Be The Swede

I recently heard of a story where a young man grabbed his girlfriend at a party and teasingly taunted her by threatening to throw her into the pool.  He laughed and she tried to break free as the crowd around them chanted, “Do it! Do it!”  They both ended up in the pool and he surfaced full of pride and laughing.  However she came up, fully clothed with the look on her face that every woman knows.   It says, “I must pretend.  I can’t let them see how terrifying that was because I will be labeled ‘not fun’ or ‘too sensitive’.  Don’t let them see how you really feel.”

In this world, around every corner, there are Anonymous, scared faces, there are Brocks, there are crowds, and there are Swedes.  The Anonymous, scared faces have found themselves in situations out of their control.  Maybe they made a (or some) bad choice or maybe it is of no fault of their own- how they got there doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that they didn’t choose THIS moment at THIS time.  There are also Brocks, those who use circumstance, strength and power to force another to do something or be a part of something against their will.  No one should ever have to know the feeling of having their body used against their will.  There are also crowds.  They ignore they feelings and faces and only focus on “minding their own business” or “all for the sake of fun.”  These people have forgotten their responsibility to the soul.  They have chosen to ignore the pain and suffering and trauma of others.  And then there are Swedes.  They are the heroes.  They are the ones that despite the late hour or the darkness, they have taught themselves to not only be in a position to SEE but also to DO.  They provide the rest of us with hope. 

I have realized that I am raising a whole slew of white, privileged children.  I cannot promise you how they will turn out- that is yet to be determined and free agency is real.  But, I can promise you what I will teach them.  I teach them that they are NEVER to use their strength and power to take away the choice of another person.  This is especially true but not exclusive to the rights one has over his/her own body.  I teach my slew of white, privileged boys that as a man who is genetically stronger and larger (it’s biology), they have a solemn responsibility to respect and protect those weaker and smaller.  If roles were reversed and that young lady had tried to force a young man into the pool against his will, and he truly did NOT want to go- he would have thrown her in, and she could not have stopped him.  So why then is it ok for him to force her to do something, with her body, that she is powerless to prevent?  (Hint= IT ISN’T).  And just as important, I am teaching my boys that when they witness someone whose mother didn’t teach them this vital lesson (or that person chose to not listen to Mama), as the stronger, more capable and momentarily safe person, they have that same solemn responsibility to SEE and then DO something about it; to STOP the misuse of strength and power.  I teach them to please be the Swede. 

And if the day comes that my children do the unthinkable and cause harm to another and break my mother heart, I will stand by them.  But, I will not, ever cause further harm and trauma to their victim and sacrifice a soul in order to soften the natural consequences of their choices.  My love for my children and my desire for them to be truly happy just simply will not allow it.  Support does not equate consequence padding, it instead teaches them strength and integrity. 

Thank you Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson for providing me real life heroes and role models for my children just by being who you are. 

Because of you I have a tangible example of how to teach my children to SEE the soul and then DO something.  And because of you, in our family doing the right thing,  will always be synonymous with #BeTheSwede


My New Year's Resolution

I actually think New Year's Resolutions are kinda funny.  If you don't like something about your life, why would you wait until the start of the New Year to change it?  But, it just so happens that the New Year is starting in a few weeks.  So, I am calling my goal a New Year's Resolution because it sounds more exciting than, "The Resolution I'm Starting Today", but rest assured, I will be starting it today, not in 3 weeks.

There are a few women in my life that I REALLY admire.  Women who I aspire to be like.  They are women who are charitable, kind, wise, and render service.  I listen intently to their every word because I want to learn all I can from them.  I want to use what I learn from them to be a better person.

But, it has become apparent to me lately, that not every woman admires the qualities in other women that they wish they could master themselves.  I have been shocked lately by the number of women I have heard beating up on themselves for their weaknesses or worst- beating up on other women to make themselves feel better.

We spend our days teaching our children to not fight, to be nice and not bully each other, so when did it become okay for us, as adults to glorify blogs like this, where women compare themselves to and them shred to pieces another mom for trying their best.  When, on earth did it become okay to "punch [someone] in the throat"?  Sure, it's all fun and games... until someone gets hurt.  And quite often, when you talk like that, Your. Words. Hurt.

