Thanksgiving's Small Moments

Dad creates a maze from blocks.
Here is a close up.
Lelo shares a swig of his special drink.
So nice to be together under one roof.
Nora kisses Lelo.
Nora and Lelo.

Julian has a very 'toxic candy'

Luke and dad decide to try it. Luke lasts 2 seconds.
Dad lasts quite a while.

Julian shares his ipod touch with Luke.....
Auntie Mirtha reads a story to Luke.
Plenty of cuddling time with Lela.
Nora showing off how she can now write 'mom' and 'dad' on her own.
Nora and Julian.
Tea time.
Nora's bird (3.5 years old)
Nora's snowman.
Nora's flower with roots and dirt.
Close up of tea time.
Nora's dog.
Nora's cat drawing.
Nora's monster.
Nora drawing on the sand.
Nora creating a sculpture in the sand with sticks.
Nora's finished stick sculpture in the sand.
Dad and I photographed each other's shadow.
Luke found a wide piece of wood. They used it to keep from getting wet each time the water came around.
Enjoyed photographing my mom's garden.
Photographed my sister's very adorable dog, Sadie.


Crockpot before and after...

Erna, a friend, coworker and son's classroom teacher mentioned on facebook about using her slow cooker. She inspired me to do the same....here is the big mess before....
and after....YUMMY!!
The kids helped cut the veggies and pour in all the ingredients.....

Newest Block Sculptures

Sculpture by Nora
a 'princess castle' by Nora
Sculpture by Luke......we had to keep this one up for two days for he was really proud of it.

Union Station and a walk to the Capitol-Family day trip

Right outside Union Station in DC there is this huge fountain sculpture. The angel's expression was so amazingly beautiful and calm against the blue sky.
Here is a different view.

Nora and Luke laying down in the sun.
Luke doing what he does best......running!
Trees right around the capitol are humongous....so beautiful.
There was a 'Quinceanera' (equivalent to sweet 16 for Latin Americans) at the Capitol posing for pics. The minute Nora noticed she yelled, 'There is a Princess'. We HAD to take a picture with the princess.
Nora watched 4 Tibetan monks posing for pictures and asked me to take her picture too.
Luke loves to climb trees. The trees right near the Capitol are very old Japanese cherry trees.....they are so beautiful.
Nora, future president....
Such an inviting tree.....
That is the wonderful thing about having kids. You might perfectly plan a trip, then find out that instead of having them enjoy the things you planned for, they enjoy things you often overlook. Thanks to them I can again appreciate a leaf pile, or tree climbing, or running down a hill.


Cynicism meets the sun

Cynicism is defined in Thefreedictionary.com as "An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others".

There is no action or expressed emotion more annoying to me than cynicism. And as much as I don't like to admit the fact that yes, things do annoy me, cynicsim is one of those things I try to stay far away from. To verbally express any complaint wrapped with cynicism is to carry around an extra cloud of pessimism that intensifies and dampens any and all fresh, hopeful energy and helps cloud ones judgement to the reality of situations.

I have noticed that expressing pessimism carries a lot of compacted frustration over very legitimate issues, yet, when shared, it's always wrongly directed at people who cannot possibly make the changes it requires. You might meet someone who has strong and valid complaint to be pessimistic about, yet, if this complaint comes cloaked in cynicism or is not directed at the very people who hold the power to bring about the desired result, nothing ever changes.

Cynicism, in my opinion, is part of the language of people who have given up on bringing about big changes, yet somewhere in there they hold a smidgen of hope that in their complaints they will help fan the flames enough for someone else to carry the torch of change. How we think about any given situation can define its outcome. If we train our minds to immediately translate any new situation through a filter of 'jaded negativity' we will never escape our current suffering.

We also express cynicism whenever we assume the worse out of every situation. Next time your minds drifts towards a place of 'jaded negativity' and assuming the worse outcome from the start, try assuming the best possible scenario for a change. Either assumption, good or bad, may very well be true or false. But at least when you choose the better assumption, you are not solidifying the assumptions into a fact and in doing that you help breathing hope into a situation that otherwise would have seemed solidly negative.

Don't let others' lost hopes dampen your sunshine.


Following our own advice to our kids might actually help US!!

Problems are everywhere. You talk to anyone and surely they are in the middle of some difficult issue in their lives, a tough decision they need to make, or a tough change must be implemented, etc. No matter what your status is in life you cannot escape the turning of the 'wheel of fortune'. Some days will be easy, some days will be like walking in peanut butter.

I had a very tough week this week. Every turn I made seemed to create a larger negative affect. The more I tried to dig myself out of my funk the more I seemed to drown in it. I was trying desperately to go back to homeostasis yet the more I tried the more I drowned in discomfort. While going through this, I reached out several times to my trusty Buddhist philosophy. In Buddhism you are encouraged to be with the discomfort and not fight it. Pain and discomfort is seen as mere balls of energy going through a predictable path, a path that will evade and fade away. Instead of utilizing valuable energy trying to make it all just go away, I should have just sat with it and allowed my toughs to settle and allowed my mind to see my problems for what they were; nothing.

In retrospect, It's obvious that I have a lot of work to do implementing the teachings of the Buddha for I still react no different than my kids do in times of stress. I have two young kids, ages 3 and 6. Every once in a while (or more frequently) they argue about very absurd things. Absurd to me of course. Obviously, to them, what they argue over is so important and seemingly central to their survival here on earth that it must be resolved that very moment. The grand dramatics around their arguments is so intense and so fierce that a neighbor might just think they are being beaten to a pulp. Yes, all this ruckus over maybe a wooden block of which we have dozens of, or some other insignificant item that was on its way to the trash perhaps. But in analyzing my own actions this week, I too am trying so hard to not feel the discomfort that I make it twice as difficult to get out of the discomfort. I should at these times take to heart the advice I offer my kids and (1) have them "take a deep breath", and to (2) "think about how just a few minutes ago you were fine and you could not possibly be dying".


Pomegranate FUN!

After reading Persephone we have become somewhat obsessed with pomegranates. You must read it.
The seeds are so beautiful and amazing.

Luke can eat a huge amount at one time.

Look at those seeds.