Random Thoughts Blog

This weekend, I thought about how texting prohibits you from hearing someone’s voice. I admit, I text way more often than I talk on the phone. I’ve never been a great phone talker. There are a lot of empty spaces. I like to see people’s body language when I talk to them, and for some reason I feel self-conscious on the phone.

We were out at a birthday party, and Darling Daughter came up to me to tell me something funny. She is a happy child. Laughs and giggles and takes everything in stride. I think it’s an amazing attribute to her personality. I told her, “I kinda like you, gal.” Gipop, my grandfather, used to always say that to me. I could hear his voice echoing in my head. It made me miss him, but it also made me miss my sisters’ voices and my brother’s voice. I don’t talk to them often enough. There simply isn’t enough time. And the world nowadays is all about convenience. I fall back on texting a lot, but I need to make that change.

I like to be lazy on the weekends and play Civilization on the PC. I play an old version. It must be about 5 years old. My dad played it when I was growing up. And so maybe that’s the reason I like it. I’m a pacifist, but when it come to Civ I’m a warmonger. My favorite thing to do is to build up my military and take over other countries. I wonder what this says about me!

This year, Hubby and I are hosting Thanksgiving. My brother’s family will be there. Two of my aunts and their  families. My cousin with a baby who I’m dying to meet! I’m nervous and keep thinking I’m forgetting something. I woke up at 3 AM wondering if I needed to buy Sprite for the kids. Insomnia over Sprite, people! In the South, we make a lot of casseroles for Thanksgiving. I think ours will mostly center around dessert though. Son Number Two wants to make cherry pie, and I’m already making black bottom cupcakes. I think one of the things we’ll be missing this year is sweet potato casserole. Oh well.

This past weekend, I tried to do some intentional things with the kids so we weren’t just potatoes lying around on the couch. I went to Darling Daughter’s parent observation ballet class. She laughed the entire time. I hope she does a better job concentrating when I’m not there.

Laughing Through Ballet

Hubby and I took all the kids to the playground. Even the thirteen year old participated. Miracle of miracles.

son-number-1.jpgSon Number 2

This week, I’m going to work on writing again. I know my blog has been sparse. It’s been busy up in here!

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Seven Minutes in Heaven

So today, I decided to write something a little lighthearted. There has been a lot of bad news lately, and it takes a toll on me sometimes. I thought this morning, I’d get on here and blog about something serious. But this story of innocence came to mind, and I liked where it went. Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of life. Enjoy.  

The bottle spun on the wooden table. My stomach lurched as it came to a stop on Bennett. I’d never kissed a boy before, and here in this dark basement room, the other kids jeered and cheered.

“KISS HER!” they shouted.

“Holly and Bennett sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G–” Bracey Stacy said.

“Shut-up Stacy,” Bennett said.

He leaned over the table and placed his lips on mine. I hands felt sweaty and my heartbeat thundered in my ears.

“Tongue, do it,” Bracey Stacy said.

His lips felt warm, and I opened my mouth just a smidge. His tongue darted in, and it felt wet and slimy like one of those goldfish you win at the fair. I held my eyes shut as his tongue explored my mouth.  I ventured into his mouth with my tongue, feeling his molars, and tasting his breath. It felt like we kissed forever. And then I moaned, and the whole room burst out in laughter. My eyes flew open, and I could see every pore and pimple on Bennett’s face.

“Damn, get a room guys,” Mitch said as Bennett pulled away.

I blinked, and put my hands on my lap, squeezing them together until my pale skin turned bright pink as I sat back in my seat.

Bennett’s blue eyes stared at me from across the table, and he gave me a half-grin.

“Okay, next,” Bracey Stacy said.

Silence descended as the bottle spun again. Bracey Stacy looked hopeful, but the bottle never landed on her. It landed on Bennett and me three more times.

“We should do Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Bennett said after the last spin.

Ridiculously, images of angels and gospel music filled my naïve thirteen-year-old mind. I could almost see the pulpit and Father Roy up there preaching to the ladies in their Sunday best.

“Okay,” I said.

