mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

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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View. — The Big Picture is there…just beyond the willow trees.

All the way home, all eight hours of the drive, I was recounting what a nice vacation we had just enjoyed. Nice place. Quality time with family. Beautiful weather. Time with my ocean and sand between my toes.  As I looked down at the ton of souvenir sand that we were bringing back with us on the floorboards of my car, I wanted to try to make sure that I remembered all of the good times.

The rollercoasters. The crab legs. The fun adventures with friends at the cottage. Kayaking on the river. Catching weird (and creepy to think we were swimming with them!) creatures from the dock. The campfire. The beach. The waves. The sun. The sunrises. The birthdays. The family game nights. The laughs. The memories.

I kept trying to hold on to all of this…because I knew. I knew that as soon as we got home, it was going to get back to normal. Not that normal is bad.  I love my little slice of normal.

But… the rain was falling and I was starting to understand what people were saying about building arks and living in Seattle.  The dog was there and I was going to try to stay to true to my intentions of giving him the one millionth chance to bond and build some sort of relationship.  There was a ton of unpacking to do, even though I had brilliantly done all of the laundry before we left, so all of the clothes were coming home clean.  There were hungry kids with nothing in the refrigerator, requiring either a trip to the grocery store or a wild dose of creativity and resourcefulness. To make matters more frustrating, I had this nagging idea for a story. And even crazier than that, I randomly thought I could sit right down at the computer (which is so….super….slooooooow) and type out a best seller in mere minutes.  Yes, I somehow thought I could write this brilliant tale at the kitchen counter, between the calls for organic mac n’ cheese with a side of quinoa (see, I went with the creative option instead of the store) and milk (which we didn’t have) above the pleas  for multiple games of Connect Four.

And … as predicted and painfully obvious now, I started to feel overwhelmed.  The sound of the ocean waves were quickly fading away, being replaced with dog whines and  kiddo arguments over whose turn it was to watch a show. The scent of the salty air was overpowered by the burnt ‘curly rice’ that bubbled over onto the hot burner on the stove top. The sand between my toes that had been so magical just a few hours ago, was now underneath my feet on my kitchen floor and I realized I was reaching for the broom.

In a last ditch effort to hold onto the last bit of this vacation, I reached for the leash instead and headed outside in the drizzling rain.  As I turned left out of my driveway, the color in the sky caught my eye.  Yep,  a beautiful, vibrant, bright rainbow fell from the sky. Actually, the elusive and   squeal-producing double rainbow!

rainbow small

I took a deep breath and really stopped to take it in. I found myself looking up and over the willow trees that I love at the end of my driveway. My eyes continued along the long arched lines of “ROY. G. BIV” (You know: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.) and watched as the lines were … unbroken.

My breath caught just a little and I took a few steps back to see the whole, full, beautiful rainbow. Right over my house.

I wanted my camera to capture it, but was afraid that  if I walked away it might be gone.

So I ran.

Dragging the dog back to the house, I grabbed my phone, which usually doubles as my camera, and ran back outside. Down the driveway, out into the road.  Trying to hold a leash and an umbrella and capture the image forever.

I was getting so frustrated again, because no matter where I stood, no matter how many steps backwards I took, I realized that I could never get the distance from this amazing sight in order to see the whole thing as I wanted.  And in that frustration, I decided to resign myself to the fact that it was too big, too amazing, too monumental to be captured in one frame. It just wasn’t meant to be. Just as I was letting that idea go…

I remembered that panaramic option on my phone.  Multiple frames.  Pieced together. To allow me to see and capture the whole of the rainbow.

Right over my house. Almost spotlighting my little world.

It was probably one of the most amazing images I’ve seen in a while.  I’m sure it means something. I just haven’t had a chance to completely comprehend what that something is.

But I know this. It made me stop. I took a deep breath.

And recognized once again… that perspective is everything.

Sometimes we have to change our vantage points. We have to step outside. Stop trying to force things to happen when the timing is off.  Trust that the right time will come. Get away from our frustrations and negative places.

To see the big picture.

Take a step back.

And look at it again.

rainbow

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Care. — A Blessing in Two Colors.

x and ruby 2011  Graduation 2011 and some ballin 106

Ms. Ruby Lavender.

I know it sounds made up. But it is not.

Ruby. Lavender.

Ms. Ruby.

For the past seven years, I’ve been driving up a partially graveled road, dodging potholes, through a tunnel of trees, past a pasture with two horses grazing; then making a slight left turn down a driveway, parking around the back of the house.

