Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop: Classic Christmas Songs for Kids

I love Christmas music.  LOVE IT!  I made a list of my favorite tunes last year in case you missed it.

My kids have been listening to Christmas songs since they have been in utero.  They could probably name any song sung by Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters in three notes.

This year, I could see that they have been acquiring their own taste in Christmas music, so I decided to make them their own playlist of Christmas tunes.

Here’s the Skinny Scoop list.  Click on it if you want to see all 14 tracks. 

What are your favorite Christmas songs? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Longer Full-Time Stay-At-Home Mom

I have a big announcement – 

*takes deep breath*

I have a part-time job teaching social media for marketing at a local business college.  It’s one class, one time a week for four hours. 

I’ve been shadowing the current teacher for the whole semester, and she has generously shared her lesson plans, rubrics, and power point presentations with me.

I am excited that I have an opportunity to combine my passion for social media with my former life as a teacher.  I think that teaching adults will be different than teaching teenagers.  I am relieved that I will not be reading essays and trying to decipher the meaning amidst horrendous grammar errors.  I am also super excited to wear real work clothes, not my uniform of black yoga pants and black long-sleeved T-shirt!

So why have I taken so long to make this exciting announcement?

I’m nervous.  Really nervous.

Getting in front of a class full of students (possibly in in an auditorium with a microphone) is not the major source of my anxiety.  It’s the total shift in my identity that I will not be a full-time stay-at-home mom.  I am accountable to someone else.

For example, I was not home the night before Thomas had his surgery.  Marie was in a fit of tears knowing that I wouldn’t put her down for night time nor would I be there in the morning since Thomas’s surgery was so early in the morning.  Even though my husband, their father, was there to tuck them in at night, I felt like the worst mother in the history of motherhood.

I know it’s only one night a week, but I remember how caught up I got in grading papers and making lesson plans when I taught junior high.  I also had a long list of reasons that teaching had left a sour taste in my mouth:  the lack of support from administration, the pressure to add additional duties like coaching and heading the English Department, the helicopter parents that fueled the self-entitlement culture, etc.

I’ve already made it clear that I am a mom.  When I went to sign some papers, I asked if it was OK to bring Thomas.  I was told it was totally fine since it was super informal, and I was just signing a few papers.

While an administrator and I sat in a conference room, Thomas waved his bag of M & M’s in my face.  While we were discussing the minor detail of salary, he proceeded to ask me how M & M’s are made while dropping them all over the floor.  Because he’s not particular about germs, he sat under the table and ate all of the candy off of the floor.

If that doesn’t say I’m not climbing the corporate ladder, I don’t know what does.

Here’s the thing: I’m interested in creating a career in which I can work mostly from home.  This seems like a great next step in creating a platform from which to jump when Thomas is in school full-time.  (Did I mention that I can make this class a hybrid class of online/ traditional class time)?

I know I should not be freaking out over one night a week and just enjoy an evening in grownup clothes doing grownup stuff.  And I’m sure I will. 



I don’t usually do this, but any words of encouragement or positive perspective you can add about working part time while being a full time mom would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Me = Buddy the Elf + Clark Griswold + Marie Bamford’s Character from Target Commercials

It is Friday, and I still haven’t posted here yet!  There are a few reasons for the delay:

Thomas had surgery on Thursday to put in a second pair of tubes and his adenoids removed.

I am embarking on a totally new project that has required time for preparation.  Stay tuned on this one – I’ll make the announcement on Tuesday!

I have been totally preparing for Christmas.  In fact, I would be surprised if Santa doesn’t ask me to join his team as an official elf.

I am suffering from blog guilt – I haven’t been reading or commenting on blogs.  I have been neglecting Mommy on the Spot this week.  I have not been as active on my social sites.

But Christmas is one of my most favorite times of the year.  It is such a magical time of year that I am trying to be present for Marie and Thomas (despite the above list that didn’t even mention Harrington’s last minute business trip to California).

