Friday, November 30, 2012

The Myth of the Perfect Parent

Parenting is hard -- especially when our children make mistakes. I'm talking about mistakes like not listening, hurting someone else's feelings, not sharing, hitting, etc.

When things like this happen around my house, I tend to beat myself up and blame myself. Why? Because I feel passionately that it is my job to raise good children. I am so afraid that I am going to mess this up. And there are no second chances here.

Image courtesy of Ambro /FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But, I recently gained a new insight on an old story that set me free from those negative thoughts.

It goes a little something like this. There once was the perfect Father, and he had two children, Adam and Eve, who sinned and rejected his ways.

Oh. My. Gosh. Stop the presses! Let me get this straight. God ... who is the perfect Father, had children who sinned?

Yes, I knew that. But I never put it into the context of my parenting.

If the most perfect Father could have children who sinned, how can I expect to have children who never make mistakes? And why am I beating myself up about it when they do mess up?

Wow! What a relief. It's a whole new perspective! Now, this doesn't mean that I will stop trying to raise wonderful human beings, but it means I will no longer expect to be the perfect parent!

Does that resonate with anyone else?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer


One of my favorite sayings is, "Never underestimate the power of prayer." Those words have been proven to be true in my life again and again.

I don't know about you, but I spend a fair amount of time praying every day. I try to pray unceasingly. I say prayers out loud and in my mind, and I also write prayers in my journal.

I thought I was doing just fine in that department until a friend introduced me to an amazing and powerful prayer journal this weekend. It is the 2013 Sacred Intercession Prayer Journal.

I loved the journal from the moment I first saw it. Its cover artwork is beautiful, it's the perfect size (7.5 x 9") for a journal, and its spiral binding makes it very functional for writing in.

While all of that outer beauty is great, the real beauty is on the inside of this journal. What I love most about it is actually a compilation of three things: the ready-to-use prayers, the scriptural prayers and suggestions for a prayer framework.

The ready-to-use prayers for protection, praise and thanks have provided me with inspiration, guidance and enthusiasm about praying, and they feel powerful -- so much more powerful than the words I was using on my own.

The collection of specific scriptural prayers is just awesome. Praying for someone with an addiction? Someone who is pregnant? Someone who needs financial help? Someone with cancer? There are pages and pages of organized scriptural prayers to choose from.

Regarding the prayer framework, I've had my own prayer order that I've used in the past, but the journal's suggestions take what I was doing to the next level. Just to give you an idea, here's what the journal suggests:
  1. Say a prayer of protection and putting on God's armor for the day 
  2. Give praise 
  3. Give thanks 
  4. Ask for forgiveness 
  5. Pray for those in need of God's love, compassion and healing grace 
  6. Say a cleansing prayer that acknowledges you are placing all of these prayers in the hands of Jesus and you trust He will handle them according to His will. 
Those are the three things I love most about the journal, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of its other helpful features, including:
  • Space to journal reflections about your life 
  • Pages to record personal and spiritual goals 
  • Weekly calendar pages to record daily intentions 
  • A section to record answered prayers!
Overall, it's a place to consolidate your prayer life, and it's calendar-based so you can blend your daily life and your prayers all together if you want. I don't know about you, but as a Type-A, organized personality, I say AMEN to that!

If you think a tool like this might help you in your prayer life, check it out at www.sacredintercession.com.
Julie Rudnick, creator of
Sacred Intercession Journal

On a final note, I would like to share that this journal was created by a woman here in Northern Illinois. Her name is Julie Rudnick, and she is a friend of a friend as I mentioned earlier. Thank you for this awesome creation, Julie! It is really special, and I am praying for it to land in the hands of all who need it! (I'm going to go write that down in my Sacred Intercession Journal now!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Imperfect Progress


I recently finished reading "Unglued -- Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions" by Lysa TerKerst. Fantastic book. 

The writer is hilarious. I love the colorful way she explains things and tells stories. For example, the way she explains what "coming unglued" means is with the expression, "when others bump into my happy." I love that.

She explains that when people bump into our happy, we either stuff, explode or react somewhere in between. People that bump into our happy can be our children, spouses, family members, friends or total strangers.

Most of us do both. For example, I tend to stuff when friends or strangers rub me the wrong way, but when my children are driving me crazy, I might explode. In fact, at the present moment, my kids are grating on my nerves by not leaving me alone while I am trying to write this, so I am stuffing my frustration in order to not explode at them! :)

Neither stuffing or exploding is the desired response, because both responses hurt ourselves and others. Stuffing builds up as baggage, and exploding hurts others while making you feel guilty about coming unglued.

So, the book teaches a few core concepts:

    How to resolve conflict in your important relationships
    How to be honest but kind when offended
    How to respond, when you are triggered, with no regrets by managing your tendencies to stuff, explode or react somewhere in between

The concept of "imperfect progress" comes in when she reminds us that once we start working on better handling our emotions -- whether we are trying not to stuff or not to explode -- we may still make mistakes. I love that. I feel like that is a hand of grace reaching down to us. 

I think sometimes we get overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to change, but this book invites us to at least try, and to accept that we will not be perfect. It's a process. What a relief!

Reading this book showed me that I am not alone in my imperfect progress to better handle my emotions. It also helped me realize I need to give myself grace when I mess up, and I need to extend grace to others when they mess up, too.

Great book for women! I'd highly recommend. We should do a book club on this one!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Teaching Children about the Big Impact of Small Acts of Kindness

Recently, the kids and I were at Potbelly getting lunch. As I was standing in line to place our order, Tyler, my nine-year-old, walked out of the line to find a table. He happened to cross paths with a little girl his age who was carrying a tray of empty cups and wrappers to the garbage.

Unexpectedly, her tray tipped a little, and a cup fell off of it. In slow motion, I watched the look on her face, which said something like, "Oh no, what am I going to do now?" She looked around the restaurant for help.