For the past seven years, I’ve been walking in either a girl child or a girl and a boy child combo or just a boy child into a little brick house; saying “Good Morning” to the little people who greeted me and then having a quick conversation with Ms. Ruby.

For the past seven years, I’ve been kissing cheeks and giving hugs and cuddles before heading off to work.

I never worried about my kiddos. Because I knew they were loved. And I knew exactly what their day was going to be like.

They would head down the hallway to the little classroom where they would sit with four or five of their little classmates. They would sit at the green table in one of the multi-colored chairs in front of their name. They would stand and try their best to recite the pledge of allegiance. They would listen to a Bible story and maybe watch Ms. Ruby ‘act’ it out on her little felt board with little felt-backed pictures. They would sing some songs. Then they would color or paint or practice their letters or math. They might draw shapes or make crafts. But they were also learning how to share, how to follow directions, how to ask for help, or just as importantly how to help someone else.

After class, they would head outside to ride bikes. To draw with sidewalk chalk. To play on the slide or the swingset. To chase each other and play ball or jump rope. To use their imagination and make up games with pirates and bad guys. All under the watchful eye of Ms. Ruby.

Back inside for lunch. Mac n’ cheese. Or turkey sandwiches. Green Beans. Maybe pizza.

Then a little more playtime before settling in for a nap upstairs in the living room. Little people on little mats under little blankets with heads sweetly sleeping on pillows. I would never have believed that my Y voluntarily laid down and took a nap with others around her…until the day Ms. Ruby proved it with a picture.

After nap, there was always a snack. Sometimes more cookies than I would like mine to have, but from Ms. Ruby it was somehow a little okay.

Then there was more playtime. Outside or inside in the play room. It didn’t matter, just time to play!

Until either Momma or Daddy came back to pick them up. When they would kiss and hug Ms. Ruby ‘bye.’ (And she would kiss his dimple!) And … send them to the classroom to get their candy for being good that day. (I know. I know. I shook my head a lot, too. But from Ms. Ruby, it was somehow okay.)

I still remember the very first day I drove up that gravel road. Seven years ago.

But today was the last day that I’ll make that trip and leave a kiddo there.

The next time we drive down that driveway, it will be just to visit and say “Hello!”

Because Ms. Ruby is retiring.  After 22 years, she is closing the doors on little Deerwood Daycare. Of course, since these are also the doors to her home, I think those will still be open.

What a blessing she has been and IS to us.

A blessing in two colors.

Ms. Ruby Lavender.

Ms. Ruby:

We thank you for:

Warm morning greetings

Honey buns and pancakes

2nd helpings—we are growing after all!

Time to sing and learn

Helping us ‘sign’ the ‘e’ in our names

Storytime

Time to laugh and play

Time to be ourselves

Pizza and Mac ‘n’ cheese

Bread ‘n’ butter

Resting time

Soft lullabies

Holding us in a rocking chair

Gentle reminders

Modeling good manners

Helping us wear our helmets while we ride

Swingsets and sliding boards

Mommy and Daddy love you’s

Hugs and kisses in

Spring flowers, summer sunshine, fall leaves, and winter snow

We thank you for giving us wonder, wisdom and wishes.

And We thank you for helping us reach our dreams!

We love you, Ms. Ruby.

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Experiment. — Dear Mom: Motherhood is a Science and Patience is not a variable.

A WordPress Daily Prompt: Hi Mom!

Dear Mom,

It is true. It is true what they say.

I have looked all over the place. I tell my family when they can’t find the missing thing: “You’re good looking. But you’re a bad looker.” But I really can’t find it. And I’m a pretty good looker.

These kids. They don’t come with an instruction book.

So Moms everywhere are left to do what Moms everywhere do.

We make it up. We try it out. We ask questions and seek out answers.

In short, we experiment.  From Day One. We experiment.

With different routines. With different foods. With different philosophies.

We read the books. We seek out advise. We watch others.

And then you know what? We do the best we can. Everyday.

We show up. We mess up. We try to make it fun along the way.

Motherhood is just one big experiment.

From Day One, when you are handed that little bundle of question marks and bring them home it is all about trying to figure them out.

If only it were as easy and as logical as the scientific method:

Ask a Question: Why won’t this baby stop crying?
State a Hypothesis: Maybe it is hungry.
Conduct an experiment: Feed it.
Analyze the results: It is not crying anymore. But eating peacefully.
Make a conclusion: The baby was hungry. Remember that for next time.

