Monday, 27 April 2009

Karma-baby

My new partnership with fellow mom and Chicago rocker Anna Fermin (press on her name and you'll hear our theme song)  has taken off in leaps and bounds.

If you love to listen to music, come to our shows and know that you are giving back to our global community while having a ROCKIN time.

Click HERE to see details about our two debut shows in June.  To read about how MOMSthatROCK! Productions came to fruition, read from the bottom up.

Follow MOMSthatROCK! on Twitter by pressing HERE.

Follow me on Twitter by pressing HERE.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

What is too young for young love . . .



Sweet Son and Proud Mama


Mamapedia is an online resource for parents and a recent question was asked:

1st crush in first grade??? Isn't this a little young?

I chuckled. 

My first crush was in Kindergarten.  He was the tallest boy in the class and I followed him around like Tinkerbell following Peter Pan.  I remember staring at him adoringly.

In later years it became apparent to me that my initial attraction may have had something to do with the fact that I had three older brothers and an additional 10 male cousins, with nary a female in sight.  I'm sure his height reminded me of the "older" men in my life.

Then in first grade my first love letter was confiscated by the teacher.  It was written in sky blue which was the most awesome color in my box of 64 crayons.  I sat by my crush and wrote a note: Do you like me?  I like you.  Circle yes or no.  

The moment the note was passed, Mrs. Campbell asked for me to walk it up to her.  

Oh, the shame.   

I can still feel the heat that rushed to my cheeks.  I returned to my teacher at the end of the day to ask if she would release my note  from the home she had given it: inside THE gradebook.  

No, I was told.  It belonged to her now.  That was the same answer I got the next 53 times I asked. 

Later in my school career Mrs. Campbell had the opportunity to share with me that she STILL had my first love letter written in sky blue crayon and that, actually, she had been very pleased with my navigation of the writing of said letter at such a young age.  I was happy and relieved to see her smiling while she was discussing my offense.

So what is my personal and professional opinion about a first grade crush?  

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Crushes are a natural developmental milestone and are nothing new to our society.  

If you feel your child is being exposed to TV or real life situations that encourage precocious behavior, those are the issues that you may easily address and it would be appropriate to do so. 

And of course if you see inappropriate or suggestive acting out or language-- this should be explored and addressed: these behaviors do not come naturally to a young child and they are being exposed to it somewhere.

It's not so easy to "change" what is already going on in our children's minds, but sometimes it can be a wake-up call to make changes that affect what is happening in your environment that spawns your child's thoughts and ideas and interests.

Over-focusing on an issue such as this can give the issue much more power and almost guarantee it to be a concern again in the future.  Remember the golden rule of parenting: the best way to extinguish unwanted behavior--whenever possible IGNORE IT.

This issue came up with some of my children and since I had a frame of reference of having had those feelings at the same age I saw it as totally normal behavior and treated it as such.  

It is important to remember that children can have very strong feelings of admiration for someone.  

My son and a little girl "liked" each other from first to third grade.  There were no outings, or pronouncements, but they saw each other at school.  

After she decided to "like" someone else, I stumbled upon the most eloquent letter my son had written to a friend that expressed how "adults do not think we can feel actual love at our age, but we can. . . I know because I did. . . "  as he went on to express the lessons he'd learned for an entire page and a half of the neatest penmanship I'd ever seen from him.

Honestly, my son's letter brought tears to my eyes and not because of any fear or disappointment or concern, but because I saw that the seed of an emotionally articulate, loving and caring man had been planted.  

He continues to be an extremely loving and caring young man who did not have flings, has always treated girls with respect-- including his sisters and mother-- and at age 18 is in an extremely respectful committed relationship after not seriously dating for most of high school. This WAS a choice.  He was asked and attended the Jr. Sr. Prom when he was a Freshman, and has had many who adore him; I'm sure because he is such a sweetheart.  But he has been very thoughtful about where his time, effort and, yes, feelings would be going.

I know his early "crush" had an impact on his choices he made regarding relationships and I would not change one thing about it. 

But the bottom line?  If I wanted to STOP his crush, I couldn't if I had tried and in trying to stop it, it would have only intensified those feelings.  

Use discussions of crushes as teachable moments-- especially when you can use those lessons to bring home your family's value system-- and then sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.   

Remember to embrace the angst; there is a lot more to come.



Saturday, 18 April 2009

Just do it.

Don't ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Howard Thurman

I find it interesting that as a person that has had a 29 year career in altruistic positions that I would love such a self-serving quote as much as I love this one.  I have found this a wonderfully inspiring quote that has meant different things to me at different stages of my life.

Currently what this quote automatically brings to my mind is our four eldest children.  We have two daughters in their 3rd year of college, a son in his first year and a son heading off to college in the fall. As a group they are unique because they all have one thing in common: they have not decided on an ideal career.