But in spirit of honoring my love of the holiday and my passion for blogging and my new obsession with YouTube, I have decided to use YouTube clips to describe me at Christmas.

It usually starts out with Harrington and I having a variation of the conversation like Ellen and Clark Griswald share (in which I could not find a clip – YouTube Fail).  It starts out with Ellen (Harrington) telling Clark (me) that her parents and his parents were going to be staying with them during Christmas. 

Clark responds, “All my life I’ve wanted to have big family Christmas.”
Ellen cautiously says him, “It’s just that I know how you build these things up in your mind.  You set standard no family event can ever live up to.”

Clark replies in disbelief, “When have I ever done that?”

Ellen lovingly reminds him by saying, “Parties.  Weddings.  Anniversaries.  Funerals.  Holidays.  Vacations.  Graduations.”

After I blow off Harrington’s cautionary reminders, I usually march ahead with my child-like enthusiasm and make lists of all the fun holiday things we will do as a family, just like Buddy the Elf (minus the elf costume).  (Note to self: consider finding elf costume for next year).

I then become so excited about Christmas I start to take form of Maria Bamford’s character from the old Target Christmas commercials.

Inevitably, I end up having some kind of meltdown in which I end up sounding like this:

Which brings us full circle with me being the female version of Clark Griswold.

Yep.  This is me at Christmas.

I promise to have a real blog post that will be announcing the new direction my new life is taking.  (Re: I am no longer in denial and signed on the dotted line).

How is your holiday season coming along?  Are you a Clark Griswald/Maria Bamford/ Buddy the Elf type of Christmas person?  Or do you lean more on the Grinch side (which, no judging.  I am a total Grinch about Halloween.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Teacher Has Become the Parent

 Alternatively titled: Shit Just Got Real

Thomas has been in nursery school for about two months now.  He has made friends and when I watched him sing during the Halloween presentation, it appeared that he was paying attention

And then one day:


I am pulled aside by the teacher, and she proceeded to tell me that he is having trouble listening because he is goofing off with his friend.   She also informed me that he has a tendency to give dirty looks to other classmates when they want to play with him and his friend.


I feared this day would come, but I didn’t expect it so soon.  The teacher told me not to worry about it because he is just testing boundaries, but I did need to talk to him about making good choices.

And talking about good choices we did.  In fact, by 10:30 the next day, we had made a traffic light chart to help him visualize his behavior choices along with a reward system.  I also thought that an extra physical outlet for his energy would help him stay more focused in school, so I enrolled him in a gymnastics class.

Shit Just Got Real

One might say that I overreacted to this statement.

However, when I taught junior high, I was on the giving end of this kind of information, which was often times received with blank stares and comments fueled by denial and embarrassment. 

I vowed that I would never fall prey to the “not my child” mentality.  Which is why I may have overcompensated.

I have to say that this system is working for us.  The vicious cycle of empty threats of taking toys and screen time away communicated in a volume that I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with was failing.  (Shocking, I know). 

At first, he didn’t like the traffic light chart (really, who does like to be accountable for their actions?).  Eventually, he accepted it, and now he’s works with it.  I am not saying that he is not making any more bad choices, but I will say that he is understanding the consequences of his choices.  I also realize I may regret the reward system, but I think it may be unrealistic that I expect a 3 ½ year old to be intrinsically motivated. 

With this chart, I feel like I am not squashing his spirit, but rather teaching him to be responsible for his actions.  I also feel it is easier to take the emotion out of a heated situation since there is a clear set of expectations.

So for now, this working.

I stress, "for now."

Have you ever received unfavorable news from school?  How did you handle it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Best of Pinterest: Thanksgiving Edition

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I know it seems passé to talk about “that other holiday” right now since Target has had their Christmas decorations up since mid-October.  Before Thanksgiving becomes a memory clouded by the flurry of Christmas cheer, I wanted to share another Best of Pinterest post with you, a mash up of photo tips and recipes. (Pinterest, I love you more and more each day)! (Also, please feel free to follow me on Pinterest since that is where I spend 75% of my time).

