Living in the Sunshine

 
I stopped to see the beach and to listen to the waves for 5 minutes before heading home, because I was really “busy” today. 

We were going to sit in the hot tub and drink our coffee, but we didn’t. We went for a walk with the kids instead.

We were going to go for a drive to test out my friend’s new car, but we didn’t. We sat on the patio and watched the hawks circling overhead instead.

We were going to make lunch, but rather we put out fruit and meat and cheese and told everyone to help themselves.

We joyfully watched the kids play all day, appreciating them still being kids. We relaxed in the sunshine and talked the day away and there was nothing else I would have rather done. We were very busy, being.

We flowed and danced and loved being together side by side, enjoying our kids and our friendship and living our happily ever after in the sunshine. This is it. This is my version of the best life. Thank you my friend, for sharing your weekend and family and home and thoughts with me. xo

How did you live it up today? What does your happily ever after look like?  Be well, BeLOVErs.

Their Mothers

We celebrated our friend today, who is preparing to give life to a newborn son in a few weeks. She was glowing with joy and anticipation, thinking about what to name him and getting his nursery ready for his arrival.  We were so happy to see her and to share her excitement and to shower her with gifts and love and friendship.

Although we were celebrating new life, my mind kept wandering to Paris and the shock and loss of life and terror that has risen again over night. I kept thinking of the men who chose to end their own lives by blowing themselves up and wondered about their mothers and their childhoods. Who are these children that grew up to think that death was the way of life? How did they come to choose this path? I don’t understand, from a mother’s viewpoint. I don’t understand hate.

One mother raised three suspected terrorists. Seriously? Can you imagine being a mother who raised three evil beings? How does she live with herself and what led her children to darkness? I would be horrified.  I don’t understand this will. I don’t understand this life choice. I don’t understand. And I don’t necessarily blame the mothers for their children’s behaviors, but I do wonder how she would explain having raised 3 suicidal terrorists and want to know what she thought led them in this direction.

Life is a mystery.

Wishing you peace, mamas. Love your babies well and be well.

nAMaste

11-17-15 – After I shared this curiosity and couldn’t find any story about the mothers, one showed up.  Here is a link to the heartbreaking article about how their children abandoned them to join a cult. The title is Mothers Of Isis and can be found on Huffingtonpost.com if the link doesn’t work.

Mothers of Isis

Face Time

Did you get to look in the eyes of someone you love today?

I just watched a video telling us to look up and to get off our phones and screens and to be present and connected with those near us. It was quite powerful and made me think. I am definitely addicted to technology and love reading Facebook updates and seeing Instagram posts, checking in with my “real” world. But I also love putting down the screens and being outside and playing and laughing and teasing and talking in my real, real world with my loved ones.

Today my 9 year old asked me if I wished he was still a baby. I told him that I loved him being a 9 year old and loved seeing all the things he could do by himself and how much I liked watching him play sports and reading his writing and loving him being 9. I told him I missed the times when he was little too, but that I loved where he was now. He said he missed being a baby or little because then we were together more and had more time together and that I paid attention to him all the time. We had just came home from being on a late night family date to the ice cream creamery in Santa Clara. It surprised me that he was desiring more attention, as we just had shared quality time together. But he made me think.

I stopped what I was doing and moved from my seat at the table to sit next to him on the bench where I could hug him. I held him tightly and told him the story about how mamas have to let out the leash slowly. I told him how we used to be this close and we were attached by an umbilical cord. And then he got bigger and was with me all the time until he started to crawl, yet I would follow him. Then he learned to walk and I would follow him wherever he went. I always wanted to keep him safe and to know where he was. I told him as he grew, so did his independence and he would venture off a bit further away from me, but I still knew where he was and was always paying attention to him. He learned to play outside with me watching and would walk three houses away and come back. As he grew, he asked to walk to his friends house around the corner, and I’d wait and watch until he came back, but I let him go. I reminded him how he asked to go around the block, and I anxiously allowed him out of my sight and waited for him to return and how that was a big step in our life journey for both of us. He keeps gaining independence and I keep letting go, or letting out a bit longer leash.

Today he went to the park with his big brother and I told him how I let him go and trusted him and that I worried about him when he wasn’t close to me, but that I knew he would come back and I was always thinking of him, even when he wasn’t with me. He smiled. I think he felt better knowing that even though we weren’t together, he was still connected to me and that I actually was paying attention to him.

