Tag Archives: children

And How Would You Like Your Eggs, Ma’am?

My head nearly exploded this morning over breakfast.

Here’s what led up to my brush with insanity…

Me:  Katie, what would you like for breakfast this morning?

Katie: Um… (stares blankly)

Me: Would you like waffles and yogurt?

Katie: No thank you.

Me: Okay, how about french toast and a banana? Does that sound yummy?

Katie: No thank you.

Me: Hmmm…how about scrambled eggs, toast, and blueberries?

Katie: No thank you.

Me: Oh, I have a great idea! How about cereal with raspberries?

Katie: Um…no thank you.

Me: Katie, okay, then you tell me.  What would you like for breakfast?

Katie: Something else.

This is when I nearly lost my mind.

And I woke up.

Our kitchen has turned into a full-service restaurant, with menu items spanning two pages.  I never intended for it to become this way.  When she was smaller, I decided what she ate, put it in front of her, and she ate it. End of story.

There is something about being a mother that I never understood before I had children. We want nothing more than for our children to eat.  We want to know that we’ve filled their little bellies with nourishment. One of the ways that we show them our love is through the food that we offer them.  We take pride in providing them with the healthy foods that they need to grow and thrive.

It is for those reasons that I began offering her choices, I think.  Though I’ve never wavered on insisting that her food is healthy, I have allowed her to make choices that sound good to her in the moment.

Our ship got off course slowly and now I don’t recognize where we are anymore. So, I’m throwing in the anchor and figuring this thing out because it’s that or I lose my mind.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin picking the main portion of the meal.  Scrambled eggs and toast, for example.  And to allow her to practice good decision making, I’ll let her pick her fruit.

Because, honestly, it’s this, or I’m putting out a tip jar.

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Pull Up a Chair…Fifteen Basic Table Manners for Children

I wasn’t terribly surprised by the incredible response that I got to a recent post, How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children.  It seems that we’re all just a little fed up with living in a society that puts little importance on common courtesies.  

I truly believe that manners must be instilled when children are young and if they aren’t practiced at home, they’re less likely to be used when away from home.  I cringe at the thought of my children being anything less than courteous and pleasant to others. 

How Rude…Ten Basic Courtesies for Children was by definition, quite basic.  I could have gone on for pages, my list is that long.  But, I thought I’d break my rants up into bite-sized pieces so that I don’t look like such a rigid crazy person. 

Becca, from bare feet on the dashboard asked that I offer up a list of basic table manners next.  Thanks for the suggestion, Becca.  Here you go: 

Basic Table Manners

(This is a rather long list for little guys; try choosing a few age appropriate manners from the list and once you’ve mastered them, add accordingly.) 

  1. Use your utensils.
  2. Sit up nice and tall. Don’t hunch and keep your elbows off the table. (Sitting up helps with digestion.)
  3. Don’t put too much food in your mouth at one time.
  4. Chew with your mouth closed.
  5. Never talk with your mouth full.
  6. Never burp at the table.  Enough said.
  7. Eat slowly, chewing your food fully. Wait a few seconds between bites.
  8. Don’t begin eating until everyone has been served.
  9. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.  Ever. 
  10. Don’t lick your fingers clean, always use your napkin.
  11. Keep your napkin on your lap.  (Your napkin should be used only to wipe your face and hands—never to wipe or blow your nose.)
  12. Do not stretch across another person to reach for something.  Politely ask for it to be passed to you.
  13. Always say thank you for your dinner. No matter how simple the meal, remember that it was made for you with love.
  14. If you are served something that you don’t like, keep that opinion to yourself.  Do not hurt the host’s feelings.
  15. Ask at least one other person a question about their day and really listen to their answer.

Next week, I’ll be offering up a list of restaurant manners, for your sake and mine!

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Blissful Moments

On this week’s Small Moments Monday, Andy, from Crazy With a Side of Awesome Sauce is dropping by to share with us a recent small moment that she won’t soon forget.

