Wordy 30

It’s almost that time: my 30th birthday is just two days away.

I could say a lot about turning 30:

I could whine and complain and refuse to ever be older than 29, continuing to celebrate each subsequent birthday as “The [1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.] Anniversary of My 29th Birthday” but cute as it is, that’s not really my style. I’m SO EXCITED about turning 30! Maybe that makes me a weirdo, but I just think that the future is exciting. The fact that I’ve made it 30 years in this beautiful, amazing, horrible, awful, extraordinary life is exciting! I have fought for the privilege to be another year older & I feel blessed that God has allowed me this much time on Earth. I pray he gives me many, many more years, but I’ll be thankful for each one I get no matter how many (or few) they may be.

I also think that resentment of growing older is a bit incongruous. Nobody wants to die, but nobody wants to get older either; how’s that working out for you? I feel like grey hairs, crows feet, laugh lines, scars, and all most of the other things that come with growing older are a beautiful privilege, and they tell a unique, physical story about how we’ve lived. I do hope that when I’m 50 my story will say I’m 30 *wink wink* but still…even if it doesn’t I’ll be thankful for whatever story my body tells.

I could go on about how my health and fitness have been more important to me in the last 3 years than they have ever been, but that’s not really what I wanted to share today either. I’m sure that’s the story you’re dying to hear, but suck it up, buttercup. 😉 I want to share with you 30 things I’ve learned in my 30 short years.

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years (In No Particular Order):

  1. Potty-training is the devil.
  2. You’re never “too old.” Wear what you want, style your hair how you want (purple and blue hair anyone??), and get excited over unicorns, rainbows, and glitter. Two words: Lisa. Frank. I am not ashamed.MTI0ODc2MDQ2MDg3NjA0MjM0
  3. Life is too short to waste time worrying about what other people think of you. To the extent of getting and keeping a good job and doing the things you need to do to take care of your responsibilities – yes, present yourself in a manner that people in positions of authority find pleasing (good hygiene, prioritizing, always being respectful, that sort of thing), but don’t change who you are at your core to please someone else. You want people in your life who love you for who you really are, not who they think you ought to be. Nerd out. Go on & share your love of T-Swift & YA novels with the world. You didn’t actually hate it when your three year old used to watch The Backyardigans? Go ahead and sing the theme song out loud. 99faefe255167765afeed34e19d0488f
  4. Comparison is the thief of joy. Yes, it’s a famous quote and you may have seen it so many times it makes you throw up in your mouth a little, but it’s beautiful and very, very true.
  5. You will never see me wearing matching socks.life-is-too-short
  6. It’s okay to go at your own pace. Sure, I got married at 18, had a baby, and didn’t get my license until I was 21 or start college until I was 22. I did things, as they say, “backwards.” Who died and made you The Keeper of Chronological Life Events? I turned out okay. If you did it the other way around, or if you’re unmarried at 30, don’t have kids, have a bunch of kids, don’t want kids, or still haven’t figured out what you want to be when you grow up – it’s okay! It’s not a competition.
  7. There is no one-size-fits-all “right time” to do anything. The right time is whenever you decide to do it.
  8. Getting carded is awesome.
  9. My high school playlist is on a loop…on the oldies station.
  10. It’s cool when people think you’re wise when really you’re just making it up as you go along just like everybody else.
  11. Jagermeister is disgusting.
  12. Jameson is even worse.
  13. Mixing them is not advised. 012624b3251ab1c8e7f934bc0c0b2484
  14. Don’t waste time trying to be trendy. Instead, strive to be a trendsetter. Mean-Girls-Meme-Fetch-05
  15. For the majority, no serious consequences will occur when your kid eats something that has touched the floor. It’s okay…relax.
  16. The best stories occur while your kids are on the toilet. I’m pretty sure my Facebook feed has been flooded with funny stories of things my children have done or said while on the toilet, in the bathroom, or having some relation to poop. 4013d2c3d7f8068ce2f291357b76447a
  17. There are more fun and creative ways to curse that your children can actually repeat and they have the added benefit of entertaining other people. POOP IN A BASKET! I don’t give a flying flock of frolicking catfish! “Fudgin’ touch me again and I’ll fudgin’ kill ya!” – Dean Winchester. However, sometimes it’s just nice to say the real thing. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe I’ve just been married to my F-bomb dropping husband too long, but either way, sometimes it just feels good not to censor yourself.
  18. When you become a mom, you talk about poop a lot.
  19. “What is that smell?” is not an altogether uncommon thought.
  20. “Put that in your juice box and suck it” is probably the best line I’ve ever taught my children.  I am not ashamed. (Yes, there is a story behind this.)
  21. I will likely never master the art of keeping things “short and sweet.” I’m sorry. Actually, no…no I’m not. Suck it up.
  22. What is heard cannot be unheard. What is seen, cannot be unseen. 6f220603_what-has-been-seen
  23. Money isn’t everything. We need it to survive, & it’s nice to have a little extra, but there’s always more to be made. You can’t make more time & do-overs don’t exist. Prioritize what’s important to you and spend your time & money on those things as much as possible.
  24. Everybody compromises. Sometimes your ideologies take a backseat to your immediate needs. It’s okay to barely get by as long as you do get by. It’s okay to just be ‘okay.’
  25. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue. It’s just how life works.
  26. It’s okay if you don’t fart rainbows and sunshine 100% of the time. You don’t always have to be positive. Good days and bad days are part of being human. Embrace them for what they are and just keep moving forward.
  27. You should never stop having weird conversations.
  28. Laundry is never-ending so there’s really no rush to fold it. As long as it gets washed and dried, I don’t really care where it goes after that.
  29. I will never be adult enough to know how to properly fold a fitted sheet. A ball in the closet is good enough. 1021cef94d717a7ade3dcc5ab1c7b713
  30. “You can never have too much butter” is still the best life lesson I’ve received. Thanks Grandma.

