You swore you’d never do THAT…

Before your kids were born, you had an idea in your head of what kind of parent you’d be — you know, cool, hip, all-knowing, etc… You’d look at other parents in judgement as they did things you swore you’d never do.

Then you became a parent and all your preconceived notions went out the window.

1. Back then… you’d become irritated every time your friends called you up just so you could hear their baby coo. Now here you are… so awestruck by your baby’s ability to gurgle on queue that you feel the need to share it with everybody you know, including your single, childless friends.

2.  Back then… you believed that anyone who’d allow their 1-year old to suck on a pacifier should be reported to the American Academy of Dentistry. Now here you are… watching your 2-year old soothe himself to sleep by the gentle sucking motion of his favorite binky.

3. Back then… you thought a minivan was the most uncool vehicle on the planet. Now here you are… luxuriating in your 8-person kid mobile, enjoying the automatic sliding doors, the wide screen DVD player and all the awesome storage compartments.

4. Back then… you’d become violently ill at the sight and sound of Barney and his freakishly creepy friends. Now here you are… praising his name as you hastily turn to PBS, while your kids scream and cry only to be consoled by the annoying purple dinosaur.

5. Back then… you’d look on in complete annoyance as parents let their kids thrown earsplitting tantrums right in the middle of the grocery store. Now here you are… ignoring your inconsolably upset child (and those around you) in an effort to teach him that screaming bloody murder won’t win him that candy bar.

Having kids turns even the coolest of people into versions of themselves they never knew was in them. It’s an inevitable fact of parenthood.

How about you? What did you swear you’d never do?

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Some of my early readers may recognize this post from a while back. I have been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to write anything new. So today, you get recycled material. 

For times of challenge…

Life can’t always be good. Let’s face it, sometimes it just downright sucks. But pain and suffering are part of everyone’s journey; nobody gets to take the detour.

When I find myself in a place of challenge and difficulty, I try open myself up to hear the messages life has to offer—which often comes by way of inspiring quotes that make their way onto my path. These wise words pick me up when I’m down; they add perspective when I’ve got none; they guide me when I feel myself beginning to stray.


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“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepka Chopra

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” – Randy Armstrong

“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” – Unknown

“Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.” Mooji

“Pain doesn’t just show up in our lives for no reason. It’s a sign that something in our lives needs to be changed.” – Unknown

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions.” - Hafiz

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” - Maya Angelou

“Part of art of quieting ourselves is to honor the tears that we carry.” – Jack Kornfield

“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” - Khalil Gibran

“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.” – Glenn Turner

“May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” – Teresa of Ávila

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” – English Proverb

10 things I will never stop doing for my kids

The other day, a friend’s little 6 year old daughter asked me, “Do you still call your boys your babies?” It seems her mom still does that to her and she was beginning to wonder why.

“Of course!” I responded. ”They’ll always be my babies!”

She gave me an adorable little chuckle, then looked at her mom as if so say, “Okay mom, I guess you can keep calling me your baby.”

As moms, do we ever stop thinking of our children as our babies? No we don’t rock them to sleep or sing them lullabies (unless they’re really sick, of course—then all bets are off), but they are still our babies, right?

Though my role as mom will evolve as my boys age, there are some things I will never stop doing for them—whether they’re 9, 29 or 59:

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    1. Saying “I’m proud of you.”
    2. Encouraging them to be their own person.
    3. Picking them up when they fall.
    4. Accepting them for who they are—flaws and all. 
    5. Hugging and kissing them. (Try to stop me.)
    6. Being open, honest and respectful towards them. Treating them as equals.
    7. Laughing with them. Laughing at them. Letting them laugh at me.
    8. Talking to them. Listening to them. Asking how they’re doing.
    9. Forgiving them.
    10. Saying, “I love you.”

My boys are now, and forever will be, my babies.

Tips to make your smoothie even healthier

Smoothies. I love em. Not because they taste yummy (which, the way I make them, they do!), but because they’re an incredibly easy way to get more veggies into my diet.

Over the past year or so, I’ve perfected the art of smoothie making. I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work, what tastes good, what tastes not so good and how to make them even healthier. And over time, I’ve picked up on little tips and tricks to sneak that extra bit of nutrition into my blended magic.

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Strive for 3:1.
When choosing ingredients, try to follow at least a 3:1 greens to fruit ratio. The greener, the better. Don’t worry, it will still taste great. A little fruit goes a long way (particularly the sweeter ones like pineapple and mango) in adding a nice sweetness to a Chlorophyll-packed, vibrantly green smoothie.

Or at least, sneak in some spinach.
If more of a fruit-based smoothie is really what you want, be sneaky about your greens with a handful of fresh spinach. Sounds gross, but trust me, if my kids don’t notice it, you won’t either.

Keep your citrus white.
Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and fiber and add a refreshing touch to your smoothie. But there’s a right and wrong way to do it; the trick is to cut off the outer peel while leaving the antioxidant-rich white “mesocarp” in tact. I typically use either half a lemon or lime, seeds and all!

Keep your cucumber green.
Don’t forget about the cucumber. Comprised of 95% water, this hydrating veggie (well, technically it’s a fruit, but from a nutritional standpoint, it behaves more like a veggie) is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it’s thought to be one of the best foods for your body’s overall health. But toss that baby in with the skin on; that’s where the fiber, vitamin K and beta-carotene are hiding. If possible, however, try to go organic. Cucumbers are on the dirty dozen, which means they are among the more highly pesticide-sprayed fruits and veggies out there.

