We're One!

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A year ago I started Posing as Parents. I have always had a family blog with my husband, but this was meant to be something a little different. This blog was a new project...personal, yes, but also more of a space for others as well.

In the last year, I have learned some things. I wish I would have blogged more regularly. I wish I would have used social media more for Posing as Parents. And I wish I wouldn't let this be one of the first things I neglect when life gets too busy. I love it here...I love it because of you. I started this blog to help create a sense of community. 

I have said it a million times...in a world that we are literally connected 24 hours a day, there is so much disconnect. Perhaps ironic that this a blog, but I can't invite you all over to sit for a spell. But YOU can invite others to be a part of your community. 

Why would you want to do that? You are busy, you don't have time for other people...people you don't know. That sounds like the worst. Can't someone else cultivate some community?

No. 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

It all starts with us. Every one of us. We are in this together. In the immortal words of Eminem, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." This is it kids. This is our time here and now, make the most of it and don't you want it better than you found it? Not worse?

I talk about community and ways to create community over and over again because I truly believe it is our salvation. If you feel responsible for your neighbor you will find ways to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep them safe, and love them. 

We have also talked about parties here on the blog. While they may not save the world, they sure can make people feel happy and valued and that is a step in the right direction. So here is a Quick Tip on how to throw a party. 

5 Tips to Throwing a Quick Party

  1. Get some flowers. Flowers (or some type of greenery) makes it feel festive and steps it up a notch. 
  2. Get out something fancy. Whether it is a cake stand, real china, a teapot, whatever...at least have one "real" dish out. Yes, paper plates can be a lifesaver with a crowd, but have at least one piece that classes up the gathering.
  3. Get your treat on. Buy a cake, make some cookies, or even something savory. Who says you can't celebrate with fried chicken or a beautiful salad. Pick something special and unique to the person/thing you are celebrating. 
  4. Get up a decoration or two. Paper Chains, Paper Tassels, or Pendants...it makes no difference what it is. Just hang something up to show that the space is different and that you are ready to celebrate.
  5. Get your stress out. The number one thing in having a party is having fun. Don't worry about it not being perfect. It totally won't be perfect and that is okay. It is about loving the ones that you are with. Enjoy the party and the time with people you like (or maybe love). 

I will leave you with another Mr. Rogers quote. Really because I love him so much.  Mr Rogers and my Nana are who I strive to be every day. But I think this encapsulates what I hope to do here at Posing as Parents and in the world. Maybe this will speak to you too.

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

Thanks for doing our human job with me. I hope that we can do even more for this next year. Thanks for being here and I will see you soon! 

Recipe for Happiness

Her Favorite Treat

Her Favorite Treat

 

Energy Balls

Chocolate Balls that Kids Hate

Makes: 4-8 Balls

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons Cacao
  • 1/4 Cup Almonds
  • A few Figs or Dates

Instructions:
  1. Mix it-Here it is...just dump it in the blender or food processor and crush and mix it all up.
  2. Roll it up-Here is another hard part-roll up the concoction into about 4 large balls or 8 small balls. The mixture will be wet and not super solid.
  3. Set it-pop them in the freezer or the refrigerator so they get harder. And then eat them! Easy Peasy!
He loves them!

He loves them!

Okay, one of my pet peeves when looking for a recipe is having to read a ginormous story before I get to the recipe. Dang, I don't need to know all the back story all at once. Maybe the story is great, but maybe I just want the recipe. So I am starting off with the recipe for this blog post. This recipe is an approximation...you know I hate to follow the constraints of a recipe and maybe you do to. I like to just eye it. 

This recipe was adapted from the millions of energy balls or fat balls that are out there. I made them so my kids would have some healthier sweet treats to satisfy our family's sweet tooth. I was so proud of myself. 

As you can see from the photos...my children weren't exactly crazy about them. My daughter acted like I poisoned her and then she immediately ate some candy to get the horrible taste out of her mouth. My son was a little more discreet, but obviously he isn't a big fan either. That is okay. I like them.

We have been focusing on what we eat lately. In my mind we are such healthy eaters, but then I realize that we get lazy and we have to reset. This is our reset. We are loosely following the Mediterranean Diet. It isn't hard because it is basically how we eat, besides the sweets. We have all want a little sweet treat now and then. So I thought I would make a healthy sweet. 

But, nope. They aren't having it.

That is okay...they can have real sweets. It is all about moderation. 

Right now in our family we are having a hard time with a screen time addiction...mainly with the under 10 crowd, but all of us could use a reset as well. This happens nearly every year during this time of the year. We get stuck inside with the weather and screen time fills our time. In the summer the kids are playing and out and about. But winter and even during the wet spring we get too much screen time. 

We are in reset mode. Diet, screens, and I would even say with our house. The first of the year is all about organization and then comes spring cleaning. We all need a reset once in awhile (or once a day, whatever, there is no judgement). 

Isn't that part of the recipe for happiness? Just being able to reset...something isn't working? Then start over. Nothing is set in stone. My kids get hung up on if something isn't right or it isn't how they want it or they screw up at something. They always talk about things not being perfect. Nope, things aren't perfect...but the beauty in this amazing life is that we get another chance, again, and again, and again. Things may not be perfect, but you have the opportunity to change that and make it the best you can. 

And if you don't like these energy balls then hit the reset button and start again. 

