Today’s Inspiration: Kids, Oh My Gosh, It’s Mommy’s Favorite You Tube Videos!

Eric and I have had a few weekend evenings at home where we “make” our kids watch You Tube videos of some of our favorite songs and bands. You probably have some…those songs that stick with you—the ones you’d turn up over and over again and sing along to. Have you ever done the Music Video Night? It’s like the greatest evening for me and Eric. The kids…not so much. Eric gets most excited and will turn on a video and then try to explain all the details of the song (“Do you know how the band came up with the idea for this song?”), the band (“Guess how the band members got together? Do you know what other band the keyboardist was in?”) and what he remembers from that year (“One time, when this song was on the radio, it got me really pumped while I was playing racquetball with my friends, and I totally won.”). A lot of eye-rolling goes on from the girls, but they do end up liking a few of the songs they are subjected to listen to.

Eric’s more of a hair band guy, and a lot of the videos he chooses tend to reflect that. Me? I’m a little all over the place. I love the songs that are catchy or remind me of some great times in college or in my younger years. Along with those ones, I also adore anything by Counting Crows or Bon Jovi.

Eric’s away on business this week, so I just sat in the kitchen this afternoon and “made” the twins listen to some of my favorites. Here’s what we listened to….what would be on your list of all-time favorite songs from your college or post-college years?

Counting Crows
Anna Begins
Long December
Round Here
Mr. Jones

The Killers
Mr. Brightside
Somebody Told Me

The Verve Pipe
The Freshman

Evanescence
Bring Me to Life

Jewel
Who Will Save Your Soul

Chris Isaak
Wicked Game

Live
Lightning Crashes

Hinder
Lips of an Angel

Ben Folds Five
Brick

The Fray
How to Save a Life

Soul Asylum
Runaway Train

Rascal Flatts
What Hurts the Most

Lonestar
Amazed

Creed
With Arms Wide Open

No Doubt
Don’t Speak

Mr. Big
To Be With You

Dixie Chicks
Cowboy Take Me Away
Not Ready to Make Nice

Today’s Inspiration: I’m Not The Mom I Thought I’d Be

I have a confession to make. I’m not the mom I thought I”d be.

I am not a bad mom–at least I don’t think I am. Others mention to me that I’m doing a great job and what good girls I’m raising. But I’m not the mom I pictured for myself.

What did I imagine? Most of my life, I have been more of a creative type–I love to write, create things, draw, and read. I adore 70’s music. Put up a disco ball and turn on some Bee Gees music, and I’m a very happy girl. I’ve always loved poetry open mike nights, funky coffee shops, old Volvos or Volkswagon Beetles, and lava lamps.

The mom I thought I’d be? I would wear long flowing tie dye or brightly colored skirts, wide leg pants, platform shoes, or macrame vests all the time. I’d have long hair I could put into braids. I’d buy foods at stores like Whole Foods, and my family would only eat organic and vegetarian items.  I’d have a garden and my kids would help tend to it. Our vacations would entail driving a Winnebago around or staying in a cabin in the mountains. We’d live in a town where everyone was open-minded and accepting. I’d spend my days with the kids at the library or book stores and we’d read, draw, and create things all the time at home. I’d carry my kids around on my back in one of those kid-backpack things.

Instead, I stuck with normal and routine. I look like most of the moms in my suburban neighborhood.  I drive an SUV. We live in a brick house. My kids eat out often;  we try to eat real foods, but some weeks dinner is boxed cereal and milk. I can’t garden to save my life, and everything I plant never survives.  Our vacations are spent at places like Disney World or Hilton Head Island. I wear sneakers, workout clothes, jeans and Old Navy shirts. I feel like I’m a cookie cutter of so many other moms.

I certainly love my life and our family, and my kids are growing up to be great kids (so far). I am blessed that I get to mother three amazing girls.  But sometimes, I wish I was that mom I always thought I’d be.

 

Today’s Inspiration: I Didn’t Think I’d Marry Someone Like My Dad (But I Did)

I have married someone who is a lot like my father. I never planned on it (in fact, I always thought I’d marry someone who was completely opposite of my dad). I dated hippie boys, mountain bike racers, guys with lots of tattoos and piercings. I didn’t want to date anyone “normal”. He’d be too much like my father.

