Saying Yes

I just snuck downstairs after snuggling a 6 y.o. ninja until he fell asleep. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about the ridiculousness of his outfit, along with his brother’s in the room beside him…

You see, tonight, dad was in charge of the showers, the brushing of teeth, and the other necessities for bedtime.

When I walked up the steps to fulfill my cuddling duties, I was greeted by the boys climbing into Halloween costumes. I laughed and said I had come up to help with bedtime, but that it looked like dad had things under control. 😁 Brandon laughed and shook his head.

It was past our goal bedtime, but pretty much right on for our normal. I was tired. Brandon worked this weekend, so he was as well. Fatigue is not as readily accepted in our children, and our 4 y.o. decided that his 1st costume was too tight so he needed a different one. He accepted the second option when he was informed there was no other option available (besides normal pjs). #sometimesanoisneeded

And then I snuggled with my young ninja and smiled. πŸ˜πŸ™‚ I realized that if I had been in charge, we likely would have skipped the costumes. I am an efficient bedtime leader, as this momma is usually ready for some quiet time. I imagine I would have given a hard no to that request.

But… I also realized that this is one of my favorite memories of late. Of their joyful faces as they got into bed with their costumes on.

This was a good reminder to say “yes” a little more often…

Especially when that yes costs no money and offers another reason to use those costumes. πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

Also… dads rock. ⬇️ #bothtrueandhilarious

Happy Sunday!

Brandi

P.S. Shonda Rimes wrote a book on this as well. Check it out below if you’d like! https://smile.amazon.com/Year-Yes-Dance-Stand-Person/dp/1476777128/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_g3365208742?_encoding=UTF8&%2AVersion%2A=1&%2Aentries%2A=0&ie=UTF8

#parenting #sayyes #daddyissmart

Heavy

Sometimes parenting is heavy. You pour your souls into these little ones and, at times, you’re left feeling empty. They’re finally in bed and you have nothing left. You feel exhausted. Depleted. Heavy. None of those depictions are pretty. All of them are honest.

I know that I am incredibly blessed to have these little ones to raise and love and teach. I would do nearly anything for my children. I am working my ass off to raise good humans. And they’re pretty good, most the time.

But shit. Somedays are just plain hard. Some weeks are hard.

And that’s okay. I think it’s good to be honest about the reality of parenting. It’s okay to vent. It’s okay to step away and eat some peanut butter in the pantry while praying to God for just a wee bit more patience. It’s okay to go to the gym, or take a night away.

Do what you need to fill your cup. Mother. Father. Teacher. Daycare provider. All of us that are in the childrearing field need to remember to take time for ourselves.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. I know I have.

I am just not sure that I’ve felt like my cup feel this quickly, and repeatedly, drained. I am pouring too much out too quickly, despite my best efforts.

The only change I am sure of in the past week, is that I’ve been slacking in my reading of the bible. Direct correlation? I have no idea. But I’ll be hopping back on the train this week.

Because no matter how hard today was, we’ll go to sleep tonight and try again tomorrow. We’ll keep trying. And talking. And snuggling. And praying for these little crappers. Because we couldn’t imagine our lives without them…

And just by sharing these unpleasant emotions, I have begun to feel a little lighter.

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

Vacation

We’re on day 2 of our family vacation and it’s been a wild ride.

Excitement of an airplane ride faded pretty quickly, as our kids like to be on the move. Thank God for movies on the 2nd flight. For reasons unknown, they are much better than a movie on an iPad.

Yesterday we went to Universal studios.

I have loved Harry Potter since they were first published. My mom would preorder each new book for me, and I would make sure to reread the prior books before diving into the newest installment. I would become a hermit for days, devouring those tales and loving the magical world created by J.K. Rowling.

After seeing the pictures I posted yesterday, a friend messaged me and said ‘You look like you’re loving life right now. It’s so awesome.’

I started typing back, ‘I am, but it would be better without’

I was interrupted by Rory going on a stroll in the crowd. Or Cai needing to tell med a story about his new dinosaur. I looked around and saw so much joy. Also exhaustion and hunger, but JOY.