Sure. That one was easy, and we can apply it to having a crappy diaper or having trouble going to sleep or sleeping in their own beds or having a tummy ache or getting carsick.

But then the experiments get a lot harder:

Ask a Question: How can I raise confident and compassionate kiddos?
State a Hypothesis: With a combination of strict but supportive; lots of routines with a little spontaneity; then throw in a little modeling and expectation setting.
Conduct an experiment: Everyday. Since Day one. Try out different schedules, different foods, different activities and conversations.
Analyze the results: As you lay down to go to sleep and reflect/obsess about the day and how it went for everyone.
Make a conclusion: Do the best you can.

It is hard work.

And when I interviewed you, you said you wish you had had more patience. 

I am here to let you know that in my almost eight years of running trials and research and experiments, I have come to discover that there is no such thing as more patience.

Seriously. That is not how I remember it growing up. When I think of you as my Mom, I don’t think of you as not having patience. I think of you as my Mom. Perfect for me and my brother.

You were there.

You showed up.

You took care of us.

You made things fun.

You cooked us dinners and tried your best to turn them into family events.

You smushed and shushed our ears everynight at bed times.

You sang and played music.

You let us have a million friends over all the time.

You had rules.

You didn’t let us ride our bikes past the stop sign.

And when we did wreck our bikes, and split open our chins, you took us to get stitches, not worrying about the blood on the new car interior.

You let us play in sprinklers and baked us cupcakes.

You helped us with school projects and homework and reading and math.

You made holidays fun and instilled in me the importance of family and tradition.

You let us cut up a huge refrigerator cardboard box, turning into a house that you were sure would fall apart in a week, but turned out to have a life of at least 6 months.

You introduced me to the saga of “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow and watched my friends and I reinact the saga ad nauseum.

You signed us up for ball teams and took us to all of the practices and games.

You cheered for us from the sidelines, from the bleachers, from a lawn chair or blanket on the grass.

You moved us when you thought it was right and let us go see “The Karate Kid” 12 times in the theater because you thought it might make me feel better.

You laughed with us. You played with us.

You taught us how to drive. You held your breath when we wrecked our cars. And said many prayers afterwards.

You watched us carefully through relationships, bad and good and prayed some more, I’m sure.

You came to our defense countless times. You championed our dreams. You put things on hold to make them happen.

You wiped our tears when they didn’t turn out they way we planned.

You encouraged us to go and do.

You became an excellent example of a Mom of adult children, which is not always an easy thing to do.

You. …

Motherhood is an experiment. There are way too many variables to control for.

But you showed up. You asked the questions and analyzed the results.

And for all that you did and all that you are, I am thankful for the loving reminder that there is no such thing as more patience.  You see. It is Mother’s Day and I have a cold or something and I’m not feeling well. And I just fussed and made my kiddos leave my room because they were arguing with each other.

And I regretted it, feeling like I should have had more patience with them.

But then I remembered, there is no such thing as more patience in Motherhood.

Because we just do what we do.

Love,

Me. Your Daughter. A Mom.

An impatient Research Scientist, conducting my own experiments since 2005.

 

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Mother. — Four Generations: On Being Kids–On Being Moms

old four generations

Four Generations, circa 1974. Check out Blanche, my Great-Grandmother, Betty, my Grandmother, Janet, my Momma and little baby Sharon.

In celebration of MommyVerbs’ first Mother’s Day,

I give you a four generation look at

Moms and Kids since 1928.

maw pretty

Betty/Mom/Maw Betty/White Maw

Born in 1928

Raising 4 kids in the ‘50s and ‘60s

mom

Janet/Momma/Nana

Born in 1949

Raising 2 kids in the ‘70s and ‘80s

sharon as mom

Sharon/Momma

Born in 1972

Raising her 2 kiddos well, today.

y for blog

Y: Born in 2005

Being a pretty awesome kid, everyday.

On Being a Kid:

When you were a kid, what are three adjectives that describe your Mom’s mothering style?

Betty: My Momma was just wonderful. She was strict when she needed to be, but also lenient and understanding. She was just a good friend to us girls. I can’t pick just three words, that’s too hard.

Janet: My Mom is nurturing. She is protective. And when I provoked her, as I sometimes did, she could be lovingly volatile … but those make for some of our best stories today.

