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! 

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. 

Detour

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So there was no Fall Craft on Tuesday. I just couldn't. 

Monday morning we woke up to the news that 58 people were dead and 489 more were injured in a shooting in Las Vegas. 

Later in the day we found out that our beloved Tom Petty died. 

A Fall Craft seemed trite after all of that. 

Monday morning my son woke up to the radio that told the story of what happened in Las Vegas. My nine year old then gave me the details. I just cried. I cried because over 500 peoples lives will never be the same. I cried because I can't protect my son from knowing about the evils of the world. I cried because this is not okay. 

What kind of world is this? We are numb to the stories. It seems like each mass shooting is the "worst in US history"...the keep happening and they keep getting worse. Well, I guess that is a matter of opinion. It was pretty freaking horrible when children were gunned down at school. But nothing has changed...people worked for change and congress did nothing. 

Look, it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican...or neither. It doesn't matter if you are a gun owner or not. I really feel like we should all agree that is not okay and something has to change. 

I have struggled this week trying to find the good because I am mad. I am mad that our government is beyond messed up. I am mad that we are so divisive as a country. I am mad that more and more people have to bury their loved ones because of something so senseless. 

And the truth is, I am mad because I have to ask my children questions like "what do you do if there is an active shooter." And I am devastated that they both said the right answer. You run. 

This is not okay. This is not normal.

And I can mark things with the angry or the sad icon on Facebook, but that changes zero. 

I don't know what makes someone (mainly white men) want to take down as many people as they can before they end their own life. I don't know what would change their minds so this shit doesn't happen over and over and over. 

All I know to do is I have to take action...the most immediate change I can do is the following:

  • Work to make sure my state has good gun laws. I don't want to take away your guns...we are a family of hunters. But it makes sense that we have good gun laws. 
  • Work to elect people who don't cater to the gun lobbies. Period...I don't want the NRA directing our politicians...we didn't vote for them to run our country. 
  • Work to create community...it sounds silly, but  you may not shoot your neighbor, the people in your community, etc if you are connected to those people. 
  • Work to do more good. I can't control the bad in this world. I can't change the fact that my babies know what to do if there is a gun event. What I can control is the good things I expose them to. This world is scary and can be dark. Be the light. Your kids need that from you. 

If you will notice, this all requires us to work. I know we are all busy and tired, but it is important. This is all we have...this one life so we have to do what is right, we have to do what we can to make this place better, and we have to love. 

Speaking of love, I haven't even been able to talk about Tom Petty yet. He was the music of my youth...every stage of my life. He was there when I was a baby, through my parents divorce, through high school, through my indecisive twenties and thirties, he was always singing the song track for my life.  It is one thing my dad and I share...our love for Tom Petty. His songs play through my mind all the time. I will always love him. 

Well, hopefully next week won't be such a bummer and we can do something fun together. Enjoy your Fall weekend. Love your people...and your neighbor. 

I'm a Joiner

When I was in college I wrote for the school newspaper. It is actually how I met my husband...we were both editors for the paper...but that is a story for another day. When I would write for the paper I would cover university events. You know student groups, university activities, meetings, etc. 

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Inevitably EVERY event I would attend I would want to join. I am a joiner. I go to things and I get wrapped up in the energy, in the excitement, and I want to be a part of it all. I signed the clipboards, filled out the internet forms, all of it. 

That joiner mentality has followed me throughout my life. I always try to sign up for more...in my career, in my family life, all over. Being a joiner is about wanting a connection I think. Or that I really like meetings with groups of various people. Hard to tell.

But if it is the connection thing, I think all of us need that...even if we don't all want it. Look people, times are grim...they just are. Part of the way we make changes in the world is by connecting with others. We belong to each other. We are connected regardless if we think we are or not so we might want to make that connection meaningful. 

Here are 5 ways to make a real connection with others...

Put out positivity-Just put that stuff out there...be positive. Spread it, receive it, own it. The world needs your positivity. 

Mind your manners.-One way to connect and to be positive is to be polite and use your manners. Say “hi” and smile. Those little gestures can go so far.

Look into their eyes when you are speaking to them.-Our eyes are made to connect. We show that we are listening with our eye contact. Look at people...show them that you see them.

Be real.- No bs. Just really be who you are. Who has time to play games? You don't need to be anything, but who you are. That is enough. Unless you are a jerk, then don't be so real...try to be nice instead.

Pay attention-Of course pay attention to who you are connecting with, but there is even more. There is a lot going on. Keep an eye out for those who may need some connection, those who aren't a visible as others, or those that are unlike you. Pay attention to what is going on in the world.

 

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

A Very Special Episode of Posing as Parents

If you grew up (or were alive) during the 1980's you may remember there were lots of "very special" episodes on your favorite tv shows. Those "special" episodes were to have commentary on some social issue or heavy topic. 

Well, I haven't posted on my regular schedule this week and I had a litany of excuses...summer...the littles are only little once...etc, etc, etc. And that is true. All of it. Summer is kicking my booty. I love being with the kids all the time, but we need a schedule AND we are kind of getting on each other's nerves. It happens...even to the best of us. The bottom line is I am knee deep in summer mayhem, bad attitudes, and sleep deprivation. 

Looking up in our front yard.

Looking up in our front yard.