I told him how his older sister and brother went away to sleepover camps and how I let them go and worried about their needs when I wasn’t there to take care of them, but knew they were ok and was so happy when they came back. I told him he would continue to go away and come back and that I’d always love him and wait for him and be thinking of him forever.

He told me he would always love me, even when he was mad at me. I told him I would love him no matter what and that he’d always be my baby and that I would always kiss and hug him no matter what. He hugged me and smiled and I think he felt content again, being a big 9 Year old.

So this wasn’t the story I was planning to share today, but it came up right before bed. I was going to share the importance of spending real, face time with people you care about and share some pictures from my date with my honey. We had a busy weekend filled with family and baseball and events, but we snuck away for a couple hours to check out a new place we hadn’t been before. We packed a picnic lunch and we sat outside at a local winery, enjoying each other’s “face time,” a glass of wine and beautiful views. Life is good. Have a great week, my friends, filled with love and face time!! xo

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Yell, Spank or Drink?

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The Wall Street Journal has an article in the Personal Journal section today under the Work & Family section that talks about the damage from yelling at your kids vs. spanking them.  

Parents today have been conditioned to avoid spanking and have turned to other means to maintain control and order, which might be more harmful than spanking.  The title of the article is “Damage Control: Talking to Your Child After You Yell.”
WSJ article on Yelling

This is a hot topic in my household as we leave the Golden Years of Parenting (Ages 4-12) and transition into the Resistance Movement (Ages 9-18+).  

I was listening in on different conversations with three groups of women last night who were all talking about the same topic, but with different age groups.  

There was one friend talking about parenting an adult child who still lives at home, yet does not see the significance and importance of doing the limited tasks that are asked of him and the conflict that ensues.

There was me talking about my challenges of parenting teenagers (and one who thinks he’s a teenager because he has older siblings) who seem to know it all and don’t want to do the limited tasks that are asked of them and the conflict and slow resolution process that ensues.

And then there were the grandparents talking about their under 4 year old grandchildren who were in their care, and the temper tantrums and discussions that they were dealing with as they tried to figure out the best strategies to help the little ones do what was expected of them.

This got me thinking, we’re all in this parenting gig for life and there’s no end in sight!  Just kidding… but seriously what can we do besides yell, hit or drink too much or give up?

We know we have to set expectations and guidelines and boundaries and be consistent and follow through and enforce consequences. But knowing how and when to apply the right tools in a kind and loving and firm way is the challenging part, right? And we need time and patience to do a good job, and both of those are highly limited resources.  And heaven forbid we throw in sickness or PMS or being overworked or overtired!!

We don’t want to yell or spank or lose our temper, yet we want to manage and shape the behaviors of our future leaders. So how do we do it?  What are the best practices?  Here are my top 10 ideas – for now.  What would you add? What would you change? Let’s write our own How To Manual!  Wouldn’t that be great if kids came with one? 😉

 

1. Don’t take their behavior personally.
They’re not usually intentionally doing things to upset us or to go against us, even though it might FEEL like that. They’re usually just self centered and doing what feels right for them in the moment. Their priorities are different than our priorities. Their wants and desires are not the same as ours and they don’t always have the self-discipline to know the difference and when/how to put their own needs aside to do what’s right and expected of them for the greater good. We have to listen and be understanding too.

2. Before you react (yell, scream, hit or say mean things), count to three inside your own head and breathe in, breathe out with each count.
Practice self control. Give yourself a time out and moment to plan how to address the behavior in question. We want to focus on problem solving and try to stay away from the emotional roller coaster ride. 

3. Start with a positive perception of your child, despite their negative behavior and before you begin the discipline process.
I like to look at them and think, “I love you more than anything you say or do.”  It’s my little mantra that I say over and over again in my head, to help me focus on my goal of loving them through the parenting process. And when I’m mad at them, I try to think of all the good qualities they possess and I remind them of their goodness despite the behavior we’re trying to improve. And I try to not make the issue a big issue, because this too shall pass and the relationship between us and their self esteem is more important than one event. Yet, I still hold them accountable and love them through it. 🙂

4. Parenting takes time.
We all have other things we want or have to do and time is limited. But it takes time to lovingly teach and guide them at any age. Give yourself time to teach the lessons, with kindness and firmness. Set a timer, and it doesn’t have to be long, but we do need to make time for it. We can do anything for 15 minutes. Be patient and practice waiting.