He stood up and walked over to me. I stared up at him in wild adolescent wonder. This good-looking, blonde, 5’7”, fourteen-year-old liked little old me. He placed his hand in mine. Skin-on-skin, I could feel the calluses decorating the palms of his hand. My hands felt sweaty and I worried he would pull away. But he held on tight, and he led me to the closet. I looked back at the kids gathered around the table staring at us with looks of astonishment as we headed into uncharted territory.

Mitch and the other boys stood up and set the timer on the clock radio.

“Turn on the T.V.,” Bennett said.

“Why? You don’t want us to hear you go smoochy-smoochy?”  Mitch asked with a laugh.

Five minutes ago I hadn’t even kissed a boy.

The closet smelled of mothballs and sweaty old tennis shoes. I pushed toward the back as Bennett pulled the door close. Total darkness descended upon us.

“What are we doing in here?” I whispered.

“Where are you?”

“In the coats—like Narnia.”

“We only have seven minutes.”

I felt his hand on my waist, and he pulled me close to him. I could feel his breath on my cheeks and see the white of his eyes. I wasn’t sure I’d ever been this close to anyone before. I could see the self-assured smirk on his face. And then his mouth was on mine, salty but sweet. Our tongues explored each other’s mouths. Bennett’s hand gripped my shirt, and his fingernails dug a little into my tender skin. He pulled away for a second.

“Can I touch you here?” he asked. But I couldn’t see what he referred to and his hands were on my chest before I knew it.

“Yes,” I said—an affirmation or an afterthought–I wasn’t sure which.

“Have you done this before?” I asked.

The dark seemed to be crowding in on us. Hadn’t it been seven minutes? It felt more like twenty.

“Never. I like you, Holls,” he said.

His hand felt my cheek. My heart thumped in my chest. I could push my way around him and leave the closet. But still, I liked the attention. I liked him. And I had agreed to go in there with him. I felt electricity between us and a stirring inside I’d never felt before.

“Is this what it feels like?” I asked.

“What?” His face was so close to mine, I could see his teeth and they seemed to glow white in the dark small space.

“Heaven?”

“I hope so,” Bennett said. “Now where were we?”

************


So when was your first kiss? How old were you?

I’ll share–I was thirteen and at Destin with some friends. I kissed a guy in his car, so he was much older. I don’t even remember his name. My first important kiss was with my high school boyfriend, when I was 16. And probably the most memorable one.

 

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Education Smeducation

Last night was one of those nights where you cringe as a parent. Son Number One had a soccer game at 6:30 which meant we wouldn’t be coming home until 7:30ish. All the kids did their homework before I came home so we had dinner, and then we went to the soccer game.

Son Number Two had to work on a catapult, study for spelling and math, and then study for two other tests. Did I mention he’s in third grade? Before we left for the soccer game, he lamented about school. “I’m just a kid. I have too much homework tonight. And I have to study so much.” He cried, real tears people. And it made me wonder: what the fork are we doing to our kids (thank you Kristen Bell from The Good Place, that’s now my favorite non-cuss word)?

I sympathize with Son Number Two as we wrapped up our catapult and crammed spelling words in and finally sat down to read at 8:30 PM last night. School isn’t fun anymore. It’s standards and tests. And funding. And it’s not about educating the kids anymore. It’s about schools meeting numbers and making test scores. It’s about politics that hurt kids, drive continued segregation in our schools, and take funding away from the schools that need it most. Our children are learning how to take tests. They’re not learning how to think creatively and socialize and get along with peers anymore. Perhaps they get some of that in Maker’s Labs or STEM classes if they go to a school like Son Number Two’s where they’re lucky enough to have it. Heck, my twelve year old art-loving child doesn’t even have an art class at his school. But perhaps the real travesty is there isn’t enough time for play. For kids to be kids. Not only at school, but also at home.

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Most of our children don’t even have recess, or they go outside for 20 minutes a day tops. Children need a mental break to be able to keep working. When was the last time you sat at your desk for an hour? Even adults need mental breaks. At work, we socialize. We get up and walk around when we need to retrain our brain. These breaks allow us to refocus when we sit down to do our work again. Can’t we give our children the same benefit?

