Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Fishful Thinking Photo Story: "In the Tent"

When I was a kid, my brother and I loved to make tents in the middle of the living room. We'd pull the four barstools from the kitchen, flip over our two "bionic chairs" (aka banana chairs) and place them across the top of the stools to create a dome effect, and then drape sheets over everything.

We'd play board games, draw pictures, sneak in snacks, and tell spooky stories - good times.

These days, my kids are the ones completely taking over the living room (with a little help) -



and sometimes, if the tent is BIG enough, I'll even crawl in there with them.

Being "in the tent" with your child while cuddling with a book/playing with action figures/doing a puzzle, and focusing that time just on him/her was one of the Time and Presence activities that Dr. Karen Reivich talked about during the Fishful Thinking webinar last week - interestingly enough!  (If you missed it - or some of it - click here to download and listen.)

"Most parents find it challenging to create space for simple experiences of togetherness. Real-world distractions, internal chatter, “to do” lists – undercut our ability to be with our children without an internal (and perhaps external) sense of fidgeting." 

You can say that again.

Even though, this past year, I have been fortunate to have extra time with my kids by trying out homeschooling, I still have those moments where I am thinking about other things - needing to answer an email, make a phone call, reply to a text (& I am the world's slowest texter), put in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen, take a SHOWER...the list goes on.

But in those moments when I intentionally put those things out of my mind and fully engage with my kids - whether it's an activity we've planned ahead of time or an everyday routine, it becomes a different experience. I feel a truer sense of joy and togetherness. And I'm sure they feel it too.

As Dr. Reivich spoke about - "Connectedness" is a key factor in promoting resilience in children. Our kids need to feel that we are present and in the moment with them. Of course, we have to set realistic expectations so we are not plagued with "mom guilt"(which we all know and love) because we can't "connect" ALL the time - as I have to remind myself. Still, there are many everyday moments (car ride, trip to the store, dinnertime) that can be taken advantage of to talk, laugh, and enjoy one another.

As always, I got so much out of the information presented during the webinar and the discussion between Dr. Reivich and my Fishful Thinking pals.  It really reaffirmed my answer to this question that was posed in preparation for the event -

How do you think about the time you share with your children? What do you value about time? What are your goals in relationship to your time together?

I feel like each day I have with my kids is a gift. They are the greatest blessings in my life. Because time passes so quickly, it's important to me to make the most of it whether it's baking cookies, reading stories, playing outside, etc... Just enjoying simple, every day things together as well as creating fun family memories and traditions. Spending quality time together strengthens our bond as a family and creates a support system by building trust and faith in one another. I also always want my kids to know that they are most important to me and that I will always have time for them no matter how old they are. And hopefully, they will continue to want to spend time with me - even during those teenage years.

A mom can dream, right?



Linked up with my Fishful Thinking friends this week. 
Cecily's take on moments that count is truly special - a must read!




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Hosted by Cecily and Lolli


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cookies for Dinner

My husband makes some GOOD chocolate chip cookies. Seriously good, blog-worthy cookies. I had to take a picture the last time he made them. (Yeah, he laughed at me.)


He found the recipe right here - melted butter? 1 egg and 1 egg yolk? Who knew? 

I've had these cookies on the brain all day and promised the kids we would attempt to make them this afternoon - now closer to dinner - oops!

Too bad I didn't take Daddy up on his offer to make them last night.

Oh well. We'll dip them in milk and have some fruit on the side. That's at least three food groups, right? 

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Photo Story "Friday Confessional" - Birdbrained

I Confess:

I've been a wee bit scatterbrained this past week - to say the least.

I made THREE trips to the grocery store and forgot something EVERY time.

I left my recital music for my two-year-olds (Animal Crackers) in the CAR & didn't realize it until I was in the middle of class.

I almost overdrew our bank account because I forgot to account for our car insurance automatic draft.

And, the real kicker?

I completely had it in my head (despite the courteous email reminders) that a conference call that I had been preparing for and SO looking forward to was at 7pm - my time (central time zone) and it was actually at 7pm EST!!!!!!!!!! There I was logging in at 6:45pm, thinking I was early, on the ball....only to join in for the last 15 minutes.

Total birdbrain.

I'm not sure what it is...

Lack of sleep...

My other half being under the weather for the past three weeks...

One of my most favorite people undergoing another surgery...

