Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A letter to my Madeline

Dear Madeline,

Tomorrow you will turn 11 years old. It really seems like only yesterday I held you in my arms and sang you lullabies, that I watched you fall asleep with one pacifier in your mouth while you'd rub the other one on your perfect little nose, or that we watched Mickey's Christmas Sing-a-long Songs EVERYDAY for the month of August.

You have always been such a ray of sunshine to our family. I sometimes call you our glue stick because you usually seem to keep a level head and that encouraging "it will be OK" attitude. You make us laugh, you make us smile and you give us so much hope.

 You are growing up so gracefully, you make Daddy and I so proud.

As you enter your 11th year I wanted to give you some of my best mommy advice. No, I don't know everything, no one does. These are just some lessons I've learned over the years. Some took me longer to learn than others. And I am still learning, a little bit more every day. So here you go baby.

Somewhere along the way you will worry if you are OK. You probably already do sometimes. The answer to that is always YES! God makes every baby just how he thinks they should be, and expects them to grow in to who they really are. He doesn't want you to be a version of anyone else. Some people will make you think that if you aren’t, you aren't good enough. You are! Be true to yourself and be who you are with confidence. God made you, YOU and that is exactly who you should be.

Remember that everyone is meant to be different. Every girl and every lady is made different. Some are taller and thinner and some aren’t. Every person is built different and that is what makes us beautiful. Don't ever feel like you need to fit into some mold of what beautiful is. Those girls you see in catalogs and the women you see in magazines, they aren't real.  Beautiful isn't super skinny with big boobs and a perky behind. It is whoever you are. Real is beautiful. You are beautiful, don't every forget that and don't ever let anyone tell you different. You are perfect just as God made you.

My Grandmother, who was stunningly beautiful, always told me "Pretty is as pretty does" Pretty shows through from the inside. Sometimes you will get caught up in a group of friends being mean and catty towards others. Don't lower yourself down there, baby. Give everyone a chance. Not everyone needs to be your friend, but everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. Be kind to people baby, even when they don't deserve it. Because people who don't deserve it, probably need our kindness the most.

Never, ever think that you can change someone else or that it your job to save them. People deserve our kindness and our understanding. What they do with that is entirely up to them. You can’t make them be any different than who they are or save them from themselves.

 As you get older, people you know, maybe even your closest friends may change. They might start trying drugs or alcohol, or fooling around with boys. I want you to always be strong enough to do what you know in your heart is right. All that grown up stuff can wait baby. Don't throw your life away to fit in. Don't change who you are so people will like you and don't ever let someone talk you in to doing something you know is wrong. You might think everyone is, so.. you may as well too, that is so not true baby. There are other kids out there who have your values, look for them. They will love you for who you are. If people bully you or put you down to make you do something, they don't deserve your friendship. Stand up for who you are and what you know is right.

BOYS.... this is a biggie Shortcake. You have such a bright future ahead of you. Don't waste your time with boyfriend girlfriend stuff. It takes away from all the wonderful things about being a kid. Why spend your time or your emotion on a silly boy whose name you won't remember and who you will probably eye roll at the thought of later in life. You have the rest of your life to have boyfriends. Wait until you are sure about who you are, where you are going and what you want for yourself before you decide a boy is worth being a part of your life. The happiest girls and the most confident women are the ones who wait. Don't be in too big a hurry to grow up.

Things always look better in the morning. Getting dressed always makes you feel better and hugs can make hurt fade. Forgiveness can make your life lighter and if you look at things with n open heart, even bad things can become blessings. Take everything life gives you with gratitude, you never know when you have been given a blessing in disguise. Laugh, a lot, it is one of the best life survival tools I know.

Happiness is a choice. YOU chose to be happy or not. No one else can make you happy and sadly sometimes people will hurt you. Don't let that hurt or disappointment define you baby. Write your own life story. Decide how you want your story to go. Smile and act how you want to feel.