When I was a kid in the 1980’s, we played all the time. I went to Dannelly Elementary. I remember spending time outside on the baseball field playing games, and hanging upside down from the monkey bars for what seemed like hours on the playground. On rainy days playing four-square or jumped rope in the trailer (I’m from the South People–double-wides have a lot of uses). Somehow, teachers knew appropriate development included plenty of play and movement. I’m sure we had homework, but I don’t remember feeling stressed when I was seven years old or nine years old. I remember having plenty of time to come home, ride my bike, play in my backyard, to be a kid.

My education in the ‘80s wasn’t perfect. I don’t think I learned fractions until I was 18. I somehow missed that coming along. I had a huge gap of knowledge, but there didn’t seem to be anyone to point out to my parents that I struggled with math. I also had low self esteem, because I was bullied for having alopecia. These were things I mostly kept to myself as I have never been one to rock the boat. Perhaps, I should have learned long ago that rocking the boat sometimes leads to beneficial change. But, I did develop social skills that benefit me in life.

Look at successful people: most of them have wonderful social skills. If we don’t value play and socializing in our school system, our children will not learn how to work together. They won’t learn the right way to socialize and get along with others.

I’m sad my kids are stressed. I’m sad they’re growing up not loving school. Yes, I think it’s normal for middle-schoolers and even high-schoolers not to like school. But elementary? It should be fun. It shouldn’t make a nine year old cry on a Monday night because he’s stressed out. That’s good for no one. I’m not sure what the solution is, but what’s going on in our system right now is not working. And something has to change.

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Total Eclipse of the Sun

Total Eclipse

Today, there is a solar eclipse. We don’t exactly get total. We are in the path of about 90% totality. Pretty awesome. I’ve been super excited about this event. I have my glasses (no, you can’t have them!). And my kids have been excited too.

In fact, our kids’ schools didn’t plan ahead for some reason. Apparently, the glasses have been on sale for a year but the schools still didn’t get glasses. They’re sold out pretty much everywhere. I signed permission slips at 2 out of 3 schools for the kids to watch. The little one is watching on NASA, and she’s fine with that. I mean, why watch the real thing when you can just watch it on T.V.?

We are checking out our oldest son, because he doesn’t think he will be able to watch it. He has Technology that period. I think it’s a travesty that a STEM school isn’t watching the eclipse. But what do I know?

I do know that parents have been freaking out about this. They’re worried about retina damage. My middle son has overheard me and is now worried about this too. This summer, he was worried about mad cow disease. I see anxiety meds in his future.

I trust the teachers at my kids’ school to make informed decisions. I understand, in a middle school, that allowing some kids to do it and some kids not to might not be a feasible option. I hope they’ll understand when my kid is checked out so he can see this amazing science event.

There is a risk to anything in life. And yes, you can go blind from looking at the sun. But you can also teach your children the right way. I coached my child today. I told him where to look. I told him it would be okay if he follows directions and listens to the teachers. We can’t protect our kids from everything. I’d rather mine see the eclipse in person than worry about the rare chance that they are going to burn their retina. Read the article (out of 45 people, 4 had lasting damage). Don’t look at the sun without protective eyewear. Duh.

But I’m not going to judge. And I understand the worry and the want to protect the kids. I just think for my kids actually watching it will be something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives! And that’s pretty cool.

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Judgy McJudgersons

Okay. This post is probably going to offend some of you. I mean, we all judge right? Judging is human nature, right? I know I do it. Sometimes I do it, and I reprimand myself for doing it. Because the thing is, you have no idea what other people are going through in their lives.

On Sunday, we went to church. We were looking forward to it, because Sunday breakfast was starting again. I don’t know if you are aware, but the number of young people who attend church has been shrinking. Or perhaps just the number of people going to church is declining for various reasons. 

Breakfast was provided this week, but Sunday School won’t start until a later date. On Saturday night, we stayed out late and Darling Daughter was supposed to spend the night out,  until she didn’t want to at 11:oo PM. She hit the hay in my bed some time around midnight. Perfect storm, right? We should have known and just skipped church, right? Only Son #1 had to acolyte. Duty calls.

