Positive Daily Three – Good Times Roll

Vacations can be fun and relaxing, but also stressful.  This long weekend, we went on a fun adventure to go visit family that live relatively close.  It was so much fun.  We got to spend time with my nephew, brother and sister-in-law, grandmother, and my parents.  We ventured to Sea World, Torrey Pines State Park and Balboa Park.  The kids all had a blast.  There were so many great things that happened.  We took pictures, played in the sand, watched polar bears and Balooga whales swim, and run around outside.

With all of the wonderful and positive things, I still found myself in a somewhat negative mood toward the end of our adventure…the drive home.  I always have to stop myself and reassess at the end of a quick trip.  The younger kids are tired, everything seems rushed, and I find my mind racing through all the things I have to do when I get home to prepare for the rest of the week.  I start to feel all of the good memories and happy times slip away as the reality monster steps in and begins raising those unnecessary stress levels in my brain.

I forced myself to start thinking about the great things that we experienced this weekend to help the stress dissipate.  There definitely was some stress that did remain because all too often, there is not a vacation from the vacation to recuperate, adjust and slowly step into a routine.  We return from a wonderful memory-making adventure and are forced to crash land into our lives and pick up right where we left off.  This is a reminder to take a breath and enjoy the memories that were made.  Cherish the pictures your heart took and relish in the faces and places you were able to enjoy and be a part of.  Life will get back on track.

Positive Daily Three – I’m Back

Sorry for the hiatus, but I had to focus on making this a smooth transition for the kids.  I believe I succeeded, but am now hitting that wall of exhaustion that makes it difficult to stay up to write this.  As a result, I will catch you all up tomorrow on the ups and downs of this lovely little adventure, but in the mean time, I want to end this day thinking about the positive things that occurred.

I now have a working garage door opener, which is a huge plus when you are moving multiple children with their belongings to multiple places throughout the day.  Small win, but a victory that I am celebrating for all the modern convenience it is.

I actually got to hang out with my little girl today.  We painted and read books and even watched a show together.  I haven’t really been able to spend a lot of good quality time with her these past two weeks, so I was super excited to be able to enjoy some time with her and be fully present, rather than catching my mind wandering to all the packing and unpacking and organizing.  It was wonderful to be aware of the moments of life again.

The house is completely set up except for my bedroom.  As fate would have it, my son could not fall asleep in his room tonight.  Tonight I was planning on getting my room unpacked, but my son had other plans for me.  He insisted that he was much more comfortable falling asleep in my bed.  As I have no energy left for arguing, I am allowing it for tonight.  The upside of this decision is that I would not have had time to sit and think about the good things in my day today if I were unpacking my room.

I feel like the universe has truly put my strength, patience, and several other abilities to the test these past couple of weeks.  Through all the bad, there have been counteracting positive things happening as well.  Some days it was really hard to see anything happy at the end of the tunnel, but we have survived every task and challenge.  I did not make it through with a smile on my face most days, and I feel like a train has hit me and then run over me multiple times, but I’m a survivor.  It’s what I was built to do.  I fought and continue to fight to make this transition easy on my kids, and I am happy that I can finally see a light at the end of this adventure’s tunnel.

I will let you know about the good, the bad, the ugly and the miraculous in my blog tomorrow.  Now, I am going to lay down and try to expel some of the exhaustion from my body.  Talk to you soon!

PD3 – Day 9: Really????!!!!!!

I used to think that Murphy’s Law, when your husband is away, that is when you need him most, was not entirely true.  I used to think that no matter what the universe threw at me while my husband was deployed, TDY, or remotely stationed, that I could handle.  I can totally handle it, but really?  Now I totally believe in the military rule of Murphy’s Law.  When the spouse is away, Puck (the Midsummer Night’s Dream One), comes to play.