See you soon!

 

 

The Skunk Outside

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I was volunteering in my daughter's preschool class the other day and they had a lock down drill. I don't know if you have ever been in a lock down drill or if you know what one is. Basically a lock down drill is when you practice what you would do if there was an intruder, a shooter, or some sort of criminal act. The drill is to go to a safe room and lock all doors and shut the windows tight as you darken the room. I didn't have these drills when I was a child in the 1980's. In Arkansas we had tornado drills and I am suspect that the folder I had to put over my head really would be helpful, but I digress.

We actually had to leave my daughter's classroom, because there are too many windows. The children are targets in this room. So as I walked into the dark room with my daughter and her class and one of the teachers in the "safe" room helped explain why we were there. She quieted her voice and told us to be silent...we didn't want the skunk outside to hear us. She gently told the children that there was a stinky skunk trying to get in and we didn't want him to know where we were so we had to be still and quiet. Some kids laughed, some kids cried, but mostly they were so very quiet. 

These are preschoolers.

A couple of days later there was another school shooting. Another one.

High school students and brave teachers and coaches are gone. They are dead. They went to school on VALENTINE'S DAY and were killed. 

There are no words...just action. I am amazed by the survivors who refuse to be quiet. They are children.  The survivors who will not back down about talking about change...it is not too soon for them...it is indeed too late. These survivors are already talking about gun control. These children are doing things that adults have been too afraid to do...these children have been victims of gun violence (this week mind you) and are currently undergoing a crazy traumatic event and they are already mobilizing and taking action. God bless them. 

No one should have guns that can kill that many people so quickly. No one. Yes, we do need gun control. And yes, we do need to focus on the heroes not the people who do these things. And yes, we do need to provide mental care for people who need it. And yes, we do need to build community. 

Personally, I have connected with my local chapter of Moms Demand Action. You don't need to be a mom to join the group and they don't want to take away your guns. They want common sense gun control. Sign me up! 

And for me, one of the most important things is for me to build community where ever I go. We are connected 24/7 and yet we don't have real connections in our neighborhoods or in our communities.

Honestly, I am just doing my damnedest to be more like Mr. Rogers every day. He had it right...he showed us why we should love our neighborhoods and how we are interconnected, he taught us to love one another, and he taught us that we were valuable...that we all had something to add to our community.  

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

So we have some radical love to share and some major changes in our current legislation that need to happen. Oh, and a bunch of other work. But we have to make a change. We can't send our babies to get an education and have them fear for their lives. And we have learned there is no place safe...not concerts, not malls, not churches, and not at schools. There are too many skunks getting away with too many horrible things. We have to make a change.

Love one another...you know, the really hard ones to love...them too. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Oh, and I actaully love skunks...they are just serving as a metaphor today. 

Being Thankful (That I Didn't Puke)

It is November and a lot of people do the "Month of Thankfulness." They list something they are thankful for every day. I admire that...I wish I could do that, but I am not that disciplined. BUT today I want to take a stab at it...and not because I am particularly thankful...more because I have to find things I am thankful for because it has been a shitty morning (pun intended).

My husband is out of town. He has been for a little while. And it has been pretty smooth sailing. We miss him, but the home is clean and running great. Until this morning.

My son saw it first. He yelled "Mom, the dogs pooped all over the living room." I was just waking up and not really comprehending what he was saying. And I was a little confused because out of our two dogs, the one that would do such a thing slept in my room all night.

Then I realized it was Duke.

Duke

Duke

Duke never does anything like this. He must of been sick or is just a complete asshole. Hard to tell.

Duke is a 150 pound German Shepherd. Take a second to think about how much poop could be in a 150 pound dog. Got it?

Well, that is actually not the worst of it. Most of our house doesn't have carpet, but the hallway and the front room does.  It has brown carpet. Some might even say poop brown carpet. Yep, that is where he pooped on the brown carpet so I can't see the poop that well since it is camouflaged. 

I can't adequately describe this blind poop hide and seek game. It was horrifying to say the least. And I have a keen sense of smell and a quick gag reflex...it was a recipe for disaster. 

However, I made it through...the first round of cleaning. And I am thankful. 

So Let's make a Thankful List

The Awesome Son

The Awesome Son

1. I am thankful for a son that is able to help out. He fed himself breakfast, he got himself ready, and he made lunch for both himself and his sister. Thank you Bubba...I appreciate you. 

Yep, that is poop water.

Yep, that is poop water.

2. I am thankful that we have a shampooer. Seriously things would be dark and horrible right now if I didn't have this to deep clean the carpet. Shit be real around here.

So yummy smelling!

So yummy smelling!

3. You know how a smell just sticks with you? Well, I am thankful for cleaners and lots of smelly candles. I just bought a new candle that smells AH-MAZING! The  Cedar Magnolia - Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia... your know the Target Chip and Joanna Gaines line? I am basic. I am okay with it. That candle is helping me get past the poop smell. 

Me, and my basic self, enjoying coffee.

Me, and my basic self, enjoying coffee.

4. I am thankful for places with drive thru coffee and breakfast sandwiches so I can have energy to keep defunking my home. 

And last, but certainly not least...

So thankful.

So thankful.