SharonAs a kid, I always thought my Mom was cool. She was available for us. My Mom was fun and she let us have fun.

Y: What’s an adjective? (pausing to give a quick grammar lesson…) Loving. Funny. Helping.

What are two of the your favorite memories of your Mom, growing up?

Betty: My Momma allowed us to have our friends over and we wore out rugs dancing on the living room floor. We would eat popcorn and other treats.  She was good to let us do things like that.  When we started dating, she would be stay awake, waiting for us. Then we would come in and sit on the edge of her bed to tell her about our date that evening.  She would listen to all of  the details and she was always so excited for us.  But she was strict too and she expected us to be home at a certain time and follow her rules.

There are endless things to make her a wonderful mother. She was my best friend growing up. I can’t narrow the list to two favorite memories. That is not enough to describe what she meant to me. She’s been gone since 1997 and I miss her everyday.

(By the way, she’s my Grandmother, my lovely and beautiful Maw Betty…I didn’t make her follow my rules.)

Janet: My Mom was always so good to try to get me help for whatever I needed.  She was proactive and always tried to meet our needs. I was always very proud of her, she was so pretty. But of course, like most kids, I would get embarrassed when my Mom would come to school to bring cupcakes or something.

I remember that she always played with us when we were little. She taught me to dance. As a matter of fact, she taught all of my friends to dance, too.  We would jitterbug in the kitchen.

I was scared of the dark until I was 12. She slept with me so I wouldn’t be scared.

And then I’ll always remember when we were arguing when I was in high school, and she said, “When you graduate I’m going to get you a set of luggage and have it waiting on the front porch.”

Of course, she didn’t and I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get any luggage. ❤

(By the way, she’s my Mom, my lovely and beautiful Momma…I didn’t make her follow my rules, either.)

Sharon: My Mom really worked to make things fun. She was intentional about birthdays and holidays and always trying to make family time fun. She let us really play and make messes. We built houses out of cardboard boxes that lived in her living room for months and months.

She taught me what I know about appreciating good music. She still misses her Eagles album, circa 1976.

My Mom worked really hard to try to get us to Eat Well, even back in the day, trying new things. (Kind of like I do now, when I make quinoa and call it ‘curly rice’.)  I remember her preparing dinner one night that we were suspicious of when she was calling it ‘chicken parts’ aka chicken liver.

(And apparently, I don’t follow my own rules of two memories either.)

Y: My favorite memories are when we went together to get a manicure and pedicure. That was a lot of fun being fancy together. Then we went to Sweet Frogs. I also liked when we went to the movie theater together. That is always fun.

(But, … I seem to make Y follow the rules of two memories. Really, she just wasn’t feeling all that talkative today. And she was looking at me funny the whole time I was asking her these questions.) 🙂

 What is one question you would like to ask your Mom?

Betty: I would want to know what she thinks of kids today compared to how I was as a child. Living is just so much faster and parents are struggling with raising their kids. I would want to know what she would do to help guide them today, when parents have to be so careful?  I am so thankful that I raised my children in the time that they were raised. It was simpler times.

Janet:  Why won’t you sell your house and move up here with me? ❤

Sharon: Did you get to do all of the things you wanted to do?

Y: Do you like being a Mom?

On Being a Mom:

What are three adjectives to describe Motherhood:

Betty: This is too hard, Sharon. I can’t give you three words to describe Motherhood.  I always wanted to be a mother. It was a goal I had when I was little. And when I became a Mom, I decided that I would be the best Mom ever. I enjoyed doing things with the children.

I always wanted the kids to get my advice on things.

I always think of the kids and how they needed me when they were scared or sick. I remember when the kids got their first jobs and how nervous they were. I remember the night before Jim started his first job at the radio station, I could hear him sighing heavily, frustrated because he couldn’t get to sleep. So I went in there and sat with him so he could get some sleep. He was so nervous.

I’ve enjoyed being a Mother so much. Jan is special. The boys are special. Chris is special to me. I worry about them all, but Chris is just so far away, I worry about him more.

Janet:  Rewarding. Wonderful. Exhausting.

Sharon: Balancing. Engaging. Intentional.

What are two things that you are really good at as a Mom?

Betty: I was always really good at being there for them. Being there when they need me. I really tried to see to it that they had a good time. And I also tried to encourage them to go in God’s path and tried to teach them to let God lead. I wasn’t always good at that, but still tried to do that when I could.

