Monday, May 11, 2015

What Motherhood Has Taught Me

It's a funny thing, being a mom. Everyone tells you your life is about to change and it does. That part wasn't much of a surprise. The thing I didn't expect was how profoundly it would change the way I viewed myself. I have heard people say that they lost themselves once they had kids because everything became about the kids and they had nothing left. The opposite happened to me. 

I've always had an idea of what my values were and what values I wanted to instill in my kids. And as my kids grow, I am constantly thinking of the kind of human I want to raise. At the end of the day, my job is to teach them and prepare them to be respectful, intelligent, kind and independent people. What is the best way to do that? Be an example. I use different tactics and give them certain responsibilities to drive this all home, but it always comes back to me and their dad. There is nothing more effective than practicing what you preach. As I came to this realization, it occurred to me that my ideals did not always align with how I was really living. I had become lazy and comfortable and my kids were forcing me to step it up. I had some work to do. 

So here are all the things that I strive to teach my kids everyday that have now become areas I am working on. We're all in this together.

- Believe in yourself. I didn't intend to start this off sounding like an after school special, but it's true that it's something I needed help in. Have you ever heard of the idea that you shouldn't say anything about yourself that you wouldn't say about your best friend? The idea being that we are much harder on ourselves than the people we love most in this world. And if we just realized that we are human and most people in the world are faking it just as much as we are, we start to gain the confidence we need to move forward. I can say my career has soared since I became a mother and I don't think that is a coincidence. Also, as you get older you just give less shits. So there's that too.

- Celebrate failure. It's a lot easier to say you can't do something and give up than endure the hardships of failing. Sounds obvious when you say it, but I never really thought about it until a study came out a couple years ago stating that kids that were praised for the process (failing) over accomplishments were more successful. If they just realized that eventually they would succeed, they were much more likely to keep trying. Failing is just a sign that you are closer to succeeding. Realizing that simple fact has made an impact on me too. 

- Be kind, not nice. I think I had the kind part down, but the part about being not nice was harder for me. What do I mean by that? Well, I want to teach my kids it is ok to say no sometimes. I don't want them to get walked over and for some reason I have always had a hard time saying no. Saying no has freed me from feeling overwhelmed and stressed and I want the same for my kids.

- Stop whining and fix it. Ok, I don't think I whine a lot but teaching my kids to recognize and solve problems is a big one. Reiterating it to them constantly just puts it in the forefront for me. It has become routine around here to stop a situation from getting out of hand and talk about what the problem really is and how we can best solve it. I mean, how can that not help me?

- Broaden your horizons. Make lots of different kinds of friends and experience different places. I've always loved to travel, but I just haven't done as much of it in my life as I would like. We've made it a priority to take a family trip every year to somewhere new so the kids can experience different parts of the country and eventually, the world. Experiencing different places and people builds empathy and a realization that the world is a lot bigger than our little bubble at home. Showing them around also helps me slash stuff off my bucket list. Plus it's fun to see them experience new things.

My kids have made sure that I am no longer a caricature of what I've always wanted to be. That ideal hasn't been reached but I am lot closer to it than I ever have been and it feels good to know that when I tell my kids it's important to xyz, it's coming from a place of honesty and not hypocrisy. So thanks kids. I love you for it.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Livi is FIVE

My baby is five years old. She will be in Kindergarten next year and she tells me all the time that she doesn't want to be. She's scared and I can't blame her. She doesn't see the appeal in going to the same school as her brother, but he's been really sweet in trying to reassure her with his past experiences. She's doing well with her letters and numbers and is starting to understand the concepts behind reading. She's a much different learner than Liam. She learns through experiences. My favorite questions are the ones that come out of playing. We were playing with Hot Wheels the other day and she wanted to know why the cars didn't fall down when they raced through the loop on the track. I tried to explain the concept of inertia without boring her, but the only thing that worked was experimenting with different speeds so she can see the results herself.

I often joke that she is the antithesis of me. It's true that there are times that I find it hard to connect to her and her dolls and love of fashion, but the truth is we are the same. No, we aren't the same. She is better. We are both stubborn which, contrary to what people might have you believe, is a powerful quality and one that is hugely underrated. The difference is I tend to give in too quickly and there have been many times where I wished I had stuck to my guns longer than I did. Livi has grit. She has tenacity and she is fierce. Women need to be a bit stubborn in this day and age to achieve certain things. It can be aggravating to deal with when that "woman" is your daughter, but I have to remind myself constantly that the annoyances this characteristic brings me now will be a great asset to her in the future. It's tempting to tame the flame, but instead I try to find the balance that is needed to maintain peace and order in the house while letting her be who she is.

My real obstacle with Livi is getting her to agree to try new things. She is often so much in the mindset of "my way or the highway" that she misses out on opportunities to explore or engage in new experiences. I signed her up for baseball a couple of months ago. She adamantly refused to go for the first 2 weeks claiming she was too "shy" and we left early both weeks. That could very well have been the case, but it's no excuse to stay at home. I made her a deal. We go this one week and we stay the whole hour. She legitimately tries it. If she hates it, we won't come back again. She held up her end of the bargain and we have been back every week since. That's not to say she isn't in her own little world the entire time we are there. While waiting in line to practice "batting", my girl can be seen spinning with her head cocked up, eyes to the sky and singing. Zero effs given about baseball, but she still goes. I think she likes spending the time with me or her dad (it's a parent, kid class kinda thing) and it establishes that being outside and exercising are important so it works.

My Livi Lu is one of a kind in every way; in style, personality, attitude and outlook. She's an entertainer and storyteller who loves to create and experience. She's going to do big things if we can just stay out of her way.

