Friday, August 29, 2014

Current Obsessions- Back to School Edition

We are in the thick of back to school over at HerMamas. This is always a hectic but exciting time of year. One of my favorite parts is all the back to school supply shopping. I am such a sucker for school supplies! Here are some of the back to school things we are obsessing over.

Kids' Fashion (high-top sneakers): My son has really turned a corner with back to school clothes shopping. In the last year, his style has been solidified and he takes pride in dressing himself and picking out his own clothes. These days he's all about high-top sneaks with layered shirts and jeans. To kick off the school year he ended up with two pair of colorful high-top sneakers to mix-up his daily options and I think he looks adorable!

Journaling: not only is my son writing in his back-to-school planner but his teacher handed out calendar journals during the 1st day of school which he immediately began using. My kiddo loves writing in his journal and calendar planner. I'm thrilled to see what he fills his day with and how he's becoming organized through writing. 

Classroom Student Roster: I can't believe how excited I was about the annual class post. My son's school lists a child's classroom, teacher and classmates two days before school begins. This night is usually pretty exciting, but we oddly missed it this year. The next morning I made the solo trek to my son's school to find this list. I was literally high-fiving myself reading names of kids I recognized and knew my son enjoyed being friends with. Then I went over the list with my son a few times and this was just the thing to get him fully pumped for back to school! 

Weekly Organizer: We do a homeschool program through a local charter school and it is a lot of work. It really is a family affair and if we are not organized and have a schedule we find ourselves rushing on the day before assignments are due. When it comes to school schedules I LOVE a good free printable weekly organizer. I fill it in once a week with everything from daily assignments, blog post ideas, doctor appointments, library visits and even the daily menu. The whole family knows where the schedule is and can easily look and see what's going on that day.

Trapper Keeper: Yes they are back. Unfortunately they don't have the old school awesome pictures like a unicorn jumping over a rainbow, or kittens in a basket. They come in just plain colors, but are still awesome for keeping all my kid's work neat and organized. And don't worry, I already tweeted the company asking about getting some of the classic designs back for next year.

Boogie Board: No this is not the kind you use at the beach, these are actually LCD writing tablets. Kind of like an e-pad of paper. We use use this like we would a white board. Something that we can write on, do practice math problems, do a spelling test etc. We can do all the things we would use scratch paper for without wasting paper! A simple push of a button and the whole screen is cleared! 

Are you or your kiddos back to school?
What are some of your favorite back to school items?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Criticizing Kids... Does it help or hurt?!?

Criticism is tough on anyone let alone kids! Growing up I knew early on that my mother was overly critical. What's occurred since? I've oscillated between refraining from criticizing my children, gently judging them or down right nagging them with my constant criticism. However, there has to be a happy medium.   

Kids shouldn't only hear about how perfect, awesome and great they are. Though they're likely magnificent human beings. What child isn't? We love our children. Each have amazing gifts, but they can't literally be the best at absolutely everything! At some point a parent will have to judge their child if at least to redirect bad habits. 

For my son, I'd like him to work on improving simple habits such as sloppy handwriting and more important tendencies such as humility. While doing so I don't want him to confuse my guidance as judgemental feedback that breaks his sprit. The kicker then is to criticize with sensitivity and honesty. Admittedly, I'm not often the best in this area. If I become overly frustrated, suddenly I find myself nagging my kid about something he did "wrong" over and over again when my intention was to be helpful not critical. 

Through parenting trial and error, I have learned to become much more of an active listener when it comes time to be critical. For instance, during day one of soccer practice my son immediately arrived to practice acting in a way that I perceived as boastful. I understood he felt confidence and how he wanted to play to win, but I also know that it's important to show humility especially in sports.

In this moment there was a great opportunity to teach my child about modesty regardless of my perception. I asked him to define modesty and when he couldn't I said it was the opposite of bragging! Immediately he felt judged. He insisted "I'm not showwwwing off!" I agreed, "you aren't!" 

Then I proceed to discuss that reminding him to be modest wasn't because he was doing anything "wrong" or because I considered him a show-off. What I wanted to convey was simply a lesson in humility! We chatted for a while and soon what I was communicating didn't feel like criticism but felt more like a teachable moment. 

How do you express criticism to your children without crushing their spirit and nagging?!?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Makes Your Soulmate Great?

If you took your relationship cues from Hollywood's depiction of love, your partner (or soulmate) would be tall, dark and handsome. They with their perfect smile would be chronically sensitive, in perfect shape, the epitome of understanding, and always pleasant.

Hollywood makes it all look so easy, fancy and fun.

