dissatisfaction. I'll sit. I'll pray. And it will make me feel better physically as well as psychologically and spiritually.

Oh or I'll go ahead and honor my commitments and find a cute couple of kids at Sunday school and they can be my church family like how people have work spouses. The possibilities!

And maybe if I'm lucky I'll have a flash of Halloween inspiration, because the time is coming, man!

Three and Thirty-somethin' Bring on the Autumn.

And heck it's almost October! Most of y'all have probably already bathed in pumpkin spice bathtubs while your kid tries on their fifth Halloween costume of the year and hums Christmas carols. Time, she marches on!.

The clouds have rolled in with rain. The smoke has cleared. And any considerations about air conditioning seem moderately laughable as my hands resume their puckered purple posture. Not that we don't still have warm afternoons from time to time, but then they tend to be crisp, glorious and preciously temporal.

Despite the ongoing goings on, I am finding it increasingly difficult to know what to say about our lives, in a sense because Chaya - by far the most interesting feature of our little family unit - becomes more and more her own little person. And I feel increasingly ill-equipped to tell her story. She definitely tells it better at this point, even if she plays it closer to her chest with newer people (Seriously she turns into Homer just around bedtime and can get through her own personal Iliad before settling into bed at night).

 I can merely marvel at the little monster-cherub's daily revelations (and sometimes cringe when those revelations are clearly to be used for future evil). And us? We're so boring! It's all just crank crank crank when my brain can't quite somersault over the lexophilia of old. Little to say. And yet, hunker down for a wordstorm! It's been a while.

I won't dredge you through the deep abyss of potty training, which seems to be our current parental rite of passage. Needless to say, Chaya's figured out that it's a great way to get to watch Potty Monkey (youtube has so many amazing forms of "entertainment" but at least the parents in this video aren't abusive in their "help") instead of going to bed or other responsibilities. She can quite literally go hours sitting on the toilet without producing any human byproducts, possibly including spit, sewat or tears. I often have to limit her "training sessions, because there is a cap on how long I can linger hunched over on the bathroom floor and I worry she'll hold it forever just to milk some more screen time. But we are not in a hurry. Diapers are incredibly convenient. Let nobody doubt that at 3 a.m. in the morning.

August was rapid-fire flurries (producing so much smoke that the air got outright toxic by most measures and we all suffered indoors for a good week, but also metaphorically in more fun ways).

Chaya pulled off her first flower girl gig in Chicago last month.

She was brilliant, of course. So stellar, her light, that she could barely be bothered to sleep the entire time we were there. The second night, she was exhausted enough to crash, but then rolled herself straight off the bed just as mommy had hit a good level of REM sleep. A second attempt at sleeping with mommy led her to wake up howling (nightmare memories I'm assuming). Then at some point she went from freaked out to maniacally overtired. We had a tortured remainder of the night, occasionally soothed by walks around the hallways and golf tv before Andrew and I eventually just pretended to sleep while she ran around the room, ping balling and chanting and trying to climb all things. She did NOT feel like sleeping on the plane until roughly 2 minutes after landing. It was a magically experience all in all. Andrew and I ... may have eventually recovered from the sleep deprivation and excitement. But we're thinking it'll be a while before another grand trip.

We also had our annual visit from Chaya's cousins.

 I failed to capture photos of them all together. But rest assured they joined us at the obligatory Red Robin Birthday excursion along with a couple of lovely mellow mornings together. Chaya watched closely and took notes when the wrestling matches between brothers got WWE quality.

And time marched on. Actually before all that excitement, kiddo officially turned THREE!!! WHEEEE! Old enough to actually know and repeat her age! That feels like a milestone somehow.

 I also aged at some point in there.

Physically, at least. But I've also reached a milestone in which I really have no idea how old I am. Mid to late thirties now I believe.

We've also had an adventurous September so far.

There was the ubiquitous Labor Day hike to Deception Pass (with bonus visit from grandparent and triple bonus cookout in which she momentarily decided she liked green pepper - a VEGETABLE!!)

There was a Caspar Babypants concert at the Salmon River Festival.

There will be another round of Caspar Babypants this weekend. Chaya is invited to come along, but honestly these concerts may be as much for the parents.

And all the while words get clearer. Idylls become more elaborate. Her imaginary friend (I hope), snake still comes to join her most evenings. This seems to be a good thing in Chaylandia.

The greater Wright unit? Where we at? Same place. Still.

