Catching the Good.

13 April 2015 | 5 Comments

Catching Your Kids Being Good

As my mom will attest, after hearing the stories now that we’re older, parents don’t always catch every bad thing you do. 

But, we sure try.  Don’t we? 

Here is a secret and maybe it isn’t my finest parenting hour to admit this...  I have managed to complete convince my children that moms develop eyes in the back of their head.  It’s how I know when they’re messing around when they shouldn’t be.  Dads?  They have a magical parenting power too… super hearing.  Dave knows when it’s quiet… too quiet, it’s time to go searching for the reason. 

As parents, we develop these sixth senses for catching our kids doing all of the things they aren’t supposed to do.  That is our job, right? 

We give a warning with that tone.  We use their full names.  We ask them to consider whether they are doing what they should be doing.  We set limits, we catch them crossing, and put them on the right path, until they learn to do these things for themselves.

Yesterday, Finn was frustrated, tired, and just having a tough day.  Tate was on task, being a great listener, and having a great day.  The difference was unmistakable.  I should also say, there are many, many days when this is the exact opposite in our house.  But yesterday, I found myself gravitating toward reminding him about his attitude and making sure he completed what he needed to do and it felt remarkably worse to him because there she was, doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing, without argument, smiling even. 

I put Tate in the tub and she said something about Finn not being a good listener but, she was and it gave me pause because that isn’t the message I wanted to send.  Instead, I said loud enough for Finn to overhear, that we all have good days and bad days.  I said, there were lots of days that he was a great listener and that after a good night’s rest, is a great time to begin again with a fresh attitude.  Then, I told her that even though I was busy, I really noticed how much effort she had put into cleaning up her room and what a good listener she had been with her dad.  I promised I’d put a fresh coat of paint on her fingernails, something that is a huge treat for her, after she put her pajamas on because she had worked so hard.

Not only did that simple little thing make her light up, but when I went to tuck Finn in for bed, he had done his stuff too.  My nagging for half an hour hadn’t remedied the bad attitude and mess that needed picked up, but overhearing our two minute conversation had.  I gave him a squeeze and told him that I really appreciated that he did those things and that I understood how hard sometimes it is, to turn your day around, but that you always can. 

I kind of feel that way about parenting too.  My friend Kristina, who has more grace and patience in her pinky than I have in all of me, reminds me constantly that even good parents, have bad days.  It’s not about what you’ve screwed up, it’s about making the choice to do it differently next time.   We’ve been doing a good job of catching the bad because we recognize the need to correct it immediately.  Making an effort to catch the good takes some thought, we have to be conscious and mindful of it.  For me, and maybe for other parents too, it doesn’t come nearly as easily, but it’s something that I absolutely think is worth it.  

I’d love any tips on how you catch the good in your own kids.

Easter Weekend.

07 April 2015 | 2 Comments

My little sister travels a lot.  Countless times each year since moving to Kentucky for college six years, one bachelor’s degree, and a house ago.  This year, we did the travel and went to Lexington for Easter.  In addition to our crazy crew, my little brother drove down from Ohio State and my dad was able to see Elise’s new house.  We played many, many rounds of Spot It, went to the park, they went to opening weekend at Keenland {sadly not a trifecta was won} and we also watched a suspense-filled final four game that we’re not allowed to mention. 

We had an Easter brunch and an Easter egg hunt… the egg hiding was hilarious and luckily someone found the one in the microwave before turning it on the next morning.  That is what happens when you let 20-somethings hide eggs and then try to remember where they are in the morning.  There *may* have also been some terribly-written Easter Bunny raps courtesy of my little brother.  I used Oma’s vintage table cloth on the table, my sister’s Kentucky horse plates, fun bird napkins from Ikea, and we indulged in some seriously decadent treats sent to us by Shari’s Berries.   The weekend was incredible and I am sure my sister and El are still recovering from the whirling dervishes that are Finn & Tate hopped up on sugar.

Here is a peek.  How did you spend Easter weekend?

Easter Table

Easter Shari's Berries Brownie Pops

Easter Basket Note Easter Eggs

Easter Table 4

Easter Table Bunny Pretty Easter Table

Easter Shari's Berries

Easter 141 Easter 129

Easter 121

Disclosure: Shari’s Berries sent the treats, all opinions of their incredible decadence are my own.

Snail Mail.

02 April 2015 | 5 Comments

Snail Mail

I have a paper problem.  Well, it’s not so much a paper problem as a paper affinity.  I love a pretty paper, a pretty card, gorgeous handwriting, and snail mail.

Oh, don’t pretend that it’s NBD*.  When you get an actual something other than a bill because we’re grown ups and that’s all we’re allowed to get apparently, it makes you feel happy.  Multiply that by about ten bajillion if it’s not Christmas, or your birthday, carry the one, square it, and THAT right there is a card that comes just to tell you that you are incredible and you mean the world to someone.  Even when they forget to tell you often, even when you both get busy, or when you never realized that they saw that thing that you did or how hard you’ve worked, even if YOU know you’re awesome, but someone else not only says it, but takes the time to write it down, and it makes it so much true-r somehow.

