It Goes So Fast

This is such a crazy busy season. I have been busy with all sorts of personal projects. Our family went away and spent a weekend with some dear friends. We are all getting ready for the holiday.

PLUS our baby turned 5!

Little Miss has been 5 for a week and a half now and I am still in shock. We have three new babies in our family/life and in my head, she is still new baby too. Didn't I just bring her home from the hospital? 

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This year we gave Little Miss a new "realistic" doll...the main reason she got the doll is because she was begging to get her old baby clothes out to dress her dolls. Well, two things...I didn't want to go in the attic to get the clothes and none of her dolls fit the real baby clothes.  So now she has a doll  that fits the clothes from the attic that I finally got out. As I got her gifts spread set out the night before her birthday I remember doing the same thing for her five years before that...this time instead of dressing my baby, she was dressing HER baby. I thought about the time we will be getting ready for her own babies...the ones I don't buy at the store. 

It all goes so fast.

Each stage has its own challenges and its own rewards, but the thing that stays the same is that it happens in a blink of an eye.

Our children teach us far more than we teach them. And I feel this birthday our daughter taught me a few lessons that MAY be helpful for you doing this busy season. 

Five Lessons From a Five Year Old

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Celebrate the way you want. This chick wanted a ninja birthday party...even though she had planned a different party for months. If ninjas were going to make her happy then by all means, let's have a ninja party. Life is short...celebrate. 

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Do what brings you joy. Little Miss had NEVER been to Chuck E Cheese and for her family birthday gathering she really wanted to go. It doesn't bring me joy, but it did her so that is what we did. The look of excited on her face didn't disappoint. You do you and what makes you happy!

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Live in the Moment. This is a person who knows how to live in the moment. She isn't hung up on the past or the future. She lives for right this second. We should all be so lucky. 

 

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Love Hard. Little Miss loves hard. She loves life hard. She loves people hard. She loves EVERYTHING with every ounce of her being. Loving hard can take a lot, but it is worth it. 

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Be a Badass. I mean, she didn't say it.  But  I will. She is a tough chick. She makes me want to be a bad ass too. You are awesome...show it. You teach other people how to treat you. Teach them you are a badass. 

Life is short and it goes by so fast...I hope you are enjoying the ride. See you soon!

 

 

A Parenting Mess

Do you ever feel like you are just a parenting mess? You get stuff wrong? You drop the ball? You mess up?

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I, for reals, feel like that ALL the time. 

I can't find the invite to one of my dear friend's events. I forgot to show up for my volunteer shift helping needy kids (I know, I know...it is horrible). I didn't send slippers and a stuffed animal for my kid's special day at school. 

I screw up. A LOT. But it is okay. I am mostly cool with it. 

I also rock it and do stuff like Halloween themed food, including Jello brains. 

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I am pretty sure I faked having it all together for our foreign exchange student when he was here. I wanted to rep the USA well. 

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Life is not all Fakebook and the perfect Insta pic. 

I see the updates and pictures and I sometimes feel less than. And I read the updates and responses and the articles about how we all feel like we can't keep up. Let's just agree we don't have to. 

 I actually love looking at beautiful pictures on all my social media accounts. But I also know that there is more to the story...there is a another shot that isn't as great, that isn't as perfect. 

Before our foreign exchange student came to stay with us we set up some family rules.

1. No family naked time.

2. No bad words.

3. No yelling. 

Let's be honest most of these rules were directed at me. And I broke two of them. 

When I yelled. I asked our guest if his parents yelled and he said they didn't do it in front of other people, but they yelled at home a lot. Man, that makes you feel good, right?

I LOVE that they yell at each other.

Yes, we should all try to speak kinder words to each other, but seriously it makes me feel good that I am not alone. We aren't alone. And we are doing the best we can.

You can't craft every holiday? 

You picked up take out for your family instead of making a whole foods dinner? 

You gave your kids your phone so you could have a few minutes of peace and quiet?

None of it matters. We aren't in a competition. There is no score card. 

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We are all winners, baby.

Embrace being a parenting mess...there is beauty in the mess. 

See you soon...BTW you are doing great. 

Pass the Tissue Please

When your kids are sick you feel a mix of emotions...sadness, helplessness, empathy, a secret joy from them being so snuggly, and you may feel a little bit like you are on lock down.

(Now let's be clear, I am talking about run of the mill every day sicknesses...colds, viruses, bugs...a really sick child is heartbreaking and something we pray never happens.)

