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!

 

 

 

Tell Me a Story

1977 Pure Gold

1977 Pure Gold

Tonight my daughter wanted to read a book that I grew up reading. It was a book all about daddies. I loved this book I would look at the pictures for hours as a small child and I remember my dad reading it to me. I was a total daddy's girl growing up. He and I were two peas in a pod. And it warms my heart to see the love my children have for their own daddy. 

Throwback Lovefest

Throwback Lovefest

It is funny how books can transport us.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.
— Dr. Seuss

Our son hasn't fallen in love with stories...he loves books, but there hasn't been a story that just stops him in his tracks. The books he likes are guide books, how to's, manuals, graphic novels, etc. There hasn't been a story that he has gotten lost in. He pours over books, but the story isn't his hook.  I want that so badly for him. But we all have our own preferences and we all progress at different levels and at different times. The good news is he loves books...that is enough...I will take that. 

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.
— Dr. Seuss

We have a million books all over the house. There are just stacks of books. I love the idea of them surrounding us.

Our daughter moved into a new room a few months ago and I was putting books on her bookshelves. There were books that we read to our son. I could remember us reading to him as a baby and now the boy reads the stories to his sister. And our daughter wants the books my parents read to me. The circle of life in book form. 

So kids are going to read when they are going to read, but there are a few things that you can do to maybe help them. 

Reading Tips for Children

  • Let Them Choose- Have your kiddos pick out their own book. You can help guide them to assist them with reading levels, genre, or whatever gets them going in the right direction.
  • Get Comfy-Find or create  a comfortable spot to read in. Make sure there is plenty of light.
  • Make a Routine-Have a time that you set aside for reading. 
  • Let Them Catch You-Let your kids see you read. Modeling behavior is the best learning tool.
  • Recap-When they finish a book, ask them questions. What were their favorite parts? Favorite characters? Best illustrations?

Dang, this week has been all about stories. 

Hope your weekend is full of creating stories, reading stories, and everything in between. 

Okay, I Got Distracted

I didn't have the blog up when I usually do AND I am not going to write about organization when you are traveling with children like I said I would do. I am just not feeling it. I will write about it next week, but not today. Today I am just rolling with the day.

At Home Entertainment

At Home Entertainment

Since we got home I have been cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning and buying a lot of groceries. Yep, that is pretty much the extent of it and keeping two kids, two dogs, a fish, and a hubby alive and relatively happy. There have been friends, some sports, swim lessons, etc. But I am in slomo when I can be. 

I think that after a trip it takes me a bit to get my bearings.  We all crave to be in our place with our stuff.  And with nothing to do. The last part seems to be harder to achieve.

Hanging with Handsome

Hanging with Handsome

This summer I am acutely aware of how fleeting the moments are...the good ones and bad ones. This is the only summer with my boy being 9 and my girl being 4. That is almost double digits and Kindergarten kind of summer. I have spoken about it before, but is a hard balance trying to let them grow and wanting these moments to hold onto forever. Each time my boy grabs my hand my heart smiles and aches at the same time. And my girl is sooooooo wound up I try to remember that this time is also precious and I want to honor that spirit and help it grow while keeping my sanity. This is the Summer of Strength I just didn't anticipate the strength would also be with my mama's heart. 

Eat Yo Veggies

Eat Yo Veggies

Well, besides working on not being an emotional nut job mom, I have more to do. Right now we are having a family "reboot" since the trip. Here is what we are trying to focus on...maybe it would work for you as well. 

  • Sleep- Sleep is magic. Our sleep has been jacked, so we are trying to go to bed early (I mean besides me) and we have been sleeping in (besides dad). 
  • Eat Fresh-Eat yo veggies. Our food choices weren't always ideal on the road so we are trying to eat more veggies, more fruit, and less meat. Our garden is going bonkers so that helps. I will admit that our son has been deep in on the box mac and cheese...that is new, but it is also fine...we will make up for it in other ways. 
  • Move Your Body-The kids have activities that get their body moving and they naturally want to play. BUT for mom, I have to work on it. I have started a new work out program that is very slow, but it is a start! I will have to incorporate more movement to have this really be the Summer of Strength. 
  • Read-We are all reading. Taking time to sit and dive into a book. The kids got a ton of screen time on the road and I think they are craving more than electronics right now. 
  • Play/Art/Etc-Be creative. The kids are playing and doing art. My husband and I have been working in the garden and in the yard...just taking time to be. Use your mind in another way. 

Have a great weekend...slow down and enjoy the moments. See you Tuesday where I WILL tell you about best tips for traveling with kiddos. I mean, I probably will. 

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!

 

Take Me Home Country Roads

I am originally from the South...Arkansas specifically. I was born and raised there until I was a sophomore in high school. Later I went back to attend University of Arkansas for a year. Most of my family still lives there. And even though I love Portland and I have been here most of my life, part of my heart will always be in my home town.

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.
— Maya Angelou

When I get homesick, I miss the feelings of home and less an actual place. Also, when I get homesick I really listen to a LOT of country music. 

I have been thinking a lot about the South. We are having a Southern dinner party. So I have been knee deep in looking at recipes and reminiscing about meals from my childhood.

Also, I MAY have gotten an air fryer. Have you seen these things?

This is the GoWISE 4th Generation Electric Air Fryer. It basically makes food crispy without frying. I am going to try to "fry" okra and make "fried" pickle chips this weekend. I am way too excited about this. I told my husband it seems like the perfect appliance for the modern Southern woman and the little smarty pants responded, "Oh, do you know any?" 

