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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No-More-Rut Dinner List

About a year ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a serious dinner rut. We had the same five dinners every week and were loathe to eat each night, but couldn't come up with any better ideas. Thanks to some inspiration from a family member, I came up with our now famous (in our home, anyway) "No-More-Rut Dinner List" and I thought I'd share for those who also find themselves in such a food funk.

So, here's how to read this:
Beside many meals, you'll see "puree" and/or "Pinterest," "Allrecipes," "FoodNetwork" or some other note for myself. I add a cup of whatever vegetable puree I have on hand to most of our meals, so that I am certain we get our veggies in (I am a horrible veggie-hater, so I have to sneak them in for myself). Most recipes I have in a book, but if I have them saved online somewhere, I have that noted for myself, too.

If you'd like a specific recipe, please email me at ZenParenting1@yahoo.com (and please be patient, because getting back to everyone may take time). Otherwise, take this for what it is - a template for something you might try yourself. We cycle through this every month or two and never have to feel our old vittles boredom. Happy feasting!

tacos - puree
burritos - puree
tostadas - puree
tamale pie - puree
tamales and chili – puree
bubble-up enchiladas (pinterest) - puree

pizza (white, pesto, regular, pesto and/or alfredo)
spaghetti - puree
lasagna - puree
pesto, alfredo, and/or parma rosa pasta
baked ziti - puree
almost lasagna - puree
calzone rolls - puree
five-cheese pasta - puree
gnocchi in fontina sauce - puree
four cheese baked ziti (allrecipes) – puree
lemon linguini
three-cheese pasta (pinterest) – puree
spaghetti bread (pinterest) - puree
baked cream cheese spaghetti (pinter.) – puree
pesto alfredo mac - puree

meatloaf - puree
beef stew rice/pot pie - puree
chili size - puree
gravy burgers
beef souvlaki
grilled meatloaf burgers - puree

BBQ chicken breasts
chicken quesadillas (DD)
baked chicken and rice - puree
honey mustard chicken w/ bacon
tortilla tubes (DD)
chicken puffs (allrecipes) - puree
three-cheese chicken alfredo (pinterest) – puree
chicken enchiladas (pinterest) – puree
Buffalo chick. mac & bleu cheese (pint.) - puree

baked sweet potatoes
cornbread in milk
sweet potato pancakes (DD)
mac & cheese 1 (DD)
“buttered” noodles (DD)
quinoa patties
sweet potato burgers (pinterest)
cheesy quinoa bites (pinterest)

baked hoagies
chicken bacon ranch panini
grilled cheese (DD) with tomato soup
Buffalo chicken grilled cheese (pinterest)

cream cheese chicken and noodles - puree
hot pepper pork sandwiches - puree
pork tenderloin with ginger-plum sauce
pumpkin soup
easy cheesy chicken (allrecipes) - puree
Pushpa’s chili – puree
chicken with basil cream sauce – puree
Greek chicken – puree
chicken cacciatore – puree
baby beef stew classico – puree
BBQ braised brisket
espresso-braised pot roast
brown sugar/balsamic pork loin (pinterest)
baked potato soup (pinterest) – puree
chicken and dumplings (pinterest) – puree
sweet and tangy meatballs (pinterest)
Café Rio chicken (pinterest)
pork chops and potatoes (pinterest)
chicken and rice (pinterest) – puree
Hawaiian chicken (pinterest) - puree

nachos (HG) - puree
chili mac – puree
cheddar-apple sausage mac – puree
Buffalo mac - puree

Swedish meatballs and rice - puree
baked mac and cheese(foodnetwork) – puree
enchiladas – puree
sweet potato empanadas (food network)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Brief Summary of The Differences Between a CNM, CPM, Doula, and Monitrice

The world of birth professionals can be confusing, especially to first time parents. I’d like to focus on just these four for the purposes of this post: certified nurse midwife, certified professional midwife, doula, and monitrice. There are also lay midwives (also called direct entry midwives) and certified midwives, but for now we will just focus on the aforementioned group.

