Tag Archives: family

I don’t want to be mean and strict. I really don’t.

Is it too much to ask that when I come home from work, my kids come running to the door with hugs and kisses, saying, “Mama! We’re so glad you’re home, we missed you so much! Thank you for going to work to support us! Did you have a good day?”

Yeah. Too much.

But it seems they could at least say, “Hi Mama!”

Know what I got today? Seriously, the first words out of Anna’s mouth:

“Can I watch a show on TV?”

“Not right now, let’s have dinner, then you can watch a show after dinner.”

They do not get to watch TV every day. It’s either a reward, or it’s because I need the 30 minutes to do whatever. To be honest, I was looking forward to them watching a few shows after dinner because I had a lot on my proverbial plate and I just wanted to sit and chat with Brian for a while.

But within seconds, Anna had turned on the TV.

“Anna! I just told you not until after dinner. If you disobey me again, you won’t get to watch ANY shows today at all. Do you understand?”


I turned my back and what does she do? Turns on the TV again. I turned it off and stared at her, astonished.

“But I just…”

“I don’t care what you thought you were doing. I told you no, and you disobeyed me. You knew the consequences!”

Oh, the crying. The wailing, the excuses.

Damnit! I really wanted that time to myself later! Such a selfish mommy I am. And I really wanted a peaceful evening with my family. But truly, it never occurred to me that – faced with losing TV for the whole night – she would disobey me like that. She has shown a remarkable ability to delay immediate gratification as a trade for something bigger and better later. So what gives? I might not have made that particular threat if I thought she would force my hand.

It totally sucked to have to be all hard-core about this. Just like it totally sucks to have to say “Take your plate into the kitchen if you’re done eating!” EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.


I know I’m doing the right thing by being strict and following through on my threats. If I don’t, they won’t respect me. If they don’t respect me, they won’t respect their teachers. And their bosses. Or any authority. I get it. It’s important work. But sometimes a mama just needs an hour to herself while the kids are entertained by Phineas and Ferb. Is that too much to ask?



Filed under Family

Let your kids find their own friendships, or interfere?

A theme that keeps resonating for me is how I project my own childhood experiences onto my children.

It’s obvious that Anna is well liked by her peers, but she hasn’t really made any good close friends. She seems mostly fine with it, and I struggle to not try to force her in to relationships.

I just read this blog post from a woman who was confronted as an adult by this other woman who claims that she had been excluded by her as they were growing up. The author remembers her mom trying to force her to be friends with “Nadia,” and always being annoyed that she had be be around her when she really didn’t even like her that much. Nadia, on the other hand, considered this woman her friend, and was so hurt that she wasn’t included all the time.

It really struck me that I have to let my kids develop their own relationships. In fact, earlier in the school year there was a dear little girl who was wanting to play with Anna at school. Our families are friends, but Anna didn’t seem to want to be with her at school. I couldn’t understand it, and talked to her about it a little. We talked about how it might hurt that girl’s feelings, but I was also concerned for Anna, wanting her to have “best friend.” Here was this girl ready and willing to play that role, and Anna didn’t want it.

I didn’t try to force it, though. Despite my urge to. Eventually, it seems to have worked itself out. The girls are friends, certainly.

But what is it that makes Eric able to walk on a playground and immediately find some kids to play with, and Anna is usually the loner? I know she wants to play with the other kids, but maybe she doesn’t know how to initiate the engagement?

I’m not sure if I should try to help her, or just let it happen the way it happens.

This weekend, we were at a birthday party that was like a big playdate. Super fun! Anna was running around with two girls, and I thought – “good! she’s made some friends!” But then I saw the two girls run one way, and Anna came  dejectedly over to me and said, “Well that’s not very convenient!”

Once I got my snicker under control over her vocabulary, I asked her what was inconvenient. Apparently, the girls had decided to go outside on the teeter-totter, and obviously there was only room for two. I suggested that Anna ask the girls to take turns with her so she could be included, which she thought was a good idea.