Andy and I are still getting to know one another, but what I love about her, and what makes her a perfect guest poster for this series, is the way that she approaches her life, seeking out happiness wherever it may be found. She isn’t one to rest and wait for happiness to find her–she is out there creating her own bliss. And for that, I truly admire her. She’s also ridiculously adorable and beautifully eclectic.

Thank you, Andy, for stopping by and for generously sharing one of your lovely small moments with us!

Blissful Moments by Andy

When the sweetest woman on the Internet asked me to guest post on her blog and that the subject was blissful moments, I jumped at the chance. My first thought was, Guest post? Hell yes! That means someone likes me! Huzzah! (I’m a bit of a nerd.) My second thought was, Blissful moments is (are?) my middle name.

I had so many ideas. See, living in the moment is one of my favorite hobbies. I hear you scoffing, Hobbies? scoffy scoff scoff. But you can stop that right now, because if you think about it, you’ll realize what I mean. To find joy in little things, you have to actively lose yourself in a moment and soak it in fully. You have to practice the art of appreciating life, to quiet down and feel that unique joy. Trust me on that one.

So what would I write about? Perhaps that time I found an open air cafe in New Orleans and sat all night sipping coffee and listening to live jazz in the warm, spring breeze? Or maybe that time I was hiking in Yosemite and came over a ridge to see the world’s most gorgeous and pristine lake? Or maybe about how every time I’m feeling cruddy, my cat will crawl right up on me, purring like a hemi engine, which will annoy me at first, but inevitably makes me completely happy?

I was still thinking about it last week as I made the long drive from So Cal to my new home of Portland, Oregon. I had only been settled in a couple of days and was feeling quite overwhelmed and I decided to go for a run and meet my new neighborhood on foot. My thinking here was that the exercise would clear my head and I’d get to see my digs on my own terms.

But I am an idiot. Because I lost my house key. Apparently stuffing your key in your bra is not a good idea. Who knew?

My roommate was set to be out of the house for at least 3 more hours and I knew she wouldn’t be checking her phone. I retraced my steps at least four times, got just about lost doing so, and finally gave in and settled in on my porch to feel crappy and oh so sorry for myself for failing at life.

About 2 hours into waiting (I jest not), the sun started peeking out of the clouds and a cool breeze settled on my face. Then my two pint-size neighbors, Kegan and Emma came out to play on the front walk. They could not believe I’d locked myself out Why’d you do THAT? (children can be so honest) and decided that the most fun they could have was to entertain me. Emma (who is about 9) told me all about spiders and how to feed ants to spiders and how Hercules was killed by Hades (I didn’t even try to tell her the actual myth). Kegan (who is about 3, I’m guessing) showed me his special rocks that are really fire and how they make his car fly. See it fwying?!?

And pretty soon I had forgotten I was locked out and that I failed at life that morning. I was laughing and playing with these two as if I had chosen to sit on my front step for 3 hours. I had been forced to slow down and listen to life. And I thought, This is it, woman. This is a nice moment. You can choose to feel like total crap or you can settled into the moment and enjoy it.

See? I can choose to seek out the little joys, but sometimes life knows better and will force me to try harder to be happy. I hear ya, Life. I hear ya.

You won’t regret stopping by and spending some time with Andy over at Crazy With a Side of Awesome Sauce. Take some time to get to know her through her stories and enjoy her stunning photography. A handful of my favorites are Pony Tail, Like Color Etched on Canvas, No One Nose, and Beanstalk, as in Jack and the.

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Beautiful Reluctance

An Open Letter to Those Who Are Quick to Label:

Our daughter Katie is the most observant person I’ve ever known.  As a newborn, we were amazed by just how alert she was and how she would track anything that was going on around her.  As she has grown, she has only continued to surprise with us with all that she catches on to.  Honestly, we can slip very little by her.  Her sparkling hazel eyes take everything in.  She picks up on nuances and subtleties that many adults miss.   

She is also rather reserved.  This is her personality. She watches and tries to figure everything out before she will participate in most activities.  Once she understands how things work, she joins in and giggles and acts silly like all kids. 

Until then?  You have to earn her trust.  Let her get to know you and give her room to figure you out.  When she decides that you are someone she is comfortable around, her heart opens up and she is generous with her smiles, her laughter, and her affection.

