Two Spoonfuls of Parenting Books

No matter your parenting needs, I’ve got you covered. Here are two books that approach parenting slightly differently. Look under the “Publications” menu or click on each book for more details and how to order.

d175c-cover                           Keep-it-Real-Grab-a-Plunger_9781462116324

Inspirational and Insightful.                                  Fun, friendly and informative.

This book examines the lives of                           This book addresses a variety of topics

scriptural parents like Adam and Eve                 from talking with your teen, creating

and what they can teach us by their                   memories around the table or bedtime,

examples. Truly, the scriptures are the              and how to stop yelling and start listening

 Perfect Parenting Manual!                                   (plunger not included). Book trailer here.

10 tips to non-medicated sleep (and not counting sheep)

If anyone is not feeling stressed right now, please raise your hand.

I didn’t think so.

This COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, economic downturn, social isolation, being home 24/7, trying to educate stir-crazy kids, constantly sanitizing and cleaning every surface and anything that moves, (and the list goes on), is wrecking havoc on our health. Mental, physical, social, and emotional health is taking a nose dive.

Some of the common symptoms in this uncommon time are irritability, lack of motivation, fear, frustration, anger, hopelessness, and insomnia. Lack of sleep just exacerbates all the others. I’ve had insomnia off and on my whole life, thanks to genetics and an overactive mind. Every time I lay down my head on pillow and try to fall asleep, thoughts pour into my head like a flowing faucet. Literally a river of thoughts that won’t turn off. I’ve tried counting sheep, but that doesn’t work.

Once I took a vacation to Puerto Rico and did not sleep for 5 days. And that was on vacation when I should have been the most relaxed!

However, during this pandemic, I have slept incredibly well. That’s because I have learned how to fall asleep without drugs or counting sheep. On rare occasions, I’ve taken a Tylenol P.M. or Melatonin, and it’s been years since I’ve taken Ambien. I’m handling the current situation better because I get a full-night’s sleep. I know there are some who need to take sleep medication, but for those who want to explore other options, I’d like to share 10 tips with you. I start with the most obvious, small ideas and work up to the most powerful, big ones.

Number 10. 

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Eliminate any food and drink after 8:00 p.m. or earlier, if possible. No caffeinated drinks in the evening. Avoid drinking water right before bedtime so you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Number 9.

nap

No naps. Keep a regular daily schedule as much as possible. Sleep, or circadian rhythms, is your body’s patterns of knowing day from night. If you take a nap longer than 30 minutes, you disrupt that pattern by going too deep into sleep during daytime hours. If you must take a power nap, make it 5-10 minutes.

Number 8.

Mature African-American women in city, exercising

Regular exercise. Even with the COVID-19, we are (especially ) encouraged to get outside, drink in some Vitamin D, and move our bodies. This is true All. The. Time. not just during a pandemic. With gyms closed for the time being, you’ll have to get creative and more determined. Every day I try to do some gardening, exercise on the stationary bike, or walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood.

Number 7.

phoneNight-

Do not take a device to bed with you or watch TV in the bedroom. If you have trouble like I do, it could be that you are inputting to much information for your brain to process. My mind is like 101 computer tabs open, holding me hostage. Use the few hours before bedtime to NOT watch a movie or scroll through social media, watch the news, or anything that would open another tab to deal with. There’s a lot of science that cautions us to not have the light from screens tricking our eyes to thinking it’s daytime.

Number 6.

Young woman practicing yoga, touching toes in apartment

Relax and stretch muscles. You can have a body massage if you’re lucky enough to have someone to do that for you every night. If not, I’d suggest taking a hot bath, a long hot shower, and stretching. Yes, that’s right, I said “stretching.” There are amazing benefits to stretching out our muscles. You may be doing this before or after a workout which is great! If you do it before bedtime, you’ll find that stretching out releases endorphins, a great “feel good” chemical to your brain. Static stretching increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation. I can literally feel my body relaxing while I stretch. And when I wake up, I feel So. Good.

Number 5.

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Meditation apps. This tip is becoming rather popular now, with the Mindfulness Movement. I love that we are using our powerful minds to harness energy and direct it for good. Another similar idea is to have white noise to help soothe the mind.

