Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Technology Obsession #1

I've been feeling very frustrated with technology lately.  The technology that is causing a rift between my son and I.  The technology that is replacing personal interaction.  The technology that occupies our free time and makes everything quick and easy.

I've noticed that many of us parents feel frustrated and seek the advice of others on how to handle screen time with our kids.  I have searched for a class for my child on video game obsession with no luck.  In an effort to help myself and others, I thought I'd start a little series on technology obsession.

I'm not a PhD in technology obsession, or even master's degree.  I'm a mom of 5 children, I'm a coach, a former teacher, an observer, and also a technology user.  I speak from my own experience,  knowledge I've gained from books I've read, and observations I have been making.

Technology is good and fun.  It helps us, but it also hurts us.  When we lived in Japan, I bought our first gaming system, a Nintendo WII.  I had read many reviews of it in Family Fun and Parents magazine, rating it a great family game system.  The system came and the kids were thrilled- we could play games "together" and some were interactive.  It was great, FOR FIVE MINUTES.  Games that kids play together brought on many fights, "he took my mushroom, I wanted to be Mario, his game is still going and I'm dead"..... This game was supposed to bring my family together with lots of smiles, laughter, and sparkles.

We had to set rules, time limits, etc.  Instead of being the magical electronic Mary Poppins that I thought it was going to be, it ended up causing aggravation, stress, and resentment.  The kids loved it so much, they wanted to play all the time, more often than I wanted them to.

I also noticed, I resorted to it as a big reward.  "Hey kids, if you clean your room, I'll let you play the wii, I know I punished you for not finishing your dinner, but if you vacuum the living room, I'll let you play the wii.. If you put all the toys in the front room away, I'll give you five extra minutes on the wii..."  Soon, it became an issue of the kids holding out to do what they were supposed to do until I offered the wii as a reward.

Along came the Nintendo DS', (which I will never resent them), for the 20 hour trips from Japan to Boston.  They were a lifesaver for that 20 hour journey.  What I don't like about them is now whenever we travel, the kids can't seem to think of or want to do anything else but play their devices. What happened to the alphabet game or guessing game, even for a ten minute trip, they began asking for their devices at all times in a moving vehicle.

Moving back to the states, commercials were in English, kids could see and understand what was being sold.  Next thing you know, we have to live up to some expectation and be super cool and get the X-Box for Christmas.  We lived in a place with cold winters and surely the Xbox Kinect will keep them moving, smiling, having fun, and just enjoying being trapped inside for months.  "Mom, he's off the screen, he's in my way, I want a different song, I want my game now!!!" More torture.

Finally, with a graceful swoop in like a bald eagle, come the Kindles.  Oh kindles with your free time capabilities to control the kids' time usage and your e-books for reading time- how you will be perfect for us!  NOT!  I don't think my kids have read one book on those damn things, and not to mention, free time, not so easy or convenient to set up.  Kindles are just a porn magazine hidden inside a National Geographic.  Next thing you know, I'm changing my amazon password because the kids started accessing it through the devices, etc etc.

After all these devices, you'd think I'd learn.  Well, I have learned some things- that's what this series of posts will be about.  It's inevitable kids are going to play video games, kids are going to fight, kids are going to have too much screen time, and kids are going to be sneaky.  But we, as parents, can find what works for our family and our kids to prevent these devices from taking over and ruining our families.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day---Let'ssss be honest

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday.

Many people hem and haw and complain it's just another Hallmark holiday.

I'm going to be honest here, now that I'm a mom, I love Mother's Day.  It's a day to celebrate us mothers and all the hard work we do.  The saying "a mother's work is never done", it is just so true.

Vacations are not "vacations" when you're a mom, it's just packing, unpacking, laundry, cooking shopping, keeping the kids hands off other people's property, stress in the car, at the airport, weeks of planning, days of catching up on return.

Birthdays, holidays, etc. turn into many gifts that you can use with your kids, or to help you in your parenting, but Mother's Day, this is a day that should be about you and how you want it to be.

So often, I hear ladies upset because their husbands will not recognize Mother's Day.  They say, "well you're not my mother".  Shame on you husbands, shame on you!

This woman, carried your child, this woman is raising your child, this woman takes care of things- she deserves to be recognized on Mother's Day.