 Last week, Iwrote a post at Detroit New MichMoms about the meaning of the non-traditional dessertsI make at Thanksgiving.  Here are some glamour shots of the food.  (Or where I pretend that I am a food blogger).

This is my gluten-free creation inspired creation.  I took this recipe created by Living Wright atHome that I found on Pinterest, but instead of using cookies (which contain evil gluten), I made some cinnamon roasted pecans for the crunch.  Dee-lish!

I think my gluten-free aunt looks happy.
And that makes me happy.  Win for everyone!

These chocolate chip cookies are the most moist, delicious cookies I have ever made. I used this recipe by Apple a Day.  These are my new go-to cookie recipe.

This is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert of all time.  Coconut cream pie: it is tradition.  Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without it.

How did I make all these photos look good enough to eat?  I read this super helpful post byHello, Lidy about photographing food.  Very helpful, yet easy for a Photoshop novice, such as myself.

Have you found anything awesome on Pinterest lately?  I would love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Ever since Marie and Thomas started school today, I feel our days have been slowly building this momentum that has transformed into a whirlwind.

Well, I’d like to blame it all on the kids, but that is not totally the truth.  I have some developments happening in my life that have me feeling excited yet completely nervous.  I am working up the nerve to write about it, because even though they have been in the works and swirling around my head for quite some time, once I write it here, it is for real.  And that is scary.

I think the holidays have me feeling a bit preoccupied, too.  A lot of my recent posts have been about restructuring boundaries and finding the courage to do what is right for me and my family.  Nothing like constant barrage of family gatherings to put all that work to the test.  Luckily, most of these functions have a wonderful spread of food so that I can sufficiently eat my feelings.

Instead of facing these stressors in an honest and healthy way like going to yoga or meditating, I have been running as fast as I can away from them.  I have found an unhealthy obsession with Photoshop has been the perfect medium for my avoidance.  I stay up late working on photos for a Christmas project, and then I get up early to work out (because I want to prepare myself for the nervous eating that will inevitably take place).  And then I work on some more photos while Thomas eats his breakfast and watches some a lot TV.

It’s hard to stay present when I’m feeling anxious, but looking back at this year’s photos, I am reminded how grateful I am for my children.  Raising these little people is not easy.  In fact, it’s the direct opposite of easy.  Every day presents its own challenge usually centered on some sort of patience endurance exercise.

But I am grateful for those challenges because they have given me the courage and the strength to try and become the person I have always hoped I could be.

I feel softer around the edges, yet stronger in my core beliefs.

I am still a planner, yet I understand the importance of spontaneity.

I am learning how to shelf my ego, and I have a greater understanding of myself.

I am grateful that these two little people have transformed me in ways I never knew I could.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Intolerance for Intolerance

Alternatively titled: Baby Jammies New Friend

Hey, did I tell you about the time when Nathan and I went to Ikea for some pre-birthday shopping?  Probably not.  It was a pretty average visit: I picked up a super sweet chair for my office, I got some Christmas coasters, and Nathan picked out a new baby doll so Baby Jammies would have a friend.  Here he is with his babies:

Such a good daddy! 

I didn’t write a post about it because it seemed as interesting as telling you that I ate breakfast or went to the grocery store. 

But in the light of the presidential election, I was reminded that not everyone is color blind when it comes to race.  The day after the election, there were some rumblings at school that a few of the kids had some very hateful things to say about President Obama.  Not just differences of politics views, like tax cuts and health care (which I am sure that every elementary school child has developed through research and critical thinking).  No.  These remarks made by young children were disgustingly racist. I don’t want to type what I head because I would never ever want to be associated with such hateful comments; however, the general gist was that certain races should not exist.  There were also some comments about President Obama’s alleged lack of religion thrown in there, too.  (Which is a moot point since there is this thing called separation of church and state).

