Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Y'all, I made it! The end of school marathon is complete and the beginning of summer is officially here. Added bonus? I'm feeling better so my thinking brain returned. This has meant substantive posts on beautiful nurse qualities and Human Barbie/female body image issues for you and efficient mother-daughter dance class planning for me. I cannot wait to get started with my summer classes. The toddler/mommy class - new to the mother/daughter line - is turning out to be even more special in planned conversation than I imagined possible and that crafts are going to be oh so cute!

The transition to summer always brings with it a little crazy, making for some humorous real mom confessions.

1. The end of year school paper excess always suffocates my home and brings out the batty in me. Can anyone relate? The piles of papers and excess of items that somehow fit into their backpacks leave me a mixed bag of annoyed and impressed. As items started overtaking my dining room table, I turned into crazy mom and decided that every room was going to need to be reorganized. I started with my laundry room since I spend an obnoxious amount of time. Friends, it is glorious in there! Sometimes I open the door just to admire my work.

2. "Don't dance on tables." We celebrated end of school success with friends at CherryBerry and my husband had to say this aloud to our baby-est. I love that she loves to dance, but let's hope that this is the last time we are advising this way. It's just not good. Especially for a healthy relationships author.

3.  HyVee fuel saver excitement made me realize how old I was. You guys, I love a good deal. So, when we went from low fuel light to full for



$2.28 I geeked with joy. 

4. Bathroom stamina. Yep, you read that right. The other night at dinner #2 had much to share. Tired, I said, "Honey, do you ever get exhausted listening to your own voice?" I know. That's not going to win me any parenting awards, but, whatever man. And she responds, "No, but I do have bathroom stamina." My man and I looked at each other in complete confusion because, how does one respond to that?, and all 5 of us burst into laughter. "What is bathroom stamina?," I dared ask. "Does it mean you can sit on the toilet for a long time?" I know, classy dinner table talk. She laughs and says, "No, mom and dad, we work on it at school." Now I'm utterly confused and at a loss for words so Charlie takes over. "And what exactly do you do?," he prods. "Bathroom stamina is during daily 5 where you hold it because you've already gone to the bathroom and you stack up your stamina real tall to learn, which gives me more things from school to tell you about." {For the record, their teacher did let them go if they really needed to.}  

There you have it, build up your bathroom stamina and life will afford you more learning opportunity to share with others :)


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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Girls, Let's Talk About Human Barbie

When the photo crossed my twitter stream I assumed it was the next Barbie ad. Until I noticed the word Human in front. My eyes did a double take as my brain tried to comprehend the freakishly Barbie-like image before me being an actual human being that walks and talks. I tried to erase the picture from my brain but it kept eating at me, luring me back and irritating me more with each view.

Until that moment I had no idea there were people with life ambition to look like a plastic doll.  I knew some argue that Barbie creates an unhealthy visual of form perfection – some points of which are valid – and, to that, parents must decide for themselves if they are comfortable with Barbie play in their home. 

We are. In our experience, our girls have used Barbie play to practice processing the world. They have Barbie weddings. Their Barbies go to school and church. Their Barbies learn and live like we dream for our girls. I know this because we’ve logged many hours playing right along with them.

But to be an adult, capable of influence, and send the message that looking like Barbie is a worthy use of one’s life emulating true beauty makes me want to vomit. I have three girls. We do not even own in scale because I want them to take care of the one body God gave them – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – NOT define themselves by a number reflecting back at them.  They are each built extremely different. They are all extremely beautiful.

My annoyance led me to research Miss Valeria Lukyanova, aka Human Barbie. It’s believed that Barbie as a human would be 38-18-34. Miss Lukaynova has exceeded in boobs and reduced in the hips, measuring 39-18-33.  My first thought was this lady’s back must really hurt and then I wondered what size is an 18” waist? It is an 18 MONTH waist line, people! According to standard sizes 2T has a 20” waist and store measurements from LL Bean, Gymboree, Kohl’s, etc. confirmed it to be true.   

Girls, if you saw these pictures and thought her perky chest and mini abs were cute let’s think a little bit more about this. Can you imagine that big of a top next to your baby sister’s PJ bottoms? They say Barbie in real life would not menstruate. It makes a world of sense. Getting one’s period is a sign of health (not just the gateway to having babies) and there is nothing healthy about an adult with that structure. Beyond that, Miss Lukyanova has said in interview that she would like to exist “on air and light alone.” Not gonna happen, honey. We were created with need for liquid and solid sustenance. To avoid nourishment is red flag of anorexia, a serious eating disorder that claims lives. You’re worth more than that, girls, and the people who love you want more for you.