I closed the garage door this morning and heard a loud bang.  I leave my double jogging stroller in the garage, so I had the stroller with me, walking my son to school.  I was hoping the loud bang was just something falling over.  After dropping my son off, going for a run and playing with my daughter for a little while at the park, I returned home.  After investigating, I discovered that the garage door spring broke and the wires on both sides came undone.  I moved the garage door to manual mode and tried to lift it. I got it up about a foot and a half and couldn’t get it any higher.  My car was trapped inside the garage and I had to pick up my eldest daughter from school in about an hour and a half.  I put in a work order with our property management company and waited.  I rang my neighbor’s doorbells to see if anyone was home, but it was to no avail.  I did what I hate to do, but I had run out of options.  I called my husband’s shop to see if they could spare someone to help me get the garage door up so I could get the car out.  The positive side of this is they were able to send someone out and I was able to get the car out.  I should have the garage door fixed by tomorrow.  Not that horrible of a situation anymore.

As I was dealing with the broken garage door, I received an email, unrelated, from our property managers.  It was a 30 day to Vacate notice because the owner is selling.  What???!!!!  I started creating checklists in my mind of everything I need to do.  I started looking up places on Zillow and plan to start calling tomorrow.  I am trying my best to make sure we stay in the same area so that my kids don’t have to change schools.  Not a great time for this to happen, but I know that it will all work itself out.  I am going to  probably be doing a lot of packing into the wee hours and hoping that a pizza and beer party will lure my husband’s co-workers to come help me move everything.  This is definitely a nightmare, but at least we’ll be able to downsize as we go and be even more ready for my husband’s return and our current follow on to Japan.  I just might enjoy a glass of wine tonight because I don’t know when I will have the time for another one in the next 30 days.

Yes, things kind of suck right now, but I have to take the cards we’ve been dealt and make a good hand out of them for my husband and my children.  It’s not the situations that define us, it is what we do with them that gives us our defining moments.

My children all ate dinner tonight, which was lentil soup with quesadilla slices.  I wasn’t worried about them eating the quesadilla, but I was super happy that they all ate at least some of the lentil soup.  Small win, but a win none the less.

The car is free!  Yay!  I can take people to school and pick them up, we will make it to karate tomorrow and I was blessed that my husband’s shop was able to help me out.  Those men and women are amazing and I am always grateful to the way they always treat us like family.

I dealt with my son today without yelling.  His behavior is the most difficult for me to figure out.  He goes from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes I can get past all of the screaming and crying and get him to calm down and see clearly again.  Other times, I resort to putting him in his room until he can calm down or yelling to try to get him to snap out of his tantrum.  Today was a good day.  He had a few meltdowns, but I was able to find out what was going on.  He was in need of more attention.  I gave him five minutes, and it made all the difference in the world.  Definitely a positive step forward for us.

Sometimes the universe slaps us in the face to keep us on our toes.  I’m hoping I can find the positives in these next thirty days to keep me moving forward.

Positive Daily Three – Day 8

If there is one thing true about life, it is that we never stop learning and are constantly challenged to analyze ourselves, learn from mistakes and mold ourselves into stronger and better human beings.  I learned another life lesson today.

If you read my rant from yesterday, you could see that I was upset because I believed that I sold the Subaru to a dealership.  This was an assumption based on the name of the company that the buyer put on the title (it had the word Trader in it).  I didn’t ask him, and I didn’t confront him.  I assumed I had been lied to and once again taken advantage of because of my kindness.  I wrote a polite, yet firm email to the buyer today, based on my assumption, questioning his integrity and character.  I have since buried my head in the sand.  That famous saying about what happens when you assume is very true.  I finally did some research and discovered that his company has nothing to do with cars.  I swallowed my pride, and knowing that I would look like an idiot, wrote an apologetic email.  This has made me reanalyze who I am.  I immediately assumed the negative, rather than asking the buyer directly or doing research first.  I immediately believed that being kind to people and trusting people were flaws in my character.  I should have trusted my gut when I didn’t feel right sending him the email.  I should have looked up the company and verified my negativity before I allowed myself to go down a road of self doubt and loss of hope and faith in people.  The positive side of this entire experience is that I now clearly see that I need to improve my character and not immediately make negative assumptions.  I need to take my own advice (the advice that I constantly give my teenage daughter), and verify things before I allow myself to believe them and let that clutter the truth.  I am sure that the first email I sent the buyer gave him feelings of anger and resentment.  I am sure he did not understand why I kept referring to him as a car dealer.  I felt like a big jerk, to say the least, but I hope that he can forgive me.  Though I am embarrassed by my behavior, I am grateful that this all happened as it has shown me another opportunity for my own growth.