In the meantime, please don’t refer to her as shy. 

Don’t label her shy. 

Don’t ask us in front of her if she is shy. 

Please, don’t even use the word shy around her.

Here’s why:

The labels that we place on children impact how they come to see themselves. If we tell her that she is shy, she will soon tell herself that she is shy, and that won’t do. If she believes herself shy, she might possibly hide behind that label, rather than continuing to observe until comfortable and then participate.

Being reserved is not a character flaw.  She is not defective. 

So instead of calling her shy, perhaps you could say that she is discerning?  Or observant? Or reserved?  Or reluctant.  You may even call her hesitant. 

But, I would prefer that you just call her Katie. 

She is lovely and she is our daughter.

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The Best Medicine

Nearly two months ago, our family was struck by tragedy that left us feeling alone and scared.  I tweeted about our struggles and was astonished by the kindness of several amazing people.

Lori was one of those people.  She reached out and truly threw us a life-preserver that that kept us afloat for days.

Within moments of my tweet, she had sent me her personal email address and phone number and encouraged me to call her.  I would have never felt that I could actually impose upon her by making that call, but at her insistence, I did, and she was calm, encouraging, and educated–exactly what we needed.  During our calls, she provided me with information, advice, and compassion.  She empowered us and helped us to feel as though we could keep going.

My family will be forever grateful to her for the role she played in one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced.

And on top of being one of the kindest and calmest people I know?  Lori is also beyond funny and is beautifully self-deprecating.  Her blog, In Pursuit of Martha Points is truly unique and between her stories, photos, and graphics, there’s never a dull moment.  Her blog honestly reflects who I have come to know her to be–funny one minute, tender the next.

Thank you, Lori, for being there for my family when we didn’t know which way to turn.  Thank you for making me laugh when I need it and for inspiring me to pursue my goals.

When we meet next month, to show you just how much I love you, I will be certain that I know exactly how to make your coffee.

And now, finally, I share with you Lori’s lovely contribution to Small Moments Mondays

The Best Medicine — by Lori

Dinner.

As a family. All five of us with serving dishes and salt and pepper shakers, placemats and a chipped butter dish.

I stepped into the kitchen to get something…a serving spoon, perhaps. And asked, as I stood up, why the coffee table was in the wrong place. The answer, which I already knew, came from Child B: “I guess I forgot to put it back after we rehearsed.”

When I said, as I sat back down, that I’d been hoping for something more interesting, the following conversation ensued.

“There was a herd of wildebeest…”

“No, it was space aliens.”

“… And the aliens knocked the table over. We were so busy cleaning up the from the rest of the havoc they wreaked that we totally forgot to put the table back.”

“From a metaphysical standpoint, the table could be anywhere.”

“Quantum physics says that the table both is and is not in the right location.”

“Or, it says that if you’re not looking at the table the probability that the table is and is not in the right place is exactly equal.”

“Zen furniture: the table is still a table in whatever location. Embrace the table.”

“In Soviet Russia, table locates YOU!”

“Ask the table about its mother.”

“Then the table would need to lie on the couch.”

“If a table gets moved in a living room and no one is around to hear it, is it still a coffee table?”

“Life is like a coffee table…”

I ate my dinner, I chuckled. And I loved my kids with all my heart.

They are smart and funny. Making each other laugh is important. When they do the dishes after dinner, I hear laughter. When they’re all stuffed in the back of the car when we go anywhere, they make each other laugh.

They make me laugh. They make Himself laugh.

It would be so easy, in a house of five people and two bathrooms, in a home of step-parents and step-siblings, to let friction percolate and let small irritations grow into arguments and discord.

Yet I hear laughter more than anything else.  More than disagreement, more than tension and more than rivalry.

Life is so large some days – with work and grades, talk about college, talk about the world. We worry about the news, we worry about our children learning about the news. We think about retirement, our investments and the value of our house. We wonder if we are giving our children every tool they need to build the life they want in the world. Each brick in our lives feels so weighty it seems as if we are in perpetual need of pulleys and crowbars.