Then the other night we got a call from our neighbor a little after 10pm. I won't share her name to protect the innocent (like the do on Law and Order). And if you know me and know the neighbor just keep it to yourself please.

So this neighbor and our family have been through a lot together. My husband was there (and performed CPR) when her husband died and we have experienced many medical related issues together...hers and ours...and we share all sorts of happy times too.  She is family. And she actually was very sick at the first of the year and we were quite worried, but she is better and her health has been amazing so we were surprised to get a phone call from her for help. 

My husband grabbed the first aid kit and ran next door. 

Then husband texted me to bring rubber gloves.

I walked in our neighbor's door and I cannot describe to you what I saw. It was like a scene out of Dexter. I am 100% not exaggerating. As I walked closer to my husband and our neighbor it got worse.  

She had a cut on her foot and she is on blood thinners and there was blood everywhere. My husband told me to apply pressure to her foot and he left to get the truck to take her to the hospital. She wasn't in any pain and we just chatted until my husband came back.

When he got back he checked her foot and there was no bleeding. Mind you the house looked like a crime scene, but she was no longer bleeding and was doing well.

The problem was that she was giving herself a pedicure and had knicked her foot...when she got up and walked around she bled...that combined with the blood thinners it brought it to the next level of gruesome. 

I made my husband call my mom who is a nurse and they all agreed that the neighbor didn't need to go to the hospital. She had stopped bleeding, there was nothing to stitch up, and she felt fine. She laid on the couch while my husband and I got to work.

Let me tell you a few things about me...I am not good in an immediate crisis...I cry, I freak out, etc. I am really good after something has happened...I can clean, I can bring food, and take care of you...those are my strengths. My husband is the EXACT opposite. He handled the first of this situation and now it was my turn. 

The blood was EVERYWHERE. In the utility room, the kitchen, the living room, and the foyer. It was all over walls, floors, everything. It was a stream so things were covered in blood splatters. My husband and I are not really suited for this kind of scene. We were both pretty woozy, but we couldn't just be like..."Oh you good? Peace out!" We had to clean up for her.

I went home and loaded up on cleaners. My husband went home and got the shampooer. If you would have seen us going back and forth in the night it would have looked quite suspicious. 

Well, we worked HARD cleaning. It was in every nook and cranny in all of those rooms. We had to use a variety of products trying to remove it all. We cleaned for two hours straight. We looked like the team they call in after a murder to clean up. I was soooooo sweaty. My husband looked at me at one point and said, "I have never seen you so sweaty and I saw you after you did a boxing class." It was serious cleaning.

However, we were all laughing so hard. It was so funny the absurdity of it all. We laughing because at first it looked like a murder scene and no one could figure out was happening so each of us had made up different stories...a crime, a poltergeist, a wild animal...I mean the possibilities were endless. 

At the end of the night, she was fine...her house was mostly clean (we aren't professionals) and we had been through something together. I felt like we had been through a war or at least I felt like we were living a part of Reservoir Dogs. 

So why tell you all of this (other than I have to share this, because I am in shock still)? Well, I have to solid takeaways from this ordeal.

  • Be a good neighbor. Being neighbors with someone can be hard. You don't get to choose who you are spending your property lines and basically your life with. But it can also be awesome. I have amazing neighbors and we have been through a lot together. Don't be a good neighbor because of what people might do for you, BUT it doesn't hurt. You never know when you may need an extra hand or a cleaning crew.
  • Don't kill anyone. Seriously there is no way you are getting away with it. Blood splatters everywhere and you can't possibly clean it all. I mean, for moral and legal reasons, also don't kill. But seriously, you won't get away with it.
  • Blood is hard to clean.  If there is blood on something try to clean it immediately, when it dries...you are in trouble. When you spray (or pour) cleaner on the blood it may turn black and make the scene even grosser. Forget sponges and magic erasers...rags are the way to go. 
  • Laugh when it is hard. Holy hell life is freaking hard and relentless and sometimes ugly. Laughter is the best thing you can do to help find the beauty in the situation and sometimes in humanity. Don't think something is funny? Find the funny. It is there. 
  • Have an emergency plan. We thought we had our kids sorted out if something happened, but turns out not all the way. I left my phone for my son, but my husband brought it back to me...there was a lot of confusion on what to do and what was happening. We are looking into getting an old school land line so we can ensure there is always a way to call and get help. Our kids were ready to go to our across the street neighbors. Also, I realized we haven't told our  neighbors our plans that our kids are to go their house...so they can be prepared if two kiddies show up at their doorstep they know why. Oh, make sure your first aid kit has a lot of rubber gloves...lots of them.
  • Be easy on yourself. Our neighbor was embarrassed about what happened? Why? For being human? We are gross and vulnerable creatures. FYI, my mom had to clean up amniotic fluid from our first kid...gross. I have had to clean up after lots of humans...we will make messes and we need to be okay with that. And don't feel bad if you need help. We all do. Be thankful you have someone to call upon. 

Let's look out for one another. Have a great weekend and I will see you back here on Tuesday. 

 

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.

For 2 or More Players

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Holy hell, this has been a hard week.

Tuesday I participated in a memorial for a dear friend who lost her mom way too soon.

In Portland, we are still reeling from the recent repugnant hate crimes. We have learned that someone on the lightrail stole from one of the heroes who died. And the stabbing survivor has been a model of strength and compassion. Still holding those girls in prayer.

