#Rest

A dear friend of mine just sent me a message reminding me¬†to take time for myself during this busy season. My first reaction was, “Time for me, what’s that?!” ūüėõ But then I took a deep breath and basked in the idea of it. Just thinking about being still and resting and even sleeping (this is my favorite definition of taking time for myself, LOL) gave me a sense of peace.

I wonder if there’s anyone else out there who’s searching for peace, too? (Yup, I see those hands waving in agreement!)

Hubby¬†commented the other day, “I can’t believe the year’s almost over!”

I sighed and replied, “The end of the year always rushes by so quickly.”

And boy does it ever. Starting from when school starts in September, there’s Back to School Nights to attend, homework folders to keep track of, laundry to do, field trips to chaperone, Halloween costumes to buy, more laundry to do, birthdays to celebrate, Thanksgiving meals to cook and eat, Christmas performances to watch, Christmas shopping to do, Christmas plans to make and even more laundry to do. (Anyone else feel like they’re constantly washing and folding clothes?)

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/freedigitalphotos.net

Just thinking about this long to-do list has made my shoulders tight and my face grim. Which is why I totally need and appreciate my friend’s reminder to SLOOOW DOWN.

So, I’m going to make an effort to not make an effort. ūüėČ Or at least I’ll try to loosen up the timelines I give myself and spread out the tasks I need to do. And when I do make an effort, it will be to sit down and enjoy the precious moments¬†I have with family and friends.

‘Cause the laundry basket will still be there waiting for me tomorrow.

The song for today’s post is actually a collection of 51 instrumental hymns (over an hour of peaceful, calming music!).

What will you do to find time to rest during this busy holiday season? 

My Adventure to Becoming More Kid-Friendly

Have you heard of the term “kid-friendly”? Well, if you were to do a Google search for it, you would be able to pull up endless sites about kid-friendly restaurants, kid-friendly recipes and kid-friendly activities. There are even kid-friendly jokes (I’m guessing these¬†probably¬†involve chickens crossing¬†roads). In my life, I’ve even met people whom you would call kid-friendly. These are adults with big, friendly (haha) smiles and usually a few pieces of candy in their pockets. They don’t mind getting down on their hands and knees to play and do things that make kids laugh, like impersonations of Elmo (which my bro-in-law, a kid-friendly guy, has scarily perfected). You could say these kid-friendly adults are kids at heart. I personally think these people are amazing and great fun to have around, especially if you have kids needing to be entertained. Which is why¬†I think it would be great if all parents were kid-friendly … except they’re not, especially some square ones I know. ūüėõ

I’ve always been a baby-friendly person, usually the first or second in line waiting to hold a friend’s newborn. But liking babies unfortunately does not equate to liking kids. Kids, in case you haven’t noticed, are very different from babies. Kids can walk, run, climb, etc., and the scariest thing of all is this: kids can talk. Which makes kids just as complicated as adults, only smaller in size. And because¬†I don’t like talking much and I dislike complications, I’m not the most¬†kid-friendly person around.

But, as usual, God likes to place us in circumstances that help us grow. (Groan, sigh, roar. Haha.)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. ;)

My lil sis posted this great (and uncomfortable) reminder on her Facebook this week. ūüėČ

Back in the day (before I became a mom), I had been working towards¬†getting my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. In order to get said license, I needed to complete 3000 hours of internships, which included 500 hours of counseling with … (cue drumroll) … kids.¬†When I saw that one requirement, I just about fainted. I didn’t know how in the world I would be able to work with kids, let alone spend 500 hours, with them. I hoped I could put off those hours until later, but¬†sure enough,¬†the only internship available¬†at the¬†time was at¬†an elementary school working with children from kindergarten to sixth grade. (Cue the fainting.)

I remember clearly that on my first day there I just sat in my parked car and PRAYED.¬†I write that in all caps because that’s the kind of prayer it was. A God-this-is-crazy-please-help-me!!! kind of prayer. I felt sooo out of my element going into a place with hundreds of little people running around. I had no clue how I was going to engage them in conversation or if they would even want to talk to me.