Then I watched Tyler as he contemplated what to do. He looked at her and at the cup on the floor. Then he bent down, picked up the cup and put it back on her tray.

Even though the exchange was very brief, it seemed as though time stood still. I had enough time to appreciate the point of view of both children and feel immense joy as I watched my child do something nice for another child.

I even had enough time to wonder if there was more to this story than just one child helping another. Who knows, maybe Tyler and that girl will meet again some day, and she'll say, "Hey, you're the kid who picked up my cup for me at Potbelly."

Honestly, I was not planning on writing a blog about this, because it was such a minor, every day experience -- it's not like he saved her life. But then I remembered that that is what my blog is all about -- making memories out of every day.

And I realized that Tyler's small act of kindness could have made a big impact on that little girl, her parents and anyone else in the restaurant who saw it. It certainly made a big impact on me, and I made sure Tyler knew how sweet it was, too.

So, I am sharing this story because I believe it is vital to take the time to notice and appreciate the small, every day positive experiences in life. Otherwise, life may just pass us by.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Homework Time More Peaceful

This year the kids both have a sizable amount of homework -- Tyler's takes about an hour, and Alyssa's takes about half an hour.

For these first few weeks of school, we've been doing homework together -- both kids at the same time, but I was starting to notice that they each needed enough of me that there was not enough of me to go around.

It was starting to cause frustration for all of us, because we all just wanted this homework thing to be done so we could get to playing!

I came to my senses yesterday and presented this challenge and my feelings about it to the kids for their help in solving it.

We threw out some solutions, including 1) them being more patient with me and each other and we still do it together or 2) we have one child do their homework at a time.

They decided they would like to split it up so each child gets their own time with mom on homework.

For any of you who have read The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, both of my kids speak the love language of quality time, so, this choice was not a surprise.

Tyler piped up and said he would prefer to go first since it stresses him out to let his homework linger. Alyssa said it didn't matter if she went first or second. Wow! That was easy! Yippee!

So, today was our first day of splitting it up, and it went much better than previous days! So much more peaceful. Whew. I am not sure if this is exactly how we will continue, but at least for now while we are still adjusting to the new school year, this may help alleviate some after school stress for all of us.

So, here it is ... about 4:00, both kids are done with homework and playing independently and I have time to write this blog! Feels good!

I'm not sure how other moms handle this situation, but hopefully our solution is helpful information for some of you. Happy Thursday!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hummingbirds from Heaven

When my dad called to tell me that my grandmother had just passed away, I was sitting outside on the patio enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning.

After his call, I just sat there for a bit, taking in the information, letting the tears stream down my cheeks, when suddenly a creature came flying right at me. I thought it was a dragonfly and that it was going to hit me, so I flinched, but as it got closer, I realized it was a hummingbird.

A beautiful hummingbird! To say it took my breath away would be an understatement. I was fascinated. It flew right next to me and hovered there for several seconds. Long enough for me to take it all in and be captivated by it.

I have only seen a hummingbird in person a few times in my life. And NEVER for such a long period of time. It was just breathtaking.

I am very interested in the spiritual meaning of animals, so, after the encounter, I looked up the hummingbird, and what I read had me in tears. So many messages for me. Too many for one blog article, but, the primary one is the significance of how the hummingbird's wings flutter in the shape of a figure eight. That is the sign for infinity -- eternity.

Seriously. For a hummingbird to "magically" show up next to me moments after learning my grandmother had passed away is nothing short of divine. I'm sure my grandmother sent me that hummingbird to let me know about eternity.

Growing up, birds were our thing. Well, sparrows, mostly. She fed the sparrows at her house every single day, and when I was there I did it too. But she didn't feed her sparrows ordinary bird seed, she bought loaves of bread specifically for the birds!

I loved tearing up the bread into little pieces for the birds and then running inside to the kitchen window to watch them all eat.

She told me her father always told her he would come back to earth as a bird after he died, and that was why it was so important she fed the sparrows at her house. Well, now I have hummingbirds to feed in honor of my grandmother. It just makes me smile.

Hummingbirds also symbolize joy. I think my grandmother is telling me, from heaven, the same thing she used to tell me in person -- savor every moment, every day. Savor your family.

I get chills every time I think about it. Lucky for me, I have a very caring husband who promptly went out and bought a hummingbird feeder. Now we see them every day! CRAZY! He also set up the video camera to see if we could catch one in action, and we did! Check out the video! So cool!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spiritual Journaling: The ART of Compassion


I attended a spiritual art journaling class last night and made this piece of artwork.

For the week prior to the class we were instructed to be asking God for direction in this new season of life ( it could be the kids going back to school or whatever is going on in life).

We were to ask God to lay some things on our hearts and to be paying attention to the repetitive messages he would bring us.

Throughout the week I felt that God was giving me the word compassion to think about. I read that word and heard people speak that word REPEATEDLY all week long. 

He even gave me a verse from the Bible -- Psalm 103:8, which says "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love."

I took time to reflect on what God was trying to tell me with this, and I think right now it has to do with me being compassionate always.

It's easy to be compassionate toward people who treat you with love and respect. The challenge comes in being compassionate toward those you feel are not treating you well.

This is no small challenge. It means changing your heart. It means that even those who have hurt us deserve our compassion. Maybe it helps to think about what Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

So, the goal of the spiritual art journaling class was to take what we learned over the week and to journal it artistically. We were given an 8x8 canvas, paints, markers, crayons, glitter, stickers, photographs and more to create our artful journals. The end result is a treasure to help remind you of what God is teaching you right now.

Tamara Peterson, the creator of this idea, came up with it because she understands the value of journaling, but has trouble putting her thoughts and feelings into words. She's an artist, so instead of using lots of words, she uses lots of paint, color, symbols, pictures and anything else artistic she can get her hands on. She is so talented! And very fun to be around, I might add!

