Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Magic of Christmas

It's December.  Thanksgiving weekend was just wrapping up a little over a week ago, and Christmas, well it's really just around the corner.  Ask any kid old enough, it's only 18 days away.  Okay, so less than three weeks away, but you know those days are going to fly by and before we know it all the Christmas stuff will be cleared away.

And with that all the magic of Christmas fades away.  But why?  Why do we have to loose the magic of Christmas once the holiday is over?

Have you ever noticed that once Thanksgiving is done, things seem to change in a magical way?  If you have kids, especially younger ones, this magic shows up every day in the littlest of things.  I put the garland up on the wall the separates our dining room with our family room while my kids were napping and when my oldest woke, came downstairs, the first words were "wow, look at the pretty garland. I like the garland mom".  Every time it snows, he asks me if it's Christmas yet.

I will admit, I love to decorate for Christmas and Winter around my house.  I especially love setting up the tree and getting it all decorated.  Then, waking in the morning, while still dark out, turning on the tree lights only and just sitting in the silence.  If I could leave up the tree and decorations I would totally leave them up until Spring.  Now, my oldest loves to help decorate when he can.  The moment we turned the lights on the tree, both my kids walked over to it and just stared.  My youngest, who was too little last year, would point and giggle a little at it.  And when the tree is off, he signs on while point at it to have them turned on.  There is something in those lights that is just so mesmerizing.

Last year, we went on walks almost every night after dinner to look the lights around the neighborhood.  This year, we've already done a couple drives around to look at the lights.  My oldest just loves to see them and talks about them.  He even enjoys them when they aren't on.

The joy in their voices and on their faces says it all.  This special magic creates joy, peace, and memories.  When you can pass it along, it's even better.  I love seeing this time of year through my kids eyes.  It's a good reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and it's also a good reminder to slow down and take it all in.

When Christmas comes to pass, all to quickly, I want that magic to continue throughout the year.  But how do we take that magic and push it through the cold Winter months into Spring, through the busyness of Summer into Fall?

Well, it starts by looking at all the small moments: those fleeting ones that we wish could last forever, those moments that we wish would pass more quickly.  It means saying yes to more things and being willing to slow down.  It means looking at the world the way our kids do and being excited at even the simplest of things.  It means going through the day with a different perspective, a different attitude.  It means to continue to dream, to live in the moment, to remember the past.  It means to let go and to let in. 

Build up the magic of Christmas in your heart, your kids hearts, and those around you.  And when this time of year comes to a close, keep that warmth in your hearts and pass it along to others as you continue through the next year.

Believe in the magic of Christmas.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

P is for Potty Training

 Pee, poop, potty seats...all things potty training.  Before I get into what we did, there are a few things you need to know.

1. What worked for my son, may or may not work for your child.  Tweak it to fit your child's needs.

2. By potty trained, he is using the potty throughout the day, but feels more comfortable wearing a pull up at nap just in case (and I am okay with that, especially if he hasn't pooped that morning sometime) and a diaper overnight, as he still wakes up wet sometimes.

3.  There will still be times when you are cleaning up poop.

4.  Look closely at your child.  Listen closely to your child.  Get them involved as much as you can. 

5.  Just because someone else has a child who was potty trained by a certain age, or in X amount of days, doesn't mean it will go that way for you. 

6. Look at what is going on in your lives as a family and their lives as an individual.  Too much change at once can cause things to backfire and take longer.

7. Consistency, consistency, consistency

8. There will be accidents.  Let them roll off like they are no big deal and move on.

9.  Bribery is can go a long way to getting successes.

10.  Daniel Tiger has a great episode on going potty and an awesome song to use.  My son still uses the words, as do we, but not always sing it

11.  Learn a potty happy dance.  You may think I am kidding, but if you can be beyond excited about it, they are more likely to keep at it.  Or any type of verbal praise goes a long way.

12.  Let them help.  Let them pick out a seat.  Let them pick out underwear.  Let them lead the way for when they are comfortable to move to the next step.

For us, potty training has been a process.  It was my plan originally to start the process a year ago during the Summer, just after my son had turned 2.  However, after finding out we were pregnant and deciding to sell our house and move, I decided that would be enough change.  Plus, I wouldn't have the time to invest, nor could I be consistent.  While he told us when he had poop most of the time, looking back, he wouldn't have been ready then to start.

Move forward to after the first of this year.  My son, almost 3, started showing interest.  He wanted to pick out a seat.  We started out giving it a try whenever he asked and using stickers as a reward.  Things were going alright.  I used a timer and when it went off he would try.  Most of the time, he wouldn't do anything.  I began to notice that he was getting frustrated when he had to stop and go try. And the stickers became more about putting them all over his shirt and playing with them then a reward.  We also used peppermint candies, which he loved, as a reward once he got enough stickers.  But it came to a point when he was asking for one every time and would melt down when he didn't get one.  Then we were working on his brother's room and weren't being consistent. Plus, all of us got hit with a bad cold bug and after that any time we tried to have him try he pushed back.  He was getting defensive.  So, we decided to take a break. 

It wasn't until the end of the Summer of this year, when he was almost 3 1/2 that we went back to it.  Not his choice at was mine.  He and his brother were taking a bath when all of a sudden he said he had to poop.  I quickly pulled him out of the water and set him on the toilet.  He was uncertain at first and didn't want to use it, but when I told him the mess it would make in the tub he was okay, relaxed more and ended up going potty.  He went again right before bed after a little encouragement.

About a week later, we were visiting family, and after he woke from the overnight and having his diaper leaked, I told him he needed to start trying to go before naps and before bed.  It would help  him not have diaper leaks.  After a few days of that, we added in after he woke for the morning and after he woke for nap. 

A few days of that, then we started the potty pennies.  He could earn pennies for using the potty.  Once he got to 10 pennies he could trade them in for a surprise from the basket.  There were ten items in the basket, all things I found in the dollar section at Target.  When we got to the last one, we were done.  We also made the deal with him that once he was dry and in underwear during the day he could have the train engines Bash and Dash that he had been asking for.  The engines were completely his idea and it was something that we figured if it was his motivation, he would work towards it.  Here's how it worked.

Until he got comfortable going pee and would go on his own when he needed we used this method of payment.

Sit on the potty ~ 1 penny
Pee ~ 2 pennies
Poop ~ 3 pennies

It then changed to
Pee ~ 1 penny
Stayed dry ~ 2 pennies
Poop ~ 3 pennies (he was still learning how to know when his body needed to poop and making it to the bathroom in time)

On the wall in the bathroom I had the pockets I made hanging up on the wall.  No, it wasn't my intent to have them look like underwear (as asked by my husband...looks even better when you have a penny in it). But they worked.  My son would put the penny/ies in that he earned.  He could easily see how many he had earned and how many more he needed.  By the time we got through all the surprises, he was ready to be in underwear and he was good to go.  We made a big deal about going and getting the two engines.

Two months later he is doing great!  Only a couple of accidents and he still wears a diaper for the overnight.  However, he wakes dry more days than not.  And we just started a couple days ago not wearing a pull up during nap.

When we have traveled, we take along his potty seat (which just sits on top of any seat) and also had him in a pull up for the car ride.  If there is one thing learned during this is that when a kid says they have to pee, they don't usually mean in five or ten minutes, they mean now. 

Be ready for lots of curiosity.  My son would always want to look after one of us had gone.  Then once he started using the toilet, he stand and look for a bit before flushing.  There have even been times when he called me to come look at his poop and if I didn't he would describe what it looked like.

I remember the first time he went poop on the potty without being asked to go try.  I was upstairs getting his brother ready for a nap and I heard him say "mom, mom, I went poop!" My first response was, "where" and when I found out it was in the toilet there were lots of praises.

Now, I have two boys.  Boys pee different than girls as you know.  When we first started the potty training, any time he sat on the potty we wadded up toilet paper to make sure things stayed pointing down and going in the toilet.  When we were out, we do a wipe and then toilet paper.  Why the wipe?  Because most bathrooms out and about don't have the greatest absorbency toilet paper and the wipe is enough to make sure the pee doesn't still manage to go down the legs and get everything wet.  Someone had suggested having him sit backwards on he seat, but we haven't tried that yet.  Now, he usually remembers to push things down on his own and doesn't use the toilet paper wad, unless we aren't at home. 