We all have our own individual and unique strengths.  Sure, some moms have a Magic Elf, and others have no where near the energy even think about it.  But, that is because those moms are planning and throwing amazing holiday parties, for each one of their kids or they are spending their Saturdays at their son's ball games, with all the other kids in tow.  Some moms fill their homes (and the minds of their kiddos) with beautiful, amazing music and others ensure that their children are flooded with the arts.  Some moms spend hours of their day reading to their children, while others are constantly volunteering at their kids' schools.  Some moms even spend every Saturday teaching their children the value of serving others and how to become more Christlike.  But, none of us, do it all.  Nor do we need to.  We all have our own unique and individual talents that we share with our families, and the world around us, that makes us all AMAZING wives, women and mothers.

Life is hard.  Being a woman is hard.  Being a wife, can be hard.  And being a mother is DEFINITELY hard.  We are all just trying our very best.  We should be judging ourselves (and others) much less and relishing in our strengths.  We should be building each other up and encouraging one another.  We should be sharing what we have learned through our kind, humble actions.  There is NEVER a reason to tear someone else down in order to make yourself feel better.

As my very dear friend recently said, "If you don't like something, change it."  So, instead of beating up on another mom for trying her best, change your own life.  Or don't.  But, let's stop beating on ourselves and each other.

So, my New Year's Resolution, that is starting today, is to be more loving and more supportive.  It is to be less judgmental and more helpful.  And it is definitely to be proud of my strengths and change the things I don't like.

So, who wants to jump on my bandwagon?  If you too want to share my 'New Year's Resolution' than do just that- "share" it.  Or comment.  Or "Like" it.  Or better yet, send a card to another mom you admire and let them know you think they are doing a great job.  But, don't wait until January 1st.  Do it today.

Whaddya think?


It's Just Paper...

Sometimes, people hurt my feelings.

Ok- not very often, I usually have a pretty thick skin.  But, lately (over the past few years), I've felt judged.  Because of my bank account.

I recently wrote about this subject, Why people hate those who have more than they have, but it seems like it is becoming an epidemic.  A trend to make life completely equal.  A trophy for every child.  No more gift exchanges because one gift might be better (more costly) than another.  The drive to make sure no one feels bad because they couldn't do what someone else could do.

I cringe to think of a world without Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy because sometimes they are more generous to one kid than they are to another.

Lately, I've heard statements like this:

"I think it's rude when people put pictures of their (toys, vacations, etc) on facebook.  It's like they are bragging about how much money they have " (although- ironically it's ok if a "poor"er person does this- just not the "wealthy" person)

"Easy for you to say, you have money"

"You wouldn't understand what it's like to be poor"

Really?  Now I will say the last 3ish years of my life have been very financially comfortable.  But, I didn't grow up like this, we WORKED and went without all the toys everyone else had, for YEARS, to live like this.  (I remember, very well, when I had to pay $33.14 a month for my birth control pills and when my doctor changed the prescription and the pills then cost $34.56 a month, I about choked- and this was after we paid for insurance- our insurance just didn't cover them).  And even when my husband graduated and got a job, we scrimped and saved and were REALLY slow to get all the toys everyone else had, because financial security was just more important.  And no one was going to be there to bail us out when we got in over our heads.

Having a financially stable life does NOT make me incompassionate, insincere, lazy, snotty or rude.  Those are character traits that a person CHOOSES to have, they are not caused by a dollar.

And the balance of an account does NOT guarantee a happy life or the lack of trials in one's life.  I can buy any pair of boots I'd like, but I can not call my mother on the phone and tell her about my day.  I feel pain, physical pain, when I see a girl lay her head on her mother's shoulder at church (and not in a 'I can't have that so you shouldn't either way.  I am so glad they do have that, I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone.  I just wish I had it too).  I will never vacation with my mother or have her give me parenting advise.  I can long to talk to her all I want and no one will ever be able to fill that void.

