Archive for the ‘Life with Boys’ Category

MOTHERING MANTRA: RAISING CAPABLE HUMANS

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

capable humans |Where is June?

Everyone needs a mantra, right?  That might be a bit of a stretch, but I love it when someone tells me they have a personal mantra.  While mantras are usually focused on one’s self, my new mantra is focused on parenting.  My “mothering” to be specific.  As we embark on a new school year, I have adopted a simple but powerful mantra:  I am raising capable humans.  (At least that is the goal!)

As a mother who does not work outside my home, this guiding principle isn’t so simple after all.  My job is actually… my kids.   My kids and running my house while trying to maintain some semblance of sanity. When your kids are your work, you can get a little crazed.  I take my boys’ shortcomings, struggles, and idiosyncracies very personal.  I feel it all to my core.  After a particularly difficult school year, I came to painfully realize this is 100% unhealthy.  It isn’t good for me and it certainly isn’t good for them.  They are humans, and although I am on the journey with them, it is their journey after all.

These boys do amazing things all of the time.  They are capable of climbing rock walls, skiing black diamonds, making stop motion videos, and popping up on surf boards.  If this is true, then they are also capable of making mac n’ cheese, managing their homework, asking a teacher for help, and doing their own laundry.  Of course I will advocate for them and help them when they need it.  I love them fiercely!  I just need to remind myself that I don’t need to DO for them all of the time.  In my teens, my dad used to say the funniest thing.  He would tell me, “I’ve done my job if you want to move out.”  I totally get it now.  Independent children ready and eager to take on the world is the end game.  The first step is just getting out of the way.  Simple, but not easy.

What do you think of personal mantras?  Am I just taking my crazy in a different direction?

 

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HEDBANZ – A HOLIDAY EDITION

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

headbanz holiday edition | Where is June?

We are once again hosting a holiday meal on Christmas Eve for our family.  Every year I try to think of a new idea to keep the cousins on their toes.  When they were really little I covered the entire table with kraft paper and left cups of crayons out for them.  They aren’t so little anymore {plus my boys never colored}, but they do love to laugh together. This year we are going to play a holiday edition of Hedbanz.  If you aren’t familiar with the game, each player wears a headband and tries to guess the card on his or her forehead.  We will use the blue headbands but the “playing cards” will be holiday themed.  I will brainstorm people, places and objects associated with winter and Christmas. A few I have thought of so far: Santa, Frosty, candy canes, Christmas tree, North Pole, stockings, hot cocoa, Rudolph, the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who.  Can you think of any others?

Keeping with the holiday theme, I plan to write the words on gift tags.  {That is very OCD of me and is certainly not necessary!}  Kids and adults love the original version of this game, so I hope it will be a big hit!   With a few cocktails it should make for great fun.

santa headbanz holiday edition | Where is June?

A few nights ago the boys were sweet enough to model for me and then we played a few rounds.  Little Man wasn’t too thrilled about being a Unicorn.  I was very comfortable with my hot dog persona.

headbanz | Where is June?

We are looking forward to an evening filled with laughter.  What games do you like to play with your family during the holidays?  I would love to hear!

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GUYS READ [THE FLYING BEAVER BROTHERS]

Monday, October 19th, 2015

guys read | flying beaver brothers | Where is June?

Little Man’s love for graphic novels has been well documented.  {Read about other graphic novel series here and here.}   They are engaging, easy to read, and fun.  He has been reading the series The Flying Beaver Brothers by Maxwell Eaton III for quite some time.  He has actually read and re-read each title over and over and over.

Brothers Ace and Bub make him giggle.  Ace loves extreme sports and is always looking for a new adventure. Bub loves napping and, well, napping.  Each new book finds them on a new adventure.  The illustrations are fantastic, the colors simple, and the dialogue is snappy.  Little Man devours these books and anxiously awaits the next title to be released.  Give this series a try!  I bet your kids love it.

The Flying Beaver Brothers is targeted for kids in grades 1-4, but Big W thinks they are hilarious as well.  They are a crowd-pleaser!

