Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Perspective

found via pinterest via this great Martha project

Today I woke up and started my morning with some reading.  The day is always better for me when started with scriptures (but I still forget that fact and sometimes wonder why the day is so crazy and realize I forgot to read that morning).  Soon after I was joined in bed by my girl for some morning cuddles.  Today I've felt a fresh perspective as I've thought about recent events.  It feels like a gift- a reminder of all the fresh blessings that I need to be grateful for.  A grateful heart has made for such a great, full day.  I need to remember that.  A few things currently on my list of things to be thankful for:

+produce from the garden.  I'm making my first batch of salsa today (it's simmering as we speak) and I hope to share the recipe soon.
+loose ends getting tied up.  I made a call a while ago which was returned this morning, and now Miss A is scheduled for piano lessons.  Can't wait for her to have this experience.
+an organized home.  Not that I'm there completely, but I'm motivated to get there right now, and that's a good thing.  Not only that, but I actually have little bits of time to accomplish projects.  And I'm getting rid of things.  Feels so good.
+inspiration.  Sometimes I feel less than inspired.  I often doubt the impressions I receive.  I'm still trying to improve spiritual communication.  It is a learning process, and a work in progress to be sure.  But I have been reminded that I really can be inspired, and that is a true blessing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quiet Night

image via

I'm sitting here listening to the thunder and the hum of the dishwasher  (it's second run of the evening- lots of dishes from dinner+cake and ice cream celebration with extended family to celebrate the husband's birthday last week).
Last week was quiet here on Bee.  I commented to the husband that last week was probably the most emotionally draining parenting week I've had to date.  Blogging took a back seat (as it should) so I could focus on my kids.  They needed me, and I think I needed them just as much.  I needed them to refocus me to the importance of our relationships.  I needed them to remind me about how crucial my role is at this amazing time in their lives.   And even thought I needed that dose of perspective, I want to convey that it's not all peaches and cream over here.
I'm exhausted from the muffin's cries of "hold you" accompanied by insatiable hunger along with a fair share of meltdowns from his older brother and sass coupled with emotional breakdowns from the girl.  Miss A is still having a rough time adjusting to first grade after her lunchroom dilemma from earlier in the week repeated itself Friday.  This time she tried to stand up for herself with a well-played, "You're not the boss of me," but the older student persisted with "Ya' gotta' go," and she caved.  I sent a teacher e-mail and hope the problem will be solved, but in the mean time I spent some time tonight reassuring her that school would be ok tomorrow and that things would improve.  We've had a lot more breakdowns this weekend than we've seen for a long time, and I'm trying to remind myself that this is normal considering what she's going through right now, but it's hard to always be understanding after the  20th moment of her being reduced to tears over nothing.
After back-to-school night last week for de-Man, it was determined that a preschool change needed to happen.  He was heartbroken when he realized that one of his teacher's and none of his friends were going back to the preschool he attended last year. When I delivered the bad news he started to cry and told me that I'd hurt his feelings the very most.  Not sure he understands what it actually means to hurt someone's feelings, but he definitely understood that he was not happy about the changes.  I found a new school where he has a friend attending, and I'm hopeful that we'll both be excited after meeting the teachers tomorrow.  Figuring out exactly what will be best for this boy is hard work- I'm still not sure if I'm making the right decision.  I feel more at peace than I did before, so I think I'm on the right track, but hopefully tomorrow will bring the clarity I need.
The muffin seemed extra needy last week, too.  He's becoming more and more aware of some of his food limitations, and it's the saddest thing to see him feel excluded when everyone is eating ice cream and he gets a popsicle, or everyone else has a cookie and he has a sucker.  I didn't read labels as much last week, and he ended up with a rash just because I let him have some cereal.  It's just not worth it to let him cheat, but it's really sad to see him upset.  If he had his pick I'd read him books all day everyday.  Unfortunately, that can't be my daily agenda, and so lots of tears and cries of "read, pees" have been heard recently.
A serious case of moodiness on my part hasn't helped anything.  I'm pretty sure the husband didn't ask for a beastly wife for his birthday, but sadly that's kind of what he got.  I've been consumed by the needs of my kids plus the other stresses of life- trying to make some financial changes, stressed about various other responsibilities, feeling spread thin for all the things I need to be taking care of.  I haven't been putting my best efforts into being a wife, and I feel guilty.  Luckily, I married one understanding husband.
It's been a lot of hard days in a row. I know that at some point things will get easier.  We'll get through the growing pains and find our groove.  I can look back and still find much goodness in the past week.  But right now, I am tired.  This job is not for the faint of heart.  Family life is wonderful and rewarding and joyous, but man it is hard work.
Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully the start of a lot of good days in a row (and a little more time to write around here).  Wishing the same to you!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mid-Week Re-cap

