mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

A Lesson for Kendra September 4, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:49 pm
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Kendra has a tendency to be too nice.  I know that sounds like a good problem for a kid to have, but sometimes her sweetness just breaks my heart.

We went camping for Labor Day weekend, and it didn’t take the kids long to make new friends at the campground.  The people right next to us had a son who was five and just started kindergarten and a daughter who was eight and was in third grade.

Besides just the age/grade coincidence, the kids actually had a lot in common.  The little boy carried a book bag full of things like a bow and arrow, handcuffs, and a flashlight – pretty similar to the kinds of things Max usually plays with.  And the girl loved dancing.  That alone is enough to be a pal of Kendra’s.

When it thunder-stormed Saturday night, the kids all came in our camper to watch movies and play out of the weather with all the toys our kids brought.  Kendra showed the other girl her stuffed animal collection while the boys played Matchbox cars.

The little girl really loved a particular stuffed animal of Kendra’s, which happened to also be one of Kendra’s favorites.  The girl begged to have it, and I was so proud that Kendra stuck to her guns and said no because more often than not, Kendra feels pressured and gives other kids whatever they want.

The girl was relentless.  She really begged and pleaded for that toy.

Kendra caved and told her that she could borrow it for the night, but she had to give it back first thing in the morning.  That sounded like a pretty good compromise to me.

But, when morning came, and it was time for us to leave and time for Kendra’s new friend to return the toy, the little girl turned on the puppy dog eyes and begged for it again.  She hugged it and said she would cry if she couldn’t have it.

Kendra was still saying no.  I’ve talked to her so many times about how people will try to take advantage of her and how it’s okay to say no.  I had even told her the night before that I was proud that she didn’t give away her animal because I knew it was one of her favorites and it was special to her.

Somehow, though, that girl ended up with that toy.  She guilted Kendra right into it.  Kendra told her she wanted her to have it to make her happy, and then she climbed in the truck and cried her little eyes out.  It absolutely broke my heart.  She didn’t want to give away her animal – she was just once again being too nice.

Kendra and I had a long talk about it.  I asked her if she thought her new friend would have given one of her favorite toys to Kendra if Kendra wanted it, and she (of course) said no.  We talked about how a real friend wouldn’t demand her to give up something she loved.  We talked about how some people try to manipulate others to get what they want.  We talked about saying no.

It’s not Kendra losing her toy that upset me.  It’s the fact that she was taken advantage of.

That’s why Ronnie and I hunted until we found a store that sold stuffed animals just like those, and we bought her two to replace the one she lost.

I’m so proud of my sweet little girl.

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Happy Birthday Kendra July 13, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 5:30 am
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Kendra’s birthday is tomorrow, and it’s a big one – her first milestone birthday.  You know, there’s 21, 18, 16, 13 – the other significant milestone birthdays that mark becoming a teenager and the privileges you gain on your way to adulthood.  But, here in North Carolina, the home of “8 or 80”, turning 8 is a big deal.  Once you hit 8 years old (or 80 pounds, whichever comes first), you are no longer required by law to ride in a booster seat in the car.  And to an almost 8-year-old who has lots of older friends, this is a really big deal.  And weighing in at 57 pounds, Kendra is lucky there’s an age requirement instead of only a weight requirement.

So, Saturday morning when we head out to the car to go out for birthday donuts, Kendra will strap on her seatbelt with her little butt planted on the actual seat of the car.  The view out her window will be much more sky and much less ground, but she will be happy as can be.  A real big kid.  She’s really growing up.  And I’m so proud of the young lady she is becoming.

Beautiful inside and out

Kendra checked out my blog for the first time yesterday, and she asked if she could “follow” me.  I told her that she’d have to wait until she was older and had an email address but that she was welcome to read whenever she wanted.  And since I know that she’ll be reading, I’m going to write her birthday card right here:

Dear Kendra,

I can barely remember what life was like before you came along.  I know Daddy and I were happy, but you have brought us so much joy that it’s impossible to imagine life without you.  You have wisdom and sensitivity way beyond your years.  You are like an old soul in the body of an energetic vibrant little girl.  It amazes me how you can be such a silly kid in one moment and show such genuine empathy in the next.  You never judge anyone.  You accept everyone for who he or she is and you see the good in everyone.  You go out of your way never to hurt anyone, no matter how he or she may have treated you (maybe with the exception of your little brother sometimes!).

