Find your tribe, love them hard

I am a huge fan of “Family” quotes.  I wanted to take a moment and share some with you.  To me, family is everything.  It is the foundation that built me, the love that has shaped me and the rock on which I can always fall back on.  Throughout my life I have watched my family evolve into what is the most precious thing I have to date.

  • Family – Where life begins and love never ends
  • The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing
  • Family – We may not have it all together, but we have it all
  • Family is not about blood, it is about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it the most
  • Family is family, whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way.

I suggest you take a moment and draw your family tree.  You may be surprised to see the list of parents, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. that are there.  If your family is small, try adding leaves to your tree that include your complete tribe.  Do you have a family friend that has been like a sister or aunt to you?  Do you have a best friend that has helped you raise your children?  They are all leaves on our trees.

When you get a moment, send a note to your tribe and let them know what they mean to you.  Here are my little notes:

To my parents: “Thank you for teaching me to eat with a fork, to wipe my own butt, to get up when I fell down and to laugh so hard my belly hurts.  Thank you for teaching me that this life is a beautiful gift and then telling me to go live it”

To my sons: “You may not have the same eyes or smile as me, but from the very first moment, you had my heart.”

To my grandchildren: “Trying to explain how much I love my Grandkids is like trying to count the stars”

To my cousins: “God made us all cousins because he knew our parents couldn’t handle us as siblings.”   Thank you for being my first playmates and now my greatest friends.

To my extended family: “Family is much more than a word – It’s a feeling of warmth and love that neither time nor distance can change.”  Thank you for always being on the other end of the phone, a text, or an e-mail.

To my husband: “You are my forever and always”.  God knew what he was doing when our paths crossed.  There is no one more patient, loving, understanding, strong, or crazy than you.

To my friends (Both near and far): “Friends go like waves on the ocean, but the true ones stay like an octopus on your face”  Hahahaha…  and this is why we are friends!

 

Digital memory books (AKA E-mail)

Have a child in your home or one you are responsible for or assist in raising?  Create a digital memory book for them.  You can do this at any time in your child’s life (as a newborn, school age, heading off to college or the military, or as they have children of their own).

Create an e-mail account for them.  (I suggest doing this with a service that is tried and true, dependable).  I am not supporting one outlet over the other, but I prefer g-mail becuase I’m pretty sure Google will be around for a while.

Don’t give them the password for this account until you are ready to share with them the contents.  The purpose of the e-mail is to provide them with bits of advice, stories about themselves or their heritage, and other funny things that happen throughout their lifetime.  Keep this e-mail address to yourself or share it with your family and friends.

Anytime you experience a situation where words of wisdom have helped you, send an e-mail to this new account.  Family recipes, photos, etc. are all great things to share.  So many times we wait until we are older to ask our parents for stories of our childhood or of our heritage.  There will come a day when we leave this world and leave our children behind, this is a great way to create a memory book of sorts for them that they can rely on for years to follow.

Have you personally lost a parent or close relative or friend and later wanted to give them a call to ask a question or are sure that if they were here they would know the solution to a situation?  Take this “digital memory book” and use it to alleviate the pain of not being able to call years down the road.

I have lost my grandparents and a few other friends and relatives.  I wish they were here now to share all of their wisdom and wit with me.  Take advantage of your resources in today’s age and pass on some history wrapped up in love and good intentions.  Your child will cherish it later in life.

SIDE NOTE: Share the password with them at a turning point in their life.  When there are no words at the moment, but so many thoughts have come and gone.  A child heading off to college, or preparing for their own child are perfect times.

 

Chore Charts – They work wonders!

I grew up with two sisters in my mother’s home.  We were all close in age and all very very different.  There were rules to follow of course, but my mom gave us chore charts.  She did this when I was little and again when my sisters and I were teens.  They were very different as they were age appropriate, but looking back they taught us to do our fair share and to take responsibility for ourselves.

As a little girl, my chore chart had the days of the week (I was learning those), and the chores that I was responsible for and capable of doing. (i.e., making my bed, picking up my room, putting my clothes in the dirty laundry hamper, etc.)  My sister and I shared the responsibility of laundry, cleaning our bathroom, dusting and vacuuming as we got older.  The chore chart faded away as the things we did became a habit and generally just expected.

