mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Switch. — The Witch and the Candy Bowl.

So, as the resident “Non-Fan of Halloween, But Faking It, Momma”, the hoards of candy of this holiday is a little bit of an issue for me.

candyMany of you know that we hit a switch last year and have been trying to reduce our collective sugar intake.

Remember?

I told you about it here in the MommyVerb: Sweeten. (Which, by the way, is still THE most-viewed MommyVerbs blog post ever for some reason!)

But then I told you about how I am trying still to let the kiddos be kiddos, which includes some sugary … Balance.

So, as I was thinking about this Halloween which is tomorrow, I just didn’t feel good about buying $30 worth of candy for the Trick or Treaters.

I’ll admit it. It just felt wrong.

I can’t preach, less sugar, less sugar … and then hand out handfuls of sugary chocolate and goo on my front porch.

But it is hard. Because I don’t want to be THAT Mom at THAT house who gives out nickels or toothbrushes.

Nobody wants to be THAT Mom.

So, I made a switch.

I ordered $30 worth of glow in the dark goodies to hand out tomorrow night.

photo 3 (4)

Glow in the dark vampire teeth.

Glow in the dark skeletons.

Glow in the dark creepy crawlies.

Glow in the dark tattoos.

Glow in the dark cups and paddle balls.

Yes, I will be that Mom. That Mom that, at the end of the night, when all of the sugary goodies of Reese’s and Hershey’s and M & M’s look the same, the glow in the dark goodies will be remembered and played with … for at least 17 seconds before the sugar high sets in and they start bouncing off the walls.

But I’m taking it even one step further this year.  photo 4 (3)

I have introduced the concept of the Switch Witch to my kiddos.

You know, the Switch Witch. She’s right up there with the Elf on the Shelf and the Tooth Fairy. She loves candy and will show up on Halloween night to switch your children’s sugar collection for a new toy of some sort.

photo 2 (3)

While Y isn’t fully buying it, X is on board. At least in theory. And Y will be on board if it means she gets the coveted Rainbow Loom madness.

So, we are continuing our journey of making the switch.

From processed foods to whole foods.

From distracted time to intentional time.

These are little grape monsters. ...

These are little grape monsters. …

... and this is the kiddos working together to make them. Perfection.

… and this is the kiddos working together to make them. Perfection.

From sugar to well, not sugar.

It is time to make the switch.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: What is one thing you have switched up lately? What you eat? How you spend your time? Your attitudes toward work or health? What is a switch that you would like to make in your life?  Light-Switch-small

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Pause. — To find your pause. Before you hit play again.

I told you about the little guy across the street who hasn’t started school yet.

How in the afternoon, he comes outside to wait for the bus. Sometimes for an entire hour. How he sits and waits.

wait

How he waits patiently with wondrous anticipation for the big yellow school bus to bring some of his favorite people home.  How he holds that space for them. Sitting on the hill. Playing in the grass. Watching the bugs. Soaking up the sun. How he doesn’t miss a thing.

How when he hears the loud mufflers of that yellow bus come up over the hill and down around the corner, he jumps up and squeals for them and runs to meet and greet them. How he can’t wait to hear about their day. How’s he’s been looking forward to their arrival all day.

How he held this space for them.

This space in his day. This space in his life. This space in his attention and excitement.

Remember?

Well, this is what happens next:

reconnect

These two…

These two pause to talk to each other from the safety of their yards, yelling across the neighborhood street.

In the cutest four year old voice, he always asks, “How was your day?” And unlike many of us, I think he really, really listens to the answer.

X sits down in his driveway and one by one pulls out artifacts from his day at school.

X holds up papers of numbers he added, letters he wrote, books he authored, and pictures he drew and colored.

While his friend jumps up and down and paces back and forth, genuinely excited to hear about his buddy X’s school day.

Life is busy. Even when you are four and five. They are always off to the next adventure. Ready for the next game. On to the next toy.

But in their own way, this is how they catch up with each other.

They’ve been apart all day and inevitably this scene is followed quickly by “Can he come over to play? Can I go over to his house to play?”

But until that happens, they pause. They take the time to reconnect and catch up.

They hit the pause button. Before they hit play.

Y, on the hand, and as per usual, is completely different.

When she comes home, she turns into a pause button. An exhausted, slightly grumpy, very hungry pause button on the couch.

She needs, no, …craves…, some down time.

She needs a snack. She needs some quiet. She needs some zone-out time on the couch or in her room.

She has to pause to reconnect with herself. She needs to just catch up with her own thoughts.

She pours so much into her day, her friends, her work, pleasing her teachers, keeping up with everyone and everything.

She needs … pause.

Before she can reconnect and catch up with others. Before she comes asking to call this friend or ride her bike to that friend’s house.