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Our whole family has had a variety of colds for the last few weeks. One ends and a new one comes along. It is just the season. Facebook has been kind to remind me that the kids are sick and home from school every year during this time.  

The kids have a cold this week that came with a fever. Both have missed school and that means mama is in deep on the sick front. Little Miss has been hit the hardest and she has gone back and forth with a fever so I have been fooled by her "recovery" a couple of times. Her fever has kept climbing and if she doesn't get rid of this fever she has to go to the doctor. 

A lot of us want our mamas when we don't feel good. She is no different. As I type this my daughter and I have our arms interlocked. I can't go to the other room without her following me.

I am glad she wants me near. I am happy she needs me. I am not thrilled to share the last Hansen's root beer I found hidden in the back of the fridge that I tried to sneak without her knowing, but all in all it has been several days of snuggles. I feel lucky to be here for both kids...even if I have a touch of cabin fever. 

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Let's talk about what makes us feel better when we are sick. I am a Southern mama so I bake when the kids are sick.  Today I made fresh bread, homemade potato soup, and sugar cookies. I promise there is a lot of veg in the soup...this all looks one color...tan.

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What are some things you do to get your house healthy?

Here is a list of things to try to help you or your kiddos heal faster...or at least to help alleviate the symptoms. 

Hydrate-This is a big one. Get plenty of fluids! Have a water bottle by the sickie at all times. And in addition, drinking warm fluids helps to loosen everything up and helps make you feel better faster.

Nourish your body-Warm soups help open your passage ways. Those soups don't have to be home cooking...they can be your favorite take out. Try to get in plenty of Vitamin C (citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwis, and spinach are all a good way to start).

Honey-Kids can't have cold meds...they can have pain reliever, but it is best to talk to your doctor about what to do. A lot of times doctors want the children to try to fight off the virus on their own, but each case can be different.  What kids can have (at least those over 1) can have honey. I make a little warm drink of honey, water, and lemon for the kiddos. The honey is supposed to help with sore throats and coughing. 

Take a hot shower or bath. Breathing in steam may moisten everything up. And the heat can also help relax any sore and achy muscles. I love me a hot bath. 

Activities-I don't know about your kid, but mine can only watch so much screen time. We usually monitor screen time, but on sick days it is a free for all. But honestly they get bored. So they color, build Legos, do arts and crafts, play dolls...they do a lot of stress free activities. 

Rest-  This is the MOST important! Sick bodies need rest to heal. Get a fuzzy blanket and cuddle. 

Well, this blog post actually took me all day to finish, because my little sickie comes and gets me every few minutes. Here's hoping she feels better in the morning. And I hope you and yours makes it unscathed during cold and full season...and if you get this crap then snuggle up buttercup!

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

Tell Me a Story

1977 Pure Gold

1977 Pure Gold

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

Throwback Lovefest

Throwback Lovefest

It is funny how books can transport us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading Tips for Children

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

Dang, this week has been all about stories. 

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

Living Your Story

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When I was little I used to get so upset when something would happen that I perceived as messing up my life story. (Turns out I might have been a weird kid. Like, why would I think about my life story? I don't know, but I did.)

There were plenty of things in my after school special life that I felt messed up my story. I grew up poor, my parents were divorced, I had domestic violence in my family, the list is long and sordid. And the truth is,  I made poor choices and other peoples poor choices that affected me greatly...they all led to my story whether I wanted them to or not. I would literally think "I don't want this to be in my life story." I also thought I was going to be like the youngest person to write a memoir. I was delusional about a lot of my life.

I was way too old to  realize that all of those experiences...the good and the bad...made me who I am. I couldn't just pick the things I felt were worthy of my story. It doesn't work like that. 

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Monday night I went to Together Live. Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach and some other amazing ladies were there.  It is this motivational, women focused tour and the theme is "Living Our Love Stories."  It was really great and hearing glimpses of other people's stories helps bring context to your own. There are no perfect life stories. Real people have real issues. 

You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you wtih the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.
— Glennon Doyle
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I honestly was not a huge Glennon follower...I think I read some of her stuff, but really I became aware of her when she and Abby became a couple. Their love and happiness is infectious. But the real thing that got me hooked on Glennon was a quote I just happened to find this summer that is from one of her books.