There are going to be easier days then others.  Even now, we will ask him to go before we move to the next thing and he gets mad at us sometimes.  When they are ready all the pieces will fall into place quickly.  The harder you push, the more they will resist.  So, go with the flow.  Be flexible, patient, and ready for anything and all things poop and pee.  Good luck!

Share any tips and success you've had below in the comments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why I Don't Make My Kid Share

Gasp!  I don't make my kid share.  And guess what, I am not going to make your kid share either.  What I do teach is taking turns, waiting your turn, patience, and the respectful way to use words.

I've been a teacher for over ten years.  I've worked with a variety of ages.  And when I did, I taught sharing.  Why?  Because that is what did and how did things.

However, since having my own kids and reading a few things, I've changed how I go about it.  Think about it for a moment.  As an adult we never make someone else share what they have with us.  We don't just go up and take something, telling them they have to share.  We don't tell another adult they have to share something they have.

Picture this...there is you, another person, and myself out for coffee.  We are enjoying ourselves and our conversation together. You are holding onto something, let's say it's your cell phone, that the other person wants.  So I, turn to you and tell you that you have to share.  When you don't, I make you.  I take it from you and give it to the other person telling you that you need to share.

How do you feel right now?  That's what I thought.  Now, imagine it from the perspective of a child.

This is why I don't teach sharing.  No adult would ever do things this way, so why do we make kids.  I know what you are thinking.  But the child has to learn to play fair.

I agree, they have to learn to play fair, but fair doesn't mean giving up what they have and what they are doing because your kid wants it now. 

I teach taking turns.  When my child is done with it, you can have it.  It could be in a minute, it could be in twenty.  The same goes for something my child wants.  They have to ask and wait for the other person to be done with the item.  In the meantime, during the waiting, we offer up other suggestions of what can be done.  We try to find another toy or something similar to do until ready to make the trade.

The only time I will push for my child to share something is when he has two of the same thing that they are playing with.  For example, you have two trucks, can you please give one to your friend to play with? Or, when there are a lot the same toys, like legos, so there is definitely more than enough for both kids to play with at the same time.

If you ask my child to share or say to them "why can't you just share", you will be met with resistance.  Chances are, if you use the word share, he may look at you in a funny way as well.  Why? Because when it comes to sharing, he relates it to food.  Because when you have food that is of interest, we ask someone if they would be willing to share what they have. There is very little crossover to non food items.

I know what else you are thinking.  He will be going to school in a couple of years and he will have to learn to share there, so I need to get him use to giving up what he has because he is told to share.  My thought, and hope, is that by the time he goes to school, he has the confidence and respect to say, "I'm still using this, but when I am done I will let you have it".

You may not like it, your kid may not like it.  But you know what, in our world today, we need to learn how to wait for things, we need to learn patience, and we need to learn that just because we want something doesn't mean we are entitled to it. 

So, no, I will not make my kid share.  I will ask him if someone else can have a turn and help him with the words to say if he isn't gone yet.  I will have him wait his turn until the item in question is available.  I will say thank you when he does share, especially when he just does it.  And if it comes down to it, I will set a timer to let him know when his turn is up. However, I will not make my kid share.  I will let him share when he is ready.

So please, don't tell my kid that they have to share or when he won't share the item because he is still using it don't say "why can't you just share".  It's a different approach, I know.  But in the long run, it works. Just remember, stop and think about it from their perspective for a moment before you make them.  It works in a lot of areas of life as well, not just with sharing and taking turns.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Thunderstorms of Life

The past two mornings we've had thunderstorms roll through early in the morning.  Too early to be awake for the day, but hard to go back to sleep as they move through.  And yet, we have more in store for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Normally, I like a good old fashion thunderstorm...every now and then at least.  But even better is just listening to rain fall.  Nowadays, I dread a thunderstorm coming through, especially at night.  Why?  Because its pretty much a guarantee that my oldest will wake at some point during it and it will be a bit before he goes back to sleep.  Sometimes, we get lucky and the storm passes through quickly and he falls back asleep quickly.  Other times, he wakes multiple times until the storm is gone.

Yesterday, after a tiring weekend, when they rolled through, I knew he would wake, but I was not ready.  I was tired.  So, I let him climb into our bed and fall back asleep.  Which of course, he wanted to do this morning as well when another storm rolled through.  Fortunately, the ones this morning came through late enough that it was almost time to be awake for the day.

I, like my son, would rather they go through during the day.  That's when I like them the most.  If I had it my way, when they roll through at night, I would curl up in a ball, put my pillow over my head, and cover myself up with a blanket until they pass.  But, with kids, I can't do that.  I have to be braver and stronger for my kids.

While laying next to him, it got me thinking.  About the thunderstorms in our lives.  Sometimes we can see them coming.  They are on our radar.  Other times, they pop up unexpectedly.  And still, there are times when the conditions are right, so we put up our guard just in case and they may or may not pass through. 

We don't know how quickly they will pass through.  We hope that they move quick, but sometimes they linger.  We don't know if they will be big or small.  We don't know if it will last one day, one moment or keep coming day after day.

They bring with them all the emotions that flood us like the rain falling down.  There are many ways to weather them.  Hunker down and ride them out.  Dare to venture out.  Hide away and try to block them out. Even push them down and try to ignore them, even if they keep popping up.

But there is something about these storms.  They come to teach a lesson of some sort.  How we handle them affects the outcome.  Sometimes right away, and yet other times we don't see the affects until later on.  Sometimes the storms repeat themselves every so often.  Either way, it keeps us on our toes.

I am not sure why I would rather hide away during a real thunderstorm.  Maybe something inside me remembers an experience from childhood that my brain can't remember.  I've weathered a lot of storms throughout my life.  The ones that stick with me are the ones that happened while camping.  Not sure why, but I can still remember them as if I was still there...even all these years later.

The thunderstorms of our lives can be that way too.  Something from days past can keep popping up through the current storms.  I've gone through life's thunderstorms differently depending on what it is and when, but the outcome is usually the same.  I pray to get through them as quickly as I can.

But some of those storms have left lasting damage, that even with time, will not ever go away. 

Something else I've noticed is that with the really big storms, there is a rainbow to follow.  One of my biggest life storms was when our daughter died.  My rainbow? My oldest son two years later, arriving happy, healthy, crying.

As I continued to lay there while my son slept, I began to wonder.  I wondered, how do we teach our children that there are going to be storms in their lives and how to make it through those storms?

Right now, I can offer a safe place that brings comfort and calm.  I can offer a hug and a snuggle to make things better.  But I will never be able to keep the storms away.  I will have to teach him how to ride out the storms.  If that means hunkering down and riding it out, venturing out, or hiding away than that is what we will do...together.  Because together, we can make those storms seem less scary.  Together, we can make it through.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kids, Marriage, & Yourself

As we grow up, we begin to learn and see what life is like.  We go from being kids, to being an adult.  Our roles and abilities are ever changing.  Then we get married and have kids of our own.  Suddenly, we shift from taking care of ourselves, to taking care of our spouse and our marriage, and then our kids in whatever stage they are in.  At the end of the day, sometimes we are spent and there is nothing left.

It is a delicate balance when we start adding in other people and relationships into our lives.  As moms, we tend to put others first,   In the moments we do give to ourselves, we feel guilty over it.  But why?  Why do we feel the guilt?

If I knew the answer to this, I wouldn't keep falling into the guilt cycle as often as I do.  I like many others, put my kids first.  Then, my spouse and marriage.  If there is anything left, it goes into me.  However, even with that little bit there is sometimes, I still feel guilty.  Maybe I could have put more into another area. 

But at what cost? 

Recently, I listened to a podcast that talked about families and marriage, and life in general.  It likened our lives to a stove with the burners turned on.  Some burners had a higher flame than others.  And some burners were so high, they were nearing a flame.  Once that flame catches, it grows, and things are under fire.  Take a listen here (, it is worth the 20 minutes to listen to it. It got me thinking, what other areas of my life do I need to better tend to?