Reading for enjoyment is so important for young children.  There is no way to convey how strongly I feel about this topic.  Please allow your kids to have fun with books.  Never mind the mom who is bragging about her three year old reading chapter books.  Forget about the labels they may or may not have put on your child at school.  The goal should be building life long readers.  Whether your child is reading chapter books, comic books, graphic novels, non-fiction titles or poetry, the important thing is that he or she is reading.  Simple but true.  Let them enjoy books and have fun helping them find books they love.

 

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SETTING LIMITS ON SCREEN TIME

Monday, October 12th, 2015

setting limits on screen time | Where is June?

This is a very personal post.  Maybe it will be a popular post.  {Who knows?}   All I know is that I struggle everyday with setting limits on screen time in my house.  Like many parenting topics, it is sort of like opening Pandora’s box.  Every family has their own philosophy on screens and the amount of time that is appropriate for their children to be staring at them.  While I am in continual struggle to set these limits for our boys, there are a myriad of thoughts that run through my mind:

**I love screens when the boys are creating a movie, messaging with Grandma 30o miles away, looking up a fact on Safari, looking at the surface of the Moon.  I love screens when on a plane.

**Screens are invaluable to my boys’ education.  Most specifically they use their iPads every day to complete homework.  They both use voice dictation software to help them compose their thoughts for writing assignments.  My oldest has a school iPad provided by his middle school.  They view assignments, submit work, keep a calendar, message classmates regarding class work, and communicate with teachers.

**I mostly hate YouTube.  Specifically the 30-year-old gamer that lives in his parents’ basement and records and narrates himself playing video games.  Seriously, it is mind numbing!

**I have a love/hate relationship with Minecraft.  It is amazing what the boys craft, but inevitably one pisses the other one off.  {The yelling is no joke.}

**I am a lazy mother.  It is so easy to just let them play and sometimes I just need 30 minutes.

**It is the boys’ language.  When they aren’t playing, they are talking about games and apps with their friends.

**Adults are always on screens too!

**The game is rated T for Teen but my eight year old is playing it.  Should I have stricter limits?!?

**I am parenting in an age in which I did not grow up.  While this isn’t unique to our generation, it feels like an immense responsibility.  Everything is posted and published.  Add teaching our kids to be responsible social media citizens to the list.

**Judgement is harsh and it is real!

Ok, so there it is.  Nothing really but a list of all the crap that runs through my head.  How much time do my kids spend on screens per day?  Well, most days it is an hour of leisure screen time- unless I am feeling lazy {see above}.   And weekends are the hardest days to regulate!

I am interested to hear if you struggle with screen time too! 

What are your tricks?  What do you love/hate about screens? 

 

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SETTING GOALS WITH KIDS

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

setting goals with kids | Where is June?

Little Man and I have set a goal for the school year.  He and I are going to walk or ride our bikes to school for at least 100 days.  I may have selfishly suggested this goal since it means I will rarely have to enter car pick-up or drop-off.  That my friends is priceless.  It also encourages both of us to brave the weather, even on cloudy, drizzly days.  Fresh air in the morning does a body good.

In all honesty, it is an easy way to introduce goal setting.   Little Man is still quite young {8 years old}, so the goal had to be simple in nature with a clear outcome.  After setting our goal, I did a bit of reading.  {It appears that goal setting is a multi-million dollar industry?   “Experts” from all walks of life!}  A few reoccurring principals seem essential when goal setting with young kids.

1.  Set a specific goal with measurable terms //  We set the goal of riding or walking 100 out 180 school days.  Specific and measurable.

2.  Set an end date//  We have until June 23, 2016, the last day of school.

3.  Write goals down and keep track of  progress//  We created a chart for Little Man to keep track of the days he rides his bike or walks.

4.  Find a partner or team//  We are in it together!

5.  Agree on a reward or celebration//  Three words.  Great Wolf Lodge.  {Oh, lord, help me!}

I think our goal is perfect.  It pushes us, but it is reasonable and attainable.  Other goals that would be great for young kids:  trying new foods, reading a set number of books, practicing an instrument, running a 5K.  As kids get older, goals get more complex.  I’ll get back to you about setting goals with Big W.  That kid is tricky!

What goal could you set with your kids this school year?

