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Meet Fred!

He’s a loggerhead sea turtle weighing over 200 lbs, and I adopted him for my kids a few weeks ago. Fred has been a resident sea turtle at the Padre Island Sea Turtle Rescue center for a while now. He can’t be released again. He’s already been released 3 times, after the 3rd time a turtle is stranded at shore, the Sea Turtle Rescue center proclaims them a resident turtle. Fred is missing his front right flipper. When he was found the first time, a fisherman’s hook was so imbedded into his flipper and gangrene had set in, the only way to save his life was to amputate his flipper. He was released,  and returned stranded to shore hurt by predators two additional times over a course of 5 years.

Wondering why I adopted Fred? I have a daughter dying to be a marine biologist. She has always been fascinated by the ocean and the animals in it. I couldn’t be more proud, I have always been too. She’s 11, I realize she may change her mind a thousand times before she pursues any career. That’s fine with me. The more she changes, the more she’s growing. My thought was, if this is what she’s interested in, this is  the best chance to encourage her.  I do everything I can to show my girls that they can do anything they want to do. I felt like by adopting Fred, I not only showed her the value of her interests, I have shown Both my kids the value of preserving the world around us and taking care of it. My youngest is 5. Marine biology may be too complicated for her to understand, but she loves animals too. I felt like this would give both of them a chance to see first hand how we have to work together to save our environment. My kids don’t litter now, but I guarantee you neither of those kids will ever leave trash on a beach after adopting Fred. They know his story, and how he wound up in a tank to save his life.

It was defining moment in my life, and hopefully theirs,  when we returned to the car and I handed them the adoption folder for Fred. His certificate of adoption is now framed in the hallway between their rooms. They have received a letter, and can get online to see what he’s doing via webcam. They are so proud.  We continue to discuss marine biology and various aspects of the oceans.  They are often telling me where they’d like to visit the beach next. Fred comes up in conversation around here almost daily.  Sometimes I smile as those conversations end because I know they will always remember that I adopted Fred for them simply because I wanted to. It was my way of demonstrating to them that I support their interest. I would never say they can’t achieve something, and often kids have to see that rather than be told.

Of course,  when I called my best friend and told her I adopted him she replied,  “where are you going to put that?” Just the mere thought that me bringing home a sea turtle wouldn’t surprise her absolutely made me proud too. My sister was with me that day and she made me feel good too. She said “you always encourage them in the best ways”.  It takes a village parenting kids, it’s often nice to hear your dearest friends understand your efforts.

As for Fred’s adoption, my kids have shown everyone they know pictures of him. They have watched him with their friends and shared his story. Maybe all those kids will think twice before littering and causing any further harm to the animals.

Moms, Get Your Swagger Back!

The beauty of letting go, getting your swagger back, and being you again

I realized today it’s been several months since I wrote here.  Ironically,  I started this blog as a pastime….Do you know why I haven’t written here in months? I don’t need a pastime. Life is busy, I wear alot of hats—-everyday—-and I like it.

Sound Familiar? I thought so! Which brings me to the reason for this post. Lately I have read what seems like a thousand tweets, statuses and posts about moms being overwhelmed and feeling like failures, beating themselves up over what isn’t done.   Well, ZAP THAT!! We have 24 hours in a day. Period.  It disheartens me to read such post, especially from women I know, love, and admire!

I’m not a failure and neither are you.  Is everything perfect? Of course not! It wouldn’t be any fun if it was anyway. Everyday is NOT fun either–and I’m OK with that too. These things I have accepted. I admit I was once in this group of overwhelmed “super moms”, my acceptance wasn’t overnight and was met with plenty of resistance. Learning to let go wasn’t easy. Once I did, it has been an incredible freedom from myself. Being your own worst enemy is poison to your mind, and your spirit. For me,  the smile returned, the feeling of wanting to do and explore more took over, the activities picked up,  and I began to think of what I could do next. That feeling keeps me on the go all the time now.  I took chances, without nets…a year ago I would not have even considered them. Currently, I have more “projects” than I have ever had.  I don’t think of any of them as overwhelming or depressing.