Livi's questions for age five:

1. What is your favorite color? Pink
2. What is your favorite toy? My Goldiblox
3. What is your favorite fruit? whipped cream and strawberries
4. What is your favorite tv show? Sofia the First and Strawberry Shortcake
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? pizza
6. What is your favorite outfit? my witch costume
7. What is your favorite game? Mario
8. What is your favorite snack? party snack; cupcakes, cheetos, juice
9. What is your favorite animal? Elly (our cat)
10. What is your favorite song? Strawberry Shortcake opening song
11. What is your favorite book? I am Amelia Erhart
12. Who is your best friend? Anayass
13. What is your favorite cereal? Rice Krispie
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride my bike and scooter
15. What is your favorite drink? apple juice and root beer
16. What is your favorite holiday? Easter
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? nothing
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? bagel
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? pizza
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Work in a pet shop
She asked me to add a new one:
21. What is your favorite movie? Big Hero 6

Friday, February 27, 2015


Livi has been really into knock, knock jokes lately. She sees a golden opportunity at bedtime when Daddy is saying goodnight and chooses to prolong it as long as possible by asking him to come up with knock, knock jokes over and over again. She started coming up with her own non-sensical knock, knock jokes such as this one:

"knock, knock"
"who's there?"
"orange who?"
"orange banana poopy"

Clearly she has a gift.  Last night Liam was telling us silly jokes from a book of his and she saw this as a whole new world of material. Sure enough when bedtime rolled around, she couldn't wait to share some new jokes with me. I loved them so much I had to write them down. Don't feel bad if you lack the sophistication needed to understand some of these. It happens to the best of us.

Why did the nail come in?
Because he's a walking animal

Why does an elephant walk into the store?
Because he's naked (this one KILLED with Liam)

Why does a dog walk in?
Because he plays with the ball when he walks in and he steps on toys

A giraffe walks into a store and he wears undies with no clothes on. (we drew a picture of this)

Liam thought these were just so great. It made me so happy to see them share a moment and Livi beamed with every joke that Liam laughed at.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Liam is Seven

Liam is now seven years old and in first grade. He's in the high achiever class and is just so smart. There is something called a Rigby test where they asses what level you are at for reading. It ranges from 1-30 and Liam scored a 23 when he arrived in the class. His teacher told me they expect kids to be closer to 9 or 10 so she was very happy with that score. Recently, he took the test again and scored a 30. A 30. As in, she doesn't have to test him again because you can't get any higher. As smart as he is, we don't dote on him. This stuff comes easy to him so it's not really any big achievement. We've been emphasizing the process and praising the failures as much as we can with him. Being so naturally smart makes him kinda lazy. He gets frustrated quickly and gives up way too fast. I think it's working. He is picking up our lingo and learning that he can do just about anything but he has to practice and most likely fail and that's ok.

He's really analytical. He doesn't just memorize facts. He likes to understand them. He is constantly asking questions. To me, that's a sign of a critical thinker and that just makes me like... giddy and stuff. The other day he was telling me about his friend that I saw him practicing baseball with. He told me that his name was Kyle and when they are in school, Kyle gets in trouble a lot. I asked if Kyle was in his class and he said yes. After about of minute of silence he added, "Mom, you should have known Kyle was in my class by me saying that he gets in trouble at school. How else would I know that?".  Obviously, he just learned about inference. Brat. Also, he quoted Neil deGrasse Tyson the other day and I died.

As analytical of a thinker as he is, he is also quite the sports buff and social butterfly. I always had a little worry in me that he would just be the kid who was on his computer all the time and didn't interact with people or get out and exercise. Not that there is anything wrong with computer geeks (I happen to be one), but everything in moderation! He plays every sport. There has never been a sport he hasn't wanted me to sign him up in. He LOVES his teammates and classmates. He jokes and runs around with anyone that will play along. He also adores football. When I say he loves to watch football with his daddy, it's just such an understatement. Obviously, he loves having a thing that he does with his dad but it's more than that. He loves the game. And he talks the for the. whole. entire. game. He's basically like a sportscaster that states really obvious things. Like a sportscaster for the blind, maybe? He's at that great age where he actually knows a lot of what is going on but is also still convinced that "Daddy knows everything about football".

This is getting long and ridiculous, but one more thing. I can't talk about Liam without mentioning his sweetness. He is the sweetest, kindest, most loving boy I have ever known. He hugs and kisses me more times in a day than some people get in a year. He literally tells me I am the "most amazing, sweetest, cutest mommy" every single day. He gets super stressed out when I raise my voice to Livi or when Livi gets a little too lovey with the cat. He just wants everyone to be happy. Mission accomplished, kid. You've done it. You've made us very happy.

Liam's questions for age seven:

1. What is your favorite color? Green
2. What is your favorite toy? My microscope
3. What is your favorite fruit? apples and pears
4. What is your favorite tv show? Stampy's minecraft videos
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? chicken tenders
6. What is your favorite outfit? Minecraft shirt
7. What is your favorite game? Terraria and Minecraft
8. What is your favorite snack? Starbucks
9. What is your favorite animal? Elly (our cat)
10. What is your favorite song? Get Over It by OK GO
11. What is your favorite book? Quest to Find a Diamond Sword (Minecraft fiction)
12. Who is your best friend? Mason and Eli
13. What is your favorite cereal? Cinnamon toast crunch
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Pee, just kidding. Play football.
15. What is your favorite drink? Water
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my ocelot
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes and waffles
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Legends
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Archeologist