5. I am thankful that I have a dog that we love even when he explosively poops all over the house and for the other dog (who actually eats poop, but that is a different story.) I am thankful for my kiddos, I don't know how I got so lucky to have such kind, helpful, funny, and amazing kids. I am thankful for my husband and will be even more grateful when he returns. I am thankful for a home that shelters us...it may not be perfect, but it is ours (well, it is the banks, but we pay for it). And I am thankful I didn't puke this morning. That is not another thing I would like on my list to clean today. 

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
— Anonymous

So what are you thankful for?

Over the next couple of weeks we will talk about being more thankful and explore some crafts for kids to get their own gratitude flowing. In the meantime, here are some suggestions to get you started.

Thankful Actions

  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Be in the present.
  • Think bigger than yourself.
  • Say "thank you."
  • Start focusing outward not inwards. 

Okay since I am getting over the trauma of the poop-apocalypse, I will get serious about my own thankful actions. 

Look for the good! 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!

 

 

Teach Your Children

If all you can do is judge a person by their appearance, because you don’t have the spirit to judge someone from within, you’re in trouble.
— Dick Gregory

Since the last time we met Charlottesville happened.

Nazis took to the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia to unleash their hate. Call them white nationalists, alt-right, the KKK, or white supremacists. Call them whatever you want...they are not who we are as a country or as humanity. We are better than this disgusting racist behavior. And we have to stand up for what is right. 

Heather Heyer died while protesting the rally of these Nazis in Charlottesville. She literally stood up for what she believed in and died for her beliefs of equality and of love for her brothers and sisters. Heather's family said that she knew that one person could make a difference. Even after her death, she is making a difference. We all can.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
— Robert F. Kennedy

Charlottesville can sadly happen anywhere and at any time. How do we stop it? We start at home.

As a parent one of the most important things I feel I can do is to raise my kids to be good people...and to be kind people to all people. I, of course, want my children to be happy, but for me that is not the most important thing. There are plenty of happy assholes. There is research out there that shows that kids think we want them to be happy more than we want them to be kind. That is not great.

The Future is Bright

The Future is Bright

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.
— Maya Angelou

Good news is that we are aware that our parenting may have taken some unintended detours. In fact, Harvard created a program called The Making Caring Common Project. You really should check it out. It has so many great resources about cultivating empathy, building caring schools, research, and parenting guides. A really amazing tool that this program has is this infograph...

As you can see, it gives you some strategies to help your children be caring individuals and if you explore the site you will see some really specific tips. I don't know about you, but I am always looking for some tips to help me...parenting, or otherwise. 

While trying to raise caring children, we will also start the ease into transitioning back into school in the next couple of weeks. Then I am back on track for a regular schedule. 

In the meantime, be kind...you are modeling behavior for your kids and your community. 

 

 

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. 

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!

Cool it Now

Holy hell it is hot lately and this summer's forecast is set to be filled with record breaking highs. It certainly doesn't help that my internal thermometer is out of whack...that is a story for another day. Regardless it is hot.

It's how hot?

It's how hot?

I have been in Oregon a long time and it use be that it didn't really matter if you had air conditioning or not. It only got hot a few times a year. That is no longer the case.

We don't have air conditioning in our home. We usually put a window unit in our room and we have a downstairs that stays cool, but it is definitely something that is on the "to do" list.  

In the meantime we will take direction from New Edition and "Cool it Now." (I loved this song so much when I was my son's age.)

What are some ways you chill when the weather gets hot?

Here are some ways we cool down...other than black out curtains, ceiling fans, etc. 

  • Eat cool food-Put away that beef stroganoff, mom. Seriously my mom likes to make hot food on hot days...it has become a running joke in the family. But have a salad, cool spring rolls, lettuce tacos, smoothie, etc. Or have a snow cone or ice cream if that is more your style. 
  • Make a splash-Get in that water! Go to the pool, the river, or break out the kiddie pool. Or Super Soakers anyone?  Or you can do what my Mema did, which works so well it is disturbing, she always had a cool, damp washcloth on her neck. That is right, I am turning into my grandma!
  • The entertainer-You may or may not have air conditioning, but other places definitely do and you can go enjoy them...bowling alleys, movie theaters, the mall, restaurants, etc.
  • A change of scenery-Go to the river, the beach, the mountain, go wherever you can in your area. Any caves to explore? Is there a forest to look around? Move around to find a cooler place. 

Okay, trying to cool it now. I also accidentally fell down a rabbit's hole diving deep in on New Edition research...onto Bobby Brown next. 

See you Thursday!

 

 

Plans Change

Playing where we can

Playing where we can

Well, I usually post on Monday mornings. It is Monday night and I am just now sitting down to a computer. We had a crazy busy weekend. A dinner party for 21 people, had to buy a new dishwasher (that is right, the dishwasher broke BEFORE the dinner party...that is a lot of hand washing)  a 40th birthday party, a special baseball game, a whirlwind trip to Seattle to say goodbye to a dear friend, and to hug family. Some of those things we planned and some we didn't. That is life, right? 

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
— Robert Burns
Over it

Over it

This weekend may have kicked our booties, but it was the kind of weekend that fills your soul. Laughs with friends, conversations with family, and adventures. 

Summer has begun for most kids across the country...we are soooooo near the end, but alas we aren't there yet. In the Portland Metro area we start planning for summer in April...that is when you can register for the Parks and Recreation camps, swim lessons, etc. It kind of kicks off planning for the summer. By the time summer actually comes you probably have your summer planned (for months). The kids have swim, the boy has some sportsball camps and plans, and we didn't really have a vacation planned this summer since we went to Disneyland recently.

