Aug 312015
 

Sad feelings can be uncomfortable and too often, we don't know we know what to do with them. Here are some smart guidelines to handling your kids' emotions--and your own. Time to start feeling good--about EVERYTHING you're feeling!Last week was pretty crappy week, as weeks go. A perfect storm of a bunch of far-from-perfect situations, and let’s just say better times have rolled down in our home.

We were prepping for my son to start 1st Grade today. In addition to panic attacking while trying to sort a online account for his milk money and cursing out the grocery store for not selling the proper required folders, the whole scenario has been a bit of crap show. As cool as I’d like to pretend I can play it, I can’t. I can’t play it cool at all. I sobbed a mess last year. Throwing in the added Mom-worries of him being there all day, his questionable ability to navigate the lunch line, and the weight managing even more homework, I anticipate a similarly tearful scene going down this year as the bus pulls away.

And then it was my birthday, which means it was my mother’s birthday too the day after, which means I became psychotic. I don’t entirely understand why, but I tend to do things like light my kitchen on fire and drive through our garage door whenever it’s her birthday or the anniversary of her death. Or Christmastime. Basically, I’m a basket-case year-round.

There was a no-good situation with a friend which to put it simply, stunk. Financial concerns weighed heavily. I was sure my scale hated me, despite endless mornings with Jillian, which lead to the depressing realization that my now late-30s metabolism had officially quit. And, without exaggerating the stench, I’m almost positive something died in the air vent of our minivan. I’m shopping for reasonably-priced gas masks for the kids and I on Amazon as we speak.

It was going well last week.

By Wednesday, I was caving. It felt like a pin had popped my bubble of effort and I wanted to give up. I felt weird. I felt strange. I couldn’t find my normal get-up-and-go, and even more alarming, I didn’t have the energy to even holler “Get out of my kitchen!” to my kids while fighting with dinner. When my daughter walked in and spilled her milk in front of the stove, a lump in my throat met welling in my eyes and I was silenced.

What was happening?

As my mind tripped over itself attempting to sort and understand and fix all of what was wrong, I felt a small, yet powerful, realization, “You can’t fix this.”

And it was right. I couldn’t fix it. My son would be going to school the next week, and it wasn’t going to be an easy thing. My dead mother’s birthday was staying on the calendar. I could keep working on the weight, praying about my friend, pinching pennies in the corners, and saturating the van with Febreeze, but…there were no magic wands I could wave to make it all better.

It just was what it was and in the time and season for everything, this was a season, or a week, of crap.

And suddenly, this realization brought another realization: I was sad.

Sad feelings can be uncomfortable and too often, we don't know we know what to do with them. Here are some smart guidelines to handling your kids' emotions--and your own. Time to start feeling good--about EVERYTHING you're feeling!

I’m not very good at sadness when I feel crummy, despite having been schooled by Inside Out. I do a lot better with the rants and raves of anger. Exhaustion can be friendly, as it allows me to let things slide while I muddle through the day until I can get the kids stashed in bed.

Sadness requires a presence, a state of being there and being aware of the bad without raising arms to attack it. When you’re sad, you must simply be sad. Feel the low feelings for what they are. It is a stillness.

I suck at being still. It was a long day.

That night, after my husband and I got into bed, I scootched over and rested my head on my husband’s shoulder. Cued into my mood by my uncharacteristic silence that evening, he asked, “Do you want to talk about it?”.

I thought about it for a minute, “No,” I said, “Because if I’ll talk, I’ll cry and then I’ll get angry and start to stress. Or worse, I’ll start to laugh and then I’ll feel better. And right now, I just want to be sad.

“Okay,” he paused, “Let’s just be sad.”

Because, friends, sadness is absolutely going to be part of some weeks. Obviously if it’s extreme or ongoing, seek help, but otherwise, we need not fear it. It won’t feel good, but it’s real. And allowing ourselves to be real is a gift. It lays us bare so the yuck inside can breathe and air out as we process, freeing us to genuinely experience anything sweeter that then comes our way. It’s part of the ebb and flow of this life, and it’s a pretty gorgeous thing.

Now if I could only get that stench to air out of the minivan, we’d be all set…

Aug 052015
 

The one blessing the comes from getting older? Knowing yourself! Trust me, it's a sweet gift. The pros that you've never considered--all here!Friends, I’m getting old. My left knee crackles when I stand up and I’ve caught myself saying, “Mommy has to move slowly, kids. Her hip is out again” more than I’d like. I can’t even tell you the horror I felt upon learning our local fireworks didn’t start until 9:45pm. How could I ever stay up that late? And I fully delight in my new pair of cushion-comfort slip-ons.

Yup, at this rate, I fully expect to be checking myself into the nursing home long about next week, and I’m okay with that.

You see, while I’ve a tad to go before cashing in on retirement, I’m not 20 any more. I’ve gotten to the age where I know myself a bit better, I’ve figured out my husband a little more, generally gotten better at this life gig, and finally found a face cream that works for me.

So I am really liking this kind of old. In fact, I love it.

