To-Do

Just a Thursday

Schedule

Okay, wow, stay-at-home moms with no kids at home. Seriously, the infant and toddler stages really are the dog days. With 8 hours to clean, cook, prepare, blog, and work part-time I feel like a Stepford Wife – a bad one, but still. Uh, have you seen that movie? New or old, the idea is so sad and creepy. I kind of feel like I can get anything done and it seems a little unfair for my poor husband who is working his tail off.  I’m at home making anything I want and exploring my creativity with my favorite Food Network shows running in the background.

I’m trying to support my family the best I can, but really I have never been great at the to-do list. I write them but don’t always, almost never, get them done. Discipline is, Ummm, not my strength. My goal for this season of my life is to make the lists and then get them done. I need to strengthen my confidence in the discipline arena. 

confidence

I looked up quotes on discipline and this was one of the first to come up. I guess a little validation is good. 

  1. Anyway, my list today consists of finishing some Curious George banners I plan on selling. The girls have a Curious George book whose spine is cracked and falling apart. From the book, I can make 8 banners. 
  2. I sell a few things on eBay and I had a couple of questions and requests come my way overnight; it’s a simple to-do but one I forget every now and then.
  3. Laundry, cause I hate doing laundry and it’s important…unfortunately.
  4. Plan for the weekend: I want to set up a game night for me and the girls. Jeremy is hanging out with friends on Sunday and I think doing something special to celebrate the first week of school could do us all some good. Did I mention we have to get to the bus stop by 6:15?
  5. The salt dough is for a history blog I’m starting, cause history is awesome and I want the girls to know the past forward and backward. I’ll link when I have a post up.
  6. Afternoon snacks, because the girls are starving when they get home. They are like a swarm of ants at a picnic. I’m tired of them descending on all of our snack food.
  7. Finally, the girls and I are going to hang with Mom tonight, while Jeremy works.

It’s not a bad to-do list and completely manageable for one day. I have technically already completed two of these – banners and questions. And the old me would  “accidentally” on purpose forget about the laundry. Maybe I should come up with an alter-ego, who is good at housework and doing things she hates. I’ll call her Martha. If one day I’m treated for split personalities, know this is what started it.

I hope you all are having a wonderful afternoon and are slaying, (a cooler word for completing) your goals.

Parenting

First Day of School

1st day finished

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen my journal post for today. The story goes a little deeper than just feeling good about having 8 hours to myself. I want to talk about the first day of kindergarten and ease my guilt for not walking my young one to her class. This may sound like justification and to be honest, it partly is. See, she’s been fired up to ride the bus to school for more than a year now. It is one of the exciting points of going to school, in her mind. On her 5th birthday this year, she jumped out of bed at 5:30 ready to get dressed and ride because “you go to school when you are five.”

When we started talking about the first day, we realized she expected to ride the bus. When we asked her if she wanted us to take her to school, she responded that she really wanted to ride. We conceded, mostly because I don’t want to walk her into the school. It’s an emotional trigger, comparable but not completely (at all), to handing your grown woman to a man at the end of the aisle. I’m walking out of a room to leave my precious, sweet, strong 5-year-old with a woman I don’t know and children who will surely hurt her one day. Notwithstanding, that my child will definitely hurt another’s feelings (ignorantly, I hope).

Also, the school is absolute chaos and cramped and I don’t believe the teachers want you there. I believe this process of walking kids to their class is for your benefit, not your child’s. You won’t be there to walk your child through every new experience they have at school. It may take them a month to get used to this process, but the school only tolerates your assistance for max the first week. I know my perspective may seem harsh and unfeeling and it partly is. I’m not a “normal” mom and never will be. I see this as a string of milestones in her life. This is her first day of school, not mine. If she tells me she is fine, I will support her in those feelings. If she had said she wanted me to take her to school, believe me, I would have been there.

I believe instilling confidence in your children requires you to block out the “what ifs” and focus on what is. I had a moment where I considered her sitting at the breakfast table, looking around while other mom’s sat with their kids. Or her watching other mom’s drop her classmates off. I asked my husband “what if she wonders why I’m not there.” Enter, another lesson: Your words mean something. It’s a serious and advanced lesson to learn at 5, but still good to know from the beginning. If you say you need space, I’ll give space. If you say you need me, I’ll be there.