Well, plans changed. My husband has to go to Kansas City for work for 4th of July so we are going too. Since it is too much to fly to Kansas City for the family. You know it is one thing to drop a bit of money to fly to Hawaii...no offense, but it is a different thing to spend a bunch of cash to go to KC. In addition, we have been talking with my dad and my step-mom about meeting somewhere to get some family items that we don't want to ship so it made sense to drive. We will see grandparents and then on the way home aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Bottom line...ROAD TRIP!

I don't know about you, but some of my favorite memories/worse moments are from road trips. I definitely get crazy car sickness...I had to be drugged up on Dramamine most of my childhood. I am no stranger to a road trip. I have gone across country several times in my teen years and throughout adulthood. My husband jokes that I LOVE to sleep across the country. 

What I am most excited about it is giving our kids a road trip. I mean, I didn't have a dvd player or electronics to keep me occupied when I was a kid, but they will be making memories all the same. They will see our country in ways they wouldn't if they just read about the different states.

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.
— Emma Chase

So I will be scouring the internet for road trip hints/hacks/help and I will share my findings. And if you have some road trip ideas I will take them! In the meantime, you don't have to drive across the country to have your own road trip.

Take Mini Road Trip

  • Find places near you to explore and plan your trip accordingly...or don't whatever floats your boat.
  • Plan to go 30 minutes to 2 hours away to make a fun day trip. If you live in Portland, a few places that would be great: McMinnville, Rockaway, Silver Falls State Park, Hagg Lake, Troutdale, or Kelso (Washington)...these aren't necessarily the big tourist places...there is more to Oregon than Multnomah Falls.
  • Pack some food...snacks or meals. You can do it to save some money, but even more importantly, it just helps you eat healthier...and it saves time.
  • Dress the part. I, for one, ALWAYS wear the wrong shoes. I never wear appropriate shoes and it is a problem. In the PNW, you need to always have a hoodie...no matter the time of the year. Other areas have different needs. And make sure you have sunscreen.
  • Have fun! It is about being together and exploring different places. Try to relax and go with the flow. 
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
— Mark Twain
Onto the Next Adventure

Onto the Next Adventure

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!

 

A Time for Hope

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
— Desmond Tutu

We have experienced  hate and darkness in my town this weekend. A deranged extremist killed two men and injured another on the MAX (Metropolitan Area Express-our light rail). There were two teenagers on the MAX, one was wearing a hijab...the girls are 16 and 17 years old. The man focused on the girls and started to spew hatred and threats towards them. They must have been so scared. And three heroes stepped to defend these children...they did what we are taught to do when we see hatred, when we encounter bullies, when we come upon injustice. They stood up and they did the right thing and two of the men Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche violently lost their lives. A third man was also wounded during the vicious attack, Micah David-Cole Fletcher. 

I, along with the millions of people following this story, am in shock and heartbroken by this evil act. Portland is a small big city...we are so connected...so we know people who are related to people that were on the light rail that day. It feels so personal. It sickens me that this sort of thing can happen and cannot fathom that this happened in our world...in our country...much less our city. This is NOT who we are. 

These men are heroes. I don't use that term lightly, they are the kind of people we should all strive to be. They could have averted their eyes, they could have shut their mouths, they could have stayed in their seats...they didn't. They looked at the attacker in the eye, they spoke up for these terrified girls, and they got up and defended these children. I am in awe of their actions and their character. My love and prayers and infinite gratitude goes to their families, friends, and communities. 

If you read the news/Facebook/Twitter/whatever you are bombarded by horrifying stories..the Manchester attacks, the stories of Syria and the millions of refugees, and the crushing affects of climate change. Here in the United States hate crimes are up, people are worried about their healthcare/their rights/their lives, and we are torn politically. It can seem bleak. 

But if you sit down and speak to people that you don't know or people that you don't share religious beliefs/political parties/race/gender/etc you will probably find more that you share in common than things you differ on. You have to love your neighbor...even in times where it feels scary.

We are better than this.

This is the time to come together...not apart.

We are citizens of humanity.

During these times we can't retreat to our safe spaces.

We have to look out for one another. 

This is the time to stand up and practice radical love and compassion. 

Love and compassion are not the easiest path, but it is important for all of us to walk this walk.  

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
— Dalai Lama

Today is Memorial Day. This is the day we honor the men and the women who died while serving in the armed forces. It may be a good time for us to read what those men and women were defending. Here are the links to the United States founding documents:

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution 

The Bill of Rights

These documents outline who we are and what we stand for as a country. We stand for liberty and justice for ALL.

One of the heroes, Ricky John Best, from Friday's attack in Portland was a veteran. It seems like he served his country his whole life. He, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher served our community with courage and justice for all. Bless them. 

Hug your loved ones a little harder. May we all serve one another with love in order to be the light.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

Smell You Later

Spring was off to a late start here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but it is here in full force now. The gorgeous flowers, the lush green plants, the pollen every where, and the scents. It smells amazing.

The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.
— Lewis Thomas

I have a super sensitive nose. It is a blessing and a curse, because there some good smelling things out there in the world and there are some pretty putrid smells out there too...especially if you are a parent, pet owner, or someone else who deals with various bodily fluids and a ton o' garbage.  But today, let's mainly focus on the good smells and the good feels.

