Spider Boy speaks baby

brothers - original

The Doctor: It’s okay, she’s still all yours. And really you should call her mummy, not big milk thing.
Amy: Okay, what are you doing?
The Doctor: I speak baby.
Amy: No you don’t.
The Doctor: I speak everything. Don’t I, Melody Pond? {straightening his bow tie} No it’s not. It’s cool.
~ from Doctor Who, Series 6, Espisode 7, “A Good Man Goes To War” 

Spider Boy speaks baby. I discovered it over the weekend, although if I had been paying closer attention I’m sure I would have noticed it sooner. It’s one of the joys of having a very verbal two-year-old — I get to see the inner workings of his brain. Here are three examples from Sunday:

Example 1: Spider Boy, Bean and I were all hanging out in the living room. Spider Boy was working on a jigsaw puzzle while Bean and I were playing on the playmat. Bean was getting progressively fussier, which seemed a little out of character to me. I was talking to him, saying out loud whatever I was thinking, which was mostly wondering what it was he needed. Spider Boy finally stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said, “He’s thirsty.” I kind of startled and asked him to repeat himself, and he said, in that “Duh!” way he gets from time to time, “Bean is thirsty,” and then he went back to his puzzle. I shrugged and figured it couldn’t hurt to offer Bean some milk, and sure enough, he latched in a somewhat superficial way, drinking a little lazily in a way that was sure to get him only foremilk (more water, less substance), and then he pulled off and was back to his normal, happy self.

Example 2: When we got home from running errands, I unloaded the groceries first, then Bean, then Spider Boy. As we’re slowly making our way into the house, we could hear Bean starting to cry. I nudged Spider Boy, asking him if we could move a little more quickly because Bean was crying. He paused and said, “He wants us to come inside.” I said, “Okay then, let’s help him out and go inside.” Sure enough, Bean stopped crying once he could see we were both in the room with him.

Example 3: Bean was napping while Spider Boy and I were eating lunch. He woke up crying, so my husband went in to get him. His cries only intensified, and Spider Boy and I talked a little about how Bean was crying. Spider Boy said, “He’s crying because he wanted YOU to come get him,” pointing at me. I thought about it for a minute, then went into Bean’s room. Sure enough, he stopped crying as soon as he saw me.

It is fascinating to me how much we have to learn from our children — this time my lesson is about how to really listen to what is being said beneath the words. Spider Boy and Bean were communicating at a level that transcended words. I know I’m capable of it myself, but most of the time that communication gets lost in the fog of words, or in my lack of confidence that I’m really understanding what is needed. I know now I have a translator at least, but it’s a skill I’d really like to further cultivate so that it’s at the forefront of how I listen to people. In the meantime, I remain grateful for these little light beings for showing me the way. Namaste.

Originally posted on Pachamama Spirit

How “Spider Boy” got his nickname

pearls of the spider - large

Last spring, when Spider Boy was about 20 months old, I was hanging out with him in the master bedroom. He walked over to the bathroom door jamb and pretended to grab something off of it. When I asked him what it was, he said, “A spider,” with a look that said, “Duh!” From there he went on to pick imaginary spiders off of any and all available surfaces — walls, comforters, chairs, the front steps, the car, my shirt, my (ahem) hair. In the beginning all black, they began to take on colors — first red, then yellow and orange, and slowly working up to blue and green and purple.

Spiders began to seep into all segments of our lives. The bedtime routine now ends with him being given spiders from different aspects of his day (from his friends at daycare or music class, from the park, from family members, from his loveys). When he first arrives at someone’s house, he’ll often stop outside of the threshold, squat, and pick up two spiders, one in each hand. If he’s feeling insecure, he’ll run out of the room saying, “I forgot something!” If you ask him what, he’ll tell you “Spiders!” as he grabs a few and brings them back inside.

He doesn’t just receive spiders, he also gives them. He will pepper his dad’s beard with spiders while they’re reading stories in bed. Often as I’m leaving his room at night, he’ll toss one last spider to me as I go out the door. He feeds us spiders when we’re all sitting on the couch. When we’re at our favorite restaurant and he’s flirting with the wait staff, he’ll (somewhat shyly) offer them spiders. When I’m upset, he’ll ask, “Mommy, do you need a spider?” And when his brother is crying, he’ll give Bean a spider; frequently a yellow one.

