kids

Unattached to the opinions of others

Last week, a mama left me a voicemail, “Nikki, I need to have a conversation with you and it’s not going to be fun.”

You can imagine my angst in returning that phone call!  My mind was spinning about all the ways I might have offended her, or inappropriate deeds my kids might have done.  Was it a Facebook post that didn’t set well with her?  Is it my choice of reading material? My use of technology? Is she concerned that I practice yoga and have introduced it to my kids, and thus to their friends?

My mind spun for about an hour. Then I came to myself.  Although I know I have blind spots, I am parenting my children in the way I have chosen, and I have nothing to fear from the opinions of others.  This realization and reminder was so comforting to me that I picked up the phone and made the call.  I received her concerns with humility and understanding.

This mama and I talked through everything and it worked out fine.  The issue was regarding security and safety during playtime on my property. Her concern had to do with girls and boys mingling – and she needed to understand my play protocol. THAT WAS IT!!  What an easy conversation it could have been. Instead I allowed her initial voicemail trip me up into insecurity and self-doubt.

It is so freeing when we can be bold and confident in our own skin – and in our own intentions. When we unhinge our identity from external influence, we can soar without hindrance.  When we are true to ourselves, authentically, we can buffer the criticism and even judgement of others. And what’s even better?  When we respond with a clear head and interact with the person humbly, the conversation has nowhere to go but UP!

Ultimately, I am thankful for this experience because it reminds me that being attached to the opinions of others is toxic. There is no room for this in the healthy soul.  Call me and let’s talk more about this.  🙂

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JUICE!

We love juice!  Well, I take that back. I love juice. The children love TO juice.  There is a difference….

We all have such a good time peeling and cutting and watching all the different veggies and fruits go into the juice machine. We can spend an hour creating different combinations of juice.  Pretty much, the only kind of juice the kids will drink – at this point – is Pineapple/Apple, or Pineapple/orange.  And that is ok!  Sure, I want their juice to be full of Kale and Spinach and Beet. That just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But at least Pineapple/orange is better than red Gatorade or a CapriSun!IMG_0644

For the juicing mamas out there.  I want you to try my “hot mama” recipe.

  • 1/2 of a beet
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 3 apples
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 of a ginger root
  • 1 whole jalapeño!

It is amazing how the ginger and the jalapeño give this SWEET juice a spicy  kick!  Disclaimer: this juice is not for the faint of heart. Channel your inner TEXAN.  Of course, like any recipe you will need to play around with it.  Add another apple or two if you need to offset the veggies or the spicy. Depending on what I have, I will add a celery stalk or pear or mango here and there.  But you get the point!

What kinds of juice do you make with your children?

Have any ideas of how to get the kids to introduce more veggies into their juicing?

Calm, cool and collected

Do you think some parents have an intrinsic knack from being non-anxious in any situation? I was talking with a fellow mama the other day about children, sibling conflict, defiance and disrespect, and general fussiness. We joked about how easy it is to shout, “Would you stop SHOUTING!?”

How do you keep your cool as a parent?

Even though it may seem like some parents have a higher threshold for madness, I do believe that harmony and temperance can be learned and practiced.  When we are loving unconditionally, we have no reason to blow our top.  Even when I become the target of my child’s aggression, I must respond with compassion. I don’t see that as weak – in fact I see it as supremely strong.

I think there is a level of detachment that has to happen in intense situations with children.  I can not be tied to whether or not my kids like me in any given moment. I can not be worrying about what they might say to me. If I have clearly and consistently laid out boundaries for them, then I can confidently stand by those boundaries and not be swayed by their agitation or imbalance.

Let WAR fall to the FLOOR

Since adolescence is right around the corner for my crew (12 boy, 10 girl, 8 boy), I have experienced a few, ahem, outbursts. The increased changes of mind and body can generate a spike in emotional energy, and suddenly without warning, a battle ensues.

My daughter in particular, the 10 year old, middle child, has recently become a little more prickly.  Because I know that hormones are the culprit,  I can simply respond to her with compassion, even when she behaves in a less than gentle manner.  When it is aimed toward me, I say, “I don’t yell at you, so I would appreciate the same kind of respect.”  She sometimes takes a pause, and reccaliberates,  “Mommy, I am sorry for yelling, what I meant to say was….” And other times, she stomps off.  I can only assume that she is going on a pilgrimage to some safe space to soothe herself.  And that is ok.  Upon her return, she is greeted with a loving welcome.

When the children have an emotional flair up, I don’t take it personally.  And neither should you! When their heart is at war, I hit it head on with PEACE.  I respond non-anxiously and let the WAR fall to the FLOOR. I don’t have to engage in a battle with a child.  I really don’t. When I remain self-defined, their eruption carries no power. Kids need this, do they not?  They need to know that we are strong enough to handle the full gamut of their emotion.

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My mother [God rest her soul, 2002] was a great example of unconditional love.  We always knew where we stood with her. She never took her love away from us regardless of our mood or attitude.  And you know what – – we respected her for it.  She was confident and full of grace.  My mom is the one I channel during difficult emotional moments.  I try to remember my own adolescent turbulence.  I breathe, and muster up the tenderness these little ones need from me, to continue on in their journey.

