Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: parenting (page 1 of 2)

Winners, Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis and Practical Moms Unite Update

Book Giveaway Contest Results

Thank you to everyone who entered the book giveaway contest for Claire Gem’s books. I have 3 winners, whom I am in the process of contacting:

  • Chynna Laird
  • Brenda McCommis
  • Jeanne Felfe

(contest graphic above by Angela Mackintosh from WOW! Women On Writing, a great resource for writers here. )

Andrew McCarthy in St. Louis at the Library

I saw ANDREW MCCARTHY (yes, 80’s heartthrob from Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire) at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters last night, and it was amazing! This is not because he was so charming and I have loved him since the 80’s. But it’s because he was inspiring as an author. Here’s the beginning of my blog post I wrote about him on WOW!: “I Heard Andrew McCarthy Speak at My Local Library” True story. (Doesn’t my blog title sound like one of those titles from a “true story” magazine?) I live in St. Louis, and last night–actor, director, travel writer!, and now YA novelist Andrew McCarthy gave an inspiring talk about being creative. Once I got over the fact that I was in the same room with this man I loved on the silver screen since 1986 as Blaine in Pretty in Pink, who starred in my favorite comedy Weekend at Bernie’s and my favorite guilty pleasure, St. Elmo’s Fire, I listened to what the man had to say, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As writers, we know that we sometimes look at celebrity writers with disdain. It’s true because we know what it takes to slave over a manuscript and try to get an agent and then hope for some kind of book sales if we are lucky enough to get published. Then there’s this celebrity, who already has all the connections, and probably on some whim decided to write a book, and now is living our dream. Writers can be a spiteful bunch. (winks)

But guys, Andrew McCarthy is the real thing! To find out how he is the real thing and the inspiring things he said, go here. 

Practical Moms Unite

I know you are all anxiously waiting for practical mom blog posts, so you can be a practical parent, too. No worries. They are coming–and I am currently working on two of them. If you haven’t signed up to have posts emailed to you when they go up, you should do so RIGHT NOW. 🙂 Look at the sidebar, scroll up just a bit, and fill out the very simple form titled, “Want new blog posts emailed to you?” to make this happen.

 

 

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MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge Days 22 to 28

Well, it has taken me more than 28 days, but I am finally finished with the MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge, and I have to say–I’m proud to have finished! So let’s get on with it.

Day 22: Banishing Ghosts: What is the best smell in the whole world? What is a nostalgic smell for you?

Answer: I really like the smell of Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Soap. I have no idea why. I did work there for a while one Christmas season, and that was a particularly fun and joyful Christmas season. It also used to be in the bathroom of a close friend of mine. It makes me feel calm. As for a nostalgic smell–I like the smell of leaves burning, which reminds me of my first couple years of teaching when I lived in a small town, and you could burn leaves there. It also reminds me of fall, which is a great time of year.

Day 23: Campfires and Confessionals: When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

Answer:  The first thing that comes to mind is dating. So I guess that is what’s out of my comfort zone–but actually I don’t think it is anymore. It was, it definitely was. But I am lucky to have met someone very nice who is also understanding and seems to get me. So in going with it and going outside of my comfort zone–all actually paid off, which I think happens often when we step outside our comfort zones. I hardly ever hear anyone say: I stepped outside my comfort zone and it was terrible.

Day 24: Hearing God: What distracts you most from being present in  your life?

Answer: My thoughts about what we should be doing or that I’m not doing enough or what could I be doing better or what’s going to happen next? My thoughts keep me from being in the present–and I’ve noticed a couple of times, my phone–or the social media on my phone also distracts me.

Day 25: Forget-Me-Knots: Tell someone five things you love most about them and then hug them for longer than is comfortable. 

Answer: I will have to do this in person–not for the blog. 🙂

Day 26: A Dazzling Unfolding: Write down three things you want to become an expert in.

Answer: Well, I would like to become an expert in. . .practical parenting (you’ll see why in a minute), living within a budget, and living a balanced life (with exercise and healthy eating).

