My Morning Brew Makes Me Smile

I took this picture yesterday morning when I was enjoying my green tea. Coffee came later in the morning. Caffeine is a good thing.

Go Mama O coffee mug 2017

My Mother’s Day present

Isn’t this the best mug?

It makes me smile for several reasons:

  1. My seven year old mini-me drew it.
  2. It’s either a younger me or her self-portrait
  3. I emailed the gift idea to my husband prior to Mother’s Day.
  4. He “surprised me” with it.
  5. I accidentally opened the box it shipped in because I’m usually the only one who does online shopping. Oops – surprise!

Here’s to hoping you’re drinking your own favorite beverage from a mug that is as meaningful and fun as mine.  Cheers!

Family Vacation Pictures: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly Silly

Hi ya! I was scrolling through some pictures from our road trip out to Washington D.C., and I couldn’t help but make some collages of our many attempts to get a nice family picture. It was a beautiful spring day on the Mall. While we missed the main cherry blossoms, it was still a lovely temperature, which was much, much nicer than the spring we’ve been having in Wisconsin. My kids were having more fun being silly for pictures I was trying to take to mark the occasion: their first trip to D.C.

Here’s what I could capture:

Go Mama O. family vacation silly pics 2017

Top: Goofy faces in from of the Washington Memorial, and cuddling her water bottle at the Lincoln Memorial. Bottom: On the road! Daddy O. isn’t so sure about this trip in this picture (ha ha). 

Go Mama O family vacation 2017.png

More family picture attempts that day. That’s my annoyed face in the lower right.

The one on the top left is one of the last pictures of the day. We quick grabbed some ice cream and shakes from an ice cream truck because it was hot and we were all tired from a day of walking.  If my son had worn sunglasses, it might be almost passable.  At least we are all in the picture, unlike the one at the Lincoln Memorial, where my son is hiding behind Daddy O. (riding on his back). I also like the one on the top right, where my daughter looks confused and my son is sort of winking.

At any rate, these collages are fun.  Much like any family vacation in its entirety, they are not perfect by any means. There are good times, bad times, and down right ugly times as kids (and adults) get tired, impatient, and sick of being in the car for so long. We were silly. We did laugh and have fun, and we did it all together, making memories along the way.  These pictures are reminders of all that!

Cheers to family pictures of all kinds!

More stories about our trip will be coming.

Sort of #SilentSunday

I would normally stick with the theme #SilentSunday, but I have been so absent from my little blog that I feel obligated to write something!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I setup a wide variety of paper, stamps, heart punches, and other craft items for the kids.  They went CRAZY making pictures and cards. While I wasn’t thrilled with the mess (or using blank cards as “picture paper,” I stepped back a bit after a few days and just enjoyed their creations that were made with love.

I believe my five year old made most of these. They are pretty sweet.

valentines

A whole lotta love went into these masterpieces

After all of their card-making, the kids insisted that we make cards for them, and so Daddy O. and I did.  It’s becoming a tradition each year, as I shared in this Fly on the Wall post from two years ago now.  Daddy O. broke out the Spirograph and even made me a card. It was pretty sweet.

So cheers everyone! I hope you felt the love this past week as much as I did!

2017 Resolutions – With a Little Help from my Friends

Hello 2017!

WordPress just told me that it’s been 20 days since my last post. GAHH! Where has the time gone?! Soon I’ll be telling you about it on my Fly on the Wall post next week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions and goals. Each year is an opportunity to take stock of that last year and articulate ways to improve, to be a better parent, wife, employee, and person in general.

While I talked about Less Hurry, Less Worry last January (and yes, I still need to follow my own advice), I have another part of my resolutions for this year: with a little help from my friends. 

I heard this Beatles song just earlier this week, as my son watched an episode of Beat Bugs on Netflix. If you haven’t checked it out, you should – it’s cute, and we could all use tolerable kid’s shows, right?!

Anyway, these adorable Beat Bugs sang With a Little Help from my Friends on this particular episode, and it struck me how fitting this song was for the day.  I had enjoyed a much needed phone call with a best friend who lives several states away. It was so wonderful to connect with her and share what was going on in our lives. We have known each other since elementary school, so some things can just be left unsaid when we talk, as we have such a beautiful history together. We totally understand what we’re going through as the “default, do-it-all parents” of younger children.