This is where it gets interesting. Because Bean usually *stops* crying after he receives a spider. What started out as a game, a fun exploration of imagination, suddenly seems like something else. Suddenly, it strikes me that Spider Boy has created a way to give and receive energy. I start to wonder if he has intuitively stepped into the realm of Reiki and has found a way that works for him to transmit and receive Reiki energy. I wonder if the color of the spider corresponds to the chakra it will most directly effect. I wonder if what is imaginary to me is just because I can’t see it, and if the world is full of colored energy that he’s just scooping up and calling “spider.”

While it could all be a coincidence, I’m not one to believe in coincidences. And so far, he has shown himself to be an intuitive and prescient not-so-little guy. It’s a new world we live in, and I believe the children of today were born to follow their sixth sense. Spider Boy and Bean are two of my greatest teachers in life. They are definitely seeing the world through fresh eyes, and I suspect it is my job to follow their lead, to open my eyes and find a new way to interpret the data that is flowing through me.

And so, spiders. Two can play that game. I now infuse my spiders with all of the love and Reiki I can muster, and throw in extras for good measure, because really, you can never have too much of an eight-legged good thing. Namaste.

Originally posted on Pachamama Spirit

My parenting philosophy

Hug-a-Bub - cropped

I read this great post from Positive Parenting over the weekend and had that moment of tension I always do whenever someone takes a parenting stand. Even this list of facts that supports things I believe in left me feeling either judged or uncomfortable on behalf of the parents I know who philosophically disagree with one or more of the concepts those facts were supporting. While I have strong opinions on just about everything there, I know there is only one rule I hold all parents to, one unequivocal parenting should: Love Thy Children. After that there’s a short list of “probably shoulds,” things I feel pretty strongly about but understand there are instances where it just doesn’t work out, and then there’s a much larger list of “what I decided for myself,” which I feel equally strongly about but know there are arguments to be made in many different directions.

This is what I know for sure: parenting is personal. It is the most personal thing you will ever do. There is a surreal amount of (often conflicting) information available today on just about any parenting decision you could possibly make. But you also have to take into consideration your child, and oftentimes yourself as well. What works perfectly for one parent (who is absolutely convinced it is the right way for everyone!) may end up being completely useless for you. You have to decide for yourself who you are as a parent, observe who your child is, and do what works best for you as a family.

I believe you also have to be flexible in the moment, and be willing to let go of things that used to work in order to try out new things that might better fit where you and your child are today. To paraphrase Eva Roodman: “If it’s working for you, keep doing it until it isn’t any more, then do something different.” We have a saying in our house: “That was SO five minutes ago.” It helps to remind us that our boys are always changing and that we need to shift with them, paying attention to where they are now, in this moment, as opposed to wherever they might be coming from. I think both the universe and our children have great senses of humor, and whenever we start to get locked into something rigidly, they all laugh at us and say, I guess it’s time to show them again, eh?

So as a mother, I’ve developed what appear to be guidelines. Very little is hard and fast, but it’s like I’ve set my own boundaries. Each new decision I make may show up differently, but still operates within that framework. Not surprisingly, it’s very similar to the framework I was living within before I became a parent.* Each “tenet” could be its own blog post (and perhaps I will flesh these out in the upcoming weeks), but here’s a brief peek at how I view the world as a mother:

Follow your intuition. It doesn’t matter what the books say — you have everything you need as a parent right here in the form of your intuition. Go with what resonates. This is most difficult in the middle of the night when you’re sleep deprived with a short-circuiting brain, but always the most important thing you can do.

Children are people, too. From day one, your child is an independent human being with her own wants and needs, which may end up in conflict with yours. Your child is almost always telling you what she needs. You might not always be able to hear it (see “short-circuiting brain” above), but those behaviors that are most likely to cause that short-circuiting are her ways of telling you what she needs. Now, whether or not you’re able to do anything about it in the moment is another story.

Look through the symptoms for the cause. Crying, hitting, throwing — these are symptoms. If you can find the cause, you’re much more likely to both be able to stop the challenging behavior, and increase the connection you have with your child, enabling him to be more secure and confident and, ultimately, happy. “Good” behavior is just one of the happy side effects.

What would LOVE do? My husband once said that the first three rules of our household are Love, Love, and Love. I couldn’t agree more! Whenever we start from a place of love, what follows next is always good. Now, let me be clear — love does not mean being permissive. Children biologically and developmentally need you to set limits, but I choose to enforce those limits from a place of love.

