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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Don’t cry over spilled blocks

When my son builds, creates, and interprets his innovations, my heart soars.  His bounding spirit so full of purpose and exploration is a constant reminder to look at things differently and to simple create.

Lately, everything he creates is related to dinosaurs.  Everything.

Together, we’ll build with Lego Duplo blocks to create something that looks sort of horse and giraffe-ish.  But, Calvin confidently dubs it a dinosaur–a specific type of dinosaur with specific dinosaur features.

For example, a tower of 20 colorful stacked bricks is…

a big, big dinosaurus rex with a loooong neck

Noted.

Actually, in this drawing, I can actually see the belly, a tail, and feet.  When I asked about the scribbles on top and what they were, he kinda shrugged and smiled, and then changed the subject. That was AFTER he named this drawing “Dinosaur for Daddy.”

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I want to encourage Calvin to play, create, and imagine.

But…

I kinda hate it when he dumps the legos allthefloor. ALLoverthefloor. allOVERthefloor. just before dinner time. or before we leave the home.

I mean, everything is all picked up for the evening and suddenly, I hear…

CRASH! Plastic bricks colliding with dozens of other plastic bricks into a heap of rubble on the floor of my recently picked up and very smallish living room carpet.

A few pieces tumble and roll under the couch and the dining table and my desk (did I mention we have a rather tight space?).

And then, my shoulders collapse.  I let out an audible groan.

Maybe it’s that I’m tired of our cramped, small space where tripping over a plastic brick or ball is just the daily grind because there is NO other place where my son can play.

Perhaps I just get tired at 6pm. Period.

Or maybe, my husband and I need to lighten up and just let our son’s free-form expression occur regardless of trip hazard and time of day. (Seriously, why must he dump the entire bucket on the floor RIGHT before we’re about to sit down for dinner.  Why then?)

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But, that’s not the only time he chooses to pull the bucket of plastic blocks out of their shelf.

Yesterday, he pulled them out at 7:55 AM–he and I needed to get out the door by 8 AM to greet a patient scheduled 30 minutes later.

I heard the plastic contents empty on the floor as I was scurrying about our apartment and getting ready to load up our gear and lunches into the vehicle.

That sound made me stop in my tracks.  Groan. Sigh. I asked my son, “Really?  Did you have to pour those out now?”

Because, let’s face it, two year-olds completely have the time concept figured out.  At the most inconvenient moment, THAT is when they need to go to the bathroom or create a giant mess, or completely take off every single piece of clothing that they’re wearing (just as you’re getting ready to head out the door).

Then, I just shrugged it off.  I asked him to help pick them up because we needed to leave to get to the office and we didn’t want to leave a mess.

Shockingly, without a protest, he picked up every single block and very quickly returned each one to the bucket.

That’s where I ruined everything.  As I dashed to put the bucket back on the shelf (because I just couldn’t wait for my son to do it himself), the bucket tipped on the shelf, and all the blocks poured out onto the floor.

I did it.  I spilled them.  (Hand raised high) It was ME!

I stopped.  Looked at my son squarely, and I said, “I’m so sorry.  I spilled all those blocks after you picked them up.  Mommy made a big mess.  We don’t have time to pick them up now, we have to leave.”

It’s okay Mommy.  It’s alright.

Blessed by the grace of a two year-old.

*Lego Duplo Brick photo by tlossen via Flickr.

A Mom’s Holiday

I’m not talking about Mother’s day.  I’m talking about working moms taking a day to do something creative and fun with their kids and other working moms.

That’s exactly what my friend Jennifer Hamlin and I did on Wednesday.  It was a spontaneous sort of an adventure that began with a trolley ride to the UVa where Calvin and I met Jennifer and a room full of women for the monthly CVille SheBlogs meeting at Para Coffee.

(By the way, my little sleepyhead did not want to get out of bed this morning.  When I told him he needed to wake up so we could take the trolley.  He sat upright and said, “Get dressed!”  He was rarin’ to go from that moment forward!)

After our meeting Jennifer and her daughter asked us if we wanted to join them downtown at the Virginia Discovery Museum.  Since I was sans vehicle, I said we could meet them downtown, but we were going to ride in on the trolley.  Instead of looking for downtown parking, Jennifer and her daughter hopped on the trolley and joined us.

