Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Brings Out All the Amateurs

As the jingle bells are ringing and there's an endless amount of rockin' around the Christmas tree, there is also something else in the air....

It's not chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 
It's not the pine scent of a fresh Christmas tree. 
It's not even the faint whiff of peppermint.

It's the stench of amateur shoppers that are clogging up my favorite stores.

As you may or may not know, I am a professional Target shopper.  Although it is not an official title, rather a self-appointed one, I am a pro nonetheless.  I frequent this fine establishment several times a week.  They practically know me there.  They have my Starbucks waiting for me at the door (not really but a girl can dream, right?)  They are my people.  They know what I like.

When I walk into my Target, I want things a certain way.  There is a certain order of things that must be followed, if you will.  I have a ritual, of sorts, that I follow when Targeting.  When this is disturbed, my whole shopping experience is tainted. 

So enters the Christmas shopping season.  And amateurs.

It all started about three weeks ago, during one of my weekly Target visits.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that my normal parking spot was taken.  (They should practically give me a reserved spot, but management won't acknowledge my requests. Hmmph.)  Anyways, I thought it was strange that my spot was taken, so I parked elsewhere.  Ruined experience #1. 

Then as I entered to get my Starbucks, which is a necessity when shopping at Target, I noted that the line was about nine people deep.  Instantly, I motioned to Stephen (he's my barista friend with a 'ph' not a 'v') that we needed to get more people on staff at the Starbucks counter stat.  He told me that I needed to wait in line like everyone else and to please stop yelling and be patient.  Ruined experience #2.

After waiting at least 30 minutes for Stephen's crumby Frappuccino, I proceeded to my favorite part of the Target trip....the Dollar Spot.  Oh, how I love those little bins of treasures.  Each one containing little trinkets, sticky pads, pencils with fun toppers, kitchen gizmos and gift bags.  I'm like a kid in a penny candy store with those bins.  But, like I said before, I have a routine.  First, I browse all the bins and then I go grab a basket to fill. 

*Note*  When Targeting, I use the hand held basket.  NOT A CART!  Amateurs use carts.

So, as I was hanging on tight to my warm, crappy Starbucks that I was still mad at, I ventured to the Dollar Spot.  But what is this?  All these people clogging up the way!  The whole section was full of amateurs with CARTS making it impossible for me to browse my beloved dollar bins.  As I glanced over the shoulders of old ladies wearing too much perfume, I felt like a kid trying to get a peak of Santa in the parade while being crowded out by too many adults.  As I was trying to shuffle my way around a man with a cart full of screaming little kids, another lady with a teenage daughter bumped me with her cart, which made me spill a little of my stupid Frappe on my coat.  Frustrated with the Dollar Spot debacle, I gave up and headed towards the women's accessories.  Ruined Experience #3.

Once in the accessories, I felt safe again.  Away from the Dollar Spot demons, I was safe to browse.  In fact, I really wanted a new scarf.  And would you look at that?  A big red sign.  What does it say?  Scarves 50% off.  Score!  This must have been my lucky day, but as I rounded the corner, my wanderlust turned into pure hatred for the Christmas shopping amateurs.  Damned if the whole section of my 50% scarves were gone!  Ruined Experience #4.

Feeling totally defeated and aggravated, I thought I would give this trip to Target one last shot.  One last chance of redemption.  I held my breath and walked back to the books and magazine section. 

As I shuffled past all the amateurs in kids clothing, I heard screaming children and exhausted mothers bribing them with candy and Dollar Spot items.  Amateurs.

The toy section was full of them.  The lanes were infested with single dads looking at Barbies and comparing prices on Legos.  A confused grandma paced the Monster High isle holding what looked like a page from an ad with big red marker circling a much-anticipated Clawdeen Wolf doll. 

I tried as hard as I could to tune it all out and save what was left of my treasured trip to Targe`.  The book section would surely provide me with the peace and solitude that I was seeking in this trip, right?  The book section was the ol' stand by.  I could always count on the book section to give me the entertainment that I needed.  Whether it was the New York Times Bestsellers list or the plethora of magazines, this section was always there for me. 

Turning the corner to the magazines, I felt my worries dissipate.  I was right, the amateurs didn't touch the books and magazines.  My fears were gone and as I sipped the okay-est cup of Frappe that Stephen has ever made for me.  My book section wrapped it's arms around me like an old friend and consoled me.  "There, there, there.  It will all be over soon.  They will go back to Walmart in a few more weeks.  We will get through this.  Together.  And things will go back to the way they used to be.  I promise," sang the pages of the newest best sellers. 

I smiled in knowing that this was true.  These amateurs won't stay long and then Stephen, the Dollar Spot and I can get back to business as usual.  And until then, I will be limiting my visits to only once a week.  During the week, not the weekend.  But only after the after-work crowd is gone. 

Because that's how I do it. 

I'm not an amateur.

I am a professional Target shopper.

P.S.  If you would like to hear more about my funny, Target shopping episodes read :

Prostitutes in Target:  The Time I Overheard a Craigslist Connection in Target

Blogher featured :  A For-Real Conversation that I Heard in Target

My sister-in-law's attempt/fail at being a professional Target shopper. :  Amateurs Step Aside: A Target Story

I'm pissed off at Target :  Target: Say Something I'm Giving Up on You

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Missing Lazy Days of Summer

As it is snowing right now, I got to thinking about how much I miss the lazy days of summer.  In those days of laying in the sun, jumping in the pool and lounging in the shade, we have a chance to unwind and reconnect with each other.  During the summer months, the kids and I are home on summer break and you would think that freedom would equal more time to write, blog and catch up in general, but instead we spend the days busy with summer activities.  Actually, I blog less when we are all home for summer break, go figure!

As the cold weather moves in and the snow covers the ground, I have more time to catch up and write more.  Since I didn't write much in the summer, here is a recap of those lovely summer days.  

Whether it's kicking back and puttin' your feet up for a rest or running through the mud on the ATV, Baby Moon can be found with wild hair and dirty clothes.

The summer home provides the relaxation that even Dalai Dad can enjoy.

Phoebe is a pro at lounging in the sun...and rolling in the grass.

And in the summer's bounty, we are blessed with raspberries.  Lots and lots of raspberries.

Summertime also brings loads of live music and outdoor concerts, our favorite.  You know the kind where you bring your own blanket, food and drinks and you stay up too late chasing lightening bugs and vegging out to stare at the stars?  Yeah, that's our favorite.

And then there are the family vacations to beaches.  Ah, those are a REAL treat!

There are boat rides and general silliness.

Oh, and don't forget feeding the gators!  That's pretty much the best part of summer days, don't you think?

Here we find the Cool Cat in his natural habitat, lounging by the pool before swimming lessons.

