Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who says lullabies have to be "official" lullabies?

Today, Alyssa and I sat at the kitchen table and colored Christmas pictures. To help entertain her and set the mood, I started singing some Christmas songs for her. That reminded me of when Tyler was born -- December 23, 2002!

As a first-time mom, I didn't know any "real" lullabies, so I sang him Christmas songs instead! I sang the same four songs every time -- for as long as I needed to. :) I honestly can't remember exactly which four right now, but I think my serenade included Up on the Housetop, Rudolph, Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman. Hey! At least I didn't sing Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer!

I know. I know. You're all shocked and surprised that I did not research lullabies before Tyler was born. It is true. I was not prepared for that! Now you know -- I am not the perfect mother after all!

Sometimes I felt silly singing Christmas songs, instead of real lullabies, but mostly that was in May, long after the Christmas season was over! Luckily, before I knew it, December had rolled around again! It's like fashion -- if you hold onto it long enough it will come back into style! :) Just kidding!

Anyway, thinking of all of this today reminded me of a great book for moms. It's called I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. If you haven't read it, I would strongly encourage it! It takes a hilarious approach at addressing the image of perfection we all have as moms. I could write on this topic for hours! But not today!

So, now you know one of my (many) imperfections! I sang Christmas songs for lullabies to my first child! Tee Hee Hee!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading the Signs

It’s fun to be alert to the signs that are all around you – signs from above that you are doing the right thing.

Today as I was checking out with my groceries at Publix, I noticed those prepackaged food donation bags at the end of the counter. I heard a thought in my head to buy one of them, and I listened. The price of it was $7.74.

I did it because it made me feel good. It felt like I was officially kicking off the holiday season – right then and there – by doing something nice for someone else. That’s the spirit, right?

Well, the cool thing about that donation, in addition to all of the warm-fuzzies I was feeling on the inside, was that when the cashier handed my receipt back to me he said, “You saved $7 today!” I looked at my receipt, it was true! I had saved $7.52.

I smiled a great big smile, gave a little giggle and pointed at the bag with the price of just over $7 on it! The cashier instantly connected with what I was saying and laughed with me.

I certainly wasn’t looking for a reward by buying that bag, but right then and there I got one. I felt like spending $7 and saving $7 was a message … an instant reward … a thank you for doing the right thing! It made me smile. (Gotta love Publix and their buy one get one free deals!!!)

I know it may seem small to others, but I find taking joy in these small things really makes me feel happy!

So, on that note, let’s get this holiday season started!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talking Out of Turn

Normally, I take this time to provide my readers with insight and inspiration, but this week, I could use a little inspiration from you!

My challenge of late is how my soon-to-be 7-year-old and my 4-year-old talk over each other. One of them will be talking away, and the other just can't wait to jump in and tell their own story.

This usually happens in the car and ends up with Alyssa yelling and crying, because Tyler won't stop talking. Heaven forbid someone besides Alyssa be talking when she has something to say! :) This frustrates me to no end. I think it's Alyssa's crying and yelling that really get my goat. Plus, Tyler's determination to finish what he was saying, whether he was talking first or not.

I have tried to calmly explain that they need to be respectful and wait until the other is finished speaking. I have tried to keep my mouth shut and let them duke it out. I have also ended up yelling (no, I'm not proud of that).

I'm out of ideas. I was wondering how other parents handle this with their children. Does it frustrate you as much as it frustrates me? Got any tactics to share??? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Paralyzed by Inaction

While at Costco this weekend, I was standing in line waiting to grab lunch for the family. There was an elderly gentleman in front of me who could barely walk and barely hear. Walter was his name.

Walter was trying to use a Costco rewards certificate to buy his lunch. The cashier explained that he could not use the certificate there and pointed him in the direction of the customer service kiosk. It was very, very busy and loud at Costco that day … Walter had a hard time hearing the clerk. The clerk repeatedly pointed and reiterated to Walter what he should do. Sweet, sweet Walter walked away.

I felt frustrated for him. Part of me wanted to take care of him and help him get this situation resolved. Even pay for his lunch. But, I did nothing.

It was my turn next. I placed my order and waited. While the clerk was gathering my items, I turned around and noticed the person at the customer service kiosk was pointing Walter to the long checkout lines. Again, it seemed to take Walter a minute to hear and understand where he needed to go, but off he went. He reminded me of the man from Disney’s movie “Up” as he hobbled away.

At this point, I felt very frustrated to see Walter being pointed, yet again, to another place in the store. I thought to myself, “You know, Mr. Costco Manager, I don’t care what your policies are – just take care of this man…have some compassion. Sometimes people have to come before policies.” I felt like I should go over there and help Walter, but, again, I did nothing. It was like I was paralyzed, just watching the situation unfold.

