Attitude of Gratitude

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I love how some people list their blessings every day in November. I am not that disciplined, but I love that some people are. I like to read about what makes them thankful.

Thanksgiving is great time to be thankful...I mean maybe not if you are Native American. I am just saying it is something we need to be cognizant of when we celebrate this holiday. It isn't all warm and fuzzy. 

But I digress, we are talking about gratitude today.

I do like the idea of reflecting on your blessings at the end of the year. A time to take inventory. I especially like to do this with children before they get a crap ton of stuff for the holidays. I want them to have some perspective.

The other day I definitely told my children how other children in the world (and in our own country...our own state, heck in our own town) live much different, much harder lives. There was even some talk about children in diamond mines. I know, I know... it wasn't my proudest moment. I don't want to shame my children into being grateful.

It is a balance of learning about perspective, privilege, and place. This lessons are best taught with love (not shame or anger). 

And if I am being honest, I don't always feel grateful or thankful. I can get hung up on the things I don't have, the moments in life that aren't great, and the sadness and crappy parts of humanity. That is human nature. 

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
— Willie Nelson
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And let's be real, you can't talk about being grateful without talking Oprah. She DID tell us about writing in a gratitude journal all those years ago. 

I live in the space of thankfulness — and for that, I have been rewarded a million times over. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because — for sure — what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.
— Oprah Winfrey

I want some of that...I want to focus on the small things, I want to have a space of thankfulness. And I want it for our kids as well. So here are a few things to get us in the practice of being grateful. 

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude

Name your blessings.

One thing that we do in our family (some times...not all the time) is that we do "Highs, Lows, and Weirds." You tell the best part of your day, the worst part of your day, and the part that was cuckoo. My sons class does a variation of this called "Cherries and Pits." It is a great way to get some perspective. Sometimes you feel like "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." However, sometimes it is just how you look at the world.

Read Books

C'mon, isn't that the answer for most things? Reading a book? Reading is a great way to broaden your perspective and to challenge privilege, and to explore place. Books allow you to enter other realities that are not your own. You get to view the world just a little differently. 

Being Thankful is a simple book by Mercer Mayer about being grateful and it is good for younger children. But there are lots of books about gratitude for all ages of children. Go to your local library or bookstore. They are the experts. They are definitely some people to be thankful for. 

Get Crafty

Make a gratitude tree or start a gratitude jar. Both a gratitude tree and a gratitude jars provide ways to develop habits of being both mindful and grateful. And these are tangible physical reminders of what you are thankful for. Plus, the act of making the craft allows the opportunity to make memories about just being together creating. Kids just want to be with you. 

Being Mindful

Spend time with your kids and be mindful of your time with them. My kids straight call me out. "Mom, you are on your phone." "Mom, you just said 'mmm hmmm' so you aren't really listening." Brutal, but good reminders. Let's keep each other accountable. 

This time is fleeting...it doesn't matter if your kids are 2 or 42...this time is going fast and it won't come again. The things that matter are our relationships. Model a grateful heart and spend time with you who you are most grateful for. 

Slow down enjoy your time together, talk, go for a walk, or whatever is "you." Point out the blessings. Hold their hand. Listen to what their are thankful for. 

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For more in depth discussions about gratitude and children check here and here.

And since Advent starts soon (Sunday, December 3, 2017) here is a great resource to continue the attitude of gratitude for the rest of the year ( you don't have to observe Advent to get a lot out of this exercise). It is called the Advent of Gratitude and the concept is this..."Most Advent Calendars present us with a gift each day leading up to Christmas. The purpose of this Advent of Gratitude is to remind us of the gifts we already have, what we often take for granted, what we can and should be grateful for." This calendar lists things to be thankful for and then suggests donating a certain dollar amount to a local charity. The Advent of Gratitude has a community on Facebook if you'd like to learn more. 

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Look for the blessings. Embrace a more grateful heart. And I will see you soon!

 

 

 

Setting Priorities

I would do anything for my kids.  Move heaven and earth for them. I have stayed up all night perfecting presents, I have held vigil in their beds when they are sick, I have cleaned up so many horrible things that came out of their bodies, and daily I make sure they are clothed, fed, healthy, and happy. I do it all because I love them. I make them a priority. I, like you, make a lot of things a priority...but not usually myself. Sound familiar? 