Note: though there are male CNMs, CPMs, doulas, and monitrices, they are decidedly less common, so for purposes of this post, we’ll use ‘she’ as a generalization.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

A CNM has first trained as a registered nurse and then gone on to two more years of nurse-midwifery schooling. CNMs generally practice in hospitals only and are often not trained in homebirths, though they do sometimes practice in birthing centers. Obviously with RN training and hospital work under her belt, she has a much more medically-leaning mind and practice. It is important to understand that some CNMs practice under a physician and are bound by physician and hospital policies and procedures. Check with her to find out if she that is the case with her. She’s the one you go to when you want or need a hospital birth, but with a kinder, gentler, more personal and mama-centered touch. CNMs can also typically offer more full scope well-woman care.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)

According to The North American Registry of Midwives, “A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a knowledgeable, skilled and professional independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and is qualified to provide the Midwives Model of Care. The CPM is the only midwifery credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings.” She is qualified to care for you and your unborn babe all through your normal pregnancy, can help you safely birth your babe at home or at a birth center, and cares for you and babe during the first six weeks postpartum. She is your go-to woman when you want the comfort of your own home, your own decisions, your own birth experience.


The word doula is Greek loosely meaning “woman helping woman.” As with all these birthing professionals, she is a God-send (or Goddess-send, or whatever-is-holy-to-you-send…don’t make me keep going). She is your emotional and practical support either for birth or postpartum, as those are the two main types. She also helps you advocate for yourself if you have chosen to go to the hospital (or are transferred there due to circumstances). She is like the best, most perfect, soothing, understanding, supportive mom you could ever wish for (no offense to your mama). And a postpartum doula will be all that for you while helping with the more mundane, but often overwhelming immediately after having a babe, tasks around the house and in your life.

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it." ~John H. Kennell, MD. cofounder, DONA


This is probably the least common and least understood of the birth professionals. Some people use the term monitrice and doula interchangeably, but there are differences, slight though they may be. A monitrice is quite like a doula, but with a smidge more training. She is quite like a midwife, but with a less training – she is frequently a student midwife. She the Baby Bear chair of the birth professional world – “just right” and just between midwife and doula. A monitrice has had doula training plus usually nursing or midwifery training. She is labor coach, advocate, and support system all wrapped up in one wonderful body. With a monitrice, you can stay home longer, if you’ve chosen to have a hospital birth, because she has clinical skills such as fetal heart rate monitoring, maternal blood pressure monitoring, vaginal exams, if you choose to have them. She will generally be on-call during your pregnancy and provide prenatal, labor & delivery, and postpartum services. She’s not as common as a doula, but certainly worth looking into as long as you’re interviewing support professionals anyway.

None of these are meant to take the place of a loving, supportive partner, but to add to the support system a mom already has in place. Everyone there should have a job. Nobody should be there just to gawk, relax, and reap the rewards of your hard work. Customize your support team to your needs and let them do just that – support you and yours.

If money is a concern for you (and isn’t it for most of us?), you might want to consider getting a student doula or monitrice, as their rates are generally much less and even, sometimes, free. They’re every bit as amazing and, as a two-fer, they’re cheap…score! Really, though, all of these birthing professionals are priceless. The monetary cost is nothing in comparison to what they provide for you, your partner, and your babe body, mind, heart, and soul.

What did we choose? Well, we found the most amazing CPM who was once a CNM and before that had been an L&D RN for several years. She had with her a student midwife who was also a doula. We could NOT have been any more blessed. We go the homebirth midwife with the training of the nurse-midwife and the doula came for free with the deal! Whenever I speak or write of them (or to them, because we are still in touch on a personal level…can’t say that about an OB), I tear up. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I know that they are two of the reasons we have the miracle son we have. I can’t go on…my eyes are all blurry for some reason…….

*My eternal thanks goes to Allyson Juneau-Butler of Well-Rounded Momma and April Kermani of both Baby’s 1st Day and Well-Rounded Momma. Without their help, I would have nothing to write about. And without Allyson’s help, I would’ve made all sorts of doofy mistakes in this post!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"She Said, She Said" - The Call for Gentle Advocacy from Two Different Points of View

"What Are You Hoping to Accomplish?"
by Amy of Zen Parenting

I have a really hard time with the concept of genitally mutilating a babe. I can't imagine harming my son. I just can't wrap my head around it.

