What Kiddos Say…

This past weekend, my daughter had our beads out to make some bracelet gifts for two of her sweet friends’ birthdays. As she began mixing and matching beads, trying this pattern with that color, or trading a Swarovski bicone with a pearl, I began to play, too. I found a pattern of pearl beads in various sizes and colors of pale green, coral, and cream, adding them one at a time to a sturdy strand of wire. I crimped the clasp on, and eventually placed it on the counter in my bathroom, where one of my twins found it Sunday evening.

With surprise, he queried, “Are these real?”

“No. They are just acrylic beads covered to look like pearls.”

“Well, if they were real, you would be rich!”

I thought for a moment, as I have been pondering the true value of worldly wealth and possessions as of late, and I responded quickly (and a little cheesily, I must admit…but the sentiment was sincere), “I am already rich. I have you.”

He pondered for a moment, and then spoke.

“I guess you’re right, since you can sell children for about $20,000.00 each.”

Not exactly the message I was trying to send….

🙂

20131028-090359.jpg

Happy Anniversary!…& a few random thoughts

So, I’ve been working on this blog for a year. This weekend, WordPress sent me a cute little Happy Anniversary notification (which I loved…it’s the little things, right?)

My mind has been scattered all over the place since my little walk/run early this morning. The air was cool, so I pulled a stocking cap down over my ears to discourage the frosty air from creeping into my personal space. I tucked my ear buds into their accustomed spaces–L and R, stretched, kissed goodbye, and was on my way. I found a new compilation album on my iPod that I purchased on a sale from iTunes several weeks ago, picked a familiar song, and lengthened my stride along the sidewalk stripe en route to a familiar walking path.

As I hummed along to the tune, echoing intimately in my tender ear drums, keeping breath and step in line with the beat of the music, I began to mourn over the content of the lyrics. The singer, certainly popular in our society, and young, and whose voice I have heard over and over through my children’s Spotify playlists, iPod favorites, and even on exercise/dance video games, sang a tune of so-called empowerment, while speaking words that rang falsely to my heart.

I puzzled through the remaining steps, up a hill, and leveled out as the song changed…and my app announced my time and distance stats over another familiar voice. This song, too, disturbed my soul. On and on, around the path, listening and skipping songs, I was somewhat upset by what I heard. I wondered–exhaustedly–if I could find something to uplift and inspire as I continued to walk through this experience. I got to another song, one with a catchy beat, and began to run, and run, and run.

Then I stopped.

The song couldn’t be talking about what I thought it was talking about (oral sex), could it?

I think maybe it was. And I was even more disturbed that children–even my own–had listened to it and invariably sang along with it from time to time.

Pressing the skip button once again, I found myself in the throws of another relationship break-up song (I had already heard at least two in my twenty-minute walk), where the singer said that he couldn’t control himself around his lover…that he was a victim of sorts…and that he didn’t have the strength or resolve to get himself out of a (potentially dangerous or self-deprecating) situation.

I finally skipped that one, too.

As I continued to skip more songs as I walked and ran, I decided with a renewed determination not to let the words slip by me again. These messages that I sing along with and share with my children can be destructive to their tender hearts.  I want them to be empowered through kindness, love, and socially responsible and upright behavior.

In closing, I am posting a link to this article, which cites some of the dangers of exposing our younger generations to porn. Though I have yet to finish reading it, the pages I have read thus far were enlightening as well as disturbing. What prompted this article was work on a documentary, part of the UK’s “Campaign for Real Sex” (part of which appears to be a call for better sex ed in the UK along with exposing the dangers of pornography). Here is the trailer for the documentary.

I post them as a voice of warning (and a conversation starter) if you find yourself in the company of children, teens, or even young adults.  I encourage you to talk to another generation about the dangers of porn and the power of music/lyrics.  If someone doesn’t talk to them, the loud voice of popular media–or even the detached version of communication found in social media–will teach them…and I’m not certain parents, societies, or future generations be happy with what they are taught.

I learned that difficult lesson on a short walk this morning.

photo credit

Really?

I’m a little irritated with the portrayal of women in the following video (which I am posting only to make a point and am in no way telling you to watch it…and if you do choose to watch it, really, a few seconds should be enough to give you the idea).

