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Mentoring Monday: As the Kids say... "Epic Fail"

Welcome back, Aymee - to yet another Mentoring Monday post... we love having you :)
As the Kids say: “Epic Fail.”Dear Maddie,
Let's just start with--it's okay to make a mistake. It's okay to really mess up. And it's okay to fail miserably. The important thing is that you get back up, shake it off, and try again a little wiser. No one likes to lose, and it takes courage to admit they did. It's okay to regret something you've done. As much as feeling regret sucks, it motivates us to keep from making the same mistakes over and over again. It's an important process in growing up and, well…surviving. And isn't that what growing up is: surviving?
I failed miserably last week, quite literally. For the first time in my 26 years, I failed a class. For a life-long hard working student whose never had a GPA below 3.6, this was like getting sucker punched in my nerdy, squishy, post-partum stomach. It would have been expected if I hadn't tried; then I would have deserved it. But all semester-long, I constantly struggled with the class. I worked and worked in hopes of at least passing. But that wasn't in the cards. Instead, I became part of the lower fifty percent of students who take this class: those that fail (that's right, this class has a fifty percent fail-rate).
The weight of disappointment, frustration, sadness, and the desire to lose myself in an alcoholic stupor, all bare down on my back like a boulder. I am now fearful of the coming semester. Not to mention: I have no motivation to work like have in the past, which is a problem because now more than ever do I need to pull up my bootstraps and get to work.
Sure, feeling the shame and guilt from failure suck. Knowing you let someone down because you didn't succeed sucks. The fact that your best wasn't good enough f&*%ing sucks. But that's not the worst of it; do you know what the hardest part of failing is? Not becoming a whiny, sore loser.
Everyone is entitled one pity party--maybe a few more depending on the circumstances. But eventually, you have to dry your tears, stand up and try again. Try again, no matter how much you just want to stay buried under the covers and hide from the sun. You have to do this terribly difficult task because if you don't, nothing will ever get better.
So I will press on next semester, and the one after that, and so on--because I have to set an example for you; because I refuse to just lie down and quit; because it's the only way I'll get to where I'm going.
Love, Mom.

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Annnnd.... im a jerk :(

Nothing better to finish off a crappy day than making a 4 year old cry... :( Today the boys were horrible. Screaming, yelling, fighting, hitting, pushing, running... just being terrible to each other... for 10 hours i put up with chaos today while trying to cook, clean, & work... and throw any idea at them to keep them entertained... nothing worked... finally around 6 tonight I made some dinner... which was quickly followed with toddler tantrums. Apparently I didn't make the right food choices. *mommy fail, again...* I had finally bribed them into eating all their dinner in order to get a cookie... *mommy win!* Sugar buzz... {head/desk} *mommy fail, AGAIN* Just as I was starting to lose all hope in salvaging any of this day, Nightmare Before Christmas came on... they plopped their little butts on the couch and sat like statues... YAY!! When the movie was over, it was time for bed... this part was going surprisingly better than I had expected... until I opened my mouth of course...  now let me give you a little back story... When I was a kid I had a bad habit of licking my lips.. and i got a horrible red ring around my mouth... it was so bad, and beyond looks, it always hurt! But... it was a habit i couldn't break until my mom put some gross lotion stuff on them the doctor gave her... Now, of all my crappy habits, of course this is the one IzzaQ picks up...

day after day his perfect little lips get a little more red... I try to stop him when I see it, and I always am lubin' him up with Aveeno chapstick... Well tonight I did the usual... tucked him in, kissed him goodnight.... and said "oooh baby, your lips look sore & red! Lets put on some chapstick, you don't want to look like a Clown do you?" And all Hell broke loose... histerical IzzaQ: MOM! You hurt my feelings!! I dont want to be a clown!! Then I will scare you away forever!! Me: Oh no honey, I dont want you to be a clown either, im sorry... I just dont want you to have owie lips. {holding back tears} this went back and forth for a good 10 minutes... he kept hugging me and hugging me... I really hurt is feelings and I didnt mean to... I felt SO SO bad. My poor baby :(

Its crazy though... hes growing up so fast... 6 months ago I could have said something like that and he probably would have giggled and made a silly clown face... but now - he takes things like that personally... when did this happen!? When did my little baby boy turn into such a mini man? I dunno... but Im sure not ready for it...
