Setting Priorities

I would do anything for my kids.  Move heaven and earth for them. I have stayed up all night perfecting presents, I have held vigil in their beds when they are sick, I have cleaned up so many horrible things that came out of their bodies, and daily I make sure they are clothed, fed, healthy, and happy. I do it all because I love them. I make them a priority. I, like you, make a lot of things a priority...but not usually myself. Sound familiar? 

You're Number One

You're Number One

I stay up late at night to steal moments to myself, but turns out that isn't really taking care of myself or setting myself as a priority. I know I am not alone. Just check out  here or here or here.

Parents...and maybe moms in particular need a moment...a moment to ourselves. I love it when it is quiet late at night and I can read or watch something that is inappropriate for younger eyes or I can blog.

I never put myself first. I bet you don't either. 

Part of my neglect of myself is to let things I care about go first...

  • Too busy this morning to eat or have a cup of hot coffee? I will grab some kid snack later or I will slurp down that cold coffee. 
  • No time to workout? Oh, I can do that later. When? Who knows!
  • Can't carve out a little bit of time for me to get my hair done, or to get myself something, or to have a moment.
  • And sadly I let Posing as Parents go all the time. I care about this blog, but if I run short on time, energy, or even patience this is the first to go. 

Why? I would be so mad at my kids if they treated themselves the way I treat myself. 

I would love to make a sweeping statement about how the buck stops here...things are going to change from now on...etc. But that isn't sustainable is it? So instead I am going to make a pledge of sorts to myself to help me focus on what is important.

A Focus for Me (and you, yes you)

  • Making Myself a Priority-You KNOW it is important and it is what you would want for any one you love. You got to love yourself yo and make you a big deal. What do want? What do you love? What brings you joy? What feeds your soul?

And if you want some more explicit tips check here, here, and here

You are going to fail, that is okay. Keep trying. 

You are #1, baby!

 

 

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!

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!

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. 

Finding the Beauty

Pretty Little Butterfly Doesn't Care About Whatever Crap Storm Your Life May be.

Pretty Little Butterfly Doesn't Care About Whatever Crap Storm Your Life May be.

Last night/early this morning I wrote the best blog post you ever read...you will just have to take my word for it, because around 1:45am I went to publish it and there was some sort glitch and it wouldn't save...it was all gone. You may be thinking to yourself, "Johanna didn't you save as you worked?" Well, I THOUGHT I did, but instead I think I was saving photos within the post. I hate when I am a dummy.

I was so upset and I started snowballing about ALL the stuff  I have to do today. I am starting a new fitness/lifestyle program, I have to unpack from Spring Break, I need to clean the house, I need to go the store, I need to get gas, I have to take the kids to school/appointments/sports...you know LIFE.

Look at these pictures...living out loud with mess! I have a friend that only comes over when we have parties and she was envious that we always looked put together and our house appeared clean. Sometimes the house is really clean...sometimes it LOOKS clean...sometimes it is all ape shit with mess. That vacuum has been in the front way longer than I care to admit. And yup, my son is eating breakfast right next to a cleaner bottle on a dirty table. And all that laundry...it is clean...just not folded and not put away. I got work to do.

So it is a bummer to do things over and over again. That is the hardest part about being a parent (for me) is the monotony. You cook, you clean, you organize, you run errands, you cart around kids...and you do it again and again and again. It can be hard and it can be especially hard when things go wrong. And things go wrong. You can set the best intentions and things can still go awry. But what you do in the face of those challenges is what makes you YOU.

Some of my life has been really hard...I got through because I saw no other choice...it was the way it was and you just have to get through it. However, if I have a choice...I can sometimes choose the easy route. One time I took a Women's Kickboxing class and I think this was before I had kids so I had a much different body then...one that should have been able to do kickboxing. Well, from the second I stepped into class (which was on a boxing ring) we were moving and conditioning ourselves. It was stinking brutal. I was hurting almost immediately and I was dehydrated and I was miserable. So midway through the class the instructor let us have a little break and I ran. I seriously grabbed my stuff and booked it out of the room and was heading straight to my car. As soon as I was outdoors I realized I had parked my car right by the windows of the classroom. So I crouched down to run and get in my car. The class was hard and instead of seeing what I could do, I humiliated myself trying to get to my car, to get far away. 

If something is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, an excuse.
— Unknown

So I am trying to not take the easy way out when things are hard. I am finishing the blog post late, but it will be done, I will exercise today, and do some of my mom chores...I may not get to all the cleaning up today, but that is okay. I will do what is important to me. 

One thing that is important to me is to fast craft...like for reals, it brings me joy and joy is a priority. So today let's add a little color and a little happy to our life for Making it Monday...

PWWWWWWEEEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEEEEE-She wants This Project

PWWWWWWEEEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEEEEE-She wants This Project

First you need your supplies...

  • Branch-Any branch will do. This branch was the one I found at the beach at the beginning of Spring Break. 
  • Pom Poms-Get little ones or big ones...whatever look you are seeking! I really wanted pastel Pom Poms for an Easter vibe, but I could only find very vibrant ones. Annnnd I didn't care enough to drive around and get a different pack. 
  • Glue Gun and Glue Sticks-I have a low temp, little glue gun and I used some glitter glue sticks, but it doesn't really matter if you use regular ones or glitter ones.
STEP 1: Pom Pom Supplies

STEP 1: Pom Pom Supplies

Step 1

Collect yo supplies! Just put a little glue on the branch. It was easier to kind of "sandwich" the dap of glue with two Pom Poms. 

STEP 2: Glue on the Pom Poms

STEP 2: Glue on the Pom Poms

Step 2

Glue the Pom Poms all over. You may have to clean up some glue "strings," but other than that it is seriously a very easy project. Honestly, I may glue another bag of Pom Poms...maybe a different size. I think I would like it to be a little fuller. However, since my daughter wants this in her room I will let her decide. 

I think I am pretty happy with the end result. I wanted to do a Pom Pom tree to replace an Easter Egg Tree this year. Or maybe I will hang eggs from these branches.  This would be a fun project for Halloween too and do Halloween colors and instead of  cleaning up the glue "strings' leave them for a cobweb effect.

I love the little "pops" of color it provides. One of the reasons why I love to decorate, craft, and throw parties is to make the sweet parts of life even sweeter...to create some beauty in a world that sometimes it can be hard to see what is beautiful, what is good and what is joyful. Life can be brutal and unfair, but I hope you are able to see the beauty in it and in yourself...I will work on that too.

Life is hard, but so very beautiful.
— Abraham Lincoln