Friday, June 25, 2010

There is ONE Thing I Do Really Well

I can finally say that there is ONE thing I do really well.  It's not often that I say something like that to myself, but I am truly good at this one thing.  I don't feel deep down that there is a way I need to change how I do this one thing.  I don't feel like I'm just pretending to be good at it.  I've always felt I did pretty well at it, but this week I tested myself, and now I can say: I've got this one down!

What is it?

NOT over-scheduling my kids.

Underwhelmed?  No big deal, you might say.  Well, to me, to us, it is a very big deal.  We live in a time and a place where moms are toting kids from school to soccer to dance and then running to take another child to tae-kwon-do before going back to another soccer game. Whew! I'm out of breath just writing that! (Now, if that describes your life, let me just say, I AM NOT judging you.  If that works for you and your kids that's wonderful.) It doesn't work for us.  That kind of a day makes me want to cringe and hide under the covers just thinking about it.

Quite by accident, I tested myself on this skill this past week.  By a calendar mixup (my fault!),  I somehow scheduled THREE activities for my kids every day this week.  VBS 8:45-noon.  Kids Yoga Camp 2-4, and Swimming Lessons from 4:30-5:10.  Wowsers.  That is insane!  When I realized my mistake, I almost backed out of the yoga camp.  But my oldest was looking forward to it more than anything, and I just couldn't crush him by making him miss it (it's not offered again until late July).   So, I decided we could do it for just this one week.  It's the only week all summer that will be this crazy, we'll get through it.  By Monday at 3pm, I was already looking forward to Friday. 

Things I learned from this over-scheduled week:
*It's exhausting to always be hurrying to get ready for x...or y.... or z...
*There's no time for spontaneous fun like heading to the neighbors (to check out their tadpoles that have started growing legs already!)
*It's way too easy to cave in to requests for fast food, because everyone is exhausted. (I am horrified at how much we ate this week.)
*One activity is enough.   We missed getting to go swim just for fun, or riding bikes outside.
* It really doesn't feel like summer when your kids are so exhausted you have to make them go to bed at 6:20 just to make it through the next day.
*You need room for flexibility in your days! Scheduling every minute might be productive, but it's more stressful than it's worth.

Today, after a week of crazy activities, we are taking back our flexibility.  Both my guys woke up today begging to just be able to stay home.  Please?  If that isn't a sign that we were doing too much, I don't know what would be.  So, we stayed home.  No VBS.  Instead, they are snuggled up together on the couch playing a game, happy as clams.  No stress.  No hurry up and eat, so we can hurry up and get in the car, so we can hurry up and....

How do you schedule your kids?  Are you like me, and like to do a few things here and there, but leave most of your time unscheduled?  Or, do you enjoy having lots of things already planned into your days?  Whatever your style might be, if it makes you and your kids happy, do it.  If it doesn't....well, figure out a way to do things so you are!

I am thankful for the blessings 
of a week of entirely UNSCHEDULED days 
coming up next week!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the things that I need needed to change in my life, like so many other people, is was my lack of exercise.  I've started working out regularly for the last two months, so I feel like I'm making good progress in that department.  But, it's not something that's ever going to go away.  I'm going to have to keep doing the exercise, keep making healthy food choices, and keep choosing to be healthy over junky and lazy.  That used to sound like some kind of terrible prison  sentence.  But, the more I practice it, all of it, the easier it gets.  And the more I choose the right path, the more that becomes what I truly want.  The junky stuff is slowly becoming the stuff that I'd rather not eat.  Huh.  I would have never thought that would happen.

I grew up skinny,  thin-like-a-pencil, and ate whatever I wanted.  I was a sugar maniac.  I remember as a teen, some friends of my parents came to visit, and were just amazed at how much junk food I could eat, and 1) not get sick and 2) be so darn skinny.  I just laughed.  Now, almost 25 years later, things are different, and I totally see what they meant!   I ate terribly, because it didn't matter.  

Now, it does matter.  It's taking a lot of practice to change those habits.  Practice, practice, and more practice.  That's all it takes.  Practice Makes Progress.  Not perfection, but progress.  Sometimes it's hard to see how much progress you're really making.  It helps to look back, to write down where you started, to look forward to a goal you've set for yourself.   For me, I set a goal to do that crazy infomercial workout,  P90X with my husband.  90 days.  Insane workouts.  My goal was to just get through it, the best that I could.   I'm about 1/2 way through with it now, and I'm noticeably stronger.

