.:28:. Like a gust of wind ~ Hello Again!


I walked outside this morning to (finally) put some Halloween decor away and a gust of wind hit me. With a deep breath I reminded myself that the week was 1/2 way over and then as a chill ran over my bare feet (true Minnesotan here) I realized that winter is right around the corner. Meaning… where did the summer and our always-too-short Fall go? I can’t even believe it’s November and we’ve already built a snowman, and the blur of the warm summer months have left me wondering what we did this summer…
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Have you blinked lately and went from one month to the next seven? Well, that’s me today.

So, Hello Again!

Today I’m choosing to sit and thoroughly enjoy some silence while my girls nap. I’m not running around cleaning up, finishing laundry, putting dishes away, decluttering… per the norm. Nope, I have my feet up and words in my head, just for this spot. I love to write and try to figure this whole motherhood/parenthood/life thing out through run-on sentences, more than enough exclamation marks and probably too many question marks!!!??!!

This summer with 4 year olds was really kind of like a swift gust of wind. A breeze that can’t decide which way it wants to blow. An unpredictable breeze filled with high expectations, surprising demands and pure joy in the midst of little plans. I very vividly remember the baby days, staring at their tiny little everything, wondering what they’ll be like as walking-talking people.

Welp, here we are!


Mid summer, I had a realization. This just may be one of the last summers I really have with them. To be plan-less and pokey with long pj wearing mornings. I have a confession, we really had zero regular commitments. No planned activities. Besides a couple small trips, we had a lovely empty calendar, uncertain of where we would go and how each day would unfold. Like the rapid pace of our carefree and plan-less summer, I know we will soon be chasing the clock from one activity to the next and I chose to embrace a laxidasicle summer, enjoying my wild and sweet girls in their element. As parents we are under such pressure to keep our kids busy, stay active in the community, always participate, volunteer, bake, create, and more. We’re often running around racing each other. I’ve done that and to be honest, I don’t always mind the hustle and bustle of being busy and involved but I only recently learned that the unnecessary pressure can wear us out and spread us so thin that we have zero energy to enjoy the simplicity of life that really needs our attention! If it’s hard for us adults to handle at times, how do our kids feel?! So I’m waiting just a little longer for that busy-ness in life to set in and push us when we just want to sit. I will not force it. I needed this realization and I believe it’s made me a better and happier mom.

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As carefree as this summer was, I found myself immersed in a foreign stage of life – not like the other stages with my girls…

I braced myself for the terrible twos but my husband and I agreed that age three was better suited for those expectations. Then, age 4 snuggled into our hearts so sweetly with a much bigger vocabulary and imagination, leaving us belly laughing and in awe of their profound curiosity. Then when we least expected it, this sweet age of 4 melted to the floor, flailed it’s arms and whined about everything under the sun… including the sun! And I’m not talking about a little bit of whining. On a sweet silver platter we have been served a large helping of whine, stuffed with whine, paired with a lovely side of whine and a dash of more whine… we accept our serving, and we think we can take it all, that we can handle it. Until we’re stuffed. Then we find ourselves ready for a very large glass of wine.

But seriously. What’s with all the whining?

So, I need to clarify… The terrible two expectations were dismissed by threenagers who busted down our walls, walls that lead directly into the exciting and crazy flames of wacky, wildly emotional, sensitive and strong willed 4 year olds.

Now, this is just our experience. I must say that age 4 isn’t only serving whine. It has been fun and so cool to see them grow – especially together. So, I’m not complaining about it all. It’s the emotions and power struggles that we’re dealing with – that yank our heart out one moment and want to snuggle in that very same moment. Like, who really is in charge? Every age brings its beauty and surprises us with its beast… just when we get comfortable and confident in our parenting ways.

I am so grateful for our lazy summer and hope I can find my bag of tricks while winter sets in for the next 5 months or so. And, like a gust of wind we will be singing the Birthday song to five year olds – I hear that’s a fun stage! 😉 😉

.:27:. Moth in a Butterfly world.


This is no illusion, yes that is a moth. In a container, in my kitchen… once a cute caterpillar that my girls named Sunny. After they learned about metamorphosis they begged to create a home for it to build its cocoon and turn into a butterfly.