Day 27: The North Star: Describe a reoccurring dream you’ve had. What do you think it is trying to tell you? 

Answer: The most frightening, reoccurring dream that I have ever had is one where I am driving on a Bascule bridge , and just as I get to the middle, it raises up and my car starts to slide down. I have also had a reoccurring dream where I’m sitting on the side of a river, at a cafe, and I watch an airplane crash into a bridge. So I must have something with bridges.  I think these bridge dreams speak for times in my life when I have been crossing over to a new place or going on a new life journey, whether it’s my age, my job, my relationship status, adulthood–and I have had some trouble with change, so the difficulties with the bridges in the dream could symbolize that.

Day 28: Good Things Run Wild–One Big Thing

My one big thing is two big things: I am taking Katie on the little spring break trip to Kansas City AND I am going to start focusing more on writing posts about Practical Moms. 🙂 I don’t have that clearly fleshed out, but I’ve decided to just start on it instead of waiting–because I generally work better that way!

 

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MOPS 28 Day Truth Challenge Days 14 to 21

Well, even the best laid plans go awry …. If you read my last post, you obviously did not ever read a singular post about a love letter to my own body (as I had planned), and I am going to blame it on the fact that I was 1. Already behind 2. my mom went to the hospital twice last week. She fell on Sunday night, into her bathtub from a standing up position out of her bathtub, and so she has some bruised ribs–and a few other issues. Anyway, she’s been there now four days, and so this entire week has not quite gone as planned. This is the life of the sandwich generation. (If you haven’t read my previous MOPS TRUTH posts, you can find the links in the sidebar!)

But I have been thinking about my ONE BIG THING–and I might actually have two or three big things! 1. My little spring break trip with my daughter  2. Starting a new segment on this blog called Practical Moms Unite  3. a 5K (actually work up to it this summer)  okay, on to the truth challenge. . .

Day 14: Sensuality and Our Skin: Write a love letter to your body.

Answer: Dear Body: This is not easy to do. 1. I’m not great about professing my love 2. Over the years, you and I have had a tumultuous relationship. But I am committed to doing this challenge, so a letter I will write. . .after all these years, I actually do love HOW TALL YOU ARE. You provide me with many benefits that I now hold dear. You have given me long legs to run bigger strides and to look nice with dresses. In my 40s, if I gain 5 pounds around the holidays, it’s not so easy to tell because there are a lot of places in my long body to hide these pounds. I can see above a crowd. There are men who love tall women. (Who knew?) So, I love being tall, and I thank you, body, every day for getting me where I need to be and for healing and allowing me to live this life I am. Love, Margo

Day 15: Feminine Power: When is the last time you did something for the first time? 

Answer: Last week, I went to a bar in St. Louis and listened to some jazz music, and I have never done this before. I know–that sounds crazy and not like a big deal since I have lived here off and on all my life. But it’s on my mind because I actually said to U., “I have never been down here before” , and I called myself a virgin. 🙂 He said: Well I don’t know if we need to use that term. LOL

everything turned out fine

Day 16: Hospitable Hearts: When  were you changed by someone’s kindness?

Answer: I have to go back to the NICU with this question. I didn’t even know what to ask for when KT was in the NICU. But people did things anyway, without being asked, and I have to say that this is something these people taught me that I try to do today. They sent gift cards for restaurants near the NICU, in case her dad and I needed to get out of there for a while. They took days off of work to come sit with me. They made meals for my parents and for us at my parents’ house when we got home. They sent notes about their time in the NICU and how it all worked out. Not to mention the nurses, doctors, Ronald McDonald House volunteers, and March of Dimes staff members–we were showered with kindness. I have been lucky enough to have the kindest people in my life since then also, and it has taught me how the simplest gesture really can mean so much during a difficult time.

Day 17: More than meets the eye: Has your first impression of anyone ever been terribly wrong? Were you pleasantly surprised or disappointed?