This dog knows how to do it!
Only about five more months until those lazy days return. For now, I will try to enjoy the freshly fallen snow, the fireplace and comfy hoodies. After all, Christmas break is only two weeks away, right? What are you missing about lazy summer days?

If  you enjoyed this post check out Dalai Mama on Facebook and Twitter! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Shame November: A Letter to my 19 yr old self

A reader's submission for No Shame November:
Dear 19 year old self,
Hello, 19 year old me.  This is yourself now at 34 years young.  I said young, because, even at 34 you are still very much young and have many great things in life to look forward to.  And I can also say yes, you still got it and are still just as pretty, maybe even better in fact.  I know you think you absolutely need your eyeliner and dark eye shadow.  Trust me, you don’t.  You will learn that someday though so not to worry.  You will make mistakes, you will learn from them.  Life is all about learning.  Learn all you can, which means go to class.  I mean it, go to class, which is probably right now 19 year old self.  

You have just settled into a relationship, and your heart is telling you the truth.  He is the one for you and you are still very much in love and married now.  The way he acts now is the same as then. He is your rock, he keeps you together.  The both of you will learn to be strong together and help each other through the rough times.  I say this with caution, you will endure a couple rough times that are outside of your control.  Lean on him, he will be there.  He will always be there.  You will need to talk, he will need you to talk.  You will rise up and get past the hurdles.  It will be hard, no doubt about it, but you make it. You make it and your love for your now husband grows stronger than you can ever imagine it could. 
You will have happiness, so much joy in your life. You will one day look into a little person’s eyes and your life will explode with joy, love and happiness.  Enjoy it, enjoy every day, every moment.  Take this piece of advice, smile every day, for something, anything.  Every day, even on the most difficult days there is something to smile about.

Your family and friends make this wonderful life worth living and smiling for.  Life is good and life will be good to you.  Keep on doing what you’re doing.  Live life, be happy, and go on and take on the world!


Your 34 year old self

 P.S. Quit smoking!  It is nasty ok. 

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No Shame November: A letter to my 14 yr old self

A reader's submission for No Shame November:

Dear 14 year old me,

Hey you. Yeah, you. I know there are times you wish you could just disappear, but you'd better read this. I know you're at a rough spot, and the years to come aren't the easiest. But you can do it.

That guy you just met online? Totally not the amazing guy you think he is. He'll  hurt you, break your heart more than you ever thought it could be broken. He'll come back into your life a few years from now too, and hurt you again. You'll go through some pretty rough times, both because of him and because of stupid mistakes of your own. There's even a suicide attempt thrown in there, but like someone will come to tell you, “you cannot be replaced.” Remember that. There's another guy you'll meet down the road and he will make all that pain and heartache disappear. You'll have your ups and downs with him, but he'll make you realize what real, true love is. Bumps in the road and all.

About school... Yes, it sucks sometimes, but for Goddess's sake, take the headphones out of your ears and pay attention. You think its worthless, and there are days you don't even want to get out of bed. It will be worth it down the road, and you'll be so proud of yourself when you realize that yes, you can do it, you can get good grades and still have fun.

Overall, I'm not going to tell you to change a thing. These experiences you'll go through will make us exactly who we are today. Yes it will hurt, there will be good days and there will be bad. Keep your chin up, buttercup. We're pretty kick ass if I do say so myself.

 Love yourself, love others, and remember you are loved,

 25 year old you.


P.S. - You won't hear these song lyrics until about 9 years from now, but just keep these in your head. “If I can get through this, I can make it through everything.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

No Shame November: A letter to my 20 yr old self

A reader's submission for No Shame November:

Dear 20 Year Old Self,

What do I say to you? You have been through hell. And you are so blocked off and alone inside that I’m not sure that you would be capable of hearing what I would want you to know. It sounds strange I guess but I am trying so hard to come back and help you. You see our hell has not ended yet. It continues inside of both of us.

We have taken that pain, terror, and desperation that we lived with for so long and locked it deep inside. Sometimes it breaks out and overwhelms us. So we try desperately to find comfort. But we end up hurting even more. You are eating and eating trying to feel okay. Guzzling down the booze to fit in and let go of the tension, the pain, and the anger. But it doesn’t really work does it? It's a kind of hell all on its own.

It feels inadequate for me to say “hang in there.” It is not enough to say “it get’s better.” Because I know where you are at. I know you are hurting. And when it hurts the future seems far away and life getting better feels impossible. You are in survival mode – just keep pushing, keep moving, keep going, and figure it out. Lock it down, shut it out, don’t think about it. You think because you are on your own now and a thousand miles away that it is all in the past. But in the dark of the night you know that’s not true. It’s still there.

So I guess what I would say is I love you. You didn’t deserve what happened to you and it wasn’t your fault. I wish you a few moments of relief. And I guess if that is what the food and the booze gave you then I understand. And I forgive you.

I will still say hang in there. And it’s going to be okay. it gets better. Because maybe those tiny, inadequate words were what gave us the strength to keep going.

And it is strength. Pure, hard-headed, grit your teeth, don’t think about it just do it determination. It is one of our strongest assets. It will pay off in the end.

You see I am out here too – your 35 year old self – living a better life because you survived and didn’t give up. We have a beautiful family and a sweet baby girl. And they have never known suffering like that. She will never be beaten. She will never be left alone. She will never go without food. We can protect her.

I wish you peace. And I love you.

Your 35-year-old self.

Monday, November 11, 2013

No Shame November: A letter to my 19 yr old self

A reader's submission for No Shame November:

Dear Me-10 years ago:

Hey there beautiful! Don’t roll your eyes, suck in and look at your ass. You ARE beautiful just as you are. I know it’s hard for you to see. But those thighs that you hate, learn to love them. They are fantastic. And your butt-bootylicious! (there will be a song in a few years-you’ll learn that word). What I am trying to say is you are wasting so much energy looking at that silhouette and you are missing the big picture. There is so much more to you than what size jeans you are wearing.

You’re almost 19 in a few weeks, and you’ll know that we still count down the days even at 28. The guy you’re engaged to, we are still married and if you think you love him now-just wait. It gets better. Better than you ever thought it could be.

That’s not to say it’s a walk in the park. You are going to cry and be mad and yeah a few times want to throw in the towel. But you will learn to love someone through thick and thin. He isn’t perfect and you aren’t either. My best advice going into this marriage? It isn’t all about YOU. 
But you’re 19 right now and you’re life should be about you. Whatever you love to do, do it. And don’t let anyone discourage you from doing it. Your happiness is about you and you are the only one that can make that happen. You’re meeting a lot of new people right now and remember they are on their own journey-doing what makes them happy. They don’t have to like what you like and vice versa. Be open minded. It will save you a lot of headache that isn’t your business anyway. Learn to accept others for who they are- figure that out and you will see your world open up and you will be happier.