We're not 2018 at any rate. I'd alluded to a few stirrings that would have taken us elsewhere. Largely they were stirrings, but based on my evolving acceptance that (1) Andrew will not find desirable work closer to home (2) the traffic around Everett is worsening by the day, and takes what sounds like a tidy commute into ultra-frustration territory (3) work opportunities in the Valley ain't so good for me either, although I would be considered a high commodity GAL if I could get myself together to get the training knocked out, (4) Andrew and Chaya are much closer now, and his presence is really important to all of us; (5) whatever vicious cocooning that accompanied my splash into motherhood has slowly diminished and I feel far less terrified of a future unknown.

Nonetheless, we are shelving the immediacy as Andrew focuses on attaining his PE license. This is the closest thing to the Bar Exam in his profession. You can be an engineer and not be a PE obviously. But being a PE means you are licensed with the state and have special regulatory super powers. It makes you far more valuable individually and within a company. Andrew's already passed the preliminary Engineer-in-Training Test before Chaya was born. He was then required to spend a certain period of time under the supervision of an already licensed PE. All together he's just finished the requirements, or will have by the test in April 2019. He'll spend all day with a pen and paper, answering questions (probably - he has to be admitted to take the test first and that requires tons of hoops and the like) and then immediately jump on several planes to fly to Alaska in order to jump on a helicopter and go hella-yeah-heliskiing with his brother. Because, when your brother finally gets to be an attending pediatric neurosurgeon, sometimes there are perks to his newfound financial security and high dopamine levels.

As for me,I've graduated from PT for my back. Not nearly healed, but managed. Daily yoga - at home with a crazy youtube version at whom I can swear if it gets too crazy - and prescribed exercises definitely minimize the pain. I still get intermittent headaches. When a bad one hits, I think about getting the nerve block that's on order for me. Then they go away and I forget I contemplated such things. I  obviously just need my own little set of needles and blocking juice for when the urge hits.

I tried to slowly wean down from my omeprazole (reflux/heartburn medication). There's this thing called "acid rebound" that happens after somebody's been taking acid suppressing medications like omeprazole. Basically their body adjusts, as they tend to. So, yank the suppression and body goes into hyperdrive producing acid. It's a reaction that happens even in perfectly healthy adults after taking PPIs for a month or more, but the degree varies a great deal. Naturally, I'm exceptionally reactive and just cutting a pill in half every other day turned my esophagus into Northern California in the summertime. It was starting to hurt my teeth again so I am going back to my full dose. This is frustrating but I have an endoscopy scheduled in December and an appointment after this. Perhaps I may pin a doubtful star upon it for some answers. And I remain on a very low dose relative to recommendations.

I've said goodbye to a PT, so I've taken up another form of therapy: Therapy-therapy. I've been poking around this idea for a while, but it can be hard to fit appointments in (and therapists are usually quite booked). I like my new therapist so far.

 Will therapy cure my ills? Andrew seems so optimistic that he even suggested that if I started therapy I may need fewer medical follow ups I am decidedly less in the "all in the head" category, though I recognize that stress and most conditions have a circular relationship.

I don't think my physical issues are psychological. I don't even think of myself as a classically stressed person (I don't necessarily get racing thoughts, I don't hyperventilate, my heart rate and BP decidedly do NOT raise, and I don't actually have as much a sense of doom/panic as my twisted sense of humor may imply). But my nervous system is genetically hyperreactive to stimuli, and that means not being in a beautifully lit, comfortable cocooon with classical music humming and positive loving friends dropping by for short hugs before leaving me to my own fairy dust can have a pretty significant toll in physiological wear and tear. Emotions (mine or other people's). Pain. Noise. Smells. Etc. All are more intense and potentially more draining. And I do think that can have a toll on my well-being.

My therapist suggested within five minutes that I was an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), without my even mentioning that part of my experience, or suggesting I had flirted with that descriptor before. So we'll work on how to navigate the world as a sensitive person. Learning all kinds of tricks to stimulate the vagal nerve, which does seem tied into reflux and perhaps my vasovagal spells in the past. Ways to stimulate run from fun to weird: humming, singing, laughing, and hugging loved ones all sound good,. But stimulating the gag reflex? Ice baths? No thanks.

I fear I will be a challenging patient. I tend to be the kind of person with a fair degree of self-insight, but I wonder if I get to a certain limit of my own insights and encounter far greater resistance than others. This is just a wonder, but we'll see.

Honestly, I am in a way better places than I have been in a few years, even if my health issues are more annoying. I'm feeling much mellower and more balanced with my meditative practices. I'm working on breathing. So hopefully therapy can just double-down on that and help me develop further ways of self-caring, advocating for my boundaries, and still living with others. Yadda yadda yadda.

But besides, I probably have fewer medical appointments because doctors in many specialties have currently washed their hands of me, absent some glaring operable defect. Which brings us back to practicing mindfulness and patience anyways. So shrink that head, baby.

