Monday, January 25, 2010

Avatar and Finding Your Snow Geese

James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. Jo Piazza, CNN
Ummm, yeah. Please take another read of that excerpt, followed by a moment or two in which you allow yourself to give a little thought to this statement provided by a CNN news story found at

So, yes, I've seen Avatar 3D on the IMAX and most aspects of the film are above mediocre. But the beauty portrayed is simply amazing and unlike anything else. James Cameron utilizes flourescent and neon coloring in a way that I have never experienced--natural, magical and breathtaking.

So I can somewhat understand how a person may need a moment to readjust after witnessing that extent of beauty for nearly three hours, leaving it behind only to enter a dreary Seattle day.


But I have a very important piece of information to share with the rest of humankind:

It wasn't real. The planet of Pandora is imaginary.

I know, I know. Take a breath. Absorb it. Take it in. This is not a joke. Avatar is a fictional movie with the purpose of entertainment, which it fulfills very well. But again, it is not real.

And I'm sorry, but to compare our blessed Earth with computer generated images is ridiculously moronic and unfair, just as if you became disheartened after spotting a stallion because it had no wings, no color-changing flesh nor a twisted horn crowning its head. Stupid horses. Stupid regular earth.

More realistically, it is similar to those who are incapable of finding beauty in their own body or the forms of others as they have seen too many air-brushed magazine covers.

What is so ironic is that one of the main themes of Avatar is the appreciation of nature, which our society is so obviously lacking. Living in suburbia outside of a major city, I can appreciate how this lack of gratitude can come to be. I don't always seek out the beauty as I drive by Fred Meyer and the bank. Alicia Keys refers to New York City as a concrete jungle and it is very difficult to be aesthetically inspired by the concrete that we pass day after day after day. Surely an actual jungle would much more easily provoke a sense of awe.

But just as everything else in our lives, it is our intention, our disposition, our sentiment, our philosophy and our thoughts that so strongly affect our view, our perspective, our mood, our slant and our mindset. 

Think of it this way: 

Your thoughts become your thoughts. Your mindset becomes your mindset. 
Your mood becomes your mood. 

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Jenny for a trip to Bellingham and back. On our trip home, we ventured off of the main highway for a lazy lunch in La Conner. As we winded our way over to the quaint town, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of hundreds, maybe thousands, of snow geese on the fields. After rolling down our windows, I felt the crisp breeze on my cheeks and listened to this choir of birds sing simply to sing, tears brimming at my lashes. It was a moment I will never forget.

But we could have. We could have kept our windows shut tight, continued chatting, remained unobservant of our surroundings or not allowed ourselves to be affected by them. They're just birds. It's not like they're purple or anything.

Oh how sad I feel for those who cannot understand this. And I realize that anyone who actually became depressed over Avatar was most likely depressed to begin with for probably much more serious reasons, making this type of appreciation all the more difficult.

But for anyone who ever finds themselves waking up on the wrong side of the bed for no good reason at all, who at times finds themselves irritated with the stupid sky that rains or with the lame-ass seasons, maybe try to find your snow geese. It helps. For my mom last week, it was a rainbow. As simple as that.

Be on the lookout.

I didn't have my camera when we experienced this, but with the permission of the photographer Jim Goldstein, I have included some photos that he took near La Conner in 2007. You can see more of his work at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Volcanoes and Life's Many Lessons

Our Volcano

I am learning all the time.  The tombstone will be my diploma.  ~Eartha Kitt

Today we had our first chemistry lesson in the back yard:

Baking Soda + Vinegar = Awesome Volcano!!!

Yep, as many of you know, we're homeschooling. And with the new year, we're getting more into the thick of it. Joshua is almost five and Noah is 2 1/2. And so far, the more we get into it, the more confident I feel. Well, sometimes.

Take this week, for example. For about a year now, we have been reading The Magic Treehouse series. 
Just this book series alone has been such a wonderful tool in homeschooling. With each book, there is another topic for me to delve into with my sons. For about the past week, we have been reading Vacation Under the Volcano. From that, we of course begin studying volcanoes. And the natural progression from there is earthquakes. And BAM!, we have a natural way to discuss with our boys the tragedy in Haiti.

We have a lesson in compassion and empathy, in culture differences, in gratitude for our blessings, in geography, in current events, in geology and in prayer.

Of course, it's not always that simple. Homeschooling requires organization and planning. But as I've been sick this week, I've had a lot of time to rest on the couch and have worked a lot on our curriculum. But our lessons come very naturally. They are not really forced. They stem from what is going on in our life and from what books we are reading.