Much like our lives, we have different burners going.  Some are getting the attention needed while others are not.  However, if all our burners are on, but we are only focused on certain ones for a long time, what happens to the others?  At what point do we realize we need to tend to those other burners before things go up in flames?  And then we are left, when the smoke clears, dazed and confused, wondering how in the world this could have happened.

When we are married and have kids, we need to dial into all areas.  This includes ourselves.  All this without feeling guilt.  Its a tough one.  But sometimes, we need to let go of the control so that we can tend to the other areas.  Sometimes, we need to ask for help.

I am not great at this in all honesty.  When I get moments to myself I fill them with running errands like grocery shopping.  Every so often, its a haircut.  But I find that when it's something truly for myself, I feel the heavy weight of guilt.  And yet, given the chance to be doing my own thing, I am at a total loss for what to do.

Same goes with my marriage.  Since my oldest was born, we have not had a "date night". At least, not until recently.  Sure, we could have found stuff to do at home once he was asleep, but we generally took the couch and TV.  But, to actually go out, just the two of us and not feel guilty, hasn't happened until about a month ago.  At that point, our oldest 3 and youngest 10 months were napping and my parents could watch them.  We headed out.

But once in the car, we sat for a moment.  Why?  We had no idea what to do, where to go.  We've known we should do something, but just haven't.  And since our youngest was born, it's harder to do as he is nursing and still needs to nurse before going to sleep.  Most nights, both kids weren't down in bed until almost 9:00 and by then we were both too exhausted to do anything, let along want to go anywhere.

Now, with kids a little older and my youngest a little more predictable, we have the down time and the ease to do something.  Just need to find a sitter.  But, there is still a little part of me that is being nagged by guilt.  I am not sure why though.  In order for us to thrive as a family, our marriage needs to thrive.  Beyond that, as individuals, we need to thrive.

We need to do things that truly make us happy, fill our buckets, and dare to dream.  Then, we need to put the same effort into our marriage.  Because as kids grow up, we get more time together.  We've all changed over the years and we need to keep our marriages strong.  Our kids need us to be at our best so we can give them our best.

Yes, some days or hours or minutes will draw more attention one way or the other.  But by the end of the day, week, month we need not draw too much to one area while letting the other areas simmer.  Instead of waiting for a flare up, we need to maintain and without guilt.

So, how do you manage your life's burners? It's not worth waiting for the flare ups and near fires.  A little maintenance goes along way.  Letting go of the guilt can make a big difference.  It allows all areas to simmer and when needed we can easily tend to where our attention is needed, for the amount of time needed.

Release the guilt. Take care of yourself, take care of your marriage, take care of your kids.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When Your Birth Story is Different Than You Had Hoped

If you ask me, "how many kids do you have?" I will tell you that I have three.  I can see the look in your eye as you wonder, three? Where is the third?  How old are they? Boy or girl?  I've seen the look countless times, enough to admit, that sometimes I will say two because I don't want to explain.  But when it comes down to it all, I have three children.

And with those three children come different birth stories, some things overlap, but they are all very different from each other.  Even more so, they are all different than what I was wanting and hoping for.  Beyond that, the thoughts and feelings I've been left with after each has loaded me down and weighed heavily on my shoulders.

It is a load I am tired of carrying.  Take a moment and think, do you have a heavy load to lay down, open up about, leave it down and take a new step forward feeling lighter and filled with more understanding and acceptance.

I've felt for so long that I have failed because of how each story turned out.  Some, because it didn't go the way I had hoped.  Some, because of how other people responded.  And some, because I kept replaying it over and over in my mind, seeing the negatives and blaming my body for failing me. I had heard others stories and successes, and that is what I wanted for my stories.

But you see, every pregnancy is different...every child is different...every birth is different.  Sure, there are things that are similar.  However, when things don't go the way we hope, we sometimes dwell on it and when the time comes to try again we want ever so much to change what had happened.

You see, I've delivered three children.  One natural, One c-section, and One trying natural but ending in a c-section.   Not one of them went the way I had hoped.

Our daughter I had to deliver naturally at seventeen weeks because we lost her to Turner's Syndrome.  What ended in a miscarriage, still left me having to go through the contractions and deliver her.  She was born, but never gave a breath.  I've learned so much about life from loosing her.

My oldest son decided to come a week early.  I was counting down the days and was ready to have things be different.  I knew he was healthy.  I knew I wanted to deliver naturally.  However, due to his size, he ran out of room and my water broke.  Yet, after 24 hours, he was not ready to come out and my body didn't make it all the way to 10 centimeters.  For a brief moment, I was disappointed that I was only left with having to have a c section.  I was more scared of what a c section was going to be like as the thought of having one never crossed my mind.  But, as I lay there anxiously awaiting, all I wanted to hear was his cry.  To know he was okay and was going to be staying in my arms.

My youngest son came quickly.  I had contractions starting in the morning and by noon, I was on my way to the hospital.  This time, I thought, things would be different.  Not that I have a problem with having another c section, it was more about to change the story and allowing my body to what it could naturally.  As well as being able to keep up with my older son once we were all home.  As time progressed, I found that my body was not designed for a natural delivery.  The bones in my pelvis rubbed against my son's head.  He was only going to come out via c section.  I will admit...I cried while being prepped.  I knew what it was like to go through this, but I didn't want to and I was beyond scared to go through it again.  He was born healthy and happy.  His cry was a beautiful sound.

Initially, I hadn't thought much of it all.  But as time passed and I was up in the middle of the night nursing, my mind began to wonder.  I was trying to figure out where things went wrong.  Why I was made this way.  I would beat myself up over it.  Even though the doctor had told me that I put forth a good effort and I didn't fail, I just couldn't shake the feeling.

I am blessed to have my two sons to hold onto, to snuggle, to see grow up.  With time, I am accepting that this is the way I was made.  I may not be able to deliver kids naturally, but I can at least deliver kids that are healthy and happy. 

As moms, we sometimes put too much emphasis on the places we go wrong, the mistakes we made, the failures of our body.  But when it comes down to it, our bodies can do amazing things and it shows.  No matter how your birth stories went, you are strong and courageous.  It may not have gone how you hoped, but lay down the negatives and step forward looking at the positives from it.  In the end, you are an amazing mom.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exercise, Health, and Finding Success

I've tried on and off to get healthy for years.  Eat better, exercise more, weight loss challenges.  I got better at it and more consistent after I had our first son.  When it came time to model healthy behaviors for my son, I did find myself stumbling some still, but managed to do better.  Especially keeping up with him as he grew and became more active.

But I fell into a rut, complacent really.  I knew I weighed more than I should and didn't exercise as much as I could.  And kept telling myself, it's not a big deal to have a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, every day...filled to the brim :).

After having my second son, weight wise, I was in much better a place to begin with than I had been in years.  Having got inspired by my sister in law, I decided I could do this.  It also helped to because my son was dairy intolerant, which meant I gave up dairy to make things easier.  So no more giant bowls of ice cream.

But now, I can eat pretty much whatever I want, whenever (having to keep in mind I have to share with my youngest if he is nearby).  So, I am back to some old habits again.  I've also realized and accepted recently, that I am emotional eater.  This comes into play even more when my emotions run high and I am stressed.  One cookie quickly turns into five or six.  And I always go for the sweets.  It has been and still is a coping mechanism for me.

I've noticed recently that the number on the scale doesn't seem to be changing.  I began to feel defeated and I wasn't meeting the weight loss goals I set for myself.  I exercised less, ate more, over did sweets every day.

But then I realized, that success doesn't have to be found only on in the numbers on the scale.  It goes much deeper than that.  There are the physical changes to our bodies.  While the number on the scale hasn't changed much, the inches around my arms, midsection, and legs has changed.  Beyond the inches, there is the emotion side of it.

How does it affect our moods? How does it change our outlook? How do we feel? What else has changed?

This is why dieting doesn't work and neither does extreme exercising.  Short term, yes it may, but long term it doesn't set up a very good foundation to go off of.  You need to have a balance between it all and a bigger outlook on it.  Changing your health through exercise and diet, changes you in all areas and creates a greater success.