Just the other day, I got to thinking about this mainstream love facade, what really makes a soulmate great and what it actually takes to make relationships work. It takes work.

My husband is perfectly made for me without being perfect. In fact, we're total opposites in ways that work while being the same in areas that set us back.  I can be hot-headed and turbulent while he's peace in any storm. He can be mellow to a fault while driven enough for the both of us. We work within the goodness that is us and resist the faults that make us human. 

Love is an ebb and flow. In my opinion, the best relationships are ever-evolving, grounded and compassionate in all things.

The other day, I texted my hubby that I was feeling low. I was bumming around in a funk that spilled from one day into the next. Not sure what most soulmates might respond to a wife's woest-me moment, but here's what my husband texted back…. 

So there I was in a funk, and my soulmate was coming from a place of compassion. He texted me back with all these solutions. After loving me 11+ years, well beyond the honeymoon stage, he could have written "snap out of it, STOP." Instead, he warmed my heart with a supportive tone and bright ideas. And with 7 simple texts my funk somehow dissolved. In that instant I remembered how beautiful it is to love and be loved. 

So, what makes a soulmate great? To me, the answer is simple, a soulmate that makes you better is the epitome of LOVE and the definition of greatness!

Tell us, what makes a soulmate great?!?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey Mo'Ne! You Throw Like a Girl

Recently we talked about how the Always company had a new campaign out bringing to light the use of the term " a girl". The idea was change the meaning of " a girl" to mean fast, strong, good, instead of weak or clumsy. How many times have you heard someone say, "You throw like a girl!". Well recently a 13 year old girl named Mo'Ne Davis has redefined what that term means.

Mo'Ne was one of only 2 girls to play in the 2014 Little League World Series. She pitched for the Philadelphia Taney Dragons . That is a big deal in itself. But this kid has the arm of gold! At just 13 years old she not only has a mean curve ball, but she can throw a ball at 70 miles per hour. 7-0! That is about 20 miles per hour faster than most boys her age. She is causing quite a commotion in the sports world, so much so that she graced the cover of Sport Illustrated. That's right a 13 year old girl is on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

As the Momma to 2 girls I am happy to see Mo'Ne Davis and her achievements get so much public attention. She is a reminder that girls can do anything they set their mind to and that being #likeagirl can mean throwing a 70 mile per hour fast ball in the Little League World Series.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beating the Back to School Blues

Maybe your kids are ready to go back to school? My kid, not so much! He's great when it comes to academic and social aspects of school, but it's always hard to get him back into a school routine. There's nothing that stings quite like hearing a child proclaim "ugh, I don't like school." I'm sure my child doesn't mean it, however, this is the exact statement I get a few days before the 1st day of school. It isn't that he doesn't like school. It's just hard for him to say goodbye to summertime fun. I understand.

So this is how we're handling the back to school blues:

My son has begun journaling. This is a great way for kids to write down their feelings, nervousness, excitement, or in my kid's case, avoidance of back to school. There are actually great school year planners that make journaling fun. These planners ask kids questions, map out their goals and allow kids to write down daily to-dos. My son got one of these neat planners (The Whimpy Kid School Planner) recently and he immediately began writing away. This process got him so much more excited about third grade. 

Planning play dates with school friends.  This is another great way to get kids back into the swing of things.  So my kid may not know who his teacher will be, what friends he'll have in class, but he knows kids from school and just being around them gets him giddy and pumped about seeing them on the playground every recess. 

Back to school shopping is such a great way to beat the blues. This is a ritual for most families, but remember not to make this feel like just another chore. Let kids pick what they want, moms. I know sometimes "what they want" means them picking out impractical lunch pails and impossibly loud t-shirts, but their excitement should outweigh momma's good sense (at least half the time). Get kids thinking about the outfits they'll wear, the books they'll read and all else. This should help add to the positivity of back to school season. 

Talk about what the next grade level specifically has to offer! This might sound silly but every grade level has something neat about it. For my kiddo there are a couple of key details to consider. For starters, he gets to do some fun school projects as a third grader (i.e. Spanish classes). He also gets to feel like a pretty big deal since his school divides playgrounds into two groups: 1st-3rd and 4th-5th. Being the oldest in one of the playgrounds makes him feel like a big cheese! Kids his age love feeling "older." Next, in our school district, every 3rd graders receives a chrome tablet for the year. After filling him in on this detail he was suddenly not so resistant about going back to school!

