Thursday, January 29, 2015

Star Wars--A Guide To Parenting Teenagers

For the past few weeks we have been watching ALL of the Star Wars movies.  It has been so fun to see my children's reactions to the older movies.  It's also been fun to reminisce about the Star Wars toys that my brother and I had when we were little--the action figures, the trash compactor with the little foam pieces that were supposed to be the galactic garbage, THE Millennium Falcon.  

The old Star Wars movies were our childhood.  Our games revolved around battling the Death Star, trying to perfect our Darth Vader voice, my sister was Princess Lea for a couple Halloweens, girls in my classes picked who was cuter Luke or Han (totally Han, duh), we had Star Wars glasses and blankets, etc.

So, it's funny to see my kids reenact Star Wars scenes and analyze the relationship between Luke and his sister and their father.

As I rewatch the classics and the newer movies, I am watching them through the eyes (and heart) of a mother.  I am realizing that this galaxy far, far away sounds a lot like my life right now.

Let me break it down for you...

We parents are the Jedis in this giant oh so imperfect galaxy. We are trying to teach our young ones all of our tricks for navigating the world and to be able to fight off the dark side (and by dark side I mean anything and everything that can go wrong during teenagehood).  
Photo Source
Here are some of the parenting of teenagers lessons/insights I got from the Star Wars movies:

I want to be my kids Obi-Wan Kenobi. 
Whenever young Luke Skywalker is in trouble or unsure, he calls out for "Ben!" and asks for guidance.  Then Ben or Obi-Wan Kenobi's spirit appears and says something haunting like "use the force."  When my teens are out at party and deciding whether or not to take that drink or cave to peer pressure, I want them to call out "Mom" and hear my haunting voice telling them "I will take away your car keys for months" or "remember who you are young Jedi."  Yes, I want to haunt my kids.

May the force be with them. I want the force--the unconditional love of our family and the belief that they can do great things--to be with them, always.

The Han Solos can surprise you. A parenting mentor once told me she always hoped the good in her kids would rub off on the kids that weren't so good. Just like how Luke believed there was good in his father, I believe there is good in most people. I hope that the good in my kids will rub off on others. Look at Han Solo, he was a smuggler, a "bad" guy who hung out in creepy bars, but with a little kindness from Luke and the gang, he turned out to be quite a hero.

Respect the elders. Right? Luke always gave huge props and respect to Ben and Yoda. I'm going to start demanding the same from my kids. "Show respect you will," I will calmly tell them.

Work hard and practice, and lift that ship. It took years for Luke to be ready to confront Darth Vader. Remember the training sessions in the swamp? He got down on himself when he couldn't lift the ship and then little Yoda was all like oh watch how it's done young one. Good teachers and coaches make a huge difference. And patience. It's hard to watch my kids struggle and fail, but when one of my kids finally lifts the ship, the crowd goes wild.

Don't step out of line. When one of the men in Vader's army gets out of line, he does that choking trick. I don't have that crazy power in real life, but I get a similar result with one of my "you better shut your mouth, I am totally serious and pissed" looks I give them.

It's hard to be a young Jedi. Being a young Jedi or a young teenager is hard. Both are all hot-headed and brave and totally clueless and ready for a fight and want to be loved and want to be cool and have the best light saber.  

It's hard to be an old Jedi. Sure being a Jedi master or a parent, we know more and have more tricks.  But we also are more vulnerable and worried because with great knowledge comes being totally aware of the scary shit that's in the dark side (the wrong crowd, drugs, drinking, etc).

Have faith. Believe, have faith. Even when it gets really hard.  Even when your teenagers are yelling "I hate you" like Anakin does to Obi-Wan as he's drowning in the lava in the final prequel Revenge of the Sith.  As a parent (or an old Jedi) we just have to let go and have a little faith that the young Jedis (teenagers) will remember all the lessons we taught them, all the unconditional love that we have for them and stay far far away from the dark side.

I stand in allegiance with all you old Jedi masters who are teaching young Jedis right now.  Fist bumps and high fives of support.  Keep on keeping on and may the force be with all of you.

