I am trying not to mind...the clutter, the left open cupboards and drawers, sticky syrup on counter, the dog's shedding hair, stained carpets, incessant laundry, weeds taking over my garden beds...my list could go on for days.
...because I know it doesn't really matter.
I know what truly matters...listening to Sommer tell me about her upcoming 90's concert (she was picked as one of the soloists), watching Ethan rock out on his guitar, Calvin calling out my name in his gym class where I was subbing with 100 8th graders, "Hi Mom!", wiping the syrup off Tate's chin (okay so you know where the sticky syrup comes from) as he kisses me good bye (then I wipe off syrup on my chin), helping Ashton change his sheets on the top bunk (during the "linen exchange," he explained that the new sheet was also dirty and as I told him it was probably just a stain, I see the new, clean sheet on the floor and realized I had actually removed the dirty sheet and then put it BACK on...we both laughed about that), watching Garth help the children with their homework (with the realization I CAN'T)...
...because I know THESE THINGS really do matter.
Just my little thought for my day...and upcoming weekend camping at the beach...where I will surely need mind over matter!
Today I was a substitute teacher at the local high school. Not knowing the class I would be subbing for before hand, I headed to my mysterious classroom. Upon arriving I was greeted by the teacher who informed me I would be spending the day with learning disabled children.
My first class consisted of 4 teenage boys. I was assigned to read to them, followed by a trip to the kitchen to make banana bread and finally to read the Washington Post on our iPads.
I was told these boys had about a 2 grade level, which immediately brought my thoughts to my own 2nd grader, Ashton. I smiled knowing how capable a 7 year old really was, they could read, comprehend, help in the kitchen, be sarcastic and funny...
...and each of those four boys were exactly that. They were thrilled to help me in the kitchen, stirring, measuring, and reading the recipe...oh yeah...and excited to help clean up! One boy was worried when I put the bread pan to far into the oven. "Mrs. Porter, I don't want you to get burned. Let's put it closer to the front."
They were listeners, learners, helpers, non-judgers and full of love...and so excited to eat our masterpiece (not one complaint).
The next class brought 2 darling down syndrome girls in, another lovely lady with cerebral palsy and a few other boys. I sat next to one of the girls with down syndrome. More hugs were given in that hour than I have received in a week. And they were not just any old "hugs." They were the type of embrace that exuded true love. They didn't know me...they didn't know my faults and my weaknesses...they just loved me.
The other girl, shared with me the complete worry she felt last week when her younger brother was injured while playing soccer. She expressed how scared she was and how much she missed him while he was in the hospital. "I just wanted to hug him. You see Mrs. Porter, I hug my brother everyday so many times. I just love him so much," she cheerfully said.
The other boys talked with each other about the simple things in life. They were kind to one another. They were helpful...quick to share.
Although they were not learning Calculus (nor would they ever), studying the periodic table, or hurrying off to band...it didn't matter.
Because they were doing what we all should truly be doing...every day of our lives...
Today it rained. It rained all day. The grass seems greener. I feel happy. I always tend to feel happy when it rains.
Maybe it is due to my upbringing in Alaska. Long cold dark winters which finally give way to LONG cool, light and rich summers which bring such a dramatic, refreshing change.
Maybe it is because I am not a crier. I have always wanted to be someone who cries. I find it very effective, no powerful, when tears easily flow. Whether giving a lesson, sharing a thought or saying, "I am sorry," tears truly show such lovely and tender emotion.
I usually have a good cry about once a year. I wish it were more often.
Maybe the rain, symbolizes my tears...my desire for them to flow freely down my cheeks during times of pain or happiness...
Either way, I love rain.
And just as the sun will eventually break its way through the clouds, coming back into view, giving us light, a good cry, releases emotion which brings a relief...a brightness of hope.
I am a creature of habit. I usually wake up each morning and follow the same routine throughout the day with a few add ons and and changes that pop up randomly. While attending my beloved BYU, I would eat the same thing every day (don't judge)...cereal, baked tortilla chips and salsa, and berry gummies from the candy shop at the BYU store...ahhh the memories.
I like to eat the same food and shop at the same stores. I have my favorite vacation spots, restaurants and people I love to hang out with...
Don't get me wrong, I am totally OPEN to new things. I will try anything. And if I like it, it becomes part of my routine.
