Recipe for Happiness

Her Favorite Treat

Her Favorite Treat

 

Energy Balls

Chocolate Balls that Kids Hate

Makes: 4-8 Balls

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

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

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

He loves them!

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

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

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

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

But, nope. They aren't having it.

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon!

 

 

New Year...New You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My intentions...

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

For my children for 2018 and this life...

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

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

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

See you soon friends. 

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Being Thankful (That I Didn't Puke)

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

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

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

Then I realized it was Duke.

Duke

Duke

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

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

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

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

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

So Let's make a Thankful List

The Awesome Son

The Awesome Son

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

Yep, that is poop water.

Yep, that is poop water.

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

So yummy smelling!

So yummy smelling!

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

Me, and my basic self, enjoying coffee.

Me, and my basic self, enjoying coffee.

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

And last, but certainly not least...

So thankful.

So thankful.

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

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

So what are you thankful for?

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

Thankful Actions

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

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

Look for the good! See you soon!

Half Mast

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I came to pick up The Boy from school and the flags were at half mast. I just couldn't understand why the flag would be in that position.

Oh, because 26 people are dead from another mass shooting...this one happened in a church. In a place of worship. 

I can't keep up. I am numb to the numbers.

But these are not numbers. These are people. These are men, women, and children. 

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Half of those people who are dead in this latest shooting were children. They were children! Toddlers, preschoolers, school aged kids, teens...they are dead. 

We live in a country where we kill our children. It is horrible to say, but it is true.

Sandy Hook was 5 years ago this next month.

And don't get me started about how we fail our most vulnerable, our children, when we don't provide them healthcare. 

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
— Nelson Mandela

Look, I don't want to write about this stuff. I am planning parties right now and I want to focus on fun stuff like parties, but it doesn't seem right to pretend this isn't happening, because it is and it is horrific. 

This was a white man who had domestic violence issues.

And yes, there was a non-white man who drove a car into people in New York last week...and that is horrible and messed up. But if you look at our mass death numbers...it is overwhelmingly white men with guess what...domestic violence issues. 

I love white guys...I am married to one...I am raising one.

But how can I make sure the one I am raising doesn't loose his marbles one day, buy an AR-15, and take other people down with him? Seriously. Why do we have AR-15's. And how do I raise him to honor and respect his life and other people's lives? 

And how do we, as a society, help people feel like there are other options. This recent killer hurt his last wife and seriously harmed her baby. How do we help people like that? I do not know.

My initial response is to go away. I want to retreat. I want to hide with my kids and never go anywhere. I know this isn't rational or feasible. 

Since we had another mass shooting a month ago. I had some suggestions on what we can do next. Today I feel less motivated. I feel numb and anxious. I won't stay in this space, because this space is not where we make changes.

I don't know how to stop people killing other people, I don't know how to stop people hating other people, and I don't really know how to protect all of our babies. 

I do know that I love the United States. I do. I don't love where we are right this second. But I hope we can make some changes. 

In times like these I like to think about this prayer. 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
— Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

I want to be an instrument of peace. I want to spread love. And I want to find the joy. I want to pray for a better for tomorrow. 

But as we know, we are past just thoughts and prayers.

We need action. 

 

 

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. 

Be Our Guest

We are about to host a foreign exchange student. All four of us are so excited!

I mean, obviously a little nervous too. When people stay with you they get to see the real you. Eek!

He is a young man, 11 years old. He will only be with us for a week and a half. It is the perfect baby step for us for hosting foreign exchange students. Which I think is something we want to do as the kids get older. 

Have you ever been a foreign exchange student?

Have you hosted any students yourselves? 

Well, since we are new to this we really want to do it right. 

So we will be using Google Translate hard and we made him a Welcome Basket to start on the right note. Who doesn't love a good gift basket? 

I fell in love with gift baskets in the 1980's. My grandparents used to get so many gift baskets...you know the kind Hillshire Farms and the like. I loved them. 

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How do you make a good gift basket? Well, let's see if we can do Edna's Edibles proud (Fact's of Life reference).

Gift Basket 101

Pick a Theme- How you live life without picking themes is beyond me. This theme was just a little Welcome Basket so I tried to choose things that he would either need or that would make him happy.

Choose Things for the Recipient-This is easier said than done. You have to pick things that reflect the one receiving this gift...not particularly things you like. You can share things you like, but it isn't about you. I don't know this kid so I tried to get things that I know 11 year olds like...like a Whoopie Cushion and fake mustaches.  

