None of the Day

I taped a small 3″x3″ paper to my monitor. I placed it strategically in front of the volume knob and where the monitor on the left meets the the monitor on the right. Scrawled in blue Sharpie pen is one of the greatest lessons I will ever learn.

And I learned it from my four-year-old daughter.

Every day, we ask Charlotte two questions during dinner.

What was your favorite part about today?

What was your least favorite part about today? 

These two questions open up an opportunity for us to talk about wins in her day, as well as opportunities for growth. We can celebrate! And we can learn.

Most days, when asked about her favorite part of the day, Charli will tell us stories about fun activities from pre-school, sugar filled treats or special time with mom dad.

When asked about her least favorite part, she’ll recount a disagreement with a friend, getting in trouble or not getting something she wanted.

My favorite days are when I ask about her favorite part of the day while she bounces in her chair, eating her dinner. Without waiting until she swallows her bite, she bursts out: All of the day!

And when asked about the least favorite, she raises the eyebrows on her expressive little face and her eyes grow wide. She smiles and shouts, None of the day! 

None of the day.

The absence of anything negative in her day.

How fantastic!

Can you imagine if we all shared this same mentality? How might the world be different if we looked on our days and thought – no – believed that “all of the day” was our favorite part, leaving no room for any emotion other than joy?

I want to be undeniably in love with my life just like Charli.

So, I taped a small 3″x3″ paper to my monitor. I placed it strategically in front of the volume knob and where the monitor on the left meets the the monitor on the right. When I felt myself sliding toward negativity, my eyes darted to the paper to read the message.

What is your least favorite part of the day?

None of the day!

*Charlotte

I smiled and continued with the favorite part of my day – all of the day.

 

 

 

Glimpses of Jim

“I wish you could have met Jim.”

Adam kicked back in his recliner on Monday and told me stories about hanging out with HOS and Jim (HOS’ dad). There was something about the goofy smile on his face and the glean in his eye that was so genuine it was almost painful.

He laughed at his own stories of taking Jim’s ATV for a joy ride in the middle of the night only to have Jim come outside half naked and hollering. Adam and HOS would sit around and shoot the breeze with Jim while he drank his whiskey drink.

I recall the only picture of Jim that I see with frequency. It’s a snapshot of Jim on his office. He has white hair and beard. He is wearing glasses, a farmer hat and a sweatshirt. I don’t know what he sounds like, but HOS has shown me a video of him once before. I want to know what it is about Jim that makes Adam look the way he did when he talked about Jim.

Adam says that HOS is just like his dad. Mama HOS and his sister say the same thing, too, so it must be true!

I think I catch glimpses of it. Is that possible? Can I see pieces of someone I never met in my fiancé?

I think I hear it when HOS starts talking about taking care of the family. … Or complains about the weather, or “kids these days,” or my inability to remember where I parked my car and/or put my keys.

I think I see it in the way he shakes his head is amazement at people – not good amazement, think dumbfounded amazement. Or in the way he looks at Charlotte and plays with her. I think I see his dad in the lines he creates when he rubs his head when he is stressed (or mad).

I wish I could have met Jim, too. Beyond that, I wish he could have met Charli. I imagine he would have had the same look on his face that HOS did, a look layered with love, joy, fear, and determination to make sure the world doesn’t lay one finger on her precious body.

I think I would have liked Jim quite a bit.

Husband of Sorts is No More

You won’t be reading much about HOS on the blog moving forward… As of Tuesday, December 9, HOS is no longer my boyfriend.

He is my fiancé!!!

There are not enough exclamation points and smiley faces to adequately express my feelings. 🙂

How did he ask me?! Well, Let me tell you.

I came home to him pulling dinner out of the oven. I need to pause here for a moment. This is HUGE! HOS is a picky eater, so he hasn’t needed to cook. Ever. It’s crazy, I know.

We have had several conversations about cooking. Basically, I wanted some help in the kitchen. Coming home to find him pulling dinner out of the oven was a great moment in and of itself. I was elated to have the help, so I was hugging on HOS, giving him kisses and telling him thank you. I decided to razz him a little and said, “next thing you know, you’ll be proposing to me.”

The next thing I knew, HOS went upstairs. When he came back down, he had a black box. He had this smile on his face. I know he said something briefly as he handed me the box and dropped on his knee. I can’t tell you what he said. I was staring, dumbfounded, at the most beautiful ring!