I got my run in today which made me feel wonderful after the ups and downs of the morning, and it also helped me focus on the rest of the day.  My youngest daughter and I made it to the park today, but she said she was too cold, so we only got to play her Polar Express skit once, and then she asked to go home where we had hot chocolate and watched the Polar Express.  I won’t ever get tired of this.

My eldest daughter said she felt like she did really well, or at least better than most of the other people in her classes, on her semester finals today.  She is doing very well in school and I am very proud of her.  She is mostly self-motivated now, and is working hard to get to where she wants to be.

My son’s homework today was just learning/memorizing our home address and phone number, and counting to 100.  He did amazing and we’ll go over it again tomorrow to make sure he retained the address and phone number.

My two oldest went to karate tonight and both of them looked really good.  They have been in karate for over a year now with an excellent instructor, and are perfecting their form in preparation to test to go to a higher belt.

Opportunities to grow and learn are with us every day.  Though I wish I hadn’t been such an arrogant idiot, I am glad that the lesson for today was blatant and right in front of my face.  Moments with my children decorate the majority of my positive moments, which is a great feeling.  I look forward to continuing to share my journey with you.  I do have to say that my whole day was a little off today.  I was feeling exhausted, a little lonely (starting to miss my husband), and extremely foolish, but I am glad I have my positive moments to look back on.

 

Positive Daily Three – Day 7

I have something negative on my chest that won’t leave me alone, so I am going to cleanse that out of my system first, and then share my positive three.  I was really trying to avoid going on a negative rant while writing these posts, but I know I won’t get past this and write from the heart if I try to ignore it.

I sold our 2008 Subaru Outback today to an older couple whom I believed were buying the car as a private sale and were driving it up to Utah to help their son move, at least, that’s what they told my husband.   When the male purchaser took it for a test drive, he believed there was either a wheel bearing issue or a transmission problem and wanted a mechanic to look at it.  I took them to the Firestone I normally bring the car to, and they found it to be a wheel bearing.    They stayed at Firestone to have the repair done and we agreed the cost for the repair would be deducted from the total amount for the sale as he would pay for the repair.  They returned around 6pm.  I felt pretty bad that they didn’t get on the road when they thought they would be, so since I have the most generous, stupid and naive heart in the world, I knocked it down another $500 because they would have to stay overnight somewhere and they were not expecting that.  This was one of those moments that I will forever bang my head on the table for.  This was entirely my fault; he did not ask me to bring the price down, he was merely grumbling and complaining about how put out they were, and I genuinely believed that they were not car dealers.  Turns out, when we filled out the title paperwork, he was purchasing it as a car dealer.  I am not upset that I sold the car.  I am upset because I could have sold that car to someone who was actually in need of it for that price and it would have changed their life because it would have been helping them out.  I felt like I already made a verbal contract with the man, so I didn’t go against what we had agreed to, and I couldn’t muster the courage up to say, “Shame on you for making me feel bad about this situation.”  I’m a pushover.  I am mostly upset at myself because that car will now be flipped and sold for about $8000 in Montana, and someone who actually needed that car and couldn’t afford to pay a dealership will not have the opportunity to buy it from me.  It makes me want to scream.  On the up side, the car is sold and won’t collect dust and we don’t have to pay insurance on it now.  The other upside is that we definitely got our moneys worth out of that car and have many memories and adventures to look back on because of it.  Thank you for letting me rant about my horrible ability to separate business from my heart.