My youngest brother turning 18 and feeling totally homesick that we couldn't be there to celebrate with my family...

Or it could be that this past Saturday, I was in extremely close proximity to some feathered friends -







Especially this intelligent creature right here - (Warning: Narration might make you queasy. Standby - Video takes a sec to appear...)


video

Uh, yeah. Definitely sick in the head.

Talk about a bad influence.


Double linked with GMYBPSF & Mamarazzi's Friday Confessional.
Killing two birds with one stone (sorry - couldn't resist)!



Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Photobucket

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordful Wednesday & a Big Ol' Sticky Mess

What do you get when you let your kiddos combine
4 1/2 cups of flour,
1 1/2 cups rolled oats...
and 2 1/2 cups of BUTTERMILK 
with their hands?

 (Yup! Abby's missing another tooth!)






I saw this recipe over on Family Fun and decided to add it to our St. Patty's day festivities along with our Lucky Charms (which Noah begged for all week), pot of gold (Rolos), and green and yellow streamers (luckily, I had those stashed away with b'day stuff).

It actually turned out pretty well (despite the sticky mess). Of course, I'd never made it (or tasted it) before so I have nothing to compare it to - but it was good. Warm homemade bread with a little butter and honey - can't beat that.

And both the kids (and Dad) ate a few pieces - so that says something!


Feeling WordFUL? 
Link up over at Seven Clown Circus!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just Me & My Girl (& an Oreo Parfait!)

On Saturday night, I took Abby on a spontaneous little mommy-daughter date. Just a simple trip to the store to pick out a treat. After thoughtfully eyeballing ALL of the choices, she finally decided on an Oreo parfait that we shared in the parking lot, looking up at the HUGE full moon. We were chatting about this and that when I thought about this month's Fishful Thinking newsletter  - "By shining the light on your children's strengths, you'll help them value who they are at their best and encourage them to put their strengths into action!" 

So I decided to ask Abby to tell me what some of her strengths were - things that she felt like she was good at or enjoyed doing. She seemed surprised at the question. "I don't know," she said with a shy smile. After giving her a few seconds to think about it, I told her I could give her an example of a strength she had shown just that morning.  Her eyes lit up as I mentioned how she made Daddy and me a special surprise breakfast (frozen waffles and an apple), cleaned her room, and even helped Noah clean his room. "You like to help others and do nice things for people. That is one of your strengths!"

She was all smiles. :)



That example helped to get the dialogue going, and we "shined a light" on other things like being a good reader, remembering to practice piano, helping Noah, being a nice friend, sharing with others, smiling all the time, giving lots of snuggles, and she also said, "I am good at school. I like learning!"

I loved that one especially since that was part of an answer I had shared in discussions on Fishful Thinking Facebook and Crowdtap pages asking us parents to reflect on our strengths. My love for learning is something that I've hoped to instill in my kids along with striving (major emphasis added) to be a glass-half-full, bounce-back, compassionate, goal-oriented, appreciate-the-little-things type of person.

That's why Fishful Thinking has appealed to me so much. Not only does it provide ideas and activities to help my children develop these qualities, but I continue to learn and be strengthened as well.

I plan to try out the new activities listed in the newsletter with the kids. I am sure Abby and Noah would LOVE it if I gave them "a bowl full of ingredients" and let them "develop creativity" by coming up with a new recipe. That would probably be a good one for me to try too. Heaven knows that my cooking abilities could use some strengthening!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Have You Ever...? (Part 2/Take 2)

Have you ever written a post, put it out on your blog for a few hours, and then removed it?

You kept going back to it throughout the day thinking if you tweaked it a bit, you'd feel content with it.

But you didn't.

And being that no one left a comment, you didn't feel too bad about calling a DO OVER. (My apologies to the 10 page views who may or may not have read my earlier - now removed- post.)

It just didn't do the experience this past weekend justice.

The stories and trials and wisdom that the presenters shared.

The heartfelt music and lyrics that touch your heart.

The funny antics that most every mom can relate to...

And the challenge that was given to choose one thing that will help you BECOME closer to the woman you are meant to be. Something just beyond your reach... "All things are possible to him who believeth." (Mark 9:23)

Each of my Time Out friends and I also got to put together one of these:


(Enough items were donated to make 243 Possibilities Packs for the local women's shelter. Every little bit helps!)

I also couldn't pass up the chance to have Hilary Weeks sign a CD, and I figured while I was up there, why not take a picture?