Bonus lesson: Coke > Pepsi. Thanks Granddaddy.

images_always_coca_cola

Happy Birthday to me! I have no idea what I’ll be doing, but I really hope it includes Jensen Ackles James Dean (my husband, not the dead actor. Ew.)

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My Eight Year Old Has Yoda-Wisdom

Happy Almost Christmas everybody! I hope you’re all ready for the holidays, snuggled up with warm socks by warm fireplaces eating Christmas cookies or whatever it is you do for the holidays. For those of you who are missing loved ones or just stressing in general, my heart goes out to you. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but a pair of warm socks really improved my outlook on life this morning…I urge you to try it if you’re feeling less-than-cheerful. 🙂

Anyway, this post was inspired by Progressive (and maybe a tiny bit by all the Star Wars fans). For real. My girls and I were watching TV together this morning and that silly, misogynist Progressive commercial came on. If you don’t know which one, I’ve linked it below:

http://ispot.tv/a/AYG6

I was so proud of my girls because both of them just rolled their eyes at it & laughed. “Where’s her husband? She doesn’t have to have a husband. Crazy man.” My girls are often such silly little creatures, but they are also super, extra special! It made me think of a conversation with a friend the other day in which it was suggested that girls learn to become co-dependent from the womb. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and decided it’s ultimately true.

In utero, we’re all dependent on our mother’s care to keep us alive. As babies, we depend on our parents for our every need. For boys, the older they get the more independent they’re taught to be. When they fall and scrape their knees they’re told to get up and walk it off. “Stop crying like a little girl.” (Which is another post entirely.)

It’s a little different for girls. We’re taught that we can be whatever we want to be, but somewhere along the way “whatever you want” turns into “someday you’ll meet a boy and you’ll want to get married and have a family…” and “someday when you’re married…” yada, yada, yada. We go from depending on our parents to depending on a man “to save us” from…I don’t know what…loneliness? Having to pay our own bills? I mean, really, I’m not sure why females automatically get handed the role of damsel in distress and boys must automatically assume the role of the provider. (Like that’s all either of us can be??) It’s pretty typical though. Little girls then spend their whole lives dreaming about their fairytale wedding day and then pitying themselves when it doesn’t happen in the timeframe they’ve allotted for themselves. Single at 30, anyone?

Because that’s what this whole life is about, right? Getting married. Having a family. We’re conditioned from a very young age to believe that our ultimate goals in life should consist of fairytale romances and a prince to whisk us off to his castle in the sky to make all the babies.

Some of These are great things and I’m not knocking them in any way. I myself enjoy my family and my marriage more than anything, and to be perfectly honest, I never wanted that when I was growing up. Getting married and having a family just wasn’t a goal for me. I thought it meant sacrificing everything else I wanted: college, a career, happiness in general. Now, I couldn’t picture anything better.

Having said that, I want to teach my girls that they can be anything they want to be and that includes single. Even at thirty. Being single doesn’t make you sad. It doesn’t make you pathetic and lonely. It doesn’t mean your life is wildly off track or that you’re destined to be a cat lady. By all means, if you want to be a cat lady, be a cat lady! I’m just saying that no matter what age and stage you may be at in your life, it can still be whatever you want it to be. You have the power to mold your life into whatever you want it to look like. Boys don’t have to be falling over themselves for your attention in order for you to feel validated and worthy. This goes for boys, too. Life is about much more than what the opposite sex thinks of you. Period.

e7accf4a634d77baaa166c418e376a24I want to encourage my kids to really stop and take inventory of their lives and their goals, to determine if what they have decided they want is really what they chose for themselves, or just an idea that someone else has established for them. If they don’t want to be married and have a ton of babies, awesome! If they really do want marriage, awesome! If they want to run away with the circus…well, I guess that has the potential to be awesome, too. As much as I want them all to be independent and free-thinking, I also want them to know that marriage doesn’t have to mean co-dependence either. It doesn’t mean that this other person is going to come in and create all your happiness for you, but it can be a joyful experience all the same. I asked The Cuteness (my 8 year old) where her happiness comes from and she said, “my heart.” I thought that was a pretty great answer.

