Friday, May 20, 2016

"Special" Days

Yesterday, I had the realization that Maurie has officially entered the stage that truly tests my patience, compassion and other amiable qualities. I went to do some laundry and when I came up from the laundry room (not much time had passed) Maurie was covered in black sticky mascara. She had gone up to my bathroom and retrieved it from underneath the sink and proceeded to eat it and smear it all over herself and her clothing. After I cleaned her up, I went to see what other damage had been done. On the way down the stairs she had smeared the mascara on my newly painted walls. I tried to clean it up, but I will most likely have to re-paint those areas. I tried to take a picture of her to help myself just laugh instead of get mad. She wouldn't hold still enough for me to get a good picture.

Throughout the rest of the day she spent half her time sitting on our kitchen stools in "time-out" for either hitting, screaming or destroying something. I love her so much. I really do, but when she naps and goes to bed, it feels like I am living life in a different gear. My blood pressure returns to normal and I feel like I can sit down.

Maurie is also in the emerging independence stage which I honor by letting her hair go uncombed until we go out, letting her roam the backyard with no shoes and generally staying out of her way until she screams. Seriously, this age is hilarious and maddening at the same time. They are the cutest little human beings, but they can literally and figuratively pack a punch. Sneakiness is also one of Maurie's weapons. I have caught her pinching Jane underhanded and silently taking out everything that is in any way tidy or organized. O look, there is something that mother just picked up; I'm going to dump it out and rip it up. Jane is looking at me wrong; I am going to slap her. Mom is breastfeeding Brooklyn; now I can eat this crayon without any interruption. These are some of the thoughts I imagine Maurie having throughout the day. ;)

Now, I have to acknowledge how sweet she is too. She gives hugs and kisses, runs to us when we come in the door, laughs even when she doesn't know something is funny, plays well with Jane and has learned how to be soft and sweet to her baby sister. Maurie is a normal 20 month old and she certainly makes up for her naughtiness with her sweet dimpled smile, generally serene personality and adorable little body. I pray I can offer her the space, boundaries and love she needs to grow, learn and be happy.

What do your "special" days look like?


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to Make This Summer Fabulous

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." --The Family: A Proclamation to the World 

I have two weeks before my oldest daughter will be done with school. I am looking forward to having my children home because I have a plan. I want to share some ideas on how to make summer a time to look forward to and full of wonderful memories.

1. The start to any fabulous result is goals. Sit down with your family and create your summer bucket list. Don't just talk about it; write it down and put it up somewhere everyone can see it and keep each other motivated. If you read the list to your children, big or small, they won't let you forget that you had wanted to go to the beach or to a new park. If the list is posted you will see it and remember why you made the list in the first bring your family closer together by doing fun activities together. Notice that the example list below has activities that are simple and inexpensive. Keep your list simple and realistic for your situation.

Here is an example of one:

2. Once the list is created, follow through with planning the different activities or programs. For example, if you want to camp once a month in the summer, you need to reserve camping spots for each month and coordinate the dates with your whole family. If you do this ahead of time, you won't have the excuse of not having a place to camp and you will feel more prepared because you know the dates of your excursion. Another example is if you want to have a personalized reading program for yourself or for your kids. Plan what themes you want to have for each month and decide which books you want to read. You can take a reading program like this and coordinate with some of your summer activities that are on your bucket list. Whatever your goals are, do the footwork up front so that you can enjoy the activities and plans without excuse or diversion.

3. Let your summer be organic. When I say organic, I mean once you have planned things and done the necessary and timely preparation, let go of what you think each activity or program should look like and go with the flow. If your kids end up playing in the dirt instead of picking strawberries, let them enjoy it. If your husband would rather take a bike ride on the day you are supposed to go to a drive-in movie, change plans. Remember that the point of the activities is to have fun as a family and to make memories, not to post it on Facebook or to have other people be impressed with you. Record the moments with a camera, but more importantly let yourself enjoy the moment by really being present and participating. I have lost precious teaching moments and just plain fun moments by getting distracted with things that have little value compared to my family. My suggestion is to unplug literally and figuratively when you are spending time with your family this summer. If there is one thing I have learned since social media made its debut is that it can rob your time and that social media does not regulate itself.

4. Fill your summer with people. Focus on making new friends and spending time with family and good friends. Most of the time, the activity is second to who is doing it with you. A simple trip to the park can be very special when the people you go with are special to you. Relationships trump activities.

5. Try something new. Although traditions are super fun, try at least one new thing this summer. This will help you expand your interests, talents or just make summer more memorable. If you have a friend who loves to rock climb and invites you, try it. If you have been wanting to learn how to take photos of your children, watch some free tutorial videos, read books from the library and then practice on your children. Don't let any fears get in the way of trying something new. If money or time are a factor, get creative and, as needed, adapt to your circumstances.

6. Earn your play time. Reward yourself for doing projects around the house or other tasks that need doing. This accomplishes two things--1) you get work done and 2) you get to have summer fun guilt-free! Involve your whole family in the work and the play and you get double the memories and you teach your kids the value and balance of both.

I hope your summer really is fabulous! Let me know your ideas for creating lasting memories in the summer.


Lucy Bowman
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