Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Food for Thought: Thankful

Food for Thought: Thankful
When I was in college I would always put "FFT"(Food for Thought) in the margins next to notes that I wanted to mentally chew on later. Fast Forward ten years and now I've decided to expand it into my fun food making. Every year, in the month of November, I pull up this exact quote and really let it seep into my mind:

"There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for"

In a world that is full of me-me-me attitudes, and I need more-more-more to be a happier person, or if I just have xyz then life will be better -- it can be easily forgotten that we have plenty to be thankful for; right here and right now. 

It is so easy to think about what else we want, or what we want to be better in our lives. It is almost as if everyone is just focusing on what they can do to improve or enhance their lives. Not to say we shouldn't be looking to grow or be better as individuals, but in all that focus to become better we can forget to be thankful for what we do have right now. When we are in rough times it is easy to think there is nothing to be thankful for. However when we step back and think for a moment, we realize there is always something. Even if it is the littlest of things -- it is something. What we are thankful for doesn't even have to be tangible or material.

This year as a family, instead of just talking about what we are thankful for, we wrote it down on paper leaves and made a Thankful Tree. I have truly enjoyed watching the tree grow throughout the month. I encouraged Eliana to think about things we take for granted as well, when writing on each leaf. Sure it can be easy to take anything for granted, but I encouraged her to think of daily conveniences that sometimes we don't realize we should be thankful for. Among others she put "food", "shelter", and "the people who work to make 'our' home". My heart. This girl just makes my heart beam. Even Samantha added to the tree -- she scribbled on a few leaves and put them up :)

I hope that making a Thankful Tree will continue to be a family tradition that our kids will look forward to every year. There is something so significant about putting our words onto paper. It is so easy to talk, and say something. But when it comes to writing it down we all tended to stop for a moment and think before we wrote. 

Imagine if we took that kind of care to our spoken words; not just our written words. 

I am ever so thankful for my family; my husband, my baby girls, and our dog. I am blessed to have them all in my lives. Each one of them has added something special to my life. Just watching my children grow, watching their personalities develop is an amazing blessing I never want to take for granted. It is very easy to forget when we are exhausted, running on no sleep, cranky and stressed, but at the heart of it all, there is always love.

What are YOU thankful for?

♥ Michelle

Monday, November 2, 2015

Food For Thought: Good

Food for Thought: Good
When I was in college I would always put "FFT"(Food for Thought) in the margins next to notes that I wanted to mentally chew on later. Fast Forward ten years and now I've decided to expand it into my fun food makingI've been "chewing" on this for a few days now:

"Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day" -unknown

Today is just one of those days... I find myself spiraling. I am exhausted. My 22 month old doesn't seem to like to sleep. I haven't been able to get back into a workout groove since she was born. I haven't lost all the "baby weight". I eat more chocolate than I should. I let my kids watch an extra show instead of play with them because I was tired.

Isn't it so easy to point out all the BAD?

It is so easy to start pointing out all the bad when you are not feeling your best. One bad thing turns to another bad thing into another. You continue spiraling downward. Negative thoughts are an intrusive mental virus, spreading onto every thought, past or present, with the desire to infect. Next thing you know you find yourself regretting that you don't have the dream job you always wanted or that you don't own a house yet. Or remembering things that happened years ago and beating yourself up yet again. Then you deem yourself not a good mom for making mistakes. 

But let's just take a break for a second.

Life is hard. It's not easy for anyone. But somehow we hurt ourselves the most. No one is perfect. No one. We ALL make mistakes and so it makes it easy to find the bad in each day. But life isn't easy. So why should we let it be easy to see the bad? 
Why not take a second. a minute. and see the good.

I've found that this quote means a lot to me.  Life is hard, but there is a life. So let's try this again:

Today I am exhausted. I have a bed to sleep in. My 22 month old doesn't seem to like to sleep.  A few hours is better than NO hours. I haven't been able to get back into a workout groove since she was born. I have a healthy body. I haven't lost all the "baby weight". That body of yours held, nourished, and kept your baby safe. I eat more chocolate than I should. Chocolate has antioxidants. Eat some more ;) I let my kids watch an extra show instead of play with them because I was tired. We have a television and safe educational programming that my kids can watch.

Even when it feels like there is nothing good in your day, there is.  Even if you can't find ten good things. You can find one. One good thing. 

Now you try it: Name ONE good thing about today!

♥ Michelle

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lemon Squeezer

It had already been a rough day. We all seemed to start the day off on the wrong foot. No one slept well. The attitude of my 7 going-on-14 year old was too much. My 20 month old was a cranky mess. I was irritated and wanted my space. If the day was a car -- it was a lemon.