I am so proud of you.  You are a friend to everyone you meet.  You are honest, loving, gentle, sensitive, and sweet.  You are artistic and creative – a true little artist.  You are a dancer and an athlete.  You are graceful and strong.  You are intelligent and curious.  You take care of me when I don’t feel well.  And when you put your hand on my shoulder when I’m having a bad day, you don’t even have to say anything because I can feel your love in that tiny little touch.  I don’t know what I would do without my little princess.  Daddy and I are so blessed to be your parents.

I hope you never lose the tender vulnerability that makes you the sweet person that you are.  I respect you.  I want to be more like you.  You can make me smile even when I don’t want to smile.  I cherish the time we spend together.  And you are such a helper!  Working in the kitchen is so much fun when you are in there with me – even if you do crack an occasional egg onto my foot!

Thank you for being you.  Daddy and I love you from the bottom of the ocean to the highest star.  I know we will go through times in life when you will get mad at us or think we’re unfair or unreasonable, so I want you to remember when that happens that we feel a tremendous burden of responsibility to have been blessed with such a precious little girl, and in every decision we make we strive to do what is best and right for you.  We pray for you.  We would do anything in the world for you.

Happy Birthday, Little Girl.

Love,

Mommy

 

Practical advice on managing stress June 30, 2012

While curling into a little ball and sleeping for hours a day could be therapeutic, it’s not necessarily the most practical (or healthy) method of stress management.  Besides, in real life, who has time for all that sleeping?  Part of the reason I’m stressed is I have no time for anything!  So, here’s how a real person – a working mom – handles stress on a daily basis.  Maybe not all of my ideas would be approved by my doctor, but I make it without medication, so that in itself should validate my strategies.  So, here’s the list:

1.  Exercise.  Now before you roll your eyes and quit reading, give me a chance.  There is a specific exercise that I use for stress relief, and it’s a physical and mental release.  This is a strategy I use specifically when my stress is caused by a particular person who may be especially hard to deal with or who just annoys the snot out of me and I can’t shake it off without a little assistance.  This exercise does not take long.  And you need minimal equipment.  I slip on my boxing gloves, blast an angry song, visualize whoever is bothering me, and beat my punching bag with everything in me.  This is extremely effective.

Take that you unreasonable, uncompromising, confrontational dumdum! And that! And that!

2.  Eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream.  Obviously, this one shouldn’t be implemented every time a person experiences stress, but every once in a while, it’s so healthy just to let go of all the rules and restrictions we place on ourselves and enjoy something delicious and sinful.  Relish it.  Lick the bowl when you’re finished.  Lose yourself in that ice cream.  The effects may be short-lived, but those twenty minutes of concentrating on nothing but the pure joy of that creamy frozen goodness may be all you need to refocus and let go of some of the day’s stressors.

Daintily enjoying a small portion of ice cream. Always a lady.

3.  Play.  This is a lot harder than it sounds.  When I get home from a particularly hard day, often the last thing I want to do is ignore the chores that still need to be done or my recliner or the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to prepare for dinner.  I don’t have time to play, and I don’t feel like playing.  But, you know what?  Without fail, if I make myself have fun with my kids, what starts out forced becomes fun in a matter of minutes.  The joy of kids is contagious.  They make me laugh.  When I play with them, I feel like a kid again.  When we’re finished and go inside to figure out what to eat for dinner, I do it with a fresh perspective and attitude.

Underdog!

4.  Create something.  I’m not a great artist, but sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, I pull out all the art supplies and paint something.  And to make this even better, sometimes all of us paint together.  Our little family focuses on a task.  We channel our inner artist.  We don’t worry about the mess.  And it doesn’t have to be painting – it could be anything – baking cookies or building with Legos can give the same feelings.  I think it’s the pouring yourself into something and seeing a tangible result of your efforts at the end is what relieves stress.

Ronnie built our cornhole game then the boys painted one and the girls painted the other. Can you tell which is which?

5.  Good old-fashioned hard work.  The idea here is to do something that will take exertion and absolutely wear you out.  I’ve always thought that God created us with the capability to work – I think it keeps us younger, stronger, and healthier.  Find a project and go at it.  Try to find something that stretches you so that all of your energy is focused on completing the task.  There won’t be room in that head of yours for anything else.  And when you finish, you’ll be too tired to stress about anything.  You’ll sleep well that night.  Hard work is good stuff.