Let me tell you what else I have a hard time with: the scads of comments I get whenever I post something about circumcision that go something like this, "Anyone who would do this to a child is evil, should be destroyed, and should not be allowed to call themselves a parent! Eff them and the horse they rode in on!"

As I have stated before, I am a passionate genital integrity advocate. I am not, however, pro-bashing the parents who were misled, lied to, deceived, and now likely feel a tremendous amount of remorse that nothing can ever take away.

I struggle to figure out why some think this is the right way to approach parents. I've rarely found it appropriate, effective, or helpful to go the aggressive route. I generally feel that the gentle approach is best in these cases. Sometimes, assertive is necessary, yes. Passive-aggressive and just plain ol' aggressive-aggressive just doesn't do the job and typically does more harm than good. What is the thought process behind verbally obliterating those who cannot take back the choice they made, cannot unring the bell, cannot undo the damage that they know they did?

When communicating, I think it is always crucial to consider ones audience and ask oneself "What do I hope to accomplish here?"

Your audience is full of parents. Parents, for the most part, love their children as much as you love yours. Sometimes, they make mistakes. So do you, so do I. Perhaps, we haven't all made the same mistakes, but we can all relate to making mistakes as we raise our children and grow alongside them. For many of us, it was a happy accident that we did not circumcise our children, because, sadly, there is just as much misinformation out there as there is valid. Brian Morris (and other circumfetishists like him) sounds brilliant and comes across as quite valid and rational to those trying to research the topic. A parent doing their best to research decisions could easily come across one of his sites and be misled into making a tragic, life-altering decision. There are far too many medical professionals out there spewing the "benefits" of circumcision so as to line their own pockets to new, vulnerable, trusting parents. And, of course, we cannot dismiss the power of conditioning. When circumcision has run rampant in a person's environment for generations, that has an impact, whether or not it should.

If your goal is to alienate and destroy the person, if you're hoping to shut down any hope you have of an open dialogue, by all means, carry on and dismiss this post. However, if you're hoping to engage in an honest conversation in which you have an opportunity to educate, gentle is the way to go. Make no mistake, just because you're gentle, that doesn't mean you'll necessarily get the reaction you want. You may, though, plant a seed that grows in that person's brain and heart and eventually blooms into an awakening of thought. Beating them down, though, will do no such thing - that will only serve to shut them up and shut them down, building up their defenses so you may never have a chance to get through to them.

It takes a strong, brave, bright person to be able to say, "I screwed up. I hurt my child and there's nothing I can do about it. I wish I knew then what I know now." It takes another strong, brave, bright person to be able to say, "I'm sorry you were a victim. I'm sorry your son was a victim. How can I help you not make this mistake again?"

"Healing From Circumcision"
by Jennifer Andersen of Our Muddy Boots

"A little common sense would have saved her baby".

"How could she mutilate her son?"

"She is his mother, she is supposed to protect him! Why didn't she?"

These are not only comments shared by others about mothers who circumcise, they are my worst inner thoughts. The things that I have been saying to myself openly for months and have hidden from myself for years. How could I have not protected my son? Why do I use the excuse that I did not know better? They were CUTTING my child- how could I not have known?

And the truth is that I did know. Every part of my body told me that having my son circumcised was barbaric, and I let them do it anyway. I was a first time mother who was not aware of the depth of evil within our system. And so I let them cut him.

When my son runs around without any clothes, my eyes do not first notice the beauty and grace in his stride, or his smile from running freely. First, I notice the missing piece and my stomach sinks with what it represents; the day I did not protect my son.

Trust me when I say that I have beaten myself up and berated myself enough for all of you. You do not have to. You can rest with the knowledge that I take care of this task every. single. day.

It was coincidental, but I shared this story during Genital Integrity Awareness Week and I was terrified of what the reaction would be. Truly terrified. I had tortured my son and now the world would tell me that I was an evil awful mutilator.

