To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.

#sorrynotsorry. 

 

(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


Let’s talk about feelings. Really.

NathaliesNotesonFeelings

 

In this week’s What’s Working edition (for archives click here) I’m focusing on a few things I do to help foster conversations about feelings with my boys.

Talking about feelings: everybody’s favorite thing! Wait. No.

My research shows people think about them way more than we talk about them. And we also want our kids to talk about them even though, ahem, we do not.

So … be warned these activities require your participation, patience and leadership. This isn’t just for parents, either. This is for people who want to foster good conversations and trust with children to pave the way for long-term engagement.

Here are a few things that work for me:

Take a Bite:

So easy it’s shocking. It’s fun to start with something they don’t like so they KNOW they have a choice NOT to take a bite.

Kids + choices* = good thing.

*Offer only choices you can live with, i.e. do you really care if she takes a big or small bite? Do you really care if it takes twenty minutes instead of ten to eat dinner? Do you really care if he eats his peas before his potatoes?

Here’s how to play:

Look around the table and in an enthusiastic voice (kids are good lie detectors so this can’t be through gritted teeth) ask “Who wants to play ‘take a bite?’” Then as they look at you just start the game.

“It’s like this … take a bite if you like spiders.” (Make sure you play too, so if you don’t like spiders, don’t take one.)

“Okay … take a bite if you like ice cream.”

Take a bite if you like swimming.

Take a bite if you like Hello Kitty.

Take a bite if you like Minecraft.

Super easy. Watch them get through a bowl of dinner while giggling at each other.

 This works because you're spending precious time talking about little things that matter to them. You are showing them you pay attention, that you care and that you also can still be surprised by them. And they by you. 

Highlight/Lowlight:

Working from oldest to youngest, work your way around the table to share a highlight and a low point from the day. It’s important to make it just one that comes to mind or stands out at the moment because trying to think of The Best Part or The Worst Part of a day can paralyze the conversation as children (and adults!) try to come up with The Right Answer.

Really, it’s just a conversation starter but if you haven’t played this before you might be surprised at the little, interesting things that come up. To tell you the truth, I learn even more about my husband’s day-to-day life during these rounds of highlight/lowlight than I do the boys’.

The key to this game working is to be willing to be open and honest yourself. Note: this would not be a good time to mention passive aggressive digs. For example, my true lowlight was an exchange with my spouse but the point of this exercise is to build and strengthen relationships and not create awkward silence.

So if I were playing right this minute my turn would go like this:

“My highlights so far today are getting an extra morning snuggle with Jake and that Sam made his breakfast and did his dishes. My lowlight so far is feeling nervous about a doctor’s appointment.”

Sometimes there is follow up and questions but usually we just keep going around the table – kind of like if you’ve ever been to a 12-step meeting one of the coolest, weirdest parts is that there is an open sharing time with no cross-talk.  That means no one one-ups you, no one minimizes you, no one tries to talk you out of how you feel, no one advises you:  they just listen. They just hear you. It’s a beautiful gift.

 Talking Time:

This is a part of our bedtime routine. We snuggle the boys and and with the lights out we have talking time. Sometimes they pick a theme, like an upcoming trip or holiday, sometimes it’s about random parts of the day. Sometimes it’s big stuff: how old will I be when I die? (Luckily that was one time Matt was doing it and he answered perfectly: at the very end of your life.)

Something about the dark and safety of a snuggle is disarming. Something about knowing they have this time with you to count on paves the way to good conversations.

Last night was a tough one because Sam wanted to debrief on something he observed that falls into the category of “adult things.” I let him tell me what he thought, how he felt about it and validated his feelings. It is okay to love someone and be sad about something they do or say. It is okay to be mad, it is okay to be confused. And someday we will talk more about the details, I promise. Your dad and I love you and your brother more than anyone in the world, no matter what. And then I stopped talking. Super important part right there to make room for whatever they have to say. Or just to ponder in silence.

After a few minutes he said, “Mama? Promise to tell me the truth? I promise not to be hurt or mad.”

Gah! Not. Ready. Glad it’s dark. Just buy time until we figure things out…. “Yes. I promise.”

“Is Santa real?”

Oh. That was even harder than the one I was bracing for. That’ll have to be it’s own post entirely. I told him the truth. No spoilers here though just in case. And by the truth I mean I answered specific questions and concluded with “You can believe for as long as you want.”

“Okay, thank you.”

But usually things aren’t quite as deep. But the point of spending time in the shallow end is so we can handle the deep. You got this.