6.  Be silly.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago called Why We Will Always be Okay one evening after Ronnie and I had both had particularly bad days.  Instead of talking through everything that made our days so terrible, we went outside, blasted our favorite song, and caught a jar full of lightning bugs while singing, dancing, laughing, and just letting go.  Silly?  Most adults would think so.  But who cares?  Being silly is a great thing.  Catching fireflies didn’t erase anything bad that happened to us that day, but we finished our day goofing off and letting go so we were able to start the next one refreshed and refocused.  It works.

Do we sometimes play with the kids’ toys when they are in bed? Why, yes. Yes, we do.

7.  Go on an all-expense paid vacation to a tropical paradise for at least ten days.  You know, one of those places where you just lounge in a cabana by a pool and someone massages your feet and brings your food and drinks and your whim.  One of those places where you swim with dolphins, eat dinner at a lone table right on the beach, and snorkel with tropical species of fish I’ve never even heard of…

I’ve never actually gotten to try this particular idea, but I could see where it would be extremely effective.  It is good to get away once in a while, though.

The kids playing at Myrtle Beach – not quite a tropical paradise, but fun nonetheless.

8.  Blog.  This one can get tricky because blogging can actually be a cause of stress if you allow it.  Make a concerted effort not to focus on your stats or whether you’ll ever be Freshly Pressed.  Blog because you love writing.  Because you love sharing what you write with people who enjoy reading.  And, you know, if blogging isn’t your thing, find another outlet, another hobby that you can do in your leisure time to stop you from dwelling on the daily stresses in life.  Maybe yours is running, reading, crocheting, or Zumba.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It just matters that you enjoy it, that you take time to actually do it, and that you don’t inadvertently allow your hobby to become a source of stress itself.  Keep it light and it will be fulfilling.

Optimizing Stress

Optimizing Stress (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

9.  Give.  Do something for someone else.  No matter how stressed your life may seem to you, there is always someone whose problems are worse.  Think of someone going through a hard time, and do something kind for him or her.  Did your neighbor’s dog just die?  Bake him some cookies.  Is someone going through a hard time?  Write her a handwritten card of encouragement.  Putting yourself aside and focusing on the needs of someone else is almost always an effective method for stress relief.

"The Golden Rule" mosaic

“The Golden Rule” mosaic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10.  Make a list.  This may sound cheesy, but I guarantee it works.  Make a list of everything that you are thankful for.  If you’re feeling particularly stressed and therefore negative, you may have to start with the fact that you are alive for number one.  You have food to eat may be number two.  But the more you force yourself to list these things, the more your blessings in life will come to mind.  Your list will be long.  In fact, you’ll have to stop this exercise before you run out of things to write about.  This is about changing your mindset.  No matter how bad things may be, we can choose to focus on the positive in life.  It just helps to write it down to put things back in perspective.

Like I said in the beginning, your doctor won’t give this advice, and may not even agree with all of it.  But, stress is a real thing that almost all of us deal with.  In our quest to live a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life, we have to learn to manage this stress that somehow finds a way to infiltrate our lives despite our best efforts to keep it at bay.  These are the things that work for me.

What works for you?

 

Why we will always be okay June 5, 2012

Sometimes it’s not really worth talking about a bad day.  Especially when both Ronnie and I have had one.

Max is spending the night at Grandmom’s tonight.  Kendra went to bed early.  Ronnie got home really late.  When we both finally got to sit down tonight, we both started to tell each other about our days.  But we decided there just wasn’t a point.  Some days are going to be hard.  We only get a little bit of time together tonight, so we spent it relieving stress instead of dwelling on it.

I asked Ronnie to go outside and catch lightning bugs with me.  I grabbed a jar, and he opened his truck doors and turned on “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, one of our favorite songs.  We ran around the yard together, catching lightning bugs and singing and dancing.

When we had the jar full, we did something I’ve been dying to try with the kids – we put the lightning bugs in Max’s frog habitat in his room.  I always wondered if a frog would glow if it ate a lightning bug, and you know what?  They do!  Ronnie and I laughed and laughed as we watched those frogs gorge themselves on bugs and then become blinking frog lanterns as the bugs lit up inside their stomachs.

I can’t wait to do this with the kids this weekend.  They are going to love it!

And Ronnie and I feel much better.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.  Maybe not.  But we’re going to be okay.

cutting our anniversary cake

 

Dance like nobody’s watching May 21, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:03 am
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We went to our first Asheville Tourists baseball game Friday night with some friends.  It’s something that we’ve always thought about doing but never got around to, but since someone invited us, we finally went.  The kids absolutely loved it (so did I).

