Week 17 Review: Utah Snow versus Ohio Snow

Earlier this week, we had a blizzard. It was windy and snowy for about an hour and then it was pretty much done. I was in a few blizzards in Ohio when I lived there, and this one wasn’t much like those. I hear Utah doesn’t usually get blizzards, so perhaps it’s just out of practice.

Now we’re in the midst of a winter storm. It’s not windy, but it’s dumping a significant amount of snow. The kids, my husband, and I all went out to clear the first four inches or so from the driveway and the sidewalks today. Every year I’m reminded how much easier it is to shovel Utah snow than I remember it being in Ohio. It’s just so light here that the “heave” portion of the “scrape and heave” shoveling technique I use is much less painful than it was in Ohio. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s pleasant to shovel Utah snow, it’s less unpleasant than shoveling Ohio snow. I hear it’s also good to ski on.

Aside from shoveling snow and pondering the differences between a Utah winter and an Ohio winter (Utah’s much sunnier, too), I’ve pretty much taken the day off. It seems like it’s been about a week since I worked on my novel, when in reality I wrote just yesterday. I find it hopeful that it feels strange not to be working on it. (Hopeful that I’ll keep working on it even without NaNoWriMo to urge me on.) I suspect, though, that it’s easier to get out of the habit of writing every day than it is to get into the habit of writing every day.

Now that we’re approaching the end of November, I’ve started thinking more about my focus for December: Fun. When I planned that as my focus, I left it abstract, figuring I’d figure out what I found fun sometime between August 1st and November 30th. So far the only thing on my list is the same thing that was on my list on August 1st. And that thing is “reading.” I really enjoy reading. And while I find other things fun, reading is about the only thing I find reliably fun every time I have a chance to do it. I especially like reading novels. It’s like immersing myself in a waking dream or an alternate reality. Writing a novel has been a similar experience for me this month. Why is escaping reality like that so appealing to me?

Watching movies is also fun, but they don’t engage me like they used to. I enjoy crocheting, especially crocheting things for other people, and especially crocheting things which require no further assembly once the crocheting is done. And I like crocheting while watching movies; it doesn’t necessitate being engrossed in the film. Perhaps that’s an option for December.

I realize I’m looking for only those experiences that offer unmitigated fun and rejecting those experiences that aren’t 100% guaranteed to be fun. I wonder why it’s so hard for me to pinpoint what I find “fun”? Maybe my fun focus for December shouldn’t involve following a list of “fun” activities I’ve decided in advance, but rather trying to find the fun in the things I’m already doing, along with adding additional “fun” activities as they occur to me.

All good things to ponder while shoveling snow.

A Warning Unheeded

One of the things I didn’t realize I would get when I signed up for NaNoWriMo was a pep talk from Lemony Snicket. Lemony Snicket, possibly the most ill-fated writer ever born. He took time out from his busy schedule of running away from ill-intentioned people in quest of unpleasant truths he will likely wish he’d never sought, to write a pep talk to me (and everyone else who signed up for NaNoWriMo) trying to talk us out of pursuing a path that would be difficult, painful, and ultimately leave us unfulfilled. I like all of the pep talks I get from NaNo, but Lemony Snicket’s really struck a chord with me. I especially like this portion, which seems to have been written especially for me:

“Of course, it may well be that you are writing not for some perfect reader someplace, but for yourself, and that is the biggest folly of them all, because it will not work. You will not be happy all of the time. Unlike most things that most people make, your novel will not be perfect. It may well be considerably less than one-fourth perfect, and this will frustrate you and sadden you. This is why you should stop. Most people are not writing novels which is why there is so little frustration and sadness in the world, particularly as we zoom on past the novel in our smoky jet packs soon to be equipped with pureed food. The next time you find yourself in a group of people, stop and think to yourself, probably no one here is writing a novel. This is why everyone is so content, here at this bus stop or in line at the supermarket or standing around this baggage carousel or sitting around in this doctor’s waiting room or in seventh grade or in Johannesburg. Give up your novel, and join the crowd. Think of all the things you could do with your time instead of participating in a noble and storied art form. There are things in your cupboards that likely need to be moved around.”

You can read the entire pep talk here.

Unfortunately, I read this caution too late.