As I navigated through dating and eventually met and married Eric, I realized that he and my dad were more alike than I thought. All the qualities I love about my dad are ones that I love about my husband. So yes, my I married a man who is a lot like my father (in a lot of good ways).  Here’s what I value about both of them:

Don’t dwell on unimportant things.
Often as a tween, I remember letting mean or hurtful things that others said stick with me. If I got yelled at at home for leaving my room a mess, if my teacher corrected me at school, or if a friend ignored me, I’d be upset for days. One evening, my father sat me down in the kitchen and told me, “People will say things that upset you. You need to let it go in one ear, think about it, and then let it go out the other ear.” What he meant? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Hear it, acknowledge it if you need to, and move on. My husband has a similar philosophy in life. He reminds me often when I grumble that people will say and do things that are mean. You can’t hold a grudge because it gets your nowhere. Move along and don’t get “stuck” on an issue that isn’t important.

Work hard, no matter how big or small the job is.
Both Eric and my dad are hard workers. My father started with his company when he was 18. He moved up through the ranks, and at the end of his career was one of the top level managers at his company. He worked hard to get there. He spent long hours at the factory, he traveled if he needed to, and he didn’t brag about his accomplishments. He just did his job, respected his supervisors, and he made sure he always did his best. He always gave more than 100%. His hard-working philosophy taught me a lot growing up, and I learned that even in school or in the smallest job (whether it’s a volunteer position or a paid position), you need to give it your all and work hard and work well. Eric’s work ethic is so similar. He works hard, he is willing to take on extra work if necessary, he takes time to learn new things, and he admits when he makes a mistake.

Be kind and respectful to others.
My father taught me that I don’t have to agree with everyone, but I do need to respect others and their opinions. And there is no reason to be anything but kind to others. My husband follows the same rule–do the right thing by showing kindness and respect. Doing the opposite gets you nowhere.

Find what you enjoy doing and find time to do it.
My father loves to go hunting. He also enjoys golfing. Almost every year, he makes time to get away with some friends during hunting season. When the weather is nice, he enjoys golfing with his buddies. While my husband is no hunter, he does love to watch sports, chill on the couch when there’s time to, and head out to concerts. He makes time to enjoy his hobbies as well so that he has some balance in his life. Working is important, but they’ve taught me that having some down-time and having a hobby is just as important.

 

Thank you, dad, for teaching me that marrying someone who is a lot like you really isn’t a bad thing afterall. It’s one of the best things. Eric is helping me teach our girls the values that I learned from you while I was growing up. I love you both.

I’m a Cheater….I Checked Facebook

As you’ve read earlier this month, I decided to give up Facebook for the month of February to see if it would help me be more present for my family and friends; and I wanted to find out how much more free time I’d find in my days by spending less time scrolling around on social media. (I didn’t go completely cold turkey. I did decide to allow myself a small amount of time once a week to check Facebook or Pinterest.)

Twenty days into my experiment, and I cheated. I checked Facebook and posted some comments this past weekend–three days in a row. I couldn’t stop! What broke me to do it? My nephew. He was in a wrestling state championship this weekend, and his coach was really good about posting onto Facebook any updates and scores. So I was checking Facebook often to see how he was doing (and how his teammates were faring). The great news is that he was the state runner-up for his weight class (as a freshman)! The bad news…I was like an addict and I started checking Facebook every hour or so ALL WEEKEND LONG. I spent a lot of time online–and I lost a lot of time—time I could’ve used to read more of a book I am trying to get through, time that I could’ve spent practicing softball in the back yard with Claire, and time that I could’ve used to sit and cuddle with Maddie on the couch and watch a movie.

I still have seven more days until the end of February, and I am going to try to get back on track this last week and get back to my experiment. Giving up Facebook and social media really does feel freeing. Less stressful. Less drama. More time to be present. I have said in the past that I am one that doesn’t really care for attention, and I really haven’t missed the virtual “attention” I get on Facebook. I don’t need “likes” and I don’t need to come up with a handful of witty, cute posts each day to make myself feel good, accepted, or important. What I do need is personal time with my friends and family to connect with them and let them know how important they are to me. Those personal connections are what truly provide happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace.