As far as how long to do this … it’s good to set a fairly consistent window of time so they know how much time they have. I usually start wrapping up with a back scratch or some tapping so they can relax into sleeping through the whole night. (I can dream, right?)

If you find this post helpful, I’d love for you to share it with your people. This is a topic I’m passionate about and I’d love to hear your experiences if you already do these, or after you try a few!

And … a feeling-free tip:

Summer Fun Hack:

Pour leftover juice/shakes/water with berries into these cute popsicle molds. Freeze.

Send them outside to eat them.

Everyone who brings the container back can have one tomorrow.

(I found that lids attached are clutch.) *

 

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.

*Affiliate disclaimer: I tend to keep Nathalie’s Notes ad-free, you’re welcome! Though I sometimes promote products I whole-heartedly endorse. If I am ever paid to say so, I will disclose that. Not just ‘cause it’s the law. I get a few pennies when people shop on Amazon through my links/store. Thanks for your support!

(If you’re buying books please consider ordering through your local, independent bookstore! A few of my favorites: Chapters in Newberg, Third Street Books in McMinnville, Cloud and Leaf in Manzanita, Book & Game in Walla Walla and Powell’s in Portland.) 

The designer for the cute details in the photo above is Meghan Mullens. Check out her work here: https://www.facebook.com/meghanmullensdesigns.


A day in the life

A day in the life

By NATHALIE HARDY | July, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

When my boys were 3 and 1, I actually took the time to note what, exactly, I did during a typical day.

Of course, this is just a snapshot, as each day has its own rhythm. But I think it makes the point, probably by the time it reaches noon.

I haven’t made the time to do a similar exercise since, and some of the details have changed. But I’m basically still on the same merry-go-round of mess, clean up and repeat. So, for those who asked, here is a sample day in the life of this stay-at-home mom:

Between 5 and 7:30 in the morning: Wake up to sounds of my husband trying to be quiet. Marvel that my children slept through the night and pray for another hour of quiet before the party starts. Write, prep breakfast, put in a load of laundry and empty dishwasher as quietly as possible. 

Head back upstairs, where Sam finds me stretching in my room. Work in a little yoga with him before his brother wakes.

Sam is the loudest little yogi ever, so Jake is up before long and hits the ground running. Then he falls, hitting his knee on an unidentified object. I don’t know what happened, since I was being so negligent as to pay the bathroom a momentary visit.

7:45 a.m. Bring some first-aid stuff upstairs to deal with the scrape. Sam insists his brother wants a boo-boo pack and hurries downstairs to get it. On the way, he falls, too. So there we are, the three of us on the stairs, two-thirds of us in tears.

I suggest we start the day over. We get dressed and come down for breakfast.

8:05 a.m. Notice the box of Band-Aids is suspiciously empty. Find them stuck all over Sam’s door. Scrape them off as he explains he was “just decorating.”

8:10 a.m. Notice the Neosporin cap is missing. Spend the next 15 minutes hunting for it before Jake finds it and nearly chokes to death.

Change Jake’s diaper, but not quickly enough. In the 12 elapsed seconds, he manages to pee all over his beloved stuffed Zebra. Lucky I have a spare.

8:25 a.m. The water I’d set to boil for our oatmeal has evaporated. I switch my sights to almond butter toast with honey.

8:20-8:30 a.m. Have to manage Sam’s meltdown over not being allowed to watch “Bob the Builder.”

8:32 a.m. Breakfast on the table. Bags packed the night before await, so we can be on time today.

Except I didn’t read Sam’s mind, thus “messed up” his toast.

8:33 a.m. Have to manage another meltdown because I cut Sam’s toast into rectangles instead of his “favorite shape, triangles.” FYI: Yesterday, the request was for rectangles.

Jake, on the other hand, loves toast. He doesn’t care about the shape. Either way, he thinks it makes a lovely hat.

8:40 a.m. Eat my toast standing up, while combing almond butter out of Jake’s hair.

8:55-9 a.m. Clean up, by which I mean the kids, not the breakfast dishes. On a good day, those get thrown into the sink, and on a bad day, not.

Wrangle kids into shoes and car seats. Catch a whiff of stinky realization that I need to change Jake’s diaper.

Stupidly smell his pants to see if he needs new ones. He does.

9 a.m. Load boys up for day care and proceed to lock myself out. Have to break into the house. Contemplate how I will explain to my husband that I still haven’t gotten around to making a spare key, all while singing “Wheels on the Bus” all the way.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at day care, breathless after carrying 30-pound Jake from the back-40 while trying to keep up with Sam, who can’t wait to play trains. As I sign in, I can’t resist bragging a little about actually arriving at the appointed time — 9:30. Sadly, I’m informed that I had actually signed up for a 9 a.m. drop-off.

