21
Sep

Simple on purpose

So lovies, one amazing mama in our lives turned me on to this other amazing mama that focuses on being Simple. On purpose. It's what her lifestyle with her kids is called. Simple. On purpose. She makes clear and intentional decisions. She is intentional with her words, she connects with her kids, she is silly, she is a leader, she is a teacher, she is a mama.

My biggest lesson in following her....connection leads to cooperation. Cooperation does not mean following orders, do as you are told, or be complacent, or be seen not heard. Coorperation means we respect each other. It means we talk to one another like it matters.

If you want your kids to be on the same team, you have to connect with your kids. You have to make them feel a part of the team. You have to work at being a good parent. You have to see things at their level. Your job is to deescalate, your job is to bring them out of chaos. You have a job.

She focuses on team and calmness. She focuses on restearing and redirecting and getting them out of bad moods. Everyone deserves to be in a bad mood, and everyone deserves to have someone make them feel better about that. She lets them have a voice, she asks them to. She gives them a chance to explain and allows them to be people. She sets up structure and discipline and she allows them to feel heard. She gives them freedom, even if it is within boundaries. She lets them figure things out and she allows them to be wholesome, loving kids.

She lets them fight it out and figure it out. She lets them earn money by earning their keep. She sets up family rules, dynamics, functions. She makes them feel like they are all part of this family, so we all have a stake, and we all own this house, so we all have a stake.

She lets them be messy, she helps them figure out how to clean it up. They trust each other, you can see it. They lean on each other. They have connected.

She doesn't get exhausted by the whining, god do I get exhausted and immediately trigged by the whining. She doesn't get short tempered by the arguing, god I get so short tempered when they fight, she finds solutions, I just break it up and separate. She sets them up with routines, ones that work for them and their family, she is big on that.

She breaks it all down to being simple. Be a family. Be kind. Connect. Love. Trust. Talk. Get down to their level. Hug. Hold their hand. Smooch them. Fix their hair. Praise their effort. Laugh with them. Throw dance parties. Stop yelling, seriously, stop doing it. Know that you are the adult. You are the one dictating the course of their memories, their childhood. Take three deep breaths, start again. Start over. Teach them to apologize. Show them the way and then get out of the way. She makes it all seem so simple.

One day, I watched her no yell challenge and I listened to how she reacts instead. I took notes on the steps to take while observing your child.

Do they "always" do someone, or do they do it and you as the adult are so triggered it feels like all of the time?

Does the "thing" they do really last "forever"? Or, is it moments and if you stop fueling the fire it's even less time?

Is it really "all day everyday" or is there a moment that brings on a behavior and if you stopped the moment, the behavior would go away?

Have you really tried "everything" or have you tried the same thing over and over hoping that it brings about a different result?

I started with my Ferdinand. The one that gets a bad wrap around here. He doesn't always spill things, he does it once, maybe twice a day. He isn't always leaving his things everywhere, all of the time. He gets lost in playing and I don't give him enough warning to leave. He isn't always screaming, he's just excited and needs to be reminded we are all inside. But when you connect with this child...when you play with him, when you read with him, when you go on adventures with him...he is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of his heart. Connection, he is craving us.

I moved on to Bella. She isn't always on a screen, she loves to take walks with us. She isn't always complaining, she just needs reminders of what to be grateful for. She isn't always sitting, or eats just sugar, she needs to be reminded that her body is what allows her to feel good and strong and able. But when you connect with this child...when you set up a reading date, when you go for a family bike ride, when you allow her to talk and talk on a walk, when you let her get her puppy ready...she is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of her heart. Connection, she is craving us.

All of this is to say lovies, it is simple. We make it more complicated and harder than it needs. But, if there is one thing that 2020 has taught us well is that you can take everything away from us and we still need each other. It's all we have ever needed. A puppy pulling out outside for a walk. A little girl begging us to read with her. A little boy begging us to build. It's as simple as connection.

18
Sep

Five Minute Friday - church

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on church.

Go.

For some, it takes place in a building.

For some, it means praying and rituals and symbols.

For some, it means there is a "Person" involved, a God of sorts.

For all, it is a feeling, a meaning, a peace, and that can happen anywhere.

Church can be pancake Sunday with the kiddos so excited and happy and the coffee warm and loving.

Church can be our happy hearts where we share what we are grateful for, that week, during that time.

Church can be a run, a yoga class, a feeling of letting go and allowing something else to be in control.