And if you look at the news...world news or local news...it doesn't matter...you just want to cry...hatred, violence, racism, environmental disasters, and pure ignorance at every turn.

It can get more than a little overwhelming.

I don't know about you, but when these things happen I tend to shut down, I want to retreat, but in all honesty these are the times you have to show up and you have to make connections with one another.

Look, I don't want to either, but how are we to raise future generations to love, to have hope, to make this world better, and to fix our damn messes? We have to up the ante and live in radical love to change the course. We cannot just look around at the sad state of affairs and be okay with that. We just can't.  

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We aren't going to change the world overnight, but we can start today on building bridges. Want to know a fun way to make connections and to get to know others? Play some games. It seems crazy, but it is true.

I am an introvert and a little (or a lot...shut it) lazy...so I don't like to put myself out there. Be there for you during a life crisis? Sure, I am good for that. But just regular interaction...just a little more awkward. I don't want to be embarrassed or not know how to do something. And I get anxious in crowds. I am secretly a hot mess. So believe me when I tell you how powerful playing games can be for building relationships and how important they are for your kiddos (like learning how to take turns, learning new skills, and finding out how to win and lose). 

Think about at work or even school...what do they do to help people bond? Team building exercises (ie games). When we are focused on a task together you get to know others in unique ways.

Today we will cover a few games that you can play with two or more people. Find some people to play games with...ask your friends and family, ask a neighbor, or ask a stranger.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
— Anais Nin

The way we make the world a better place is getting to know "the other." Have you ever heard kids play? In the beginning they have zero idea that they are different races, different religions, different anything...they just make friends with everyone they meet...there is no "other." Until they get older and we point out the differences instead of pointing out the similarities. Well, time to get back to basics and play some games.

Here are some of my favorites that are good for playing with smaller crowds  and that are pretty portable. (Most of the games on the list are affiliate links and are available through Amazon-look at the side bar for some information about affiliated links).

GAME LIST

Playing Cards Playing cards are the best...they are super portable and you can always have some with you since they are small. You can play a ton of different games with just one deck of cards.  This particular deck of cards is waterproof...I mean, I do live in the Pacific Northwest. But you can totally grab a deck of cards at any ol' place for like a $1. 

Playing Card Game Book If you don't know what games to play, grab this book and learn some new games to share with others.

Trackball This is such a fun game. Our boy got this game from a friend...he loved playing it at his friend's house, so they gave him one too. My boy was showing the game to his dad and my husband didn't really listen to what our kid was trying to say so my husband straight up threw the hard plastic ball right into our son's nose. That was like a year ago and it still makes us crack up. Trackball is basically like a version of catch. 

Frisbee We found out at our recent camping trip that we have clearly never taught our children how to play Frisbee. I mean, parenting is hard...it is impossible to make sure you are teaching them all the right skills...you are going to miss some stuff along the way. We are getting these because they are supposed to be easier to catch and throw and hurt less when the kids inevitable get hit in the face. Frisbees are a great active way to hang out with someone else.

Scrabble  I LOVE SCRABBLE. However, my husband won't play it with me. He is crazy talented at everything in the world except spelling.  So I will have to have my children play with me...in a few years. This particular version is called "Winning Moves Tile Lock Scrabble." It has plastic letters that "lock" onto the board. The description says "you can play Scrabble in a car, train, plane or boat with no worries." Sounds like awesome summer fun to me!

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Chess or Checkers Want to go old school and use your noggin? Grab a chessboard and play a game with someone. 

Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.
— Garry Kasparov

 (Also, look up the guy who said that quote, Garry Kasparov. Probably top 5 longest Wikipedia entries I have ever read about a person.)

Okay, back to the chessboard. Chessboards are a big thing in our family. My son and my husband play...our daughter does not...at least not yet. I don't know how to play chess, so if you are like me, you can play checkers. (I can hear my husband rolling his eyes at that last sentence.) 

My husband makes chessboards. The chessboard pics are all him. He does beautiful work. You too can have your own amazing handmade board for $150. Check out The KU Shop on Instagram or email him at marko@kudesigngroup.com?

He also makes picnic tables, bakes amazing pies, does out of control pizzas, refinishes antique tools, restores boats, trains dogs, is the best handyman, and an awesome daddy and husband...but that is all for another day.

One of his most endearing traits is that he accepts all people and he cares about everyone no matter who they are or where they are from or what they believe. I can always count on him to do the right thing. I mean, I am not saying he is perfect, but he is pretty darn great.

Grab a seat. 

Grab a seat. 

When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.
— Unknown

Looks like my husband is building the longer table and I will get the games ready. What are you going to do?  Grassroot, radical, unconditional love is the only way. Let's get started.

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!

Your Presence is Present Enough

 

 

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I had a party and I invited pretty much the entire class. However, I didn't invite everyone. I didn't invite this girl named Theresa. I didn't like Theresa...she was kind of a "hard" character, there were all sorts of ridiculous rumors swirling around her, she had feathered hair, and I just didn't really like her. Well, Theresa found out about the party and she called me (that is what people did in the 1980's/1990's...they called people on the phone). She asked me why I didn't invite her to the party. Honestly I don't remember what I said...I know I was shocked, embarrassed, and was a blabbering fool. I am seriously one of the worst liars, so I am sure I said something dumb instead of telling the truth. I felt horrible. Well, it kind of scarred me and definitely has affected my parenting.