I DARE YOU to accept it too. Here’s 5 good reasons you should:

* Effort is not overrated. Bring your effort everyday and that is all you need.
* Happy, well-adjusted kids should be our #1 priority.
* You deserve time for yourself, and time to do what you enjoy…last I checked, we did not give up being human for being mom.
* Letting go of some things to accomplish others is a very powerful and rewarding feeling.
* Once you accept and display your value, others will to.

Best of all, I enjoy my kids more now. I know they are watching me and I’m proud of what they see.  I am confident they will remember these things:

 our childhood was happy…mom worked hard and played hard…mom didn’t succeed at everything she tried, but she tried again….Mom had fun, laughed alot and loved us beyond words…mom did the best she could… she wasn’t perfect and she wasn’t afraid to show us she wasn’t…mom taught us it was ok to be myself.

That is success!!…Forget the extra load of laundry!!

It’s still true, I am a borderline perfectionist. I say “borderline” sarcastically because those who know me, know I will still stay up to 2am to get the bathroom cleaned because that was on my to-do list for today, not tomorrow. I’m up at 3am writing this because I wanted to finish it today!  My kids will tell you, a sloppy house puts me in a bad mood, and I can’t stand when the back seat of my car is full of their junk.  Everyone has their peeves. I’ve just learned to accept mine, deal with it and move on. They no longer consume me. I have better things to do.

This blog has long represented my journey. Today, I re-read some old posts and both laughed and cried. I have come a long way in 2 years. I don’t know why I made it such a priority today after neglecting it for months, but I did, and it feels great. I will commit to it again.

I challenge you to take the baby steps needed to get your swagger back. Your family and friends want YOU…not a maid, nanny, gofer or frumpy has-been. Get up, get motivated…take it one day at a time! Start with your mind…STOP TELLING YOURSELF WHAT YOU DO NOT DO!! A rubber band works, put it around your wrist and pop yourself every time you are beating yourself up. Let go, the images of women are unrealistic. Work like a man, look like a little girl, cook like a master chef, dress like a goddess, and raise the fearless leaders of tomorrow… It’s unrealistic. More than that, it’s unfair.

Here’s 5 good ways to get started:

*Write down what you DID get done everyday
* Pick your battles with your kids, some are not worth fighting or getting upset over
* Keep a journal
* Get up and get dressed like you’re meeting your best client…even if you’re at home working alone… your confidence will soar
* Take time each day for you. One activity a day that means NOTHING to anyone else.

Ready, Set….GO!

Spring Break without Breaking Bank

Spring Break is scaring me this year. Honestly, there’s no way I can spend a few hundred dollars a day over Spring break. It seems everytime we get in the car and go anywhere, it costs more than $100/day.  Sometimes, it’s that just to get in the door. That being said, I’ve been brainstorming some fun thrills for spring break on a dime. Here’s my top 10.

* Load up and go to a local park. Take a picnic lunch and let the kids play. If your kids think they are too old for the usual park then find a nature trail, a skate park, go hiking, or have a scavenger hunt. (big kids can take roller blades, bicycles or skates and hit the sidewalks). We have a new skate park that is a huge hit. Lucky me, it has a playground for my little one also.

*Get kids involved in the community. Ask your kids what charity means the most to them. Take a day and visit their headquarters. Kids can collect items to donate and you can take them along with you. The bonus here is that you just might get your garage, their room,  or closet free of some of their clutter. (shhh…don’t tell them your counting on it)

*Go fishing. Baiting hooks isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but I have agreed to do it one day. (any volunteers wanting to do the dirty work are more than welcome to come along).  No one likes to fish? go to the lake and feed the ducks, take a walk for an hour or so. Take along a camera and let them be in charge of it as you walk along. You may be surprised what they enjoy taking pictures of.