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Mentoring Monday: Children are Water, We are the Glass

As usual, Monday welcomes another post by new mama to Maddie, Aymee. Leave her some love!
Our Children are Water, and we are the Glass      H₂O: the single most important tangible substance for life on Earth. It is what allows all organisms to flourish. This naturally renewable source is a cure-all for when we are sick, tired, and run-down. Water is the most pliable element, taking the shape of whatever container it resides in. Take the simple image of a cool glass of water. What comes to mind? Rejuvenation, refreshment, mmm…a good feeling.
      If our children are water, then we are the glass that holds them. Some glasses are simple cylinders; some are artfully colorful or eye-catchingly shaped. But they all serve the same purpose: to provide a receptacle for water to do its job and reach its full potential. When one thinks of a glass of water, one focuses on the water. The glass is often taken for granted. But if the glass is structurally unstable (i.e. a crack in the side), precious liquid will helplessly leak out making a mess. Parenting is a lot like being a glass. We have a responsibility to stay structurally sound so our children can reach their full potential and fuel a better future.
      Originally, I did not plan to have children until I was finished with college. College-then-kids is the stereotypically expected plan in our culture because college-with-kids is damn hard. But late last year, a burning stillness rose within me to have a baby. Adam had been prodding for children for years. Six months into dating we went to see Jersey Girl in the theater. As the credits began to roll, he looked lovingly at me and said, “Let's have a baby.” --!!!-- “Get away from me!” I humorously thought. Working on my Associates degree, we weren't even married yet (not that you have to be married to have kids). I made him wait five and half years, and I'm lucky he's so patient. When I enrolled in school last fall, I still had every intention of finishing my Bachelors before getting pregnant. But in November, something changed within me. The time came, and I had a peace in my heart and my gut so strong: I knew I had to listen. My mom, who lovingly pressed me to finish college, softly questioned my judgment. “What about school?” she asked. In her head, it probably sounded more like, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! Do you have any idea what you're in for?” But I'm an extremely lucky individual. My mom is amazing, supportive, and keen enough to have always known her strong-willed daughter has to follow her heart, even if she sees otherwise.
      Following my heart paid off. As Adam puts it, “We hit the jackpot.” Our little girl is more wonderful in every way than I ever imagined. I like to think the stars aligned last November, my soul sensed it, and thank goodness I listened. Still, in the back of my mind I wonder if having my plate so full will have a negative impact on my parenting abilities? The conclusion I always come back to is this: the answer is up to me. The answer will lie in how I prioritize my obligations. It is a given that my child and husband come first. Then my job and school come next. And my sanity? Well…
      It would be easy to decline into a slippery slope of sacrificing my sanity for the sake of my responsibilities. But will that eventually make me a cracked glass? Certainly. In the circular method of doing what's best for my child, I have to take care of myself. The battle is figuring out how to deliver on all three planes without becoming overwhelmed and losing hope--but it's not impossible. At my college, forty percent of the student body are working parents. And like them, I am (somehow) still passing my classes and my child is thriving. Or take a lot of the working Moms on Etsy & Artfire: Brooke, Steph, and even our beloved Amber; multiple kids and successful stores they run by themselves. If they can do it and stay sane, so can I. With a positive mindset, it is amazing what we are capable of.
      I find taking pride in my struggle for Maddie yields further motivation. Taking comfort in doing the right thing for my family, regardless of how hard it may be, gives me the energy to press on. To get up before dawn, to stay calm when she's not, to attend class instead of go home and have a beer: all for my family. Yes, water fuels the future. But who knew it fueled the glass holding it?