I know you must be curious what life is like now ( and how big your butt is). I am pleased to tell you that you’re doing alright and your butt is great. Your husband can’t keep his hands off of it and it shows-with the amount of little people laundry you have these days. Approaching your 29th birthday-no you’re not getting jewelry and you don’t want any either (I know you just felt your heart stop didn’t you. Breathe, just breathe). Every day you get to snuggle and kiss and take care of your beautiful kids and that’s all you want; Just one more day to do just that. I have realized how precious time is. Every day I feel it. This wont last forever and it breaks my heart to the point of tears to think about one day all of this will stop. So make the most of it- Love through it all-the good the bad and the ugly-love on baby girl. You have a big heart – show compassion even when you might not get it back.

One final thought, make sure you have your camera with you on June 27, 2012. Something unexpected will happen that day and you will wish you had it.

Love always,
Your 29 year old self

p.s. Go visit your Grandma as much as you can. Really, I mean it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Letter to My 20 year-old Self

Dear 20 year-old self,
     I want you to know that I have written and rewritten this letter more than once.  I wanted to find the right words to express what I wanted you to know.  I have read it and reread a hundred times, making sure it was just right.  I wish I could tell you that life is going to be rainbows and butterflies but I would be lying.  First, I want to say kudos to you for all you have accomplished in your short life, so far.  You have faced some pretty nasty hurdles but in spite of it all, you have remained resilient and strong.  Good for you, keep that shit up.
     I know you think that you know everything, but I am here to say that you are sorely mistaken.  Sure, you have seen your fair share of happiness, struggle and heartache, but, sister, you have no idea what's in store for you.  Let's talk about a few things that you are going through right now. 

     First, that guy that you think is amazing is going to break your heart soon and when he does it's going to hurt like hell.  When he walks out the door for the last time, you will be shocked, confused and angry.  You are going to want to chase after him. 

     Don't do it.

     Let him go.

     Let the door slam hard against the frame and feel the stabbing pain in your chest because it will be the worst heartbreak you've ever had.  But you are going to learn so much about love and yourself from it.  Bask in the feelings of loneliness, heartache and anger.  Although it will feel like life as you know it is over, I am here to tell you it's not.  While you think that you have love and life all figured out, you have no idea.  You can't truly understand the breadth and depth of the love that awaits you.  So, curl up in bed and cry your eyes out.  Grab the tissues and call in sick to work.  Go buy some ice cream and a puppy and suck it up, sister because life will go on and what a wonderful life it will be!

     Also, I know that you are lonely.  All your friends are either away at college or forming relationships with significant others.  You are stuck smack in the middle of a transitional time.  You value your friends more than anything and you want them to be happy, but at the same time, you are struggling with being alone all the time.  The depression that is wrapped around you like a blanket will be temporary and will teach you to value your adult friendships.  Although you will remain friends for many years to come, things will never be the same.  You will have less and less contact with them as your lives go in separate directions.  But that is ok, because you will take all the wonderful memories and stories with you. You will have great things to talk about on the phone for hours later on.  You will watch each other make tremendous changes in life, jobs and relationships.  You will share in happiness as you each get married, buy homes, have children and reach personal goals.  You will be by their side when life throws a curve ball into their plans.  And they will be there for you, too.  You have formed wonderful relationships with several people that you can really count on forever.  So, while you feel alone and depressed now, know that you have made excellent choices in friends and this feeling is temporary. 

     While we are talking about being lonely, let me tell you that selling your house and moving six states away is not going to solve any problems.  I know you think that a change in the atmosphere is the answer, but let me tell you a few things.  First, I know that you are struggling with the issue because you just recently met someone new and he's pretty awesome.  I know that it's a new relationship and you have plans to move away in a few months, but have a heart to heart talk with your great grandma.  That woman is as wise as they come.  She will give you some solid, heartfelt advice that will change your life forever.  Stay put for a while longer and you will soon see how it all pans out.  It will be pretty amazing.

     I know you have been thinking about whether or not you should go back to college or not.  Right now, you really need to focus on what makes you happy.  Are you happy working as a florist?  Could you see yourself doing this for a long time?  What goals have you set for yourself?  Would you like to some day own your own shop?  Stick with the plan.  Even if it doesn't pan out in the end, you will learn so much from all the experiences and who knows, you may even meet some pretty amazing people along the way that will change your life forever. 

     One last thing, I know that you are pretty head strong already, but I have to tell you this last thing.  Don't take any shit from anybody.  Stand your ground and let them know how you feel, whether it's good or bad.  You might have to hurt some feelings every now and then, but let people know what you think.  You sometimes hold back because you are afraid to hurt feelings or worry about what people will think of you.  Let that go.  People will ultimately value your opinions and respect your directness.  If someone does or says something that you don't like, speak up.  If someone does something that you absolutely love, tell them.  Grab them and squeeze them and tell them that you appreciate them. 

     Finally, keep in mind, that you are going to make some pretty stupid mistakes along the way and I am not here to tell you to do one thing or another.  I am just here to tell you to follow your heart (your best friend told you that once) and you will make the right decision.  The mistakes you will make will ultimately steer your fate into the intended direction.  And while you feel helpless, lonely and insecure at times, please know that you are a very strong woman with a glorious future ahead of you.  You are strong and courageous and when you think that you have reached the limits of that strength, you will inevitably find more.  You have no idea what you are truly capable of, but I am here to tell you that it is amazing.  Keep your chin up and good things are just around the corner for you. 