Janet: I was always there for you. Even though I sometimes felt like I lost my temper, I feel like I always made sure you knew that I loved you. I feel like I did a good job…you and your brother make me very proud, so I must have done a good job.

Sharon: I am trying to be an intentional parent. I really work on ‘finding my zen’ when I get frustrated. I hear me saying things that I heard my Mom say, “Hurry, hurry, Momma’s getting tired…” I see my kiddos scurrying just like we did when I was a kid and my Momma would say the same thing. I think I’m fun and I try to play with you and have a good time, maybe not as much as they would like sometimes, but we try to play some games and make some memories.

What is one thing you would do differently?

Betty: I remember when we moved into our new house, everything had just been painted and we thought it was just perfect and beautiful.  Just after we moved in, Tim put some history pictures on the wall in his bedroom.  I was so aggravated with him that he put them on the wall with paste and I made him take them off. Of course, it made such a mess and pulled the paint off. If I had to do that over, I wouldn’t have made such a big deal out of that. Kids like to hang things on the wall, I would have let him keep those up because it was important to him.  It was a big deal for a little boy.  I also regret not getting a yearbook for Jan one year. At the time, I felt like it was that or getting groceries one week, but if I had to do it over…I would find a way to get it for her because it was important to her.

Janet: I wish I had had more patience.

Sharon: I feel like I’m still in the trenches, making adjustments daily.  I wish I were more balanced in my days and weeks. I feel like Y is a little walking talking mirror of me as a kid. I see it as a responsibility to build resiliency. I want X and Y to be confident and compassionate. So, I want to make sure I am modeling this. Everyday. Tough work. Good work, but tough work.

Four Generations of Moms and Kids.

Things have changed and somehow stayed the same.

Moms show up and…

…Engage each day in action words.

I learned from the best.

 Happy Mother’s Day.

Everyday.

Love.

   lovefourgenerations

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Time. — MommyVerbs Needs a Few Minutes.

Yes. MommyVerbs needs some time.

It has been a very busy weekend full of kid-ertaining.

Which I don’t mind really. 🙂 I have dreams of being the ‘cool Mom’…the place all the kiddos want to come and hang out.

Although, after they discover that I don’t have any sugar-y fun stuff around here, I’ll have to continue to charm them and win them over with my talents for snarky comments and fun games.

I did have some S.I.S. time on Friday evening to properly commence with the weekend. Saturday morning started with an early Easter play practice at church, then 2 kiddos plus one friend for lunch before taking all three to a birthday party. Then, we left the party with a different plus one who stayed until after dinner.  The in-between time included a pretty extensive fashion show, using dresses and shoes from my closet. They promised that I would find everything just where I left it and my closet would look the same as it did before….but I think they have a different idea of what ‘the same’ means. At any rate, the fashion show was kind of awesome and the two girlies put together some pretty cool outfits.  A couple of dresses I had forgotten about. Matched with some jewelry and accessories that I never make time to actually put together. They were all kinds of cute and adorable and made me long for summer when I can wear these ensembles again.

There was a moment when Y came down in a shirt, that she was wearing as a dress with a pair of my high heeled boots. It forced the conversation with Felix about this same kind of situation, but imagine Y as a 16 year old. I decided we needed a code word for “get yourself back upstairs and change your clothes.” He said we would talk about that later. Later is going to be here before we both know it.

Then this morning, Felix was just a smidgeon under the weather, so he got a much deserved pass to rest. I’m cool with that because he picks up a lot of the kid-slack during the week. It started with going to church for the play, and I had to drive the kiddos in sleet and snow to get them ready. The play was cute and Y delivered her one line with gusto!  She was super convincing as the servant girl who accuses Peter and his first betrayal ensues.  I believed, I did.

Then it was home for lunch and cleaning up and before I knew it, I was here with the kiddos and…  plus three for a neighborhood snow day party.

Yes. It is the fourth day of SPRING and we have four inches of snow on the ground. That is just wrong … on every level, WRONG.

And all was well, except there was a time when I thought I would need to stop everything and order myself an eye patch because I was about to poke my eye out … that was when the boy child was having some issues with his snow gear. The snow pants were too tight and he needed to take his jeans off and the shoes were wrong and his sock felt funny and now the sleeve is too tight and, “get it off, get it off! My arm can’t breathe” was heard throughout the house.

Finally, I convinced him that if he would just let me get him dressed so fast and he could get outside and all will be well. I sang my best version of intense scenes background music and sent him outside as fast as I could. I started to sit down on the couch and took a deep breath only to see the girl child running toward the door, with one boot on, carrying the other one while she runs in her bare foot. Really?!