When my kids graduate from high school or college, this is the scene that I will think about.  Maybe I will even cue up the music and play it at their graduation parties.  Good idea I think that is. 

(Click here to watch the video.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stupid January

Four kids in three different schools, seven teams with 153 practices, two dogs (really, what were we thinking?), one busy husband, five million things to think about and ZERO sunshine.  That's what is going on right now.  You might call it treading water or just trying to stay afloat.   

Whatever you call it, it feels like a lot right now--stupid January.

If there was more sunshine I truly believe that treading water would be a little easier. I mean right?  Even if it was still 18 degrees, the sun would make me feel a little lighter, a little happier.  It's just so grey and so dark.  Waaaaa.

For now, I'm doing what I gotta do to get through stupid January.  I am popping Vitamin D supplements like candy, driving kids to all the practices and games, playing with the dogs and trying to keep everything straight.  Of course things slip through the cracks.  I mean even when it's sunny and 70, I am that mom that lets things slip through the cracks.  BUT nobody has been kicked off of the team and nobody is going to school without a lunch, and that equals success in stupid January.  

Early yesterday morning, I realized I had no sandwich bags and no money on the kids' lunch accounts.  Instead of freaking out I did what I had to do. I got a trash bag. I cut the trash bags into smaller squares. I put food items on top of the plastic trash bag squares.  I wrapped the plastic around food items and tied the plastic together with a rubber band.  Boosh!

When I proudly showed my kids their plastic trash bag food storage bags, they didn't seem very excited.  But guess what, nothing is exciting in stupid January. I didn't take it personally.

It's stupid January, it's a busy life, we are treading icy cold waters, we are all doing what we gotta do.

This post was in place of my usual weekly Pinterest Poser Challenge.  I hope that once stupid January is over I will be making inspiring Pinterest crafts and recipes again.  So as soon as February comes, be ready to be inspired, maybe. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Silver Linings, Pollyanna & Ice Skating

I try to enjoy the moment, really be in it and soak it up.  I like to be happy.  I like to laugh.  I like to dance.  I choose half-full, rose-colored everything and silver linings.  These are all very true, very real things about me.  

But there are other very true, very real things about me.  Like the fact that it can all be overwhelming. All the managing activities and kids and money and no money and a marriage and life and groceries and filling out that form and figuring out that puzzle and making all the right decisions and fixing all the wrong decisions and learning and living and loving and and communicating and worrying and Ahhhhhhhhh!
Sometimes I feel like I'm running on empty.
And sometimes like in the above picture I really am.

Sometimes my whole live-in-the-moment-hippie-wannabe-let's-just-dance-why-can't-we-all-get-along-and-love-each-other-we-need-to-laugh-and-dance-more self doesn't feel like a good fit for this busy, (over) scheduled, suburban life.  

And there's that whole where do I fit in with my kids getting older thing happening right now. I feel torn because I am enjoying so many parts of my kids getting older.  Lucy and I binge watched three episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix and painted each other's nails on Saturday night, how cool is that?  Peyton and I shared jokes about pop culture and Jesus on our way home from church yesterday, I mean you can't do that with a preschooler. But I if I'm being 100 percent honest, I miss playing a bigger, more cuddly-I-can-make-everything-better mom role.  Sometimes I miss filling up afternoons with painting projects and Disney movies. 
Here's another very true thing about me--I do get overwhelmed, I cry, I get sad and mad and frustrated and anxious and emotional and a tiny bit hopeless, but it doesn't last long.  Because I have these great kids that want to keep moving and playing and learning and laughing and messing up and making up and learning and loving. And a great husband. 

This past Saturday, I was hating youth sports for taking away all my unstructured time and all of our extra money (which is laughable because there is no extra!). Tim came home from picking up one of the kids from practice and said "the pond is still frozen, we need to skate before Peyton's game tonight."  So we went skating.  We found time in between all the crazy schedules and have-to's and structure to play.  

A pick-up game of hockey in the felt so organic and fabulous and unplanned and so unsuburban.  I loved it.
Lucy was the only girl and she was playing/skating hard. So proud.

