A Mother's Christmas Wish

This week is Dodger's birthday and so I can't help but reflect on the week he was born six years ago. Having a baby a week before Christmas is hectic and requires some advance planning. I had to be completely ready for Christmas well in advance; all the shopping, delivering, wrapping, and preparing had to be done because I knew that once that baby came there would be no time for Christmas preparations.

But, once he came, all of the bows and wrappings and gifts were just not what I was thinking of. As I looked at my tiny little boy, I couldn't help but realize the similarities between what I was feeling and what another mother felt two thousand years before:

A long time ago on a cold winter night, in a land far, far away, a Mother held her newborn son and with a full heart, said a prayer to thank her Father in Heaven for this treasure he had entrusted her with. She knew she had an important job to do. She had to raise her son to love and honor His Father and to be true to Himself. So, she vowed to her Father that she would do all in her power, and never quit, to teach her child the things she should so he could fulfill His role on Earth. She loved her baby, and she wanted Him to fulfill His mission. She didn't know everything that He was sent to do, but she knew that, though it would be terribly hard, it was also vitally important. Yet as she looked at him that night, all she saw a beautiful yet helpless, defenseless baby, that she would have to serve and teach and love.

In some way, isn't that how we all feel as we look at our new babies? Whether they are born in December, March or June, each child comes to earth with a role that, in some way, is vitally important. So, this year, don't forget in addition to the glitter and glamor of Christmas, to give your child the gift of service. Give her the gift of strength. Give him the gift of love. Because it is our job as parents to help them fulfill their missions.

Merry Christmas!

Whaddya think?


To the Soldiers in My Life

Thursday, is Veterans Day. To some, that may mean a day off of work or school. To some, it means that they don't get their mail, or they won't be able to go to the library. For others, it means good sales at their favorite stores. And to others, it is just any ordinary day.

For me, it isn't an ordinary day. Or an ordinary week. When my kindergartener's teacher sent home a little paper star that we could use to write the name of a veteran on for their Veteran's Wall, I spent hours with Dodger making a poster with pictures and stories of the veterans we love that could go on the Veteran Wall. Dodger loves them and loved honoring them that way. And today, I will spend hours with my 3rd grader preparing our presentation for his class on my grandfather who fought on Iwo Jima. By the end of this week, my Buster will know what exactly that means.

For me, this week is my grandfather. It's my brother in law. My Cousin, my Uncle, my friend. Veteran's Day is the boy who was too young to enlist, so at 17 he convinced his parents to sign the consent. It is the "lineman", who at 18, snuck behind enemy lines and by the light of cigarette lighter would repair the communication lines so his fellow marines could effectively communicate. It is the young boy who watched his friends and comrades falling around him but kept on fighting. It is the newly wed, who leaves his new wife in the care of her parents, wishing and praying and for her sake, promising, that he will return home safely to her. It is the young husband, who kisses his wife and rubs her bulging belly, knowing that he will miss the birth of his first born child. It is the young boy, who has grown to be a man and still has nightmares about the men he has seen on the battlefield, carrying their own arms or holding in their intestines to keep them from spilling out. It is about the men and women, all of them, who have fought for the life I live today.

I am grateful for the Veterans in my life. I am grateful for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families. And I will honor them by passing on their legacy. I will tell my children, and anyone else who will listen, about my family's part in Sasebo, the battle of Normandy, Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. My grandpa is not buried in the cemetary of the Fifth Marine Corp at the base of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jimo, he still lives at home, with my Grandmother. But, many, many marines are buried there. My brother in law did keep his promise, he came home safely to my sister, but his friend and comrade didn't. So for the ones who did return and more importantly the ones who didn't, Thank you. Happy Veteran's Day.

Whaddya think?


When the Unexpected Happens

Our good friend lost his job last week. He was president of the company, so this was a bit unexpected. His wife is a dear friend of mine, so I briefly shared your experiences with her to let her know that they can emerge from this okay. What are your words of wisdom that I can share with them?