Number 4.

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Insomnia is a by-product of anxiety for many people. Many people with anxiety and sleep disorders swear by weighted blankets. This may be the cure for you. Weighted blankets are filled with small objects like glass beads or metal pellets to make it heavy. The feeling of having something holding or hugging you close, like a blanket, is very calming. Research shows that weighted blankets are used in therapy known as “deep touch pressure stimulation” which aids in the production of sleep-help hormones

Number 3.

recorderYear ago, before cellphones, I was working full time in a very demanding job. My boss taught me a great trick to clear the mind at bedtime. She had a hand-held voice recorder with mini-cassette tapes inside. She kept it on her nightstand and when her faucet-thoughts started flowing, she reached for her recorder, and put those ideas on the tape. Once she could clear her mind by having something else keep her thoughts organized and safe, she could fall asleep. Today, we can use any app or “voice memo” or reminder on a cellphone. Some people prefer to get up and journal or write down their thoughts to have the paper remember it for them. Whatever you need, use it. 

Number 2.

breathing

Deep breathing. This has been a game changer for me. It came out of guided meditation practices. I don’t normally go through guided meditation these days, but I do the breathing that is so essential to relaxation. Like stretching (#6), deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and the supply of oxygen to your brain. Rather than counting sheep, I lay in bed and do the slow breathing in, counting 1-10, then hold, and release like slowing blowing through a straw, 1-5. Doing this helps me re-center, and focus on the breath. If my mind begins wandering, I bring it back to the breath. I don’t judge my wandering thoughts, or dwell on them, but gently guide them back with the breath. If you concentrate on this exercise, you will probably find, like me, that you have fallen asleep without even realizing it. It literally wears you out.

Drum roll….Number 1.

cartoon friends high fiving

Make friends with insomnia. This is something I discovered on my own, but it’s backed up by research. I had been fighting my insomnia like it was an enemy I took to bed each night. I wrestled with it, coaxed it, bribed it, bargained with it, resented it, and felt powerless by it. Insomnia was like a living presence that had control of me. I decided that the energy it took to fight it and the resentment I felt because of it was part of the problem. I decided that I needed to take back control. So I made friends with it. I didn’t judge it or myself anymore. Quite a few nights, I just lay there, at peace. I was in state of total relaxation all night and I didn’t let that upset me. The goal wasn’t to “get to sleep” anymore. I just enjoyed resting. I enjoyed the quiet. I began thinking of my blessings. I filled my mind with gratitude, and for the chance to spend just laying there. I welcomed it. When I did that, it changed my life. No longer did I feel a victim to insomnia. I fact, I never acknowledge I had insomnia anymore. Instead, I have a chance to lay in bed filled with gratitude.

These are the secret tips of a lifetime of trial and error. I feel compelled today to share them in the hopes it might help someone else who struggles with sleep disorder. Life is hard enough without being tired of the fight to sleep. I wish you all the best in your quest for rest.

Good luck, and good night.

 

 

 

 

19 Favorite Covid-19 Memes

In honor of the novel coronavirus that is named “Covid-19”, I have collected 19 of my favorite memes that lighten things up at this serious time.

  1. I once babysat some kids when their parents left on an oversees trip for 2 weeks. One of their instructions was to count off a certain number of squares of toilet paper for the kids (#1 and #2 had different amounts as I recall) when they used the toilet. My parents had never thought of such a thing in our house and I was quite dumbstruck by the practice of T.P. rationing. I’m not anymore. IMG_2350 (002)

2.  This next one is all-too-true. I went to Costco one day and got there before it opened at 10:00 a.m. The store had opened early and I could see a line of shoppers with carts that wrapped around the side to the back of the building. Call me crazy, but I got in that line. It felt like the “Indiana Jones” ride at Disneyland without the ride at the end. People were a bit frantic and pushing their way in the store. I couldn’t believe it. All that, and there was no toilet paper or baby wipes! I then went to Winco and there wasn’t a line, but EVERY SINGLE shopping cart and red basket was being used inside the store. I couldn’t put my groceries in anything. There were 2 lines to the checkout stands, each wrapping around the sides of the store and ending in the back, by the dairy or fish counter. I stood in line for 45 minute with my little handful of items before I could pay for them.

