Sunday, November 09, 2008

Classic Quotes

We are driving in the car the other night. M (4) asks: "What is a date?"
T, my 7 year old boy responds: "That's when you find a girl that you really love. Then you ask her to go out to dinner. Then you talk about your feelings."

That morning my mother in law called and said that she would pick up breakfast for the kids. I told her we would love a half a dozen bagels from Dunkin Donuts.
L (8), who had just woken up and overheard the conversation replied:
"Have them put the cream cheese on the bagel!"
"L, nana will buy a tub of cream cheese and we can spread it on the bagel. It is more economical that way."
"No, have them put the cream cheese on it!"
"L, it costs much less to get a tub of cream cheese. Besides, then you get to decide how much to put on."
"But I need to have them do it! There professionals!"
I spun around quickly so that L could not see my reaction to that comment. It is best not to argue with her before she has had her coffee:)

Monday, October 13, 2008

This day made possible by meditation

This Sunday I had an extraordinary day that revolved around the theme of service.
I have recently been practicing insight meditations of how I can be more of service. I have tried to envision myself helping my children, my wife, the elderly, infirm, homeless and others.
This weekend I offered to care for my children while my wife recharged her batteries in NH.
The kids and I went on a hike on Saturday to Mt Jacob in Gloucester. The kids had a ball and I was mindful of their needs during the trip. I brought snacks, drinks and even toilet paper:)
Later that evening we took my mom out to dinner to her favorite restaurant which brought her great joy.
I was able to teach my Sunday school class with my 2 eldest children and I taught them about prayer and thanksgiving. My son created a prayer necklace with beads representing his sisters, mother, cat and chickens. It was adorable.
Later on Sunday when my wife returned from NH we were driving to the beach when her grandmother called. Her cousin with Cerebral Palsy had come for a visit and she wanted to see the kids. Here is where the meditation kicked in. I the past I would make an excuse that my wife and I needed to enjoy this last beach day of the season. But through my meditation I had been envisioning myself as someone who could help others, and I realized that this was an opportunity to fulfill a need to help others. We turned the car around and headed into the city on potentially the last beach day of the season.
After a great visit with our relatives we still were able to enjoy an hour at the beach at our favorite time of day, sunset.
At 6:00 I asked Jennifer if I could go back to the church and help my friends cook a meal for needy people in town. She agreed. I tried to convince my eldest daughter to come, but she was too tired. I believe that if I had not meditated on this topic that I would not have been so adamant about requesting the time. It would have been easy to forget about the opportunity or rationalize and excuse like needing to put the kids to bed.
When I arrived at the church we worked on cutting veggies, opening cans and preparing chili for 2 hours. It brought the group closer together around the worthy cause of helping people who need it.
Earlier in the day my wife had offered to let me go off and play a round of golf. I made a conscious decision, aided by meditation, to do something more fulfilling.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


These past few weekends we have not had many household plans. I worked on a few projects and went to a few parks. We had a few family lunched, but the lack of plans was palpable. My wife was not too pleased with the development. She mentioned she prefers to have plans and enjoys working toward a planned activity with the family.
During the weekends I worked on sitting and trying to experience my emotions as they arose. On several occasions I felt myself wanting to move on to the next activity. I tried to sit with the current activity and feel the motivation to move arising in my thoughts and feelings. This was particularly evident when I was trying to put my kids to sleep. I wanted to get downstairs and exericise and then catch up on the news. As my son lied in his bed and asked me to stay in his room I sat and meditated.
I sat and watched my breath and felt the sensations of urgeny of tasks that I could be completing downstairs. I watched these thoughts arise and I continued to sit, glued to the floor, watching my breath.
I had the same experience as I put my eldest daughter down. I sat on the floor and felt the pull of all of the other things that I could be doing. I sat on the floor and watched my breath and experienced the desire of wanting to exercise and surf the news sites. I let that desire go and returned to the breath. Then I watched the thoughts of other possibilities float into my consiousness and I continued to breathe.
This was a powerful meditation where I felt I was able to overcome the need to follow my desires for a short period of time and sit and enjoy just being in the room with my kids as they drifted to sleep.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Win-Win with 3 year old M

Today I had let my wife head upstairs for a nap while I was playing with the other kids. I am so thankful when I can enable my wife to slow down and get the rest that she needs. It is a kind of grasping or attachment in Buddhist thinking.
So I was very alarmed when my youngest daughter (3) completed a picture for my wife and wanted to bring it to her.
"M, mommy is sleeping now. Please draw her another picture and we can show them to her when she wakes up"
"No! I want to show her now!"
She ran upstairs and began knocking on my wife's door.
"M, please, we can read this book."
"No! I want momma."
My anger continued to rise with each rapping on the door by M. I contemplated throwing the book that was in my hand, but I tried to connect with my breath and think of a win-win way out of this problem.
I had an idea. My 7 year old daughter L was home and she is good with distractions for M. I went for help. I hustled downstairs and looked around for L. She was not there. I called to her in the basement and all around the house. She did not answer.
This was just perfect. I had one daughter waking up my wife and the other one was lost. My wife was not going to enjoy waking up from this nap and would probably not be taking another one with my in charge.
Then another win-win idea presented itself. Quickly I ran upstairs.
"M, L is lost!" I proclaimed.
M looked skeptical.
"No Daddy, she is just hiding."
"Go see for yourself, I can't find her."
We ran downstairs and looked around. L jumped out at us from under a blanket 30 seconds later. We continued to play hide and seek until Mommy woke up.
The win-win scenarios were not complete for the afternoon, however. M was upstairs trying to hide and was getting angry that I was peeking at her.
"M, lets try the hiding spot that L was using. Let's hide in the bed."
"OK, said M."
We both lied down under the warm sheets in the bed that Mommy had just vacated. M was snoring in less than a minute. The nap that she needed, and would have fought tooth and nail was upon her. And Daddy was only 30 seconds behind:)