She has to pause to find her pause button. Before she hits play.

Dear Tired Working Mommas: Transitions are hard sometimes. Coming home from school or work.

Really trying to leave work when we leave work.

Taking off our work costumes, like Superman, to reveal the true superhero Momma on the inside.

Even Superman had to pause to find a phone booth to change in.

Dear Tired Working Mommas: What if we all did that?

What if we all stopped, paused, for a few minutes and took some time to reconnect?

Hit the pause button on life as we come through the door.

Whatever our pause button looks like. If we just pause and take what we need, before we hit play again.

It might look like X’s pause button: Talk. Share. Show. Vent. Connect. Reconnect. Catch up. Ask. Listen.

Or maybe it looks like Y’s pause button: Hide. Sit. Still. Quiet. Change. Recharge. Be.

Either way, if we pause to find our pause in our transitions home, I think we might find it refreshing.

Hit the pause button on dinner and clutter. Hit the pause button on practice and homework. Hit the pause button on all that is … next.

And really focus on reconnecting. Really focus on catching up.

If we pause to find our pause in our transitions home, I think we might find it invigorating.

Hit the pause button on the venting. Hit the pause button on the rushing. Hit the pause button on the nagging or reminding.

If we pause to find our pause in our transitions home, I think we might find it more peaceful.

Dear Tired Working Mommas:

Transitioning from work or school to home can be hard sometimes. Taking off one hat, one suit, one job to swap with another hat, or suit, or job seems easy.

But it is hard sometimes.

Maybe we need to hit the pause button more.

Whatever our pause button looks like, let’s find it. Take it. Use it.

If it is a few minutes in the car in the driveway, finishing listening to that song, before anyone notices that you are home.

If it is a quick trip up the stairs to take off the skirt and heels to trade for the sweats and sneakers.

If it is a hug and a kiss with our partner or a minute to sit on the couch with the grumpy-ish Y.

Whatever it is.

Dear Tired Working Mommas: Pause to find your pause.

Transitions are hard sometimes. Leaving work when we leave work is easier said than done some days.

So, look for your phone booth. Make the change.

Pause to find your pause button.

Before you hit play again.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Button-Pause-icon

Today’s Challenge: Pause to find your pause button.

What do you need when you need to transition?

Do you need quiet? Do you need interaction?

Do you need music or a time to sit with a book?

What does your pause button look like?

What’s in your phone booth that helps you change from one activity to another?

Draw your own pause button. Create a description of what you need to recharge, refresh, reprogram.

Get out your colored pencils and crayons and visualize what pause means to you.

Then use it. Hit the pause button. Create that space for yourself in real life.

Hit the pause button. Before you hit play again.

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Thank. — Note. And Take Notice.

note

It has been a busy week. A good, but busy week.

It has been “Winning Choices Week.”

The week of the year that I spend traveling with a guest motivational speaker, going from school to school, sharing a positive, ‘make good choices’ message.

It has been a good week. A good, but busy week

I was already keeping a list of folks that I need to write Thank You notes for their help, all the while wondering when in the world I would make this happen.

And then, today, Y surprised me by bringing home a story that she had written at school for her Winning Choices Character Essay entry.

Here it is. A mini-guest blog post from Y:

“My Mom’s friend did a half marathon. They parked in a parking garage. When they came out of the parking garage, there was someone who was stopping buses so people could walk across the road. Nobody said thank you. My Mom’s friend could not find their car after the race. The Police helped them find their car. They found the parking garage they parked in. They asked the guy who was stopping buses if he had seen their car. He said yes. My Mom’s friend was surprised. There was at least 1,000 people there. The guy who was stopping buses said, “You were the only one that said, “Thank you” So I remember you.”  And he let them in to go get their car.”

Isn’t that great? I think she should totally win this character trait essay contest.  I’m her Mom and I think she is all kinds of awesome. And don’t tell her this, but maybe she’s too close to the event organizer, aka Mom,  to actually win. We’ll see.

It is also a very, very good reminder that this girl is a total sponge.

I told this story to Felix last week. I think it must have been while we were making dinner. I’m not even sure I fully connected to the fact that Y was there for the telling of this. Intentionally, too, because I do remember actually trying to keep some of the details from her, since we censored her access to information about this event for our own parental reasons.

But, she still managed to get most of the story right. She missed only a few very important details.

Yes. This is a story about my friend.

But she didn’t run a half marathon.

She ran a full marathon.

And not just any ol’ 26.2 mile marathon.

There were more than 1,000 people at this race.

It was more like 23,000. Because.

My friend was in Boston.

My friend ran in the Boston Marathon this year.  On April 15th, 2013.