We create our own happiness.

You might as well stop waiting for Prince Charming, let go of any expectations that other people have set for you and your life, and just start LIVING! Start enjoying your life for what it is, wherever you’re at in this moment. It’ll be hard at first if you’ve always operated under the impression that you can’t be alone, but the more you do it the more liberating and enjoyable it will be. Learn to be okay with yourself/your life and you’ll never need to worry about needing anyone else; they’ll just be a bonus. 🙂

Merry Christmas my lovelies!

Pink Potatoes & Hair Storage

Oh wait…did I get that wrong? Pink Hair & Potato Storage: that’s better.

I shared this post on my SpiffySnaps blog last year, but I recently rediscovered it and thought it appropriate to share here as well.

If you’ve ever struggled with discovering (or just being) who you are as opposed to who you’re expected to be, maybe this can be helpful to you. And if not, there’s a picture of me with some badass pink hair so (I think) that’s worth taking a millisecond look at. 😉

10278367_mOh, if you read the post & wondered what the potato storage email said (I had to look it up, too, because I completely forgot) here’s some info on that: http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/dear-mary/best-location-potato-storage/

Happy Monday!

Dawn Smells Better On Husbands

  I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s sexy when her husband washes dishes. Or am I? My husband has sworn on countless occasions that he “does not do dishes” and so I am especially grateful when he does, but more than that I just think it’s hot!! 🔥

Don’t let me be alone in this! Comment and tell me what you think. Are you indifferent to your husband washing dishes or do you, like me, think it’s super hot? 

Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It Part 3

In my blog post the other day I talked about changing your reaction to your kids, allowing them room to make mistakes, and just generally trying to sort out the reasoning behind things instead of just making harsh judgements based off your own assumptions. It brought to my attention to very reason why the suggestions people have given me in the past about how to deal with my ODD child will never work.

It’s because nearly every suggestion I’ve ever been given is based on the thinking that my child needs to change.

To a degree, that’s true. She has some behavioral issues that certainly need to be sorted out & some changes are going to need to be made on her part for that happen. However, there’s nothing I can do to force her to change. The decision has to be hers.

So what do you do in the meantime? You change yourself.

I know what some of you are thinking:

“So, you’re telling me that my child is the one with the problem, but I have to change?”

Yes. That is exactly what I’m telling you.

That’s where I messed up so frequently before & still do more often than I’d like. I dealt with her in ways that my other two children responded to rather than tailoring my response to what she needed or would be able to understand. I’ve had to make changes in the way I discipline her, talk to her, respond to her, and even in the ways that I love her.

Up until the past couple years or so I think my husband and I have used every method that we could think of to force her behavior and her attitude to change without changing anything about ourselves. My daughter and I didn’t understand each other or “speak each other’s language.” A person who is strong-willed is going to resist any change or action that they themselves didn’t come up with. It’s what they do…they resist, they challenge, they analyze, they go against the grain. That’s a really great thing if used correctly & I realize now that I don’t need to punish her for being such a strong, amazing, fearless person. She needs understanding and guidance more than she needs punishments & power-plays. Yes, there will be some negative consequences for both of us, but I’m finding the more I change my reaction to her, the more her behavior changes along with it. We don’t quite “get” each other yet, but we respect each other and that’s where understanding starts. 🙂

How do you respond when your kid is being particularly difficult? Do you blow up, stay calm, ground them, take things away, give them chores, give them some sort of multiple choice?? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Yes Silly, Of Course The Tooth Fairy Has Email!

When you’re a crappy Tooth Fairy you have to get creative. I sent my daughter an email this morning. 
  
Dear {Princess Sassypants},
I am emailing you because I wanted you to get this as soon as possible and also because your parents have a reputation for firing Tooth-fairies and I don’t want to be next! 

I’m so sorry I was unable to collect your tooth on time. Please allow me to explain: Yesterday was a super busy day for the Tooth Fairy. There were LOTS of children who lost teeth and so many of them even go to your school! 
I collected all the teeth I could, but then my satchel got full and I couldn’t carry it anymore. I had to call the ToothCab (the Tooth Fairy Taxi Cab Service) to come pick me up because I couldn’t fly with all those teeth. 
It took the Taxi two hours to come pick me up (he says he ran into some elf or something on the way, but I’m not sure I believe him. He was probably just rolling around in pixie dust again) and when he finally got there it was nearly time for me to stop collecting anyway. I still had 13 teeth to collect! 
Anyway, I noticed that you got up earlier than usual this morning so I wasn’t able to come back and get your tooth yet. I’m sorry dear. 
I’ll come get yours (& all the other teeth I couldn’t fit in my satchel) tonight and there will be an extra special prize from me included under your pillow.
Can you take care of the tooth until then? 