A few years ago, my husband worked for Washington Mutual. One Friday, he left work (amid rumors of turmoil) working for WaMu and returned to work on Monday working for Chase. It became very apparent, very quickly that his days with employment were coming quickly to an end. We would get some severance and we had savings so I sat down right away and figured just how long we could get by. I wrote out a very detailed budget and cut out all the fluff of our lives. I found a reasonable health insurance plan and made a list of all the "extras" that had to be cut. I figured that we had a year before we started to go into debt. Our tight budget was to start the very first day that unemployment started. Fortunately, we never had to use our tight budget, but I was ready. I was prepared; mentally and financially. You never know what is going to happen, but it never hurts to be over prepared. Now, I have a year supply of laundry soap, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, hair spray and 8+ months of food. We try to stay prepared for the unexpected.

Once the trials begin, I think sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the turmoil of the every day and we forget to look at the bigger picture. The Lord has a plan for each of us, sometimes that plan has a rocky road, but he knows how best to get us to where we need to be. Despite the challenges of the day to day, we will always fare better if we have faith in his plan for us. He knows us best. Of course it would have been easier if we could have just looked into the crystal ball and seen how wonderfully it would all work out, but then what would we have learned?

And most importantly, never forget the power of positive thinking. Life is only as good, or bad, as you think it is. So, chin up, put your shoulder to the wheel and keep on pushing through!

Whaddya think?



I Can Do Hard Things

Today I had a new friend tell me that her motto is, "I Can Do Hard Things". I liked that.

I think often in life we are asked to do hard things or deal with hard situations. Maybe it is to run an organization of youth while we are seriously ill or maybe it is learning how to effectively raise a difficult child. Possibly someone close to you has died or you have been unfairly wronged or hurt by someone or some situation. Maybe you have a teacher with whom you don't see eye to eye. Your challenge could be that you so desperately want children that others so easily seem to get, but are tragically unable to. Or maybe, for a million other reasons, your life is just plain hard.

But, you know what? That's ok, because life isn't supposed to be easy. If it was, what would be the point? What could we possibly learn from a life of constant ease and happiness? There would be no comparison, no contrast, no lessons to grow from or goals to work towards.

I have had my fair share of hardships in life, and I'm sure I'm not done. But, I have learned something along the way of life's roller coaster: Everything in life has a lesson and it's my job to find it and learn from it.

When I suffered a series of miscarriages, I learned that others too have suffered like I did and I gained strength and hope from listening to their stories and learning from them. I learned that one day, I too would be the success story that could share and encourage others who were suffering. I could let them know that there is hope and the end result will be every bit worth the journey.

When my mother died, I learned that life can change in an instant and so you should live life to the fullest. Tell those you love, that you love them, and never take them for granted.

When I was asked to lead a youth organization while I was so sick I could scarcely feed and care for my one small child, I learned that I am more capable than I think I am. I learned that with the Lord's help, I can accomplish anything. I learned that with His help, I too, can do hard things.

One of the biggest things I have learned from the hardships of life, is that if you look for the lessons, the hardships become more of a learning experience and less of a challenge.

So, next time you are offended by something someone has said, you are stressed about the components of your life, or you are saddened by a tragic event in your life, take courage. Everything in life has a lesson. Look for it and gain strength from the new knowledge you have learned. Grow from it and use it to build up the people around you. Because you too, can do hard things.

Whaddya think?


Just Go Play!

My almost 9 year old, Buster, had a few free minutes before school this morning. He chose to spend his time playing the computer. By the time we left for the bus, he was irritable, snappy and frustrated because the computer "wasn't working". My kids have limited "screen time" and we had quite a structured summer, and still I noticed, that during "no screen" free time, they had a really hard time figuring out what to do. Without the guidance of directions and a screen, they were at a loss of exactly how to spend their time. It took encouragement and threats of locking the door to keep them in the backyard (which is quite spacious with lots of play structures and toys). They'd come in "bored" after only a few minuted of bike riding or shooting hoops. I offered them all kinds of fun activities (board games, legos, cleaning toilets, etc) but they refused to get engaged without threats of bodily harm. Sometimes we need to use a screen to babysit for us so we can get a few things done, but I've noticed that generally I pay for that because the time ends in screaming fights and ornery kids.