How do you get your reluctant little ones ready for back-to-school?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Break-Up Songs

I recently listened to a podcast all about break-ups and it took me back to those bad high school and even college break-ups. I was always the cliche of a girl after a break-up. My hair in a messy bun, wearing sloppy sweats, no make-up, tear stained face carrying around either a tub of ice cream or tube of cookie dough, moping around listening to the ultimate break-up mix. These songs helped to re-live the awful break-ups moments over and over again. Letting me dwell in the hurt feelings until I was ready to move on from sad love songs to more happy tunes.

So what are some of the ultimate break-up jams??? I asked my Facebook friends for some suggestions and it seemed like everyone had at least one. Here are a few they suggested......

Sukiyaki by A Taste of Honey: The opening line alone tells you that this is going to be a very sad song, "It's all because of you, I'm feeling sad and blue". This song can perfectly describe how a break up feels in the peak of the hurt.

Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars- This title sounds like it might be a break up jam that could make you feel a little better! A very Morrissey-esque and The Postal Service vibe. This starts with that awkward run in with the ex. The soft horns and piano make this song perfect to listen to while sitting in a dark room while it pours rain outside.

Best Thing I Never Had- Beyonce:  This is the song that you sing at the top of your lungs after the crying has stopped and the anger has set it. "Sucks to be you right now!... I am the one that got away.... Honestly you turned out to be the best thing I never had". 

Without You the Mariah Carey Version: this break up song is so awesome that it had been remade over and over again. So you initiated the break up and now you are totally regretting it. This is the jam you sing in the shower so the water can hide your tears. And also because you sound just like Mariah in the bathroom because the acoustics are so good.

Someone Like You by Adele:  This whole album by Adele was said to have been written by the singer after a horrid break up.  So when this song came out it become a break up anthem. This song goes beyond the break up and your ex's wedding day. Ugh we have all been there.

Mandy by Barry Manilow: Now this song has had to have been in a movie playing during a sad break up scene. Seriously listen to this song and you picture a sad man behind the wheel of a car in the rain (there is always rain) listening to this and crying.

You Outta Know by Alanis Morrissette:  The entire Jagged Little Pill album is pretty much the ultimate angry break up album. Alanis really captured the emotions that you go through during a break up. Uncle Joey from Full House really did a number on her! I can remember when my BFF went through a bad bad break up in high school. This entire album was on repeat 24/7.

Everything I Own by Bread: An old song but new to me and oh man is it a perfect sad break up song. A total 70's vibe. This was your parents teenage years break up song. The perfect song to play over and over again while trying to figure out the best way to get your ex back. The song may be old school but the message and the feelings still ring so true today.

My personal list includes....

The 1st Cut is the Deepest by Sheryl Crow
It's Been Awhile by Staind
Don't Speak by No Doubt
Somebody I Use to Know by Gotye
Picture of You by The Cure (well almost anything by The Cure really)
Sort Of by Ingrid Michaelson
Konstantine by Something Corporate.

But in my opinion Phil Collins is the king of the break up song.

Show 'em how it's done Phil......

Break ups are hard but I believe that good music can be like therapy. 
What songs would you add to this list? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear daughter: "I should have kept my hands to myself, I am sorry!"

I spanked my daughter earlier this week. I don't typically spank my children, but wish I could say I never do. Truth is, I've always believed spanking is a rare but necessary part of parenting if the reason to spank is valid, but what's really a valid reason? Validity is where things get tricky. 

And here's where they get tricker? I was wrong for spanking my daughter because I did it out of my own frustrations and not because her behaviors warranted corporal punishment. 

I should have counted to 10, walked away, or given the moment more time for things to de-escalate. I was quick to anger because my daughter was snatching my younger son's electronic device and kept doing it without regard to his feelings. She repeatedly ignored me as I urged her to stop and as her little brother wailed. 

She was wrong in her behavior, but how did me "hitting" her make things right? She wasn't respecting her brother, so in turn I get to disrespect her? Doesn't seem logical.

I immediately regretted spanking and yelling. As I spanked (and lectured) she looked up saying, "ok, ok, ok." But it wasn't "ok." I eventually apologized for spanking and once again she answered "it's okay!" I responded "NO, it wasn't okay. I should have kept my hands to myself and I am sorry!"

Spanking children like in the example I explained is usually a matter of a parent's immaturity and lack of self-control. Spanking is a quick fix and it's usually counter-productive. I wholehearted get that and in my imperfect reaction the other day (which was to spank), I hope my ability to articulate an apology, and demonstrate a lesson that even moms get it wrong, teaches my daughter about accountability, remorse and forgiveness.

How often do you spark, if at all? Why or why not?