But you don't have to be a talented artist to journal this way! As you can see from my photo, I am not an artist -- I am a woman of words! But I loved this method of journaling and found it to be very peaceful and divine. If you're interested in learning more about creative journaling, click here.

A Letter to My Grandmother

Today is Saturday, August 25, 2012. The day my grandmother went to be with her husband and the Lord. She died of cancer, but has been living with Alzheimer's disease for many years. I wrote her this letter in 2009, before the Alzheimer's disease got so bad that I wouldn't have the chance to tell her how much she meant to me.

February 24, 2009

Dear Grandma,

Hello. It’ me, Kristina, your oldest grandchild! I am writing because I would like to tell you how much you mean to me. As I watch my children, Tyler (6) and Alyssa (3), interact with their grandparents, it reminds me of all of the wonderful fun we had while I was growing up.

I will always treasure the memories of staying at your house – especially during the summer! I remember beautiful summer sunrises and riding my bike up and down your driveway while you made breakfast or read the paper. I can still smell the fresh air.

I also loved our bike rides, when we would ride near the high school and stop to visit some of your friends. I loved walking down to the park to play … and walking or riding in your neighborhood in general. You know, one of the things I love about where I live now, is that it reminds me of your neighborhood with all of the beautiful mature trees. It makes me think of you often.

I also loved going swimming at “the pool.” I looked forward to our trips to the market and Randhurst – remember how we used to “people watch” – that was always so much fun. I still tell people about how we used to just sit and watch the crazy, interesting people! You were the master – you taught me that!

So many of my life’s memories are at your house. I feel so fortunate that we came down there every Sunday to spend time with you, Aunt Teresa and the kids. Remember how you used to always slip us a few bucks before we left to go back home? I loved that! How lucky were we to all be together like that?

For some reason, my mind is wandering to food – I always loved the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you kept in the bottom drawer of the fridge! Yummy! And, of course, you always had chocolate milk for us! What a treat that was – and you knew it! While we’re on the subject of food – remember the liverwurst we used to eat? Oh, and the gyros!!! Ahhh, those were the days!

It was hilarious once the families grew so large that we needed two tables to sit everyone in your kitchen, but those family dinners were the best! We had so much fun!

Once I was in college, I absolutely loved that your house was right on the way back to ISU. It was wonderful to stop there on the way back and spend some time with you and Papa. It gave us time to look at old photo albums of your family, which was fun and interesting! I also loved all the goodies you sent me back with – especially the ham salad! It truly made me happy to have that little tradition with you for a while.

Now that I am an adult, I honor you by making a couple of your famed recipes – I always make your yummy sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, and I’ve finally gotten brave enough to try making your potatoes – the ones with the corn flakes on top! Soooo yummy!

I always enjoy our phone conversations. I love hearing your voice – it just transports me back in time. And you always remind me that I should be enjoying my children and my husband. Don’t worry, Grandma, I am! Thank you for the reminders! It really helps!

You have always played such a special role in my life. I can’t tell you with words how much I love you. You are the most amazing Grandmother anyone could ever ask for. I have no idea what I would have done without you. Thank you for always listening and being there for me.

I know it’s hard for you now with Papa gone, but I hope you can hang in there and try to enjoy every day as much as you can. Please know that I think of you often! Call me anytime, Grandma.

I love you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Subject of Trust

In a recent moms radio show I co-hosted with Life Coach Mir Lynne Pietrzyk, we talked about the job of raising children as mothers filled with faith and trust.

During the show, I mentioned a recent experience with trust, and I wanted to expand upon it in writing.

For some reason, I have been confused about the actual date my children were going to start school this year. I knew it was a Wednesday. But I couldn't remember if the date was the 22nd or 23rd. Quite honestly, I wasn't fretting about it. I knew I'd get them there!

It turns out the correct date was Wednesday the 22nd of August. However, that morning, I thought the date was Wednesday the 23rd, so when I got up to work on my devotional, I opened up to the date of August 23rd.

Here's what my devotional said on my children's first day of school, "Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care."

Imagine my surprise. I thought, "What are the chances my devotional says that on the first day of school?!" That devotional gave me such peace. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and I knew it was right. I need to let go and trust God to protect my children when they are away from me.

I am grateful to God for that message, and as I thought about the situation, I realized there was another message for me.

I realized it wasn't an accident I was confused about the date. God knew I needed to read the devotional for August 23rd, so, he allowed me to be confused about the date, so I would read the message he wanted me to read. The message I most needed that day.

So, not only did I learn to trust that God will take care of my children, but I also learned to trust that God will provide for me exactly what I need when I need it.

It's taken me some time in my life to get to this point, but it's such a wonderful, peaceful place to be. I am learning to go with the flow more in life, because everything happens for a reason -- God's reason.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Summer Bucket List

For moms, summer can be a real test -- the kids are home from school all day, every day -- unless you send them to camp, of course. Our kids do attend a couple of weeks of summer camp, but the rest is up to mom!

Although we all look forward to the break from school, it takes a lot of endurance and planning to keep the summer happily humming along.
Tyler and Alyssa making the summer bucket list!
This year we decided to try something new -- a visual summer bucket list. We sat down together at the beginning of the summer and made a list of all of the fun things we wanted to do. Then, we wrote them on small sheets of construction paper, assembled them as a collage on a bulletin board and hung it up in the kitchen.

We checked things off our list as summer went along, and with only three weeks of summer vacation left, I can report that we will get to almost all of them. How exciting!

Anything we don't get to can certainly be carried over into fall! In fact, I like this idea so much, I think I may keep it going for a while -- I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of gal who needs visual, in your face reminders -- and lots of them! That's why this board, displayed so prominently in my kitchen, was so helpful.