I think somewhere in this world of DS's, Wii's, xbox's, computers, ipods and cell phones, our kids have missed out on good, imaginative play. They haven't learned how to problem solve and think for themselves; lessons that are vital to their happiness now and as adults. They are too busy with piano, soccer, basketball and swim lessons (all adult structured activities) to help in the family's garden or spend an afternoon raking leaves. They don't know how to make change and pay cash for purchases (and be fiscally responsible) because everything is paid for with plastic. They don't know how to solve their own boredom. In short, they've missed out on the most important lesson they should have learned while being kids: how to think for themselves. I read one article that said, "[Children] are overseen, supervised, directed and micromanaged from morning until night by well-intentioned adults who claim to care about children but seem to know nothing about childhood. And so, the variable most lacking in the lives of children who currently live in the Land of the Free is freedom itself."

So, its that time of year again when I am getting into my Christmas planning mode and I am at a total loss. I don't want to buy another game system. I would rather not buy anything electronic. I want to give my kids things they will play with and think about, but I don't know where to start. (Which is probably why society is in this mess.) I would love to get them some models to build or help them find things to collect and explore. I've done this in the past and its always flopped. They never played with the toys. So, I'm asking you. How do we help our children become children again?

Whaddya think?


If Only...

This past weekend, my Sidekick and I went on our first romantic getaway in over 4 years. We left the boys with friends (thanks!), and headed for the hills (literally- we went to a nice, quiet resort town in the mountains). It was beautiful, our suite was beautiful and it was fanastic eating whatever we wanted, sleeping however long we wanted, and going where ever we wanted. It was the perfect weekend, right up until we loaded up the trunk and walked around to unlock the doors. That was the moment that we realized we had just locked BOTH sets of keys in the trunk. The trunk of the convertible mustang (which has no trunk release anywhere in the car- you either needed the keyfob or the key- ALL of which were IN THE TRUNK).

We were over 100 miles from home, out in the middle of no where, with no way in the trunk. We had My Sidekick's wallet, our phones and a bottle of water (and a pack of Mamba candy- thank heavens!) It was pretty stressful, but we took a deep breath and jumped into gear, looking up numbers on our phones with the help of google and making calls. After an hour and half a dozen phone calls, we found a locksmith that could drive out and make us a new key for $150. A little over an hour later, we were on our way, with a new key and the info we needed to get reinbursed from our insurance.

As we were driving home after our mini crisis, we passed a road sign that said, "50 Days Since the Last Serious Accident. Please Drive Safely." The number on the sign was electronic and it obviously updated daily and had the ability to be reset. 50 Days ago, some one was in a serious accident on that same road. The sign was most likely there because there had been many serious accidents on that road. Possibly even fatalities. It made me start thinking, what if our mini crisis had saved our lives? What if this irritating and uncomfortable experience had put us on the road 2ish hours later to avoid a serious accident or some other tragedy?

I've seen lives forever changed in an instant and quite often when there is a tragedy, we say, "If only...". "If only they had taken another route home." "If only her mom had found her sooner." "If only the driver had had one less beer." "If only..." Have you ever stopped to wonder how many times "If only" did happen. Once we were staying in our familys' cabin. I put Rascal, who was not yet 1, down for a nap while the adults did work updating the cabin. Halfway into his nap, an annoying alarm kept going off through the monitor that I had luckily ("if only") brought. It turned out that it was the carbon monoxide detector that my aunt and uncle had luckily ("if only") brought to the cabin. It had been set off by the generator that was running right next to Rascal's room. He would have died that day, but instead, by divine intervention, "if only" happened. I will be eternally grateful to the baby monitor and the aunt and uncle that saved my baby's life.

I'm sure this is not the only time "if only" has happened in my life. It's just one of the only times that I was aware of it. So, instead of being all upset that our weekend getaway and subsequent evening was ruined and altered (we had a babysitter that we had to cancel, we missed a meeting we had wanted to attend, and we had to impose on our friends to keep our kids longer than originally planned), I am grateful that sometimes "if only" happens, even if it is irritating at the time. Chances are, we would have driven home just fine, without incident, but you never know... I imagine all of the near misses are recorded on the other side, and I bet we'll all be really surprised when we get there and see just how many times there actually were in our lives.