You're Number One

You're Number One

I stay up late at night to steal moments to myself, but turns out that isn't really taking care of myself or setting myself as a priority. I know I am not alone. Just check out  here or here or here.

Parents...and maybe moms in particular need a moment...a moment to ourselves. I love it when it is quiet late at night and I can read or watch something that is inappropriate for younger eyes or I can blog.

I never put myself first. I bet you don't either. 

Part of my neglect of myself is to let things I care about go first...

  • Too busy this morning to eat or have a cup of hot coffee? I will grab some kid snack later or I will slurp down that cold coffee. 
  • No time to workout? Oh, I can do that later. When? Who knows!
  • Can't carve out a little bit of time for me to get my hair done, or to get myself something, or to have a moment.
  • And sadly I let Posing as Parents go all the time. I care about this blog, but if I run short on time, energy, or even patience this is the first to go. 

Why? I would be so mad at my kids if they treated themselves the way I treat myself. 

I would love to make a sweeping statement about how the buck stops here...things are going to change from now on...etc. But that isn't sustainable is it? So instead I am going to make a pledge of sorts to myself to help me focus on what is important.

A Focus for Me (and you, yes you)

  • Making Myself a Priority-You KNOW it is important and it is what you would want for any one you love. You got to love yourself yo and make you a big deal. What do want? What do you love? What brings you joy? What feeds your soul?

And if you want some more explicit tips check here, here, and here

You are going to fail, that is okay. Keep trying. 

You are #1, baby!

 

 

Road Trippin'

We are about to embark on an epic road trip. We will be going  through 11 states (that is including our own...Oregon). Embarrassingly, at first I thought we were going through 6 states. I have no idea why. Bad at geography? Bad at math? Maybe both. 

Regardless, we are going to a ton states in whirlwind trip. What a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July, by exploring this country! I told my son that this trip would be the life altering...it will simultaneously be the worst and the best. The worst because 3700 miles in a car is challenging, but the best because of all the things he and his sister are going to see and experience. Trips like these are etched in your mind, your heart, and your spirit and they live on in your memories for a lifetime.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have been searching through Pinterest and everything else I can get my hands on planning for this trip. My husband and I have done similar trips to this one more than a few times. It was a time before iPhones and I didn't have a DVD player in the car. Plus I can sleep for days if someone will just let me, so in the past on road trips, I would just sleep. But with the kids it is a different ballgame. 

Our kids have all sorts of devices to help numb the boredom. I know for a fact we will be breaking our normal screen time allotments by a lot, but the kids are going to want to do something more than just watch it and movies for days. So here is my plan to get us through at least Stage 1 of the trip...getting to Kansas City. 

Pan or Lap Tray?

Pan or Lap Tray?

Road Trip Tips

There are a ton travel tips online. There are plenty tips that I will be trying out on the trip. The baking sheet above is an example of one such tip and it is being transformed into an activity lap tray for the kids.

Here are some other tips...

So many IKEA bags

So many IKEA bags

Storage-The first thing I have been fretting over and considering is storage space. I have a minivan so there is a lot of room, but I am trying to be mindful of how we pack. One thing I did was purchase a ton-o-bags to make sure everything has a home for this crazy trip. IKEA is my best friend this week...so many bags. 

Homemade Jerky

Homemade Jerky

Snacks-I have been trying to load up on healthier treats for the trip so we won't make as many stops along the way. But there are some foods that  just scream "road trip!" Jerky is one of them, so I made a lot a jerky for the trip. Now if we can make it until we hit the road...the jerky supply seems to be quickly dwindling. 

Clean it up supplies

Clean it up supplies

Supplies- I am a mama and we are about to travel accross the USA with kids. I needed some supplies to keep us clean. Putting this stuff together helps the whole family have easy access in case something needs cleaned up. Praying for a puke free trip.

Games and More

Games and More

Surprises-This is the portion of the trip that is best unleashed in small doses. When the kids start going over the deep end I intend to give the angels a new little something to new to work on or play with...the kids don't know I have all of these goodies. For example, these foam flyers are something they can put together in the car and when we stop for a potty break or for a bit of exercise then the kids can have flyer races. 

Let's get building and flying.

Let's get building and flying.

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.
— Unknown Author
Let's roll!

Let's roll!

So we are finishing packing up and getting ready to roll. See you from the road next week!