It is true that my friend and her husband did park in a parking garage, so early in the morning before the race.

There was an attendant stopping buses to let them cross the street.

My friend and her husband did finish the race a little bit before the bombs exploded.

It is true that my friend and her husband couldn’t find their car and were talking with police to get locations of the local parking garages when they heard one bomb explode. And then a few seconds later, the second bomb explode.

They had no money on them. They had no change of clothes. They didn’t have their cell phones. They had actually hidden the key to the rental car on the actual car in the parking garage that they now couldn’t find.

Then there was pandemonium and chaos. And they just needed to let their families know that they were ok. People offered them money. People offered them a place to take a shower. The nearby hotel let them use the phone to call home. Ultimately, they called a friend to come and pick them up.

The next day, they came back into the city, but everything was shut down for security purposes. They went to the parking garage and asked the attendant if they could go in and look for their rental car.

He said, “Yeah. Totally. Your car is just inside. I remember you.”

My friend shook her head, disbelieving. “No way, there were 23,000 people here yesterday.”

He responded, “No. Really. I remember you. You were the only person, all day long, who stopped to thank me for being here to help yesterday. Your car is just inside to the right.”

He let them in and sure enough. There it was. Just where he said it was.

And he remembered her. Simply because she took the time to say, “Thank you.”

In the middle of a crazy day for him. (Even before the unimaginable evil entered that place and changed lives forever.) Two words. A simple “Thank you” made a huge impact on his day. And he remembered.

We cannot underestimate the power of two words. We have to start to notice more. Notice more and take note of the wonderful. The wonderful and the simple.

How hard is that? How much time does it take? Just to say, “Thank you.”

Just two words.  Thank you.

Now, take the time to write down kindnesses that you have really appreciated over the years, months, days.. or today.

And then, make the time to write them a Thank You note. A good ol’ fashioned, hand-written Thank You note.

These are important stories.

Note. And Take Notice.

Even during the busy weeks. The good, but busy weeks.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Make. — Mexicali Soup for the Tired Working Momma’s Soul.

mexicali bowl

I’m discovering today that….

All I really need to know… about being a Tired Working Momma…

…I could have learned from a favorite childhood book, called Mexicali Soup.

So, I’m thinking about creating a new MommyVerbs series for you:

Mexicali Soup for the Tired Working Momma’s Soul.

Mexicali Soup was my favorite book growing up.

I’m not sure I can tell you exactly why. It might have been the pictures and the story. Or maybe it was because of the way my Momma read it to me. But I seem to recall liking it a lot, too, because it was long, so it stalled bedtime a little more.

Seems I might have been a lot like X and Y in that regard.

I hadn’t thought of this book in years, until my Momma mentioned it after I wrote a post about my X and the rocking chair.

And then. I couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t wait to get home and find this book. I knew I had just seen it…but where?

There it was, on the bookshelf, right where I placed it in a special spot, to make sure it was always safe and sound.

It was written by Kathryn Hitte and William D. Hayes,illustrated by Anne Rockwell. Printed n 1970.

mexicali cover

Mine is in three pieces. The front cover. All of the pages fortunately still nicely glued together. And the back cover with a Rosie the Robot sticker that I must have foolishly put on it years ago, before I knew what a treasure it was.

My mom looked it up online and discovered that the only copies available are selling for more than $75.00.

Of course, to me, it is priceless.

And now, speaks to me more than it did when I was a kid.

Because.

It is about a Momma.

It is about a Tired Working Momma.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants the best for her family.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants the best for her family which includes eating well, with the best, freshest ingredients.

mexicali veggies

It is about a Tired Working Momma who is trying to balance wants and needs.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants to help her family fit in.

It is about a Tired Working who also wants her family to understand that is okay to stand out.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who learns that she can’t please everyone all the time.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who teaches her family that if one by one, we leave out the spice of life, we are going to end up with a bowl full of lukewarm water.

Sure. It is easy if we leave everything out.

But it doesn’t taste very good.

And another important lesson …

If Momma stops humming…it usually means trouble.

Mexicali Momma

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Time. — Choosing All the Times.

It is about time.

As I sit here and listen to the clock on the wall, tick, tick, tick… I am reminded that timing is everything.

Being a Tired Working Momma is about time. And the fact that there is just never enough of it.

Everywhere I go, I hear Mommas talking about the fact that they just need more time. If there were more hours in the day, minutes in the year, things would be better. Easier.

So, as Tired Working Mommas, we make choices.

And in time, our choices begin to define us.

We know we need to exercise. So we choose to set the alarm clock for 4:45 a.m. instead of getting the 7 or 8 hours of sleep that we need to function like a normal person. Then we wonder why we are so tired all of the time.