Best wishes,

Dalai Mama



Saturday, November 2, 2013

No Shame November

I have been absent in my writing for a while now and it's not that I don't have ideas but it's that I've been so darn busy.  With the kids, and the job and the life and all, it starts to wear a girl out, ya know? But now I'm back and, boy, do I have a challenge for you!
Quite some time ago, a reader sent a request that I write something to the tune of a letter to myself in the past.  Like a Dear 16 year-old self, kind of thing.  I thought it was a fabulous idea at the time and so I stashed that thought in my back pocket and today I starting thinking about it again.  I was thinking about what would I write to my younger self and what I would say.   Then I thought some more about how I sometimes get the best ideas and inspiration from my friends and readers.  And just like that, the idea hit me!  A READER'S CHALLENGE!
Indeed, I want to hear from you, readers!   I know that you all have a story to tell and I can't tell you how much I love a story written in a letter form!
What I am wanting you to do is think about a pivotal point in your life.  Maybe it was when you met your spouse, had your first child, moved away from home, lost a loved one or made a major life choice.  Whatever your pivotal point is, I want you to write a letter to yourself at that point in your life. 
  • What would you say to yourself? 
  • What advice would you offer? 
  • What things would you change, or would you? 
  • Would you tell yourself to run fast the other way or would you pat yourself on the back for a job well done?
  • Would you offer words of encouragement or tell yourself to snap out of it?
We all have an important time in our lives where we could have taken a different path, done something differently or responded in a different manner.  Let us inspire one another with our stories. When you write your letter, I want you to be shameless in your delivery.  I want you to be brave and honest with yourself.  Tapping into what choices we have made and coming to terms with those choices can have a very healing and calming effect.  Trust me when I say that writing can be very therapeutic for the soul. 
So, women and men of all ages, I challenge you tap into your inner "Dalai Mama" and have a great conversation with yourself.  If you haven't done anything for yourself in a while, I challenge you.  After you put the kids to bed, finish your homework, or get off work, I challenge you to sit down and write yourself a letter.  I challenge you to write for just 5 minutes, to get started.  I promise that once you start, it will be hard to stop until you're finished.  
So here is how it is going to work:
You will dedicate some thoughtful reflection time to yourself and write your letter.  You can send your submission to me by emailing me at   I will be accepting submissions for your letter to your younger self from Sunday, Nov. 3 until Sunday, Nov. 17 at 10pm.  Once I have had time to review your submissions, I will post your letters on Dalai Mama.  If you choose to remain anonymous, I will respect that and your name and likeness will not be included. 
I can't wait to hear your letters.  I will be working on mine and it will be posted by tomorrow, Nov. 3 on Dalai Mama.  Now, get to writing!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mommy Guilt

Quite some time ago, okay like in May, I asked my readers to send me their rants, thoughts and suggestions for things to share.  I received the following thoughts from a man, nonetheless!  A very brave man, actually!  Since then, I have been thinking about it, mulling it over and agonizing about how to present it. Here's the message from my friend, let's see what you think:

Oh I have a rant, but since it's about girl issues, and I'm a big ugly boy, I'm still holding it in. Women are mean to new moms. If you eat , drink , you're going to cause damage to the fetus. If you don't have a natural childbirth, you're not a real mom.  Millions of women birthed without an epidural, you don't need one. If you don't have a home birth, your going to get a disease/infection/etc. Girls on the message boards know far more than the OB's and doctors that have been in practice for years. If you don't breastfeed, you're a bad mom. If you quit breastfeeding too early, you're a bad mom. If you send the child to spend the night somewhere else, that means you don't love him. Real moms use kanga-wraps and carry their babies everywhere. If you use scented wipes or diapers, you're poisoning your child.  Sorry. Too many pregnant women around, with too many other women giving the absolute best advice that she just haaaaas to follow.

Mommy guilt.

Ah, yes.  Mommy guilt.  It hits us all at some point.  And to be quite honest, it starts the minute that we find out we're pregnant. 
  • Did I drink any alcohol prior to finding out I was pregnant? 
  • Should I really be eating the lunch meat on my Subway sandwich? 
  • Oh, I shouldn't be drinking any caffeine. 
  • Wow, I really think that I should work out more during my pregnancy. 
  • What type of birth should I have? Hospital? Home birth? With or without meds?  Use a midwife or traditional OB/GYN? 
  • What type of paint should I use in painting the baby's room? 
  • Are the slats on the crib close enough together? Is the crib free of blankets, pillows and toys that could suffocate the baby?
  • Should I cloth diaper or use disposable?
  • Co-sleeping or in a crib?  Or in my room with a bassinet?
  • Should I be a baby carrying mom?
  • Should circumcision for my son be considered? Or is it necessary?
  • What about sleep training?  Do I soothe them when they cry or let them "cry it out"?
  • Should I breastfeed, bottle feed, or pump?
  • Do I quit my job to stay at home or find daycare and continue to work?
  • Is a C-section on the horizon for me?
I will stop here, because I could go on for days with the questions, doubts and guilt that ensues before the little darling even arrives. My "big ugly boy" friend makes a very valid point in his rant.  We second guess ourselves, question our own instincts and listen WAY to much to other women. 

I am guilty of this on both sides.  When I pregnant with both of mine, I second guessed everything I did or heard from other women, who had "been there, done that."  Instead of listening to my heart or using my own common sense, I let the ramblings of others make me feel inferior as a mother.  I agonized over everything from the C-section question to breastfeeding.  Those two things, alone, gave me the most mommy guilt that, to this day, still haunts me. 

In the infancy of my motherhood, I was determined that I was going to be the mom that labored without an epidural, had a natural birth and breastfed until at least the first year. Ha! Maybe because I had such a set-in-stone vision of how motherhood would be, I suffered the worst mommy guilt and postpartum depression anyone could NOT ask for.  The one thing that I learned very early on was that, in spite of my efforts, my dreams of a drug free, natural birth with a baby that would breastfeed were laid in the hands of a very harsh mother, called Reality!

While my dreams of the mother I wanted to be crumbled around me, I did the worst thing any new mother can do.  I listened to people around me.  I let them pass passive-aggressive judgment on me.  I didn't speak up for myself and swallowed my pain and guilt.

I let an acquaintance that didn't even have kids at the time, say things to me about breastfeeding that cut the biggest hole in my heart, that I still have guilt about.  As I was struggling in my third week of unsuccessful breastfeeding, I mentioned my problems to this particular person and her never-having-done-it-herself responded with, "Maybe you're not trying hard enough.  You really have to be dedicated to it.  Breastfeeding is the most natural thing that your body can do." 

No shit?  Bitch, I couldn't BE trying any harder.  I have a baby attached to my boob 24/7 and I haven't slept in three weeks, don't talk to me about "not trying hard enough."  Sadly, this person is now working with birthing mothers as a doula.  Even more disappointing is that she is regularly a very sweet person and probably had no idea the effect her words had on me.  She had no idea of the PPD that I was going through and how my dreams had already been crushed by the C-section, use of medical intervention and breastfeeding issues. 

This is where, as I look back, I should have told her how those words hurt.  I'm sure if I had, she would have apologized and ate those words.  But instead, I smiled and changed the conversation.  I swallowed my feelings of disappointment, guilt and fear and sadly gave up breastfeeding.  I gave my baby, gasp, formula!  I felt like the worst mom in the world.  But why?  He was eating, gaining weight, and astonishingly smart.  What was the big deal?  I'll tell you.  I read everything there was about having a baby and EVERYTHING said that the best thing for your baby was breastfeeding.  All the of the positive health benefits were listed, spelled out and presented in books, brochures and videos.  So, if I couldn't breastfeed, was I not giving my baby the very best? 

Looking back, yes!  Yes, I was!  As I tried day in and day out, appointments with the midwife, lactation consultant and nurses, I tried to feed my baby.  Only to end a feeding session with his belly growling.  That was enough to make my final decision  to feed him formula.  My baby's belly was growling.  I couldn't stand by because of my own selfish need of accomplishment to watch my baby scream because he was still hungry and I had nothing left to give. 