*Give the kids a movie marathon day at home. We’re expecting rain for spring break (more than we’ve had all month).  Homemade tents, movies, games and popcorn will surely pass the rainy day.

*Tweens want Freedom. Hate to break the news to you but hanging with mom is no longer “cool”. Well, it’s also not cool for me to take my 10 year old and drop her off at the mall or movies and hope for the best. We’re working on “freedom issues” (a whole other blog post!) but I have managed a good idea. She’s having dance parties in my garage with a few girlfriends on Friday evenings. They bring their music, take out some drinks and snacks, I’ve set up a table they can “hang out at”, I back out the car and close the door. They promise not to play the music too loud. Those girls are out there for hours!  For spring break, she’s inviting a couple friends from school to come and join her and the neighborhood kids. After setting a few ground rules, this works wonders to give her freedom and me some peace of mind to know she’s safe. It’s a hit with the kids. I’m sure for spring break this will take place more often than just Friday night.

*We’re planting a garden together. Small, of course. It will be a fun outdoor day. Gardening is work but by giving them some control of what is planted and where you arrange things, they will help out and have a good day with you. You can have a container garden just the same. We planted herbs a few weeks ago from seeds, same idea.  It’s a fun project, they like to eat what they grow, so it’s another win-win!

*Go to the mall and make it a scavenger hunt. The buddy system must be in place. No kid is alone…ever! I am in the store while they go look at something else. She and her friends have a list of things to find and either snap a picture with their phone or buy but they can’t pay more than ____ for it. Text each other, meet up at the door and walk to the next store together. Kids love this. Time to eat? hit the food court!

*Have a spa day at home. Pedicures and manicures.  Bright colored polished. (lemon, lime green, orange, blue, pink, black, glitter polish, neon colors…they love those). Let them paint and design whatever they wish.  Add some more fun by having hair accessories and letting them play with styles. This is fun with a small group.

*Hit the craft store. I find things online that they can make, some supplies you can buy at the dollar store if you don’t already have at home. Set up the project inside or out and let them get to work. Homemade sand art? necklaces/bracelets/rings? building an ant farm? Making stepping stones? building a bird house? Painting? whatever their interest, they will enjoy this.

*Let them earn some extra money. Weather permitting, pay them to wash the car.  Throw out a few soaker balls while your’re at it. Playing in the water is the best day for kids.

One last suggestion: Ask them if they’d like to plan an activity? Give them a few boundaries and then go and do what they come up with. This is how I initially found our new skate park in the first place. Kids have a radar for what’s new and what their friends are doing for cheap fun.

Hope that you can enjoy some of these ideas and they help take the anxiety of money off your plate. I have found that times at home with projects like this are not only fun, they are a great bonding time with my children. During the course of day, the conversations that come up may surprise you. Relax and enjoy the week with them.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to My Girls

Dear Girls… it’s mom,

I spend every minute of every day with you on my mind. Something happened to me when I became a mom for the first time that I could never describe, so I won’t try. Just know that you both complete me.

You are brilliant–don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I watch as you grow and learn in amazement. The questions you ask me let me know you are aware of the world around you and have inquiring minds to find out more. I hope you keep that thirst for knowledge for the rest of your lives. The world won’t always be as innocent as it appears to you now, but I have no doubt you will excel through it. Here’s a few more things I want you know:

*Your dad and I love you more than life itself.
*We want the absolute best for you.
*Never let some bullying little girl make you feel inferior, and don’t be that bullying little girl to someone else. “Mean Girls” is s syndrome that little girls are born with, I believe, and it continues into womanhood. Shy away from it, don’t participate…get rid of phony friends, and if you aren’t doing something for the purpose you have made others believe..then you better quit!
*Boys don’t stink…(well, not all the time!)
*As you grow up and decide you “like” boys, don’t let one change you. Most likely, your first boyfriend isn’t Mr. Right…better yet, don’t look for Mr. Right..Look for who thinks you are Mrs. Right! Just. The. Way. You. Are.
*Dream Big and follow your heart.
*Can’t never could do anything.
*Don’t lie awake at night telling yourself negative thoughts–EVER–it’s the worst thing you can do.
 *Read alot!
*Study many subjects before you pick a major.
*Follow your passions, YOUR being the operative word, don’t do what you think others want you to do (your dad and I included.. well, within limits).
*Recognize bad habits and stop them before they take over.
*Be Kind to others.
*Find ways to give back to your school, community, and other things dear to you.
*If you are ever having a bad day, go out and help someone else.
 *Your first car is something that will be destroyed one way or another. Wear your seatbelt and dont cry over the first ding. (trust me, I know this one)
*Who you are today is not necessarily who you will be in 20 years. Grow, but try not to embarrass yourself later.
*It’s good to have friends with a variety of interest and personalities.
*Don’t mirror someone else.
*Never let anyone make you feel like you’re not good enough.
 *Laugh alot!
*Laugh at yourself the most!
*Take in a stray at least once.
*Feed the birds and squirrels.
*Plant flowers.
*Buy (or cut) fresh flowers for yourself just for the heck of it and put them in your room.
*Enjoy the days you say you are bored.
*Find a hobby, change hobbies as you change, but always have one.
 *Nobody’s perfect—and that includes you!
*Make mistakes, learn from them, make some more mistakes, learn from them.
*Wash your hair often and spend time and money on yourself.
*Be a good friend.
*You are 2 very different kids, encourage each other’s interests. 
 *Take vacations often.
*Believe me when I say your sister will some day be your best friend for life.
*Write a journal.
*Take tons of pictures along the way.
*Try a new style.
*Get up before daylight and sit quietly to watch the sun rise.
*Stay up til dawn at least once.
*Embrace others and be accepting.
*Bad people are out there, use your best judgment, if you are in danger SCREAM at the top of your lungs!  It is a fear of mine that something would happen to you, know this is why I tell you that you can’t go or that you have to check in all the time. When you have kids you will understand, it never has been about what I think you are doing.
*Play hard everyday.
*You are never too old to play!
*People who complain are miserable, don’t complain! Instead, look for what makes you happy every day.
*You will hear a lot about attitudes in your lifetime, it’s all true. If your attitude is bad you are going to have a tough road.
*Spend time with your family and friends but also learn to spend time alone, and like it.
*Music can be the best medicine.
 *Life is a big puzzle, fitting the pieces together each day and finding what doesn’t fit is part of the journey and the best part.
 *Give everything your best shot.
*If you put your name on it, make sure it’s your best.
*Find a sport you like and participate.
*Friendly competition is good for you. 
*You are going to “hate” your dad and I sometimes, that’s normal. We would be failing you as parents if you didn’t. We understand, and someday you will too.
*Don’t take things so personal all the time.
*A good cry can make you feel better, but A good laugh can make you feel great!
*Try new things
*Be creative
*When someone is mean to you forgive them. You are a captive of your anger.
*Smile!
*Learn to bake.
*Be comfortable in your own skin.
*Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” and never be afraid to accept someone’s apology.
*Your life is not predefined and your possibilities are endless.
*Remember, you are an original! Priceless and loved beyond words.

If I could bottle up the best of everything, harm and hurt free, and give it to you, I would. That’s impossible. There is a part of me that wants to keep you small and under my wings, and another part of me that is so fascinated as you grow that I can’t wait to see where the next phase takes you. It’s incredible being your mom, I hope you get to experience mommyhood (if you choose to). Above and beyond all else, I hope you know how much I love you and am honored to be your mom.

When you are old enough to leave the nest, I want you strong enough to fly.

Always, Always, Always!

Mom

Tween behavior can be overwhelming for parents

Sometimes I have to laugh. I must be much older than I think I am. I remember rolling my eyes, cracking one liners and completely ignoring my mother like it was yesterday! So how is it that I am now on the other side of the fence, with an active tween doing this to me?