As a teen, the chart came back into effect for dividing up chores and keeping us each accountable as individuals.  We had a calendar hanging in the kitchen with our initials on the days and order.  1, 2, 3, and repeat.  This was our dishes calendar.  If our name fell on the day, then we were responsible for doing dishes that night. (no question or hassle, it was there in black and white). NOTE: If our name fell on a day where we had a pre-planned social activity that kept us away at dinner time, the task of dishes fell to my mom, so she had her fair share of dishes nights too.)

As a young child, there were rewards for accomplishing all of my chores and doing them well.  Gold stars placed on my chart, a prize at the end of the week (this was either being able to stay up 30 minutes past my bedtime, or maybe watching a movie of my choice, or being able to have a friend over).  The consequences for not doing my chores were just as clear (i.e., no TV, no friends coming over, etc.)

These chores taught me to keep my home clean, to respect my property and that of others,  to be responsible for myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I did not have a difficult or challenging childhood, but my parents had rules and they had good reason for them.  Looking back I am so grateful they did.  I am the woman I am today because of them.  Things like washing the towels and sheets on your bed, vacuuming AND dusting, cleaning out your closet occasionally, are all random things we take for granted as an adult but should thank our parents for teaching them to us when we were young.  After all, they taught us to use a spoon, wipe our own tushes, and hopefully to take care of ourselves overall as were grew into successful independent adults.

If you have a little kiddo in your home, I hope you are teaching them to grow into fabulous independent adults.  The joy is equal in succeeding as an individual as it is to watching your child succeed, knowing you did a good job.

SIDE NOTE: I was an argumentative child at times.  I hated to be told no.  I would accept a choice or a reason, but the word “no” sent me through the roof many times.  These chore charts outlined exactly what was expected of me and decreased the arguments over all.  As I grew older I appreciated conversations with reasons and purpose rather than being “told what to do”.  Today as a result, I have a pretty solid foundation and open line of communication between myself and all of my parents.  (As I mentioned before, I have two step-parents that also raised me and I respect them as much as I respect my biological parents.)

Speaking without words – love

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without the words “I love you” or “I’m sorry”?  Without being able to say “I’ll fix it” or “I’ll make it up to you”?  Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we all “spoke” without ever saying a word.  No sign language, because after all, those are still words.  But actually not using those phrases or anything similar to those at all?  Here it comes my friends, another challenge!  Valentine’s day is right around the corner. New Year’s has come and gone, and I suspect some of us may have already fallen short on a few resolutions.  So here is my February Challenge for everyone.  Try speaking without words.  You read that right!

I’m asking you to try to learn all of the different languages of love that are out there.  Try “doing” instead of “saying”.  Is it a smile instead of a frown?  Is it a gesture of making the bed or actually hanging up the towel or folding the laundry that catches your partner’s eye and lets them know you heard them?  Is it showing up maybe five minute early to pick up your child so you can see their face light up that you took time out to put them first instead of being the last to pick them up?  (It does make a difference.)  Is it remembering what a favorite meal is for breakfast or adding a note in a lunch box or writing a note in the mirror from the steam of the shower?  The point is to slow down and not make excuses or high five in the hallway this month with the traditional kiss goodnight and “I love you”.  Please try to figure out what makes your friend and family feel special or make them feel like you heard them and DO THOSE THINGS.  I promise, it comes back ten fold in happiness on all levels.

I will give you a hint (and a glimpse into my life).   Even setting up the coffee in the morning for your spouse so they just have to turn on the machine goes a long way.  My husband does this for me and every morning it starts my day with a huge smile because I know in his morning rush, he took a few minutes to think of me when he didn’t have to.  He measures out the cream and sugar and puts the K-cup inside the Keurig so that all I have to do is press the button.  He even puts the spoon inside the cup to remind me to stir.  Every single morning, he manages to melt my heart without saying a word.

I hope this challenge pays off for you and everyone you try it with.  As always my friends, have a happy day!

 

DIY – Valentine’s edition

February is a fun month!  Love is in the air.  Winter is just peaking and starting to pass.  Tulips are popping up through the snow.  It’s time to have some DIY Fun with Valentine’s Day ideas!  Here a few suggestions to get an un-expecting, friend, child, loved one, or even co-worker giggling and into the spirit. 