And if you are sitting there reading this, thinking, "Well, he was probably going through cluster feeding and if you would have continued to stimulate you would have produced more milk for him."  STOP IT!  STOP IT RIGHT NOW!  That is exactly what this post is about.  As mothers, we need to stop giving unsolicited advice about someone else's children, babies or pregnancy.  As mothers, we know in our heart of hearts what our children need like no one else. Period. 

I'm not going to say that I haven't said things to other moms that I had no business saying.  Regretfully, I have tried giving advice and my opinion based on my own experience and if I have hurt someone, like the breastfeeding bully did to me, I am sorry.  I apologize for being a big know-it-all.  I apologize if I wasn't thinking of your unique circumstances.  I make this promise to myself, friends and family, I am done being Judgey McJudgerson. 

The finality in this whole thing needs to be that we, moms, need to be more confident in what we are doing.  There are always going to be people who will offer their two cents and we need to have the ability to take that with a grain of salt.  Sure, there will be days that we will fail to live up to our own perception of what a "good" mom looks like.  But we have to gain the strength to get over it and move on.  In our children's eyes, we are the best moms in the world.  So what if I couldn't breastfeed.  So what if I didn't cloth diaper.  So what if I took my kids to McDonald's for lunch yesterday.  So what!

If you are beating yourself up over the questions listed above, and yes, some of them are legit, uber-important questions, remember that you love your baby/child/children more than anyone else and they know that.  The time you spend and you choose to spend it is what's important. So what if you work outside the home 8+ hours a day and only get to spend a few precious hours in the evening with them.  It's what you do in those hours that mean something to them.  That hug or kiss before bed.  That folding and putting away their laundry.  That making their favorite lunch/breakfast/dinner. 
That letting them choose the movie. That moment that you look at them and smile and tell them you love them with all your heart.  That's what matters.  And don't, for one second, believe that you are anything less than what they need.  You are their mommy.  And you should never feel guilty about that.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How Fifty Shades of Grey Gave My Kindle an STD

Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder. 
A much more innocent story.  Not to be
confused with Fifty Shades of Gray.
It's funny how things suddenly pop into your mind with little reason or familiarity.

Yesterday, I was in the middle of a rather eventful day and waiting to pick my dog up from the groomer, when out of nowhere, I thought about the time Fifty Shades of Grey gave my Kindle an STD for months...

Wait....I haven't told you about that yet? Well, sit right down, pull up your chair and listen close because this is a story that I will only whisper once. 

About a year ago, I think it was spring time, I was browsing the NY Sellers 10 Ten List, looking for a new summer read.  I often hit the Top 10 List to see what's going on.  I had noticed that this book, Fifty Shades of Grey, had been creeping it's way to the top for several weeks.  I remembered reading a book in high school by Carolyn Reeder titled Shades of Gray and it was a pretty good read.  I knew it was considered a "classic" so I wondered why it would be making a comeback all of a sudden.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

As I naively clicked Fifty Shades of Grey to read the reviews, I was confused at what I was reading.  The first several reviews touted this book as a "seductive look into the world of BDSM" and " a fascinating betrayal of life in the BDSM world."

Hmmmmm, that's doesn't sound like the Shades of Gray I read back in high school about a boy in post Civil War times.  And by the way, what the hell is BDSM?  Maybe I am na├»ve and out of loop, so I Googled it.  On my Kindle.  Big mistake!  This was a fatal error that would haunt me for months.

I clicked the first Wikipedia link and, boy was I in for a surprise!  The first picture that popped up was PG rated, much like this one to the left.  But I was shocked and confused as I read what Wikipedia had to say.  Bondage. Domination. (or Discipline wiki it's clear on what the D stands for.) Submission. (or sadism or sadomasochism wiki isn't clear on that either.) Apparently, the only thing that Wikipedia was clear on was that I was definitely out of my comfort zone. 

As I read the first paragraph of the definition of BDSM, I decided that this version of a beloved classic was not for me.  End of story.  I clicked out of the wiki page and kept browsing the NY Times Best Sellers List.  I purchased another book and moved on with my life.  Or so I thought. 

Later in the day, I must have come back to my Kindle in the evening to continue reading my "vanilla" book and as I opened the slide over password, my eyes nearly popped out of head, as the Wikipedia BDSM picture of the tied up woman appeared on my screen.  Big.  As if it were pulsating to be clicked on. 

I quickly clicked out of that screen and felt safe and cozy back at my home screen.  I realized that the Kindle must have saved the last search and automatically opened it.  "Easy fix," I thought, "I can just clear the browser history and it will go away." 

Thinking that the issue was resolved, the next day, I went to pick up where I left off on my new, wholesome, book and God-Damn-It if that wiki page with the BDSM lady showed up again.  Big and pulsating to be clicked.  WHAT THE HELL!!

Again, I cleared the browser history and tried and tried to get her to go away!  Every time I cleared the history, it showed nothing left in the history, but there she was.  Like an STD that couldn't be cured, all tied up and pulsating!!

I grew increasingly worried as the days went on and she was still there, every time I open my Kindle.  In the background, looming.  Waiting to be clicked on again.  I worried because I was running out of excuses as to why my kids couldn't use my Kindle to play Angry Birds.  "Uh, no, we have to go to the store now."  "Not right now, we're getting ready to eat."  "Maybe later, after your bath."  "Ok, you can't play on the Kindle because mommy broke it."

I even gave it to Super Husband to see if he could find the answer to the looming bondage lady.  This was really getting out of hand.  Even he couldn't fix it.  His answer was to install a password protected app so the kids wouldn't accidentally see the bondage lady.  That worked and I resolved that she would just permanently be there.  Looming.  Pulsating. Enticing.

Fast forward several months later...Fifty Shades of Grey becomes this huge mommy porn phenomenon. I revisit the Fifty Shades of Grey reviews on Amazon and decide that I should at least give it a try.  A million women can't be wrong, right?

I hesitantly purchased the BDSM book that had haunted me for months.  I pumped myself up for something amazing, fantastic, and memorable...  Only to be disappointed.  I read the first six chapters and laughed my way through it the whole way. 

I can honestly say that Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most poorly written books of our time.  That speaks volumes since I once thought that A Tale of Two Cities was the most poorly written books of all times.  The author clearly needs a thesaurus and better yet, a reality check on how to write erotic novels.  The whole time I was reading the first six chapters, all I could think was how it read like a teenage girl wrote the book.  Example:  I don't necessarily think that erotica should use phrases like "he touched me down there."   And "I felt my inner Goddess emerging." 