HOS asked me to marry him, and I kept asking if he was serious, and is this was “for real.” I could hardly see through the rivers of tears running down my face.

There have been a few truly perfect moments in my life. One was Charlotte’s birthday, and one was this proposal.

Charli made it even better when I turned to show her my ring, and she said, “that’s MINE!”

I’m excited for the next chapter of my life with my beautiful little family. I love them more than they will ever know.

… Stay tuned for rants about wedding planning, bittersweet moments without my mom, and pitiful moments of wedding ignorance. 🙂

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Thanks, Mama HOS

It’s Thanksgiving night, and I have thousands of reasons to give thanks. God blesses me and mine more than we deserve. Tonight, though, I want to focus on my gratitude for HOS’ mom.

Mama HOS is amazing on so many levels. She is strong, determined, loyal and fierce. She is also gentle, loving, generous and kind.

Mama HOS doesn’t mess around when it comes to her life and her family. Because of that, she spoils the pants off all of us. There is no favor too big or too small. She takes care of her family. I could share one hundred reasons I’m thankful for her.

My #1 reason I’m thankful for Mama HOS is her pure, vast love for Charli.

This afternoon, I watched Mama HOS rock Charlotte. She whispered softly to Charli and made up stories while gently caressing Charlotte’s hair.

I excused myself from the room and went to find HOS. He took one look at me and asked if I was ok. I started crying and told him about his mom and Charlotte in the next room. I couldn’t explain why I was crying, but my heart couldn’t handle that scene without overflowing!

I think I have a better understanding now. I cried because I am thankful.

I’m thankful Mama HOS is here.

I’m thankful Charli has family nearby.

I’m thankful HOS’ family wants to have a close relationship with her.

I’m thankful that, while my mom can’t be here to rock Charlotte and love on her, Mama HOS (and Nana Sue) will fill that role and be so amazing. That is so hard for me because no one will be my mom, but damn, these grandmas are just right for my baby.

And now, I’m crying again.

Thanks, Mama HOS! 🙂

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12 Things I Learned While on Vacation With My Two-Year-Old

Last week, I took Charlotte on her very first vacation! There is nothing like taking a brand new two-year-old on a trip … without HOS … To visit family six hours away. But seriously, I made precious memories with my sweet baby, and I learned a lot.

What I learned while on a five-day vacation with my two-year-old:

1. If Charlotte is sleeping in the car, do NOT wake her! Sure, she refused to eat lunch and the only food in her belly may be seven donut holes (don’t judge!) but once she is awake, there is no going back to sleep.

2. Don’t be cheap about audio books. I don’t know. Maybe you enjoy listening to one chapter read by a British woman followed by one chapter read by a gruff old man followed by a chapter read by someone whose accent is so heavy you simply skip the chapter in its entirety. If you don’t enjoy some odd woman reading in strange little voices that make you seriously consider listening to local, rural Nebraska radio stations, then I recommend paying for the audio book on Audible or using an app from your library.

3. Charli is afraid of men. She seemed to develop a leeriness of men overnight. She has never met you? She doesn’t like you. You’re her papa whom she talks about constantly? She doesn’t like you. You’re her cousin who plants a sweet kiss on her forehead? She dislikes you so much she cries.

4. The need for naps is real, people. Trust me, you don’t want to test this!

5. Charli is afraid of trains. She will stand in a completely empty room and begin telling me, “I scare. I scare! Twains, mommy!” An hour later, she sill stand in a room filled with toy trains, a conductor hat placed backward upon her head, and she is happy! I can’t pretend to understand this child.

6. Sugar is not a source for sustainable energy. Charlotte tried to prove me wrong all week long, and failed every time.

7. Charli is afraid of farm animals. I’m fairly certain this is due to the fact that all animals have faces. This is apparently very scary, especially when said farm animals look Charlotte in the face.

8. There are few greater feelings than your baby (two-years-old counts..) falling asleep in your arms. There are few greater workouts for your thighs than climbing two flights of stairs while carrying that 27 lb “baby!”

9. Charli is afraid of curtained windows. … For this, I have no explanation.

10. Tantrums thrown by a “two” are not at all like what you people describe! They are worse.

11. Charli is afraid dogs. Again, they have faces.

12. If possible, always leave for a road trip at the beginning of nap time, preferably when Charlotte has a full belly! Driving solo with a toddler trapped in a car seat is no easy feat! (And remember #1!)