I was going to type ‘without kids.’ What a crappy thing to think let alone nearly type. Traveling with them had been difficult. Cai had mutiple meltdowns while at HP world and Rory was being a toddler. Wandering everywhere and yelling when she heard the word “no.”

But man. The look on their faces. The wonder. It’s all worth it.

Allowing Rory to roam around gave so many other people a small reason to smile.

We’re making memories. Its exhausting, physically and emotionally. But I am so thankful.

I am voting we do an annual trip and just scratch the whole gift giving thing. We’ll see if I can sell them on that. πŸ˜€πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸŒž

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

School shootings

Once again, my Facebook feed and the media are full of opposing opinions on how to prevent these heartbreaking acts. Everyone has an opinion. Nothing changes. We all forget within a day or two and move on. And then it happens again.

My eyes are filling with tears as I write this. I’m as guilty as anyone else. When I hear of another school shooting, I’m no longer surprised. I’m just thankful my children were not involved. What a terrible, but honest, statement. I can do better than that. And I need to.

A little background on me. I’ve lived in South Dakota nearly all of my life. I grew up with some liberal parents, one of whom started swaying right over the years. I consider myself an independent, as I have become more skeptical of the aid programs after witnessing some of the abuse that occurs within them. As a retail pharmacist/intern, I have seen a lot of things. I have no solution to that either, as I know these programs are vital to some families and children that truly need them.

My point is this: I am a product of rural middle class America. I grew up in a state where hunting is a big part of our economy. I remember hunting rifles in the back of people’s pick-ups when I was growing up. This was never a concern for me. So I get it. It’s not ALL about guns. We have changed. Our society has changed.

But… What if making it more difficult to purchase assault rifles or bump stocks saved a child’s life? Saved 10 kids? Then would it be Ok? What if you could keep your rifles and pistols and whatever else, but we tightened the reins on these other guns?

What if we quit making such life-like video games where kids get to pretend to kill other people? With no pause or consideration of human life?

What if we prioritized mental health?

What if we tried all these things?

There is no easy answer to this. But… guys, I think we need to try something. Try a few things. Because I don’t want to wait until this happens here. I don’t want to explain to my 6 y.o. what an active shooter is. But I already have. Because he needs to listen to his teacher. I tried to hide my fear the whole time.

Let’s do something this time. If our government officials remain stagnant, let’s use our votes to speak. And maybe even more importantly, make a difference at home and in your community.

And yes, the FBI failed us this time. But I don’t think we can blame them for every incident since Columbine.

Do you remember that day? I was home sick with mono watching MTV when my show was interrupted. I remember the kids running crouched down. It still gives me chills.

And if you don’t agree with any of this, that’s okay. But choose kindness. Voice your opinions respectfully and without insult. That’s how we find resolutions.

Because I just don’t get it. I do not understand how we continue to do nothing as our children and loved ones die.

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

So… how was your day?

After laying both boys to bed for the night (baby girl was already asleep), I went back downstairs to put away the groceries. A few moments later, I think I hear our 6 y.o. say, “So, Mom…”

I turn around and look up to the top of the stairs, and see a cute little head looking down on me with a grin. I ask with a smile in return, “Hey bud. What did you say?”

“How was your day?” -Ro. That’s what I thought he had said.

“Are you wanting me to come back up and talk with you?” -me

“Yes.”-Ro

“Okay. Let me get the rest of the groceries put away and then I’ll head up.”

“Okay…. Hey! Look, dad got the milk I like.”

“Yep, he did. That was pretty nice of him. Right?”

He then proceeds to walk into his brother’s room and tell Brandon thank you for getting the groceries.

“Ya coming, mom?” he asks right before I head up the stairs. His loving, happy grin melts my heart and my mind wanders… How is this my firstborn? I remember him as a baby so clearly.

We do not cuddle and chat at bedtime every night, but I try to do this at least a few times a week. Some talks are shorter due to his demanding younger siblings, but sometimes we can spend 20 minutes talking about whatever comes to mind.

