Sunday, June 5, 2016

Deep Thoughts at a Country Music Concert

Last night, in the middle of a fantastic Keith Urban concert, a pretty deep thought popped up out of no where. One that was way too deep for the usual country music lyrics. (I mean, really... "Huntin, and fishin' and lovin' everyday?" How do they even write country music? My iPad didn't even want me to type that because of spell check!)

For a big part of the show, this was my view...

Obviously, I took this from an angle to be dramatic...before said deep thought hit me. I didn't stand there like a martyr the whole time. I wiggled around and watched over his shoulder and paid attention to the screen more than anything - not uncommon in such a large concert space. I was having a great time even with the slightly obstructed view.  

About 20 minutes before the concert ended, the couple next to Tom left. And, he slid over a few inches. Suddenly, I could see it all. Right in front of me. Though still far away, clear as could be.

I started thinking about was how one small little deterrent - a few inches - separated me from a straight-on shot of the stage. From a different angle, everything had changed.

What "straight shot" is just a few inches away? What little change needs to occur so that the next big thing is in sight? What problem might be solved with the simplest of answers or a tiny shift in thinking? What small change can be made for a completely new perspective?

At the moment, I'm not trying to solve life's biggest problems. I'm really just getting through the regular days of raising kids to be mature, responsible citizens. I also don't have answers to those questions (and I don't really even have a problem to which to apply them) but I'm sure going to chew on the thought for a while. I'm pretty sure it won't be anything earth shattering but it may just be a good tool in my problem-solving toolbox.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parenting is Hard and Makes No Sense

We all know this right?

Let me tell you about our most recent example of how this played out at our house...

Many of our friends and family may know that Tessa has always been quite the picky dresser. She has also been a bit of a "spirited" child. (I just love that term - it sounds so fun! It's not so much...most of the time.)

A little background...

From the time she was 2 until about 2 months ago, Tessa has worn jeans by choice approximately zero times. Uncomfortable, and probably more importantly in her mind, unstylish, Tessa would NOT wear them for anything. No bribe would work. Tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensued any time the topic was broached. It quickly became a battle just not worth fighting.

On another note, occasionally, spirited little Tessa would have a particularly chatty day at Pre-K or Kindergarden. Nothing serious, but enough for the teacher to bring it up at pick-up time or move down a color on the color chart. This never bothered Tessa and didn't really do much to deter her the next day.

Enter the infamous "Jean Punishment." This was a brilliant idea that worked almost without fail. In the course of our 10 years of parenting, we have tried countless ways to get our kids motivated to do what we want - sticker charts, chore charts, work punishments, time-outs - you name it we tried it. This was the simplest and the one with the most success. If behavior was an issue at school, Tessa wore jeans the next day at school. Every time and it worked. The following days were so much better!

Now, you may ask how we got her to actually put the jeans on since they were so terrible. I have no idea. It defies logic. I have no idea why, when it was a punishment, she would willingly put them on without an argument, a tear or even an ounce of hesitation. But, thankfully, she did. And, it worked. Her kindergarden teacher kind of thought we had achieved expert parenting status. In reality? We were just lucky. Something worked and it stuck. For a while anyway and then it stopped working and we started trying new things all over again.

Anyway, that was all just backstory to what happened tonight. And, why parenting is just such a wild card and just hard.

About 2 months ago, Tessa decided jeans were not so bad. Little by little, she sweet talked her dad into a handful of pairs. On our last trip to Ohio, she only packed jeans. That's it.

And, now tonight, we had tears about jeans again. She has no clean jeans for school tomorrow. The horror. How ironic right? My how things have changed! (And, now I'm getting flashes of what is in store during our junior high and high school days.)

Interestingly enough, she has four pair of dirty jeans on her bedroom floor. I did laundry today. I tried to logically explain to her, through her tears, that if she had simply put those jeans down the laundry chute, they would have magically been clean by tomorrow morning. Somehow, that logic didn't seem to help and just made the tears fall faster and louder.

Parenting is hard. Consistency is key until it doesn't work anymore. Kids love things until they hate them and vice versa. Logic is hard to communicate and is mostly lost on them. So is irony. (Sarcasm may fall in that category for some families, but not ours. It's so common in our house that they picked up on that real quick.)

All we can do is keep trying until something sticks and try again when that doesn't work anymore either. And, we have to hope that our unconditional love sticks most of all. Because even though they're not easy to figure out and they may do things that drive us batty, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Book List

I finally did it! 24 books in a year! It was a mix of serious and fun books and I also half read a handful of others. Here's the list with a brief (very brief) review. These are listed in order in which I read them with the exception of the last. I don't remember when I finished that one as it didn't make the list I keep in my phone.