Seriously?  This is what it has come down to, ladies?  Poorly written, unrealistic expectations of a millionaire, handsome, virtually, perfect man who gets off on BDSM?  If that is what you call good writing, I am writing a book tomorrow because I could be a millionaire.  I have even heard other women say, "Oh, you have to read all the books.  It's actually a very good love story."  What?  We must not have been reading the same book.  I could hardly get through the first six chapters and now you tell me I need to read ALL the books?  Screw that.  I will spend my money elsewhere.  If you want to read a good love story with a scandalous theme, read Bridges of Madison County.  At least it was well written with language that adult women can relate too.  There are no references to "touching down there."  Come on, what are we, 12? 

Ok, I've gotten off track.  So, I'm sure you are wondering if the BDSM lady is still on my Kindle.  I am happy to report that she is not.  Several months after the fatal day that I clicked on the wiki link, she mysteriously disappeared.  I don't know what I did, but thankfully, she has moved on.  Maybe she is haunting someone else's browser history.  In the meantime, I have learned a very valuable lesson about not following the reviews of others.  I will make my own judgments in the future based strictly on whether or not a book gives my Kindle an STD.  I should have known better. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tattle Box

Today, I was checking out how my readers are finding me, because it seems I have quite a few new followers and I found out that the key word search "Tattle Box" has driven quite a few people to Dalai Mama.  I felt maybe I should re-post my Tattle Box post from a few years ago. It just so happens that I had to get the Tattle Box back out not so long ago. So here it goes.

Quite some time ago, I created a Tattle Box for my room, which seems to work just great. I don't always have it out, but when the need arises, I get out the Tattle Box and we have a lesson about Tattling vs. Reporting.  Let me debrief you on this tactic.

For a long time I have noticed that the same students seem to tattle on each other all the time. They were usually petty things like "He keeps putting his paper on my desk" or "She's humming too much".

I decorated a fancy shoebox that I had to have the last time I was at TJ Maxx, with a label "THE TATTLE BOX". I explained to the kids that sometimes we aren't telling the teacher about something because someone is hurt or hurting you but just to get someone in trouble. Sometimes, teachers are busy and can't respond to a humming neighbor right away. Or sometimes teachers get tired of you being a know it all and trying to get people in trouble. Well, I didn't really say that last one, but you get the idea.

The Tattle Box is for the moments when someone really isn't in immediate danger or hurting anyone else...maybe just being annoying. I cut up pieces of paper and put them next to the Tattle Box. We talked about sometimes at a business they have a comment box and the Tattle Box is kind of like that. I explained that the tattler can not use a person's name because we wouldn't want someone to get embarrassed and they didn't need to write their name on the tattle. This was something that was strictly confidential and I would be the only reading the Tattle. Actually, my words were that if anyone opened the box to read the tattles, they would loose recess for a week. GASP!! Ok, Mrs. T we won't touch it!

Two days later, I realized that the Tattle Box was overflowing with tattles. After school it was my mission to read some of them. I thought I could pick a few and we could discuss how we could handle the tattling situation. (Teachable moments, people. Teachable moments.) The following were some of the tattles:

  • Someone keeps bothering me. (Probably 20 of these.)
  • Someone said I don't like their drawing when I really do.
  • Someone keeps humming real loud.
  • Someone sneezed on me.
  • A girl keeps calling me mustard. (This was in the tattle box twice.)
  • My neighbor keeps talking during writing time when I am trying to do my work.
  • At recess someone kicked me.
  • At PE someone through the ball and it hit me in the face.
The last three were great teachable moments. We talked about how things that happen at recess and PE need to be reported to the proper authorities, especially if someone is hurting you. (Let the PE teacher and recess monitors take care of there own tattling problems, I found the solution to mine.) We also talked about bothering other people when we're supposed to be working. We also talked about what is really important to tell someone about. i.e. Does it really matter that much if your neighbor thinks you don't like their drawing when you really do?

I absolutely love the Tattle Box! It's my new best friend and I think I might take it out to lunch for accepting so many complaints in so little time.

I just have to say that I love my job and my students. Things like the Tattle Box remind me of the innocence of being little, what is important or not and in the grand scheme of things, sometimes if I write it down, I immediately feel better. Case closed.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Procrastinator's Remorse

I did it again.  I spent too much time on the couch yesterday and not enough time doing the things that I shoulda/coulda/woulda done.  I do this almost every Saturday these days.  I get so excited about the fact that I have no plans that I, indeed, do nothing the whole entire day!  Well shoot, I started out with good intentions.  I did do one whole load of laundry after all.  I drank a couple cups of coffee and spent most of the day surfing Pinterest and blogging.  If I did accomplish anything, it's that I wrote a few blog posts about things from the classroom this week.  Silver linings, people.

I have a uber-important meeting at work with an administrator on Monday and I have this very tedious reflection thing to write and I know it's been hanging over my head for weeks now.  Do you think I even looked at it yesterday, when I had absolutely nothing else to do? If you said no, you were right.  I waited and waited and waited some more, until I was in utter panic mode about it today.  But hey, that's just how I roll, I guess.

Instead of cleaning, interacting with my family and working on the important reflection, I blogged, surfed other blogs, read and Facebooked.  Then I fell asleep on the couch and woke up to Jake asking what was for 5:30.  Crap! Since I was being a worthless slug, my knight in shining armor ordered pizza.  We ate and watched a re-run of SNL and that's when the procrastinator's remorse kicked in. 

It was almost bedtime for the kids and I suddenly realized that I hadn't done anything with them.  I take that back, Luci and I read some books together and Ivan and I laughed at some funny pictures on Pinterest together, but it was not the Mom-of-the-Year quality time that they deserved.  As I tucked them in, I felt like a total jerk.  What have I done!?  Not only had I professionally avoided the writing of the reflection, but I had also completely wasted a day with my kids.  I'm sure that this is more of a mommy guilt thing than it is a horrible mom story.  I'm sure they weren't phased by my lack of motivation for the day. 

As I got ready for bed, I started to feel down and a little depressed about the whole thing.  And that never happens, people!  I felt like a total jerk for being selfish.  Then I had to snap myself out of my pity party.  I vowed to myself before I fell asleep that there would be no wasted time on Sunday!  So as I drifted off to sleep, I made a mental list of all the things that I needed to accomplish to make up for my Saturday slothness.

This morning, I sprang out of bed at 7:30, poured coffee, loaded the laundry, and started some blueberry muffins.  All of this before 8:00!  Redemption!  I made a grocery list, wrapped my nephew's birthday present, got the kids supplies to make a card for nephew's party and showered.  Then I worked on finishing up a blog post and dressed both kids.  We were out the door for the nephew's party by 10:45 to go to lunch.  We let the kids pick, because I still felt guilty from yesterday's shenanigans.  After the nephew's party we took the kids to a St. Patrick's Day parade for too much candy and public drunkenness.  The kids didn't get drunk, I mean, other people were drunk.  Boy, St. Patrick's Day is a way different experience with kids!