Moments later, a Costco manager walked by me. I was determined to do something, so I stopped him and politely explained the story to him. I said I just wanted him to know, because I thought the situation could have been handled better. He agreed, but that was that. It was over.

I realized, as I was talking to the Costco manager, that the person I was frustrated with was not him or the clerks that turned this man away – it was me. I should have stepped in. Two times the thought came to my mind, but I ignored it. I truly wish I would have stepped in to help this man before he walked away from that counter the first time. I wish I could have saved him all of those extra steps and the frustration he might have been feeling.

At this point, it’s obviously too late for that, but I have made a mental note for future instances to “act” instead of react. My “complaint” to the Costco manager was a reaction – it was not action.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using Gratitude to Change the Mood

One recent morning as my husband and I were loading the children into the car for school, I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. I was trying to talk to my husband, and the kids kept interrupting. We couldn’t even get a sentence out before one of them had something to tell us. I felt very frustrated and firmly asked the kids to “give us a minute.”

Of course, that made me feel worse.

As we started driving to school, the energy in the car was negative and heavy. I didn’t want the day to start like this, so I tried to think of what I could do to change the mood. I remembered my life coach taught me that gratitude can do just that.

I asked the kids to tell me what they were grateful for. This is an exercise we do almost daily – but I’ve never purposefully used it to change the mood.

Alyssa said she was grateful for school, the playground, her friends and trees. Tyler mentioned his family, school and his teachers. I told them I was thankful for a car to get us to and from school, for their health, for Paul’s help getting them ready for school that morning and for a beautiful sunrise.

We continued to talk about the things that made us feel grateful most of the way to school. I noticed the mood in the car literally lifted and turned into positive energy.

It felt great to give Tyler a kiss and see his big, sweet smile as he got out of the car to go into school that morning. I knew I had started his day off on the right foot…and for that, I am grateful!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Peace, love and happiness: The power of setting intentions

Every morning, I write and recite my intention to feel peace, love and happiness in my heart. I also resolve to share that with everyone I come into contact with.

Doing this helps me get through stressful moments of my day. Here is a recent example:

The other night, I was making dinner. It was something new that required a bit more of my attention than a recipe I was familiar with. It also required two pots on the stove and something cooking in the oven at the same time – lots to keep track of.

My son, Tyler, was doing homework at the kitchen table, and my daughter, Alyssa, was sitting at the table cutting and coloring Halloween decorations. Both of them needed my attention. Tyler had questions about his homework, and Alyssa needed help with cutting.

The phone also rang – it was my husband, telling me he was on his way home (yeahhh!).

I felt a twinge of stress come over me a couple of times during the events of the evening as people and recipes called for my attention. But I remembered and recited my intention, which is to feel peace, love and happiness in my heart and to share it with everyone I come into contact with. Doing this caused me to take a deep breath, smile and give my family the help and attention they needed.

This made me feel happy, peaceful and loving – imagine that! I actually felt how I wanted to feel! Had I snapped at one of my children or my husband, I would have felt frustrated instead. And so would they. None of them would have understood why I snapped at them.

Without my effort at remembering to live by my intention, the whole evening could have taken a turn down Crabby Lane, but by remaining calm, peaceful and loving, we all ended up having a happy evening together. This scenario was a great reminder for me that the power of setting intentions for how I want to feel and act is very real and very effective!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bravery in the Mommy Sphere

I was a very brave mommy yesterday. I allowed our teenage babysitter to take our children into the swimming pool without my presence.

It was a first. I thought it would be a good idea, because I was going to be gone for several hours at a couple of meetings, and I wanted the kids to have fun while I was gone.

When I first had the idea, I was totally comfortable with it. But, as I started to fall asleep in bed that night, I began to freak out!

"Oh my gosh...children drown in pools every day, what was I thinking?"

Let me say that our sitter is 19 years old. Extremely responsible. Extremely capable. It's just that accidents happen.

When she arrived yesterday, I smiled and admitted my fears. We decided to keep the kids in the shallow end and drew an imaginary line across the pool.

I explained that Paul and I always pay full attention to the kids when they are in the pool. We don't read magazines or talk on our cell phones, and the kids are not allowed in the pool without us.

I also asked her to text me before they got in and when they got out so I would know when to start and stop worrying! :) Too funny, I know!

All went great! No problems! Her texts came in just as I would have expected! Whew!

Many thanks to our wonderful sitter! I don't think I'd ask one of our 16-year-old sitters to do that for me. It's just such a HUGE responsibility. Sometimes I'm afraid to be in the pool alone with both kids!

