Saturday, February 12, 2011

What is the fascination?

I had my sewing machine and all its trimmings out.  I hadn't realized that you could use a sewing machine to sew the badges on Cub Scout shirts.  It really wasn't that hard.  Boy, I sure had a lot of catching up to do.  Later that week, my sewing stuff was still strewn around my bedroom, and I saw this:

As you can see, this is my cute little strawberry pin cushion with the word "poo" arranged in pins.  At one point last month, I even saw all the icons on the computer's desktop arranged to form the word "poo".  I'm not kidding.

I guess it stems from way back when I was a new parent.  I was determined that my little angel wouldn't say such inappropriate words as "poo" or "pee".  Yes, I'll admit, if you promise not to make fun of me too much (and you know who you are), I decided that in our household we'd refer to those bodily functions as "BM" and "urinate".  I can't even really write it down without sort of chuckling to myself.  What was I thinking?  No, not really.  I think back to that idealistic mother of twelve and a half years ago with fondness and sometimes even longing.  

So, fast forward to today.  My kids are now all obsessed with the word "poo".  Okay, okay.  I know it could just be the "I'm a 5th grade boy, and nothing is funnier to me than potty humor", but I still somehow find a way to take the blame.  Meanwhile, Julia, newly potty-trained, runs around the house, grabbing between her legs, and yells, "I have to go pee!" when she's gotta go.  Ahhh, how we learn to let some things slide with maturity, age, or well, let's just be honest, with being beaten down by all these kids who automatically obsess on anything that I say "don't" to! :)

But alas, all is not lost.  When I want a guaranteed, natural smile for any picture, any time, all I have to do is say "poo" myself, and my kids erupt into laughter.  All those cute pictures where they're all miraculously, simultaneously smiling?  More likely than not they've just heard their mother say "the word".

Happy Chinese New Year

I know it was last week, but I've wanted to share this fortune for so long.  A few months ago we got Chinese take-out for dinner.  The kids all love to read their fortunes.  Usually they are the average, run of the mill fortunes like:  You have the gift of wisdom and love, or whatever. 

But here was Wesley's that night:

We all cracked up.  What kind of a fortune is that?  I guess if it were your birthday it would be appropriate.  I had it hanging up on our bulletin board for the last few months, and whenever I saw it, I would get a chuckle again.  Wesley has such a cute sense of humor.  It was perfect that he got this fortune, because it cracked him up the most.  He'd laugh again anytime we mentioned it.

So, Happy New Year!  Almost a week late.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's Talk about...Self-Talk

My senior year of high school I had a class called "Exploring Childhood".  We learned about child development for the first 4-6 weeks of school, and then, we ran an actual pre-school that people from the community would bring their 3-4 years old to for us to teach.  It remains one of my favorite classes.  After the year was over, I think I got the "Most Likely to Work with Children" Award.  Who knew that someday I'd get to "work with" 6 children of my own?  Anyway, in that class there was a series of books called "Let's Talk about..." , followed by topics suitable to 3-4 year olds: sharing, kindness, feelings, etc.  My personal favorite was "Let's Talk about Being Destructive".  I don't know.  It just sort of struck me as funny, even today.

So, today I wanted to do a post about the title of a book that should be written for Moms:  "Let's Talk about Self-Talk".  Seriously, if you're anything like me, the self-talk gets pretty negative.  I've found myself realizing that the most common phrases that go through my mind are:  "I cannot survive this moment.", (cue sarcastic tone) "That's exciting.", and  "I'm such a failure.  There I go again."  I use these phrases multiple times a day in my mind.  When Julia has "helped" bring in the milk and dropped it, causing the glass jar to explode like a bomb all over the front entryway rug.  "That's exciting."  When Wesley needs to scribble his name on 23 Valentine's cards, Samuel has a spelling test to cram for, Miles is late for play practice, and Julia is screaming at the top of her lungs because she wants her own Valentines, I say to myself, "I cannot survive this moment."  

Okay, so the "That's exciting." comment isn't so bad.  Sometimes it's nice to be able to deal with life's little explosions with a little bit of humor/sarcasm.  But the "I cannot survive this moment." and the "I'm such a failure." comments are counter-productive.  I mean, I've had a lot worse moments than the one that happened during Morning Routine today, and I'm still here, i.e. I did survive those moments.  And, I don't fail at everything.  (Hey, I remembered to decorate and send back the little heart that Samuel's teacher sent home for me to decorate as a surprise for him during his class Valentine's Day party.  Pretty darn amazing considering the morning we had around here.)  I think we so often get into these negative cycles as mothers and women.  My life coach (okay, therapist) said that there's actually a little bit of a certain hormone (I can't remember which, but it's not good for you) that gets released in our brain every time we have a negative thought.  But, guess what?  Every time we have a positive thought, the opposite is true.  

So, how do we get ourselves to re-frame how we experience our stressful moments, thus leading us to say something positive and up-lifting, if not at least kind to ourselves?  Well, it's just a habit.  Also, it's just sort of one of those GI Joe things, too.  You know, "That's right kids.  And knowing is half the battle."  (Was I the only one who got a more than healthy dose of GI Joe episodes on Saturday mornings during the 80s?  Blame it on my 6 brothers, I guess.)  Honestly, though, it is just sometimes a matter of realizing what we're doing and purposefully choosing to say something positive.  It could be as simple as saying, "I can survive this moment."  "I'm just the eye of the storm."

I like to think of what Julie Beck said at last April's General Conference (a twice yearly general meeting for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in her talk titled "And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit" which you can find here:   "For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children." 

If during those stressful moments, I can somehow manage to remain calm, I will not only survive, but I can receive divine help to know how to best help everyone involved in the situation.  If I'm silently berating or degrading or under-estimating myself, I think I'm less likely to feel or hear or recognize the ways the Spirit might be trying to help me.  And I'm much more likely to lose my temper with my children if my mantra is "I can't" than if it is "I can...with His Help."

I'm going to try to change my self-talk.  And so, to all five of you, my readers, :)  let's come up with some positive things we can say to ourselves.  Share with me the ones that help you.

Here are some others that I like (but don't use often enough):

"Just keep calm and carry on."  
from a campaign that the British gov't used during WWII.

"Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through a straw."  
from me, trying to get an overly-upset child to stop hyperventilating.  It actually works very well.  Sometimes we even go get a straw.

"Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming."  
from Dory in "Finding Nemo"

"I am right in the middle of everything I always dreamed of having."  
from a sweet friend in the ward