Friday Favorites (November 17-21)

Grab a cup of coffee or tea – we have quite a few great stories for you today!

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Kathy Glow shares 10 Tips for Talking to Children About Death

Have you heard about Normal Barbie? Is it on your shopping list?

J.Cafesin talks about the folly of perception.

Marc shares a list of 20 Things to Stop Letting People Do to You. 

Dina writes a beautiful guest post about moving From a Little to A lot.

David shares Gate A-4

ABC picked up this wonderful story: A Letter of Apology to School Moms

Our lovely Amy Sneed Heinz wrote this beautiful post: At the End of the Day

Better After 50 talks about her mother in Buried in the Nice Robe.

Dena’s message is a great one: It is already okay.

Notations on the US Political Scene: On Early Voting; Clinton, Jindal & Other Thoughts

Election Season is ever so in the United States–As it is in India. Early Voting has begun in a number of states as Sample ballots have been received by all registered voters as the final battles are being drawn.

As we went to press, we were reviewing the latest out of the so-called US Mainstream Press and all indications are that the US House will remain in Republican Hands and they’re slated to add to their Majority. The US Senate, though, is up in the air especially as a number of interesting races are shaping up to peek the interests–including one particular one in the State of Kansas as Pat Roberts, the long-time Senator, is being challenged by a third-party upshot. What is striking is that Senator Roberts does not even have a home in Kansas. That’s really not too surprising–since President George H.W. Bush called a Houston Hotel in Texas for a while before settling back in Texas as he built his Library.

It was so interesting how the onslaught of solicitations for money was ever so. Some of the early reviews indicate that both Parties seem to have fared well as the final push begins for that fateful day on November 4. The Usual Suspects (Koch Brothers; Karl Rove) are ever so busy as are the Political Punditry class including Nate Silver, the Princeton Election Consoritum and some of the old hands–including Charlie Cook. Such people may not be as much familiar to those outside the United States–but they are given a lot of weight because they are part of the ever expansive punditry that is epitomized by the rise of sites like Politico, Huffington Post and others who seem to note how much of a monopoly they seem to have on political discourse–and being joined by Bloomberg as its’ launches its’ new Political Program on the eve of the elections.

What is also clear is that the 2016 race has also been going on ever so in a serious way. As Democrats await the fateful decision of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republicans are jockeying for position. What was kind of shocking was to see reports on US Mainstream Media on the possibility Mitt Romney yet again coming on for another run. Many on the right are talking up his “views” and noting that if he had won–the US would not be faced with the calamities it is currently faced with. There is one that is continuing to push his own credentials: Bobby Jindal. He is the current Governor of Louisiana. But what is striking is that he seems to be more involved in pushing his National Ambitions than running his State which is at the bottom scale on a number of key metrics in which states are measured. His latest pronouncement has to do with pushing Oil ever more. This is as the evidence reflects the continued calamity that World is in and how for instance the World Wildlife Federation has noted that we would lose 50% of our wild animals if we don’t think different.

As we went to press here, the pressing news was the resignation of the Director of the US Secret Service. A new interim Director was named to oversee the agency and an Independent Panel has been named to investigate recent Security Breaches. Reports this morning note how a fired Security Contractors that apparently was armed was on the same elevator with President Obama as he visited the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta Last month. This is an Army Veterans jumped the fence and made it all the way to the East Room.

As the debate ensues over it all, it was kind of gratifying to see both Democrats and Republicans actually agreeing on something–even though there is a clear disdain for President Obama. The problem that needs to be addressed is whether the resignation of one person will actually serious lapses. The bigger issue is the bubble that Presidents live in–and The White House is a symbol of the power that the people have which needs to be protected at all costs. Will that balance be maintained or will a sense of overaction–as it times past will be the order of the day? Only time will tell.

Mike’s Bio: have had over 18 years experience in Operations, Finance and Administration for Small to Medium Size Businesses, start-ups and publicly held companies.   I have also had the good fortune to be serve n the community in various capacities.    I have served as an intern on the Staff of a LA City Councilman, worked as a poll watcher for a Congressional Candidate and have served as a member of the City of Laguna Niguel Public Safety Committee and currently serve as a Traffic & Transportation Commissioner For the City of Laguna Niguel.   In addition to my on-going business interests, I also served as an Adjunct Professor for a number of years. Furthermore, I have launchedThe Daily Outsider which is a currently a network of 5 Blog Channels with a focus on Public Policy, Technology, Education & Leadership.