Meanwhile we've totally abandoned Konmari (the lifechanging joy of tidying up definitely cleared some space in our closets, but man going through papers and komono just doesn't spark any joy to me thanks).

We're on to BUJO! Or Bullet Journals.

Looks elaborate doesn't it? It can be! Some people buy special $20 journals. Others have fancy markers and stickers and ribbons! I mean this could be fullscare art. Or smug minimalism. The sky's the limit!!

Andrew hopped on the train with his usual determination. I figure it's just a slightly more structured version of my symptoms journals and freestanding journals. I won't go too into details. Really it mostly involved starting with a table of contents, including a little calendar, keeping a daily log, and interrupting that daily log with pages dedicated to various things you want ot focus on. More or less. Also the hip fetishization of analog media like pen and paper. Because we're elder Millenials damnit. The clothes worn in our MTV videos and occasionally at our elementary schools (with some clucking that it was "too old for us") is now featuring itself in Target with unabashed retro tackiness! Let us embrace the page while reloading our Facebook twenty times in a row and murmuring "careful" at our collective children.

Chaya does not have her own BUJO yet. But she's made some very fascinating insights in her various journals so far.

Very few of them about snake.

At any rate. That's more catch up (ketchup?) than anyone can probably stomach in a single pass, so I leave my remaining readers with a shake of gratitude and turn to my Bullet Journal to I don't know, log my day with a variety of fancy bullets and markers!

Pain in the Parasthesia and the Amorphous August (Change in the Air?)

And it's August! I feel so conflicted about August these days. On the one hand it's my BIRTHDAY MONTH! And (more notably) Chaya's.



(Almost) THREE!!

 And the whole East Coast family comes out to visit.

 And it's all a big party festival type thing.

 On the other, it's usually hot and smoky and basically the least Adella-friendly weather of the Pacific Northwest year and there is NO stopping for a break unless you manage to wind yourself up in the hospital like I did last year. Oh what a year it's been!

Gotta say I'm not magically healed, but I guess we've ruled out a ton since then; and I certainly am capable of some essential feminine "cycling" with a little extra weight and some birth control pills.

I think I threw out my list of excluded diagnoses not long ago, so I'll just add that the neurologist thinks my brain looks beautiful, my "neuropathy" at this point is a mere parasthesia, and my cervical MRI/EMG looked unconcerning to the orthopedist. He's pushing "nerve blocks" which sound 1980's sci fi to me, but don't actually involve becoming an android in any recognizable way.

. There are many more tests on the horizon as I pinball between my various specialists, but I'm also just kind of learning to honor the messages my body is sending (pain is a pretty specific message the nerves can telegraph out for myriad reasons) and realizing they may not be telling the whole story in an unbiased fashion. It seems to be a theme that once something triggers or damages nerves in any part of the body they can be eternally sensitized and misfire signals. So take seriously but not literally? Meditate a ton. Lean into the pain. Honor my body. Etc. etc.

My reflux issues have resurged with a vengeance, so we'll be going ahead on that endoscopy as soon as I finish this three month pre-req and locate a new doctor since the one I saw just left the area. Eating as I can. Realizing I've had symptoms of this for a lot longer than I realized and maybe my restricted eating prior to now based on "not feeling right" was kind of intuitive of that.

The heat ain't helping, but we're fanning ourselves through it anyways so long as the air doesn't get any thicker and today appears to be a delicious break for some pouring rain at the county fair!  

Andrew and I are mulling our overwhelmingly plentiful options for climate controlling the house. We've flirted with curtains, window treatments, awnings, new-windows, new roller shades, screen doors, and maybe with ductless air conditioning. A lot of feelers are out there, but there's still a ton of uncertainty. And let's not discuss my struggles to figure out a way to actually water our dying trees and arborvitae.

We might just convert the living room into a walk-in fridge and call it good. Oh August and your smoky heated ovenly ways...

But party!! County Fairs. More parties. Plane trips. More parties. Preschool parties.

It's all gonna be ok. Just hot and sweaty for another eon.

Meanwhile things are changing, as they always do.

As promised, the Alex and Olivia brigade have moved back East. Chaya's very first preschool teacher also announced she's moving at the end of the month. And most recently Chaya's good friend Sebstation may be coming back from his many months in Mexico and moving back to Bellingham. In bigger picture news, the Preschool may finally be poised to move ahead to full time school licensing, which would be huge for them and expand their options grandly.

And, the church houses Chaya's preschool - and which I had taken as a spiritual roost this spring - is having some major transition as well. They cannot - by their estimation - afford to continue paying Helen, the rector. After some stir, much confusion and a variety of surprise announcements, her last service will be at the end of the month.