Thank you for being so kind to me {Princess Sassypants}. I’m so proud to have the honor of collecting your teeth! Please ask your parents to give me another shot. They just want their kids to have the best Tooth Fairy, and I want to be that Fairy!

Love,

The Toothiest Tooth Fairy That Ever Fairied Teeth 

Care to share your Tooth Fairy fails & successes?

Thanksgiving & Zuppa Toscana Recipe

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday crammed with loud, boisterous family, more food than you could fit on the table, dressing that was burned on the outside, but still super moist and delicious on the inside, kids laughing & yelling, and dogs (or cats) that ran around your feet lapping up your droppings. Or you know, whatever it is that makes your holidays special. There’s something about the imperfectness of it all that makes it truly memorable for me so I tend to appreciate all the little things that go “wrong.”

In the last three or four years my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our house, but this year we decided not to (for reasons). We ended up doing it at my mom’s house which is considerably smaller cozier than ours, which is my favorite thing about it. We had to put some kids on the floor at the coffee table to eat, but we managed.

Image-1My husband made a honey-glazed spiral ham (yum – I wish I had a picture of it), and I made an apple pie (which was devoured in about 5 minutes), a pumpkin pie (which I’m pretty sure my brother ate almost entirely by himself), 2 gallons of sweet tea, and Zuppa Toscana (which I’m going to share my recipe for shortly.) My apple pie was not pretty. It cracked all across the top and when it was cut apples slid out everywhere, but it sure was delicious. I ended up improvising with my soup (don’t worry, I’ll get to that), but delightfully enough, it turned out to be the best soup I’ve ever made.

My sister made a turkey for the first time ever! She was worried about it, but there was no reason to be. She killed it! (The recipe…not the turkey.) It was amazing. I don’t really eat turkey because it’s so dry, but hers was so tender and juicy. My mouth is kinda watering just thinking about it. I’m pretty sure Princess Sassypants went into a turkey coma last night she ate so much. Anyway, it was so juicy that on the way to my mom’s house, the juice leaked out all over the front of my sister’s pants causing her husband to have to go get her some new pants to wear and almost every male in the house to make juvenile jokes about my sister’s bladder control. See what I mean about the imperfections being the things that make it memorable? We’ll probably be talking about that one for a while.

My mom made a bunch of stuff, but there were two things in particular that stick out. Her homemade pineapple pudding that the kids destroyed by eating almost all the merengue off the top (I’m sorry Mom…I’m laughing…the merengue is the best part) and my Granddaddy’s dressing, which has very specific instructions for how it is to be prepared. Apparently you can only make it during a full moon when the 3rd planet is in its 6th house, and exactly 6 minutes and 32.5 seconds after you put it in the oven you must spin around counter-clockwise three times on one foot without falling over while touching your nose precisely .2 degrees to the left of center with your right ring finger while clucking like a chicken. This is the second time my mom has tried to make it. The first time she didn’t take the rules seriously and it didn’t come out right. This time she followed all the rules as far as I’m aware. She may have made the cornbread and boiled the chicken the day before, but is that really considered cheating? Something somewhere must have gone wrong because the top of the dressing was burned.

*sad face*

We were pleasantly surprised though because the inside was still nice and moist. I really enjoyed it! Although, my brother had plenty of jokes about how we should have waited on him to make it since he’s the only one Granddaddy ever gave his actual recipe to. I guess they’re the only ones that get to be a part of The Secret Recipe Club.

Moving on…

I was asked to share my Zuppa Toscana recipe so here we go! For those that don’t know what it is, it’s an Italian soup that I fell in love with at Olive Garden made primarily of potatoes and sausage with some greens thrown in there to make it appear healthier. :p

I initially found the recipe by searching Google for an Olive Garden copy cat version. I found a pretty good one, but it needed some tweaking for our family so I kept searching. I came across one more that I liked well enough to try to make it. It was good, too, but I still wanted to tweak it so after knowing the basic ingredients and directions I just took the recipes I’d found online and adapted them to what worked for me. I discovered that you can put pretty much anything in this soup and it’s still delicious so have fun with it!

Beth’s Version of Zuppa Toscana

* I don’t really measure my ingredients, but I’m going to try to remember what I used in my Thanksgiving recipe so I can give you measurements. Feel free to tweak it to what works for you. My version of this soup does not taste exactly like Olive Garden’s so I can’t call it a copy cat recipe, but I could eat it all day everyday so (needless to say) I think it’s frickin’ delicious. Lol

Makes 12 servings • Prep time: about 30 minutes • Cook time: 45 minutes (This makes a lot because it was for Thanksgiving, so you’ll want to use a large stock pot. Otherwise, you could half the recipe & use a regular size pot.)