9:45 a.m. Determined to work out — and let’s be honest, take a shower all by myself — I head for the gym.

Mission accomplished. Squeeze in workout, shower and some writing time in my remote office, aka the locker room.

A few people have asked me why I go through the trouble of going to the gym, when I could just go for a walk with “one of those kid-pusher things.” For those who don’t know, that would be a stroller.

I suppose it’s possible someone who’s never pushed one with two siblings in it wouldn’t understand that is an exercise in both patience and futility, but not so much it fitness. That’s because you’re always having to stop to give someone his bottle back or pick up the blanket that you just ran over and will now have to wash before bedtime.

11 a.m. Pick up the kids and drop by the “Tractor Park” on the way home to supervise a play and sharing practice. Watch in awe as other parents are able to relax and read as their children fling sand into my kids’ faces.

11:30 a.m. Bribe the kids back to the car with the promise of lunch and an episode of “Caillou.” Yes, even if it’s sunny.

People treat use of television as a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. I’m more of a “most things in moderation” kind of mom. Ad-lib “Wheels on the Bus” all the way home, in order to include all of the “Sweet Pickles” characters.

Since I’m already over my word count, you’ll just have to trust me. The afternoon was a blur of crafty activities, clean up, sharing practice, explaining why it’s not OK to tow each other by the neck, hunting down remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other naps, prepping dinner, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Googling contents of Sam’s giraffe and ideas for how to fix his tail, doing the laundry. The list goes on.

Flash forward to the chaos of the day fading into dinner negotiations, bath time fun and subsequent tsunami zone, then stories, songs, bedtime. I SAID BEDTIME!!!

Then I clock out.

Just kidding, of course.

At bedtime, Jake is crying for Zebra. Oh, did I forget to mention that he decided to toss Zebra in as I was filling the tub, soaking it? Remember this morning, when he peed on the other one and I was glad I had a spare?

Oops. Didn’t get Zebra No. 1 washed and dried in time.

Motherhood is full of dilemmas. Do I give him the zebra that’s soaking wet or the one reeking of pee?

I’ll leave you on that note.

I know there are many things I missed. I’m sure you can help me fill in the blanks. Hopefully, this is enough to demonstrate what a mad-awesome gig this is.


Let their gut be their guide

 Nathalie's Notes:  For the record, the school did notify parents, as required and somehow between the school, the backpack and home I missed this particular memo. I love Sam's school and think the world of his teacher so that was not the point of this story at all.  I've added some emphasis to highlight that in no way  did I intend for the takeaway to be that the school did anything wrong. 

By Nathalie Hardy |Apr 3, 2014 |News-Register

Last month, my son came home from school with a flier from Juliette’s House informing me he’d participated in the agency’s Safe Kids informational program, designed to teach children about abuse prevention.

I know this is a sensitive, difficult subject. But I believe it’s one we must talk about — out loud and often.

Though the school did sent notice to parents that this day was coming, I didn't see it.  So, through no fault of the school, I was a little surprised to be finding out after the fact that my kindergartner had been exposed to this information without me having a chance to prepare.  

Prepare who, my husband wondered when I told him how I felt.

Well, me, of course. Because truthfully, I was more comfortable talking to other people about the (insert the worst adjective ever here) reality of child abuse than I was imagining a day when my son would need to hear candidly that bad things not only happen, but they can happen to him.

I’ve lost sleep with worries of what could happen to him. But I didn’t want him losing any over it.

After looking over the program material, and giving it some thought, I understand now that the truth is, he will lose less sleep if he is confident he can handle situations as they present themselves. And frankly, I will too.

If you asked him what he should do in the event of a fire, he’d say, “stop, drop and roll” and “call 9-1-1.”

But if he was on the first floor when a fire broke out at home, he would tell you he’d get out of the house and head for a neighboring house. That’s because we have discussed a variety of what-if scenarios in a calm way, talking through different circumstances.

So I decided to follow up on the school presentation with a little bit of the same. I gave him some scenarios and asked what he thought he could do to stay safe.

“If someone wants to give you a ride, would you get in?” He shook his head.

“But what if they’re super nice and offer you candy?”

“Well, no, I still wouldn’t, because it might have red dye in it.” Okay, that’s not quite what I expected.

“What if they tell you I’m hurt and you have to go with them?”

