Thoughts on Turning 21 (x2)

It’s November, which means it’s the best month to have a birthday. Any other November babies out there agree? ūüôā

I’ll admit I hated turning 40. Thirty didn’t seem so bad (I was also too busy and hormonal being pregnant with my first munchkin at the time to care), but 40 just sounded old. (No offense to anyone over 40!). Now, 2 years later though, 40 doesn’t seem so bad. To be honest, 50 doesn’t seem as scary as it used to be either. The thing is, I’ve finally gotten okay with aging. Not so much with the white hair, wrinkles, and memory loss(!), but other than that, I don’t mind adding another candle to the birthday cake. Because the reality is, aging is a blessing and a privilege. To be able to experience one more year of life is HUGE. It means I get to spend time with the people I love and I get to do a lot of amazing things that I love. It doesn’t mean that each day is perfect or even “new” (’cause dishes, cooking, and laundry get old real quick, let me tell ya!), but over the course of days, weeks, and months, I get better. Better at trying, better at loving, and better at living. My physical body may be sagging and lagging, but my heart feels lighter and stronger and fuller. I’m reminded of these verses:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Yup. Age is just a number. Peace, joy, and love are timeless.¬†In Jesus, we have the hope of eternal life. There’s so much to look forward to that outweighs all the human stuff that bogs us down today.

I hope you’ll celebrate each moment you have and each breath you are given. I know I will be as I blow out all 42 candles on my birthday cake (haha, just kidding; I think that might be a fire hazard!).

Here’s a video I’ve been grooving to (does using the word groove show my age? LOL), Kurt Hugo Schneider’s Evolution of Boy Band’s Mashup. It’s fun to see how many songs you know, which may or may not have something to do with your age. ūüėČ

How do you feel about growing older?

How a Blogger Respects Her Kid’s Wish for Privacy

One of my munchkins (who shall remain anonymous) told me recently, “I don’t want you to write about me or even say that you have a son.”

Aiya.

My response? “Okay. (Sigh) I won’t anymore from now on.”

Image courtesy of http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/zipping-mouth-shut.html

So in case you wonder why I won’t be mentioning my firstborn child from now on in my blogs or anywhere on social media, you’ll know why. ūüôā

I always knew the day would come when I’d have to respect my kids’ privacy online. I get it, especially since the child I’m talking about is an introvert like me. Even if he weren’t, I’d still understand why he doesn’t want his mom talking about him to the entire world. ‘Cause let’s face it, having a blog means everything you post is accessible to anyone and everyone on the planet.¬†I respect his need to keep some¬†things (actually, most things) about himself for himself.

This is specifically the reason why I don’t post pictures of my kids’ faces on this blog, but I do realize now that the stories I write¬†about them‚ÄĒhowever cute and funny and sweet they may be‚ÄĒare as personal and identifiable as their photos are. And even though these stories often times impact¬†me as their mom, they belong to them. These are their stories to tell.

So, what does this mean for this mama who loves to blog about her munchkins? Well, I’ll still be sharing about my experiences and lessons learned as a mom, just more in general terms. And more importantly, when I do want to write about my munchkins, I’ll ask for permission first.

How do you feel about sharing photos and stories about your kids on social media? 

Here’s a really creative rendition of Beethoven’s¬†Moonlight Sonata¬†by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Amazon Echo that the kids may (or may not) have enjoyed watching. ūüėČ

It Takes a Village (of Authors)

When I started this writing journey, I was one little person typing her thoughts and feelings away on a blog¬†from the comfort of her home. That was back in 2011 and I had no idea‚ÄĒnot even a small clue‚ÄĒof where I would be at six years later. Well, I’m still typing away in the safe bubble of my house (with a never-ending supply of tea!), but I’m no longer alone. I have a whole village of people surrounding me, all of whom I’ve never even met face-to-face, but that¬†I communicate with on a regular basis. How is this possible? It’s called the internet!

And because of the amazing, talented, and supportive authors¬†I’ve been able to meet online, I’ve been able to learn and grow and evolve into the writer I am today. I owe a LOT to these people. I digest¬†their blogs and books, pick their brains for advice on anything from commas to marketing strategies, and lean on their support in sharing my work.

I’ve always been a solitary type of gal (I was an only child until age 10 and an introvert, still am!),¬†but I’m starting to see the benefits of being part of a village. Regardless of what we¬†do on a daily basis‚ÄĒwhether it’s teaching, researching, programming, counseling, raising kids or writing‚ÄĒwe need others. We need others who understand the challenges we go through and don’t fault us for having a bad day when (fill in the blank). We need folks who know just the right thing to say that will encourage¬†and push us to do better. Most of all, we need to know we’re not on this journey alone, that we have people cheering us on every day.