Well, for starters, let me first admit this is NOT fun now! She was so darling, innocent and well behaved…then she woke up one morning different. I’ve been rubbing my head trying to figure out where this came from and when I will get my little angel back! By all accounts, I think she won’t return until she has her own children and calls to apologize to me like I did my mom when she was not quite a year old.

That leaves me between a rock and hard place. I must manage through this and direct it as best I can without killing her. (some days are easier than others). I want to yell out “your eyes are going to lock up like that”, but we all know that’s not true. I want and need to be a little more effective. In observing her world lately I’ve noticed a few things I’ll call “major influences”. First, the media world is wired to teach them these things. TV sitcoms (esp on kids’ program channels) are packed full of smart aleck kids talking back to parents and teachers, mean girl spirits, and secret lives of tweens that mom and dad are too dumb to know about. Secondly, her friends are seeing the same things and trying their limits too. Third, boys are becoming of interest! And lastly…whether I want to admit it or not, I cannot keep her sheltered from the world around her forever! Sure…I could say no TV, video games, no friends, I’m sending you to boarding school, and you cannot play contact sports…..but! How realistic is that? I would then raise a kid who can’t socialize or worse, one who would later rebel in all forms I can’t stand the thought of! There’s a big part of me who wants to keep my little girl. Then the rational side appears and I begin to realize this is part of growing up. Remember the cliché, ‘Seek first to understand then be understood’ ? It’s not a cliché in my house anymore, it’s a daily challenge. NOW I’m really testing my parenting skills….

I first had to change my  mental program in 2 ways.

1) She’s not a mini-adult, she’s a kid. This is a phase, and one that is very well a healthy part of growing up! and
2) She deserves to grow up, state her individuality and have this experience.

Ok, done! Now what? Well, as her mom, I cannot let her tryout profanity, one liners, eye rolling and over all temper tantrums without interrupting! I must guide her and discipline her so that someday she is a responsible adult. I have to set limits. I have a quiet rule, she knows nothing about…I set my limits one step above what “everyone else” gets to do. If her friends are wearing shorts 2″ longs, her must be 4″. If her friends have data lines on cell phones and can be on them all night long, mine must give me the phone in off position at 8:30. (you get the idea).  I refuse to be run over by a 10-year-old and her buddies!

Here’s a few tricks I’ve come up with to help curve this growing appetite of independence she has. I hope that some of these will help you too.

  • Set a curfew for coming inside, turning off gadgets and going to bed. Each separately, and adjust it for a little more time on weekends. Don’t give in to the 5 more minutes plea!
  • Allow her the opportunity to try new things and explore her individuality in her fashion statements and quirky trends, within reason.
  • I made a chore chart. These things need to be done this week. Now she has a little more control over when they’re done. The daily argument is over, and it’s her responsibility. (She also has a few things on that chart to be done everyday)
  • Her allowance is tied to that chart….and a few things are done for “free” (the price of family life is what I tell her!)
  • I don’t reward bad behavior. If she wants a friend to spend the night or go someplace special this weekend. Great! as long as she’s not rude and in trouble all week. If she blows it, then I don’t give in on Friday night. She needs to experience disappointment sometimes too in order to learn from it!
  • I constantly praise my kid! Every day there is something you can praise a kid about…they need to hear it !!
  • I keep an open mind and tell her if she wants to know something,  I’m willing to answer it. I’ve gone so far as to say to her that sometimes it’s awkward talking to mom about some things, but I would rather be awkward for 3 minutes while she asks then have her learn from someone else who may not really know.
  • I reward her accomplishments and celebrate everything! (Team winning, her grades, small holidays, things at work for mom and dad, baby sisters’ first experience, her doing something on her own for the first time!) I truly believe home is where it all starts. A happy home she’s comfortable in will make her stronger and more confident.
  • I encourage her to learn new things. She’s recently been “promoted” to advanced studies at school (OMG! I just thought she knew everything before that! her parents are complete morons now!). Nevertheless, when she’s working on something and asks for help, I engage her in that conversation and we explore wherever that conversation may lead to. (last night she needed climate numbers in a state for her project. Before you know it, we’re looking up the average daily temperature at Mt Everest…Good for her for having that inquiring mind! It’s my responsibility to encourage it!)
  • Invest your time in your kid! It’s easy to think that they’re now old enough that they don’t need you every second. They go to their room and you get some free time, although that’s true to a certain extent, I’ve learned she needs my time now more than ever. Every night I encourage her to come out of that girl cave! * Hey, come see this!, did you read this?, want to help me do_______, Let’s play basketball,  hey let’s watch this movie…….whatever works! HINT: it works every time!
  • Laugh with them, Alot!
  • I’m lucky, she’s a doll at school and out in public. Never gets in trouble with any adult anywhere. I make sure I tell her how much this means to me and how important it is for her to continue caring herself in such a classy manner.
  • Don’t strive over the little things. I try not to constantly nag her about every little thing.
  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) a rule no mom should go without–don’t make unrealistic goals for kids or yourself.
  • Don’t  lose your temper or act crazy when something’s not right for you. Kids are watching you 24/7!
  • Understand that kids experience stress too. Tests, homework, peers, chores, activities can all be stressful for them. Getting everything done in a day can be too. It seems easy to be a tween now that we’re adults, but remember what it was for you then. I give her time to unwind after school. I also try very hard to give her time that is free of chores and scheduled activities during the week. Kids act out under stress. Having this quality time to themselves can really  help settle them down.

