Monday, March 29, 2010

Preaching What You Practice

We all remember that one time we are our shopping with our kids focusing on what to buy for dinner when all of a sudden horror and embarrassment strike. Our child notices a shopper who might be heavier or taller or darker or lighter then most and they say so, LOUD. They might notice someone in a wheel chair or someone with a mohawk and want to know WHY. They see them as different and their innocence allows them to question that instead of immediately turning away. Usually we shush them and whisper a few choice words about God's fabric being made up of all different kids of people or whatever crapola we can think of at the moment then walk away as quickly as possible. We might take the time later to talk about how differences are great and how they make the world go around. If the child doesn't bring it up again we sigh with great relief that we don't have to face discussing things that make us uncomfortable. What we want them to believe is that we embrace diversity and they should too. The real problem is that we all talk the talk (because we know we should) but forget to walk the walk. We want sameness. We crave it actually. We end up surrounding ourselves with people just like us. We take the easy route. Oh so easy but also bland. The idea of things or people different then us is scary. Of course scary doesn't have to equal bad. Scary can be inspiring and educational. Knowing new and different kinds of people can be the way to become a better person yourself. More importantly immersing yourself in diversity makes it less scary and more approachable for your child. It not only opens lots of doors in life but windows too.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fab Five Friday

We all know things are not the most important thing in life. Lets face it though there are some tangible things out there that you just fall in love with....some things that make you happy to get up in the morning. Things that make life a little easier. I am going to list the fabulous five things that have helped me through this spring break-while-my-husband-was-traveling week.

1) Wendy's new mid-sized pecan apple salad. It is just the right mix of lettuce, apples, candied pecans and cheese. Just the right mix of yum. It is so helpful when my husband is out of town and the kids want a kids meal. I don't have to give in to fries and a burger yet I still feel like I am getting a treat!

2) My new Saucony running shoes. So cushiony and soft that I feel like I am running on air. They are bright and shiny new and ready to hit the pavement for a few hundred miles. They make it easier to get up in the early morning dark and remind me that I have a few big runs coming soon.

3) Cadbury mini eggs. The pretty pastel colors remind me of spring even though we have a few inches of new snow on the ground. A handful here and there give my mind a little boost along with my taste buds. They remind me Easter is around the corner. They are my favorite reason for March to arrive!

4) Exact eyelights Covergirl mascara. Just a little swipe of this stuff makes me feel more like a model and less like a soccer mom. It has a hint of color and really lengthens my lashes. Easy and the best part is it is under 10 bucks.
5) My Kohl's 30% off coupon. Now we all know Kohl's likes to have sales. They always have sales and I refuse to purchase anything from there unless I have a coupon of some kind. Imagine my surprise when i actually got the coveted 30% your entire purchase in the mail! The girls and I took a little field trip there and had a fun time browsing and shopping PLUS we used it as a math lesson. Figuring out 30% off on every item we bought :) I also LOVE sharing the coupon with as many friends and family as I can so they can get a bargain too!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Good Friend is Cheaper then Therapy

Sometimes things happen that make you stop dead in your tracks and sit for a while. Life is going at full speed with plans and schedules coming out the wazoo and then it happens. A blinding, numbing thing that can't be swept away or told to hold on a minute. Something that is meant to make you breathe a little slower, think a little harder and love a little more. Even as your face is still stinging from the slap life has given you and you are trying to sort out how to deal with the effects you begin to realize who is in your corner.
Family is of course there to give love and support but often they are so effected by the crisis themselves they can't pull you out of the water before you go under. Friends can be just the pillar you need to make it through. They provide a different level of communication and support then family. Lets face it a true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked. They aren't afraid to tell you things you don't want to tell yourself but that you need to hear. On the other hand if you just sit together in silence it can be one of the best, most supportive conversations you ever have with anyone. No judgement just open ears and a water proof shoulder. After all that's what friends are for.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Worst Mom Ever

It is funny how mom's fall from grace around the time kids reach the age of 5. Before then we are the magical being who can do no wrong. Something sinister happens around kindergarten that changes the mom from a queen to an evil witch. That is also the time kids begin to emerge from their needy, dependent baby faces into opinionated, questioning monsters. Mothers that used to receive kisses and hugs for their efforts now receive eye rolls and hair tosses.

Dinner is never right and the chores are too many and too hard. The shirts you wear are too weird and why is your hair so short. Please don't wear those shoes and I might just die of embarrassment if you talk to me at the bus stop. You love my sister more then me and why does she have so many more sprinkles on her cupcake? You should have known I would forget my lunch money and library book and you should have told me to remember them before I left for school.