This irritation has been stirring around since a couple of weeks ago, when a local advertisement for Halloween costumes appeared in my mailbox. (For a little bit of background, one of my little people has been and continues to be enamored of costumes and dress-up clothing–anything from super hero to pirate to skeleton, he–like many children–LOVES dressing up in costumes.) In the busy morning time, he was looking at the ad, and I promised to save it during the day so he could look at it later, after his activities. Well, as I sat down with him that afternoon, I was (frankly) appalled at the differences in fabric quantity between the costumes advertised for men and women. Really?

My frustration escalated when my dear husband, who often inquires regarding news items, asked two weekends ago if I had heard about Miley Cyrus’ new video and her father’s comments about her apparel (or lack of apparel) in the video.

Really?

Are these lyrics, images, and videos empowering ourselves or our children as we seek to help them stand up to be socially responsible people and grow into the fabulous individuals they are?

I’m not saying that Miley Cyrus didn’t have a choice to be naked in her video. Let her be naked. But, hanging out naked around a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer doesn’t speak empowered woman to me. Sorry. Especially considering the message of the song (which sounds a little too teen-angsty to me).

Now, Robin Thicke’s song definitely isn’t filled with teen-angst, and what it is really about, heaven only knows…but my kiddos heard it around the pool more than once this summer, and I for one don’t want my boys (or girls) singing, “I know you want it” to anyone. (Apparently, I’m not alone in this thought, either.) How does that promote anything other than assumptions and lack of communication? Last time I checked, neither one of those elements were ingredients in healthy relationships.

In the song’s defense, it sure is fun to dance to, right?

But is it worth the messages we are sending to ourselves and to others?

Really?

A piece of peace

The baby (who isn’t a baby anymore anyway) is already sleeping.  She slips into something like pajamas and meanders through decades of someone else’s creations that everyone else calls music.  A sax plays over people clapping as she finds herself transported to a smoky jazz club back in the 90’s, way before she had a baby to put to bed early.  She wonders if she misses those years…but she already lived them, didn’t she?  Lived them to the fullest, she hoped.

The mood changes as the playlist plays on (Spotify was a great invention of this generation).  DMB sings about colliding or crashing in some various, mildly arousing yet chaste (is that oxymoronic?) expression of love.  She recalls the many moments of crashing she’s witnessed over the last decade or so of marriage.  Car crashes.  Head crashes.  Block crashes.  Window crashes.  Brain crashes.  Soul crashes.

A soulful sax sings to her as cascading hair drifts from her shoulder and to tickle her arm.

In the silence of the music, she feels bliss…quiet…peace.

Help a Girl Out…

As I’ve been working on spending more quality time in real (face-to-face) communication, conversation, and support of those I love, I have had a few thoughts.  Maybe because I have been thinking of the many awesome women in my life, and maybe because we just celebrated the connections of mothers earlier this month, and maybe because two of my good friends just gave birth to beautiful baby girls…and maybe just cuz I was vacuuming yesterday (and I ponder through the white noise of the little sucking machine that makes my cute rugs look polished)…but I’ve been thinking of how we need to let go of the catty comparisons and the vengeful feelings we have for other women and help each other walk a little taller.

photo credit

Could we do that?

I know I’m guilty of judging others and comparing my own weaknesses to others’ strengths.  I look at other women and wonder, “why can’t I (have/look like/be more)_________________ like so-and-so?”  When I give in to such comparisons, I not only degrade myself but I create contention between myself and another woman.  (And, honestly, she may be saying the same thing about me.)  When we live in Judgementland or Comparisonville, we are never at rest or at peace. 😦

Can’t we just enjoy the good in others…and the good in ourselves…and help support other women in our lives?


photo credit

In an interaction with a friend recently, she mentioned that she began saying to the little people in her home, “I love everything about you!”  She said that her little people really responded to those words.  Through her example, I wanted to try it.  Of course, I thought to do it on one of the most disruptive mornings lately…and I was feeling frustrated and felt more like saying to my little people, “I see lots of things you need to work on and change.”  Still, I persisted, trying to find a moment to share this with at least one of them….  I do love everything about them–their idiosyncracies along with their personalities and happiness and even the troubles that come as they learn and grow into who they need to be.