The other thing that was great about it was that everyone got to have a say in what they wanted to do this summer, so it created a sense of equality. Plus, the act of making the board was a fun project. It also created the sense of living our summer with intention.

It's been such a wonderful summer, but I still think we will all be ready for the school year to start!

I'd love to hear from you about how you keep your summer fun and interesting!

A couple of people have asked me to share some of our ideas ... so here you go!

  • Go out for ice cream
  • Work on scrapbooks
  • Grill out with the neighbors
  • Purge from under the bathroom sinks (yes, we put a few work-related things on there, too!)
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Menchies Frozen Yogurt
  • Go to the library
  • Catch fireflies
  • Organize the craft closet
  • D'Agostinos Pizza
  • Field Museum
  • Painting pottery
  • Six Flags Great America
  • Cooking fun in the kitchen -- trying new kid friendly recipes
  • Visit a farm
  • Ice skating
  • Roller skating
  • Try Marco's Pizza for the first time
  • Swimming at the pool
  • Downtown Chicago 
  • Arlington Park Horse Races
  • Bowling
  • Try Smashburger for the first time
  • Go berry picking

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moms and Anger


I heard this episode of Focus on the Family today that really hit home with me. Enough to make me sit down and write this.

It was about anger and moms. The guest on the show was Julie Ann Barnhill. She wrote a book called She's Gonna Blow.

I completely resonated with this woman. As I was listening I couldn't believe what I was hearing -- experiences so similar to mine. A couple of her stories were so funny they made me laugh out loud. I was shocked to hear someone else expressing part of what I went through as a mom.

With one child, I was fine -- so patient. People would compliment me everywhere I went on how patient I was. But then came baby #2, and oh my goodness. Suddenly there was much more stress ... and anger too. There simply wasn't enough of me to go around. This stress and anger took me aback. At the time, I didn't understand where it was coming from. But what is even worse is that I had no idea this was happening to other women. I thought it was just me.

There is a book I read several years ago called, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. I have always said if I wrote a book, my title would be, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Two Kids.

Being the perfectionist that I am -- I have had to accept the fact that it is impossible for me to please both of my children at once, and that kills me, because I love them both so much. I believe that desire to please them both is part of where my anger came from.

The author says this anger during motherhood is a compilation of everything that may be causing us stress in life -- finances, career, relationship troubles and even problems from our past. She said it works like a volcano -- before the big eruption, there are many small earthquakes that signal something is wrong, but we ignore them until we lose it completely. Usually, the brunt of our anger is taken out on our kids or our spouse -- the people we love the most -- even when they are not the cause of it. Then we are filled with regret, shame and guilt.

Just knowing that this problem is not unique is healing. But Julie's insights and practical ways to handle the anger were also very helpful.

What do you think about this topic? Have you ever experienced surprising levels of anger while parenting? I'd love to hear from you on this!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"So, I Get Points For A Re-Purposed Love Note?"

Several weeks ago I left my husband a love note in one of his dresser drawers. Well, today, the note (yes, the exact same note) showed up in one of my dresser drawers.

I smiled and giggled when I saw it.

To be honest, earlier in the day I noticed it was no longer where he left it after he found it. I assumed he threw it away.

So, imagine my sweet surprise when I found it in one of my drawers. When I called to thank him. His response was, "So, I get points for a re-purposed love note?"

"Yes, you do!" I said. "You could have thrown it out or not even thought to pass it back to me."

I assume he was thinking that because he didn't go out of his way to create an entirely new love note, that his effort might not be fully appreciated. But it was. I thought the gesture was really sweet, and it made me feel loved.

The reason I am sharing this story online is simply to inspire others. Although marriage can be complicated, it can also be easy to make your spouse feel loved -- sometimes it's just the smallest of things like a re-purposed love note!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Parenting is a Service-Oriented Vocation

While reading The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, I came across a quote that really struck me. It's in the section of the book about the love language called "Acts of Service."

Here is is:

"Parenting is a service-oriented vocation. The day you found out that you would have a child, you enrolled for full-time service. Your contract called for a minimum of eighteen years of service with an understanding that you would be on 'active reserve' for several years after that.
As a parent who must serve, you probably have discovered another truth about this love language. Acts of service are physically and emotionally demanding. Therefore, we parents must give attention to our own physical and emotional health. For physical health, we need balanced patterns of sleeping, eating and exercising. For emotional health, self-understanding and a mutually supportive marital relationship are crucial."

The reality of those two paragraphs just really hit me when I read them. Yes, parenting is a service-oriented occupation. Yes, it can be exhausting. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our children. Yes, we need to take care of our marriages.

I think we all intuitively know this, but what a great reminder of what we signed up for!

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to better understand their children's need for love. Since I started reading it I have been better able to understand what Tyler and Alyssa need from me.

It fills my soul to know I am communicating my love to them in the ways that mean the most to them.

And that is the greatest service we can provide to our children -- showing them our love.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Miracle of Gratitude

Have you ever listened to yourself talk before? Really listened? What do you hear? Predominantly positive statements? Negative ones?

One of my clients recently shared that she has been caught in a spell of negative thinking and speaking. She's struggling with an incident that is causing her to feel angry and sad. She keeps finding herself rehashing the incident, justifying her actions and imagining confrontational scenarios in her head.

Has that ever happened to you? I think it happens to most people at one time or another.

The problem with being stuck in negativity is the belief that what we think about we bring about. So, when you find yourself in this negative place, it is very important to get yourself out -- and quickly!

How do you do that? Well, there are many tools, but one of the most effective is to focus on gratitude.

The cool thing about gratitude is that it is both scientifically and spiritually proven as a healing method. People who are grateful are more optimistic, joyful, healthy, productive and less stressed.

Of gratitude, Dr. Robert Holden, author of Happiness Now, said this, "The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see." 

