New Year...New You?

How is your new year going? Did you make resolutions? Did you break resolutions yet?

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I like the "clean slate" feeling of a new year...both for the first of the year and when birthdays roll around. I like the time to set some intentions. Not necessarily resolutions, but intentions of what I want for this next stage of life. 

I hate the phrase "New Year...New You." I don't know why it just bugs me. Yes...change what you want to change. Transform the way you want to transform. Be a damn butterfly! But know that the past is what makes us...the good and the bad. We build from our foundations. And if our foundations are shaky we reinforce them as we go...with love, with resources, with healthy relationships...with good intentions and even better actions. 

With the beginning of 2018 I am stuck in this weird reflective loop in my head...the big moments in my life...the small ones that stuck. I think it has something to do with the political climate, with the #metoo movement, with having kids and navigating through these times...and if I am honest it probably has something to do with being 42 and a birthday in the not so distant horizon. It is the season to take inventory of who we are, what we stand for, and the direction we want to go.

Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?
— John Lewis

These are lessons we want our kids to learn as well...to know who they are and what they believe. I get stuck on some of the hard parts of my life and wanting desperately for my children to not have to learn those types of lessons, I long for safety and security for them. Of course, life won't be all roses, but I hope that it mostly is for them...I am their mama...that is my job.

So for this year I am setting some intentions (with some realizations that help put life in perspective). And hopefully helping the kiddos do the same.

My intentions...

  • I want to be more organized. I want less clutter in my world. However, I am thankful for a home for shelter and to be messy in. 
  • I want to get in better shape and exercise more. Yet, I am thankful for a strong body that is healthy.
  • I want to eat more whole foods in our diets. And I acknowledge and am grateful that I am able to provide healthy choices for the family and that our pantry is full of food. 
  • I want to save more money. But I am thankful for the money we have and for the jobs that sustain our needs.
  • I want to help my children thrive in their educational settings. And still I understand that my children have a first rate education, that they go to schools with working heat and electricity, and in new buildings that aren't making them sick. 
  • I want to spend more meaningful time with our family. I pray for those who aren't able to be with their families do to various entities, laws, or ideals that keep them apart. 
  • I want to do good in this world. And I realize my own privilege and I chose to fight for representation for the voices that aren't heard or that aren't as loud. 
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

For my children for 2018 and this life...

  • Be kind.
  • Be helpful.
  • Be a good friend. 
  • If something is wrong speak up.

That is all I have for them...that is enough. I mean, I'd love for them to set the intention to clean up after themselves, or do things the first time I ask them, but one step at a time sweet Jesus. I am not expecting a New Year...New You from them either. 

We are all doing the best we can. We just need to realize that we are all in this together and give each other a helping hand. We are stronger together. 

See you soon friends. 

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'Twas the Night

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It is the night before Christmas. Like many parents, I am helping Santa do everything in my power to make Christmas morning magical.

I hope this holiday season you have had joy, that you have been surrounded by people you love. If you aren't able to be in the presence of your loved ones I hope that memories sustain you. 

This season is full of activities.

This season is full of crafting.

I thought I would write you a few times the last couple of weeks, but we have had every sickness under the sun. 

Last week, I even wrote a little poem about my family and the sickness. 

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house were sickies who like to wipe snot on my blouse.

Mom is so tired, the only way she shows that she cares. Is to line up the teacups on the counter so germs are not shared.

And the kids were snuggled up in the beds, one with tissue and one with a puke bucket right by their heads.

And mama is in her yoga pants writing this ditty, while dad is away for work again in another city.

I am here texting, emailing, and calling the schools while trying not to cause a clatter. I am praying for the kids to nap, for just ten minutes would really matter.

We have gone through the Netflix Christmas movies in a flash. We tore through so many there’s bound to be some screen time backlash.

The list of ailments between them both seem to grow. I think my weariness is surely starting to show.

When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But another type of virus showing up here.

With my mother instinct so swift and quick,
I get out all the tools to help with the sick.

An arsenal of goodies the kids thought were lame,
But I persisted and called them by name;

”Honey, tissues, saltines, and soup!
Oh, ginger syrup, essential oils, and Lysol to boot!”

If children are bored mischief they will try,
When they are soon met with an obstacle it is mom’s mad sigh.

So down to the basement they flew. With hands full of toys, that they threw all a-strew.

And then, when I thought I could take no more. A big glass of milk spilled all over the floor.

As I drew in a deep breath, the kids were scurrying around. My yelling and screaming was by far the only sound.

The kids looked scared and it made me feel sad.
As we cleaned up the milk, I assured them they weren’t bad.

My lost temper was not something I could take back. But I could certainly make up for the empathy I lacked.

As we talked, their eyes twinkled and looked so merry. I couldn’t tell if it was the sickness that made their cheeks the color of berries.

I told them I was sorry for yelling and letting my temper show. They ask for some make-up toys and I promptly said “no.”

Christmas is coming much sooner than we think,
The sicknesses, the shopping, and the busyness are making me want to drink;

The pressure is mounting with each passing day,
My to-do lists are really making me cray.

But for today I focus on making my crew not sick,
Some R&R will hopefully do the trick;

The last minute shopping and the prospect of wrapping is something I dread. I have a cold too and I can hear the calling of my bed.

But for now, I am on mama duty and I will get to work. I really don’t want to be that bah humbug jerk,

And as I pop some Day-Quil and I start to blow my nose. The spirit of Christmas in my heart definitely arose;

It isn’t about the presents, the wrapping, or the tinsel. Christmastime is about something much more simple.

So as I am covered in a blankie and sipping some tea. Merry Christmas to all...may healthy loved ones surround you under the tree.

I am pretty sure another member of our family is getting sick. It. Never. Ends.

But these moments are fleeting. The moments of joy that only Santa can bring. 

Wishing you the best day ever. 

Attitude of Gratitude

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

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

But I digress, we are talking about gratitude today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude

Name your blessings.

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

Read Books

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

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

Get Crafty

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

Being Mindful

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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!