It came for Samantha's nap. Eliana went into her room to play legos and I put down Samantha for her nap. When Sammy finally fell into a deep sleep I went to lay down on my bed. I was tired. exhausted. Mentally and Physically. I could use this time to relax. Maybe watch some Netflix. Maybe take a nap---

My thoughts are interrupted by hearing Eliana humming and playing in the room adjacent.

Le sigh.

I should get up and spend some time with her. Good time, mind you. All day has been huffs and puffs from both of us and we weren't really connecting. We needed to do something to connect. Something with our hands, something physical. Something more than me lying down on the ground on her floor while following her command on "how to play exactly how I think this should go". Against every part of me that wanted to lie down and take some "me time" I forced myself to get up.

"You want to help me make blackberry lemonade?" I ask her.

"No. I'll just be your taste tester."

I hide my disappointment. "You sure?"

"Yeah." She goes back to playing without missing a beat. And just like that she is in her own world.

So instead of chalking up my idea as a fail and retreating to my previous plan of lying down and resting, I go downstairs and start getting everything ready to make the lemonade. I figured I could make the simple syrup now and put it in the fridge to cool so that by the time the lemons were all squeezed it would be ready. After everything was all set I went back up to Eliana. I wouldn't let up that easily. We needed to connect.

"I could really use your help" I say to her.

"Really?!" She throws down everything she is doing and follows me.

We made blackberry lemonade together. She dubbed herself the "Lemon Squeezer" and I was the "Lemon Cutter." I cut the lemons in half and she squeezed every. single. one.

And you know what? During that time we chatted and chatted. Laughed and giggled. Talked about so many different things I can't even remember. 

We connected.

After a long day of butting heads we connected. I could have left Eliana to play in her own world. We probably would have been fine the rest of the day after I took a nap and was rejuvenated. We probably would have connected at some point that day. But that isn't the point here. Sometimes you have to make effort to make meaningful connections -- even when it is against every fiber in your tired exhausted being.

And in those moments I pray she remembers those moments. Those moments where we build something together. Those moments where we are laughing and giggling about the silliest things. Not the moments where we get on each other's nerves. 

Life will always be full of both moments. God knows I'm not perfect. I lose my temper, I get impatient. I am quick to yell.  She isn't perfect either. She gets cranky, mischievous and wants to defy rules. 

In fact; no one is perfect

If we only remember each other by our bad moments, then we aren't really looking at the whole picture. If I only remember Eliana as the sum of the days where she bugged me and got on my last nerve, it would be very difficult to see her as the beautiful, intelligent, silly, and amazing young girl that she is. I pray she remembers those moments where we connect in a positive way. I also pray that I don't forget the importance of making these meaningful moments with my Lemon Squeezer.

♥ Michelle

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hugs are Important too

In the midst of changing a diaper of a squirmy, octopus-like, non stop moving, kicking me from the chest to the crotch, almost 20 month old, she suddenly stopped still and looked up at me.


"Mommy, hug?"

I looked down at her and I started to say "OK mama, but I need to finish changing your diaper..."

My mind is racing through all the reasons why I just need to finish changing your diaper. Memories of past incidences rush to my mental foreground and it only seems logical to finish changing your diaper and then give you a hug. I shouldn't leave you diaperless. In a second you could possibly have an accident, which I will have to clean up (more importantly which I don't want to clean up), or you could start running and fall on your bare bottom and then hurt yourself. So yes I should finish changing your diaper first. That would be the logical order of operations. It will only takes a few seconds as I wrestle you still, my sometimes tame gorilla (seriously how can you possibly be that strong).

But I stop. My logical order is not the right order in this moment. I don't need to finish first. Your diaper will get changed regardless.  A few minutes from now will come and you will be running from my grasp and playing and jumping and throwing toys on the floor. Right now you are asking for me to stop and listen. Hugs are important too.

So I stop and lean down and hug you as you lie still and whisper "Hug mamas"

I stand up she put her arms back out. "Mommy, hug"
I leaned in again and give her a big hug.

Then as I was standing up again she grabbed my face, pulled me down and said "Kiss?"

I give her a big kiss.

And then I finished changing her diaper.

Sometimes I can feel tapped out, and just want to finish, streamline my process so I can get it , whatever it is, done. But love isn't a process to finish. I want to be able to stop everything I am doing and be there for her when she needs it. I need to let go of part of myself there. It isn't easy to remind myself to stop and listen to what my kids need me. Especially when sometimes all day it seems to be a constant flow of "needs". 

Thank you mama for reminding me to stop and listen. Hugs are important too.

♥ Michelle