A butterfly.

I informed them at one point that this will be a moth. A simple moth with fragile wings. I’d like to think of this as an allusion to a metaphor we are all stuck in at some point in our lives.

Twofold.

  1. We seek change in ourselves or others and have our own vision of the results, even after they have been revealed.
  2. We live in a world where hiding behind a mask is the norm. At the same time, we are just fine never seeing behind the masks of others. We contently see things how we want them to be, creating an ideal that is impossible to attain.

These, I can confidently say are two scenarios we have all partaken in. Maybe you were the main character, maybe you were the gawker, the hopeful seeker of your imagination. Whatever it may be – you chose to act in a certain way that let a result be something other than what it actually is.

I’m pointing my finger and saying you’ve done this because I believe it’s innate. Mixed with naivety, some lack of knowledge, sprinkled with unrealistic optimism… but still innate. This is not to say that striving for perfection or working to be better in certain areas of life, is bad – but striving for the impossible is just well, not possible.

My children who were told that our cute little fuzzy friend would be a moth, still called it a butterfly even after seeing it as a moth. One of my children said, “oh no, it’s wings are not pretty yet.” Then, after continuing to tell them, “well, this is a moth and this is how Sunny will always be.”, they began to call sunny the moth-butterful. I could see their minds working hard to wrap around the fact that Sunny is not the ‘butterfly’ they thought she would be. Their is an odd dissonence between a sweet furry caterpillar and a simple white moth. Almost as if it just could never be that way or something went wrong. Maybe it didn’t eat through that one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, or one slice of salami like it was suppose to.

The real dilemma here is that I failed as a parent in this lesson. Ok, that’s a bit extreme but I kind of did!! I could have excitedly googled images of moths and talked to them about moths and shared with them the inevitable result of their caterpillar. But darn it, we have a few books that talk about butterflies and in their sweet little minds, that is what a caterpillar turns into! Something with glorious patterned wings that will happily land on your finger while dancing in a field. Lovely thought, huh?

If the extent of our knowledge on a certain topic doesn’t go beyond one result, than how are we suppose to react when we are presenting with a result we didn’t know existed? I halted their knowledge with little care, not realizing how it may affect them. Ok, I know my children will be fine but I missed a very simple teaching opprotunity, as I (dramatically) lament over the life of a moth…

Our poor sweet Sunny, however, is now living in a world that two little hopefuls are imagining for it. Welcomed into a world with unrealistic expectations, as my girls patiently wait for their friend to (never) blossom into the only result they are familiar with – – a butterfly.

I know this is just a moth but how can one not see the analogy? It hit me like a rock.

Let’s think about this for a moment. As people, we need to see each other for all that we are, accepting what we become and what we will always be. At the same time, we need to step back and take a real look at ourselves and love every inch of our being – even if it’s not what we had planned for or what others expected…

THIS IS US.

We are all moths living in a butterfly world yet we can be just as grand as any butterfly, if we confidently peel back our masks and unashamedly delight in our delicate world.

Sending Hugs! (Today Parenting)

Whether your loved ones live near or far, everyone enjoys mail and kids love to send it!

Our Valentine tradition is only a year old but I plan to continue this as long as we can, by Sending Hugs to those we care for during this special season of LOVE.

Here is what you’ll need to get started…

tosendyouneed

Next… check out the rest of the instructions here at Today Parenting!

A little love with a Vote would be great too!!

Click on          screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-3-11-13-pm and feel free to share!

Thank you, Cheers + Much love from LBJB.

 

Self-Centered: YOU do you (Today Parenting)

 

mom-relaxing*NOTE TO THE READER: Before you read ahead, please follow these 5 basic instructions…

1. Sit down: Yes, please, you deserve a seat! Put that dish towel down, leave the laundry, quit multi-tasking, and just stop working for a moment!!

2. Put your feet up: I know, I know strange concept. Couch, ottoman, tiny chair meant for a toddler, Lego box, pile of dolls, anything will do.

3. Grab a soft blanket: Why not? We all deserve to be cozy, even if it’s just a ‘lap blanket’ from our children’s collection.