The shock of being left out.

The shock of being left out.

Be easy on yourself. Have fun. Only hang around people that are positive and make you feel good. Anybody who doesn’t make you feel good, kick them to the curb. And the earlier you start in your life the better. The minute anybody makes you feel weird and non-included or not supported, you know, either beat it or tell them to beat it.
— Amy Poehler

My son was born into a fairly large church family so his first few birthdays always had between 50-100 people. We invited everyone...I never wanted anyone to feel left out. (I learned my lesson.) I think all of us have had a moment that we weren't included in something and it is a crappy feeling. In our home we have the space to invite a bunch of people and I know how to throw a party without spending a ton of money (check out Friday's post for tips), so why not invite our community?

Well, flash forward to present day. I always make our kids invite their entire class, but this year for our son's birthday we also invited the baseball team, kids that my son plays sports with, kids in different classes that he is friends with, etc. So I started looking at all the 3rd grade classes and it wasn't that many more kids and how would they feel if they weren't included? So we invited all three of the 3rd grade classes, neighbors, friends, and family. Needless to say Costco and the restaurant supply store are my best friends this week. 

And inviting so many people isn't for the presents...I promise. Our kids don't need more stuff. We typically tell people that no presents are needed...their presence is present enough. And we mean it. We invite a bunch a people because we want to celebrate with our people. We want to be with those people...that is the present...making memories together.

And how do you make a community? How do you get your tribe? You invite them...you include them...you make an effort to make them a part of your life. You invite your community to things that matter to you...that is one of the ways you can build your community and you can build inclusivity (say that five times). You make meaningful relationships with others by being there, showing up, and including them. 

Also, guess how many older people get invited to little kids parties? Not a lot and they like to go to parties. Who the hell doesn't like cake? (Weirdos that's who. Those dang weirdos.) Cake is yummy (even if it isn't my favorite dessert) and it is a kick to be around kids having so much fun. The bottom line is that we need other people in our world. 

As a teenager I remember thinking about why people wanted to know the secret of life. I didn't understand because I already knew the secret to life...it is about relationships. I may have told you before that if I am REALLY sure about something I am usually wrong. I don't think I am wrong about this one! Life is about relationships. 

So find your people and invite them to something maybe a party, a coffee, a walk...you don't have to have a crazy party. Just include others...and then invite the other people...you know the ones...the ones you like but you don't include. Expand your circle. You may learn something new...maybe even learn a new way to party. 

Life is better with friends.
— Unknown

See you Friday when I will give you a legit party run down so even YOU can throw a perfect/inexpensive/amazing party!

Making Memories

In Oregon we are on spring break and we are traveling so our Make it Monday is going to be a tad different today. 

The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast

I don't know about you, but I am always looking around to get inspiration...

  • Inspiration on how to decorate/paint/remodel our house.
  • Inspiration on what to make/craft/sew for fun or for gifts.
  • Inspiration on what to cook/eat/grow for our family or to share. 

By inspiration, I mean totally copying...I am super nosey and I want to know what people are doing and how they are doing it. That is why I love Pinterest...I get to see so much stuff and learn how to do it! So this weekend I have been collecting...collecting images, collecting found objects, collecting memories. 

What can I make with the perfect branch?

What can I make with the perfect branch?

This weekend we were in Yachats, Oregon. It is a lovely little town on the Oregon Coast. It was a little less lovely this weekend because it was so cold and stormy. It was not the sunny and warm beach vacation that you may imagine if you don't live in the Pacific Northwest. If you live here, you get what the weather was like in March...freezing and soaking wet. But it is the coast and the ocean is magical no matter what. 

We came to see my mother-in-law, our kiddo's Nonna. She is getting ready to sell her home. We came to have a last "goodbye" to this place, to get my husband's childhood piano, and have a mini Spring Break getaway. 

My father-in-law died a few years ago and my mother-in-law has been alone in this huge home. Yachats is pretty far away from all of her family. This move is bittersweet for the entire family. My husband and his siblings grew up in this home. And my husband has brought the family he has created back here every 4th of July to be in the town parade. This is place where you can see and feel my husband's dad and our kids grandfather, Papa Grand. So being here is very special. But my mother-in-law is still very much alive and she deserves to live and to live a life that brings her joy (and maybe a little closer to all of us). 

I took this photo on the drive down.

I took this photo on the drive down.

Home is where the heart is...where your people are...but it is still so difficult to walk away from a place that you made so many memories. So today I am thinking about how we make memories and how we make stuff and how the two intercept. 

My family is always making something...Legos, doll houses, forts, cookies, woodworking, messes...always something. No one is just chill and hangs out...like at all. Being on vacation is no different. When we are here the kids nearly always sew something with their grandmother. This time my son made a Christmas tablecloth with napkin rings and Nonna and my daughter made a little apron out of two fat quarters.

Beach Sewing

Beach Sewing

The apron and the tablecloth are very sweet, but what is even better is the memories that they are making together. The kids will remember making things with their grandma. They will remember that Nonna let them use the sewing machine and the iron and how that made them feel so proud and grown up. When you create, you are making memories...you are making memories during the creation and you are making the foundation of memories to come in the product. We have bought several aprons and tablecloths...they won't/don't mean the same as the ones they made this weekend.