Amber edit: Thanks Mee-Mee, this could have been more perfect today... today my friend, has been a total whirlwind.. cooking, cleaning, working, parenting, wifing, and i still have about 6 hours to go... its 7:30 (head/desk) doing it with my sanity? I dunno... some days (like today) I swear my heads gunna explode... other days? Piece of cake.. I just keep focusing on the next day... get as much done today because "the next day" will be easier... it seems to help me get buy and stay focused on the tasks at hand... if not, i get completely overwhelmed... i love you!
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Mentoring Monday: Tolerance

After a week off Aymee is back with another amazing post. She's so close to her due date! Can't wait to see Ms. Maddie next month!!Dear Maddie,              Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about two words: tolerance and respect. These are words that will play a part in important lessons for you throughout life. I’ve been chewing on these words because of two stories in recent news. The first being the efforts of Minnesota Pride Fest organizers to refuse entry to an “anti-gay evangelist” from passing out Bibles and preaching at the public event like he has done in years past[1]The second being the efforts of some to prevent moderate American Muslims from building a Muslim community center near Ground Zero[2]. What does the word tolerance mean, you ask? Good question kiddo. Tolerance is defined by the dictionary as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own…” Bigotry is one of the main downfalls in humans. It is an age-old flaw that to this day infects many in our societies, creating unrest on every kind of level. The more people who truly learn to be tolerant of others, the more we can achieve. Why be tolerant of others? Another good question! Answer: because it is respectful.You will encounter people throughout your life that will treat you or someone else unkindly. When you’re younger, these people are called bullies. When you get older, these people are usually referred to as a**holes. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe it’s just the Midwest in me; but I’m big on manners and showing respect to others, and I will teach you to do the same. Gestures go a long way: holding the door for someone and saying “Thank you” when someone holds the door for you; looking people in the eye; waving a “Thank you” gesture when you’re driving and someone lets you into their lane; saying “Hello,” and maybe a “How are you?” to the check-out clerk at the store; saying “Sir” or “M’aam” when talking to people—even in an informal conversation, it shows respect. Words and gestures are very powerful, and when used carelessly can hurt just as much, sometimes more than, a punch to the face. If you are kind to those around you, you will earn respect from others in return and attract true friends who will always be there for you. This is what truly makes a person rich in life. The opposite will earn you flakey “friends,” who will not be there when you really need them; they will only be around when they want something from you.Some call it “karma;” some call it “getting what you deserve.” Regardless, a life of disrespect will also reap a life of anger. If you regularly disrespect others, you will receive the same in return which will make you angry and bitter. No one aims to live like that. It is a slippery slope one goes down when they don’t pay it forward. This won’t always be easy. In fact, I think it’s easier to not go the extra step and hold the door for someone, or say thank you, or smile at someone. The same goes for tolerance. It is certainly easier to deny another what they want than it is to allow something you don’t agree with. It takes a little effort to accept someone who is different than you. Sometimes, it’s even more difficult to be tolerant of someone who acts or believes in a way that you don’t like. People like this might annoy, or anger, you. But it is important to think before you speak or act in instances like this.              