Answer: This is a difficult question for me to answer because I tend to see the good in most people until it is too late. But since I am an optimist, I’m going to focus on the pleasantly surprised part of this question. I think the answer to this then would be my MOPS group–isn’t that funny? But it’s not because of them–it’s because of me. My first impression was this is a tight-knit group that I will never want to become a part of–I’m just doing this for KT, so she has something to do apart from me, every other week. HA! What a joke. These women are some of my best friends, once I opened up and became involved (that’s the key), and now I don’t know what I would do without them!

Day 18: Power of Story: What is one of your biggest regrets? What do you need to forgive yourself for?

Answer: I can never answer this question. And I will tell you why. If I did anything differently than how I did it, I would not have KT. I would not be a writer. I would not have my wonderful friends and family. I would never have met U. So, I am glad I did everything I have ever done because it has made me the person that I am today.  I am pretty happy with her. Sure, sometimes, I will say things like: I should not have majored in English. I should have known better. etc. But really, the only thing I regret or need to forgive myself for is when I have a bad day and I waste time on things that are not important OR allow myself to become negative OR get caught up in the pettiness of social media, drama and gossip.

Day 19: Eyes and Calling: What is the motto for this era of your life?

Answer: I have this hanging on my wall, thanks to MOPS: Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. And today, I’m going to add something to that: or what everyone THINKS I should be doing!

Day 20: Live Like Music: Is there a song that always takes you back to a specific time?

Answer: Is there a song that doesn’t? 🙂 I currently have a two-year free subscription to Sirius XM and I love it! I love the 70s on 7, 80s on 8, and 90s on 9! But if I’m going to think of one specific song that has meant something to me recently, I think I’ll pick: “The Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. If you watch the video below and listen to the lyrics, it will be pretty obvious why this song has meaning to me these past couple years, and it will always take me back to the summer of 2015:

 

Day 21: Failing Gloriously: What are you afraid of? If you weren’t afraid of these things, how would your life be different?

Answer: I am most afraid of putting myself out there and failing. It has been a fear for so long, AND I STILL have failed so many times; and I am finally realizing that this is true. SO…I’m done being scared. I try to be true to myself now with consideration for people that I love. I am trying to STOP worrying about all the bad things that could happen and just live. I am trying to recognize what is in my control and what is not. If I would have stopped being afraid of all my worries years ago, who knows what my life would look like now? I would probably have taken more chances at the very least.

Whew!

Come on–you blog reader–take a look at one of these questions, and answer it in the comments below. (Or if you are here from Facebook, answer me there if you like that better!)

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MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 6 to 10

I’m doing the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) 28-day challenge. This is day 6 to 10 (because I’m behind and trying to catch up). To read my first post about this challenge and the answers to questions 1 to 5, please click here.

Here is Day 6 to 10:

Day 6: Creating a Legacy: Okay, I can’t do Day 6 on here–because it is actually something you have to say to someone. And I don’t want to say it to that someone on a public blog. . .so. . .moving on

Day 7: Birthing Something New: What is something that is being birthed in you right now? 

Answer: This is simple! I want to write a non-fiction book of some kind–I just have to decide which topic or topics I want to cover. I have been thinking about a writing book and also a parenting book. Or a humorous parenting book–or even practical parenting/humor. Or a book about being a mom and divorced. I feel right now the possibilities are endless, and I am using this blog and my WOW! posts to see which topics seem to resonate with readers the most.

Day 8: Confidence Over Conformity: What does your name mean? Hit up Google to discover the attributes spoken to you via your given name.

Answer: Apparently, Margo means Pearl. So, I decided to look up pearl. Merriam-Webster said pearl means:

  1. a :  a dense variously colored and usually lustrous concretion formed of concentric layers of mother-of-pearl as an abnormal growth within the shell of some mollusks and used as a gemb :  mother-of-pearl

  2. 2:  one that is very choice or precious

  3. 3:  something resembling a pearl intrinsically or physically

  4. 4:  a nearly neutral slightly bluish medium gray

Let’s go with definition 2, since that’s the one that could apply to a human being also.  Hopefully, I am precious to my friends, family, and daughter. Or even a gem. 🙂 I do truly believe that all human beings are precious, and individuality is something to be treasured, just like a pearl. So. . .what have you learned here  today? Basically Margo means pearl, but you can just call me Margo.