Today, I Am Grateful

In a day when we are plagued with all the ways in which our world and society is going down the drain, its good to know we are doing a few things right. There are ways in which we are still progressing. One of them is medical advances. Our healthcare system might need a bandaid, (or maybe even a body cast), but our life expectancy has reach an all time high. Since obesity and diabetes are still on the rise, we Americans have some work to do to improve our health. But, the advances in cancer treatments, infant mortality rates, treatments of heart disease, hypertension and infectious disease can be attributed to the great advances in modern medicine. And for that, I am truly grateful. As a result of these modern advances, today I will change diapers, make lunches, do laundry and play outside with my kids. Due to the advances of modern medicine, today, tomorrow and the rest of my week, will continue as normal.

For the last couple of years, my Dad, who is nearing 60 (which was the life expectancy of a male in 1930 and 12 years past the life expectancy of males in 1900) has suffered from shortness of breath. All of the tests and prodding only proved that he was remarkably healthy for his age. Finally, after a couple of years, he found a super fancy smancy doctor that ran a few tests and determined he had an extra heart muscle growing over a valve of his heart. It was an easy fix to remove it. Long story short, it didn't turn out to be an easy fix to remove it. Its a heart. With all kinds of intricate pieces really close together. After he coded a couple of times and spent a week in intense pain in the ICU, while we all prayed and held our breath, he stabilized and they popped in a pace maker with a defibrilator. And I say popped, because that seemed to be the easiest part of the whole ordeal. Now I tell you this long saga, because 50 years ago, my Dad would have died from all of this. The first external pacemaker wasn't invented until the 1930s and the first internal pacemaker wasn't until the 1950s. Pacemakers with defibrilators, were invented 10 years ago. There wouldn't have been a doctor that could have removed the extra muscle in the first place, so my Dad would have suffered from shortness of breath until his heart wore out and he had a heart attack. Fifty years ago, I would have been attending a funeral this week for the only parent I have left.

Ten years ago, I had a tubal pregnancy that ruptured and left me, unknowingly, bleeding internally for 5 days. By the time the doctors figured out what was going on with me, my blood volume had decreased by half. I was rushed in for emergency surgery and a blood transfusion. A hundred years ago, I would have died.

So, we may have some things to work on, but our advances in medicine are astonishing. Thanks to that, today, I'll take my kids to the beach instead of attending a funeral and then I'll call my Dad and tell him about all the naughty things Rascal, my 2 year old, did while we were there. And I will thoroughly enjoy him laughing at my stories. Today, I will be grateful for all the good things going on in our world, our nation and my life. Today, I am grateful for my family. I won't worry about fixing things, until tomorrow.

Whaddya think?


I'm Proud to Be An American- and I know what that means

Having 2 grandfathers that served in World War II, I've studied it in depth. I'm determined to not let the history that my grandfathers contributed to be forgotten. I want to know where they served, what they did and how life was back then. Through my studies, one thing that has always intrigued me, is the rationing that took place during that time. In order to get out of debt and still have the necessary supplies for our soldiers, Americans were asked to participate in a rationing program. Everything from food to clothing to gas was rationed. Families sacrificed and adjusted to help others. They found new recipes and swapped cloth remnants. They pooled together their resources and worked together. There was a sense of community, patriotism and self-lessness. Although I am not wishing that we could start a rationing program, I envy the lessons that were learned throughout this period of time and I wish we could grasp even a portion of it today. These Americans, our parents and grandparents made this sacrifice with few complaints, because they knew the real sacrifices were made by the men fighting for their freedom.

Contrast that to today, when Things are the way of life. There is no sacrifice asked of us for war or otherwise, and usually none given by us unless forced upon us. Our brothers, sisters, parents, and children are fighting a war today, maybe a slightly different war- done with more technology and fewer casualties- but there is just as much sacrifice asked of the soldiers fighting for us now. How many letters have you written? How many care packages have you sent? How many soldiers have you thanked?

In a day when the war has become political (its about oil! No freedom! No oppression!) don't forget the days of 9/11. You know where you were. You know what you were doing. You remember the feelings you had that day. You would have done anything to prevent the anguish that was happening all around you. THAT is why these guys/gals are there, whether you agree with the politics or not.

