Evolution 2015

I always write a New Year's post. Always being a relative term - I only checked for the last two years. So I know I wrote a New Year's post in 2012 and another in 2013

I stopped checking for older New Year's posts because I knew they wouldn't be as good as those two. 

I really like those two posts. 

(It feels weird typing that. Not sure if the weirdness is from how rarely I like what I've written or from how rarely I admit it.)

Anyway, I'm still a big fan of small, actionable steps instead of huge goals. Also, the older I get, the more I feel the need to cherish the moment and to find the joy in each day. 

For many years, "love myself more" was one of my New Year's resolutions. But it never occurred to me to have "love my friends/parents/spouse/kids" as a New Year's resolution. It's not that I've ever been a perfect friend, child, wife or mom, either. It's that I knew my imperfections with my loved ones weren't because I didn't love them enough, but because I needed better strategies to cope with stress or I needed to be more expressive or whatever. 

And I've finally realized that the same thing is true with myself. I do love myself. I just don't know how to do it in the best way. I haven't paid attention; I use the same strategies I used 15 years ago. Except they're not making me feel better anymore. 

 Evolution is my word for 2015. 

I always wind up screwing up resolutions anyway. Even last year's, which were designed to be attainable. I didn't take my writing more seriously, I didn't teach the kids how to make me the perfect gin and tonic and I didn't even cut my damn hair. 

But mainly, because my relationship with myself needs to evolve. Sure, I love myself. Sure, I try to practice self-care when I'm stressed out. My problem is that my self-care strategies are habits, not joys. 

Also, to be honest, my relationship with blogging and writing needs to evolve too. As does my relationship with exercise, because it can't just be about reading on the elliptical anymore. 

I'm not going to write all of my small, actionable steps here (aren't you relieved?) but I do promise to check back in with my progress. At least on December 31st, 2015. 

So, do you have a word for 2015? Or some resolutions? Or do you skip over this aspect of the holiday? 


While You Were Busy (volume 2)

All the news parents can use. . . . . this week.

1. This is the greatest explanation for why your kid's math homework looks different than your math homework.

2. Boys may be meaner than girls. As someone who spent 8th grade being tormented by a group of boys every day in social studies class, while simultaneously being bad mouthed and excluded by the girls she thought were her friends, I'm not sure what to think about this. Except that I dread my kids going to middle school.

3. More bad news about middle school. Kids need to move and play; even if they don't consider themselves "kids" anymore. An adult tried to survive a day of middle school and found herself falling asleep and not being able to focus; I could barely stay awake the first time.

4. Alfie Kohn, one of the first and best people I read when I went back to school for teaching, has a great blog in The Washington Post about how we're killing our kids' love of reading. It's long, but if you skip to the end you can read his suggestions for how to fix it. Basically, let your kids choose what they read and don't enforce a time limit.

5. The Huffington Post did a nice summary of 10 things we learned about kids' health this year.

6. This is older, but I just read it so I'm including it. It's basically a guide on how not to be a dick if you notice a child who has a difference of some kind.

7. Okay, this doesn't have anything to do with kids. It's each state according to Google auto-complete and it's pretty awesome. Though I'm not thrilled with the "bad" descriptor for New Jersey.

8. Your parenting style does not affect your child's IQ. Or so one study says. Of course, a high IQ doesn't guarantee success anyway.

9. Does your kid lie? Time magazine has suggestions on how you should handle it. Let it be stated, though, that while their methodology worked with our older two kids, it completely failed with Hugmonkey.

10. If you don't understand why people are protesting, or somehow believe race has nothing to do with the recent deaths of young African-American men and boys, then please read this mother's perspective.


10 Safety Rules For Everyone

The inspiration the entire basis for this post comes from a great infographic on Mom.me. But while I loved the sentiment and advice, I knew my kids would be distracted by the graphics and the wordiness. So I figured I'd simplify both and share, in case your kids are anything like mine. 
purple back graphic

1. I am in charge of my body. 

2. I always check with someone before I go places, change my plans, or take something, even from people I know. 

3. I know my name, address, telephone number and parents' cell phone numbers. 

4. Safe adults don't ask kids for help. 

5. I do not have to be polite if someone makes me feel scared or uncomfortable. 

6. Everyone's bathing suit areas are private. No games involving them are appropriate for kids.

7. If I get lost in a public place, I should freeze in place and call for help or ask a mom with kids for help. 

8. I do not go anywhere or take anything from people I don't know no matter what they say. 

9. I always listen to my inner voice, especially if that voice is worried. 

10. I don't keep secrets from my parents no matter what other people tell me. 

Okay, so not every rule is applicable to everyone. Presumably adults have memorized their personal information many times over. And adults should probably keep a few secrets from their parents. But we'd all be a lot better off if we listened to our inner voices and remembered that we, not society and certainly not somebody we're dating, are in charge of our own bodies. Right? 


While You Were Busy

You know how LifeTime movies always have those, "inspired by true events" preambles? As if they're saying, "We were intrigued by this news story, but we wanted to turn it into fan fiction." Well, this post is shamelessly stolen from Dave Pell. Dave Pell writes a daily email newsletter that is awesome at covering what's happening on the internet/in the world.

I'm not half as clever as Dave Pell.

I also like my sleep too much to write a daily newsletter. But I'm considering a weekly (at least to start) post (which could turn into a newsletter type thing if you have an aversion to just subscribing to my blog already) that summarizes news relevant to parents.

Kids Parents Mess News Life

1. The American attitude toward parenting is like that guy who has read every book about wilderness survival but has never even been camping.  In other words, Americans love to read about parenting techniques and theories but we're not very good at implementing them. There are some intimidating stats here, but all I learned was that I really want to move to Italy.

2. Have you noticed something different about your Facebook timeline lately? If this keeps up I'm going to be stuck using Google+.

3. Since I can't even find my Elf on a Shelf, this letter from one really hit home. The people who have turned their elves into expressions of their creativity and passion have my admiration. And my loathing.

4. My husband's insistence that a BB gun is not the worst toy ever is backed up by statistics; apparently the kids are more likely to go to the emergency room if we buy them Razor scooters.

5. "To preserve the sacred space of her womb, Carey never even had an ultrasound." Perhaps you've heard about the couple who lost custody of their children after their home birth? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it wasn't about the home birth. It's probably because they refused pre and post natal care. Also, they're crazy.

6. Rape threats are never okay. They're especially not okay when they're inspired by a video game review. I love how Alanah Pearce is handling it.

7. Is your kid obsessed with Frozen? You'll be relieved to know that there will be another soundtrack to play over and over when the sequel comes out.

8. You should get more sleep. No, really, sleep is way more important than you think it is. They liken it to wearing a seatbelt. Also, your teenagers will be smarter if they get more sleep. Which I'm going to start using as an excuse for why I didn't go to an Ivy League college - I got up at 5:30am every day of high school to do my hair.*

9. Now your kid can become overly dependent on Google products too. Of course, my kids are already using Google Drive at school and think research means typing questions into the Google task bar, so I'm not sure how necessary these kid-friendly products are.

10. We need to talk to our kids about race. Parents of color, or parents of kids of color, are probably going, "Duh," right now. But white parents need to do it too.

11. Shameless plea for opinions: What did you think? Should I do this again? Was it useful?

*That may be especially hard to believe for the people who know me now, when I barely take a minute to do my hair, but I promise it's true.