Now, going forward, I am adding more to my mini goals in order to achieve an even bigger picture.  My success will come in the form of the number on the scale, the physical changes of my body through the loss of inches and the toning of muscle, the emotion well being, and my own perception of who I am, what I look like, and how I feel.

In the end, my ultimate goal is to not just say I am beautiful, but know that I am beautiful and truly feel believe it.

What is your ultimate goal?  How do you know you've been successful?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Bond Between a Mother and Her Children

There is a bond that begins to form between a mother and her child from the moment she finds out that she is pregnant.  For some, this bond grows and despite all the fears and nerves, it forms from the beginning.  For some, it takes time to form and grow.  Each person is different, each pregnancy is different, each child is different.  The bond grows, changes, strengthens, and falls apart sometimes.  But it is still there.

After having T, our bond grew tighter and stronger easily each day.  I will admit, it is a bond that there are days now that I wish was still the same way it was last Summer.  But things have changed in our lives.  He is dealing with having a brother, wanting to be more independent, and having to share me. The strong bond that I had with T did break down some as he and I navigated all this new territory.  However, it continues to grow and change as we grow and change. 

Now, I have to admit, the hard truth.  I love A, with all my heart, but our bond has taken much longer to grow strong and tighter.  You see, with the addition of another child, I became split.  I was learning how to be a mom to two kiddos.  Some days I did a better job at maintaining a balance between them  Other days, not so much.

With the addition of A, my bond with T changed.  I wanted so hard and tried so hard, to keep things the way they were.  But the reality of it was that our lives had changed.  With change, bonds change.  In the long run, they end up growing much deeper.  But they need the time to figure out a new normal.

Ten months in, A and I have grown a strong bond.  My bond with T, has deepened and become more like it was. As we move forward, as we grow, things will continue to change.  Once we accept that and accept where we are at in the moment, things seem to balance out.

It takes time.  Time we need to invest.  Not only that, we need to let others have the time to invest and to bond with our children.  Let your children grow, change, but also let the bond deepen and strengthen as you move forward.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why I need a clean house

Well, cleanish anyways.  There are messes here and there, dusting hasn't been done very often and if it weren't for my oldest loving to mop, it would fall into the wayside as well.

I came to the conclusion, more recently, that I need to have my house somewhat clean.  Why?  Because it causes less stress.  I've heard the phrase that once you have kids you never have a clean house.  My thought is, why?  Why can't I have a clean house and have kids at the same time?

It seems to make the day start out better and run more smoothly when I can come down the stairs and have a clean common area.  I just wish that I could keep up with the kitchen.  No sooner do I get it caught up, than it looks like my cupboards threw up all over the counters.  I hate to admit, that sometimes when it gets that way, I walk in, look at it, and walk away.  Sometimes, it's too much and it stresses me out more.

I sneak in quick bathroom wipe downs when I can, like while waiting for the shower to be ready or while my oldest brushes his teeth or while I wait to make sure my youngest has truly fallen asleep.  It's been an expectation that toys are cleaned up at the end of the day before bed.  It is something that started with my oldest when he was little and didn't understand the concept of picking them up. With time, we can now tell him to clean them up and it gets done.  That's not to say that sometimes, toys are left out.  Like after he has been working hard to build with Legos or we've created a really cool train track (which usually stay out for a few days).  But overall, it's picked up most of the time.

I will admit, I love the look of a freshly vacuumed floor.  Don't know why, maybe because while waiting for my first son to arrive I would vacuum every day just to give myself something to do.  But I love it.  I love to vacuum.

Now that my oldest is three, we are starting to get him involved more in helping with the cleaning.  Like I said, he loves to mop, always has.  In fact, when he was around a year and half we shortened the swifer just so he could do it.  Now, he will get it from the stairwell and just mop, sometimes with a cloth and sometimes not.  We are also getting him to help with the dishwasher, loading it and unloading it.  These are a part of his chores (more on that in a later post).  At some point we will add in cleaning other areas.  He likes to help, so while he does I am running with it and letting him help out as much as he is willing.

I remember a conversation that happened between some other moms and me a few years ago.  The topic of having a clean house came up.  Some of them said that they had just given up.  To them, it didn't seem worth trying to clean, just to have their kids destroy it all again and yet were frustrated that it wasn't clean.  Keep in mind all our kids were about one and a half at the time.  That was their perspective.  If they didn't want to try, that was fine.  I still wanted to have a relatively clean house and could manage it most days.  However, what got me the most, was when one made the comment, "if your house is clean, than you aren't taking care of your child and ignoring them".

Whoa, wait a minute...if I have a clean house, then my child isn't being taken care of?  Normally, someone saying stuff like that doesn't bother me.  But this time, it really made me mad.  I can have a clean house and a child who is well taken care of.  Not only taken care of, gets the attention needed and is thriving..

There is nothing stopping us from letting our kids join in.  I remember that when T was little, I would dust while he played.  Sometimes he would stop and want to dust too, so I would give him a cloth and just let him go.  In fact, it's important for them to take responsibility in the place they live.  They help make the messes, they can help clean it up.

With time and consistency, letting our kids join in while cleaning they will get the hang of it and may end up enjoying it as well.  So you see, you can have happy, thriving kids and have a relatively clean house.

For me, I feel more at ease and comfortable when things are relatively clean and least in the common rooms.  In the long run, it works better for everyone's mood when you think about it.  And through it all, my kids are happy and thriving.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Going From One Kid to Two

I don't think anything can truly prepare a person for the role of parenting.  Parenting is a delicate balance of learning how to be a parent, figuring out and working with your child's personality, transitioning between the stages, letting your child be the person that God designed them to be, and acceptance.

It took a bit for me to learn how to be a parent after T was born.  But rather quickly, we fell into a routine and a new normal.  Together we found a balance that worked.

Nine months ago we went from one kid to two.  I will admit, I am still learning.  Both kids are changing stages so quickly that I can barely keep up.  No sooner do I begin to get any headway and understanding, than things begin to change and I am back at square one.

Today, I had a good friend ask me, how do you do manage two kids?  To be honest, it's not always easy.  I've made a lot of of mistakes and yes, even after nine months, I am still learning.  Some days are better than others, heck some hours are better than others.  But I manage, we manage.  Slowly, I am beginning to figure things out better.

To be honest, as I begin to figure myself out and my role of parenting two, the more confident I am and less mistakes are made. We are beginning to fall into a routine again, a new normal. 

Am I going to make mistakes going forward?  Yeah, probably.  Do I still have a lot of learning to do?  Yup.  But at least for now, I can take the things I learned, the failures I've had, the mistakes made, and use the successes to move us forward.

There will be good days and rough days.  Things will continue to change.  But together we will figure each other out and navigate the twist and turns of our journey.  So, how do I manage?  Not sure, I just do. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Beyond the Number on the Scale

This time around, I knew that I wanted to get to a healthier weight.  Fortunately, after my third pregnancy, I was starting out at a number that was one of the lowest it had been in nearly 10 years.  I had additional reasons for wanting to get healthier.  I wanted the boost in energy, confidence, mood, and balance.

It took me several tries to get going and to keep with it.  Over the past nine months I took many breaks.  I found that when I missed one day, it led to missing two, then three, and then it became weeks.  When I missed a day I truly began to miss the workout.  Why?  Because I felt better afterward.  It was a release for me and it gave me the energy to face the rest of the day.

I will admit, more often than not, I would get focused on the number on the scale.  I would try so hard to meet my weight loss goals...usually five pounds over the course of the month.  Totally doable, if I stuck with it.  But I began to plateau for weeks at a time.  The number on the scale didn't change, I would get frustrated, then choose to eat unhealthy and in excess.  I have learned that when I am stressed or filled with emotion, I eat (usually something sugary) and I eat in multiples (not one or two cookies, think like five or six, multiple times in a day).  Not so bad every now and then.  But daily, not so good.