1) I’ve gotten to be so old that I now know it doesn’t matter which card I buy for my husband on our anniversary; it will end up in the trash. What matters is that we spent another year together and are still in it to win it. We will still spend 15 minutes that we don’t have in the morning arguing about where he puts his lunch bag on the the kitchen counter. We are idiots. But at the end of the day, we kiss good night, and then we wake up in the morning and do it all again.

What makes a marriage carry on from year to year? These truths might surprise you--it's not the hearts and flowers you think. And this is the REAL scoop on the ins and outs--trust me!

2) Yesterday, I realized someone was probably mad at me. And I didn’t care. Whoa! This one is so freeing I don’t have words. But I think I’m finally at the point where pleasing everyone else isn’t the most important thing. Especially at the cost of self-detriment. Let’s hear three cheers for growing up in this very, very healthy way.

3) I know what I like and what I don’t like. I could pass easily on travelling with kids, loud noises, video games, and not enough alone time. Yet, on my hit list: flattering dresses, getting the mail, word games, putting my phone on silent, the Sunday paper, naps, real people, tons of supplements, the color seafoam, dark nail polishes, sweet wine, a tidy house, library books, and falling obsessively in love with particular TV shows. It’s fun to know what makes you happy and focus on that.

4) In the same vein, I have discovered what works for me. Everyone is different. Embracing what best fits your life is a wonderful thing. Knowing truths about my myself, like that I need a Mother’s Helper to not lose my crap, certain products will work for my fine hair, and that I must eat high amounts of protein to feel well has made a tremendous difference in my quality of life. Get smart about yourself.

5) Spend your time as you see fit. When my husband and I finally snagged a too-precious kid-free weekend and spent it gutting and remodeling our bathroom? Let the naysayers naysay. Someday we may delight in hearts and flowers. Today, it was more romantic for both of us to sweat it up together and have toilet that isn’t stained a decided brown hue. Every time I take a pee for the foreseeable future, I will think of him and his handyman skills and swoon a bit. I promise.

6) You laugh. So no, it still isn’t totally funny that my kids got me so riled up that I drove our minivan through the garage door. But…it sort of is. Any someday it will be totally. And truth told? It doesn’t matter. None of this really does in the grand scheme of it, so you might as well treat yourself to a giggle along the way. Bonus? Laughing does wonders for those ab muscles.

The one blessing the comes from getting older? Knowing yourself! Trust me, it's a sweet gift. The pros that you've never considered--all here!

7) You must love your body. On my list of old-age wisdom, this is far and away the fuzziest. While you can’t beat yourself up for your body shape or size and the value of a good cronut should never be underestimated, you only get one body. Take care of it. Vitamin it up, eat the greens, skip the late-late nights, and drive on by that drive-through–at least until you can’t take your kids’ whining any more.

8) Speaking of kids, throw yourself into them with abandon. Believe me, no one is happy-dancing more that my husband and me that both are kids have solidly moved up to booster seats and we can kiss those convertible car seats adios. We aren’t the type to mourn moving-out-of-baby stage. But we’re not stupid. We’ve only got one life. And we’ve only got the two of them. So you’d better believe we’re giving them our all. Collapsing on the couch after they’re in bed included.

9) You believe in yourself. My number one cheerleader, my mother, took an early exit from this earth. While others love and support me, I fully believe the best gift we can give ourselves in this life is to believe in what we can do and where we’re going. The Mom of the Year, something that matters very much to me, wouldn’t exist if I didn’t stubbornly hold onto a belief in myself.

10) It’s always better to love. Recently, my daughter ran toward me for a hug so hard that she unfortunately crashed into my face as I was bent over to tie my shoes. Still, I’d far rather rock my black-and-blue facial mark than never have been the recipient of her love. When you care for people, it might get messy, but listen, from someone who has loved and lost A LOT in her 35 years, it’s always better to pour out than to hold it in. If you care for someone, let them know.

Really, friends, the crux of getting old is choosing to love on what and who is important to you as you learn who you are on this earth. It’s simple. It’s a blessing. Go grab the walker and let’s get old together.

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:33204977, copyright:Devon

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10308853, copyright:Erdosain

 

 

Jul 202015
 

The one moment when things nare clear and feel do-able as a parent. It DOES happen, really. Though, admittedly, it's elusive. Here's how to find it and why it's important to hang on until it comes--you can do this, really!I’ve never been one for excessive optimism regarding my capacity to handle my kids. I wish I was. I wish I was the type to bound out of bed in the morning with a big “Let’s do this!” fist pump in the air. Instead my first thought tends to be more of the “If I bury my head deeply under the covers, maybe they won’t be able to find me?” variety.

I love my children. Excessively. But I’ve made no secret about the fact that I feel entirely overwhelmed by them–almost always. And the older I get and the more I know myself, I become exceedingly convinced that my personality type doesn’t fit with having young children. What?? I know, this sounds a bit contrived. But here’s my logic: if my natural bent is to find renewal and energy in time spent alone, our current frenzy of group bathroom trips and the need for Mommy to help with Every Single Thing allows for very few of these restorative solitary moments. When they are in school a bit more or able to pour their own cereal, my sanity might have a better shot at existing. For now, it’s dicey.

