Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Real Mom Confessions: Well Child Check Quotes

I had real mom confessions sprinkled from throughout the week ready to go in my mind when we went to the girls' well child checks yesterday, but the event deserved a post on its own. Oh my stars. Here we go.

1. The Interview. Pediatricians are smart these days. They interview the children instead of asking the parents. This way they are sure to get the full truth. Well, our girls' doctor was asking them the color of their milk lid. About bike helmets and sunscreen and favorite foods and school. At which point Hannah goes,

"What are supposed to do here? Just sit around and talk?"

Excellent. We're off to a fantastic start.

2. The Dentist. Before making a departure from the interview station the doctor asked if they went to the dentist twice a year. People, I take my kids to the dentist twice a year. However, I rescheduled our last appointment because of a scheduling issue. Please keep in mind I take myself + my three spawn all at once. This is not an easy or quick reschedule which upsets my girls because they LOVE the dentist (mad props to my dentist & his hygienists for a job extremely well done) so Grace says,

"My mom won't take us to the dentist."

Somebody. Make. It. Stop. 

3.  Gross Body Parts. On to exams. Grace lays down and the doctor starts tapping her tummy. The girls are super intrigued by what he is doing and their physician is kind enough to explain what the different sounds mean and how it sounds different on different areas of the body. "See, this is the liver," he says, "it doesn't sound the same does it." Now let's keep in mind he is a physician. He's not only good with kids but he's also genuinely INTERESTED in the body. How does my sweet Grace respond to this little learning lesson?

"We learned about liver and other gross body parts in elephants today."

Am I invincible yet? Teachers, you can say she's making a connection all you want but I say we limit verbal connections to a time when we are not referring to the gross body with the DOCTOR!

4. Healthy Breakfasts. Before he's done with the kids the doctor encourages the kids to keep eating healthy breakfasts because they named healthy foods that they like in the interview that Hannah cut off. I was feeling pretty good about that and then this.

"Well, I've been eating pancakes with sugar this week."

Calgon take me away. Did I say that I was feeling good about something?! I lied.

5. Flu Vaccine. Before heading out from this dream visit it was time for their yearly flu vaccine. I told the girls we'd go with whatever they deemed to be most effective- shot or mist. The nurse suggested the mist and both of my older two started whining. Yes, WHINING because they WANTED the SHOT. What in the world?! They both suggested that the mist made them a little dizzy last year and I told them sitting down for a few minutes of dizzy would be better than the horrible-ness of Influenza. Take it from a mom who knows, girls. I think the commentary has ended when my delightful little Ava, who really is always funny, moans,

"Then them will see my boogers."

Whose kids are these? Certainly not mine. Someone call their mother to come pick them up. I'm OUT.

That's our house in less than an hour's time. What happened in your family life this week?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday and time for some real mom confessions! I couldn't wait to meet you all in this space because guess what? Those of you who shared that you also have been seen in or wear your pajamas in public join me in cutting edge fashion.  My friend, Sarah, handed this to me folded up small.

When I opened it up I LAUGHED. MY. HEAD. OFF. You better believe I dropped the girls off at school one day this week all fashion-y in my PJs AND UGG slippers. Foot fashion didn't make the article but I'm sure I'm ahead of my time. Watch for it in months to come :)

What happened this week? Unfortunately nothing that I'm going to find out is cool.

1. Memory Loss. You know how they ask you a litany of questions at your physical? Well, one of them was, "Do you experience memory loss?" I am busy. And a mom. People suck my brain energy from me like leeches. "What do you consider memory loss?" was my awesome response. Because, if we are talking do you sometimes search for your cell phone while holding it? Then yes. Or, do you sometimes forget why you went into the room? Then yes. But, really I consider this more a part of the busy human condition than medically defined memory loss. My doctor chuckled and moved right along. Phew. You're normal, friends :)

2. Prayer That Makes No Sense. We always pray as a family before bed. This will forever and always be important to me but, I'm not going to lie, when it is past the bedtime hour I'm ready for my people to close their little mouths and shut their beautiful eyes. So, when it was beyond 8 o'clock and my these kids need to go to sleep anxiety was in full gear Ava prayed for her grandchildren. She's FOUR. She has no grandchildren. But, whatever man, BED! I didn't correct her and chose to believe that she was already speaking of a non-existent legacy. Now go to sleep, child.

3. "Will you actually turn the carrots on so we can eat them this time?" This is what my eight year old said to me when I told her we were going to have her favorite brown sugar glazed crock pot carrots because last week when I was going to make them I forgot to turn the crock pot on. Thanks for rubbing it in, child. I remembered this time and they tasted great.