We know we need to eat healthy. But sometimes we choose to skip breakfast or don’t make time to make lunch as we rush everyone out the door to be on time.

We know we need to meet deadlines and get our work accomplished on time. So we choose to ignore the invitation and don’t find time for a cup of coffee with a friend or colleague.

Sometimes there is even so much work to do that we struggle to leave work when we leave work and so we use our time to sit on the couch to do a little more work after the kiddo’s bedtime.

It is about time. It is about choices.

And it may be time for us to make some changes.

There comes a moment in time where we have to start to believe that this is the right time.

We have to trust that this time in our lives is truly fleeting.

We don’t have time.

There will never be enough time, but there will never be another time like this.

And it is time for us to be ok with this. To make peace with this.

To trust that this is a great time.

This time of raising our kiddos is full of so many first times and last times.

Too many to count.

I realized this morning that I may have experienced one of those last times last night.

There is no better bedtime staller than my Y. However, her little brother, X, may be giving her a run for the money. His bedtime routine now consists of about 7 cannonballs, or as he says, ‘candyballs!’ as he jumps onto his bed and bounces around, while I gasp and wince as he almost hits his head 5 of those 7 times. Then there are the required 6 songs with the last one being sung two times in a row. Then there is time for a hug. A hug and a kiss. And then just a kiss. He still kisses those cold spots on the backs of my arms before we launch into a silly speech with all of the final goodnights before it is time to go to sleep:

“Good night. Sweet dreams. I love you. I love you more.” Times a million.

Sometimes this takes forever. And I can feel myself start to think of other things that I need to do after I tuck him in. I still have to tuck Y in. And that can take just as much time. I still want to go downstairs and finish that piece of writing. I still need to look at the lunch menus…ok, let’s be honest here, Felix makes the lunches, so I’ll let him do that. But I do still need to clean up the dishes or put the living room back together so I feel better about my house when I get up in the morning.  I still need to pick out my clothes or look at my calendar and decide what meeting I need to prepare for.

Often times my mind starts to spin like this during the time I am supposed to be ending my day with my amazing X. Sometimes I have to fight to stay in the moment.

So, this time, just as I was this close to being out of his bedroom door for the last time last night, X sat up and looked at me.

“I have one more question.” I know that I sighed. I know that I did. I hate to admit it now, but I know that I did that.

“Do you think it would be weird if you were to rock me in that chair tonight? Do you have time to do that just one time tonight?”

chair

The rocking chair. The rocking chair that I spent so many nights, so much time, rocking both of my babies to sleep, still sits in his room. I can’t remember the last time I even sat in it. It has been forever since I held one of my children in it. We joke about how long their legs are now and about how there was a time that they used to fit in my arms.

I stopped. I wanted time to stop for just a little bit.

And in that moment, I realized how fast this all goes. This time that flies in our face and races past us.

And when I think that they are stalling or wasting my time, because as a Tired Working Momma I have so much work to do. I am so wrong. Even though my time at work focused on teaching 80 people about community building in the classroom, this…this…without a doubt is actually the most important thing that I will do all day long.

So, I cleared off the 17 superheroes that did battle in this chair earlier in the day, and I sat down and held out my arms. He grinned from ear to ear and threw back the superhero covers and jumped out of bed. He awkwardly climbed up into my lap, giggling the whole time. And I tried to make him smaller. I tried to squish up his legs and remember the time that he used to fit here. All of him. Here in my arms.

And we discovered that he still fit. We snuggled up and I rocked him and he giggled. Maybe one part embarrassed, one part in celebration that he was indeed victorious and out of bed again. But I also think there was one part of him that remembered the times that we both sat like this. For hours. Together. Just us and the ticking clock on the wall.

Nowhere else to be. Nothing else to do.

It is these times. Times like this.

That makes it all worthwhile.

Because it is only a matter of time that he literally won’t fit in my lap any more.

And maybe that was even the last time he will ask to be rocked by me in that rocking chair.

Only time will tell.

And I know that tomorrow I will be rushed again to go out the door and do my time at work.

But I will choose. I will choose to try and fail and try, time and time again.

And I will let my choices define me. As a Tired Working Momma.

A Tired Working Momma who will choose to make the time, find the time, take the time to spend more time like this.

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Wear. — A Mom Wins the Tug of War By Not Picking Up the Rope.

Hi. My name is Sharon. I’m a Mom with two kiddos.

And it is true. I let my kids wear whatever they want.

(Waiting for the gasps from the fashionista police.)

Yes. I let them pick out their clothes.

I only have two rules:

1) It has to actually fit them.

2) It has to be appropriate for the weather.

Ok. There is a third rule too, the MVP rule. But this is reserved for special occasions and only invoked on school picture days or weddings or something like that. MVP=Mom Veto Power.