 

IMG_2349I made some nice friends, standing in the line for so long. One guy offered to put my groceries in his cart so I didn’t have to hold them. He said he was looking for ways to be extra nice to people during this stressful time. He reminded me we all have a choice and hardship can bring out the best or the worst in us. I choose best. My neighbors have been texting each of us to see who needs anything from the store if they are going out. It’s so heart-warming to see how we take care of each other (with or without the WW II gas mask outfit)

IMG_2347 (002) 3. Who’s with me on this? I can’t believe how often I touch my face. If I hear the words, “Don’t touch your face,” my nose immediately starts to itch.

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4. I love Tom Hanks and the movies he makes. Some have compared him to a modern-day Jimmy Stewart. A class act and an every-day man. I find it not a coincidence that this ordinary man who played “Mr. Rogers” could get the Covid-19 virus. He is just like us: he bleeds like us and gets sick like us. I am truly sorry he and his wife are under quarantine. I wish them a full recovery.

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5. Funny how his movies all tend to be about catastrophes while traveling.

 

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6. Speaking of travel. Just don’t. This is a floating cesspool of germs. I don’t know how the cruiseline industry (or airline/hotel/restaurant/rental car, for that matter), will survive. This virus will have such long-reaching, economically devastating effects. I had to cancel a family trip to Iceland for spring break and my son, who was going to China this summer to teach English, will miss out on that opportunity too. This has changed everything. Which brings me to how I feel about everything with the next meme:

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7. Earth is closed today. And every day for who-knows-how-long.

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8. I’m not whining though. That meme reminds us how others have been through terrible times. We are not anywhere near that category. So what if I can’t find milk or T.P. on the store shelves? We are not starving. We are not in a war. Life is good.

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9. Yes, this.

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10. This one cracks me up. So do the next ones. IMG_2338

11. Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.

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12. I totally watched “Scooby Doo” as a kid. It was the ultimate reveal at the end when it was discovered that “Old Man Withers” or some other nefarious person had masterminded the appearance of a ghost. Now we know the culprit is the T.P. industry. They are making a mint off this.

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13. Or maybe it’s Dolores Umbridge who’s behind this. I wouldn’t put it past her. She was creepy mean in that movie.

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14. Since I love “Harry Potter” so much I had to put this in here too.

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15.  And I also like “Jumanji” so this one made the list. It did feel a little like a cosmic trick being played on us. To add insult to injury, those of us living in Utah had an 5.7 earthquake during the quarantine. I’m just waiting for the rhinos to come stampeding through.

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16. Such weirdness…it’s like all these random acts all spawned from an ADHD child’s imagination.

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17. Speaking of kids, we are acting like them these days. We are having to learn the basics again of how to wash our hands? C’mon, people, this is what we should have been doing all along.

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18. As a Utahan, this one was classic.

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19. Hope you got a good laugh today. We all need it to help clear our minds and put things in perspective.

Here’s a bonus one just because it’s too good not to share.

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Stay safe. Stay well.

Re-connect with those you love…

In groups smaller than 10

And at a social distance of 6 feet or more

And after you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds…

Covid-19 Parenting 101

Looks like we’re all going to be home with our kids for a while.

Steady.

Let’s all sit down and take a deep breath.

This news may be more intimidating and stressful for parents who are used to sending their kids to school for others to teach, keep from fighting, and chase boredom away.

“Social distancing” is another catch phrase for “You can’t play with friends so you’re stuck with me.”

Now it’s our turn. It’s 24/7 Covid19 Parenting Time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We’ve got to be as creative as an elementary school teacher, as entertaining as Nickelodeon, and enticing as a vending machine.

My cousin is a fabulous parent of four. She uses the outdoors to teach her kids a healthy respect for nature and books and other materials to teach them how to use their minds. She came up with this chart to schedule learning and keep everyone on track while they are out of public school. Notice how they helped.