You can incorporate gratitude into your life in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions. Try one or maybe even all three!
  • Before you get out of bed every morning, thank God for all that you have. 
  • During your journaling, thank him again in writing. (If you don't regularly journal, start a gratitude journal.)
  • Express your gratitude again before you go to sleep at night. (It's great to do this with your children and/or your spouse.)
It's powerful stuff. But don't trust me -- try it out! I am confident you will find that although it takes work to focus on gratitude, the good that comes from it will feel like a miracle! 

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to share this little reminder with all of you!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Enough About Me ... Let's Talk About You

One day this week as we were standing outside school getting ready to go home, an older student approached Tyler and started asking about the patch of gray hair on the back of his head. His questioning was loud, a bit rude and included many of his own opinions about why Tyler had gray hair and what was going to happen next with it. It was nothing like the people who have politely inquired about it.

He even crossed a personal boundary and touched Tyler's hair. I honestly don't think the kid was trying to be mean, in fact, I think he may have a minor learning disability that inhibits his social filter.

At bedtime last night I asked Tyler about this interaction and he said, "Oh yeah, that kid always does that."

"Really? You've never told me that before," I said, feeling shocked that he had never mentioned it. "Does it bother you?"

"Sort of," he said.

"What is his name?" I asked.

"I don't know," he replied.

At that point, I explained to Tyler my hunch that this child probably has a minor learning disability that inhibits his social filter, and that he was most likely not trying to make Tyler feel bad.

But disability aside, there are plenty of people in the world who operate without social filters, so I knew this was an important lesson for Tyler.

My take on situations like this is that we can't control what other people think, do or say. The only thing we can control is us -- what we think, do and say.

So I suggested to Tyler, "The next time he comes up to you and starts talking about that, just smile and say, 'Enough about me ... let's talk about you. My name is Tyler. What's your name?'"

Then I gave him some questions he could ask the kid about himself. Things like -- "How long have you gone to this school?""Who are you friends with?""What do you like to do for fun?"

The key to handling situations like this gracefully is to turn the conversation around. Try to get the attention off of Tyler and on to the other child. Tyler really grabbed on to this solution and we talked about it for several minutes.

Honestly, this issue is not about the gray patch of hair on Tyler's head. He is really OK with it. It's been there since he was four -- and it's on the back of his head, so he rarely sees it or thinks about it. The issue is about how to handle awkward social situations with grace.

After my talk with Tyler, I went downstairs to talk to Paul about it, and much to my surprise, he said, "Your solution was right on, according to Dale Carnegie."

Imagine that -- me, unknowingly quoting Dale Carnegie!

Paul just recently finished reading Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, so he explained to me Carnegie's 6 Ways to Make People Like You:
  1. Become genuinely interested in other people
  2. Smile
  3. Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
  5. Talk in the terms of the other man’s interest
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
My advice to Tyler incorporated several of these items. I guess I was on to something without even knowing it! Common sense, maybe? Regardless, I thought I'd share with all of you in case it is a tool that can help you or your children! Happy Thursday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

I love that Kelly Clarkson song, "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger."

I think it's a great reminder that the trials we experience in life can help us grow if we choose to let them.

I put the word choose in bold, because that is the key. When trouble comes our way, we have a choice -- we can either grow from it or become the victim.

The correct answer is to choose to grow -- and the proof is in the past. If you look back over your life, you will see that you grew the most as a person during the biggest challenges of your life.

I recently appreciated this gentle reminder from a couple of friends as I expressed my frustration about some of the challenges Alyssa has experienced in school this year. I was dwelling on the negative. I kept saying, "I can't believe this is how her Kindergarten year turned out." I was momentarily stuck in the disappointment of wishing things would have been different for her this year.

But my friends helped me see the positive in it. They reminded me of the promise I already made to myself. That I would not dwell on the negative. That I would sieze the opportunity to teach Alyssa and help her grow through the challenges. That all of the work we are doing with her now will be of benefit to her later, as well.

One of my friends has a fantastic approach to helping her children deal with problems at school. She sympathetically listens, talks about solutions with them, then asks them, "What are we learning from this?" I love that question at the end, because I think it solidifies the lesson and shows them how to better handle these problems in the future.

I think we are giving our children a huge gift if we can teach them at a young age how to look at life's challenges as growth opportunities -- and it helps us remember to do the same!

Because really, what else are we going to do?  Everyone has challenges in life. The most important thing is how we get through them -- if we stay positive, we will come out Stronger in the end.

---This blog is dedicated to all parents! We have such an important job!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Looking Beneath The Surface With Kids

Yesterday I noticed Tyler treating me less than respectfully. A little eye roll here, a tough tone of voice there. I was alarmed by it. This is not normal behavior for Tyler. Although I felt agitated, instead of yelling at him in the heat of the moment, I waited until later and pulled him aside to talk about it.

I gently asked him if anything was wrong. Told him I noticed he wasn't being very respectful to me -- I cited examples. I asked him if there was anything I did to make him upset with me.

He said "no," then he got all serious. He looked down and started to cry. He said that a project at school was really overwhelming and that he was feeling very stressed out about it.

So, we talked about that for a while. Then, I told him how we treat other people is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. So, perhaps the reason why he was being hard on me was because he was being too hard on himself regarding this project at school.

You see, Tyler's real problem was not with me, even though he was taking it out on me. It was within himself with his own thought patterns.

I talked up his little self-esteem by telling him what a wonderful student he is. That I am totally confident he will do a great job on the project. That I know he will do his best work -- he always does. I also pointed out that what he is learning is valuable and will be needed in future grades.

This seemed to help my little guy quite a bit. It took him a little while to perk back up, but he surely did! By this morning he seemed his normal self. It was surprising that a third grade project would have him so worried, but to him, it's a really big deal.

The reason I am sharing this with all of you is to show you how you can get to the heart of matters with your children. When they act out, dig deeper. Be a good observer of their behavior and really listen when they tell you what is wrong. You'll be amazed at how much you can help them!