I am not so naïve to think that racism doesn’t occur in this country.  Hatred is a sneaking, pervasive snake that is constantly slithering and attacking.

However, I do think I was naïve to think that people would have enough sense to not spread their ignorance to the next generation.  If an adult would have said what these children were saying, it would have been considered a hate crime.

I am sick, angry, and sad that people my age still judge based on skin color.

I am infuriated that they are passing their prejudices to their children.

I know that learning about the world, both good and bad, is a part of growing up and going to school.  I think I took the bubble of I created for Thomas and Marie for granted, especially when I see how ignorance and intolerance is infiltrating my little ecosystem of acceptance.

I have been trying to teach my kids the importance of practicing patience, kindness, and respect, and I think the election was a perfect teachable moment for this.  Having said that, I do feel like a hypocrite when I say that I have no tolerance for intolerance and ignorance.

And I think I am OK with that.  Taking a stand against intolerance, whether it is based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, is important to me, and I am doing my best to teach acceptance to my kids.

Have you run into this kind of thing?  How do you handle it?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Day and Faded Craft Time Memories

Election Day was not only the day I performed my civic duty (and wrote about my feeling of politics and motherhood at the Detroit News MichMoms blog), but it was going to be a cozy, fun day with both of my Babes home from school circa late 2010 when were always home together.  We were going to snuggle on the couch and do fun holiday crafts.

The day was going to be lovely.


I started out my Pinterest perfect morning (after voting, of course) by making chocolate chip pancakes.  But that wasn’t enough for Thomas.  He also wanted mini frozen pancakes and waffles.  Only slightly defeated, I fulfilled his wish.  I wasn’t going to let a little hiccup like that ruin my day.

After I cleaned up, Marie played on the computer while I played games with Thomas.  We were harmoniously humming along until it was Thomas’s time to go on the computer.  He wanted to go on a website I didn’t like, and then when his time was up, there was an explosion of temper.  How could this happen?  I gave him extra time and plenty of warning!

Trying to stay positive, I shifted gears thinking that he would like to make his Christmas list for the grandparents who want to get an early start.  I was disheartened when he said he wanted everything.  Ev.ry.thing.

I started to feel my happy train becoming derailed, but in a valiant effort to prevent the inevitable, I made each Babe whatever they wanted for lunch. 

Which of course was not the same thing.  That would’ve been easy. 

So I made both macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.  I like to think they were extra delicious since they were sprinkled with extra love and good intentions and not the bitter resentment of a dismantled day that I was choking on.

When I cleaned up (again), we sat down to do the Thanksgiving Tree Craft that I had seen on Pinterest.  (Side note: Pinterest did not have the*exact* tree and leaf template I wanted, so I made do with tracing my own arm and tracing an old foam leaf sticker.  I feel it gave it that extra homemade look).

When it was time to write down the things they were thankful for, Thomas didn’t want to do the craft.  He didn’t want to use the glue stick.  Then he delivered the lowest of all blows.

He said that he had nothing to be thankful for.

WHAT?!  Nothing to be thankful for?! 

I snapped.

All day long, I felt like I was spinning and giving in and moving forward.  I was exhausted.  And now sad.  I didn’t expect him to express his gratitude for all things motherhood that I perform on a daily basis for him, but I just wanted something to go right.

I could hear Thomas sneaking in and climbing on to the bed.  He whispered that he was sorry that he hurt my feelings.  Of course I accepted.  I was disappointed, not heartless.

There are several lessons learned on Election Day: often memories look better after they real and harsh corners have faded a bit.  Also, I need to get a handle on this demanding phase Nathan is currently experiencing.  It can really dictate how well an activity or a meal or an outing goes, and I don’t think it is fair that the whole world needs to revolve around him and his whims.

Do you struggle with how things used to be and how they are now?  How do you handle a demanding child?  Clearly, I need some help.

"Yeah.  I'm not feeling this."

She powered through the tantrum
and had a blast.  I wish I had her ability
to tune out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts on the Book Room and My Struggles with Being an Adult

I love to read.  Joining a book club has been one of the best things I have done for myself.  Often times, it pushes me to read books that I would never think to read.

