Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Precious Moments

For the first time in months I have been at a true loss for words. Every time I start to write, I stop myself. There just doesn't seem anything worthy of saying, no words of wisdom, no witty one-liners....nothing that moves me to words on paper. On the contrary, I've done the opposite. I've retreated into a shell in order to process the events of the past month in our small town.

A month ago, a young man, just a year younger than my oldest son, was diagnosed with brain cancer. In a few short weeks, he's had surgery to remove the tumor and started his first round of treatments. A week ago today, another young man, just a few months older than my second son was in a tragic car accident that took his life. His death shook our close-knit community and has had moms and dads clinging extra tightly to their babies as these are reminders that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

I question, "why does this happen to kids"? Yet, I stop myself in knowing God's will should not be questioned. Then I read the writings of the mom whose son is battling cancer. Unknown to her, she strengthens my faith. (and if I had to guess, I’m not the only one) She is dealing with unknowns for her baby boy and has accepted this is not something she can kiss and make better. She has put it in God’s hands. She writes about her thoughts and this journey and I am inspired by her strength, courage, hope and, especially, faith. It’s too easy to give up on God when faced with tragic news. Not once has she wavered in her faith and she keeps me from questioning “why these kids, God?” Her son is her hero.

She is mine.

All too often we take the day-to-days for granted. I am guilty of stressing about schedules and “not enough time in the day” to do this and that. I don't know how good I have it. How dare I?  Instead, there’s been a significant shift in my focus. It seems the things that brought me stress, no longer seem so important. I stop what I’m doing, immediately, when my 10 year old decides to share every detail of his day verses rush him through it because I have a call to make. I spent the afternoon with my 14 year old on Saturday. We chatted, laughed, and for the first time in a long time, were not rushed in conversation or to get somewhere else. He had my undivided attention, which, sadly, has been hard to come by. Looking back, more times than not, I’ve been the mom that has been there physically, but not mentally. I am going through motions to try to do and say the right things as a parent, but I’m missing the mark by not taking a break from outside influences that suck away my time and attention. These influences have also taken away a bit of my faith.

Yet God speaks to each of us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a roar. It may be directly to us or through other people. By His grace, my ears are open and I hear Him loud and clear. I realize it’s time to reevaluate and reprioritize. Just when I start to wander off the path with my "not enough time in the day"s , I am reminded by the faith of others and my own renewed faith in what truly matters: 


Take them. Cherish them. Hold them dear to your heart. 

And if it so happens you're blessed with tomorrow, do it all over again.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Acts of Kindness on My Darkest Day of the Year

March 20th: It's time for a change.

Twenty years is a long time to harbor hate for a day that should be nothing but a celebration of life, so I made up my mind to make it all about the good. It became a happy day on my calendar to honor the greatest man I have ever known. My daddy.

I documented my plan, my thought process along the way as well as the actual events on a website I created specifically for that day. I also reached out to friends to take part in their own random acts of kindness on that day as well. Many people participated. I am working on compiling a few stories to share. 

Check it my story:

Circa 1974.

From this year forward I dedicate that day on my calendar to spreading love and kindness throughout the day. We should never waste another moment wishing for the past, instead work at changing our future....for the better.

I miss you daddy. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Operation Wink - Spread Kindness

March 20th will mark twenty years since my father passed away, which means I will have spent exactly half my life without my father in it. It's difficult for me to fathom. For 2 decades I have hated March 20th. It is a reminder that another year has passed without his gentle personality, dry wit and wisdom. And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't mourn my kids never knowing, first hand, what an amazing person he was.

This year I decided I was not going to dread March 20th. Instead I am making plans to do something uplifting for the soul. I plan to celebrate!

Celebrate what, you ask?


I have now deemed this month as a kick-off for Operation Wink.

Winking: a friendly gesture. "Wink" was also my childhood nickname given to me by my dad. I feel the word is fitting for exactly what I would like to accomplish on this particular day. 

I ask that you join in by "winking" at others by spreading a small act of kindness in the way of a note to a friend. Choose 10 Twitter or Facebook friends who you feel may need something uplifting in their day. Write a message of encouragement, love, praise, etc. You can choose to send it anonymously (or sign it) and drop it in the mail. Please print the "Operation Wink" image below to send along with your note in honor of this kindness gesture. 

Print me!

Knowing that kindness is spreading is something for me to rejoice in on March 20th. Thank you, friends.

Make kindness go viral! is a great reference for mailing addresses.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Performance Reviews for Parents?!

I work full time for a construction management firm where we have yearly performance reviews. Most of the time, I feel I do a good job meeting the company’s expectations. But there are times when I THINK I’m doing a good job, but somehow I have completely missed the boat. Unless someone is there to guide me back on task, I keep moving in a direction that isn’t necessarily the right one. My intentions are good, but my deliverable isn’t up to par. I need to reevaluate, be aware, make the adjustments and move on.