Ingredients:

•1 lb Mild Italian Sausage (casings removed) (use 2 lbs if you don’t want to use the little smokies in your recipe. You can also use hot sausage if that’s more your style)

•1 package all beef little smokies, chopped into bite size pieces (I used these because I didn’t have enough Italian sausage and they were delicious. You could just use 2 pounds of the Italian sausage or 2 pounds of these…totally up to you.)

•3 cups Kale (stalks removed)

•Baby Spinach (because I had some that needed to be used) (I put in approximately 2 cups, but it cooks down so much I could have put in more and it would have been fine.)

• 1/2 large Italian Red Sweet Onion (chopped)

• Garlic (4 cloves, chopped or minced)

• Chicken Broth (8 cups)

• 5 Red Potatoes, sliced (I like to cut them like potato chips, but a little thicker and then slice them in half to make them easier to eat)

• 2 16oz cartons of heavy whipping cream

• Bacon (I cooked about 10 strips of thick cut bacon until it was crispy enough to crumble up to use as a topping) *Can substitute with bacon bits.

• Cayenne Pepper to taste

• 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

 

Instructions:

  • Fry your bacon. You’ll be using it as a topping for your soup so you’ll want it to be crispy enough that you can put it in a bag or something and crumble it up. OR you could use bacon bits, but real bacon is always better! 🙂
  • Fry your Italian sausage in the same pan you cooked your bacon in. The flavoring from the bacon…yum. Drain off excess grease and store (covered) until needed. I also cut up my little smokies and fried those right after I finished with my Italian sausage. Store, covered until needed.
  • Chop up your onion, garlic & potatoes. Set aside.
  • Take a large stock pot and add your 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Heat on medium heat. Once heated, add your onions and garlic and let cook for about 3 minutes until onions become translucent.
  • Add chicken broth. Let it come to a boil. You can turn the heat up here if you want to.
  • Once chicken broth boils, add in your potatoes. Let those boil until they become soft. (About 10-15 minutes)
  • Once potatoes soften add in sausage and heavy cream.
  • Let the heavy cream heat through and then add in your greens one cup at a time. (You can use Kale, baby spinach, or you could even use rainbow chard now that I’m thinking about it…) The greens will cook down relatively quickly and you may or may not want to add more.
  • Once you’ve got all your greens in, this is when I usually add in my cayenne, but you can really add it in whenever you want, or leave it out altogether depending on how spicy (or not) you like things. I just don’t like to add mine until I can taste test it. 🙂
  • Serve immediately with bacon sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

If you’ve been following my Keep Calm series I’ll be getting back to that soon. Princess Sassypants really tested my patience on Wednesday and I’ve got to tell you about that at some point. Until then, enjoy your family time and your soup. Let me know if you try it, if you like it, what you liked and what you changed. I’m anxious to know your thoughts. 🙂 I’d also love to know what makes Thanksgiving or the holidays in general memorable for you. Has anyone in your family ever stabbed someone in the hand for the last piece of chicken? I hear that happened once in my family. Maybe my mom will come guest-blog about it one day. 🙂

 

 

I Broke It On Purpose!

This photo was brought to my attention & my name is on the list. 

  
I have an announcement for the nincompoop that made this & the hopeful expression it may have caused to pass across my husband’s face. 

  
To All Whom It May Concern:

This facility has been closed for business. All personnel and valuable equipment have been safely evacuated. Utilities have been shut off, entrances boarded, “Keep Out” signs posted, and sustainable energy sources depleted so as to effectively condemn this location to all life forms, human or otherwise. No rental space available. No storage allowed. 

Any individuals caught attempting to squat in, use, repurpose, or otherwise restore this establishment shall be swiftly apprehended and sent home with a “nice try” sticker and a free puppy. 

Thank you for your consideration.

– Beth’s Baby Factory

Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It: Part 2

Hello again!

It’s Monday morning and I am snuggled up on my couch underneath a thick, fuzzy blanket in an ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ sweatshirt and yoga pants, nursing a hot cup of coffee while my kids (who are out of school this week for Thanksgiving break) nestle behind the couch to watch movies on the iPad despite the fact that they have an entire room in the back of the house with all their toys, a couch, and cable TV. One day they’ll be telling their grandchildren all about the woes of being a child raised in the 21st century and one of their struggles will be something like, “when it was cold outside and our mom was babysitting, five of us had to scrunch up around a portable 9 inch screen to stream movies on Netflix and we had to take turns picking the movies!” *gasp* I can’t imagine the terrible scars this will leave upon their delicate souls. Years of therapy await them, I’m sure. Can you feel my eyes rolling? If not, let me help you envision it:

I don’t mind it though because I can hear everything that’s going on and it gives me the time and quiet I need to make this post. Yes, I’m letting the iPad temporarily babysit my kids and nieces. If you didn’t judge me after Part 1 of this series, please feel free to do so now.