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Do you remember the daily schedule your 5th grade teacher had on the board? Rather than falling into boredom and brain atrophy, why not keep the daily schedule going at home? Kids may resist at first, but you never know. If you let them come up with a reasonable schedule and goals, it may just catch fire.

Plus, did you see the win-win? She has them up and doing chores first thing. Yay for this clever mom sneaking that in.

P.S. Her name is “Sara” and “Rob” is her husband. I want to give her props for including him on house duties so the kids see their dad pitching in as well.

Here’s another generic chart that you could start with. But personalize it to your family so they are all creating their own learning plan. Home school kids do this every day.

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This schedule was also posted by a parent who took a more realistic approach to her “home school schedule”

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Does that resemble yours? Or maybe, by default, your day will look more like this:

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Being real is my thing (see book I wrote on home page). However, life shouldn’t unravel to the point that we give completely up. The little terrorist shouldn’t win. We are, after all, still in charge. Check your driver’s license and remind yourself who is the adult.

This time of quarantine may just be a wake-up call that we needed to have more structure to begin with. It’s hard to go from zero to hero in a matter of weeks.

Baby steps, people.

Start somewhere. Anywhere.

I suggest having a 1:1 ratio of media to learning if you need for younger kids. For every hour of school or subject study at home, children can to do either 1 hour of earned outdoor/physical play or 1 hour of “free” time (translate: media) or anything they want to do for fun like crafting, playing a board game or with toys. They have to alternate the physical play with media play.

I know, it’s going to be hard. T.P. may run out and you’ll have to start being creative.

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Just remember that school and public events and gatherings are cancelled (what, no Disneyland?) but kindness is not cancelled. Family fun is not cancelled. Laughter and jokes are not cancelled.  This may be a wake-up call and opportunity to give your child the one on one time with you that they’ve been missing.

 

 

“Childhood is Short; Maturity is Forever”

I’ve been studying research about children’s inability or difficulty in expressing their feelings. Part of this is developmental, the other part is experience and learning. In many cases, when a child is out of control (for no apparent reason), the best thing to do is to say, “I see you. This must be hard,” and wrap them up in your protective arms. They feel frightened, out of control, and need to feel safe again. They need emotional connection.

Just this week I was reminiscing about a daughter who had frequent melt downs as a toddler. I tried my best, but sometimes, I just let her be. I have a vivid memory of her sitting at the top of the stairs, bawling uncontrollably. What I wouldn’t do to go back in time, scoop her up in my arms, and rock her until she calmed down. I have this regret, and I will never get that moment back.

Childhood is short.

Being a parent ends quickly.

Eat Halloween candy together.

Take a son or daughter out of school to go on your own “field trip” to the park, a museum, or to a foreign country.

Run through summer sprinklers.

Wrap them up in your arms because too soon you’ll be letting go.

 

What is your mom superpower?

Being a mom or dad automatically endows you with superpowers. It’s like the hospital you enter and come out with a baby has turned into the X-Men School for Gifted People and you come out with extra powers as well.

I call it your Sixth Sense.

You need it to survive as a parent. Time is shredded into ribbons and nano seconds when you’re a parent and you need to get things done fast or more efficiently.  You need to feed 4 people dinner on a dollar and grow eyes on the back of your head.

To substantiate this theory, I turn to real parents who spill the truth about their extrasensory perceptions. These are actual “superpowers” that moms all over the nation have claimed as their own:

Keeping kids clothes clean, which is a killer power especially with baby bibs and clothes with that get stained with puke and poop every day.

Always knowing exactly why a baby is crying: hungry/tired/gassy/poopy, and not just her own baby, but ANY baby!

Knowing something is about to grow mold in the refrigerator. Smelling it before it goes bad.

Impeccable timing at restaurants where she arrives to orders at the counter just before the crowd comes in.

Keeping a baby happy on a 10-hour flight. Now THAT’S a superpower we can all appreciate!

Knowing someone is pregnant before it’s announced, and being able to predict the due date within a week.

Always finding the best bargain. Like, it doesn’t exist unless it’s within budget.

Putting a fussy baby to sleep. Not just her own baby, but ANY baby. Best superpower ever!