I have to say, I can't believe today is only Wednesday.  Monday feels like ages ago!  I guess that's because much has changed since Monday.  For starters, I now have a first grader.  Oh, what a change.  Monday night was full of nerves and excitement.  As Miss A said her bedtime prayers she prayed that she would be brave the next day and that she wouldn't miss me.  She felt a little hesitant Tuesday morning, but came home with stories to tell about how great her day was.
Today when I picked her up it was a different story.  At lunch an older student told her the first grade lunch was over and she needed to go to recess, so she hurried and cleaned up her things, went to recess, and started to cry.  She didn't get to finish eating and was starving all afternoon (and after she asked her teacher she learned that lunch wasn't really over).  Then she noticed I had tennis shoes on when she got home (not the norm for my summer footwear), and when she heard I'd gone on a walk this morning without her, she lost it all over again.  Out came the story about lunch time along with her worries that she doesn't get to spend time with me anymore and she really just wants to stay home and she doesn't like eating lunch at school and on and on.
Change is good, but sometimes change is hard.  We're definitely adjusting to our new norm over here.  De-man is having his own adjustment period without his best friend at home all day, and today it manifested itself as he became a bully to his friends and brother.  No wonder it feels like it's been a long week!  I'm off to bed- I need to be well-rested to be the mom I need to be right now.

Hope to be back soon with more positive 1st grade news and other things to share!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Work Hard- Beat Entitlement





super awesome dirt poster found via

Tomorrow Miss A goes back to school.  It has me thinking today, wondering if I've given her some of the life lessons she needs to succeed and to be happy (not that my job is by any means done in that department).  One of the biggest lessons I want her to have regarding her education, and really any pursuit, is the ability and desire to work hard.  I've started diving into my pre-press copy of The Entitlement Trap, and I'm excited for the lessons to be learned in this book.  I think it really has some great ideas about patterns I can create to help instill that work ethic in my children that I want them to have.

I've thought about this a lot lately as I've watched several teens around me prepare to go to college this year.  Some have worked and saved, and are excited to move out and welcome the world, ready to work their way through school and make education a priority.  And then there are others who are staying at home and wondering just how much their parents or grandparents are going to contribute to pay for their schooling.  They haven't worked or saved, but they claim college is something that is important to them.  I worked my way through school with some scholarships and grants to help some, and I have strong feelings about my education, I think in part because I really felt like I earned it.  The husband worked during school but was also helped through school by his parents, and he wants to do the same for our children.  I know this is an area we'll have to compromise on, but I don't want to just hand my kids an education because I think it's much easier to take for granted- I want them to have to sweat a little for the things that they value.  There is a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in a job well done and a prize well-earned.

The Eyre's have dubbed today National Entitlement Awareness Day, and I really would encourage you to pre-order the book for several reasons:
1.  Pre-ordering is cheaper (about $12 compared to $18 when the book releases) and you know how I love a good deal.
2.  Pre-ordering will get you a recording from the Values Parenting series on honesty to share with your kids (just send in your invoice and it's e-mailed right to you- couldn't be easier).
3.  If you send a copy of your invoice after you pre-order, you'll be entered to win some pretty amazing prizes like travel expenses plus conference fees for the upcoming Power of Moms retreat, or dinner with the Eyre's to name a few.  

If you need some suggestions on teaching your children to work, if you need to change things in your own home, or if you want to join the movement to combat entitlement, this is the book for you.

This is not a sponsored post.  I did receive a copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own.  I won't share anything that I don't support or believe in!