This was actually an amazing day that I absolutely enjoyed besides that incident.  All the kids and I went out to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.  The wind was blowing decently this morning, so I thought it was a great opportunity to test out a kite that they received for Christmas.  I packed up lunch for everyone and we grabbed a soccer ball and a few other outdoor toys and went adventuring.  The weather was perfect.  It was chilly, but when we started running around, it was wonderful.  We played soccer, catch, tried and succeeded once or twice at flying the kite, and played frisbee.  My daughters even went up to the ranch house and explored so I got to have some one on one time with my son, which doesn’t happen very often, so he was happy.  I have alone time with my youngest daughter while the older two are at school, and alone time with my eldest daughter when the younger ones go to bed, but I don’t really get that alone time with my son.  It was only about 15 minutes, but it was awesome.

I finished up all the cleaning in the house this morning, so I was happy.  Having a clean house, even if it only lasts for a few seconds, makes me feel better.  I can’t explain it, but when the house is totally clean, a weight is lifted off of me and I feel like I can relax a little.

I got to talk on the phone with two of my best friends today.  I know that I need to call them more often, and I am adding this to my commitments for the year.  It was so wonderful, even though we are all busy and don’t have a ton of time to catch up, talking to them put a super huge smile on my face and brought back memories.  It also gave me anticipation to look forward to seeing one of them soon, in February, and the other one during the summer.  Can’t wait to see these ladies and their families again!

I read my children books tonight and listened as my son did a magnificent job reading books to his little sister.  With sick kids and a few scheduling issues this weekend, I haven’t really been able to get the reading in.  It warmed my heart to sit down with them again.  I even sat with them on the floor of their room and read the entire Stars Sleepytime Kit.  They climbed into their beds for the meditation at the end, and they fell asleep quickly tonight.  My youngest daughter didn’t even open the door once tonight.  These are the small moments that are etched into my heart.

I am looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow and hope that you are as well.  In life, we take gambles on people and hope that their integrity, honesty and nature are the same as ours.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes we wish we could have seen all the cards.  The important thing is that when we look in the mirror, we love the person looking back because  that is the person we are proud to be.

Positive Daily Three – Day 6

Today was not exciting, we didn’t really do anything, and it was difficult to find three things that were positive, but I was still able to do it.  My son woke up with a fever this morning, but on the plus side, my eldest daughter’s fever broke.  She was still not feeling one hundred percent, so I made the decision to cancel plans with my really good friend.  This bummed me out, but I know my son and he is a Mama’s boy when he is sick.  Thankfully, my friend is very understanding, and we were able to postpone our plans until next weekend.

My youngest daughter is still fever free, so that is a plus and I have not started to feel any symptoms of this flu-like illness that has struck two out of four of us, so that is an even bigger plus because I don’t have the luxury of being sick right now.

It was a productive day because I was able to get my Costco shopping done rather quickly today, as well as pick up a couple of things at the local grocery store.  I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, and completed the laundry, including folding it.  The kids were happy because they got to relax, play with each other and watch a couple of movies while I got all of my chores and errands done.

My eldest daughter is starting to step up to the plate a lot more, which is bringing me some relief.  She helps out with dishes whenever she can and she keeps her younger siblings occupied if she knows I am trying to get other chores done.  This is a huge positive for me as it relieves some of the stress and helps me breathe a little bit more.

Though my son running a fever and being sick is not a positive thing, I put him to bed early tonight and he asked me to snuggle with him.  This melted my heart because it has been a while since I have been able to snuggle with him and he fell asleep while I was holding him.  It reminded me of some of those fond memories of him holding me super tight in a bear hug when he was younger.

It’s funny, the more I think about the day and write, the more positive things start to come to my mind.  From my outlook, it did not appear to be a great day, but as I am proofreading what I have just written, it brings a smile to my face to see how many great things really did happen on this humdrum, sick and stay inside day.