Some of our most interesting conversations have dove into reproduction (can you say deer in the headlights?!) and death, while others have been pretty superficial. This kid has so many questions (‘how are eyes made? where does electricity come from?’), and most of the time I do not know all the answers. I cannot tell you how many times I have told him that we would have to look it up in the morning.

But I do always try to be honest with him. I try to ensure he has understood what we talked about. And I remind him why I am honest with him.

I want him to know that if he ever has questions about things, he needs to come to mom and dad. Not someone at school. Mom and Dad. We’ll try to be honest and we’ll try to explain. We do not know everything, but we will try to help him find the answers. Always.

Here’s hoping that these small conversations about Legoland, soccer, and what happened at recess will equate to the BIG conversations about sex, drugs, and life as he grows up.

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

Fear

I was once told that fear is the most powerful emotion. It would cause people to freeze. Make them unable to think rationally.

When trying to confirm that over the past few days, I also found it listed as the most powerful motivator. It has served us well throughout evolution, but too much of a good thing can be detrimental.

As adults, we typically try to hide our fear. The opposite is more characteristic of young children (at least in our house).

It’s typically easy to spot fear in young children. Crying, screaming, clinging to someone they trust. They make their feelings known loudly. In some ways, this is better than how adults handle their fear. Children seek comfort and reassurance.

This topic (fear) is at the forefront of my mind, as we’ve been dealing with it a lot at our house recently. Fear of the dark, fear of monsters, fear of sounds. Just a lot of fear.

Our attempts to rationalize the scenario has not worked (oddly enough). We have tried providing comfort, reading favorite books, googling (then reading) scriptures to read when fearful, and are eventually granted some rest, if only briefly. A new tactic was tried today. And we’ll continue trying until we find a solution. We are trying to work through the fear with our child, on the foundation of his ability to trust in us and in God.

Conversely, adults are not as vocal about their fears. They may hide their fear behind anger, feigned indifference, and/or by withdrawing from that situation. Rather than ask questions from those whom may be able to help, we hide our feelings. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it would be much easier just to face that fear head on.

These are obviously generalizations. Traumatic events would likely elicit different responses, but I’m speaking about fear from a non-violent source. Emotional fear.

How does this apply to you and me? I think we all have some fears that inhibit us. Some of these fears may have been planted by a negative comment someone made years ago, or through a situation that we interpreted to cast ourselves in a negative light. These fears can become part of the stories we tell ourselves (somewhat similar to the ‘core memories’ for those people out there familiar with Inside Out).

Today, I encourage you to evaluate what scares you. Are you afraid to try something new? Have you tried to evaluate the reason for this fear? Is the foundation for that fear well justified?

I’m reading a book called The Universe Has Your Back and we’re just working on replacing some of the stories that are holding me back (it’s a little out there, but I’m trying it). Many of my fears stem from a lack of self-confidence, which I have struggled with for years. Striving for perfection and never measuring up, in addition to other fears I’m too scared to share in this forum, make it clear that I need to continue to grow and improve. Like Brandon always says, the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

This blog post had me investigate fear more than I ever have before and I came across this Ted Talk. Check it out if you feel inclined!

Other resources consulted:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-main-ingredient/200909/the-most-powerful-motivator

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-matters/201802/rethinking-fear

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201801/can-you-create-new-reality-reinterpreting-the-old-one

Anger

As a young adult, I was not one to shy away from an argument. I refused to be yelled at without expressing my point of view at equal volume and intensity. I refused to be a woman who was spoken down to. I took pride in this. I was also a master of the silent treatment, an extremely effective* approach to conflict resolution that many of you may also master in. On special occasions, I may even add in a dirty, demeaning look for good measure.

Additionally, I have always been blessed with feeling emotions very strongly. I rarely feel something only half-way. While the above may not sound like a winning combination to you, I was blissfully unaware about my poor conflict resolution skills. This was not something regularly modeled for me while growing up, and I have to be honest that I never really expected there to be resolutions to most issues. Argue, then ignore the issue, sometimes pepper in an apology. Repeat as needed. Significant resolutions were rare.

