Is It Really Vacation With Kids?

Lighthouse

Ah vacation. Time to relax. No work, school or responsibilities. iPhones are forgotten. The beach beckons. Hear the seagulls. Feel the warm breeze. And…here comes the hurricane. Not a literal hurricane. I’m talking about my three children.

I never appreciated a child free vacation until I couldn’t go on one anymore. There are five of us now and despite the gift of being in the beautiful South, I’m well aware of how much work a vacation with kids can be. The slathering on of sunscreen multiple times a day, the coercing them out of the pool after three hours, the junk food, the rain that traps us indoors for days, trying to keep my fearless three-year old from drowning in the undertow. You get the picture. By bedtime, I’m ready to collapse or scream.

Vacation

On the flip side, I get to spend lots of quality time with my family. We are blessed to be able to go on vacation. We are lucky to have beautiful weather today. The biggest decision of the day is beach or pool. I wake up to chocolate chip waffles and good coffee. I’m reading a really inspiring book. Life is good.

Vacation with kids? Yeah. We’ll do it again.  We are making memories. And those are worth all the work.

Homeschooling Made Easy

This is our second year homeschooling and though we’ve had ups and downs, I love every minute of it. Being able to spend quality time with my children is a true gift. Figuring out which curriculum to use has been the hardest part of our journey.

Enter Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool. Lee Giles, a homeschool mother of six, has put together a huge resource for homeschooling parents who are overwhelmed by all the options. You can search by pre-made levels or mix and match to suit your child’s needs. Once you decide on a level, you start on Day 1 and follow the directions from there.

Math, English, History, Music, Art and so much more!  Visit her site and take a look around. I gravitate towards an eclectic, unschooling style of learning, but I love using this site on days I panic and feel like we need to “do school”.

Easy Peasy

Yoga With Kids

The house has been full of the sounds of Namaste lately.  We’ve been doing yoga with the kids, which is pretty much like anything else with children; slow going, two steps forward and one step back, frustrations flair then enlightenment.  Well, almost.

At the end of each session of downward facing dogs and sun salutations, we fold our hands in prayer and say Namaste.  My two-year-old loves yoga. He lasts through a 20 minute session with relative ease.  He likes to be included, so he chimes in with his own version; Mamaste.  We all smile.  Enlightenment for sure.

Do You Still Believe In The Magic Of Childhood?

Every parent knows with the passing of every child-centered holiday that one day their child will come to them with The Question.

“Mommy, is the (Easter Bunny, Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc.) real?”

My oldest daughter B. is eight years old.  I though this might be the year she calls my bluff.  After all, she spotted all the stuffed animals we bought from IKEA last Christmas.  My retort, “Maybe the elves were too busy this year and had to swing by IKEA for backup.”

The Tooth Fairy didn’t even leave a note when B.’s most recent baby tooth fell out.  “She must have been tired from flying around all night carrying a bag full of teeth.”  That child has no idea how tired the tooth fairy is.  Really.

B. found wrappers in the garbage can from the sneaky leprechaun who visited in March.  I was annoyed at my failing by this point, “He’s really sneaky leaving it out in the open like that.”  (My mother would have NEVER let that happen.  She was and still is the master of holiday hiding spots.  I bow to your wise ways Mom.)

I thought maybe the older children she hangs out with would spill the beans, but apparently nobody is talking.  So we carry on our traditions of baskets and candy, letters and presents; traditions my husband and I grew up with sprinkled in with a few of our own.  I dread the day I am confronted with The Question.  But I know what I’ll say.  It’s the same thing my own mother told me.  As long as you believe, it will always be real.

