Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am thankful for

My good friend who owns a wonderful online site, Hampton Paper Designs, that makes just gorgeous stationery has these great cards that say "I am Thankful for".  The idea is each person at the dinner table can write down what they are grateful for and then we can share during dinner.  Did it last year and loved it.   Doing it again this year.  Her name always goes on my what I am thankful for list  - she is a really good friend with a great sense of humor and "distance" is not an issue ever to our friendship.

Oddly enough I do not, unlike the vast majority, love Thanksgiving for the food but it is my favorite holiday.  I mean if I was to be honest I love all holidays but Thanksgiving is always #1.  How could it not be - it's not too cold outside, the leaves around here are gorgeous still, there is no big list of gifts that I somehow try and fill in like a week every year and there is time to just reflect on all the good stuff we all have to be grateful for.

It is so easy to feel we have nothing to be thankful for - from the big things, Ebola, fanaticism, racism, anti-too many things to countism, global warming, corruption and there is always the never ending cycle of news that shows us how our fellow human beings can kill and torture even those things most of us find precious - their children, their pets, the people they chose to partner with.  That is the media and happy flying unicorn stories are just not what sells - well if there was an actual unicorn sighting it would but let's face it we are pretty much stuck with death and disaster.

I look at those things and then look at my sons and refuse to not be thankful.  They are here and from what I see of them and their friends the world is doing alright.  I am thankful to see the next generation and how they interact with one another and while there are those who are creating the next generation of the Klan there is much vaster number out there creating the next generation of acceptance.  I am thankful to know that while previous generations, and mine especially with the Aqua Net (sorry kids), may have damaged the environment they are that much more cognizant of the precious commodity it is and treat it with reverence.  There is much to be grateful for in the children from the laughter they share which makes me smile just when I hear it.  There is their never ending sense of awe and discovery that unleashes my own never dying love of learning.

I am thankful for my friends - the longtime ones who have been there through everything from my crazy sense of humor to my Hallmark commercial crying and everything in between  - they have seen it all and still love me.  I am glad for the friends I have made as a mother and who share a deep love of children and the future with me.  Thank you especially to Michele for being my Big Love Sister wife and traveling partner in crime, Dori for Sunday dinners and coparenting, Elli and Julie for being my besties forever (don't start Elli 2.6 years for you is like dog years 26 for the rest of us and more).

I am thankful for my Mom because even when she tells it like it is and I do not like it she remembers to tell it again with a smiley emoticon, she loves them and I love that in her 70s she refuses to not try new things.

I am thankful for music, wine, food, writing and social media.  I am thankful that I am old enough that I know how to manage social medial after much wine and music.

So this week Happy Thanksgiving and thank you to all those who read this blog, over 12,000 now and from places like Mongolia, Venezuela, Sweden, Pakistan, China, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Romania, Spain, France, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, UAE, Israel and a host of others ... we share a common thread of loving life, struggling to be the best parents and people and most of all a need to be connected because our differences make us more interesting to one another just like our likeness reminds us that we are really one small world.

On my I am Thankful For Card ... I think I will write 1) my family 2) my friends 3) the life I have had and the much still left to come ... cheers

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some days it's breakfast for dinner

 I am chalking up the past few weeks where work has been frenetic and activities at home seem to be on the rise to not my finest motherhood moments as it relates to feeding the boys. 

I usually make dinner for the family at least 4-5 nights a week - and not just dinner but a variety of food paired with a veggie, starch, protein you get the picture.  I know that I may not meet the new food plate division and hell I know I would have toppled the pyramid that used to show what your daily diet should look like but I do try.  

This is not easy  -- one kid does not like meat that much, in particular pork (for ethical reasons since he wrote a paper in 1st grade - there is so much snark am holding back at the thought that a 1st grader had to research and write a paper - and found out pigs are quite intelligent, so he won't eat them since you should not eat things with that much intelligence -- wonder how he will react to learning about Idi Amin?).  He also only eats the burger that I make and even that with what can be at best called reflective technique - small bite, chew and reflect on the meaning of life, small bite it takes a while.   He loves his carbs though - so will eat pasta with butter and fresh shaved parmesan every night if allowed or with pesto he will also eat potato leek soup, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, string beans, cherry tomatoes and cumbers and all that with only a touch of olive oil and sea salt - at least some veggies get there - and chicken roasted or parmesan.  He will eat tacos that I make as well as hot dogs, all beef but with seasoning from butcher is preferred, grilled cheese.  Basically that is what I have to work around and use in the rotation.  Oh yeah he also likes lobster with drawn butter (this is so not in the rotation except in summer where we could buy it).

The other kids loves bacon and steak and all of the above too - he will taste things we are eating but he will not touch a tomato unless it is in sauce or ketchup.  So between them there are times when they have 2 separate dinners - this could just mean home made pizzas where one has a white pizza and the other one with pepperoni.   

Add to the mix a husband who believes that you need a pause in between meal and leftover version for the most part and is obsessive compulsive about a vegetable at every meal.  

Yayyy me ..  lucky I like to cook.  I do this pretty seamlessly even after a long day of work - there is also snack and lunch planning which I do but am too tired to tell you that whole 6 am every day story.  