“Why would a stranger come for me?” Perfect!

“What if they had a Lego Ninjago set for you?”

Sam paused before answering, “Well, that’s a tough one, Mama. Because I am trying to add to my collection, you know.”

Clearly, some more discussion followed.

You never know what a kid is thinking until you have a conversation like this. So I would encourage anyone who has a kid they love to have a similar one, and sooner rather than later.

Eventually, as I danced around the main point, my husband blurted it out: “Look, buddy, there are some adults who hurt children. On purpose.”

It was heartbreaking to watch my 6-year-old process that reality. We sat at the table quietly as it sank in.

“So who are those people?”

“That’s the problem,” I said. “You can’t tell by looking. We have to use other clues to figure it out.”

Then we talked some about intuition and what it means to let your gut be your guide.

I think children come into the world with keen intuition, and that survival tool is actually scrubbed away over time by mostly well-meaning adults.

So by the time we are adults, many of us ignore little signs of danger, then big, waving red flags, until it’s too late. As a consequence, we get incidents like the one occurring on New Year’s Eve in Sheridan, where a 4-year-old was beaten nearly to death, allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend.

According to police reports, the boy started biting his nails and wetting his bed shortly after his mother moved in with her boyfriend — a police officer, no less. The mother told police bruises started showing up, as well, and her boyfriend refused to let her bathe the child. Her child.

Education and awareness are the key to abuse prevention. After all, you have to learn the signs of abuse before you can look for them and flag them.

Plenty of kids bite their nails and wet their beds for reasons having nothing to do with abuse. However, I’d bet my life the sudden onset of both in this boy’s live were signs he’d come under danger, long before the more obvious ones were missed or dismissed, whichever the case may be.

If that little boy could talk, what would he say? Would anyone listen?

I ask because in 2012, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in this country, and 1,640 of them died from it, according to the National Children’s Alliance.

We need to be listening. We need to be talking about this, even when we’d prefer to pretend it can’t happen to the kids we love.

And one more thing, please. For the love of all that is holy, let’s stop silencing our children’s intuition in the name of good manners and convenience.

For the most part, I tend to let people be when they interact with my kids. I think it’s good for the boys to know the meaning of, “It takes all kinds.”

However, when someone uses shaming language on them, or uses language designed to override what I know to be my child’s intuition, I step in.

Yes, it can be awkward. But I don’t care, because I’m the mom.

Common interactions include others authoritatively instructing them to “be nice.” My kids don’t have to be nice. They have to be polite, but not necessarily nice. If they don’t trust someone, for whatever reason, I expect them to project that.

Also, I cringe at forced affection of the kind, “Give uncle so-and-so a hug.”

Early on in this kind of familiar social setting, we adults unintentionally start sending messages validating, or overriding, a child’s innate sense of safety.

The most obvious way I see it happening is the forced affection. My view is, if the kid’s not feeling it, don’t force it.

The other adult will either understand or be offended. Either way, it’s his or her problem. My job, as a parent, is to protect my kid’s right to set physical boundaries with people.

As most of us know, children are more likely to be abused by someone they know than a perfect stranger. They need to learn early and be reminded often that a parent will back them up, and it’s OK to say no.

I tend to use the, “OK, we’re leaving. Let’s give uncle so-and-so a hug or high-five.”

This gives the boys a choice and falls within my manners threshold.

I know this is going to freak some people out, so to be clear:

I’m not saying that if a child doesn’t feel like giving auntie a kiss there’s some sort of  problem afoot. It could just be that the child is in a bad mood.

Perhaps the kid is holding a grudge because of an earlier denied cookie. Who knows?

My point is simply that we don’t always have to know why a kid isn’t comfortable with something. We just have to let them learn to process those feelings without forcing them to accept ours.

A final word on the forced affection issue:

If you’ve ever been on the painfully awkward end of watching a parent try to force a child to hug you, it pretty much sucks. Could we just all agree not to do that anymore?

For more information about the Safe Kids program, call Juliette’s House at 503-435-1550.

Contact Nathalie Hardy at nathalie@nathaliesnotes.com.

 

 

 


Nathalie’s Notes on “kid food”

As the calendar turned to the end of the month I realized my Raising the Hardy Boys column was due again and that means I’m really late in posting February’s column about my beef with the entire notion of “kid food.”

Some call it a soap box, I call it a passion.

I will preface this by saying I have totally handed a few french fries over the backseat, back when we used to eat in the car, but for the most part I really do try to live by these principles, at least when it comes to the boys.