This is not what happened. Instead, I was met with compassionate honesty. Nobody told me that it was okay- I did not want them to. People offered me comfort and kindness as I started to openly face the reality of my choice.

Because really, how could anyone be hurtful to a mother who is devastated? It would be cruel.

The compassion that I was shown significantly changed my life. Once I understood that I was accepted by those who work so hard to stop allowing babies to be cut, possibilities opened up. I realized that while I could never change my own decision, I could help to share the facts about circumcision with other mothers so that they would never have to feel this pain. And so that babies would avoid this atrocity.

I am now a Chapter Director for the Intact Network and I share facts and information about Circumcision on both my website, and Our Muddy Boots Facebook page. And the more I learn, the stronger my desire to share this information becomes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Hindsight

Guest Post by Denise W.
my mom and my son's "mammy"

Hindsight is 20/20 - never has there been a truer statement. I didn't gain my 20/20 hindsight until 19 months ago. My son is 32 years old and, unfortunately, I had him circumcised at birth. I didn't even know that I had a choice to circumcise or not until my daughter had my grandson 19 months ago and told me they were going to leave him perfect and intact. We had several discussions about the reasoning behind her decision - everything just made sense and clicked. She had me look at a video that I could not watch through its entirety. I was in tears through the part I could get through. I NEVER had ONE person - not my doctor, my parents (by the way, my dad was intact), a nurse, my husband - tell me I had a choice!

(uncle and nephew - hopefully the cycle stops here)

After reading, watching videos, listening to my daughter and watching my precious, intact grandson who did not have to go through what I put my son through I was physically sick - I actually vomited and have cried myself to sleep more than once. I want so bad to yell at someone. I am so mad at myself! To say that I had a flood of emotions running through me when I found out the horrors of circumcision is an understatement. I love my son with all my being and would never do anything intentionally to hurt him, but I did! I just want to hold on to my son and tell him how sorry I am. There are a lot of regrets I have with raising my children, but if I had been given the chance to listen to the facts this would be one less regret I would have had.

I wonder why my husband and I didn't have a discussion about circumcision? We talked in detail about the birthing process. I made a conscious decision to have both of my kids naturally, because I did not want to put any drugs into their systems, so why did I not think there were choices I could have made when it came to mutilating my son? Why was there no discussion about the circumcision of our son? I feel like I let my son down as his parent, at a time when he didn't have a voice and I was the one who could have, should have, spoken for him, but didn't.

My mom told me about three months ago that she felt circumcision was "barbaric." Why didn't she talk to me about her feelings back then? Why didn't my dad talk to me about being intact and what his feelings were about circumcision? I knew nothing about boys and their penises. I grew up in a home with one sister, never any brothers, so there wasn't much conversation going on about male anatomy. There were those, though, who could've said something, who could have prevented my son's trauma (and mine), but sat idly by rather than chance an uncomfortable conversation.

I WISH I had known then what I know now. But because I can do nothing about what I did to my son, I can, at this stage in my life, share my story and also give them reasons why circumcision is not the answer. I will NOT be silent now, when I am armed with knowledge and a true understanding of the truth! I urge you to speak up as well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Celebration of Pregnancy

May is both National Pregnancy Awareness Month and National Photo Month. That being the case, we figured why not combine the two to celebrate pregnancy with photos?

The following photos have all been used with permission from the Zen Parents on my Facebook page with my endless gratitude.

Chloe, pregnant with Toby 41 weeks and 3 days. She gave birth in that pool in her bedroom 9 days later.

Lesley, 7 months preggo with Journey.

Alanna, 6 months pregnant with Clara, 'Mama spider with her egg-sac.'

Bec, 6 months pregnant with her son Zion.

Melanie, 39 weeks pregnant with #5 baby, Adrianna.

Amber, 36 weeks pregnant with Selene Sophia.

Valerie, 37 weeks preggo with Andrew, posing with Eva (at 4.5) and holding Julia (at 2.5).