I've heard it said lately that the biggest threat to America today is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation. They take for granted the life that they live. They do not fully comprehend the price that others have paid for them. This Sunday will be the anniversary of our nation's freedom. Freedom that didn't come freely. So, as you are planning your fireworks show and your barbeque, make sure you take time to sit your children, your grandchildren or your neighbor kids down and tell them why those fireworks are going off. Why you have the day off of work. And why that is such a big deal. Make sure you take time to thank a soldier, from this war or one past. Because it wasn't politicians who liberated Auschwitz, it was our troops.

I am proud to be an American.

Whaddya think?


How Safe Are Your Kids?

I remember, while in high school hearing about the disappearance of Dail Dinwiddie. She was a 23 year old college student who disappeared one night in downtown Columbia, SC after getting separated from her friends at a bar. She was last seen walking home around 2 am. I remember the searches done on her behalf, seeing her parents pleading for anyone with any info to come forward, and seeing her face plastered on flyers, even where I lived an hour away. That was over 16 years ago and she has never been found. She just vanished, into thin air, without a trace.
Are you a little on edge now? If your 6 year old came up and asked if he could go outside and play alone, would you let him? We’ve all heard of Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, Destiny Norton, Lindsey Baum, Adam Walsh, Polly Klaas, and this week Kyron Horman disappeared from the school science fair.
You’ve seen the statistics, 85% to 90% of the US’s 876,213 missing person reports are children. That’s over 2000 A DAY. (yep- that’s 2000 kids yesterday, 2000 kids today and 2000 kids tomorrow). And that number is an increase by 500% from the number of reported missing in the 1980s. (OMGosh!!!) Now, I am NOT down playing the trauma suffered by the family of a truly missing person. My heart aches for the parents of Lindsey Baum and Kyron Horman and I pray, earnestly, for their safe return (and I pray just as earnestly that I will NEVER be in their shoes). But, what this statistic doesn’t tell you, is that the VAST MAJORITY of these children missing persons reports are family member abductions, runaways, thrown away kids (seriously- thay's what it said- shocking, I know)and miscommunications. Actually according to a study done by NISMART (the government agency who studies missing person reports) in 2002, around 85% of children missing person reports are family abductions, throw aways, runaways and miscommunications. That leaves about 80,000ish missing person reports a year that are kids who have really gone missing, been injured or are what you typically imagine when you hear the word “kidnap”. Upon further study, NISMART also determined that among the 80,000 missing kids, the number of stereotypical kidnappings was 115 (wow, did we really just go from 800,000 to 115? Ok- I’m feeling a little better.) Here’s some facts:
Of the 115 stereotypical kidnappings in the study
71% of those were taken from an outdoor area
16% the victim’s home or yard
7% a mall or store
49% were taken for sexual purposes
74% of them were girls

I know these numbers are scary, but look at the reality. Your child is 20 times more likely to die in a car crash. Yet, childhood abductions continue to be one of our biggest fears as parents and it causes us to go to extreme measures and do crazy things. Why is this? Is it because all of the tragedies of the world are so vividly expressed in the media? You can’t check your email anymore without seeing the latest headlines. How fast did you find out about the balloon boy? Probably when it was still up in the air. The fact that you know who the Balloon Boy is, and the name most likely causes some kind of emotion; anger, disgust, etc) proves that the media has a major play in our psyche. Not bashing the media here, they serve a great purpose, but the real question here is, are our children really more at risk than we were as kids? I used to run all over my neighborhood as a child and return in time for dinner. Once I ran away. For hours. No one noticed. I came home when my snacks ran out and unpacked my backpack. Once I got lost *gasp* while I was all alone *gasp* and I asked the mailman to help me find my way home. (I know, kinda smart huh? I told him my address and I walked behind his truck while he showed me the way home). He didn’t kidnap me, rape me or lead me astray. Actually, we became friends. My parents never knew. That was back in the 80’s, when the stereotypical kidnapping rate hovered around 200 a year. Yep- you heard me, the rate of kidnappings has decreased by half in the last 20-30 years, yet we remain terrified. As a parent, are you more likely to let your kids walk home alone from the bus stop or sleepover at a school friend’s house? How well do you know Sally’s parents? Did you know that 3 MILLION children are molested each year? Maybe we are overly cautious about the wrong things...
How well do you know your neighbors, children’s teachers or soccer coaches. Maybe we should spend a little more time making sure our schools and little leagues have strict rules for job and volunteer applicants and less time worrying about our children playing in the backyard (because yes- the broken arm will heal, believe me, much easier than I imagine the molested child will recover). Maybe a better approach is to work on a sense of community. MEET your neighbors, volunteer at the school and get to KNOW their teachers. Build a community so that your village really can help raise your child. Then you will know Sally’s parents.
We’ve spent so much time keeping them safe that sometimes we fail to see what they are capable of, which leaves us with children who lack self confidence. A trait that CAN keep them safe. Our children CAN be responsible for getting their homework done, they CAN work a toaster/microwave/vacuum cleaner, the CAN make their own lunches and they CAN scramble eggs. We’ve (and I include myself here) been so afraid of our children getting hurt or kidnapped that we have failed to let them know of all the amazing things they are capable of. When your child was born, did you think of all the things that they could contribute to your family/society or did you think of all the things you could provide for them?
I hope this article doesn’t jinx me (thanks a lot Mr. Whaddya Shay- he said it might) and please don’t start doing stupid things, but maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is really a danger in our kids lives and protect them against that. But, most of all, maybe we should just chill a little.