Knowing it’s about the rain. “Kids come inside, it’s about to rain.” And then it does.

While breastfeeding, she can: go to the bathroom, successfully make and eat a turkey wrap, do the dishes, drive the car (don’t tell anyone that!), or sleep.

Never burns food but never sets a kitchen timer. She can always smell when something is ready to take out of the oven. Wow. I’m speechless on that one.

Picking ripe produce.

Going to the bathroom in 15 seconds flat.

Extracting a foreign object deeply embedded in a child’s nasal cavity.

Folding fitted sheets nice and flat like the flat sheets. That’s almost Wizard superpowers.

Reaching anything in the backseat from the front seat like Elastagirl.

Knowing direction after only having been there once before. Being able to navigate big cities and new places easily.

Push a double stroller through revolving doors, down narrow grocery isles, etc.

Being a bloodhound. If there’s an off smell in the house, she can find it. Anywhere!

Not feeling like retching when watching a child throw up.

Knowing the sex of kids before the ultrasound.

Having the supersonic hearing of Bat Girl or a Vampire. The most important is the picking up on sound of silence. Knowing the minute all is quiet, something is wrong in the house and the kids are up to mischief.

Getting the close parking spot.

Really good at eating any chocolate in the house.

Being able to make anything from just tasting it once.

Directing/supervising a toddler in the house while taking a shower.

Picking the exact size container for leftovers.

Can smell when people have cavities.

Can wake up at an exact time without an alarm, even when at different times.

Super good reflexes. Like catching a baby the minute they squirrel out of a grocery cart or high chair, or an egg that rolls off the counter, catching in midair. Pretty much elevated to Jedi powers, this one.

Making a full, nutritious meal out of nothing, just a few random items in the frig and pantry.

Staying sane when the house is falling apart all around her.

Really good at building IKEA furniture…and liking it! Just try this once and you’ll see that this is definitely a superpower.

Never being out of clean underwear for children.

Being a single mom. Every day that is a superpower.

Knowing the temperature of a child just by kissing their forehead.

Really good at sleeping. Amen, to that one.

Superhero Woman Supermom Cartoon character Vector illustration

Superhero Woman Supermom Cartoon character Vector illustration T-shirt design

 

What you water grows: Part 2

In my last post I shared a gardening/relationship 80/20 principle. In a marriage, this can be applied by following these steps for happiness:

  • A happy marriage is like committing to tending a garden.
  • Going out every day to tend it requires time and patience.
  • Every garden contains beauty but also weeds and pests. Marriage is the same.
  • Be proactive: pull out weeds when they’re small, fertilize, water, spray for pests.
  • Occasional neglect can usually be reversed, but it requires more effort than if it had been consistent.
  • Prolonged neglect will lead to the plant’s demise.
  • Hard work is extremely gratifying.
  • If tended, the results are beautiful and ongoing.
  • Look for the beauty and you’ll find it everywhere. Dig deeper and you’ll find pests.
  • Happy people do not succumb to little things. They step back and focus on the 80% of beauty to gain a better perspective rather than nit-picking at the thorns (20%).

It’s the same thing for parenting. You can easily find negativity and crassness about raising kids. I don’t want to water those weeds.

Today, I’d like to add another voice from a facebook post by Tiffani Harker. She shares 10 uplifting thoughts about the joys and positive perspectives of parenting. With her permission, here it is:

We have 6 kids (19, almost 18, almost 16, 9, 7, and 5) so we’re still in the thick of raising kids, but through the years, I’ve learned to relax, and not to sweat the small stuff. Our almost 16 year old was born with Spina Bifida, and I’ll tell you right now that boy has taught our family more about love and perseverance than I ever knew was possible. He made me a better mother, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way have shaped the woman that I am. To you mamas, I’d love to tell you:

1. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay! I know some days feel totally overwhelming and exhausting, and you often feel like you’re messing up. Mama, you’re doing so much better than you think you are. A bad day does not a bad mother make! You are the absolute world to your children, and I promise you they don’t see you in any other way than the best mom in the world. Take a time out for yourself when you need it, and tell that negative voice in your head to shut it. Those thoughts don’t come from above, so don’t you dwell on them. You’ve got this!