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So far today I have enjoyed a back to school breakfast bash that ended up lingering through the morning, we've turned on the sprinklers, and we're off to back-to-school night tonight to find out our teacher assignment and enjoy a family night together.  Be back soon - you know I won't survive the first day of school without documenting it.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Thoughts

gorgeous print from The Wheatfield- I'd love for my whole house to feel like her art

This is it- Friday, the end of another week.  A much harder week than I had hoped for, but hard or easy it's the end.
This is it- the last weekend before school starts.
This is it- a time to finalize preparations and get ourselves organized.
This is it- the perfect opportunity for my list-loving self to make a plethora of lists, and all for good reasons.
This is it- my last chance to be the fun and spontaneous mom before summer ends- we'll see if I can rise to the occasion.
This is it- a fairly blank weekend to soak up the goodness in life.
This is it- the last few days of having my 6 year old by my side all day everyday.
This is it- the beginning of the next phase of my life.  I'm not just a toddler mom anymore.  I'll have a child at school all day.  And before I know it, I'll have two at school all day.   Cliche, but it goes way too fast.
This is it- a chance to regain perspective and enjoy the here and now.

This is it- enjoy the weekend!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tomorrow will be better



pictures from Melissa- yes, I'm still posting these, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon


Today was a doozy.  Not the way I wanted to spend the last week of summer break.  My legs are literally covered in mosquito bites (I lost count around 70), and I think my personal discomfort spilled over, zapping me of patience and kindness and fun (and really, when I'm alternating between rubbing alcohol, oatmeal baths, hairspray, and hydrocortisone all over my legs, am I still supposed to be fun?).  I held up pretty well until the afternoon, making it through swimming lessons and laundry and haircuts.  But this afternoon the exhaustion from not sleeping the night before due to scratching coupled with the disobedience and sassiness of tired kids (and throw in a fussy one year old for good measure) pushed me over the edge.  The late afternoon brought tears from all of us, and I am left looking back on the day with regrets.  The biggest sting came from the words of my girl- a retort that maybe I shouldn't have had kids if I was so rude to them.  Ouch.  My goal for tomorrow is to be happy, kind, and gentle.  My children are among my greatest blessings, and I want them to know it- to feel it from me.  Looking at the above pictures of their sweet faces is motivation.  I need to get the rest of our week back on track.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Validation: take two

love this art (and the post) from the always inspiring Brave Girls Club 

Remember quite recently when I needed some validation?   Well, today I was reminded about the kind of validation I really need.

There are a few people in my life that I look to as a measure of how I'm doing.  Some are more casual acquaintances, some are close friends.  I often feel if these individuals have a positive opinion of my pursuits, then I'm on the right track.  I guess they're a sort of personal barometer, if you will.  

I recently embarked on something I felt very prompted to do, a large undertaking that was motivated by answers to prayer.  I was so excited about this new course, until some of those people that I look to for approval left me feeling a little deflated.

It's been on my mind all day.  My questions at the beginning of the day centered around how could these people not see the goodness in what I was trying to accomplish?  As the day wore on my questions focused on how I could convince them of what I knew to be right.   Tonight I was doing the dishes in a quiet house and my answer came.  I realized that I was guilty of the same errors of the Pharisees found in John 12: 43, "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." My question instead became, how had I let the opinions of others have such a great influence on me instead of worrying about the opinion of my Heavenly Father?

Tonight I've been humbled.  And I'm trying to let go of my concerns about what others think.  There are amazing people around me, and I think it's still important to associate with those who help me improve and become better.  But it's unfair to me and to them to turn them into barometers for my life.  There is only One who knows if I'm on the right path and can help to correct my course if I seek His confirmation about my path.  I'm embarrassed that I questioned the course He set for me by looking for the approval of others.  I've realized that really, He gives me all the validation I need if I seek for it.

I'm so glad that answers come, even when I'm just doing the dishes.

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Interesting to me that this post I read at the beginning of the day is along the same lines- maybe I got my answer first thing this morning and just didn't know it yet!
This talk also gave me much food for thought on the subject.

How do you stay focused on the opinions that matter most?

  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Planning the week

print via pinterest via this shop


Ah, Sunday night.  The fantastic time when I soak up what's left of the weekend, reflect on the accomplishments of the past two days (even if the accomplishment was just to relax), think about the goodness of Sundays and the lessons learned at church, and gather my bearings for the upcoming week.

