Custom Creation

I am not a crafty person but desperate times call for desperate measures and that is precisely where I found myself this past week, scouring the internet for charts- Morning Routines, Bedtime Routines, Chores, Allowance and Behavior were the topics I was interested in; however I could not find a system that incorporated it all.  So I made my own.

My eldest is 5 1/2 now (don’t you ever forget that 1/2), and is highly interested in earning money.  I want to teach her how to earn money by working and yet I don’t want the EXTRA WORK of managing it.  I would also like a way to remember the nine steps we do every morning before school, but want her to be accountable for following them.  Finally, I want her to recognize that she can lose her money by being disrespectful- impatience, talking back, etc.

Introducing The New Leaf Parenting Accountability System.  It includes the following: Continue reading

The Choice is Yours

School is fast approaching and as a result, so is my child’s anxiety. Fortunately, I’ve been reading The Whole Brain Child by Drs. Siegl and Bryson this summer and have become familiar with the concept of “Mindsight” which they define as ” . . . understanding our own mind as well as understanding the mind of another.”¹ I have also learned about “The Wheel of Awareness” and have adapted it to work for my young daughter, who is entering Kindergarten.

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My daughter has attended two years of pre-k at the same school so it isn’t as if this is totally new territory.

I began our activity by asking her to describe what she loves about school and drew illustrations in the center (I’m no artist).  She loves drawing, playing with friends, toys and playing on the playground.  She loves celebrating the holidays.

I then drew four paths to school and asked her to explain how she feels about going to school. We came up with “Happy, Sad, Curious, and Scared” and placed them in the color path of her choice. After discussing each path, I had her point to the one she would like to take to school, which, of course, was “Happy”.

I explained that sometimes we feel sad and miss mommy and walk along that trail and that it is ok to feel this way, but that after a short while, doesn’t it feel better to move on over to the “Happy” path? She smiled in recognition.

Fill the center. Every day we choose a path. Sometimes we get trapped on the broken one, but after while we do ourselves a service when we refocus our mind to the good, the positive, the things to look forward to once we reach our destination.

Siegel, Daniel J., & Bryson, Tina Payne. The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. New York: Random House. 

 

The Hand of Time

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Jump. That is what we wish to do. Fast-forward. To the next job. The next partner. The next phase. The time-after.

In doing so, we miss the opportunity gifted to us. To learn.

Endurance. Love. Character. Depth. Grace.

Things we cannot rush.

Like Wine. Sewing. Teaching. Writing. Cooking!

I will never forget witnessing an experienced cook throw things together for dinner. I thought, “I’ll never be able to do that. No one ever taught me.”

Then I got married, then I had kids. Where did the time go? How am I supposed to learn now?

But I am. Slowly, but surely. I wanted to walk before I could crawl. I wanted to know how, before it was possible.

And isn’t this true about life? We focus on the end game and lose sight of the learning curve.

Few of us are prodigies. Most started with simple songs, simple sketches before we created our masterpiece.

The time is now to feel the moment we are in. To appreciate it for what it is.

The uncomfortable present. The gift.

No. 1 Fan

Hey you- yea, you.  I’m your #1 fan.

He asks me who I’m “rooting for”.

It’s whoever is losing.

Dig deep.

Find you.

You and your potential- you’re in there somewhere.

I see you.

I’m your fan.

Now it’s your turn to see you.  To root for you.  To be your #1 fan.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Faith

Written one year ago today, this is one of my very favorites. Only the beginning of the article is about childbirth- the rest is about letting go . . .

New Leaf Parenting

It took three attempts for me to succeed in having an unmedicated childbirth.  I attended nearly 70 hours of childbirth classes before my first baby, read countless books, and spent many-a-night role-playing labor with my husband before falling asleep to my hypnobirthing CDs.  The message was clear:  LET GO.  Succumb to the pain instead of fighting it.  Relax even when your body instinctually clenches.  Unless you have been in labor, you have absolutely no idea how impossible that seems when you are experiencing gut-wrenching pain.  By the third labor, I knew what to do and my unmedicated birth was everything I had hoped it would be: raw emotion that cannot be imitated.

Unmedicated childbirth isn’t just about “proving you can do it.”  Sure, you feel proud, just as a marathon runner does after her grueling race, but at its core, unmedicated childbirth inherently embraces FAITH.  Faith in our bodies to do what…

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Never Too Late

You hear “You can be whatever you want to be!” or “There will be time for that later”, but how often do you truly believe it?  In high school we are groomed to find a college that will fit some far concept of what we “want to be when we grow up”.  And in college we are forced to choose a major at 18 years-old, as if we know what the next 70 years hold in store for us.  Once we enter the workforce, we get comfortable in our position or too fearful to leave.  We begin to invest in retirement funds and pensions.  We have loans to pay and children to raise.  So to the back-burner our dreams go . . . but does it have to be this way?