Super Parent to the Rescue

Stan Lee, co-creator of many of the famous Marvel superheroes, defines a super hero as

…a person who does heroic deeds and has the ability to do them in a way that a normal person couldn’t.

Using this definition of a superhero, I wanted to point out to all parents out there that in some ways, we truly are superheroes.  I am aware that super heroes are fictional, but our abilities and capabilities are enhanced when we become parents, and we adapt and evolve in ways that we could not otherwise.  From surviving debilitating sleep deprivation to finding hidden energy when we think we have hit our limit, to finding humor and laughter even after an extremely exhausting and frustrating day, we have a super strength and super will that most humans do not possess.

First, let’s look at stay at home moms and dads.  This is a unique job that requires being on call and available twenty four hours a day and seven days a week.  Breakfast and lunch are meals that are no longer blocked off for you, but rather, quick bites here and there as you wrangle, feed, clothe, settle disagreements, wipe up tears, do laundry, clean up messes, change diapers, and still find time to go on an outing/adventure, read, take naps, run errands, play taxi, and possibly squeeze in a workout, work or maybe relax for about twenty minutes if you’re lucky.  Breaks are never guaranteed, and sleep, especially within the first twenty-four months or your child’s life is sporadic and also not guaranteed.

The first super power parents possess is the ability to function on far less hours of sleep for an extended period of time, than most humans will experience.  According to the Silentnight survey,

Over 60% of parents with babies aged less than 24 months get no more than three-and-a-quarter hours sleep each night. …parents lose an average of six months’ sleep during the first 24 months of their child’s life.

I like to call this power Super Energy.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 16 – 64 years of age should get between 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.  The majority of parents, both working and stay at home, average only 1/3 the amount of sleep most people are supposed to get the first two years of their child’s life.  This is on a consistent, daily basis, and is not done by choice, but rather, because of being needed.  We are able to find energy to keep going, and hold it together so that we can be there for our children.  We find that secret energy buried deep within our core and pull it out to make it Super Energy, even when we feel we’ve used it all up.

Let’s take a look at working moms and dads.  Their days begin very early in the morning, preparing everything that will be needed for the day care, or the nanny.  Next is feeding and clothing the children as they wake up, and then transporting them to daycare or waiting for the nanny to arrive.  Drive to work, put in a long day with all the stresses of being at work.  On the drive home, unwind and relax, trying their best to leave work at work, and arrive as a rejuvenated mom or dad.  Get home and hug and kiss the kids and significant other, jump into playing, cooking dinner, talking about everyone’s day, and cleaning.  Find some time to relax, unwind and get in some necessary alone time.

The second superhero power that all parents, both working and stay at home, have is Super Metamorphosis.  The ability to change your character multiple times a day, from employee to mommy or daddy, teacher, nurse, explorer, the “bad guy”, play mate, story teller, comforter, defender, police officer, and so many more, is done most of the time without being seen we are so sneaky and powerful.  We wear so many hats throughout the day, sometimes we don’t even realize how many times we had to morph.

Stan Lee also commented that,

The problem with telling superhero stories is that it naturally follows that you need a supervillain.

So, if we are to be superheroes, we have to stand against a supervillain.  A supervillian many of us cringe at the thought of.  It is a supervillian that could come out of the shadows with no prompting at all.  It is a supervillian that will attack in public, at home, in the quietest or loudest of places.  It is the most unpredictable supervillian, and its name is Tantrum.  This supervillian emerges when it is hungry, tired, and sometimes just when it isn’t getting its way or what it wants.  Its supervillian power is its ability to scream louder, kick and slap harder, and cause a scene worse than a banshee.  We don’t always win the battles, but we do our best to be consistent and persistent so that we will win the war.