Recently I concluded that I was truly in love with the following things:
FRESH MANGO (I had a student at school give me a chilled slice and immediately had to buy some)
EL TIO's FISH TACOS (Sandy had them a few months ago and gave me a bite. The crusted Tilapia is truly to die for...I now dream about them)
PIRATE'S BOOTY (We have always enjoyed these delicious snacks but since BJ's carries a HUGE bag...I can't resist)
READING (I always love to read but since I have been subbing, I have been given extra time to delve into books...my latest favorites: Cutting For Stone...deeper lit... and I've Got Your Number...chic lit)
Diet Coke (I have tried many times to "become addicted" but it never really stuck...but unfortunately, I now look forward to one each day...I guess that constitutes addiction)
SCRAMBLE (It wasn't two months ago I shared my addiction to Words With Friends but thanks to Robyn, I am now in love with this game...thanks?)
GETTING UP EARLY (Not early early but early for me. I remember when some lady called me one morning when Sommer was a baby. I think it was around 7:30. I can vividly recall how offended I was that someone would actually call me at that wickedly early time of the day. I now wake up ON MY OWN at 6:45 each morning...and I like it...it gives me more time to carry out my daily rituals)
When was the last time you took a relaxing bubble bath? I am talking about a serious bath loaded with fun fluffy bubbles, the same kind of bubbles you see in the movies! The kind of bubbles that can whisk you quickly away from any care, any worry...simply anything. Friends, it is time to take a "Calgon" type of bath, as soon as its bubbles start forming, you will instantly be "taken away," by a giant bubble. That bubble will solve everthing.
So when "you are stuck with a day that is gray and lonely...(this is a direct line from Annie)" I guess you could "stick out your chin...and grin," but I am going to have to recommend you take a huge bubble bath. And if you can, take a ride on one of its bubbles.
I mean, watch this video and you will know what I am talking about...
"Calgon, takes me away...every time!"
And seriously, it works wonders with stressed out children too (check out two of my boys...yes...there are two boys in that bubblelious tub). Mine seem to really relax after a tough day of me pestering them.
I stumbled on the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. I just happenedto turn on the TV, hop into to bed for a few minutes of rest and relaxation and happened to see the parade of horses as they approached their "big race."
I was amazed at the excitement the three gentlemen expressed as they talked about each horse, its rider and the background stories. After chatting about the horse and rider, they then turned to the trainer. Moments later, they then began talking about the owner.
What?! For a mere two minutes of sport, they spend at least thirty minutes talking about the race. I can't even begin to imagine how many years were spent, not to mention the amount of money, in preparation for the derby. TWO MINUTES?!
And then the race starts as the horses rush out of their gates in hopes of the prize (well, I am not sure they quite understand "prize" and all). A mile of track, dirt flinging and flying, whips a slappin', people in hats cheering, and then, just after 2 minutes, a winner is crowned. It's over.
Well not yet. Then there is hoopla over the horse, the rider, the trainer and the owner. Tears are shed, promises of hot tubs will be granted (the trainer's son was told he would get a hot tub), and cheers and joy over the entire tradition is shared.
I don't get it.
But I kind of get it.
I thought about my life. Truly such a short little blip in the entire scheme of things (as Mormons, we believe we lived before we came to earth and will live again).
I am the horse. Born to my dear parents who truly think I am winner.
The rider(s) are my parents. They have been there from the start...through the good and the bad...they lead me along. A little squeeze here and a little tug there. At times they have had to "whip" me into shape with love, in an attempt to push me along the right path and to my journey's end.
The trainer(s) are the wonderful people that have come into my life at various times....teachers, friends, family. Their words of wisdom, have given me hope and love...each wishing me only the best of outcomes.
The owner is my Heavenly Father. He not only knows me personally, he knows my rider and trainer...and together we can finish strong.
At times it may seem like a long race but it really isn't. It goes quickly. We come out of the gates running and keep running as those that love us cheer us on and on until we finish. Dirt a flinging and a flying, whips a slappin', cheers that carry hope for the best race...end as quickly as it started and we are crowned...winners.
Yesterday I made a huge mistake. I purchased a 32 ounce bag of Cadbury mini eggs! I have this problem when I find something at a great price...and this HUGE bag of delicious goodness was a super price (under $5), I buy and proceed to partake.
It would not be a problem if I had the control to eat a few per day. Unfortunately, I open the secret drawer in which they are kept, grab enough to barely keep in my hand and eat. This process happens a few too many times per day.
And it is not normal. Well...actually, I think for many of us, it has become the norm. We buy a goodie and eat it until it is gone. Others of us don't eat enough, or we eat too much. We forget to eat the right things at the right time. Or are we simply thinking too hard and setting ourselves up for failure?
With summer right around the corner (and our swimsuits awaiting their debut), I thought it was time for me to worry less and focus on "normal eating."