That feeling, THAT was my mission.

Dave’s Oma, she used to send me notes in the mail.  At least once a month.  There were thank you notes, birthday cards, anniversary cards, and just because cards.  Dave and I would come in from collecting the mail, see an envelope with her handwriting, laugh, then guess what these envelopes might contain.  She’d cut out a thirty cent coupon and spend more on the stamp to send it.  I’d get a recipe, carefully cut out with a note saying that she read something in Martha Stewart that she thought I’d like.  Dave would get a twenty-five dollar check and a note of admonishment that she realized that he had tucked the twenty dollar bill that she had tried to pay him for picking up a gallon of milk, back into her things instead of taking it home.  She’d send Finn stickers in the mail, always made out to Master Finnegan J, because she was straight old school and addressed things properly.

You do not half-ass snail mail if you are Kelly.  Even if it’s a twenty-five cent coupon or ten Box Tops for your great grand-son to take to school.  You do it right.

In that spirit, because I miss her fiercely, I wanted to give that to someone else.  It’s been a year today and it’s not much easier.  I spent the better part of two days, writing until my hand cramped, tracking down addresses and knowing that if she were still here,  she would have surely gotten one herself.  Loads of these cards belonged to her and came to me in stacks as we were cleaning out her things and she would have loved knowing that they aren’t sitting in a drawer, gathering dust.

Which brings me to you.  If you could use a little love right now, send your address in an email and I’ll send one off to you, too. 

I’d imagine, she’d love knowing she’s single handedly keeping the United States Post Office in business.

Happy Weekend, Peeps.

Stick It Out.

23 March 2015 | 5 Comments

When we were married in 2005, I was educated, owned my own house, had a retirement account, and a whole lot of love for my future husband.  In my head, I was an ideal age.  Twenty-nine is old enough to know better and young enough to have children, if you want them.  I had travelled, dated a sufficient number to realize that Dave was an extraordinary man, and knew how to live a happy, fulfilled life on my own.  We had done pre-Cana, adopted a scruffy rescue poodle, had discussions about future children, and a system in place for handling our finances. 

I wasn’t just settling for Dave, I was choosing him.  And he, me. 

I was also probably, most certainly, very much under-equipped for actual marriage. 

I remember driving home from a friend’s lake house and telling Dave that fine, I wanted a divorce and hearing him respond in kind.  We had been married a few months.  Marriage was kind of hard work, if I am being honest.  Aren’t we supposed to say the vows, have lots of sex, get pregnant easily, have two perfect kids, do well at our careers, and love each other always?  If he was ‘the one’ it would be easy, right?   

There was something humbling about that.   You walk down the aisle and into this life you’ve never led before.  You are completely inexperienced and yet, you think you know everything because we all come packing our own picture of just what the ‘good marriage’ is supposed to be.  When it doesn’t hold up to Hollywood, or your grand-parents’ marriage of 50 years or, what you see from your best friend’s marriage, or your next door neighbors’ you feel like you must be doing something wrong. 

DID WE JUST MAKE A MISTAKE??

Now, after nearly ten years of marriage, neither of us can recall what that first huge fight was about in the first place.  We both remember that we sheepishly faced the reality that our argument had happened in the first fifteen minutes of our trip… and that we still had an hour trapped in the car with each other. 

Awkward. 

We were silent for about fifteen minutes and then,

Me: Do you really want a divorce?

Him:  No.  You?

Me:  No.  I have no idea why I even said that.

Him:  We are idiots.

Me:  Totally. 

We talked.  A lot.  We realized that even though we had moved in together when we got engaged, being engaged or living together is not the same as being married.  You might like to think it is, but it isn’t.  Kind of like you think that having children will be the same as life before children. 

Spoiler Alert, your life changes when you have children.

I learned quickly, you can’t just kick someone out when you get into an argument.  Oh, I mean, you can yell, “GET OUT of my house,” but then you realize that regardless of who’s name is on the mortgage, it’s their home too and you will feel like an idiot.   He learned that he had to communicate frustrations instead of ignoring them.  We also figured out that the only people who belong in our marriage, is us.  My sisters, his best friend, our parents, his boss, my Facebook feed… they don’t get a say, a vote, or to weigh in, and our marriage is not their business.  Ever.  

In the several hundred arguments we’ve had since then, we’ve both learned that a little empathy for your partner goes a long, LONG way.  

I know this in no way guarantees that Dave and I will stay married forever.  The reality is, marriages that I thought for sure would last forever, fail.  Marriages that were bad ideas from the start have lasted for years.  There are no guarantees, there is only the work, the love, the day to day, the fun, the hurt, the laughs, the frustration, the big stuff, the little stuff, and the fact that we’re both still willing do get up each day and choose each other.  Even on the days when that choice might not feel as fun as packing up and moving to Aruba and surrounding yourself with pina coladas and room service.

Or so I’ve heard.

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