On Raising Good People

I made the decision a few years ago to stop blogging about my kids. While it was awesome blog fodder, I became more conscientious of sharing too much about them with the world, both for the sake of their privacy, but also safety. While I may share a story here and there, they are few and far between.

My decision was also because I frankly have no idea what I’m doing. I have days when I feel like I’m killing it and days when I feel like I’m an utter failure. Luckily most days I figure it I’m worrying about being a good mom, I’m probably doing just fine. I’m not an expert and I won’t really know if I’ve screwed up the kids for years to come. Today I’m just sharing a snippet because I think that compassion and empathy are lacking a bit lately.

Enough rambling and back to the point of this post, trying to raise good little humans. Behind the scenes at our house, we’ve had so much going on. The kids are growing and developing into quite their own little people. They have very different temperaments and personalities. I can see it in everything from how they wake up in the morning to how to play with each other and respond to trying situations, like sharing or having a kid take something away. What they do share, is love. A deep, unrelenting love, for each other and our family. They are quick with a hug or kiss and tell each other, and us, I love you at least 20 times/day. It brings me so much joy.

While it’s seems fairly easy to show love, caring and compassion to your family members, it’s not as easy to help kids understand how to show this to others. How to show them what it means to be empathetic and compassionate. That is something Josh and I are working on and little by little I’m seeing evidence of them grasping it. For example, last week Ella had her 100th day of school. She proudly brought home a paper entitled “If I had $100, I would…” Her answer, she’d by stuff for kids who were poor. While maybe the wording wasn’t ideal, her heart, her big heart was in the right place. I was floored (and so proud!) that at five years old, given the opportunity to say what she would do with $100, she chose to do something for others. Others that are less fortunate than herself.

Anderson is still young to be grasping empathy and compassion, but he’s starting to get it. He can point out emotions and often when we read books, he will say they feel sad or lonely. When I ask him what he thinks could be done to help them feel better, he is full of suggestions from giving them a hug, to helping them find a new toy or friend. When one of us is feeling down, he wants to help make it better. I said the other day how lucky they were to have so many toys to play with and a nice house to live in, and he said yes, because not everyone gets the same as we do.

In a world of mine and theirs, us vs. them, the haves and the have-nots, I just want my kids to be good people. I want them to care for each other, care for others. I want them to treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, political affiliation, etc. We are all different and that is what makes us beautiful and valuable. I want them to be generous with their time, money and give to those that need a helping hand when they can. You never know when you may be the one who needs help.

Here a few a things we’re doing to try to help them learn this:

  1. Read books, lots of books. We’re reading everything from the story of Ruby Bridges to books on how to be identify different emotions, and everything in between. If you’re lost for ideas, there are tons of websites out there with recommendations for any value you’re trying to teach.
  2. Volunteer. We’ve packed food at Feed My Starving Children, cleaned out toys to take to Goodwill, bought groceries for families in need, and of course, they see what we’re doing for Support the Girls.
  3. Talk about what it means to be kind, generous, compassionate and empathetic. Any situation can be a learning experience from Ella having trouble with a kid at school to why there is a person holding a sign asking for money by the exit ramp.

Now, I am not claiming to be an expert and my kids definitely have a naughty streak. They still fight with each other and talk back from time to time. I’m also far from a perfect parent, is their such a thing? Overall, I think my kids are pretty awesome and we just want to do what we can not to raise kids that think because it’s not happening to them, that it’s not happening at all.

My Babies

Happy Mother’s Day

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These two monkeys. They are the most beautiful, funny, sweet and challenging people I’ve ever known. Motherhood has been everything and nothing I expected. While the days can be long, the weeks, months and years fly by. There are days with tears, tantrums and time-outs (both for them and me). While these days are the most challenging, they are worth all the other days that are filled with laughter and cuddles.

I don’t know if I’m doing it right. Most days, I’m sure that I’m probably not. What I do know is that both Ella and Anderson know how much they are loved. They know that I will always be therefor them. They know that I am so proud of them and proud to be their mom.

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Almost Wordless Wednesday

A while back I decided I wanted to limit how much I put about the kids on my blog. Other than obvious privacy reasons for safety, Ella is going to be starting school and it won’t be long before she and her friends (or pseudo-friends) figure out how to Google each other.

Anyway, I had to share this picture I snapped today. It is moments like these, that make my hard days worth it. It makes me feel like we must be doing something right to have two kids that love each other, and us, this much.