I was so fortunate to find an¬†online author village with¬†Clean Indie Reads¬†(if you want to join our¬†Facebook group, let me know!). Last year, I was able to meet another group of wonderful authors when we collaborated together on a¬†boxed set (insert shameless plug: Click HERE to get 7 stories for only 99 cents!). ūüôā And more recently, God graciously opened¬†the doors for me to be part of an author cooperative,¬†Sweet Romance Reads!¬†I am beyond excited (and a bit starstruck to be among such accomplished authors!) and am looking forward to working with them to introduce¬†you to more warm-fuzzy stories. I now feel more equipped and supported than ever as an author and ready to tackle this year.

Yay for finding my village! Have you found yours? Comment below and let me know!

Here’s a great song about supporting one another, Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”, covered here by Jai McDowell & KHS.

Why You Need to Treat Your Kids Differently

When munchkin #1 was small, I read a parenting book in which the author (a pediatrician with 8 kids!) said he parents each one of his children differently. As a mom of a high need baby, I¬†was so worn out by carrying and nursing him almost 24/7, my jaw dropped when I read that line. I remember telling hubby about it and declaring that, “This guy is crazy!¬†How can a¬†parent have the mental, emotional or¬†physical capacity to use¬†a different parenting style for¬†each kid?”¬†I was having a hard enough time just keeping mine¬†alive … seriously! ūüėČ

It wasn’t until munchkin #2 showed up that I began to understand why we need to treat our kids differently.¬†Of course I love, appreciate, and value both of my kids as¬†equally as¬†my imperfect self is able to, but I don’t always treat them the same. Why? Because they have completely opposite personalities and temperaments. Yup, you could¬†say hubby and I successfully cloned ourselves, haha.

E was (and still is) the most careful, cautious, and detailed kid I know. Even as a baby, he knew without us ever mentioning it¬†that the top of the stairs was a dangerous place to be. He would always steer clear of it, going so far as to stick to the¬†wall¬†opposite of the staircase as he walked by. What about C? This¬†adventurous, fun-loving kid is¬†the reason¬†they invented baby gates and why we finally had to buy and install one at the top of the stairs. She’s also the one¬†who insisted on trying salsa as a toddler¬†and wouldn’t stop crying about it until hubby gave her a bite … then resumed¬†her crying when she realized it was as spicy as we said it’d be! E, on the other hand, would’ve heeded our warning the first time we gave it (I think he only tried salsa recently!).

That said, E and C are very people. And different people have different strengths and weaknesses. They also have different needs.

E needs lots of downtime and touch, so after school I’ll sit with him on the couch as I work and he reads or plays on the iPad. I’ve gotten used to him resting¬†his foot on my leg or sitting close enough so our knees touch. He does his thing and I do mine and he’ll occasionally pause to show me a¬†cool app¬†he downloaded or ask me to choose a robot for him to use in a¬†game.

C needs attention, but action, too. For¬†her we’ll snuggle together for a bit, then play a board game or cards. She’ll draw pictures and have me color them. When we sit together on the couch, it’s more face-to-face so¬†she can tell me‚ÄĒin great detail‚ÄĒabout her day. I know all about who likes who in her 2nd grade class (man, are kids maturing faster these days or what?!) and what they ate for so-and-so’s birthday celebration (the last one was Oreo cookies in 2 flavors).

And because our munchkins are so different, we encourage and discipline them in different ways, too. We are a little more lax with E since he’s so rule-based already, but are a bit more strict with C because (as hubby understands all too well), she tends to¬†push the limits. We push E more to try new things because he likes to play it safe (hm, I wonder where he got that from?), and we support C whenever she has a new interest (her latest thing? spy gadgets!).

So I totally understand now what the good doctor was saying about treating¬†each one of his kids differently.¬†It’s not because we love one more or less or want to show grace more to one than the other.¬†It’s because we’re trying to love and nurture them in the specific ways they need to be loved and nurtured so they have the best chances of becoming¬†the man and woman God intended them to be.

I like how¬†this parenting article I read recently put it¬†(it’s one of the best I’ve read, seriously!): “If we are in tune with the characteristics that make our child unique, we will have a better understanding of when they may need additional support, and when and where they will thrive.”

I love how the writer¬†used the word¬†thrive. Sure, the first step¬†we parents need to do is to keep our tiny humans alive. But hopefully, with¬†God’s grace, we can move beyond that to¬†help them do more than survive: To thrive.

Take a listen to Shawn Hook & Kurt Hugo Schneider’s¬†cover of Hercules’ “Go the Distance”. May we help our kids to go the distance in life.

What kind of parenting style did you receive and how did it help or hinder your growth?