These last two months I have remained at the same number, 165.  Still a good number considering 9 months ago I was at 183.  But I had made an overall goal that by the time my youngest turns one, I would be down to 155.  I haven't been there since I got married 11 years ago.

Because I got so focused on the number changing, I was stressing myself out, which is counterproductive.  Not to mention, if I looked at my diet and lack of exercise it told a lot more of the story.

But even beyond that, I began to realize really where I was at truly.  You see, I have a shirt that I love to wear for bed.  It's really comfy and it makes nursing easier.  However, the shirt that I wear for bed, I used to wear right after my son was born.  When I used to wear it, it was tight and probably not real attractive.  Now, it's probably two sizes too big and slides off my shoulders.  This means that my body shape has begun to change.

Even more so, I went shopping for shorts this Summer.  You are probably thinking big deal, shorts for Summer.  Well for me, I am typically not a fan of shorts.  I never felt comfortable in them and never thought my legs looked good enough.  Most Summers I wear capri shorts if I am going anywhere.  But this Summer, I finally have the confidence to wear shorts and I love it.  Looking more at shorts, I recently got a pair that are a size 9.  A size 9!  I've not been able to wear a size 9 since, high school maybe even middle school.  That means I am loosing inches.

Luckily, during one of the times when I was on a plateau for my weight loss, I decided to take my measurements.  Because when it comes down to it, those numbers can be even more telling.  In four months I've lost 2 inches around my waist (belly button area), 1 inch in the area between my hips and butt, 1 inch around my hips, 1 inch around each arm, and 2 1/2 inches around each leg.  To me, these numbers are even more telling than what is on the scale.

While it's good to see the number on the scale change, the inches around areas can really do more.  I am able to fit in sizes, both shirts and shorts, I've not fit in for well over a decade.  Beyond the inches and numbers, I find my energy level is better, my mood is lighter and more balanced, I have more confidence (not only in what I can do, but how I look and feel), and as long as my kids sleep well, so do I.

Getting healthier is a lifestyle change.  When we stumble, sometimes we snowball.  But keeping a bigger goal in mind is what it takes for us to keep going.  Sure, I have a goal weight that I want to get to.  But beyond that, the outcome of the lifestyle change far outweighs any number than can show up on the scale.  The boost in confidence, energy, mood, perspective.  For the first time, in a long time, I truly feel beautiful.  Not because the number on the scale, but because how I feel and the long term perspective.

I encourage you to look beyond the number on the scale, especially when it isn't going the direction you are hoping for.  How do you feel compared to when you started? What is your mood like now?  What are your measurements? How do you feel: mind, body, spirit?  These are some things to think about.  But above all, remember that you are beautiful, strong, and confident.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Mom Tribe

When I say mom tribe what do you think of?  For me, it is the other mom's in my life that help support, encourage, love my kids just as much as I do, are true friends of mine and their kids are true friends of my kids.  It's the people that we see regularly, it's the people who even when we go weeks in between seeing one another still check in.  We think about one another, care about one another.
Moms, and dads as well, need to have that core group of people.  The group of people they can be considered a part of their tribe.  In fact, in all ages and stages, all areas of life from work to home, we need to have some sort of tribe.

The reason is they are there when you need them, they are there to push you to be a better person, they keep you on track and call you out on it when you are off.  You need to surround yourself with those who bring you up, not bring you down.

Sure, we all judge.  Some of us more than others, and sometimes more often than we would like to admit.  But what we forget is there is always a back story to what we see in front of us.  Having others who know us well keeps us accountable. 

There are many stages in life.  Sometimes we pass through one into the next effortless, kind of like a butterfly floating on a gentle breeze.  Other times we pass through them like a turkey trying to fly.  And yet other times, more like a loon where it may take us a bit, we will make a lot of noise, but once we get it we've got it.

Going into motherhood is one of those times where we fall into all of them at one point or another.  We think one day, yeah I've got this.  Then the next day, we look like the witch decoration you see at Halloween that went splat into a tree or the door.  Add more kids into the mix and you become a yo yo. 

It is vitally important to get to know other moms.  With time, you will find the ones you are supposed to be with.  The ones that let you know you aren't alone, the ones you can send a message to of encouragement, the ones that can read how things are going a mile away when they see you, the ones who will laugh and cry with you, the ones who will make you smile and give you a hug.  They don't care if your house looks like a tornado went through.  They don't care if your hair is a mess, clothes are stained, or you didn't put make up on. The ones who just plain get you.

Every now and then I start looking at adding a new activity into my life, one that involves moms and kids.  Most recently, I started to look at baby boot camp.  My thought, I can get in some more exercise, meet more moms, and give my kids something to do...and hope it all goes smoothly and my kids enjoy it as well.  Then, I began to think more about why I should do it.  When it came down to it my thought was this.  I would be dragging both my kids to something I wanted to do.  What benefit was there for them?  They would be strapped in a stroller for the entire hour.  Not worth the time, money, and rush to get out the door in the morning.

As I dug deeper, I was beginning to think that I should have a bigger mom tribe.  More mom friends.  But why?  I am really good where I am at.  Not to say that I wouldn't add more friends.  But if I did, I would want them to be the kind of friend who is a true friend.  I don't need to surround myself with a lot of people to just to make it through life.  I need to surround myself with quality. 

It's not about the number of friends you have, it's about the quality of friends you have.  Having three great friends who really understand you and your kids can go a long way and be better than having thirty friends who are more like acquaintances than true friends.  Sure, I suppose you could have a large amount friends, but think about many of them really truly know you? the real you? your family? would be there for you at 2 in the morning when all hell breaks loose? would actually take your kid for an hour or two just so you can take a nap?

Think about it.  Who is in your tribe?  I know who is in mine and I am blessed to have each one of them in my life.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Have a Beauiful Day!"

Have a beautiful day, four simple words that can make a big impact.  Today, I swung through the drive thru to pick up a "coffee" (can't have caffeine, so it's a mocha frappe, but I pretend it's coffee) and a little breakfast (fed the kids, got everything ready, and realized once we were on our way I hadn't fed myself...oops) as we headed to meet friends.  I payed at the first window and received my order at the second.  Nothing out of the ordinary really, until the person handing me my stuff said "have a beautiful day!", with a warm, friendly smile.  I am fairly certain I pulled away with an even bigger smile.

Her words were genuine.  Full of hope and calming.  Have a beautiful day is a game changer in perspective.  It boosts your mood, makes you smile, and the stress seems to float away.

That was at 8:30 this morning and her words are still with me as I write this at 3:15.  Why?  I am not sure.  But they are stuck.  Playing over and over in my mind.  It seems to make the things that are tough right now or have been tough lately and gives them less of a stronghold on me.  It made me stop mid disagreement with my three year about a certain book he chose to read before nap being too long and we needed to pick shorter ones.

The deal is, we usually read three.  If you pick one long, the other two have to be short.  On days we do nap later, it's three short or really short stories.  In the car, we had picked on the stories we were going to do, or so I thought.  But he was adamant about reading this one story, which was definitely one of the longest ones he has.

I pleaded with him to save it for after nap or maybe we could do it as one of his bedtime stories.  But nope, no go.  He really wanted that one.  Why, I don't know.  But I have learned (just need to remember it more) is that there is a reason he is so adamant about wanting certain stories.  I took a big breath in and was about to try pleading with him to change it out, when the words "have a beautiful day" rang through my mind first, then my heart.

My shoulders relaxed. My strong emotions and need to push subsided. My heart opened and my mind cleared.  The tension floated away into the air.  Then it hit me, okay.  If we do that story, it is the only one we do.  He stopped pushing, looked at me and said "okay".

Everyone was happy, relaxed.  What could have led to an all out battle and fit, ended peacefully.  Why, oh why, can't I remember to do this more?  Sometimes, as adults, we push and push too much that our kids get tired of it and all they want is to be heard.  It takes a word or phrase to make us stop, slow down, and listen...truly listen. 

I needed to hear those words, those four simple words.  So much about life, emotions, attitude is all about perspective.  We change our perspective (for the good or for the bad) we begin to focus on things differently.  With time, it is what our lives become and what we focus on.  Like I said, for the good or for the bad.  When we focus only on the negative, we miss the small things.  The moments made, memories shared, smiles passed, stories, laughs...some of the true joys of life.  When we focus on the positive, the bad doesn't seem so bad and we seem to let go of the negative things that don't have a place in our life in the first place.