Natural first. Whether it’s about breastfeeding or babywearing or clothes made from organic cotton, my instinct is to start with the most natural choice. It doesn’t always stick (Spider Boy hated to be worn and was almost always “stroller boy”), but the natural world provides us a good model for this parenting journey.

Choices, choices, choices. Life is full of choices, and we are constantly making choices whether we’re aware of it or not. I try to recognize that I can make conscious choices in each moment, and I try to provide choices to my boys so they can begin to recognize the power of choice in their lives.

When your first instinct is to say “no,” ask yourself “Why?” The more a child hears the word “no,” the less meaningful it is. Whenever I hear myself starting to say no, I ask myself where it is coming from. Sometimes it is obvious, like when danger is imminent. Other times I’m just too exhausted or overwhelmed or short-circuiting or whatever it is to really be able to say yes — while I may wish things were different in that moment, I have to work with what I have. But sometimes a “yes” response would be just as valid. It might not match my ideal picture of the moment, but that’s okay. I turn the moment into a win for my child, which ultimately is a win for me as well.

Take a step back. It is so easy to always be in your child’s space, literally and figuratively. There’s that amazingly soft hair begging to be stroked, and that almost overpowering need to put an end to any frustration he might be experiencing. But they’re little people who need their space just as much as you do, space to figure out who they are, how the world works, and how they fit into it.

Always do your best. This is based wholly on The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz). Your best today may look different from your best tomorrow; it is changing from moment to moment. But focusing on doing your best with what you have in the moment enables you to parent in freedom, without self-judgment or regret.

All things in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with letting your child watch an episode of Angelina Ballerina (Spider Boy’s current fave) or have a cupcake at a birthday party, but you probably don’t want her watching 4 hours of television a day or eating cupcakes with every meal. I think the flip side is true as well. I would struggle with a complete ban on television because we all need a break every now and again, and while our best efforts to introduce Spider Boy to the joys of chocolate have failed, exploration of food comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors.

So that’s the, ahem, brief summary of my parenting philosophy. How it manifests on a day-by-day (or even moment-by-moment) basis is always changing, but the big picture remains the same, beginning from that place of deep and abiding love. Namaste.

* If you’re interesting in reading more about my life philosophy, here’s a good series from my woefully out-of-date blog on Learning to Fly (now on this blog): Steps to Learning How to Fly.

Originally posted on Pachamama Spirit

Grounding in ungrounded times

Cross section of a trees' roots - large

You may have noticed in recent weeks or months a sensation of being distracted, spacey, off balance, ungrounded. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, there’s an energetic realignment happening on our planet, which can be a little unsettling at times. I tend to struggle with being grounded in the best of times, and my sense is this next year (or 13 months, really) it is going to be extra intense. I’ve gathered together a few of my favorite tools that you may find useful whether you’re an old hat at this and just in need of a refresher, or just recognizing for the first time today that you might be in need of new sea legs. You can use any of these tools as frequently or rarely as you need.


This is really the easiest, most natural way to ground–touch the earth. If you can do it by a large body of water, even better. Take a walk, kneel down and run your hands through the dirt, sit on a rock, wade in a lake, dip your toes in the ocean, hug a tree. Anything that connects you literally to the earth will almost immediately ground you, but treat yourself to a few minutes (or more, if you have the time!) to really soak up that energy.

Roots and cords

While we may not have literal roots into the earth like trees do, we do have energetic roots. Sometimes called cords, you can visualize these as tubes of energy that connect your body to the earth. If that seems too esoteric for you, you can visualize yourself as a tree, and see roots coming out of each of your feet, sinking into the earth. Stand or walk or even sit with your feet firmly planted on the floor, and really breathe into this image for a few minutes, embodying your best inner tree and feeling that deep connection to the earth that we all have.

Crystals and stones

Crystals and other stones are great for grounding, probably because they come directly from the earth. There are a variety of crystals that can be used for grounding, including Smoky Quartz, my personal favorite for this purpose. I also love finding stones when I’m out for walks and bringing them home for this purpose. You don’t need to actively do anything to ground with crystals or stones–their presence nearby is often enough to provide assistance–but picking them up, wearing them on your skin, or carrying them in your pocket can give them an extra boost.