But to my surprise and relief, they did (especially the girls!). Each time I went to a student’s classroom and picked them up for a counseling session, I was greeted with a smile.¬†Each 30 minute session flew by as the kids shared (with some prompting) from their hearts about their families and their¬†worries¬†and wishes. Even now I can still see some of their faces in my mind and remember the heartfelt conversations we shared, especially¬†this one:

K (a kindergarten girl whose mom was no longer in her life): “I wish you were my mom.”

Me (totally caught off guard, but very touched): “You really enjoy our times together, huh?”

K (nodding): “Yeah.”

I came away from that one counseling session a lot less afraid of kids and a lot more appreciative of how genuine, accepting and adult-friendly they really are.

The gift K gave me at the end of my internship. :)

A gift K gave me at the end of my internship. ūüôā

As I’ve come to understand these pint size creatures better (especially after having two of my own), I see that their ability to talk is a wonderful thing. It’s their words which give us adults access into their worlds and into their hearts. As K confirmed, all I needed to do was give her¬†a safe place¬†to share and a listening ear, and she was ready to come home with me. I probably also looked like good mom material¬†in her eyes, considering I was about 8 months pregnant with E when she said this.

In all seriousness though, I can say without shuddering or cringing now that the 9 months I spent at that elementary school were some of the best moments of my life. And I’m a much better, kid-friendlier person because of it. (Yay – gulp – for challenges!)

Side note: I’ve had kids on the brain (and in my posts) lately because they are the reason I created¬†my plush toys, the¬†Moodkins. I believe all children deserve to be heard and have their feelings validated¬†by the grown-ups in their lives, and the Moodkins¬†were created for that very purpose. Please check them out at http://www.moodkins.com¬†if you haven’t had the chance yet!

I’ve always liked the lyrics of this Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All”. The first stanza is particularly¬†kid-friendly. ūüôā

Are you a kid-friendly person? Why or why not?

It’s Moodkin Monday!

I can’t believe the day has come …!

This business venture of mine started out almost a year ago as just a random idea in my head, thanks to my two munchkins who helped put it there. It’s been a CRAZY adventure figuring out¬†the ropes of making a plush toy, setting up a website and learning¬†the ins and outs of starting a small business, but it has been worth it!!

Moodkins were created in part by kids (my very own E and C) and designed for the purpose of helping all kids. Please visit the website and help spread the word! (Go here: http://www.moodkins.com/)

Thanks everyone!!

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Share Your Mood!

The One Thing All Kids Want

Image courtesy of flickr

Image courtesy of flickr

Hubby and I have probably visited every¬†venue there is for kiddie birthday parties. And let me tell you something –¬†things have changed since we were¬†young’uns. In the olden days, birthdays were usually celebrated at home¬†or¬†at a certain mouse’s abode¬†(think “where a kid can be a kid”) because those were the only locations¬†available.¬†Nowadays,¬†kids have a bazillion more places to choose from, depending on whether they want to run around¬†on indoor inflatable jumpy houses, bounce on wall-to-wall trampolines or climb up walls.

Our munchkins have been fortunate enough to attend many¬†parties at all of the above mentioned (and more) venues, which means hubby and I have joined in on the fun, too. When I say joined, I mean we literally have climbed, slid, jumped, ran and crawled along with E and C, as well as dozens of other little people. Although¬†I would much rather¬†sit on the sidelines and enjoy¬†the excitement from afar, (our kids won’t participate unless we do, too), I must confess I do enjoy¬†getting in on¬†the action. I get to relive my childhood, loosen up¬†my creaky joints and bond with E and C in the process.¬†Another upside is that¬†since hubby and I are¬†typically¬†the only adults working up a sweat at these parties, we’ve had many opportunities to interact with¬†other kids. These interactions¬†have included the times when…

A¬†curly-haired preschooler insisted on climbing¬†onto hubby’s lap so she could go¬†down the inflatable slide with him.

A brown-haired girl in a pink top waved to me repeatedly to watch her do flips on the trampoline.

A¬†boy about E’s height who had been watching hubby and the kids play tag asked if he could play, too.

These random encounters with these random kids used to throw me off. The first few times they happened, I was tempted to ask the kids,¬†“Where are your parents? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to talk to random strangers?!” Now though I just make¬†eye contact and smile politely (while hubby is a lot more friendly and lets random kids sit on his lap and/or chase him).