Other than that, it is a free square for them.

And a free square it is.

You see, I spent a year fighting this with the girl child when she was three.

All of  a sudden, she turned three and she had all of these opinions. They came out of nowhere and she no longer was the compliant child that I knew and loved. She didn’t want to put on the cute little sundress that I had laid out for her to wear. NO! She wanted to wear what she wanted and fought against the conformity of society’s expectations of say, matching or even complimentary colors.

She didn’t care if her socks match. She hated jeans. She wanted to wear the same shirt over and over. With flip flops.

Our mornings were filled with much yelling and crying and stomping off along with some gnashing of teeth.

And then one morning, I decided that was enough. Enough with the dreading the time of getting dressed.  Enough with the cajoling and bribing and arguing. Enough with the crying and tears and stomping off to our rooms. (That was her, not me….most of the time.)

This battle of wills, this power struggle, this tug of war never has to happen if I just don’t pick up the rope.

If I don’t let mis-matched socks, clashing colors, or bizarre layering draw me into an argument.

I chose just to let her wear what she wants.

Some days it is cute. Some days, it borders on just a little weird.

Some things are a phase. Some have become part of a signature style.

But I can say this. Our mornings are so much calmer. So much quieter. So much more fun.

The boy-child has now started to have just as many opinions about clothes as the girl-child. He doesn’t like pants or shirts with buttons anymore. He is newly obsessed with camouflage and thinks it should be worn daily. He thinks superhero t-shirts go with anything. (Ok, I might have to agree that is probably true.)

But he also has taken a liking lately to wearing his Daddy’s triathlon socks. Yes. To school.

Yes. Those are the heels of his Daddy’s socks sticking out from the back of his legs.

And yes. I have heard from several teachers at his school that they do a double take when he walks by. But then again, he’s so cute, I can totally understand that.

x socks

My advice: Let them wear what they want.

Brought to you by another Mom who chose not to battle this one by just not picking up the rope anymore.

Nope. Instead, I pick up my camera and post pictures on facebook. So we  can all enjoy the creative madness that is my children’s sense of style and fashion.

Happy Kids + Calm Mornings + A Good Giggle = A Mom Win.

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Hold. — Space for your people.

Dear Tired Working Mommas:

Lately, I have heard from many of you who are verging on the unhappy.

Overwhelmed.

Frustrated.

Tired.

I get it. I can be there, too.

I want to share a lesson that I learned recently from my beautiful Y …. that was taught to me again by the four year old from across the street.

Recently, I had an … irritating day. Something happened at work that bothered me.

I thought about it on the way home. I rushed in the door and picked up X and Y and rushed them back out to ball practice.

And I kept thinking about it. The irritation and frustration and annoyance felt all-consuming.

After her practice, we came home, did dinner, did homework, did baths and showers, did tuck-ins. Did the typical evening things.

But it wasn’t until I was saying the last ‘good-nights-I-love-yous’ to the girl-child did I understand how my bringing all that work stuff home really impacted her.

Just as I was about to leave her room, ready to finish the day and wind down for the evening, she said in a small voice from under her covers, “You didn’t really think I did a good job at practice tonight, did you?”

“What?!” As I sat back down on the side of her bed.

“Well, every time I looked over at you, you were standing with your arms crossed, looking all mad at me.”

Sigh. The walking talking mirror that is my daughter strikes again.

She was totally right. I never realized how I was must have looked to everyone else around me, including her.

Standing, arms crossed, outside the fence, probably with a scowl-ish look on my face as I fretted and replayed and held onto the annoying things from work that day.

I had missed it. I missed the beautiful warm autumn afternoon. I missed her smiles from first base. I missed hearing her voice as she talked and laughed with her friends. I missed my time with the Mommas, declining to walk and talk, choosing instead to stand and be only with me and my work thoughts.

I missed the joy from X as he played and rough housed with his ‘little brother’ buddies (the boys that get dragged to their big sister’s ball games and practices so often, but have such fun playing together.)

I missed the whole evening, seeing it as another chore, another task to get done before I could call it a day.

What a waste.

I didn’t hold space for my people.

Instead I let annoying tasks and meaningless deadlines and frustrating work situations, take up the space that is supposed to be for my loved ones, my favorite people in the whole world: My kiddos and my Felix.

I let that other stuff take up my time, space in my mind, and I missed a beautiful evening with my people. My people who love me unconditionally and want me to play with them, want me to sit with them, want me to listen to their stories, sing them songs, read them books.

I let that other stuff become bigger. I carried it home and invited it into my house to have a seat in my living room and pull up a chair at my table.

Dear Tired Working Mommas.