4. Bad Star of the Week Mom. Hannah is the star of the week and she's super excited. Her teacher messaged me and said Hannah mentioned wanting to bring a scrapbook. You guys, I last put pictures in that when she was BAPTIZED. I messaged her teacher back with the following, "I nixed the scrapbook because it was last updated when she was 6 weeks old. I'm a crappy mom like that." My intention is to make a Shutterfly book for each year of her life, however, that is still on my to do list. Hopefully before graduation :)

What happened in your house this week?

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Resurrecting Chivalry

“Mom, when we get a boyfriend will we meet him at the corner?”

It’s an innocent question that throws me off guard. When we dream of parenthood we often don’t think beyond the cradle and now that my work issues are closing in on my children’s seasons of life I’m starting to grow clammy. Parenthood does not allow you advanced warning for every question you will get. Only critical moments to seize.

My eight-year-old’s eyes set in on me, expectant. My heart hiccupped while my mind tried to settle that this conversation was happening now.

“No, honey. Because you value family so any guy that you will want to date will care about family too and want to come to the door.”

“Makes sense,” she replied, taking her eyes away from the situation outside the window and resuming Barbie play while I regained consistent breath.

Little minds are processing such life trajectory changing concepts.

I’m not surprised young ones are fobbling their way through relationships these days. Our culture is guilty of two major mixed messages that leave confused youth in a quandary.

First, we tell our children that we love them but the face-to-face time we make for them is waning, especially with the advent of hand held social media devices. We are distracted parents that use the nice words without the lived out powerful connect and children see right through that. The result is a missed window of opportunity. A breakdown in the child’s comfort level to ask the personal questions or share the tough stories leads them to ask others they think will care. I can’t tell you how many emails I read that start, “I can’t talk to my mom and dad” or how many times I’ve heard, “If my parents knew they’d kill me.” As a parent, I know this would crush any parent whose kid is saying it but we’ve dug our own hole. If we want to be their go-to person we’ve got to invest today. While they’re young.

And, girl power has challenged an interested gentleman’s ability to show his integrity. We tell our girls they can be and do anything. And they can. But, a strong woman is still to be a respected woman. Telling our girls that they were made so incredibly special that they should always be cherished, in fact, affirms her value and allows the boy to live out his.

Chivalry isn’t outdated. It is the lived out display of admiration and respect. For a young man to shake a girl’s father’s hand silently speaks understanding that she is treasured. For a girl to appear at the door step in trendy clothes that maintains pure focus affirms value greater than the sum of her parts. And to be walked to the car and have the door opened is just the beginning of honoring the servant heart that undergirds any long-lasting relationship.

This parenting thing is hard. The vigilance and transparency it requires to raise healthy children would seem impossible if we didn’t live within the present moment of each day. But, parents, I think we can bravely do this. If we all play our part and intentionally connect often - verbally sharing our values and teaching these concepts - maybe our sons and daughters will understand today relationship keys promoting a healthier tomorrow.

Lord, help us do this well….

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

How has your week been going, friends? Our family took a trip to the pumpkin patch last weekend and weekly crock pot cooking has begun so fall feels officially in gear minus some of the temperatures. It was NINETY DEGREES on Sunday. In South Dakota. I wasn't on board and am glad to see some true fall temps nearing again.

True mom confessions couldn't come soon enough this week because it's been a week of embarrassing. There is no other way to put it.

Let me start with clothing.

1. Inside Out Shirt. I'm an author and dance teacher. Neither of these professions requires me to look cute, but occasionally I break out of my writer's casual to actually make an effort to look trendy. The other day was one of those days. I put on this really nice Ann Taylor Loft shirt and my 4 year old lit up. "Mom, you look pretty." It was a mega boost to my self esteem that somehow made the idea of going shopping for a new fridge (since ours went kaput) more manageable. You guys, I went to several stores and then bolted to my kids' elementary school to help with the musical I'm choreographing before Mrs. F leans in my ear and whispers, "I don't know if you did this on purpose but your shirt is inside out." Fashion fail. Clearly I should stick with the less challenging comfy clothes.

2. Answering the Door in my Robe. Moving right along to the next fashion fail the very next day. Said fridge that we had to quickly purchase was going to arrive after 12:30pm. The workers had my husband's phone number, which I should have changed right away because he is often in meetings during the day and unable to immediately respond to calls. Well, guess who arrived at 9:30AM? That's right, the doorbell rang and there stood a huge truck in my driveway. It was finally a day where Ava and I didn't have to rush around in the morning so we were taking our time. Easing into the day, as I like to say. I was sipping morning coffee. We were reading books. Life was grand UNTIL THE APPLIANCE DELIVERY MEN SHOWED UP AT MY DOOR. I contemplated not answering but I knew that the ramifications for that would probably be ugly - an upset husband and no fridge through the weekend. So I answered the door in my robe. There ya have it. And, I moved all the items out of our old, barely working fridge, into a cooler on our deck wearing the same. The best I could do was call my husband and say, "If the neighbors say they saw me outside in my robe and PJ pants, it's true."