The South is no longer in my mouth...maybe the drawl comes out a bit if I am hopping mad or had one or two too many cocktails. But it is still my roots. It is a culture that I share with my children. They drink tea and say funny sayings. I am trying to raise them right.

What culture do you identify with? What are your traditions? What is important to share with your children? Perhaps this weekend (or this summer if you need a little time)...start considering sharing your culture...your community that you grew up with...share with your family.

Here are some ways to share.

  • Start with the food.- Share your favorite recipes or meals from your childhood.
  • Tell a story.-Tell your children your story...what was your childhood like, what was your community like, and explore how it has changed.
  • Teach your traditions-What are the things you family did and why? Take a moment to do those traditions with your own family.
  • Research-Become an expert on your heritage. Research together so you all learn about what makes you...you!

I feel like a native Oregonian because I have been here since a teenager. However, part of me will be stuck in Arkansas circa 1975-1990 ish. Since I don't have a time machine, I will be enjoying my not-fried-fried food, hanging out with Johnny, Hank, and Willie, and I will be remembering my own country roads. I hope your travel your own roads.

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.

Hippity Hoppity

Easter is this weekend. Easter is a holiday that we celebrate in our family and one that means a lot to me. But I never even got our decorations out from the attic! I don't have any excuse, Easter isn't even early this year.

Luckily we have been gifted a couple of Easter related decorations and we did make that fun Pom Pom Tree, plus I transitioned the house into spring colors a few weeks ago...so we do have some Easter spirit. But still I am a little off my game. That is okay. Some days we are on...some days we aren't...I guess the same goes for holidays/months/years. 

Easter is a holiday that our family has some legit traditions that we do try to honor. My husband's family typically has a lamb made of butter. My mother-in-law used to make the butter lamb for us each year. But this past Easter, she gave all the families their own wood mold for the lamb. It is pretty fun we can now make it ourselves for years to come. 

Butter Lamb

Butter Lamb

In my family we make a bunny cake. We decorate it various ways. It is cake with coconut flakes and the face is made with candy or fruit. The example below is from the year when my son decorated the bunny with marshmallow eggs. Here is the problem...my son and my husband (and sometimes even myself) have birthdays close to Easter. So that can be a LOT of cake in a short period of time. Last year I felt pretty proud of myself when I thought to make a smaller cake and then I decorated it with mainly fruit. I will admit though, the smaller bunny cake was not as cute. 

I think my husband and I care about these traditions because we don't think we have a lot of traditions. I don't know that we have a lot of traditions as a culture any longer. For us, creating things we do (or don't do) helps give us some meaning in our holidays and our lives.

You may do things a certain way in your family of origin. Then you grow up and perhaps you fall in love and make a family with someone else. And this person did things a certain way in THEIR family of origin. Well, then you two have to decide on how YOUR family does things. It can be hard to balance for sure. I mean, we are cool on the butter lamb and the bunny cake...but after 15 years of being together, 11 years of marriage, and almost 9 years of being parents...I feel like we still negotiate a lot what we do as a family. It is funny as we go along, our kids tell us what our traditions are. They pick out the things we repeat or that we drop and help us define what our traditions actually may be. Fine by me!

(Look at our "babies" first Easters! The Boy is freaking adorable/looks like a mini version of my dad. And Little Miss...why did we think it was a good idea to put her in this basket? Poor baby!)

One thing that is kind of becoming a tradition for the KUs, is that we try to stay away from giving candy. It seems like everyone else in their world gives them their fill of candy, so we don't need to add to that. It isn't because we don't love candy...we do. But everyone in our immediate family, besides the Boy has self control issues. Our daughter definitely has a sugar addiction. Soooo to help her (and my husband and I) from going nuts on the sugar we just ask the Easter Bunny to not bring candy. (For reals, I have a little pile of candy wrappers right next to me as I type. Ugh...it is a problem.)

Easter Egg Hunt at the Neighbors...for Candy.

Easter Egg Hunt at the Neighbors...for Candy.

Last year the Easter Bunny filled the baskets with all sorts of cooking supplies and new aprons and chef hats. This year the word on the street is that the Easter Bunny is bringing Disneyland trip supplies. I can't be sure since it isn't Easter yet. I will have to post pictures once the Easter Bunny comes to our house. 

If you are still wondering what you can do to help the Easter Bunny this year. Here is a list of non-candy items that would be great for Easter baskets...

Non-Candy Easter Basket Fillers

  • Books
  • Games-Jacks, Deck of Cards, Dice, Board Games, Rubik's Cube, Yo-Yo
  • Toys-Bubbles, Bouncy Balls, Kites, Marbles, Legos, Stuffed Animals, Slinky
  • Personal Items-Temporary Tattoos, Sunglasses, Hats, Chapstick
  • Art Stuff- Play-Doh/Clay, Stickers, Stamps, Coloring Books, Crayons, Markers, Watercolors, Paint Brushes
  • Hair Stuff-Hair Ties/Bows, Products, Hair Brush
  • Teeth Stuff-Electric Toothbrushes, Mouthwash, Toothpaste
  • Bath Stuff-Fun Soaps, Shampoos, Bubblebath, Bath Toys
  • Cooking Items-Measuring Spoons/Cups, Spoons, Apron, Cookbooks

You know I understand that not everyone celebrates this holiday. But hopefully a couple of stories about tradition and some non-candy gift ideas can still be relatable. Have a wonderful weekend and I will post some pictures once that darn Easter Bunny gets here! Hippity Hoppity Easter is on its way!