Superheroes and supervillians are fictional characters, and it is good to remember that when you are having a bad day or feel like you are failing as a parent.  We have been placed into extraordinary circumstances under conditions most people won’t willingly enter into, and we should be proud when we put in maximum effort and do our best to ensure the well being of our children.  We are not superheroes, and we will all have rough days, but know that you are not alone.  On days when the supervillian has surfaced multiple times and you are frustrated and exhausted, just remember that tomorrow will be a new day and you will wake up and find the superhero in you again.

References:

Lee, Stan. “Stan Lee on what is a superhero.” Web blog post. OUPblog. Oxford University Press, 17 November 2013. Web. 4 April 2016. http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/stan-lee-on-what-is-a-superhero/

Nordqvist, Christian. “New Parents Have 6 Months Sleep Deficit During First 24 Months Of Baby’s Life.” Web blog post. MNT. Medical News Today, 25 July 2010. Web. 4 April 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195821.php

“How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”. Web blog post. National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, unknown. Web. 4 April 2016. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Virtual School Experience

In the summer of 2015, we gained custody of my 13-year-old stepdaughter.  At the time we needed to enroll her in school, we had to make fast decisions, and due to Nevada’s low national ranking (50th), we decided to try out a virtual school, Connections Academy.  I was anxious about trying this type of program, but we wanted to make sure she had the best opportunity available to her.  We knew there would be a lack of socialization, so we sought out extracurricular programs that she would be interested in.  She continued her involvement with the Civil Air Patrol in North Las Vegas, joined the Girl Scouts, and takes Karate twice a week.  She also became a member of the Youth Center at Nellis Air Force Base, where she typically tries to go on Friday evenings to hang out with other kids in her age group.

The thing that made me appreciative for online school is that there are teachers that grade her work and do all of the teaching.  I am there to assist her when she asks for help.  The lessons are set up ahead of time and she moves through them at her own pace, but the teachers will notify her and I if she does begin to fall behind.  I can look at her grade book every day and see where she might be struggling and address those opportunities with additional explanations or assistance so that she can grasp the concept and move forward more confident.  She attends live lessons four days a week for science, math, language arts and social studies.  She can email or call her teachers if she ever has additional questions or doesn’t understand something.

We struggled for the first couple of months with learning the system and acclimating to this new style of school.  At first, her grades suffered, but we sat down and discussed expectations, capabilities, needs and methods of learning, note taking and what study techniques worked best for her.  This style of schooling is more difficult than being in a traditional school because it requires self-motivation, technical skill, and parental involvement, especially during the transitional period.  When she understood how to be successful and found the confidence and pride in herself, her grades climbed, and she finished last semester as a straight A student.  

The fear of lack of socialization has dwindled in me.  The beauty of the online virtual school is that though the interaction is not face to face, the students do interact in a virtual classroom setting when they attend live lessons.  My daughter has begun formulating relationships through video chatting with friends she has made and texting/instant messaging.  She has created some friendships through Girl Scouts, karate and the Youth Center as well.  Definitely look into your community recreation centers for all kinds of affordable youth programs and ways to socialize your children if you do consider or ultimately put them in online school.

An additional luxury to online school is that your child can do school anywhere that there is a wi-fi connection, so it opens up the ability to travel off-season, make it to appointments without loss of learning, and establish flexibility for her schedule.  We are also comforted by the thought that should we receive military orders to another base, the transition for her to another school will not be as stressful.

When we first started, I was skeptical about the success of going to an online school, but now that we have both adjusted and both understand our roles and the expectations for each other, the amount of time I have to spend working as a Learning Coach has lessened significantly, and she has taken a more independent and productive role in her own education.  The peace of mind, knowing and being able to see the effort that my daughter puts forth into school on a daily basis, and being able to step in and reassess her education when we see she is struggling is an amazing asset of having her in an online school.  My opinion regarding online schools has greatly changed, and I felt I should share this in the event that one of you might be considering it.  

Finding Blue in a Gray Sky

Life is a series of moments we string together that produce memories of experiences.  The most important thing is to create experiences that will be positive, especially during times when children experience disruption, change of routine or complete removal from what they understand to be their normal life.