Go chia.
Haven’t you heard? Chia is the new flax. These tiny seeds, once popular among the Aztecs and Mayans, are high in soluble fiber, calcium, phosphorous and omega 3s. Chia is also a complete protein, meaning  it contains all of the needed protein-forming amino acids. And unlike flax (which I also love, by the way), chia is tasteless and odorless, making for the perfect nutrient-dense addition to your smoothie.

Throw in some probiotics.
Did you know that 70% of your immune system resides in your intestinal tract? Weird but true. Yet most of us are walking around with an imbalance of gut flora, thanks to years of antibiotic use. Fortunately, restoring the beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract is easy as pie with a simple probiotic supplement. Tasteless and odorless, a high-quality powered probiotic is a great way to add some immune-boosting, highly beneficial bacteria to your favorite smoothie.

Don’t forget the fat.
Keep your blood sugars balanced and your appetite satiated by adding some healthy fats to your smoothies. My personal favs are half an avocado or 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Cashews and flax seed oil also lend themselves well to smoothies.

As an added little bonus, I’m sharing with you today my favorite green smoothie. I drink one of these every single day and I love it. But don’t take my word for it… try it for yourself!

Steph’s Awesome Green Smoothie:
1 cup coconut water
1 cup filtered water
Handful of kale (fresh or frozen)
Handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)
Handful fresh romaine lettuce
½ organic cucumber (skin on)
½ lime (peeled, white on)
Handful frozen pineapple
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 capsules (broken open) Bifido Balance probiotic

Blend. Enjoy. Be healthy!

Strength vs. weakness: who wins this battle?

On the recommendation of a few friends, I recently purchased a book called StrengthsFinder 2.0. It arrived in the mail just the other day, thanks to Amazon Prime and its speedy 2-day shipping. I immediately tore open the package and dove in, and within minutes, I knew I was sold on its message.

The basic gist is this: if we would all invest more of our time and effort into building up our current strengths rather than trying to overcome our perceived weaknesses, we’d all be a lot happier.

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When I worked in the corporate world, I was very unhappy. Not the whole time I was there (thanks to a select few of my managers), but for a good portion of it. My company was “maniacally focused” on pushing employees towards “reaching goals,” “raising the bar” and “exceeding expectations.”

Over the course of my ten years there, my reviews all pretty much looked the same: I excelled in things like taking direction, getting things done, coming in on budget and on time, playing nice with others and so on. I was good at the day-to-day of my job, which was writing and managing the internal company newsletter. But the “thought leadership” piece of the pie—now that was another story. When it came to “acting strategically,” “thinking globally,” and “applying innovative solutions,” I fell short. And no matter how hard I tried to be that person they wanted me to be, I never made any real headway. And I would get beat up about it on a regular basis—both from my managers and from myself.

Now, five years removed from the corporate world, I see things more clearly; I now accept the fact that there are some areas in life where I’m simply not a rock star. And I’m okay with that. But it took leaving my job, and being removed from it for a few years, to see it this way.

As the mother of two growing boys, I apply the same approach in my parenting.

Take my 11-year old. He struggles with language arts. He’s not the best reader or writer. His handwriting is atrocious and his grammar leaves a lot to be desired. This used to upset me quite a bit. I would have meetings with his teachers, hire tutors, sign him up for after school enrichment programs and so on. Sure those things have helped, mildly, but the simple fact is this: language arts will never be his strong-suit. When he’s reading a book or writing an essay, I see his mind stray. He loses focus, energy and commitment. It’s plain as day.

And that’s okay.

Want to know why? Because I see so many other areas of strength in him. He is an excellent mathematician (way better than his 40 year old mother), and a scientist in the making, always building and constructing this and that or mixing up secret formulas in his “lab.” When putting his left brain to work, he’s extremely focused, engaged and excited.

He’s not musically inclined, but he’s a skilled athlete. He’s not super communicative, but extremely outgoing. He’s not the most motivated of boys, but exudes confidence. It’s like Newton’s law of motion, but in skills-awareness speak: for every shortcoming, there is an equal and opposite talent.

I am fairly certain that my boy will never be a writer or go into the field of communications like his mom. But I take comfort in the knowledge that there are thousands of other paths he can take in life that cater to his numerous strengths.

I refuse to kill myself, or him, trying to make him something he’s not. Don’t get me wrong; I will continue to encourage him to work hard in all areas of academics. But I refuse to kill his spirit by honing in on his weaknesses. Instead, I will guide him towards his true talents in life. I will enroll him in the upcoming after-school math enrichment class. I will send him to Camp Invention for the 4th year in a row this summer. I will continue to let him make a mess of my home as he constructs his wild inventions.

No one can be good at everything. I’m at a place in my life where I recognize my strengths and weaknesses for what they are. I’m done trying to fit this square peg into a round hole—and I won’t do it to my children either.

Whether it’s a 40-year old trying to figure out what to do next or school age children making their way through the trenches of school, wouldn’t it be better to spend more time tapping into our natural talents rather than expending energy on trying to fix our shortcomings?