The Deep End is Growing Deeper!

Friends, I have missed you. Our lives got so crazy this spring with selling our house, building a house, moving into the new house and finding out I was pregnant that I don’t think I’ve had a second to stop and think, much less blog, in the past six months.

Yes, in April of 2015, we’ll be adding a third little girl to our family. We are overjoyed, and I’m so thankful to be feeling better and have some extra time once again to spend writing.

In other news, the blog turned two this summer! No big birthday parties or anything–it was a milestone I thought I’d celebrate, but life just had other plans. Also, our Greeley Moms blog which I’ve continued blogging with weekly is being shut down due to funding issues. I’m not sure how they weren’t able to make money when none of the writers were paid, but I guess life is tough in the newspaper world.

That just leaves me more time for writing for all of you and for a new group I’ll be joining, Rocky Parenting.

Stay sane, my friends. Can’t wait to share more.

What’s new with you?

10 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Know

Happy first day of school to all of our Greeley-Evans students and teachers, and happy first day to all of the parents who have a little extra peace and quiet at home this morning. The beginning of the school year brings sharp crayons, fresh haircuts and new teachers for your child.

As a former elementary teacher myself, I can speak from experience when I say the relationship between the parent and teacher is highly important. Here is a list of 10 things which I wanted my students’ parents to know at the beginning of the school year in order for all of us to have the best experience possible.

  1. Make it a Team Approach: Try to see yourself on the same team with your child’s teacher. The two of you both want the very best for your child, and working together will get you much farther than working alone.
  2. Your Kindness Goes a Long Way: The beginning of the school year is absolutely chaotic and stressful for teachers, and a little thank you means so much. A short note, a quick email or even just saying thank you and acknowledging the teacher’s hard work means so much.
  3. Help Teach Your Child Independence: When it comes to walking your child into the classroom each morning, do your best to let your child enter alone after the first week. Your child needs to learn how to hang up his or her backpack and coat, put away a lunchbox or move a lunch count and get to his or her desk independently. While your presence is always welcome in the classroom, consistently doing simple tasks for your child hinders him or her from gaining the independence and confidence that comes with responsibility.
  4. Give Some Grace: If the teacher misspells your child’s name on their desk or overlooks a note from home, bring the mistake to the teacher’s attention with kindness. Teachers are human, too, and mistakes will happen. A little grace will go a long way in building a positive relationship and the team feeling which will make the year successful for everyone.
  5. Communicate: If something major is going on in your child’s home life, let the teacher know as soon as possible. Sometimes a new baby or a deployed parent or a health issue may impact your child’s behavior in the classroom, and the teacher can watch for or prevent problems that may occur as a result. Because the teacher is with your child 7-8 hours every day, he or she may notice subtle changes and can keep you in the loop about what is going on in the classroom.
  6. Be Involved: Whether it be as simple as sending in a veggie tray to the Christmas party once a year or volunteering weekly to make copies and help in the classroom, do what you can to show your support of your child’s education. Always make it to the scheduled conferences (even if it means rescheduling a few times), and read the newsletters and information the teacher sends home.  
  7. Let Your Child Learn the Hard Way: Sometimes a child needs to forget his or her homework, lunch or assignment and suffer the consequence of their irresponsibility. Help your child out the first time or two, and then let them learn that actions have consequences. Having to buy lunch in the cafeteria, losing a privilege or getting a lower grade won’t be the end of the world, and your child will be more likely to remember to be responsible in the future. Your child’s teacher won’t think you’re a bad parent if you don’t come to the rescue every single time your child calls home with a request for a forgotten item, and your child will thank you in the future for helping them to learn responsibility.
  8. Email When Appropriate: Because your child’s teacher is busy from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, email is an incredibly convenient way to communicate. It gives the teacher the flexibility to read your message during lunch or when there are five minutes of downtime during the day, and it is much simpler than listening to a phone message when students are in the room.  Allow the teacher 24 hours to reply. If the information you need to relay is too urgent to wait for 24 hours and you know the teacher is slow to respond to email, a quick phone call or note is a better option.
  9. Skip the Email when Conflict Arises: Even though email is convenient, remember it lacks the tone of voice and body language which can soften spoken words. Because of this, always choose a phone call or to schedule a face-to-face meeting to avoid misinterpretation whenever a sensitive issue needs to be discussed.
  10. Deal with Conflict Directly: If you and your child’s teacher have a team approach and are supporting one another, hopefully there won’t be any conflict during the school year. If a problem does arise, please go to the teacher first and try to find a solution before involving administration. Misunderstandings will happen, and it feels like a violation of the parent-teacher relationship when a parent goes directly to the principal before allowing the teacher the opportunity to correct a problem.

May you have a fabulous relationship with all of the teachers in your life this year. We wish all of our parents, students and school staff members a successful 2014-2015 school year!