I know it is hard. I know we work hard. I know it is a difficult thing to leave work at work and come home to more work at home. Even when we have wonderful partners or when we don’t, we are still the Mommas and we still have work to do when we come through the door at 5:00 p.m. (or later).

But let’s try. Let’s try to see our homes as our refuge. The place where we enjoy our life, our blessings, our time.

Be thankful for our work and our jobs, but let’s try not to see our family as our second job. Let’s try to see them as respite, where we refuel, where we refresh.

Let’s find ways to leave work when we leave work and BE. HOME. when we come home.

I know it is not easy. I’ve been trying for the past two weeks and I’m sure I have failed more than I have succeeded.

But let’s try. Again.

***************************************************************

The other day Felix captured this picture and sent it to me.

I think it is just a beautiful, innocent, little image that brought me another powerful lesson on life.

wait

The little guy across the street hasn’t started school yet.

And sometimes in the afternoon, he comes outside to wait for the bus. Sometimes for an entire hour. He sits. He waits.

He waits patiently with wondrous anticipation for the big yellow school bus to bring some of his favorite people home. His big sister and his fellow little brother buddy, X. He holds that space for them. Sitting on the hill. Playing in the grass. Watching the bugs. Soaking up the sun. He doesn’t miss a thing.

And when he hears the loud mufflers of that yellow bus come up over the hill and down around the corner, he jumps up and squeals for them and runs to meet and greet them. He can’t wait to hear about their day. He’s been looking forward to their arrival all day.  He has his bike helmet already on, ready to ride and play.

He held this space for them.

This space in his day. This space in his life. This space in his attention and excitement.

I know what you are thinking …. he’s four. It is easier when you are four. Sure, it is.

But let’s try. Let’s try to capture a little bit of this “being four” spirit.

Dear Tired Working Mommas.

Let’s really leave work when we leave work. No matter if we’ve had the best day or the worst day.

Let’s look forward to going home. Let’s find that wondrous anticipation as we drive over the hill and down around the corner to see our house and our kids outside playing. Let’s change our clothes quickly and get covered in kisses and hugs and “how-was-your-days.”

Let’s hold that space for our favorite people.

Let’s try and fail and try again.

To leave work when we leave work.

To BE HOME when we are home.

And hold that space for our most loved.

For the ones that really matter.

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Fail. — Candy Crush Contemplations

1. You know how I feel about sugar. It is the devil. This game might be also.

2. It is addictive, like sugar, and will suck up your free time and your brain cells.

3. That being said, I’m on Level 28, trying to clear that stupid jelly.

4. What is that jelly stuff anyway? Seriously, candy in jelly? I don’t get it.

5. When I first saw the little girl in the pink dress, I thought she was a fish creature. Clearly, she is not. But still somewhat creepy.

6. I’m not sure why she is so upset when I don’t get rid of that jelly.  Why the tears? The drama? I want to tell her to get over it and stop making me feel bad for not getting her past the next level. I mean, really.

little candy girl

7. Is that tall CandyMan the one that says things like, “Sweet!” and “Tasty!” and “Delicious!”? Because I think his voice is creepy and suspicious.

8. The gameboard looks a lot like Candy Land. Is Hasbro paying attention?

9. Why is there a dragon in Lemonade Lake? Seems wrong.

10. Where did that genie in a bottle come from?

11. Why is there no end? I keep thinking that I have finished and magically new road appears with 30 new levels to get past. Even Y commented, “There’s no end to this game, Momma.” I know, honey. I know.

12.  I don’t like the red candies. They remind me of Mike n’ Ikes.  Which reminds me of licorice. I hate licorice. Hate.

13.  I really hope that no one out there uses real money to buy fake candy bombs. But I worry that people do.

14. It is nice that Candy Crush allows people to help each other out by sending out lives. It is nice to help people. We should all do that more in real life.

15. It is not nice to be told:

fail candy crush

Over and over. And over.

Failed? Failed who? Failed the little girl in the pink dress? There’s a little broken heart there, too. Wow. That’s a lot of pressure. She shows up and looks at me with her sad eyes and hands by her side, pleading with me..why? Why didn’t you do better? Why have you failed me so?

Really. I wouldn’t call this a fail. I just didn’t get past this level.

But fail. Sure. I have failed a few times. Really failed.

Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed.

I’m sure I failed a few tests, but I can’t tell you which ones for what class.

I have failed to keep resolutions and I haven’t met every goal that I have ever set.

I have sometimes failed to get things accomplished or maybe I’ve failed to remember things as I should.

But the failures that I remember crystal clearly are the ones that involve the people I may have failed. Real people. Not fake little cartoon girls in pink dresses. I’m talking about failed relationships. Failed friendships.  I’m sure I’ve done it. I can name a few.