I know I will go back to checking Facebook at the end of the month. I’m grateful, however, that this experiment has taught me that I can check and post onto social media, but I don’t need to do it as often as I had been doing so.  This experiment has taught me a wonderful lesson about myself, my relationships, being present and making time to spend with others.

How I Pray

I mentioned in another post that I don’t go to church every Sunday. I strongly believe in God, but I don’t feel like I have to attend church to show my love or commitment to God.

I do pray a lot, though. And I pray often–very often.  Here’s how I pray. (I’d love to hear how you pray–or don’t…)

I find prayer time very comforting, and I feel more calm and peace when I do it. Often, during the day, I’ll bust out a “Hail Mary” or an “Our Father” silently in my head while having a stressful or anxiety-producing moment (this is often when kids are in the car arguing while we are rushing to dance or gymnastics practice and we are already running late; or as a full glass of juice gets spilled all over the carpet and I’m trying to stay calm as I clean it up). I pray at work silently when I see the little preschool girls and boys in my classroom. I’ll put my hand on their little heads and think, “God, keep him/her happy and safe today.” or “Let her have a great day today”. I pray with our teachers each morning as our preschool director leads us in prayer. We pray that God helps heal and protect friends and family often; and we pray for peace and love for our preschool and our community. I pray for the people I haven’t met as I pack food bags for them at Food for Families. Prayers run through me all day long.

Mostly, though, my daily prayers are more giving thanks than actual prayers or verses.

I find myself, constantly throughout the day, saying things like, “God, thank you so much for another day with my husband and my girls.” “God, I’m so grateful that Claire’s illness was only a cold and nothing serious.” “Thank you, God, that we can afford groceries each week and not worry about where our food will come from.”  “God, I am so glad you led me to the job that I have and that I am able to help teach these children and help care for them while they are at preschool.”

Even without a weekly church service to pray at, I love prayer and I pray all the time. God is an amazing listener, and I’m glad he’s got my back each day, helping me get through tough times and smiling with me through great times.

How do you pray?

The Emotions of Middle School

Ahh, raising a middle-school daughter. Luckily, Avery is really a good girl. She’s academic, she is organized, she has some good girl friends, and she is committed to the activities she is involved in. What I find tough is all the middle school emotions. One minute, Avery’s little middle-schooler world seems to be calm and happy. The next minute, she is screaming at her sisters and me, telling us we just don’t get it as she marches up to her bedroom and slams her door. She’s happy to sad, giggly to grumpy, and at peace to ready for war in just minutes.

Was it that long ago that I was a tween? I am sure I was an emotional, drama-filled girl back then, but I truly don’t remember it happening SO MUCH. Avery will get home from track practice while I’m cooking dinner. A simple, “Do you have any quizzes tomorrow? Why don’t you sit down and get a start on studying while I”m making dinner?” will throw Avery into a sobbing mess. “You don’t get it!” she’ll cry out as she marches up to her room. She’s right, I don’t get it…what did I say about homework that threw things into a downward spiral for her? Waiting a few minutes for her to calm down, reminding myself that she’s approaching teenage years and hormones are kicking in,that she has a stressful school and activity schedule, and then checking up on her to see if she’s OK, she’ll tell me that she’s sorry, she just needs some down-time before studying because it’s been a long day.  How much drama could’ve been avoided if she had just communicated that in the first place!

The only thing I can do as a mom is continue with our family routine and house rules,  communicate/talk often (many times, this means being patient and waiting until she is ready to share because often she will decide to talk about problems while she and I are driving in the car alone or as I go in her bedroom in the evening to tell her goodnight), plan “lunch dates” and one-on-one time with my girl, and remind her that I love her and I am here for her whether she is one, 11 or 41.

Middle school is not an easy time (for mom or daughter), but with continued hugs, support, and honesty with each other, I think we will get through it.

Small Positive Thoughts to Change My Day

It’s my day off today. I love Fridays. I work three days a week, so I often try to plan any appointments and school-related volunteering or take-home work for Mondays so I can do “fun things” on my Fridays off. All week long, I dream of Friday arriving…I can go to the gym and work out! I can plan a coffee date or lunch with a friend if I want to (or I can enjoy some quiet time)! I can go shopping alone and spend time strolling slowly through the aisles and looking at everything! Fridays are what get me through the week.