Stuff It-You don't have to spend a lot of money, but you need to fill up the basket. Make it worth it.  Make it fun to go through. With this particular gift basket, I filled it with notebooks, toys, games, etc. If you are doing a spa basket, fill with extra soaps, oils, etc. Have one or two major things and fill the rest with either supporting materials or small items. 

 

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Well, I need to finish cleaning the house so this child doesn't get scared about our dirty home. I have to fake that I am a put together, clean mother. He can find out the truth during the week. 

See you soon!

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!

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!

 

 

Just a Moment

Remember how I wanted the routine of Fall? This routine is kicking all of our butts. 

Actual picture of how we all feel

Actual picture of how we all feel

We are all so tired. The school, the sports, the extra activities, all of it. So this weekend we get a little family reprieve from it all. I hope you recharge this weekend too!

On Tuesday, let's do a Fall craft together. See you soon!

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. 

Teach Your Children

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

Since the last time we met Charlottesville happened.

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

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

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

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

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

The Future is Bright

The Future is Bright

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Okay, I Got Distracted

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

At Home Entertainment

At Home Entertainment

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

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

Hanging with Handsome

Hanging with Handsome

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

Eat Yo Veggies

Eat Yo Veggies

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

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

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

Road Trippin'

We are about to embark on an epic road trip. We will be going  through 11 states (that is including our own...Oregon). Embarrassingly, at first I thought we were going through 6 states. I have no idea why. Bad at geography? Bad at math? Maybe both. 

Regardless, we are going to a ton states in whirlwind trip. What a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July, by exploring this country! I told my son that this trip would be the life altering...it will simultaneously be the worst and the best. The worst because 3700 miles in a car is challenging, but the best because of all the things he and his sister are going to see and experience. Trips like these are etched in your mind, your heart, and your spirit and they live on in your memories for a lifetime.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have been searching through Pinterest and everything else I can get my hands on planning for this trip. My husband and I have done similar trips to this one more than a few times. It was a time before iPhones and I didn't have a DVD player in the car. Plus I can sleep for days if someone will just let me, so in the past on road trips, I would just sleep. But with the kids it is a different ballgame. 

Our kids have all sorts of devices to help numb the boredom. I know for a fact we will be breaking our normal screen time allotments by a lot, but the kids are going to want to do something more than just watch it and movies for days. So here is my plan to get us through at least Stage 1 of the trip...getting to Kansas City. 

Pan or Lap Tray?

Pan or Lap Tray?

Road Trip Tips

There are a ton travel tips online. There are plenty tips that I will be trying out on the trip. The baking sheet above is an example of one such tip and it is being transformed into an activity lap tray for the kids.

Here are some other tips...

So many IKEA bags

So many IKEA bags

Storage-The first thing I have been fretting over and considering is storage space. I have a minivan so there is a lot of room, but I am trying to be mindful of how we pack. One thing I did was purchase a ton-o-bags to make sure everything has a home for this crazy trip. IKEA is my best friend this week...so many bags. 

Homemade Jerky

Homemade Jerky

Snacks-I have been trying to load up on healthier treats for the trip so we won't make as many stops along the way. But there are some foods that  just scream "road trip!" Jerky is one of them, so I made a lot a jerky for the trip. Now if we can make it until we hit the road...the jerky supply seems to be quickly dwindling. 

Clean it up supplies

Clean it up supplies

Supplies- I am a mama and we are about to travel accross the USA with kids. I needed some supplies to keep us clean. Putting this stuff together helps the whole family have easy access in case something needs cleaned up. Praying for a puke free trip.

Games and More

Games and More

Surprises-This is the portion of the trip that is best unleashed in small doses. When the kids start going over the deep end I intend to give the angels a new little something to new to work on or play with...the kids don't know I have all of these goodies. For example, these foam flyers are something they can put together in the car and when we stop for a potty break or for a bit of exercise then the kids can have flyer races. 

Let's get building and flying.

Let's get building and flying.

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.
— Unknown Author
Let's roll!

Let's roll!

So we are finishing packing up and getting ready to roll. See you from the road next week!

Another Chapter

This Face

This Face

Today is the last day of third grade. My son is so sad to see this school year come to a close because of his teacher. He LOVES his teacher...we all do.

Mr. A has been an amazing force of light, happiness, and learning for The Boy.  He made learning fun for our son and the whole class. His energy is infectious, his dedication to his students is awe-inspiring. He has the best ideas for the classroom and for at home so that the learning never stops. I asked him for some ideas to help prevent the summer slide specifically for our son and he gave me a ton of ideas. 