My hope is, that at some point in their 20’s and 30’s, my children will look back and reflect on our time together. They will unquestionably say that their mom was consistent, tolerant, and gracious. That they were loved regardless of their actions or inner unrest.

C’mon mamas and papas, we can do this. We can get through these turbulent times together! Let’s lock arms and move forward.  But please, I beg you. Don’t lash out at your child, whether they are 4 or 14.  Don’t yell at them just to show them that you can yell louder. Be the adult. Be compassionate. Be aware. Show them that their turbulence is normal and that you understand what they are going through.

At the very least, you will give them less to talk to their therapist about when they get married and have kids of their own!

Just finished the list for Book Circle, Spring 2014!

We are getting started a little bit late this spring, mainly because my girls and I meet outdoors and this winter has been COLD! Essentially, we only have 8 weeks for book circle, but I am excited to see how many of these great reads we get through!

Each semester carries a loose theme. Last Fall, we read about girls from different parts of the world who overcame obstacles of loss, transition and family crises.  This spring, we are coming back home to the US, and looking at the lives of girls from early 1900’s through the Depression Era.  Throwing in Because of Winn Dixie, which occurs a few decades later, because I try to make it a point each semester to throw in a story about a girl and her animal friend 🙂

So here it is! A big thanks to AMightyGirl.com for always guiding me toward the best finds for us!

Moon over Manifest   Image 8   Out of the Dust   Image 4

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry   Image 7   Because of Winn Dixie   Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 2.40.24 PM

May B. A Novel   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.47.42 PM   Counting on Grace   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.48.11 PM

And last but not least, I found this little GEM today as I was looking for Depression Era content.  Dalhart TX is my home town! My parents and grandparents grew up there. I was stunned when I saw this!  Even if I don’t get to it for Book Circle, I am definitely going to read it with my daughter.  Then send a copy to my family members.

Survival in the Storm   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.17.41 PM

The force is strong with this one.

68037_10100155434909179_1581607946_n 553929_997490309449_998139091_n My 8 year old son is a deep feeler. He is a passionate, seize-the-day kind of guy, taking in every moment. He has a huge heart full of compassion, empathy, and openness.  Kid never met a stranger.   IMG_5146

Thing is, he feels everything at full throttle.  So if he is happy, it’s 100%.  If he is angry, it is 100%.  If he is disappointed…. you get the picture. One afternoon about a month ago, I picked the kids up from a playdate and the dad commented, “Wow, Cosmo is a trip. He is either at a 10 or a 1!”  I certainly didn’t take this as a compliment, but honestly I was not surprised.   Cos is intuitive, loving, and generous. At the same time, he often carries his emotions on his sleeves.

So how do I help this beautiful one find his center, his calm?  We have been talking lately about peace, self-control and soothing and calming our hearts.  I believe that Cosmo has the ability to do this – to acknowledge his feelings and harness his energy.  He has a capacity for stillness and focus, so meditation and prayer have been a source of comfort. For example, a couple of weeks ago, the 3 children and I sat together in meditation, reciting Isaiah 26:3, “You keep in  perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.”  At other times, he and I agree that it would be a good idea to go back to his bed and do a “reset”.  I encourage him to find his breath and to use his words. IMG_5200 1912210_10100487418371659_1429371650_n

With these techniques, my hope is to give Cos a toolbox he can draw from in dealing with his big emotions. Each child is unique and I never want to squelch or shame.  My heart is to shepherd and coach them along in becoming who God has made them to be.  

Do you have an extreme child?  If so, what are some of the tools in your parent toolbox?

Homeschool Queen ironically has a distaste for princesses

I have never bought princess playthings for my daughter. Not a tiara, nor a wand. Not a Magic Mirror vanity, not a $10 princess gown. Disclaimer: other family members have bought these things for her – in which case I just smile appreciatively.

Don’t get me wrong, I never would outright BASH a princess.  I appreciate that Belle is an avid reader and that Ariel is a passionate learner.  I applaud Cinderella and Snow White for serving their families without complaining and growing bitter. Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas – the POC (princesses of color) are breaking all kinds of cultural legalism.  These are all good things!

The part that I struggle with is the idea that in most cases, the main character – an intelligent female – ends up looking to a man for her happily ever after. Frankly, my issue is more with our traditional misogynistic culture, than with these young women.

“Why does every princess have to have a prince?”

All three of my kids went to see Frozen, and they loved it. Many people around the web have criticized Elsa for her individuality. Their argument revolves around the assumption that her expression is sexual. This is interesting to me, because there is no love interest in the movie for Elsa.  She simply wants the freedom to express her gift without subjugation. Was she sexy? UH, yeah.  Was she using her looks and body to lure a man? NO!! Frozen blew my mind because it is a different kind of love story – TRUE LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL and at it’s core, has nothing to do with romance.

Friends, I don’t mean to sound judgmental. We have definitely experienced every disney movie ever made. I find it ironic however, that the spin for male main characters revolves around adventure and accomplishment. The spin for female main characters 9x out of 10, revolves around finding true love.  For this mama – I am looking for a different message for my daughter.

My hope for my little princess (warrior), is that her true love will be an equal, a partner. Her relationship will be one where each person respects and values the other. Mutual deference and honor. True love is sacrificial, for both persons, whether male or female.

Agree with me?

Wanna get in my face and yell at me?

What am I missing? Teach me.

What would you add?