It’s dicey, and I spend 95% of my days counteracting the stream of “I can’t do this” thinking. I fantasize a lot about naps, wish desperately for an available friend who wouldn’t think me crazy, mantra “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and call my husband at work in defeated panicky tears during the moments when things like trying to get both children in their car seats and leave the house on time gets to be too much. Somehow we get through and today becomes a yesterday and we move on.

And somehow my kids seem to being doing okay. Better than okay, actually. They’re pretty happy, which I think might be the biggest win in this life. God knows how this happens, because to me, our days feel like a full-on circus show of chaos. But somehow it’s happening.

I will never forget one day, when my son was just over a year old when I was lamenting to a friend, “I have no idea how I’m going to do this.” “But Mer,” she said, “You already ARE doing this.” I’ll never forget her words because I’d never before considered that maybe life is what happens when we aren’t paying attention.

Maybe succeeding at something isn’t some grand finale line we cross or finish, it’s just waking up every day and doing what’s in front of us. Whether we feel like stuffing our head under the covers or not.

Maybe doing something is what happens when we are trying to figure out how to do it.

And maybe, just maybe, I was already doing it.

I was taking care of the children I had no idea how to take care of. Huh.

In the good moments, you know the non 4pm-I’m-going-to-beat-my-head-against-the-wall-if-one-more-little-person-whines-for-one-more-little-thing moments, this positive thinking started to take root. And then, as if God knew I needed I little confirmation to seal the deal on my belief that I might actually be able to handle my children, He gave me my Firework Moment on July 4th.

The one moment when things nare clear and feel do-able as a parent. It DOES happen, really. Though, admittedly, it's elusive. Here's how to find it and why it's important to hang on until it comes--you can do this, really!

You see, we’d always avoided Fireworks like the plague. We are very early-to-bed, early-to-rise people and the thought of dragging fussy kids out late and getting stuck in hours of traffic never seemed appealing. And then this year, our son asked to go. So we did some ill-informed brainstorming about where best to park, packed up the lawn chairs and drove off in the truck.

And you know what? It was awesome. Setting up the chairs in the truck bed in the back of the parking lot gave a us a sweet height vantage point (and made us feel very redneck boss). We were able to throw everyone in their car seats quickly and peal out early to avoid long exit lines. But that wasn’t the victory.

The victory was the moment when, holding my son on my lap as the fireworks boomed overhead, I looked over to my husband, holding our daughter on his lap, both of them captivated by the show. And I thought, “We did this. Wow, we did this!” We had done the very grown up thing of taking our kids out to fireworks. And we were going to wake up at home the next morning and feed them breakfast and keep them safe and happy. We were going to keep taking care of them. We were taking care of them.

Wow.

My Firework Moment. The moment I got it; I was taking care of my kids and I could do it.

I don’t know that we will ever really feel like we’ve got this, friends, but the thing is, we do. I’m here to tell you in all those lonely days of doubting yourself, you don’t need to. You don’t need to doubt you can do it, because you’re already doing it. You’ve got this. Really.

***This post dedicated to my dad, who listened to me whine all day on July 4th about having to take my children out so late. He told me to buck up, and that I’d probably get a blog post out of it. He was right. As always.***

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:9399579, copyright:anterovium

Jul 132015
 

Kids are often WAY smarter than we are about stuff. Here are 6 solid reasons why we should trust their wisdom and here's how to do it. I love my daughter's savvy and never want to change it!Today, my little gal turns the big 4. Mind-blowing when you consider the many days I doubted we would ever make it to 4 o’clock, much less 4 years.

Elyse amazes me. She amazes me in the way that sometimes I look at her and wonder, “Is this creature real?” This astoundment might happen after she does something fantastically sweet, like inviting a child playing alone at the park to join her on the swings. It might be when she does something horridly bratty, like throwing a tantrum so epic I’m certain the surrounding neighborhood will have our house officially declared as a war zone.

A solid 90-some percent of what she does makes no sense to me. Why she refused to eat baby food after 6 months. That she had no time for crawling or walking–just started straight in with jumping and tearing through the house and has never stopped since. There is her staunch requirement that all her dresses must have at least one shade of pink in them and that her Rainbow Dash My Little Pony must be placed on the left side of her nightstand. She takes out her pigtails when anywhere near the vicinity of water and prefers to wear rain boots. Everywhere. I have no idea where she got the notion that it was her necessary responsibility to bathe brother’s stuffed Angry Birds nightly, and moreover, I have no idea why he lets her do it.

But that’s the thing about Elyse. She’s such an insane force, you find yourself accepting her for who she is–and falling in love with her along the way. As her mother, I am wiped before I am first plastered with her endless kisses in the morning, but my prayers aren’t for my own strength, they are for her future spouse–not that she makes the right match, but that he might have the stamina to reckon with her Elyse-ness for the rest of his life.

And then I pray that she never, ever changes.

You see, Elyse is boss. She is my girl, my love, and while with clear eyes I see all the changes and growth that need to happen in her life, I never want her to change. Her spirit, her heart, her energythank you, God. Thank you for making her her.

Kids are often WAY smarter than we are about stuff. Here are 6 solid reasons why we should trust their wisdom and here's how to do it. I love my daughter's savvy and never want to change it!