We window shopped and admired pretty things like a live finch and plant-shaped candles at Caspari.

I wasn’t used to taking leisure time to “look” at things I would never buy.  Okay, online window shopping aside.  But, we simply walked and took our time and had a relaxing day with our precious children.

With a little muscle, we turned the merry-go-round carousel, and then we spent a few hours in the Discovery Museum (if you visit once with a member, your April membership is free for your family!).

Calvin and I haven’t been to that  museum before, and it was surprisingly cool.  Not too big, and not as small as I thought.  It was just right. Calvin’s favorite features were the train table and the live honeybees.  I think we may decide to join as members.

After running themselves ragged from so much fun, our kiddos were about to collapse in fatigue.  But, not until they had one more go on the carousel.

Then, we hiked to the other end of the Downtown mall to Marco & Luca’s for a tasty and inexpensive lunch of dumplings.

Dumplings were a huge hit!  Look at that boy go with his kuàizi (a.k.a. chopsticks).

All four of us rode the Trolley back and we said goodbye.  I could have done some house cleaning, but I snuggled up with Calvin for an afternoon nap followed by more playing in the backyard and a walk down to see train tracks.

That was just the day off I needed.  No work.  No computer.  Just a lot of smiles, laughs, time away from things that always need to be done.  It was the perfect day.

Stuffy

I’ve been burning the midnight oil, the candle at both ends, and I’m plumb tired.  So tired, that I think overworking myself has caused me to get a little run down.  Nothing like the full-force of allergies to say, Hey!  Slow down!

It all started on Monday when my son and I enjoyed a lovely day by eating our lunch outside in a courtyard surrounded by beautiful blooms and singing birds.

Shortly after we walked back to the office, I started to sneeze and get a runny nose.  Within a few hours, I had full on sinus congestion and zero capability to breathe through my nose.

I could not wait to get home and relax.

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That night, I was miserable and groaning with little sleep and a lot of drippy nose and stuffy head.  They were the worst sinus allergies I’d experienced since I was a teenager living in the Ragweed pollen capital of the world in central Texas.

Calvin was pretty miserable, too.  He crawled into bed with us and was restless.  When he woke up the next morning, his eyes were red and puffy. Poor little guy!

All I wanted to do was stay home and sleep and do nothing but snuggle with my son.  However, I had a full patient load for the day.  So, I dropped off Calvin with a friend for the morning, and then I headed to the office to hang out for eight hours.  An eight hour day isn’t a terribly long work day.  But, when you’ve got the worst allergies, eight hours feels like twenty plus.

I may or may not have had a tissue crammed up and hanging out of my nostril to absorb the run-off snot.  And no, there is no photo.

Thankfully, another chiropractor was able to fit me in during the late morning to adjust my inflamed spine and to work on my horribly stuffed nasal passages.  I felt well enough afterward to continue with my day (even though I still wanted to go home and crawl in bed and rest).

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So, to sum up my afternoon:  Calvin woke up early from his nap because he was too hot.  Sweating profusely from too many blankets.

He said, Hair wet.  Take a shower.  Wash hair.

Not only did I have two hours of patient care remaining, but I had a miserable little guy who wanted my full attention.  When one patient was finishing up, Calvin kept saying, All done. Bye bye!

That’s code for: Please, leave now.  I want my Mommy all to myself.

He said this for the next patient who came in.  I tried to add in some training.

Calvin, we don’t say those things.  That’s not being a good little host.

Futile.

Especially when a two year-old isn’t feeling well.  Forget manners.  It’s all about being direct and expressing your needs.

My heart was torn.  I wanted nothing more than to cuddle my little guy and get him home.  Yet, I need to focus on patients when I’m at work, whether or not I’m feeling well, and whether or not my son agrees.

I looked at the clock all afternoon hoping my husband would get off work early to pick up our son.  No such luck.

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Being a working mom is hard with little ones who want constant attention…especially when you have a job where you care for people who need constant attention.  Also, it’s tough when your babysitter is on spring break for days that are super full.