So to you, I say to you..."Have a beautiful day!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

11 years

11 years ago I married my best friend, and yes, my high school sweetheart.  We've been together nearly 21 years.  Yes, you read that right, 21.  We've been through the awkward middle school years, the transition to high school, then the long distance of the college years, leading us to marriage and family.  Our relationship has seen a lot in those years.  Sometimes smooth, sometimes rocky.  But we've made it through, together, coming out stronger on the other side.

This past weekend my hubby and I celebrated our anniversary.  And by celebrate, we attempted to go out after the kids were in bed, but one of them had ideas of their own.  My youngest opted for going to bed much later than he normally does and by the time he was asleep it was nearly 9:00 and we were both ready to just go to bed.  By the time we went to bed, I said "well happy anniversary dear, goodnight".

It's funny, before kids we celebrated our anniversary more.  Some years it was just us, some years we were with extended family.  And some anniversaries are more memorable than others of course.  I will admit, it's usually the ones with extended family that I remember the most.  Why? Because we have usually been on vacation as well, enjoying some of our favorite places to visit and sharing the joy with others.  Then again, there is the year we had the most disastrous trip to Omaha as we were navigating parenting with a three month old and the longest road trip we've taken. 

This year, we got spend it with extended family.  In the morning we took in seeing the sights of Hudson and the Nina and Pinta.  Then I am pretty sure I took a nap when both kids did. We grilled out for dinner, which if you ask me, is one of the best ways to do dinner anytime.  And then ended the evening talking with family.

We've never been ones to do a lavish evening out.  It's just not our style really.  One year, I gave my hubby a case of his favorite beer and he gave me a giant bag of my favorite candy.  Nothing says love like beer and chocolate right?  Simple really, and after so long we know each other so well.  In fact, I am guessing had we gone out, we would have gone to Culver's for custard and maybe even some fried cheese curds.  Like my hubby said, one year we may be able to go out and celebrate our anniversary on our own. 

But for now, I will take spending the day as a family creating memories as a blessing.  And if we can toss in a beer and some chocolate, or custard and cheese curds while we are at it it's a bonus.  Sometimes just surrounding yourself with those you truly care for is all that really matters and is a celebration in itself.  Celebrate life, family, love, health...even if it's just a normal day of the week.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fourth of July

 We recently celebrated the Fourth of July.  Usually we've haven't done much of anything, other than maybe catch the fireworks.  Some years we've gone camping or gone to the lake to spend time with family.  If we get out of town for the weekend, it was to do something we enjoyed while getting away from the crazy amount of fireworks that people set off in our neighborhood at all hours of the day, all weekend, for hours on end.

Once we had kids, their schedules became the dictating factor of what we would do, if anything.  And sometimes, it just meant going somewhere else for the weekend so that we could all still get some decent sleep.  This year, we decided to do a little more.

We found a parade that was in the morning, which for us really works better and is the time of day when we can more freely do things.  I've never been to a Fourth of July parade...I've been in them, but never watched one.  The parade we saw was one of the best ones I have seen.

T had so much fun watching it too.  A enjoyed it as well, when he was awake (yes, he was able to nap through some of it).  The look of awe and joy on my sons' faces were priceless.  The picture above is my oldest from when he saw four old time prop planes fly overhead. 

I took a handful of photos while we waited for things to start.  But what got me, was watching my kids and hubby.  Seeing them share in such a fun morning together.  My oldest and I danced to songs, and for the first time in a long time, I didn't really care if people looked at me funny.  We had fun!

I let go, let my guard down and just went with it.  I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders.

On the way home, my oldest reached across the van for his brother's hand and held it.  It was the perfect way to wrap up our adventure.  Despite the tantrums, the lack of listening sometimes, the high emotions, he shows a tremendous amount of love for those he cares about in his life.
The time around the fourth stirs up a lot of emotions and thoughts inside me.  You see, July 5 was Samantha's expected due date.  It's a day I am not sure what to do with now.  She came January 27 instead.  In fact, none of my kids arrived on their due date.  However, Samantha we held only for a brief moment.  But my sons, we still get to hold.  I rock with my oldest at night before he goes to bed.  And my youngest, as well as I feed him before he drifts off to sleep.

 This year, what struck me hard, was the feeling of gratitude.  While we don't know for certain, we are leaning most likely to being done growing our family.  That's a tough one to swallow some days.  But in my heart, I looked at what I had in front of me that day and I felt blessed.  Blessed to have my kids, my husband.  What I have, right now, is what I need and it feels complete.

Being Depleated and Needing a Break

It is said that in a person's life they go through many seasons.  In any given day, week, month, or year a person slides from one season to the next.  In away, we all have our Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Granted, sometimes it falls into the same order as the Earth's seasons, but usually, it goes with whatever rhythm and path of the person.

There are times when we are flying high, nothing can bring us down and there are times when we have exhausted our entire being, leaving us completely depleted.  It is something that everyone goes through and everyone feels. We all handle it a little differently, but there are times we handle it in the same way as someone else.

Mothers (I can only speak for moms, but I am sure dads feel the same way sometimes), I truly believe, end up being depleted much more quickly and for longer periods of time. They are the glue that holds many families together.  They give to their husbands, their child(ren), their friends, their to do lists, to their extended family.  They give so much, that sometimes at the end of the day, they have nothing left to give to themselves.

This leads to exhaustion.  Now, I am not talking the sleep deprived state of having a newborn and then leading into a kid who doesn't sleep well at night. I am talking about every square inch is exhausted.  The body, the heart, the mind.

Sure, we can do stuff that fills us back up.  But the length of time in which we are filled completely gets shorter and shorter.  Maybe it only takes a cup of coffee to fill us, five minutes here or ten minutes there.  And maybe not even every day.  But then that five minutes or ten minutes turns into longer stretches needed, and needed every day.  Sometimes that five minute break only ties us over for the next hour or maybe we can stretch until the kids go down for nap or bedtime.  But at what point do we hit our breaking point,  The point at which no matter what we do, we are never filled back up.  Never restored.

How can we pour into those we love, when our own cup is empty. At some point we break.  We need a break.  Not necissarily a vacation.  But a break.  This is easier said than done.  Why? Because even when we do get a break, we are still hyper foucsed on the needs of our families and our to do lists.  We feel guilty for needing the time to ourselves to do what fills us back up, to restore our hearts, minds, and body.

I can relate to this, as many others I am sure can.  I have two kids, whom I love and adore.  Who bring so much joy and laughter into my life.  Who I can't imagine my life without them.  Who I would do anything for, even if it means giving them all of me all the time.  I have a husband, who is an amazing father, has to go to work so I can stay home to raise our kids, and he would do anything for his kids and for me.

I am in a season now of complete exhaustion.  My emotions are strong, I hyper focus on the mistakes I make, I worry all to often if I am making the right decision, I feel a lot of guilt especially when it comes to how to balance two kids, two different schedules, two different needs, and a whole lot of emotions, I am my own worst enemy and can dwell on the negative side of the events of the day.  I find myself counting down the minutes until the next nap time or until everyone is in bed.  Only to fall into the couch tired and ready for bed myself.  But then when I go to bed, I can't fall asleep right away because my mind starts reeling or I have a toss and turn kind of night all night.  My body may be in bed, but my mind is still racing and even my dreams are so vivid that if I do sleep, there are parts of me still tired the next day.

How does one came back from this? How does one restore their heart, mind, and body?  It takes time.  But even before one can begin, we have to recognize where we are.  It is only once we hit that breaking point, sometimes the lowest of lows, that can finally then pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild and restore.  First, we the foundation.  We need a strong foundation, because without one, the pieces will crumble again, but more quickly.  Only once we have that solid foundation, that solid footing, can we take the next step.  What is the next step?  Only you can answer that for yourself.  It is a step that can help being to fill you, by only doing what you fills you. 