To think that we are the sum of our parts minimizes our value and, I believe, takes credit from good boys/men of character out there.  They want know that you have a brain and can contribute something of value to their life.  Tiny short shorts that reveal all the things and a look alike image are not going to make you the type of girl/woman he wants on his arm.  Leave a little mystery in a functional body capable of changing the world with your uniqueness? Now we’re talking. 

I’m doubting you’re going to see a lot of Valeria Lukyanova’s in school wax museums.  When you’re crowning achievement is hair dye, surgery, and starvation to look like an item in a toy aisle there is a problem. A problem that honestly makes me sad for her despite my infuriation. 

Girls, you were created by a God who loves you so much He gave you your own look and individual talents and powerful abilities.



Just be you. Be something special.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

5 Lessons I Learned from My Nurse Mom {A Tribute to Her in Retirement}

I don’t remember how old I was when we happened upon the accident. I remember a man in a field. And blood. Lots of blood. My mom called out to me for a blanket & I delivered an ugly brown one quickly soaked red. Mostly I remember my totally calm mom, huddled over the man, saying, “Keep talking to me.”

It was decades later that I was traveling with a family of my own when we happened upon an upturned vehicle in the ditch. What was intended to be a simple stop to make sure they had a cell to call 911 ended in my doing CPR in a snowy ditch and saying to the bleeding man next to me, “Keep talking to me.” 

I was my mom except the total opposite. Where she exuded serenity, I cried anxious tears over a chest as I counted out compressions.

Aside from mother, my mom wore the title “nurse.” Her training was her way of living and it colored everything she did, influencing me along the way.

Always observant she soaks in her surroundings like a sponge. Details that may seem little to some are magnified in her world because she knows the smallest change could be indicative of big consequence.  I was taught that there was more to life than meets the eye and that awareness will preserve people, relationships, and situations.

This combined with empathy made her attractive to talk to. I’m sure it did at the bedside but I saw it more in my home, when she would talk me through mean-girl issues and hold me through stressful cheerleading auditions and assure me that my thoughts mattered. With a listening ear and focused eyes, presence in any situation came natural to her and, because of that, she won the hearts of my friends too. She was “the one” to talk to and be with.

Her time, although busy, came without ever making you feel like you disrupted her life. I suppose her work taught her to partition needs with confidence that all would get done. And somehow it did.

But, underneath her patient, assessing exterior lied a constant fighter. No matter what situation came her way she took what may have felt stressful on the inside and transformed it into powerful decision making to keep working for the next moment. The next physical breath for that man on the road. The spiritual breath in ours. 

When my dad left our side for Glory my brother and I watched our grieving mother with question marks on a future. How do you go forward when the life you know changes in an instant? She answered. In the mess of the raw emotions she believed and gently expressed God still having plans for us. We cried with hope. She went back to work full time for the first time in years.  She opened her broken, fearful heart to love once more and, through her grace, showed us how to do the same. Fight in the form of impassioned quiet gave way to new pulse in this life.

Because ultimately this life is about more than just us.  We are one piece of an earthly God-created puzzle.

My mom has lived a life glowing of service. She went into nursing because she loved people and was intrigued by science.  She would hold the shaking mom through labor, rock the ill child, push pain meds for the weak, hold the hand of the loved one saying “goodbye” and even stop on the road because she knew doing unto others without reserve would create a radically blessed life in the midst of the ups and the downs.

My mom is an extension of God’s hand in more ways that I can put into words.  When we left that scene in my childhood I realized she was an everyday hero. Special not only to me but to a watching world. 

This month she hung up the stethoscope to take on a new title, “retiree.” I’m grateful for the added time this will give her and I.  The trips with her husband and girlfriend time gained.  The added babysitting she can now take on. :)

Most of all, though, I’m thankful for who her career helped me to become.  We don’t stand alone.  All of us are influenced by the tide. Nurse is a title I never claimed but the skill sets notable to her field have inspired me to care deeply, listen carefully, nurture hearts, and live for Christ as a blessing to the other in my own work and volunteerism.



Happy retirement, mom! You are a blessing.

xo Melissa

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday and we're back with more Real Mom Confessions!  I promise to get back to some inspiring posts in the mix but this has been a crazy few weeks of asthma issues + lots going on with my children's school and activities.  When I can crash, I do!