Whaddya think?

6/14 update:
I rarely have time to watch the Oprah show. I like her, but I usually have too many things to do. But, today, I turned it on as I paid the bills. In her show, Oprah interviewed four child molesters and talked to them about why they chose the kids they did and how they got away with it. I knew that 90% of kids who are molested are done so by someone they trust, but one thing I learned today, is that those kids don't tell because it feels good to them. That confuses them and makes them feel like they are to blame. The kids want it to stop, but then again, they don't. The child molesters know this and they use this in their devious tactics. So, don't freak out, but protect your kids. Be open about the subject. Teach them to not be a victim. Watch Oprah. See what you can learn.


The Trauma of Travelling with Children

Air travel with children has become absurd! If you are traveling alone or with another adult, the hoops you have to jump through to travel are no big deal. You can survive with one suitcase and a carry on. You can buy your bottled water once you make it through security and taking off your shoes and coat is a irritable inconvenience, but managable. With kids, its all a nightmare. I used to love to travel and I am not afraid to travel alone with my 3 children. I do it once or twice a year, sometimes across the country. But, it continues to get increasingly more ridiculous.

I took my cousin to the airport this week. In attendance: me and my pregnant cousin, her 13 month old, my 2 1/2 yr old and my 5 yr old. We also had a purse, backpack, car seat, carry on bag, 2 HUGE suitcases and a stroller. So, my 5 year old pushed the baby in the stroller, I carried my 2 year old on my hip in the ergo, while my cousin and I each pulled heavy suitcases and carried bags and the car seat. (and this was traveling light, because I lent her my pack n play and high chair and toys while she was visiting me). I'm sure we were a sight. This used to be the extent of the pains of travel with children. But, not now. No, lugging everything into the airport is the easy part.

Once we got inside, one of the suitcases was "overweight" by 5 lbs, so we had to sit in the aisle and transfer things from one suitcase to the other while still shepherding children. My cousin had already paid $55 to check the suitcases, so we weren't about to pay the $100 fee because her bag was 5 lbs overweight! We had to do this...twice, because we transfered too much the first time. All the while, people were looking at us like we were inconveniencing them, but you can read here on my opinion of people judging my parenting skills.

While packing for the airport, we had to ensure that we had enough snacks and food for the baby, but we couldn't have liquids over 4 oz. So, there is no way to warm a bottle, unless of course, you have time in your 1 hr layover to get from one terminal to the next and stop in the bathroom to run the bottle under the hot water faucet for 20 minutes. Oh wait, the faucets are all electronic, so that won't work. Maybe if you buy the cold water bottle first thing, it will be room temperature by the time your plane is landing and the baby is starting to get restless.