The fresh air, being active, being together, being unstructured, feeling alive and like a family--it all renewed me.  It filled my glass back up to half-full.

It's hard for some people to understand.  My mother famously asked me why I had to be such a "fucking Pollyanna" years ago.  She's not really a fan of the whole rose-colored way of thinking.

But I like being happy. I like to laugh.  I like to dance (and skate).  I try to enjoy the moment, really be in it and soak it up.    I choose half-full, rose-colored everything and silver linings.  

It is true that I worry that my fucking Pollyanna ways have no place in this rushed, busy, overwhelming life.  But it is also true that I am going to try to find the joy in the unstructured moments and love my family and try to be better at planning and enjoying youth sports and communicating with my husband and not turning into a helicopter mom.  

Feeling the overwhelmed-ness and frustration and confusion and tiny bits of hopelessness, make the silver linings that much more silver.  The whole you have a little darkness to appreciate the light idea, I believe it.  

I have no answers about being happy all the time and figuring out my role with my older answers at all.  I just know that I will keep trying to enjoy the good moments and really be in them and soak them up.  And dance and skate and love as much as I can.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Puppies & What I Know For Sure

What do I know for sure this week? That puppies are hard work. I mean whoa, a lot of work.  

Cosi is still all "um, did we really need another dog here?" But I think they are starting to love each other.

I have so many pictures of us sleeping or watching TV with the dogs because we are soooo tired by the evenings. 
The sleepless puppy nights are making all of us a little nutty and tired. And possibly a little bit grumpy. Just when it seems like we are thinking Cosi is right and wondering if we might have made a mistake in getting another puppy, the magic (and the cuteness) of Rufus Whistle happens.

JT got sick this week and I had to go get him from school.  Rufus came with me to get him and has been snuggling with him ever since.  It is just what JT needed.

So sure, puppies are a lot of work, but I also know for sure that they are all kinds of wonderful too. (I also know for sure that this blog will not always be about Rufus and puppies and dogs and all of that. Once he starts sleeping through the night, I will start thinking about other things and writing about them too. Ha!)

Here's what else I know for sure this week:
  • A morning dance rave just might be THE way to start your day.  This guy is one of my favorite people on YouTube.  Check him out at a pre-work rave.

  • Pizza Hut is my favorite pizza place!  They are going to start offering legit gluten-free pizza very soon.  This is huge in our house.  Yeah we like pizza, but do you realize how many sporting events for kids revolve around pizza after the game?  Well, a lot of them.  It will be so nice for JT to say "sure I can grab a pizza with the team, let's go to Pizza Hut."  That is HUGE for him! Click here for a few details.

  • Transparent is really good TV.  I have loved Jill Soloway (the writer/producer/director) since I heard her speak at a NOW convention years ago. She is funny and brilliant and an amazing writer.  On January 24th you can stream Transparent for free on Amazon Prime and you should (click here for details).  Here's Soloway's acceptance speech at the Golden should watch it, it's beautiful.

  • Speaking of TV, I'm so sad Parenthood is ending. Waaaaa. But I wrote about the 10 things I learned from the show over on Mamalode.  Click here to check them out.

  • I am all about kimonos.  Since I didn't get a fur vest for Christmas, waaaa!, I am moving on and totally obsessed with kimonos.  Mind you, I don't own one, but I want one or two or three!

I mean right? Found this one on Pinterest.
What do YOU know for sure this week?  Leave a comment here or over on my Facebook page.  Got any puppy sleeping through the night advice or fashion favorites? Let me know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rufus Whistle

So, um, well, this weekend....we got a puppy.  Yes, we got another dog, a baby dog.  And yes, we already have a dog and four kids.  So well, yes, we might be a little crazy...crazy in love.  

Our new puppy is a golden doodle and his name is Rufus Whistle.  

I feel like I need to apologize to people for getting a second dog, just like I used to feel like I did about having a third or, holy hell, a fourth child.  I mean who does that?  Unless you are a millionaire and have help, but even then, who has all those kids AND two dogs?  

