Parental Truth #2: Your Kid is Going to Grow Up

I know most of you come here for delicious recipes that are mostly paleo.  But sometimes I feel the need to ramble a bit about being a mom.  This post is a mom rambling.  You’ve been warned.

It’s been two days now that I haven’t gotten my “thingy” upon dropping Emron off at school.  I usually walk him to the corner, give him a quick hug and kiss, he will tell me, “Don’t forget your thingy,” then runs ahead twenty feet, turns back around and blasts hugs and blows kisses my way.  We both mouth “I love you,” before he takes off to begin his day at school.

diy-string-heart-03

As I stood waiting in vain for my extra dose of love today, I lamented on growing up.  I thought on all of the milestones that we so readily embrace; first words, first steps, first days of school.  But what about the lasts?  The last day I got my “thingy.”  The last diaper I ever changed.  The last time I made baby food.  I didn’t write these events down, didn’t keep track of them.  But they are just as valid when it comes to tracking growth, maybe more so.

Do I miss changing diapers?  Heck no!!  But I wish I could go back to that last diaper changed, pause the mechanical motions, and just soak it in.  “This is the last diaper I will ever change, this is a moment that will never happen, ever again.”

Sometimes it feels like we are so quickly racing toward firsts, that we forget to embrace the lasts.

I don’t know what tomorrow will hold; if Emron will remember to do our “thingy.”  If he doesn’t, I have marked the day and I know that the last time I got blasts of hugs and kisses floating in the wind was February 7, 2014.  I am okay with that.  I know that Emron feels secure in his school and at home, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to go so easily.  Giving him that gift of security feels pretty good, even if it only further proves Parental Truth #2.

Stay warm out there.

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I Am Project

I stumbled upon the I am… Project a few days ago and found the idea touching.  From the Facebook page creator, the goal of the project is to: flood the internet with more uplifting of kids than shaming of kids.  She goes  on to say:

I am saddened by the amount of kid-shaming photos and stories I see all over the internet.  My proposal is that we flood the world wide web with kid-positivity and uplifting stories and photos.  So, grab a kid (preferably your own; if not get permission) and ask them to finish the sentence, ‘I am…’  Write down what they say (I guarantee it’ll be positive) snap a picture of them holding it and post it everywhere!  Post them here as well and let’s see how many uplifting, positive things we can learn about our children!

I could not wait to let Emron, who is almost six, go crazy with this.  I thought he would have so many good things to say about himself; so many that it would be difficult to make a workable list.  I was a little surprised by his anxious reaction when I asked him to finish the sentence: I am…  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad my kid doesn’t have an inflated ego, but as we talked about ideas of what to write he still seemed a little stressed.  In the end Emron decided to write: I am STRONG. 

I am...

Isn’t he the cutest?

I not am overly praising in my parenting style.  I don’t hand out complements for every-day tasks like brushing your teeth or getting dressed.   But as I watched Emron struggle with this project something inside clicked.  Now I feel re-committed to giving genuine and specific complements.

I am happy to have found the I am… Project.  In participating, I have learned more than I thought I would.  I was oblivious to the “kid shaming” that is all over the internet.  I was also reminded of how integral my role as a parent is.  There is so much truth in the saying that parenting isn’t for the faint of heart!

If you are interested in learning more about the I am… Project, you can check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Make it a great day!!

 

The End of a Year

Today is the last day of 2013, although, technically, some folks in other parts of the world have already rung in 2014.  The passing of another year is a cause for reflection and reminiscing.   I remember having a newborn crying in my arms, feeling frazzled as could be, being told to enjoy it because it goes by so fast.  There is truth in that.  For me, it seems each year passes at an ever increasing rate.  Flying by.

When I look back on the year I feel contentment.  The year started off bumpy, no doubt, but has ended pretty well.  I am happy in our new life in NOVA.  I am beyond grateful that I got to spend two weeks with my sister this year.  It had been almost four years since we had seen each other!  I am thrilled with the health our family has enjoyed, especially little Eli.  I loved our trip to Colorado this fall; seeing family and friends.  I cannot believe how many wonderful people have touched my life this year.  My stomach is happy with all the food it has eaten and my muscles are happy to be getting bigger.  2013 will go down in the books as a good year.

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersI hope the coming year provides many opportunities for improvement.  There are a few things specifically I’d like to work on.

I would like to become more of a “yes mom.”  I often find my first response when dealing with the boys is, “no.”  I will work on this; take a step back before responding.

I will strive to spend more one-on-one time with all of my boys.  That means finding a babysitter for date nights, and leaving Murry home with one of boys while I take out the other one.

I will continue to run and lift hard.

We will continue eating a clean diet, and I will continue to take pictures of my food so I can share with you!

I am excited to see what is in store for the new year and I wish you all a Happy New Year.  Stay safe!