So after breakfast my children were acting like wild banshees  children. They were running around, playing tag, and being incredibly too loud. I got onto them, not once, but twice. And then an older woman came up to me and said, “I mean, some people around here are trying to eat breakfast.” Did I respond with grace? Did I bite my tongue? No–I didn’t because I was tired, and Darling Daughter had already melted down once that day, and it wasn’t like I was sitting back and doing nothing. I had disciplined the children! So I looked at her and said, “It’s like you’ve never been a mother before and don’t know what it’s like!” I was bitter. And curt. And her comment had hurt my feelings. But all too often strangers make these types of comments to me and it PISSES me off! And it ticked me off in this instant too, because for a church to survive these days they need young people. And the young people who come with their kids don’t need to be judged. They need to be welcomed. They need to know that they have love and support. They need guidance, not criticism.

She has no idea that my kids were running on fumes. She has no idea that sometimes boys are physical and loud, with my boys maybe being more of both. And that one of my boys has another issue going on. And that emotional regulation doesn’t come naturally for them. And that, for fuck’s sake, they are only children and they only get to run around and act like crazy people for a few years of their life before they have to sit with their hands on their lap and have a stuffy breakfast with people like you who obviously think you could do a better job parenting my children. I’d like to see you try. Not all children fit inside a box, and my children seemed destined to destroy the box all together.

So then the morning went from bad to worse. I had an adult temper tantrum after Son #1 hurt my feelings–I was already on edge. I actually got into the car, drove around the neighborhood I grew up in while I cried and felt sorry for myself, then came back. And Darling Daughter then proceeded to throw a fit, because we told her it was inappropriate for her to lie down under the church bench. Some days, so help me God. By this time I didn’t care who was judging me. I just wanted me and my children to get out of there alive and still a little bit sane.

Anyway, I know I’m not perfect and I judge people too. I’m working on it. I’m working on becoming a kind, more considerate person. I’m trying hard not to judge other parents. I see parents struggling, and I hope them the best. Sometimes I ask them if they need help. Because I know how hard parenting can be. And I know that a one-off comment can make you question every aspect of your parenting skills and make you never want to take your kids out into public (or church) again.

After this incident I thought about our Friday night, out at Dairy Queen, where we were celebrating the first two nights of school. Two older couples came up to us and told us that they just loved seeing our kids talking and enjoying their ice cream. And one mother said, “It brought back those days that seemed so wild and crazy when my five were little, but that went by so fast. Your kids are so sweet.” These are the comments to tell parents who look like they’re on their last rope. Sweet, kind comments that show you commiserate with them, that you understand how hard parenting can be, but that there is a joy in the fleeting days of childhood that can parallel no other.

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Going Ons

Hello Lovelies! I’ve been busy lately, and I’ve neglected my blog again. I’m sorry about that. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in my life.

I got a Fitbit HR Charge. It was a present to myself. I’ve been obsessively trying to beat a co-worker in steps each week. He’s short, so I think he must take about five or six strides to my one. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. The Fitbit has been motivating me to exercise more again, which is great because I had fallen off the wagon. Now, I’ve been doing Glide about three times during the week, and running about 2 times. I’m still running short distances and mostly running on the treadmill. I went out for a morning run the other day, and I had forgotten how much I liked the solitude and peace of the outdoors in the morning–not to mention the coolness, as opposed to 90+ degrees days.

My son found an Eastern Fence lizard in my parent’s yard, and he decided he had to have her as a pet. Her name’s Spikey.

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I spent about $100 getting this lizard set up in a cage with a thermometer, sand, water, a fake tree and a rock hiding place. I do hope she lives for a bit. We bought crickets to feed her, and we put them in a little critter keeper. They are the loudest things in the world. As I’m sitting here they are chirping and driving me nuts. At first, I felt bad that we were feeding the crickets to Spikey. But this morning, I woke up and went to get my coffee. I noticed the crickets were low on food, so I put some in their critter creeper. One of the crickets was cannibalizing the other. I had no idea they did that. Plus, the poor victim was still alive even though half his body had been eaten. Gross. I found this article about them, so I’m guessing these guys are really katydids and the lack of food in their cage led them to eat each other.

I’ve been writing again. Putting my energy into a story that is flowing better than anything I’ve written in awhile. Plus, reading. I read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff over the weekend. I highly recommend this book, and I’m going to write a review about it a little bit later this week.

And my oldest has middle school orientation this week. Where did the time go? I thought he was still just this little baby.