One time, my husband forgot Mother's Day- like the time we were living in Japan and we were on a trip to Australia and he turned to me and said "Oh today is Mother's Day".  That was the year that I said to a neighbor, "you know, I don't care about any other holidays, but golly, I care about Mother's Day, I work so hard, and I want to be recognized".  At this point, we had four kids, ages 4, 3, 1, and 6 months and we were living in Japan.

One time, he didn't forget, but he had to travel.  Did I mention I got 3 wisdom teeth taken out the day before he left for the trip and I could not eat anything or raise my voice?  At this point, we had five kids, ages 9 and under and no family nearby.

I'm not mad at him, but I have no justification to complain that he did not give me my 'ideal Mother's Day'.  Why?  Because I never told him what it was or how I wanted to spend the day-- in my mind he should just know.

I had a lightbulb moment this year when I was reading Carry On Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. She was upset about her husband's efforts for her birthday when they were first married.  She sat him down and explained what she was hoping for and how she wanted to feel.  The next day they did a birthday redo and she was very happy.

You see, complaining or feeling sad or unfulfilled is fine, but how are your husband and kids supposed to know how you envision your Mother's Day to be if you don't tell them.  Unfortunately we are all not psychics and some people need a little extra guidance and that's ok.

If your husband or kids ask you what do you want to do on Mother's Day, don't say "I don't care"- because we all do care.  You may not care about red carpet treatment, but you do care.  Being a mom is tough, so take that one day to celebrate yourself.

We all feel special different ways.  Maybe you enjoy gifts, or quality time, or hugs, whatever it is, speak up and tell them something- here's a few things I can think of:
homemade cards so I can save the kids handwriting and remember their sentiments.
a day of no housework
a day of no cooking
a day spent entirely with the family
a gift
a movie
a picnic
breakfast in bed.

Whatever it is you envision, let the cat out of the bag.  You may not get the perfect day, and don't expect it either.  But it's hard to have high expectations when you have given no standards.  If you ask for a tiffany necklace and don't get it, don't be angry, maybe he will take this that you are a gift person and will bring you some type of gift.

As for me, I like small surprises and I always want handmade things from my kids that come straight from the heart.  I also would like no laundry, dishes, or homework.

Mother's Day is to celebrate you and all that you do.  Don't set yourself up for disappointment or a week of complaining when you give an answer of "I don't care" or sit around waiting for the impossible.

Friday, May 1, 2015


You are not invincible.

None of us are invincible.

We show up to the box, day in and day out to make ourselves better.   The goal is to move better, to live better, to be better.

If you want to get better, sometimes you have to do things you didn't plan on.  Sometimes you have to modify the workout.  Sometimes you have to do a completely different workout.

Have you noticed that not every crossfit box in every city in every state in every country is doing the exact same workout?  Just because you can't do the workout at your box does not make you less.

If you looked at all the 11,000+ boxes in the world, you would certainly find a box each day that does a workout that you would not have to modify.  That search would get old really quick.

Why are you so opposed to having to modify?

If you are at a really good box, then you should have really good coaches, who know what they are talking about.  The coaches are prepared to give you an appropriate modification so that you are spending 60 minutes getting better.

If you are achy, or can't sleep from a constant nagging shoulder pain, or getting up from a chair is difficult because your knees are bothering you, etc, answer me this?:  What have you really been doing to make yourself better?

Your score and your numbers, they are yours and no one else's.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, as a coach, I am more impressed with the athlete that is smart enough to recognize they need a modification and that they need to work the parts before the whole, than the athlete who suffers through and makes themselves a little bit worse.

You are here to get better, not worse.  Modify if you have to, maybe you won't get a gold star, but in my eyes you did.

Skipping a wod to spend an hour on mobility or using half the weight you think you are capable of are not signs of weakness or defeat- they are signs that you want to get better.  They are an acknowledgement that you have realized what you need to do for you to get better.

Your score is viewed by all, but your aches and pains are only felt by you.

Go to a chiropractor and get an adjustment or maybe you need PT because you've got to set that time aside to make that injury better.

Seeing a chiropractor, going to PT, doing mobility- they are not signs of weakness, they are necessary steps to improvement.  They can make you better, when you are not doing it yourself.

If you are here to be better- be better!  Do your mobility, get a massage or an adjustment- they do not mean you suck, they mean you are taking the steps you need to insure that you continue to head in the right direction.