The Summer of Strength

Running into summer full force.

Running into summer full force.

I know I have said that I love a good theme...for birthdays, for parties, for interior design, whatever it is it is better with a theme. 

This summer has a theme and it is the Summer of Strength. 

Listen, I am strong...I had a hard knock life like the kind Lifetime movies are about, I also carried and gave birth to a 10 pound 12 ounce 23 inch long baby, and I lived with giant tumors forever and was shoveling snow the week before surgery. I am hella strong. BUT I have room to grow.  We all do. 

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— A. A. Milne

I want to be stronger. I want a stronger body. I want a stronger mind. I want stronger relationships/friendships/communities.

I want strength. 

I want strength not just for myself, but because I am a mama...it is imperative for me to model a strong body, a kind heart, and the ability to make healthy choices...these are imperative to demonstrate a strong mama to my kiddos.

And there are things that we are helping identify with our children that we want them to work on being stronger. 

We want to help them be stronger readers, stronger writers, strong swimmers...there are things that we want to improve upon, to strengthen, as a family. 

The trick is when you are building your strength or anything really you have to remember that it is more than just building one dimension of yourself. A more holistic view is needed and you need an alignment of the body, mind, and soul. 

Our intention creates our reality.
— Wayne Dyer

How do you do that? 

  • Set your intention...an intention is a purpose or an aim.
  • Be clear and specific about what you want and put it in the world. 

  • Be good to your body...eat healthy, move your body, and get some sleep.

  • Practice gratitude...look at the good and spread that thankfulness.

  • Let it go. Practice like Elsa and "let it go"...put what you want in the world and release it.

Being yourself is strong and beautiful.

Being yourself is strong and beautiful.

Going to work on setting some intentions and on being strong. What are you going to work on?

See you Thursday!

 

Grow Your Own

Our first haul of 2017. 

Our first haul of 2017. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was with them every week during the school year, and all of summer, and I even lived with them a couple of times during my childhood. They definitely helped raise me. 

My grandparents had a giant vegetable garden. Once again, in hindsight, it might have not been giant...I was a child...I was 4 feet tall or shorter. Regardless, they had a vegetable garden. I would have to help in the garden and grab vegetables for meals. That was all fine and good until the time I was trapped in there by two large birds.

Now, I know you aren't appropriately picturing these birds. My grandparents had two Emus for a little bit. Yep, the birds that are like ostriches. They look like they may have been around since the age of dinosaurs. 

A  National Geographic  picture Of a Rhea

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

I am not 100% sure why my Nana and Papaw had rheas. I am guessing it is because they wanted to raise them for meat or eggs. They had a boy one and a girl one and they scared me. These birds can be around 5 1/2 feet tall! And the rheas that they had were not that nice.

One day my Nana asked me to get some tomatoes, as she finished making dinner. I ran out to the garden and I was a little irritated because I didn't want miss out on watching Wheel of Fortune (hey, I grew up with my grandparents...of course I watched Wheel of Fortune.) Well, I run out to the garden and I go to pick the tomatoes. The garden had long rows of veggies and I remember everything being so huge...so I must have been short. 

I get the tomatoes and I try to leave the garden to see what was happening on Wheel of Fortune and I can't leave. Why you ask? Those damn birds wouldn't let me leave. They came to the garden and started trying to peck at me. Now here is where things can get a little fuzzy...I am remembering something from a LOT of years ago. But for me, I felt like they were trying to attack me. 

I yelled and screamed and cried to get my grandparents attention to no avail. The garden wasn't super close to the house and there were fences obscuring the view. So I hid, for my life, in the tomato plants. My Papaw finally came looking for me after an amount of time that felt like forever.  And instead of rushing to my aid and scooping me up in love and compassion, he completely had zero ideas why I would be huddled and crying. Luckily my Nana had a lot more empathy for the situation and I was coddled appropriately. I am also pretty sure I was excused from helping in the garden for a long, long time. 

While traumatic at the time, it is one of my favorite memories. The garden was a source of food, of fun, and obviously of a little fear.  I can clearly remember the taste of the tomatoes, the sound of my Nana snapping the beans, and the smells of all the creations she would make. 