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My heart bursts with love and joy.

Wah Wah

That is how I’ve been feeling lately. Sluggish, uninspired, just kind of blah. I could blame it on the weather, which has taken a nasty turn into arctic territory (-8 is the forecasted high for Sunday, yes I said high) or the post-holiday blues, but I think it’s just me.

I guess that is part of the reason I’ve been so quiet lately. I just haven’t felt like blogging only to complain about my current state of body confidence or share every thing my kids are doing these days. Plus, I’ve been looking for a few more jobs to work on in my spare time* and doing lots of kid activities. I’m really so lucky have the opportunity to spend my days with the kids, going to school with them, being there for ice skating, swimming and music classes. While there is hilarity in various aspects of our day, I have a feeling it’s funnier to me than it would be to anyone else.

As far as running and exercise goes, I’ve been running (up to 30 mpw) and even did an indoor triathlon with Josh a few weeks back. I’ve also been hitting Orangetheory once a week, which I love and will post about more later.  I’m currently about 8-10 lbs heavier than I was a year ago at this time. It’s a number I haven’t seen on the scale since I was trying to lost post-baby weight with Anderson. I’m not happy about it. Even with all that exercise my scale isn’t budging. That does not help with my current blahness. It will come off or it won’t. My body seems to be adjusting to not being pregnant or nursing for the first time in five years. I honestly think my metabolism is confused.

This week marked the first week of training for the Lake Wobegon Marathon in May. I’ve been working on finalizing my training plan and setting realistic goals for this very flat, fast course. I’m excited, though this nasty weather has me running inside this weekend. Now I will have a plan to follow, rather than aimlessly running. Maybe those crazy intervals I’ll be running once a week with kick my body into gear.

I used the New Year as a catalyst to jump start my attitude and hopefully get rid of those extra pounds. Eating more whole foods, trying not to snack with the kids do, and eat a single Kiss or Rolo when my sugar craving hits, forcing myself to wear pant with zippers and buttons , you know the little things. I guess you don’t notice the extra pounds when you’re in workout clothes all the time.

So here’s to starting over in 2016. Better wife, better mother, better friend, better daughter, better sister and better blogger.

*Side note, if anyone has part-time or one-off marketing or writing related projects, I’m interested.

Hope for My Children

“I want to watch the news mom,” Ella casually said yesterday morning. She knew of course, that she is not allowed to watch TV during the week, but thought she’d try a new angle saying she wanted to know what the weather would be like. A clever ploy. While impressed by the approach, I could not bring myself to turn on the news, for fear she’d see the hate, violence and fearmongering that is more present than ever in our society.

I don’t advocate raising kids in a bubble, where they think the world is a beautiful, peaceful place all the time, but how do you explain the temperature of our country, our world right now? How do you explain the horrible terrorist attack in Paris, the shooting (which I consider domestic terrorism) at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and the possible terrorist attack (domestic terrorism even if its not officially determined to be a terrorist attack) in San Bernardino? How do I explain the hateful words coming out of politicians mouths about a religion, a culture, a group of people? I don’t know.

Every night Josh and I talk about the outrageous posts we see on Facebook, the latest news clips and how we just don’t understand how people are so closed-minded. We agree that ignorance, tends to breed fear. Fear is a powerful force, a feeling that people want to avoid when possible. They want a quick solution that will make them sleep easier at night, even if it is putting others at risk. The problem is there is no quick solution. What we also agree upon is that fear is absolutely not an excuse for discrimination. By the end of the night, he usually tells me I should not be on Facebook any more because it makes me feel rage and sadness, even embarrassment in my fellow Americans.

So, instead of letting our four year old watch the news, we’re talking about how what makes us all different is what makes our country special. That for no reason should we be mean or hateful towards someone because of the color of their skin, their religion, where they live, how they speak or any disability they may have. While there are bad people within every culture, the bad people do not define an entire culture. If they don’t understand something, ask questions, read books, learn more. It’s important not to cast aside people because we’re afraid of what we don’t know.

Every day I hope that those who are shouting the loudest right now, are a minority. I’m hopeful that respect will overcome fear and hate. I hope that should our children choose to change their religious affiliation or fall in love with someone from another culture, they won’t be too afraid of the possible repercussions to live their lives.

Hope will not bring about change, it will not solve the worlds problems, but it is something I will not let go of, for my sake and my children.