What lessons have you learned on your family vacations?

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Unintentionally Sad Blog Post

One of my clients recently told me her children are 18 and 16 years old. I asked if her oldest was still home or off at college. This was her response…

My daughter is 18 and a senior. She is headed to college in the fall. I go back and forth between wanting to change the locks while she’s at school to following her around the house like a puppy saying, “Why do you want to leave me?” Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was cutting her grapes in half and sleeping on her floor when she had a fever? Sigh . .

You know in movies how something small, like a phrase or song, will cause the lead characters eyes to glaze over as the movie transitions to a black and white memory scene?

This is nothing like that.

But the email did bring tears to my eyes as I remembered my senior year of high school. My last year with my mom.

I remember summer 2004 when we would eat junk food and watch terrible TV. I remember awkward conversations. I remember laying my head on her shoulder for comfort. I remember questioning decisions in her life, only to have her catch me off guard or blow me away with her answer.

And I remember so much more, but those things would only embarrass me to share!

My senior year of high school, my mom and I began a transition from parent-child to parent-adult child, aka friendship. We never quite finished that transition, but I’m so glad we had the opportunity to begin that bond.

After forcing away the urge to cry, I smiled. I couldn’t bring myself to mention losing my mom. I don’t want to scare the woman! But I did write her this…

I remember my senior year with my mom. I learned so much about who she was.. How strong she was.. I say you have every right to follow your daughter around like a puppy. Give her extra hugs and kisses. Share some private mom/daughter time. She may not ever tell you, but it’s the best gift she’ll ever receive.

That goes for you, too, reader. I don’t care where you are at in your life, but you have every right to follow your children around and remind them of how much you love them. You never know when you won’t be there to remind them again.

End unintentionally sad blog post.

Limit The Smart Phone

I wonder what it was like to be in a relationship before Facebook, Candy Crush and text messages ruled the world. I would like to think that people sustained eye contact during conversations. People surely had more intellectual discourse. Active engagement occurred when people were together – they listened with our the distraction of dings, whistles and vibrations. They responded thoughtfully without having to be torn away from a miniature screen. People interacted in-person. What a world that must have been, and how differently relationships must have been…

Of course, short of some sort of technological catastrophe, I will never know what that is like.

I feel as though my generation has lost bits of its humanity for many reasons, but technology is behind most of them. Those are arguments that could go one for days. Right now, I’m concerned with our inability to converse for more than 30 minutes – or even 10 minutes – without checking our phones. How ridiculous!

I am no innocent party, mind you. I am equally as addicted to Facebook as the average 26 year old woman. I have spent hours mindlessly flipping through Pinterest. I’m not much for games on my phone unless they are word games, but that has more to do with a lack of skill than a lack of interest. I spend more hours on my phone than I get to see my daughter on week nights.

I repeat…

I SPEND MORE HOURS ON MY PHONE THAN I GET SEE MY DAUGHTER ON WEEK NIGHTS.

That is ridiculous.

HOS and I have had “conversations” when the only eye contact were quick glances up from screens. We make life decisions with our eyes down instead of looking up and looking forward.

What is wrong with us?! (Us being the collective generation.)

It’s likely that I romanticize the pre-smart phone era as a magical land with improved relationships. I know that the world has always had its distractions, but I doubt any have been as in-your-face as this.

When I visit my dad, it’s a phone-free zone, mostly. It’s not a rule in his house, but a God-given gift. His home is an a little valley and the reception is terrible! Count your blessings, dad.

Of course, I could connect to the Internet and access most things that way, but I choose not to because I enjoy the temporary separation from my awful relationship with my iPhone. I can better enjoy the limited time with my family. It is truly a gift.

I think it’s time I brought this to my house. In a drastic move, I could purchase a cell phone jammer to truly disable my connectivity… Or, a more sane approach will be to put my phone away when I walk in the door. The sound will be on in case of emergencies, but the phone itself doesn’t need to be within an arms length.

I want my time with my child to outweigh my time spent on this piece of hardware.

I want my time spent with HOS to really be with HOS.

I want my family to know what it means to spend time together and not just time next to one another.

It may be twelve days late, but I believe this will be the best resolution I could execute for me and my family.

In 2014, I will limit the amount of time I spend on my phone at home to no more than one hour per day. This phone time can only be used while Charli is sleeping.

May my life be better for it!

How do you think limiting phone time would impact your life?