However, there are days - like days where I have to be at work before 8 am, and said snack/lunch still has to happen prior to my leaving, and get home closer to 7 pm then to 6 when this dance just makes me want to run away from home.  I love my children really -- but the thought of getting home after a long day and having to discuss this or do it just makes me tired before I walk through the door.   So on those days it is breakfast for dinner - breakout the frozen waffles or croissants and big glass of milk.  So on those days the look of disappointment I get from the husband is only not worth a discussion because I can check off the box that the kids while not nutritionally balanced for that night are pretty happy about this.  They see it as a treat -- woo hoo.   I recently read that Dutch children survey to be among the happiest in the world and their breakfast often is white bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles.  Maybe we need less judgement and more sprinkles as moms. 

In the high pressure of motherhood - tiger mothers/lean in mothers/french mothers who are always chic to be more and more to our children we sometimes just need to shrug and remember that kids will be ok with the occasional breakfast for dinner.  It may not be my finest mothering but it still comes with listening to their day, helping with homework and hey I didn't run away.  It is not that my job interferes it is that life is not perfect and maybe that is the good thing to teach our kids too. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I can't make you successful

I have fairly easy to raise kids - I am aware of this and feel lucky to be able to say that.  However, they are kids and that means no matter how easy it may seem for the most part it is still going to come with challenges.

My boys have to read on weekends, now most of the time they want to read and they like to read, but there are times when on weekends between activities and their just general I need a break from school moments when I have to poke and prod to get them to do it and then complete the reading logs they are assigned for the weekend.

One of the things I spoke with my older son about this weekend when he reluctantly completed the reading log was success.  Rather than bug him about doing it I thought it was a good moment to talk about success.  It does not matter what he will choose as a career path but I do want him to be successful in it and more than this I want him to want to be successful at it. 

I spoke to him how his Dad could impose rules, how I could explain my expectations and how he had to get through assignments that he may or may not like in school but success was on him because we could not do it for him.  I shared with him how I had prepped during the weekend for a meeting I had on Monday because even after all my years at work my success at any given project is dependent on my working toward it.  We talked about how both his father and I are self made people - my parents worked hard to make sure they gave me an education, I worked hard to have a scholarship through college and his father paid for his own college tuition.  All of this because we had ideas and dreams of what we wanted to accomplish.  I still have goals that have not yet been met but I am working on them.  

I wanted to have him take responsibility for his own success not to do it because we were asking it of him but rather because he demands it of himself. 

I love doing things for my kids but I think one of the best things I can try and do for them as their mother is to teach them to value of wanting to accomplish something, working toward it and then celebrating achieving it.  

I can't make them successful but I can make them want to be and value it.  I want to make them into people who take responsibility for their losses, their mistakes and enjoy their wins.  It is a conversation I am sure we will repeat because after all they are still quite young ... but nothing tastes as sweet as success after you have busted your butt to achieve it. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THINK before you speak

Out of the mouths of babes -- we not only teach our children as parents - if we are paying attention we often can learn so much from them too.

My 8 year old over heard his father and I arguing, we were not having a fight but we were arguing with an escalating scale of sound, and he shook his head.  Now as a rule you try and not fight in front of your kids but in reality sometimes the moment does get more heated than you can control.  That is not a bad thing for them to see either - we all have tempers, we all make mistakes and we all lose our shit once in a while.  You can show them how to rebound and possibly if you are super evolved even how to argue really productively.

This particular incident had moved past productive and into the not so productive.   I know my boys do not like it especially when said discussion (I am so editing here people) is about something that happened by one of them.  We have different styles - I am of the let's discuss, try and get them to come to the conclusion of why something was a bad choice, let's make sure they understand why it was wrong.  I am no angel and there are times when I do yell but it tends to be over the really ridiculous things - like say the 30, 000 time I have to ask one of them to do something.  It is swift and it is effective since used with stealth.   Their father is of the much louder, deeper yeller variety.  It is hard to control yourself when they do something that is obviously wrong but they are kids, and young ones at that so lessons are still useful and yelling .. not so much.

I believe my lengthy quiet discussion with the older son helped resolve in a more meaningful "oh I get it way" - he knew I was angry and he understood why he had made an error - but that is all that it was - an error in judgement.  He is 10 - there will be more - my goal is that he comes to me as often with those that may be more than he can handle so they do not become that much more than we can collectively correct.  My younger son told me that going forward we should all do what his teacher taught them THINK - before you speak or take an action.  THINK - true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.   I love this - I have started to use it and so have the boys.

So out of the mouths of babes via those wonderful people who we entrust to teach our children came something that actually could be quite extraordinary.  Today on the day that in the US is a election day imagine the impact this would have if we all took this approach, including our elected officials.  Imagine bills being written with this in mind, would they marginalize others, would they be more fair, would they acknowledge that we all deserve to have choices about our bodies and our opportunities?!!!  Imagine if this started in every family with they way we treated one another, then treated our immediate circle, then our outer circle and all those connected to us in turn did this too.  Nations would not start wars because there is no part of THINK that actually applies to decisions to be a terrorist, initiate military action.

It is a small thing that could have huge implications - kind of like paying it forward.  If we all just did our part maybe it would not lead to elimination of world hunger, world wars or all those things that worry every parent for our children and their future children.  It would though possibly be a small step toward less of those things and we as learn from children to learn to run they must all first take that wobbly first step.  If politicians had to have commercials and debates with this motto maybe it would get more people to vote because they would actually have to be about progress not punches. Go vote even if you are cynical, on a local level your vote counts and THINK before you say your next thought and take your next action.