I am happy to teach all moms about how to utilize these valuable parenting tools! Contact me if you would like more information!

Friday, April 13, 2012

“The Secrets of Being the Best Mom” FREE Teleclass

Are you struggling with the role of being a mother? Is it more difficult than you thought, but you’re afraid to admit it? Do you wish you could just learn how to relax, let go and trust that you are the “best” mom your kids could ever want?

Then, join me and fellow life coach Mir Lynne Pietrzyk for “The Secrets of Being the Best Mom, a FREE teleclass that will assist you on your journey to becoming the mother you want to be. 

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, April 25 from 11 a.m. to Noon CST (Noon to 1 p.m. EST) to hear Mir Lynne and I discuss the secrets all moms need to know about how to create the life and home they desire with their children.

The top 3 secrets you will take away from this teleclass are:
  • How to enjoy and make memories out of every day 
  • How to give your children the exact amount of TLC they need to thrive 
  • How to get it all done and still have time and energy for YOU 
To register, visit http://bestmom.eventbrite.com/. The dial in information will be emailed to you after registration.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tina Offers Life Coaching Program About Living Consciously

Tom Clare / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes we go through life ... well, just going. We are so busy that we don't stop to really think about what we are doing or if we are even happy.

We live as a slave to our "do-do" list, feeling constantly exhausted and like there is never enough time to get it all done.

If you're a mom who would like to take some time to slow down and evaluate your life and make sure you're living it to the fullest, join me for an 8-week group life coaching session that will help you learn to live life more consciously.

What Will be Covered? In the safety of a supportive environment, moms will learn tools and techniques for living life to the fullest every day by making conscious choices. You will pick one area of life to work on and make better – it can be health, finances, spirituality, relationships or career. You'll be amazed by how much you can change your life in only 8 weeks!

What are the Top 3 Benefits of a Group Coaching Program?
• You surround yourself with other women facing similar challenges.
• You learn new techniques for goal-setting, action planning, stress management and more.
• You gain motivation from the coach AND the group!

When is it? This program consists of 8 one-hour sessions – one per week, starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.

What is the Cost? Program cost is $20 to YMCA members, $40 for non-members. (Materials cost is $14 that will be paid to the instructor at the first class.)

How do I register? Call the Y at 847.296.3376

Where will it be held? Lattof YMCA Meeting Rooms

What do I Need to Bring? Physically, you will need a writing journal and a pen. Mentally, you will need an open mind. Emotionally, you will need the desire to make your life even better than it already is!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Story Cubes Make for Dinnertime Fun

There's always talk about making dinnertime "quality time" with family, and all families have their own ways of making that happen. Our family tried something new last night that was really fun.

We used Rory's Story Cubes to craft stories. Have you ever heard of them? It's a set of nine cubes that each have six pictures on them.

So, here's how it works.

We started with Tyler. He rolls his cube. It lands on a magic wand, so he starts the story, "Once upon a time, there was a magic wand..."

Then Alyssa rolls and adds to the story based on her picture of a castle tower, "which the princess, who lived in the tower, used to turn her eyes green..."

... and so on. It was so fun! The kids loved the chance to tell their part of the story in their own way, and I loved watching them be creative. We were all giggling and having a fun time! It was one of those great living in the moment moments!

How does your family make dinnertime special? Got any ideas to pass along?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Scream of Terror

Since yesterday was a holiday, today was the first day of our week, but it didn't start off too well.

At precisely 6:30 a.m. the scream of a terrified Alyssa came curdling down the stairs into the kitchen -- the result of her new alarm clock that apparently scared the heck out of her! (Oops!)
A picture from a happier day!

As I was hugging her and calming her down, she said, "Mommy I feel weird."

"What kind of weird," I replied.

"Like I'm going to throw up," she said.

Oh geez! I rushed her to the bathroom to be near the toilet, and she stood there hunched over it for a minute or so. "Great, the stomach bug," I thought. But she never really threw up -- only phlegm came out. I was thinking we were lucky that her stomach was empty from the night before.

I noticed she was hot and sweaty. Suddenly burning up. White as a ghost.

She said she wanted to sit down for a minute, so she did, on the bathroom floor, when suddenly her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell over. OMG!! "What the heck is going on?"

At first she didn't respond to me calling her name, but then she did look up at me. It only lasted a second, but it seemed like an eternity.

We laid her down on the sofa and took her temperature, which was only 100.3. At that point, we decided to just let her rest. She slept for an hour.

When she woke up, said she wanted to watch TV and soon began requesting food and drink. I was surprised she wanted to eat so soon after that whole bathroom episode, so just to be safe, I held her off until the 2 hour mark to make sure her stomach had time to calm down.

That was thankfully the end of the drama. She slowly perked up throughout the day -- although she only got off the couch to go to the bathroom. It seems as though other cold symptoms are coming on now, so we'll see how this recovery goes! Hopefully quickly!

At this point the whole day feels like a blur. It certainly started off with a bang -- terror for her with the sound of an alarm clock and terror for me as she passed out (or whatever that was). Sheesh. Can we have a do-over on this day???

But even as I say that, I know I shouldn't, because there were many blessings in this day:
  1. It is only a minor illness.
  2. It gave me some valuable, restful time alone with Alyssa.
  3. Tyler could take the bus to school, so I didn't have to leave the house with a sick child.
  4. A friend offered to bring Tyler home from school for me (he doesn't ride the bus in the afternoons).
  5. I didn't have anywhere I "had" to be today, so I could easily stay home to take care of her and not worry about anything else.
  6. It's not the stomach bug!!!
  7. I had time to do several loads of laundry!
  8. I had several hours to sit on the sofa and get some work done on my new laptop!
  9. My calves were killing me from yesterday's workout, so I had a convenient excuse to skip today's workout!
  10. The gray, cloudy skies were very uninviting -- a great reason to stay inside and light some candles!
I could go on and on, but you get the point! Anyway, feel better Alyssa!!! Mommy loves you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

52 Things Kids Need From a Mom

I heard a great interview with author Angela Thomas this week about her book 52 Things Kids Need From a Mom. The purpose of the interview was to teach moms about being intentional in the lives of their kids.