You aren't, nor will you ever be perfect. I'm not trying to be mean, it is just true. Perfection is so over rated. It is exhausting. You can waste so much energy on being perfect when you could just decide to be happy. Don't try to be perfect and never expect to be perfect. That is just setting yourself up to fail. Do your best, work hard, believe in yourself, learn from your mistakes and never stop working to become a better person. Forget perfect, be real, it makes life so much sweeter.

Life will get messy sometimes baby. Know that you are stronger and braver than you think you are and believe that you can handle anything. If life knocks you down, get back up again. If you don't think you can, come find me, I will carry you until you find your courage.

It is our job (Daddy and I) to help you become the amazing woman you are destined to be. We never say no because we hate you and want you miserable it is because we love you more than you can imagine a person can love. Our goal is to make you a happy, confident, successful adult, so our choices for you will be what we feel will get you to that person. Even if it seems overprotective or mean to you at the time. We always, always, always have your best interest at heart.

Above all remember that we love you, and we are so very proud of you, always.  If you do mess up (and you will, everyone does) we are always here to help you. Sometimes mistakes can get bigger if we don't take care of them and other times we find ourselves with problems too big to handle alone. We will never stop loving you and together we can handle anything.

 Daddy and I appreciate you more than you will ever know. We both thank God every day that he chose us to look after this beautiful gift. You are a very special little girl Madeline Maxine Johnson. You have spunk, you have the drive to push yourself to do great things, you have a silly heart that brightens the world around you and a kind soul, that gives others hope.

Happy birthday my sweet, little Shortcake, you have made the last 11 years of my life so beautiful and I am looking forward to getting to know the big girl you become.

All my love~ Mom

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

one of those days.

Today was one of those days. You know the ones where nothing seems right and you aren't really sure you can go on... but not going on isn't a real option? Where you just want to cry and throw in the towel? Where you wonder if you are doing anything right?  And you worry that you will never get it right? Where you get so deep in to your own little pity party that you can't see straight? Where you don't remember the good things and optimism and reality are obsolete?


Sometimes, I am reminded that it's OK to just not be strong for a while. Not a long while, just long enough to catch your breath and muster the determination to go on. Being brave and strong takes courage, heck life takes courage and sometimes that courage gets so hard to carry. Sometimes life throws you that one more thing that makes you need to stop, and feel the heart ache, feel the pain, feel the exhaustion, feel the frustration...  to just feel what ever it is you need right now. Sometimes we can break down and jump right back in the game.... other times we need a little help.

Today someone did just that. He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.


Thing is it will be alright... and I know that. But... sometimes life can get overwhelming and more little drama's and crisis can happen in a day than I can bear. And then, I need to stop. I need to cry. I need to say "Hey! This isn't fair!! I can't do this anymore!"

Because the stopping gives me time to feel and to truly listen, the crying clears some space, and then I am able to remember how truly blessed I am, that it is never as bad as it seems, and finally... I remember that I am strong, and I am brave and  I can go on...


When you stop trying to be so strong for a little while you can hear hope, and hope is what gives the strength you need to carry on.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Under Pressure....

Good Morning! It is snowing like crazy here today and I for one am excited! I have a certain special little girl with a sledding party on Sunday and she keeps praying for it to snow and stay snowy!

On Sunday I watched The Help with my kids. I had read the book and had already seen the movie but thought it would be a good movie for them to see. Plus with it being MLK weekend I thought it was fitting. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie I suggest both.
I knew it would strike up discussions about kindness, fairness and equality. The subject I didn't expect was that of peer pressure. Both of the kids noticed how all the women would just go along with whatever Hilly said, whether it is right or wrong.  Even Skeeter's mother fell into peer pressure, she did what people expected her to do not what she knew in her heart was right.

It got me thinking about adult peer pressure. We are pressured all the time with out even realizing it. We think of peer pressure as our children being pressured into drinking or drugs, but we as adults face this pressure as well. Pressure from our peers, colleagues, other parents and the media. Many times we parent a certain way because that's how our children's friends parent, we allow them to do things because everyone else is, and we expect certain things from our kids because that is what we are suppose to expect. The media throws casual sex, infidelity, drug and alcohol use, and sheer rude, disrespectful behavior at us all the time and we decide it's OK to watch or listen because everyone else is.