Here ends the fashion blunders of the week. Thank you, Jesus. That couldn't have gotten much worse.

3. Choreographing with a Carrot. The music teacher picked a really fun sports themed musical for the fourth and fifth graders. I was super honored that she asked me to choreograph it for her and have spent some of every day working with the kids. One of the songs is a skateboarder song and the kids in it really like skateboarding. Today they were throwing out skateboard anatomy parts like it is part of common language but I basically heard French. Anyhoo, I told them that I choreographed their number holding a carrot & to let me know if any of it wouldn't work holding a real board. Their eyes bulged out from their heads. "A carrot?," they all seemingly gasped in unison. Yes, children, a carrot because I am a dancer NOT a skateboarder and the skateboard is the prop for your super cool dance that a carrot can fulfill the place of when I'm making up your moves in my kitchen. I lost all shred of cool in their eyes...until I told them they get to whip nae nae. This mama's back in it!

4. All About Kissing. When we were out at the pumpkin patch there was this ginormous pumpkin that I sat on and Charlie gave me a kiss. What can I say? We love each other, and the kids seeing that once in a while translates to them as being part of a loving, stable home. But, my 8 year old apparently said to my mom, "Grandma, do you kiss grandpa?," to which my mom said yes, and Hannah follows it up with, "My dad kisses my mom A LOT."

Oh, yes. Yes she did. :)

How was your week?

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's not Wednesday but better late than never, they say. So, instead of skipping real mom confessions this week here you have them on a Thursday. Surprise!!! *jazz hands*

What happened in the Nesdahl house this week?

1) "DON'T read your Bible every day. DON'T pray every day" I am a Christian author and this is what my 4 year old was singing at the TOP OF HER LUNGS over and over this week, including in public. She is learning a new song at school that starts "If you don't" but seems to forget the first two key words. Lovely. 

2) Fundraiser Fopaa. Our school is doing a Read-A-Thon for the fall fundraiser. My kids are super excited about this, as am I. So, I fill out their paperwork. Email their teachers the one question I have, and they're off running. Grace read 70 MINUTES and couldn't wait report it. Then I'm talking to my friend who co-chairs the committee about the girls' excitement and she goes, "That's great, but it doesn't start until next Monday." Oops. This is probably a bad time to also confess that I"m on the PTA executive committee? :)

3) PJs. This has been a really busy week so when my commitments are done the clothes go off and my PJs are put on. Last Saturday evening we got home and I made sure my only goal was to have no goals for the rest of the night. My PJs were on and supper fed to my people by 6pm. However, when the girls' friends came over and they wanted to play school in the house? I totally said no because I was already rocking the PJs and robe. Thankfully it was super nice out so I could pull the, "It won't be nice out in the evenings for much longer so just play outside with your friends." card. Fist bump on the temperatures, Jesus.

I'd like to be able to claim the early PJ thing will end but, who I am kidding. I'm getting old and early PJs rock.

How was your week?

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why Every School Needs an All Pro Dad {The Statistical Influence of Invested Fathers}

Last Friday our school kicked off 2015-2016 All Pro Dad. I posted this picture

with words of honor for my man and pride in my children's school.

It was met with intrigue - many asking me what the program was and others suggesting the news should pick positivity happening in a local gym.

All Pro Dad is missioned to help fathers "love and lead your family well. Be a hero to your kids."

Following in the footsteps of a great leader, my husband guesstimated food for 150. As time neared, all the tables filled, overflow started into the bleachers, and I ran to the store for more breakfast because what we had was not enough. A WONDERFUL problem. We figure more than 240 (dads + kids) were there.


I stood speechless at the visible investment being made before me. My heart to strengthen families encouraged by what statistics tell us to be true.

  • Children who feel a closeness to their father are: twice as likely as those who do not to enter college or find stable employment after high school, 75% less likely to have a teen birth, 80% less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience multiple depression symptoms  The Fatherhood Projec

  • High levels of father involvement are correlated with higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control in children. Children with involved fathers are less likely to act out in school or engage in risky behaviors in adolescence. The Fatherhood Project

  • Children with actively involved fathers are: 43% more likely to earn A’s in school and 33% less likely to repeat a grade than those without engaged dads. The Fatherhood Project

  • Research shows that even very young children who have experienced high father involvement show an increase in curiosity and in problem solving capacity. Fathers’ involvement seems to encourage children’s exploration of the world around them and confidence in their ability to solve problems. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse 

  • Father engagement reduces the frequency of behavioral problems in boys while also decreasing delinquency and economic disadvantage in low-income families. The Fatherhood Project

  • Parent connectedness is the number-one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol. 76 percent of teen girls said that fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, M.D.