Fortunately it seems like the preschool is mostly insulated from this (there were some concerns for a while about what it all might mean), but it has the most unfortunate effect of leaving the church without a minister. No, not without a minister, but without the minister who drew me to the church in the first place and whose presence mediated some of the challenges of attending a church that is ultimately not very family friendly at this juncture.

A church without young families in the community has a circular problem. With few children, there aren't the resources or involvement for Sunday School or youth ministry, but without youth ministry, young families cannot participate. The church ultimately can't grow and the few families who do attend will likely be limited in their ability to reach out and participate. As such, the church can't grow.

   It's a moot issue in one sense, as Andrew is secular and prefers to take Daddy-daughter running time with Chaya when I go. But it's still a big loss of potential community and can feel a little isolating. I still long for a spiritual community that I can obliquely share with my family. There are so many lovely people at St. Paul's, but they are at a different place in their lives for the most part.

I had previously leaned towards attending St. Paul's Bellingham (bigger community and my dad still attends) more often, but I didn't because Helen gave the most amazing transformative sermons and attended prayers in a way that outright spoke to my soul. .

Set adrift, but in an open way. I don't really know what will evolve. What will happen at the nearby church? Life is full of question marks and different tides to float down mindfully.

And honestly, there is now a chance that our own family might move. It's too ill-developed a chance to discuss, but in some grander ways I think we understood that living in Mt Vernon while Andrew works at EI in Mukilteo was perhaps not sustainable for the rest of our lives. I was hoping to live somewhere for longer than 2 years (I guess 3 is a record in my adult life) and we still might, but there are a series of opportunities that may be coming together. If they do align, I think it would quite appropriately be called Fate. Or something akin to that. Maybe just "an offer too good to refuse."

More on that later perhaps if anything develops. But it certainly lends to the ebb and flow and changeability of life.

I'm surprised at how much more easily I contemplate moving at this point than previously. Moving from Bellingham was painful and hard. It took a long grieving process and I don't think I would have handled it as well if I didn't have friends and family out here (it helped was still so close to Bellingham). Now, I still feel very attached, and would love to move back to Bellingham or stay here forever. But I'm also kind of at a *shrug* and adventure if it's the right place and the right time.

I wonder if some of it is Chaya growing older and removing myself further from that cocoon of the first few years. Somebody told me before she was born that I would nest deeply into HOME when she was born and it would be a small fiercely protected world of her and me for a while. In retrospect that seems apt. Now that she's a little more mobile, adaptable and independent, my own adjustments to a new place seem less devastating and more interesting.

Or maybe I just recognize that there's a wind of change in the air and am ready to cast myself aloft into it. To every thing there is a season turn turn turn turn turn turn and keep turning because Chaya is impervious to the nausea and dizziness of a grownup AAAAAAAAH KEEP TURNING!!!

Ok, and with that, we shall now enjoy our little cool spell and celebrate Chaya's impending birthday with a trip to the county fair!

Bring on the animals for petting!!

Sum-more Summer on the Eve of the Threenado.

Brace yourselves: it's summer! It's hot. It's sunny. It's a month away from official threenagerdom. It's about one week away from Chaya switching preschool days to thrice a week (3 for 3!). And that same week away from starting said three preschool days at 8 a.m. (in the morning! Ack!) That's gonna take some adjustment as her schedule has actually been shifting later over this summer. Whoops. 

For now, we're thigh-deep in a preschool break and all the shenanigans stuffed into that. 

Our preschool break began with a frenetic foray to Tahoe. Andrew's mom has had a ski cabin near Sugarbowl Ski Resort for years, but it's only recently been discovered as a summer cabin worthy of a strapping young child (and boisterous Betty-dog)

It's everything you could possibly imagine a summer cabin being. There's a lake beach (I know, right?? in Tahoe??)

 There's a bunch of trails.

There's a BBQ on the front porch.

 Aaaaand there's a swarm of bloodthirsty bastard mosquitoes!! Some may have left their hearts in San Francisco, but I'm pretty sure I left my blood in Tahoe. Not even some generic mosquito repellent, compression socks and pants kept them from pock-marking my legs into infected itch. 

The highlight of Chaya's trip was probably the plane. 

She was so infatuated with planes that our worst travel moments were waiting on the tarmac to get on the plane. Impatience doesn't cover it. CHAYA GET ON THE PLANE!!! With thrashing and bolting and the like. 

She also enjoyed (with some trepidation) the affections of Betty the dog. 

And perhaps the greatest culinary discovery of the weekend was those ooey gooey sugar kebabs known as toasted marshmellons! Or something like that.