This weekend was non-stop.  My mom has been in town, so we've been spending time with her.  I ran approximately 53 errands.  We launched a huge scripture reading challenge in Primary today, so much of the weekend was spent getting ready for it (and by much of the weekend I mean hours of preparation- but hopefully so worth it!).  The deck project was completed and I found the deal of the century on a new table and chairs, so we've been trying to spend time in our new little outdoor space.

I'm staring down the barrel of another potentially jam-packed week.  Tomorrow starts another session of swimming lessons.  Tomorrow starts the last week before the start of school.  I find myself torn between two approaches to this last week.  Do I fill it to the gills with the fun I want to have before summer is gone, making every last memory?  Or do I soak up the last few days that can be potentially lazy?  I'm hoping to throw our second annual back to school party (hence making it an annual thing).  I have a desire to get back on schedule so we're ready for the early bedtimes and early wake-ups next week.  I think while I'm waffling on the busy week or the lazy week, the ultimate goal, and often the hardest for me, is to be present.

I want to remember the way Miss A can't seem to put a book down and then tells me excitedly all about the plot.  I want to remember the way de-Man asked for popsicles 200 times a day and always had the perfect one-liner to smooth over his mischief.  I want to listen to the 3 or 4 new words a day that the muffin is coming up with and the way he sings to himself while he plays.  I want to cuddle them around me and read.  I want to take them to the park.  I want to find time for individual school-shopping dates with the big kids so we can get a little one-on-one, even if we're just going to buy new socks and a few new t-shirts and an ice cream cone.  I want to find a way to balance my lists of necessary tasks with the lists that my kids make of the things they'd like to do.  But really, I want this week to be about them- my last summer love note to them before schedules and real busy times take over again.  Wish me luck.

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Which would you choose- a pack it full of fun week or enjoy the lazy days week?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hospitable

gorgeous print via

A few years ago I made the goal to entertain every month that year, and I've pretty well kept it up since then.  I love having friends over and planning get-togethers.  The problem is that I often get so caught up in the getting ready that my stress level escalates and by the time I'm supposed to be enjoying my company, I'm exhausted.  It's gotten better as time has gone on, but I've also learned to let some things go.

Yesterday we had an impromptu play-date, and I hadn't had time to give the house a good once-over before the guests arrived because we got to my house at the same time.  The kids had fun spending time on the swing set and playing with toys.  My friend and I had a good visit.  I fed the kids fast quesadillas and pulled out (slightly wilted) leftover salad for lunch.  Thinking back, I'm embarrassed that I served my guest my leftovers, but it was what I was planning to eat for lunch.  I think (at least I hope) that my friends didn't go home disgusted by my dirty floors and leftovers lunch, but instead happy after fun chatting and kids playing.

Last night a friend from high school and her husband came over and stayed the night en route to the Grand Canyon.  I decided to remedy the dirty floors from earlier in the day, so since my efforts were spent cleaning I opted for an easy pizza dinner.  This morning I realized I forgot to get out the guest towels last night (they found them just fine on their own) and I forgot to hang the shower curtain liner (the fabric curtain is slightly damp).  I enjoyed catching up last night and chatting over waffles this morning, and I'm hopeful their memories will be focused on our time together instead of on soggy shower curtains and looking for towels. 

I've come to realize over the years that having friends over is about the people.  If I waited until my house was perfectly decorated, I'd never have guests.  If I made it a pre-requisite that every surface sparkle before friends could come over, they would never come.  If 10-course meals needed to be planned before having a dinner party, I'd never have them.  But I have never left a gathering of friends talking about the amount of dust or the food that could have better complimented the meal.  When I go to a friend's, I'm always happy in the being together, and I hope I've created that same experience for the friends that come to my home (dust be darned!).  

we just look so welcoming, right?  photo by Melissa


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plans

quote via

Yesterday I caught up with an old friend.  We hadn't talked for a couple of years, but she's the kind of friend that I can go for ages without talking to and pick back up where we left off.  She's my oldest friend- we've known each other since we were babies, and there is something so comfortable about talking to someone who knows your whole story.

We've both been through changes since we last talked.  She's moved from the state we grew up in, and she's fallen in love.  I've added another kid to the mix since our last conversation and been through the experience caring for my dad.  We both have busy church responsibilities and share the same faith that guides our lives.  So many things are dissimilar, yet our lives still feel much the same to me.