But when I sit down for the evening meal and hear my kids teasing each other and laughing at jokes with punchlines only they can understand, life becomes my dinner table. Small, intimate…and my very own. With serving dishes and placemats and salt and pepper shakers.

And a chipped butter dish.

Now quickly grab a pad of paper and a pencil, head on over to Lori’s place, and be sure to read So what are “Martha Points?”,  where Lori explains her ingenious point system.  And don’t miss my some of my favorites, A Polite Request, Shopping for Points, and The Princess and the Pain.

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Black and White, or Shades of Gray? Alcohol and Raising Children

Craig and I drink in moderation in front of our kids. 

It seems to me that there are two schools of thought on this topic, those who do and those who don’t drink in front of their children.

Either way, it’s really just about setting an example, if you really think about it.  Right?

Those who opt not to drink in front of their children argue that it is unseemly and a bad influence on them, and that they don’t want to glamorize drinking.

Then there are those who, like myself, think that responsible drinking can help to foster a healthy attitude towards alcohol, as children learn about moderation and responsible behavior.

I grew up in a home where drinking wasn’t “allowed” until we were eighteen and then it was only on holidays and it was something revolting like white wine mixed with ginger ale.  

I did, however, drink regularly with my friends in my later high school years.  Regrettably, I have far too many (very hazy) memories of getting drunk, throwing up, acting irresponsibly, and even passing out a handful of times.  Based on my experience, there goes the theory that if teens don’t see it, they won’t try it.  There’s no way to say with certainty that if my mother enjoyed a glass of wine in the evening or a few beers on the weekend I would have handled myself differently, but I do wonder.

What I do know is that I want to prevent our kids from irresponsible underage drinking.  The thought of Katie or Matthew drinking at a high school party and then getting into a car with someone unfit to drive sends me into a complete panic.

I’m curious and would really love to hear your thoughts.  Which way do you see it?  Is it black and white or are there shades of gray?  Do you drink in front of your children?  Did your parents drink in front of you?

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They Let Her Do WHAT?

I’m completely fascinated with the recent story of Abby Sunderland’s rescue from her damaged sailboat while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. 

Here are the parts that I find most shocking:

She is 16!

She was in a sailboat, by herself, in the stormy Indian Ocean!

She was stranded for three days! 

And what about her parents?  The New York Times reports that “Mr. Sunderland praised his daughter’s skills as a sailor. He said he not only would let her try the voyage again, but would also ‘absolutely endorse that wholeheartedly.'” 

Under what circumstances would I allow one of my children to attempt such an endeavor? Over my dead body.  That’s when.

To be fair, one of my biggest weaknesses as a parent is my difficulty in letting my children take risks.  I’ll admit that I am at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from Abby’s parents.  I don’t let Katie play in our fenced-in yard by herself.  I don’t let her eat grapes unless they are cut into four pieces.  I won’t leave the room if she’s bathing. 

They let her attempt to sail around the world.  Alone. And, I’ll repeat it, she is 16!

While I admire parents who allow their children the freedom to explore their world, I can’t comprehend the Sunderland’s decision to allow their daughter (and their son, who attempted the same journey last year at age 17) to take such a risk. 

There has to be a happy medium doesn’t there?  Remembering to find a balance is something that I work on every single day.

I participated in a parenting webinar last week offered by Tiffany from Bloggy Moms and conducted by Amy from Positive Parenting Solutions.  One of the biggest things that I walked away with was the idea that children need to know that they belong and that they are significant.  Amy inspired me to allow Katie to take on tasks that I had previously done myself, to either save time or because it hadn’t occurred to me that she could do them on her own.  She’s now setting the table, helping to empty the dishwasher, and thanks to Jen, over at Denton Sanitorium, she’s also sorting laundry.   (Jen is an inspiration, across the board.  I am constantly learning new things from her.) 

Thank you, Tiffany, Amy, and Jen!

While I applaud the Sunderlands for encouraging their children to take on challenges, I can fathom neither the magnitude nor the danger associated with their choices. 

Anyone want to share their thoughts with me?  Do you agree with the Sunderlands choice?  How much risk is too much?

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