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I love this quote so much. It is the perfect reminder for me. I am continuously feeling like I am missing out on something...that my boat is gone. I have become obsessed with the quote so much that I even put a little boat that The Boy made on our front porch...the perfect physical reminder. So I liked Glennon, but I wasn't planning on going to see the tour.

And then out of the blue a neighbor texted me and said she bought two tickets and wanted to take me. This is a neighbor that we have lived by for years, but maybe have had 10 interactions with each other and she chose me. Isn't that the craziest? It was exactly what I needed and when I needed it. So sweet and It was nice to go with her and get to know her a little better. This unexpected gift of generosity is also a part of my story. 

My story (and yours) is constantly unfolding. The family I am creating with my husband is unfolding into chapters I couldn't imagine. We share our world with two amazing, riveting characters. I keep waiting for things to go wrong. But maybe not all stories need to be the inspiration for a made for tv movie. I can deal with us just being like a reality show. Who knows what will happen next. All I know is that I am in the middle of living my own love story. 

The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.
— Glennon Doyle
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Love your people! See you Thursday!

Teach Your Children

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

Since the last time we met Charlottesville happened.

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

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

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

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

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

The Future is Bright

The Future is Bright

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Every Day I'm Hustling

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Oh my, I have missed you! Yes, you! I have been a crazy woman (more so than normal) and I need this space to come hang out it in...to write...to connect. I miss you, my community. 

I have missed three posts and this one is woefully late. I said in my last post that I wasn't given any excuses...life is hard and busy and we have to give ourselves a break. While I won't give you excuses I will give a couple of reasons. I am worried about what you think and I would hate for you to think I abandoned you. 

Camping at Cougar

Camping at Cougar

The last of swim lessons was last week and those classes took up half of our day. It was great, the kids had fun, but I am happy it is over. And we went straight from swimming lessons to camping for the weekend with a bunch of friends. That was seriously the best. I am not notoriously a good camper, but I had a blast and I don't think I complained once. Then we got home and my mom's cat, whom we all adored, died. She was 16 years old, but saying good-bye is never easy. And then it was my mom's birthday and today it is my mother-in-law's birthday. Life is busy. Oh, and then I am worried about nuclear war. See, there is a lot on my plate! 

Celebrating one Grandma

Celebrating one Grandma

The biggest thing that has taken my time, well besides my children, is a freelance project I have been working on. As much as I love you all, a paycheck is nice once in awhile. In fact I am hustling, I am hustling to make money wherever I can. I am trying to do part time work with freelance writing when I can. And I am opening a little booth in a local vintage shop. I am super excited about that. It will be mainly vintage finds AND it will have some handcrafted items by yours truly (fast craft time) and some of my talented husband's woodwork. I am really giddy about this. 

Why vintage? I have problem shopping, I love vintage finds and I really shouldn't keep all of them. It is crazy because I remember my mother taking me to junk shops, thrift stores, flea markets, etc. as a kid and I HATED it. I didn't want people to think I was poor, which we were. At the time I didn't get the thrill of the hunt and I didn't understand how cool it was to have these things that are a part of our collective past. I just thought they smelled weird and that I may literally die if someone saw me there. Flash forward to me racing to pick up something on the side of the road because I saw on Nextdoor or Craigslist that there was a free pile.  Now my husband is hiding his face while he waits in the car. 

Opportunity is in the eye of the beholder.
— Jen Sincero

I didn't go from hating to loving junk just like that. In my 20s I wore a ton of vintage clothes...as you do in your 20s. I remember there was this awesome thrift store and everything was like 99 cents on certain days. I had the most awesome coats and dresses during that time. And my 30s was filled with working at the church and helping the ladies run the Church Bazaar. So that is when I collected old bowls, vases, and various hankies, table clothes, etc. Then my mom moved back to Oregon and we started junking together and now I have become an addict. 

One of my first jobs when I young was working at a flea market for my grandfather, Papaw, who sold old 501s and old uniforms. It was a pretty run down place, but my Papaw liked doing it and he knew everyone there. I don't remember a ton about it besides eating junk food from the food court area and reading Sweet Valley High books. I do remember walking around and looking at the different booths. It was mesmerizing. 

So I am opening a little booth that may grow into a bigger booth. Who knows what is next? Right now I am just about the hustle. I don't know if it is the time of my life or that I am a stay at home mom or that I am reading You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero (which I LOVE...all the quotes today are from her and I will write about her in another post). But right now I feel the need to make some money. My husband does an amazing job supporting us all and we are soooooo grateful for that, but the truth is one income is hard. Anything I can do to help I am going to do. 