50,374 is my verified word count. I’m a National Novel Writing Month 2010 WINNER!

Thanksgiving NaNoWriMo Update

NaNoWriMo Day 25 Word Count: 45,564

Only 4,436 more words to go until I reach my goal!

At this point, I’m just focusing on reaching 50,000 words, not on “finishing” my novel. I don’t feel near done with it. I’ve been writing around the turning point of the story for the past week and am only now zeroing in on it. I’m just starting to get to know my characters, and I really think there’s more left to their story than 4,436 words.

But I’m kind of relieved by that. It would be a little scary, I think, to finish the story before I reached 50,000 words. Then I’d be left staring at the screen, trying to come up with something else to add on to reach 50,000 words.

I’m making an effort to avoid thinking about December, too. I don’t want to get trapped thinking about what I’ll do or not do with this story once NaNo is over. When I do think about December, I find myself spending time on Ravelry planning crochet and knit projects.

Oh, and I’m happy to report that the apple pie I made last night was totally rockin’. Double cinnamon made all of the difference, I think. That and not putting too many apples in. And putting it back in the oven at the correct temperature for another hour after I posted the “done” picture on the Imperfect Happiness Facebook Page. When I went to check and see if the pie was cool enough to put in the fridge for the night, I noticed that the crust was a little doughy around the edges despite being quite brown elsewhere. That’s what happens when the recipe says 325°F, and I cook it at 400°F. After coming back up to heat and then finishing baking, the pie was finally done around 1:30am. But at least I got my cranberry sauce made in that time and got some reading done on the novel I’m currently enjoying (Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart).

Speaking of which, I think I’ll go and eat some pie and do some more reading. There’s not much I enjoy doing more than reading a good novel. Pie’s just the icing on the cake.

Weather Report and Word Count

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...

Image via Wikipedia

NaNoWriMo Day 23 Word Count: 41,866

Weather Report: Snowy. But it’s not like the blizzards I’ve been in before. It’s still snowing, but the wind’s died down to basically nothing. Not that I’m complaining.

I’m likely to need to do some negotiating tomorrow between the daughter who hates to be cold and the son who loves to be outside (and the mommy who kind of misses the “curled up under a blanket with a book and a beer” snow days of her early 20’s). I doubt there’s much chance I can convince them to just curl up and nap with me for a couple of hours.

We’ve Nothing to Fear but an Overactive Amygdala

Anterior cingulate cortex.

The anterior cingulate is in orange. (Image via Wikipedia)

NaNoWriMo Day 22 word count: 40,141

This morning, during our daily “Good Morning” phone call (my husband goes to work before the kids and I wake up), my husband expressed concern about some things he’d read in the New York Times.

“There’s a lot of fear in the articles I read today,” he said. He went on to describe two situations in which the writers of various articles were expressing fear. Apparently, a lot of liberals are expressing fear about the current political climate.

Let me note here that this post is not going to be about politics. It’s about fear. I have no desire to discuss politics. It just annoys me.

And then there are a lot of people who are afraid of texting. Well, they’re afraid that kids these days are texting too much and that it’s negatively affecting their brain development and ruining their ability to think deeply and at length about a single topic.

My husband and I went back and forth about whether texting really is turning the brains of the future leaders of our country into little caffeinated prairie dogs. I agreed that it’s likely that the way we use media—including text messaging—today is probably changing the way our brains work. But I’m not certain that’s necessarily a problem. I mean, apparently ancient Greek scholars were certain that the written word was going to change our brains and ruin our ability to think. It has changed our brains, but I would argue that it hasn’t ruined our ability to think (but then, I might be a little biased). I suppose it’s always possible that, if we could look at all of human history from a distant enough perspective, we’d see the widespread adoption of the written word as the beginning of the end of human civilization, but I don’t think we could say that definitively at this point in time.

I also suggested that the people who fear texting are all people over 35 or so who don’t use texting on a regular basis, and so they’ve become Generation X’s crotchety old men railing about the kids today and how we were all so much more enlightened when we were their age because we used e-mail over a dial-up connection and all text glowed green against a black screen.

I wondered more what this multi-tasking might be doing to our capacity for interpersonal connection and our propensity towards reacting with fear rather than calmly analyzing a situation and coming to a rational and compassionate conclusion and, if necessary, solution.