Day 9: Breathing in the Light: Talk about a time when someone shined a light into your dark place. A time when someone encouraged you when you really needed it. 

Answer: I think I might have mentioned on here before that the absolute worst day of my life was October 31, 2010, when my 5-day-old daughter had to be transferred by ambulance to a children’s hospital in St. Louis City. (She had been in the NICU in the county at the hospital where I gave birth, and doctors decided due to medical testing that she needed to be at the better hospital.) I never knew fear like this before. I remember being with my mom, who was sitting next to me while I pumped with tears streaming down my face and saying, “If anything happens to her, I will not survive this.”

Luckily, nothing happened, and as you have seen in other posts, she is doing wonderfully today. But, that was a very dark day.

Once we were at the new children’s hospital, around 9pm, I was in her private room, and a doctor is talking over my screaming/turning red 5-day-old preemie to explain to her father and I all the testing she needed, why, and what it all meant.

I turned to him and said, “I can’t focus on what you are saying while my baby is screaming. We need to help her first.” (I’m not sure I said it this nicely or coherently. I might have just said, “You have to stop.”)

Then this wonderfully skilled and kind nurse ran in and put her hands on my baby’s head, applying pressure like you need to with a preemie (which I eventually learned) and stopped her crying; so the doctor, who looked absolutely taken aback when I said he had to stop talking until my baby stopped screaming, could finish all the testing talk.

And the nurses, during our entire 30-day stay were terrific, from teaching us how to bathe her, to making sure I was able to breast feed, to answering my phone calls every night at 3am–those NICU nurses are some of the most amazing people on this planet, who encouraged me and shone a light during a very stressful and dark time.

Day 10: Timeless Delight: Do you laugh or frown more? When is the last time you really lost track of time? 

Answer: I definitely laugh more; and more than ever before, I am learning to laugh more, to appreciate life, to feel happiness and be in the moment. This is a learning process, but I feel that I am further along on this journey than I have been. The last time I really lost track of time. . .I need to think about this because I am just not sure. . .I hate to say this, but I am so schedule oriented–so that I can “fit everything in.” I’m going to come back and revise this answer. . .after I have some time to think about it. (Blame game: I am writing this post very late at night, so I will blame my poor response on the fact I need to go to bed. . .)

What about you? Try looking up your name or telling us about a time someone shone a light in your darkness in the comments below. . .

 

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MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 1 to 5

I am in MOPS–Mothers of Preschoolers, and I recommend if you are a stay-at-home mom or part-time working mom of children under 1st grade, FIND YOURSELF A GROUP NOW. These women have become some of my best friends and have been with me through thick and thin. Through the divorce and surgeries, they have helped me with Katie, provided support with cards and messages, organized two meal trains, and paid for lawn service for an entire spring/summer/fall. I don’t need to explain more, right? I love them! But that’s not what this post is about.

This year, MOPS has a 28-day challenge to do either a TRUTH OR DARE each day, and then work toward a BIG THING. I’m still not sure what my BIG THING will be. I thought running a 5K, but I’m not sure training for that in February is the best idea; so I’m still on the fence with my BIG THING. But I am going to do this challenge; and like everything, I am behind.  This post is for days 1 to 5. On Monday, days 6 to 10 will post. Then I will hopefully post 11 to 14 on Tuesday ,and will be caught up along with knowing more what my BIG THING might be. I also have been mulling around going on a short trip with Katie, so maybe my BIG THING will be actually taking the plunge and planning it during spring break. So far, I’ve just talked about it.

So let’s get to it:

Day 1: Swell Seasons: In what ways do you feel out of control in your life?

Answer: In what ways, don’t I? Ha! I think the biggest ways I feel out of control in my life are the demands of single parenting and my time management and amount of daily energy. It all boils down to priorities. Since I have a full-time job and a child and relationships with other human beings, then I need to prioritize what is important to me and what goals I want to accomplish on a daily basis. If I don’t and I waste a lot of time on something like arguing politics on Facebook, I feel out of sync, out of control, because time is precious. More and more, I realize how little of it I actually have.  And how I want to be choosy where and with who I spend it. It’s all about balance, and I still struggle with that on a daily basis.