We do.  Because it's what is in our heart.  Because our kids wanted another dog.  Because our dog could use a buddy.  Because we have a lot of love to give.  Because we aren't millionaires or anywhere close and we can't take our kids around the world or even to Disney World, but we can get them another dog to love and help take care of.  

We were worried about our two-year-old lab, Cosi, liking Rufus.  Cosi isn't what you would call a calm dog. You might call her anxious and excitable. I call her misunderstood and lovable.  We can all now call her patient and amazing because she handles Rufus wonderfully.  She is calm with him, gives him a warning when he gets too in-her-face and walks away when she's had a little too much.  

I think it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This past weekend we spent a lot of time cuddling and resting and sleeping, just like with a new baby.
I swear I have a picture of Tim like this with every one of our kids when they were babies.

Rufus got a taste of our very busy, active life, he went with us to a basketball practice and a family hockey game.

It's not all perfect.  He cries in his crate all night long.  It's a lot of work, a lot.  Right after we brought Rufus home, JT fell on the ice and we thought he broke his arm so we took him to the emergency room (just a bad bruise, no break).  We are all really tired. But we'll figure it out.  

Looking around my very full living room full of kids of all ages, an exhausted but handsome husband trying to nap on the floor and our two dogs, it all just makes my heart feel so full and my world just feel right.  

No more apologies, it's not everyone's dream, but it's ours.

If you want to see more pictures of Rufus come follow me on Instagram- @JumpingWithMyFingersCrossed
I don't really know how it happened, but I became someone who loves her dogs. It's kind of crazy, but also kind of great.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Melody of Chaos & What I Know For Sure

We are a loud bunch of people.  Like really loud.  We are all trying to be hearrrrrd.  Sometimes when the whole family is together, I feel like an orchestra conductor--waving my hands, pointing in the direction of one child that wants to talk and pushing my hand down to quiet another child who is interrupting and again back to waving the other child along with their story.  

It's like conducting a really loud song of life.  It's loud (have I said that?), pitchy and exhausting, but it's oh so sweet.
This is a photo of them all warming their toes by the fake fireplace after playing outside in the snowy cold. It looks quiet, but it was very, very noisy. Sweet but noisy. Look how many toes are in this picture, you know it was noisy.

I get that life is ebbs and flows, and times of loud orchestras of noise and kids wanting to be heard, and times of teenagers closing their doors and wanting to get away.  For now, I am going to revel in the noisy soundtrack of our life and conduct my heart out because I know there will soon come a time when they may not be so eager to share their lives.  So g'head kids talk over each other, talk louder, give me more emotion, more stories about your day and what so-and-so said, I'm ready with my conductor wand and I want to remember this...this sweet melody of chaos...I know that for sure right now.

What else I know for sure this week:

  • I love award show season.  I enjoyed the Golden Globes--so happy for Transparent (I LOVE Jill Soloway!) and Boyhood and Patricia Arquette. 

Me in my happy place--watching pop culture, drinking wine and Tweeting my deep thoughts about it all.

  • Old people dance. Old people other than me. And they have great moves.  I love this guy, his dance moves and the New Addition alum Johnny Gill's classic song "Rub You The Right Way."

  • My kids love each other and I love them, and fresh flowers in January.  At the grocery store, Wade wanted to buy Lucy flowers.  So sweet.

  • Lucy is a feminist.  Here's the video to prove it.

  • Social media and teenagers can come together and be truly inspiring.  This week a story in my small town made national headlines because a group of high schoolers tried to help their dying friend.  Their friend, who only had a couple days to live after battling a fifth round of cancer, wished to meet Eminem.  Those teens, along with an entire community and a radio station and a nonprofit and a rapper with a pretty good heart, made it happen.  Read more about it, it's sad but inspiring--

  • I will always love Whitney Houston. That's why I will be watching the biopic on Lifetime on Saturday night. 

  • Pre-K is pretty much the best age.  I love how Wade has some swagger as he strides into pre-K carrying his best friend, his giraffe Ert-Ert.  So rad.

  • I LOVE Instagram. It's art, it's poetry, it's silly, it's awesome. It's not just for your pre-teen, come on over and hang out with me--@JumpingWithMyFingersCrossed.  