So, why is my void considered "just life" and the financial void in another's is considered a tragedy?  I know that my life is amazing, especially compared to so many others, but that does not lessen the pain in my life.  Just as the pain in someone's else's life is no less important because of the pain in my life.  I do not expect everyone else to make up for the lack in my life, so why are financial inconsistencies different?

Now, I'm not saying that we should let those less fortunate suffer.  (On the contrary, I feel it is my responsibility to lift the burdens- which is why I spent more on other people's children for Christmas than I did on my own....)  So, why am I judged for wearing True Religion jeans?  When did 'success become demonized'?

I don't think any less of the person who has less than I do, and I certainly don't feel like I'm any better than they are, so why do so many of them hate me?  I give A. Lot.  Often times, I give to those who have hurt my feelings.

Money is not the answer to life's problems.  (and that's when I hear, 'easy for you to say'....).  Love, compassion and kindness are.

So, please stop judging me for the brand of jeans I wear or the vacation I go on.  I have no clue what jeans you wear and I LOVE seeing pictures of you happy on vacation.  I LOVE seeing pictures of your crazy elf and the toys you got for Christmas and I LOVE it when money isn't an issue in our friendship.  Because, to me, it's just paper.

Whaddya think?


The Voices of Motherhood

I've been watching mothers lately.  Well, not exactly lately... I've been watching mothers, closely, since I had my own kids.  Watching other mothers is a great way to get natural and pressure free parenting advice.  There are so many different parenting styles and observing mother/father/child interactions is a great way to see which philosophies work the best for your family.

In my mother watching, (and I use mothers loosely as "parents"- I just have more interactions with mothers- but mothers and fathers can be used interchangeably here) I've noticed, that when a child misbehaves or presses the limits in some way, mothers use four basic responses in dealing with their children.  Personally, I've used each one, depending on the situation, but I think all of us favor one method or the other and the one we favor makes a large difference on the overall behavior of our children.

1.  The Redirection.
This is when the child wants a lollypop and instead of saying what you are thinking, "NO way, are you crazy!?  I'm making dinner???" you say, "oh look at these yummy cucumbers.  I can cut them like a heart and that will be so much fun!"

The Redirection contains a fun, alternative activity/solution so that the word "No" does not have to be introduced.  Sometimes, the Redirection is so much easier than the fight, especially when the fight (the lollypop verses the cucumber), really isn't that big of a deal in the overall picture.

The Redirection becomes less effective in the overall picture when it is a child throwing rocks at people being redirected to throw them in the lake instead, for example.  Some things are worth the fight.

2.  The Whine.
The Whine is actually a whine from the parents.  It is usually accompanied with statements such as, "why did you throw your plate on the floor?" or "Don't hit your brother with the stick."  The Whine also generally has omitted the authoritative "No!"

I admit, I have been known to use the Whine, but it generally accompanies complete accidents with statements like "why did you spill your milk again?" or "you knocked over the laundry I just folded?"  My Whine is usually followed by a "Please be more careful..."

Quite often, though, I have observed the Whine used for much more serious infractions.  The problem with the Whine is that the children don't learn the seriousness of their infraction, just like with the Redirection.  They have no reason to change the behavior, whether it is knocking over the folded laundry, running out in the street or coloring on a playdate's coffee table.

3.  The Mom Voice
The Mom Voice is a stern, no- nonsense, ever so slightly raised tone of voice that portrays the seriousness of the situation. The Mom Voice generally contains the word "No" (or a form of it) and is accompanied with a look that could melt butter in an ice storm.  Occasionally it is followed up with the threat of a consequence but generally the memories of past consequences stop the behavior with just the reminding look and tone of voice.  (The Mom Voice only works effectively when the promised consequence is actually followed up on, otherwise, The Mom Voice has no credence.)

4. The Scream
The Scream is just that, an end of the rope, all patience lost, all out scream(ing).  Some moms begin and end with this (and all in between) and some moms resort to this when they have lost every other battle and are at the end of their rope.  (We've all been there.)

I'm sure, at some point, we've each done it all.  But, I have noticed that we all favor one method.  What do you use and how's it working for you?

Whaddya think?


A Nation Divided: Why I Think Obama Won

(If you follow me on Facebook, I apologize, much of this has been said there...)