Helping your kids to ground

Energetically speaking, your kids are connected to you until right around puberty–between 11 and 13, depending on who you talk to (and, I’m guessing, since it is true with everything else parenting-related, depending on you and your child specifically). I tend to be sensitive to other people’s energy, and when Spider Boy was born, I got completely lost, unable to tell what were my feelings and what were his. Elisabeth Manning taught me an incredibly useful tool that enabled me to disentangle our energies and ground us both as individuals. Here is the slightly revised version that I’ve been using ever since:

Begin by visualizing a bubble of light encircling you, and a separate bubble encircling your child. As you visualize each bubble, ask yourself what color you need (or your child needs)–whatever color pops into your head, visualize the bubble in that color. You might also choose to fill the bubble with that color light (or bubbles or fairies or whatever) if so moved. Your intellect can make you crazy with these kind of ask-and-answer visualizations, so try to let go and just go with whatever comes up for you. There is no wrong answer.

Visualize a cord of light running from your root chakra (around your tailbone) down deep into the core of the earth. (When I first started doing this, I had this spindly little cord, but Elisabeth encouraged me to make it bigger and now it is about the size of a tree trunk. I consciously invoke the larger size when I’m feeling especially ungrounded.) When you feel like your cord has connected with the earth, visualize the earth energy running back up the cord and into you, like you’re refueling and it’s filling up your tank. I have a shamrock-shaped “tank” that I visualize and I can see when it’s full. Sometimes the energy flows in a rush, and other times it can take a while, so give yourself a moment to be sure you’re complete. Then repeat this exercise by visualizing a cord for your child going deep into the earth, and filling up his or her tank as well.

I recommend practicing this visualization when your child is calm so that you’ve got it at the ready when they’re upset.

Additional reading

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of resources out there on these topics. Here are a few recent ones that have come to my attention that you might find useful as well:

Body and Soul ~ Mind and Spirit : Crystals for Grounding
DailyOM : Being A Strong Container
Healing Crystals For You : Earth Chakra
Living With Your Psychic Gifts : Grounding

Originally posted on Pachamama Spirit



You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster . . . Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! . . . I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. ~ Parenthood

I am on an emotional roller coaster these days. Today is my little Bean’s 4-month birthday. He is such a sweet delight, and brings me so much joy. But this is an anniversary of mixed feelings as it denotes that I am returning to work next week.

Whether or not to be a working mom could be, I’m sure, the subject of many posts. This is not going to be one of them. But this experience is an opportunity, like so many opportunities, for anxiety to rise up, along with all of my niggling doubts (and self-doubts), and the full range of my emotions to spill out of me (often onto those around me). But it is also an opportunity, like so many opportunities, for me to practice my craft, practice connecting to source, practice trusting that what is best for all of us is manifesting in our lives right now, practice staying present to the now instead of wandering off into what is still yet to come.

The practice, however, is not always my first stop these days. Sleep deprivation and not taking enough time for self-care (not necessarily in that order) have left me a little rough around the edges. After I nursed Bean back to sleep at 3 o’clock this morning, I could not fall back asleep myself. He and his brother had spent the whole day at daycare yesterday, and I was struggling with how little time I got to spend with either of them that evening. Not because of the evening itself, but because I was worried that this is how it is always going to be moving forward, and I was anxiously trying to figure out how on earth I was going to ever be able to spend enough quality time with them to satisfy me. *sigh*

I won’t bore you with the ugly details of the next couple of hours. Suffice it to say I worked myself into a lovely lather before the practice kicked in. But finally, I was able to come to a place where I could honor the emotions I was feeling (fear, sadness, and love, oh so much love). I gave myself permission to not have to be the absolutely best mom/wife/daughter/manager/colleague/friend for a little while. I remembered that what happens next week is next week’s opportunity for practice, and that today all I have to focus on is, well, today. I breathed in the intoxicating smell of baby and looked deep into his joy-filled eyes and enjoyed that single moment, and then the next, and then the next, and remembered that I don’t have to spend all day, every day with him to have these divine moments.

Parenting is a practice. It is not the easiest practice I’ve encountered, but it may be the most effective. It triggers such intense joy, but also all of my doubts and fears. And behind every trigger is an opportunity to release and let it all go and come back into the present moment so much more aware, so much more appreciative, and so much more joyful. As I write about today’s roller coaster, the emotion that most strongly comes to mind is gratitude. Today was a gift. Ah, thank you! Namaste.

Originally posted on Pachamama Spirit