This should in no way imply anything negative about my upbringing. I had a pretty amazing childhood. My parents moved for me to try to make sure I had an environment that would allow me to flourish. But roses have thorns, right? I seriously doubt that my family was/is alone in this, so please leave your judgements at the door.

Now, back to me and my shortcomings.

A temper, sarcasm, and a need to be ‘right’ were things that Brandon was lucky enough to become acquainted with after meeting me in pharmacy school. Early in our relationship, I would get mad about a minor issue and then pull the silent treatment. Sometimes it was just to prove how right I was. Sometimes it was in Brandon’s best interest that I kept my mouth shut.

I have had a temper long enough to know that things said in anger (especially when seeing RED) are usually things you regret having said. You cannot take back the pain you caused or right that wrong quickly. So I would clam up, go sit on the deck, and calm down. Then re-enter with a smile, wanting to act as though nothing negative had occurred prior to my disappearance act.

Brandon did not appreciate my tricks. He wanted to discuss what had happened, so it wouldn’t happen again. I thought this was utterly ridiculous. DISCUSS why I was upset?! Why would we do that? Then I would get angry again. It was a whole thing. Thank God Brandon was/is such a patient man. He kept trying. I would get mad, then talk, then cry, then accept it, then work out the issue. This was pretty consistent for at least a year. Great memories, right B? πŸ˜‰

Do we still disagree at times? Yes. Does he still bug me at times? YES. Do we call each other names or yell at each other? No. Do I still walk away when I’m SUPER mad? Definitely. Otherwise there would definitely be yelling and name-calling. I still know it’s better to shut my trap before speaking when my temper is flaring. But we understand each other now.

After anger ensues, we try to fix the problem. Not because it’s easy or fun, but because hopefully then we can prevent it from occurring again.

Additionally, there are now little humans watching us to see how this all plays out. They’re learning how to interact with their friends and future spouses by watching how we handle disagreements.

I feel like I’m not alone in my late learning of how to discuss things rationally and (somewhat) calmly. Watching our government representatives/officials spit insults back and forth is so frustrating to me. Insults do nothing but further deepen the divide. Insults are hurtful and lazy. I wish we could all remember that you do not win an argument by hurting the other person more. That just proves that you’re better at being an arse.** We can do better than that.

Even if you disagree with someone on a hugely hot button issue, going into that discussion calmly and respectfully can lead to a much better understanding on both sides. I do not like Donald Trump. Whenever I see him on TV or hear someone utter his name, I tense. I do NOT get it. (Half of you probably want to stop reading now, but stay with me.) But my word for the year is LISTEN. I will try to listen and understand your point of view, as long as insults are not the foundation of your argument. I have always tried to be opened minded, but I’m as guilty as anyone else when it comes to something I feel passionately about. Unfortunately, big issues are unlikely to disappear even if they are ignored or covered up.

Today, I ask you to do the same. Be willing to have some difficult conversations. Work on resolving conflicts. With your family, friends, and the stranger in the street. Even if you don’t agree with them, maybe especially if you don’t agree with them. Listen. You might just learn something. It’s so easy to draw a line in the sand when we forget that the other person is a beautiful mess, too. They have a story and a reason for their actions, even if we do not understand it. Listen. Discuss. Dis-engage if needed. Then try again.

Is this easy? No. I have been working on this for years and am still a work-in-progress. There are still conversations that are extremely difficult for me. Conversations that I have avoided and am still scared to participate in. But I also know that when I have implemented these skills, my relationships have improved. With not only husband, but with other people as well. So let’s all try to take a deep breath and calmly discuss our points-of-view. Take some time. Consider the other side. And perhaps we can find the middle ground. Perhaps in a few years, we can get even closer to an agreement. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but shouldn’t we try?

Thanks for reading!

-Brandi

*I am fluent in sarcasm. This is an example of that well-honed skill.

**Sometimes I like to speak with a British accent. I’m not sure why.