So, you know how this goes now…the kiddos were outside sledding for about 20 minutes before they were all at the sliding glass door begging to come in because they were cold and needed hot chocolate.  I don’t do Swiss Miss anymore because of the added sugar and fake ingredients.  But I made them each an organic chocolate, no sugar added, hot cocoa and set it all before them.  They drank it, but openly commented that it wasn’t really sweet. No, but it is really, real, so drink up!

Then it was back outside for more snowplay and snowman-making, and by this point X and I had the whole “how to put him in his snow gear successfully” all worked out, so it only took 10 minutes this time.

My job then was just to monitor them out the window, raising or sliding windows open to say things like, “Don’t push your brother down the slide” and “Get out of her way, she is going to run you over” and “No, I’m not coming out there to carry the sled back up the hill for you…you rode it down, you carry it back up the hill.”

Fun was had by all! 🙂

When the plus three went home, it was dinner and bath times and brushed teeth and tuck ins.

Shew.

So, now…I’m taking a few minutes. And if there happens to be a glass of wine beside me while I wine wind down the weekend, … don’t judge.

Personally, I think I’ve earned a little me time this weekend. 🙂

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Flip. — Morning Pages and where they take me…so early…in the morning…

Morning Pages, (from Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way) in its simplest form looks like this: Get up early. Sit still. Write three pages, longhand, before you do anything else. Before coffee. Before showers. Before kiddos and the dog wake up. First.

That’s it. You don’t have to do anything else. Just write three pages. There are no rules to the writing. There are no word count requirements. Just write what you are thinking. The things you wake up thinking about. I describe this as stream of consciousness writing. At least that is what Mr. Sauter called it in English 11, in 19…what for it…88.

And I love this kind of writing. It is my favorite. I find its randomness rewarding and refreshing. Maybe it is because it is above judgement. Kind of like brainstorming. Anything goes. Form. Function. Even Handwriting.

Just write what you are thinking. (pause)  And then again, it is harder than it seems. Because Morning Pages are supposed to reveal things. Bring clarity of sorts. Clear out the clutter-y to do lists and help you get to the patterns and the substance. Sometimes, I set intentions. Sometimes I am reflective about the kiddos and life. Sometimes I just complain on them. Not really complain, maybe more of a whine.

So this morning, I was complaining (whining) about being tired and how busy the weekend was and how I hate giving up that hour for Daylight Savings Time, but how I’ll enjoy it later in the evenings in a few months and how I didn’t get my house picked up and how the laundry isn’t done and how I’m not ready for the week to start and how I just crave time and how I hate morning pages because they are dumb and how I wish I were still asleep instead of here writing.

And then those stupid morning pages did it. Because I got tired of hearing myself think and wrote the words: Just flip it.

Now I swear, I have the inkling of a movie or tv show in my head where the characters are talking about flipping a situation and looking at it differently and trust me, I’ve researched it, but I’m not waiting to figure it out, so if you can help a Momma out, leave it in the comments, because I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw this. But…

Yes. Flip the situation. See abundance, not clutter. See life, not noise. See rest, not lazy. See opportunity, not work. I know I should be doing that so I stopped the complaining.

I Flipped it. And then I started googling, looking for that movie or T.V. scene that I can’t think of but I did find that someone is making their living off of this idea to which I say: “Well Done, You!” And you can pay $497 to go to their workshop and learn more about how to:

“Feel. Listen. Intervene. Promote the Positive.” Nice. Just F.L.I.P. it!

Which made me think of all of the uses of the word flip and then about how we flip a coin with X and Y to see who takes the first bath or shower at night and and how I love that scene in the movie “Lucas”, circa 1986, that probably 3 people still know what I am talking about starring a very young Corey Haim, which made me sad, and a very young Winona Ryder. One of my favorite scenes is where a very young Charlie Sheen, is sitting on the hood of a car with a very young Kerri Green, whom you will know from Goonies, too, (which by the way stars a long list of very young actors including the other Corey and the ever lovely Josh Brolin, too)…because they ditched the school dance and I think that the pink dress she was wearing was really what inspired my choice for my Junior year prom dress. But Charlie is telling a story about how he flipped a coin to decide where to go one night…tails turn left, heads turn right and how he ended up at a bowling alley. Random, I know, but there is teenage giggling and a sweet first kiss scene, so it is forever stuck in my head and now, apparently in my blog, so it must have made an impression.