2. Your babies are going to be just fine. You will always worry about them, I don’t think that goes away. But you’re doing your best and you want what’s best for them, and because of that, your babies are in the very best hands.

3. Let them fall and fail occasionally so they can learn and grow. Be there to catch them when they fall or when they mess up. Don’t fix their mistakes for them, no matter how tempting. Love them and listen to them, support them and correct them when it needs to happen. Pray, and pray some more, and know that they’re going to get through it.

4. Set your expectations high, but keep them realistic. Kids will rise to the occasion and are so much more capable than they’re given credit for. They are smart and resilient, and their hearts are literally pure. Show them the way, and help them course correct when they need it.

5. Grades are important, but they aren’t everything! Encourage and require them to do their best, but more important than anything, teach them how to treat others well. All the A’s, scholarships, top notch college degrees, and high powered jobs don’t mean a dang thing if they don’t know how to love people. I would rather know my children are kind and caring human beings than them being millionaires.

6. Teenagers aren’t as scary as you think! I was terrified of having teens, but oh my word what a lovely surprise it has been! They’re so fun to talk to, have their own opinions, and holy cats they are funny! I think the secret to raising teens is to listen, listen, listen! Listen more than you speak. They just need you to be there. They will ask you their questions, as they know they can trust you, then you will have the opportunity to really share your thoughts with them. Don’t be afraid to be silly with them, and heck…take every opportunity to embarrass them a little. (Within reason, of course) Sing and dance in the living room with their friends, and open your home to all the loud and sometimes smelly teenage boys. Love those kiddos and be a safe landing place for them. You’ll never regret it!

7. Just love your babes. The dishes, laundry, and cleaning will always be there, but babies don’t keep.

8. You will mess up. It’s okay! Apologize to your children when you need to, and move forward. Do not beat yourself up! Find support, whether it’s another mom friend, your own mom, or a group like this. You’re not alone and you don’t have to go through this journey all on your own.

9. If you need to eat some chocolate to get through the day, eat the dang chocolate, girl!!!

10. Remember who those babies belong to, and go to Him for guidance. He will lead you if you let Him.

What you water grows: Part 1

You can find plenty of parents out there on social media who gripe about being parents. Sure, being a mom or dad is hard. If you’re a stay-at-home parent who has these little critters 27/4, the messy days, lack of sleep, and wearing down of nerves is a real thing. I’ve been there. I get it.

However, as a social scientist and family studies expert, I also believe in the power of “what you water grows.” It’s a scientifically proven principal, and as a lover of gardening, it’s a law of nature I can count on as well. What this means is:

  • Every interaction or relationship has an 80/20 ratio.
  • About 80% of that person is what you love and, in the case of your spouse, the reason why you married them. Then there’s the 20% of what you don’t love so much, perhaps is even a bit annoying, and is a reminder that no none’s perfect (including the 20% in ourselves, mind you!).
  • What you focus on gets more of your attention. I can see the roses or the thorns…it’s my choice.
  • What gets more of your attention is reinforced in your mind, as well as in the other person or thing.
  • If I see the rose, I find beauty and am filled with gratitude, love, and appreciation.
  • If I look for and find the best in the other person, I will find it. If I look for and find the weaker parts, or thorns, in the other person, I will find that too.
  • If I continue to look for and reinforce the weaknesses in another person, the 20% in them inflates to eventually becoming the 80% and I feel completely justified in hating them, being dissatisfied, disgusted, or feeling justified in my removal of love (water) and acceptance of them.

Children and their parents have about an 80/20 relationship principle as well.  I can tell you from raising five babies to teenagers, that they stink, are moody, or contrary at least 20% of the time. But if you can look beyond the crazy hairstyles, acne, and sullenness, you’l find pretty remarkable, talented, loving, funny, smart, social, delightful human beings. I’ve enjoyed every stage of life with them. Each is my favorite.

Click on this image and say aloud what is the first thing you see.

Because of the darker images, usually our eyes are drawn to the bats or demons, as the artist Escher wanted. But look at it again, and stare for a while at the white spaces. Coming into focus, when we really concentrate, are angels.