Failing people is tough. Being failed by people is equally as tough. I can name a few times when folks have failed me, too.

Sometimes what makes it so hard,  is that they may not even know.  Just like I may not know how I’ve failed others.

Because, unlike Candy Crush, we don’t throw up a huge sign and say, “You failed me.”

But maybe we should.

Maybe, with the people that we really care about, the real people in our lives, we should tell them.

Talk about it. Reflect. Vent. Communicate. Apologize. Hug. (I can’t help it, I’m a hugger!)

Make it right if you can.

And then move on to the next level.

Because even in Candy Crush, as it should be in life, no matter how many times you fail…

You always get the chance to:

retry

“Ever tried?  Ever failed?  No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. “

Samuel Beckett

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Blast. — Backpacks and Pencils and Crayons, Oh My!

Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I get the usual — a Can You Please Stop By the Store and Pick Up… list text from Felix.  So, 15 minutes later, armed with milk under one arm and toilet paper under the other, I was headed to the checkout lines.

But then, I found myself distracted. Helpless against the magnetic pull of a huge display of goods. Being a former elementary teacher, and a Momma to the very creative and equally destructive X and Y, I have no defenses against the allure of …  school supplies…on sale. Boxes of brand new sharply pointed crayons (full box, with none broken or missing!) 10 for 10 cents! Reams of unbent lined 3-hole punched paper! 50 cents each. Packs of pencils, erasers, pens, pencil boxes, highlighters, markers! And my new favorite: black and white composition notebooks!  *Sighs* All on sale. *Sighs again*

I picked up a few items, (I told you I can’t resist those crayons!) and then stopped by the school supply lists.  One for Y. Check. And …Oh Yeah…the boy child starts Kindergarten this year…I have to pick one up for him, too!  I think I may be subconsciously struggling with the fact that he is starting school. I keep forgetting to buy supplies for him, or remembering that he needs to go school shopping, too!  I hope I remember to put him on the bus in a few weeks! 🙂 Although I have a feeling he might remind me.

Later, at home,  I was looking over the list for each of the kiddos and it is the typical stuff. Many of the things listed above plus glue sticks and folders and scissors and notebooks. Hand sanitizer. Tissues.

It’s actually a lot. I mean it is the typical stuff that kids need at school, so I’m not saying it is too much. As a parent, now buying for two, I can see how this can really add up to be an investment. I started thinking about  all of the families with more than 2 kiddos in school. And then what about the families that are struggling a little to make all of the ends meet. Those that are loving their kids up, working multiple jobs to pay the bills, saving and scraping to make sure their kiddos don’t go without.  There are kiddos I know who have lost a parent or have seen tragedy and dealt with sadness that grownups couldn’t begin to handle. And the I also started thinking about the kiddos whose parents are just struggling…with bad choices or bad luck or whatever life has handed them…and school supply shopping is not even close to being on their to do list.

As a former teacher, I certainly spent plenty of my own money to purchase these supply items for my classroom just to make sure these kiddos had what they needed. But like I said, it’s a lot.  Just like families, school budgets have been under attack over the past few years and more and more is needed to help make it all come together in the classroom.

Which is why I am so thankful and appreciative for those in our community who take it upon themselves to help. To help others. In anyway they can. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to help all of these kiddos and families at the beginning of the school year.  There are “Pack the Bus” events or “Adopt a Student” or opportunities to purchase filled backpacks for students.

My challenge to all of us: Do something.  Pick something, some way to help students and families at the beginning of this school year.  Just something. Sponsor a family. Donate some money. Buy some crayons and drop them off at a school. Grab a few gift cards for shoe stores or haircuts and donate them to a local women’s resource center.

Do something.  

And if you are looking right now for the something you can do…let me again tell you about that little church in the little town doing big things. They are sponsoring a Backpack Blast. Taking action. Practicing what LOVE DOES by filling hundreds of backpacks for students in our community who are in need. Families who are facing extraordinary difficulties and loss. Kiddos who just want the fresh haircut and new shoes and nice backpack with all of the crayons and pencils and notebooks that they need to get started on a new school year full of opportunity.

If you are looking of your Do Something chance: Here is one way you can help:

https://secure.easychurchtools.com/fieldstoneumc/

You will be glad that you did something.

“I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” (You’ve Got Mail) But since I don’t…here are a few virtual pencils to enjoy and know that I adore you … for doing the something that helps others.

You. You are awesome.

English: Colour pencils. Español: Lápices de c...

English: Colour pencils. Español: Lápices de colores. Français : Crayons de couleurs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 Comments »

Snack. — Healthy Bites and Sugar Bites: Another Balancing Act of Parenthood

sugar bites

I am far from perfect.