Case in point, Room by Emma Donoaghue.  It’s not my usual type of book since reading about a traumatic kidnapping of a young woman who is forced to have a baby while living as a captive in a very small room gives me hives.  I gave it a whirl (because I’m a team player), but I ended up being totally entranced that the first-person narrative was a five-year old son of the kidnapped victim.

The Room is everything to this child.  He has no awareness of the outside world and thinks everything on TV is not real.  Since he only knows his mother (and has to hide at night when the abuser comes to see the young woman), he personifies the objects in his room.  When he and his mother escape, all he wants to do is go back to see Room.  The little boy has a tremendously difficult time adjusting to the outside world and mourns for the safety of Room, so his mother and a police officer take him back to Room.

When he returns, the little boy doesn’t recognize it.  It’s smaller than he remembered and nothing looked the same.  His perspective had changed once he experienced life outside of those four tiny walls.

Even though the context of this story is gut-wrenching, I thought his attachment to Room and his altered perspective were an achingly beautiful metaphor for growing up.  And strangely enough, I totally relate to this little boy.

I feel these past six months have been really weighing down on me: I’ve been doing some major work on shifting the way I view myself as I’ve been strengthening my personal boundaries.  Often times, I just want to quit and go back to the way things used to be.

Except they can’t.  Because I am different.  I have witnessed life outside of Room, and now everything has changed.  I’m no longer the same person who reacts to the madness around me.  I no longer think that I am self-indulgent if I’m making time to take care of myself.

But still, I struggle.  Part of being an adult is accepting situations for what they are, yet that does not mean accepting means that I have to participate in the same unhealthy way.  This is the hardest part for me.  My therapist says it’s the internal battle between my adult self knowing what to do to protect me, and the little girl part of me waiting for someone else to step in and take over.

And I would say that is true.

In what ways do you struggle with being an adult?  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Best of Pinterest: Photoshop Tutorial by Lisa Edoff

A few weeks ago, I did something I thought I would never do.  I downloaded the Pinterest app on my phone.  I didn’t really think it would amount to much to anything.  I mean I wasn’t one of those people who were constantly falling down the Pinterest black hole of time suckage – how harmful could it be?

I was wrong.  So very wrong.  I am *constantly* on Pinterest.  In fact, I take Pinterest breaks throughout the day, much like some people take a cigarette break . . . except without the nicotine and carcinogens.  It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, and sometimes I just need a mental break to look at something beautiful or delicious or interesting.

I don’t want to collect all this knowledge in vain; therefore I have decided to try out a new weekly series called Best of Pinterest in which I will spotlight one of my favorite pins.  Here’s the thing about Pinterest – there are a lot of awesome visuals, but sometimes the links are not that great.  I will have test run the pins before writing about them so I know they are good to share.

The first pin I want to write about is from a blogger named Lisa Edoff at A Piece of Lisa.   Photoshop Tutorial: Learn Basic Photo Editingto Enhance Colours/Light/Contrast is so easy to use, and my photo looked amazing!  

Here’s the pin I found:

Here’s my before picture:

Here’s my after picture:

Did those fall colors pop or what?!  I feel like a Photoshop superstar!

Thank you, Lisa, for posting this awesome tutorial!  It has totally boosted my confidence in my Photoshop skills.

Have you found anything interesting on Pinterest lately?  Also, I would love it if you followed me on Pinterest, too!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Daily School Routine

Um, I’m not sure if you noticed, but the first day of November begins next week.  When did that happen?  It seems like just last week I was getting ready for the first day of school, and now it’s days before Halloween with Thanksgiving sneaking up very soon.

Even though the leaves have been changing colors and I’ve been indulging in everything pumpkins spiced (except coffee creamer because that tastes how I would imagine pumpkin spice scented soap from Bath and Body Works would taste like), I feel like I have finally settled into a routine. Part of the reason may be because Harrington has been traveling a lot or maybe time just seems to be moving that fast.  Who knows?