Three weeks ago,  one of the workouts was this crazy shoulder, chest & triceps workout.  Push ups.  90million push ups.  Regular ones, wide ones, one armed ones, ones where you jump up and clap in the middle.  Did I mention I can't --I mean CAN NOT do push ups?  I don't mean I can only do a few, I can't do any.  So this workout was so frustrating.  I tried.  But if you can't do a regular push up, you can't do a one armed push up, now can you?   I stuck with it. I tried.  I practiced.  I failed.  But I didn't give up.  Practiced some more the next week, and the week after that.  Then, yesterday, at my new challenging yoga class (I call it 'Killer Yoga''s brutal but fun.) PROGRESS!  I did a full push-up.  A full-on guy-style toes on the floor, legs straight with knees not on the floor, butt not sticking up in the air, correct form push up!  The funny part was, I didn't intentionally try for it... It just kind of happened, and I was stunned! It might have been 'only one' push-up, but it was HUGE progress.  Progress isn't always easy to see.  It really likes to quietly sneak up on you, but only if you keep practicing when you can't see it yet.

That same idea carries over to other areas of life.  Other things that need practicing.  There are other ways I want to see progress, but don't yet.  Catching up and keeping up with paperwork.  Cleaning and organizing.  Spending time in prayer and meditation.  Practice. It's all about the practice.  Keep practicing.  Keep trying.  Little by little those things will add up until suddenly the progress will be visible.

How about you?  Is there an area where you are practicing something? Waiting to see some progress?  Don't give up.  It will happen if you keep working for it!

Set a goal.
Practice again.
Practice a little more.
Keep practicing.
Celebrate each little bit of progress as it sneaks up on you.
Keep practicing.
Keep celebrating.
That goal will become reality.

May you be blessed by both the practice and progress!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Plans

"What are your summer plans?"  It seems like I've been asked this daily for the last month.  We really aren't doing anything special out-of-the-ordinary.  Hanging out, swimming, VBS, enjoying each other.  Seems like nothing special, right?  But it is special.  It's oh-so-special.  It's time.  Time to enjoy each other, and count our blessings.

I ran across this poem while cleaning out my "I'm-going-to-end-up-on-that-Hoarders-TV-show" office this morning.  I think I'm going to make it my summer mantra.   Thank you, Lord,  for my two wiggly, sticky, bug-loving blessings.

A Mom's Prayer
Dear Lord, It's such a hectic day,
With little time to stop and pray,
For life's been anything but calm,
Since You called me to be a Mom.
Running errands, matching socks,
Building dreams with matching blocks,
Cooking, cleaning, finding shoes,
And other stuff that children lose,
Fitting lids on bottled bugs,
Wiping tears and giving hugs,
A stack of last week's mail to read, 
So where's the quiet time I need?
Yet, when I steal a moment, Lord,
Just at the sink or ironing board,
To ask the blessings of Your grace,
I see them, in my small one's face,
That You have blessed me
All the while~~
And I stoop to kiss 
That precious smile.

~Author Unknown~

May you be blessed this summer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy & Excited Fights Sad & Sentimental

Today is the last day of school.  Hooray!  I, as much as my oldest, having been counting down to this day for a month at least!  No schedules.  No homework.  No getting up early.  No stopping in the middle of the afternoon for school pickups.  Just summer freedom and time together!  Bliss.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the tears started as I dropped him off for his last day today.   At 3:00, my baby will be a THIRD GRADER!!!  Oh my.  How did that happen?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I was fighting with him to give up his binky?  Or helping him get dressed?  Rocking him to sleep every night in my arms?