What I never want to change about her:

1) Her temper can be abominable, but may she never learn to stop standing up for herself. Obviously, the kicks and hits won’t fly and many time outs will be suffered as we discipline her inappropriate choices into acceptable expressions of her feelings. Yet, I am so grateful to have a daughter who recognizes what she doesn’t like and isn’t afraid to fight against it. This life is brutal; taking it lying down is never a win.

2) She gets that being a girl is fun and loves it. I get so confused about what side of feminism enjoying painting my nails puts me on. But I love it. And so does my gal. Princesses, bows, tutus, and sparkles are all pretty, and the more of them we can incorporate into our day-to-day sounds like a win to me. It’s okay to delight in pretty things, it really is. When she spent an entire winter refusing to take off a tutu? Rock your fabulousness, babe.

3) She has no concept of limits. How cool. Fear isn’t part of Elyse’s world, and I’ll be honest, I’m jealous. I wish I could so wholly throw myself into life. And there is no such thing as taking time to save up energy so she doesn’t get tired later. She runs from the minute she gets up until she finally crashes at night. Listen, by the time she’s a mom herself with young ones who exhaust her, I highly doubt she’ll still be interested in running mad circles in her room for an hour post-bedtime. (If she is, more power to her; her Fitbit step count will love her.) In the meantime, if she wants to spend her days racing up and down the stairs, squealing in delight chasing butterflies, fearlessly launching herself into pools and off swings, and NEVER EVER SITTING STILL, good for her.

Elyse places no limits on what she can or can’t do–she just does it all. Go for it in this life, sister! Mommy will just steal naps on the couch as often as she can.

4) Almost all her friends at her princess birthday party were boys, and it was perfect. Elyse has always run with the boys and couldn’t care less. I love how she skips the whole gender quotient when finding her friends. She just hangs with whoever is there and rolls with it. Moreover, I love that she isn’t afraid to assert herself regardless of the crowd. If she’s the only one in a tiara? Who cares. She’s serving the pretty pink cupcakes anyway–and they like them.

Little girls love their princesses and here are some solid reasons to celebrate this! Enjoying the fancy is a blessing in this life and here's why.

5) She doesn’t know how to curtsy. I have no idea where she learned her dramatic dance moves. Her twirls and emphatic leg lifts are impressive, albeit totally sans any real talent. But it makes her happy, so it’s all good. However, after performing a rather involved routine with a friend during a playdate, Elyse was dismayed to learn she didn’t know how to curtsy like her partner. I say, screw it. She ends her dances with entusiastic giggles and claps for herself. In my book, this is better than any curtsy any day of the week. Keep dancing (and finale-ing) to your own beat, love. It’s gorgeous.

6) Her enthusiastic expression of love is overwhelming. Sure, I duck away from her vigorous flying hugs at times (too many unguarded wallops to my boobs), but what a blessing. Love can be in short form in this world. Someone who freely expresses it with abandon? A gift. Bring on the hugs and kisses–always.

Go on, be your fabulous self! Self-expression MATTERS in this world and is too often overlooked. Kids are often WAY smarter than we are about stuff. Here are 6 solid reasons why we should trust their wisdom and here's how to do it. I love my daughter's savvy and never want to change it!

I’m proud of my girl, I’m proud of who she is. Sure, her father and I have our work cut out to guide and temper her spirit–but we’re guiding and tempering it, not changing it. Never changing it, because she already rocks, just as she is. And I’m already in awe of who she will become.

Happy birthday to my hero.

Little girls love their princesses and here are some solid reasons to celebrate this! Enjoying the fancy is a blessing in this life and here's why.

Thanks for making her day extra special with this fancy Cinderella party dress, Costume Express! Love that she was too nervous to put on the matching gloves because they were SO gorgeous ;)

Jun 292015
 

Sometimes it feels like, as adults, our lives can stagnant. Here's why that is isn't true. Look for the growth in your life with this insight and FIND IT. It's there, trust me ;)I know New Year’s is when you’re supposed to do it. I know that’s the time to look back on the past year of your life and check out all that you’ve done and fantasize about where you yet want to go.

But last week, as we were prepping to leave for the beach, it hit me suddenly: an entire year has passed since I last did this. An entire year since I last dug for sand buckets and broke a sweat trying to jam all the sandals I own into a suitcase. Because I don’t know how to pack.

Crap. Everything was the same. And what had I done?

You see, the kids did pretty much everything. Started preschool. Started Kindergarten. Learned to ride a bike. Pooped in the toilet. Related, learned to wipe their own butts. Tried soccer for the first time. Made new friends. Began reading. Began writing. Grew about 5,000 inches. Figured out how to pull a chair over and pull open the security lock on all the doors. Fantastic.

Their lives, every second that they breathe in and out, they change and grow, experiencing newness of life at every turn.

As for me? I’m still crawling out of bed every morning, blindly smacking the power button on the same old tired coffee machine. Nothing has really happened.

Unless…

Unless I’m wrong and lots of things have happened.

I mean, I basically look the same. Sure, my hair is blue now, but I’m still cozying up with the same 15 extra lbs., and you know I haven’t given up my go-to shorts. Our house is the same and my husband still runs himself in circles pursuing infinite hobbies. Our dog is still a grouchy old man who hasn’t forgiven us for having human children.