Speaking of judging, we tend to do this a bit too harshly to each other don’t we? Often, judgment goes hand in hand with assumption and your kids are no exception to this. Maybe they made a mess, spilled something on the table, or neglected to put away the laundry after you asked. Often, we assume it’s just because they’re not listening, or simply because they chose not to obey. We think we have to open the Crazy Box to get things done.

MjAxMy04ODc5OTdhOTUzNjQ3YWE4

I feel like ^^ this ^^ from time to time. Okay…often. I feel like this often.

The trouble is that when we assume, we don’t take the time to get to know the real reasoning behind the things our children do and say. We don’t think, we just react. We presume to already know the answer and so we don’t need to discuss it, ask questions, or try to make sense of it; we just want our kids to do what they’re told, right?

But…why?

Do we always want to just do what we’re told without knowing the reason for it? Do we want our kids to blindly do what they’re told in every situation? We’re always telling them, “if so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” They might if that’s what they’ve always been taught: to listen, obey and just “do as you’re told.” Sometimes that can be very dangerous; how can our kids differentiate if we don’t teach them? We want them to be their own people. We want them to be independent thinkers & not follow the crowd, to not be afraid to ask questions…until it’s inconvenient for us.

We want them to trust and obey us as their parents, their teachers, ‘the authority figure’…and somehow they’re still supposed to learn to be free thinkers, to inherently know what to do, what not to do, which friends are good influences, which are not, which adults are trustworthy and which ones are not, when to just obey & when to ask questions…all without us giving them the opportunity to learn these skills at home or at school? We have a tendency to give ourselves room for error and growth while expecting other people, even our kids, to already be perfect; to know better.

I’m not saying you should have to break down every little thing for your child. They should just do what you asked out of respect for you whether they understand it or not, but this is not an ideal world and what people should do and what they actually do are often two very different things.

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A relationship of trust has to be built before this can happen. I’m more likely to do something that is asked of me without question when it has been made clear to me that the person asking is someone I implicitly trust. The parent-child relationship is so special & unique because trust is an innate emotion between the two, but it is not automatically given in any other relationship. In every other relationship on the planet, you have to earn it. With your kids, you just have their trust automatically (isn’t that amazing?!) from the day they’re conceived…until you break it, (or until they break yours) and then it must be earned back. In the case of my kid, and many others, it’s not necessarily always an issue of trust…she just needs to know the why’s and how’s of something for it to make sense to her, and once it makes sense she’s more inclined to do what I’m asking her to do.

I have been guilty of this before, but I am not typically a “because I said so” kind of mom. I try to explain and to understand before I react. Sometimes I fall way short of this, but that’s because I’m human and I’m a work in progress. When that happens, I’m not above apologizing for it. I try to remember that the few extra seconds it takes to explain something to my child is so much better than arguing unnecessarily over it; things get done much faster and my household runs more smoothly when I take that little bit of extra time.

Additionally, some kids need problems to solve, not just chores to do.

{Example: I very recently learned that Princess Sassypants will wash dishes happily if I tell her, “I really need you to do this because we have somewhere to be in an hour and the dishes need to be done before we leave. You do such a good job at washing them; you’re so much more careful and thorough than your brother and your sister is still a little too young to handle knives.” This way she feels like she’s special because

A.) I’ve chosen her specifically because she does a better job than someone else and

B.) she’s being helpful to and protective of her sister who might get cut.

She feels proud of her accomplishment and she knows that I notice and value her efforts. Okay, so it’s a little manipulative, but it’s positive manipulation if that helps. 😉 }

Children need to feel like they’re needed and valued versus feeling like they’re just there for you to boss around and yell at. You like to feel needed and appreciated, right? What would give you the impression that your child doesn’t want or deserve the same?

Yes, it’s frustrating when I have to ask my kids to do things repeatedly, but that’s when I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, get their attention and calmly (but firmly) remind them. Then after they’ve done it, I ask them, “is there a reason you didn’t do that when I asked you to?” I don’t always succeed at this, but I try to steer clear of “why didn’t you do what I said?!” because that sounds accusatory and they won’t give me an answer. By wording it the other way they feel like I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’re not being accused of anything or blamed, and they’re more likely to answer me. “Because I had to use the bathroom and when I got back I started playing and I just forgot.” That isn’t an excuse I want to hear every single time I ask them to do something, but it does seem valid on occasion, especially when you consider the person I’m asking is an 8 year old girl with the attention span of a squirrel or a ten year old who is a bit forgetful and scatterbrained like her mother. She gets it honest. Yelling at them won’t make them feel anything good, and it likely won’t improve the strong-willed child’s behavior in the future either, AND – to put it bluntly – it’ll make you (& everyone who had to listen to it) feel like shit(take mushrooms). So what’s the point? It’s a pretty useless thing to do all the way around. That’s when you come up with a game plan (like “next time put the laundry away before you go to the bathroom” or something that works for your family), then let them know that this excuse isn’t going to be acceptable next time and just move on. It doesn’t have to be an argument and no “crazy boxes” need be opened or “Oh, F*** It” moments had. 🙂