Me? I’m a total hypocrite and am actually dealing with that this year. No, really Smile 

So, here are my thoughts on kid food:

http://www.newsregister.com/reprint-kid-food

And, I just couldn’t resist sharing this image that I saw on Kimberly Snyder’s blog shortly after my column ran.

Poop and Pee

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Friday Favorites and other happy crack

I miss some of my regular blog features so I’m starting with bringing back my Friday Favorites which is really just a way to share some happy crack with you all and a reminder to me that there is always something to celebrate … even in chaos.

1. Every day this month Christina Katz is giving away a book on her blog: The Prosperous Writer. Check out the Writer Mama Every Day in May Giveaway to meet some cool authors and get some insight into your own writing with prompts and good conversation.

2. Speaking of the writerly life, participating in the world as a writer and showing up for each other and local events makes me happy. So this Sunday I’ll be at the final Northwest Author Series Presentation featuring Heather Vogel Frederick. I’d love to meet some of you there but we can only talk during commercials 'cause I'm totally taking notes! To learn more about this author click here.

3. Discovering Dave Ramsey = total happy crack. IMG_0456_thumb[9]

Yep, that’s my credit card those are my credit cards tucked in this little envelope. This is really its own post so for today I’m just giving a shout out to the hopefulness that comes with staring down what scares you the most and realizing that with diligence, patience and persistence you really can accomplish just about anything.

4. Happiness is … not waiting for someone else to do it for you. This sweet little rub-on sign that says “Bless this house with love and laughter” had ironically become a source of personal bitterness.

It has moved with me to two houses in hopes of my husband putting it up for me. “Next weekend” never came and I never wanted to “do it wrong” and as it fell under the vague category of “his arena” it just didn’t get done. For.Ever. So when he moved out* … I realized if it’s going to get put up, I need to do it. Which, duh!, was true before but I needed to be okay with him being mad if I “did it wrong” or whatever. And that is the true happy crack I discovered this week: if my intentions are good and I am honest with myself about my true motives it is okay for people to be mad at me! (Also a post for another day.) That realization, 36 years later, is liberating. Every time I see this at the top of my stairs I smile. *As an interesting aside: when he moved back home, he didn’t notice it. Good thing I spent so much energy being ticked about it, huh?!

IMG_0309_thumb[6]

5. And, last but not least, a little Happy Crack for kids:IMG_0297_thumb[15]

Heart-shaped muffin cups + water +  food dye + freezer = super fun bath time!

Disclaimer: if you start this you might as well keep a “batch” of these in a Ziplock in your freezer because they will be frequently requested.

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Go ahead, get pissed. Just don’t stay that way!

I was reading some questions and comments on a parenting board I like when I saw a mom asking how to handle a situation that leaves her feeling angry. Another person responded by telling her that if she was so angry she had little, or no tolerance. So, you know I had to say something.

Are you kidding me? As soon as you start telling people it’s not okay to be angry with their children is when things get dangerous. If you can’t admit that you’re angry, you can’t get help figuring your way through it. And that’s a problem. Why is it that some people advocate for allowing children to feel their entire “rainbow of emotions” but don’t yield that same courtesy to the parents?

Here is a link to a parenting site I poured over last night looking for some solutions to our recent parenting challenges – I’ve been sort of a Zen-Banshee lately. It’s about handling our anger as parents – see?! It’s normal, thank you very much. There’s a lot there to digest, if you can approach it without feeling defensive, all the better. I caught myself cringing a few times but liked the overall concept.

I was most struck by the idea that one of the reasons our children can push our buttons like no other is that in the moment that they {insert behavior that makes you insanely, intensely and instantly furious} it triggers how you felt as a child. (Enough with the eye-rolling, already, just consider the possibility). So for me that looks like, when Sam utterly disregards something I’d just told him, a simple request even, and does whatever he damn well pleases underneath my fury, I feel: dismissed, ignored, unimportant, useless, not heard. These are feelings I remember from early on and understanding that this is what might be happening was eye-opening in a hopeful way. Make sense?

For the article on parent-anger, I only take issue with the last line, #16 I get her point but don’t think shame is the right word to use there.

If I could help eradicate one thing from our personal and parenting arsenals it would be shame. Okay three things: shame, guilt and blame.

Writing as I go, learning as I live and sharing that here with you is one of my ways of combating those things.

This video, sent to me by my friend Rose, is 20 worthwhile minutes and helped me find the courage within myself to start this journey back to my favorite self.

20 minutes of inspiration …

Back soon,

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