4. Take a deep breath and smile: Ignore what’s around you because I just need a quick moment of your time… ok, let me re-word that. YOU just need a quick moment of your time!

5. Ignore my cheesy undertone and listen to my sincere request.

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The world tells us to give and empathize, share and care, welcome and embrace {those around us}. Our hearts tell us the same thing but guess who remains in the corner with the other dust bunnies? YOU! And you’re probably embracing those dust bunnies too, like the awesome parent you are!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all saying you should stop doing the above wonderful things, I’m just saying that you can’t forget about YOU! …and those dust bunnies don’t need that much love.

Let’s be self-centered together. Just once and maybe monthly after that, and then we can progress to weekly and daily.

Try it: Be SELF-CENTERED. This idea is uncomfortable. The word is negative, conceited and egotistical. It carries guilt and shame that offends and lacks admittance. Or so the dictionary and society says. I also enjoy getting your attention with an unexpected word that causes a bit discomfort. Sorry (but you’ll be fine, I promise).

All of this sounds bad, but what you’re missing is that sometimes you have to spoil yourself a bit. Even when you don’t think you should – that’s probably when you most definitely should. Stop hugging the sidelines and letting everyone and everything else be in the center all the time. I dare you to selfishly finish all your breakfast while it’s hot. You deserve to pee with the door closed, maybe just once today. Please please give yourself a moment to breathe. I know you’re not holding your breath (well, most of the time), but I challenge you to step out of the chaos. Find a pantry or a hidden space in your home and deeply inhale and exhale. This is so darn selfish, but you NEED it! …and you’re kind of a super human who probably doesn’t say no to challenges. So……… GO!

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Feel better? Great.

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Now, I have one last request. Since you’re in the center now, this is perfect timing! It will feel weird, kind of silly, awkward, and well slightly egotistical.

Go to the mirror. Give yourself a hug, maybe a wink and say, “I am an awesome parent.”

The end! That wasn’t too hard, was it? Now, I suppose you have to go back to reality and be the darn selfless person you normally are. But I challenge you to do this again soon! Maybe next month, next week, or tomorrow?!

Good luck! It’s not easy being so self-centered.


Enjoyed reading? Send me a little love with a Vote!! Click on “Vote Up!” >>> HERE on Today.com

As always, Thanks for reading.

.:26:. Let it Be | My memories + a great reminder for all.

siblings

This is a favorite sibling photo of mine, but for this post add a few more years and a few more colors to my striped turtle neck…

Paul McCartney rings in my ears and I reminisce back to road trips as a kid. Six of us in our tan and brown suburban listening to the Beatles while on our way to a new campsite to explore. Sailboards strapped to the top, bikes clanking on the trailer, and the cab packed perfectly like a winning Tetris game. We all have unique memories from our childhood. Different moments that stand out more than others. For me, I often think of these car trips and how I could sing along to most Beatles songs since they were the soundtrack to many of our family trips. At least this is how I remember it.

My oldest brother probably listening to something more current on his yellow walkman while passionately drumming on his leg (Van Halen or Def Leppard make for some great leg drumming) and my other brother practicing card tricks to surprise us with at our campfire breakfast while chomping on Big League Chew. My sister paging through a Babysitter’s Club book in her white Keds and stonewashed jeans and my mom gripping on to an empty Wonder Bread bag just waiting for someone to get car sick. My Dad singing along to the Beatles and frequently sharing a cool fact about the Beatles or something fascinating about nature and me writing an especially awesome entry in my top secret diary or working on my 100th friendship bracelet – pinned to my pants.

Now, as a parent I get caught in the crazy moments and forget to just Let it Be. Written actually for his Mother Mary who told her son to “let it be” in a dream, this song plays in my head more often than I realize. Must be a mother thing…When I take a step back from the chaos of parenting, take a breath and actually soak it all in, I can faintly hear that Beatles song playing as if I were a kid again in the back of that suburban. No cares, no worries, no fears. Just dreaming about roasted marshmallows, skipping rocks, and where to hide the key to my diary.