Why should we, as grownups, stop believing in the magic of childhood?  I love seeing my kids’ eyes light up at the sight of a handwritten letter from Santa or hear their squeals of delight upon seeing a big chocolate Easter bunny.  It doesn’t get old, it’s bittersweet and it’s fleeting.  With a two-year old under our roof, I have a few years left of making these memories with my children.  And no, I don’t feel like I’m tricking them or lying to them.  This, to me, is childhood.  Some of my best memories are from holidays gone by.  Becoming a parent myself, I realized how much work, thoughtfulness and planning go into Christmas, birthdays, egg hunts, tooth fairy notes.  I consider myself lucky to be able to do these things for my children.  To be part of the magic making, to see their happiness, their sheer wonder in things that are unexplainable makes it all worth while.

Sometimes Commercials Surprise You in a Good Way

When I first saw this commercial during the Super Bowl I was in tears, for two reasons. The girls in the beginning reflect exactly what society expects; weak, not quite good enough, inferior. The younger girls are still true to themselves; strong, confident, fierce. And I saw in those young girls my own two daughters who are not afraid to run hard, fight hard and believe in themselves. When this same commercial was played in church on Sunday it made me want to hug my girls tight to my chest and whisper into their hair, don’t ever change, stay true to your heart.

Watch this video and tell the girls in your life the same thing. I’m proud to do everything like a girl.

Where is Your Sign?

 

Photo: Danny Merz

Driving home from soccer practice this week, I noticed a rickety old sign hanging outside an equally dilapidated church. The place looked like it was in bad shape, but the message on their sign was quite the opposite.

It read “Don’t pray for a lighter burden. Pray for a stronger back.”

Yes!  A great message I may have missed if had overlooked that little ramshackle church.  Look around and find your signs. They are everywhere.

An Introverted Girl’s Best Friend

introvert
I’m an introvert. I often tell my husband I would be content on a deserted island with some good food and a stack of books for a long, long time. I have an event coming up that is weighing on my mind. I will know absolutely no one there. I will be forced to socialize, network and chit-chat, things I’m not comfortable with and don’t enjoy. But thank God for Steve Jobs because I can take my iPhone or iPad with me and disappear into the crowd.

It’s socially acceptable to be on your smartphone now in certain situations. I’m not talking about at the dinner table or while you’re having face to face conversations with people. That’s just rude and annoying. But in a crowded room, with people wandering around, small groups of people sectioned off into their cliques, only talking to the people they know, I don’t sweat it, I just pull out my distraction tool.

Looking at me, no one knows if I’m texting, tweeting, blogging, tumbling, googling, emailing, pinning, on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, checking in or just pretending to do one of these things to avoid idle conversation. Maybe I’m doing a couple at once. Maybe I’m eavesdropping, hoping for an “in” to the conversation. Maybe I’m simply relieved to not look so out of place, to not have a spotlight shined on my introversion. Some people misconstrue my quiet, reserved nature for snobbery. Only those who know me well know that is the farthest thing from the truth.

So for all my fellow introverts, take along your smartphone/pad/whatever and get lost in the crowd. Maybe you will meet another kindred soul pretending to text in the corner. It might be me. 🙂

A Tear-Jerker in 10 Sentences

Tonight at bedtime I was pulling out my six-year old daughter’s ponytail holder. It got tangled and pulled her hair. She cried out in pain.

“I’m so sorry M. I didn’t mean to do that!”

“It’s ok Mommy. I still love you. Even when you’re up there (points up to Heaven) and I’m really old, I’ll still love you. I’ll never stop loving you.”

Teary eyed and touched by her thoughtful words, I knew I must be doing something right…

Finally A Job We Are ALL Qualified To Do

Photo: Juanedc

Photo: Juanedc

Have you ever found yourself upset because other people weren’t making you happy? All too often we rely on others for our own happiness. I’m guilty of this. I look to my spouse, my kids, my friends, my parents, even my neighbors to provide happiness, when I should really be looking in the mirror.

Don’t count on other people to make you a bright happy ray of sunshine every day. Instead adjust your own attitude, your own outlook and find your own peaceful, content place. Happiness is not the job of others. Happiness is an inside job.

Now get to work!