I woke up today, excited about my day off. However, God had other plans for today. One of my littles, Claire, woke up not feeling good….chest congestion, runny nose, and cough. “Mommy, I don’t feel good,” was the first thing she said when she saw me this morning. The greedy mom in me thought, “It’s just a cold. I’ll get her ready and send her to school. This is MY day. It’s my turn to do some things for me today. I’ve made plans. I give to my family and to others all week long, and I NEED this day.”

But I know and believe that as a mother/parent, our children come first. Claire is feeling yucky today. She NEEDS this day home to rest more than I need my “free day” to play. She needs time to cuddle with mommy on the couch, take a nap or two, and just chill.

So, while I could’ve created a hundred negative thoughts in my head to turn myself into grumpy- poor me-this day sucks for Julie Day, I decided to remind myself to see the positive in this. Just a simple positive thought or two.  Dear God, thank you that it’s just a cold that Claire is dealing with. Thank you for slowing the day down so I can spend some one-on-one time with sweet Claire. I’m grateful that I don’t have to work today so I can be at home with her and not worry about finding a substitute at school for today.  Today is a good day to enjoy some down-time with Claire, and I’m grateful.

 

 

I Wanted to Be a Solid Gold Dancer (And What It Taught Me)

When I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Remember the show Solid Gold ’79 (and the other episode years)? I couldn’t wait until the weekend when the show would air. Artists with the latest radio hits would be special guests, singing their songs. But the dancers–oh those dancers–I thought they were amazing! They had the best costumes, the best moves, and the best job. Yes, I was only six or seven at the time, but I knew that when I grew up, I was destined to be one of them.

I’d go into our basement and practice my dance moves. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t taking dance lessons–I didn’t need them. I knew that if I just practiced my hip-shaking and my spin moves each night, I would become one of the best dancers. All my time spent practicing dance moves to songs like  “Knock on Wood“, “We Are Family” and “My Sherona” was going to get me started towards my dream.

Even as a high-schooler, I still dreamed of being a dancer (still no dance classes, but I thought it’d be such a cool job to be a dancer). My family went to visit the local amusement park one summer night, and while we were watching one of the park shows, I was chosen to go up on stage and dance with the professional dancers in the show. I thought it was the best thing in the world. I was actually on stage as a dancer! (Well, I was still not exactly a professional dancer, but I had a minute or two on stage!) The next year, when the local paper announced the amusement park was looking for dancers for the upcoming park season, I put on my sweatpants and sneakers and had my mother drive me to the try-outs. I couldn’t wait to show off my dance moves!

I got to the auditions, and I was suddenly aware of all the dancers who wanted the same job I had dreamed of since I was small. I also realized that these other teens and college-aged men and women had actual dance experience. They took dance lessons. For years. They had on the right shoes and the right clothing to try out as a dancer. Many had brough head shots with them. They also had taken voice lessons. When the choreographer taught us a short routine (rather quickly), I had a hard time keeping up. What the heck was a barrel turn? I had no clue. I looked like a fool, standing on the dance floor with dozens of properly-trained dancers. Of course, I was cut right away and was teary-eyed as I left the amusement park with no dance career in sight.

How naive I was as to think that becoming a famous dancer would happen so easily! Even though my dream of becoming a Solid Gold Dancer, or even an amusement park dancer, would never come to fruition, I did learn some lessons.

Always believe you can.
I believed as a young child that I could become a dancer and would somehow become one. Of course, it didn’t happen for me; but I always held onto that belief that it could eventually happen. I wish I still had that sense of belief that I had as a child. I’d definitely take more chances these days. There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you don’t believe, you can’t achieve“. Always believe you can, whatever it is you are working towards.

Try, even if you make a fool of yourself.
I looked so out of place at the amusement park auditions, and I cringe just thinking about it as I sit here. My family still laughs at my attempts to go to the try-out so unprepared. But you know what? Even though I looked crazy, I gave it my best shot.  As an older adult, I wish I would try more things and not be so reserved. We shouldn’t worry if we mess up or make fools of ourselves. If it is important to us and something we want to try, we should go for it no matter what.