I found an excellent article in my Running Report magazine written by Ellyn Satter, RD, author of Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, entitled, "What is Normal Eating?"
I loved her "checklist." I thought you would too!
Her definition of normal eating:
Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it-not just stop eating because you think you should.
Normal eating is being able to give some thought to our food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored-or just because if feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, or four or five-or it can be choosing to munch along the way.
Normal eating is leaving some cookies on the plate now because you know you can have some again tomorrow or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
Normal eating is overeating at times; feeling stuffed and uncomfortable-or it can be under eating at times wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting you body to make up for your mistakes in eating.
In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, and you feelings. Isn't it time to start learning how to eat normally?
Isn't that GREAT!? She gives us permission to be NORMAL! We know fad diets don't work. We do know that eating right and exercising will work.
So this week, let's all start being normal.
My first goal is to give myself permission to eat the entire bag of Cadbury eggs tonight so I won't have them tempting me all week! Just kidding...that isn't normal.
Here is what I am committing to do:
Eat out only three times this week (that is truly realistic for me since I love my lunch dates). Exercise five times (and lift twice).
Make my proportion sizes a little less.
Don't eat after dinner.
Drink more water.
Enjoy what I eat!
It has happened to each of us, before we can distract our toddler, he has already picked up one of those candy bottles filled with sugar (you know what I am talking about...everyone of our kids have grabbed one!) in the check out line claiming he must have it!
As the words, "No" make their way from our lips and our dear child registers their meaning, the dreaded tantrum begins.
We all know the drill. We all know what we should do. But do we do actually do what needs to be done?
Step one, tell your little one, he will not be getting the candy and if he doesn't stop crying, you will take him immediately to the car. Step two (there is a second step because we all know he won't be stopping the crying fit anytime soon), drop everything and take kicking and screaming child to car...WITHOUT THE CANDY!
These two simple steps are just that...simple. Okay, not totally an easy thing to do, I mean, who wants to see their precious child crying? Thoughts quickly go through my head such as, "What is wrong with a little candy? I mean, I like candy!" Other thoughts I may entertain, "Do I really want to carry this child out, while everyone is staring at me? Do I want to get all sweaty, leave my groceries, leave the store?!" It is always easier to give in...in that moment.
But I will promise you one thing, if you are willing to ONE, TWO...FOLLOW THROUGH, many of your problems will be solved.
This two step plan not only applies to the tantruming toddler. It also applies to a 14 year old boy who doesn't think we are serious when we tell him he has to get his grades up (he is perfectly capable) or he will lose his phone (or any child that is expected to DO SOMETHING!)
Case in point.
In January, we told the two oldest children, they would be able to get their phones upgraded if their grades were upgraded (meaning all grades went up). One succeeded and was treated to a new phone. One failed, and therefore did not get a new phone. The little hiccup came when we realized his phone didn't work at all. We made a bargain (first mistake) and told him he could have my old smart phone (it worked perfectly well, just had a cracked screen). The deal was he HAD to get his lowered grades not only up but up (that meant A's...remember, he is totally capable) or he would not only NOT get an upgraded phone but would lose his phone altogether.
Now before you say, "Hey wait, he just fasniggled you guys and ended up getting an upgrade right before your eyes!" you are completely right. He did.
But we let it slide (total mistake) in hopes he would take the grades seriously.
When the report cards came out a few weeks ago, guess what?! His grades were WORSE! Being the mean mom that I am, I told him that phone was history! I had to relay to Garth to be sure to take away his phone since I was unable due to my trip to Boston.
Upon returning home, it came to my attention that this child still had his phone. When I asked why, he replied, "Dad took away my texting ability. I can only text you, dad and grandma." Dad (our resident softy), told him he had two weeks to show improvement (that is kind of like letting the child take a few licks on the candy bottle).
I did not see any effort with homework (maybe I am a dumb parent, but since I see my daughter do about 3 hours of homework each night, one would assume this child would have some too), I actually noticed him talking on the phone to his friends and he was given the ability to text one friend.
After two days, I decided it was time to do the ONE, TWO FOLLOW THROUGH (since we had been skirting around the idea of it...and things were not working)!
The phone was taken...completely. NO A's, NO PHONE...simple as that.
For the first time in months, I saw this child doing homework. Then I saw him doing homework again. Another miracle occurred as well, he began talking to me in complete sentences.
That is all it took?! Bad me.
Here is a reminder of my little formula:
Step 1: Explain the expectations, followed by consequences (or reward).
Step 2: Follow through (that is the hardest part but absolutely necessary).
And the good news...they will still love you even if they don't get the candy or have a phone for a few months.