Julie, 5 months pregnant with her beautiful, very ZEN baby boy, Sergio Michael.

Zach and Amy, 41 weeks pregnant with Jack, who was born 24 hours later.

Holly Elise, 36 weeks pregnant (3 weeks away from giving birth) with her daughter Molly Kuhilani Elise.

Dazmine, 9 months pregnant with Peyton.

Emily and her belly having tea at 39 weeks, 5 days - just a day before the slow process of labour started. Scarlett was born a week later.

The Badass Breastfeeder, 7 months pregnant with Jack Charles.

Kimberley and baby girl Logan in her final month, as photographed by daughter, Ryleigh.

Chantay, 16 weeks pregnant with her first, Noah Alexander.

Jessica and Miles, who is pictured here on August 23rd, was due September 23rd, and was born October 6th.

Corey, 33 weeks pregnant with her son, Banyan Alexander.

Rebecca, 38 weeks pregnant with Elisha.

Pregnancy comes in all shapes and sizes. No two are alike. The one commonality in all of them, though, is that they are beautiful, as you've just seen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Face Only a Mother Could Love

My son is incredibly expressive both verbally and facially. This, I love. He shares these faces with most everyone he come into contact with, though most usually with those who are closest to him, those with whom he feels most comfortable. There is one face, though, that he reserves just for me – his breastfeeding face. You other breastfeeding mamas know the one I’m talking about. It’s a face unlike any other he makes. It’s a face only I can see.

My son’s face changes shape when he smiles, cries, laughs, or makes any other expression he comes up with – and he comes up with more all the time. It is an amazing thing to see. Sometimes his face looks tiny and small, sometimes it rounds out and fills up with teeth and cheeks. Sometimes his eyes look big and round, sometimes they look smooshed and squinty (generally accompanied by the aforementioned teeth and cheeks). Sometimes his mouth is petite with a perfect little Cupid's bow, sometimes his mouth is wide and stretched to the limit.

When he breastfeeds, though, his face takes on a whole new shape. It is at once small and full. His eyes are round and inquisitive and focused and peaceful. He gets these little smile lines around his mouth. It is, in my opinion, his most beautiful of all his beautiful faces. And nobody else has ever seen it but me. Nobody else will ever have my vantage point. Nobody else will ever get to share in our secret looks or in the messages we pass through our eyes. That face is one only I can love, because only I am blessed enough to see it. And oh, how I am blessed.

(My son, 4 months, and me doing a little extra loving during breastfeeding. I can't show you the face - that's just for me.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Attachment Parenting and Gentle Parenting – A Slight Difference

There has been oh-so much going on in the media surrounding Attachment Parenting (AP). As a result, I’ve seen many people talking about AP not being about “The Bs,” rather a mindset of loving and responding to one’s children. Unfortunately, I have to take exception with this.

Attachment Parenting and gentle parenting are slightly different. Let’s go over what Attachment Parenting is according to Dr. Sears, who is widely known to be the “father of AP.” According to Dr. Sears’ site, there are 7 “Bs” to AP:

• Birth bonding
• Breastfeeding
• Babywearing
• Bedding near baby
• Belief in the language of baby’s cry
• Beware of “Baby Trainers”
• Balance

Gentle parenting, on the other hand, is far more loose in concept. Most who consider themselves gentle parents, for example, take a stand against routine infant circumcision, whereas there is no stance on the procedure in the guidelines stated above. Now, in fairness, AP is not a set of hard and fast rules that one must follow, but there is an obvious statement of basic concepts, as opposed to the more vague, moldable approach of gentle parenting. One is not more right than the other. Parents can certainly be both, but being one doesn’t necessarily make one the other.

What are you? Are you an Attachment Parent, a gentle parent, or do you defy labels? What makes you the parent you are?

Why You Should Circumcise Your Child

Does anyone else hear crickets?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

So Long, Sex Drive! Wish You Were Here!

I have to be very frank here, I used to be HORNY! I know that's a strong word, but nothing else will suffice in this case. I had no shortage of healthy hormones and sex drive. My married and parent friends used to stare in wonder at me and pat me on the back, for they were sure I would be the exception to their thought that everyone's sex life goes downhill after vows and kids.