As we caught up she commented along the lines that her life is so different than what she had planned, but that it is still good and probably even better than what she could have planned for herself.  This is something I know to be true, and I have been thinking about it ever since.  I know that there is One who has a plan for each of us.  Many times it's not the plan we would have chosen for ourselves.  His plan pushes us to our limits, stretches us beyond what we think we're capable of, and forces us to grow.  His plan has perfect timing, although we usually don't understand it until we're looking back.  His plan brings the right people to our lives at the right times.  His plan is full of opposition, but the joys and sorrows all have a purpose.  When I look back at the path my life has taken, I see Him at every turn, in every detail.  I have faith in His plan.  His plan helps us to become.  I'm grateful for the reminder from a dear friend that His plan is perfect, better than what we could plan for ourselves.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More thoughts on Entitlement: A Guest Post by Linda and Richard Eyre


I'm so excited to have Linda and Richard Eyre with us today!  They're in the big push before the release of The Entitlement Trap, and I'm happy to support them in getting the word out about this important book.  Although I am participating on the advisory board for this book, this is not a compensated post.

How Parents can Succeed where America is Failing
By Linda and Richard Eyre

Do you find yourself getting a little tired of all the financial nonsense?  Of America getting its credit rating downgraded? Of the erratic stock market, Of the will-it-ever-be-over debt ceiling debate?  Of the petty haggling and positioning of politicians?  And of the deficit-spending, multi-trillion dollar debt, and the let-future-generations-pay-for-it mentality? Of the uncertainty and fear that surrounds it all?

Why don’t we get it that the real problem is not the debt ceiling, it is the debt itself!  It’s spending money we don’t have.  It’s the same problem as what individuals have with credit card debt!

America’s “raising our debt ceiling so we can pay for our current obligations” is a little ridiculous isn’t it?  To borrow more and more so we can pay the interest on our ever growing debt---does that make any kind of sense?

Isn’t it analogous to a family that goes into their bank and asks “Could you just raise our credit limit on our cards so that we can pay the interest on our credit card debt?”  A good bank would say “no, why should we let you increase your debt to pay interest on the debt you already have? That would just exacerbate your problem.”  The bank might work with the family to help them budget and meet their payments, but if that proved impossible, they would not bail the family out or offer them a stimulus package.  They might just have to let the family resort to bankruptcy because, you see, that family is not “too big to fail.”

Our current congress and this administration is certainly not a good bank.  Instead of forcing America to pay down our debts and live within our means, they seem to think that the way out of debt is to borrow more.  They think it is better to print more money than to stop run-away spending and balance the budget.  Our whole country, even its news institutions, is just way too oriented to spending and to borrowing.  As I am writing this column the commentator on CNN is bemoaning the recently reported statistic that Americans are, because of the economic uncertainties, beginning to save more.  “So this will really bring down the economy” the commentator says, “People don’t have enough confidence to go out and spend.  The problem with more saving is that it will bring about less spending and therefore less money being lent and less business expansion and slower growth.”

What has gone wrong with our thinking in America? When did we decide to build our whole economy on debt?  How have we let ourselves fall into this entitlement trap where we think we should have everything we want, right now, without waiting; and where our country outspends its revenue every year and inevitably ends up leaving the debt to our children to pay?

And here is the more personal question: Is the same kind of debt-oriented thinking affecting our most basic institution of the family?  Of our individual homes? Of our household finances?

When we ask young people how much their cars cost, they don’t know.  They just know how much their monthly payments are.  They know what the minimum payment amount is on their credit cards, but they don’t pay much attention to the total credit card debt they have accumulated.  They are more worried about a low credit score than about a low (or negative) bank balance. A recent study showed that American thirty-somethings think that personal debt is a status symbol.  The bottom line is that they have developed the habit of living on and thinking in terms of credit! Of spending before they earn.  Of instant gratification.  Of being governed by their wants rather than their needs.

The forgotten alternative of actually waiting for something, of saving, of delayed gratification, of putting away a little until it accumulates to the level where they could buy something without credit has not occurred to them!  It is well depicted in a Saturday Night Live parody where Steve Martin plays a husband in a skit, sitting down with his wife to try to tackle their debt problem.  Someone shows him a book called “Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford.” Martin is totally confused “But what if you want it but just don’t have the money?” The idea of not buying something when you really want it seems completely foreign, almost un-American to him. 