  • I'm glad we never put the pool away.  My kids play with that damn pool year round.  Last weekend it was their battleship.  

What do YOU know for sure this week?  Leave a comment here or over on my Facebook page.  Share the knowledge, tell us what you know.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Telling The Stories- LTYM

A year ago, I was nervously trying to figure out how to be an almost 40-year-old mother who was trying to get over two surprisingly devastating miscarriages and produce a live show about motherhood.

It was all new stuff, scary stuff.  The weird pain of grief, and the whole hello you're getting old-ness of turning 40 and um, the panicky fear of producing a real live show for the first time that would have a real live audience (at least I hoped it would). 

As a co-producer/co-director and reader in Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit, my two new best friends Angela and Jessica and I set out to put on a show of live readings on stage.  Not one of us had any experience doing anything like that.  Luckily, being part of the national Listen To Your Mother family (there were shows in over 30 cities nationwide last year) was extremely helpful and supportive and everything you could want from a family.  

The three of us picked the venue, worked with sponsors and printers, hustled and cold called and sold ad space in our program and talked with photographers and the media.  We did approximately 154 Google chats. We hosted auditions and rehearsals.  

It was frustrating, exhilarating and fascinating.
During the audition, we sat in a coffee shop and women read their stories for us.  Women shared some of their darkest moments in their lives, they opened their hearts and we all cried.  They also shared funny moments, relatable moments, surprising revelations, lessons they've learned.  These women shared their humanity.

It was humbling, inspiring, raw and utterly beautiful.
Not everyone's stories made it into the show but they were told.  These women shared their lives, their stories and they were heard.  

The actual show was pretty damn amazing. The women on stage were brave and smart and hilarious and real.  Each story that was read seemed to connect with the audience and there was indeed an audience.   

In fact, there was a line out the door to get inside.  The mic worked, the photographer was incredible, the sponsors were satisfied, the videographer knew everything he needed to do and I loved the sound guy.

The venue was accustomed to indie rock bands and hip hop acts, so the stories about motherhood might not have seemed like the perfect fit.  But my god, it was.  

Scrawled on the dressing room bathroom walls and backstage were words and quotes from other acts that had performed over the years.  Oh man, the walls had some stories to tell.  Just like the women who braved the stage in our show.  Oh man did those women have stories to tell.  

That's what it's all about right?  We all have stories we can write on the walls like a rock star badass or quietly but oh so bravely share in coffee shops.  I am so happy to have been a part of giving some of those people a stage to share their stories, their humanity, their badassery.

Producing this show about motherhood actually helped me heal from the weird grief and guilt and devastation of two miscarriages. It helped me feel alive and connected and creative and hopeful.  It helped me see getting older as an opportunity to understand more and connect more and grow more and create more.

So here I am, in the last half of the first year of my forties preparing to produce another live show. Our 2015 Listen To Your Mother show is on Sunday, April 26th at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. 

I'm older and wiser and more confident and I cannot wait to hold auditions, rehearse, work with the cool kids at the rock 'n roll venue and hear ALL the stories.

I'm teaming up again with my buds Angela and Jessica to do all the co-producing/directing together.
We are so excited to be a part of the national Listen To Your Mother family--there are shows in 39 cities this year!!!
Click here to stay connected with all the latest announcements about auditions and when tickets go on sale!

And oh yeah, if you want to watch my story from last year, please go ahead and do that.

(click here to watch the video)

If you'd like to watch all of the stories from our show last year, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Feminist Pilgrims

I have four children, three sons and one daughter.  I want all of them to be strong, healthy, happy people with equal rights.  I want them all to be feminists, not just my daughter but my sons too.   

While I am extremely passionate about my sons being able to express themselves and be sensitive, compassionate, empathetic human beings.  I feel an intense urgency right now to make sure that my daughter understands that she can be strong and powerful and get in the game and have a voice and be heard and seen and unafraid.  

Maybe it's because I was a girl once and I remember what it feels like to not truly know those things.  Maybe it's because she's almost 11 and things are about to get very real in girl becoming a woman land.