But, first, you have to make it through security. So, once you take off everyone's shoes and coats and emptied the matchbox cars from your kids pockets, and put each bag, alone, in one of those nifty little containers all while folding the stroller and putting it through the x-ray machine too, then you have to walk one by one through the metal detectors, all the while repeatedly telling your kids to stay put and not run off towards to cool escalators. As you are putting everyone shoes back on, you are cursing yourself for letting everyone wear their tie tennis shoes and not the slip ons and even though you arrived two hours early, after the zoo of check in (seriously- they only have one person manning the 5 self check in desks. what's up with that?) and security, you are running late- so you try and get everyone to sprint for the gate. Yeah right. 5 years olds only sprint for the wii or a slide.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the security measures. I'd like to be safe while I travel, but I can't help but wonder if the great inconveniences I suffer in excess charges and frivolous regulations are paying for the Airline CEO's 5th home, or maybe his wife's 7th lipo.

I recently heard of a European airline, Ryanair, who is charging its passengers a $1 to use the bathroom. Can't you just hear that conversation?

"Excuse me ma'am, my son needs to use the loo."
"No problem miss, that will just be a dollar."
"On second thought, he should be okay, but can you pass me that empty bottle? I'll call you when I'm ready for you to pick up my trash."

Whaddya think?


It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. A Kind Village.

Once upon a time I was the mother of one (and only one) adorable, well behaved little boy. I was visiting with a friend, who had 3 adorable yet busy, little boys. She was telling me how her first child NEVER ate leftover, forgotten food that had fallen to the floor, she was appalled when her second child occasionally found the food that fallen to the floor, but it seemed that it was her third child's regular snack.
I. was. Appalled.
Seriously? Your child eats food off the floor???!!! How could a parent do that?

I would see parents in the store with a misbehaving child and think, "Why are they handling it that way? If only they would do X or Y, they would be much better parents"

And then, I had my second child. Who was a dream baby. One day I was in the store with my two children and my oldest started this great temper tantrum because I wouldn't buy him a new .97 matchbox car and suddenly I was the one being judged. Not that it affected me much even then; I just told the judgmental lady off and went on my way. It's not like it happened all the time, I had two very well behaved little boys.

Then, I had my third child and my life of well behaved children was a memory of the past. My 3rd child was my first child who: didn't sleep well, cried all the time, wanted to he held all the time, screamed bloody murder when riding in the car, was stubborn, cranky and obstinate. I called Poison Control numerous times and shopping with him was an absolute nightmare. Add to that, that he was so rambunctious that he had stitches by 17 months and he had to get glasses, which were another battle, at 19 months. He alone, exhausted me. He threw temper tantrums all the time, refused to eat healthy foods and got into everything. And I suddenly found myself, the mother who was being judged, all the time. The older mothers in the store looked at me with sympathy and the younger mothers looked at me like I was doing something wrong. I became the mother I once judged.

Why? Why do we do this? As a parent, don't we just want what is best for our children? I looked really hard for the rule book on how to raise the perfect child, but it’s just not out there. We are all just trying our best, and sometimes it simply comes down to trial and error. So, next time you retrieve my runaway child in the grocery store (which is bonus point #1 for you- 2 year olds usually don't shop alone, so yes, that is a runaway child), I would appreciate it if when you brought him back and I say "thanks", you'd simply smile and say "you're welcome" (that will earn you bonus point #2). And when I see your child kicking and screaming on the floor, I will most certainly give you my best look saying, "Hang in there Mom, you're doing an awesome job". Even if I don't agree with how you are handling it. Because the simple fact that you are trying, means you are doing an awesome job.

Whaddya think?



Life is a balance of things we can control and things we can't control.

For example:
I can't control whether my husband will loose his job. He can control how well his work is and we can control how we can prepare for such an event, but we cannot control whether or not he keeps his job.

I can't control whether my children will be injured or not. I can try and keep them safe and I can control how I respond to an accident, but I cannot control whether or not it will happen.

I cannot control how the nurse at the doctor's office will treat me. I can be kind, patient and polite and I can control my responses to her rude comments, but I cannot control how she speaks to me (and seriously, she was pretty raunch!)

Our lives are filled with elements we have no control over as well as elements we have complete control over. It is a waste of time to concern ourselves with all of the things we can't control. We can, and many times should, prepare for them, but no amount of worry will ever prevent them. How much happier and simpler our lives would be, if we reserved our energy for the things we can control.

Whaddya think?