Yes, I am a total cheeseball. (I hope you don't me plastering your face on my blog, Hilary.)

I came away from the experience feeling stronger, wanting to be better, reflecting on what my purpose is and being reminded of all of the wonderful blessings in my life - including the adversities that I've faced or may face in the future. As I've learned from a few of my favorite people, any trial that brings us to our knees and makes us more fully rely on God can be for our good. He helps us become who we are meant to be if we let Him, and if we learn to see ourselves and others the way that He sees us.

I am definitely working on that - having a little more faith, believing a little more in myself and others, and letting go of the doubt and fear.

It may be easier said than done, but I am up for the challenge.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Have you ever....?

Have you ever just sat on an idea?

Not just for a couple of days, but for weeks, months...

even years?

Have you ever felt like you were meant to do something - contribute in a greater way,

but you couldn't quite put your finger on it?

You know the general vicinity. You know what your strengths are...where your passion is, but you haven't yet come up with the specifics?

Have you ever had lightbulb moments - moments where you really thought you were on to something and wanted to start working on it RIGHT THAT MINUTE but then you get sidetracked by laundry, errands, emails, housework, phone calls, or (I hate to admit) updating your facebook status?

Then there's this little thing called self doubt

DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!!!

Sometimes I feel like I can't stay focused on anything for more than ten minutes - I am calling it multi-tasking induced ADD. Seriously. I didn't used to be like this. But somewhere inside that brain of mine, something has short-circuited.

Like yesterday - what was I thinking trying to squeeze all that in  - in ONE DAY? Field trip in the morning, playdate to see "Tangled" at the dollar theater, grocery store on the way home, making dinner, then going to a church youth activity - which I do every Wednesday so I don't usually schedule much on Wednesdays. Especially because I am normally still recovering from my crazy Mondays and Tuesdays - teaching five dance classes to almost 70 kids.

Clearly, a lack of judgment on my part.

But, that's what it boils down to.....ME.

I have to choose.

Choose what's most important.

Prioritize.

Simplify.

Act.

BECOME.

So this weekend, I'll be taking a much-needed TIME OUT to clear my head, listen, laugh, reflect, and, hopefully, figure some things out.

No multi-tasking allowed.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Lil' Pirate is on DisneyParks.com!

Yes indeed, me hearty!

I just found out yesterday that Noah's picture - all decked out in his pirate gear - was selected as one of the favorite family memories on the Disney Parks website!

All I had to do was type up a short description, attach the picture, and then wait to see if it was approved. We are so excited that it was!

Click on over to see my little swashbuckler and to submit one of your favorite Disney memories. (I know you've got 'em!)  Noah didn't know that I had written about him so it was a total surprise yesterday when he saw himself on the DISNEY site! Very cool!

Now to write one about Abby - fingers crossed that it will be selected too!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Confessional: Dirty Little Secret

I Confess:

It's been a chronic problem.

One that I had ignored for far too long and had gotten out of control.

I am hesitant posting this - afraid that it will not paint me in the best light...

But here goes nothing!

A dirty little secret about yours truly...literally.
*
*
*
*
*
 (gulp!)
*
BEFORE:

Wait...here's the best part -


YIKES!!!!!!!

But I did redeem myself...

AFTER three plus hours of sorting, throwing away, & interruptions from kiddos:


I know, right???

Holy cow!

And, unfortunately, there's a lot more where that came from. (I confess: I honestly haven't quite figured out a system for this house since moving here a little over a year and a half ago. Pathetic, huh? Not that our previous house was the epitome of organization, but it had color, murals in the kids' rooms, and a lot more character. I loved that house. Still, I just need to get over it. This house has its perks too. It's a rental so I can't paint and such, but it does have vaulted ceilings. I do love vaulted ceilings!)

Let the spring decluttering, organizing, rather stick a needle in my eye fun cleaning BEGIN!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordful Wednesday - Seussing Things Up!

We had hit somewhat of a homeschool slump around here the past couple of weeks. Our popsicle stick log cabins for Presidents Day has probably been our high point. But TODAY?


The kids helped make Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast (and actually ate it)!


We read stories, played some rhyming games, and danced around to the Seussical soundtrack. 
 Abby and Noah did a few Seussville actvities too - fun website!  

Hats off to you, Dr. Seuss, for being born on March 2nd. You had perfect timing.




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