I try to explain, I try to show by example.  We talk about things, a lot of things.  I don't know if she gets it, or if it's sinking in.  Sometimes she seems so uncertain and I worry.  Sometimes she doesn't speak up when I think she wants to.  But then she does something or says something that makes me know my little girl is listening, and putting her own spin on things, figuring things out in her own way.

The other day at bedtime she was telling me about how they are studying the Pilgrims in school.  At first much of the conversation focused on how she really thinks it would have been better to study the Pilgrims around Thanksgiving, duh.  But then she started to tell me how appalled she was about how the women and girls were treated.  

"They did all the work mom, all of it!," she told me.  "And the guys were just hanging out. It just wasn't right, I mean geez."

I want Lucy to feel pissed about the Pilgrims.  I want her to see the injustice in the stories. I want her to use that passion to make sure she doesn't back down and that she honors the history of struggle for equal rights for women and men.

For a report she had to do on George Washington, Lucy was adamant about including the fact that he was "a liar" in her report.  She was extremely upset that he didn't free his slaves like he promised Martha he would.  

"I can't believe he didn't do what he said he would!," she said looking both heartbroken and angry.

Watching her learn about life and history and struggle reignites my own passion. I feel fired up for my one daughter and my three sons and everybody.  I want all of us to feel heard and seen and unafraid, and have equal rights.  I want all of us to be feminists.

I asked Lucy if I could video her talking about the Pilgrims and if I could put it on YouTube.  She agreed.  Check out the moment that Lucy discovers she is indeed a feminist.

(Click here to watch the video.)

Lucy and I watched THIS speech from Emma Watson together.  It.Is.Ahhhhhmazing. I watched it last year and was inspired, but found it even more powerful watching it with my daughter.

  (Click here to watch the video)

Lucy and I didn't watch this together yet, but it is pretty damn powerful too.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Winter Silver Linings & What I Know For Sure This Week

Baby it's cold outside, like really, really cold.  I'm not that much of a cold weather person, but I am a person who likes to find silver linings in seemingly bleak situations.  The silver lining of sub-zero temperatures? 

Outdoor ice rinks that are finally frozen and ready to enjoy.  

Sure it took us an hour to bundle everyone up in a million layers and we realized that some kids had outgrown their skates (which meant a certain mama had to sacrifice her skates), but it was worth it.  

It's cold but sunny and there is something so invigorating about a walk in new fallen snow with the sun shining. 

Wade tries to build a snowman and make snowballs even when there is only an inch of snow on the ground.  He loves it which makes me love it more.

Maybe the best part of it being really cold outside is all the fun we have inside.  Hot cocoa, chili for dinner, card games, video game challenges, ping pong tournaments, sitting at the dinner table longer telling stories...all really good silver linings.

Winter is not so bad, I know that for sure this week.

Here's what else I know for sure right now:

  • Time is a tricky thing, but I really do love trying to enjoy the whole moment to moment, beauty of the ordinary  day.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  This scene from the movie About Time sums up how I feel about "this remarkable life."  It's such a good movie!

  • I love my dog. Next week our puppy arrives and I am so hopeful that Cosi snuggles up with Rufus like she is with this stuffed animal.

  • Podcasts are the coolest. I am mildly obsessed.  Seriously.  
Listen to this StoryCorps podcast if you want to be blown away by the power of forgiveness. It's one of the most touching stories I've ever heard, ever. Click here.

Listen to this story from Kemp Powers at The Moth.  I heard him tell it in person in Detroit last year. Soooooo good. Click here.

  • Wearing snow hats inside is totally okay in the winter. I love how Tim and JT have matching hat styles.

  • I am enjoying the hell out of The Beverly Hills Housewives and I don't care who knows it.  I am a total Lisa Rinna fan for sure.

  • is a fabulous resource for parents.  I love it.  It is full of videos with experts speaking about a million different parenting topics.  Check it out.

  • Wade is all about the uniform and "the look" for his basketball games.

What do YOU know for sure this week?  Share it here or over on my Facebook page.  What are your silver linings this winter?

While you are online if you want to like my Facebook page that would be awesome.  And hey, come follow me on Twitter and Instagram.