What I do know is that after this *supposed* last day of mild weather, any remnants of summer will be gone, and with it, so are the days of sleeping in until 8am (which is the equivalent of sleeping in until noon since before that my kids were waking up at 6:00am) and not having to urgently rush to some place.  There will be no more ice cream on the swing set as the sun sets.  Week-long family vacations adventures will be on hiatus, too.

But the pressure of managing two kids all. damn. day. is gone, too.  I won’t be stressing about my lack of motivation to do something other than turn on the TV because the weather is so hot.  (I try not to complain about the weather and find the good in each season as I wrote here at the Detroit News MichMoms blog, but I have learned that heat and humidity sucks my will do anything faster than any cold snap).

However, as the very wise man Jerry Seinfeld once said, “You can’t have the this without the that.”  The tradeoff is getting up early to work out and making lunches.  It’s also kind of sad that I don’t see my babies all day, and I find myself reminiscing about the days of being on lockdown due to the nursing/nap schedule.

I need to be honest, and I know this might not be in line with the popular consensus, but I’m OK with getting up early and having to be at the bus stop at a certain time; it keeps me motivated.  What can I say, I thrive on a deadline.

I may not see Marie all day, but I try to make the time we spend together count, whether it’s when we do homework or driving to swim.  Because going to school all day and exploring outside interests is the natural order of things, I really stress quality over quantity.  Also, I am able to have some valuable one-on-one time with Thomas, which he really needs right now.

I am sure that when June rolls around I will be more than ready to ditch the schedule for new adventures.  I can also promise with great certainty that I will be excited for September when balance is then restored.

What do you think about your school routine?  Love it?  Hate it? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Philosophy on Discussing Politics - I like to discuss my politics like I get ready in the gym locker room: quietly, discreetly, and with great personal space for the completely naked person standing next to me.

I love Facebook.  I love Twitter.  I am starting to take my relationship with Google+ to the next level.  I am flirting with Path.  Regardless of the platform, I love social media.  I love emotional transaction I have across all my favorite social media channels.
Having said all of that, there is a super fine line of harassing and over sharing.  There is even a finer line between sharing and preaching.  And nothing like a political election to completely erase any lines of civility and respect.

I don’t know about you, but I feel that my Facebook feed has been cluttered with people preaching yelling sharing their political views.  I totally support respectful, intelligent political debates mixed with a passion.  I giggle at the funny, witty comments (look at me! I’m in a binder)!

What I feign is the spewing of a personal view point as fact (without documentation – a leftover occupational job hazard from my English teacher days).  And what’s worse is the berating of an individual when he/she disagrees with said personal view as fact.

Here’s the thing: when you post something controversial in an inflammatory way, whether it be political or not, chances are people who disagree with you are going to comment.  I am so sick and tired of the bullying and retaliation.  I am tired of those who aggressively and irresponsibly use their freedom of speech.  I am exhausted that these individuals do not own that their way of belligerently communicating their views *may* not persuade others to see your point of view.  And I don’t know what is worse – the original domineering comment or the condescending way of expressing their point of view.

It’s aggravating.  It makes me itchy and cringy.  Some of these rants get so out of control that I find myself saying, “This is ridiculous!   I totally don’t agree with this at all.  Oh, wait.  I do agree.  My vision was just clouded by all venom of their negativity.”  Most of these hostile zealous tirades are between family members.  And I’m not sure if anyone has done the math, but after the election, we will all be in the same room in 3-7 weeks due to a little thing called the holidays.  This may not bother the instigators, but I am going to work out like a crazy person because I know that I will be relying on carbs and wine to get through those awkward moments.       

I just don’t see why more people don’t take a page out of this amazing book of the Twitter sensation @PaulRyanGoseling and use some humor to get the point across.  Here’s a wonderful example of how to influence without being an ass:


Here’s my bottom line: Be passionate!  Be excited!  Be inspired! (And if you are a superstar, be funny)!