Of course, everyone is going to open their crazy box every now and then. Even your kids have OFI moments. Allow them room for error. Give them room to behave like the beautifully flawed humans that they are, but teach them how to use that experience to prepare themselves to react better in the future. You don’t have to excuse their behavior, but do let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they feel; it’s how they react, it’s how they use that emotion that matters. Teach them to use every mistake as a learning opportunity so they can continually grow. If it takes a little more understanding and explanation on your part, so be it.

More than anything, though, remember to model it for them. Apologize to them when you have an OFI moment and forgive yourself for not being perfect, let them see you not repeating the same mistakes in the future. Let them see you changing and even if they don’t change, your understanding of and respect for each other will, and that will cause your relationship to blossom. 🙂


 

Have you had any moments where you’ve simply reworded something to get a better result? Are there moments you can remember where a simple change of verbiage or attitude would have changed the outcome of a situation or prevented an argument? Do you have questions about how you can better manipulate your children use your words & attitude to get the result you want? I may be able to help you with your manipulation wording, which will in turn help me with mine. It’s really hard to remember to implement some of these things when you’re smack in the middle of a real-life, stressful, tear-your-hair-out, F***-it-all moment, but the more we think about and prepare ourselves for these things the more chances we have of remembering them when we find ourselves in a situation where we might need to use it. So, go ahead…*therapy voice* what’s on your mind?

 

Keep Calm &…Oh, F*** It! (Part 1)

cb669911103645a289950dade19167efWelcome to Part One of the series called “Keep Calm &…Oh, F*** It!” We’ve all been there: maxed out, at our limit, and completely unable to take anymore, so we just say “F*** it.”

We are in a day & age where “memes” are EVERYWHERE. Aside from cat memes, I think the memes I see most often are the ones that say “Keep Calm” followed by pretty much any random thing you want to say.

Keep Calm &…

• rub some bacon on it

• drink wine

• brew coffee

• do yoga

• watch Supernatural

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Google search “keep calm memes” and you’ll see they are endless.

When you’re a parent “keeping calm” can often be exceptionally challenging. That’s where the “Oh, F*** It” (hereto referred to as OFI moment) part comes into play. We all have an OFI story, but let me tell you about my worst one.

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This is my youngest daughter, The Cuteness, with Saber in 2012.
It started when our husky, Saber, got ran over and died. I know this sounds like a silly thing to set off the chain of events that I’m going to tell you about in future posts, but keep in mind that our animals are family to us & my children were pretty young and impressionable when this happened. Plus, it was their first real experience with death where we couldn’t protect them from it. He was a sweet, but very typical husky…as in, he was very independent and hard to control. He would randomly run off and would not come back no matter how much you called him. He came home when he wanted to. We built a high fence around the back yard to contain him & then we took him through obedience training. It was helping, but whenever he saw an opportunity (i.e. whenever I wasn’t right there watching him or holding him on a leash & someone opened a door…), he would still bolt out the front door and take off.

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Every member of my family had chased that dog down at one time or another. My mom even chased and TACKLED him one week after having had a hysterectomy. Talk about Wonder Woman. I worried incessantly that something would happen to him when he did this. Finally, something did.

It was a bad day all around. One thing after the other had gone completely wrong & I just felt like I wanted to go to sleep for five days straight. When the kids got home from school, we did homework (frustrating in itself) and then I sent them outside to play while I cooked supper. I had Saber beside me where he generally stayed because I was the one training him so he didn’t really listen to anyone else as well as he listened to me (& he only barely listened to me). My husband called and while we were on the phone having an ‘almost-argument’ (you know the kind where you’re both really annoyed – not necessarily at each other – but you take it out on each other anyway?), it only vaguely registered that Saber had wandered into the living room. I figured he was just going to his bed. I was wrong. His smart ass totally had an agenda.

One of the kids was holding the front door wide open for another kid to bring their bicycle inside. Don’t ask me why they felt like the bike needed to come inside; some questions just can’t be answered. I can’t even remember who was holding the door open and who was bringing the bike in. Anyway, the dog ran out…and he never came back. It felt like the millionth time he’d done this and we had talked to the kids (it felt like) hundreds of time about not opening doors around him until I was with him, had him leashed, crated, or in the back yard. It was one of those “how many times have I told you” episodes; that whole couple of months in my life just felt like the perfect storm leading up to everything that happened next. I exploded and unfortunately Princess Sassypants unfairly received the brunt of that explosion.