1. PTA Mom. Speaking of school, I realized I may have crossed the line from normal PTA mom to crazy PTA mom when I actually chose my hair style around a PTA activity. It's true. We've been stuffing popcorn bags for our Circus themed year end party this Friday and I chose a ponytail because of it. Crazy, smart, or a mix of both? Don't answer that :) I'll just go with dedicated.

2. OCD.  I might have a little case of OCD surrounding closets. I like matching hangers facing the same direction and the clothes to go in order of least material (hung tank tops) to most (sweatshirts).



Yesterday my daughter got a whole bag of amazing clothes from a friend and as we were hanging them up I reorganized her closet to fit this pattern in hopes that someday someone in my house will care. I think it's a losing battle, but I tell you, you can find the clothes you are looking for a whole lot faster if you do things this way. Just sayin.'

3.  Growing Up.  We hit a new milestone. I had to stand on a kid stool to be tall enough to do my third grader's hair for the dance recital.  My hubby thought it was hilarious and snapped a picture to text to some family. Wasn't that sweet :)



She's going to top me by fourth grade, I just know it.  On the upside, the hair turned out great and we had a date night at the dance recital watching all three of our littles.



Watching them on stage is so much fun!

4.  The earthy grade.  Speaking of growing, today my children visit their teacher matches for the 2015-2016 school year.  I'm not going to lie, I'm already having some anxiety over second grade, which I affectionately refer to as the "earthy grade." Their field trips are so outdoorsy and I'm more of what Jim Gaffigan refers to as "indoorsy."  (Watch this and you can count it your abdominal exercise for the day because it will make you laugh so hard.) My friend gave me this magnet yesterday and it totally epitomizes me.



What do people have against indoor field trips?! I'm anti communing with bugs.

I hope all is going well in your house this week. For the parents reading this, my heart is with you. These last few weeks of school are a marathon until the end. You can do it!  Summer - and bugs - are almost here :)

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday! Time to lighten the mood with Anna's real mom confessions link up, reminding us that we are all on this parenting journey together.

1. Breakfast. I realize that my children should ideally eat all sorts of well balanced meals to get their brains working in the morning, but sometimes you just go with it.  Ava wanted hot dog buns with ketchup and mustard (nothing else) the other day and I thought it was a mighty resourceful way to finish out the remaining buns so I obliged.



Who else things of Steve Martin's Father of the Bride freak out moment every time you buy hot dog buns? And why haven't they figured out to package the same quantities yet????

2. The birds and the bees.  My kids are obsessed with the "Jake from State Farm" commercials. Obsessed. They are constantly acting it out and one even brought it up to the principal when she was wearing khakis. Good thing we have an awesome principal who plays along with these kinds of things. So, the other night at the dinner table Hannah asks us if we are going to have more babies. My man and I tell her that God has given us a complete family and she says, "You might not know because on the new Jake from State Farm commercial the husband says he is done and then the wife says, 'too late.'"  Thank you, State Farm, for planting these questions. We said God is sometimes a God of surprises and moved right along. 

3. PTSD.  It is teacher appreciation week and, as you all know, I love teachers. Their presence in my life makes me a better parent.  Each day of this week parents donate yummy eats for the staff and I signed up for muffins, bringing back vivid memories from last year when I followed HGTV's suggestion of just shoving dishes/containers in the oven before people come to your house as a quick clean. It's all fine and dandy unless you forget you did it and open up your oven to a plastic mess that "looks like Elsa's castle," according to the children. Nothing burned this year and the peanut butter chocolate chip and double chocolate chip recipes turned out awesome but I did make my husband go through the batter spoonful by spoonful with me because I saw a tiny piece of egg shell fall in and my pride was at stake.  Egg shell found.  Muffin success.

4. The field trip mom. I'm just back from driving on a field trip and, you guys, I was that mom. You know, the one that sounds totally old fashioned before even getting in the car. I actually said, "Let's be our best versions of ourselves" before the van door was even opened.  Boys and girls are very different in third grade. I also found out that in pioneer times, "if you were really fancy you didn't have to bathroom in a bucket. You had a ceramic 'thunder pot.'"  Oh, how our perspective of "fancy" has changed and thank you Jesus that I was born when I was. 

What happened in your house this week?



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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Muffin Madness: Double Chocolate AND Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipes

Teacher appreciation week is officially here and in our school we do fun eats for the staff every day as a small token of thanks for the gift they are in our lives. It is a special place filled with people who love my children well and help make me a better parent so I am always happy to give.

Today was muffins and fruit and I made two different muffin recipes found on Pinterest that I'm happy to pass along to all of you because they turned out yummy + they were easy so that is totally my style.