 There were also many moments of Chaya demanding to go back to the house, refusing to go inside the cabin, telling the dog to come and then screaming BETTY NO!!! LEAVE, hurling herself headfirst into a body of bruises from a bed, and otherwise being her vividly youthful self. 

And there was a little bit of recovery required for the whole family on returning. We all might have been a little tired and snappy by Sunday evening, and Monday was "fun."

 Travelling is still pretty brutal on my body, considering I'm hanging by a thread of "not dead yet" in an amorphous fashion with all of my various at-home accommodations. The stint in Tahoe alone was enough to erase a handful of weeks of PT, foment some reflux redux and bend the rules of space and time to rack up a few months' sleep deficit in two days! The plane and car were physically exacting experiences all their own. But we trudge on with happy memories and cute photos (and the number of a very good massage therapist!)

That was a segue? Clever huh? Adella's health! To celebrate not  having that preschool time for myself, I added a whole battery of additional medical tests and appointments to this week! No really, timing just worked out that way. Lucky Chaya got a whole lot of gramma time as a result. 

So as of the moment I can say that mammograms ain't no thing (though I felt a minor twinge of guilt presenting my eensy decolletage to the technician who had to somehow get those babies into the machine). I don't seem to have breast cancer. In fact, joy of joys, breast pain is a negative risk factor for breast cancer usually. I mean I was more concerned that the sensitivity was related to the abscess I had during that nasty bout of mastitis a few years ago, but still nice to hear. I have no idea what the EMG (zapping your body with lots of little shocks to see how the nerves fire, then sticking some muscles with needles for good measure) of my right arm will reveal because I don't get to hear about that until after the MRI of my upper back/neck. That's a complement to the MRI I had some months back of my brain and the MRI I had a different time of my lower back (yay bulging thoracic disc and spinal degeneration in my lumbar region!)

Next week I finally make it to a neurologist to add to my specialist bingo (do two rheumatologists  and two orthopedists count on separate squares?). And probably will get a few more neurodiagnostic tests run on my other extremities. 

Things that have been diagnostically excluded at this time: MS, scleroderma, lupus, sjogren's, mixed connective tissue disease, brain tumors, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases (beyond a benign and occasional arrhythmia), most imaginable nutritional deficiencies, most thyroid diseases, and (this week) breast cancer.

A nice list of things not to have! 
Of course many of those aren't dispositive, but sometimes ya gotta take comfort in the "well if you had that, by now you'd be dead or way worse off" stretch of time with this nonsense. All my fingers: still intact! Still walking! Life is sweet. 

I do seem to have GERD/LPR (reflux, which seems a pretty common affliction), raynaud's with a nice side of chillblains and related eczema, low blood pressure, and a host of musculoskeletal issues that may or may not also be neurological. Oh and probably a vasovagal response that's a bit more acute than most. I probably have TMJ and lord knows about arthritis in other joints. We'll see.

My mother-in-law was commenting how she knew it was time for PT for her shoulder when the pain began to interfere with opening a jar. That just wasn't right. That struck me, I guess because I was thinking "opening a stubborn jar tweaks my wrists through my elbow through my shoulders and neck, which then seems to travel into my jaw and cheek... and somehow I'm sure it' then exacerbates my lower back through my feet and then I have headaches, reduced sensation and pain and... f- all those jars, I'll take things in bags, thanks!" So I'm a little less on the scale of "wow" when I see the PT forms that ask about various ways physical pain interferes with day to day activities. Don't get me wrong, I still can do a ton and I'm grateful for that, but it is a bit of a trade off in that it doesn't come free on my body. I'm still amazed at how well and quickly a pulled ankle healed itself. That's what normal healing is supposed to feel like? Astounding! And glad I'm capable of it.

And well, I've reached enough of an equilibrium that I can do mild walking daily, and several complicated PT exercises with a predictable level of acceptable pain/tingling. It's not without some discomfort (and reflux occasionally), but a tolerable threshold mostly. Especially as long as I have massages regularly. I'm surprised that I actually remain fairly strong and flexible even if I'm wonky as all get out.

We'll see, anyways. In the meantime, I have to find a balance of protecting myself and living life. So we're at least limiting plane trips to once a month! Chaya's gotta be a flower girl. That's just non-negotiable!

And the monster carries on with several bruises and the broadest multichromatic dazzlement of human emotion imaginable!

She's insisted on wearing the same pineapple pajamas all day long for abut a week straight.Our only respite is that if she gets any water or dirt on her clothes she MUST shed them and wear something new, and occasionally she's in such a panic about this that she'll accept other clothes than her pineapple shorts! I also couldn't tell you the last time she took a bath, but she remains surprisingly fresh and clean with the help of baby wipes and a wet comb from time to time. 