At some point, we lose sight of our heart’s true desires.  We may admire others who are pursuing it from a distance but we tell ourselves reasons why it cannot be ours.  We pacify ourselves by counting our current blessings and convincing ourselves that we don’t need those dreams to be happy.  But what if we itched that scratch?  Why are we so afraid of trying?  Why are we so afraid of change?

As someone with a fairly positive outlook on life,  I was surprised to realize the extent to which I actively shut-down my deepest dreams.  It’s not as if I can pinpoint a day I told myself “No”, rather it is the presence of a subconscious voice that constantly provides reasons why my dreams cannot be.

This “ah-ha” moment hit me within the last couple of weeks.  First, as I watched The Dave Matthews Band Listener Supported DVD.  Mesmerized as I experienced a symphony of music dancing in my ears, I couldn’t fathom how these musicians could be so in tune with one another as they improvised each and every song.  It dawned on me that they practiced.  All. The. Time.  They practiced.  They dedicated their life to what they love.

I witnessed this again as I watched The Masters on TV and reveled in Sergio Garcia’s win after decades of losing this tournament.  He kept trying and trying even as he played that 18th hole twice.  It was inspiring.

It forced me to try and remember what my dreams really are.  What did I like to play as a child?  What do I really want to do with my time left here on Earth?

I’ve always heard of age 50 referred to as “Over-the-Hill” but I’ve realized that by shifting my perspective to truly believing I’m just getting started here at 34, I have a whole lot of living left to do.  The last 34 years were just a warm up for the best that is yet to come.

So here’s my list:

  1. National Geographic Photographer
  2. Author
  3. Master Potter
  4. A Great Cook
  5. Violinist
  6. Pianist
  7. Ukulelist
  8. A wife and mother.

I’ve done a lot of these things as a child or in lessons, but I haven’t continued to pursue them,  So here’s my plan:

Now

  1.  Make cooking healthy food a number one priority by using Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food Challenge cookbook and blog.
  2. Continue writing this blog and continue jotting book ideas in my notes.

Soon

  1.  Pick up the Ukulele in June and continue lessons online.
  2. Start piano lessons again this fall.  Schedule an in-home concert to invite family and friends so that I have a goal to work towards finishing 3-5 pieces.
  3. Purchase a very nice camera.   Read books, blogs and find lessons.

Next 1-2 years

  1.  Be a wife and mother.  (just kidding 😉 )
  2. Find a pottery studio and get back on that potters wheel- I feel home there.

Next 3-5 years

  1.  Buy a violin and start taking lessons

Next 5-10 years

  1.  Write a book.

It’s time to shut that negative self-talk down.  It’s time to stop fearing failure.  It’s time to not just tell my daughters they can dream big, but to show them how their own mommy makes it a reality.

It’s time to stop taking each day for granted.

Today is a fresh start, as is tomorrow.

So turn over that leaf.  Write down your list.  And join me as we get busy living.

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Time

In all our 21st century inventions, it’s the one thing that has continued to evade us- the thing we cannot recreate, erase or prolong.  It’s immeasurable and invaluable- and somehow, we never feel that we have enough.

Time.

“Look at them,”  My father says as he watches my eldest daughters roll the ball down his billiard table while the youngest pulls every book off of his bookshelf.  “It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen this.  It’s incredible.  I just wish I could know them when they are 26, 28, getting married, having babies of their own.”

Anyone looking in would agree that my 85 year-old father has lived a complete and fulfilling life.  Five children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandaughters – all healthy.  I envy his reign and only hope I can follow in his footsteps.

And yet as precious as time is, how unbelievable is it that we waste it on jobs we hate, partners we know are not good for us, choices we know are not right?  It’s as if we falsely assume their will be time for better decisions later . . .

Time has never seemed more precious to me than when I am on an airplane.  For whatever reason, it terrifies me and I am left wanting more time.  I want to be present for my daughters as they age- I want to witness their growth and change.  I want time to fish and hike with my husband and time to read on my own.

But even when you’ve had 85 years full of health and mostly happy memories, you still are left wanting and wondering what, if anything, comes after our time here on Earth.  What yet do we not understand?

All we know for sure of our life on Earth is now.  Our current time.  Are we appreciating it?  Reveling in it?  Not waiting for something better?  Making “the most” of it?