The skit is funny, but what is not very funny at all is that we have a whole generation of spend-first-pay-later parents who are indulgently raising kids who develop a total entitlement attitude which destroys everything from their motivation to their gratitude. We are laying little, personal entitlement traps for our own kids!

So is it possible for your family to succeed where America is failing?  Yes!  Absolutely!  But you have to avoid a lot of the things the government is doing and do many of the things the government is not doing.  Don’t give kids so much money and toys.  Make them earn their spending money.  Teach them budgeting and savings.  Don’t bail them out when they run out of money. Set up a family bank where they can save part of the money they earn.  Have a system where they can, if they are responsible and accountable, earn enough to buy their own “stuff” rather than asking you for it. Make them work and save and wait for things that they think they want right now.

Spring the entitlement trap and get it out of your house.  And enjoy the purging process! Elementary and Middle school age kids are flattered by responsibility and will be complimented by the fact that you think them capable of earning their own money and making their own purchases and choices.

And, come to think about it, maybe that is how we will save America—one family at a time!



The Eyres’ next book is THE ENTITLEMENT TRAP*: How to rescue your child with a new family system of choosing, earning, and Ownership.  Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times #1 bestselling authors who lecture throughout the world on family related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com
*The Entitlement Trap can now be preordered. See details at www.valuesparenting.com

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Such timely thoughts considering the current political/economic scene!  Thanks to the Eyres for sharing with us today.  
I'll be back soon with more summer fun!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend Review


The weekend was full, but somehow still managed to feel relaxing.  We crammed in appointments (dentist for me, vitals for the husband and I for new life insurance), went to two birthday parties, had a busy Sunday full of church and meetings, and kind neighbors came over to help the husband work on a covering for our deck.  The frame is almost finished and the project will probably be done next weekend.  It's an exciting change, especially because the back of our house gets the west sun all afternoon, so this should help cool things down considerably.


I think the weekend highlight was a quick trip to the mountains for a picnic. Our destination on this trip was Cascade Springs and it's the perfect destination with kids- easy trails, a fun scavenger hunt from the park ranger (that was a first on this trip, but the kids loved it), stroller friendly (mostly), and not too long. Oh, and did I mention beautiful?  When I need to recharge, the mountains are one of my favorite spots.  Hoping we'll have a few more hikes before summer ends.

How was your weekend?  Any fun plans for these last weeks of summer?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just What I Needed

latest favorite picture of Miss A from our family pictures taken by the talented Melissa (and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of these soon because I'm swooning over them!)

There are times when I will admit that I want validation in life.  As far as the 5 love languages go, I am definitely a words of affirmation kind of person, and I need to hear every so often that I'm doing a good job.  I know it may be a lack of maturity or a sign of weakness, but still it is something that kind of makes me tick.   I've been in one of those periods lately just feeling like I needed a little validation, and today it came.

The kids finished their session of swimming lessons today.  It got progressively better with the boy crying 45 minutes the first day, 20 minutes the second day, 2 minutes yesterday, and praises be today was tear free.  Miss A was also a ball of nerves with a few tears yesterday regarding a certain diving board, but besides that she held it together and became more comfortable as the week went on.  I was happy with their progress and excited when they both said they want to continue lessons- swimming lesson success!

Because swimming lessons were over, today was the day for a trip to Target to pick out a small reward.  The Entitlement Trap has been on my mind, so at the start of the week I set out the guidelines that would be required for them to earn the treat of their choosing (I'm more and more excited for the book to come out so I can see if my methods are really on track).  They had to participate and try everything asked of them this week.  Because they were both going into swimming with a lot of fear, we also discussed replacing their fears with faith, and they both overcame fears and tried hard everyday. I think it was a reward well-earned, and I could tell that they were proud of themselves and the work they'd done this week. 

And so we were off to Target to spend an eternity choosing the perfect prize within their small price range.  Polly Pockets were perused, Barbies were browsed, Zhu-zhu pets were examined and Legos were longed for.  Legos and Barbies won, and we continued to browse the end-caps for any other clearance scores on our way to the registers.  We did a quick trip through the girls clothing section to see if there were any back-to-school necessities, and Miss A was happy to check out the wares.