The whole house in Yachats was created by this family. They literally built their home from the ground up. They made it all as a family. The memories that have been made here are too numerous to count. But they don't need this physical space to have those memories...those memories are woven into the fabric of who they are. See my husband can make anything...he works on our own home to make it better, he does metalwork and woodwork, he designs and draws...he fixes, creates, and makes things. Those qualities are a part of him. The place he helped build also built him. They are intertwined. 

Some of the best things we can do for our kids is to create with them. You are teaching them skills and how to use their minds in different ways, sure, but you are also doing so much more. Not crafty? No biggie, here are some suggestions that are also spring friendly...maybe you will find a good fit.

  • Make a some food together...a meal, a pie, some bread, anything goes. 
  • Plant seeds to grow vegetables or a flowers.
  • Build a raised bed garden or start a container garden.
  • Paint a picture (do a paint by number if you have to).
  • Sew...napkins, aprons, a tablecloth, curtains, whatever you want. 
  • Knit (you can even finger knit or loom knit).
  • Draw together.
  • Write a poem.
  • Decorate some plain napkins or a tablecloth with fabric paint.
  • Build a bird house.
  • Go to a paint-it-yourself pottery place.
  • Make some jewelry.
  • Make something out of Legos.
  • Color a coloring book.
  • Write a story.
  • Redecorate a room with your kid's input/help.
  • Make a play.
  • Sing a song you make up together. 
  • Design your own comic book. 
  • Paint a room in your house.
  • Build a fort.
  • Decorate for Easter/Spring.

So for Make it Monday, make some memories with the ones you love. Go out together into the world, gather some inspiration and supplies, and get busy creating. And if you are able...get to the ocean...it is so good for your soul. 

Dog Person?

Some people are either dog people or cat people...I guess there are "no animal at all" people. I don't particularly trust the last category of people. Just sayin. Listen, animals can be annoying and dirty and just plain gross, BUT they make us better humans by showing us unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance. And BTW they are a freaking miracle. I think it is so crazy that we share this earth with so many different species. It is mind boggling...clearly we need to do more to be better stewards of this land and to do right by the other beings we live with...but that is for another conversation. 

Today I am going to tell you a story.  My husband, Marko, didn't grow up with dogs. His family had the occasional black cat that adopted them, but that was it. So when I met my husband, he wasn't super hip to the dog scene and I had a dog. Oh, what a dog he was! I had an elderly Yorkshire Terrier named Obie. Obie was an asshole. Really there is no other way to say it. Look I LOVED him with every ounce of my being, but I would never say he was a sweet or a good dog, but we had been together since I was 16 years old so we were really in it together. It was a love/hate relationship...for us both. 

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
— Roger Caras
The one and only Obie.

The one and only Obie.

When Marko first met my dog I went to his apartment (the future husband's not the dog's...that would have been an even crazier story though I suppose). I sat my little 8 lb dog on the futon that served as the couch. Marko looked at me dead in the eye and said that animals do not go on the furniture. I wasn't having that because I had Obie and I had a cat and they both were on my furniture...also, I do not like being told what to do or what not to do. Well, apparently Obie worked his magic on Marko and flash forward a few months he and Obie were sitting on the said futon sharing an ice cream cone together. So cute...and gross.

Obie was such a huge part of my life. Nearly all of my friends dog-sat him at some point. One dear friend in particular put him in the backyard and promptly lost the dog. The dog was found, but there were some serious conversations if our friendship would survive such a circumstance. Another two of my besties who watched Obie regularly, finally had to stop watching him because he was and an old little curmudgeon and straight pooped in their car on the driver's side seat. What a little jerk!

Obie lived another several years with the hubby and myself. Obie died when he was 16 years old in our bed in between my husband and I when I was about 5 months pregnant...and I was 32 years old. At the time, I had Obie half of my life. I found him on Black Friday morning, my husband got up early to go buy a tv with his brother. When I woke up at o-dark-thirty. I saw Obie and I just knew he was gone...my husband confirmed it and he took care of everything.

While I was devastated and I still think of that crappy little dog nearly every day of my life...I am thankful it all ended the way it did. He was training us to be a parent. He was up all night, making messes, entertaining us, and making sure we were sleep deprived. We got him a crate a few days before he died to keep him contained while we were gone...his death was his final middle finger to us. And Obie would have been a horrible animal brother to our son and that little dog died getting to be on the furniture. 

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
— Agnes Sligh Turnbul

Do you have some animals that you loved (or hated)? Do you have ones that shaped who you are? We have two dogs right now and I think about the relationship those dogs have with my kids and the benefits that relationship has on both of them.

 

They call it puppy love.

They call it puppy love.

Currently we have the two dogs (and a fish). Some years we have a lot more animals, some years we have a lot less animals. We have a 150 lb German shepherd name Duke. He LOVES the kids. I mean, not your kids...but ours. And we have June who is a Wiredhaired Pointing Griffon. She loves everyone and every thing and ALWAYS smells like poop...I mean, there are so many causes of this problem...I can't even. But these two sweet beings are teaching our children about responsibility, about compassion, and about love in ways we frankly can't teach them as effecively. They have their own "Obies."

Harvard Health Publications states the most obvious benefits of pet ownership are love and companionship. Heck, even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) talk about the health benefits of animal ownership.  Crazy, right?