Random Act of Christmas Kindess: An Exercise in Being Flexible

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m a planner.  I set out to do something and I do it.  This personality trait can be helpful.  For example, if I’ve decided to run six miles one morning, I’ll run six miles regardless of the weather or how I’m feeling.  It also gives a tremendous amount of structure to my days as a stay at home mom.  For each day of the week there are assigned chores.  Monday: clean the bathrooms, Tuesday: dust and vacuum, Wednesday: mop the floors, you get the idea.

Since getting married and especially since having kids being a planner has become more difficult.  There are still many things that I can control, but not everything fits into my plan for the day; like sick kiddos and unaccounted for messes, or even positive things like the opportunity to give extra loves to the babe that is supposed to be tucked in bed or share a laugh while playing Legos instead of getting the laundry done because it’s laundry day.  My plans can actually be a hindrance at times.  I accept this and I own it and I’ve been working on being more flexible.  I’ve become less selfish and more able to go with the flow.  Honestly, I’ve grown up a lot.

Enter our 13 Days of Christmas Giving activity.  I thought hard about what I wanted to do with the kids; things that would help them to feel the power of giving and that they would understand.  As a family we’ve discussed each of the activities and fielded lots of questions.  We’ve been moving forward with our Giving and it’s been amazing.

Delta High SchoolThen came a plea from a friend I know from high school.  I didn’t realize she had moved back to our rural town with her family.  Furthermore, I never stopped to think about giving back to my old stomping grounds.  I was focused solely on the community outside of my front door.  This friend proposed raising $3000 to give to families within our town, Delta; people who don’t have warm coats to combat the Colorado winters, who don’t have shoes; folks who certainly would not know Christmas this year.

When I first read through her solicitation, I found a way to convince myself that I wasn’t going to help.  I had my plan and my plan did not include giving to Christmas in Delta.  We were going to give toys to Toys for Tots and put together toiletry kits for the local women and children’s shelter.

A week passed and still I hadn’t forgotten about this idea to give to the people in my hometown.  I wrestled with the idea.  I wasn’t sure how to explain to the boys that I went online and gave money to families that wouldn’t have Christmas without our help.  The toiletry kits and toys seemed so much more tangible, that’s how I planned it.  But then I thought back on the conversation I shared with my five-year-old.  He didn’t understand what it would be like to live in a shelter or how someone could even end up there; and why didn’t they just buy a house, he asked.  The complexities were lost on him.  So did it really matter if we gave locally or to my hometown?  It wasn’t what I planned, but giving back to the place I came from felt so right and so I did it.

I decided to be flexible, to change the plan a little.  My friend is just $100 short of her fundraising goal as I write this and I am grateful I was able to be a part of her effort!

13 Days of Christmas Giving

Confession:  I’m having a really hard time getting on board with the whole “Christmas Spirit” thing this year.  Maybe it’s because extended family is not close by and there are no plans to see anyone anytime soon.  Maybe because the weather won’t make up it’s mind; one day is 20 degrees the next it’s 60.  Maybe it’s because Christmas consumerism has been thrust upon us since before Halloween…  Perhaps, it’s a combination of all of these things.

BUT!  Instead of dwelling in my lack of spirit we’ve forged on, as a family and begun our 13 Days of Christmas Giving.  I’ve been inspired by other families who count down to Christmas with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK) but my kids have been little, or my life has been crazy, or both.  This year would be different, this year I decided we could handle some form of the 24 day count down and opted to tackle 13 “projects” to help us feel the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving.  This is what we’ve done so far:

RACK 1: Count your blessings and write them down.

My five-year-old tied what he had been learning at school into the discussion.  He told us about wants and needs and the difference between the two.  I just love when the home and classroom work seamlessly as a team!  We continued working on our list and came up with some really good ideas.  Toward the end things got a little silly; the three-year-old counted “Mon Shooters” among his blessings (and yes “Mon Shoter” is in the entire family’s vocabulary although none of us really know what it is).

RACK 2: Leave a candy cane on the neighbor’s doors.

We live in a condo and so it was really easy to hit a lot of doors in a short amount of time.  The boys had fun and loved the idea that someone would come home to find a sweet surprise at their door.

Candy Cane RACK

RACK 3: Leave popcorn on the Redbox machine.

Yesterday we placed popcorn packages on the Redbox machine yesterday so anyone renting a movie could enjoy a movie with complimentary popcorn.

Redbox RACKSo, that’s it for now.  I’ll share more as we complete different RACKs and hopefully as we do more for others I’ll start to feel more Christmas like.  Maybe some holiday baking will help…  Stay posted!

Thanksgiving 2013

“Rest and be thankful.”

– William Wordsworth

While today may not be the most restful day for cooks in the kitchen, I hope you’ll take some time to reflect on all the things for which you are thankful.