Day 2: Blessings in the Night: What is your favorite thing that has happened in the dark?

Answer: That’s a loaded question, huh? I really had to think about this one because I am much more of a morning/afternoon/early evening person, than a night-time owl; and so I decided to just look back over this past year, and be very literal about this question. My favorite thing that happens on a regular basis in the dark is my 6-year-old daughter’s night time routine, complete with reading (and now sometimes she is reading to me!) and snuggling. I always tell her it is my favorite part of the day, and I am being serious. It is peaceful and sweet and calming–so much so that I often fall asleep myself. . .oops!

Day 3: Becoming Our Mothers: What are two things you hope your kids will talk about as adults when they describe their memories of you?

Answer: I want her to talk about how much fun we had on a daily basis, using our imaginations (the stuffed animals all have voices and talk a lot; my fingers are actually tickle bugs;  the gremlins come if we don’t get dressed by 9am) and how in our home, there was a lot of singing, dancing, and laughing. I also hope she remembers the little life lessons I am trying to teach her, such as being kind, entertaining yourself, not always thinking of yourself, work before play, and remembering to say I love you to people you love.

Day 4:  Sister Courage: What do you value most in a friend? Are you that kind of friend?

Answer: I value kindness the most in a friend. I want someone with a kind heart and a positive attitude. They don’t have to always be up, of course, and I am willing to listen to anyone about anything; but I hope that when they are looking at the world, they are doing it with kindness and optimism because that definitely wears off on me. I think I am pretty kind and optimistic. Sometimes, with some friends, I can be more opinionated than others, and I probably need to do a bit more active listening.

Day 5: Dear Fifteen: What do you need to give yourself permission to feel? What hurts are waiting to be seen and healed?

Answer: This is going to sound crazy, but I need to give myself permission to feel happiness. I will not feel guilty because I also feel happy. I know it sounds crazy, but I think divorce or any really hard life struggle does this to you. It is almost like you are scared to feel happiness because you’re always waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. I have worked through a lot of hurt over my adult life, so I don’t feel like I have any deep, buried issues that are waiting to come out. They have all been pouring out and now I am looking to find peace.
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments! 🙂 You don’t have to be a MOPS member to do so. . .

 

 

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5 Things I Learned About Living in 2016

1. Life is a work in progress. I’m the kind of person who wants to fix everything right now. This is an impossible and exhausting way to live for two reasons. First, the only person I can control is myself; therefore, if the thing in my life that’s wrong involves another person, I can only do so much to fix the problem. Secondly there are only so many hours in the day, and part of those must be spent taking care of essential needs: since I am a parent, I must provide a home, food, and care for my daughter as well as myself. So a good portion of my time goes toward this. Therefore, the other things I want to do in my life take a backseat sometimes, and that is okay and normal. Everything does not have to happen RIGHT NOW.

2. Listen more. Speak less. I’m still working on this one. But I realized this about myself this year, with help from a very good friend–I often jump to conclusions and speak my mind before I have all the facts. I am working on my listening skills and taking a deep breath before spurting out the wrong thing.

3. Give people a chance. After divorce, most people will tell you it is hard to trust. No matter how bad the marriage was or who initiated the divorce, you were a part of a couple for a while (sometimes a long while) and now you are out on your own. While dating, I have learned that most people in a similar situation as myself are decent and also just trying to live their lives. This kind of fits with number two above, but I need to learn to not jump to conclusions and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

4. Being a parent is hard. Give myself a break. I miss my daughter terribly when she is away from me; but sometimes when she is with me, I don’t feel like I have time to think or process anything, and I am often exhausted. I worry about her constantly, and I am sometimes impatient. This seems to be similar to many other parents I know (single and married); and when I start to feel like “you are doing a terrible job–you should have done A, B, C,” I’m learning to take a deep breath and give myself a break. I love her more than anything, and I spend a good portion of my life being her mom. Every once in a while, I’m going to mess up and it’s okay.