As I’m writing this it is 8:16; she’s presently in the classroom, listening to her teacher. All of the parents are gone, she is now the same as everyone else. Except, she survived eating breakfast in the lunchroom and walking to class with her teacher. I hope this has boosted her feeling of independence and self-efficacy. And even if I made the wrong choice I pray for grace. Because one day she may sit across from me and say, “You didn’t even walk me to my first day of kindergarten!” And no matter my excuse or reason, I will be responsible for my choice.


Note to Mothers and Fathers: You are a badass! Whether you walked your kid to class, dropped them off at the line, or sent them on the bus like me. I could never judge another parent for a choice they make for their child. My post may sound like I have a firm opinion, but I don’t. I’m backing a choice I made and I don’t have complete confidence. There is part of me who wishes I had seen her off and had the emotional, choked up goodbye I know would have occurred.

Self-Love

Be Gentle

gentle

I’ve mentioned before that if you are not following a verse of the day you should. A few weeks ago Philippians 4:5 popped up and the line blew me away: be gentle. I’m not gentle. I’ve believed the lie that to be gentle you are fake or just naturally sweet, kind, and nurturing. If you are gentle you aren’t being authentic, yet, gentleness is an attribute we are commanded to exhibit.

Take the idea of gentleness and apply it to any situation, and see how the situation could change. It’s obvious for times of conflict. My conflict stance is to have a firm, unwavering voice (usually full of anger), planted feet, a hand on the hip or waiving in the air, and a scowl. But what if it was softer – an arm around the waist (for those who know you), head to head, and a gentle whisper. How differently would my kids respond to this? It speaks of intimacy, love, care, and grace.

Here is another exercise I suggest, say these lines and notice a rest in your soul.

Be gentle when you have been wronged

Be gentle when you are right

Be gentle when you are angry

Be gentle when you feel defensive

Be gentle when you have done wrong

Be gentle in your thoughts

Be gentle with your words

Be gentle with those you love

Be gentle with those you don’t know

Be gentle with yourself

When I originally wrote these lines above I could feel relief in my soul. This is the answer for me. I struggle with social anxiety, especially with people new to me. When I don’t know how I will handle an upcoming situation, a feared tragedy or conflict I know gentleness is the answer. If I can conquer this at home I believe that any situation outside my comfort zone will easily be met with gentleness. The habit of gentle is likely difficult, I have 37 years experience leading me to anger when mad or scared but think of the benefits. Think of how growth can happen in a tended, weeded, and loved garden, rather than one of hateful words and shameful thoughts.

Here is the verse in its entirety:

Philippians 4:5

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

I hope you feel encouraged by this post. If this touches you and you want to talk about it but don’t want to comment, send me an email  – jollybison.info@gmail.com. I’m happy to talk about this subject with anyone interested.

Parenting

Motivation is Key

Meet Makayla

She’s eight and man do I love this kid. She’s emotional, strong-willed, and a serious momma’s girl. I’ve never worried about her ability to thrive in life. She was 9 pounds and 14 oz at birth. Her first day home she rolled over; she’s been in beast-“go get it” mode from day 1. If this kid wants something, she does it. If she doesn’t want something, she will fight it for days and then bring it up a year later.  My only concern for her is the direction she takes this energy. It’s a little overwhelming at times and feels selfish. We work on both physical and emotional boundaries daily. We also talk about her love language and that not everyone has a deep need to spend every waking moment together, connecting (it’s my language too, so, I totally get it).

The area we struggle in most is cleaning or just getting her to do things she doesn’t want to do. If there is any doubt she made the mess, the kid goes into lawyer mode – negotiating areas and trying to push the blame and responsibility on others. I’ve often said that if she doesn’t become an engineer or lawyer I haven’t done my job. Yesterday I had a little bit of a breakthrough though. I worked on her cleaning her room for something like three days. Finally, I told her one night before bed “I’m going to Starbucks tomorrow and if you want to go, you must clean your room.” The next morning it was done before breakfast.

Motivation Factors

I haven’t been in college for 5 or 6 years but one concept I remember are the powers of motivation. There are pull factors and push factors. Pull factors are aspects in your environment that encourage or nag you into behaving a certain way. They are consequences outside yourself that produce. For instance, me telling her constantly to clean her room is a pull factor. Push factors are internal thoughts or emotions that push you to behave. From memory, push factors are always more effective at producing than pull. They are intrinsic; meaning the person wants to do the task.