Church can be a really hot shower, a warm bath. The sinking in to water that is needed to wash the day away.

Church can be an ocean, a beach, the sound and rhythm of the back and forth that allows you to listen, really listen.

Church can be a bed, calling to you. Asking you to close your eyes and lay your worries down.

Church can be a race, the adrenaline running through your veins as you come together as a community.

Church can be losing yourself in a book, forgetting all about yourself.

Church can be your community service and remembering others need you, this world needs you.

Church can be putting your babies to sleep, looking at those little faces, telling them we did our best today, tomorrow we will do better because we know better.

Church can be telling your family you love them and the feeling that comes from hearing it back, even when they talk to you from their sleep.

Church is not contained in walls, buildings, or by the God we worship. Church is all around us.

Stop.

14
Sep

Fall

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

It dawned on me tonight that for the first time since I became a mama, I did not make a summer wish list. I just kind of let it happen. If I really sit down to think about why, I think that someone that lives and dies by lists, can't make a list and not check it off. And with 2020, everything is too up in the air to make a list and stick to it, so I didn't want to bother at all. So, I didn't. And like I have learned in the crazy year, the earth didn't explode, nothing stopped working, I just didn't make a list and that was ok. Do I love my summer and fall lists, god I do. Do I miss them, oh hell yes. Will I go back to them, I will I will, but NOT having a list did not mean our summer was awful.

In fact, we squeezed every bit out of this summer. We watch the sun go down, we stayed up talking, we laughed, we walked, we rode bikes, we watched so many movies, we swam in the ocean, we looked at the stars, we ate ice cream, we walked some more, we did so so many house projects, we hung around our puppy, we danced, we cried, we cleaned, we made so many messes, we did a ton of trips, we were tourists in our own town, we ate and ate and ate, we had so many s'mores, we fought, we slept, we napped, we worked, we worked out, we walked and walked lots more, we vacationed, we surprised each other, we celebrated birthdays, we talked a lot, we made fires and roasted marshmallows. We squeezed the hell out of this summer.

Last week, we talked about some of our favorite parts. I forgot that summer was when we came out of quarantine and started to see friends again. I talked about our little weekend getaway to the Brightfuls. We talked about the 4th of July, the Cape, mom and dad talked about our track day with the Berrys. We talked about our upcoming Lake weekend and how much we all really needed it.

We talked about how much fun the 4th was, even though it was certainly not our usual and how it was still full of magic. We talked about the Cape and how even in 2020, being so careful and with the masks, it was exactly what it has always been...8 fools madly in love and basking in the warmth. We talked about the water and the beach and our house there. At the peak of summer, it is hot and perfect. It was the time that I needed. The vacation and time away that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

As we drove to the Lake, you could clearly see the start of fall. New York has a way of really setting fire to the trees and it's starting to happen. The yellow is happening at the tip of the leaf, some are showing signs of red, but there is still enough green to help you remember summer was only two weeks ago.

As we looked out our huge window onto the Lake, all I could feel was calm. We were surrounded by older kids who were able to be and do. We didn't have to keep such a cautious eye. But, still little and having fun playing in the water and acting like fools. We got to watch our boys snuggle in bed and say goodnight to each other, somehow like brothers. Our girls stay up talking too late like teenagers, all of us too tired to tell them to knock it off, maybe because it was too cute to stop.

It was the end that I needed. The goodbye that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

Tomorrow, for the first time, my babies head to separate schools. My daughter, fully immersed in the in-between, is headed to middle school. Middle school. My baby girl is in middle school. I cried so so hard the day she started kindergarten. I could not believe that little face was climbing a bus and I lost it for weeks. By the time it was Cole's turn, I was a disaster at the reality that I would be working home alone for the first time since I was a mom. And tomorrow, this milestone hits. She is ready because she did not like being out of school for six months. She is ready because she likes teachers and misses friends. She is ready because she wants to have her routine and structure and separate life. She is ready because, she is. She is always more ready than me, why would this be any different.

My son will start grade 3. Ferdinand in all his glory. "Will you be kind"..."yeah". "Will you remember to listen and show respect..."yeah". "I love you..."I love you too". As we talked about all of the reasons we love each other...reasons like "you're smart mom, you have a big heart Cole, you're always up for playing with me buddy...I always have my playmate..." we said good-bye to our second grader. One more year, one more leap.