1. Does this Church Make Me Look Fat? Rhoda Janzen - This was a cute book and an easy read. It's a memoir style book about the author's experience with the Mennonite Church and coming back to church after time away. 
2. Killing Jesus - Bill O'Reilly - I really enjoyed Killing Lincoln and this was no different! I couldn't put it down! Highly recommend! 
3. Best Kept Secrets - Sandra Brown - I don't remember anything about this one but I'm guessing it was a typical Sandra Brown mystery. 
4. The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau- I don't remember this one being a particularly exciting book but I liked the idea. Basically, we are happiest when we have goals and are actively working to achieve those goals. I wholeheartedly agree!
5. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - I liked this one. It's an easy read and a little bit of a unique premise. Plus, it is part of a series so the fun can continue.
6. Private #1 Suspect - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - See #3 except replace Sandra Brown with these authors. 
7. Yes Please - Amy Poehler - Another good one! I realized this year that I am a sucker for memoirs. And, it seems I have particular affection for those written by women. The only thing I will say about this book is that I was surprised at the drug references. Maybe I should have known this happened but I was surprised nonetheless. 
8. Wild - Cheryl Strayed - This ranks up there with my favorites of this year. The author does some crazy stuff for sure. I watched the movie too and I will suggest that you read the book first. (Actually, that's almost always my suggestion!)
9. 1-2-3 Magic - Thomas W. Phelan PhD - I can't remember how I even found this book but I'm glad I did! This is a book on disciplining your children and I just loved it. It's a great system to use and you can implement it right away. Plus, the author is really funny and sarcastic which I enjoyed. 
10. Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot - John L. Parker - I had to buy a used copy of this book because it's no longer published. So, if you want to borrow it, just let me know! This is the book that got me moving down the path of slow running. The author does a great job of explaining why this works without getting extremely technical. Although, if you search for this online, you may come across a brief essay of just a few pages that describes the concept in fewer words. This book, and the concept, has made my running much more enjoyable!  
11. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - Why do I always put off reading bestsellers!?! I seem to be the last to the party on a lot of these. Regardless, I read this and loved it! It was one I just couldn't put down! I watched this movie after reading as well and again suggest you read the book first. Highly recommend!
12. Breaking Night - Liz Murray - Look at that! Another female memoir! This is about a girl who was raised in less than favorable circumstances, became homeless as a teenager and then later went on to an Ivy League school for college. A very interesting glimpse into a world in which I am not familiar. I have thought about Liz Murray and her situation frequently throughout the year, especially when social issues come up as a topic of discussion. Highly recommend!
13. Racing Weight - Matt Fitzgerald - Interesting read but probably beyond my level of nutrition and running. It is geared more for the elite/professional/serious runner. However, I still picked up some interesting tips!
14. Two for the Dough - Janet Evanovich - These are fun and easy reads. Nothing else to say here!
15. Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman - Uhhhh... This is another female memoir. This one is written by the real woman behind the Netflix series. Suffice it say, the series is pretty highly embellished in a lot of areas. Every once in while though, I would be surprised by something that I thought was made up for the show but it was actually reality. Good book. 
16. So Long, See You Tomorrow - William Maxwell - Though this was a quick read, I can't say that I enjoyed it. I think it was too deep for me. It felt like a book that I would have been required to read in my freshman English class. Not one of my favorites. 
17. 80/20 Running - Matt Fitzgerald - I bought this book at the same time as Racing Weight. It is similar to the heart rate training book listed above, but with more specific data and training plans. 
18. How to Be Rich - Andy Stanley - Hint: it has nothing to do with money. In fact, we're all rich in so many ways. This is a short little book and I would say worth the read. I really like Andy Stanley. 
19. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins - Again, why did I wait so long?!?! I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It is very intense so make sure you can stay up late to finish this one!
20. American Crucifixion - Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church - Alex Beam - This was one that popped up on my library's e-reader's site. It was interesting but long and unnecessarily so. I learned some new things though. 
21. Life on the Ramona Coaster - Ramona Singer - Last one - I promise! Yet another female memoir!i saw this at the library and couldn't resist. I watch Real Housewives of New York usually on the treadmill or while doing laundry. I can't say it was super interesting but it was a fast read and a glimpse into a totally different world. 
22. Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson - If you read Wild, you should read this one soon after you finish! Bill Bryson chronicles his time on the Appalachian Trail in a humorous and informative way. It has made me at least consider a multi-day hike on the trail at some point in my future. 
23. The Mistletoe Promise - Richard Paul Evans - A good book to read around the holidays! Another quick read, but I enjoyed it. I may have to read some more books by this author, especially around the holidays. 
24. The Anxiety Toolkit - Alice Boyes PhD - Another impulse library selection! I definitely have my bouts with anxiety that range from silly worries to the more serious things that border on panic. My anxiety issues have grown as I have aged and this book did a good job of offering simple solutions and tactics for a lot of the simpler issues. 

If you asked for a suggestion, these are the ones I would recommend...

Killing Jesus
1-2-3 Magic (if you have young kids anyway)
Gone Girl
Breaking Night 
The Girl on the Train 

Can we say "Girl Power?!" Well, other than Jesus anyway. :) I've had other years of specific genres taking over my reading list, but this one does seem a little heavy in one area. Oh well. I found something I liked and stuck with it!

Let's see what 2016 will bring!

You can find my old lists here - 2014, 2013, and 2012.