You are not invincible but you can prepare yourself to be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breath of Fresh Air

It's easy to fall into a rut, follow the beaten path, do what everyone else is doing, act like a robot, and breath stale dusty air.

Sometimes you just talk down to yourself, you talk yourself out of everything, and you think "why even bother".

Nothing is going to be perfect.  Not all things go the way you planned.  Not all days are full of adventure and excitement.  Sadly, your coffee order won't be perfect every time.

There isn't always an easy way out.

Every day your hair and make up won't be perfect, you won't PR every single time, and your kids won't always say "yes mom, whatever you say".

This is reality and you know it.

Don't give up.  Don't stop.  Don't quit.  Don't talk down to yourself.

Get a breath of fresh air.

You need to have breaths of fresh air.

Find a way to take a breath of fresh air.

Breathe, that is what you have to do to stay alive, but breathe for a different reason today.  Breathe for a new perspective, breathe for new joy, breathe for a newfound interest, breathe for hanging on, breathe for sanity, breathe to come to grips with something, breathe to bask in the fact that you are alive, breathe for strength, breathe to get calm, breathe until the day is over- just breathe!

It's easy to want to throw in the towel.  It's easy to get bored.

It's hard to climb out of a rut.

Take a breath of fresh air- fill those lungs with pure fresh oxygen.  Now look up at the walls of the canyon you are in and start climbing.  Walk this way and that until your perspective is changed and that fresh new oxygen has shown you something that wasn't there before.

Things aren't always going to go the way you want.  But that doesn't mean the way you are going is wrong.  Take a breath of fresh air and face your challenges.

Stop spending time worrying about things you cannot change.  Put away your phone or get off the computer.  Stop reading gossip or other people's opinions about stuff that does not affect your life.

Stop refreshing the scoreboard to see where you lie.  You did what your body was capable of and be happy with that.

That mess will still be there tomorrow, stop what your doing and go get a breath of fresh air.  Go for coffee, take a walk, read a book, or write a letter to a friend.

Over and over you feel like you're dealing with the same problem and you can't seem to figure it out.  Stop. Get a breath of fresh air.  Pray about it.  Ask for help.  Think about it differently.  We don't always have all the answers or instant solutions and hey, that's ok.

Do whatever it takes to get that breath of fresh air.   All you have to do is open the door.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Everyday a Friday

The first half of last year was very difficult for me.  I went through something I had never been through before, gossip, drama, the whole nine yards- it was awful!

I felt like I was in the middle of the movie Groundhog Day.  I'd wake up each day with a smile on my face, telling myself that I was going to ignore it and be the bigger person.

More and more stuff would happen- I would lose my smile, I would lose myself.  I would lose my temper on my kids and husband- trying to be the bigger person was just not working.

People would ask me what was wrong and it was the same old story, he said/she said.  When I'd tell it out loud to someone not involved, it sounded ludicrous.  When I'd tell my family and close friends how I was being treated, they'd always ask me why I was allowing people to treat me that way or how could someone even say such things about me to begin with.

I was trying to be upbeat and always see the good.  I bought a book called Everyday a Friday by Joel Osteen to help me find the good.  The premise behind the book is that people are always happier on Fridays and how can you make every day like a Friday.

You don't need to read a lot of pages to get a message that you probably need to hear.  I pretty much read 3-5 pages every other day.  Even if I read the same pages over and over, they lift me up and remind me to see the good and be the good.

Within the first chapter, I came across this phrase over and over, " never let anyone steal your joy".  That is a phrase I carry with me all the time - NOTHING AND NO ONE is going to steal my joy!!!

What I realized was I was letting these gossipers and bullies steal my joy, I was letting them control my emotions and affect my life, something I had the power to stop.

"The abuser, bully, or critic isn't hurt by our anger or bitterness.  We're just poisoning our own lives with it."  There are just so many awesome points in this book!  I never want to feel like I felt last year or go through that again (I don't think I would ever allow it again).  I don't want any of my friends or family to feel like that either.  If you are looking for something uplifting to read, I'd suggest give this book a try.  

Sometimes you feel lost in a situation, like there is no way out.  Tell your story to someone close, someone not involved in the situation.  Hearing it out loud is oftentimes the key to realizing how foolish it actually is.  Your joy is yours and no one else's- don't forget that!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Advantages and excuses

How often have you looked at the workout and immediately thought, "that's not fair for me" ?