I thank GOD that my baby is still a snuggler.  That he still loves his mama and wants me there when he goes to sleep at night.  I am thankful that he's growing up to be a good, smart, kid.  I love that he's excited to do things with me, to show me things.  To share his world with me.   But I know that ALL TOO SOON, that time will end, for awhile at least. He'll be a teenager, too cool for mom who has suddenly become a huge embarrassment and who (in his mind) doesn't know or understand anything.  I am dreading that time.  It will break my heart.  But my time bonding, teaching,  and loving him now will carry me through (with a lot of prayer and help from God, I'm sure!).  And I know that we will come through it, and on the other side be close once more.  And someday, hopefully, I'll hear the words, "Mom, you were right.  I'm sorry for thinking you were such...."  Which reminds me, I need to go apologize and thank my parents again for putting up with my teenage years!

So, today,  I'm sad and sentimental.  But I'm even more happy and excited that I get the chance to spend the summer with my guy, bonding, playing, loving, and growing together.  I'm not going to let a single moment pass by... This is a summer to treasure!

May you be blessed with appreciation 
of all you've been given.  
Hold on to it.
Treasure it.
Don't let it slip away.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How To Feel Defeated

Have you ever had one of those days where you're just rolling along, having a normal, happy day, when suddenly WHAM!  Something slaps ya down and leaves ya feeling completely defeated?  Hopeless.  Crushed.  Beat down.  Does that ever happen to you?  No?  Well, let me give you some quick and easy tips on how to let yourself feel defeated.  It's easy.   (Warning, don't try all of these at once!  Maybe just one or two at a time...  Or, maybe hopefully, none at all! )

How to Feel Defeated:

#1  Don't get enough sleep.  Make sure that you are always just dragging along, barely making it through your day.  This makes it really easy for that feeling of defeat to just sneak up on you and knock you down.  Any little set back will do it.

#2 Don't manage your stress.  Sweep things that bother you under the rug and pretend you're not worrying about them.  Ignore them and let them all pile up on you as long as possible.

#3 Never EVER ask for help.  Don't ever let anyone know that something is bothering you.  They might do something wacky and awesome like help you out, or cheer you up, or my favorite.... PRAY for you!

#4 Keep as much chaos in your life as possible.  Keep a pile of clutter on the table (or counter top) at all times.  Make sure you never have enough laundry clean or put away.  Randomly put your car keys, glasses, or cell phone down in different places, so that you always struggle to find them.  Never, ever, ever file your important papers in any kind of organized fashion.

#5 Spend every waking minute taking care of someone other than yourself.   Put your children, husband, family, friends, neighbors, dog, postal carrier and bank teller first.   If you have time to take care of yourself, you obviously haven't worked hard enough to find someone else who needs your help more!

#6 Keep people at a distance, and avoid keeping a close circle of friends at all costs. Friends will lift you up, not help you to feel defeated.  Keep as far away as you can from anything that even resembles a friendship. 

#7 Talk negatively to yourself in your head all day long.  Tell yourself how horrible you look in that bathing suit.  Remind yourself what a stupid mistake that was that you made yesterday (or last week).  Talk to yourself even worse more harshly than you would talk to your worst enemy.

Okay, as I said in the little warning above, doing none of these things would be best!  Obviously, I don't want you to do any of these awful things to yourself.  This is my tongue in cheek reminder to myself to not let that moment of feeling defeated take over.  I had one of those today, you know.  I know, you're shocked.  You'd never have guessed, right?  It was related to a certain four year old that I'm madly in love with, but who is having certain issues that fall in the TMI category.  So, after, another blankety blank blank accident incident, I just felt completely defeated. And I tweeted it.  (The feeling defeated, not the TMI...)  Within moments, my super awesome, can't wait to meet her in real life, twitter friend tweeted this back to me:
Fear not!  
Whatever it is, I'm sure it's going to get better. 

JamieAnne, you have no idea how much better that tweet made me feel!  It made me cry. (I'm tearing up now writing about it.)  How wonderful is it that we can make friends and support each other, across time and space, without having ever met?  Pretty neat, I think.  Thank you!

Just one more note, and then I'll be done, I promise.  About #7, talking badly to yourself?  I read this post earlier today, "You Are Much More Than Your Bathing Suit".   Appropriately, it was right before I headed out to the pool for the first time this season.  Let me tell you, this lady has the right idea, the right attitude.  There is always a positive way to look at something.  It sometimes takes awhile to figure out what that might be, but it's there.  Look for it.  Search for it.  

Don't give up until you figure out what the positive is, and use it to crush the negatives into submission.