As a mom, I feel that it’s just as important to have my performance evaluated as well. We spend day in and day out with our kids, parenting: “please sit up straight”, “why didn’t you make your bed when I asked?”  “Why is this grade not an A!” “Put your phone away at the table” "Why can't you replace the toilet paper roll?" It’s our job to give guidance and advice even if it isn’t necessarily always welcomed on the receiving end. With that said, I often wonder how I am doing with this whole Mom thing. When was the last time you looked at your kid and said, “Am I doing a good job?”  Like my job outside of the home, I think I’m doing fairly well, but no one really tells me otherwise. (probably from fear of getting grounded) So I put on my big girl panties and asked the big question to my 4 kids.

"If you could describe your mom in 5 words, what would they be?"

As I asked the question to my older 3 boys, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. The feeling was the exact one I feel at work, but this time it was personal! Ouch!

My oldest was first to answer. His response was almost immediate. I wasn’t really sure if that was a good sign or not. Then I read his text:


Uh, wait.... did he say "crazy"?

My third son answered next.

Alwaysright? Damn straight, son. That answer may partly stem from my turning into the proper English/grammar police with him lately. If correcting him makes me alwaysright, I don't wanna be alwayswrong.

My second son then answered:

Annoying? What the??? Well... to be honest, I guess I am all up in their business (hence the questionnaire and detective comment from Mann boy #1) I s'pose that could be annoying to a teenager. But teenagers are annoying so we're even. 

I decided with my 10 year old to add a couple of questions. He's pretty brutally honest. Let's face it, that's the entire point of a performance review, no? To get honest feedback? Not to mention he has the most years left stuck in the house with his mother, so I felt I may need to specifically pay attention to what he has to say.

Here are his brilliant honest answers.
My favorite child
Apparently I'm funny, according to 100% of my children. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing. Do they not take me seriously? Am I 'cool' funny? Or am I "she's so stupid - funny?"

The 10 year old also thinks I'm cheery, skinny, nice, and fun. Did I mention skinny? 

I could do better by taking him to McDonalds and La Cocina (his fave Mexican restaurant) more. Get a job, kid. I annoy him by making him go to bed early. Tough shiznit. And I make him happy by taking him to sports. If that's the case, he should seriously be the happiest kid in the world. I drag his arse to A LOT of sports.

In summary, I'm a funny, caring, nice, helpful, smart, loving, fun, crazy, silly, cheery, annoying, protective, questionnaire, skinny detective who is always right.

My assessment of their evaluation?

Nailed it!

Skinny Mom

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You're Gonna Miss This

Ten "Lightyears" Later
In the throes of sports schedules, school projects, birthday parties, sleepovers, snotty noses, injuries, tantrums, and tears, I am one irritable, stressed out Mom. Most days I can keep it together, but there are times I want to put myself in timeout indefinitely until the dust settles from my kid sh*tstorm of the day.

But I am reminded by veteran moms: "You're gonna miss this".

To moms and dads of newborns who've inflicted sleep deprivation: the middle-of-the-night moments of rocking, wrapping their tiny hands around your finger, smiling and cooing can never be relived.

You're gonna miss this.

To moms and dads of toddlers eventually finding their way through your house like a tasmanian devil on crack, ripping out drawers and cabinets: Their sweet, inquisitive minds of innocence will be gone in a flash.

You're gonna miss this.

To moms and dads of young children who spend hours cursing and assembling toys on Christmas Eve and who frantically search for dollar bills the evening after an unexpected tooth loss: The pure excitement over the simplest moments in life will never be the same once they stop believing.

You're gonna miss this.

To moms and dads of children who have 6 places to be in one day: Before you blink, they'll have their own license and the moments in the car of cherished conversation are now replaced with moments at home, praying they'll get there safely.

You're gonna miss this.

To moms and dads of school aged children whose projects seem to never end: You will find that once they're in college, you are rarely in the loop with anything in their lives, much less projects.

You're gonna miss this.

To moms and dads of active kids in sports, dance, music, etc. wishing for just one night you could have a dinner that was something other than the fast food variety and that you could have just one night at home: One day you will find that, while you felt you lived your life in the car; every game, every recital, every proud moment in the midst of chaos was worth your sacrifice.

You're gonna miss this.

With my youngest at 10, I realize more each day how much I miss my babies as babies and the things I once complained about, I wish, even for just a moment, I had them back.

While this song starts out with advice we give our kids, there's a reflection of being a parent that brings tears to my eyes....especially in the last verse. Take a moment to listen.

You're gonna miss this.