Asheville Tourists

Asheville Tourists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the game, we got to go out onto the ball field to sit and watch fireworks.  Other than the fact that we now know that Max is terrified of fireworks, it was really fun.

Fireworks #1

Fireworks #1 (Photo credit: Camera Slayer)

When the fireworks ended, a large crowd of people began moving towards the exits to the beat of very loud ballpark music.  I can’t explain what happened to the kids.  They just really felt that music.

Next thing we knew, the kids were in the zone, dancing, not caring who was watching.  It looked almost involuntary, like it was coming from inside themselves and they couldn’t stop if they wanted to.

Kendra has taken dance lessons for five years.  Add to that her passion for watching the Disney channel, and she’s quite the little hip hop dancer.  Max, on the other hand, has pretty much one basic dance with a few variations on the basic moves – it’s called the gorilla dance.  It’s very hard to explain, other than just imagine what a baby gorilla would look like dancing.  That’s Max.

Anyway, the crowd of people trying to get to the exits had a hard time maneuvering around our dancing children, and before we knew it, it was like a scene from a sitcom prom where people stand in a circle watching the best dancers do their thing.  It was kind of embarrassing.  People were laughing.  I can see why.  The kids were so intent on what they were doing that they were oblivious to the audience.

They just wouldn’t stop.

We finally reined Kendra in, but Max was too far gone.  Ronnie got him off the field, but he gorilla danced all the way to the car, which was parked about half a mile from McCormick Field.  They walked in front of us girls.  Well, Ronnie walked.  Max held Ronnie’s hand and the other arm flailed around, his head bobbed, and his feet shuffled all the way to the car.

What got into them?  I’ll never know.  But I would love to have just a tiny bit of that inhibition in myself.  That’s why when people looked at us and laughed, I just shrugged and let them keep dancing.  We should all probably dance a little more in life.

McCormick Field, Asheville, NC

McCormick Field, Asheville, NC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This worksheet is the sh*t! March 1, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,parenting — mandyholbert @ 5:10 am
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I’m not a fan of profanity, but I am one of those people who rate it.  In the hierarchy of cuss words, there are a few that are totally off-limits.  We don’t say them, so naturally, our kids don’t know them.

The other day when I picked Kendra up from dance, she got in the car and told me rather dramatically, “Mom!  So-and-so called So-and-so the f-word.  That is really bad!  And I don’t even know what the f-word is!”

Hmmm….

“Yeah, that is really bad, Kendra.  She should not have said that.”

“I know!  It’s so bad!”

We continued our ride in silence for a few moments.  And then came the question I hadn’t really considered how I would handle yet: “Mommy…what is the f-word?”

This was one of those moments for which you can never really be prepared.  Do I tell my little seven-year-old what that awful word is?  I felt like I was setting the tone for how our relationship will be as she grows up.  Will she come to me with things?  Or will she hide things from me and get her information elsewhere?

Of course I told her.  But, I wanted to stress how bad the word really is, so I told her, “Kendra, that word is so bad that I’m not even going to say it.  The only reason anyone ever says that word is to be as ugly as possible.  There’s no excuse to ever say it.  Okay?”

She nodded, very intent on what I was saying.

I took a deep breath.  “Okay.  It rhymes with ‘duck’ but it starts with ‘f’.”

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a puzzled look on her face.  When it didn’t go away, I realized my mistake.  “Kendra, take the ‘d’ off first, and use an ‘f’ instead.”  She got it that time.

I thought my cussing conversations would be over for a while.  Little did I know, Lesson 2 was right around the corner.

I went to pick Kendra up from my mom’s house after work, and my mom was just itching to show me Kendra’s schoolwork from the day.  She pulled out a picture of a hot-air balloon that was colored very nicely.  I read what was written in the handwriting of a sweet second-grader.

“Going up in a hot air balloon would be amasing.  Gosh, just like this work sh*t.”

Wow!  Talk about a misspelling!

I showed the paper to Ronnie later that evening so we could have a good laugh.  Kendra, rather indignantly, demanded to know what was so funny about her school assignment.  Ronnie asked her to read it to us.  Of course, she read the last word as “sheet,” which was what she intended to write.

I reviewed the correct spelling of “sheet” then we told her that what she actually wrote was a bad word.  Thus, cussing Lesson 2!

We explained the only reason it was so funny is that we know she would never ever say that word.

Oh dear!

How much profanity do we have left?  I sincerely hope Lesson 3 isn’t in the near future!