This weekend she's getting still more grandparent time, as her Grampa Tom has come to visit! 

So far, we've attended an Arts Festival together and created many many works of fine art that were left fluttering in the wind to dry. Chaya is very zen about her creation. It's about the act in the moment. Once a work is completed, the fruits of her tussles with the Muses may be sent back to the Ether. It was the moment of creation, not the created itself. 

True art, of course, is bobbing in a bouncy castle. And Chaya got herself into a rather large one of those. She liked it ok when the other kids were in there, but far preferred it once the time had expired and all the other kids dutifully heeded the call of the operators and left. Her very own private bouncy house!! Nothing like a special ops extraction mission to give you a little bit of bounce for day. 

It may have been a full morning, judging by the maniacal howling the predated lunch and naptime, but summer's too full to throttle back. 

So we rounded out the evening at a big farm-style gala at a preschool friend's house. Let the 3 year old birthdays heat up!

It was a fantastic affair, and Chaya managed to avoid the highly prominent water theme and stay quite dry.  After a typical Chaya wander into the netherlands of the property, she even occasionally interacted with her preschool friends, largely when one of them gently told Chaya to actually go DOWN the slide after she stopped at the top in order to ponder the meaning of life!

Judging by the twenty minutes of "dinner" in which Chaya ran around howling and refusing to come to the table, the moment of sheer crystalized frustration that led to knocking over blocks into her water and all over herself, and the way she then managed to climb onto my head and make alien noises at bedtime... it might have been on the extreme side of stimulation for the kiddo. 

Today's been a little mellower, though we'll see how my body feels about an afternoon mini-hike on the aptly named Little Mountain. 

And we hike onwards through another week of break towards August and the big birthday wedding bonanzas with maybe a transition from crib to bed thrown in there. 

Eek. Wish us luck and we'll wish you a cool breezy July weekend back. 

Prayers of the People

I prayed and prayed and prayed again, until the tears ran dry. Quietly in the back pew of the church muttering through a feeble "hear our prayers" at the prompting of others, hardly able to hear the words I knew by rote.

Yearning for healing for loved ones in pain. Aching for scared children of sick parents. For the friend diving into the abyss of a medical treatment with slim odds of success. For the heaviness of a world I could not fix. For my weakness and fear as the future's maw yawned indignantly at the plight of the weakest and the strongest alike. I prayed without intention or direction underneath a familiar script. 

Hear my prayer!

The world didn't change. No miracles rent the fabric of my muslin reality. No fuzzy-bearded deity alit from cumuli to banish inequities of the world in acquiescence to my plaintive cadging. No devils offered bargains. 

Hear whose prayers? 

Instead, I prayed and I held my yearning. I clasped my pain, though it burnt. I held my fear and vulnerability and that crushing helplessness of a world that doesn't always play "fair." Submerging through it into the love and happiness that had made the pain and loss smart so deeply. The hugs. The laughter. The kisses never shared. The memories formed and unformed. They dragged me down, but I held tighter.
Hear our prayer? Where? What?
I began to hear the echoes of laughter. Of tears. First and last breaths mingling with that raw morning reek. Bodies simply being in the same space, atoms fizzing in and out of our corporeal limits.
As I plunged further at dizzying speed, some pit in my stomach brushed a spot beyond myself. My body cringed and crackled, stinging as a a force rushed into those broken spots. I ached. More tears squeezed through. 

And *nobody* was healed. No children stopped crying.


Behind me a woman softly sniffled in another's arms. They prayed too. Pewed people hovered with heads bowed or heads raised or heads slightly cocked. Thumbing their bulletins or closing their eyes. Practicing their next call and response, or stumbling over another. Hear our prayer? 

Muttering and chanting. As others uttered their personal supplications, some smiled. Some frowned. Some scratched their wrists and fingered their watches. But we all prayed in stichomythic strides, and the echoes resounded from our depths.

And the world outside remained the same. 

We prayed to ourselves in our plentiful solitudes. Orisons surging beyond the text overlying . Waves of supplication washing over each other, a briny tide tugging us along. 

No crises averted. No buildings reassembled from the ashes. No graves re-opened. 

We prayed for ourselves but then for each other and then for us, as our selves intermingled. The yearning and the fears and the love all vibrated through the silent breaths between prayers. That tiny divine seed surging through a nauseous nerve in our bellies. It seeped through the cracks. It pooled in the air between us. 

And no cancers were cured. No injustices righted . Not a single child reunited with an anxious parent.
We prayed for ourselves, ever more the deeper selves present in all things. We prayed for "us" the community. And for "us" the people. And for "us" the world. And we stopped ignoring the words even as the words melted away. And we prayed for all things. We saw that little something that tickled and ached inside of us spewing light from every existence. Ever deeper into the sufferings and joys until the two poles were an indistinguishable everything. Ever further into the realm of love. 