5. Use “I” messages, instead of “You” messages.
For example, say “I feel frustrated because your room isn’t clean and we agreed to that expectation. It’s important to me and I’d like your cooperation. When can you finish this task?”  Say how you feel and what you expect and ask them to be part of the timely solution.

6. Have realistic expectations and be flexible.
Expect your children to be perfectly imperfect too. It’ll help with both your frustration levels.  

7. We are all teachers.
We don’t get paid enough and it’s a very important job. We want to help our kids to focus on solutions and to be contributing members of their family and to society. When something isn’t as expected, wait for a calm moment to explain the situation. Give the child a choice in how to fix the wrong and help guide them to possible solutions. This teaches problem solving skills and helps them to be part of the solution that they choose.

8. If you lose your temper and react negatively, apologize and forgive yourself as well.
It’s ok for us to make mistakes too and it’s the right thing to fix the relationship when we make a mistake. This teaches our kids that it’s ok to make mistakes, to be vulnerable, to say you’re sorry and to try again. It also teaches positive communication skills and takes the pressure off from trying to be perfect. Love is unconditional.

9. Be consistent, kind, firm and confident.  
We are setting boundaries and expectations for our kids and they desperately need us to do that. The boundaries and expectations will change over time and they will challenge them, but it is our job to define them, to communicate our expectations, and to consistently enforce them and follow through. They need to know what the boundaries are, what the consequences will be, and they need us to follow through with our words and actions. And we can do this kindly and firmly, without yelling or losing our temper as we follow through. Whispering is actually a powerful tool.

10.  Have fun with your kids.
Laugh and play and be silly. Life is stressful and we don’t always have to be so serious. Use humor and joke around and dance and tickle and wrestle and hug and love one another. Each stage is so short and this too shall pass. Sometimes hugging it out is all that is needed and having a Do-over moment, that gives everyone a chance to start over and try again. It’s never too late to try again. It’s a new minute. Try again.

All of these are easier said than done, but we have to remind ourselves that we are still learning and practicing this life thing just as those who are in our care and we have to keep trying and practicing and not give up as we learn by doing. Forever. Sigh.  

We are not perfect, nor should we expect ourselves to be. And we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others or their Facebook updates for the sake of feeling badly, or to pass judgment, but rather for continuous learning. We are perfectly imperfect and have to be gentle and forgiving of ourselves and those in our care as they are perfectly imperfect too. We’re all still learning and have to continue this journey together, breathing through each event and moving through them peacefully, hopefully. 😉

Hugs! xo

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Perfectly Imperfect

I think acknowledging that I am perfectly imperfect is a way of admitting I make mistakes and that I choose to focus on learning and growing despite the experiences that are less than desirable.

We are human. We mess up. And so what? This is normal. We all do and it’s part of living and loving and learning and growing. And because I choose to focus on positive living, I choose to share the mostly positive stories along my journey, because I think that if we focus on what’s right and good, we will want to repeat these behaviors. I choose to learn from the chaos of life, focusing on solutions, forgiving, and moving on to loving and living it up as quickly as possible.

When I make mistakes, I like to acknowledge them quickly and to apologize for any actions that create discomfort for others so that we can quickly move on and begin to enjoy each other again. I love learning, even when it’s challenging and points out ways I need to grow. I like to tell my kids that I’m still learning when I make a mistake. I hope that this allows them to know its ok to make mistakes too, that adults aren’t perfect and that we always have ways to continue learning how to become better at this life thing.

When a family member makes a mistake, I like to do the same. I like to acknowledge the issue, address why it happened and discuss how to make things better and then forgive and move on. My philosophy is to let things go, as quickly as possible, and to let go of anger, frustration and/or the need to be right.

My sister is visiting us today and was surprised when she witnessed a family disagreement. Our family is passionate and we have loud opinions that sometimes clash. She was thankful that we are normal, and that I am crazy!! :-). After we all calmed down, we apologized for our melodramatic parts and understood why things escalated at the moment. Hugs and kisses were shared and we went back to living and loving again, just like that.

Simplicity. It doesn’t have to be ugly and complicated or embarrassing.

Perfectly imperfect. How was your day?

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