 My son went to grade school with a little boy who was very sheltered. I judged his mother for her parenting choices. This boy is still not my favorite child  however, as time went on and  these people were no long a part of my life I began to understand her more. While I still may not agree with all her parenting practices. I realized she had the courage I did not, the courage I wished I had. SHE decided what was best for her son. She didn't allow thing she felt didn't coincide with the values and morals she wanted to instill in her child.

 I have been feeling under pressure with my parenting lately. I know sometimes I say yes when I think I should say no. I go when I think we should stay. I feel like we give our kids mixed messages all the time. We talk of waiting for marriage to have sex, while all the shows, movies and songs talk about hooking up and casual sex. Even sex or sex talk between to committed people on a show can be confusing to children and teens. The messages about drugs and drinking are even more blatant. We preach to say no, yet almost every song on the radio mentions getting drunk or high... then having sex with a stranger. The DJs aren't much better, sometimes their subject of choice is so inappropriate I am shocked that they still have a job. And yet most of us still listen, still watch and we hope what we say to our extremely impressionable kids sticks.

We let our sons play video games that are meant for adults, because all the boys are playing them. We hear our daughters sing along to Kesha and we cringe but we justify it by saying all the kids are listening to it. We do nothing because we are afraid of being "that" parent. We are afraid of what other people with think of us, how our children will be treated because they have different rules. We are just as afraid of our peers as our kids are of theirs, sometimes we are afraid of our own children.

Most of us are influenced by the people and things around us as much as our children are. We buy the latest this and need the newest that. We are a nation in debt because we all want what everyone else has. We take other peoples opinions into consideration when it comes to who is good, who is bad, who is right and who is wrong. Often we will let other people's opinions of us form who we are as well. I felt pressure for years to go back to work instead of staying home with my kids. Sometimes I still do, but I am confident enough to ignore it.
 It takes courage to ignore all the chattering around us to be who we are and want we want. It takes more courage to listen to your heart and then stick to your gut.

I leave you with a beautiful message from The Help. I found this written on my daughters black board, we should all take this message to heart. Remember no matter what anyone says or thinks...

Go out into that world and...

  Be who YOU are and say what YOU feel
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.
~Dr. Suess

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flower Rescue

Good morning!

While at Trader Joe's the other day I bought some gorgeous, red, Gerbera daisies for my kitchen. This morning I woke up to this!!
Bummer! Two droopy stems! The flowers themselves are still beautiful. So here is the easy fix...

Take a clear or green straw, for these thick stems I used a milkshake straw. (Maddie uses them for her soup, I will wash the green ones and save them for this purpose.)
Cut the straw so the a portion of the stem is in the water and slide on to the stem.

I was able to use one straw for both flowers.
And there you have it...  new life for droopy flowers, you would normally have to toss these out!

Now I can enjoy them for a few more days.

Cheerful!! ~S

Monday, January 9, 2012

lessons learned

Today is the day!  My treadmill will  be graced by my presence more regularly. I do love to exercise... it is getting the habit started that I struggle with. No more excuses... I have got the tools and the time.

I can no longer let life get in the way of my life. I let the stress of 2011 take over. I did a lot of soul searching for sure and learned so many valuable lessons about life and myself.

I learned...

I am worth the time. If I don't take care of me, I am worthless to everyone else.

So, while my heart and my mind have made extraordinary changes mentally, it is now time for my physical changes to begin. I know I will feel better, inside and out.

On another note.... I  learned a valuable lesson this weekend regarding teenagers.. Conner is soon to be 13 and Maddie is weeks away from 11. The teenager-ish changes are well underway.
 It still amazes me how quickly my little ones have gone from this...

to this, in no time flat....

 While most of the time Conner is still that sweet, silly hearted guy I know and love... sometimes this surly, disagreeable, grouch comes out. A different type of child than I have ever known. Maddie, who has always been pretty easy going, has become easier to upset, storming off in tears over the slightest thing. I totally get that they can't help themselves, and hardly even know they are doing it. It is still exhausting. This teenager stuff is all new to me. I felt so confident as the mother of little ones. This, not so much, so I must learn, make mistakes and figure out what the heck I am to do with these "new" people. I'm getting there, day by day.