Why have I stopped being surprised when random kids approach us?¬†I think it’s because I finally understand what they’re after, and what they’re after is perfectly normal, acceptable and to be expected.

What is the one thing all kids want?

Our attention.

Simply put, they want to be seen. To be heard. To be noticed. Kids want to be talked to. To be helped. To be interacted with.

Kids want to know they matter.

And in this crazy money-making, gadget-consuming, faster-than-the-speed-of-light culture¬†in which we live today, it’s more important than ever that kids get the attention they need (ideally from the significant¬†adults in their lives, not necessarily from random strangers like me).¬†ūüėõ

So, I’m thankful for a hubby who isn’t afraid to pull a muscle (true story!) in order to play with our kids. I’m also grateful he encourages¬†me to participate as well. Because instead of plopping down on the sidelines and updating my status about what my kids are doing at the moment (or catching up on what everyone else’s kids are doing), I’m actually experiencing it all¬†with them. I’m realizing how much my kids value my presence and my attention. I’m reminded of how the things¬†I say and do will leave a lasting impression on them. And I’m more inclined to kick off my shoes and crawl, jump, climb, slide and run around with my munchkins so they will¬†know they matter. Because that’s something my kids (and all kids) need to know.

All I need to know is that being the sweatiest parent¬†in the room might also¬†make me the coolest parent ever – at least in my kids’ eyes. What could be more worthwhile than that? ūüėČ

The song for today’s post is Lenka’s “The Show”. The childlike quality of the song and some of¬†the lyrics remind me of what it’s like to be a kid.

Who were some significant adults from your childhood who made positive lasting impressions on your life?

P.S. Speaking of paying attention to the kids in our lives (whether personally or professionally), I¬†am hopeful that the business venture I am starting on Monday, November 17 will help us do just that. Stay tuned for the reveal of my plush toys called the¬†Moodkins!¬†You’ll also have the opportunity to win a free set of them next week!

Conversations with a 5 year old About Marriage

The other morning C turned to me and announced, “I think I’m going to marry T.”

My immediate¬†reaction was, “Why do you want to marry T?”

“Because he’s silly. And he has a round head.”

Ahh… I see. In previous conversations with my 5 year old munchkin, she had stated that she wants to marry someone like her Baba. Someone with the important characteristics of:

#1 –¬†A silly nature

#2 – A round head¬†(If you haven’t noticed by now, C has an affinity for circular¬†things, heads included.)

She then proceeded to ask, “Who else do you think I can marry?”

With raised eyebrows, I replied, “But you know you can only marry one person.”

“I know!” she answered matter-of-factly.

Obviously, she’s still thinking about the matter. ūüôā

As¬†C ponders about her future hubby, I thought I’d come up with three points for her (and E) to consider about marriage (some 15-20 years from now of course). These are things I wish I had known when I was 5. ūüėČ

1. Understand¬†yourself.¬†Know what your personality is like, particularly the traits that could drive your future spouse bananas. This includes being passive-aggressive when upset (ahem, maybe me) or messy/forgetful much of the time (ahem, definitely not¬†me). ūüėõ Be willing to accept input from family and friends who know you well and have your best interests at heart, and focus on growing and changing to be the most loving version of yourself. Be happy and whole as an individual, try new things, have fun, and live the life God has given you¬†to the fullest.

2. Understand¬†relationships.¬†Don’t¬†base your ideas and expectations of a relationship off of Hollywood movies or romance books, even the one your mama wrote (insert shameless plug for my book here). ūüėČ Know that people are complicated and messy on their own, and mixing two people’s complications and messiness together only equals¬†more complications and messiness. Strengthen¬†your communication¬†skills in the areas of listening, resolving conflict and negotiation because these skills will help you thrive in all kinds of relationships.

3. Understand your significant other.¬†When you do spot someone (on the playground, in a¬†classroom, at the cafe, across a crowded room, etc.),¬†who sparks your interest, get to know the person better. Preferably in different situations and over the course of a looong time. Baba recommends observing the person’s competitive spirit, so please¬†invite that person over for a game of mahjong¬†Mario Kart sometime. Lastly, but most importantly, ask for¬†God’s, your family’s and friends’ input about the person and listen with both your ears and your heart.

