Rules to Live By

Headed to the Golden Coast today for a girls trip. I’ve been up since 4am, excited. I feel like a little kid. Just came across this beach pic from February, and thought that as I watch the clock march toward morning I’d might as well share a fun little thing that helps me remember family values / rules to live by.

Maybe you’ll be able to use it too!?
Put your hand up. 🖐

1. Thumb 👍 Thumbs up for a good attitude and a good time.
2. Pointer☝️ Point out the cool stuff. Be bold! Include others in your world. Share what you see and how you see it.
3. Middle (I legit can’t find that emoji. Which is convenient.) Forget about the haters. There will always be negativity. Block it out and rise up.
4. Ring Finger 💍 Commit to the people and goals and things you hold dear. Keep your promises.
5. Pinkie. Chill the heck out. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. All five ✋ stick together. The strength of the pack is the wolf. And the strength of the wolf is the pack. *
7. All ten 🙌 Gratitude. Thank you God!

Do you know any fun little tricks to remember / keep you focused on what’s important? Happy almost weekend!!

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Less Stuff. More Life.

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We’re staying in a hotel (basically) for a few months and our kids have one small suitcase of stuff right now. Though when we’re in our “real house,” as they call it, they don’t have much more.

Don’t feel bad for them.

They’ve been pretending to travel and get on trains and head off to college with their suitcases. It was pretty dang cute actually, when our 2 year old rolled that suitcase out the front door last night and slurred her words with a mouthful of pacifier, “off to college.”

But I’m not talking ‘bout college today. (Thank God! We still have more time before that!) I’m talking ‘bout how less stuff can lead to more life.

At least that’s what I’m experiencing.

If you know our story you know @bigbeardcreative and I had approximately 5 hours to prep for parenthood. Becoming parents overnight isn’t even accurate, because we were called at about noon on a Saturday and our precious @solanagilbertadventures was in our arms at 5pm that day. An “over”night heads up would have been nice, but I think then we would have “over”thought it. Best it happened how it did. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment attached to a church @snowmasschapel and had exactly nothing one needs to take care of a baby. Or so we thought. We soon realized we actually had exactly everything one needs to take care of a baby. We had a tiny home to keep her warm and we had tons and tons of love to give. (I blogged a lot about all of this when Ana first melted our hearts in 2013 / 2014.)

It’s so easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of thinking we need this next thing or that. At the ❤️ of it, there’s only one thing most of us really need more of… It starts with an “L”. Oh yeah, and, if you wanna have a lot of fun, a cardboard box.

A Parent, Or a Friend?

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Me: “Ana, you’re one of my best friends.”
Ana: “That’s weird mom. You’re old.”

Thanks for keeping it real, hun.

I’ve talked a little bit in my stories about the train the trainer parenting workshop I recently attended called “The Joy of Parenting.”

The facilitator had some really good points. * A parent can and should be a great friend to their child. * If you’re a good friend, you have expectations. * If you’re a good friend, you listen well and ask questions to draw out good choices. * If you’re a good friend, you support and encourage healthy and productive behaviors and dreams.

A good friend sounds a lot to me like a great parent. What do you think?

One of the girls in the training shared that growing up, her mother always said to her, “I’m your parent. Not your friend.” Now that she’s an adult her mom wants to be her friend, but she can’t wrap her head around that. Her mother’s words when she was young have stuck with her all these years…

This little anecdote was a very real reminder of why it’s so important to parent with the end in mind. Friendship with our little ones can start now – How fun is that?! Hope you all have a great weekend with your best buddies, even if they think “you’re old.”

Get Outside for Childhood Memories

I’m in the process of conducting interviews for camp counselors for our summer camp, Camp Smashbox. The interviews typically go a little something like this… the applicant walks in nervous. They answer the first few questions looking and sounding anxious. For some of our employees this is their first job, or first interview ever, so they just aren’t relaxed.

And then about half way through the discussion I ask them to tell me about their favorite childhood memories…

WITHOUT FAIL, before the question is even entirely spoken, I watch their shoulders drop and their body relax. Their eyes light up, their demeanor changes, they shift in their seat – lean forward – and the spark I’ve been waiting for takes over the conversation. Their tone is animated as they begin talking about imaginative things and outdoor play and important people. I am obsessed with this phenomenon.