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But no. Here he is, a tween, and looking more and more grown up every day.

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Being a parent is so much about loving, teaching, and learning to let go. I hope I’m giving him the right tools to succeed in life. Parenting is the hardest, and every day I question myself. I used to have so much guilt in everything I did. I felt guilty for leaving him at daycare while I went to work. I felt guilty for disciplining him. I almost felt guilty for breathing. I was driving home from work the other day, and I realized that guilt is gone. Why? Because we, parents, are human and we’re doing the best we can. Because I know I am a good parent to him even on his hardest days. I know he’ll look back at his childhood and know he was loved. And that’s the most important thing, right? I also know, that he’ll blame me for a thousand wrongs. But that’s human nature. Boy–do I love this big kid more and more every day. It’s amazing to see him blossom into a young man, full of his own ideas, and to see him making his way in this amazing world of ours. Love you kiddo!

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Thinking Errors

Blame Game

Every once in a while I start to question my ability as a writer. When this happens, I usually take a break from writing. Or I procrastinate. I put my writing on the backburner as if this will solve the confidence problem I have when it comes to my writing instead of just making my confidence plummet more.

This week, my husband went out of town. He works from home. As such, he also does the majority of making dinner and cleaning the house, and he picks up the kids from camp, etc. He is basically Mr. Mom. I’m not sure what I would do without him, because he LOVES doing that sort of stuff and I don’t. I was lucky, because my niece and nephew were in town so we went over to my parent’s house most nights. Taking care of the kids and making dinner became a collaborative effort. Single parents: I have the utmost respect for you. I could not do it.

But my tween seemed to be having a hard time this week. And he was blaming everyone else besides himself. This is common among kids, tweens, and teens. I was upset by my tween’s behavior. I went to the internet to search why he always deflected blame, and why when I addressed it the whole thing blew up into a huge fight between us, ultimately ending with me feeling guilty. And then I read this great article and realized: It’s a classic thinking error. I found out from reading this article, how to challenge thinking errors when dealing with my tween. His classic thinking error is in thinking the whole world is against him. He has painted himself as the victim, instead of the aggressor. He has done this over and over again, because he has limited problem solving skills, probably because his parents (aka me and his dad) have not modeled correct problem solving skills when faced with certain issues, or we’ve been inconsistent in addressing issues when he’s in the wrong. In his way of thinking, when he hits a kid or gets into a fight it’s the other kid’s fault because that kid was “bothering” him. I challenged him yesterday. And I think it hit home. I’m trying to change the dialogue between us so he can start growing up and realizing that making himself the victim is a thinking error and won’t help him in the long run.

And in thinking about this, I started thinking about my own thinking errors. I have no time to write. I’m not a good writer. If only, I didn’t have a full time job, three kids, and 5,000 activities. I’m laying the blame for my failure to write everywhere else besides in myself.  I’m not taking responsibility for the fact that I’m ceasing to create. I’m making excuses. I’m procrastinating, when in reality I have the ability to change the dialogue. I have the ability to tell myself I can write. And I know this, because I’ve done it before even when I was busy. I made the time. I stopped making excuses.

Overcoming thinking errors is hard, because thinking errors aren’t just mistakes. Thinking errors occur over and over again, because we’ve learned to use them as coping mechanism so we don’t have to face the reality of our actions or the intensity of our emotions. People use thinking errors to try to protect themselves from getting hurt. Thinking errors are justification to ourselves when we’re doing something wrong. They serve a purpose of trying to keep our self esteem intact when our self esteem is plummeting. When we don’t take the blame, we perceive an injustice to us that’s not there. When we procrastinate, we tell ourselves that everything else is more important than what we’re meant to be working on. These are all ways to protect our ego and to protect our identity as we see it. But the problem with thinking errors is that they’re destructive. Do we really want to go through life feeling like we’re a victim of our circumstances? Do we want to make excuses or procrastinate until the opportunity doesn’t exist or we feel so hopeless about our own destiny that we throw up our hands and we cease to create, cease to strive for better? I don’t want to be that person.