This afternoon we went to the store, we made dinner and I finally, finally finished the reflection.  Phew!  I think I redeemed myself for my selfish stupidity from yesterday. 

I think that the lesson learned from all of this it that everything is okay in moderation.  I think I "over lounged" yesterday and paid the price for it.  I suffered the guilt and made a plan to not beat myself up over it.  I redeemed myself in my own mind today and learned that even if we make mistakes, we are human.  No need on dwelling on it, just do what you need to do to change.

St. Patrick's Day Fun

Leprechaun Trap with pulley system
This week was a whirlwind of activities in my second grade classroom. With a writer's celebration, St. Patrick's Day and science activities, I was about crafted out by Friday. But alas, we had one grand finale to tend to... Leprechaun Traps.

Indeed, I am a little wacky but this takes the cake as being the wackiest of ideas when it comes to trying to keep your sanity when teaching. I can't take all the credit for the idea of Leprechaun traps since they are all over the Internet and Pinterest. But I do however, take a fair amount of pride in the amount of family involvement that I require for this project. I require this project in place of the normal, weekly homework assignment. Information is sent home weeks in advance and we talk about it quite a bit leading up to the big day. Many may ask, why should a second grader have to make a Leprechaun Trap as a homework assignment? Well, let me tell you why.

When creating their Leprechaun Trap students have to become scientists, in a sense, because they have to figure out the mechanics of simple machines.  They have to make decisions about what type of trap they will be making. Will it be the old box with a stick and string trick?  Could it have a trap door?  Could it be much more complex and have a system of pulleys and trip lines?  I have seen them all.  I have seen the more elaborate trip lines and pulleys and the simplest box with a stick.  But the bottom line is, they had to think about it.  They had to use logic and reasoning to construct something that would trap a wee, magical creature that is sneakier than a sly fox.  They had to try out ideas that didn't work and reevaluate the system.  They had to use trial and error to find the right combination that works. 
A large trap with lots of shiny things. 
Leprechauns are drawn to shiny things!

Additionally, they probably needed help.  This is were I get a bit tricky myself.  I'll just be really honest when I say that chances are some of my students don't spend much quality time with an adult at home.  Chances are that they spend most of their time in front of a TV or video game.  In creating teh trap, they are forced to seek out help.  The Leprechaun Trap becomes a source of common ground for parents and students alike.  The parents rave about this project and admit how much fun it was making the trap.  Sometimes, I think the parents are more excited about it than the kids!  It provides a family project that adults and children can work on together. 

So, Friday was the day that we decided we would celebrate St. Patrick's Day, since it was technically on Sunday.  Friday came and I was elated to see that ALL the students brought a trap!  They were so pleased with their creations and couldn't wait to try them out.

When they arrived in the classroom, I had a message waiting on the Smartboard for them from my new favorite website www.voki.comThis was the message and they were thrilled! We did our normal Reader's Workshop time and then it was time for the traps!  They each came up with their trap and demonstrated how they work, what they used to make it, and who helped them make it.  I was totally suprised at how many had a full team of family members helping them make them!  The audience of students was able to ask questions about the trap and I was amazed at their thought processes involved in creating the traps.
After they all got a chance to present their trap, we put them on the desks and they were able to go around and look at all the traps up close.  But NO TOUCHING!!

One student shows another student how his trap works.

This trap has batteries added to the top for weight.

Notice the sign: Leprechaun's will do exactly the OPPOSITE of
what you want them to do!

This is a trap door trap in which the leprechaun can get in
but can't get back out.
This is a Pinterest favorite.  It's a trap door trap with a false top.  The leprechaun is enticed
to the top by a shiny coin and falls into the hole.

This is a very glittery and shiny trap.  Definitely will attract a leprechaun.
A standard Hot N Ready trap.  The old box with a stick (or marker) trick!  That is glue with sprinkles on the inside.

 We set the traps before lunch in anticipation that the Leprechaun would visit our classroom during recess and lunch. The students spent a lot of time and energy making sure that their trap was set and baited with shiny coins.
A grouping of traps, set and ready to go.

At last, the Leprechaun came to our room and made a giant mess!  He flipped over chairs, threw papers all over and left us a few messages.  The "emailed" this message for us to hear.  (The kids went wild!)  

The leprechaun visited our class during lunch and left chocolate coins and a glitter trail everywhere!
Glitter everywhere!
He made a total mess too!

We had a great time and the kids learned some very important lessons in mechanics. Hopefully they will remember their crazy teacher that made them make a Leprechaun Trap and how she trashed her own room to prove that leprechauns are real!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Writer's celebration

Leprechaun shakes and Lucky trail mix
This week was a busy week in second grade! We finished up our Persuasive Writing Unit and celebrated in style with a St. Patrick's Day theme. As always, we had snacks, sharing and fun activities.  My awesome student teacher came up with the Lucky Trail Mix idea. (I think she found it on Pinterest.)  Basically, it was pretzels, M&M's, popcorn, drizzled with melted almond bark. Delish!
The Leprechaun Shake was my idea.  It was a spin off of what I call "baby shower punch."  You know, the kind of punch they serve at baby showers: Ginger ale, pineapple juice and sherbet ice cream?  I mixed one large container of pineapple juice and one two-liter of ginger all in a gallon jug.  I bought a small container of lime sherbet and scooped about a 1/2 cup of ice cream into the bottom of a cup and filled up with the pineapple juice/ginger ale mix.  Then we topped it with whipped cream.  Yummo! The kids loved it and it was cheap and easy.  You know me, cheap and easy.  Wait a minute, that came out wrong.

Our message on the Smartboard for our Writer's Celebration.
I made a message to display on the Smartboard with clip art and fun colors.  To start the celebration, we talked about how writer's use 'juicy' words to describe things.  We made a list on the Smartboard of different words that could describe someone's writing.  Then we handed back their published persuasive letters with a paper that said "Your writing is...." for their friends to leave them compliments on with post it notes.  Each student left their persuasive letter and compliment paper on their desk and then they started reading each other's writing.  They were armed with a few post it notes so that after they read their classmate's writing they could leave a compliment on the "Your writing is...." paper.  I made sure to tell them to write their name on the post it, so their friends would know who wrote the compliment. 
The kids love this activity and look forward to our Writer's Celebrations every month or so.  I try to change up what we do for each celebration, but this seems to be their favorite.  They love reading their friends' writing and getting compliments.

After they were done reading others' writing, they went back to their own desk and got to read the compliments.  They oh'd and ah'd over their own work and compliments and then we had our snack.