5. Balance is key. To be the best person I can, I have to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, have fun with my daughter, read, write, work, have fun with my friends, and spend time with my parents. The key is to stay balanced. Don’t let any one area take all the time away from another. This is super hard, and again a work in progress; but I am doing better–especially the sleep. Do you know how important sleep is? 🙂

So what have you learned in 2016?

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Put the Parenting Magazines Down and Step Away Carefully

One day, my friend Julie said, “Have you seen the latest issue of (Insert some wonderful parenting magazine here) and their suggestions for back-to-school lunches?”

The funny thing is I had seen that article–I think it must have been a free issue sent to many houses, and I remember thinking: Do people really make these types of entrees for their child’s school lunch? Coconut and raisin pita roll up?  Almond butter and banana sandwich on 12-grain bread? Homemade minestrone soup? And do children eat these dishes? Where have I gone wrong?

Julie brought me back to reality. “My children basically eat cheese and crackers. Or their potato chips.”

Yes, now you are speaking my language.

I’m not sure who writes parenting magazine articles. Their bios state they are a parent of 12 or triplets, or they have adopted children from several different countries around the world, but I’m not sure if I believe them. Or maybe their bios are the only true part of the entire page, because really, who lives their lives like the parents in parenting magazines?

Let’s take a couple of headlines for example:

25 Ways to Make the Holidays Special 

First, no headline of any parenting magazine should ever have more than 5 tips for anything, and even 5 is semi-overwhelming. Do you really need to read a magazine article about how to make the holidays special? Aren’t they special all on their own? Isn’t it magical as a kid to think of the big guy in a red suit coming down the chimney, eating your homemade chocolate chip cookies and drinking your milk, and leaving you presents that you asked for? It’s also special that your entire family gets together and eats a meal, and maybe even plays a game instead of watching Netflix. Driving around and looking at Christmas lights or watching a Christmas movie snuggled under a blanket is special! Trust me. You don’t need a magazine article to tell you how to make this magical time of the year magical. You can figure this out all on  your own with the same things your mom did for you BEFORE there were articles like this at your fingertips or pinned to your Pinterest board.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Please don’t read an article like this. If you are clicking on this article to see if your child is getting enough sleep, then the answer is probably that your child is not getting enough sleep. Enough said.

How to Play with Your Child

I am all for articles that might introduce new games or even craft ideas (if they are easy) for you and your child. But do you really need an article that tells you HOW to play with your child at an age-appropriate level? No, you really don’t. It will just stress you out. You will be ridden with anxiety after reading this article and wonder constantly if you are playing with your child correctly and stimulating him or her enough to become smart enough to get into the best preschool. And don’t worry, there are articles galore (10 Ways to Tell if Your Preschool is On the Cutting Edge) to help you stress out about this, too.

SO what should you read?

I really feel like Mommy blogs, such as The Tribe Magazine  or Scary Mommy , are much more realistic and helpful. Some of you may be shaking your head. But just like Pinterest and sometimes the Facebook fantasy world we all portray are too much for me, I can’t believe that people live their everyday lives like these writers for parenting magazines portray. I can’t believe that people need articles telling them 12 ways to diaper their child or 13 toys that help your baby reach super intelligence.

So please, do yourself a favor (and the rest of us, too). Step slowly away from the parenting magazines and love your child because you are the only one who knows how to do that the best.

 

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Raising a Tall Daughter

I titled this post raising a TALL daughter, instead of just raising a daughter, because all of us raising a daughter know some characteristic people  bring attention to, possibly unaware they are doing this, that makes our daughters self-conscious. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Maybe your daughter is short. Maybe she is super smart. Maybe she talks fast. These are all characteristics that people consider okay to comment on.

We also know bullies like to draw attention to personal traits in a negative way, such as being overweight, wearing glasses, or not knowing the answers in class. We think this is horrible, and we fight the good fight against these kind of comments, whether in person, in writing, or online. But do we realize, as adults, that we are constantly bombarding  our kids with messages about their body or their intelligence? And this is not always raising their self-esteem. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Let me tell you what inspired this post.

