FEB, 2014

Share your stories!

One day as a new mom, I videotaped my toddler screaming in her crib when she refused to take a nap. When my husband got home, I played the video so he could see what I had to “put up with.” He lovingly said, “Honey, I’m sorry you had a rough day, but I don’t videotape the worst parts of my day and show them to you.”

That wasn’t quite the response I’d expected, but you know what? He was right. I decided from that day forward to tell him the best stories from my day (and occasionally review and/or cry about the hard parts). I started keeping an eye out for the sweet, funny, clever moments that my husband missed. [...] Recognizing, sharing, and recording the happiest parts of our days won’t change the sequence of events, but they will change us.

By April Perry, contributor to the book Deliberate Motherhood
FEB, 2014

Let's Define Optimism

I know this is a basic word, but I was confused for a long time. I thought optimism meant I was supposed to love messy diapers. I thought mothers naturally danced around the kitchen and opened their arms lovingly when their children woke up at 2 a.m. The ideal mother would smile 24/7, would be described as “peppy” and “giddy,” and would never—ever—hide in the closet to cry.

The actual definition of optimism is “the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things” (Webster’s online dictionary). Of course you’re not supposed to love the mess and stress and worries of motherhood; it’s the results you love: the daughter who hugs you every six minutes, the son who leans way over the seat to kiss you before jumping out of the car at school, and the toddler who excitedly opens his arms and announces, “Right here, mom! I’m right here!” when he wakes up in the morning.

By April Perry, contributor to the book Deliberate Motherhood

Family Conflict

I attended a conference last week where the speaker said, "You can either win the argument or you can have the relationship. You can't have both."

Too many family relationships are damaged or broken because someone had to be right.

The speaker ended by quoting the poet Rumi: "Out beyond the fields of right doing or wrong doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."
FEB, 2014

Preserving childhood as a time of exploration

Childhood is a beautiful time of exploration. We like how Jessica C. summed it up in a note she sent to us:

"Let's let our children run, play, fall, cry, laugh, express their feelings, explore their potential, makes messes, scream, and take their time. Let's protect them from growing up without knowing who they are and what they are capable of doing."
FEB, 2014

The communication miracle, continued

Darryl L. liked last week’s Inspiration about communication from Michelle Packard, and sent us this experience of his own:

“Sometimes, it is a lot better to just do something with your kids rather than ask a lot of questions. I learned more about my son on fishing trips sitting in a boat together, and more about my daughter catching her fastpitch softball. The answers are all there and they really do want to share, but questions at the wrong time usually come up empty—or worse yet, resentful.

“Sometimes we started the day at breakfast by asking if anyone had any cool dreams. You would be surprised how that opens up a conversation!”
FEB, 2014

Saturday Home Help: Frozen Food Headstarts

[Some] dishes can be partially made ahead and frozen to save time, or you can freeze individual, cooked ingredients to save time. Following is a list of things I keep in the freezer to help me stay organized and efficient:

• Cookie Dough: Double a batch of cookies and freeze half of the dough to use the next time you need a quick dessert.

• Pie Dough: Prepare the pie dough, roll it out and place between pieces of parchment paper. Roll it up carefully and place in a freezer bag.

• Chicken or Turkey: Freezing cooked poultry is not only convenient if you can capitalize on sale items, you’ll save a lot of money. When chicken breasts are on sale, I buy two big packs and bake them all. Then I cube the chicken and store in two-cup portions in the plastic freezer bags. Cooked chicken from the freezer helps quick meals like soup and casseroles come together in no time.

• Seasonal produce: Berries can be expensive when they are out of season, so we buy plenty when they are plentiful and cheap and freeze the rest for smoothies. My family loves red peppers in recipes, so I buy them when they are cheap, cut them up, and freeze. For produce, it’s best to freeze pieces in a single layer first, then transfer to a plastic bag so they won’t freeze in a clump.

• Rice: Rice freezes particularly well, so I always make extra and freeze the rest for a quick side dish or to use in a casserole.

From Laura Torres's book The Organized Mom.
JAN, 2014

Bill Cosby and Family

Bill Cosby has always been one of my favorite celebrity personalities. My college roommates and I would laugh ourselves silly each day watching “The Cosby Show,” where Cosby played the ever-goofy yet wise and loving father of the Huxtable family. We loved that show.

I recently asked my family where were are all the shows and movies that celebrate families, that didn't portray the dad as some idiot buffoon, where the children, while challenging and maturing as normal adolescents, didn't treat their parents and other siblings like trash? We couldn’t think of any.

“There is a viewership out there that wants to see comedy, and warmth, and love, and surprise, and cleverness, without going into the party attitude,” Bill Cosby said in a recent interview. And then announcing that NBC had signed him for a new family sitcom, he said, “They would like to see a married couple that acts like they love each other, warts and all, children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness.”

Whenever you get discouraged about the troubles in the world, remember that one person can always make a difference. Thanks, Bill. 
JAN, 2014

The best kinds of memories

Last summer, I asked my children what they remembered as being the most fun from the previous summer. The replies included: “The time we went on a picnic and I caught fish in the plastic container the treats had been in,” “Pretending we were camping in the back yard,” “Dad rearranging rocks and making a pretend hot tub in the canyon creek.” Do you see a pattern here? None of my children mentioned a visit to an amusement park, the local swimming pool, or a vacation. [...] Time spent with our families doesn’t have to be anything grand. It is quite often in the most simple, unplanned moments we make some of our best memories!

An excerpt from Deliberate Motherhood by contributor Tiffany Sowby.
JAN, 2014

Avoiding the conflict trap

Experience has shown me that conflict usually inspires more conflict and love usually inspires more love. When someone attacks you, is angry with you, or expects change in you that you don’t desire, the first and most natural response is defensiveness. We build trenches and arm our fortress with the most profound and scarring weapons. We bring blame, sarcasm, and venom. We put up walls so that no thoughtless word can penetrate us, and then we begin our counterattack.

When we attempt to resolve conflict, it is important to remember the desired end product. It seems obvious that our desire should be to resolve the conflict, but sometimes we get caught up in an obsessive need to be right using whatever means necessary to win, which only intensifies the very conflict we wish to resolve (Arbinger, 2006).

An excerpt from Family Ever After by Michelle Packard.
JAN, 2014

The key to patience: Know your triggers

When I lose patience, I feel bothered and defeated—like circumstance teamed up with my lesser self and won. So I’ve been trying to recognize why and when I feel impatient.

The process has been revealing. There are times of day I am more likely to unravel—certain situations or personal states of being that find me functioning with a shorter fuse.

Some triggers I can control. Others I can’t. I can go to bed earlier. I can make sure I eat when my children eat. I can build larger margins into our schedule so we can get places on time. I can work on being more patient during the evening hours when I’m tired and going it alone. I may have to call on some deep reserves, but I can do it. Recognizing, anticipating, and working to minimize triggers has set me up for more successful moments. No day (or mother) is perfect, but self-assessment can help us improve.

An excerpt from Deliberate Motherhood by contributor Catherine Arveseth.