Doubts, fears, and other people’s rules are no match for a heart on a mission
— Jen Sincero

So I am hustling. I am doing things that I love...writing and collecting treasures, all while being with the people I love. This is my baby girl's last year of preschool...I don't want to miss a second of that. And as our son get's older I feel like he needs me around more not less. I am not sure about having it all, but I am going to find some ways that I can have what works best for us. 

So I am sorry I have been neglectful. I am telling you, I need the structure of school even though I will miss my babies immensely and I do love summer so. I need some order and routine. 

On Tuesday I move in to my booth and I will take lots of pictures. 

See you next week! Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

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. 

 

Okay, I Got Distracted

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

At Home Entertainment

At Home Entertainment

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

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

Hanging with Handsome

Hanging with Handsome

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

Eat Yo Veggies

Eat Yo Veggies

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

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

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

The Sky's the Limit

Montana
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.
— Saint Augustine

We did it! We went to 11 states in 10 days. We (mostly my husband) drove almost 4000 miles. We stayed in 4 hotels (only one was regrettable), 1 motel, and 1 home of our relatives. We saw 20 family members...over half of them were just a happy coincidence that we were staying in the same town at the same time. And we met up with a couple of dear friends. 

It was a crazy adventure. But so worth it. The kids were great. The country was amazing. It was so good to see this land in a different way, talking to different people, experiencing new adventures. 

We got to see things like this. 

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore was really amazing and I didn't think I would be so impressed by it. People from all over the world were there and the park rangers were seriously the nicest. It was a perfect stop. 

Mt Rushmore

But really one of the highlights of the trip was the landscape (not altered by humans). And one of the biggest surprises was the sky. The clouds across this country were amazing. I was mesmerized. As I sat in the passenger seat zooming by on the highway I would just take picture after picture through the bug smeared window. I just wanted to remember how stunning they were. 

I am going to be real, I believe that we are in a trying place as a country right now. There are a lot of scary things happening and there is a lot of "us" and "them" talk. But exploring where we live and who we live with was reassuring. There are a lot more nice people out there than bad.

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.
— Anais Nin

People are genuinely trying their best and their best may not make a lot of sense to us, but it is where they are. We will not change the state of the world or of our country by building barriers between us, by separating us, or by pitting us against each other. What will make our country stronger is coming together and finding common ground. 

This country is incredible. It is. Look at it! It is so gorgeous and it is filled with so many good, good things. Yes, there is work to do and some of it may be really hard work and we won't see eye to eye, but maybe we can have open minds and open hearts for each other. 

Wyoming

Today look up in the clouds, talk to a stranger, and explore a place you have never been. It is good to shake things up.

See you Thursday and I will give you a run down on what worked well for traveling with kids and what did not.

Have a great day!

 

Making Space

You may/may not have noticed I am not posting on my "typical" schedule...Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Wellllllll, I am making a shift. Little Miss is out of school for summer and The Boy will be done soon so I am trying to make some choices.

Last day of school.

Last day of school.

I am streamlining the blog to come out Tuesday and Thursday for the summer. This helps me focus on the kids when I am with the kids and focus time on the blog in smaller chunks for summer.  Do you ever have the need to make space for things in your life?

We recently started just going through the house and getting rid of STUFF...some times you just have to clear it all out. Literally and metaphorically.  It is the best. It frees you up for so many possibilities when you get rid of the junk.

Make space in your life, space for health and happiness.
— Kris Carr
Our summer.

Our summer.

Our summer is full of all sorts of activities. But some of the activities aren't written out or fit nicely on my CSI style calendars. Some things just happen naturally. 

Habitat study.

Habitat study.

Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.
— Elmer Fudd

For instance, I don't have "trap rabbits" on my lists, but here we are. My son is studying habitats to try to catch a pet rabbit. Look, I know this may not be a wonderful idea, but I am committed to the process with him.

We have to make space for surprises.

Make space for adventures.

Make space for learning.

Make space for each other.

This summer we are making some space. 

So I will see you here on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Pulling it Together

I love getting gifts for people. Well, most people...I am looking at you Dad. He is the hardest to get gifts for...and I don't know if you know, but Father's Day is the weekend after next (THIS IS A CORRECTION FROM THE ORIGINAL POST). So I am still trying to button that gift down. 