Turns out, they were wrong. Horny be gone. Horny be LONG gone.

In reality, it was a short road trip from sex to sexless (or, at least, sex less often). IVF hormones did nothing to help. Pregnancy filled with 5 months of morning (read: all-day) sickness and the next 5 months of bed rest sealed that deal. I have now come to believe my sex drive checked into some seedy roadside motel and has yet to check out and return home. I have now come to believe it is never coming home.

That being the case, I asked my doctor about it. He actually gave me a bit of hope, saying that it would likely return upon cessation of breastfeeding in a few years (yes, he actually said a few years, because he is quite pro-breastfeeding for the normal term of 3-7 years). A postcard had arrived from my sex drive. It is indeed at that motel watching pay-per-view movies, but it wanted to let me know it was thinking of me and missed me. At least I know it's not dead in a gutter somewhere.

I've decided to help the situation in the only way I know how. If I could not breastfeed my son, I would get him a wet nurse. I'm considering doing the same thing (with a slightly different connotation) for my husband...

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Mother's Day Means to Me

In my life, every day is Mother's Day. Every day is one that I feel blessed and loved and blissfully enamored with my son. Every day I feel appreciated and needed and wanted by him. I don't need a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates to celebrate a Sunday in the middle of May. I have all that I could ever need or want sitting right here on my lap as I type this. He smells of chocolate chips, finger paint, and breastmilk - and intoxicating mixture to this mama. Mother's Day is right now. Mother's Day is tomorrow during our nap while he snuggles up to the breast. Mother's Day is next Tuesday when we play peek-a-boo with the bed sheet that I fold after doing laundry. Mother's Day is any and every day that I get to spend with my family. Mother's Day is a celebration of my son, the one who made me a mother, the one who answered my every prayer by coming into my life increasing its value infinitely as he did. I don't need a calendar to tell me when it is Mother's Day. His smiling face and bed head waking me up every morning tells me that it is.

How to Live a Zenner Life

It is too a word! I’m an English teacher…don’t make me get out my reference books and red pen. ;) But I digress.

As I read through the comments and messages on my Facebook page, as I scroll through posts from my friends and colleagues, as I listen to the strife in the voices of those I love, I find myself thinking a few of the same things over and over. There are ways to lessen the stress you are feeling, especially since a good bit of that stress is needlessly self-inflicted. With this post, I’m giving you the permission you might not have understood you already had to release these stressors and live a zenner life.

Don’t Read the Comments

I constantly see people get all worked up over the comments at the end of articles online or in threads on pages or groups they like. For the sake of your sanity, once the article has ended, stop scrolling, click the ‘x’ and move on to the next. Do not, I repeat, do not read the comments. They’re inevitably going to peeve you. Without a doubt, they’re going to be too mainstream for you, they’re going to be too narrow-minded for you, they’re going to be abso-toot-a-lutely maddening. And please, please, please, if you’re going to leave a comment, do so independently, not in effort to save those poor souls who are so misguided. Do not engage with the crazies, because then you become one.

Avoid the Big Groups

I cannot tell you how life-saving this has been for me. There are groups for cloth diaperers, lactivists, intactivists, and every other parenting niche and human rights cause out there. If you value your sanity, avoid them. This is where people go to complain, stir the pot, complain again, give the pot a couple more hearty stirs, and complain yet again that the pot is being stirred either too much or not enough. These groups do not help you do your job, save babies, be a better parent, or heal the world’s wounds. These groups do help you cry, scream, type in all caps far too often, become enemies with people you’ve never even met, lose hair, lose sleep, lose your mind. If you’re in these groups, get out. If you’re not, good lookin’ out.

Don’t Friend Willy-Nilly

Just because someone friend requests you, shares multiple friends with you, and has a cute name and Timeline banner, does not mean you are required to accept their request. Do you know them? Do you wish to know them? (The answer is no, otherwise you would’ve requested them.) Do you work with them? (That’s a whole other post. Don’t friend coworkers. Fair warning. It seems fine now, but one day it’ll come back to bite you…) Why accept them into your world then? It’s really OK to not be the most popular one on Facebook. Nobody who matters is really counting.