In my spare time, I’ve begun reading How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. They describe the activity of the anterior cingulate as it relates to the amygdala. The anterior cingulate is a brain “structure that is involved with emotional regulation, learning, and memory.” It also “plays a major role in lowering anxiety and irritability, and also enhances social awareness.” The activation of the anterior cingulate also decreases the symptoms of depression. The amygdala “governs your fight-or-flight response to a perceived or imagined fear.” Apparently, as the amygdala becomes more active, the anterior cingulate becomes less active. The opposite is also true, that as the anterior cingulate becomes more active, the amygdala becomes less active. They also mention that the brain really doesn’t know how to tell the difference between reality and fantasy (hence the “perceived or imagined fear” part of the amygdala description).

Meditation, which the authors define as any sustained focus of your brain regardless of the subject (this can include prayer, yogic breathing, playing a musical instrument, or just contemplating any of life’s “big questions”), increases activity in the anterior cingulate and decreases activity in the amygdala. It seems to me that multi-tasking precludes sustained focus and so potentially diminishes the activity of our anterior cingulate, making us more likely to experience fear and a fight-or-flight response whether a threat is real or imagined.

I’m wondering if the fear that the authors of the New York Times pieces my husband read this morning could be a result of their own personal lack of sustained focus. Maybe their own multi-tasking behavior (which, by all accounts, has become pretty much the norm in American society) has caused their amygdala to work overtime, leaving them more likely to feel fear, irritability, and anxiety than compassion.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t danger inherent in texting or in electing conservative ideologues to public office. There might be or there might not be. It’s the reaction people have to this perceived threat that interests me. If these things—or anything else that people are concerned about—truly are threats, then reacting with fear and anger isn’t likely to help us find a different path to take, and it certainly doesn’t facilitate open and intelligent discussion about the possible alternatives.

I was also thinking that, while I put myself on a Facebook fast for November simply to help give me more time to write while I’m working on my novel, maybe it’s also helping me to have the sustained focus necessary to write a novel by decreasing the amount of time I spend multi-tasking in my daily life. Maybe the craving I’ve been having for a religious or spiritual community and/or practice is also related to a personal need for less anxiety and more happiness. Maybe my brain’s smarter than I realize and knows better what it needs than I do.

I can always hope.

GF/CF Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (and Week 16 Review)

NaNoWriMo Day 21 Word Count: 37,869

I know that many of you eat raw cookie dough even if there are eggs in it. But I’m certain I’m not the only overly-cautious person who will not even entertain the idea of eating raw any kind of anything with eggs in it. My daughter has been programmed so well that when we cook together, she says, before I even have a chance to say anything, “This has eggs in it so it’s not safe and sound to taste it.”

When we made these cookies, we were both thrilled that I could say, “Guess what? There are no eggs in this recipe, so we can eat the dough!” I imagine trippy psychedelic colors undulating in my daughter’s brain with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida playing over it. I highly doubt that actually happened, but she was excited about eating raw cookie dough nonetheless. So was her brother.

Oh, and the cooked cookies were excellent, too. And since they’re sweetened with maple syrup and have rolled oats in them, they’re health food, so you can eat the whole batch, which is only one dozen. If you whip some up after the kids go to bed, you easily will have gotten rid of all of the evidence by the time they wake up. The perfect crime.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

Reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

I’ve put the modifications to make this GF and Vegan in parenthesis after the original amounts.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Makes 1 dozen 3-inch cookies

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used Gifts of Nature GF oats)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (to make GF, sub 3/4 c brown rice flour, 3 T potato starch, 1 T tapioca starch, and 1/2 t xanthan gum, or 1 cup of your GF flour mix of choice + 1/2 t xanthan gum)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (I used coconut oil to make them dairy-free)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oats, flour, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together maple syrup, butter (or coconut oil), and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts and chips.

With moist hands form dough into 3-inch cookies and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges turn golden.

These cookies are delicious and soft right out of the oven and turn kind of crispy once they’re cool. The flavor reminds me of Russian Tea Balls, which I think are similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies. I would almost prefer raisins in them than chocolate chips. Almost.