But for everyone else I like getting gifts or making gifts. Making gifts is the best because you get to put part of yourself into the gift. You know, you get to put you love and care into the gift.

Unlike the time I was making something for a new baby and I used these crazy sharp fabric scissors I got from my husband (as a gift). Well, I seriously cut the tip of my finger off and bled all over what I made for the baby. That was a little more of myself than I wanted to give to a baby. Just FYI I didn't give the baby the bloody blankie.

Anywho, my daughter is about to be done with preschool (my son has a couple more weeks) and I have been thinking about end of year teacher gifts.  I usually like to make something for teachers...or have someone in our family make something. But I was at the store the other day and saw some adorable beach towels and I had a great idea.

For Making it Monday we are making a beach towel gift. But as I was researching other ideas with beach towels I saw my gift idea all over Pinterest. Turns out I wasn't original. Boo!

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
— Mark Twain

First you need your supplies...

  • Beach Towels
  • Ribbon
  • Luggage Tags
  • Optional Other Items-Magazines, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, etc.

!

Step 1

Pick out some towels.  Oh my goodness, I love these towels. You can get some cutie ones on Amazon like the Pineapple towel, or the Hibiscus towel, or the Blue Blocks towels. The last ones are not to be confused with BluBlockers. 

BlueBlockers

Remember BluBlockers? Those things really worked! I used to wear my mom's.  I may try to pull those off again. Well, probably not, but they did make life so much clearer...or it was that I was a teenager. 

Step 2

Pick out some luggage tags. These are adorable and here are some like we got for our teachers.  You can use these as your gift tags as well.

Beach Towels

Step 3

Roll up the beach towels, put a ribbon, and a luggage tag on it. BUT you could add magazines, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. And bada bing bada boom you are done. Tell your teachers you love them and that you hope they have an AWESOME summer. 

Oh, BTW, I know my daughter is giving one of her teachers a poop emoji tag. It is an inside joke between them. One time Little Miss wanted to send a text to her teacher and she told me to include a poop emoji. I didn't, but I told her teacher and her teacher is quite funny and she said she wanted to send one to me for our daughter, but she didn't know if we would think that was appropriate/funny. Uh, we clearly think it is funny and funny matters...thus, the poop luggage tag. 

See you Wednesday!

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.

 

 

 

Searching for Slo-Mo

Over it

Over it

It seems like everyone I talk to is a little (or a lot) overwhelmed right now. We are in the season of busyness. Granted I talk to a LOT of parents of elementary and preschool kids, but this time of year seems to be insanely busy. I think part of it is a combination of end of school events, sports, and just spring-going-into-summer stuff (like that technical explanation?). I mean for the love, we have to have our summer's planned in early spring to register kids in camps and summer programs. 

Summer is around the corner (a little longer for the kids in the Portland metro area. We had so much snow this winter that we had to add school days at the end of the year so we are in school until June 22)! One of my friends said she felt that it's bittersweet because she wants summer, but gets sad that another year has passed in the lives of her kiddos. 

Life in Motion

Life in Motion

It all goes too fast. I feel like I am constantly behind...for the love, I was able to blog while we were in Disneyland, but I was late for a posting on Monday...and I am home! I am just overwhelmed...I need to get kids to where they need to go, I need to get groceries, or run errands, I need to clean my house...the list is never ending and always growing. I am so stinking tired and I get snappy with my family. I think there has to be a better way...we must be doing some thing wrong because I can't do it all. I read the magazines, the blogs, Pinterest...and I am not living my best life...I am barely keeping it together most days. And just when I think I can't take any more and that something has to give...then summer comes and our load lightens, the days lengthen, and the most magical thing happens...the more we connect as a family.

The school year is so busy with school and sports and yes, we are together all the time, but yet we aren't. The time is fragmented and strained and the downtime we have is so precious that we do, in the words of Little Miss, we do what we want to do. She tells us on a daily basis "I do what I want to do"...shocker. And that is what happens during any moment we have right now. But I feel the moments fleeting. 

It happens before you know it, the handprints get higher and higher, then they disappear.
— Unknown

I sent my husband a text in the middle of the night a couple of days ago to inform him that we only have 9 more summers with our boy being our boy. Seriously it makes me cry. And then I obsess about those years...if he will want to be with us or his friends...or some day a significant other. You want them to grow and flourish, but you also want them with you. 

