Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

This week I've become painfully aware of the amount of "sayings" we have as adults that make no sense to my kids. I know the English language is complex, but it's definitely made for a few laughs. And explanations.

So, since I told you what I said last week, I'll go with what the girls have said this time. That seems fair, right?

1. Crab apple. Ava was having a rough night a dinner. Summer fun met exhaustion and it was not pretty. Her loving sister called her a crab apple to which she replied, "I'M NOT AN APPLE." I guess she didn't deny being a crab :)

2. Split level. We are in the process of a big home project coming up so we've spent a lot of time at Menards. This isn't a store that we often take the kids to so when I looked down and saw Hannah on the ground in the middle splits I asked her why exactly she was acting like that. My kids aren't perfect in public but this was a first. Well the sign says, "split level" so I thought that meant do your splits and then see what level you are at." Praise God that isn't what it means or 99.9% of the adult population wouldn't go into Menards. Home design, girl. Home design.

3. Not responsible for accidents. My mother-in-law had my girls and they passed a rummage with a sign that said, "Not responsible for accidents." Grace thought this meant BATHROOM accidents. Oh my stars. There are no words. Apparently I need to discuss accidents more often with my people.

4. "Is mom super cool?" That was the question I asked my four year old daughter when she chose to sit with me instead of her dad. However, my prideful moment was substituted with laughter when she takes me literally and responds, "Sometimes cold. Sometimes hot."

Not missing a beat, my hubby swooped in on the last one and added, "Hey, honey, just so you know, I always think you're hot." Thankfully Ava was zonked out at that point so we didn't need to explain that figure of speech.

Language is a funny thing.

Hope you had a great week!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

I Am a Gambler

It didn’t start until recently.

I guess I decided my “Brave” year was one worth rolling the dice.

Typically, I like safe living. I like predictability. I am type A and a serious planner. I like known results. {Just ask our financial planner. The phrase stock options about sends me into the fetal position and I predictably say to my husband, “low risk.”}

Others know this of me so when I was sitting at Bible Study last week and a friend asked me what I was working on, I unloaded. The writing life, which demands full investment with a zero or 100% success and no in between. Creating new dance classes with hopes that it will build meaningful bridges for fathers and daughters as well as grandparents and grandchildren with intention for more class designs soon. A whole lot of PTA stuff to get done in the midst of final summer vacations and tearing up our house for a complete remodel. All of this while not wanting to get in the way of memory-making with my kids so, of course, working on weird hours and tight deadlines.

How it was all going to happen sounded insane to everyone at the Bible Study table. Myself included.

“This is not like you,” my friend replied.

And she’s right. Life has me outside a perfectly scheduled comfort zone with a pre-determined outcome.

Have you ever been there?

It’s a little exhausting and a weird mix of thrill + fear.

But I’m convinced if God lays something on our hearts He will create a way to see us through it. That we don’t have to have all the answers or the time blocks or energy because He will fill our tanks with what we need to achieve His end.

Often times I’ve thought low risk felt easy. Like I will protect my heart from pain because there is little to lose.

But, really, I’m losing more because I’m dragging my feet in what is rather than running towards God with hope for what may be.

By definition, a gambler is one who will, “take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit.”

I’m becoming a risk-taker because I believe the potential end result could make life richer.

What do you hope for? 

I have good news

God’s got your back.

So listen to His promptings and then give it a good roll the dice. He's with you. And, in His care, everything falls into perfect place.

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Real Mom Confessions: Quotes Edition

Hi, friends! It's already Wednesday. Sometimes I notice the weeks truckin' by by how quickly I'm going from one of these posts to the next. And this week feels like it's gone especially fast since I've been so busy writing the new dance classes. Grandparent and grandchild cuteness. Fathers getting to better know their daughters hearts. I'm having a blast. A busy blast.

So, this week I'm going to go with a few things that have come out of my mouth. Here we go:

1. "Don't run in to any walls." My children were playing ghost and this was my fine parenting advice. I'm pretty sure I should have, oh say, STOPPED THE GAME but I didn't. No one got hurt so we'll count that a success.

2. "You're not going to sleep in a laundry basket." That's something I never imagined saying, but for some reason Hannah thought it would make a better bed than the air mattress on family sleepover night. For the record, I DID stop that one.

3. "How in the world did this even get published?" I'm pretty sure that reading to your children is supposed to be a bonding moment with a fully focussed mind, but I know how hard it is to get published and sometimes when I'm reading Ava's library books (she's four) I find myself shocked it made publication. The other day I blew my, "my mind isn't fully invested" cover when I said, "How in the world did this even get published?" Seriously, the plot line involved an animal not wanting to play hide-and-seek saying, "I have to go pee-pee." WHAT?! For real, those words were on the page.