I found a moment with my daughter when we were alone in a room, and I leaned toward her ear and softly spoke, “I love everything about you.”


photo credit

She seemed dumbstruck.

So, I said it again.  “I love everything about you.”

She looked at me incredulously.  I affirmed my statement while wondering when the last time (if ever) she would’ve felt that she was completely, incomprehensibly, and absolutely loved.  I have decided to share this idea with her more, along with my other children…and even the other women in my life, as many of them struggle (as I do) with feeling worthy, accepted, and loved.

Are you in this boat with us?  And can we work together to stay afloat and reach the shore and live in the cities of Love and Acceptance together…the way we are now.


photo credit

Green Beans and Brownie Sundaes

We typically spend one Sunday each month in fasting and prayer accompanied by donating an offering equal to the amount of the cost of the two meals (or more generously, when possible) to help those in need.  Last Sunday was such a day, and because of fasting and the schedule of the day, we ate just before 5 p.m.  Not wanting to prepare another big meal after–and smelling the smell of my kiddos’ brownies baking in the oven–gave me the idea of having brownie sundaes for “dinner” (which typically happens for us between 5:30-6 p.m.).

The kiddos crowded around the counter where we scooped warm brownies into bowls, topped them with scoops of vanilla ice cream and drizzled over dark chocolate syrup.  YUM.  My mouth is watering as I type.  They were pretty delicious and kinda looked like this:


photo credit

As we joked over the idea of having dessert for dinner, one of my (hesitant vegetable-eating) children piped up, “Maybe we should have green beans for dessert!”

We all chuckled at the thought until my (green-bean-loving) child headed to the freezer and proceeded to hand me a bag of frozen green beans.

I explained that we use the frozen green beans mainly for her favorite (Olive Garden) minestrone soup recipe, but that she was welcome to find a can of beans in the cabinet.  She headed there and promptly removed two cans and placed them on the counter.

🙂

I helped her heat one can at a time, and she relished in the yummy, salty, mushy, green bean experience.


photo credit

It.  Was.  Fantastic.

Parenting is Hard.

After an experience with one of my precious children this morning, and after some weekend reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion:

PARENTING IS HARD.

Maybe that isn’t news to you. If I stopped parenting long enough to think about it (which only happens in tiny little moments), I might have figured this out sooner. Maybe? 🙂

Anyway, these recent moments of reflection have shown me similar traits in my children to my own personality flaws (which are actually quite difficult to view). For example, remember when you have read a novel or watched a film and you find yourself identifying with the feelings or habits or personalities of a certain character? Those connections have been happening abundantly lately for me…only my children are not mere characters in a book or movie. They are my children.  And they are flawed (which I knew) like me (which is what is so difficult currently to view).

Maybe some of the difficulty is knowing the path they have ahead of them…and my desire to help them wake up to a realization that certain behaviors that I have wasted years of my life practicing can lead them to heartache and sadness.  I find myself defensively saying (in my mind) to them, “I’m getting over [that behavior].  Why can’t you?”

But, some lessons need to be learned from the inside out, not vice versa.

I guess what I’m saying is, after this weekend and this morning, I’ve got some work to do…both for myself and also with my children. And I’m wondering what I can do to change today….

Each of my children (and yours) is a gift, a life, an opportunity for love and learning and greatness. My children don’t need the fame of a Super Bowl ring, a Julliard degree, or a name in figurative lights to be valued and precious and productive in society. They are each amazing in their own spheres of influence as they develop and share their own talents and gifts with those around them.

I wish I had learned that earlier. I still find myself fighting feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness daily. But, at least I am fighting them (most days) instead of giving into negativity.

On the way back from taking one of our children to school (the one having a rough morning), my husband gently said my name, followed by the words, “You are a good woman.”

My immediate thought was, “If I was a good woman, I could cure more ills and take away more pain.”

As I fought tears in the thought, I saw something else, though…a smattering of light…of truth.

Pain is part of life and a tool to help us grow, just like a flower fights the adversities of gravity and wind to grow and stand straight and bloom.

So bloom. As a person. As a parent. As YOU. We can make a beautiful bouquet together.