My husband is an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Technician for the US Air Force, and with that comes deployments and TDY (Temporary Duty) Assignments.  We were extremely fortunate because the first four years of our marriage and first three years of my son’s life, my husband was assigned to the EOD Naval Training School as an instructor.  This made his deployment unlikely, and he actually never received orders to deploy while we were in Florida.  I knew the day would arrive, however, when that would end, but I knew when I married him that his deployments and TDYs would become a natural part of my life and our family’s life.

In September 2014, we left the only home my 3 year old son and 3 month old daughter had known and moved to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Mid-January 2015, my husband deployed to Kuwait for six months.  The hardest part of him leaving was watching him say goodbye to the kids.  It tore me up inside because I could see how much he was going to miss holding them.  I was definitely going to miss him, and I have to admit that I was anxious and scared because this would be my first time alone with both children for that length of time in a town that was fairly new to me.  Modern, non-wartime deployments do make it much easier to survive these times, but they are still difficult.

With the modern conveniences of wi-fi, we were able to connect with my husband almost every day on Google Hangouts.  He could see the changes in the kids daily, and was able to spend some time with them every day.  We could also message each other whenever we needed to.  Though this is nothing compared to having a person with you, it definitely makes the time away from him slightly easier.

Las Vegas1With my husband gone, I decided that I wanted to do my best to make the time pass quickly and keep my children engaged, doing positive things, during this time of disruption in their lives.  It was especially difficult for my son because he had never experienced Daddy being gone for longer than a few days.  His potty accidents increased and he regressed slightly with feeding himself and staying in his own bed the whole night.  These were things that I accepted and helped him through.  In time, we got into a routine with storytimes at the library and the museums in our area.  I made friends with one of the moms from storytime, and was thankful that I had an adult to communicate with almost daily.  It helped too that our sons played well together and enjoyed being with one another.  Finding other moms to spend time with definitely helped me stay sane.  I wanted something more to keep my children and I from dwelling on the fact that we were missing Daddy.

UtahOne of my friends from Florida came out to Park City and invited us up for however long we wanted to stay.  At first, I was overwhelmed with the thought of traveling with two small children by myself, but I decided there was not a reason in the world that it was not possible.  After a successful, fun and memorable trip, I decided that even though I was exhausted and it was not easy to pack up both kids and travel, it was worth every drip of sweat.  I made the decision that for every month that my husband was gone, we would travel somewhere and make it a fun adventure.  This kept my son excited and passed the time by faster because it gave us something to look forward to.  Not only that, but I was able to show my son and daughter the tallest trees in the world, the mighty redwoods, and the Golden Gate Bridge.  We went to Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.  We spent time with family and they became excellent car travelers.

CaliforniaWe traveled to San Diego a couple of times to visit my parents, siblings and Grandmother, went one more time to Park City for a mini reunion of a few friends from Florida, and traveled to San Francisco to visit my uncles and aunts.  They were fun trips that helped us cope with my husband being gone.  We also explored the city we lived in.  We visited state parks, museums and National Parks.  I tried to make sure we did something fun nearly every day.  This helped my son’s stress level decrease, and he got back on track.  We learned a great deal about Las Vegas that we didn’t know.  I showed them the Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, and the Colorado River.  In July, we picked up my oldest daughter and went to Zion National Park for the day.  Then it was only a couple of weeks before Daddy got back.

Las Vegas2Looking back, I do remember being tired, but I treasure the expressions my son and daughters had when we explored new places, visited with family and friends, and learned new things about the world.  Anytime there is a change in the household that throws the ‘norm’ of your child(ren)’s world off kilter, try doing something new.  It doesn’t have to be a long trip, just something to bring discovery, wonder, and happiness back to the forefront.  It can be something as simple as a new community park that they haven’t been to.  This worked wonders for my family.  We still missed my husband terribly, and not every day was anywhere near perfect, but we took the time we were dealt to be torn apart and made an adventure of it.  Every family has to endure trying times, and during those times, as parents, we need to be there for our children and help them find the good and the positive side of things no matter how difficult it may be.  Everything we did would have been much more enjoyable with Daddy by our sides, but now we can be his tour guide when we take him to all the wonderful places we have been.