According to the CDC here are the health benefits for having a family pet...

  • Pet ownership can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels
  • Having a pet can help conquer battle feelings of loneliness.
  • Pet ownership provides opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Opportunities for socialization (for you and the pet.)
June the grossest sweetie.

June the grossest sweetie.

Enjoy Dog Day!

  • Meet up with a dog.-If you have a dog, love on that dog like a fool. And if you aren't dog people, stretch your comfort level and find a dog in your hood to be friends with or at least say "hi" to.  Love the dogs you have in your life. 
  • Make your dog a treat.-You can look online for recipes to makes treats, you can make them a blanket, or build them a house (maybe you are hella handy). Whatever it is do something to show the pooch in your world that you love them. 
  • Donate to local animal shelter.-Whether or not you have a dog, donate to a shelter in your area. See what their needs are...maybe they need food, or certain supplies (blankets or dog beds), or donate your time. Some shelters want help socializing with the dogs. 
  • Get a check up.-Make sure your dog is healthy. Take them to the vet regularly, keep them up to date on their vaccines, and watch for strange behavior. They can't tell you if something is up...you have to help them.
  • Go for a walk.-That dog guru Cesar Milan is all about walking dogs for all sorts of reasons...exercise, training, stress relief, establishing who is in charge of the pack, etc. 

I hope some day you find your "Obie." Have a doggone great weekend!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Conditionally Yours?

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
— Robert Fulghum

My four year old asked me a question as we were alone in the dark during our bedtime routine. She asks A LOT of questions during this time...usually they are related to things that will get her out of bed..."Can I go potty?" or "Where are my vitamins?" or maybe "Why didn't we eat dinner" (BTW we totally ate dinner). But this is one of those questions that kids ask you that just punch you in the gut. In her tiny little voice she said, "Mom would you still love me even if I was bad?" We joke a lot in our family, but this was clearly not the time to joke. She was legitimately asking. I shined my cell phone on us and told her to look at me and I said the same thing that parents have been saying in some form for eons..."There is literally nothing you could do that would make me not love you. There is nothing you could say that wouldn't make me love you. I will ALWAYS love you no matter what." She gave me giant kiss and proceeded to try to avoid bedtime.

She was just fine, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. My son asks me stuff like this all the time, but that is more his nature. He just wants some verbal validation from time to time. I get it, who doesn't? But the girl, she usually gives exactly 0% of what others think. I asked Miss M the next morning why she asked me that question and she responded because sometimes she hurts my feelings. Yep, she totally does...preschoolers are brutally honest that it can be painful and some times they are just mean out of the blue...but I never think about it...that comes with the territory. So since I am a pretty reflective person I decided to start noodling on it (i.e. going into deep thought). 

We are a very demonstrative family...I mean, not with everyone, but for sure with each other. I hug and kiss my kids all day long and I tell them I love them all the time too. So why would this conditional love questioning start sneaking around?

Well, my mind started to wander as the girl and I drove across town to drop off our taxes.  I was looking at all the new development and how there is so much of this town I no longer recognize. I moved to Portland 27 years ago (how in the hell is that true?). And Portland, Oregon is beautiful and a great place to live and soooooo many people have agreed with that sentiment in the last decade. I complain about the growth, the changes, the differences in the town that I love so very much. Turns out I talk as if I only LOVE Portland if it is the Portland I know, the one I recognize, the one that I "get." That is some conditional love right there. 

I am not saying my four year old picked up on that nuance. She is smart and pretty intuitive, but that is a leap for sure. But if I am doing that about where we live, what else am I setting conditions on and what am I modeling to my children?

I know I am Judgy McJudge Judge. I am...I admit it. I try really hard not to be, but I have to work at it. If people or animals (or I guess even cities) don't fit into my expectation of what I think they should be doing or who I think they should be then I make assumptions. And honestly I am modeling not only how to care about someone or some thing conditionally...I am showing my kids and anyone else around how to criticize others who don't fit into my little mold. That is not what I want to teach...I want to teach unconditional love, I want to celebrate diversity, and I want to honor people for who they are.

Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.
— Anonymous

So let's work on loving each other just as we are. I know I need it. Here are the actions I am going to take. Can these work in your life too? What are you going to do to make sure you are living a life you want your kids to imitate? 

Unconditional Love Guide

  • Love yourself- First and foremost, if you don't love you without conditions how can you expect your children to be able to do the same thing? Oh you may think, "I love me just fine thank you." Do you say things about your weight, how you look, your job, your value, what you would change? Those sound like conditions to me. Try to love yourself without the *asterisk.
  • Express your love-Tell the people in your world you love them and show them you love them. Love them the way they need to be loved. Love the people in your life without limitations. 
  • Educate yo brain-One thing that builds walls around us is a lack of understanding others. You judging someone you don't know? Get to know them. Something bugging you? Research it, get to know more about it before you make any rash decisions. Easy to hate the unknown. Knowledge is power!
  • Pick up & fix things- One way to show love is to love the world. Pick up after yourself. Respect Mother Earth. It helps connect you to something bigger. And if something is broke, try to fix it. What are we doing to the world, what are we teaching our kids, and what kind of waste are we creating when we throw everything out? The message seems pretty straight forward...this is broke...it must be junk. We can do better than that.
  • Practice tolerance-People are going to do things you don't like, things change (even your favorite cities), and life goes off track. You don't get to control everyone and everything. Bummer, huh? But you can try to let go of your own stuff and just take people, places, and things for what they are...not what you want them to be. 
  • Help others-Volunteer, lend a hand, assist someone. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes helps make connections. When we think and act outside of ourselves then we can expand our mind and hearts.