Next month, we will have a lot of lessons based on the Olympics. We will read about them, study their origin, have our own relay races, look up the countries of the competitors, and create art projects based on them, such as tissue-paper torches and our own paper flags. Did I come up with all of these ideas on my own? No! The internet has made searching for curriculum ideas so much easier.

So, yes, homeschooling is going very well right now.

And yet, last night, in my emotional, tired, sick state, I had a moment. It was 11:00 pm and Jason and I had just watched a very dumb movie, Post Grad. As ridiculously stupid as it was,  it still somehow forced me to be a bit reflective, and not in a good way.

What am I even doing with my life? How am I contributing to the world in any way? I feel so unimportant. I am not making any difference in this world. I will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on humankind. 

I am a stay-at-home mom who is homeschooling her kids. As long as everything goes well, this will be my life for the next twenty years or so. Cooking dinners. Cleaning toilets. Vacuuming. Creating lesson plans. Doing laundry. Etc, etc, etc. Do you see how I could feel a little, I don't know, small, trivial, nonessential, or insignificant?

As if my mom knew I was going to be feeling this way sometime soon, she sent me an article last week in the mail, "We Forgot the Future and Our Children," by Zoe Deen. Talk about mother's instinct. It is a very well written article discussing the importance of raising children. I would encourage any stay-at-home mom to read it. Turns out, I'm not totally insignificant.

It seems that even in times of doubt, I am provided with a mother who knows, a husband who listens and friends who understand. Thank God.

Magic Treehouse Series

For a look at our curriculum (which is still, and always will be, very much a work in progress), just click the below link.

We Forgot the Future and Our Children
By Zoe Deen

Building With Blocks in the Living Room - A Lesson in Architecture?

Reading Sunday's Comics with Dad - A Reading Lesson? Humor Lesson? Both?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Noah's Shenanigans - The Week of Pee and Pea

Our second son, Noah, is two and a half and we have recently potty trained him. Through this process, it has become abundantly more clear that Noah will most likely provide us with hysterical material throughout parenthood. And so, "Noah's Shenanigans" is born and updates will be posted as quick as I can write them, because they seem to be coming rapid fire lately. Here's the best-of so far:

Shenanigan #1

The first one has to be told despite the incident occurring about a year ago. It's that good. Our eldest son, Joshua, raced up the stairs to announce, "Noah's in trouble." Uh-oh. I flew down the stairs to find our one year old sitting on the laundry room floor, of which the walls were covered with soaked cat food and cat litter. My eyes scanned the room and my son to find a trail of dirty, lumpy, gravelly water coming out of the cat litter box and a stomach-turning, ominous, gray circle around Noah's mouth. Yes, one year old's do like to put everything in their mouths - thumbs, pacifiers, bottles, toys, books, cat tails, sand, and yes, dirty cat litter we've found. A call to poison control assured us that, no, it is not toxic for the child---just plain revolting.

Shenanigan #2

Bout a week ago, while potty training, Noah was perched on his throne, doing his business while I got some laundry together. A minute later, I walked into the bathroom to find my son looking quite confused and contemplative, his bangs dripping wet. His shoulders, neck, chest, face, the rest of his hair, head and seemingly every other single part of his body were perfectly dry. On further inspection, it was confirmed that yes, his bangs were soaked with urine. What can I say? He's talented. I would challenge any man to try and accomplish that feat. Yeah, go ahead and try.

Shenanigan #3

The very next day, Noah was again on the toilet, and I had the pleasure of hearing him sing to himself, in a very high-pitched sing-songy voice the following line, repeatedly: "Penis - where are you?" Won't that be fun to tell his future wife?

Shenanigan #4

On Friday, we were running a little late to meet another couple for a 6:30 dinner reservation. We had just finished giving directions to the babysitter, were about to escape and then discovered that Noah had stuck a pea astonishingly far up his right nostril. It could not be blown out. It would not descend with a pinching and mushing of the nose. No, it was like surgery on our bed as I retrieved the vegetable with my tweezers. Another classic Noah Shenanigan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

At Least It's Raining

At least it's raining. I actually mean that very seriously. If it was sunny right now, I don't think I could handle it. At least this way, half of Seattle will be depressed right along with me.

Alicia's sick again, so yes, I do have a worthy cause of feeling down. But being depressed is like wearing the wrong sized shoe because it just doesn't fit. I am typically happy and full of energy, but this has got me feeling very drained, lethargic and sad.