Whew. Bravery.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Playdate at the Airport?

I don't know about your kids, but my kids love the airport. In addition to the excitement of the hustle and bustle, we have a beautiful, new airport here in Fort Myers. It has enormous windows that let in a ton of natural sunlight and give a great view of the runway.

We parked in the long-term parking lot so we could ride the shuttle bus up to the terminal. Major excitement for the kiddies!

Then we explored around the shops in the airport and discovered many interesting things, including these awesome chocolate sea shells. We even got to sample them!

The kids were then drawn to the enormous windows and played there for a good while, making up imaginary games and scenarios.

When everyone decided they were hungry we strolled over to Chili's Too for some lunch. The kids kept busy with the sugar packets while we waited for our food. What is it with children and sugar packets? Somehow we could not fit all of the sugar packets back into their containers....sorry about that, Ms.Waitress. We tried!

Afterward, we added to the excitement by riding the escalator down to the transportation floor. They kids always love those! Then, we hopped back onto the bus for one last spin around the airport. What a fun adventure! Does that give you any ideas for other creative play dates with your children?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Musical Chairs at Dinner?

It's no secret that my 3-year-old daughter is a challenge for me to parent. It's not that she's bad -- she is not ... in any way, shape or form -- it's just that she's motivated very differently than I am. (Can you tell from the picture what type of a personality we are dealing with here?)

Parenting her requires me to be very creative and PATIENT. It's exhausting and fun at the same time.

As with many children her age, dinnertime is a struggle. Almost every night, she winds up having a meltdown at the table -- just in time for Daddy to get home. "I swear, she wasn't like this all day," I say.

She cries and complains that she doesn't like what's on her plate, or it's too much, or she's too tired. You name it, there's a reason for her meltdown.

I've learned that I have two choices when this happens -- I can beg and plead with her until I get angry and send her to her room, or I can try to shift her energy from negative to positive.

It's easier said than done. Some nights I feel like I have nothing left to give. No creative juices left (because, the same trick never works twice, you know!).

Tonight, as she freaked out while I tried to entice her to eat, I declared that she must be sitting in the "crabby" chair.

"That's it!" I said. "No wonder you are crabby every time you sit down for dinner. You're sitting in the crabby chair!"

"Hey, let's play musical chairs so you don't have to be in the crabby chair anymore!"

"Everybody up!"

At this point, I am met by looks that say, "Are you serious?" from my husband and both children.

"Seriously! Everybody up," I say.

"Wahoo! Do Si Do! Around we go! Move your chair to the person on your right! Come on ya'll! Move those chairs!"

I was the lucky one to get the crabby chair next. After getting back settled down, I proceeded to demonstrate that it was, in fact, the chair that was causing the crabbiness. I made crabby faces and spoke in a crabby voice. I even pretended to throw a fit. The kids were in stitches! My husband must have thought I was crazy!

The bottom line? Alyssa ate her dinner in no time. It was probably a record. Seriously.

Unfortunately, this trick will probably not work again, but it was fun while it lasted!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jiminy Cricket Saves The Day

On the way home from summer camp one day, my 3-year-old had a major meltdown because the sandwich I brought her for lunch was not what she preferred. Although it was what she requested that morning. :)

It was a ham and cheese sandwich -- she was looking for PB&J. I was frustrated, to say the least. But, instead of arguing with her about it, I thought about what Paul might do in this situation. While Alyssa's wacky demands through me through a loop, Paul is usually very creative with them.

I was driving, mind you, so there were some limitations on what I could do. Anyway, I don't know where this came from, but I took one hand off the steering wheel and put two fingers up over my shoulder. I pretended they were Jiminy Cricket.

"Hello Alyssa. What's wrong?" Jiminy said in his best Jiminy voice.
"I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," said Alyssa.
"OK. No problem. Close your eyes. Imagine Never Neverland."
"I am," she said excitedly
"Imagine a big rainbow across the whole sky."
"I am!"
"Imagine Tinkerbell and mermaids and pixie dust."
"I am!"
"OK. We're going to count to three, and when you open your eyes, your sandwich will be peanut butter and jelly. Ready?"
"I am!"
"OK, Alyssa. Here we go! One. Two. Three. Poof! Now open your eyes and take a bite!"
"Yummmmm," says Alyssa!

Voila! She was on her way to eating her sandwich. Jiminy had to come out a couple of more times on the way home to talk to her, but we made it with very few tears! Whew! Crisis averted. Good moods preserved! And many thanks to my creative hubby for helping me be a better mommy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Making Memories out of Everyday Life

While on vacation this weekend, my sister presented my mother and I with a book called "Cold Tangerines." We're going to do a virtual book club! How cool is that?