But I just don’t know how much to interfere, and what kinds of tools I should be giving Anna for dealing with these types of situations, or tools for making friends. Or maybe I shouldn’t do any more than I am. I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that forcing friendships won’t actually result in friendships, but how much can we expect kids to be inclusive so nobody is left out?

Any advice for me?


Filed under Family

Birthday Bliss

“I come to the sea to breathe.”

I once received a notebook from then-Cannon Beach artist and poet Mary Anne Radmacher with those words written on the front. I think of them every time I visit the Oregon Coast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take just about any ocean beach, but the Oregon Coast is where my compass gets reset, my inner tides get aligned, and where I find myself.

It’s no wonder, then, that I long for the beach on my birthday.

Eric’s school auction was Saturday, preventing us from spending even one night, so a day trip would have to do. And it did!  We were blessed with an amazingly fantastic day. While I missed out on sitting in a cabin drinking wine watching the ocean planning out my goals for the year (I’ll take a raincheck on that activity), I’ll still call it a success.

We went to Gearhart, where a 10-mile stretch of beach is car-friendly. The only reason this is important is because it’s so much easier to deal with kids and sand at the beach at sunset when we can drive right out there and then not have to hike back out to the car after dark. We love Smuggler’s Cove and Manzanita for daytime beach play, but for sunset – we drive out past Gearhart.

Here are a few pics from the day. We were fortunate enough to have my brother Jeff join us, so we put him to work as staff photographer. Thanks, Brother!


pink light makes me happy


Eric and Brian enjoying a snuggle on the top of our climbing structure.


as silly as we want to be


horses heading south at dusk...


We stay off the higher dunes so as to not disturb the grasses, but a little bit of duney sand play is usually in order.


I just can't get enough of silver sunlight on water. It brings me peace like nothing else.


We parked near this big old tree, I think it must have washed up in the recent storms. Can you imagine this big thing bobbing around the ocean?


The view south, toward Gearhart and Seaside.


...and horses heading north at sunset!

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Filed under Family, Nature, Oregon, Travel

Swans at ZooLights @oregonzoo {Wordless Wednesday}


Filed under Family

Reflecting on the Year & Preserving Memories

I’m fairly crafty, but I just can’t get behind “scrapbooking.” For one thing, “scrapbook” is not a verb. I’m sorry – it’s just not!

Can you conjugate it? NO! So stop saying that!


I love the idea of preserving our memories, but refuse to do it in that way. It’s too labor intensive, often too cutesy, and most things I’ve seen look cluttery. Since I’m trying to streamline my home, the last thing I want ANYWHERE is more clutter.

So, how to capture the special times throughout the year and have a record to look back on, without being all cheesy/cutesy/cluttery?

I’ve found a few ideas over at TodaysMama.com, and I’m totally on board.

First, printable questionnaire to fill out with your kids. How cool is that? My kids are just old enough to both get in to this, and we can add the pages to the backs of their baby books – which haven’t been updated since each had their first birthday, by the way. I like the idea of sitting down with them and reflecting on the year, and they’ll remember different things than Brian and I will. You can download these printables over at Today’s Mama.

Next: Memory jar to keep throughout the year, seen on Today’s Mama, courtesy of The Steamy Kitchen:

Keep a jar and some notes nearby, and everyone in the family can add notes or memories or little treasures throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Eve, you can open up the jar and relive all your memories together. Pinterest has a ton of other memory jar ideas. I’m now kicking myself for putting those Pinkalicious theatre tickets in the recycling bin last week! I’ll have to come up with a way to manage this without it seeming like more clutter in my house… notice a theme, here?

Finally, we are taking pictures of the kids artwork and creating an online gallery. The idea is that I don’t have to save EVERY. PIECE. Anna in particular creates several pieces of art every day – it gets a little overwhelming. So we’re capturing them digitally, and recycling. Yes – I said it – I’M RECYCLING MY DAUGHTER’S PRECIOUS ARTWORK. Are you judging me? Admit it! There are some pieces that I just can’t bear to put in the recycling bin, so I’ve put those in a nearby plastic tub. Employing this new system has kept the giant piles of paper from accumulating in my dining room. We’re even taking pictures of all of her school work, and since they’re automatically date-stamped, we have a great record of the progress she’s making with her handwriting and spelling as she moves through Kindergarten. Awesome, right? I’m feeling so organized!