The BEST Smelling Blossoms.

The BEST Smelling Blossoms.

Right now we have a grapefruit tree bursting with blossoms. That tree smells heavenly. You know those smells that are so dreamy that they can't be replicated? Yes, the candle aisle at Target is yummy, that Method makes some wonderfully smelling cleaning products, and I love my Anthropologie perfume BUT we have nothing on Mother Nature. The lilacs in the breeze, honeysuckle on a hot afternoon, the smell of a crisp fall day, and the scent of snow in the air...that stuff is freaking amazing. 

Now why even talk about smells? Oh, it is such an important sense! You don't think about your sense of smell until it is accosted by something horrible or your nose is stopped up, but really consider it's super powers. Smells can transport you through time. Certain smells evoke such strong memories. 

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
— Thalassa Cruso

Lots of smells stop me in my tracks...smells that remind me of my childhood, or different parts of my youth, or the smells that remind me of the life I have created with my family.  For me, the smells that bring the memories of people I love that have died...those are the hardest and yet the most meaningful memories. 

  • The smell of lipstick reminds me of my Nana...she was my idol. She was an Avon lady and had a ton of lipstick samples that I would play with...it may have started my love affair with make up. 
  • The smell of hot vinyl reminds me of my Mema's station wagon that my cousins in I would pile into and drive around. We rode in the very back of the wagon in that third road that faced the traffic behind us. That definitely didn't help my tendency for motion sickness. The smell of bacon and strong laundry detergent also reminds me of Mema and the time spent with her.
  • Our guest room that my father-in-law stayed in before he died smelled like him for a long time and once the smell faded it was like we lost something all over again. But the unexpected happened when we went to visit one of my father-in-law's friends just a few weeks ago...when we walked into the condo I could swear my father-in-law was there. It smelled JUST like him. 

 

Collecting her own memories.

Collecting her own memories.

I think about the smells that my children are collecting along the way. What memories will they evoke? What smells will bring them joy? What smells don't they like? What will remind them of home...of growing up?

What about you? What smells conjure up memories for you? Write those memories down..for real...you want to remember these things. Ask your kids about their favorite smells and why. Take a time to enjoy the different scents in your life.

Stop and smell the roses.

Stop and smell the roses.

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.
— Walter Hagen

If you want to geek out on why smells evoke different emotions? Check out these links...

Smells Ring Bells: How Smell Triggers Memories and Emotions

Why Can Smells Unlock Forgotten Memories?

Olfactory Memory

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! It isn't just another long weekend, it is a time to remember the men and women who died while serving this country. I am thankful for their service this weekend and always.

And I am thankful for you. Take care and see you Monday!

Play Ball

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

Little Miss taking selfies with her Little Miss at one of the many games.

This weekend was filled all sorts of sportsball...baseball games and soccer. And we have had HOT weather...somehow that makes the games/days seem soooooo much longer.  We love sports, but I think we all ready for some unscheduled weekends. 

My favorite lilacs.

My favorite lilacs.

On top of sports, school, and work...like everyone, we still have life happening. We had a dinner date with a family from Libya who treated us by cooking  our first Libyan meal. But I couldn't come to their house empty handed (it is in the Born in the South Handbook...who am I to mess with tradition) so we brought a bouquet of lilacs from our yard and I made a treat.

Since it has been hot I have not wanted to turn on the oven, so I had to search for a recipe that was quick, easy, and cool. So for our Make it Monday (which is a day late) we are making our own sportsballs buy making some chocolate balls (truffles).

First you need your supplies...

  • Cream Cheese-8 oz
  • Sifted Powdered Sugar-3 cups
  • Chocolate Chips-3 cups
  • Toppings

 

Step 1

I used this recipe. Basically...whip the cream cheese, add the powdered sugar (that you sifted), and then add melted chocolate chips. Mix it all together and let chill for a bit. I actually put our in freezer for a bit to speed up the process. You know I hate to wait. Now these aren't gourmet truffles. But they are quite easy and everyone loved them. (I thought they were a little sweet, but my kids didn't share that sentiment). 

Toppings

Step 2

Get your toppings together. I used crushed Lady Fingers, ground almonds, pretzel pieces, and sprinkles. In hindsight, there was a lot of beige happening here. I had a hard time keeping track of the different flavors. 

Rolled Ball

Step 3

Roll it up. Scoop up a bit and roll it in your hands. This is messy...especially on a hot day...that cholocate wants to stick on your hands. 

Sprinkles

Step 4

Roll the chocolate balls in the topping of your choice. The kids all loved the sprinkles. I mean, who doesn't like a good sprinkle. 

Truffles

Step 5

Let them set for a bit in a cool spot...and serve. Look how cute these are!

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

As we are at the end of the school and baseball season we are looking forward to a whole bunch of nothing and having a ball in a much different way. Counting down the days. 

See you Wednesday!

Listen Up

I am going to tell you the secret to parenting. That is right...just barely 9 years in and I have it all figured out. Are you ready? Listen to your kids. Shut your mouth and just listen. I know it is revolutionary. I have read parenting articles about listening before, and honestly I  thought I was doing just that. Heck, I have even taught college classes about listening and some specifically about listening to young children, and still this is a revelation for me. 

Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.
— Margaret J. Wheatley
What's Up?

What's Up?

Our son had a speech delay. We always joked that he was the strong silent type. He walked a little before 9 months old, he rode a bike at 18 months, but he didn't really talk that much. Clearly he was busy doing other things. He has been in Speech Therapy for years, he talks just fine now and honestly he talks quite a bit. When he was younger, I felt like I listened to him so intently and was so in tune to what he was thinking or feeling because he didn't use a lot of verbal communication at a young age. But in retrospect, I think that I wasn't always practicing active listening...I was listening for errors that I would correct, or listening for action items or things he or I needed to do, or filling in the gaps for him. (Active listening means focusing fully on the speaker and actively showing verbal and non-verbal signs of listening.)

One of my son's besties has always been a very verbal kid and has been able to read and write from an early age...things that didn't come easy for our boy. His friend just devours all details and is happy to share with any one that will listen. They aren't in the same class at school this year and I seriously was so bummed, because our boy tells us no information and his friend would tell me EVERYTHING that would happen that day. I love it. It also cracks me up that they found each other at such a young age...they have been friends since they were 3 years old...they definitely compliment each other.

Like I said, nowadays our son talks all the time and I have just realized if I am perfectly quiet and just be physically there he will start sharing with me. If I ask him about school or crushes or anything I get nothing, but deep dimples and his smiling face looking at me or the random stare into the abyss, but certainly no answers. But if I just sit there, or drive him somewhere, or hang out near him the real conversation starts to happen. It usually happens in a trickle, but boy is it lovely.

Our daughter is in Speech Therapy as well. She talks a lot, she has an amazing vocabulary, but people have had a hard time understanding her so she goes for articulation. It is so interesting to me because I didn't have early childhood or elementary intervention, but our children have and some day here we will talk about IEPs, Speech Therapy, and the like. It can be a hard and confusing road, but it can also be a total blessing too. 

Big Talker

Big Talker

Little Miss NEVER stops talking. She has ALWAYS been jibber jabbering.  And honestly it is hard to actively listen to it as well. When she was a little bit younger and would be talking nonstop I found myself just giving random active listening cues..."oh really," "I know," "yes," "mmmhmmm." You get the idea. I know it is horrible, but she has always had a LOT to say. But now she wants real feed back and that girl doesn't quit and she will talk over everyone to get her point across. The other day I was putting her to bed and she was talking and talking and talking. I told her it was time to be quiet, she in all seriousness said "Mommy, I NEED to talk." I believe it. I hear her, I honor her, but some times we have to be quiet. 

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.
— Catherine M. Wallace

You know research shows that we remember only between about 25% to 50% of what we hear. Listening is hard work. It is. But it is sooooooo important. And I would venture to say it is probably even more important at this particular time in our country/history. It is easy to see the things we don't share in common...politics, opinions, beliefs and if we are busy talking about our perspective instead of listening to someone else we don't grow and we can't build empathy or understanding. So listening is not a skill we need just for our kiddos...it is a life skill. Life Skill 101...Listening.

Active Listener

Active Listener

So how do we become better listeners? Well, here are a few tips.

  • Be prepared to listen. This is so easy to overlook, but to be a good listener you have to be prepared to listen and honestly sometimes you aren't in a space to listen...whether that is a physical space or a mental space. In fact, I apparently tell my children "I can't listen right now" enough that my 4 year old asked me if she could talk to me when we got home about a baby doll she wants. Smart kid. 
  • Look the speaker in the eye. If you are listening to your children, then get at their level. You can't have a conversation with someone if you are looking up (or looking down) at them. You need to look in each other's eyes. Show the speaker that you’re listening to them. 
  • Turn on the nonverbal communication. So besides looking them in the eye, turn towards them, nod, SHOW them you are interested in what they are saying and that you are listening to them. Also, put down your phone. This is the quickest way to show someone you aren't engaged...even if you are really listening...it doesn't look like it or feel like it. 
  • Give some verbal feedback. You are listening for understanding so you aren't to "fix" anything or to share your story/opinion/two cents. Take the speakers lead on how to respond. For the most part just ask clarifying questions and summarize what you heard. 
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

It doesn't sound super hard, but a lot of us stink at being good listeners. And I don't know about you, but I would like my children to be good listeners so I better practice really hard so I can be a good model on Life Skill 101: Listening. Also, I REALLY want to know the 3rd grade crushes so I will be sitting here keeping quiet hoping someone will start talking. 

Have a great weekend and be sure to listen up!

 

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane

It is almost time for our Disneyland trip. We live in the Pacific Northwest and I told you how it has rained here for months. So one of the things we are most excited about is the sun. But of course the sun is shining in Portland as I type this. I have a dear friend that secretly/not so secretly likes for the people at home to have crummy weather when she is vacationing ...it makes the trip sweeter. Turns out I may share her sentiment. 

Currently I have a mountain of laundry to sort through so I can start packing. I wish I was lying about the giant pile of laundry. I am really good at washing laundry, but seriously hate everything after that. I don't mind folding,  but I REALLY despise putting laundry away. It is a problem, thus the mountain of laundry.

Well, here we are and we need to pack! This is how my daughter packs...tights, panties, a rain jacket, and an adult book called "Breathing Lessons" by Anne Tyler. (My mother-in-law left the book at our house and Little Miss is OBSESSED with this book. It cracks me up.) She is packing up for a good time. 