Here’s an example: recently, I went to the store for my weekly grocery run. I approached the checkout area to find it packed; only a few lanes open and every lane had a long line of customers waiting to check out. I entered the shortest line behind a middle-aged man with a few household appliances in his cart. He quickly noticed I was behind him, approached me, and began spouting off his uninvited opinion about how terrible the store was, and then jumped into something about “scripture. He caught me off-guard; I didn’t understand what prompted him to step up on his soapbox. I had no interest in listening to his opinion, especially since I knew most of it was misinformation most likely collected from hot-head political-extremist talk radio. (only 10% of what he said was factual and not outdated). Nor did I have any interest biting his bait for a debate in the middle of a busy store checkout lane on a Saturday. Of course, my head was swimming with smart-a** remarks like, “If they’re so awful, why do you support them with your money?” But I said nothing. I’m all for intellectual discussions, but not with people who only want to hear themselves speak. I assumed he fell into this pool because he started this conversation without provocation. When he realized he wasn’t going to be successful in getting a rise out of me, agreement or disagreement, he left his cart in line, and walked two lanes over to try his doctrine on the poor sap waiting patiently in line like the rest of us. Did I find him annoying? Yes. Did I think to myself, “I wish he’d shut up?” Yes. But silencing him would not have been the right thing to do. Telling him to “shut up” would have been rude, and would have had the opposite effect. (Let it be said your punk-rock father would say otherwise; he would likely have told the man to piss off. That’s okay too. You have the right to, but know that it only eggs people like that on; they won’t find it respectful and will most likely react in a like manner. Choose your words with your desired end in mind.) Everyone should have their soapbox to stand on if they so choose, even if that means they break it out in the middle of the checkout lane on a busy Saturday afternoon. I don’t have to agree with him, and I don’t have to like what he’s saying. I don’t even have to listen. But I do have to tolerate him because he had every right to do what he did, and that right is a beautiful thing. Tolerance was putting up with him for the ten minutes it took to get through the checkout lane.Let’s take another example from the news stories I mentioned earlier. In both instances, we have two sides that don’t like each other’s point of view. Who’s right and wrong is for another discussion. The lesson I want to instill in you first is that both sides have a right to think and feel the way they do. But both sides should be tolerant of the other, even if it’s difficult to do so. This is a high form of respect. As long as neither side is violent or disruptive, this is healthy. It’s not easy for either side to do, but sometimes we have to do things that are hard for us, and we are stronger because of it. In the second news story, there was a great quote I wanted to share with you. It is a quote from Herbert Ouida, a parent of a 9-11 victim. He is speaking of the conflict in New York as to whether or not allow a Muslim community center to be built near Ground Zero: "I understand the anger, the bitterness and hatred, but it only generates more hatred." This quote reminds me of another that I love and believe so strongly that I had it tattooed on my arm: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Out of this light, this kind of love, comes the strength for tolerance.Sometimes, doing the right thing is hard or uncomfortable. But it is of the upmost importance that we press on, and do the right thing anyway if we are to live peacefully. The golden rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Bottom line: You, and no one else, should be the one to decide what you do with your body, who you love, what you believe, what you fight for, etc. and you should have the freedom to live according to those beliefs. But in order to achieve that, you must respect another’s freedom to choose differently from you. We all don’t have to agree with each other. But we must respect each other’s freedom of choice, even if we don’t like their choices. And the beautiful thing about America is we can disagree, have the freedom to say so, and have intellectual debates on why. That kind of dialogue is healthy. It’s not always easy to listen to why someone thinks you’re wrong. Sometimes you will be wrong. Sometimes you will be right and they will be wrong. And sometimes, you both must agree to disagree and move on. And you don’t have to listen to someone’s opinion: that’s your choice whether or not to listen. But as long as they aren’t violent or disruptive, you do have to allow them the freedom to voice that opinion.
[1] http://www.startribune.com/local/97237759.html?page=1&c=y[2] http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/07/new.york.ground.zero.mosque/index.html
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Mentoring Monday: Sour Grapes of Risk

For those of you following, you know this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... for those of you that are now... this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... lol Its amazing... and always amazing and a great read :) Leave her some comment love...