Then … when you think you’re ready for a relationship (with all of its beautiful and adventurous¬†ups and downs) and have found a person whom you adore and adores you back, break the news to Baba and me gently (sniff, sniff!), so we can accept the fact that our little munchkins won’t¬†stay little¬†forever.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on Mr. T. ūüôā

C and T at school. (Don't worry, I was kidding about keeping an eye on him. This picture was actually taken by his mom.)

Here’s C and T at school. (Don’t worry, I was kidding about keeping an eye on him!¬†This picture was actually taken by his mom.)

Take a listen to this fun song about love, “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows (subtitled in Spanish for some reason).

What great love/marriage advice have you received? What relationship advice would you give to your friends, siblings or kids?

Practicing What I Teach

“It’s okay to be frustrated. You’re learning something new. I can help you. Let’s try again.”

I repeated these words as I held and rocked C in my lap. Just moments before she had been working on her homework packet and I had been cleaning out the guinea pigs’ cage. Her little, high-pitched voice had called out to me as I was scooping up pellet-sized poop into a bag to ask, “Is this right?”

I craned my neck from my seat on the floor to see the paper she held up. She had circled: rectangle, circle, triangle, rectangle; circle, triangle, rectangle; circle, triangle.¬†“No, try again. Make sure each set of the¬†pattern starts with the same shape.”

She sighed her signature sigh, which to be accurate is more like a half groan/half roar. With an eraser in her dimpled hand, she began undoing her work. Half a minute later, she asked again, “Is this right?”

The process repeated again. “No, try again,” I replied.

Groan/roar. Erase. Groan/roar. Erase.

It was after probably the fourth cycle that I saw C plop herself down on the tile floor and burst into tears.

Oh dear.

Fortunately I had finished refilling the guinea pig cage with clean bedding by then. I closed the metal door, rushed to the sink to wash my poopy hands and then hurried over to stop the waterworks.

As I sat there comforting a very distraught kindergartener, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, the situation was a dire one – the homework paper had been written on and erased so many times that it was now covered in gray eraser bits – but thankfully it was an easy one to fix. After letting C belt out her tears (her wails could almost be categorized as melodic), I turned her around in my lap and resumed my pep talk.

“It’s okay to be frustrated. You’re learning something new. I can help you.¬†Let’s try again.”

I spoke those words to C that day, but I could very well have been speaking them to myself. Because it was only a few days ago that I felt like plopping down on the floor and wailing my own version of a cantata.

I had been sitting in the dark by the light of my laptop (in the wee hours of the morning) and attempting to set up a website. I had been calculating and recalculating the money I have spent on my new business venture and wondering when/if I will be able to recoup the costs. I had been frustrated and stressed out by the tasks I still need to complete and the timelines I want to meet.

In short, I was having a (recovering) perfectionist moment. A total “I have to have things done the way I want, but things are not working out right now, so can I crawl into a hole and hide?!” moment.

Hmm. These “moments” are much cuter¬†when a five year old has them. (Side note: C is not a perfectionist; she was just being a five year old.)

Thankfully, hubby was¬†my voice of reason. The next day when I poured out my frustrations to him, he basically said the same thing I would later tell C: “This is your first time doing this, just learn as you go. Don’t worry about the money. Just enjoy the process.”

I wanted to respond, “Enjoy the process, my foot!”, but instead I sighed my signature sigh, which¬†meant gritting my teeth and half growling/half roaring. (Hm, I think I see a trend¬†here, LOL). I picked myself up, dusted off my bum (figuratively speaking) and made the decision to throw my timelines, expectations and all the “shoulds” I had given myself out the window.

So here I am a few days later still reminding myself to breathe deeply, massaging the stress knots out of my neck and shoulders and saying a lot of prayers.

Most of all, I’m trying to focus¬†on being, creating, enjoying, and NOT stressing because …

Real-Values

 

The song, “Under Pressure” could have been my theme song this week. ūüėõ Here it is sung by Queen and David Bowie (I’m dating myself again with this song choice, haha).

How do you deal with the pressure of perfection?

P.S. C finished that homework problem correctly on her next try and with a triumphant smile on her face. ūüôā