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Since my husband and I have been married we have grown herbs, fruit (trees, bushes, and vines), and vegetables. Our children have had a garden most years of their lives. While our garden pales in comparison to my Nana and Papaws. I love how it grows bigger each year and now we have some sort of harvest all over the property...every where you go there is something growing that we will provide for our family.  It is such an amazing thing to plant something, care for it, and watch it grow into something that can nourish your body, all the while nourishing your mind and soul as you tend to the garden. 

And the flowers in our yard are amazing...no filter needed on those blooms. We bought a house that had established landscaping, so we are just reaping the benefits of some else's love and vision (thanks Phyllis). Well, besides a few things like the roses...my husband is a rose fanatic. You would never know it looking at him, but he loves him some roses.

I love seeing what blossoms and when. In the last 7 1/2 years that we have been here some things come back every year, some things bloom once and we never see them again, and every year there are new things that pop up in the yard that I have never seen before. It is always so fun to see what is growing. We do a family tradition called "garden walks" where we walk around the garden to see what is growing and what needs tending to and what changes need to be made. 

You don't need your own piece of land to grow something or to reap the benefits of a garden. Here are some ways you can get your hands dirty...

  • Container garden.
  • Take a gardening class.
  • Walk around your local nurseries.
  • Join a community garden.
  • Help a neighbor with their garden.
  • Go to any of your local gardens...they don't need to provide food...any garden will be great. 
  • Walk your neighborhood to see what is growing.

The point is to be connected to your food, to the beauty of your community, and to get outside. There are probably not any giant birds out there waiting to get you...so what is stopping you?

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
Our veggie garden.

Our veggie garden.

To Every Thing

Seasons are such power forces...they usher us through each year.  I believe they help guide us through our own seasons of life. There is a time and place for everything. That includes death.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3

Or if you aren't into reading scripture, listen to the Byrds. 

 

Being a parent, your job is walking through all the seasons with your children...even the hard ones.

I don't remember many people dying in my world when I was a kid...I mean I have some memories, but it seemed like it was always really old people (in hindsight they may have not been that old...I was just so young). 

My children have been surrounded by death their Grandfather died when they were little bitty, we have had other deaths in our family, both of our next door neighbors have died within the last few years, and then the countless memorials I have attended/officiated since I worked at an older church. Plus we have lost several animals.

In fact, Little Miss might be an animal murderer. She loves so hard...some times to death. (BTW that could totally be a title of a Lifetime movie). Little Miss has been collecting worms, slugs, and snails and making them be her pet. This 100% is a death sentence. Below is a picture of a snail she collected on a recent camping trip. She even made an awesome terrarium for the snail. Then on the way home she crushed the snail...to death. We arrived at my mom's house and she buried the snail. Later that evening she went back to Nana's and unburied the snail. She brought the dead snail home in the terrarium the next day with a dollar bill on it because the dead snail LOVES money. That kid is a trip.  

Big spender snail.

Big spender snail.

A lot of families with children may not have the experience with talking to their kids about death. 

We had a friend who lost an animal and they asked me how we talked to our children about losing animals (we have had a few cats who didn't make it in our neighborhood). I told her we just tell them what happened...a basic summary, but for the most part we just tell them the truth. She couldn't understand that...she didn't think her children were ready to hear the truth.

I get it, my husband and I shelter our kiddos from so much. They have zero idea about current affairs or even horrible parts of history. It isn't because we want them to be dummies...we want to shelter them and let them keep their innocence as long as they can. We can't do it forever, but we can do it right now. But one thing we don't hide or fudge the truth about is if someone died. 

The Dougy Center has a list on how to help a grieving child. The Dougy Center "provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences." The Dougy Center is located in Oregon, but they have a great comprehensive website with several tools about grieving and children. 

Here are some things that we have found that worked for us. 

  • Use the right words. Don't say that people or animals "have gone to sleep," "gone to the farm," etc. You have to say that they died. They need to hear that. There should be no confusion. 
  • Be honest. You don't need to give every crazy detail, but be honest (as much as possible).
  • Talk about the person who died. Keep the person alive with your family by sharing stories and memories. 
  • Be ready to talk about this at any time. Kids are going to ask you questions at different times and for different reasons. When they talk to you...give them a space to share. It is important. 
  • Be kind to yourself. You might not know what to say or do. That is okay...just be genuine and loving. 

Parenting can be rough, but you have got this. Seize the dang day! See you on Friday!