Womans-mind-feels-likeI was very emotionally stressed at the time. We had just bought the house, my husband was always working or sleeping, I was always the one cleaning and watching after the kids, making sure they got their homework done, etc.. Two of them were struggling in school (academically) and I was constantly back and forth talking to teachers and staff about their performance. Our marriage was strained, we were still acclimating to civilian life after my husband was retired from the Army,  and trying to deal with his PTSD which is a hard thing to try to navigate as an individual, let alone as a couple/family. To top it all off, I had a dog that wouldn’t listen. I’m sure there were some other contributing factors at the time, but I don’t really remember any of them now, they were so trivial. Anyway, none of that is an excuse for how I reacted. I actually made the statement, “if something happens to him, it’s going to be your fault.” Of course I didn’t mean it. Let the perfect parent cast the first stone, okay? I was just angry & emotionally frayed. But, she was only 7 or 8 years old at the time and she is the most sensitive of all my children; how could she have understood that? Something like that should never be said to a child, but I feel especially bad that I said it to her, given her sensitive nature.

If I had said those horrible words to her and he would have come home that night, I’m sure only minimal damage would have been done. As it was, something actually did happen to him. When we took the kids to school the morning after Saber ran off, we actually saw him lying in the middle of the highway before we got to the school. We couldn’t stop the kids from seeing it and there was no opportunity for any of us to prepare ourselves. No one reacted well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to reign my anger in and “keep calm.” When we saw him laying in the road, I screamed, covered my mouth with my hand and looked directly at my daughter in the backseat with an expression that, I’m sure, held more contempt and blame in it than any I’ve ever given her in her life. That only served to make her feel even more guilty than I’d already made her feel the night before. I will never truly be able to forgive myself for that. It was the one time in our entire relationship so far that my husband has had to be the one to tell me to calm down in front of the kids instead of me telling him. All the kids went to school sobbing. We should have let them stay out that day and looking back at it, I’m not sure why we didn’t.

Any child’s first experience with death is not going to be pretty, nice, or comfortable, but it’s even more traumatic when you have someone outright blaming you for it…even if it is ‘just a dog.’ I know it wasn’t Princess Sassypants’ fault the dog got ran over and I’ve apologized to her more times than I can count for my reaction. We’ve talked about this repeatedly and she really seemed to accept my apologies. I can’t take back what I said though, and I know she will never forget it.

This is where the point of my post really comes in:

After Saber’s death is when everything that is happening with her now (ODD and all) started to surface. I really believe that everything that has happened with her since that day happened because she felt an overwhelming amount of guilt & probably some feelings of worthlessness. (Which, as you can imagine makes me feel like the effing mother of the year. :/) A child her age doesn’t know how to deal with feelings like that, so she started acting out. I feel like it’s my fault that she is the way she is. Whatever emotional problems she has now, I caused them so I don’t give myself the luxury of serious OFI moments anymore. I refuse to make my daughter feel that way ever again.

I’m not saying I don’t still feel insane half the time or that I never break down; I do. I just don’t do it quite like that and I don’t do it with or in front of my kids if I can help it. (My OFI moments now have more of a humorous ring to them these days.) I HAVE to stay calm with Princess Sassypants in particular, or risk doing more harm than good. I’m telling you this because if you have an ODD child or a particularly strong willed child, staying in control of your emotions when you’re dealing with them is going to be the key to handling them & not completely losing your sanity in the process. That’s the case with any child, but the typical child isn’t going to push your limits to get you to the point where you’re tempted to lose control as much a SWC will. In order to do anything with a strong willed child, you have to have a relationship with her or she won’t respect you enough to give a damn what you say to her. I damaged my relationship with my child at a time/age when most kids practically worship their parents. I had to backtrack to try to repair it & we all know I can’t just cram the words back into my mouth no matter how much I wish I could. Don’t do that. It’s not worth it.

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Lesson #1: Keep calm…for real. Whenever you feel like you can’t stay calm anymore, just walk away. Your relationship is more important than any temporary negative emotion you feel. Send the kid to his/her room or whatever you have to do to get the space you need. Tell them you love them, but you both need to calm down and you’ll revisit the subject later after you’ve had time to collect yourself & decide on an appropriate course of action. Don’t end up saying or doing something you’ll regret.

 

I’ll continue this story tomorrow, but for now if you have any thoughts feel free to leave them below. Have an OFI moment you want to share? I know mine was kinda heavy, but there are some funny ones, too and after this confessional little blog post I feel like I could use the laughs. 🙂 As you’re going about your day with your babies, just try to remember to stay calm (but firm) with them. It gets better!! Now, I’m going to go clean myself up…nobody likes tears in their biscuits!