1.       Love potion labels – Get your kids in the Valentine’s Day spirit by removing existing water bottle labels and replacing them with these free “love potion” printables. Crack these water bottles open and love just might fill the cafeteria. Is it magic or just a mother’s love? (suggestion from good housekeeping.com)

2.       Heart Crayons – This is fun to do as a surprise for the little ones in your life or as a project with them so they can spread their own love with friends.  (NOTE: this project can be rough on your metal pans, try using a silicone heart mold.  This can be purchased on line or found in your local craft store).  Separate your crayons by color groups: reds/pinks, purples, blues, greens, oranges/yellows. To get the paper off easily, cut a slit down the length of the crayon with a knife. Break them into ~1/3″ – 1/2″ pieces and place like colors into pans. You get a better result if you mix lighter shades of a certain group with darker shades. The color contrast is pretty fun and makes for unique hearts. Bake between 225F and 250F for about 10 minutes. Take a look at them after 10 and if they are completely melted, gently take them out, and let them cool for at least 10 minutes. If there are still some chunks after 10 minutes, let them go for another minute or two. Keep an eye on them! (Recipe from goodknits.com)

3.       Heart Shaped Hand warmers (Or any shape and color to use for all cool seasons) – You will need, felt, Embroidery Floss and a needle, Un-cooked rice, dried lavender or an essential oil that you find soothing.  Cut the felt into the shape you prefer (hearts are great this time of year).  You will need a total of four identical pieces (two for each warmer).  Knot the embroidery floss and thread your needle.  Sew your two shapes together until you are about ¾ complete.  Be sure to sew you loops close together as not to allow the rice to escape through large gaps.  Add the rice and lavender / oils to the pouch you have created.  Be sure not to pack it tight as you need a little wiggle room to sew it shut and also keep them flexible.  Finish sewing the open gap closed and secure the thread.  To use these awesome warmers, microwave the, for about 30 seconds and tuck them into coat pockets.  Your hands will stay warm and toasty.  Re-heat as needed to re-use, but be sure not to heat for too long. 

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking creatively.  Ignite the passion and creativity inside your heart and share it with others.  As always, have a happy day!

Everyone is someone’s valentine, don’t forget to spread the love

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and love is in the air everywhere I turn!  It makes my heart smile so big this time of year.  Valentine’s Day isn’t just for new love or celebrating old love.  It is also for celebrating friendships and family.    This Valentine’s Day, remember to do something for those extended friendships or family members that deserve to know how much they mean to you just as much as your husband, wife, or significant other. 

This is one of my favorite times of year.  It gives us all the ability to re-enact the “Secret Santa” idea and leave secret notes to brighten a day.  If you have the means, send flowers to your best friend.  Leave a little love-note for your child in their lunchbox from time to time through the days surrounding Valentine’s Day (or all year for that matter).  Make pancakes or eggs in the shape of a heart for breakfast.  (NOTE: Use a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter as a mold when you break the eggs into the pan or when you drop pancake batter into the pan.)  Why not have breakfast for dinner and change things up just to add a pinch of spontaneity to your day. 

Make this day, weeks and month fun for everyone.  Try a scavenger hunt through your home for your loved one or for your children with a treat or gift at the end.  Send a card or note in the mail to your parents reminding them how much they mean to you.  Spreading love with make your heart feel warm and fuzzy inside and knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day is the cherry on top. 

My wish for you as Valentine’s Day approaches is to think outside of the box.  This is always my challenge for you.  Get creative, get generous, get crafty, and get sentimental.  Don’t forget those less fortunate.  Money isn’t always the answer.  Sometimes holding a door or offering a hand goes so much further  What a better time to spread the love than now?

Lastly, remember to love yourself on Valentine’s Day.  Dress a bit nicer.  Be sure to do your hair and/or make-up and give yourself a little extra smile in the mirror.  After all, if we don’t love ourselves, no amount of love from anyone else will ever measure up.  I was once told that you can’t take “pretty” with you unless you have it on the inside.  A compliment is wonderful and always welcomed, but get up, get dressed and look at the person in the mirror.  Tell that person you love them and they are worth it. 

As always, have a happy day!

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