Too often we get lost in the intensity of parenting. The control we think we have and try so hard to manage. But that control, that plan we are following and lists we are checking are just clutter. Clutter in our brains and our hearts, getting in the way of just letting it be. Clutter not allowing us to sing and act on this need in life. The day will come when we wish this clutter could consume us again so we could find ourselves making that big decision to let it be… while kids play, make messes, learn, create, and challenge us in more ways than anyone ever warned us about. At the same time, it is our job to help our children relax too. The toddler world I am living in now, is filled with silly emotions and a lot of frustration. I am learning to get down to their level, eye-to-eye and teach them how to ‘brush it off’, how to move on when things don’t go their way, and how to just let things be while “speaking words of wisdom”. I’ve even broken out in song and received crickets in the midst of a tantrum. Must be the shock of their mom joyfully singing at the top of her lungs while their current world is “falling apart”. But crickets are much better than desperate cries for help… because Barbie’s shoe is just too tiny to get on (I agree little one, I agree).

A healthy parent-child relationship is symbiotic in many ways, as we are essentially part of each other. We learn from each other and thrive because of each other and in some ways we cannot live without each other – or imagine life apart. So, I will do my best to practice what I am trying to preach to them and let it be. Let life happen as beautifully as it should while visions of leg drumming, magic tricks, babysitter clubs, and friendship bracelets dance in my head.

It’s amazing how great memories can seep back into your life at just the right time.

Mr. McCartney’s Mom was a wise woman – thank you, Mary.

.:25:. PLAY, It’s simple.

 This morning I woke up with my girls and asked (as I do every morning), “what do you want to do today?”, and (as they do every morning), they excitedly responded by saying, “PLAY!!!”.

In the complex and constantly developing mind of a child, play is simple. It’s basic and requires minimal effort to ignite joy and fulfillment. Encouraging imagination isn’t complicated… with the use of tangible or intangible tools, PLAY is happening all the time in the mind of our kiddos and it becomes even more exciting, fulfilling and memorable when we also participate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t “play” with my children every second of the day and they don’t want me to. They need to play with others and they definitely need to play alone. This is all part of their development.

However, too many parents get carried away by it all and (at times) I am one of them. They structure the day so tightly that they forget that play has to happen naturally. I reflected back on a day last week. Someone asked what we did and I blankly said “nothing”. I felt a bit unproductive, like a bad and lazy mom, and slightly embarrassed that we didn’t do anything on a beautiful day. But wait!!! We did so much more than nothing.

Danced and tumbled in the grass. We practiced somersaults and rolled down the hill, made angels in the grass and compared it to the snow that will come before we know it! We looked at the clouds while talking about the scratchy grass on our backs, and noticed the smell of summer in the air. Practiced whistling like the birds and counted the small planes departing from the local airport.

Read. They listened to my words attentively and made visual connections with the shapes of the letters and the imagery in the book. They recognized when I skipped a word, pointed out the yellow hat on the man, and counted all the fruit that very hungry caterpillar ate.

Pretended. We are at a fun stage. My girls love pretending. They acted out scenes from a favorite story, they made up their own story with an exciting “once upon a time” and a joyful “the end!”, they pretended to be the animals at the zoo, a doctor to their toys (fixing ‘owies’ and checking hearts) and they sweetly rocked and changed their babies like the little mommies they are.

^ This may seem like nothing, but to your child it’s exactly what they want and need!

Parents!!! Enough with the pressure. You don’t need to go places all the time. You don’t need to be so busy. You don’t need to have the best and biggest toys. Play does not require a plan. It’s doesn’t require a location, a certain day, and it definitely doesn’t require a reason! Play happens every single second of the day for children and it’s important that we recognize this with encouragement and support. I am not doing “nothing” when all of the above is accomplished in one morning. We are busy bonding, building brains and making memories.

With all of this in mind, I love going places with my children and I appreciate the importance of learning and exploring other places than home. But, what I’m also learning is to ignore the pressure and not feel so bad when we do stay home to PLAY. If you’re the type of person that needs to get out all the time, I commend you and I am sure you are making wonderful memories… but just know that when you stay home, you are still surrounded by many opportunities for your kids to PLAY, explore, learn and simply be happy.

Some days it’s just too much to expend all my morning energy into packing a car for two kids, quickly dressing pokey children, eating on the run, and skipping naps. It’s just not always worth it.