What's worse than feeling depressed is feeling guilty about feeling that way. I guess part of me thinks that since Alicia's been sick on and off for about six months now, I should be used to it by now or at least that it shouldn't hit me like a frickin' truck. But of course I am not used to this, especially considering how well Alicia has been for the past couple of weeks.

Sometimes it takes an incredible amount of strength to see the good in a situation. At first I was angry with God for teasing us, making us believe that Alicia was better, before she hit a bump in the road again. But then I mustered up all my hope and saw that a week ago, I was not being teased but being given a wonderful gift. Alicia sat with me on my couch and ate two bowls of Chicken Tortilla Soup while we chatted and had Family Movie Night. It was not God getting my hopes up so that I would feel worse when on Friday I found out that she was sick again. God was literally raising my hopes, giving me a glimpse of the Alicia I have known since I was two, the woman who has been like a sister to me. It was like old times. And it is proof to me that the girl I love so much and have missed so much is still living in that body.

So today I will be depressed. That's right - I am giving myself a day. Because I could wallow in sadness for a much longer time, but I just don't have time for it. And I believe that we have so much power over our emotions and our outlook and perspective. Today I can be sad. Tomorrow, I will grasp hope and strength with both hands, and rise from bed with my rose-tinted glasses on, ready to see the light and not the dark.

Today is the perfect day to be sad. Seattle is soaked with the buckets of water falling; dark and dreary is the sky, drenched is the land, and tomorrow--tomorrow the grass will be greener.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Motherly Superpower to Relax and Stay Calm

When considering what to write as we enter 2010, I've been overwhelmed by the multitude of topics. It's as if when we enter a new year, I can't help but evaluate every aspect of my life, searching for ways to improve. Is this normal? Am I neurotic? Well even if I am, it cannot be helped. This is what I do.

As many, one area that I am particularly interested in right now is health. But that will be a topic to be addressed at

As this blog is titled Mamma Vintage, I think I will address my motherly resolution for the New Year . . .

To relax.

It seems that two guaranteed aspects of maternal life are guilt and the questioning of our own abilities in our role as mothers. Should I put him in preschool? Is he getting all of his nutrition? Should we vaccinate? Is he watching too much TV? How will he recall his childhood? Will he remember the wonderful memories I try to create for him or will he only recall the times I lost my temper?

Raising children is a very daunting task. Just think about it. You are raising children. Little people who are your entire responsibility to raise into healthy, happy, well-balanced, intelligent, moral adults. I can feel myself begin to panic if I just reflect on that too much.

So when the job description seems too demanding and above my limitations and skill level, I find refuge in these thoughts:

I am the perfect mother . . . for my children.

I was given my children for a reason. NO ONE could mother them better than I can. I know them better than anyone else in the world and Jason and I love them more than anyone else in the world.

And it is in the harbor of these comforting thoughts that I am more able to fulfill my potential as a mother. I stop doubting myself so much and I begin trusting my instincts more. With this confidence, I am more able to be creative in my parenting rather than be hindered by my own insecurities.

Am I a perfect mother? Of course not. But when I believe in my potential, I am much more effective.

There are definitely areas I need to improve in. I will confess, I yell too much. When I have one child who refuses to stop whining at me because he is sooo hungry and wants the meal that I am currently preparing NOW and decides to win over my attention by tackling the cat while another child needs to be bathed again because his hair is saturated with urine from playing with his privates while going to the bathroom and the bathroom that I just cleaned is now sprayed with his pee, yes, I might be inclined to yell. Weird, huh?

Nothing has taught me patience like motherhood. To try and stay calm during these times is freakishly difficult, requiring seemingly superpower strength.

On the other hand, on a frazzled day, I actually have had to tell myself repeatedly that there is no crying over spilled milk. Even if it is the fifth glass.

My best friend says I'm unflappable. This year I want to extend that trait over to motherhood.

Christmas Morning Hugs

Playing Together

Christmas Morning Kisses

An Amazing Father

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Like I'm A Blogger

Yep, that's what it's like. Because I've started another blog. I have made the seemingly gigantic, possibly very stupid decision to run a marathon this June. As part of my training, I will be keeping a journal of how my runs are going. And hence, a new blog is born. Welcome

And I promise to all (what, like three???) of my readers that this blog shan't be neglected.

In fact, in the very near future, I shall discuss the New Year. 2010. It's gonna be a big one. Yikes :)