Katie started cheerleading (she is 6). The wonderfully nice coach said, “I’m going to line you guys up by height, so we can figure out a good formation for our dance.” She told everyone to get in line, and I immediately saw Katie slouch down as much as possible, so she wouldn’t be the tallest one. The next words that came out of the mouth of the short, innocent girl next to her were: “Well, she (pointing at Katie) is the tallest one.”  I had to step in.

I said, “Katie, stand up straight. It’s awesome to be the tallest one. Mommy is always the tallest one.” The coach then chimed in with similar praises, and Katie smiled and stood up straight.

I probably don’t need to go on and on about this story for you to see why it bothered me. But…I am a writer, so I will say this: Before anyone even said she was the tallest one, she knew it was going to be her and she didn’t want it to be her. She is only 6! I remember feeling the same way when I was young.

Is part of that because we innately want to be the same as everyone else? Probably. But a large part of her slouching is because so many people, young and old, are constantly telling her how tall she is and how much older she looks and sounds.

Because I have this blog, I can say: Please stop.

You can only control you, as I said in my last post, but you can stop talking about how short or tall some child is and asking your family to do the same.

fall_dill_007Look, I am as guilty as the next person for drawing attention to my daughter’s height.  My way of coping with this, my wrong way, is to say: “I know. She is really tall,” before the person gets a chance to say it. And I know what several of you reading this are thinking: I wish I was tall. Being tall is great.

And you’re right, it is. But it took me 19-20 years to think this; and sometimes, on bad days, I still don’t think so. She and I can’t control this. We can’t go on a diet to get shorter. We can’t read a book to get shorter. We can’t practice to get shorter.

We are tall. We need to be proud of it. But we don’t need to be constantly reminded of it. 

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Another Kindergarten Meltdown–Who’s With Me Here?

One thing I want to do with this blog is to spread the word that if you are experiencing something like I am experiencing, we are not alone! I’ve made that pretty clear with the endometriosis/hysterectomy posts and even some of my writing posts. So with this one I thought I would approach a new subject–the first quarter of Kindergarten. (You probably just shuddered.)

katie-kindergarten

My beautiful daughter on the first day of school

My daughter started Kindergarten August 17, and some nights, I’m just going to be honest here, she transforms into a crying, screeching beast. Tonight was one of those nights. Yes, it is difficult for her this week because I’m recovering from surgery, grandma and grandpa are over here more, and tonight, her godmother was here, too. Change of routine, lots of excitement, and she got up this morning at 5:30 am. (I have no idea why.) Add all these factors together and what comes out is an Academy Award winning performance of “Mommy is not being fair.” Even her godmother commented, “I haven’t seen a meltdown like this in years.” (Her girls are now almost 16 and 18). Let’s just say my daughter has definitely learned the sight word, “No.”  And eventually, she said, “I have non-stop crying-itis, and it is contagious. I can’t go to school tomorrow.”

And what caused all this drama? I wanted her to finish the sight word matching game before she watched YouTube. (I know, I know, I am so unreasonable.) The evening went downhill faster than  a snowball in an avalanche, and get this–I was even trying to reason with her. This is Kindergarten Parenting Fail 101, and the episode lasted much longer than it should have, with a repeat performance right before bed.  After she fell peacefully asleep, telling me she was sorry and loved me so much, I put a message on my MOPS group’s Facebook page that: yes indeed, I am interested in that Love and Logic Parenting class. 😉

Look, I know I’m not alone. Another MOPS mama recently told me that every day between 3pm and 5pm at her house is “something else” when her Kindergartener gets home from school with the other two children who are not school age. I remember a conversation last year with a Kindergarten mom who stated that Friday night dinners at their house were very rough. One of my friends from high school with four kids said: “Kindergarten is a different beast.” If you’re reading this post because you’re worried there’s something wrong with your child, well frankly, it is probably Kindergarten.