What ways do you keep track of your memories throughout the year?



Filed under Family, Home

Anna doesn’t want me to die.

My daughter is obsessing about the fact that {most likely} I will die before her. She cries about this, saying she just can’t bear to think about how sad she’ll be when I die.

I don’t really know how to handle this.

I’ve told her I feel the same way about my mom, but there’s no point in being sad for something that hasn’t happened yet and we should just enjoy the time that we have.

But on the other hand, this girl holds in her feelings a lot, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for her to have permission to cry about anything. I said, “Go ahead and cry it out instead of holding it in. But then when you’re done crying, think of all of your favorite things to do with me.”

I also told her what my friend Marcella told me: “Losing my mother was the hardest thing, and there’s no way to prepare for that level of sadness. So don’t think about it. There’s no point being sad about it before it happens, because there will be plenty of sadness after the fact.” That’s kind of a lot for a six-year-old to process, but it’s honest. I’ve held on to Marcella’s words whenever I start getting sad thinking about losing my own mom. I know it’s going to happen, but I have permission to not dwell on it until it does. Anna and my mom have a really special bond, and I’m almost more worried about her reaction to losing my mom than mine… almost.

I’m not sure how to help Anna get past this, so I’ll just keep letting her cry, and reassuring her that I {hopefully!} am not going anywhere soon.



Filed under Family

Active Outside {Mamavation Monday}

This week, The Mamavation Sistahood is talking about outdoor activity for your family. You can join the conversation at at the Mamavation TV show tonight (7pm PST/10pm EST on Mingle Media TV), it’s always a good time and you can win some great prizes while getting inspired by other mothers).


I love this week’s topic of getting outside with kids more often. I think we’re in the better-than-average realm of outdoor play, but I know we could be better. Hardly a day goes by (even a rainy one) without us finding a window for playing at the park, walking the dog, or riding bikes.

Rainy hike at Smuggler's Cove on the Oregon Coast

Before we had kids, Brian and I used to go camping nearly every weekend in the summer and our favorite date was a hike in the Gorge. Our work schedules in addition to the extra coordination it takes to camp with kids has really put a hamper on our camping. We can’t just take off on a weekend, because we don’t have any days off together. Drat. So that’s clearly an area that requires some attention! Any chance we get though, we’re of at the beach or going on an adventure.

Even though we’re not camping and hiking as much as we used to, it’s really easy to build in outdoor play. Before Eric’s accident, we walked or rode bikes to the Farmers Market every Saturday. We’ll get back to that when we’re ready, we’re just not ready yet!


Off to the Farmers Market in our handy wagon.

Autumn was late in arriving this year in Oregon, but WOW, is it ever spectacular now that it’s here. We have been going crazy with admiring leaves and trees and trying to count the colors on our walks. Out of respect for Brian, I declined to repeat our favorite past Autumn craft of tracing the veins of leaves with glue and glitter to create pretty decorations. That guy really hates glitter.

Mostly Mommyhood

One of our many outdoor nature crafts, this one with OUT glitter

Also, since we live within six blocks of both kids’ schools, we made a commitment to walk to school as many days as possible, even if it’s pouring down rain. We are Oregonians, after all! I really need to get a pedometer so I can track how much walking we’re doing! The only times we’ve skipped the walk is when we’re running too late and don’t want the girl to be tardy. Again.

As the weather gets colder, I know it will be easy for me stay in my office most of the day. On beautiful days I find all kinds of excuses for walking around the zoo! I need to take a cue from Brian and make a commitment, even in the rain! So I’m going to get a pedometer, stock my office with a spare pair of shoes, and commit to walking outside at least once a day!

How about you? How do you make sure you and your family are being active outside?


This post is sponsored by Omron and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway hosted by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women

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Filed under Family, Fitness, Nature