God bless friends like Elisa who can help out in a pinch.  God bless chiropractic care and homeopathic remedies that actually work to relieve allergies.

Note: I still have residual symptoms from my allergies, but they are seventy-five percent better.  Because I’ve been run down and working so much that I regretted not having fun outings with my son, I more than made up for it today. (More on that later…)

By the way, while all of that stuff was going on, Angie Bremont of CVille Entremom announced the winner of the First Annual CVille Entremom of the Year.

*photo from Little Miss Pip via Flickr.

Wordless Wednesday: 4 Generations

Almost wordless. I wanted to just write a short note to explain the significance of this post. I think this picture will be very special to Lucien in years to come. Here he is with his daddy, granddad, and great-grandfather (who is in his late 90s).

I have a very similar picture from my own childhood and I am the only child who has it (my great-grandmother passed away before any of my siblings were born). This will likely be the case for Lucien as well, so while he didn’t really seem impressed on the day, I do hope that he’ll appreciate the significance down the road.

Aren’t we lucky to have these photos as a lasting memory? I think so.

He is Risen!

Easter traditions really vary from one family to another, I’ve found – although I do think either a ham or lamb supper unites us all. This year we celebrated the resurrection of our Savior and baby’s first easter together with my family. We had an Easter egg hunt, but we always include a few numbered eggs … a dozen to be exact. Those eggs have special meaning as they’re resurrection eggs! It brings meaning to the traditional egg hunt since it tells the story of Christ dying on the cross to save us from our sins, and then rising again. The kids aren’t disappointed about not having a candy filled egg – they’re thrilled to be able to participate in the story.


Your turn: What are your Easter traditions?

Lucien at 4 Months

This past week was a big one for Lucien, and in many ways a big one for me as well. He’s growing so quickly, I can hardly believe it. I had always heard moms talking about this but now that I’m experiencing it, I know what they mean!

On Monday Edward was holding Lucien and I came over to say hello and he reached for me! He has started showing a preference for mommy and daddy in the last two or so weeks, but this was new. I can’t express how loved it made me feel. Tuesday, I went to get him out of the car and he was reaching for the dangling toys attached to his car seat – just reached out and grabbed them as if to say “I’ve been looking at these for a while and today is the day I make them mine!”

Wednesday we had our 4 month checkup with Dr. Gelburd. We found out that he has grown three inches in the last 8 weeks and he’s in the 90th percentile for length and the 75th for weight (flip flopped from his last appointment. No wonder he has already grown out of almost every 3-6 month sleeper we have!). Can you imagine growing at a rate like that?

Thursday was my favorite day of last week, and it wasn’t for anything that happened during the day. Lucien cried during the night and as I went to pick him up from his crib to nurse him he put his arms around me and gave me a sort of hug around my neck – so happy to that I had come to get him. When I took him back to my bed we just sat there in the dark – just the two of us – snuggling for a few minutes. It was beautiful being alone together (Edward was asleep) in the wee hours of the morning. I’m starting to realize how quickly those feedings will be over.

Your turn: What are some of the moments you’ve enjoyed most about being a mommy? Did you enjoy those night time feedings?

Get Funny…Fast! Interview with Jan McInnis

Comedy is like shaping a successful blog: work hard, act professionally, and be consistent.  Over time, you’ll build up momentum and gain a following.  Of course, writing comedy is like writing a great blog post–it takes practice.

I recently read Finding The Funny Fast: How to Create Quick Humor to Connect with Clients, Coworkers and Crowds by comedienne Jan McInnis.

I love how this 126 page read provides numerous techniques and examples for helping anyone who does writing or public speaking find the funny . . . quickly!

I have several health talks this spring for new moms, and I’m excited to use the tools I learned from this book to make my presentations more memorable. After reading this book, I found myself more aware of funny in the everyday. . . and I laugh more often.  Laughter is the best medicine, after all!  Truly, I’ve found more opportunities to make my patients and my audience laugh.

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Meet Jan McInnis, a Virginia-native who now resides in California, who turned from a career as a marketing director to become a stand-up comedienne.  Her jokes have been featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and she’s opened for Kevin Nealon of Saturday Night Live fame.  Yet, Ms. McInnis built her comedy career in conventions.  I’d like to see her perform a keynote address for a blog conference!