One of the most important traits for us has been his kindness and his open mindedness about all sorts of learners. Mr. A understands that there is not one type of solution for one type of child.

Our son has a learning difference. He is brilliant AND he thinks differently. It doesn't take away from him, it adds to him. The way my son sees the world blows my mind. He is an inventor, an engineer, an artist, a scientist...he is amazing. I tell my friends that I am confident that our boy will change how we look at the world...he will do great things. 

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
— Stephen Covey

In the meantime, it may be hard for him. School doesn't come easy. He has to work extra hard. Our boy is one of the kindest souls I know and one of the most sensitive. School isn't set up for how he learns...it is set up for the many. That can be hard. Luckily we have a great team of people who help him learn the way that works best for him. 

Recently there was a school activity that my husband and I had an issue with because it dealt with equity and accessibility. (Yep, we are those parents...I cannot keep my opinions to myself especially with issues that deal with exclusion of any type.) And the moment I expressed our concerns to Mr. A he was considerate, generous, and apologetic. It was a view he hadn't thought about. He is not afraid to learn along with the students and with us, the parents. He is a true partner. I know why my son is devastated to move on.  

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
— Henry Adams

I told my son that there are teachers in your life that change you, that move you, that forever alter who you are as a person...this teacher was one of those teachers. 

Mr. A-The Super Star

Mr. A-The Super Star

He brought food to our family when I had a health scare, he came over and worked in the shop on classroom furniture with my husband, and he adores our dog. My favorite story about Mr. A was that he came to our boy's birthday party (which is pretty awesome in of itself) and all of the children jumped and screamed like they had seen their favorite pop star. It was the best thing ever. 

Needless to say, we end this year with a full and thankful heart.

And "hello" summer! We are coming for you!

 

 

.

 


 

 

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!

Plans Change

Playing where we can

Playing where we can

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

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

Over it

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

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

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

Bottom line...ROAD TRIP!

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

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

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

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

Take Mini Road Trip

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

Onto the Next Adventure

Grow Your Own

Our first haul of 2017. 

Our first haul of 2017. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was with them every week during the school year, and all of summer, and I even lived with them a couple of times during my childhood. They definitely helped raise me. 

My grandparents had a giant vegetable garden. Once again, in hindsight, it might have not been giant...I was a child...I was 4 feet tall or shorter. Regardless, they had a vegetable garden. I would have to help in the garden and grab vegetables for meals. That was all fine and good until the time I was trapped in there by two large birds.

Now, I know you aren't appropriately picturing these birds. My grandparents had two Emus for a little bit. Yep, the birds that are like ostriches. They look like they may have been around since the age of dinosaurs. 

A  National Geographic  picture Of a Rhea

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

I am not 100% sure why my Nana and Papaw had rheas. I am guessing it is because they wanted to raise them for meat or eggs. They had a boy one and a girl one and they scared me. These birds can be around 5 1/2 feet tall! And the rheas that they had were not that nice.

One day my Nana asked me to get some tomatoes, as she finished making dinner. I ran out to the garden and I was a little irritated because I didn't want miss out on watching Wheel of Fortune (hey, I grew up with my grandparents...of course I watched Wheel of Fortune.) Well, I run out to the garden and I go to pick the tomatoes. The garden had long rows of veggies and I remember everything being so huge...so I must have been short. 

I get the tomatoes and I try to leave the garden to see what was happening on Wheel of Fortune and I can't leave. Why you ask? Those damn birds wouldn't let me leave. They came to the garden and started trying to peck at me. Now here is where things can get a little fuzzy...I am remembering something from a LOT of years ago. But for me, I felt like they were trying to attack me. 

I yelled and screamed and cried to get my grandparents attention to no avail. The garden wasn't super close to the house and there were fences obscuring the view. So I hid, for my life, in the tomato plants. My Papaw finally came looking for me after an amount of time that felt like forever.  And instead of rushing to my aid and scooping me up in love and compassion, he completely had zero ideas why I would be huddled and crying. Luckily my Nana had a lot more empathy for the situation and I was coddled appropriately. I am also pretty sure I was excused from helping in the garden for a long, long time. 

While traumatic at the time, it is one of my favorite memories. The garden was a source of food, of fun, and obviously of a little fear.  I can clearly remember the taste of the tomatoes, the sound of my Nana snapping the beans, and the smells of all the creations she would make. 

