Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Memories from a little Wooden Chest

I had an interesting experience with the kids this afternoon. They asked to look in my cedar chest, which is a cute, little wooden chest my dad made for me when I was little. I have a few keepsakes from my childhood in there, along with lots of cards I received growing up -- birthdays, Christmas, graduations and more.

We started reading some of the cards. Wow! What memories! There were cards from my parents, Grandparents, sisters, friends and more. Reading them made me feel so loved.

I explained that I kept the cards for memories so I could go back and look at them some day like we were doing at that moment. Then, I told them that I was keeping all of their cards, too. Alyssa was very excited to see her cards, so I pulled them down from the shelf in her closet. What a wonderful experience that was!

She loved going through them! Since she can't read yet, I told her what the cards said and who they were from. It was like Christmas! She was so tickled to hear who each card was from. Of course, many of them were from her grandparents, so at one point she said, "Wow, they must love me a lot."

Oh my goodness. That was one of those moments where time stands still for a second. I just looked at her, smiled and said, "Yes, they do."

Wow. The power of a card. How interesting that a 4-year-old gets the meaning of a card. And, to think, 20 or more years from now when she goes back to look at them, her heart will melt all over again. Amazing.

Written in honor of all of my friends and family who have shown me their love with a greeting card.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Learning from the Kiddos

I thought I'd write a little about all of the goodbye's we are saying in preparation for our move. It's been an interesting experience.

Paul and I want to make sure Tyler and Alyssa have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to their friends, so we threw a going away party for them last weekend. Many of their friends came to celebrate and play. We kept the energy positive and fun.

We played music, the kids played on the playground, and our friends brought pictures to add to our SWFL memory books. We spent time talking and simply enjoying being together. It was wonderful. We were really grateful for everyone who could make it.

In addition, I've been setting up play dates for Tyler and Alyssa with some of their closest friends.

It is kind of strange setting up these "last" play dates. I'm trying not to look at them as "final." Because friends are always friends. Yes, things will be different when we move, but we will be back to visit. Plus, we can keep in touch with cell phones, email, text messages, snail mail, Skype and more.

I'm finding the play dates to be fun and normal. If you could see the kids at these play dates, you'd never know if they were feeling sad about moving. They're playing the same as they always do.

That reminded me that young children tend to live in the moment. They don't worry about the past or the future as much as adults. They are at a play date with their friends, so they will play and not worry about anything else. Isn't that a beautiful thing?!

I'm trying to keep that in mind as well. All we have is today. We do not have yesterday -- it is gone. We do not have tomorrow -- it isn't here yet. But, as for today, it is a beautiful day for making memories!

-- Written with love for all of our SWFL friends. xoxoxo

Monday, June 21, 2010

Engaging the Kids During Summer Vacation Brings Rewards for Mom

I had the most precious time playing restaurant with the kids tonight. The game started after dinner with them telling me they wanted to open a restaurant. They went as far as to name their restaurant, so I suggested they draw the sign for the restaurant to show me what it would look like.

They did that, and then they drew their menus. I played right along and designed my own sign and menu.

After the signs and menus were designed, the kids took turns serving me at their restaurant. It was so cute to hear them say phrases you might hear a waiter or waitress say, such as, "Broccoli is the side that comes with that. Is that OK?" or "Do you need a few more minutes before you order?"

I learned in a literacy class last summer that this is a great way to expand children's learning opportunities. Instead of just letting them speak to me about what they wanted to do. I asked them to draw/write about it. Then we acted it out.

This is especially beneficial during summer vacation when they are not being stimulated at school. And, the best part was they didn't even realize I was stretching their learning. (Aren't I sneaky?) Plus, it gave us something constructive and fun to do after dinner.

This was definitely the highlight of my day with the kids. I love to see their imaginations at work. But it was even more than that for me -- it was also a time when I was living in the moment. I stopped cleaning up dinner before I was finished (whew...that took effort!) and gave them my full attention. But it was well worth it! Wonder what we'll pretend about tomorrow!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jack Johnson and Curious George Inspire

I know it's not a new song, but it's one that's really stuck in my head right now. Jack Johnson's Upside Down. It just feels so good to listen to. It's so positive and upbeat and full of hope. It makes me want to sing and dance.