I believe in charity.  I whole heartedly believe that we should help those who are less fortunate than us, and I do, in large amounts, but there is a difference between helping and enabling.  No matter how many programs we form, life will never be fair.  My mother died, your didn't.  My husband had holes in his shoes growing up, I didn't.  My children are healthy, someone else's are sick.  Life will never be fair.  Many of the so called 'freebies' handed out by the government today are America's way of trying to make life fair, but laws and programs shouldn't be made to make life fair; they should be made to better society as a whole.  I believe, these 'freebies' should be helping people get back on their feet, but more often they are teaching people to rely on the government to support them.  Obama won because much of America has developed this sense of entitlement. 'You have it, so I should too.' 'You owe me this because I am a human being.'  America doesn't 'owe' you just because your life isn't fair.

To be clear- I have NO problem with government funding supporting those who absolutely cannot support themselves.  The very old, the very sick, the disabled, etc.  Those people absolutely deserve help and support.  Helping those, who truly cannot help themselves in not enabling.  Enabling is helping all of those who CAN help themselves , but choose not too because there are government funding options.

I don't believe that paying for abortions (which I am morally opposed to- but required to fund), free needle exchanges and some one's food and living expenses while they are receiving a high quality higher education because they don't want to work through school or take out student loans (all while I am still paying off my own student loans because I thought my education was MY responsibility) is not helping the poor and needy.  Sure, it will help them in the short term, but it won't help them in the long term.  I believe in self reliance as much as I believe in charity.  Our charity should be helping the poor become self reliant.  Some times that is with food and shelter and a hand up, but not to the extent that the government issues now.  No free needle exchange ever helped an addict kick their habit.
Our society would be better off in the long run if we taught those less fortunate to fish rather than giving them fish, shelter and free higher education.  No great thing was ever achieved without sacrifice and effort.

Let me close by saying that although I did not vote for Obama, I do not think he is the devil reincarnate. I may not agree with his politics and policies, but I do think that he is trying his best to do what he believes is in the best interest for our country.  And, now that he has been elected, even though I don't agree with his policies, he deserves our prayers and support.

Whaddya think?

as a p.s.- I know politics are a HEATED topic and I'm sure you have opinions of your own.  If you can't express your political opinion without rudeness and malice, MOVE ON.  Hatefulness is not welcome here.  Everyone has a right to their opinion, and I'm happy to listen to it.  But that is what every political side is- someone's opinion based on a theory.  And all theories have statics and studies to back them up.  So feel free to express your opinion, but BE KIND.


Lessons learned from Corvettes and Luggage Carts

A couple months ago, I sat down, finally, with a mountain of clean laundry to fold.  I turned on day time tv which I generally think is full of trash,  but found "Dr. Phil".  I like Dr. Phil.  I'd like to ask him a few questions myself, but that is a different post...

He was talking to parents with troubled teens, just like he is on almost every show.  I don't remember what the show was specifically about, but he said something that really stuck with me.  He talked about how his son had really wanted a fast, fancy sports car for his 16th birthday.  A corvette, or something equivalent to it, and his son was all excited about the horsepower and torque the car would produce.  Dr. Phil must have been pretty wealthy by then because he wasn't concerned about the price but rather the power the car had.  He said he wouldn't buy the car for his son because we shouldn't place our kids in dangerous situations that they don't have the experience to predict the outcome.  We shouldn't expect our kids to respond to life's challenges based on our life experiences.  They haven't lived as long and learned as much as we have.

Makes sense.

Logical but often forgotten.

I think quite often I expect different behaviors from my children than I see because that is how a grown up would react but I forget to take the time to teach them the lesson that would lead to the appropriate response.