In every person, there is both, good and bad, light and dark. It’s our choice to look past the things that are of no lasting consequence in our children and spouses and quiet down that voice that wants to criticize. Instead, sit still. Be calm. Focus on the light and the white spaces between. See what angels are brilliantly waiting to emerge and for us to embrace them.

And then water, water, water.

 

 

 

Out of the Mouth of Parents

Boogers

There’s this expression, “Out of the mouth of babes” that has been adopted into our vocabulary to illustrate the wise, wonderful things young children say. Recently, I heard from parents on social media that the things their kids do will cause them (the parents) to say the most outlandish things. Things they would never have imagined saying in their pre-parent (sane) life, the time when they said and did mature, intelligent, socially-acceptable public acts like, “Pass me the Grey Poupon, would you please?” Behind private doors is another matter when you are raising an untamed, uncouth child and hope to one day present it to the world as a genteel adult with manners that won’t make you cringe.

As I’ve always said, pushing each child out into the world caused me to burst a few million brain cells, never to be recovered. I have lost my memory and my mind. I have said some of the most ridiculous things such as, “Don’t stir the toilet with your toothbrush.” As one mother shared, “When I said, ‘Come here and let me smell your butt,’ I knew my life had become very weird.”

Here’s a short list of weird things parents have said to their children:

Don’t stand on your sister

Don’t lick the cupboard

The cat doesn’t wear lipgloss

Please stop licking your shoe

Don’t touch his butthole

No peeing on people (or the sink, the bike tire, or the porch)

Don’t fart on your brother’s head

Get out of the dishwasher

Don’t put your feet in the donut box

Don’t start with the flamethrower

No, you may not bite my toe

No, honey, his boy parts are not jingling; that’s just keys in his pocket

Poop is NOT mud for your monster truck

Stop dancing with the vacuum

Don’t throw up on your sister

No, the cat does not want your dirty diaper

How many times have I told you; you can’t poop in the backyard

Don’t drink the bathwater your brother peed into

You need to wear underwear to the dinner table

Please don’t stab your sister with a pirate sword during dinner

Don’t poke the dog’s eyeballs with a fork

Quit gagging yourself

Why did you give the TV a bath?

Stop eating leaves; you’re not a dinosaur

Don’t pick your sister’s nose

You can’t wear hats as shoes

Don’t take a picture/video of your poop

Stop pulling your brother’s penis

Stop sword fighting with your penises

Don’t smother your brother in the couch

Why did you poop on the floor?

We do not feed the baby our boogers

Get your head out of my butt

Don’t fill up your pants with Legos

We don’t high five strangers

Cats don’t like having stickers put on them

Honey, please don’t play with daddy’s wee wee; he’s trying to go potty

Don’t eat food that was in your underwear

I just want to poop in peace

Yes, your poop comes out of a hole in your butt

We don’t talk about our vaginas to people in the store

What happened to the other half of the hair gel?

Only pick your own nose, honey

Don’t wipe your boogers on your sister

We don’t eat things that move

Stop slapping your [bare] booty and get dressed! Yes, I know it makes a cool sound but we have to go to church

Stop drinking out of the toilet

Don’t hammer your sister

Stop sharing your breakfast with the chicken/Get the goat off the trampoline/Stop biting the dog

Gross, stop putting your toes in your nose

Why are you on the counter…naked…eating cupcakes?

Get the toilet seat off your head

I know what poo looks like; you don’t need to show me

We don’t drive cars on our penis

Why is there a box of Pop Tarts in the shower?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flawed Parenting is Best

The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized we are all connected. There are no insignificant people in our lives. No throw-away humans. We should treat every living soul as if our lives depending on them. And they do!

Who knows if that obnoxious kid you sat next to in junior high math class will grow up to be your own kid’s kind-hearted pediatrician?

Who knows if that neighbor who was hard to get to know might open up one day and become your best friend?

Who knows if your child’s friend, to whom you generously gave milk and cookies for after school snacks, will grow up to be a lawyer who will do you a favor and represent you to save you tons of money and heartache one day?