The thing that struck me was how she illustrated the point that it is a mom's job to set the tone for the family on a daily basis.

For example, if one of our kids wakes up grumpy, we do not allow that to suck us in, get us frazzled and set a negative tone for the day. We must remain calm, cool and collected and point them in the direction of happiness. Yes, of course, we know this, but it is easier said than done.

In listening to this I realized that I often get sucked into the moods of my children, and I let it negatively affect me.

Angela reminds us that, as moms, we should be more spiritually and emotionally mature than our children.

She said the way she remembers this truth is by picturing herself standing on a step ladder above her children -- above their grumpiness.

This was a real revelation for me and gives me hope for some of the frustrations I feel in my parenting. I've already ordered this book and can't wait to learn more!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The 5 Love Languages Can Save Marriages!

So, there is this couple having trouble in their marriage. The wife says, "I cook for him. I clean for him. I bring his shirts to the cleaners. I take care of the kids all by myself morning, noon and night. He doesn't ever help me. I just don't think he loves me."

The husband says, "All she ever does is criticize me. She is always complaining. I don't know what I need to do to make her happy."

What's going on here? Is this couple doomed? According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, this couple may simply have a language barrier.

Dr. Chapman explains that after many years of counseling, he noticed that everyone has a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own. (Of course!)

Based on his research, he discovered five primary love languages. They are:
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
So, for the couple listed above. The wife's language is acts of service, and the husband's is words of affirmation. Instead of using words of affirmation to build her husband up, the wife is tearing him down by complaining about all of the help he is not giving her. Because to her, when you love someone, you help them.

Her complaining is her cry for help, but her spouse does not see it that way. He sees it as criticism, because words of affirmation are important to him. So, instead of answering her pleas for help, he is running the other way -- away from the criticism.

But, once this couple learned what their love languages were and how to speak the other's love language, their marriage started to heal and improve. Today they report their marriage is better than ever! How awesome is that?

Here's a link to the book if you're interested! You can also take an online quiz to help you discover your love language.

I would also like to mention that these languages apply to children, friends and family too! Can you imagine how much better our relationships could be if we knew the love languages of everyone around us?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Calling All Moms! This Spring, Clean up Your Mind, Body and Soul with Group Life Coaching

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Spring is just around the corner. That means it’s time to wake from our slumber, shake off those winter blues and refresh and revive ourselves.

If you are ready to do some spring cleaning with your mind, body and soul, join Certified Master Life Coach Tina Haisman as she leads a group of moms on an 8-week journey into a season of living a more healthy and balanced life.

What Will be Covered? In the safety of a supportive environment, moms will learn tools and techniques for handling the many ups and downs of mothering young children and keeping their family happy and healthy. They will pick one area of life to work on and make better – it can be health, finances, spirituality, relationships or career. Moms will learn how to achieve their goals and become the mother and woman they want to be.

What are the Top 3 Benefits of a Group Coaching Program?
• You surround yourself with other women facing similar challenges.
• You learn new techniques for goal-setting, action planning, stress management and more.
• You gain motivation from the coach AND the group!

When is it? This program consists of 8 one-hour sessions – one per week, starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22

What is the Cost? Program cost is $20 to YMCA members, $40 for non-members. (Materials cost is $14 that will be paid to the instructor at the first class.)

How do I register? Call the Y at 847.296.3376

Where will it be held? Lattof YMCA Meeting Rooms

What do I Need to Bring? Physically, you will need a writing journal and a pen. Mentally, you will need an open mind. Emotionally, you will need the desire to make your life even better than it already is!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do You Need to Hear to Believe an Apology is Sincere?

In November I wrote about my discovery of the book The Five Languages of Apology. Today I want to share a recent experience that illustrates how the languages work and how they can help you achieve more healing in the relationships in your life.

We had a play date at our house with a couple of Tyler and Alyssa's friends. One child came to me to tell me that another child said something that really hurt his feelings. The offender responded with, "I said I was sorry."

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So, with my knowledge of the five languages of apology, I asked the offended child, "Your friend said he was sorry, but it seems like that is not enough to make you feel better. What do you need to hear?"

The offended child replied, "That he will never do it again."

Oh my gosh! Out of the mouths of babes comes this profound, but basic language! This language is straight out of the book -- and it was spoken by a nine-year-old who has never read the book. That's how spot on this concept is! I didn't need it, but I've got to say, this whole experience was further proof to me that this five languages of apology stuff really works!

What the offended child communicated was that he needed to hear the offending party genuinely repent for the offense. That is language number four according to the book. Genuinely repenting means saying, "I'll try not to do that again."

I asked the offender if he could make that promise, which he easily did ... and off they went!

I can't say enough about this concept. How many times has someone apologized to you, but the apology didn't make you feel better? If that was the case, it could be a simple language barrier. If we could all be more aware of these five languages of apology, we could be experiencing much more healing and joy in our lives on a daily basis!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Teaching Children About Setting Healthy Boundaries

It appears this is the week of teaching my children about setting healthy boundaries. So interesting.

As Tyler was packing his snack for school one morning he said, "I didn't have enough snack yesterday, I was still hungry afterward." To which I replied, "Tyler, I saw you pack your snack -- you put quite a bit in there. What happened?"

He said, "Everyone keeps asking if they can have some of my snack." Ahhhhh. My sweet, sharing son is giving away so much of his snack to his friends that he is left hungry. So, I said, "Well, Tyler what can we do about this?"