We must.  For anything less . . . is a waste of time.

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Our Place

“What a waste.”  I thought.  I’m ashamed to say it now that I know better, but back then, that’s what I truly believed.  My sister had a degree from the esteemed University of Virginia and she had chosen to stay home to raise her children instead of juggle both a career and her role as a mother.

I thought about this, recently, as Aurora vocalized her desire to be a baker with “Big Harper” (my friend, not her sister) when she grows up.  Back then, I would have encouraged her to set her sights higher- a doctor, a veterinarian, an astronaut and while we still discuss those opportunities, I embrace her current decision as a 5 year-old to be a baker.  Because you know what?  We need bakers.  And cashiers.  And trainers.  And trash collectors.  And salesmen.  And custodians.  And waitresses.  And hairstylists.  And teachers.  And mommies who “just” want to be mommies.

When did this job become not enough?  And not enough as in “income- earning” but as in “you got a degree what did you do with it?”  I have a B.A. in English and a M.Ed in teaching Pk-6.  What am I doing with it?

I’m raising the next generation.

I’m surrounding them with books.  I’m sharing my knowledge.  I’m using my critical thinking skills to figure out how I can raise my children with the perfect balance of exposure to the arts and experiences while still living “simply”.  I’m using my psychology classes to deal with epic emotional meltdowns on a face-to-face, you-matter basis.  I’m using my anthropology minor to teach my children about people around the world and what that looks and feel like.  I’m providing them the tools to discover their roles now and later.

Ignorance makes it easy to judge but once we know better, we do better.

So this is a long-overdue apology to my sister.  She’s raised three beautiful children- now teenagers, soon to enter adulthood where they will be faced with their decision of what they will do when they grow up.

I hope they follow their heart because whatever their role is, wherever their “place” is, we definitely need one of them.

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Measure

Is it in inches?  Accomplishments?  Pounds?  Number of children?  Years married?  Diet choices?  Miles ran?  Miles traveled?  Degrees accomplished?  Job title?  Devotion to God?  Cheeks turned?  Concerts witnessed?  Art exhibits encountered?  Tribulations overcome?

How do you measure yourself?

As a young child, we compared ourselves to the fastest, the most popular, the smartest.

As an adolescent, the coolest- however, we defined that.

As a teenager, those we found our identity with- those with common values.

As a young adult- we struggled.  Was it our friends from the past?  Faith?  Parents? Partners?  The parents of our partners?  Our co-workers?

As a young parent- our parents?  Family?  Other young parents?  Other experienced parents?

As an older adult- Our God.  Our partner.  Our loved ones.  Ourselves.

We grow, we evolve and the ways in which we measure ourselves change, if only we allow it to be so.

We no longer look to the fastest, smartest and coolest- the skinniest, the most devout, or the most traveled.

We look inside ourselves to find the essence of our unique us.

We seek acceptance.  At first, by others but over time, by ourselves.

And in that, we find our place and happiness.

Cheers to what makes you, uniquely, you.

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Camille Vaughan Photography 

 

 

Homebody

“Take a day, babe.  Get out of the house because I can’t do anything with them when you’re around.  They only want you when they see you.”

My husband was right but where would I go?  After a week of very little sleep, I’m exhausted.   And to be honest, all I really want to do is stay home.

But with a high of 40 degrees and a 1, 3 and 5 year-old in tow, kicking my husband out of the house left him with limited options.

“I’ve got some errands to run- I’ll take them with me.”

Music to my ears, but how long would I have?  I didn’t care.  I parked my rear on the recliner and watched a tv show for 30 minutes before starting dinner and calling my mom.

She lives only five minutes away and comes over to play with the kids twice a week but we spoke for over an hour- because we could without distraction.  It. Was. Amazing.

I folded a gargantuan pile of laundry, chatted with a few friends and sat down to write this article.  Not an incredibly momentous day, but after 3 hours alone, I felt renewed.

In my heart of hearts, I am a homebody.  These days, however, I never get to be home alone.  I miss the one-bedroom apartment I had to myself on the third floor of a 100 year-old house right after college.  I ate, slept and woke when I wanted and after years of roommates throughout boarding school and college, I finally didn’t have to share a thing.

My husband returned with a screaming three-year-old in tow.  She was mad he was returning a movie we rented- in other words, the world had just ended.  For a moment, it felt like the afternoon was a wash, but once we had her tucked in to bed, I reflected on my afternoon with gratitude.

A break from the daily chaos in the comfort of my own home.  Silence.  Solitude.

I sure do miss that old apartment.

But never enough to trade it for this house full of noise and love.

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