4. "Come here, kids. Let's hang upside down." My husband gave me "the look." We were at the park and I'd seen Hannah hanging (no surprise there), which gave me a fun idea for a family picture. Generally I'm begging my children not to hang from places for fear they're going to fall on their heads and then I go and suggest it. Whoops. The picture turned out cute and I spared the youngest of fall risk by placing her on top of my man. Work those abs, babe!

I'm thinking Christmas card :)

What funny stuff came out of your mouth this week?

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Monday, July 20, 2015

When Your Dream Scares You

A few weeks ago I told you to never stop dreaming and hinted at big news to share. Now the news is out and I’ve been struggling to put words on this blank page. How do I make sense out of the fumblings of my heart?

I suppose the simple answer is that my mother/daughter dance line is expanding into a family line. Starting next month will be a new father/elementary daughter class and a grandparent/3-5 year old grandchild opportunity. They are one time classes a couple hours in length.

I’m super excited about these classes. I dreamt them with purpose and when I shared with one of the dance studio owners how the fathers will ask the girls to dance I choked back tears. My heart is to promote strong families and more classes are on the horizon.

But the fumblings…

I’ve always been a person that likes to know how things are going to go. I plan things to stay ahead of it, forgetting that there is only One Person who really is.

When I wrote the original mother/daughter curriculum, Meaningful Movements, coming into this brave year I’m not sure what I was expecting. I knew it would be mothers carving out time with their girls. And I imagined the topical conversations to have meaning.

I didn’t imagine my first sign up to be a mother with cancer making the most of every moment through treatments. I didn’t think there would be real tears, and audible laughter, and prolonged hugs as duos bonded to the discussion papers I wrote. I didn’t picture the daughter getting across the floor after a dance move and saying, “Mom, I love you,” to which her mom replied, “I love you too” and swooped her into the air.

Stories were shared with me about why the sign up that induced shock. Parents with big dreams in these moments. Will I accomplish their hopes? Even those doing it for complete fun are wishing to pause time enough to make memories and unlock conversations that will pave the way for bigger discussions down the road.

And then I received a message that slayed me. A dad whose family suffered loss and a little girl who will no longer dance. I cried as I read the words on my screen and watched an attached video. What am I to do with this?

Only I knew exactly what I was supposed to do with it.

Fathers are a powerful influence in the life of their young girls and the decisions their daughters will make. My husband and others had been asking for it and the message sealed the deal. It was time to present an opportunity for dads to carve out time. Teach their girls what respect from a man looks like. To talk and to deepen their relationship. To dance with each other.

Meanwhile there was the grandparent saying, “When are you going to do something so I can dance too?”

The possibility only conjured joy for me, as I think of my relationship with my grandma. In fact, I’ll be using Skidamarinky and A Bushel & A Peck because she always sang those to me growing up. My grandma has always been at my everything and my relationship with her a gift. I desire to foster that wherever possible.

There will be those just wishing for fun when they walk through these class doors. But I already know there will be stories and real longings from some adults who enter.

Some have called this my ministry. I shrink at the word because my house is just like yours. I’m imperfect. My kids make mistakes. I’m just an everyday girl with hope of weaving family togetherness.

When the gravity of those words sets in it’s overwhelming.

But I’m convinced that dance class is more than movement. If there is anything I’ve learned since founding this dance line it is that these classes are a vehicle to connectedness greater than I can fathom.

So I’m going to ease up on predetermining outcomes and just consider myself grateful to be invited into people’s journeys. I’m going to quit counting myself brave because I wrote one class and actually live brave by continuing to dream and write more.

Dream. Be brave. God invites us all to play a part.

And, if you are in the Sioux Falls, SD area and want more information on the new class opportunities, please visit BritZa Studios online.

xx Melissa


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday. Time for some real mom confessions. My children are outside playing in the mist while I get this done so that's about right for this type of post.

It has been a busy week, including travel, that has lent itself to some lack of order. Trying to get many things done on a time crunch isn't always so great for the whole schedule thing.  What went down?

1. Supper after nine. What kind of parents are we?! I'll tell you what kind of parents. EXCITED parents. Since we moved into our home we finished the basement with dreams of more, but our more always gets sidetracked by other expenses or things we want to do for the kids. On our "dream" list for many years was wood flooring through most of our home and it is finally going to happen. *insert me doing the happy dance here!* The night after we had someone measure, though, we had to get to the store we found our flooring at because the sale, of course, was going to end the next day and we were heading out of town. Panera for the late night win.