Outdoor creative childhood play you guys. It’s magic. ✨

What are some of your favorite childhood memories? And when you think about them, do you feel yourself relax? Does a smile creep across your face? Are your memories outdoors? Do they include other people? Tell me! Tell me! I want to know if these things are as widespread as I suspect they are.

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Jump In

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself, or heard other parents, telling their kids not to do something that really would be a great learning opportunity if we could just learn to stay quiet.

Back in the day when kids had the chance to play outside without adults hovering over them, they were able to learn so many things as a RESULT of a CHOICE – not due to a warning from moooommmm.

Icy puddles are cold! Next time I’ll think about that.
Swinging a stick can hurt someone. Next time I’ll think about that.
Getting sand in the tent is annoying. Next time I’ll think about that.
Getting my church clothes dirty is… not really that big of a deal and God doesn’t care anyway… maybe next time I still won’t think about that. 🤪

I’m constantly catching myself (usually after the fact) parenting in ways that are more socially acceptable and less true to what I believe to be beneficial and awesome and so so good for our kids.

Minor risks build character. Learning from experience builds actual skills. And overcoming obstacles builds critical thinking, creativity, perseverance and problem solving capabilities.

I see you looking at that mud puddle little buddy, and I like it. Jump in. With both feet. Because that’s the kind of adult I want you to be. And you are practicing becoming that person Right. About. Now. ❤️

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Copy the Moves

Last week I went to a training on positive development. One of the activities they had us do was dance with a stranger. Can you say AWKWARD??

Before they told us the activity they had us grab a partner we didn’t know and pick a person A and a person B. They then told us that they were going to play music for 30 seconds and that person A would have to dance, and person B would have to mimic. I was slightly horrified.

Then they made us switch, and we had to endure the embarrassment for another full 30 seconds!

Part 3 of the activity was the most telling. We weren’t to mimic anyone. We were just supposed to dance. Our own moves. For 30 seconds.

Keep in mind this was a day time, professional people training. The lights were bright, the refreshment table was serving just water, and we were among strangers.

While we all got through rounds 1 and 2 and people were getting a little funky with it, the room was oddly more calm and still when we had to go it alone. Nobody had anybody to follow! And the intent of purposefully leading someone else was gone too.

You guys! Dancing… and life… are so much easier to pull off when you have someone’s moves to copy.

The friend in this pic right here is a total answer to prayer. Like for real, an answer to prayer. She’s my pastor, mentor, boss, parenting coach, leadership role model and friend. And travel companion this weekend. I am so grateful I have her to watch and that I don’t have to come up with all my own dance moves. Girl has got it going on.

Do you have someone in your life who’s got great moves? If so, share this post with them to say thank you! 🙂

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Sympathetic Resonance

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Our eldest daughter has been noticing things lately… .

“Mom, is anyone else in my class adopted?”

“How about anyone else in my school?”

“Mom, I’m the only one in my class with darker skin.”

“Mom, I’m the only one in this family with dark skin.”

As much as our culture applauds individuality and following your own path (as long as that path fits in a particular box), doesn’t it sometimes just totally suck to feel like you’re the only one?

A few days ago Ana was particularly upset. She flung herself on our bed and wailed loudly. When she did that, my guitar, which was hanging on our wall untouched, responded with a sound to match. My guitar, WHICH WAS HANGING ON OUR WALL UNTOUCHED, responded to her cry with a sound to match.

The note startled her out of her despair. She looked at me scared. The whole situation just about had us both running right out of the house.

I did a little research, and it wasn’t a ghost… .
It’s a thing. It’s called sympathetic resonance. It’s when a “formerly passive string responds to external vibrations to which it has harmonic likeness.”

What for a moment was beyond creepy, now became one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. That dang guitar, usually just literally hanging out doing nothing, internalized our daughter’s pain, identified a likeness, and responded to her with its own note of mourning. Ana felt scared, but I imagine she also felt heard.

1. Is this the craziest thing ever, or what?! 2. Does this strike a chord for you as it did me?!? (See what I did there?) It’s so easy to feel like we’re the only one… no matter what it is we’re going through. You’re not the only one. I promise. And it feels good to match pitch. So let’s not be passive strings. Let’s tell our stories. Let’s show up for each other.

I love you friends.