It’s all the same.

But that doesn’t mean that nothing has happened. Because it has. Countless times over, it has.

I believe there is a victory in the day to day getting up and caring for your family, doing the work set in front of you. This has happened, inarguably, this has happened. But there were new things, different things, things of pride, big things that rocked my own corner of the world in the past 365 days.

I got my blog trademarked. What does this mean? The United States Government has officially titled me Mom of the Year. I know.

Sometimes it feels like, as adults, our lives can stagnant. Here's why that is isn't true. Look for the growth in your life with this insight and FIND IT. It's there, trust me ;)

I was on a national television show for the first time ever. Boss.

Despite a total lack of familiarity with the public educational system, my husband and I navigated our way to our son’s IEP. If you’re not a parent of a grade-school child, this is far bigger than it sounds.

I became an aunt to the sweetest baby girl of all time.

I hung with a dear friend through the worst time in her life and was captured by the depth of our relationship.

I taught myself to create graphics on my blog. I’m not saying I’m good at it, but I DID IT.

I planned an uber-successful second year of BlogU with some of the smartest, coolest women I know and it was awesome.

My hair is blue. I didn’t mean to casually write this off above. It’s not casual. It’s blue.

The thing of it is, the kids look different than they did last year. And they have all these mile-markers they can tick off as evidence of their growth. All these tangible ways to measure their change.

When the adult years roll in, it doesn’t work this way. The surface remains the same. And no one else but you might know of the waves that crashed upon your shore while others weren’t looking. I mean sure, you could get a blog and endlessly pummel everyone with your updates, but really, how classless…;)

But it’s okay. Because while my yoga pants still strain over my thighs the same (albeit with a few more threadbare patches), I know that I’ve done different things.

I may not have changed, but that’s okay; I’ve still lived. I lived a year of my life, and lived it the best way I know how.

And as I continued jamming those sandals into the suitcase and grunting over the stubborn zipper, I reflected on the truth that while I’d tackled no major feats in the past year (such as that nifty learning-to-use-toilet-paper thing my kids were on) my life wasn’t really so stagnant after all. Not really at all…

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:3885753, copyright:alptraum

 

Jun 232015
 

Sending your kids to summer camp can be a VERY scary experience for parents! Use these insider tips and tricks to prepare the whole family--and then relax and enjoy the summer for all the sweetness it is!Now that summer is here, you might be preparing to send your kids off to camp. It’s not easy sending your child off to their first sleepaway. As the parent, you know that camp will give them great memories and will teach them important skills. But for your child, it can seem like a scary experience and cause anxiety that you may not have anticipated. As you begin to help your child get ready for camp, keep them involved in all of the planning. This will help them develop an understanding of what to expect, which will help them to be more excited than scared.

So how do you start to prepare?

Organization is Key

Of course, you’ll need all of your camp essentials. Make a list with your child of all the things they think they will need while camping. If the camp has sent a list of recommended supplies, start with that, but don’t be afraid to add things. This will be a good opportunity to help your child develop an understanding of how to plan for a long-term trip like this. Items to consider include:

  • A good quality sleeping bag, pillows, and blankets. Don’t skimp on a cheap sleeping bag as a bad night of sleep is a great way to compound existing stress for a kid.
  • Toiletries with containers. This should include a toothbrush holder with a cap, a soap dish with a cap, and a caddy to carry everything.
  • A strong backpack that will be good for carrying things while hiking. You should consider looking into personalized kids backpacks, as this will help your child keep track of their backpack so it won’t get mixed up with the other kids’ things. A cool backpack can also go a long way towards boosting self confidence.
  • Plenty of clothing for all weather types: pajamas, shorts, long pants and jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, a rain coat, rain boots, tennis shoes, sandals, bathing suits, and plenty of underwear and socks. Since clothes tend to get a lot of hard use at summer camp, you will probably want to stock up on some inexpensive items and extras.
  • Miscellaneous items: a few metal water bottles, some pre-packaged snack packs or other little treats to share or eat for some quick energy on the trail, extra Band-Aids, a flashlight, lots of sunscreen, and bug spray.

Have your child sit with you and go through catalogues or look online to find items they like. Go to stores and shop for items together. Let them be in charge of crossing items off the list. This will help them get excited for the trip. Be sure to label everything so it doesn’t get mixed up with your child’s fellow campers’ possessions. You can use a sharpie or even get a custom stamp and ink pad.

Make Sure You Are Listening to Your Child

It’s normal for your child to have some pre-camping anxiety, especially if they’ve never done this before. Have a good sense of what this particular camp will be like so that you can answer your child’s specific questions. They will feel better if they feel like they have a pretty firm sense of what to expect while on their trip. Be sure to go to any pre-trip planning or orientation events and bring your child along.

Also make sure you are giving your child room for self-expression. If your child isn’t getting a chance to tell you how anxious they are feeling, their fear and anxiety might build up without you even realizing it.

Trust the Camp and Your Child!

It’s hard to let go on the first time that your child will be away from home for an extended period of time. Be sure to respect the camp rules regarding cell-phone and Internet policies. Get them some camp stationery and postcards and pre-fill out envelopes for them so that they can send you letters. Also, send your child regular encouragement through nice notes and care packages, but other than that, try to let your child get some distance and have a good time! You’ll be amazed by how much they’ve grown and learned when they come home.