So the challenge today is to just flip it. When things are frustrating. Pause and flip the situation. Find the good. Find the opposite of your frustration and go there. Even if it is only in your head. Just Flip It.

Help others do the same. When the kiddos are irritated and they don’t wan to get up because it IS still dark outside now, help them flip it and appreciate that we will all be out riding our bikes later in the evenings and there will now be more time to play with our friends when all of our neighbors come out of hibernation again.

Find the good. Just flip it.

Flip a coin. Flip your perspective. Wear your flip flops. Flip on the light switch but don’t flip out and flip someone off. Just sayin’. And the obligatory, “I’ll see you on the flip side.”

Because…

flip coins

 

See, sometimes I get mad at the morning pages and call them dumb.

And sometimes, I just want Morning Pages to bring an idea.

Here’s what I got today.

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Sew. — Sock Monkeys on Life.

step 1 socks

Everything has to start somewhere.

The potential is inherent. The possibilities are endless.

From there, it is all about imagination and what you can create.

use all the parts wisely

Use it all. Don’t waste a single thread.

All of your gifts. All of your talents. All of your resources.

Leave nothing behind.

stuff

It is about quality, not quantity. Stuff it full of good stuff. In every direction.

Make sure you are full of love, of health, of spirit, of generosity.

Caution: Don’t overstuff. And stay away from the cheap stuff…it could leave you feeling  lumpy.

build

Put all of the pieces together in a way that makes sense.

Carefully. Pay close attention to the seams.

Make your knots tight, so nothing (or no one) can come apart later.

soul of the sock monkey

The fun is in the details. And the eyes.

Look into another’s eyes and see who they really are.

Connect. Appreciate. Accept.

–Lessons Learned from some ‘sock monkey making’.

Want more?

  • It is ok to ask for help. (Sock Monkey clothes are hard to make!) Mess up. Start over. Buy a little extra fabric, just in case. 

  • See things for what they are and what they can be. What started as a sock, now has the potential to be a lifelong friend.

  • You can tell what kind of friend you have, by looking them in the eyes.

  • Ears are great for listening. And wiping away tears.

  • Where some only see that simple sock, I see friendship. I see handiwork. I see tradition. I see love.

  • Sock Monkeys made in a factory are like processed foods. They are not real. They have a little white tag sewn on instead of a soul inside.

  • Warning: Matching the cutie little girl to just the right sock monkey friend, can result in very high-pitched happy squeals at craft fairs.

Dedicated to Goldean, my Grandmother, a lady I adore who took the time to share this tradition with me and taught me how to make sock monkeys.

And to JoJo: My lifelong friend of 40 years.

jojo

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Learn. — The Lesson Already

As she stumbled out the front door, failing miserably to pull the winter coat, a size too big, closed around her, she realized that the rain falling was actually turning to ice.  She reached back with one hand, trying to pull the hood up and over the hot roller curlers, that were still in her hair, all the while knowing that the rain was sure to ruin any chance of looking at all put together.  She looked around, pleading with the universe that no one would drive by and see her like this–traipsing through the field so early in the pouring rain.

She reached into her pocket to retrieve the cheese stick stowed away there and began to whistle and yell. Her boot hit the wooden bridge on the path and immediately lost any hopes of traction and down she went with a thud on her side. “Great. Just Great,” she muttered under her breath. She got to her feet and inspected the damage to her pants.

And for those of you who are waiting for this to turn out to be the trailer to  some Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr. movie…you will be waiting until their next work of fiction comes out in theaters.

Because this, my MommyVerbs friends, this is a very real, pretty comical, description of …. How. I. Started. My. Day.

Yes. 🙂 It’s ok. Go back and read it again and picture it. I gift you this laugh…I’m sure that there were some who saw, I’m sure that they enjoyed a giggle, too. 

The backstory is this: I had asked the girl-child to take ‘the dog’ outside this morning to put him in the yard.  A few minutes later, she came up to tell me that he had gotten away from her and that it … yes. You know the line: “It wasn’t her fault.” At first, I thought she was trying to trick me since that is her new trick and she’s pretty good at it. When I examined the look on her face, I realized that this was true and then snapped that it was indeed her fault.