All packed up!

All packed up!

For our Make it Monday we packing up our bags to get ready to go on a jet plane. 

First you need your supplies...

  • Packing Lists
  • Suitcases
  • A Great Attitude

 

Step 1: The Sharpie and the cardstock list.

Step 1: The Sharpie and the cardstock list.

Step 1

When I pack, I need a list! I typically research lists for a while and then I get out my handy dandy cardstock and Sharpie. Lists help you keep organized and on task. I can be an over-packer. Here are a few lists that may be a good fit for you and your needs.  

  • This is a great packing list. This packing list is created by Nikki Kinzer, she is a friend, and she had been a  home organizer and now the focus of her business deals with ADHD.
  • This one you can personalize for you and your needs. Travels Checklist site has a list wizard. It is a little dated looking, but really cool.
  • And lastly here is a site that has a variety of lists. This website is call Travel Mamas One part even has a list that is for kids to use. 
Step 2: Ready to roll.

Step 2: Ready to roll.

Step 2

Our kids got these awesome suitcases from my mom before they went to Arkansas a couple of years ago. They are the best. One was from Amazon and one was from Kohls and they weren't crazy expensive, but they were much more than those cheapo ones you see at all the stores. Those suck and while they are cheap they aren't worth your money, because they are not durable. So splurge and get a better quality.

Our kids use their suitcases all the time...sleepovers, road trips, etc. A couple of things...I let the kids pack  the suitcase themselves and then I go back and finish up. It is good for them to do it themselves even if it isn't perfect. And also, the kids are responsible for lugging their own suitcases when the two take them places. I can't deal with ALL the suitcases!

Step 3: Our first theme park. Gosh, he is adorable. 

Step 3: Our first theme park. Gosh, he is adorable. 

Step 3

This seems like a obvious and lame step, but it is really important... that you pack a great attitude for your trip. Your attitude can help steer the ship...for better or for worse. I get bogged down in the planning of an event that I don't always enjoy the entire process. So if you change your mindset perhaps you go into the trip a lot more positive.

Well, the rest of the week we will be in Disneyland and I will be posting, but it won't be my lengthy posts (probably). I will let you know how the happiest place on earth is in a couple of days!

 

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!

Stuck Like Glue

I didn't want to start this blog by getting too personal about my life, BUT life is personal and we all spend so much time trying to curate our narrative...and that isn't really living an authentic life and the word on the street is you want to be true to yourself.  Plus if we don't share, we don't get support from our community...they can't support and help you if they don't know what is going on.  Building community can make you vulnerable. And that can be a hard place to stay, but it also opens ourselves up to strengthen and expand our tribes. 

So a few weeks ago I had surgery...I will go into details another day. They are gory and all about lady business parts...let's work up to that point of our relationship. Bottom line is everything turned out great and I am healthy and healing. But nevertheless I had some issues for a bit, then I had a fairly major surgery and was in the hospital for a few days, and ever since I have been at back in my life recovering. I am so thankful to be here and healthy, but still I currently have weight limitations and while I am getting stronger each and every day...I not 100% up to mom mode yet. As you can imagine, this has been hard on our family, but especially for our kiddos. 

Our little Super Girl has been a bit clingy. And you may not know this girl yet, but she is bad ass. She is only 4, but for real she is my idol. She marches to the beat of her own drum and she is tough as nails. Since the little superhero and I spend 99% of our time together, being abruptly separated from our normal routines for a few weeks and having some of those days that we didn't even see each other...it clearly shook her and now she won't let me out of her sight.

Here is Exhibit A:

She is either literally sitting on me or if I am up and about then she is right with me. I mean all the dang time, but what am I going to do complain that my child loves me and needs some extra support right now? I mean, I am going to complain a little, but I am also so happy and it totally warms my heart. 

It is hard to think about what other people may need when we focus on ourselves. And we have to address our needs to be the best us we can be for the world. For me, I have had to heal and I have to be more hardcore about self care then I usually am, but I also need to think about what my family may be needing...not just our girl, but my guys too...my son and my husband.

I know that as a society we are always talking about balance, but as a mom I think that is kind of a myth. I feel like I am never balanced...I kind of feel I  have to limit myself in ways that make me feel bad all around. But maybe "balance" isn't a tit-for-tat, maybe it is more of an estimation and you round up.  Some times you work on your self more and some times you work on others more...maybe that is balance.

Treat yo self!

Treat yo self!

For this weekend let's do just a few things for us and a few things for your kiddos or for some of the other people in your life.

Self care:

  • Get outside.-Mother Nature is good for your soul and your body. That stuff is free medicine!
  • Go unplugged.-Turn off all your electrical devices...just like you were on a plane. You need some time unplugged for your own take off and landing.
  • Buy yourself flowers or a plant.-Seriously when I was down and out, the plants and flowers that people brought me made me so freaking happy. It is that nature stuff, I am telling you. 
  • Read something.-Reading helps reduce stress and uses your brain in different ways. No, for real, there are studies.