Greeley Moms, parents and teachers, what would you add to the list?

blog 7.17.14 with title

Seven Ways to Find Joy

This week’s post for the Greeley Moms was inspired by a good friend who made the best of a tough situation. This is something I’m working on daily. Thanks for reading and letting me share from the heart! What would you add to the list?

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/12234909-113/yourself-camper-friend-joy

Blog Pic 7.10.14 Courageous Kids

Raising Courageous Kids

My heart sank heavily Monday morning after I watched a news clip on GMA about murder charges being filed against the fraternity in the December death of 19-year-old Chun “Michael” Deng. Michael died two days after experiencing blunt force trauma to the head during a hazing ritual with his fraternity on a retreat in Pennsylvania, and the tragedy grows deeper as the details of the story unfold.
After Michael lost consciousness, his fraternity brothers waited an hour before three of them took him to get medical attention.
One full hour.
This delay, this hesitation, this time to debate and decide and worry about getting into trouble, is where this tragedy grips my heart. I truly hope some of those fraternity brothers knew what they needed to do to save their friend. So why didn’t they act? Is this an example of negative peer pressure at its worst? Or is it an example of self-preservation outweighing the value of another’s life?
As a parent, this tragedy fills me with compassion for all of the families involved while also stirring a deep desire for me to do my best to raise brave, courageous and compassionate kids. Even though my children are only two and a half, I don’t think it’s ever too early to start to instill these values.
I want to take my girls to volunteer, serve and give of themselves so they will learn the value and joy of making sacrifices for others.
I want to encourage my girls to consider the perspectives and feelings of others so they won’t hesitate for even a second when it comes to seeking help for the suffering.
I want my girls to learn to own their mistakes, even when it means facing the consequences of their actions, so they will value integrity.
I want to teach my girls how to stand up for what’s right even when they hear 29 (or more) of their friends trying to convince them to do otherwise.
I want to find news stories about courageous men, women and children and share them with my girls to encourage and inspire us all.
I want to remind my girls about the bravery of their great-grandfathers who fought in World War II and the Korean War and challenge them to live a life worthy of the sacrifice made by these great men with whom they share a family name.
This compassion and courage won’t develop over night, and I know I will have to model these values daily if I truly want to teach them to my girls. The task seems daunting, but I’m up for the challenge. Michael’s loss deserves to be honored with a commitment to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring in the future.
Parents, are you with me? Who knows whose lives may depend on the courage of our children one day.

Fourth of July Parade Scavenger Hunt

Fourth of July Parade Scavenger Hunt

Looking for a fun way to entertain your child at a Fourth of July parade? Here’s a kid-friendly scavenger hunt to print out and take with you. Click here to open or save the scavenger hunt: Fourth of July Scavenger Hunt Printable

Be sure to check out the companion article (to run on July 3) about the Greeley Stampede Independence Day Parade: http://www.greeleymoms.com.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

–Melissa

Social Media Manners: Stay Classy!

Bad manners seem to be running rampant on Facebook and social media lately. From complaining about friends and family in status updates to rude comments to posting pictures without permission, a lack of tactfulness seems to be more of the rule than the exception.

Since becoming a mom, I have realized I need to model the behavior I want my girls to have one day. My hope is my daughters will behave like ladies no matter where they are, be it in public or online, because having good manners will never go out of style.

This story about a mom whose photo was unknowingly taken while she was discreetly nursing her 6-month-old baby at a restaurant last week (http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/breastfeeeding-in-public-photo-06162014-privacy-rights-laws/?scid=fb_wallPost) is a great example of the wild situations which bad behavior on social media can create. The mom’s photo was posted on Facebook without her permission, and she unwillingly became the center of a huge firestorm around breastfeeding in public. If the photo taker had a few manners and a little sympathy, this unfortunate situation could have been prevented.

After finding some inspiration from this great article about Facebook etiquette (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-m-brown/facebook-etiquette_b_5268789.html), here are my tips for acting classy online.

Think Before You Type: Whether it be a ranting status update or an angry comment, give yourself some time to cool off before you type something you’ll regret. Everything on Facebook is stored in their servers indefinitely, so make sure your words don’t come back to haunt you one day. Have a trusted friend or a spouse weigh in before you reply to help you gain some perspective.

Be Polite: If you are tempted to type something which you wouldn’t say to someone in person, this is a great sign that you shouldn’t put the nasty words on social media. It is incredibly rude to hide behind a computer screen or an iPhone and say something ugly to someone which you would never say to his or her face. Your friends and family are reading your typed words, and just because they aren’t spoken doesn’t make them any less hurtful, offensive or real.