A month ago, I took all four of my kids and I traveled across the country with them.  By myself. (sucker).  We had a 5 hour flight.  A 2 hour layover.  A 2 hour flight.  And then a 2 hour drive.  We left at 8 am pst and arrived at 1:00 am est.  It was a long day.  I had: a 10 year old, 7 year old, 4 year old, 2 month old, 4 backpacks, 4 car seats, 7 suitcases, a stroller, a baby front carrier and a partridge in a pear tree.  Once the 2 hour flight landed, I had to get a rental car and load all of us, and our luggage, up and drive the remaining 2 hours, by myself (super sucker).  I figured I could carry Bubbles in the pouch while pushing a luggage cart with half of the suitcases, Buster could push the other luggage cart and Dodger could push Rascal in the stroller.  And all of us could carry a backpack.  In order to test my theory, when my sidekick, nervously, dropped us off at the airport, we "practiced".  I'm sure we were a sight,  all of us loaded down and my Sidekick holding his breath walking next to us, empty handed.

As Buster pushed his (heavy) luggage cart up a sidewalk ramp, he took it at a diagonal.  Now, any adult knows that if you take a 3 wheeled cart (1 wheel in the front, 2 in the back) up a ramp at a diagonal, you will not get favorable results.  So, when the entire cart tipped over and my Sidekick saw possible future events displayed before him, he was NOT happy.  We were loaded down and I couldn't put the cart back together with a baby strapped to my chest.  So, in the tense chaos, as we were reloading, I took a breath, lest it happened again while I was alone with them.  I said, "Buster, look at the wheels.  If you take the triangle pattern wheels at a diagonal, it will loose it's balance and tip.  You need to go straight, head on, up the ramp."

He looked at me, wide eyed, with a new understanding in his eyes, and said, "oh and that's different from my bike.  I have to go at a diagonal on my bike up a curb so I don't loose balance and fall."

And thus it is Dr. Phil.  We expected Buster to handle the adult situation based on our experience but he had not yet learned the lessons he needed to succeed.  He used the limited experiences he'd had in his young life which didn't get accurate results.

This was a luggage cart, not a dangerous situation, but the lesson is still the same.

So, as you place your kids in new situations, take a minute to look at it from their perspective and see if they have the skills they need to succeed.  Because one day, that luggage cart could be a corvette.

Whaddya think?


This Mother's Day

My life is complete.

Last year on Mother's Day, I never could have guessed the year we would have and the lengths we would travel this year.  But, now that the hard part is over, and I can look back and reflect on the journey that we have taken, I am full of gratitude to my Father in Heaven who has entrusted me with this journey.

As I reflect on the immense blessings in my life, my heart is full and swirling with so many thoughts.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a mother.  After spending 2 years with so many adoption hopeful couples who are searching for the children who will complete their family, I am keenly aware of all of the mothers today whose arms ache for the children they long to hold.  The ones they have lost and the ones they have yet to receive.  Having had Mothers Days with aching arms, I will always say a prayer on this day, for those who long to feel as complete as I do today.  Happy Mother's Day to you.  One day, your arms will be full.

I am grateful to all the Mothers in my life.  Due to the course of events that my life has taken, I have been blessed to have many mothers.  From each of them, I have learned special skills.  Listening, Loving, Organization, Happiness, Nurturing.  I am grateful to each one of them and the love and guidance they have shown me.  Thank you.

I am tearfully grateful for this Mother's Day.  It was a Mother's Day that she didn't get to have.  So as my children run and scream around me and test our patience to the limits, I am glad that I have the opportunity to be tested.  My life would be so dull and lonely without the noise and chaos.  I am glad I get to live this Mother's Day and so many after.

But, mostly, this Mother's Day, I am grateful to feel complete.  Last year, on Mother's Day, I remember sitting in church and feeling the ache in my arms for the life we had yet to add to our family.  A dear friend handed me a card that she had written me acknowledging the ache I must be feeling that day.  As I sat in church today, I saw this friend and remembered that feeling of incomplete that I had felt.  I had so much, yet I knew there was someone missing.  But, as I sat in church today, I felt that the weight of the last year had lifted and a feeling of completeness had taken it's place.  This year, for Mother's Day, my Sidekick and I had 4 children and we were a Complete Family.  The brothers have voted and we have decided that our caboose will be named Bubbles.  She is our special gift.  We all worked so hard to get her here.

This year, on Mother's Day, my life is perfectly complete.  I am grateful for all the mothers who have loved me, but mostly I am grateful for the gift I have been given to be a mother to Buster, Dodger, Rascal and Bubbles.

I love you all so much.

Whaddya think?