"But you're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
You're gonna miss this
Yeah, you're gonna miss this"

Friday, February 7, 2014

2 Decades of Tantrums, Tears, and Terds

At 20 I had no idea what to expect when becoming a mom. I was excited, I was nervous. I read all the books, I listened to the all the doctors, I prepared my 20 year old brain as much as I possibly could. After 18 long and gruesome hours of labor, a doctor whom I hated, forceps which I hated more and a 9 1/2lb baby sunny side up, I realized I might not be ready for all this.

But it was too late. 

Ready or not, here he came.

At 6:09pm on a Monday night, he entered my world. This beautiful, bright eyed baby boy totally and completely dependent on me. I was overjoyed and scared out of my mind. My fears of how I could completely screw up this kid were on the forefront of my mind, but overshadowed by a love of immense proportions. 

2 days later, we were sent on a merry way. With the exception of a baby blanket and a La Leche Hotline to call, we were on our own. People often joke about the lack of materials given to parents. "Where's the manual to this thing?" As a young mom, I needed all the help I could get.

While I continued to read the parenting books, I noticed a trend in how they left out how to properly handle important episodes of parenting, such as:

- Blowouts that resulted in scrubbing sweet potato baby poop with a toothbrush out of every crevice on a crib.

- Blowouts that resulted in a toddler being stripped down, handed out the window directly behind him and being hosed off in the backyard. It was a one story window and summertime, people, Simmer down.

- Meltdowns in stores that resulted in 45 seconds of parental ignoring (so I could pay for my stuff & get the hell out), ugly stares from strangers in line, and a kid flailing in the floor because I wouldn't let him have candy..... 
....or push the cart into displays
....or run from me
....or trash the entire store
....or lick the floor

- Mastering the potty training stance of him standing on my feet to make him just tall enough to pee in public potties and the blood curdling mom scream when he'd reach for the germ infested toilet seat to balance himself.

- Getting used to the woman-stare when I would take him in the Ladies Room with me. Wha??? Is 14 too old? I merely jest. He was 4.

- Learning how to get used to the morning preschool drop offs without tears. And he stopped crying eventually, as well.

- Knowing the right solutions to those dreaded notes that came home from preschool:
"Your son bit his friend in school today"
"Your son pushed his friend on the playground today"
And worrying that this little punk is going to grow up with no friends.

- Learning to let go of the daily little battles. If he wants to wear his spiderman costume to school, by god, let him. If he wants to wear his Duke sweatshirt a third day in a row in 95 degree heat, by all means, DO IT. 

Through the years, parenting became easier in some aspects and harder in others. The blowouts, meltdowns and tears eventually evolved into stubborness, hormones, laziness, and tears. Eventually the "Untold Parenting Obstacles" were:

 - Riding his waves of triumphs and defeats as a spectator, as a cheerleader, as a motivator, as a Mom; sometimes clueless, sometimes well educated. 

- Seeing him hurt and my desire to beat and torture the little assmunch that hurt him. No book warned me about Mom-Sympathy-Heartbreak. That sh*t hurts. And it hurts bad.

- Watching him pull out of the driveway for the first time after getting his drivers license = my heart being ripped out of my body. A little dramatic? Maybe. But totally accurate.

- Dropping him off at college and fighting the urge to fall on the floor, grab him by the ankle and beg him not to stay.

2 decades ago, I embarked on this amazing journey of Mommyhood. In a sense, we grew up together. I thought I was guiding him, but looking back, he was the one guiding me. As many moms do, I wonder quite often "If I had to do over...." 

And I wouldn't change a thing.  

Well, maybe less sweet potatoes as a toddler

As a 20 year old mom, I worried I wasn't quite prepared to raise him. As a 40 year old mom, I'm worried I'm not quite prepared to let him go. But in spite of the amount of birthdays, he'll always be my baby boy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Dear Superbowl Advertisers: BRING BACK FUNNY!

To the Advertisers who have paid out the wazoo for a slot during the SuperBowl; here's a hint for next year:

We want you to either:

1) Make us laugh.
2) Make us cry.

OR you've hit the motherload if you make us laugh until we cry.

This year, with the exception of Budweiser stepping up to the plate tugging at the heartstrings of America, the rest of you big spenders did not get my attention. 
Oh wait, H&M did......but I digress. 

Pull an emotion out of us. It isn't that hard. I am neither a SeaHawks fan or a Broncos fan, but I am a Superbowl commercial fan. Or at least I WAS until you decided to crap all over the TV with blah-ness. Make a connection with your viewers.

Let's bring back some old school SuperBowl funnies for those of you who were just as disappointed as I was last night.

The worst feeling EVER....

The dreaded question..... 

It's cute, creative, and funny!

The Man's Man Commercial

And my all time fave!