Sour Grapes of RiskRecently, we’ve heard nonstop about Abby Sunderland and her solo sailing attempt across the world, and everyone’s opinion on it: either the condemning of her parents, or the praise of Abby[1]. The whole situation touched on what Adam and I have been discussing between the two of us for a little while now: what is the right level of shelter for our child? Where do we draw the line between adequate parental protection and outright smothering? Too little protection will lead to a lack of growth at best, and injury or death at worst. However, smothering from us will also breed lack of growth, rebellion, and the potential for mental and emotional disorders such as excessive anxiety. Adam and I also feel many recent generations, including our own, have been coddled too muchYears ago, I read an article whose title summed it up beautifully: “The Pussification of the American…” It makes me think of the Grandpa cliché, “When I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to school…in the snow…barefoot…uphill...” etc. Most of us rolled our eyes and thought, “Whatever, Grandpa.” While the story might be embellished, the moral is true. They had it rougher than we did, and I get it. Technological and social advances have made our lives easier in every way, and when we grow up knowing nothing else we take these things for granted. Grandpa was only trying to teach us to appreciate what we have. My grandparents were heartier than I am at my age, and I think admitting that is the first step towards gaining their wisdom and strength.Adam is strongly opinionated on the subject of how much to shelter a child (quite opposed), while I am often more conflicted. I always like to error on the side of caution, and evaluate risks to the nth degree. Sometimes I can be too careful. But I also strongly believe in the old adage, “Everything in moderation.” This is the dynamic of our marriage: our opposites attract and we balance each other quite well. Once such discussion came about when Adam learned the suggested age/weight/height for the different stages of the car seat we chose (it’s a convertible seat—newborn through booster). Adam’s first response was, “What the hell is a booster seat?” After I explained, and he learned that Minnesota law requires a child to be in a booster seat up to 7 years old (that’s a second grader, mind you), 80 lbs, or 4’9” tall, he exploded in a rant about how outrageous the law is, and proceeded to passionately remind me how he didn’t start wearing a seatbelt until he was eight years old because Missouri law changed to require it. Sound familiar? “Whatever Grandpa…”Many regulations and guidelines have come about in response to an ever-evolving society with new dangers and concerns, as well as in response to more accurate, advanced science (i.e. changes/additions to seatbelt laws). These are legitimate needs for change if we are to improve and survive. But then there is also the gradual dumbing down of social and parental guidelines over the years as the result of ignorance and laziness on the part of the lowest common denominator, and our culture’s inherent need to place blame. Yes, we as a society have a certain responsibility to look out for our fellow man and the right to protect ourselves from him, but where do we draw the line? In a culture of excess like ours, we simply don’t know when to say “that’s enough.” At what point do we say, “This is no longer government sanction territory. This is now individual parental responsibility?”The other night, I heard a tragic news report about a local four year old who choked on a whole grape at her daycare[2]. The broadcaster ended the report by saying investigators were looking into “where the child got the grape.” …???...?!?!...Where the child got the grape?” I thought, “What average four year old can’t handle chewing a whole grape (barring accidents like these)?! Shouldn’t the investigation be asking, ‘Was the child unsupervised? Was the staff of the daycare first aid certified in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver? If no, why not?” In the article, it mentions ‘The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists whole grapes as a choking hazard for young children. ‘Although children under age 4 are most at risk for choking on food and small objects, youngsters in their middle years can choke too,’ the AAP says on its website.” So can anyone else! I can choke on a small object, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mature enough to chew it. Accidents happen, and we should be responsible enough to educate ourselves on how to respond appropriately—like first aid techniques, especially if you’re looking after another person’s well-being. Furthermore, kids make mistakes, and sometimes do stupid things like cram their mouth full of food despite their parents/guardians teaching them otherwise. The article goes on to say, “The AAP urges parents and other caregivers to cut food for infants and small children into pieces no larger than a half-inch and then instruct the child to chew food thoroughly.” For the record, a half-inch is about the size of an average grape. Also, what parent doesn’t say, “Chew your food?” In discussing this with one of my co-workers, his response was, “Does that mean it was Perkins [Restaurant’s] fault when I choked on a piece of bacon when I was a kid? No. I was fat and scarfed my food too fast.Anyone who knows me knows I don’t see eye to eye with my dad on many things. But I am reminded of something he used to do when I was little, and I think it’s really smart. My dad hated shopping. Like most men, if he went to a store he had a purpose for being there. He was in, and out. Through virtue of this, he walked very fast—with purpose. Sometimes my little youngster legs had trouble keeping up, and sometimes my youngster attention span would steer me off course, resulting in me getting lost often. But I wasn’t lost to my dad. He