Over the weekend my sweet little man had a teenager moment. My first instinct is to punish him when he acts like that. I have, and it makes everyone feel bad.  This weekend I did just that and it hit me. If I had  remained calm and went about our business, I would have stayed in control and he would have snapped out of his mood faster.
Instead of just giving in to his moodiness, trying to prove a point (that he totally didn't get anyway) and becoming part of the problem, I should have remained calm but matter of fact and stuck to the plan. I am willing to bet he would have sulked for a bit and then returned that fun guy we love to have around.

Growing up and changing is hard, on them and on us. The lesson I learned is this...

The less of a battle we make it the easier it is on all of us. I need to lead by example. Remain positive and light hearted. If I do that I know they will follow.

and yeah, I already knew this, it is true with all age kids, but I think it takes experience to be able to put these lessons into play in the stages we are in at the time, sometimes it takes doing it the wrong way to realize how to do it right. ~S

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome 2012!!

Here we are. Embarking on a whole new year! I am excited. This is going to be an amazing year. I plan on being my best yet in 2012.

I think the new year is the perfect time to start fresh and make those changes you've been meaning to. Not resolutions, I think they are made to be broken. Just taking a good look at your life and changing what you don't like. Some may say that is the same thing. I think there is a huge difference. I'm not saying "I will exercise every day, stop eating carbs and never raise my voice at my kids." That is unrealistic! I'm simply taking a look at my life and fix what's not working. Move in a direction toward creating the life I want for me, for us.

I have learned so much about myself in the past year. Realized who I am, who I want to become and made many changes to move in that direction. I know I can do better, I can be better, I know I will falter and that needs to be OK.

I am reading a wonderful book, Katrina Kenison's Mitten Strings from God: Reflections for Mothers in Hurry. It has made me realize my job as a parent could use some work. It is not just a book about slowing down but also about enjoying this precious short time we have with our children, making the most of it, making it sweeter.

I take the  position of Mom so seriously, and I should. I know I am a good mom. It is just that I am terrified of doing it wrong. Little set backs can sometimes cause me to freak out. I forget to live in the moment, always preparing and worrying about what lies ahead.

This year I vow to teach less, to not be so quick to hit that panic button. I keep wishing for things in my life to get simpler, easier. I realized the other day I need to just stop making everything so hard.

Life is a journey of ups and downs. We need the downs to have the ups. I need to relax, and know that the most important thing I can do is be present and loving. Enjoy more and worry less.. and yes I still need to stop seeking perfection.

Days where things don't seem to go right need to be an opportunity not a catastrophe.
I will BE that person. Be the mom I wish I was, be the wife I should be and be the best ME I can.

I will RELAX! Teach less, enjoy more.

For example.....

I will leave the mess:

  My counter looks like this right now. It STILL looks like this. I may tidy it up a bit (because its in my nature) but it will stay right here until they are no longer interested in it. It is so tempting to clean it all up, but then I would be missing the point of life. Those 2 silly crayon makers won't always be here. So I plan on leaving out the crayola crayon maker, letting them dump Lego's in my family room (I already started doing that and have the pictures to prove it!) and not worrying about the stack of games in my family room. I will still have a tidy house, I think everyone functions better in a neat environment, I just need to let go a little.

I will say YES when I could say no for no good reason..

Why not have spaghetti tacos for dinner? Does it really matter? She was so proud and pleased with herself. They were surprisingly good and it felt good to say YES, when they expected a no.

I will do it, not wish we would or think we should.

For almost 2 years we have said we should go for hike. On new years day we finally did it! I want to be that family. It felt good to get exercise, be in the fresh air, admire the beauty of the wood  and be together. Without phones, IPods or TV. It was a wonderful day.

So, simply put, I'm just going to....


I plan to put this motto in to place in all areas of my life.

Tomorrow will come soon enough. Today is where I need to live and I plan on enjoying every second of it I can with as little regret as possible. ~ S