So for me, there is NOTHING my children could do that would make me love them any less. They have peed in my shampoo, pooped in my bath, ruined my laptop (and my body), but it doesn't matter. I love them so freaking hard...it won't stop. Now others? That I have to do some work. Let's put ourselves out there, give each other a break, love unconditionally, and model some magic. 

Children see magic because they look for it.
— Christopher Moore
Kids looking for magic

Kids looking for magic

Want to feel good about yourself?

Through the years

Through the years

Today I am introducing a new segment called Flashback Friday Foibles. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I hear something humiliating, embarrassing, or all around horrible happening to someone I feel better about myself. It is wrong, but true. Well, Flashback Friday Foibles is just for you to feel good about yourself, to make you thankful you aren't me, or to make you laugh. 

We moved to our neighborhood when our son was a toddler. We are incredibly lucky, we knew zero about the neighborhood or the schools. Now we have close friends in the hood who have become our family. And our preschool and elementary school have been amazing. But even with that greatness, I can still completely mess up everything. 

For example, since my son has attended elementary school I have done the following:

  • I have walked into school with my child with my skirt tucked into my tights. Yep, you read that right. I think my son was in 1st grade. I confidently walked my son into school and dropped him off and as I was walking back to the car some grandmother kindly pointed out what had happened. No one else did. I don't really blame them. Maybe they didn't notice my ass just out there or maybe the embarrassment for both of us would be too great. Not my proudest moment. And I guess I was holding my daughter because she would have been a baby, but I have no memory of her during this event. I really just have tried to block the whole thing from my mind.
  • One time my son ran in the jog-a-thon at school and won a medal and some prizes. He lost the package prizes and was so upset. I talked to teachers, the volunteer coordinator, everyone I could think of who may know. It was POURING rain! (I hate getting my hair wet in public because my curly hair immediately turns into Weird Al.) Anyways, I was retracing my steps to see if he lost the package on the way from the school to car. Nothing. So I head back to the car...the school is a little bit on a hill and the car was on the street below. I slipped and slid about 4-5 feet in the mud. I was covered in mud and got back in to the car, where my child found the package. Inside the package was a coupon for free fro-yo and one for a Subway sandwich. I would have bought him the damn yogurt and foot long! (As I found this image my daughter asked me what was wrong with my eyebrows. I had to explain to her I was so drenched my eyebrows were full of washed off makeup and raindrops. So freaking wet.)
Mother in the rain

Mother in the rain

  • Another time I was helping in the classroom with a cooking project. I was stirring this bowl so hard it fell on the floor, I went to pick it up and knocked over some poor kid's desk and all the contents spilled out of it. All eyes on me! Geez!
  • I have accidentally kept my child home on the wrong day. There were school conferences during school. I thought there was no school since there were conferences. So I got childcare and I headed to school to meet my husband to talk to my son's teacher. When I walked up to the school I saw all these children on the playground playing and my heart sank. Yep, there was school I just kept him home because I had zero idea.
  • On the flip side I have tried to drop my child off on a day that the school was closed. We all got ready and I pulled up to the empty drop off line. Yep, you guessed it...no school. 

So why tell you these things for our first Flashback Friday Foibles? Because I think all of us do stuff that we are like "What in the hell am I doing?" or "What in the hell did I just do?" I feel like that all the time. This weekend I turn 42 and I am still doing dumbass stuff constantly. I keep wondering when I am going to get my ish together. I think the answer is never. I guess there may be people who have it together, but just like the this blog I feel like we are all "posing" in one way or another. 

Life is hard and awkward and uncomfortable and beautiful and horrible and sad and funny. Life is funny. You have to find the funny. I mean, I already laugh totally inappropriately, but you HAVE to laugh. What is the alternative? So if things aren't turning out the way you want them...you have to try to find the funny.

For my birthday weekend please do me this favor...call it your gift to me...find the funny...

  • Share the joy- What cracks you up? Share it! Do you have a favorite movie, joke, story, or do you like to read funny tweets, or watch funny YouTube videos? One thing that will ALWAYS make me laugh is America's Funniest Videos...it is so embarrassing, but true. That clip could be 25 years old and I will still be laughing so hard until I cry. So find what makes you laugh and share it with someone...maybe they will think it is funny too. 
  • Kids say the darnedest things-Watch your kids. My kids are hella funny. Now I did pray super hard for them to be funny (I mean, healthy too, but really funny). God shall provide. Those kids are the funniest people I know. So listen to your kids and laugh with them. We get so hung up in being parents, being right, being in charge, etc. we don't always have fun with our kids. Tell them they are funny and find out what makes them laugh. 
  • Include your comedy partner-My husband and I laugh together all the time. When I was recently in the hospital the staff would talk about how we were always laughing. What the hell are we supposed to do? Life is scary and hard, remember? We would just try to find the humor in the situation. Also, the secret to our success...Buddy Cop Movies. (I thought we made up that genre name, turns out we didn't.) But those always crack us up. And this weekend we are also celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary so I think we are really on to something. 
  • Laugh at yourself-I could have made all those really embarrassing things that I shared with you today a total shit show, but what good would that do? Even the skirt in the tights bit...I found the humor, I owned it, and I shared it...I shared it on social media even. If we can just be real with one another think about how much better the world can be. You do goofy stuff...laugh about it...it is okay.
  • Be kind-If you see someone who is having a humorous/humiliating moment and realize they may not see the funny the way you do, see if you can help them in any way, and be kind. Totally laugh about it later, but be a good neighbor at the moment. Since I laugh inappropriately (I seriously cannot help it) this one is one of the hardest ones for me. My kid's even say I laugh at them when they get hurt and it makes them sad...I know, it is so sad! I mean, falling is so funny to me...that is a hard one when you have kids...they fall a lot. So this is one I REALLY have to work on. But in general let's all be kind. And funny. 