Ask First: Before you tag an unflattering picture of your junior high bestie, a cute photo of a friend’s new baby or a snapshot from a wild party, get permission. Someone may not want the picture broadcast to their entire friends list or their employer, especially if it shows them in an unprofessional setting. Sometimes new parents want to be the first ones to share a picture of their baby or would rather you not post a picture of their child, so always ask permission to be on the safe side.

Skip the Drama: If you have a big blow out with a close friend, resist the urge to blast them on social media. Even a vague status update such as, “I really can’t believe some people,” can lead friends and family to question what happened and may lead the involved parties feeling betrayed. Everyone has fights and arguments, but it will be much harder to make amends if you publicly shared your unhappiness. The same goes for your spouse. Keep your arguments and dirty laundry private.

You Can’t Reason with Crazy: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to leave “crazy” alone. If someone is passionately responding to something which you’ve shared or typed, it’s ok to let it be. Your friends will see the situation for what it is without you getting into a back and forth reply situation which could likely have no ending. There are people in this world who insist on having the last word no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation or find a solution, and it’s not worth your energy to continue to argue with them. Choose the high road, and accept that you cannot reason with crazy.

When in Doubt, Think About Your Kids: A great filter to use in social media is to think about how you would want your child to respond in the same situation. If your daughter was in your shoes and had a tacky comment written on her status update, how would you suggest she handle it? In all actuality, we are setting an example of manners and appropriate online behavior for our children, so it’s a great way to teach or prepare to teach our kids.

Sympathize: Remember you are not alone in the Facebook world by a long shot, and that anonymous photo which you snap to express your disgust or shock (like the one of the mom breast feeding) are not as anonymous as you might think. The same goes for the authors of an article or blog post which you simply hate. Everyone is someone’s child, and all of your interactions on social media need to keep this in mind.

Keep it PG: This may make me sound old-fashioned, but I’d rather not see my newsfeed filled with obscene language and dirty jokes. If you must share something inappropriate, use messenger, email or the “share only with” setting. This also protects you in the long run with potential employers and others who you will interact with in a professional setting.

Have Grace: We are all going to make social media blunders, and having grace and forgiveness with others is the only way to expect them to have grace and forgiveness towards us one day. We are learning, human and imperfect, and we live in an imperfect world. Social media is simply a reflection of that.

While I’m not sure we can make much of a difference in the overall climate on social media, I know we can each exercise control over our personal actions online. And there is always the “unfollow” button for those repeat offenders who fill up our newsfeeds. Rise above, friends, and stay classy!

Greeley moms, what other social media manners do you want to teach your kids?

Embracing Your Mom Body

Blog pic 5.29.14

 

Before and after photos typically celebrate major weight loss, dramatic plastic surgery or some starlet who has returned to looking fabulous after having kids.

What if a before and after picture was designed to celebrate a return to a “mom” body? This picture of Australian mom of three Taryn Brumfitt below set off a social media firestorm a few months ago for breaking the mold and embracing body:

o-TARYN-BRUMFITT-570

 

After training for and competing in a bikini body contest, Brumfitt realized having a “perfect” body left her emotionally and spiritually unhealthy at the end of the competition. She decided to return back to her balanced lifestyle of moderate exercise, occasional treats and typical “mom” life. After many tears and making plans to have a tummy tuck and breast augmentation, she had a breakthrough.

Brumfitt felt a strong conviction that teaching her daughter to have a healthy body image could only be accomplished through learning to love her own body as a mom with all of its bumps, lumps and wrinkles. She is now on a mission to educate women everywhere by filming a documentary (which will be funded through a Kickstarter campaign) about the root of widespread body image issues and how freeing it can be to embrace your body just the way it is. This quote from a video clip on Huff Post Women captures the heart of her movement:

“I want women to stop striving for it [the perfect body]. I want women to start focusing more on their accomplishments [and] how they contribute to the world. If women can remove this chip, this body shaming and hating chip, get it out of their head…it allows them to contribute more, and that’s what it’s all about.”

As a mom of twins who hates swimsuit shopping and has researched and seriously considered a tummy tuck to repair my stretched out and saggy middle, this movement is a breath of fresh air to a weary soul.

I have cried too many tears over clothes which didn’t fit the way they used to, and I wish I had saved those tears for a conversation with a friend who was going through a hard time.

I have spent too many hours reading books about abdominal exercises and tummy tucks after someone once again told me I looked pregnant, and I wish I could have spent those hours laughing with my family in the backyard.

I have made too many nasty comments to my reflection in the mirror, and I wish I could have used those words to encourage a fellow mom.

I am done wasting my time in the quest for the perfect body. I’m going to learn to love this body not only for my sake but as an example for my daughters, and I am pouring my energy into things which are more important in life.

I challenge you to join me in sharing Taryn’s story and the Body Image Movement. We deserve it, and our daughters absolutely deserve it. #Ihaveembraced

This article was published on the Greeley Moms website here. Check out Greeley Moms today!