2. American Girls at 11pm. Yes, after we got home from the store and eating our super late supper the girls "needed" to do "some things for packing." I was baffled, beings they packed THREE DAYS before our actual leave date. What was this important thing, you ask? Dressing their American Girls. Yep. Important stuff, friends. My husband suggested dressing them on the car ride and the reply was, "Mom says no going outside without clothes." Score one for modesty, but seriously?! THEY ARE DOLLS. My hubby reminded them of that and Grace said, "They feel real in our imagination." So, the dolls were dressed before they fell asleep.

3. Goat food. My man and I always get a specialty coffee on a road trip. It's just "our thing." He laughed out loud when he saw GOAT FOOD in the space for his cup.

What can I say? I try to be an invested mom and I'm cheap. So, I take them to the zoo and my refillable cup lasts more than once. Welcome to at-home mom life in the summer, babe. Enjoy your super clean car and be grateful I'm saving us pennies :)

4. Writers casual. Outside of teaching dance, I am a writer, which means I don't have to leave my house or answer to any dress code. I can wear whatever I want. However, one of the questions at dance this week on outer beauty was, "What outfit do I wear that you think most captures my heart." Hannah replied, "Can I say pajamas?" WHAT?! In the session before Grace said "comfy pants" so I'm thinking I need to step up my game. That said, I won't deny my love for sleep or comfort.

What happened in your house this week?

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

How was your Fourth, friends? We spent the weekend with family and had the most wonderful time playing with the kids in the pool, eating yummy meals, and s'mores. Lots of s'mores. In fact, I held my own study that involved traditional s'mores, a peanut butter cup s'more, the traditional s'more with peanut butter spread on one of the crackers, and what was truly a bananas foster s'more with a grilled banana with brown sugar placed inside the crackers with chocolate and spread peanut butter (no marshmallow).  My findings are:

1. The traditional s'more is always incredible. You can't go wrong.
2. I prefer the spread peanut butter to the peanut butter cup. It has a better chocolate/peanut butter ratio.
3. The bananas foster s'more is truly delectable and you can feel better about eating one of your fruit servings.

Yes, this was a lot of s'mores in two days but I'm willing to make some sacrifices for science.

Okay, now that you're versed on s'mores, let's get on to real mom confessions.

1. Hydration. My kids now understand how to tell if they are hydrated or not and they announce it every time they go to the bathroom. My apologies if you are ever over and find out this very private detail. On the upside, we are getting better hydration.

2. More food. HyVee had these cupcakes that looked like hamburgers.

Pure. Bakery. Genius.

I said I got them for the kids but I'd have gotten them kids or not.

3. Family Sleepover. Speaking of things for the kids, I also said the family sleepover on the Fourth was to celebrate the holiday. Indoors, you know, that is how we camp. But, I was honestly thinking if we put the kids to bed they'd come out a million times for fear of the fireworks booming around our house, plus we'd have to get the tiny tot to bed. It'd be easier to just "surprise" with a family sleepover and be in one room and calm all the nerves so we can sleep sooner. And that is exactly what we did.

4. I ran outside in my pajamas on a major street over a DUCK. I kid you not. Me. The indoorsy one. The story is here.

How was your holiday week?

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Nora Hallard the Mallard: Our Unexpected Summer Science Love {with Mallard Facts}

It all started on a normal Sunday morning. We were outside in the yard when my husband thought he saw a rabbit in our bush. This always elicits a lot of "get out of here" talk and stomping because we do nothing more to them. Plus I think we're a little bit scared of them even though my hubby would never admit that. {Sorry, babe}

On this particular Sunday Charlie peered in closer, stick in hand. "It's a duck," he yelled.


"Ya," he responded. The girls waving me over in excitement.

And there she sat. A duck.

I got super intrigued and went in for a picture

At which point she flew up in the air and I nearly pooped my pants. There's no mature way to explain the emotion and blood curdling scream I let out. If we don't look like a circus act yelling at rabbits, I most certainly did when the duck flew on my neighbor's roof. But the lower half of the picture explains why. She was nesting.

I tweeted the picture to The Outdoor Campus and the director told me it was a mallard.

Thus began love for a duck. Words I never thought I would say.

My family sat in a living room deciding on a name for her. Nora, Grace suggested. We all liked it but Hannah felt she needed a more "complete" name. Nora Hallard the Mallard was the winner.

My love for education and the girls' excitement made for the perfect indoorsy summer science learning of an outdoorsy situation.  We decided that we'd look up a fact a day. We started with the first questions that they asked.

1. Mallards can fly up to 70mph

2. She can fly vertical.

Yes, yes she most certainly can.

3. The female is tan and called a hen. The male has a green head and is called a drake.

4. The mama mallard lays 8-13 eggs. They are called a clutch.

5. She makes a nest in a concealed place near the water.

Our home isn't too far from a pond these ducks have apparently made home. We had no idea we were close enough to be a nesting location, but apparently we are.