I Want You

I want you
not the way
young lovers want
all appetite and impulse
longing and angst

I want you
the way
waves want sand
to wash over
to rub against
then recede

I want you
not the way
a babe wants mother
needing nourishment
craving security

I want you
the way
sky wants clouds
seeking contrast
white and grey suspended
in soft blue

I want you
not the way
I used to want you
in raw desire
but in assured strength

I want you
the way
earth wants rain
enjoying tickle and splash
then letting
sun evaporate

I want you
not because I am
not complete
without you
half of a whole

I want you
because I don’t
have to have you
because I can
still want you
and want me too
********
Bio: Angela Renee is a single mother who lives with her eight-year-old son in coastal California. When she’s not working she’s most likely to be found curled up in a well-loved velvet chair in her bedroom, sipping tea and reading the poems of Rilke and Rumi, like she’s reading letters from her oldest friends. She writes at imagineangie.blogspot.com.

Friday Favorites (November 10-14)

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Love That Max shares “Do they fight? Of course – they’re human.” 

Your Voice Your Vision tells us that Things Get Better After We Get Braver.

The Off Parents opens up the world of Internet Dating.

Tracie Nall asks “What the sue heck is Tinikling?”

Raising Humans shares “Little Fingers.”

GOOD ENOUGH MOM

 

1-DSC03250-001There is an Eric Carle board book about a little girl who asks “Papa, can you get the moon for me?” And her father gets a ladder. When my boys were little, I read this to them. I still have it because when I see it on the shelf, I think of the many ways, as parents, we want to give it all, to make the pain go away when they hurt, to make their joy last forever, to protect them. To never disappoint them or make mistakes. To hang the moon. And also to know, while we can’t hang the moon, we can revel in its beauty. We can enjoy it. And we can parent beautifully all the while making mistakes. We are human. I am human.

Motherhood, there is no perfect or even “Super Mom.” To my mind, there is “Good Enough Mom” (or GEM, a nice acronym, don’t you think?) and she is different for each child and family. This week, I not only intellectualized being a GEM, I felt it in my bones. I absorbed the joy knowing I, along with my husband, am not just doing something right, I do believe I’m crushing it.

First day of school family dinner. My sons couldn’t wait to take their respective turns sharing. Middle schooler went class-by-class in vivid detail. The words “fun” and “interesting” were used repeatedly.

Fourth grader had already spilled the beans at pick up. “Mom, we did the most ginormously awesome science experiment.” “Wait, let me turn off the radio so I can hear every word.” And he told me the intricate details, every single one.

The repeat story for the rest the family was just as exciting. These are happy children, wonderful children, fulfilled children who are engaged in the world socially, academically, musically, athletically.

Later, middle schooler riffed on his violin while doing orchestra homework practice. I’m glad we didn’t force the practice issue over the summer. The break served him well.

The GEM. Letting them grow into who they are. One who creates new species of amphibian/dinosaur sketches with detailed drawings, imaginary habitats including feeding patterns, measurements, prey, predators. Who has watched me like at hawk since my shoulder surgery. Who leaps at the chance to help, even if it’s not manual labor but notices I’m in pain, or even just sad from the long recovery. Who holds me when I cry out of pain and frustration. Nurtures me with compassion and genuine empathy. Kisses my forehead. Teases me when I’m barefoot, standing 5’10”, kissing the top of my head “Such a cute little Mommy, look at you, you’re so little and cute. I love my little Mom.”

One who smiles all the time, wants to be around others and just be, just share time and space. Who loves to watch football with Dad just as much as he loves to read Winnie the Pooh with Mom, warm in the crook of my arm, eyes closed quiet together, just breathing. Who cracks jokes like a seasoned comic and laughs with abandon.

Both, who, when they smile at me and hug me, have taught me what a melting heart truly feels like.

Bio: Jenny blogs IN OTHER WORDS at www.jennykanevsky.wordpress.com and has written a mystery novel, Chosen Quarry, featured at www.jennykanevsky.com. Find her on Twitter @jennykanevsky.

Family outings…

…for us often look different. While we do many things together, there are many things that we do not. I don’t imagine that we are the only ones…we live in a busy and complicated world and many families have difficulty, pulling off, doing things “all together”.

Often though our decision to do things separately is due to our son. There are many situations that are just difficult for him, for a variety of reasons…band concerts were overwhelming, football games at times worked out ok but often it was just easier on everyone to take turns…Volleyball games where not happening for him…they were too loud. Parent meetings, room meetings, school programs…all events that were attended by one or the other of us…rarely both…

Don’t misunderstand we did and still do attempt many of these things…sometimes we are successful and sometimes we are not… Our girls are pretty understanding, they notice when things go well and when they don’t… they will often say, “well we tried”. They know no different than to try…and they are learning to accept that there are things in life that we can not control…so we have to focus on controlling how we respond. They are learning patience and understanding…they are learning to be content.