I’m rewiring my thinking error about writing today. I’m telling myself that I do have time to write. I have time to blog, even if it is 5 words a day. I’m going to stop using procrastination as an excuse not to face my fears where writing is concerned. I’m going to do what I’m called to do even if I suck at it (which I don’t think I do). When we overcome thinking errors, we become more emotionally aware. We also become more capable of being happy, self-confident, and achieving success.

Do you have a thinking error that’s holding you back from achieving success, establishing friendships, or facing your own demons?

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Parenting and Expectations

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Kids. Guilt. Expectations. They go together like three peas in a pod. I probably read every article I come across about parenting. Some serve to judge. Some serve not to judge. Some ask people not to judge while they are then judging other people. Judgment is just human nature. Taking all the information in, processing it, and then finding what works for me as a parent is what I normally attempt to do. It isn’t a fine science.

A few years ago, I found I felt angry a lot. I took it out on my husband and my kids. I yelled and I snapped. I snipped at people. And it only made me feel worse. It took me a while, but I found a way to control that anger, especially when I realized it made my kids act like me. They took on all my anxiety and anger, and they began to express it. They expressed it in their play and in the way they interacted with other people. And that was not something I wanted, because I knew it was one of my major flaws. It prohibited me from appropriately relating to other people. It caused a cease of communication, when all I really wanted was to communicate.

I still have a temper. Sometimes I get so mad I could hit something. Instead, I write. Or do yoga. Or I go for a walk. Or I take a hot bath. I try to push a pause button until I feel better.

I thought taking the anger away was enough. I wanted my children to avoid feeling like they had to please me and their father above themselves. You see, for a long time I felt that way. My parents had HUGE expectations of me, and everything I had striven for in my early adulthood I did for them instead of for myself. I couldn’t figure out why it was so important for me to make them happy. And that feeling made me unhappy. Trying to please others above yourself always makes one feel unhappy, because you never know if you’re succeeding at it and because you’ve placed your happiness in the hands of another person who you have no control over. I felt like I had to be a superhero to avoid my dad’s criticism or to mold myself into their idea of success. And I don’t want that for my children. I love my parents, and I don’t blame them at all. They’re good parents, and they’re there for me, and everyone should be as lucky as I am to have been born of such wonderful, loving people. I know my parents are proud of me. I know it’s my own life to live, and I know that they didn’t mean to heap their expectations on to me. Parents should expect a lot from their children, but children should also expect more from themselves. They should be taught that success is driven by achieving their expectations of themselves, not by reacting to others expectations of them.

I read this great article yesterday (from April 2014) titled What to Say Instead of Praising. Praising brings conditionality into a relationship. In fact, saying “Good job,” implies that you expect them to be good. Instead of “Good job,” say “You did it!” and match your child’s excitement. This is one of the hints from the article. This also allows your child to realize the value of what they did, without feeling like they have to do a good job to please you. Instead, they learn that working hard reaps benefits for themselves. It in fact, leads them to succeed without having the burden of having to please their parents.

I think I say, “Good job,” more than any other phrase to my kids. And this morning, I changed that. I sent Hailey to the car while I went to the bathroom. I said, “Hey, if you try to buckle up while I’m in the bathroom it’ll be a big help to me.” She beamed at me.

When I came back from the bathroom, she was in the car completely buckled with a huge grin on her face, “Look Mom!” And I had to bite my tongue. My first instinct was to say, “Good job!” but I didn’t. Instead I said, “Look. You did it!” and I grinned back at her and gave her a love pat.

Like consciously stopping my anger, this is something I’ll have to work on as well. But I think like the article stated it will increase my children’s self-esteem. It will show them they have the power within to succeed in the ways they want to succeed. Instead of trying to understand and live up to my expectations as adults, they’ll live up to their own expectations and create happiness from within. At least this is what I hope for them.

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PS: The Devil Within is only available for the next three weeks. Don’t forget to get your copy while you still can at Amazon.

It’s Payback, Really

My kids fight. Liam and Hailey seem born of hatred for one another. Sometimes, they will play together so nicely. I look back fondly on the good ole days when Liam called Hailey, “Harry,” and thought she was the cutest thing ever. But we are past all that. I think it comes because they are two years apart and insanely jealous of each other. Liam is praised because he is calm, makes straight As, and is so laidback (except when he’s being left out—then he’s just mean). And Hailey is praised because she’s cute, sweet, and the only girl. They both vie for my attention and their father’s, and they hate when one gets it over the other. I know a lot of sibling rivalry stems from sensing things are unfair. I know this from experience.