6. It takes 23-30 days for the eggs to hatch.

7. Mothers build their nests while already inside them - twigs, grass, etc.

8. Mother mallard lays eggs between mid-March and the end of July.

9. She will lay one egg every 1-2 days.

And get this....

10. The mama mallard lays more than half her body weight in eggs.

Someone give these mom birds a prize. That cannot be comfortable.

We checked on Nora daily and called her by name, teaching the girls to stay at a distance and only peer into the bush. Ava referred to her as our pet and we began preparing her that Nora would one day leave with her babies.

We thought that day came. We went for our daily peak and Nora wasn't there. My heart sunk. People, this is true. I became mama protective and wanted to make sure she got to the pond okay. So, IN MY PAJAMAS I stood on a major street scanning the pond for Nora and her offspring. I had to look crazy. It was crazy. And, yet, for some reason it seemed like the sane thing to do.

No Nora. Sadness ensues.

Until we get home and there she is.  Time for more education.

11. The mom will pluck down feathers from her breast to line the nest and cover the eggs.

Ouch. This is truly motherly sacrifice. I suddenly have more respect for mallard women.

12. The mother will leave for a short period of time to get herself food.

We discovered Nora liked to get hers in the early evening. Okay, so we checked in on her more than once a day.

13. She will continue building her nest. At completion it is about a foot in width.

"What is going to happen when the babies hatch?" the girls want to know.

14. It takes about 24 hours for the eggs to hatch.

15. The babies can swim, waddle, and feed themselves right away.

16. They feed off the surface of the water. Things like seeds, small fish, frogs, etc.

17. Mothers will lead them to water when they are less than a day old.

Might we see these babies? We hoped so. I hoped so. However, statistical odds weren't in our favor. Still, we wanted to be sure we knew what to do if we did.

18. You shouldn't feed newborn ducklings or they could bond to you and not want to leave for natural food.

19. Once they leave they don't usually return to the nest.

20. The babies won't fly until 5-6 weeks of age.

21. The ducklings become self sufficient and leave their mothers around 70 days after birth.

22. The female mallards quack - often called the "hail call" - to call other ducks, most commonly, her babies.

Yesterday we noticed Nora's head peaking up over the bush. We all watched from the window in amazement over this creature doing next to nothing. For her to be so "public" was exciting.

There was something about her.

As storms were predicted for our area last night the girls prayed protection over Nora and her eggs. Grace asked if thunder would scare her and cause her to poop all over the eggs. We skipped researching that. Charlie and I simply assured her that she would be okay, protected by the bush.

Winds and rain came. Lightning. Thunder. A tornado siren.

You better believe the first thing we checked this morning was Nora. And this was what we found.

23 facts for eggs that incubate at least 23 days. Not bad.

Something tells me Nora left with her babies during the day yesterday and, I kid you not, I'm getting teary writing that. Her waiting was done. Off to the pond she'd gone.

Despite my asthma and the Canadian fire smoke thick in our air we drove to the pond - this time in regular clothes. It was completely irresponsible and yet for some reason it felt like the responsible thing to do.

And, in the distance, there she was with a row of ducklings.

Goodbye, Nora. We loved you. Feel free to come nest again next summer.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Happy Wednesday, friends. Time for some humor. Now, most of you readers know that I am indoorsy. I love summer for the pool, park, and library fun. But, I've got to be honest. I don't bond with creatures so summer leaves me on high alert.

This has been a bad week for creature disdain. I present to you what could be called real mom confessions: creature horror.

1. Our city, along with a bank sponsor, puts on amazing track meets once a week for the month of June. On the final night, everyone was pumped up over the progress they'd made and excited for a B & G Milkyway treat

when a flying bird pooped on Grace. She did a laugh/wail/where is the purell cry while I masked my  disgust behind my phone, taking a picture....because I"m sure she's going to want to have photographic evidence for the rest of her life :)

2. The bird poop thing got me tongue tied. I meant to say, "Come here, bird poop girl" and it came out "boob perk girl." I'm quite certain I will never live that down.

3. We decided to do a family sleepover downstairs because it's the closest we get to a campout. Hannah went into the toy area and saw some ants.

This was her response to the SIGHT of some ants. Plus screaming. Lots of screaming from all three girls.

4. I didn't like the ants either. I felt proud of myself for staying totally calm and pretty much gave myself a mental medal of bravery award but I did go upstairs until the offending sucker wrapper was removed and my heroic man vacuumed the little enemies away.

This is why I live where I can have all four seasons, people. Winter will bring a big freeze that will make all this nature go bye-bye, and just when I want to thaw out again, warmth will return. The seasonal cycle is a good thing.

How did your week go?

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