Ugh. So, Me. In my curlers. In Felix’s coat. Outside in the pouring freezing rain. Whistling and Yelling for a dog that runs into the one neighbor’s yard who hates dogs and is most likely to call the Animal Control (which at that point I probably would have welcomed!) And yes, the falling down part is absolutely true. So, is the cheese stick in my pocket. That was to lure ‘the dog’ back to me. Which took about 10 minutes. For the record, as I walked I did take the curlers out and put them in my pocket. Needless to say I had a bad hair day.

I did finally catch ‘the dog’ and walked him back to the house and put him in his version of time-out: the garage.

I went back upstairs and commented to Felix, “I do not understand what I have done to deserve this. I don’t understand what lesson I am supposed to be learning from this dog?!”

And this is why I love my Fix It Felix. He hugged me because I was still huggable at that time. And then he said, “Not everything is a lesson. Everything does not need to be analyzed and learned from. Some things are random. There is no reason. There is no lesson to be learned. It just is. He’s a dumb dog and he lives with us.  For now.”

I love that about him. I do.

But being me, I struggle. I want things to mean more. I want things to be meaningful.

Which is why I wonder, what this means or what do I need to learn or how do I need to grow from this?

I have told you about my uncle, Chris, who I think is pretty ah.may.zing. The last time we were on the left coast, he shared his good friend and writing partner with me, ‘Geo’. I loved ‘Geo’ from the first moment he welcomed us into his adorable apartment with his vintage red velvet couch. ‘Geo’ had some amazing energy–the kind of energy that draws you in, makes you want to pitch a tent, stay a while. I had the opportunity to connect with ‘Geo’ briefly, some from Chris, a little from ‘Geo’ himself.

He’s a writer, an artist, a performer. He believes in things I find interesting, but don’t wholly subscribe to.  He believes we write our own stories. We write these stories before we live, before our next lives. And we write with intention to make sure that we learn the lessons we need to learn in order to move on. To move on beyond ourselves.  He believes we know what we need to learn. We are given guides. We see our weaknesses, know our goals and therefore can write a story that will lead us to certain conclusions.

There’s a part of that I really like. It doesn’t match with what I believe in my religious/spiritual self. But I like that. Maybe because that version implies some control. We are not the feather floating in the wind. We have some choice and we have some influence on what comes from the choice. That seems almost comfortable. As a teacher, I also like the learning from mistakes and the planning what needs to be learned. That’s kind of what I do. Learn. Plan. Teach.

So, I find myself feeling a little like Forest Gump, wondering: “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

feather

Maybe there are lessons to be learned from dogs that run away in the morning while I chase him offering cheese sticks in my curlers. Or maybe not. Maybe it is just random. Or maybe it is a story I wrote in another life, knowing that I needed to learn humility or patience.

Or maybe I just needed to learn to have a good freakin’ laugh at my own expense. 🙂

 

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Blame. — It’s Not My Fault!

fault

The person attached to the elbow that just accidentally bumped and knocked over the glass of milk is now declaring, “Its not my fault!”

The kiddo who just purchased a game for 99 cents on iTunes ‘by accident’ even though I told him not to get on the iPad this evening, is now yelling, “It’s not my fault!”

The girl child who just left her brand new jacket at school on the playground just admitted, “It’s not my fault!”

The kid who didn’t eat his dinner because he said his tummy was too full who now doesn’t get any dessert (1. because he  didn’t eat and 2. because he is just SO full) is whining that “It’s not my fault!”

There seems to be an epidemic going around my house right now. It is being passed from one kiddo to the other. I just hope it doesn’t have long lasting side effects. The symptoms include the lack of owning one’s actions and the inability to take any responsibility for anything that might have gone wrong.

I call it “itsnotmyfault-itis”.

But here’s the thing. As your Momma, I’m obligated to tell you that …. it kind of IS your fault. No, you didn’t mean for it to happen. But it did. And what you did caused it to happen, even without intent. I know … you didn’t mean to… but you did.  There is a cause and effect lesson happening here. But it is hard.

So, while Felix and I do what we can to teach this lesson a little bit at a time, we have also decided that the only medicine for this is to actually become the old adage…”if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

You didn’t put your socks in the hamper and now you have no clean socks, matched or not? “It’s not my fault!”

We are all out of milk? “It’s not my fault!”

The dog just chewed up your Spiderman puzzle piece after I told you to make sure that they were up off of the floor?

“It’s not my fault!”

One of these days, little by little, we will get to the parenting lessons about owning your actions and taking responsibility for what happened, accident or not…but for now…

Say it with me…..you know you want to….

It’s not my fault!

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