Yes, perspective and attitude can go a long way.  But when we aren't ready for it, it means nothing.  Sometimes we need to let it all fall down, break, and then rebuild.  We need to free ourselves from the guilt, worry, fear, whatever may be holding us back.  Instead we need to hope again, trust, believe, and have courage.  When it comes down to it, we aren't alone.  Sometimes we only need to open up, even if only a small amount, to get things started. Today, I am choosing to open up.  It may be only a crack, but eventually, the doors will open all the way.  Today, I choose to start to restore my heart, mind, and body. 

How am I going to do that?  I am not yet totally sure, but I know things need to change.  Not just for my sake, but for all those in my life.  I need to restore the me that I know I can be, the me that I am supposed to be, so that I can be the mom, spouse, friend that God made me to be.

What season are you in?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Art of Listening, or Better Yet, The Art of Follow Through

Not sure what is in the air today, but from the get go, we had issues with listening and following directions on and off throughout the morning.  By 8 this morning, we had already face a handful of melt downs, maybe a fit or two, and not following directions.  My oldest hadn't even been up for an hour.  On the flip side, the in between moments, he was a great helper and listener, was so nice to his brother, had fun, got us all laughing a time or two, had some really great ideas, and were filled with so much sweetness.

It may have been the late to nap yesterday that cascaded into this morning and being tired.  Or maybe too much stuff going on and not enough down time, so it was his way of pushing back. Or maybe it's just because he is three and life of a three year can be tough, especially when you add a sibling into the mix.  Who knows really and if I could actually pinpoint the problem or the figuring it out, I could write a book and make millions.  But, the best I can do is guess, try to ask, or better yet watch him.

Which, as the day goes on, I will be watching more intently.  However, this post is not just about listening...and for all of us to listen...but the art of follow through as well.  That, my friends, is sometimes so hard to do as a parent, especially when the tears begin to fall.

Generally, with a few warnings, most of the time T listens.  When he is having a hard time, we say, "if you don't _________(fill in the blank), then you will loose _______ (fill in the blank)". Rarely, do we actually have to dole out the consequence once he hears what he will loose.   However, every now and then, the consequence needs to be fulfilled.  This morning was one of those times.

He was supposed to clean up.  He started, then decided to color.  I asked him again to please clean up.  He really wanted to add color to something.  I gave him one minute and set the timer.  When the timer went off, it was back to cleaning.  Then, he decided to color on his chalk board.  After which, I told him to put the chalk down and finish cleaning up.  Upon ignoring me, I told him he would loose one story if he didn't follow directions.  It wasn't until I had to take away that one story, that he finally listened, cleaned up, and went up for stories and nap. 

However it didn't end there, once we got upstairs he kept trying to pick out three stories. Again and again, I said "nope, only two".  Then the flood gates opened really wide.  He loves stories and loves to read.  He even had picked out earlier what he wanted.  But yet, we could only do two.  He kept trying different books, but always ending up with three.

The more he tried, the more I said no, the more the tears came.  It was hard.  And then it got to the point where I had to leave the room and let him be.  I closed the door and got A ready for nap.  Once he was settled for his nap, I went back in.

Before I did though I prayed.  I prayed for God to give me the right words to say.  The first thing I did when I opened the T's door?  I got down on the floor, pulled him into my lap, and hugged him tight.  He calmed down instantly.  And then I said, "I love you".  I left it at that for awhile.  In a moment when I could have barged into his room, yelled, reprimanded, I choose to hug, say I love you, and then wait.

A few minutes passed and he asked if he could have three stories.  I said no softly.  His response, why. I gave him the reason and he left it at that.  He told me which two stories and we read and snuggled.  When we were done reading, we snuggled some more.  He said that he really wanted three stories.  I said I know, but we could read more after nap and then have three stories for bed time.

I will admit, I am no where near a perfect mom.  I don't want to be, but I will say there are times I try to be.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away for a moment and then come back, hug, talk, and let it go.  There is no sense in talking to someone when their emotions are running high and they are in complete melt down mode.

Sure it would have been easier to give in, give him those three stories.  But what would that have taught him?  What would he have learned?  It's in those tough moments that we truly learn.  It's hard to say no and stick to it, especially when there are tears involved.  In the long run though, we are better for it.  I can almost guarantee, that he and I will talk about what happened at least one more time today and he will share about it when his dad gets home.  He will process it and so will I.  But in the end, the most important thing he needs to know and to hear, is that no matter what, I love him.  Despite the behavior choices, I still love him.  Always do and always will.  Saying I love you is one of the hardest things sometimes, but it means so much. 

Follow through with what you say and in the end, let them know that you love them.  And sometimes, in those moments when we want to push away, what we really need to do is pull in and wrap our arms around tightly.  That is what brings comfort, that is what brings calm, that is what brings us together.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sometimes it's the simpliest things

Sometimes it's the simplest things that prove to be our biggest struggle, challenge, hurdle.  They stir up feelings of worry, anxiety, fear and we wonder "how in the world will we ever _____" (fill in the blank).

I am sure dads feel this way, but I can only speak from the mom side of it.  I remember when T was born I would do things at odd hours of the day, like take a shower at 4 am after nursing and go back to bed dressed. I thought, how am I ever going to be able to take a shower at a normal time, and well a normal pace.  I had mastered the art of 12 minute showers and getting ready for the day, which included shaving.  How do I know it was 12 minutes? Because he had an ocean project that I would turn on with music for him to watch and listen to while I did it.  Then, with time, it became much easier.

Now, I hit that point again.  Several months ago I decided I really wanted to get into working out and would during nap time for my oldest.  But I never wanted to get really sweaty or really into because I wouldn't be able to take a shower until after all were in bed.  So I thought. And felt really.  The idea of doing a good workout and then getting to take a shower stressed me out.  When really, it should have gone the other way.  I find that I enjoy a good exercise and it does so much for my mood and emotions.  I did manage to squeeze it all in just after A went down for nap, but before T woke from his.

Looking back, I don't understand why it was tough and why I felt the way I did.  But I do know, in that moment the tasks seemed so daunting. The thought came to mind today after I did a workout and did get to shower, pretty close to right after. Sometimes, we are our biggest obstacles creating our own versions and playing it in our heads, while letting the "what ifs" get us stuck.

All to often, I will do this.  I could list the what if questions, the scenarios I would run through my mind, but it would take pages. What I will say is that it can be done, we can figure it out, and we can keep things simple. We need to let them happen in their own timing sometimes, but it can be done.  There will come a day when all those tasks that seemed so daunting, come to you with the greatest of ease. For now, take heart in the idea that you are not the only one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mini Vacation ~ Duluth

My oldest has been asking to see lighthouses, especially to see Split Rock.  This time around we didn't make it all the way up to Split Rock, but we settled on Duluth with a short trip up to Two Harbors during nap.  So we got to see lighthouses and a few extra things.

For us, Duluth is about a two hour drive.  I was excited to head to Duluth for a mini vacation.  We hyped it up as much as we could with our oldest (maybe a little too much).  But we were all ready to go.  Staying in water park hotel, watching the lake freighters, seeing the lift bridge, and just being near the great waters of Lake Superior.

We showed our son videos of the lift bridge, the boats, and even the lighthouses.  He was excited to go.  We showed him pictures of the water park and all talked about all we could do.

I will admit, I was nervous and worried about how it would all go.  First vacation all four of us, being in a hotel room, and doing a water park.  My son loves water and he loves playgrounds, the water park seemed like the best of both.  Not to mention all the extra cool things we would get to see while in Duluth.

Our room faced the lake, so when it wasn't foggy, we got to see the lighthouses, the lift bridge, and even watch the boats coming and going. It was great!  We played in the water in the morning, sat on the balcony watching the lake while the youngest napped, and explored Canal Park in the evenings.

We all needed this mini vacation for many reasons.  Extra family time, trying something new, and helping to give us a better perspective on vacations with four of us.  All around a good time.  We are ready for our next adventure!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Let's Get This Exercise Started!