It dawned on me that I need calls like this more often! I need help from my friends to stick to my goals and resolutions in 2017 and beyond! While I often like to be independent and just “deal with it” on my own, that strategy doesn’t make me feel better. It’s okay to reach out and bend a friend’s ear for awhile. Social media can’t be a substitute for a real, live phone call or face to face meeting.

With support from my friends in more phone calls & get togethers, I hope to work on these resolutions:

  • Be less judgmental
  • Complain less
  • Be more patient, especially in the mornings (a carry over from Less Hurry, Less Worry)
  • Floss more (I say this every year!)
  • Eat less meat

I hope to have more updates on how I am doing on these to keep myself accountable both on my blog AND with my friends.

What are you working on for 2017? Are friends a key part of making your resolutions happen?

Parenting is Like a Family Bike Ride Part 2

Last year I wrote part one of Parenting is Like a Family Bike Ride, and it’s hard to believe that one year later my oldest has ditched her training wheels for good.

Sometimes kids make up their minds quickly.

Early on in summer Big Sister asked to have her training wheels taken off of her bike. I stalled a bit, saving this project for Daddy O., but finally, tired of waiting (and having a tendency towards impatience) I broke out the tool box and took the training wheels off myself. The result – she tried it a few times and was scared of falling. We’d practice every now and then, but she would find something that wasn’t quite right. Her helmet was too small. What if she fell? She wanted knee & elbow pads.

Some More Motivation – and Safety Gear

We shopped for a bigger sized bike helmet together and found a really cute, pink & purple set of elbow and knee pads and gloves. Daddy O. would walk beside her, holding on, as they practiced balancing, braking, stopping.  I’d help her practice, which involved a lot of holding her bike as she whispered to herself, “I can do this. I can do this.” It often was more talking and waiting than actual riding. Grandma even practiced with her for a brief time, only making it two mailboxes down from our own home, but still, she was out there, cautiously figuring it out.

I was talking with complaining to my sister about our biking riding woes and asked how her two boys learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels. She told me that they worked on it EVERY DAY. I shared this idea with Big Sister – using her aunt’s method, which is already cooler than what mom says, and she agreed.

A Little Push to Get Started

I went along with her unique routine that she established with Daddy O., which was a pass of braking practice before trying to pedal on her own. I’d hold onto her bike seat as she mentally prepared herself and said, “I can do this.”  With a little help, she started on her own and rode down a few houses. We turned around and I helped her start going down the street with a little decline to give her some momentum, so she could just coast and balance.

It’s amazing what a little push can do to get kids going on the right path. Don’t we as adults often need a little push and encouragement in our own lives too?

A lot of Work & Dedication Pays Off

We spent a little bit of time each day trying to ride her bike. We did miss a day here or there, but all of the consistent practice really helped build her confidence.

Similarly, there is A LOT of work in parenting, and you have to be show-up each and every day for your kids.

A Time to Let Go

Finally I heard, “No, Mom, don’t hold onto the back of my bike seat. I’m going to do it myself.”  And like that, she was off on her own!

there-she-goes-on-two-wheels-go-mama-o

Look at her go!! Whoo hoo!

Now she wants to take a quick spin around the block and ride her bike almost daily. When I look back to our “practice sessions” I thought it was taking SO LONG, but lo and behold, she gained confidence and learned how to ride on two wheels. This is a continual lesson in patience that I’m still learning as a parent!

1st-time-bike-riding-on-two-wheels-without-help

Big Sister and Daddy O. celebrating their ride around the block together.

Sure, she’s fallen since then, but we’ve heard an immediate, “I’m okay,” and she’s hopped right back on her bike and kept on riding. Wow – how proud I am of this little girl! If she approaches all challenges in life like she’s done with learning how to ride a bike, she will go so far.

As my kids grow older, there are more and more times when I can let go and allow them to figure things out on their own. And yet, there are still times when I hear “Mom” being yelled out, so I know that I’m still needed.

Stay Together

Today I can ride my own bike right next to my daughter. We can ride through the neighborhood at a leisurely pace and chat a bit. I hope this is something we can continue to enjoy to do together for years to come.

As for Little Brother (almost 5), I am still walking beside him as he grows more comfortable with his bike and training wheels. I know it’s only a matter of time when we’ll take those training wheels off and pedal away together for a family bike ride. Until he’s ready for that, I’ll wait patiently and hold on to this time.