Ms. McInnis wasn’t always considered funny by her peers.  At her high school reunion, most of her former classmates were completely astounded that she became a comedienne.  She followed her heart and worked hard to create a career that she loves.  Truly, I think those components are indeed the secret to success.

Jan McInnis, “The Work Lady” and author of Finding the Funny Fast

When I started out, my marketing materials were better than my act.  Luckily, I worked hard, and my act caught up. But more than that, I had many club owners say how they liked working with me because I was so professional.

TwB: Your book, Finding the Funny Fast contains a ton of tips and suggestions for developing comedic writing and delivery for anyone who wants to prevent an audience from snoring.

Specifically, how can your book help writers and bloggers improve their post content for their readers?

McInnis: I think the idea for most blogs, and many writers, is that they want fresh material, AND they want people to read it and return. My book tells you how to make your speech or written document fresh by including quick, on-the-spot humor. A lot of blog advice says to connect you blog to current events that are happening now, since I’ve written for radio for 10 years, I know how to step you through topical humor. Humor also keeps people engaged in what you have to say, so that they read it and come back.

TwB: I love that on page 10, you diffuse the common reason people provide “for not even trying to spice up their communications with some laughs,” with your personal story about a career switch to comedy after 15 years working as a marketing director. In fact, your book gives a lot of “formulas” for funny.

What response have you received from readers who transformed from “used to not be funny” to now communicating funny after reading your book?

McInnis: I’ve gotten very nice comments from people. . everyone from professional speakers to comics saying that they like that the book is conversational and that I’ve simply and easily explained the steps to writing humor in an understandable way, so they’ve been able to actually use the ideas. One guy said it motivated [himself] to try to add quick humor into his presentations because he realizes just how much he’s been missing over the years by not doing it.

TwB: What event or desire encouraged you to switch careers from marketing to comedy?

McInnis:Well, I always wanted to be a comedian, since I was a kid. But there was no “entertainment” gene in my family (i.e. no one “gave me permission”) which is what I guess I thought was supposed to happen. Someone was supposed to walk up to you and say, go ahead and become a comic. So I didn’t, until I was in my 30’s and realized that I can at least TRY it.

Actually I went on stage once during the 80’s and the comedy boom. I did really well, but was so freaked out by the bright lights and not being able to see that I didn’t try again for 7 or 8 years. I missed the boom, and was in my 30’s before trying it again. But, I finally decided that I should try it one last time. I went onstage at an open mike, did really well.  I was hired to open for Kevin Nealon from Saturday Night Live. I knew then that I was going to do this for life, however I didn’t leave my “day job” for another 2.5 years. When I did leave, it was at a time when I’d finally just had it with my boss and didn’t want to continue with the company.  So, I figured I needed to look for another job in the industry or try comedy full-time. It was a no-brainer. . .I’d been on stage pretty much every weekend and almost every night in those 2.5 years, and had built up a lot of contacts, so I just did it.

TwB: How has your marketing background helped you develop your career as a comedy writer/speaker?

McInnis: When I started out, my marketing materials were better than my act.  Luckily, I worked hard, and my act caught up. But more than that, I had many club owners say how they liked working with me because I was so professional. They have many choices, and I’m sure I wasn’t the funniest, but they knew I’d show up.  They knew I wouldn’t drink up the bar, and that I’d do my time (i.e. not run long and go an extra 20 minutes). That professionalism really helped me out. And I really did have good marketing materials, well written letters and I was polite on the phone.

TwB: You’ve carved out a successful niche for yourself with clean comedy at conventions and seminars. How did you decide to develop a reputation as a “clean” comedienne?

McInnis: Well, I did write clean humor so I could qualify for convention shows, but it also goes back to what I really believe: In my keynotes where I teach people about using humor for business, I always say in the end that you must be true to yourself. You must do the comedy that appeals to you. Of course for business purposes, it HAS to be clean, but if you really, really can’t do clean humor, then don’t do it – find a venue where you can do the your type of humor. There are plenty of well known, successful comedians who have racier material than me.  They are true to themselves and have found their place. I’ve worked with ventriloquists, magicians and even mimes.  Yes, there are people doing all sorts of humor because that’s what resonates with them.

