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What do you Remember and Love most about your Mom?

cheeriosWhat do you remember and love most about your mother?

I saw this note posted on one of the message boards I subscribe to and it got me thinking.  It is fun exercise to do both in remembering back to your own childhood and also in terms of the children currently in your life.

We put so much effort into some things….spending obscene amounts of money making sure the birthday party is just right – be it for a 3 year old (seriously) or a Sweet 16 teen, planning the family vacation so it will be enjoyable for the kids, signing up for all the after-school activities they could possibly want to do – and then a few more just to keep them well-rounded and having fun…the list can go on and on.

But when our kids look back, what is it that they will really remember?   The amazing DJ you just had to hire for their …

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Being Smart vs Working Hard

BluesClues

We just figured out Blue’s Clues

We just figured out Blue’s Clues

We just figured out Blue’s Clues

Because we’re really smart!

The dad ran over and shut off the TV when he heard the popular jingle and gave his 3-year old daughter HIS version of the song:

We just figured out Blue’s Clues  —  Because we worked so hard!

“No no, Daddy,” his daughter exclaimed reproachfully.  “That isn’t how it goes!”

Well, it should be, as far as he’s concerned.  Of course, when he recounted the story to us, an auditorium packed full of parents, we all chucked – but his view has stuck with me ever since.

You see, popular wisdom of late has been that you tell kids they are smart.  A Columbia University survey says over 85% of parents feel that way.  After all, we want to build them up, not tear them down.  But this dad’s contention, as well as many other experts in …

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Helping Our Kids Choose

RemoteWhen do you switch over from TELLING kids to do (or not do) something to having them make the decision for themselves?  Obviously it varies based on their ages and the topic at hand, but ultimately, isn’t that what we are going for?  To have our children CHOOSE:  to read a book instead of play a video game, to skip dessert because they are already full, to step in and help someone without being asked, to use their good manners on a daily basis no matter where they are, etc.

A friend was telling me about the new system she has implemented after being inspired by the book Lighting Their Fires. Every day her children are “screen-time” free, they get a star on a chart.  The stars add up and they are able to earn a reward (right now it’s a trip to Michael’s to pick out some sort of art/craft project – a recommendation from the book to …

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Where did Good Manners Go?

Zip it Does it seem (in light of recent events) that good manners and civility have gone out the window?  Want some easy lessons at how to get them back?  Just follow the lead of the 5 and under set. “It’s easy,” exclaims my daughter.  “You just zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket.” She runs a finger across her lips zipping them up, turns an imaginary key to lock up her closed mouth and then slips that key in her pretend pocket.  Done.  How simple was that!

How nice it would have been if Congressman Wilson could have remembered to zip it and lock it.  Ditto Kayne West.  I’ll even add Serena Williams’ tirade to the list, although some seem to feel the rules are different for sports figures (not this Zen Mama Wannabe, however).  How nice it would be to think that good manners were commonplace in our country.  That the things you learned when you were …

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Embracing the Moment

Dad at Work He braids her hair in these two little strands, one on each side of her face, just about every night.  Not only does it keep the hair out of her eyes, but she gets lots of compliments on them too.  She loves to tell everyone that it’s her DADDY (not Mommy) that does it for her.  I think she gets a kick out of their shocked reaction; she then goes on to say that he learned how cuz he rode horses as a kid and had to learn to braid horse hair.  She beams proudly and I imagine this will continue on until she gets tired of it and eventually wants something new.

But this father-daughter activity almost ended abruptly one night  – until my husband had one of those “aha” moments.  He had had a long day.  As usual. He was tired.  And distracted. His mind was a million miles away – and to be honest, the last …

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Average?? or Extraordinary??

LightingTheirFireI am not interested in being average. For myself or my kids.  Children first come us as these beautiful souls.  I believe our job is to help guide, shape, and encourage them to live up to their full potential as extraordinary human beings.   Just as I am always working to better myself, I am also constantly working on how I can help my kids become better too.  I don’t mean in sports or academic subjects – I am talking about something much bigger and grander (and more important, in my view) – LIFE.

In Life, I want my kids to choose to be kind.  To always have good manners and a fire in their belly to keep learning more.  I want my kids to soar.  To figure out what is to be their contribution to the world – and then make it.  I am not interested in them being just like all the others.  I see what the pack is …

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Aren’t You Glad?

Our food order got screwed up. It happens, right? We all got what we ordered except for my son – who received grilled cheese instead of the kids’ cheese pizza he had requested. Yes, it happens to all of us at one time or another. And like the famous saying about life, “it isn’t what happens to you, it is how you HANDLE it that counts.”

As soon as the food was delivered, my son immediately spoke up. He politely informed the waitress that he had ordered the cheese pizza. She agreed he had, apologized, and went back to the kitchen. Time ticked by. My husband got grumpy. We started feeding my son some of our French fries (ironic because I had told him he would have to order fruit or vegetables as his side, not the beloved steak fries. I had assured him we would share some of our fries with him, but had NO idea it would end …

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Time to Paint

Two minutes to cover the table in newspaper.  1 minute to get paints, brushes, and paper out of the art drawer.  30 seconds to get old oversized t-shirts on my daughter and myself.  Altogether less than 5 minutes to make my daughter’s wish for a fun afternoon come true.  So why was this the first time I had pulled the paints out in years??!

When my son was little, I did the whole painting thing – like most first time Moms do – only outside of course.  But somewhere along the way, we went through a hectic phase (maybe due to their ages – I don’t remember) and also moved where to it wasn’t so weather-perfect all the time, and that’s when I must have decided painting could be an AT school activity.

My son’s preschool art portfolio is FILLED with wonderful paintings that he did at preschool.  Big, lovely, abstract works that fill the whole sheet of paper.  My …

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Sink or Swim

As I sat there dutifully watching my kids during their swim lessons, I couldn’t help but posting an update on Facebook:

First day of swim lessons and Little One put her head all the way in the water! Will miracles never cease?!

Less than 10 minutes later, I had to issue a retraction. Got a little too cocky. Daughter is excelling yes, but it’s at shaking off the teacher. Back to Square One.

By Day 2, she was whining about having to go, pretending to be asleep in the car when we got there. As if I’d just say, “Oh that’s right honey, you just go ahead and sleep through this lesson I’m paying for and have spent the last 30 minutes getting to. That’s right, just go ahead and sleep.” Ha – in your dreams!

Besides, earlier that morning I had done what any good Zen Mama Wannabe does….I had consulting with some wise women of willful girls good …

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An Agreement to be Kind

The Four AgreementsMy older child is quick to point out my younger one’s mistakes.  Any time.  Every time.  All the time.  Needless to say it only adds fuel to the bickering fire and my fire extinguisher has been working overtime this summer.  I have had enough.  So in the calmest, non-yelling voice this Zen Mama Wannabe has when I feel my buttons being pushed, I announce:

You know, Wayne Dyer talks about when you have a choice to be right or be kind, choose being kind.

My son actually stops talking to listen.  He’s interested in Dr. Dyer.  I would have never thought to bring him up because, well, my son is 8.  It just never occurred to me.  But his 2nd grade teacher last year showed me a world of possibilities when she introduced the class to The Four Agreements.

Talking to 7 and 8 year olds about The Four Agreements?  I know adults who have never …

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