Living “Extra”

Having so much fun with the cousins in Arizona!!

I had the kids all tucked into their little closet floor bed tonight at my sisters house… and then a joke was told about butts (big mistake) and one thing led to another and sleep was postponed an hour and we laughed and giggled in a circle by flashlight and a night that should have been ordinary became a little extra and the bedtime that should have ended at “lights out,” became, like this sentence, a complete run on. “Tell the story about the cactus!!” “Tell the story about the eggs!!” “Tell the story about the slide!” And on it went.

When I turned 13 years old I got to bring a bunch of friends to a hotel for a sleepover. We went for a night swim and climbed / snuck up the closed / dry water slide. When we got to the top we really wanted to slide down, but a water slide needs water to be fun. Or, it needs at least some sort of liquid. ”Teamwork makes the dream work,” they say, and there was a decent sized group of us so… urine luck? 😬 Together we managed to “pool our resources” and found ourselves slipping and sliding in no time. (I know, 13 year old me was vile and disgusting and I should be ashamed of myself… but also,a little proud?) My kids love that story, about the ordinary birthday party that turned into something… extra.

On the topic of pools, last month we were visiting Adams parents in Florida and my 4 year old was standing at the side of the pool getting ready to cannonball. “Mom, jump with me?!?” I totally hesitated. My in-laws were watching and I’m wayyy not stoked on my body in a bathing suit right now. Also, I was wearing a lot of not waterproof mascara and didn’t particularly want to get my face wet. Also, enter any number of excuses here as to why, at that moment, I was going to choose to say no to doing something that, as an adult, was just a fraction more than ordinary. That day I chose extra. Bombs away!

I have been thinking seriously about 2020 and have come to the conclusion that I want this year to be a series of small extras, within our family, that lead to a big impact. A broken bedtime and a chubby cannonball draw me further out of my comfort zone and closer to the hearts of my kids. It’s growth all around.

Memories are not made, stories are not collected, in a space that is routine, comfortable, normal or ordinary.

Ordinary + Ordinary does not equal Extraordinary.

Hoping that I can remember to make 2020 a year of small extras. What do you think? What are your resolutions? And, for a super important question, who wants to go swimming with me??

Climb On

“Stop there little buddy, that’s high enough.”

“Any farther isn’t safe.”

“You could fall.”

“If you go too high, I won’t be able to reach you if you lose your balance.”

Oh man. Sometimes I’m sooooo not okay with how I parent. I mean, is this the kind of adult I want to raise??? Too scared to test the branches? So reliant on other people’s perspective of what’s safe? Over-parented to the point he can’t trust his own instincts? Too cautious to CHANGE THE WORLD? *

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
I have no idea who said that, but I saw it on a vintage poster as I was scrolling Insta last night. So much wisdom in those sponsored shopping ads, ya know?

Instead of squashing out all that inner, awesome, childish drive, how ’bout using words that are more like…

“How high do you want to climb today?”
“How will you decide when you’ve gone high enough?”
“How will you determine if a branch is strong enough to hold you, before you risk putting all your weight on it?”
“What’s your plan if you go beyond my reach, and then need help getting down?”
“Do you feel balanced?”

Please understand I’m not just talking about climbing trees here.

The ability to make thoughtful decisions might be one of the most important skills we can teach out kids (helllooooo teenage pressures). It’s a skill that doesn’t have to be learned in the classroom, and perhaps cannot be learned in the classroom? It’s a skill that sure can’t be learned on many of today’s school playgrounds, since trees are often eliminated due to their unpredictability. True story. How sad is that?

Dude, life is unpredictable.

In twenty years, when my kid is about to make an important *risky* decision, that will impact that greater good of all the universe forevermore until the end of time (a mom can dream, right?), do I really want my mom voice in the back of his or her (totally adorable and brilliant) head saying, “better stop there kiddo, any further isn’t safe.”

Heeeeccckkk no. Climb on little buddies. Test the branches, trust your instincts, have a plan, and climb. the frick. on.

The end.

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Wild Magic

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Wild Magic ✨

Do your kids like to hike? Ours don’t. But our family does go on a ton of really fun hikes! (Shhhh, don’t tell our kids.) These are known to our children as adventures, grasshopper catching expeditions, treasure hunts, animal track-finding excursions, dinosaur explorations, and troll and fairy quests.

Sometimes our hikes involve stories to up the level of engagement. On our hike last weekend, “Kids, last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and something caught my eye out the window… (pause dramatically). There were sparkles, cascading down, and glowing fairies dancing about…” The story went on and on, and ended with… Ana (7 years old): “Mom. Wait. Seriously. Is this real?” 🧚🏾‍♀️

“Hmmm,” I pondered, “do you have magic in your heart?”

Our hikes with our kids are 97% about the journey, not the destination. The kids are too little to make it about the destination.

But duuuuude, what if we lived life like that, everyday, no matter our age? I’m not saying don’t have goals and dreams to aspire to… I’m just saying, what if we enjoyed the ride a little more?

A few weeks ago we headed out for a family “adventure.” Ana’s hiking attire that day pushed even me out of my comfort zone. (Because, blisters and dirt and burrs and you know, all the things.) She was in the house wearing an Elsa dress. (Ironic?) We were trying to get out the door, so we just went with it.

Let me tell ya, something as simple as adding a costume made for one dreamy, imaginative, whimsical experience in the woods together. It was an awesome reminder to let go of rules and shoulds and have-tos and “the normal way” more often and just go with the flow. It was 100% about the journey that day.

✨ Wild Magic. ✨

“Is it real?”

I don’t know. But it sure seems worth believing in. ✨

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Be Careful What You Pray For

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I’ve attended and even assisted with enough parenting workshops to know better than to yell at my kids on the reg. There is a better way!!! I’ve been taught it over and over again.

When those righteous little rugrats push all the wrongeous big buttons ( 👈 totally a word), I know you’re supposed to take a breath, stoop down to their eye level, put a gentle hand on their shoulder, and redirect that blood-boiling annoying behavior right outta the house.

But since we’ve been moving all around town to kingdom come these last few months, co-sleeping on floors while we wait for our house to be remodeled, the stress level has been a little higher than ush and momma hasn’t made time for those eye to eye convos. So I’ve yelled.

At the same time, I’m been prayin’ that God would make me a better momma.

They say be careful what you pray for.

Um, thank you, Jesus, for Laryngitis?

Yup. Can’t talk. Can’t scream. Can’t yell. 😶 Can only walk over to one mini-hellion at a time, stoop down to their eye level, put a hand on their shoulder, and address them as the loving, whispering momma that I am.

Good Lord, you know all the things we need. Your mercies leave me speechless. 🥴 Thank you for making me a better momma. But also God, I feel like I’ve learned my lesson. Can I have my voice back now??

Thanks Big Guy,
❤️ Kara

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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.”

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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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.