I prayed. We prayed. We heard our prayers with our fullselves until the deepest unspoken outshouted the scripted and mechanical. 

We heard our prayers. 

And the world didn't change. But we did. 

Our prayers didn't change the world. But we might.

Ja-la-la-ly: Summer Heats Up (but not literally yet)

Between some obscene little hot spells, we've weathered Juneuary's cooling bluster. I fully suspect the more persistent heat of July and August lurks around the bend.Yet for just one more morning, we wallow in our pre-4th rain and stay cool in the mornings and warmish in the afternoons. -ish.

Getting ready for some mad-wild-(not-so-United-States-of)American fun. Or moping. Or homages to this Greatly-Complicated Land of Ours.

Wonder Woman was an Immigrant

Of course to rev up for that, we took Chaya to her very first protest. Families Belong Together. In the rain. Trying to figure out who the white dude talking on the bullhorn is and what is he saying because it's kind of hard to hear (Representative Rick Larsen and I still don't quite know but generally that asylum seeking toddlers shouldn't be thrown in cages). And are people heading out to march or stand on street corners and should we stay and sing or go look at shoes at the Running Store. Because we care. But we're not very organized. We did see lots of other families, which was cool. Hopefully Chaya's next civic action will be a little more in the know, but we're all learning here.

Ok a little homage or something:

Our founding fathers had some good ideas (whooo tea party in the Bay!). But ideas alone are not what makes America great or special. We've got some some good talk about the tired, hungry, huddled masses. But how deeply do you have to look back into history to see that the USA is built on the backs of the oppressed. Mortared with fear and disgust for "the other" (in its successive waves). Premised on mental gymnastics that allowed otherwise-good-people to wash their pelf in the blood of the weaker and thank God in the next breath for their success.

What is amazing about America, though, is how much that suffering has been the sand presaging the pearl. How deepest suffering, cruelty and fear, gives way to love, persistence, art, and the damned dogged dignity of human lives.

Blues and gospel music. Swing dancing. Literature and poetry. Humor. Satire. Non-violent protest movements that changed the face of who we are and what we believe. We are beautiful because the people who were trampled down didn't stay crushed. They didn't run away. They kept fighting. Singing. Their spirits still soared. And wave after wave of vilified, exploited, and oppressed sub-groups kept fighting to redefine what it means to be American and what it is to be a part of this country. 

We have a lot to atone for and we are still a seething mess. But there is so much good and so much beauty rising out of that chaos. 

America, you are my mess and one that has offered me so many fortunes that I never earned or deserved. I love you not like some frigid ideal set off in the ether, but like the family you are: with all your faults. And I will hold you accountable and hold you to a standard you've never fully achieved but must keep striving for. I will call you on your crap and cheer you on in your moments of success. 

And maybe in the meantime I'll complain about firework noises, fret that my threenager-in-training is too close to the BBQ, and serve people some Americana foods while enjoying the Wednesday off.

I won't be devouring too much of it myself, the Americana. Maybe peanut butter. That's as American as apple pie, if not more so. Definitely no hot dogs, corn on the cob, or any tasty salsa dishes. 

I continue to have a selective palate, shall we say. While I rail against cultish diets and the fanatically disordered fervor of "clean eating" in all its myriad forms, well... my body seems hellbent on restricting my diet. I'm glad at least to be at enough of a point (thanks calcium-depleting, bone crunching PPI) that I can even start untangling some of my "trigger" foods. Kefir but not greek yogurt. Green peppers apparently. Garlic and onion still (darnit). Bosc pears and red delicious apples are ok, but tarter forms of either are problematic. It goes on.

And then of course recently I've also had some neck and jaw pain that is encouraging me to stay off any crisp or chewy foods as much as possible. It was pretty bad a week or two ago and is slowly mellowing to a " don't push it." I'm able to enjoy the occasional crunch now, but have to be careful.

So for now, my diet is pretty specific. Nut butters. Veggies (most veggies are ok if you avoid the tomatoes, onions/garlic, and pepper families) cooked and immersion blended. Oatmeal. Banana. Papaya. Persimmon. A small amount of blueberries blended into oatmeal. Walnut/almond milk I've been making myself. Soy milk ,but just the unsweetened kind from Westsoy. Lentils and beans are still both mushy and ok. I can stomach a little hing in lieu of onion/garlic. Sumac is delicious. Most herbs and several spices in moderation. Rice and quinoa are good. I can kind of get fish to be nice and tender if I try. Cheese is iffy but mozzarella in small quantities .Larabars - if they are pecan pie, peanutbutter cookie, coconut cream pie, banana, or cashew cookie - are soft enough and mellow enough for me.