 

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LIFE WITH BOYS

Monday, August 10th, 2015

life with boys

I’ve touched on this topic before, but I feel it is essential to continue talking about it.  In the world of social media, the comparison game becomes overwhelming!  One of my goals with this blog, from the very beginning, was to just keep it real.  Present real life, the beautiful and the ugly.  I hope that I have been successful in accomplishing that. Simple enough, but it seems that it gets harder and harder as time passes.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I love to use the hashtag #lifewithboys.  It explains my life in a nutshell.  Raising two boys is a full contact sport.  The photos capture tender moments with my boys, adventure, accomplishments, and tons of fun.  And it is all true.  What is equally important is what is NOT posted.

I am not a perfect mother.  My children are far from perfect.  We are not the perfect family.  There is no such thing.  We all know that, right?  If we know that, why can’t we proudly shout it from the rooftops {or in our status updates}?  Summer is especially difficult because the guilt weighs heavily.  Oh, they should be reading more.  I should be more organized.  We should be doing something productive.  They should be reading more.

While it is awesome to be the mom that rides every water slide or plays Marco Polo, remember it is also OK to plant yourself in a lounge chair and take a moment to breathe.  Albeit impressive to create a chore chart for your children and actually follow through,  you can also do it yourself and then simmer about all you do without any help!  The fact is no mother is going to post a selfie of herself screaming at kids to get off the damn iPad.  Just know that is happening everywhere, everyday.

I will continue to share about the not-so-lovely things, because we are all in this together.  Please promise you will try to be kind to yourself.  And if you are brave, share a story with a friend that shows we can all fall short of perfection and live to tell about it.

PS:  comparison is deadly and the not-so-glamorous shots….

 

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SUMMER FUN: SEND THEM TO CAMP

Monday, July 27th, 2015

send them to camp

{camp orkila, Orcas Island, WA}

Looking for summer fun for your kids?  Send them to camp.  Not just camp.  Sleep away camp.  I know it may be late for the this summer, but put in the back of your head for next year.   Most camps open enrollment in January, some even earlier.  Or, hey,  jump online and see if there are any openings for camp in August.  Big W went to camp for the first time at age 8.  {Little Man was 7.} Without a doubt, they come home from camp dirty and tired, but also a little more grown up.

Big W and Little Man have grown immeasurably from their time away.  I see the growth in three main ways:

1.  Independence

#1 and always so surprising.  They return from camp more mature and more capable than when they left.  Most importantly, they learn to navigate the world with all their idiosyncrasies without my help.  Don’t like the food, figure it out.  Can’t fall asleep, figure it out.  Not getting along with a friend, figure it out.  Not sure of an activity, figure it out.

2.  Appreciation

Oh, this is a big one.  They appreciate home, their bed, their siblings, your cooking, and your hugs a little bit more.  Distance does make the heart grow fonder and it works for kids too.  They also gain an appreciation for the great outdoors.  The camps’ locations are so beautiful they can’t help but fall in love with nature.

3.  Confidence

Quite simply, they can do it.  And when they return home, they know it.

camp orkila | Orcas Island, WA

Camp is good for you too, for all the same reasons!  You get a bit of independence {even if it is just for a week}, you miss them terribly and appreciate the energy they bring to your house, and you gain confidence in knowing you will, eventually, be able to let them go.

If I could afford it {and allow it}, Big W would be gone all summer.  Jumping from camp to camp.  Each one offers new experiences, new challenges, and a new location.  Who know which camps next summer will bring, but rest assured they will both be packed and ready.

 

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SEND THEM {LOVE} AT CAMP

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

send them love at camp | Where is June?

Summer in our house means putting together care packages to send to the boys at camp.  I can only imagine how happy they are to receive a box at mail time.  It is tough to find just the right things to include in care mail packages.

Here are ideas for three different care packages in case you are in need of some inspiration:

care package 1 | Where is June?

Care Package #1 {Camp does not allow food in care mail.}

1.  Pillow Case and sharpies for cabin mates to sign.  This is Big W’s package so I am sending him his pillow case that has been signed year after year.

2. Powerade Zero drops.

3.  A new suit.

4.  A bundle of bracelets to share.

5.  A memo book to write down email addresses or Instagram handles.

6.  Would You Rather? card game.

7.  LEGO mini-pack.

8.  Glow-in-the Dark bouncy balls.

 

care package 2 | Where is June?