To keep up with the honesty theme, at our house, we probably have two very rough nights a week and a few small fires every other night. And I know she’s tired–I am too by the end of the day. I know she’s kept it together at school all day. I know she’s strong-willed. I know she’s testing her boundaries, and I know she needs routine, which I haven’t been able to give her much of because I have felt like crap. So I’m looking forward to a schedule installation program at our house soon.  I also know I love her more than anything, and this is just one stage of many we will face.

Please share your Kindergarten woes here with us in the comments–whether it is your current reality or you are past this delightful stage.

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3 Ways to Make Your Life Easier as a Parent

We all know life as a parent (single or not) is NOT easy. If you think it is and you are doing a good job, then you should write a book or bottle your mojo because you’ll make a fortune. For the rest of us, and I know I’m not alone, despite what Facebook says, I have thought of 3 very simple ways to make your life easier as a parent.

1. Buy inexpensive trash cans.

I’m serious about this. Let me tell you why. Your bathroom or office trash can will at one point have child puke in it. Do you really want to clean that out? No, no one does. But if you only paid $1 or $2 for this trash can, you can just throw it away, and get another one from your stash in the basement. Because when you were buying your cheap trash can, you were smart enough to buy $10.00 worth, at least. This probably depends on how many kids or pets you have, but $10.00 on cheap trash cans (which means you should have at least 3 in storage and 1 in use) is a safe bet. If you’re wondering: how expensive can a trash can be? You should never wonder things like this in a world where we have celebrities who buy clothes for their babies who spit up and poop everywhere at high-end children’s boutiques. But I did a little online research, and the most expensive trash can I found with a quick search was a Harmony 737 Luxury Waste Basket made in Germany for $1,148. You, of course, would not even allow trash to be thrown in it, let alone your darling’s puke. Trust me, go get yourself a cheapo bathroom can, and make your life easier.

2. Don’t believe anything you read on social media, especially Pinterest.

Pinterest was created by Mrs. Satan. You are lured into her trap if you think it’s one of the best sites ever with all kinds of great ideas. Let me ask you this: before Pinterest, did you care if your child’s Toy Story birthday party had only the snacks with a Woody or Buzz theme? Of course not–sure the creative and talented among us might have made a Toy Story cake ourselves and maybe created some clever decorations or a space game, but that’s it. Nowadays, if your cake, child’s outfit, paperware, decorations, games, snacks, dog’s collar, mailbox, car, bathroom, and anything else DO NOT have a relation to the theme, you are slacking–you should have looked harder on Pinterest. I’m telling you TODAY, I am protesting against Pinterest. I’m sure it is a great site (I don’t want to get sued), but every time I’ve been on there, it makes me feel inferior and like I’m not doing enough for my child. Let me tell you, I love my child. I read with her. I cook her food. I don’t even make her clean the toilets–yet. So I don’t think I need Pinterest or anyone’s Facebook post to make me feel like I’m not doing enough. Stay off. Try it-even for a day, and see how free you feel.

3. Have low expectations

This is my favorite. As parents, we get all these ideas in our head about how an outing or a party or a playdate or a holiday is going to go and what a wonderful childhood memory we are going to create for our child, but then, something happens. For example, your child is 2 years old. I don’t have to say anything else. Or your dog ate something in the yard he shouldn’t. (Again, I don’t have to go into detail.) Or your electricity went out or your mom got sick or the 100,000 other things that can happen to take that perfect image you had of the day and wash it down the drain. Here’s what I do. Let’s take Christmas for example: what is important about Christmas? We are all together, Santa Claus brings some presents, and we don’t starve. Really, this is what’s important. Now, if we make it to the Christmas Eve service with my mom and a party afterwards–fantastic! If we open all the presents and there were no tears because something wasn’t the right color–super! If we eat turkey and stuffing that is cooked correctly–even better. But those are just bonuses. With low expectations, anything that happens above and beyond makes the holiday (outing, birthday, event) great, and you will probably be more relaxed and have fun, too. (Gasp! Can you imagine?)

I’d love to know if you have a tip for us. 🙂 Just put it in the comments below.

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