 

I don’t think any of this is fool-proof. I’m certainly not an expert in the field of child development. I’m sharing this blog post as an honest account of my daily dilemma as being the best mom I can be. Trying to help her grow and mature in her own right, while balancing what is and isn’t acceptable to me. Tween’s can be difficult to understand, if we lose site of being there once ourselves.  I hope some of these items are helpful, and I welcome any suggestions you have as well.

 

 

Moms’ lives get easier in 30 seconds or less.

I’m honored to be a contributor on the hottest new website for moms, www.30secondmom.com. In the instant gratification world we live in, we all need tips on the go. This site is designed for tips  to be read or watched in 30 seconds or less.  You can download a free app that makes getting these tips more convenient. Need help on something? click the app while sitting at dance or baseball practice and find everything you need. There are a variety of categories to choose from and you can customize your stream.

30 second mom was developed by Elisa All, founder of Iparenting Media. She has once again developed something for the benefit of all moms. Take 5 minutes for yourself and check it out. www.30secondmom.com  Be sure to join the fun on twitter also:  @3osecondmom

 

 

The Forgotten Holiday

Somewhere between Halloween and Christmas we have a holiday that gets little attention in comparison to the others. Frankly, I think Valentine’s day is more popular than Thanksgiving. (It must be the retailers’ fault).
That forgotten Holiday is one of my favorites. Oddly enough, I think it is a favorite because of its simplicity. I love everything about it, especially our family traditions.

My family gathers every year and we eat and laugh, play some football, watch some football, eat and laugh some more. Some of us girls talk shopping and pass around the sale ads for black Friday. There’s traditions of making favorite pies for some and cakes for others. The dining table is so full of yummy side dishes, there’s barely room to sit. Now, every year there is an added challenge of making a dish all the kids will love. We are often defeated at that challenge, except for desserts! We even have a good time cleaning up.

To me it’s a day of being together. Our busy lives don’t lend much time to gather all of us at once anymore. For most of the year, I “talk” to my brothers through my mom. “tell him this, tell her that” and finally on Thanksgiving day, we’re all together.

Ironically, we spend quite a bit of time that day planning for Christmas…informally in our conversations we’re talking about the perfect gifts and where we’re shopping, our trees, decorations, and what Santa is bringing all the kids. Friday morning, the Christmas season kicks off and there’s no looking back. Except for our memories of another Thanksgiving day spent together laughing and playing.

Every year I go to bed on Thanksgiving night and say a special Thank you that I have those people in my life and was able to spend such a wonderful day with them.

Happy Thanksgiving!