I've tried the workout dvds and the workouts on netflix.  Yet, I was never able to keep them going.  Maybe I got bored of them, maybe it was because I couldn't set the stuff up quickly, or maybe it's because I didn't have it written down.  Who knows really.  I just know that I would got a bit and then stop.  Never giving it a chance to become a part of my life.

Now, because I want to make health a priority, it seems to come more easily.  Not to say that I don't have set backs.  I started after I was cleared from the doctor.  I had a c-section delivery, so I had to wait until my 6 week follow up and even after that had to ease into it.

I began in December 2015.  It was slow at first and easy going.  Then came the holidays and a family vacation during which, I did not work out.  It kept tugging at me though, so I got back to it a few times a week.

I noticed a difference on the days I did exercise.  Despite the lack of sleep, working out part way through the day seemed to help.  It helped me make it through the afternoons with just enough energy.  But it wasn't really until I put it all on a calendar that I really got moving more consistently.

My sister in law, Taylor, told me about Fitness Blender.  Its a great! There are so many workouts to choose from, for free even.  There are also programs you can buy that also include a meal plan.  Even those are inexpensive.  There is a favorites section and a calendar that you can input your own workout plan.

I highly recommend filling in the calendar with workouts.  It makes it easier to get going and you can get to working out faster.  It wasn't until I entered workouts on specific dates and set a monthly goal that I finally started to see results.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Take a Moment

All to often life passes us by in a quick haze of the daily grind.  We fill our calendars full of things, whether for ourselves or our families.  We are busy, too busy really.  And then we fill our to do lists with even more.  Today, everyday, every week, take a moment.

Take this moment to...

Hold your child while they sleep (even though your other child is watching tv)

To help your child, even though you know that they can do it on their own (and despite the fact that you are frustrated having to help them)

To answer the questions

To listen

To talk to God and thank him, even for the smallest things

To breath in the scent of your child, for that baby smell quickly turns into kid smell and then they are grown

To snuggle, rock, and carry them, because one day they won't ask any more

To be present with what is going on around you and in front of you (put the phone, the tablet, the distractions down)

To slow down, give things up, free your calendar

To say no to things that bring no joy and weigh you down, and yes to those that make your heart sing and bring you happiness

To give a smile away and to share laughs

To share stories

To give your loved ones a hug, a squeeze, an arm around their shoulders

To tell those most dear to you that you love them, they are amazing, beautiful, and how much they mean to you

Take a moment, this moment

Friday, May 27, 2016

When traveling, bring travel candy

My husband, for years, whenever he would go on road trips and vacations he would always get some type of candy for the ride.  It usually consisted of at least one favorite kind of candy and could withstand being left in the car.

After getting married, any time we went on vacation we would pack some type of travel candy with us.  Sometimes it what was whatever we could find in the house.  Other times, it was on the shopping list to get before we left.

Even when my husband would travel on his own, I would got out before he left and by some of his favorite candy.  Usually Mike and Ikes and Good and Plenty made the list.  But for car trips, we always get a big bag of Twizzlers for sure.

We recently continued this tradition on with our oldest son.  We went to Duluth for a few days and before we left we made the decision that we needed to go get travel candy.  We made a quick run out the day before and let him choose what he wanted.  He chose the Mike and Ikes while I grabbed the Twizzlers and Junior Mints.

My son loved the idea and couldn't wait to have the candy.  He liked it so much, we had to dig in our candy stash at home so we could save the candy for when we left.  He greatly enjoyed having bits of candy throughout our road trip.  By far he liked the Mike and Ikes and Junior Mints, the Twizzlers not so much.  That's okay, my husband and I enjoy those, so we don't mind having them to ourselves.

It's a fun little tradition to continue on with our kiddos.  I am guessing our next road trip he will be asking for some travel candy...although it will only be a 40 minute drive at most to get there.  But it will still be fun.

What road trip traditions do you have with your family?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Finding Inspiration and Motivation

With all areas in life, we need to find inspiration.  Well, inspiration and motivation.  The two concepts really go hand in hand and can really make a significant impact on the success of something or reaching our goals and dreams.

We tend to find people who are doing what we want to do or have done or have been through what we are going through before us to help guide us through our life.  A role model of sorts really.  These peoples successes and failures help us to set our goals and dreams into motion.

Healthy is a lifestyle.  It is something I am beginning to take more seriously.  My healthy is a priority and needs to be a priority.  Not just physical health and well being, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual.  All areas of our life need to be in good health.  Every now and then we need a tune up in one or more of the areas.  Life's ups and downs, and the curve balls that are thrown at us throw us off balance in one or more area.

I've tried repeatedly over the years to put my health first, especially my physical health.  I did this through modified diets, dieting, exercising, or whatever I could think of to make it improve.  However, through it all, I always failed.  I would begin something, then something would throw me off and I would put it by the wayside to be picked up later.  Well, more often than not, later didn't come.  I just left it there and time passed by.  Then, I would try something different when I felt the push again to get things back on track.

I bet, if you looked along the wayside of my life, there are a lot of things I started and just let fall off.  This needed to change.  I figured out that I was lacking inspiration to get me going and motivation to keep me going.

I knew I wanted to make some changes, but was stuck in a rut and didn't know where to begin.  Plus, the idea of trying to find time to work out with a newborn and a toddler, almost preschooler stressed me out.  I needed to find the inspiration.  I found it through my sister in law, Taylor.  She has been working out and following different programs to get her lifestyle healthy.  And her success in it shows.  Not only has she been my inspiration to get me going initially and to pick it up back up again after a break, she has been an awesome motivator too.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting This Fitness Going

From the time I was little all the way through high school I was in sports.  Most of the time it was gymnastics, but in high school it was track and field as well.  I was healthy and physically fit.  Then, I went to college.

In college, I didn't do as much and ate like a college kid.  A few years in, I began to do a little more on the nicer days around campus.  But still not as active as I once was.  I know I gained weight, some of it I probably needed to, but some was more than I needed.  Either way, I became less active and ate less healthy.  In some ways, the four years in college were a much needed break from daily sports.  However, when you get out of the routine of it all then your habits change.  It takes time to get rid of bad habits and replace them with better ones.

Fast forward 12 years and with time I became less and less active and didn't watch what I ate.  It happens, life happens.  Both things were not put as a priority in my life.  Add in three pregnancies and two active kids, my priorities began to change.

Every year I put getting healthy on my list of musts for the year.  I would start out strong and then as the year progressed it got pushed to the side.  Or, I would only think on it and never go anywhere with it.

With my second pregnancy I gained weight, and then some.  But then again, I gave into my food cravings and ate things that I shouldn't have on a regular basis.  As my son got older, I began to realize the benefits of eating better and being more active.  If not for myself and to keep up with him, but to model what it means to eat well and be active.

After my second son arrived on the scene I knew it was time to actually make some real changes.  I began to exercise more regularly and eat better.  Then again, after finding out that I couldn't eat dairy based products it really made it easier to eat better, as well as caffeine and chocolate.  I had to change my mindset and pay more attention to what I ate.  In the long, it made me be more creative when cooking and was able to avoid a lot of junk food.

Nearly 7 months after my youngest was born, I am beginning to see the results of my work.  I am also gaining a new perspective on things as well.  I've adopted the motto "Put good in, get good out".  I've used it for what I do, what I eat, what I want my end goal to be, and more.  Even more so, it's a phrase that I use with my oldest to get him to eat better.

So, I challenge you to put good in and get good out.  What is the first step you are going to take today?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Some Workouts Go Like This

My oldest son is a great encourager and gets me going on days I don't want to exercise.  He will ask, and ask, and ask until I do some exercises.  Today was one of the days where he decided he wanted to help.  Only this time, he thought it would be helpful to climb on me while doing push ups.

Not really helpful, but I told him to wait and I would do some stuff that he can help with.  Nothing like doing squats, 20 seconds on 10 seconds off with a 35 pound 3 year old on your back.  He helped with a few other exercises too.  But I think he liked the squats and lunges the best.

I will admit, after getting very little sleep last night and thinking to myself "ain't no way I am going to be working out today. I think I would rather nap."  Well, I squeeze a quick workout in before nap times for both kids and then managed to lay down for a much needed rest myself.