Image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:43250879, copyright:lightsource

 

Jun 222015
 

This way of thinking will put a huge spin on your idea of a to-do list--and give you more peace than you could imagine! Get organized the right way--and feel like an accomplished Mommy with this simple trick TODAY!It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship with my to-do list. I entirely depend on it to do my thinking for me, yet I rage against the unreasonable demands it makes. One day, in the midst of a big fight with my planner, I paused to read a gorgeous post by Julie Bel Connor about finding peace with what you are capable of on this earth. I’ve shared Julie’s beautiful, smart heart with you before when telling you about the wonderful work she does. She never fails to wow me with her on-point smarts. In this post, her concept of a Done List blew me away, so I asked her to tell us more about it below.

Read on and take a minute to feed yourself, friends–and then go mark it off on your Done List, because that’s an accomplishment truly worth noting!

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Getting it Done….It’s Not What You Think by Julie Bel Conner

Who has 87 million things on their to-do list? I know I do. Some of those tasks often seem so daunting. They are things that will make us feel immensely good about ourselves if we complete them. So as a life coach I ask you the question – why? Why do we think these tasks will make us feel so good? Odds are we may never find out right?! So here I am presenting a new way to look at a list, as a mother, wife, friend, employee, employer, whatever your thing is. This is the done list and you may be amazed at the power it has.

How does it make us feel when we aren’t accomplishing the things on our list? Pretty terrible right? I know I don’t enjoy feeling crappy, I prefer to feel happy and although we are humans that have emotions which it okay, this is something that I believe we have a little control over.

What I am suggesting here is to explore, look at, and write down what we do every single day. Even if we don’t get a chance to write it down we can make a list in our heads. Think about a typical day as a mother, whether you stay home or work or work from home. Look at the things you do; change diapers or potty train, feed babies or prepare food, clean the house, do the laundry, drive children here, there and everywhere, take a shower (maybe), bathe your kids (maybe), shop, cook, console, comfort, compliment, adore, connect, love. The list could go on a mile long, but who really crosses those things off their to-do list? I don’t, and that’s probably because they are not on my list to begin with.

This way of thinking will put a huge spin on your idea of a to-do list--and give you more peace than you could imagine! Get organized the right way--and feel like an accomplished Mommy with this simple trick TODAY!

Why is that? Because we, as mothers, just feel these are the “supposed tos” and the “shoulds”, but really they are important tasks that make the world go ‘round. We have a huge responsibility to raise the next generation and all of those tasks are required (in some capacity, we are not perfect) to do this in a satisfactory way. So why can’t we put “changed 4 pee diapers, 3 poo diapers and heated up french fries” on our to do list?  Of course we don’t have the foresight to predict the flow of elimination in the household and what a toddler will eat today, but we can write what we did do today. Let’s include all the seemingly menial tasks that make the world go ‘round and that support the future of our children.

Try to do it at least once a week (I ideally suggest daily), write down ALL the things you did on the done list and let your heart soar. Let yourself release your mom guilt and pay attention to all the things you do every single day of the week. Be proud of yourself and praise yourself for being a good mother and for doing so many things for other people.

Then you know what comes after the done list? Self-care. Thanking yourself by getting some needed alone time. Spending time with yourself and getting a pedicure, going for a run, doing something you love, SOLO. This is how we fill our energy back up and have the energy to give to that endless list of needed tasks that we accomplish every day. Please take the time for you, you deserve it.

Be gentle with yourself, you are doing a fabulous, amazing, incredible, awesome job!

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:25245701, copyright:luminastock

 

Jun 172015
 

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!We play it pretty tame around here. Our wildest nights consist of deciding to start an episode of the fantastically addictive Orange is the New Black after 8pm. I’m sadly not joking.

So when I trekked off to BlogU the weekend before last and came home with blue hair, it was of note. Not of note in that my husband was particularly concerned. He asked if this was my version of a midlife crisis, I said “probably”, and we left it at that. We do a pretty decent job of letting each other do our own thing.

No, it was of note in the sense that my hair, depending on the last time I’ve made a pass at one of my at-home highlighting kits, has always remained solidly hued in the blonde-to-light brown spectrum. Blue was definitely something new for me and my strands.

My children captured the seeming lack of logic behind my new color splash best, “But why, Mommy?” I, of course, tried to pacify their questions by lying and telling them I did it because I knew blue was one of their favorite colors. A useless explanation and they knew it: “But why, Mommy?”

Why did I dye my hair blue?

Why not?

I’m 35 and work from home. I’m my own boss in more ways than one. This helps lend sense to my reasoning, but still doesn’t explain, I know.

A week before BlogU, I broke into one of my dye kits in the midst of a very full weekend. In my haste, well…let’s just say it didn’t go well. I posted a spoofy advance apology in our conference group for my wonky color job, and some how the conversation turned to how I should just dye my hair blue and forget about it. And I thought, “why not?”.

I mean if Kelly Ripa can rock her pink, and my beloved People Style Watch reports that vibrant locks are the way to go, why not bandwagon it up and hop in on the trend? Plus, in my book, blue is always prettier than brown.