My daughter, who sometimes makes my days feel longer, has been modeling my obsessive mothering style. She told me that I am going to watch her children when she is older, I will live with them, and I am responsible for purchasing a lot for these future grandchildren. She talks about it all the time. I am game, because as I mourn each stage that is over with them. I store that longing away and I look forward to those stages with my grandchildren...and to the stages with my own children that I can't even imagine yet.

Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
— Earl Nightingale

I secretly hate when people use the phrase "bucket list" for anything besides things you want to do before you die. A bucket list a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. I especially hate Summer Bucket Lists...I think it is creepy.  So this is my Summer To Do list...whether you are in a part of the country that is already done with school or if you are in the same boat as our family and you have a few more weeks or you don't have either scenario...you still will be a part of the season so make your own list... or you can totally steal mine too if you want. 

Summer To Do List

  1. Work in the garden.
  2. Pick fruit-berries, peaches, apples, and pears.
  3. Swim. Put on the bathing suit and swim. 
  4. Go to the ocean-or a large body of water if you aren't near an ocean.
  5. Read. Read for me and have the kids read. 
  6. Explore as many playgrounds as we can. 
  7. Go to a drive in movie.
  8. Take some road trips. 
  9. Make and keep dinner plans with friends.
  10. Host another National Night Out event.
  11. Go stargazing with the telescope.
  12. Make homemade ice cream.
  13. Get out on the Slip and Slide.
  14. Have Nerf Wars.
  15. Make snow cones.
  16. Sew. 
  17. Make berry pies.
  18. Refinish a chair-this is pretty specific, but I want to make sure I do it.
  19. Go to the fair. 
  20. Bake-pizza, bread, all of it.
  21. Go on some epic bike rides.
  22. Work out.
  23. Visit some relatives. 
  24. Sleep outside.
  25. Take the dogs on an adventure.
  26. Start a new nature collection.
  27. Build a tree house.
  28. Get crafty with the kids. 
  29. Add to the rock collection.
  30. Play baby dolls or Legos most times they ask.

Well, I think that will start us off.

There is no slo-mo button for life even when we desperately want one to hold onto the moments and the people that we hold dear. I cannot capture this time, because to hold it is to suffocate it and life is all about the breathing in and out. So this summer I am going to try to do less and just be more. I don't want to squander a moment. 

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them - a mother’s approval, a father’s nod - are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.
— Mitch Albom

Life is a busy blur at the moment...it ebbs and flows. I am going to try my best to do my best and then be forgiving with myself for the things I will inevitably forget, drop, ruin, etc. And in the meantime, I guess I will be collecting stones as we head into the next season. 

See you Friday!

Play Ball

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

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

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

My favorite lilacs.

My favorite lilacs.

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

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

First you need your supplies...

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

 

Step 1

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

Toppings

Step 2

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

Rolled Ball

Step 3

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

Sprinkles

Step 4

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

Truffles

Step 5

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

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

Can't wait for summer with these knuckleheads.

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

See you Wednesday!

Listen Up

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

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

What's Up?

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

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

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

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

Big Talker

Big Talker

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

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

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

Active Listener

Active Listener

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

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

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

Have a great weekend and be sure to listen up!

 

 

Your Dish to Pass

If  you ever been to a church dinner,  a neighborhood gathering, or any other potluck you may have been asked to bring a dish to pass. This is something that you make more of and you share with others at the party. Everyone brings a dish to pass and therefore you are fed with all sorts of flavors in little amounts that add up to a meal.  Some of us have things that are our jam for potlucks...you have it dialed...you know what you want to bring, you make it all the time, you are an expert on that dish. Some of us are hit and miss with what dish to bring...the cooking isn't consistent...and you hope for the best. And then some of us freak out when giving the responsibility of providing part of the meal...you stress over what to bring...and you second guess your decision...and perhaps you just pick something up at the store on the way. We all have different potluck strategies and abilities.

Homemade Sourdough

Homemade Sourdough

Just like we all have talents...things that we are good at...things that set us apart from everyone else. Your "thing" is your "dish to pass" in this party called Life. 

Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.
— Prince

We all have something to give, something to contribute, even when we may not think we do. Think about the unique things that make you...you. You have special skills or aptitudes. Whether you are into sports or into arts; or a skilled communicator or a fabulous writer; or are a musician or a chef...you have skills.