This weekend, before I left to attend one of my book clubs, they were playing in my room so nicely. They both have great imaginations. They could play for hours together until the bickering begins. By the time I made it home for our afternoon grill out, the niceties had fallen by the wayside and they were picking on each other.

Liam: “Hailey you’re doing that wrong.”

Hailey: “LIAM! STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!” on the top of her lungs. She has no other voice setting.

And then hands around neck, or light sabers to the stomach, until someone screams or is not-so-seriously injured. I think part of the problem is I tend to get involved. At some point, I should just let them duke it out and see who comes out the winner. Fight Club, anyone?

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Aren’t kids precious? Hailey has that eyeroll down pat–should I be worried?

But, I guess it’s fair. My sister and I had a horrible time getting along when we were growing up. I take a lot of that blame. I was mean. I remember once, my older sister, my brother and I started a sticker club and wouldn’t let Allison join. My dad banned us from trading stickers. Oh the horrors! But Alli and I duked it out the same way Liam and Hailey did. And for a long time I had an intense jealousy of her. She was so motivated. She always made good grades (yes, that happens when one studies), and she seemed to be the apple of Mom and Dad’s eyes. I felt like an afterthought. And even more so, I felt like my parents tended to side with her in our arguments and blame me, even into adulthood. Now, I see they were trying to protect her because she was the middle child, and because we did treat her horribly. All the adversity turned her into an amazing wonderful person, and I’m proud to say she’s my sister. I love her to death, and I feel closer to her now than I ever have. I hope my middling Liam can say the same about his little sister when he’s grown up.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep screaming, “Stop fighting, you two!”

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Disney World Vacation

I’ve been missing the last week, because my family went to Disney World!

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What a magical place. Honestly, before I left to go to Disney I dreaded it. I dreaded the crowds, waiting in line for rides, and screaming children. But, while there something wonderful happened. I enjoyed myself. I felt like a kid again. I saw the magic light up in my kids’ eyes as they imagined they were a princess and Jedis.

At the Disney princess breakfast in the Cinderella castle, Snow White told the girls to make a wish on their star. She told them to close their eyes tight and wish as hard as they could, and Hailey pressed her fingers against her eyes and squeezed them and murmured, “I want long hair.” I feel her pain.

Caden loved the rollercoasters, all of them, and Liam came alive most in Hollywood Studios on the Star Wars ride and during Star Wars training.

So here are a few things I learned out Disney, which might benefit you if you’re thinking about taking a trip anytime soon.

  1. Meal Plan is TOTALLY worth it! Food at Disney is expensive, and when you have a meal plan you’re provided one snack, one table service, and one quick service every day (they have different levels of the plan–this was ours). We ate a lot on this meal. If you don’t have the meal plan, you’re going to put down a lot of money just to eat for the week.
  2. If you are staying in a resort in the park, the cup you receive can only be refilled at resorts. It can’t be refilled in the park, unless you fill it up in the water fountain. We didn’t know this beforehand.
  3. We walked about 11 miles a day. Bring a good pair of tennis shoes, and a stroller if you have young kiddos. Make sure to park in stroller parking, because if you don’t your stroller will be moved.
  4. For us,the park hopper was totally worth it. We spent time in all parks, and we hopped most days. We liked the food best in Epcot, and ended up there a lot of nights to eat.
  5. If you’re going during a busy time and staying at a resort on property, make use of the Extra Magic Hours. We rode a lot of high profile rides during the Magic Hours.
  6. Plan your fast passes as soon as you can after you book. We were able to get on a lot of rides that people were waiting 180 minutes for, because we had planned our fast passes early.
  7. Carry your poncho and/or umbrella. Afternoon rainstorms happen often.
  8. If you have girls who like princesses, plan to drop extra money. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is fun but EXPENSIVE.
  9. If you do the Jedi Training, arrive at Hollywood Studios early in the morning, and look for the guy holding the Jedi Training sign. You can go in the park early to sign up. This is one of the only ways you can get a slot to the Jedi Training.
  10. Have fun. Feel the magic!

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