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Since my husband and I have been married we have grown herbs, fruit (trees, bushes, and vines), and vegetables. Our children have had a garden most years of their lives. While our garden pales in comparison to my Nana and Papaws. I love how it grows bigger each year and now we have some sort of harvest all over the property...every where you go there is something growing that we will provide for our family.  It is such an amazing thing to plant something, care for it, and watch it grow into something that can nourish your body, all the while nourishing your mind and soul as you tend to the garden. 

And the flowers in our yard are amazing...no filter needed on those blooms. We bought a house that had established landscaping, so we are just reaping the benefits of some else's love and vision (thanks Phyllis). Well, besides a few things like the roses...my husband is a rose fanatic. You would never know it looking at him, but he loves him some roses.

I love seeing what blossoms and when. In the last 7 1/2 years that we have been here some things come back every year, some things bloom once and we never see them again, and every year there are new things that pop up in the yard that I have never seen before. It is always so fun to see what is growing. We do a family tradition called "garden walks" where we walk around the garden to see what is growing and what needs tending to and what changes need to be made. 

You don't need your own piece of land to grow something or to reap the benefits of a garden. Here are some ways you can get your hands dirty...

  • Container garden.
  • Take a gardening class.
  • Walk around your local nurseries.
  • Join a community garden.
  • Help a neighbor with their garden.
  • Go to any of your local gardens...they don't need to provide food...any garden will be great. 
  • Walk your neighborhood to see what is growing.

The point is to be connected to your food, to the beauty of your community, and to get outside. There are probably not any giant birds out there waiting to get you...so what is stopping you?

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
Our veggie garden.

Our veggie garden.

To Every Thing

Seasons are such power forces...they usher us through each year.  I believe they help guide us through our own seasons of life. There is a time and place for everything. That includes death.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3

Or if you aren't into reading scripture, listen to the Byrds. 

 

Being a parent, your job is walking through all the seasons with your children...even the hard ones.

I don't remember many people dying in my world when I was a kid...I mean I have some memories, but it seemed like it was always really old people (in hindsight they may have not been that old...I was just so young). 

My children have been surrounded by death their Grandfather died when they were little bitty, we have had other deaths in our family, both of our next door neighbors have died within the last few years, and then the countless memorials I have attended/officiated since I worked at an older church. Plus we have lost several animals.

In fact, Little Miss might be an animal murderer. She loves so hard...some times to death. (BTW that could totally be a title of a Lifetime movie). Little Miss has been collecting worms, slugs, and snails and making them be her pet. This 100% is a death sentence. Below is a picture of a snail she collected on a recent camping trip. She even made an awesome terrarium for the snail. Then on the way home she crushed the snail...to death. We arrived at my mom's house and she buried the snail. Later that evening she went back to Nana's and unburied the snail. She brought the dead snail home in the terrarium the next day with a dollar bill on it because the dead snail LOVES money. That kid is a trip.  

Big spender snail.

Big spender snail.

A lot of families with children may not have the experience with talking to their kids about death. 

We had a friend who lost an animal and they asked me how we talked to our children about losing animals (we have had a few cats who didn't make it in our neighborhood). I told her we just tell them what happened...a basic summary, but for the most part we just tell them the truth. She couldn't understand that...she didn't think her children were ready to hear the truth.

I get it, my husband and I shelter our kiddos from so much. They have zero idea about current affairs or even horrible parts of history. It isn't because we want them to be dummies...we want to shelter them and let them keep their innocence as long as they can. We can't do it forever, but we can do it right now. But one thing we don't hide or fudge the truth about is if someone died. 

The Dougy Center has a list on how to help a grieving child. The Dougy Center "provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences." The Dougy Center is located in Oregon, but they have a great comprehensive website with several tools about grieving and children. 

Here are some things that we have found that worked for us. 

  • Use the right words. Don't say that people or animals "have gone to sleep," "gone to the farm," etc. You have to say that they died. They need to hear that. There should be no confusion. 
  • Be honest. You don't need to give every crazy detail, but be honest (as much as possible).
  • Talk about the person who died. Keep the person alive with your family by sharing stories and memories. 
  • Be ready to talk about this at any time. Kids are going to ask you questions at different times and for different reasons. When they talk to you...give them a space to share. It is important. 
  • Be kind to yourself. You might not know what to say or do. That is okay...just be genuine and loving. 

Parenting can be rough, but you have got this. Seize the dang day! See you on Friday!

 

A Time for Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are better than this.

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

We are citizens of humanity.

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

We have to look out for one another. 

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

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

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

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

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution 

The Bill of Rights

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

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

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

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