My Experiment

As a Mom, I feel like I repeat myself a hundred times a day. “Pick up your socks.” “Clean the table.”  “Listen to me, listen to me.”  “What did I say?” And I have kids talking to me ALL THE TIME. Have you ever lingered outside the door of the car, with the kids inside, for a minute or five, just for silence? I do it frequently. I spend too much time talking, but now I’m experimenting. I think if I introduce a series of activities each day, they will do whatever I want, hopefully. Kids want you to spend time with them. So, after dinner, I have built in a game time. The kids can only play games if they have completed the tasks I have given. There must be boundaries on my end too. I plan to give them a list at the beginning of the day. You may ask, “What if they don’t’ want to play games? Good question. If that’s the case I introduce another activity I think they will like – going to Starbuck’s, making cookies, painting our nails, or extra reading time.

Warning: Follow through is a must or the motivator doesn’t work. I realize that if I ever give in, the kids will push their luck every time. Also, if I don’t follow through with the reward they will not believe the reward will be given to them.

I’d love to hear your tricks or tips for motivating others to get stuff done. If you are an employer and you have a magic trick, please share. I don’t think the environments are that different:). Hope you guys have so much fun planned for the week and are feeling on top of your game.

Renew

Gatlinburg, TN

 

A-lively-day-in-downtown-Gatlinburg

A few years ago, Jeremy and I went to one of those timeshares meetings for Holiday Inn Resorts. They offered us 100 bucks to listen to their spill and we took it. As we were talking to the salesperson, we realized we are kind of vacation-piranas. For years we have hooked on to other people’s party/travel plans but never planned and completely funded our own vacay. When the offer came to pay 70 bucks a month for a single stay at one of a few choice resorts, we thought that would be pretty great.

I should probably mention here, I am not much for researching or even looking at reality. I am impulsive and I thought Gatlinburg would be mountains, bears, and rustic goodness. I immediately envisioned every morning on a balcony, staring at the mountains, coffee in hand and somehow completely alone. Can I tell you that the completely open and alone was what I was really holding onto? You can imagine my utter shock when we were driving through Pigeon Forge and I was bombarded with every tourist trap known to man. I was cringing at the amount of money people were spending on Ripley’s, go-carts, and pancakes (lots of pancake houses). There was a small break between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg that was just amazing. We rolled down the windows, felt the breeze, and basked in the shade of ancient trees. It was what I had hoped for.

Gatlinburg was not terrible, not a good start, I know. The stores are adorable and although still tourist traps, they have an outer cabin visage that makes it all seem okay. We found our hotel and I immediately regretted my choice for Gatlinburg. See the area is strapped for land; therefore, everything is stacked on top of itself. It was more like a motel than a resort. The rooms were great and accommodations consisted of an outdoor pool and kids indoor pool/play area. However, you had to go off property for food (unless you cooked in your kitchen, which we did) and they didn’t have space for anything else. Don’t get me wrong Holiday Inn employees were the nicest and my disappointment only had to do with the choice I made. To make matters worse, it was a holiday weekend. The streets were crammed with people moving from t-shirt shops to Ripley’s complexes, and finally to pancake houses. This reality was so decidedly different than my original plan that I stuck my feet in the mud for a few days and didn’t leave the apartment, except for a swim with the kids. All of the excitement was gone.

I finally came to terms with it all and just got over it. We took a trip to the Aquarium, had a steak (not at the Aquarium), and went for a swim. I took some time to draw and watched some shows with some of my favorite people. The last day we were there was my favorite. We took the kids on a hike to Cataract Falls. With my camera in hand, I realized I should have started here but I’m lazy and determined to make the worst of my disappointment.

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The moral to this story is research and choose accordingly. Also, when disappointed make the most, not the worst of the situation. My sister-in-law handled it the best – She woke up every morning for a hike, spent time with us, and focused on what she liked about Gatlinburg. I hope my kids notice the differences between the attitudes of disappointment and choose Mel’s way.

Creativity

Bison Logos

Recently, I offered to make a logo for my girlfriend who is moving to Wyoming (and breaking my heart). Of the options I made her, here are the rejects. Her website isn’t fully up and running yet, but it will be one to watch. She is honestly the most positive and encouraging person I know. She will be missed here in Texas but I know Wyoming will do her heart and family good.

Option-3

Option-2Option-1