Students read their classmate's published pieces and leaves feedback on a post-it, stuck to
a paper that reads "Your writing is...."
I think it's always a good idea to celebrate such hard work.  They spend so much time working on their writing and I think it's important to celebrate their writing!  And let's just be really honest, who it's looking for a reason to have some snacks and a shake in the middle of the school day!
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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Parenthood Is Like Being a Flight Attendant

Several weeks ago, while navigating and orchestrating a particularly hectic morning, I found myself saying the words, "Please turn off all electronic devices and remain seated in your room until I tell you it's okay to come out."  Now, these words were not spoken in anger or frustration, rather they were delivered in a calm, direct and to-the-point manner.  They were words that needed to be spoken so that the arguing and bickering would cease at 7:20am and I could salvage what was left of my sanity. 

After the words came forth from my mouth, I thought "Oh, God, I sounded like a flight attendant."  Well, of course, being the Dalai Mama that I am, that's all I have been thinking about since then.  See, when an idea pops into my head, it's all I can think obsess about.  I have been rolling this idea that parenthood is like being a flight attendant around in my head for the last two weeks and quite frankly, I need to get it out onto the blog so I can move on with my life. 

So here it is:  Parenthood is like being a flight attendant.

1.)  Before anyone boards the plane you must take care to prepare the plane for guests.  You spend loads of time prepping, cleaning, and stocking the plane for take off.  You stock the plane with extra pillows, blankets and barf bags. 

This is akin to prepping your home for the little bundle that will soon be arriving at your home.  If you are a first-timer you spend hours agonizing over the crib sheets, butt wipe warmers and changing tables.  You may even partake in birthing classes and breathing technique seminars.  You stock up on diapers, bottles and laundry detergent patiently awaiting the arrival of your precious bundle.

2.)  The guests arrive and you smile politely and welcome them to the plane.  You show them to their seat, ask if they are comfortable, and if they need an extra pillow or blanket.  The guest smiles politely back and gets settled into their seat. 

The day finally comes!  Your sweet, precious baby that you have waited for so long is finally here.  You bring them home for the first time, tuck them into their new bassinet and fuss over which blanket to use to cover them as they sweetly sleep most of the day.  That innocent face as they silently sleep ensures you that life is grand and all is well with the world.  You are on cloud nine.

3.)  As all the guests settle in their seats, they get a little more comfortable, turning on their electronic devices, phones and iPads.  You let this continue but you know in the back of your mind that, at some point, you will have to put your foot down.  Just not yet.  You'll let them have a little more fun before you trample their good time. 

As your new baby gets comfortable in their new home, things start to change.  Your little angel doesn't seem to sleep as well as those first days.  In fact, your angel baby seems to have been replaced with some demon spawn that refuses to eat, sleep or be put down for more than 5 seconds.  You decide to be courteous and not loose your shit just yet.  It's just a phase. Right? 

4.)  As the pilot prepares for take off you make one last trip down the isle assisting guests.  You take your position at the front of the plane to go over the emergency procedures and rules for the flight.  "No smoking. No electronic devices.  No getting up until I say so. Here's your emergency door. This is what you do if the plane goes down. Yada Yada Yada."  The guests grumble a little at the rules but most comply and turn off their devices and buckle up.  You take your seat at the front of the plane and prepare for take off.

Your little darling reaches the ripe age of two, or three for some, and things drastically change.  Finally, one day, you stand up and say "NO! You can not play on the iPad!  You sit down until I tell you to get up!"  Your toddler grumbles a little but stays put in the naughty chair for the designated amount of time.

As you prepare your toddler for take off into life, you teach them the rules of the flight: share, take turns, don't yell, be a good citizen, don't be a butt head and be a good friend. You sit back and monitor the situations as they arise.

5.)  As the plane reaches it's cruising altitude, you announce that seat belts can be removed and guests are now free to move about the cabin.  You start the in-flight movie and prepare the snack cart.  You have carefully prepared nutritious snacks and beverages ahead of time.  You proceed to each guest to see if they would be interested in a snack or drink.  Undoubtedly, the guests pass up the nutritious snacks and beverages and go straight for the soda and chips.  Defeated, you serve what they are requesting.

As your toddler reaches the age of 4 or 5, you carefully meal plan.  You spend hours perusing cookbooks, Pinterest and family recipes for healthy, nutritious, and exciting meals.  As you spend hours preparing the said meals, without a doubt, they refuse to eat healthy foods and declare that cereal is obviously the best option.  Defeated, you serve them what they are requesting. 

6.)  During the distribution of the snacks, you notice a scuffle in row 13 seat 2 and 3.  You approach the guests to find out what is the matter.  Apparently, the guest in seat 2 is taking up the armrest, half of seat 3 and is playing his music too loudly for the guest in seat 3.  You diffuse the problem by offering both guests a complimentary snack and extra drink.  Both parties are agreeable and the problem is solved.

About this time, maybe you have two or three children by now.  The older ones have figured out how to manipulate the younger ones and fighting breaks out almost on a daily or hourly basis.  You diffuse the situation with stern discipline and offer solutions to the problem.  With the problem solved, you fist bump yourself for being so awesome.

7. )  As the flight approaches it's desired destination, the plane hits a bit of turbulence.  You calm the guests by announcing that they need to remain calm and stay seated.  You reassure them by stating that the turbulence was expected and is completely normal.  They relax in knowing that your expertise will guide them.  The turbulence seems to be short lived and all is well again.

The teenage years have arrived and the turbulence is plentiful.  It is usually short lived but can seem very scary at the time.  You provide guidance and understanding.  You provide words of encouragement and support.  Those teenage years can be rough with broken hearts, peer pressure and fitting in.  You offer your wisdom to your children to be who they are and be damned with fitting in.  They laugh at you because, of course, you are old and don't know anything.  Then they realize you were right. 

8.) As the flight comes to a close, you announce that again, guests need to return to their seats and turn off electronic devices.  They grumble at the thought of the next twenty minutes being disconnected from their online games, friends and Facebook.  But, they comply.  As the plane approaches its final descent, you feel those butterflies creeping up in your stomach, preparing for the wheels to hit the ground.  Alas, you are on the ground safely and then you get on the speaker again. You thank them for a pleasant flight, remind them to grab all their belongings and welcome to (city of choice). 

As the teenage years come and go, you remind them of the rules and hope that everyone arrives to their destination safely.  You offer final words of encouragement and hope.  While the butterflies are in both of your stomachs, you will get through this together.  As you help them prepare their things to send them off to college, you help to carefully fold, organize and pack their belongings.  You remind them, once again, that it has been a wonderful time seeing them turn into young adults and send them on their way.  You hope that they have a great time at (life direction of choice). 

So, when you are in the throes of raising children, remember that it is, in fact, a very short flight and to make the best of it as it happens.  Remain calm, provide direction and be there for support when needed.  As we watch over them, provide for them and make the turbulence less scary, we are providing them with life skills that will make life easier in the long run.  As you wave good bye and hope they have fun and be safe, remember that you did your job.  You were the best flight attendant that a kid could have asked for!