Like most in this country, this week marks us leaving each other for the first time in 6 months. I have no idea how we all did this. I have no idea what tomorrow will feel like. I have needed quiet for a very long time. I have needed time alone. But, I'm also me and walking away from them after six months is going to hit me. I'm going to feel weirdly alone and like it will be too quiet for a while. Six months is a fascinating amount of time. Day in and day out of each other and we all just kept going.

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

7
Sep

A deceptive peace

I cannot begin to explain to the world how much I needed March 2020. I did not need a pandemic and I did not need people getting sick or Americans losing their jobs/lives/livelihood. I did need the world to stop spinning for a while and I needed the time March gave me.

Being huddled up in my home during the cold month of March was like a miracle. Having everyone here with me, all of us safe and sound, it was heaven. I desperately missed our framily connections and I was so sad the grandparents couldn't connect with their babies, but we found really good and nurturing ways to stay connected and feeling loved.

March was long, really really long. But I needed it to go as slowly as it did. I was scared for my new business, I was scared for my family, our community, our country, I was. I was also tired. I was worn out and worn thin. I spent three years hurting myself and I needed it all to slow the hell down. I needed to see my family, I needed to work side by side with my husband, I needed to see him really shine with our kids as he taught them. I really really needed March.

April was lovely but eery. There was a deceptive peace as the magnitude of the virus really hit. We all started to really connect the dots on how long this was going to take us and there was no end in sight. More and more and more things shut down. Phases started to be introduced. The streets were empty. Stores, big and small, were closed. Restaurants really suffered. The deceptive peace really caved our walls in all around us.

As the weather got warmer, we became more hopeful, but longed for people and connection and coming out of hibernation. The deceptive peace had taken hold.

Grandparents drove to talk through the windows. People connected as much as they could in video meetings with friends/family/loved ones. As quickly as we were excited about connecting through video screens, we were also over it. Easter was canceled. Everything was eery, so quiet. Eery and quiet became the norm, a deceptive peace became our norm.

The deceptive peace made me at times feel so grateful for this time, so tired all of the time...I could not get enough sleep. There were moments when the peace filled me with so much joy but the deception of the peace had me so worried and filled with dread. What next? What happens now? How is this ever going to be fixed? Who do we know that's sick, who is lost forever? The deceptive peace had my dreams still filled with anxiety but my eyes continued to be heavy. I would do the littlest thing and the exhaustion was overwhelming. The deceptive peace had taken over my whole body.

Deceptive because...

It should not take a pandemic for me to settle down. It should not take a pandemic and a virus that knocks down the world for me to finally realize enough is enough. But, it did. And, this is who I am and that is a very hard pill to swallow and a lot for me to just accept.

The anxiousness still talked to me in my dreams. It still found me and told me that things were okay but not okay.It still asked me questions I had no idea the answers to. It still "what if"ed me all of the time.

We were expected to do everything, all at once, and everyone knew no one was doing anything well. Not one thing was being done well and with clarity. Instead, we all tried to "make the best of things".

Everyone was guessing, all of the time guessing. Everyone still is.

Deceptive because it snowed in May, riots started soon thereafter. A civil unsettling and reckoning were awakened and we were all called to task. We were all called to do more, listen more, say more, shut up more.

June, July and August all ran into each other. School "ended" and we all tried to make summer work and be summer. In so many ways, it was, in so many ways, it was not. Riots continued, more and more stories hit of the racial injustices of our world, our lives, our nation. We learned more, we were faced with the ugly truth of who we have always been.

June, July, and August all ran into each other. Kids tried to be kids. Vacations were had. Framily came back together. Grandparents got to spend time with their grand-kids again. And before we knew it, our little family had been together for six months. Six months.

In September, my daughter and I were taking of of our many walks and she said, so dad goes back to work in about 2 days...wow, it'll be weird without him home. After all this time, the deceptive peace became our normal, and the real normal now feels strange.

So yes, this week, we will have our ice cream for dinner tradition. We will say goodbye to summer. We will tuck dad in for his early mornings. We will continue to guess the right/wrong way to handle this all and we will figure it out.

For the past six months, you guys have been resilient. Calm. Crazy. Gotten along so well. Hated each other. Laughed together. Screamed at one another. Been on millions of walks. Saw framily. Reconnected with who you are. Gotten ready for a brand new school. Cried. Talked. Drew. Built. Ran. Rode bikes. Swam. Loved on Pearl. Watched a million movies. Read so many books. Spent hours of tablets. Shopped. Watched me work. Watched dad create a home. Hugged. Loved. Found peace.

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