One thing I think that we finally came to realize was… our son often became the center of our attention on these attempts. Having five children requires some awareness of where you focus your time. We eventually came to the conclusion that one parent focused on the event, and the child the event pertained to, was probably more beneficial than two parents whose focus was elsewhere.

This is the point where I really have to stress that we are not perfect. Our parenting…not perfect…our children… not perfect…(our marriage…not perfect)…we are just trying to do the best that we can. Having a child with a disability changes things…it is just the reality of the world we live in.

I understand that you may be reading this and wondering why the focus on the negative…the truth is I don’t often think about this. This is our life…we live it. We are present everyday…working, laughing, going to church, arguing, swimming, praying, reading, watching TV…even enduring a little FFF (Forced Family Fun) usually board games. We have driven across the country, been to Disney Land, Disney World, the ocean, Lake Erie, minor league baseball games, museums, plays, concerts, hiking, biking, fishing, and the list goes on and on…because the good always out ways the bad…

He has never held us back…though it may appear that way to those on the outside looking in…he has caused us evaluate what matters, appreciate what we are able to do as a family…and find patience for the things we can’t.

I do have to say, that I am human, and every once in awhile…usually when I least expect it…I get caught off guard with a thought of “what if”. Watching my husband and the girls leave tonight for a big ballgame…I had half a minute of wandering what it would be like if we are all just hopping in the car to go…

Bio: My name is Beth Clay, I am a mother of five. Our son was born right in the middle of four girls and was diagnosed with Autism at 18 months, he is now 15 years old. I blog about our family and our journey at www.speakingingrace.com

Friday Favorites (November 3-7)

Welcome back to Friday Favorites! We missed sharing during October!

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Check out this beautiful story of Anne Frank as an Icon and Human Being

The Kindness of Strangers of Kathy Radigan – a lovely post!

The SITS Girls ask ‘What do you want to get from blogging?’

Scarlet tells us many ways we can use stories to teach and inspire our children

Ann shares How to Make a Plan so that Nothing Makes You Feel Worthless This Time of Year.

Jennifer tells us the 5 Reasons Her Daycare Provider Might Be the Wife She Always Wanted.

A Homeless Man Named Charles

manLong, stringy, unkept hair framed his down-turned face as he sat sleeping on the Walmart bench. His ragged, dirty clothes hung loosely so that his size was masked. A hand of fresh bananas laying beside him, someone had taken pity and left the small meal for his discovery whenever he awoke.

Sometimes he’d find refuge and a bit of charity in a local fast food joint or more often he could be found wandering the streets around town. A seemingly gentle soul, our family began to see him here and there on a fairly regular basis in our old hometown.

The local soup kitchen fed hungry residents and visitors throughout the week, but weekends saw their doors closed. At the time, my husband delivered food for a vending company and he often brought home stales (food that was still good, but passed the sell by date.)

We never heard this homeless man beg or even ask for anything, but his poverty was clear. One day, my husband took the time to stop, give the man some food and learn his name was Charles. From then on whenever they crossed paths, my husband would leave Charles with a few leftover meals to fill his empty belly.

Beyond a name, his story remained a mystery, but something about Charles touched our hearts.

I have to admit it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to have panhandlers knocking on our front door. Most times the story they told had been heard before. “My car ran out of gas around the block. My kids are inside. Can you give me money?” Cautiously, I learned to refuse the not infrequent requests.

And there was the time a glassy-eyed woman rang our bell during dinner. She was hungry and it was Saturday so the soup kitchen had no relief to dish out. Stirred by her polite plea, I filled a bag with food and placed it in her hands. She thanked me and descended my porch steps. I watched as she made her way down the block and then flung that bag full of food into someone’s bushes and continued on her way.

Those kinds of dishonest cries are enough to cause us to tune out or turn away, but then we risk becoming like the rich man who failed to see Lazarus starving in his doorway. Sure, we need to enlist some level of caution because there can be real danger before us. But we can’t excuse ourselves from helping altogether.

Christmas time rolled around and I happened to be shopping in a Catholic book store when Charles came to mind. While I had no way of knowing whether he believed in God or what, if any faith, he proclaimed, a little prayer book caught my attention. St. Joseph’s pocket book of prayers seemed the perfect size for a man who spent much of his time on foot.

I bought that book, took it home and wrapped it in my best Christmas paper. Like a prayer, the details felt important as I folded each corner and turned over every edge before taping them together. It had to be beautiful.