Purge, Don’t Binge

For heaven’s sake, locate the ‘unfriend’ button and use it…regularly. Being friends with someone for a year in elementary school does not require you to be tethered to them for life via the interweb. If you do not regularly communicate with a person, share much of your DNA with a person, or use a person for what they can do for you (and please don’t do that…it’s just not nice or zen), delete them. You don’t have to keep everyone you’ve ever had on your Facebook friends list. People can come and go. You can outgrow each other. You can move on in your life and they in theirs. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s really going to be OK. Step away from the “friend” and step nearer to your simpler, zenner life.

Step Away From the Smart Phone

The phone, believe it or not, is not another appendage. It is a silly little electronic device designed to keep you from your real life. You are glued to it like a piece of macaroni to a 4th graders art project and it’s getting to be a little scary. What would happen if you didn’t have access to your Facebook, Tweetymabob, Pissy Birdies, or whatever else you do on that thing all day? Might you spend more time with the actual people right in front of you rather than those in your virtual reality? Would that be such a bad thing? Would it physically hurt you to not answer a message or comment on your latest shared quote graphic the moment it came in? Do yourself a favor and downgrade to a regular ol’ cell phone. You don’t have to get all Zack Morris with the big 90s monstrosity, but a little cell phone that can just make calls and maybe, maybe text would suffice. Your wallet and loved ones will thank you.

Remember, It’s Not Real Life

This is just the internet, folks. It’s not your real life. Your real life is out there. Get to it. Shut things down. When things get crazy here, ask yourself how much it really, truly matters. I’m going to go out on a limb and say much of what is making you unzen on the information superhighway is probably just a bunch of piffle and tush and is best left to those who prefer the road to the padded cell.

There you have it – your beginners guide to living a zenner life. The advanced course “How to Live an Even Zennerer Life” will be scheduled later this year. In the meantime, enjoy, simplify, and go play outside with your kids. They’re way more fun than anything I have to offer here anyway.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Serenity Now!

(Bonus points for those who understand the reference in the title.)

God (or, you know, all that is holy), give me the grace to accept with serenity (now!)
the things about my mother-in-law that cannot be changed (most everything...),
Courage to change the things about her
which should be changed (which is most everything, starting with her defensiveness, iciness, and propensity for guilt trips),
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other. (There is no difference. They're the same things. Crap...)
Oh, by the way, could you also add in strength to either keep myself from leaping at her throat
when she nitpicks my husband and calls my son bad for doing whatever it is he has done?
Either that strength or the strength to dig a hole deep enough to hide all traces...
Hey, thanks!

Living one day at a time (2,000 miles away...thanks to you, oh holy one!),
Enjoying one moment at a time (until Sunday when she calls and I have to listen to the most painful conversations in the history of the telephone),
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace (this...this line right here...she's clearly in my life for this reason and I'm looking at a LOT of peace coming my way...soon!),
Taking, as my husband has,
This wack-a-doo woman as he has (though without all the neuroses she's instilled in him),
Not as I would have it (because that would be MUCH different, believe you me),
Trusting that You will make her somehow unfit to fly right before her next visit (you know, not so much that she suffers seriously - though, I don't want to tell you how to do your job - but enough that she just can't make it out, giving us one peaceful, free summer)
If I surrender to the insanity,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life (or at least blissfully unaware of said insanity),
And supremely happy with the others in the special padded rooms.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dang Good Mama

Guest Post by Jack B.

Mama, it didn't take long for me to learn you weren't a mythical figure. You're not the kind of hero who bullets bounce off of. You bleed just like me. And even though you do, you'd still step in front of that bullet for me. That makes you, that makes all mamas like you, dang good mamas. Because of that, I'm learning that I'd rather be a dang good parent than a hero any day. I'm learning that I don't want to be like you. You're teaching me to want to be me. You're teaching me and helping make me a dang good person and, eventually, a dang good parent, because you're you.