would purposely let me get “lost” all the while standing off in a corner somewhere out of sight, watching me. Every time this happened I would get scared, then compose myself, find the front desk, tell them I was lost and ask them to page my dad. They would, and he’d then step out from the corner, revealing to me he’d been there the whole time. I learned at a very early age to take care of myself by being proactive, while he was still there in case something terrible happened. Kudos Dad.How is it good parenting to try to protect our kids from every bad experience they might ever face in fear of the worst scenario? Isn’t it better to teach them morals, give them guidelines and boundaries, and be there to kiss the booboos? Furthermore: to let the booboos happen. To give them the space to ride by themselves, comfort them when they fall and skin their knee, but still be right there in case they fall off the deep end and need some real rescuing? Isn’t it our responsibility as caregivers to know the life-saving techniques of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and to act immediately in an emergency rather than say four year olds aren’t developed enough to chew their food out of fear of an accident? Sometimes, we all have to learn the hard way. Some of us had to burn our hand on the stove because we were too stubborn to listen to our mother say, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot and will burn you.” If we protect our kids too much, they will never learn from their mistakes: be they embarrassing, painful, or scary. I believe it’s our responsibility, and pleasure, as parents to be the lighthouse, the band-aid, the emergency responder, the cleanup crew, and the safe house. How else are they supposed to learn to survive on their own, and become responsible adults?Another less life-threatening example, although no less life-changing, is the argument of sex education in school. Regardless of one’s personal opinions and beliefs, the school should not be the only place our children learn about sex. Much in the same way school should not be the only place our children learn to read and speak. I am a big proponent of parents being involved in their child’s life. So, I am supportive of the parent who goes to PTA meetings, and voices their opinions about what the school should teach regarding sex and other subjects. If we do not voice our opinions, they will never have the chance to come to fruition. Schools have parent groups like PTA because they want us to contribute to the curriculum. But what if your values are in the minority of a majority vote? It is not a public school’s responsibility, much like it not being a government’s responsibility, to instill your family’s values in your child. That’s your family’s responsibility—AKA the parent’s responsibility. The parent who forfeits the opportunity to teach their child something—be it the alphabet or sex ed, regardless of whether or not the child learned about it in school, does so out of laziness and fear. How irresponsible of us!All in all, I think the right answer is there is no right answer, for we are a melting pot of values and cultures. None of us fit into the cookie-cutter world of government regulations perfectly. These laws and guidelines are there to help us decide what’s best for our individual child. We should follow the laws and use the guidelines to educate ourselves toward a more informed decision that best fits our family, as well as keep a level head when it comes to whether or not to sanction every bad possible circumstance brought to the table because we’re afraid. Restricting our kids from doing things that involve risk instead of educating ourselves and our families on how to handle such risks will inevitably hold our children back. Coming back to Abby and her sailing adventure, Adam brought home a great article touching on this very thing. I think it’s a wonderful read for all parentshttp://www.startribune.com/local/96344934.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUnciaec8O7EyUsl
p.s. Amber's edit: Aymee... love this post... you know I am and i have crazy irrational fears... ie. If my kid sleeps past 8:15, hes probably dead... if he walks into the parking lot, he will most definitely get hit by a car... and if your standing at the top of a flight of stairs... someone is bound to fall down... im a panic'd anxious mess at any given time of any given day... thanks childhood/teen years PTSD is great. Anyways - most people having these fears go into freak out mode when confronted with "scary" situations... but not me... im so damn worried about being OVER protective because i'm crazy that Im the opposite... i may be panic'd on the inside... but on the outside im cool & collected (most the time) for example... yesterday we went swimming... me - and two toddler boys (that can't swim... imagine me, panic'd mess alone with two boys...)  and its a tough task, but its worth it getting them out daily for some fun in the sun...USUALLY both have arm floaties...  but zave's had a hole in it... shit  so I couldn't let him "swim" I carried him around and let him sit on my raft... I can't count how many times he tried to jump off the raft and into the water. I was getting so frustrated... finally I said one last calm & collected time... Zavery, if you jump off that raft your going to go under water (he hates that) Sure enough, he leaped off the raft. I let him go... he sunk like a rock and i swooped him back up... helped him catch his breath... said, ok... are you alright? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna listen to me? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna jump in the water again without your floaties? (No....) and he didn't. problem solved. I could have spent that whole damn pool trip fighting to keep him from jumping... sometimes they just gotta figure it out themselves. 
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