Keeping that gift close at hand, we spied Charles walking somberly across an empty parking lot one evening at dusk. Rolling down the window, I called out his name to which he stopped and turned in my direction. Like a child excited to find presents under the tree, I rushed toward him and thrust that gift into his open hands.

Merry Christmas were the only words I uttered and then we parted ways. He headed for the tree line, me for our van, so I have no way of knowing where that gift ending up residing. Maybe it landed in a ditch like that bag of food or perhaps it rested often in the hands of Charles. Regardless it doesn’t matter, I saw Christ in Charles and that gift was my attempt to be Christ to him. Beyond a meal to satisfy his physical hunger, I wanted him to feel cherished and important.

As a mother, I’ve purchased and distributed many gifts throughout the years. Each one represents a little offering of love, but no one ever meant so much as Charles’. In his poverty he had no way of repaying us. In fact we weren’t even motivated by words of praise or thanks. Charles was simply like Lazarus in our doorway. We saw his need and his dignity and gave to him what we had out of love.

Bio: Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of 8 living children, with 6 more heavenly ones who intercede. Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog “Blessings In Brelinskyville” or hire her to speak on a variety of topics. You can contact Tara via email bigfamilyentnc@gmail.com or find her on facebook.

Target Baby Blunder

A couple weeks ago, my husband Luke and I decided it was time to move Lillian into a toddler bed. She had taken up residence in our bed for several weeks and I wanted to nip it in the bud before my aching back would begin making a local chiropractor a millionaire. I thought the excitement and thrill and something new would make the transition easier. Thankfully I was right, but part of the experience left me with a new learning curve: seeing life through my daughter’s eyes.

My friend Mia gave me a great idea to make picking out her bedding a big deal. We would go to Mom Mecca (also known as Target) to find her new bedding. She would pick it out. Lillian would have full control over what her new comforter and pillowcase would be. It was going to be her first “big girl” decision as she chose her own “big girl” bed decor.

As we were packing up to head to the store, Lillian insisted on bringing her “baby.” She doesn’t have one specific doll she loves all the time, but whichever one she loves that day is destined to join us on all of the day’s adventures. This special day was no exception. As we got the kids strapped into the race car portion of the grocery cart (because there is no other kind when you have two toddlers), I thought it’d be funny and cute to “buckle” her baby into the basket part of the cart as well.

She thought it was awesome. I was well on my way to earning my Mom of the Year award.

We reached the toddler bedding aisle and I perused the selection. I know I said she’d get to make the choice, but there were like thirty options and I wasn’t going to spend all day there. I picked out three and drug them over to her. I lifted two up onto the cart and, as I was about to ask her which one she preferred, I was met with a terrified scream.

“Mom! Baby! Mom! Baby hurt!”

As I looked to where the doll was, I realized I had placed one of the giant bed in a bag monstrosities onto her baby. The doll was now crushed beneath a giant death trap as far as my daughter was concerned and I was quick to hurl the bedding to the floor and set the baby upright.

“Okay, baby? You okay?” Lillian asked with more maternal concern than I could ever muster.

I assured her the baby was fine and, once she was no longer concerned, we went through the surprisingly swift process of choosing her new comforter and pillow case.

In the moment, the whole scenario was hilarious. My daughter was freaking out because I had harmed her inanimate baby. But, to her, that was her baby. Her child. Though it now resides somewhere in our minivan, at the time it was her world and I had mercilessly tried to harm it.

It is the first, and for sure not the last, moment where I learned I need to start trying to see the world through her eyes. I’ve gotta get down to her level and engage with her there. This means when she brings me fake food from her kitchen, I better let her know it’s the best plastic broccoli I’ve ever had. And if she decides her baby needs a blanket to take a nap with her, I better break out a bandana for the baby to use.

It’s cute and it’s fun and it’s going to be pure joy to learn about her personality as we travel through this mother daughter life together. I just hope I never injure one of her babies ever again. I don’t think I could live with the guilt.

Bio: Toni Hammer never planned on having kids, but she’s now a stay-at-home mom to Lillian and Levi who were born 355 days apart because the universe has an awesome sense of humor She chronicles her mommy misadventures at Is It Bedtime Yet? and a book of the same name is being pitched to publishers as you read this. She’s a regular contributor to Scary Mommy as well as a blogger for Huffington Post. If you’re a fellow social media addict, you can also find her trying to be funny on Facebook and Twitter. She loves food she doesn’t have to cook, and drowns her mommy guilt in copious amounts of coffee and Diet Coke. Find her blogging at Is It Bedtime Yet?