I encourage you, you reading this, you with the to-do list in your hand and the plan ready to be implemented. STOP for a moment and just let your littles PLAY at their own pace.

One day, they will leave the house and you will beg for them to come home as much as they can. Enjoy these days, these simple days of PLAY while it lasts… and go roll in the grass with them!


THAT is what PLAY is all about. Simple, beautiful, PLAY.

.:24:. To Err.

lemonplant

:: when life gives you a lemon plant, have patience and watch those lemons grow!


During pregnancy or preparing for baby and the first years that follow, parents turn into walking talking teaching machines (and many years after). Trying to avoid error in parenting, perhaps? Unfortunately, error is inevitable.

| To err is human; to forgive is divine.” |                            – Alexander Pope

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Well, thank you Mr. Pope but forgiveness to oneself can be difficult and doesn’t feel very divine when I can’t seem to figure out my newborn’s needs, when I’m up all night with an uncomfortable child who can’t tell me what’s wrong, when a kiss on a boo boo is not the answer, when I first heard the words, “I don’t want you, mama.”

>Where did I go wrong? <<

What happened to my machine… that teaches “right” and “best”. How did I err and why does it not feel human?

This is so easy to think and so easy to point the finger at yourself. “Going wrong” is just not the route I thought I took. From the start I did what I was suppose to do.

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Per the suggestion of some psychologist somewhere I remember reading children’s books out loud while my little girls developed inside me. Even before that I quickly had my hands on parenting books – making sure my husband and I were well prepared to raise smart, curious and wonderful little people.

>This is where I went wrong.<<

Well, kind of. I’m not saying being prepared, educated and excited is wrong but…

I didn’t allow myself to just be. I found myself referencing every “how-to” book and following steps like a puppet. When I let certain things work themselves out and I relied on my gut for answers – those were the moments we I learned so much more. To watch in awe as their little brains developed. Physiological and emotional growth cannot be fully controlled by anyone else, but that being. It’s a beautiful thing that we (parents) think we have so much control over. We have a little more control at the beginning and then we pray (really hard), that are teachings help them decide what is “right” and “best” as they go from scooting to running a marathon right before out eyes. While they are figuring it all out… they will ERR and it will be ok – especially if we are there to tell them that it’s all ok because they are HUMAN.

We don’t get a report card to see how we’re doing with our children. We don’t get to meet with a coach who high fives us for our victories or benches us for our faults. What we get is this…

>without request, unprompted<< children who say “I wub you mama”. who look you in the eyes and say “thank you”… and then “you’re welcome” – because that’s how they hear it ☺️.  Who joyfully sing their ABCs and really everyother song you sing together. Who surprise you by counting past 10 one day (did I teach them that?) and curiously ask and tell me what color everything in the world is.

They are determined to complete tasks on their own, gently pushing me away… This is new to me. I’m proud but a tiny bit sad that my babies have hit the ‘no mama, I can do it’ stage. They are particular when it comes to colors and specific when we choose books. Decisions are complicated but powerful. When they make one, their excited eyes delight with joy and confidence… “I will brush my own teeth, mama!” “No mama, I will read the book.” “I don’t need to hold your hand, mama.” “I can do it ALL by myself.” This confidence amazes me. They can’t be trusted to do all the above by themselves just yet, but I can’t get in the way of letting them err.  We’ve all heard this and have probably said it before but, they need to fail before they succeed. The common conflict and result from failure is the fear to keep trying, the fear that failure may occur again. We can’t allow this fear in our children and at the same time, we can’t allow this fear in ourselves. We are HUMAN and we need to watch our little ones err, praise them for trying and encourage them to continue, while showing them that we also err and keep going.

As a parent, the most difficult part for me is knowing that they can keep going through failure in all aspects of life. That they can forgive themselves and others who may fail. I will not always be there to offer a helping hand or a wise word when someone shames them for failing, when someone discourages them or denies them the ability to succeed. But I can give them the best tools to embrace err, positively respond to negativity, succeed in their own way and be happy and confident little people.

Thank you Mr. Pope for shedding so much light on us humans – even before your fellow innovator, Mr. Edison, brought us an actual light.

Now, I must get on with my day… embracing err along the way.