She pointed out a shirt that she was instantly disgusted by.  "Mom, this shirt says 'Born to Shop,' but that is wrong.  We're not born to shop, we're born to get a body and have a family.  Even though it is cute and modest, it does not say a nice thing.  I don't like it."

Thoughts from my last post have still been heavy on my mind, and I so appreciated this gift from Miss A letting me know that she is getting the messages I'm hoping for and that at least in that aspect of parenting, I'm on the right track.  It was also the perfect reminder of the validation that I really desire most in life.  It's nice to receive praise from others, but the messages from my children that reaffirm my efforts as a mother are most treasured.  They are hard to come by.  Parenting is not a pursuit where praise occurs frequently.  I think the moments when we can see our efforts working are a gift from above, a divine reassurance in our parenting.  And today, it was just what I needed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Be You

poster from the NOW foundation, another organization helping women love their body

As the mother of a girl, I often worry for what may come her way in the future.  Not that I don't worry about my boys, but I know that as a mother to a daughter it is largely up to me to model for her what a woman should be.  I want to teach her about being feminine and embracing the goodness that comes in being a woman.  I want to shield her from becoming over-sexualized and thinking that her role as a woman is to be an object.  I want to nurture her talents and give her room to express herself while at the same time teaching her that much of her fulfillment in life will come from her divine role to be a mother someday.  

There are things I look back on and think that I'm doing it all wrong.  Dressing a girl can be fun, and I enjoy shopping with Miss A and finding a good deal together.  But I worry that the fun I have shopping with her has sent the wrong message- that her clothes are important (because as long as they're clean and modest, they're really not important) and that she needs to look cute (because as long as she is taking care of herself and carrying herself appropriately, her physical appearance doesn't matter).  

one of the new Beauty Redefined billboards found throughout Utah
A few things I've come across recently have helped me to focus more on what I really want to teach Miss A.  Have you heard of Beauty Redefined?  I love everything about this movement.  Two sisters have spent their time and college careers researching body image and media and have put together an amazing campaign to help girls and women take back beauty instead of letting society dictate what "beautiful" is.  I love that they're fighting against these cultural norms for the betterment of society.  I'll admit this is the kind of project that I would be intimidated to take on, thinking my voice wouldn't be heard and nothing would ever change.  As I've watched their movement grow, I've realized my attitudes need to change and that small efforts can multiply to make a great difference.  I would love to hear them speak some time at one of their many presentations- I think this is a message that every girl and woman needs to hear.  

This article via A Cup of Jo also has me rethinking things on how to talk to girls.  The premise is that instead of complimenting girls on their looks, we should try to focus on discussing ideas and books with them.  Joanna shares her own experience implementing this idea, and I was totally inspired to work on the same thing.  It is natural to compliment looks first, and it's something I'm hoping to change as I compliment those around me.  As I've taken time to think about it, I realized I'd much rather be acknowledged or validated for my personality or thoughts than for a pair of cute shoes or a good hair day (although compliments of any kind are never unwelcome).  

I love reading all of these bits and pieces and hoping that maybe, just maybe, society is ready for a change.  

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So many thoughts on this subject, I may return to it soon.
How do you help instill value and confidence in your daughters? Yourself?
What can you do to help take back beauty?



Monday, August 1, 2011

August

print via sissyprint, a new to me site that has me swooning!

Today I woke up feeling a little down.  I have three weeks of summer left with my kids that are sure to pass way too fast.  Last night I sat down with the calendar for August and started filling in various events on certain days, and I realized how this month is already filling up.  The calendar filling was after I'd spent some time on my porch and felt down right cold at some points thanks to a summer storm and a strong breeze.  And cold at the end of July is just not the way I want to feel- fall already seems to be in the air thanks to the monsoon season we've had lately.
This morning we start swimming lessons and I'm already giving pep talks to an anxious 4 year old who is not wanting to participate.  I'm hoping he can overcome his fears this morning, but his past history doesn't point to a favorable outcome.  Cross your fingers for me.
I think the only cure for today is to look to serve those around me to get over my August blues.  After swimming lessons that is my plan.

I can't bring myself to say Happy August.
Instead, Happy Monday.


Promise to be back soon with a better attitude and more to share.