But don’t be rude and disrespectful just because other people have a different view.

It’s causing me anxiety.  And I am having a hard time not eating my feelings and gaining weight because my Facebook feed is lacking finesse and manners.

How are you handling the crazy political frenzy in your social media feeds?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gift of Presence

Today is my birthday.  I usually love my birthday.  Love. It.  I revel in the celebration.  I eat tons of cake and ice cream and junky carbs as I can.

This year is a little different.  It’s been a difficult six months.  I’ve been closely examining my personalboundaries in regards to bullying.  I’ve been working hard on accepting myself and honoring my limits.  I’ve been putting a lot of effort into creating the best version of myself so I can be good to others.

It’s exhausting, really.

And needless to say, it has not been easy.  I know that one of my gifts from the Babes is the new No Doubt CD.  (Thanks for the not-so-obvious hint, Thomas)!  I am super excited to open it later tonight, but I have to say that my kids have already given me the best gift that has transformed me in each and every way.

The gift of presence. 

I am so incredibly thankful for this gift of living in the moment.  They take this awesome gift for granted because they are constantly living in the moment.  But as a planner, living in the moment has been a challenge.  It means taking the time to be quiet and value what is happening right here, right now.  And because of this, I not only see the beauty of the moment, but I feel it in a way I never had experienced before.

When Thomas wants to cuddle on the couch with me and watch Doc McStuffins or when Marie wants to hold my hand as we walk to the bus stop, I quiet that voice that says laundry needs to get done or we need to hurry before the bus comes.  All these little moments add up to one, big life and I don’t want them to slip away.

But even more than that, living in the moment with my kids has given me strength to protect my priorities with great intensity.  This is not easy, and it’s not like I live in this Zen state all the time (who does with a three year old?), but I can say that my joyful moments are more joyful.

I am thankful to these little teachers for inspiring me to create the life I’ve always wanted.

I can’t say that I *love* the idea of the smile lines that seem a little deeper around my eyes, but I can say with great certainty that I love the sense of strength I get from my gift of presence.

What do you like most about your birthday?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Story of Being Bullied

Last week, I wrote a post for the Detroit NewsMichMoms blog about the bullying my daughter has faced on the bus.  As a mother, I am outraged.  As I say in my post, I refer to the bucketdipping analogy because it makes sense to me: no one (at least at this young age) is inherently bad and there is a definite cycle to bullying.  It’s really all about the bully’s issues, not so much the victim’s issues.

 My rage runs deep because it brings up my memories of being bullied in school.  I was awkward with my glasses and retainer.  I was self-conscious because, for some reason, I just didn’t feel like I fit in with other kids.

In fourth grade, there was this one girl, Sunny*, and she always seemed to lay into me about something.  I wore glasses.  My hair was too blonde.  I wore a retainer.  I wore age-appropriate clothes.  I got good grades.  I asked too many question in class.  It was always something with her.

The bullying had been going on for a while, and my parents told me to ignore her so she wouldn’t see me upset.  Of course, it continued to escalate, and I could feel the anger my parents had because their daughter was hurting.  And this is when they told me to do the unmentionable.

They told me to hit her. 

Instead of feeling empowered that I could just smack the shit out of this bully, I only felt an extra heap of anxiety.  I wasn’t a fighter, but I felt like I would be letting my parents down if I didn’t get this girl to shut up and leave me alone.

One day, in music class, she said something horrible (which I don’t exactly remember) while the teacher wasn’t paying attention.  Everyone started to laugh at me.

That was it.  I got up out of my seat and tried to smack her.  I can’t remember if I actually smacker her or not.  I pretty much blocked out the whole incident.  I remember crying and running out of the room in the middle of class, but that’s about it.

The next day (or maybe it was later on the same day since everything is blurry), I sat down in the principal’s office while he told her to leave me alone.  In retrospect, I am not quite sure how I did not get in trouble for smacking someone and then leaving class.  Anyway, she got a few more digs in and left me alone, only to have someone else start where she left off.  I felt that something was obviously wrong with me since I was being bullied again.