I think this generation of college attendees has been told "the world is your oyster" and "reach for the stars"  in contrast to the message given to previous generations: "go for job security" and "make sure you can provide for your family."  That presents a lot of choice and a lot of pressure.

We have talks with our kids about finding something that "makes them come alive" and I'm certain those conversations may only compound their dilemma.  At least that's what their perplexity tells me; initially you see their full alignment with those words followed by a a puzzled look, "hmmm, how do I know what makes me come alive in a 40+ hour/week work setting at this stage of my life . . ."  

I have frequently encouraged clients by asking them to reflect-- if so many hours of our living must go into a career, wouldn't  it be wonderful if we could choose something we enjoy so much that we "lose time" while doing it?  In other words, time flies while we work because we enjoy it so much it doesn't feel like work.  Another term that describes this is "being in the flow." 

Fortunately, I landed in a career where I have found myself "in the flow" much of the time, but that was after many years of struggling during the hours I was living making my living (and paying for my education).  It was the assumption that when I reached my final educational goal "the flow" would be waiting that made the mundane bearable.  

I encourage you to ponder today's quote for yourself and your own situation.  

Is there something more you could be doing that would make you come alive?  

What can you let go of that stands in your way of coming alive?  

Are there passions or pastimes, or creative endeavors you continue to put off that you know would feed your spirit?  

No matter what your career or stage of life: choose to come alive.

Be the change you want to see . . .  

Just do it.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Our Dizzy-ny Adventure



My husband had a conference in Orlando and is a vehement "will never do Disney" kind of guy.

I seized the opportunity to take our 4 .75 year old and we begged his sister out of school since it was such a quick trip and she had JUST turned 9 two days before we left.

This would be a quick 2 day, mark-Disney-off-the-list-so-Dad-never-has-to-go kind of visit.

Yes, I try to stay "zen" and "go with the flow" WHILE "staying in the moment" and practicing "positive discipline" and all that jazz, but after our first hour in the Magic Kingdom I started to have a recurrent mantra to my Disney adventure, "End. This. Misery. NOW."

At the beginning of our journey, for the first time in our lives, we arrived to an airport EARLIER than the 2 hour suggested time.

And guess what our reward was?

A two hour delay.

By the time we were tucking the kids into bed it was 1:30 a.m. DT (disney time). Then with an emergency run for cough syrup for the oldest's incessant hacking cough that (I'm not kidding) Disney-magickly quit the moment her father went into the night to forage for meds and the 4 year old waking every 90 minutes declaring, "MY FEET HURT," (and I'm sure they did, the little trooper had dragged his new carry on all over 2 entire airports) NO one had much sleep.

The next morning the kids woke with excitement. Dad had snuck out at 6:30 am to get to a breakfast meeting.

As you can see from the very first Disney picture and the four year old's face-- he didn't start off on the right Disney-foot and I am sorry to report that it didn't get any better after that.

It was a day full of whining and misunder-disney-standings. For instance-- shrieking at the end of each ride: I want to go again!!!!

Can you blame him? It's what we all want to say after waiting in line close to an hour and going on a ride for 2-3 blissful minutes.

I thought people would be cringing at his end-of -the-ride outbursts, but I actually think I was seeing some upward thrusts of fists and the words, "right on," being mouthed.

I felt so sorry for my husband's colleague's wife who thought it would be "fun" to join us for a day at Disney. Let's just say that I think we solidified the deal and she is perfectly fine to forego the miracle of a child (thank-you-very-much).

So my dear all-things-Disney friends and my contemplating-Disney friends: I Just Do NOT Get It.

The bumping into people at every turn-- in fact that was one of the four year old's major whines, "THAT LADY JUST HIT ME IN THE HEAD WITH HER CAMERA (or her bag, or her butt, or her arm . . . probably a 20 time event) and after all his head was just even with ALL of those things.

NO one was watching where they might stand or walk or push a wheelchair or stroller and I think it is an absolute Disney-miracle that we did not witness a broken hip or some actual flowing of blood-- beyond our little guys skinned up knee.

And the lines . . . That is what our Disney experience was really about. Lines. Frustration. Crying. Whining. And more Lines.

And did I mention, Lines?

Did the fun-- and sure there was SOME fun-- outweigh the misery?

Absolutely.

NOT.

We did it, we crossed it off the list and it is done.

The second, and final, day at Magic Kingdom proved a bit less traumatic than the first. And, now, a mere day later, the little stinker really thinks he had a good time.

And I made sure to take plenty of pictures to solidify the "happy" memories in his Disney-memory-bank.

And may it never happen again until our children get to feel the Disney-magic with their own precious little darlings. (chanted, of course, with our magic Tinkerbell wand waving . . . )

P.S. Our nine year old was a little angel, albeit an exhausted one.

And Dad was actually the one that got to witness the Magic of the night parade and fireworks with the kids. The four year old was in awe and perfectly behaved and Dad got some wonder-full time with both children.

And that, truly, does thrill me.


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