So I had no reason not to dye my hair, but yet I had a very real reason to dye my hair.

You see, I’ve talked a lot about my mother dying 3 years ago. And while this will never become any less horrible, I do us all a disservice by not talking about the blessings that have come from her death. Screeeeech…hold the phone. What’s that, blessings from her death? Yes, blessings. Changes in family functioning, new friends, discovery of fellow kindred spirits, and most namely, abandonment of fear.

I have written about this before, but since my mom took her exit, the things of this world don’t matter as much. I have no control over what happens and I’m very aware of this. Clinging to a careful protection of what transpires seems pretty useless…and this is very freeing.

Four years ago? This would have been my hair! That which I cared for and styled and presented to the world at large. Now? It’s just hair.

It’s just hair. 

Still, this is only further explanation as to why dying my hair was of no consequence, not what the actual reason was that I did dye my hair.

There was only one reason. Jessica D’Pirate.

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!

Who is she? Until 10 days ago, I didn’t know aside from the fact that she has a cool blog (seriously, go check out Domestic Pirate, you’ll thank me later) and a fun online presence with a rockin’ Instagram account. Now I know she is a mom of four who loves her family so much. I know she has really boss friends who throw her awesome birthday parties and how incredibly gorgeous the bright shade of her purple hair is when you see it in-person. I know that she can cut a dance move like no one’s business and that she is so easy to laugh and is one of those precious people with whom you can be real.

She was the one who kindly offered to hook me up with the blue in that Facebook thread before the conference. And she’s the one who welcomed me into her dorm room at Blog U without knowing me at all and shared her color-changing magic.

I know that she is kind. That she is nice. That she has a sweet spirit and that I will miss her a ton if I don’t get to meet up with her again.

I know that she is a fellow soul on this earth and that if I had been precious about maintaining my ill-highlighted blondeness, I would have totally missed the chance to connect with her. What a loss. What a colossal, colossal loss.

The gift of sharing a moment with someone else? It’s a gift. Meeting someone as boss as Jessica and bonding over hair dye? Worth it–whatever the result looked like.

She was worth it. She was the reason dyeing my hair was a good idea. She was my why.

That I really, really love my blue streak? It’s only a bonus.

Go find your own blue, friends, it might be far, far more valuable than the color of your hair.

May 202015
 

Supporting other people the right way can be tricky. Use these tips to be there for someone--the way they REALLY need you to be. Friendship is a gift--cherish it the right way!Over the weekend, my sister and I made a bold move–WE LEFT THE HOUSE. I know, I know. And it gets even more unbelievable when I tell you what we did: we went to a movie theater to see a grown-up movie. Like, not something animated by Pixar. Again, I know.

And while I wouldn’t typically cite Pitch Perfect 2 as a top resource for valuable life lessons, one popped up in the first few minutes of the film and refuses to shake itself from my mind.  In the movie, a newscaster (spoofily) noted that “wearing underwear is a choice we make every day.” Hot dang! What a silly truth, but it is true. It so is. Perhaps not one of the bigger choices we make, but definitely one that matters.

The thing is, life is full of these choices, underwear-related or otherwise. Some more important, some less so. But choices–lots and lots of them–fill our days. We choose to get up in the morning, to clean our house, to take our kids to school, to lovingly heat-up leftovers from the night before for our dinner, to stay up and watch the end of Mad Men versus going to bed at a sane hour…but I think, of most value, we choose to be there for those around us.

You see, life hands us turns. Some bad, some good, most somewhere in between. Yet recently, there have been a many hurting paths I’ve crossed. Pretty awfully badly hurting, to be honest. And in turn, my heart aches for them. I’ll be straight, I can hate feeling the feels. My decidedly introverted self stubbornly longs to hole up with a book sans doing something as shocking interact with another person. Horror!

But this is how God made me. This is how he made us. This is who we are. We’re going to care about the people He put in our lives and we’re going to love them. Even when it hurts. Because they hurt.

While I may not always want to care, to rather hole up in an ivory tower of contented privacy, it’s not where I’m called. God calls us to the muck and the mire. He calls me to choose to be there.

And you know what? I like myself better when I am there. When I’m where others are. Yes, sometimes this means that my own schedule and days and household will be a little less tidy and pulled-together. That’s okay, I was never good at the tidy house thing anyway. I’d rather have dirty counters than miss the chance to support a friend.

We are called to care.

To love.

To throw open the door to people who need to walk into our homes and sob over their reality. To not judge them. At all.

To be there for them where they are.

To be so real our hearts break.

It is not an easy thing in this world of Pinterest-fab organized closets and gorgeously-designed age-appropriate playdates to feel comfortable hanging out in anything less than pretty perfection. To embrace people where they are at and support them regardless of our own yearning for order and non-yuck.

Yet this is exactly what we need to do.

Supporting other people the right way can be tricky. Use these tips to be there for someone--the way they REALLY need you to be. Friendship is a gift--cherish it the right way!

It’s been wonderful to find real friends through this world of online blogging. It’s been precious to embrace the few in-real-life friends who “get it”. Yet I mourn that in the very picture-perfect suburbia where I live, more realness isn’t easily found.