Care Package #2 {Camp does not allow food in care mail.}

1.  Bright socks.

2.  Splash Flying Disc.

3.  LEGO mini pack

4. NEW pillow case and sharpies for a first time camper.

5. Powerade Zero Drops

6.  Memo book and a Hangman Game Pad.

7.  Mini-flashlight.

8.  Yo Yo.

 

care package 3

Care Package #3 {Camp does allow food and candy!}

1.  Wind up toy.

2.  Glow-in-the-Dark Bouncy Balls

3.  Gummy Bears.

4.  Nutella & Go!

5.  Spoons Card Game.

6.  LEGO mini pack

7.  NEW pillow case and sharpies for a first time camper.

8.  Hangman Game Pad and Powerade Zero drops

 

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SUMMER FUN: PITCH A TENT

Monday, June 29th, 2015

pitch a tent | Where is June?

Summer fun does not have to be expensive or elaborate.  You don’t even need to leave your back yard!   Pitch a tent and sleep outside.  Kids of all ages love camping out and it becomes a club house of sorts. You can crash with them or let them sleep on their own.  My boys have have a lantern they keep on low during the night.   I love seeing the tent glow from my kitchen windows.

Isn’t summer the best?!

 

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MY BABY RATTLESNAKE

Monday, May 4th, 2015

MY BABY RATTLESNAKE

It is said that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult snakes because they haven’t learned to control the amount of venom they inject when they bite.  They just release all their venom in one swift, deadly release.  Now, this little fact is mostly likely not scientifically sound-but for the sake of my argument let’s say it is.

I am raising a baby rattlesnake.

Little Man is a tightly wound ball of emotions.  He can go from a kind, sweet boy to door-slamming, venomous creature in a matter of seconds.  What can set him off?  His iPad not responding, losing or not performing well in a game, a change in schedule, his socks.  It is my job to teach him how to control is venom.  He 100% got it from me.  {I 100% believe it is the Italian blood coursing through our veins. While I was not as volatile or stubborn, I was a master door slammer and screamer.}  Navigating this as a family can be difficult and challenging.  In public, it can be frustrating and embarrassing.

What have I learned {and continue to learn}:

1.  Acknowledge his feelings. 

Often he is verbalizing exactly how most of us feel.  Software glitches, a strike out, traffic, homework, Mondays.  No one likes these things.   I find myself saying, “I understand it is super frustrating.”  I say it over and over.  I am not sure if it super helpful, but I  want him to know that I recognize what he is feeling.

2.  Set him up for success.  Be flexible.

I try to be ready with a preemptive strike.  I know him well enough now to foresee certain situations.  Before a our LEGOLand visit, we talked about lines and how there is likely to be long waits for rides.  We checked out the interactive online map and plotted a course to a coveted ride.  I sat out with him when he didn’t want to ride the BIG roller coaster.  Instead we wandered around {just the two of us} and found an exhibit where he could build a robot.  Sometimes he just needs down time.

3.  Let him be.

He knows what he likes and wants. When he was really young, I used to coax him or force him to do something he didn’t want to do.  Jump in jumpy houses, go on a merry-go-round, pet a dog. The list goes on and on.  Then one day it dawned on me.  If he doesn’t want to, don’t make him.  Let him be.  Well, let him be, unless it involves his education, safety or being polite.

4.  There is a limit!

He needs to know that while we do have control of many things, life is a series of readjustments and compromises.  I serve him no good, if I smooth every path for him.  And honestly, I am just not that patient.  There comes a time where enough is enough.  Time alone in his room often does the trick, for both of us.  I’d like to say I am always the calm, serene role model he needs.  Uh, nope.  I do yell and I do lose it.  {I am saving for his future therapy!}  My challenge is being consistent.

From my own experience, the outbursts decrease with age and maturity.  However, as the parent, I will just need to survive and come out on the other side of this. Thankfully, we have wonderful friends and family that care about Little Man and show great love toward him.  I appreciate their willingness to help him navigate the world and continually support me in return.  He is endearing and has a lovely soul.  I so want the world to see that!

 

 

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Where is June?

 

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