Apparently I suck. I am choosing to accept this as the circle of life. Maybe someday my kids will remember that I carried them in my own body for nine months and changed their diapers. Maybe they will realize that I still see them as my babies no matter how old they get. Maybe they will have an epiphany on their wedding day. Maybe they will understand when they have kids of their own. Doubtful but maybe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Glue on that Happy Face

I can't decide if I am a complex person or if others are just good at hiding their true selves. For me, no matter how happy people seem there is struggle brewing beneath the surface. As a matter of fact some of the people that smile the widest and laugh the loudest are fighting the most inside. Our lives are all about problem solving things that get thrown our way. No matter how controllable our immediate future seems it can change quickly with the influence of outside forces. We can't control that car speeding at us down the road anymore then we can change the course of the tornado heading toward our town. What we can control is our reaction and ability to find a solution that is the best one for us. Those solutions don't come easily or quickly in most cases and sometimes take trial and error to arrive. No matter how fleeting the moments of joy might be during the journey it is important to try and enjoy every one. By relishing those serene times, no matter how small or far between, it helps to build optimism toward what will be again. Finding it in ourselves to use the challenging times to consider the outcome is also important. Reflection builds endurance and strength to face what is yet to come. Constant smooth sailing is an impossibility on such choppy waters.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Down the Hatch

I am a wine drinker. I like the look of the glasses and the pop of the corks. I enjoy how the flavor melds with certain meals and makes it taste better. I love the clink of of the toasts that you hear during a night out with friends. Wine makes me feel happy. When I say happy I don't mean drunk happy but happy that wine exists. Honestly it took until I was around 30 to feel like I was old enough to drink alcohol. Before that I always felt like a little kid sneaking candy. Then I gradually started sampling wine and teaching my tongue to decipher between two buck chuck and twenty dollar nectar. Becoming a lover of wine takes time and that is OK because lovers of wine are usually people that don't mind investing that time.

In contrast I remember the first time I snuck next to my dad's chair and took a swig from his beer can. I was probably 8 or 9 when I built up the courage to see what mystery sloshed inside that shiny can my dad always popped open and savored through the evening. The same minute the bubbly yellow liquid hit my tongue the bitter smell hit my nose. Both made me cringe and involuntarily open my mouth so the beer dripped down my chin and onto the carpet. Luckily scooting the chair over a few inches hid the stain That one mini sip scared me away from alcohol in a big way. Especially beer. Beer drinkers etched out a certain image in my mind. Men. Big men that obviously had absolutely no taste buds in their mouths. Remember I was 9!

As the years went on and people around me started drinking beer I started wondering if that one time I had tried it was a mirage. Maybe I was missing out on something important
in my life. So I tried beer again. Still underage mind you. I had a few more sips then the first time. Every swallow was excruciating. I tried I really did but I just couldn't hack it. The people around me obviously didn't even notice the flavor after a few cans just the effect. A light bulb moment! Alcohol was not necessarily about the taste! That ah-ha moment was then followed by the usual college parties of experimenting with the effect instead of the taste.

Once real life started and being a grown up with responsibilities began I realized I had come full circle in my alcohol journey. Taste really is what is important. I don't enjoy wasting hard earned money on a vats of beer or wine. I would prefer to have less but enjoy it more. Sometimes quality is better then quantity in life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


The only time I ever really spanked any of my kids was when there was an issue of danger involved. I remember once, as a toddler, one of them slipped from my grasp and ran in a parking lot squealing and laughing. She ran toward our parked car in the middle of traffic. I was running behind holding a squirming baby yelling desperately for her to stop. Goosebumps popped up on my arms as cars screeched to a halt to avoid pounding in to her. My fear was palpable yet she continued to smile and run from me. She had no idea of the danger she was in or the terror I felt. She was invincible in her own eyes. No realization of the fragility of life.
Similarly I remember being a teenager and taking risks that were big. Thinking that nothing bad could happen to me. Seat belts? Why? I would be OK no matter what.
Now I see that the only thing that can make you see that life is not invincible is life itself. Experiencing the tragedies and hardships of life are the best teachers out there. Seeing things with your own eyes tends to ingrain fear and reserve into your thinking. Realizing there are no super hero's out there who can protect you from the evils of the world does so much to melt away the naivety we all possess as children. The real problem that comes with realizing the reality of our own mortality though is that we become jaded and weary. Sometimes willing to accept whatever is coming without any fight or any joy. At least as a child we could find the joy in life with no fear. Sometimes growing up sucks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From the Other Side

When I was in college I switched majors over and over again....and even transferred colleges three times. I had a hard time pinning down what my passion was. What I felt drawn to do as my profession. I sort of fell into the major of education and more specifically special education. I had a lot of credits that fit into the major and I liked the schedule of being a teacher so I figured I would go for it. I didn't realize all I would learn from the field work I did in college or those few years as a teacher. I saw so many kids who had challenges and unique ways of learning. No matter how different those kids were they all wanted the same basic things as all kids do. They wanted to be able to find a way to make everyone proud of them, especially their parents. They wanted to accomplish something. Whether that something was algebra or writing their name. As a teacher the hardest part of my job was making the parents understand. To make them cheer every accomplishment as a success no matter how small. To help them realize that every child learns in their own way and at their own pace. I remember wanting to scream at the parents who couldn't take off their rose colored glasses long enough to see the greatness in their child. I couldn't understand why those parents didn't want to see their child do well even if it meant lowering expectations and possibly making their child seem different. The parents were by far the hardest part of teaching for me. I could not understand.
Time really does change everything. Now almost 12 years later I have come full circle. I do understand. I am no longer the teacher but the parent. I am on the other side of the desk. I am facing the hard realization that learning is pliable. It is based on more then just a curriculum or a lesson plan. Not every kid fits the mold that society has set up for them. Some need an alternative way to find their success. My own words keep echoing in my head from all those years ago. I feel the frustration of giving up an ideal to accept something new. My experience is telling me that new can be scary but it can also be eye opening and extraordinary.