Double Chocolate Muffins 



were found on Dough Puncher.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/3 c. sour cream
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips


To make them preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1) Cream together butter, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla until light and fluffy (approx 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.

2) In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternatively with milk in 2-3 additions. Blend until totally mixed.

3) Mix in chocolate chips.

4) Put in muffin tins and bake 25-27 minutes or until toothpick comes out smooth.

Yields about 18 muffins

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins



were found at Everyday Living at Home

Ingredients:

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. brown sugar
6 Tablespoons butter (melted and cooled)
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 eggs
1 c. milk
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1) In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar.

2) In medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, peanut butter, eggs, and milk until smooth.

3) Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and mix until combined.

4) Fold in chocolate chips.

5) Put in paper lined muffin tins and bak 17-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Yields approximately 18 muffins



Both were great but my hubby claims the double chocolate are the best muffins he's ever had in his life :)

Thanks, teachers, for all you do!

xx Melissa

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Why I Need My Children's Teachers

It was the day after Grace started kindergarten that the call came. “Grace took a pretty bad fall at recess.” The mama bear in me wanted to rush over to get her but I tried to play it cool. “Okay. Does she want me to come?” No, the receptionist kindly replied. They’d bandaged her up and she wanted to go back to class.

And that is the day I bought into the whole “it takes a village” concept.

Until that point, I was the one who cared for her. Now 40 hours of her week were going to be spent with someone else. Someone who’d already made school so fun Grace preferred stay with her on a day when physical sting burned fresh.

I knew this woman, these teachers, had to be special and vowed to get into the classroom volunteering support to the person tending to more hearts at once than Michelle Duggar.  What I found out shocked me.

I need my children’s teachers.

Eager and ready, I stepped into the kindergarten room with spirits high to do whatever the teacher most needed – writing or other academic help with children, crafting, cutting, copying, you name it. This would extend into multiple grades with multiple teachers for my multiple children. My goal was simple: do whatever lightens the load for the teacher so that she or he can better meet the necessary requirements.

I strung noodles on necklaces, helped write sentences, and got frustrated with a copy machine that wasn’t playing nice. :) I’ve played math games and have seen imaginations run wild in Imagination Station.

But it is what I witnessed in you teachers that took my breath.

You told my daughter she was beautiful at just the right time and it prompted bigger discussion at home.

When it was the day of her speech rehearsal I told her to have fun and not worry if she messes up. She nodded more out of respect than belief. Then, when she actually did stumble on her words, you told my perfectionist it was okay and she “felt better” about herself because you’re an “expert.” Because of you, she went into the real thing with maximized confidence.

At the reading tables you identify levels I don’t. In watching you, I see you work on connections through age appropriate texts, providing me the skill to carry through at home. You follow it up with title suggestions that will interest them while still protecting their heart and innocence.  My mama heart dances.

You utilize creative communication strategies that I would never have thought of on my own, giving me new tools to ensure my little loves always have an outlet to share.

You show up at out of school events, telling my girls that they are more than just a body in your classroom. Your presence reinforces value and purpose.

When I don’t know the answer to a sensitive question, you reply with honesty, practicality, humor, and compassion that breathes confidence into my growing girl’s spirit and empowers me as a mother.

And that basket you carry? We have one in our house complete with the color coated behavior charts, lesson plans, and writing prompts because you told her she had teacher talents and, through your example, molded new dreams.

I see you doing this for every kid, aiding every parent.

I stand in awe because I know many stories sit in your classrooms. Some students come in excited to learn and others require creative motivation. Some bellies are full and others you quietly gift with snacks to get the brain waves moving. Some face home barriers others don’t. Some children have a lot to share and some are shy. Some walk in confident and other tiny people wonder why they are here at all.

And you possess the ability to love each child exactly where they are at, blending their struggles, strengths, and questions into a personalized approach for student AND family profit. It’s incredible.

Teachers, I walked into your classroom to be your cheerleader. To lighten your load. And you’ve lightened mine.

I want you in my village. If I’m going to be the best parent I can be, I need you in my village.

I watch, listen, and learn.

Next week is teacher appreciation week. I know we are in a time when changing educational standards have placed emphasis on teaching to tests and scored results supposedly reflect your teaching success, at least to their creators, but to your students and parents you are so much more.

You are nurturers. You give potential wings. You stand in the gaps and make us all stronger.

I hope you will hear gratitude from many.

Going in, hear this:

YOU ARE HEROES!

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