In a world that touts the negative affects of fatherless youth and continually questions how to increase academic test scoring it is time to reframe our thinking. We must forego the old-style stereotype that PTA/PTO is just for women and celebrate the unique piece fathers (or a trusted male mentor) play in students’ lives because without the whole picture we will never achieve complete success.

Ours is a community shaken be a recent school shooting that’s left every parent yearning for a connection with their kids. The irony that this event followed my echo of Mother Teresa’s “Go home. Love your family” call was not lost on me.

And it has me dreaming for all our nation. What might society look like if fathers everywhere gathered around school tables & spoke life into their children’s lives?

I say we give it a try.

**For more information on starting an All Pro Dad unit in your school visit this link. The program provides for you the topic/discussion pieces for each month. To begin only takes one father who cares & an administration wishing school best.**

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

How, Then, Shall We Parent Following the School Shooting?

Yesterday there was a school shooting at a high school just miles from my home. A student entered the office, shot at the principal, and everyone else was made safe thanks to the heroic act of an assistant principal who tackled the boy. Not long afterwards, every parent in our district received a call about the incident, leaving all of us with one question: how do I parent through this?

We live in South Dakota. Sometimes loose cows and “duck disturbances” make Argus911 tweets. This isn’t to say that heartbreak and tragedy doesn’t strike here. It most certainly does. But to think that our area would make CNN for the unthinkable is probably something most of us never imagined to be true.

What was once “out there” became our reality. I saw screenshots on Facebook of texts received from a daughter thinking the gunman was near her only to find out it was the police yelling at them to put their hands up. I saw tear-stained pictures of families reunited. I saw hate spewed on the news story comments.

What isolation must that child gunman have been going through? What fear do the rest of the students face now? These questions wrecked me as I awaited getting my own girls from their school.

I’ll be the first to admit that I failed in telling my girls in the way that seemed most fit. Rather than rolling through the drive like I usually do to pick them up I parked so that I could give them a hug and tell them I loved them. This was good. But, in my head, I wanted to give them time to be the things a kids day should be made of. To tell me about their day and play with their friends and go to dance and then have an eye to eye discussion at supper.

I didn’t get that time. Before I knew it they knew (a piece) of the day’s details. I shuffled off the tap floor to sit in a dressing room and confirm with my girls that this world isn’t always kind. I watched darkness mask their eyes and life rip out innocence. The fact that the words were exiting my mouth felt surreal. The fact that others within the same space were more directly impacted suffocating.

And yet there was a peace. An expansion of trust I didn’t know would grow within horror. “Ask us anything,” we said. And they did.

Many of their questions we could not answer. This world is an imperfect place with broken people, and that became our crux. People can speculate why and verbally vomit opinions, but this debate gets us nowhere. It doesn’t help a boy who lacked ability to express himself without violence, and it most certainly doesn’t improve the future for our own kids.

I am on fire for love and connection with these young ones. They don’t need to know the storm within the gunman’s heart. They need to better understand how to handle their own.

“There is a lot we can’t explain,” we admitted, “but here’s what we know. No matter what you face, or what questions you have, or what temptations present, or what problem you feel a part of you can come to us because if we don’t work through our feelings all of us will snap in one way or another and do or say something we wish we could take back.”

It’s a fight for their heart that I’m realizing now more than ever will take diligent awareness of when they are just being quiet and when there is more behind the mask. It’s an awareness that we care and want to hear them that I will need to continue repeating. It’s a prayer-filled journey that can’t be done any way than on my knees.

Go home. Love your family.

I’m praying with you all as you face unique discussions in your own home relative to your position in the event. There will be no one size fits all approach. Just a whole lot of prayer that we can wisely think on the fly for more personal discussion we never imagined having.

After bedtime I went into the girls’ rooms to sneak a final kiss. My 8-year-old was awake. “Why are you still up, sweetie?,” I questioned. “I’m scared about school.” And thus I entered into the most prized moment of the whole day. The sharing that was unfolding and the time that I needed to make. Suddenly the time on the clock had no value. I climbed up into her top bunk (a feat in itself) and laid next to her, taking her hand. We spoke about how we know her principal, and office staff, and teacher loves her. I shared with her the rarity of this event (although Oregon already made me liar) and the beautiful heart of educators. Love that drove one administrator towards a gun and the bleeding principal to an intercom system to let them know he was okay and settle into their spirit that they would be too.

Before her lids fell I whispered, “I’m so glad we got to have this talk.” Something I’m sure I would NEVER have imagined myself saying only hours earlier. Then I worked my way down the ladder and reviewed an email of gratitude I sent to our office staff and my girls’ teachers  who, I know, love them like their own. Once you get your littles to bed I challenge you to do the same.

May God usher us all through the moments.

xx Melissa

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