Week 16 Review:

This week has been a little challenging. I’ve just been kind of low energy and irritable. I’ve been ignoring many of my resolutions from previous months as I focus all of my attention on NaNoWriMo. I’ve not been working out much because my knee has been bothering me and walking just doesn’t do it for me the way running does. Maybe if I don’t run until the beginning of December, my knee will be ready for action again. I’ve been going to bed late and not being as mindful as I was. I’m still aware of judgmental thoughts, which has been helpful, and I’ve started eating better again (namely, I’ve stopped drinking coffee again. I drink decaf, so I don’t think the caffeine was a problem, but I feel better without the coffee anyway).

I don’t think all of my malaise can been attributed to my self care or lack thereof, though. I think some of it is just a result of the psychological roller coaster that I’ve heard participants in NaNoWriMo ride as the month progresses. Here I am at nearly 38,000 words. I’m in the home stretch, and while I know that, if I keep this pace, I’ll finish in plenty of time, I find this fear creeping up that I won’t be able to do it. I’m doing my best to be gentle with myself and to recognize this naysayer for who she is (my inner critic trying to protect me from disappointment by keeping me from really trying to succeed at a goal I’ve set for myself. She seems to think it’s better to say, “I gave up,” than it is to say, “I tried as hard as I could and still didn’t finish.”)

NaNoWriMo Day 20 Word Count

35,135

I should have written 18 more words. Then it would have been a palindrome.

A Year with Frog and Toad

Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

If my cats did this, we could have left the house on time this morning (Image via Wikipedia, Photographer: User:Reward.)

NaNoWriMo Day 19 word count: 33,208

We went to see A Year with Frog and Toad, put on by the University of Utah Youth Theater this morning. We were supposed to meet some homeschooling friends out front at 9:20, and against all odds, we were making wonderful time. I stopped to fill up some water bottles (I have a thing about having enough provisions for any outing). I heard my daughter yelling from the laundry room.

“No! Put that down! No! No!”

I set down the water pitcher and walked to the doorway of the laundry room. I saw my daughter standing about a foot away from my son as he reached into the litter box with his hands, grabbed cat poo, and then put it into the small covered garbage can we have next to the little box for that purpose.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” I yelled (or something of that nature).”Why didn’t you stop him?”

“I was putting on my jacket,” my daughter explained. Well, I guess I did only ask her to watch him, not to actually intervene if he was doing something that needed intervention.

I grabbed the baby and shook his hand to release his grip on the turd he held, then I took him in to the sink to wash his hands, saying over and over, “We’re gonna be late, we’re gonna be late.” I must have scrubbed his little hands for a good three minutes before I felt satisfied that they were clean enough.

I got our water bottles and stuffed them in the diaper bag.

“I’m thirsty!” my daughter said. I pulled out her water bottle and shoved it towards her.

“Here, take it!”

Then the baby signed “water” and I handed him his cup, which he promptly dropped on the floor.

“Please carry that water for your brother,” I directed my daughter.

“I can’t,” she said, “I need to open the door. Mommy, why are you wearing your brown shoes instead of your shiny black shoes?”

“Because we might need to park far away, and my shiny black shoes aren’t very comfortable to walk long distances in.”

“My shiny black shoes are comfortable. What does ‘walk long distances’ mean?”

I stammered trying to figure out which part of that statement she was having trouble with.

“Let’s just go to the car,” I said, propping the baby on my hip, shouldering the diaper bag, and opening the door.

“I want to be the first one out!” my daughter whined.

“Fine!” I yelled. “Just get out there! We’re going to be late!”

I locked the door to the house while my daughter stood at the car pulling on the door handle repeating over and over, “Mommy, unlock the door! Mommy, unlock the door!”

“Does that help unlock the door?” I asked her as I hit the button to unlock the car. “The yelling and whining. Does that work? Because if it does, maybe I’ll try that next time instead of using the key.”

My daughter laughed. I fastened the baby into his car seat as he grabbed a stuffed giraffe from beside him. My daughter screamed.

“Dear God, what is it now?” I asked.

“That’s my giraffe!” she said and yanked the toy from her brother’s grip. He began crying, but calmed again when I handed him his Doggies book (by Sandra Boynton).

“Fine,” I said. “Let’s just go. We’re going to be late.”