I am thankful for a strong mind and body.  For children who play with no difficulties, for their laughter that envelops me.  I am thankful for a husband that understands my brand of crazy and loves me even more for it; for a man that takes care of his family.  I am thankful for my extended family and the joy and experiences we share; for the knowledge I’ve gained from each and every one of them.  I am thankful for friends near and far; people who lift me up and inspire me, people who let me be me, friends who believe in me.  I am thankful for teachers and the unexpected places in which they can be found.  I am thankful for a warm home, food in the refrigerator, clothes on my back; for technology and dishwashers and washing machines and of course computers.  I am thankful for my country and the freedoms which I enjoy; I am thankful for those who chose to protect these freedoms for me.  I am thankful for today.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Four Reasons We Eat Dinner Together

Growing up we almost always had dinner at the table as a family.  It was what I knew; something I thought most families did.  Heck, I guess I even thought most families ate the way we did, too (salad with each meal, fresh meats, veggies, etc.).  I was unaware that my family was doing something different, something that I can look back on and say, “Wow, this really made a difference in my upbringing.”  The time we spent together at the table built an integral foundation for my well being and proved to be a tradition that would be carried through adulthood and into my own family.

Kids Plates

I recently asked my kids what they liked about having dinner together every night.  My five-year-old replied that he liked being with our family, holding hands and most of all giving quizzes.  Our table conversation very often goes something like this:

E1 (5 years old): Mom quiz?

Me: Sure.

E1: What’s five times five?

Me: Do you know this one?

E1: Let I think…no.

Me: It’s twenty-five.

E1: Okay, dad’s turn.

E2 (3 years old): Quiz dad??

It might not be the most intellectual conversation but we are all talking to each other.  And, apparently the big guy enjoys it.

My three-year-old had a very different answer to the question.  He responded, “Do you remember I have a mission for you?  You have to find my Spiderman flashlight.  And not let the puppy get my sword.”  The puppy is his brother, by the way.  I tried a redirect, but got nowhere.  I then asked if, at the least he liked mommy’s cooking and I got a big nodding head and a solid “Uh-huh.”  It was good enough for me. 🙂

It begs to reason that my five-year-old already grasps one of the biggest reasons we chose to sit down at the table and share a meal.  It’s about communication.  How are you?  How was your day?  What did you do?  These are simple questions but we are teaching our children to think outside of themselves; asking questions is a huge tool for life-long success.  Talking over dinner also helps me and my husband check in with the kids.  Did they have a good day at school?  Play with friends?  Were they feeling off? We gain greater insight as to what’s going on during their day outside of the home; we are building their trust, and as they get older I’m sure having some idea about their day-to-day life will give us a sense of security.  And hopefully, we will have set the precedent for honest two-way communication.

Not only are we working on communication but addressing manners, too.  Please pass the carrots?  May I have something to drink?  May I be excused?  Manners have been pounded into my children’s brains.  I’m on them all the freaking time, and the dinner table provides a place to practice.  You want the carrots but don’t ask nicely, well try again.  Is everyone sitting and eating, sorry, you’ll have to wait for another drink.  We aren’t mean about it, but manners are important.  With repeated use they become habit.

So besides the talking part of the meal, having dinner at home at the table provides me the opportunity to expand my family’s tastes.  We try new foods and new flavors.  Here’s a funny aside:  As a child, one Christmas my mom made the most delicious looking stuffed dried apricots.  I clearly remember asking her what was in them, and I very clearly remember getting some sort of a vague answer.  She said there were “pecans, a bit of honey, just try it.”  So I did.  And the deliciousness that I thought was maybe cream cheese was blue cheese.  I spit that sucker out fast!  I was seven, and had not acquired the taste buds essential to enjoy blue cheese, but you know what?  I tired it.  As the family’s head chef, I have the opportunity every night to put something in front of my family that they might not have ever encountered.  My kids like their veggies.  They like eating colors from the rainbow, things like red peppers, carrots, cauliflower, purple cabbage, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes.  Being willing to try what is placed in front of them is a lesson in manners, but also teaches the kids that it’s okay to try new things, and that veggies come in forms other than canned green beans and fried potatoes.

Specifically, eating at the table helps teach us the ability to listen to our body’s internal clues that we’ve had enough to eat.  It sounds straight forward, right?  But think about this: If you’re eating on the go, or in front of the TV what are you paying attention to, your show, the road or how much food you’ve consumed?  Our family eats at the table distraction free, aside from quizzes or plans of future missions!  We try to be flexible when it comes to cleaning the dinner plate.  I try to portion out food that is an acceptable amount for each family member, but if it’s clear that I’ve given too much we don’t force the issue.  Sometimes, especially if we’ve eaten out, when one of the kiddos eats too much and has a tummy ache, we talk about what they ate and how they feel.  Teaching self-awareness at the table is a skill that will translate into other arenas in life.  If you can tell your mom you are full and don’t want anymore food perhaps you can stand up for something that isn’t popular but that you believe in.  Plus, knowing that overindulgence makes you feel crummy will hopefully help you avoid overindulging in the first place.

There are so many reasons why eating at the table is worth the effort.  For our family it boils down to communication, manners, trying new foods and learning how to listen to your body.