“Fine” as an answer to “How are you?” will never work for me. I wish it would, as it would be so much easier.

But you see, I don’t see the exterior, the shining athleisure and its ideally-cut yoga capri pants; I see the heart. I see the heart of who we are. The heart of who we could be, and the heart that yearns to connect and be carried.

I see it, and I choose to love it.

Because all of life is a choice; a choice to be the best of our most real selves in the moments that beckon us to selfishly ignore our surroundings.

How do you do it? 

Tell someone you care.

Allow them to see your own imperfection so they feel safe sharing their own. Yes, I’m telling you the sloppy pony and stained yoga pants at preschool pick-up are good things.

Listen and pray for them.

Ignore your own fear of reaching beyond yourself and choose to do it.

When a friend texts you, “Evening plans: taking a bath, drinking straight from the bottle and getting my ugly cry on”, laugh because it’s straight-up hilariously real. LOVE THEM FOR BEING BEAUTIFULLY THEM.

It is an everyday choice to be kind, to be real, and to be there. And it matters. So very much.

I can’t promise a lot on this earth, friends, I’ll be honest. Endless bedtime stories and remembering to fill water bottles before school drop-off suck a lot of energy. But I can promise to always be real.

Will you make the choice, every day, to join me? We might just go ahead and bless each other 😉

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:21362879, copyright:rosipro

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:20756095, copyright:sebastiangauert

 

 

Apr 272015
 

Accepting that as a mom, my kids' needs come first has been a hard thing to get used to. The daily struggle of managing schedules and organizing it all is a beast, but here is the one thing I remember when it all starts to feel too overwhelming. Read on to learn how to press through this season of parenting--it can be done!I write a lot about working hard to accept our age and stage in this life, probably because it’s one of the things I struggle with the very most on a day-to-day basis.

It never seems fair. Or right. Or like it makes sense.

It is that odd 12 minutes you have in between herding children through their morning routine (why is it always such a surprise that we have to put shoes on every morning??) and shoveling them into the minivan for school drop-off. The possibilities reach far.

Do you make a quick pass at a shower and brushing your teeth?

Screw the shower and fight through some vigorous sit-ups in a shout-out to the approaching summer months?

Pop out a few quick over-due emails?

Tackle the towering pile of dirty dishes? Maybe this will be the morning God gives me a shot of super-speedy energy and I could actually get them finished before we leave!

Sit and play “birthday party” with your kids as they’ve been begging?

Speaking of birthday parties, if you don’t get those invites addressed and sent out, your son won’t even have a birthday party.

The problem is that these are all good things. Valuable, important things to you, your house, and your kids. The fullness of this life means that each activity is a calculated trade. Every thing done means that there is something else that is not going to get done.

I want to be the super-mom who gets up before the sun, exercises, dresses in a chic outfit, checks in with work stuff and has time to fill the juice cups before my kids come down the stairs wailing for breakfast. But I want to sleep too, because that matters, right?

I’d love to catch up with paperwork, but there are friends who need me. A nice walk after my husband gets home to watch the kids would be sweet, but when was the last time we actually had a real conversation? Dinner together might be smart. Scheduling a needed haircut, but I have a meeting. Writing a post, but kids’ homework. This but that, thisbutthat, thisbutthatthisbutthatthisbutthat….

One morning when breathing through all of this was especially challenging, talked with my friend. “It feels like I am always robbing Peter to pay Paul,” I whined, “I never get it all done.” “Honey,” she lovingly “got” me, “You can’t.”

She is right. So right. While I desperately long for less jiggly bits around my thighs and passionately organized closets, for this season, I can’t. It’s a season of selflessness. As much as our own wants and needs flare up and jealously vie for a prioritized seat, things like kids needing Mommy to draw intricate sidewalk chalk roads on the driveway and endlessly sit in school pick-up lines power through with their pressing realness.

Accepting that as a mom, my kids' needs come first has been a hard thing to get used to. The daily struggle of managing schedules and organizing it all is a beast, but here is the one thing I remember when it all starts to feel too overwhelming. Read on to learn how to press through this season of parenting--it can be done!

 

When you break into the territory of need vs. need, it can get desperate. Really desperate, friends, I know. Someone’s something is taking a backseat. It’s a very hard line to draw but one that has no choice but to be drawn.

Since we have that darn stickey wicket of not being able to do ALL THE THINGS and since we parents are the grown-ups, it might be time to latch onto some acceptance.

Acceptance in the form that smudgy handprints on the refrigerator are the norm, right along with my dusty baseboards, and if you don’t like that, please leave my home. Acceptance in that if I only squeeze in a few squats, I can choose to focus on my pretty earrings vs. the enormity of my thighs. Acceptance in that I may be dozing off during bedtime stories with my kids, but at least I’m trying to read to them.

Acceptance in that I’m not superhuman and I’m going to have to bag up a lot of the things I’m yearning for and toss them in the backseat. Feel free to throw yours in there too as you drive these kiddos and their world around.

Maybe some day we can unpack our own stuff and pay Peter back, but for now, settle in, it’s going to be a long ride.

 

Second image credit, depositphotos.com, image ID:35208743, copyright:IuriiSokolov

 

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