It inspires me when he says "Who's to say ... What's impossible." ... Right? It's up to US to say what IS possible. Don't let people tell you that you can't do something. If you want to do it, go for it! Is it a dream of a trip you'd like to take? An advanced degree you'd like to earn? A career change? A place you'd like to live? Anything is possible ... it's up to you!

I also love how he says, "There's no stopping curiosity." I think some of us forget about curiosity as we get older. Kids have an amazing curiosity about them, they're into everything! But somehow as adults, we let that fade away as we get bogged down in our daily lives. We stop exploring. Let's get out there and try some things we've never done before!

How's this for inspiration, "I want to turn the whole thing upside down ... I'll find the things they say just can't be found." I love that! It's motivation! Well, it is for me anyway -- if someone tells me "it can't be done," that only pushes me harder to figure it out. And, trust me I do. Just ask any of my friends! :)

So, we've got all of this excitement and motivation, and then, the scary part comes -- what if we go after a goal and "fail" or try something new, like skiing, and fall? Have we really failed? Heck no! We tried! We LIVED! We experienced. Isn't that what we're here for? To love and live and have experiences?

And, as Jack says, "This world keeps spinning and there's no time to waste." You don't have yesterday -- it's gone. You don't have tomorrow -- it's not here yet. You only have today. Right now! So, what is it you want to do? Learn a new skill or sport? Start your own business? Make new friends? Repair a broken relationship? Come on! Let's go turn this world upside down!

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Spiders Taught Me About My Life

I had an experience yesterday, and I'd like to share in case it enlightens anyone else...here's what happened.

We are currently staying in my grandmother's old house while we wait to sell our Florida home. It is my dad's mother's house. Much needs to be done to this old house to make it habitable for our family. Over the weekend, Paul noticed some electrical issues and suggested we call Gary, my mom's significant other, to come over and look at it since he is a professional electrician.

"NO, you can't do that," I said to Paul, feeling very agitated. "That will never work. My dad will never be OK with that."

I felt so stressed about this, because Gary is who I would want to do the work if it were my home. But it's not my home. It's under the care and supervision of my dad.

Then, I realized how hurt my mother would feel if I didn't ask Gary to do the work.

NICE. Here I am at 36 years old. My parents have been divorced since I was 10. And I'm still getting all hyped up emotionally over anything that has to do with the two of them together. Whenever these types of situations arise, I feel like no matter what decision I make, I will hurt one of them. And, the last thing I want to do is hurt either of my parents.

I had a talk with a friend, who reminded me of the work that I have already been doing to handle these situations better. I remembered that I can't control my parents or their feelings. But I can control me, and by doing that I have the power to make these experiences more peaceful for everyone.

I think this is really coming to light now as I move back "home" near my family. I am really excited about it, but if I don't work on how I handle these situations, it will be a difficult move, instead of a joyful one.

I have the choice for how I want my relationships with my parents to be. Instead of letting my emotions run wild and feeling like I need to defend myself when I make decisions that might hurt one of them, I can use a tool from my life coaching toolbox. I can simply put myself in their shoes. Think about how they are feeling, and give them my love. Of course, I love both of my parents, and I do not want either of them to feel hurt by decisions I make.

Interestingly enough -- the day after this experience happened, I had a few run-ins with spiders -- in real life and in my dreams. I looked up their spiritual meaning, and, among other things, one website said that spiders are the teacher of balance between past and future. Wow. That made me immediately think about this experience with my parents, my past with my parents and my future with them -- especially now that I am moving back. It's up to me for how I want this to be. Peaceful or chaotic. I'm aiming for peace, and I know it is possible...one experience at a time!

Written with love and respect for all of my parents...please notice I did not share any of my parents actual feelings -- only my perceptions for how they would be. Also note that my parents were not really a part of this experience -- it was all in my head based on assumptions. :)