I’ve had enough recurring experiences with people throughout my life to treasure each human as the most important person…because they may well become that one day.

And even if they just become a more valued friend…that’s worth it.

One such lady was an acquaintance through my children’s elementary school years. We didn’t do anything directly together, just had kids in the same classes once in a while and they took piano lessons from the same teacher. Stuff like that.

I grew up to teach at the local university and one of her daughters came to me, all grown up, asking for an exception to register late for my class. Since I knew her family, and that they were all stellar students, I granted that, of course.

Later that year, her other daughter, a graduate in the same field as mine, asked me to contribute to a wonderful blog called, “The Healthy Humans Project.” I really admire her work and was delighted to contribute. What an honor. The article I wrote is called, “Flawed Parents are the Best Tutors for Children.” 

I’ll leave you with this quote that sums it up for me. We all matter. Treat everyone as if they really do. Because they do.

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Keep ‘Em Safe Out There!

 

A few years ago, I wrote for WalletHub magazine when they came calling for experts to comment on an issue. I am no expert in finance by any stretch of the imagination, so why in the world did a money management business magazine request something from me? I’ll never know. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the topic was about Halloween and kids and well…that’s something I know a little about.

I guess they kept my name on file because they emailed me for another contribution to their upcoming Halloween issue. Here is the final product with my mug in it. If you want to skip reading the article, here is what I wrote plus a little more (no extra charge!)

  • What measures should parents take to ensure their kids are safe when trick-or-treating?

If children Trick or Treat in groups, there should be at least one responsible adult or older sibling who knows how to keep young children safe when crossing streets, approaching doorways, and knowing a familiar walking route. One of the primary dangers of Halloween is being hit by a car. Kids should never run ahead of the group or their parent, but instead, stay together. Use designated sidewalks and cross walks, obey pedestrian lights, and be sure the driver makes eye contact with you before crossing in front of a car.

Attach a piece of reflective tape somewhere on their costume or bag. Children also love to wear glow sticks and this doubles for being seen better at night. The leader of the group should also carry a flashlight. It’s always a safe practice when your child is out in public to write your phone number on their palm or inner arm with a permanent marker, or pin it to their costume.

Although many costumes include masks, it’s much more safe to paint on your child’s face so their eyesight is not limited by two tiny eye holes. Many schools prohibit masks anyway, so avoid buying or making masks and opt in for decorative non-toxic face painting instead. Speaking of costumes, check the fabric to see if it’s flame resistant and that accessories (like a knife or sword) have a soft or blunt end.

Go through your child’s candy (not to eat the good stuff!) to make sure all pieces are individually wrapped. No hard candy should be given to a child who might choke and be sure to check for food allergies.

Check out where registered sex offenders live before sending older kids out to Trick or Treat on their own so they do not go near those houses. Older children should each carry a cell phone and discuss a plan for “what ifs” and a reasonable time to be off the streets.

  • What are some healthy treats or nontraditional goodies that kids might actually enjoy?

It’s hard to compete with good, old fashioned candy as a Trick or Treat reward. Kids don’t usually drool over apples and carrots and this healthy switcheroo will definitely not get you nominated for Best Parent in the Neighborhood. But surprisingly, here are eight sure-fire rewards that kids won’t throw immediately into the trash when they get home. They may even enjoy them long after the candy is devoured (and stomachache ensues).

“Super” or Bouncy balls. Who doesn’t love them? They are popular at any age and they even come in “glow in the dark” which is cool for Halloween.

Natural Fruit Leather. A healthy, naturally sweet alternative to candy.

Stickers, especially if they are high quality. Have a variety so the kids can choose their favorites.

Mini flashlights. They can be ordered in bulk to bring the cost down and they are a bonus for keeping kids safe while they Trick or Treat at night.

Fake Mustaches. What a fun and silly way to celebrate dressing up.

Glow Sticks. Here’s another “treat” that doubles for a wearable item to keep kids more visible and safe while they safely Trick of Treat.

Individual-Sized Popcorn or Pretzel Bags.

Mini Playdough. I’ve never seen a child turn this down. You’ll get “oohs” and “aahs” for sure with this one. Maybe ever Parent of the Year.