Your failed attempts might lead you to what you are good at.
Growing up, my high school offered a separate performing arts track for students that applied and were accepted. Performing arts programs included videography, acting, dance and creative writing. I had (seriously) considered trying out for dance, but after my audition mess, I decided I would apply to the creative writing program. I always loved writing, and friends and teachers always commented on what a strong writer I was, but I wasn’t confident enough in my work. I applied anyway, and was accepted along with six other students. Going a different route in my strengths and interests helped me realize I really was good at writing, and I really enjoyed it (more than dance!).

To you, the reader, dream big–even as an adult, dream big! You might just get your chance to get what you’ve wanted years after you wish it–or you might find a different path and realize you were heading the wrong way all along and now you are moving the right way. You never know where your childhood dream can (still) take you.

Today’s Inspiration: A Week (So Far) Without Facebook and Pinterest

On February 1st, I decided to give Facebook and Pinterest a break for the month. I was finding it was a huge time-waster for me, and I was spending time scrolling through my Facebook feed instead of really being present most of the evening at home. I would easily spend an hour or more each day on my phone, reading posts while my daughters were sitting next to me doing their homework. I would look at it to check how many likes my post got while I was eating dinner with my daughters. I would check it on my phone while waiting at a red light.

I did decide I would only check Pinterest or Facebook once a month, and I would try to limit my time when I checked in each week. Here’s what I realized by taking a break this week:

-I am so much more present for my daughters. I was able to assist with homework questions right away rather than respond with, “hold on a second, let me just finish posting something”.  I seemed to have more time to sit and just enjoy being with them on the couch cuddling after dinner, without my phone sitting next to me. They were calmer, and so was I.

-I have about a dozen books sitting in my bedroom that I’ve been trying to find time to read. Since February 1st, I have been able to read two of them!

-I have found that I don’t really miss all the drama, political posts, etc. on Facebook. I also don’t miss searching for styles to post to my “My Style” or my “Preschool Crafts” boards that are already saturated with thousands of pins. Not searching for pins or scrolling through and responding to lots of posts makes for a much more peaceful day.

There are some things I do miss by taking a social media break. It is nice to have Facebook to be able to see what far-away friends are up to, to offer condolences or words of support for friends who are having hard times, and to wish happy birthdays. I miss posting pictures and updates about the girls for friends and family that are out of town and use Facebook to keep in touch.

I’ll continue to take a break from Facebook and Pinterest the rest of this month, and I’ll only check in once a week. I do think that once March arrives, I will limit the minutes that I check social media each day so I continue to make time to enjoy in-person time with family and friends and so I have more calm and less stress in my days.

Today’s Inspiration: The Wife Life of a Hard-Working Husband

Being the wife of a hard-working businessman is tough. I know many of you are in the same boat–husbands that work 11-12 hours a day. Ones that can’t get home in time for dinner or kids’ bedtimes. Dads that are unable to assist with driving kids to after-school activities or events because there’s work he’s committed to. No time during the week to volunteer as a coach. Weekends where husbands spend hours checking on and responding to emails and reports. It’s a super-exhausting life for him. And it’s just as super-exhausting for us moms too.

Many nights and weeks, I take on the role of single mom at our house. Eric works a lot, and he travels out of town for a bit each month. The girls and I eat dinner without him often (his dinner sits in the fridge for him to reheat when he gets home late at night). We do homework without him. He misses many sporting activities and special events because he’s out of town or stuck at work.

Some days are harder than others. I miss my husband, and I wish he was home with us more often. I dream of how nice it would be to have him home at 6pm each night to help with the girls,  eat dinner with us, and spend some time with me. On the easier days, I’m so very proud of my husband for how hard he works and how much he provides for our family. I’m able to work part-time (or not work if I chose to) and spend more time with our daughters. We are lucky to live in a great neighborhood and afford things like house repairs and vacations. The girls and I have a great weekly routine, and the days he does try to get home early sometimes gets stressful trying to “fit him into our schedule” while keeping the evening running smoothly. His long hours and travel have become routine the past few years, and it has become a common schedule for our family.

Eric does do his best to make time for family, and I know he’d much rather have more hours to spend with us each week. He plans “dates” with the girls to take them to movies or lunch. He pulls out board games and has competitions with the them. He is more than happy to have a night out with me when we can squeeze one into our busy schedule.

When the days are tough doing the “single mom” thing, I just remind myself that this is the life we have chosen for our family. We are blessed with all we have, and I am grateful for a hard-working husband who provides so much for me and the girls. Eric, thank you.