Have a great weekend! I hope you laugh your ass off...it will make you feel good about yourself. 

 

Thank you for being a friend...

You may think this is about the Golden Girls. It isn't really, even though I do LOVE the Golden Girls.

I have my own set of Golden Girls. Me and a group of my nearest and dearest went as the iconic group for Halloween in 2005. I was Blanche...naturally. We still call ourselves the Golden Girls. I recently may have revived my obsession by binge watching the series on Hulu. And I may been scouring Craigslist looking for Golden Girlish furniture pieces. Listen, I am deep in people, but today is more about thanking those in your life that did something nice for you or that you are just thankful they are your friend.

Golden Girls

Golden Girls

Once upon a time I was freaking fantastic at writing handwritten "thank you" cards. I know I am totally humble bragging, but it is true. In the first few years of our marriage I probably wrote close to a thousand "thank you's." And good notes... ones that addressed the people, acknowledging the lovely gift or action they did, and then writing something terribly charming (I am sure).

Dear Friend

Dear Friend

But something happened...my second child...specifically. Since she was born, her spitfire personality keeps me on my toes and has consumed most of my time that I am just now FOUR YEARS LATER  able to write a "thank you" note here and there...I am still not up to holiday and birthday speed. 

You may think, "Hey, it is no big deal. You said 'thank you'...your job is done." Well, it is in my DNA...I am Southern and I was partially raised by my very Southern and very proper Nana. The last four years I write list after list of people that need "thank you" cards and what they did or what they gave and then those lists sit and it eats away at my soul. I know I am sounding dramatic, but this is an actual thing. 

I try to make up for my current  lack of proper etiquette by texting or emailing people when we use what they gave us for the first time or when we are really enjoying the present in a new way...still I am not proud of how far I have fallen. I am working on getting back on track. In the mean time, let's learn how to write a "thank  you card together. You know, in case I can ever find a moment to write said card.

How you write a "thank you" note

How you write a "thank you" note

Get out your stationary this weekend and let's think of the people we can be thanking. The simple act of letting people know that you see them, you value them, and that you are thankful for them...those acts of kindness are magical.

Also, maybe pick up some palm leaf decor to add some Golden Girls to your life. 

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

It Took Awhile

I have been working on this blog for about 8 1/2 years. By working, I really mean I made my husband buy the domain name, pay for hosting, and then I casually talked about it FOR YEARS. Turns out, life got busy and I put this idea on the back burner. However, some times your ideas have a way of worming into your brain until you finally have to do something about them. So here's my something. 

It all started when I was sitting at the hospital with my newborn baby boy (in 2008 mind you) and the nurse came in and asked for the proud parents of this child. I distinctly remember looking around and thinking "Yes, who is responsible for this baby?" then I quickly realized that would be my husband and I. Perhaps I was dazed from the week long marathon labor, or all the drugs pumped in me, or the emergency c-section, or the sleep deprivation...whatever it was I wasn't putting it together that now me and this man (that I loved and married) were PARENTS. It wasn't just about getting the baby to be born...our lives were about to forever altered in ways we couldn't imagine. Since that day we have been Posing as Parents. 

Isn't that what we all are doing? We are posing. It doesn't matter if you feel like you are posing as parents, you are posing in your job, or maybe posing in your life...some times you have to fake it until you make it. That is life. We are all figuring it out as we go along. Some of us are just better at hiding it or making it look easy. 

For my husband and I, we are figuring out this parenting thing as we go along. Still almost 9 years deep into it. That baby has grown into a boy that goes to elementary school and is able to verbalize all of our shortcomings. Every time we feel like we have it all figured out with this parenting thing then something new happens that we have to understand and navigate. On top of that we also have a four year old and who has been giving us a run for our money since the day she was born. Turns out she is a completely different person than her brother...which is awesome, but brings its own set of hurdles. And we are still posing. 

So if you are Posing as Parents too, or if you like to read about people messing up often in regards to childrearing and in life in general then this is the place for you. Also, I like to fast craft so if crafting is your thing then this may be a space that you would enjoy. And we will be planning some parties...who doesn't love a party? Well, if that is you...I can help you seem like a party planner with minimal work. Lastly, but most importantly (for me), this is a space for positive community building. We will explore ways to expand and enrich our communities. I truly believe that one thing we are missing is our interconnectedness with one another that being a part of a community brings so let's find ways to build our village together. So welcome. We are Posing as Parents.