“Mommy, it’s OK if we’re…”

“No! It’s not OK if we’re late! Have you ever been to a play? Do you know if it’s OK to be late?”

I didn’t wait for an answer. I shut the baby’s door, then went around the car and got into the driver’s seat.

“Don’t go yet!” my daughter yelled. “I can’t buckle it! I can’t buckle it!”

“You have got to be kidding me!” I yelled as I got back out of the car, opened her door and fastened her buckle. She started to cry.

“Don’t talk in that voice!” she cried.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just don’t like being late.” I hugged her and gave her a kiss, then slid back into the driver’s seat.

As we backed out, my daughter asked, “Mommy, does it really take a half an hour to get there?”

We ended up getting there just after our friends arrived. We found them right away, checked in, and got seats with no trouble. The play was lovely. It was a musical, which I didn’t expect, but which kept the kids’ attention better than a straight-up, non-musical play would have, I think. The costumes were adorable, although perhaps a little subtle for the younger kids. There seemed to be kind of a 1920’s theme to the clothing and the music and the dancing. It was cute and quite enjoyable. The baby watched a good portion of it, grew restless, and then nursed to sleep. My daughter was frightened of the Terrible Frog (just like she is when we read the book), but otherwise loved the show.

After everything turned out so well, I was left wishing I could have gotten us there without the yelling that went along with our departure. Sure, it was stressful, but in retrospect, it was actually kind of funny. I’d like to be able to see the funny part better in the moment.

I’ve been anxious lately. I’ve managed to keep my inner critic fairly quiet about my novel, but that seems to have got her working overtime criticizing everything else I do. I’m just trying to sit with my imperfection and see all of the positives, but it’s a pretty big challenge. I’m fairly confident it will be worth it, though. It kind of already is.

But I’d still like to yell less.

Perfectly Exhausted

NaNoWriMo Day 18 Word Count: 31,187

Tonight, I am tired. It took a lot of mental energy to get myself to write. Yesterday was so easy. The baby napped for 1.5 hours straight and my daughter entertained herself for most of that time, and I got my writing done before my husband even arrived home, which gave me tons of time to write a long post about a real-women’s Victoria’s Secret catalog.

This morning, the baby woke up at 4:30 with his daddy. Of course, his daddy was going off to work. I suggested he take the baby with him, but he thought I was joking. My son and I finally got back to sleep around 6:30. Then my daughter woke us up at 7:30. Well, she didn’t think she was waking us up. She was hugging the baby as he slept and whispering in his ear how much she loves him, and she was rubbing my forearms gently with her cold little fingers while I tried to sleep.

And then the baby decided that all he needed was a 40-minute nap today.

So, I’m tired. And kind of cranky. But I feel somewhat better now that I have my writing done. And I’m glad I’ve been working ahead because I didn’t have to write a full 1,667 words to meet my Day-18 goal.

OK, now I’m done complaining.

Last night I found this post by Brené Brown entitled 12 Tips to Becoming Your Authentic Self. I’m generally not a huge fan of the “9 Secrets to a Slimmer Waist” and “Increase Your IQ in 3 Easy Steps” type things. They seem, for the most part, over-simplified. But I do find value in some things that are in numbered lists (this from a woman with Seven Personal Commandments), and Brené Brown’s list is one of them. Or maybe twelve of them.

Her list is all about letting go of perfectionism. I think her tips are a great starting point. They’re not the full answer, but they’re not meant to be. Just little jumping-off points to get a person thinking. Little things like, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best,” andPerfectionism is not self-improvement.”

It’s good stuff. Enjoy! And get some sleep. (That last one’s a reminder for myself, but if you’re tired, you can apply it to yourself, too.)

Week 15 Review and Some Thoughts About Religion

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 24,809

I’m now two weeks into National Novel Writing Month and less than 200 words from the halfway point. I find that I have a fair amount of fear and hesitation around writing when I’m not doing it, but so far, I’ve been able to continue showing up at the computer every day. Once I’m here, it’s easier to play.

My mom suggested that I’m writing a novel in the same way most people read one. There’s a different feeling to writing this novel than there is to reading one, but I get her point. There’s a certain amount of discipline and faith that goes into both the writing process and the reading process. And both give me that sensation of being in a dream. When I wake from a particularly vivid dream, some of the dream sometimes gets mixed in with reality for me. I’m having a similar experience with this novel.