Stop laughing. I know it is hard to believe. But it is. Oh. So. True.

For the past year , we’ve been on a mission around here.

MommyVerbs groupies know that we have been trying to eat well and play more and choose happy.

And we are making good progress.

We have been more intentional about making time to play and do things as a family. We have started some traditions and have crossed a lot of things off of our family time bucket lists in the past year.  As a matter of fact, included in our  Summer Solstice celebrations, we will be creating our Sweet Summertime 2013 vision board this evening.

We’ve crowded out any fast foods and processed foods. We’ve added in real, whole foods.

While we are still tempted at times, I think it is easier for Felix and I.

I’ve pretty much morphed into a vegetarian. Felix got up at 6 a.m. and went for a 4.7 mile run this morning.

But when you throw the boy and the girl child into the mix of these “Eat Well” intentions, it is …  trickier. 

Trickier–because the rest of the world is not playing by the same rules.

When you are five and so-close-to-being-eight, your world is as big as you can see … only of those places and people around you.

So, they see their friends walk by with the Dr. Peppers and the Mountain Dews in hand.

They see the bags of Cheetos and Capri Suns after the ball game being handed out for snack at 10 a.m.on a Saturday morning.

They see the brightly colored cupcakes with three inches of blue and red icing at the birthday party.

They see the commercials for the sugary-delicious cereals and the ‘make your own slurpee machines’ on television.

They see the fun toys from the fun movies that they want to see that come with the fun happy meals.

They see the hot dogs and potato chips at the cookout.

And as their Momma…I see it all, too. I see X and Y watching. I see them questioning.

And I’m trying to balance it all for them. That’s what we do, right Parents? We balance. Or make our best attempts to balance. The fun and joy of childhood… with the need to give them a good solid nutritional foundation.

Childhood is not usually synonymous with flaxseed and fish oil.

But does childhood have to mean bags of sugar and bottles of soda?

I have great childhood memories of chasing ice cream trucks down the street. I mean that is the epitome of summertime, right?

So. We try to balance. If the snack that the parent so kindly brought for after the t-ball game is cheetos and capri suns. I’m not going to grab it out of their hands and replace it with a banana. But when it is our turn to bring snack, we will probably bring those bananas and maybe some apples along with some water.

If the cupcake at the super fun birthday party has 3 inches of red icing, I am not going to tell them they can’t have one while convincing them that this delicious organic red apple is better. But one is enough and I will certainly be pushing the salad at dinner.

Moderation and Modeling. That is where this Momma is right now on the topic.  There are some other Mommas that are out there…fighting the good fight everyday. Writing letters to their schools and recreation leagues. Protesting the cheetos and capri suns. They are writing fabulous blogs and leading powerful campaigns to create change. I’m inspired and in awe of them. I follow their blogs. I try their recipes. I share these with my circle of friends.

But I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to draw the line in the sand and tell my kiddos that they will never darken the doorsteps of Sweet Frogs again. I am not ready to make them miss out on the ‘goodies’ that their friends are enjoying.

Because that just seems wrong.

But I’m also not going to take them to McDonald’s and get them a fake hamburger or let them open the cabinet and see lots of brightly colored packages of sugary junk either.

So…This Momma is taking the Moderation and Modeling approach.

Everything in moderation. Yes. You can have that bag of cheetos and capri suns because your teammates are enjoying these while celebrating your big WIN today. But for lunch, we are not going to a fast food joint, but instead we are going home to have some corn on the cob and a good turkey sandwich on homemade bread.

And when we go to the grocery store, we will continue to stay on the perimeter of the store and out of the aisles and we will fill up our cart with fresh veggies and fruits. Or maybe we will go to the Farmer’s Market and buy some locally grown ‘goodies’.

At home, they will see cabinets full of non-GMO products and they will know what that means. At dinner, they will see lots of greens and good choices. They will see their parents choosing oranges over cookies and water over soda.

Moderation. And Modeling.

Instead of cringing, I will take pride in the fact that they were eating the strawberries and the cheetos at the cookout last night. There were as many carrots on their plates as there were potato chips.

A few months ago, after X asked to be excused from dinner because he was … SO FULL, he immediately asked for some ice cream for dessert. I said what us Mommas say…”Well, if you are SO FULL and couldn’t finish your corn, you can’t possibly have any room for dessert.”

He looked at me and smiled and in his cute little dimpled-smiled way, said very matter of factly, pointing at his stomach:

“I have one place for the healthy bites which is full … and one place for the sugar bites…I still have room there.”

One place for the Healthy bites. One place for the Sugar Bites.

Moderation and Modeling.

And my job is to always make sure that the Healthy Bites place is full.

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