He suggested packing more food, to which I replied, "It is awesome that you are sharing, but when you share too much, there is not enough left for you, so we need to set some healthy boundaries here. What do you think of suggesting a trade when a friend asks for some of your snack?"

He thought that could work, but said sometimes they don't seem to have anything to trade, so he packed a little extra anyway. :)

After school that day, I asked how it went, and he said, "fine," and that he worked out trades instead of just giving it all away. Cool! Hopefully that one is solved! Although, I have no idea what he ate for a snack, now!

Then, there's Alyssa. She complained to me that sometimes when she has friends over, they don't respect her wishes not to play with certain toys that are very special to her. Specifically, she was speaking about a care bear she got from her great-grandma for Christmas. If you pull the bear's arm, it says, "I love you." She uses the bear at night to sleep with and desperately wants to save the batteries for when she is really scared and needs to hear, "I love you" from the bear. She won't even let me or Paul pull the bear's arm.

She said her friends still pull the arm -- even when she asks them not to. So, I asked her what we could do about that. She didn't really know what options could be, so I suggested a couple -- either for her to come to me when this problem arises in the future and that I would help her try to communicate her wishes, or for us to put the bear for a nap in another room where he could have some privacy.

Ideally, of course, Alyssa would handle this on her own by explaining just how special this bear is, and her friends would respect and honor that. But, she's only six and still learning to communicate, so I think I'm OK with intervening in a positive, teaching manner if the situation arises again. I'm not crazy about the idea of "hiding" the bear, because it takes away the opportunity for Alyssa to practice her boundary setting. Plus, I don't think we should have to hide items from our friends. This option may solve the problem temporarily, but not long-term.

So, this morning at breakfast we had a little talk about healthy boundaries. They both looked at me like I was crazy. Healthy boundaries? Those words are not exactly in the vocabulary of kindergarten or third graders. Heck, most adults have trouble setting healthy boundaries!

In Tyler's case, I thought it was important to teach him that sharing his snack is a nice thing to do, but if he shares too much, he is left with not enough. I certainly don't want to tell him not to share -- that doesn't send the right message! So, I tried to teach him to look for other alternatives to solving the problem.

In Alyssa's case, she really needs to learn how to stand up for herself. I can see it, and I know where she gets it from. It is something I have been working on for quite a while now!

So, although these challenging parenting situations were presented to me this week, I am grateful for the opportunity they provided for me to talk to Tyler and Alyssa about important issues that will serve them well for the rest of their lives!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The New Thank You Card Tradition?

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This has happened to us twice now. The first time, I just thought, "curious." But the second time, it lit a fire inside me, so I thought I'd blog about it and see what other people think.

Twice now, we have attended a kids birthday party and left the party with a pre-written thank you note in hand. The note says something like, "thank you for coming to my birthday party." It has, obviously, no mention of a gift, because it was written before the party -- before they knew what gift they received. Before they could even tell us why they enjoyed the gift or how much they enjoyed the gift.

I just have to say I hope this is not a new tradition. I think there is a huge amount of value in teaching children it is important to sincerely say "thank you" when you receive a gift.

The reason we have a birthday party is to celebrate another year of life, which is truly something to be grateful for. We give gifts to each other to show our love for each other. I think those gifts deserve thank you's.

I know times are changing and people are busier than ever before, but I think we still need to be teaching our children the value and importance of properly thanking people for their generosity. What do you think? Please post your comments below.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Experiences Kids Give Us Make Life So Rich

Zach, the praying mantis!
Over the Christmas break, we drove to Nashville to visit family. Before the trip the discussions began about what to do about our pet Zach -- Tyler's praying mantis. He found him at school a few months ago and has been taking care of him ever since.

We considered leaving Zach with a friend, but Tyler was having a hard time with this. He was also worried about how Zach would do on a nine-hour drive in the cold.

Mostly, it turned out, Tyler did not want to leave Zach behind. So, the day before the trip, he called his Aunt Laura to ask if it would be OK to bring Zach with us to her house. Luckily for Tyler, she said yes.

So, off went the Haisman family with a praying mantis in tow on a nine-hour drive to Nashville. I found myself enjoying the oddity of the experience a couple of times during the trip as we snuck him into a restaurant and our hotel.

The craziest part was the morning we were leaving our hotel to finish our trip to Nashville. Tyler noticed Zach (or shall we say Zacherella) was laying an egg sack. That was quite a surprise, considering we thought she was a he. All four of us were jubilant over it, though! How exciting and unexpected! And the timing -- while on a road trip -- incredible!

We hated to disrupt this maternal moment, but we also wanted to get on the road. So, we very gently put the praying mantis cage in a re-usable shopping bag and carried it carefully down the elevator and past the front desk in the lobby -- hoping not to disrupt the egg-laying process. I was the lucky one who got to carry the cage.

As we were leaving the hotel, Tyler sent Aunt Laura a text message to see if there would be room for about 400 more praying mantises. I was trying to be so delicate with Zacherella, when Laura responded back with a message that had me laughing so hard it freaked Tyler out. She made a hilarious reference to the baby cow we saw being born at a farm during last year's Nashville trip. (I guess our family has a knack for finding themselves in these amazing moments only Mother Nature could provide!)

While it was funny to me, Tyler about died as he saw me laughing so hard while holding the poor praying mantis who was trying to lay her eggs. He kept trying to take the cage away from me, but I wouldn't let him for fear it would end up in the cage lying on the ground!

Anyway, it all worked out. Zacherella is fine. The egg sack is in the garage in the cold to preserve it for spring. We have no idea what to expect with that -- if anything at all.

But, I just had to laugh as I thought about how rich this experience was for our entire family. Kids add so much fun and spice to life. Before having children, I never would have imagined sneaking a praying mantis into a restaurant or hotel -- or even having one for a pet for that matter. Fun times! I just love my kids!