My characters seem to be taking on something of a life of their own. I always thought it was a little precious when an author talked about his characters doing something unexpected. The past two days of writing, my main character has surprised me by taking some different paths than I expected her to. There may be a lesson about judgment in here.

In other news, I attended another church today in my ongoing church-hopping adventure. So far I’ve been to two Catholic churches, an Episcopal church, a Buddhist temple, a Baha’i Center, and, today, a Congregational church. I’ve been somewhat surprised by my reactions to the different churches I’ve visited (for simplicity’s sake, I’m using the term “church” generically to mean “the place where the religion stuff happens”).

For example, the Congregational church had no gendered language in their materials (except for the readings from the Bible). They repeated the word “God” rather than using the pronoun “Him.” When I was in college, I thought this would be a major factor in whether I chose to attend a church or not. Turns out, it doesn’t seem that big a deal now. I like that they don’t have gendered language, it’s just not as important a factor as I thought it would be.

The places I felt most comfortable, theologically, and the most challenged (in a good way) spiritually were the Catholic churches and the Buddhist temple. The most friendly places were the Buddhist temple, the Baha’i Center, and the Congregational church.

There are some things that have turned me off in a few of the churches. One of the Catholic churches was a little too large a space and laid out in such a way that I felt no intimacy with the rest of the congregation. The Episcopal service began with a comment about the election that I thought was a bit too political for my taste. The Congregational service had more intercessional prayer than I was entirely comfortable with.

This church-hopping has helped me to better define what it is I’m looking for in a church. I’ve narrowed it down to four things:

  1. A community in which I feel comfortable developing my spirituality.
  2. A community in which my children can develop relationships with their peers and with caring adults.
  3. An atmosphere of curiosity about and openness to spiritual growth.
  4. A community in which my children are welcomed not only in the places designated for children, but also in the spiritual life of the congregation as a whole.

So far, the one that most closely meets all of these criteria is the Buddhist temple.

One thing that really appealed to me about the Buddhist temple was how different it was, but how comfortable it felt in spite of (or perhaps because of) this difference. The dharma talk was about the ordination (if that’s the right word) of an Episcopal bishop that the minister had attended. He described his disorientation sitting in this service, but also his surprise that, although the other ministers sitting with him were from Christian denominations other than Episcopalian, everyone seemed to know when to sit and when to stand, and they all knew the same hymns.

His anecdote struck a chord with me. Not having grown up attending religious services, I often feel a similar sense of disorientation in church services. I didn’t feel disoriented in the Buddhist service. Or rather, I felt a little confused upon walking in (Should I bow? Should I take one of these little books? Does it matter where I sit?), but the demeanor of the other people in the service put me at ease almost immediately.

Another thing I loved about the Buddhist temple: the Sunday school happens after the service. The children are expected to be part of the service, and then are in class while the parents socialize at coffee hour.

The reason I’m on this quest is because we were asked to leave the service at our Unitarian Universalist church earlier this year when my then 6-month-old decided to sing along with the choir. It’s only the feeling that there is a gap in my life without a spiritual community that’s brought me back out to risk that kind of embarrassment and humiliation at churches across the city and across denominations. Of course, I’m going to the services without the children first, so I’ve not risked much child-related humiliation just yet.

During the coffee hour after the service at the Buddhist temple, I asked if it was OK to have my toddler in service talking and running around. (I don’t tell people at the other churches why I’m no longer attending the UU church, I just ask about kids in the service.) The woman I spoke with said, “Of course! Look at our kids! They’re crazy!” gesturing towards the kids running around and shouting all around us. “Unless he’s crying, he’s fine in the service. Eventually the children will learn what’s expected during the service. And how else will they learn unless they’re in there with us, watching what’s going on?” This woman’s answer and the fact that the temple’s commitment to having children in the service is backed up by their having Sunday school after the service are very reassuring to me. I’m planning to go back, and I’m planning to bring the kids with me next time I go.

My husband will be thrilled to have his Sunday morning back. He’s been waiting patiently for me to find somewhere I felt comfortable taking the children.