I hear it all the time, "tall people have an advantage for wall balls and rowing.
Short people have an advantage for burpees.
Small people have an advantage for bodyweight movements".

It's easy to see this and to rationalize this, isn't it.  And maybe it's even true.  But here's the thing, I don't want to approach any workout and say, "well, I have an unfair advantage".

I may have to work harder on the row because my legs are shorter, but heck if I'm going to let that long legged person take me down.

I have seen a woman shorter than me beat myself and many other people who were longer legged and larger legged on the row.  That was an unfair advantage for her, but she killed it.  Instead of making up excuses, she worked.

I have heard of a 225# man running a faster mile than me- that makes me want to work harder.

Sometimes it seems easier to excuse your score or sell yourself short before starting because the workout "wasn't fair to you".  But, reality is, your score is your score because that's what you were capable of getting.  So what if someone beat you that you didn't expect- if you gave all that you had, that's what counts.

I realize I have some disadvantages, but that makes me work harder.  I work hard because I don't want to have any excuses.  I don't want to look at the guy next to me and think "well he's going to beat me, he's a guy".  I will work harder to give him a run for his money.  I want him to know that if he's going to beat me it's because he earned it by training harder, not because he has an advantage.

I'm not going to let anyone else's advantages become my excuses.  Neither should you.

Go in, work hard.  Train your weaknesses to become your strengths- you will no longer need to worry about advantages and excuses.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Being a Mom

One reason I enjoy this blog is because it allows me to be me.  I enjoy being able to inspire others whether it be to cook something from scratch, crossfit inspiration, self improvement, project idea, etc.  

It has made me aware that being honest is not only ok, but necessary.  In life, oftentimes, we look to the surface of people and our imaginations write a story.  We judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others.  We hide things for fear of what someone else might say.

I'm over that.  I'm going to be an honest mom - I always have been, but I'm going to write more about some of my experiences and my honest thoughts about them because I'm real and those situations are real.  The more real we hear, the more ok we feel- I'm tired of feeling alone.  Being alive is hard, being a parent is hard too, let alone when you feel like you're a bad one.

I often question whether or not I'm a good mom. Just because people tell me I'm a good mom, I still don't always believe it. There have been days when I just don't know what to do.

I have acquired a lot of parenting books, but they do not predict or mention every single situation I am going to be in.  I do enjoy reading them, because to me they are my ammunition for situations that I might be in, I like to be armed and ready for anything one of these kids of mine brings my way.

Sometimes these books frustrate me though because the author has everything perfectly laid out, and I'm over here like really, OK, "use your words" when your son is shouting at the top of his lungs and your other kids are running crazy about the house, or "yes, let's bargain" when your son just told you that he has "the worst family in the world and you are the meanest mom in the world."

Have you ever felt alone, like your kids do things that surely no one else's kids are doing?  I have five kids, my parents and all my brothers and sisters live 17+ hours away, my husband travels out of the country sometimes- things can get very very hard.

Recently I've been at war with a Nintendo DS2 and a kindle fire.  Right now, they have me on my knees with a white flag half raised.  I have tried everything and it seems like nothing is helping.  I finally took off my shield and put on Facebook how alone I felt and how desperate I felt with the situation.  Immediately, I got many responses from others in the same situation, and how they dealt with it.

We don't need to share all of our dirt with everyone all the time, but let's be more honest with our struggles.   Share them with someone because you will not feel so alone anymore.  Even if no one has the answer you are looking for, there is bound to be someone that has been hanging by a thread and you just saved their day by giving them the realization that they are not alone.

Parenting keeps getting harder and scarier as my kids get older.  I'm doing the best I can do, but sometimes I wonder am I really doing the right thing.  At the end of the day, I tuck my kids in, kiss them on the forehead and tell them "I love you", no matter how strugglish our day was.

Sometimes I then go to bed with a guilt ridden mind of how I could have had a better day or what I could have done differently.  I think of all the ways I'm ruining them and their lives.  Honestly, I'm a positive upbeat person, but this is the truth, my biggest fear that I can single handedly ruin their lives because I have no clue what I'm doing.

The truth is, no parent is perfect, kids do have minds of their own, and mistakes will be made.  It sure is hard to make those mistakes or see them happen, but that's why it's important to be honest, so we can all learn from it. We can all see that none of us are perfect and that day by day we are doing it- we are living and teaching and growing, one day at a time, together, not alone.