Baseball Boy

Baseball Boy

When our son was a little younger he would need reassurance from time to time and he would like to know all the things he was good at or what his strong qualities are. At the time my heart would ache because I was afraid that he didn't think highly of himself and I know that kid and he is the freaking greatest. But in hindsight, we all need those reassurances, those check ins to remind us who we are and what makes us so great. And I would much rather him hear those things from his people, the people that know and love him instead of him making up things about himself because it can be hard to some times see yourself or even worse from people that may not have his best interest at heart. Part of being a parent is raising your kids with a good mix of self awareness, healthy self esteem, and a dash or two of humility. You want your kids to excel at lots of things, but the big ones for us are kindness, generosity of spirit, critical thinking, and a sense of humor...everything else is just gravy. 

Sharp Dresser

Sharp Dresser

Here are some tips to uncover or highlight your potential and to find your own dish to pass...

  • Take inventory. What do you love to do? What are you good at? Make a list...yes, a real one. Talk to the people you love to see what they say. Determine if your job and your values line up with the things you find important or at least are good at. Finding out what your gifts are helps you focus on the positive, it shows you about your own worth, and it is great information to have for yourself or for witty dinner party banter.
  • Do the unexpected. Don't fall into mind traps. Sometimes we can do some damaging mind talk. Don't fall into that trap. See, I pretty much hate karaoke. It embarrasses me and makes me super uncomfortable, but if people ask me to go...I go. This last weekend I had the opportunity to sing a rousing rendition of "Picture" by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow AND it was in front of some people I love and some I don't know. I had to do the unexpected and I had to just say "yes." How many times am I going to have that situation happen? Probably not a ton and I would rather reminisce about something that happened that made me stretch my comfort levels then have no story to tell. Will I be an expert karaoke singer...probably not, but it is good to do the unexpected. You never know when you might find your "thing" or at least have some good stories. 
  • Set some goals. Now you know what is your "dish" what are you going to do about it? My husband is great at building things and specializes in beautiful woodworking. But what does that matter? At first he did woodworking just for the love of it, the challenge or it, and the beauty of it. But because he does this one particular hobby so well, now he takes requests from people wanting to buy his products. What do you want to do with your talent? How can you share it? How can you grow it? What do you want to do next?
  • Believe in yourself. C'mon people  you have to believe in yourself. You don't think you are the right person for the job? Prove yourself wrong. You aren't all knowing, but you are awesome...focus on that. Below is a picture of a pie I made...the crust doesn't look amazing, but it is soooooo yummy. It was my husband's recipe...he makes the best pie crust. However, I was tired of waiting for him to make pie crust, so I learned how to make it myself. What do you want to do that fear is holding you back? Do some positive talk and believe in yourself dammit. 
Berry Pie

Berry Pie

Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!
— Julia Child

Start cooking...metaphorically speaking of course (or not). Invite some people at your table and share some time, share a meal, and make some memories. 

Take a Picture It'll Last Longer

I hope your Mother's Day was awesome. I had an absolutely amazing Mother's Day. We had a brunch for several mamas and others in our life. My husband made Eggs Benedict for the mamas and a Benedict scramble for the rest of the crew. I am so bummed I didn't take any pictures, but I was too busy enjoying how freaking delicious the whole spread was. Here is the recipe for the Hollandaise sauce he tried for this particular meal. It was freaking delicious. 

However, the BEST part was how my husband utilized the kiddos in the morning. He had our son working as a sous-chef and the girls (Little Miss and a couple of friends) as a waitresses. They all had on aprons on. The waitresses took orders and delivered drinks and the sous-chef made fruit salads and provided refills. Afterwards the girls put on a performance and our boy was the producer. It was the best for sure. My husband is so great at including kids in activities and giving them jobs to help them feel needed and relevant. I am less great at that because I lose my patience. 

After the great brunch, I had a lllllooooonnnngggg nap, Mother's Day ended at a local nature reserve and it was magical. 

I take a ton of pictures. I always have...even when cameras had real film. Remember real film? Well now iPhones (and I assume other phones) take such amazing photos. We are doing a tiny photo Make it Monday.

Make it Monday.

  • Take pictures...all sorts of pictures...pictures of people, places, things. You can use them for cards, decorating, motivational quotes, etc.
  • Don't get hung up on getting the "right" shot...take several...you may be surprised on what treasures you may have captured. 
  • Here are some ideas of what to do with your own photos. Here are some more ideas for crafts and the such.

Have a great day and document your life! Life is beautiful!