And on it goes. The moral is, as always, don't try to feed me even if I do need to eat every couple of hours. Just leave me near a well stocked personal kitchen/store and stand back.But I kind of enjoy making food even if I can't eat it, so we've been continuing our tour through the various meal subscriptions services. So far Sun Basket has been the worst. Gobble is my favorite, but Freshly and Home Chef are both pretty strong contenders. And, no, I've not really had much chance to make myself a pure meal from any of these services, but I can steal a little of some of the ingredients to save for myself.

But enough about what's going into me. How about what's coming out of Chaya! Oh you knew we'll be reaching potty-training-potty-mouth eventually.

She's not remotely in training. There's no big longterm scheme here. No coaches. No rest days or long-run sits. No power bars. No excel spreadsheets. And so far no funny technical outfits with magical moisture wicking components. Just the occasional "would you like to sit on your toilet" and a handful of potty-themed youtube songs.

Chaya's had her little potty since she was about 17 months and first showed interest in the toilet. Her fascination involved deep excitement at the prospect and experience of seeing others use the toilet. We thought that might mean something, but mostly it meant that she enjoys scatological humor and that her animals were more precocious about using the toilet than her (they're all thoroughly trained at this point).

Her interest in emulating adults and her preschool peers has waxed and waned for months. Sometimes she'll sit. Sometimes she won't. She's always enjoyed her couple of songs about using the potty, but will go through solid periods of yelling NO!!!! when somebody asks if she'd like to sit on her toilet. For the last handful of months, the toilet has largely been an impromptu stool for peeking out the bathroom window.

Within the last week, her receptivity to sitting on the toilet has increased (along with her ability to hold off on peeing for a long long time in order to produce some real leaky soakers that nobody really wants to hear about). 

No potty pictures, but here's some indecent storytime

A handful of days ago, she caught a somewhat bored mommy checking her phone. Chaya knows mommy's phone is (1) forbidden (2) devoted largely to storing and capturing pictures of Chaya. In my panic to keep her from leaping off and melting down, I explained that the phone pictures were only for Chaya sitting on the toilet and let her start watching videos of herself.

Funnily enough that has marked a hallmark of interest in "using" the potty. I don't necessarily think Chaya is particularly interested in "using" it as a human-waste-repository, but she's been very down for sitting on it while watching herself. And she'll suggest it at random times as well as when we're already in the bathroom. A few days ago, she demanded "noise Chaya" (pictures that make noise = videos = potty time in our world). Coincidentally or not, the toilet was doubly christened in all ways imaginable. Chaya looked kind of confused. A flicker of terror passed her face when she saw what was in the little plastic toilet bowl, but once I emptied it into the big toilet and we got to flush, she was peacocking it up like mad. She did want to sit back down on her toilet and watch more, but I bribed her with a celebratory "let's sit in your blue chair and watch the Panda Potty song!" suggestion. Yes I will mush her brain with all kinds of screen time.

Proud poop face

She's pooped in her potty twice more since then. I have to admit I was secretly hoping she'd outgrow the mini-potty and need our well-plumbed toilet before she starting defecating in it, since now there's some more clean up to do (given that her stuffed animals all use her potty and sometimes it looks like she is torturing her animals to get information out of them via said toilet bowl, it seems important to keep sterile as possible). But it's nicer than diapers. Pee may just not be of particular interest to Chaya yet. I'll spare you further details. For now.

And she's already trained to be a modern human being - who doesn't take their phones to the toilet with them these days?

I definitely don't think she's truly ready for whole hearted training, so I will not be engaging in any "THREE DAY NAKED POTTY MARATHONING" (though I hear it's magical), but it's novel at any rate. And making me think I need to get a comfortable bean bag in my bathroom for some of our longer "Chaya noise!" sessions (pictures of Chaya that make noise, in case you missed that connection)

But its yet another way that the little beast continues to evolve at her own pace in her own way. And a comment on how even the most base and low of activities can be resplendent when seen through the eyes of a novice child. You can only imagine the joy she takes in "sweeping" and "loading the dishwasher." Sometimes I feel jealous that Daddy can impess her wild his amazing yoyo skills and acrobatics until I realize that cooking and cleaning with me (Cinderella mommy!) is equally exciting, wild, and madcap.

And with a flourish of Fireworks, we charge into our very busy summer of trips and family visits. A preschool break. A three day preschool habit. And a very big birthday for our pre-Threenager!

Best Independence Day wishes to families everywhere, and to little preschoolers becoming more independent everywhere.