 

#SorryNotSorry: Teaching Your Child Empathy

Kids today. With their emojis, text messaging, and hashtags. If I can’t keep up now, how will it be when my daughter’s a teenager? I was never cool and always old, which is what I believe the kids call “the whole package.” Where others rub some funk on it, I rub some Julie Andrews on it. Still, I must make an effort to learn. #hero

Ready to learn along with me? Then let’s floss and fly.

My four-year-old—aka, my boo, my bae, my shawty—is already cooler than I am, as evidenced by the desperate slang-slinging of the preceding clause. And that’s fine, I mean, chill, but I need her to take me somewhat seriously while she’s young so I can teach her good manners. I don’t want my daughter to be—in the immortal words of Rudy from Fat Albert—like school in summer, i.e., lacking in class.
#KickinItOldSchool

WWJAD (What Would Julie Andrews Do?)

As always, Julie Andrews is my guide. Whether I’m channeling singing super nanny Mary Poppins or singing super governess Maria von Trapp, I strive to be a Model of Good Behavior (MGB). Only without the singing. #offkey #stopsingingmommy

We started early, presenting the holy trinity of civility—please, thank you, and sorry—before my daughter could even speak. We exposed her to sign language via the Baby Signing Time videos led by walking primary color Rachel Coleman.

To the accompaniment of excruciatingly catchy tunes, my daughter learned that if she made a fist, and after punching Mommy with it, rubbed it in a circle over her chest to show “sorry,” Mommy would stop making the angry face and perhaps give her juice.

Bat-Hearing.com (and a #Parentfail)

When my child began to speak, we emphasized verbalization of the trinity. She learned to say “Sorry,” but she also tacks on an, “I forgive you,” conflating asking for forgiveness with dispensing of same. So her actually “meaning it” may take longer. I may not be the best MGB in this regard. Encounters with the ice cream truck reveal Mommy’s insincerity.

Either my daughter’s hearing is preternatural or I’m losing my own—perhaps due to age, perhaps due to the repeated battering my eardrums endure from the screams of a certain preschooler—but she always hears the ice cream truck before I do.

BTW, you know you’re old when the Mister Softee song brings sorrow instead of joy. Like Pavlov’s dog, my daughter hears the music and salivates. I hear it and panic. Dear one informs me of the truck’s approach and I say, “Sorry, honey, we can’t have ice cream before dinner.” (Or after dinner, for that matter, but let’s cross one bridge built over a river of lies at a time.)

Am I insincere with my “sorry”?

Am I faking regret over refusing her sugar before bedtime?

Are haters gonna hate?

#Sorrynotsorry

She’s starting to “get it.” Not the feeling remorse part. But when others don’t feel it. Sometimes, when she’s in the bath, I sneak away to catch up on e-mail or read my book to the end of a chapter. When she calls me, I keep saying, “Be right there,” until sooner or later she calls me on it and I say, “Sorry, honey.” The other night she said, “You’re not sorry, Mommy.” I had to laugh. Mommy was pwned! I only felt slightly ashamed, and may or may not have finished my chapter.

So my child is a keen observer of human nature. However, empathy for her subjects may take longer. For instance, at the park, where my presence is required on all the playground equipment, she’ll hover behind another kid at the top of a slide, and if he’s taking too long to go down, she’ll turn to me, and with wide-eyed innocence, say: “Can you push him?” #DoMyDirtyWorkMinion. What’s sign language for “Screw this kid, it’s my turn”? Though I guess you can’t really sign that if your hands are busy shoving an unsuspecting toddler.

WWJD

Such delinquency may be beyond Julie Andrews. Perhaps I’ll need to go oldest old school with What Would Jesus Do? Something Christian, I suspect. Apologizing and meaning it. Playing well with others. I’d stop short of turning the other cheek. Those playgrounds are rough and I want her to stay frosty. Besides, someday she may have to ride the subway like her mom, and let me tell you, turning the other cheek will burn you out pretty quick in New York.

Jesus may have been tempted for forty days and nights in the desert but he didn’t have to ride the R train at rush hour. Let’s imagine the son of god standing on the platform, the crowd getting antsy. Somebody says, It’d take a miracle for this train to come. And as everyone served up J.H.C. a heaping dose of stink-eye, he’d look away, whistling the theme song to Highway to Heaven (You don’t have to believe in God to know Michael Landon’s his favorite. #truth #drop some knowledge).

IDK

This is shorthand text messaging for I Don’t Know. You can also make it a hashtag. This is good since my ignorance is the only thing I have that works across all platforms. As my daughter gets older, I also imagine that this is the acronym I’ll find the most handy.

In conclusion, #winning and #blessed. GTG. TTFN.

Bio: E. R. Catalano is a writer and the mother of one evil mastermind living in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at http://www.zoevstheuniverse.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse or @ercatalano.

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