Every day we are given is a gift.  Find the blue sky in every day, no matter how gray it may be.  A positive attitude is the best way to live life, and giving your children that positive start, even when things might be tough, will give them the ability to face any situation knowing that nothing is impossible and there is good to be found in every situation.

Unplugging and Being in the Moment

In today’s world, we are a culture of documentation.  We try to capture every moment, update our status with what is going on in our lives and let the world know our thoughts on happenings.  As I scroll through pages of social media, I wonder to myself if we have forgotten to be fully in the moment because we stand on the opposite side of it with our phones or cameras and work so hard to record it.  As we strive to capture that second, time slips through our fingers.  Abba summed it up nicely in their song, “Slipping Through My Fingers:”

I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing

Time is fleeting, and we cannot stop it.  It helps us heal, it allows us to grow, and it is a precious gift that none of us can exchange or bargain with.  I look at my children and am amazed at how they have grown and changed and will continue to do so.  Looking at the earliest pictures I have of them, it is difficult to fathom that so much has evolved in so little time.  I have been guilty of missing moments because I have allowed myself to get sucked into the social media abyss, but I have challenged myself to save social media and my phone for my children’s down times or naps, and after they have gone to sleep.  I have always known there is nothing on my phone that is more important or precious than this time I have been granted to spend with my family, but I would pick up my phone every now and then and let it steal moments away from me when it wasn’t important or necessary.  I am putting a stop to that.

It is important that we recognize that our children will mimic, and to some extent, become us in the future.  We instill in them our habits, our responses, our words and our actions.  Unplugging from everything and just being with them every moment that I can without unnecessary distractions will teach them to be respectful of those in front of them, to spend time with their loved ones and teach them that nothing is more important than the people you are with in each and every moment. 

I am saddened to see so many people sitting together and not being with each other.  We have become a society of being everywhere except in the space we occupy.  We have forgotten to speak to each other and interact with each other without our phones in hand.  We have buried ourselves in a virtual world and are no longer aware of the actual world.  We miss opportunities to cross paths with people who may have arrived in that moment with us for a reason.  Parents, we must help our children live in the moment and save the virtual world for times when there is truly nothing going on in our day.

We should not let time slip through our fingers.  We need to grasp it and take our children on adventures and show them the world.  There is always a need for a little down time, and these are the moments when we can plug back into that virtual world we are a part of, but we need to start making a difference and helping our children to live moments to the fullest.  They will not be able to do that if their attention is fully consumed by something that is not tangible.  Times are changing, and technology has become a part of every moment of our days, but it is necessary to ingrain awareness of surroundings, courtesy for others, and passion for life and tangible experiences into our children, or they will be lost to a world where reality and truth are becoming a thing of the past.  

My cousin, Tracy Smith Hamilton, changed my life with something she wrote in her blog as she battled cancer.  She wrote, “My lesson to learn is to pick up Charlie every day, do something fun every day, and be kind to people every day.”  We have been granted the time we have and nothing more.  Don’t let it slip by you.  It will pass by, but let it pass by while you hold the ones you love, are kind and courteous to the people you cross paths with and are doing something that is fun and memorable with someone you care about.  To sum it up simply, I will borrow a quote by Bessie AndersonStanley, who wrote, 

“Live well, Laugh often, Love much.”

Passing time is not something any of us can control, but we can manage how it is spent.  Join me in unplugging while you are with your children and other people.  Enjoy the space you occupy and see what wonders, people, events and things the universe has to offer you in the passing moments.  Be an example to your children of what it means to live life to the fullest and to be in every moment.