I am so excited about the book -- it's tagline is "celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life." Coincidentally, the tagline of my blog is "On a Quest to Make Memories out of Every Day." So I can see already that this book is going to jive with my way of thinking.

I already started the book and am loving it! The biggest point I took from the first chapter was that we should not sit here waiting for life to be what we want it to be. We need to appreciate every moment of every day for what it is and work to make it what we want it to be.

We need to eliminate phrases like, "Life will be better when ... (insert your mantra here)." Mine would be something like. "Life will be better when my kids are a little more grown up and aren't so demanding of me."

If we sit here waiting for life to be better, we will be missing the life that is passing us by.

Here's the most inspiring quote for me:
"The Heisman Trophy winner knows...that his big moment was not when they gave him the trophy. It was the thousand times he went to practice instead of going back to bed. It was the miles run on rainy days, the healthy meals when a burger sounded like heaven. That big moment represented and rested on a foundation of moments that had come before it."
Wow. How true is that? If we all keep pushing and working hard, who knows what "big moments" we might have. More to come later!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kids and Commercials

Happy Monday!

Until recently our children have not watched television with mega commercials -- we kept them focused on Noggin and Sprout, where commercials are minimal.

However, Tyler has recently started watching some age-appropriate shows on Discovery Kids, such as Bindi the Jungle Girl. Little did we know, he was taking in more than the show information!

One night at dinner he said, "Mom, you've got to get the Touch N' Brush!"

My reaction was, of course, "Huh?"

It was then that he proceeded to recite the entire commercial to us! We heard phrases like:
  • No more messy bathroom sinks!
  • No more fighting for the last drop of paste!
  • Presenting the Touch N Brush!
Paul and I were laughing so hard it hurt! Wow! Fun Stuff! We had him act it out so we could catch it on video! Check it out on YouTube!

Now he's telling me everything I need to buy. Yikes!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Conversation in the Car

I've been trying something new for the past 2 weeks -- no radio in the car with the kids. It was a challenge by my life coach that was only supposed to last one week, but I liked it so much we have continued it.

Instead of trying to zone out and drive and hope the kids don't "bother" me in the middle of a good song, we're actually having conversations! I find that I am less "bothered" this way.

It used to be that I would spend quality time with them at home and expect to be able to relax and drive (if those two things go together) in the car.

But now, I'm taking the time to talk to the kids, teach them things as we drive and answer their questions without feeling bothered.

The last two days we have focused on the letter "B." We look for signs that have "B's" on them and for objects that begin with "B's." I also brought the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, by Eric Carle in the car -- since it begins with "B." (This was yet another suggestion from my literacy class!) Tyler read it to us.

Anyway, it's been great! Give it a try!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Summertime Memories

Welcome! The newest thing on my horizon this summer is this great literacy class I'm taking for the kids. It’s being taught here in Fort Myers by three lovely women. Their names are Judy O’Halloran, Peggy Van Voorhis and Marilyn Senior.

I’ve learned that I can make an educational, fun experience out of everything we do. Judy, Peggy and Marilyn suggest six areas of learning for each experience – reading, writing, speaking, media, listening and critical thinking.

Here’s how it works. My family and I are going on a summer vacation to Illinois for my brother’s wedding. I’ll give you one example of how we can incorporate each of the six areas.

Reading: Before we leave, we’ll read a book or two about weddings.

Speaking: I’ll tell the children a story about my wedding. We'll chat about it.

Writing: I’ll have the children draw me a picture about a wedding. My older son can write a sentence or two to go along with it.

Listening: We’ll listen to some common songs that are played at weddings.

Media: While on our trip, we will take pictures and put them in a scrapbook when we get home. I could have my 6-year-old Google weddings and see what he finds (don't worry -- we have parental controls set up on his computer!)

Critical Thinking: I’ll ask them questions about the wedding. What they liked, what they didn’t. Why they think certain things happened.

The purpose behind all of this is to make a total experience out of everything you do! We’re not simply going to a wedding this summer, we’re also learning all about weddings in a very fun way!

You’ll probably notice that you are already doing some of these things with your kids – but what this philosophy did for me is put a framework around it. It gives it purpose.

Following this philosophy has been tons of fun for all of us this summer! They love it! After only doing it with them once or twice, my son started leading the activities!

For more information about the class, email Judy O’Halloran. I'm going to write out her email address to ensure she doesn't get spam. Her address is johalloran at comcast dot net.