TwB: How did you break into speaking at seminars and conventions?

McInnis: I started out as a marketing person for 15 years in a “regular” day job, and I had hired entertainers for events, so I knew there was a market. Many comics didn’t/don’t even know this exists as an option. So when I went into the comedy clubs, my goal was to build an act that would appeal to this audience. Then it was just making contacts, making contacts, making contacts and also letting people know what you want, along with a little luck. A funny story, I got in partly because I worked with a comic who did me really wrong in a club (long story), and when I ran into him on the road the next month, I gave him a LOT of grief. . . he felt so bad, and he knew that I wanted to get into the convention market, that he hooked me up with his friend who was a comic performing in the convention arena, Frank King. I made the connection with Frank, and through a series of events, Frank ended up helping me out quite a bit to get into this market. I’m still friends with the comic who did me wrong, and we’ve laughed about how his mistake has made me a lot of money.

TwB: You’ve got a “knack” for writing comedy, fast, for any seminar or convention topic, but what in day-to-day life inspires you? What makes YOU laugh?

McInnis: I really laugh at the everyday stuff and the ironies that are all around us. My brother and sisters and I, as well as my friends are sarcastic in a nice way.   We love pointing out funny things and making cracks about the day-to-day stuff that happens that you just can’t make up.

TwB: After reading Finding the Funny Fast, where can readers turn for more information and inspiration on communicating with comedy?

McInnis: Funny you should ask. I’ve started a comedy writing blog, titled appropriately www.ComedyWritingBlog.com where I share tips on writing. That’s a great place to start. But for comedy inspiration, just look around you and start to notice the funny things that are going on.  Soon, you won’t be able to turn the inspiration off!

TwB: What books are on your nightstand, now?

McInnis: I like a lot of, not sure what you’d call it – inspiration books. . . though that doesn’t really sound like the right category to put them in. Think and Grow Rich is great, as well as Key to Yourself. Both written many moons ago, but the principles of the law of attraction are the same. After that first open mike in which the club owner hired me, and I decided in that moment that I was going to do this for my living, then doors just flew open. It really was amazing how fast things fell into place when I was focused and determined. And it still happens today quite frequently. My favorite saying is that things usually work out better than you expected–so far that’s been true. So, I really believe in the law of attraction. Okay, I also like cheesy murder mysteries–fiction and non-fiction. You’ve got to zone out of the real world occasionally.

TwB: I understand you are available as a speaker for seminars and conventions. What type of groups usually appreciate your humor the most, and why?

McInnis:I’ve done a ton of health care groups because it think health care “gets it.” They deal with tough issues day in and day out and they understand that you need to laugh in order to stay sane. I’ve done my keynote Finding the Funny in Change for a lot of them.  It includes my comedy, but it also has some great tips on dealing with change that I learned from leaving my day job and going into comedy. I also do a lot of financial groups and educational groups.  With my keynote Finding the Funny in Communications, I’m able to pass on tips to them on how to inject humor into written and verbal communications so you connect with clients, sell a product, keep people engaged, and be memorable. And of course I’ve done tons of women’s events, even though my act hits well for both men and women.  But, women love to laugh so I love being in front of them! With that said, I’ve done programs for pretty much every group you can imagine: mushroom growers to alfalfa seed growers, Pep Boys, the Federal Reserve, and IT people. You name it, there’s an association for EVERYONE.

TwB: Where can readers find your speaking availability schedule?

McInnis: Generally, you can go to my website www.TheWorkLady.com, and you can always send me an email at Jan@TheWorkLady.com, if you have questions. I do a lot of work humor, so I go by The Work Lady which is why that’s my website.  Plus, no one can spell McInnis, so I had to use something else!

TwB: Where can readers purchase your book, Finding the Funny Fast?

McInnis: On my website www.TheWorkLady.com or through Amazon, although you save a buck or two by going to my website.

Note: I received a copy of Finding the Funny Fast for the purposes of this review and interview.  Read my full disclosure.