Looking back, Sunny had family issues that I am sure where the cause of her acting out, and I just happened to be an easy target.  I am pretty sure that her bucket was not being filled at home but at the time, I never considered her story because I was only reacting to her abuse. 

Years later, I have learned that real power and real strength comes from not reacting or even just ignoring the abuse.  The fear and unworthiness that comes with being bullied makes it difficult to sustain the appearance of ambivalence.  The power and strength come from having personal boundaries, of knowing that you deserve to be around people who treat you with kindness.

I try so hard to teach my kids how to maintain personal boundaries and trust their instincts to keeping themselves protected.  It’s so important more than ever with the dawn of social media within in a society that accepts bullying.  I mean look at this story from Today Moms.  Ann Coulter used the word “retarded” in a derogatory way, and a blogger who is a father to a special needs child wrote about how this upset him and wants an apology. 

If this is happening with so called educated adults, it’s for sure going to happen on the school bus and the playground.  A lot of these adults still claim that words are just words, which is maddening because it is taking no ownership for the hurt those words cause and perpetuates the cycle.

I hope that by teaching my kids to respect the power of words and personal boundaries, they can truly move on from a heartless remark with understanding (and maybe a dash of compassion) that the abuser has probably been the subject of the same hurtful behavior.

I want to break the cycle.

But this?  This is not easy. 

Have you been bullied?  How did it affect you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Daisies Badges

On an impulse, Marie decided to join Daisies (formerly known as Bluebirds). 

At first my reaction was to say no.  I like to avoid organized groups like the hantavirus.  (By the way, California, you have one year to get this situation under control since that is when we will meet again).

My experience with Brownies and Girl Scouts was not what I would refer to as awesome.  (But Bluebirds rocked!)  (Which may or may not be related to the fact that my Mom was the Bluebirds troupe leader; I have fond memories of Christmas caroling and drinking hot chocolate).

However, Daisies do crafts and activities that are all centered on learning new things.  Marie’s favorite thing in the whole world is learning, second only to arts and crafts.  I mean, she has taken it upon herself to teach herself about the presidents of the United States, the Great Depression, and anything about the Olympics.

In efforts to help her find her niche, I put my personal feelings about organized groups.

Which I thought totally earned a badge, right?

Actually, since she started Daisies two week ago, I think I have earned the following badges:

Iron-on Success – You earned this badge by diligently reading the instructions on the back of the starter badges and successfully ironing them on to the vest.  Extra points earned for lining up all the numbers in a straight line and making sure everything is in the correct place.  You are well on your way to earning your sewing badge (which I don’t know how to do and was secretly one of the reasons I didn’t want Marie to join Daisies).

Last Minute Target Run - Parade is tomorrow and you were feeling all proud about the vest.  Oops!  Forgot to purchase khakis!  You earned this badge for running to Target when you would rather have been in your jammies watching the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy.  You get extra points for buying the correct size on the first try and ironing the hell out of them.

Shelving Feelings about Homecoming Badge – As I said, I generally dislike organized group, which I think stems from the fear of being left out and not fitting in.  And these are the exact reasons I do not have warm, toasty memories of homecoming.  I only went twice, and they were both disasters.  You deserve this award for putting those icky feelings aside and allowing only joy for your daughter to shine through. 

On a related note, Marie can make up her mind about the whole homecoming experience on her own when she’s in high school. Given she doesn’t restrict the blood flow to her brain by the way of tight jeans.  Seriously, have you seen how tight the jeans that high school girls wear?  Or maybe they’re tights and they forgot the skirt.  Either way.

(Seriously, do I sound like an old lady yet, or what?) 

I look forward to sharing the other badges I earn this year, right along with Marie.

Tell me, is your child involved in an activity you do not love?  Please share with me so I don’t feel like such a bad mom.