Extra Care for Your Kids (or Whoever May Need It):

  • Make some special time.-Schedule some one on one time with someone in your life that may need a little more you. What do they like to do? Or do you have some special traditions together you can use? But you seriously don't have to do anything special...time together is special enough.
  • Listen.-Some times when people feel left out or hurt  or just disconnected they just need to be heard. People need connection. Give some space to make those connections. 
  • Offer up some snuggles.- Snuggling is #1 at our home. When we can snuggle then we feel loved...sometimes it is hard to remember to give some physical affection especially as the kids (and adults) get older. If snuggling works for you too then snuggle up, buttercup. 
  • Read together.-Reading as a family lets you share a story together. That reading allows you to have quiet and intentional time.

Share yourself in ways that may be hard...do it to make space for community and to strengthen your relationships. We only get this one go around...put yourself out there! Here's to balance (or some version of it), self care, and sharing some love. 

Won't you be my Neighbor?

Mr. Rogers is my hero. Maybe it is because I grew up watching him (I am cool that dates me). I just love that man. He was kind and inclusive, he was gentle and strong, and most of all he built community with everyone he met...and oh so effortlessly. 

There are few things in this world that I am really sure of being true. (Honestly most of the time when I am REALLY sure about something I am totally in the wrong...it is an embarrassing trait). BUT one thing I believe in my core is that there is a crisis of community. We don't act as community. I am talking more than a political divide...I am talking about neighbors, coworkers, people you see every day...we aren't building the connections that we need as humans. Perhaps in other parts of the world this is not the case, but from my front porch I see the need for community. 

Part of it is that community looks different today. Perhaps we feel like we are really connected because we do Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/etc. We can see what other people are eating, where they are going, and what they are doing...but does it really mean we are building our tribe? What about talking to your neighbor? Or that stranger sitting next to you? Or the parents you see every day as you pick up your child?

I grew up in a smallish town in Arkansas, I remember being more connected...or at least that is my recollection. My grandparents lived on the same street. I had extended family around and friends we had known forever. I went and played with neighborhood kids who maybe weren't my best friends, but they were kids too and we had fun. I had a church community that we were actively involved. I felt loved and connected...even during the times that were hard. I always thought I had community because I was Southern or because it was a different time. But really, I had community because that is what my family, specifically my Nana, provided for me.

Listen, I am naturally an introvert...it kills me to talk to strangers...small talk is so painful for me. But I have been telling myself that community is important so I have push myself to put myself out there. I say "yes" to neighborhood activities, "yes" to bookclubs, "yes" to being involved. It isn't only good for me, but it is a behavior I feel like I need to model to our children. I want them to have a world that they feel seen, secure, and loved. 

A daily trek to visit the neighbor.

A daily trek to visit the neighbor.

So how can YOU build community? Today let's just start in our hoods. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bring your neighbor a gift. Like your actual neighbor...the people you live near. Bring them treats or flowers or whatever you want and be sure to include a card with your name, the names of the people (and animals) in your family, and your contact information. Your neighbors are the people who are literally the closest to you and you want to get in good with them, whether you just moved in or you have been in the same residence for decades. In my neighborhood we have experienced the joys of birth, the fears of illness, and sadness of death together...over and over again and all the things in between. Being in it together makes it easier. Your neighbors don't have to be your best friend, but the more you get to know them the better your community will be. I mean, unless they are just complete a-holes or weirdos then I am sorry...try further down the block.
  • Volunteer. If you have kids in school or in any kind of care see if you can volunteer. Maybe you work so you can't physically be there, but what can you do outside of school? Can you make play dough for the classroom, prep work for the teacher, or a special project that may need just your personal touch?  If you don't have kids or don't want to volunteer that way, you can volunteer at a local library, religious institution, or a nonprofit. What are the needs in your neighborhood? You are awesome and have talents that only you possess...don't be selfish...share the love.
  • Walk. That's right, get your bootie moving. Guess what? When you are out walking you meet people. When you see someone say "hi" or wave. My husband shared this saying that he heard at some event and I loved it so hard..."Even a dog can wag it's tail." Ain't that truth? So you greet the people you meet! And speaking of dogs...that is a great way to walk and to meet people. You don't have a dog? Borrow a neighbor's dog...help out a neighbor and walk their pooch. Ask them first, clearly, we don't want you to be the weirdo. 
  • Grab a Ball. Get your mind out of the gutter...you do NOT want to meet your neighbors that way...probably. Anywho, go shoot some hoops at the local court or in your driveway, play some soccer at the school yard (when kids are not in school), or grab a trac ball set and have some fun. (Sidenote...my son got a trac ball set for his birthday from a dear friend and he was showing my husband how to use it and my husband already thought he knew how play it so he lobbed the ball right in the nose of our son...it was so horrible/totally funny.) Listen, I am not Sporty Spice, but I can go hang out at the park or maybe play a game of low impact sport. Bottom line is to play a game with someone. Chess is a game and it is portable and you don't even need to be sporty...just do something you can invite someone to join in on. 
  • Lend a Hand. Sure this sounds like volunteering, but this is just helping out your neighbors. Take in trash cans, help them move heavy items, offer to pick something up when you run to the store, if your kids go to the same school offer to carpool, etc. Whatever makes sense for you situation and for your neighbors. Read the room, you have to consider what others want. Make an effort to make a connection. 

Creating a community, finding your tribe, or connecting with your neighbors is good for you, it is good for others, and seriously it makes our world better. So put yourself out there. It costs nothing for you to be kind and the rewards will be plentiful. (I mean, unless I am wrong, because I do feel pretty sure about this.) 

The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is.
— Mr. Rogers